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Thread: Pokemon Revolution: Advent Phoenix (Rated T)

  1. #351
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    Diddy, What does the "R"in rspca stand for? I know the other letters.(I should I work there.)
    Einstein: If life is XYZ then X = having fun Y = working hard and Z = knowing when to keep your mouth shut

  2. #352
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    It's the Royal Society for the Protection against Cruelty to Animals.

    You work there as a volunteer or as an actual employee.

    Anyway to keep this on-topic. (I know, look whose talking) Erm... what to say to make it on-topic. Erm... Yeah the chapter was pretty darn awesome.
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  3. #353
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    AD: Oh, [expletive deleted]. I did type Fortree. Crap. Was that one of those parts I tried to do at two in the morning when I had no business being awake? Probably. Yeah, I had to get creative with that sword fight because there's only so much you can do with two average Joes that aren't powered up like nobody's business. The whole Angel and Crescent thing is going to finally approach critical mass in the next chapter. It's something that's been coming for a while now.

    SamuraiDragon: Erm...that's because Rowling's books are all monstrosities. Not to say my works are short, but...

    Oath: Yeah, he broke his leg AND stole his sword. Whatchu gonna do about it? Sheridan's a BAMF like that. ^_^

    xXPorygonXx: Well, it just sounded a hell of a lot better than, "Sheridan stabbed him in the gut. He fell over. He died. The end."

    WhyNot: I write for fun, obviously, but hearing from people like you is definitely inspiration for me to keep going. Thanks.

    Diddy: Style...just wait until Maverick Heart. ^_^

    In any case, guys, can I ask you to give me a bit more time? Probably 3-7 days should do it. The last half of the chapter is a rather lengthy Pokemon battle that I haven't been able to start yet. Let's see, this week...between now and Thursday, I have 5 exams, 3 papers, and a cold that won't go away. Yeah, this week is definitely going to be a bi--I mean, really fun.

    So, that's the line. I'm not stopping, save for death.

    Later, guys.

    - EM1

    For those who do not HAIL...come DIRE AND DEADLY CONSEQUENCES.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  4. #354
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    I actually work as a volunteer at the spca in the USA and I have heard of aspca but not rspca.

    Rowling's books are big (especialy when I'm holding them) but it takes two years to get one book out by which time I have to read the last book again.

    Feel better soon.
    Einstein: If life is XYZ then X = having fun Y = working hard and Z = knowing when to keep your mouth shut

  5. #355
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    A cold that won't go away huh?

    I have a cold all winter, cos it's cold and I always get ill. Then it gets warmer, yay no colds. But no I also have Hayfever, walking home from college, people mowing lawns = headaches, clogged sinuses and generally crappy feeling. Guh.

    And yeah, the HP series is unnaturally long, but not anymore cos I've read a 1168 page book recently and am now reading an 800 page plus book. And don't forget her longest book (Order Of The Phoenix - coincidence hmm) had sooooo much filler in it, it is was unreal. Gladly Deathly Hallows was shorter (not by that much) but was mainly all plot advancement, bam, bam, bam. Action everywhere.

    Lets just hope I get better.
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  6. #356
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    Your words wound me.

    Meh. -_-

    Good luck with the cold dude, I just recovered from one. It sucked.

  7. #357
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    Dude this fic is great! i read prj then this..... keep it up

  8. #358
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    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    AD:

    WhyNot: I write for fun, obviously, but hearing from people like you is definitely inspiration for me to keep going. Thanks.
    Sorry I PMed you before I read this post so sorry for for spamming your Email. None the less good luck on writing this.

  9. #359
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    Geez, I haven’t actually done Pokémon battles in what feels like forever. Don’t worry – you’ll get your fill in the next couple of chapters…and then some.

    Chapter 33: The Good, The Brad, and the Ugly

    July 10, PA 2013 – Just South of the Hoenn Meteorological Tower


    Noon had arrived on the plateaus of Central Hoenn, bringing with it July heat, humidity, lunch with friends…and Pokémon Training.

    Having grown bored of pounding on the nearly endless droves of Zigzagoon and Linoone that permeated the area, Travis and Katrina decided to turn their Pokémon on each other in a series of friendly practice battles, whilst Madeline and Shiro, accompanied by Hotshot, Sparx, Angel, and Crescent, looked on. Most tense was the obvious coldness between the last of these two, who had seemingly found very little to say to one another in the last several days.

    On one side stood Travis. In front of him was a creature that was a dark green and right at home in his humid, heavily forested environment…

    Champ…

    Angel observed her teammate, who had a competitive, almost manic, glint in his eye as he prepared to enter the fray once again.

    …versus…

    Crescent, meanwhile, looked at the other side of the field, where Katrina had called into action…frankly, his least favorite team member. A canine creature with brown fur flecked with streaks of snowy white, his arrogant smirk and his aloof way made him a lone wolf in every sense of the word…

    …Arcus.

    As soon as the matchup was set, the weight of the tension in the air seemingly doubled…it had gone from being palpable to as thick as the grass was around these parts. One needed a machete to cut through it…or perhaps a LARGE axe if they all didn’t utterly hate them so much for the bad memories they invoked…

    There was a definite feeling of unease comparable to how one would deal with a Tauros slumbering in a living room. If perhaps so much as a feather was placed near the beast’s nostrils, causing him to sneeze…

    …Then all hell would break loose.

    “<Get ready for the fight of your life,>” the Grovyle said, crouching low as the leaf blades on his arms came alive with a bright green glow.

    “<You like hearing yourself talk, don’t you?>” Arcus replied with a coldness worse than his Ice Beam.

    There was a long lull. Suddenly, Madeline elbowed Shiro.

    “Ow!” Shiro grunted. “Hey, what the he—”

    “You’re supposed to give them the signal to start, remember?” Madeline muttered very softly.

    “Oh…yeah, that’s right,” Shiro said sheepishly. Raising his hand into the air, he shouted, “Fight!”

    “Arcus, Ice Beam!” Katrina started. A ball of white materialized near the Ice-type creature’s mouth as he uttered a lupine snarl.

    “Quick Attack, Champ!” Travis ordered. Travis’ eyes suddenly slowed down to see Champ shift his streamlined body out of the way. The Grovyle’s reptilian, yellow eyes narrowed, and the creature pushed off his left foot, going from nothing to full sprint in the matter of less than a second. The Ice Beam made contact with the ground in front of Travis, cooling his ankles dramatically and creating a rather slick spot frozen over with a thin layer of ice.

    “<You’re too slow to keep up with me!>” Champ taunted. Arcus reacted by firing another Ice Beam at him, which he easily avoided. Arcus attacked him with a third, this time releasing it in front of Champ in the hopes that the Grovyle’s momentum would carry him into its throes.

    The attempt was unsuccessful, as Champ saw this coming, slowed to a stop, and then turned on a dime, shooting straight at Arcus, who growled loudly in response. A smirk seized his face and he fired a fourth Ice Beam – this time, straight into the ground. Champ went flailing and Arcus jumped away from him just as the unfortunate Grass-type lurched forward and hit the dirt head-first.

    “<Geez...A facer right into the ground – that’s gotta hurt,>” Hotshot commented.

    “<No kidding,>” Sparx commented.

    “<That’s the way!>” the latest exclamation came from none other than Crescent, whose crimson eyes were fixed on the battle with laser-like focus. “<Battle from the neck up!>”

    “<I don’t need you to be my cheerleader, Crescent,>” Arcus said, avoiding an angry Leaf Blade attack from a retaliating Champ. “<I got this.>”

    “<Cheerleader, huh?>” Sparx commented. “<Hey, maybe we should get him a little skirt and some pom-poms.>”

    “<I don’t know, babe,>” Hotshot replied across Crescent. “<He would look cute in a dress.>”

    “<Very funny,>” Crescent replied hotly. “<Got any more jokes, you kennel reject?>”

    “<Hey!>” Sparx’s cheeks started crackling – a very dangerous sign.

    “<Gosh, I was just messing with you, man,>” Hotshot rolled his eyes, walking away from him. “<Get your head outta your ***.>”

    “<I don’t have my head up my ***, thanks,>” Crescent shouted, having heard the snide remark. “<But I’ll be happy to put a foot up yours.>”

    “<Crescent!>” Angel exclaimed, having finally heard enough.

    “<What?>” Crescent snapped. “<Tell him to get off my case.>”

    Angel stayed silent. Meanwhile, Crescent turned back to the battle.

    “<That’s right!>” he exclaimed as Champ went flying across the field, arriving near Travis’ feet. “<Show him you won’t be pushed around!>”

    “<You don’t need to tell me twice,>” Arcus barked. “<In fact…you really don’t need to say **** to me. Just watch me work.>”

    He pawed the ground and prepared himself for the finish.

    “<What are you, trying to make a point?>” Champ asked as he stood. “<I don’t want her like that. Get it through your head.>”

    “<You took the words right out of my mouth,>” Arcus snarled. “<Now, get your *** off the ground so I can finish you off.>”

    “<Try it,>” Champ said, rising to his feet as his Leaf Blades kicked into life again.

    “<That’s it!>” Crescent yelled. “<End the battle!>”

    “<For the last time!>” Arcus lost his temper at Crescent’s attempted exhortations. “<Shut the…>”

    “Champ! Use Screech!” Travis’ order drowned out Arcus’ foul language. Champ looked up and opened his mouth, which released a terrible sound. Travis groaned under it slightly and Katrina took a step back.

    “<What in the WORLD?!>” Hotshot shouted in disapproval at the high pitch as he reeled backward.

    “<…Damn it!>” Arcus shouted.

    “<Don’t like that much?>” Champ taunted as he finally took a breath. Arcus looked up, snarling angrily as a single drop of blood trickled forth from one of his ears. “<Heh. Guess not.>”

    “<*******!>” Arcus barked loudly. “<I’ll make you scream.>”

    “Arcus! Hit him with Aurora Beam!” Katrina shouted. Arcus opened his mouth and a rainbow-colored burst of light shot forth from it, directed right at Champ, who was just getting to his feet. He stood and soon took the Aurora Beam right to the chest, coughing as he doubled over and hit the ground.

    “Ngh…” Travis grit his teeth.

    “A little more than you bargained for, huh?” Katrina asked. “Think you want to call it?”

    “<Don’t you dare,>” Champ staggered to his feet, his yellow eyes glinting.

    “<Give it up, already,>” Arcus shook his head. “<I’ve beaten you.>”

    “<I’ve been taking it easy on you,>” Champ said, a reddish light instead of a green one enveloping his Leaf Blades.

    “Huh?” Shiro commented.

    “<What in…>” Arcus grunted.

    “Don’t use this very often, but what the hell,” Travis cocked his neck. “Champ, Fury Cutter!”

    Champ blurred out of sight as he made a move toward Arcus. Arcus hesitated for a second…

    WHAM.

    A red-tinged blade of grass flashed in front of the face of Arcus, sending him skyward. Champ leapt into the air and brought the second attack down onto Arcus’ head, smashing him back down to the earth. Arcus hit the ground with a thump and rolled to his feet right as the Grovyle descended upon him with a further Fury Attack and knocked him down again. He pinned Arcus to the ground and, with unwonted violence, began to lay into him with cut after cut.

    “<Take this – and this – and this…>” Champ grunted.

    “<I thought this was supposed to be a friendly battle,>” Hotshot commented.

    “I take it those two don’t like each other very much?” Shiro muttered.

    “Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Madeline replied, rolling her eyes slightly. “I think you should call it before someone winds up getting killed.”

    “Yeah, yeah…” Shiro sighed nonchalantly. Raising a hand, he yelled, “That’s it!!”

    Champ and Arcus both looked at Shiro like he was the most appalling thing on the face of the earth.

    “I hereby declare the match a draw…or something like that,” Shiro said loudly.

    “Yeah, I think that’s enough. We don’t want to get them so banged up that we can’t keep journeying,” Travis commented.

    “I guess so…we can probably rest at the Weather Tower up ahead – they’ve always got beds for passing travelers,” Katrina commented.

    “<You’re gonna pay for not knocking me out when you had the chance,>” Arcus growled.

    “<What??>” Champ shouted, this time raising a clenched fist.

    In that instant, Arcus had opened his mouth and Champ was enveloped in white light. To the great shock and dismay of all witnesses (except Crescent, who kept a surprisingly stoic expression through all this) Champ fell backward, encased in a large, misshapen block of solid, translucent ice.

    “<That was a total cheap shot! Champ had let his guard down!>” Angel spat with rage. “<Crescent, say something to him!!>”

    Crescent finally spoke.

    “<You know as well as I do that he won’t listen,>” he said. Angel stared at him through her crystal eyes as he averted his.

    “<What’s going on with you?>” she asked. “<You’ve changed.>”

    “<It’s none of your business,>” he replied. “<That is…don’t worry about it.>”

    “<None of my…>” Angel repeated in utter shock. “<Why all the secrets? Why can’t you be honest with me and tell me what’s wrong? Maybe I can help...>”

    “<You can’t,>” Crescent interrupted sharply. “<This is something I have to do by myself.>”

    As the others had begun to walk off toward the north (Champ and Arcus had both been returned), Crescent walked off, leaving Angel by herself.

    “<…By yourself?>” Angel repeated. Her gem-like eyes began to water, but she blinked the tears back. Surely Crescent couldn’t mean what she thought he did…there was no way. They had been together too long, gone through too much…

    …For it all to go to waste.


    Emerald Knight Headquarters, Romero Manor – Rustboro City

    Captain Sheridan Hadley and Lieutenant Kelvin Woodson stood before the Prince of Hoenn and his retinue in the small war room of the Romero Manor.

    “I trust that you will do a good job of protecting the flank,” Ivanna said. “If they are suddenly retaken, we will be hemmed in on two sides.

    “There’s no need to worry so much, Ivanna,” dark-faced, graying-haired Roald remarked. “After all…he has already proven himself to be…capable, if not extraordinary.”

    “That’s flattering, sir, but…” Sheridan began.

    “Don’t let it go to your head,” Rashid interrupted. “You can still bleed the same as any other man.”

    “I am well aware of that,” Sheridan replied respectfully.

    “That’s all I needed to know,” Rashid said.

    “You’re dismissed. Good luck, soldier,” Ivanna said.

    Sheridan and Woodson saluted across their chests in tandem, bowed respectfully to the Prince (who grimaced a bit at the gesture) and turned to leave. Once they were out of earshot, Ivanna laid into Rashid.

    “For someone that just won an important battle for us, and with minimal casualties, at that,” she commented, “You gave him an awfully hard time.”

    “He’s a soldier – he can handle it,” Rashid commented.

    “You sure don’t seem to have much confidence in him,” Ivanna said, the rise in her tone of voice a sign of her patience wearing thin. “The first thing out of your mouth when I gave him command of the attack was that you felt sorry for his family.”

    “What I meant was that it must be tough on a family that’s already seen a husband and father go missing to see a son and brother deployed to battle as well,” Rashid said.

    “You thought he was going to get himself killed,” Ivanna fired back. “Now you’ve got to eat your words – not only did he survive, but nearly all of his unit came back unharmed.”

    “You’re just protecting him because he was your favorite student,” Rashid said, a nasty edge to his voice signifying that he was on the verge of losing it. “You talk him up so much – I thought you…”

    “Mind your business!” Ivanna stood to her feet, slamming her fist into the table, her brown eyes glittering with rage at Rashid’s insinuation. “You’re just ****** off at him because he did the Prince’s work, not yours!”

    “What do you mean by that?” Rashid shouted back.

    “You know damn well what I mean,” Ivanna’s voice lowered to a near-growl. “Everybody in the Emerald Knights knows that you want General Ludwig dead.”

    “Some people can’t be allowed to live, Ivanna,” Rashid stood to his feet, too. His comment was made by Ivanna bringing her nose within inches of his.

    “You had a chance to kill him the first time – why didn’t you?” she asked. “Getting the common man to lay his life on the line to push your agenda…you’re no better than Edgar!! Do you even care about this cause anymore?”

    “Don’t you dare get on a high horse with me!” Rashid shouted back. “The only reason you’re here is because you want to avenge your father.”

    “Honestly, enough…” the aged wizard and strategist, Hong Liu sighed. Somehow, this quiet expression of grief managed to calm the shouting match between the two young military leaders. He looked up through his beady eyes and said, “As a mighty fortress with opened gates…so is an army with quarrelling leaders.”

    Rashid and Ivanna continued to stare flaming daggers of doom and destruction at each other. Ivanna averted her eyes from Rashid, stared at Elrik’s shocked expression for a while – regretfully – and began to stride out of the room.

    “You must learn to control yourself,” Roald scolded his son. “Your temper has been getting the better of you recently.”

    “You, too?” Rashid seemed hurt beyond words. “I thought you, of all people…”

    “I do wish to bring him to justice, yes…and rest assured, he will be…” Roald interrupted calmly. “There are bigger things at stake. Do not forget that.”



    Meanwhile, Sheridan and Woodson had returned to the mansion’s foyer. Fortunately, Sheridan’s heart had just begun to slow down to normal – meeting with the Prince and his advisors in a setting like that one made him very nervous.

    “Do you…” Sheridan started to speak and trailed off without finishing his sentence.

    “Hmm?” Woodson raised his eyebrow and looked straight at the young Captain. Sheridan realized that he hadn’t completed his statement and responded.

    “Do you get the feeling that I’m not very popular with a lot of the Emerald Knights?” Sheridan asked.

    “What are you talking about? Ever since we came back from the front lines a few days ago, you’ve been a hero,” Woodson reassured him. “Of course, when you have success at something, there are always gonna be a few people that hate your guts. I wouldn’t worry about it, in any case. You’re not in this for glory, are you?”

    “No,” Sheridan replied vehemently. “I’m in this for my family.”

    “Right – so don’t worry so much about what other people are saying to you behind your back,” Woodson said, shrugging his shoulders, “especially if they don’t have the balls to say it to your face.”

    “Guess you’re right,” Sheridan sighed. “Thanks, Kelvin.”

    “Anytime,” Woodson said, clapping his friend on the back. At that moment, Hadley and Woodson caught sight of a pair of people walking the other way. One was a rather scruffy-looking man of about thirty with curly, messy hair of a dull myrtle green. His chin and jaws were covered with short, prickly stubble, and his lazy eyes were visible behind slightly drooping eyelids, giving him the look of one who had just awoken from a week-long slumber.

    And then there was her.

    She was a touch on the short side, not bearing any gaudy physical assets. Every part of her body was in proportion to her frame. That frame was thin, but not in a wan or sickly kind of way. She simply favored daintier and more petite physical features – or rather, they seemed to favor her. Her body seemed to have been designed not quite to excite sexual attraction, but rather to make her appearance endearingly delicate. The small, dark green halter top she wore along with her white pants added to this image, which was completed by her face. She had hair of a vibrant orange, arranged in bangs in the front and two large, braided loops in the back that bounced when she walked. She had eyes that were colored a very peculiar, but quite pretty, shade between green and gray – almost like the underside of a healthy spring leaf, in fact. She had a light peppering of freckles that arched over the bridge of her small nose and showed the most when she smiled. Overall, she looked like a small girl that had grown but somehow not aged.

    “Afternoon, Captain,” the man next to the girl said. “Doing alright?”

    “Are you serious?” the girl asked incredulously. “Orda…you’re joking, right? This guy?”

    “Yes,” Orda said with a slight tinge of impatience in his voice. The girl stepped forward.

    “So, you’re the great Captain Sheridan Hadley,” she said, straight to Sheridan this time.

    “I don’t know about ‘great’,” Sheridan responded modestly, “but my name is Sheridan Hadley and I am a captain…I guess.”

    “That’s strange,” the girl replied, looking Sheridan over for a moment.

    “What’s strange?” Sheridan asked.

    “Yeah…tell us what’s so strange about it,” Orda echoed.

    “Well, maybe it’s a perception kind of thing,” the orange-haired girl shook her head again. “I don’t know…I always thought that you’d look more like, a lot of facial hair, muscles popping out of your armor, about Orda’s age…”

    “Hey, are you calling me old?” Orda grumbled.

    “You’re older than I am,” the girl shot back. Turning to Sheridan, she added, “You, on the other hand, look like you could be my age.”

    “What is that, exactly?” Woodson piped in.

    “That’s so classless – what are you thinking?” Sheridan suddenly muttered to Woodson. “You don’t ask a lady her age. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that?”

    Woodson grimaced at Sheridan’s sudden tongue-lashing. Meanwhile, the girl in question had paused for a moment.

    “A lady?” the girl repeated, her face a bit pink. Raising her voice dramatically, perhaps out of embarrassment, she asked, “Anyway, how old are you?”

    “Me? I just turned seventeen – about two months ago,” Sheridan replied. The girl seemed taken aback.

    “Oh…really? We’re almost the same age, then,” she answered.

    “Are you seventeen?” Woodson asked.

    “Well, not yet…” she admitted. “But I will be – in September.”

    “Oh, okay,” Sheridan replied. Woodson’s eyebrows raised in recognition.

    “Wait a second…aren’t you Talan Ainge’s little sister or something?” he asked.

    “Sort of…well, not really,” she conceded. “He’s actually my cousin, but we’re almost like brother and sister because we’ve been living together since we were little kids.”

    “Oh, I get it…” Woodson replied.

    “Speaking of little sisters, I heard you have a really big family,” the girl said to Sheridan.

    “If being the oldest of eight is big, then I guess so…” Sheridan answered.

    “Eight?” the girl repeated incredulously. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s really uncommon for a family to have that many kids in this day and age. Maybe back in the sixteenth or seventeenth century…”

    “Don’t worry about it,” Sheridan shook his head. “I get that a lot.”

    The girl had no immediate response, which created quite the awkward silence for a few moments. Sheridan tried to avert his eyes elsewhere – he didn’t want her to freak out and think he was a stalker or something. At the same time, though, he couldn’t look away. She, in contrast, seemed to be unable to look at Sheridan with a straight face. She tried once and then looked at her feet again. She then popped her head up and looked straight at him.

    “Don’t we need to tell Talan about our new mission?” Orda piped in.

    “Huh? Oh, yeah,” the orange-haired girl said with a bit of a stammer. Quickly offering her hand to Sheridan, she said, “I’m Jillian. I’m looking forward to…working with you very soon.”

    “Hm?” Sheridan wore a bemused expression on his face for a moment before he finally took her hand to shake it. As delicate as her hand was, it could exact a very firm grip when she wanted it to do so. One thing was certain – she was not weak. She simply concealed her strength very well…a bit like him, truthfully. “Oh...I’m looking forward to it, too. Nice meeting you.”

    “We’ll see you…in a day or two, I guess,” Jillian removed her hand, using it to beckon to Orda. “Come on, let’s go.”

    “About time,” Orda sighed, following Jillian to the other side of the mansion’s foyer and down the stairs into the basement, which was once and now a practice area for some of the soldiers.

    When Jillian and Orda had disappeared into the yawning, dark stairwell, Woodson let out a snicker.

    “Bet you could have lived with talking to her a few more hours, huh?” he commented slyly.

    “What do you mean by that?” Sheridan questioned a bit nervously.

    “You like looking at her,” Woodson replied. “Tell me I’m wrong.”

    “I’m not…” Sheridan started. Woodson shook his head.

    “You don’t think she’s attractive?” he asked.

    “Well…yeah, I guess. Of course, she’s nice-looking, but…” Sheridan trailed off. Woodson stared back at him with raised eyebrows and then smiled.

    “Forget it,” Woodson said. “We’ve got a mission to get ready for, right?”

    “Yeah, you’re right,” Sheridan said rather distractedly, his eyes still wandering in the neighborhood of the doorway into which Jillian and Orda had just vanished from sight.


    BOOM.

    A sound of distant thunder shook the walls of the Hoenn Meteorological Tower as the overhead fluorescents flickered for a few moments. In the rest area of the Tower, in which they had obtained four beds for practically nothing, Travis and Katrina sat on the bed the latter had chosen, whilst Madeline leaned against the wall and Shiro paced, taking furtive glances at the window. This area was set up nothing like a Pokémon Center’s lodging – there were four separate, twin-sized beds, each surrounded about four feet up by a ring of iron upon which were curtains that could be drawn around the bed at the patron’s pleasure. The floor was tile and seemed to be one and the same with the floor on the other side of the door, where the actual laboratory was located.

    Shiro let out a whistle.

    “Damn,” he swore in slight awe, “it’s a good thing we got here when we did. How much would it have sucked to try and travel in this weather?”

    “A lot,” Madeline answered her boyfriend’s rhetorical question, still leaning placidly against the wall. As it had been for the last several weeks, her chocolate-brown hair was tied back into a bun, leaving only a few strands of hair (most of them flecked with a very light shade of blonde) hanging down the right side of her face and resting against her cheek every so often. She let out a resigned sigh. “It’s no good, guys. We’re probably going to have to rest here until at least tomorrow.”

    “No big – it’s not like we’re in a hurry,” Shiro commented. “We’ve gotta pick our times, though – from what I heard some of the workers here saying, this area of Hoenn gets all kinds of random weather patterns.”

    “So I’m guessing it’ll be hotter than hell tomorrow,” Travis sighed.

    “Yeah…or it could snow,” Shiro said rather offhandedly.

    “Snow?” Travis repeated. “We’d be screwed. It’s the middle of July. We didn’t bring anything for snow.”

    “Relax, I’m just messing with ya,” Shiro laughed. “It only does that up until April. It’s too damn hot around here this time of year.”

    “Yeah, we figured that out,” Travis said.

    “It’d help if you didn’t wear long pants all the time,” Katrina commented.

    “I’ve just never been a shorts guy,” Travis said defensively. “They make me look like a little kid.”

    Katrina giggled. “‘They make me look like a little kid….’”

    Travis grimaced at Katrina for mocking him.

    “Wasn’t the first day of our journey like this?” Shiro asked. “Back two years ago?”

    “Yeah. The weather started out great, then BOOM. The skies opened up,” Travis said. “And that was right when Angel had gotten hurt fighting a Sentret, too…”

    “Speaking of Angel, where is she?” Katrina said. Leaning over to the slumbering lump of blackness sitting at the foot of her bed, she intoned, “Crescent?”

    The Umbreon opened one eye.

    “<No idea. Haven’t seen much of her since we got here,>” he said much too nonchalantly. “<I’m not worried. She’s tough. She can take care of herself.>”

    Crescent rose to his feet and slunk through the cracked doorway as the others watched in silence.

    “Something’s wrong,” Katrina commented. “Really wrong.”

    “Hm?” Travis uttered in a nonplussed manner.

    “The last two years, they’ve been almost inseparable, haven’t they?” Katrina remarked. “Doesn’t it seem strange to you that they’ve hardly said a word to each other in days?”

    “Yeah, I guess,” Travis muttered. “You’re right – that is weird.”

    The rumble of thunder vibrated against the walls of the small room as the lights flickered again.

    “Sure hope this blows over before the festival starts,” Shiro said distractedly, eliciting a rather nervous-sounding response from Madeline.

    “Yeah, you’d think,” she said. “If it keeps raining for five whole days at this rate…we’ll all be underwater.”

    “That’s true…” Shiro said, cupping his chin with two fingers as his mind gave pause to that fact.

    “What do you mean, there aren’t any more beds?” a shout carried into the room from outside. It was met by a rather harried-sounding voice that seemed to be trying to explain something.

    “We just had a group of four walk in – I’m sorry. Now, you’re welcome to stay here, but I can’t promise that the conditions will be as comfortable…”

    “Damned if I have to go out there again,” the boyish voice seemed to have calmed down. “Beautiful.”

    “That voice sounds familiar,” Madeline commented.

    “Yeah, you’re right,” Shiro said, suddenly tearing for the door with Madeline not far behind. Travis and Katrina looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders in tandem, and walked out after them.


    “Madeline? Shiro?” the boy’s voice seemed to carry excitement laced with a bit of surprise. Travis and Katrina emerged from the door and, to their great shock, saw a familiar face. This face was a very bronzed complexion from exposure to sunlight, belonging to a boy of about fifteen or so whose head and upper neck were covered by messy, flaxen curls going in every which direction. They seemed to be stuck to his neck and forehead, darkened and weighted down by rainwater.

    “Brad?” Madeline exclaimed. “Oh, my gosh! What are you doing here?”

    “Me?” Brad Carmichael asked, standing. “I could ask you that same question.”

    “We’re just passing through with a couple of friends,” Shiro asked.

    “Really? No league competition?” Brad asked.

    “Nope, not this year,” Madeline replied, shaking her head. At that moment, Travis and Katrina stepped into Brad’s view.

    “You guys, too?” Brad laughed. “Man, the surprises just don’t stop, do they? I haven’t seen you guys since Dewford. Looks like you’re doing pretty well for yourselves.”

    “I guess so…five badges,” Travis replied.

    “At least you got outta Mauville before things got really ugly,” Brad remarked. “I tell you, it’s a mess. Troops assembling…security jacked up to ridiculous levels in Mauville and Petalburg. The Empire’s scared out of its mind of these ‘rebels’, obviously. A civil war right during the journey season…talk about piss-poor timing.”

    Travis raised an eyebrow.

    “So, you’d rather the Imperials win?” Travis asked.

    “Imperials? Hell, no,” Brad shrugged his shoulders. “There’s no place for an Empire nowadays. That’s ancient **** – like, history class ancient. But…whatever, that’s another conversation. In any case, the rebels brought down that outpost the Imperials set up outside of Rustboro…that’s the last thing I heard.”

    “Yeah, same here…” Travis said pensively. “So…what are we going to do?”

    “Hm?” Brad looked up.

    “Well, there are five of us and four beds,” Travis explained. “So, someone’s gonna have to sleep out here.”

    “Not necessarily,” Katrina said, latching onto Travis’ arm. “Two of us could, you know…share.

    “Er…what? That’d be…kind of awkward…” Travis uttered, his face a bit pink out of shock at Katrina’s risqué-sounding suggestion.

    “Well, there are curtains on the beds…” Shiro said offhandedly, believing that his comment was harmless. However, a smack to the head from Madeline showed him just how wrong he was.

    “Thanks – you just made it a hell of a lot more awkward,” she commented while she was doing this.

    “Ow!” Shiro grabbed the back of his head, one eye closed in a pained squint. “Shit…”

    Brad laughed. “Whatever. I can’t kick you guys out of the room. You got here first. So I’ll sleep out here – just one condition, though…”

    “Condition?” Travis repeated in surprise.

    “Simple. As soon as tomorrow morning rolls around, we battle,” Brad said. “I’ve got some new Pokémon I want to test out.”

    “Actually, that sounds like an idea,” Travis replied. “You’ve got a deal.”



    So, with the rain refusing to stop completely for several hours (although it did let up at times), the five teenagers spent their times talking about their respective journeys. Well, actually, Travis and Katrina did most of the listening, whilst Shiro, Madeline, and Brad did most of the talking. There was no need to burden them about the details…of what would lie ahead, of what Travis would soon have to do. As Brad described his journey, he had won even more hearts along the way than he had badges. It was during this conversation that Travis had to mentally remind himself that he was an exception rather than a rule. Most people – at least, where he came from – weren’t ready to commit to a relationship until nearly twenty or so…because it usually takes that long to find that special someone. Travis, in contrast…obviously, he didn’t know this at the time, but…

    He had found his when he was six.

    He reflected on all this as he watched the rain fall in sheets against the window. It was only in the last year or two that he had begun to see the true meaning of being ‘extraordinary’. Being ‘extraordinary’ was both a gift and a curse. There were few that would ever endure what he had to endure…but there were few that would ever be blessed with the love that he had received.

    “Can’t sleep?” Travis smiled to himself. It was almost like she could tell that he was thinking of her. He looked over his shoulder and saw her, her pink hair falling in a sheet down to the middle of her back.

    “I don’t want to,” he said with a wry smile. “I might actually wake up…then you won’t be here anymore.”

    Katrina rolled her eyes.

    “It’s a good thing you don’t really need pick-up lines to make a girl smile like Brad does,” she laughed, walking up to him and taking his hand. “Yours are terrible.”

    “It’s not my fault you won’t make me work for it,” he retorted in a whisper.

    “That’d just waste everybody’s time,” she whispered, drawing herself within inches of him. Her lips curled upward as her nose brushed against his. He slid his hands around her back and brought her to him.

    “You’re not still worried about me, are you?” Travis asked.

    “Are you kidding? Of course, I do – it’s my job, isn’t it?” Katrina asked.

    “That depends,” Travis replied.

    “Depends…on what?” Katrina replied, looking up at him. Travis was silent for a moment.

    “Never mind,” he said.

    “So…?” Katrina drew her face very close to his again, so he could feel the breath of every syllable she spoke. “It’s not like you to keep something from me. What’s the secret?”

    “I wouldn’t call it a secret,” Travis commented. “A secret’s something that I’d never tell you. This is different. I’m going to tell you…but not right now.”

    “That’s not a very good answer,” Katrina answered. “Can you at least give me a clue?”

    “Fine, you win,” Travis sighed. He closed the minimal distance between their mouths and kissed her. She looked back at him with the most befuddled expression on her face. Suddenly, she felt herself being lifted off her feet. She resisted the urge to scream as this took place without her really expecting it. She was being borne through the air – finally, to her bed, where he laid her down calmly.

    “What kind of clue was that?” Katrina asked.

    “A really good one, if you think long and hard about it,” Travis replied as he knelt down and ran a finger through the few strands of hair that he could reach with her on the bed, kissing her on the lips afterwards. With that, he made his way back to his own bed and rolled into it. They looked straight at each other.

    “Get a good sleep – you’ve got a battle to win tomorrow,” Katrina said. “I love you.”

    “Love you, too,” Travis responded with a smile.


    Crescent stood at the very pinnacle of the tower, staring through the domed glass ceiling of the observatory. The room was empty, as the vast majority of the meteorologists that worked in here had retired for the night. Standing – or, rather, floating – in their stead, were several blobs that appeared to be living raindrops sitting atop tiny storm clouds.

    “<Current weather: thunderstorms…>” one sang.

    “<Total rainfall…one-and-a-quarter inches…>” another chimed.

    “<Rain expected through tomorrow morning,>” both intoned in stereo.

    “<Yeah, yeah, you’ve told me already,>” Crescent grunted, rolling his eyes. “<A hundred times. Now go away so I can think.>”

    “<Tomorrow’s weather: showers early…>” a third Castform announced.

    “<Partly sunny and humid in the afternoon,>” a fourth sang.

    “<Expected high temperature – eighty-two degrees…>” a fifth said.

    “<I know that!>” Crescent snapped at one of the Castform. “<Shut it!>”

    “<Bullying defenseless Castform? Is that what you’ve reduced yourself to?>” Crescent didn’t need to turn around to see who the voice belonged to. Behind him, a lavender form sidled up a flight of stairs, leaping to the top. There was a long, tense silence.

    “<…I can’t do this anymore, Angel,>” Crescent said. “<I can’t keep lying to myself.>”

    “<What do you mean by that?>” Angel asked.

    Crescent turned around and approached Angel. She stood rooted to the spot as he stepped closer and closer…and then lowered his nose…

    …onto hers.

    “<You’ve always been strong, Angel,>” Crescent said to her, piercing her to her very heart with those blood red eyes. “<Even back then. Anybody less than you…>”

    “<No…no, you’ve got it all wrong,>” Angel said, her voice shuddering. “<It was only because you were there.>”

    “<Me?>” Crescent repeated, closing his eyes. “<No. I’ve got nothing. You’re the one that saved me. I know that now.>”

    “<That’s not true…>” Angel whispered.

    “<STOP!>” Crescent shouted, walking away from her. “<Stop lying to me!!>”

    “<Crescent, please!!>” Angel shouted, walking toward him.

    “<What do you want?!>” Crescent spat. “<What the hell do you want, Angel?!>”

    “<I want the old Crescent back,>” Angel said, not in her normal, bold, commanding voice, but in a voice so small and plaintive that it was heartbreaking. She sounded for a moment like the small, young Eevee shrinking in fear from the thunder. “<The one I fell in love with.>”

    She ran up to Crescent and nuzzled against him.

    “<I want the old Angel back,>” Crescent sighed sadly. “<But, that isn’t going to happen…you’ve grown up so much, Angel. You’re stronger, more beautiful…>”

    Angel looked up at him. As much as she had been willing herself not to cry, suddenly that will broke; tears came from her eyes not in drops, but in great streams that ran around her face to her chin and began to pool on the ground.

    “<…You don’t even need me anymore.>” Crescent finished.

    “<Wh-what are you talking about?>” Angel sobbed. “<Of course I need you! But not like this!!>”

    “<Exactly!>” Crescent shouted. “<You don’t need me like this. You need me to be better…so you can at least see me as an equal. That’s the best I can hope for, I guess. It’s not like you’ve ever needed me to protect you.>”

    “<You weren’t supposed to protect me!>” Angel cried. “<You were supposed to protect us!>”

    “<And a damn good job I did of it, too!>” Crescent shouted sarcastically, losing his temper. Angel fell to silence, the tears still running down her face at a steady rate as she tried to catch her breath.

    “<Where would I be able to find anyone better?>” Angel asked. “<I…I love you.>”

    “<I love you too, Angel. That’s why…have to do this,>” Crescent said. “<I just don’t feel right about this anymore. If we’re going to be together, I want to be worthy of you…and I’m not. So…for right now…>”

    “<Please don’t do this…>” Angel whispered. “<Crescent…>”

    “<…Goodbye,>” Crescent finished, walking past her and leaping down the flight of stairs. Angel was left staring through the glass dome as rain continued to pelt the windows. Her sobs became wails as she collapsed into a heap of hysterics. The few creatures awake to hear her neither could nor would offer any comfort…

    “<Current weather: thunderstorms…>”

    July 11, PA 2013 – Hoenn Meteorological Tower

    The rain had tapered off by mid-morning, leaving a clearing sky and mild temperatures. Perhaps the only indictment against the morning’s weather was the near-extreme humidity that had come as a result of the area itself (which favored more tropical weather) as well as yesterday’s rains. Nonetheless, Travis and Brad stood outside, prepared for battle, with Shiro, Madeline, and Katrina looking on. Crescent sat at Katrina’s ankles, not saying much of anything. Angel, on the other hand, seemed not at all herself. She would not look at Crescent, or anyone else, for that matter. In fact, it was hard to get her to look anywhere else except for the ground.

    “How many Pokémon do you want us to use?” Travis asked Brad.

    “How many do you have?” Brad asked in response. Travis went back to think for a moment. Champ, Raiden, Meru, and (as unsure as he was about using her in a battle) Angel. That made…

    “Four,” Travis replied.

    “Okay…four-on-four sound good to you?” Brad asked.

    Travis thought for a moment. He supposed that this was the perfect time to get everyone in his team some battle experience.

    “Yeah – four-on-four works,” Travis said. Brad pulled a Pokéball from somewhere behind him. Likewise, Travis had one at the ready.

    “You won’t beat me like you did the first time,” Brad called, enlarging his ball to the required throwing size.

    “I’ll believe that when I see it,” Travis replied, enlarging his own ball.

    Meanwhile, Katrina looked on worriedly. She couldn’t tell him – he wouldn’t have understood what she meant…but she could tell by observation. If this battle, like so many others before it, was to be decided by Angel’s performance toward the end…

    Travis would lose.

    Meanwhile, at the Romero Mansion…

    One of fifty infantrymen crossed Captain Hadley’s line of sight, saluting sloppily as the latter shouted. “Come on – you’re already late! We’ve got no time to lose! Get in line!!”

    “Yes, sir!” the soldier said hurriedly, falling into line with the others. Meanwhile, a black-haired young man approached him.

    “That was the last guy. We’ve got everbody,” he said to Sheridan.

    “Good,” Sheridan replied. He turned around to address the soldiers, when suddenly…

    “Heh…you’re not gonna start the party without us, are ya?” a lazy voice managed to drawl over the quieting soldiers, who turned this way and that looking for its origin. Sheridan looked out of the corner of his eye and witnessed a group of three approaching him. In the center was the grungy man with the forest-green hair – Orda. Flanking him were two orange-haired youths that could have passed for twins. One was a young man that might have been Sheridan’s age, if not a couple of years older…but no older than twenty, that was for sure. And the other…

    “Orda? What are you doing here?” Sheridan asked loudly.

    “Didn’t you listen to me at all the other day? We’re coming with you,” Jillian replied, smiling one of her adorable smiles at Sheridan.

    “Oh…huh?” Sheridan stammered. “Yeah…”

    “Well, make your speech so we can get going,” Orda drawled, passing in front of Sheridan along with Jillian. Talan was the last to go by. He locked eyes with Sheridan for several moments – moments that were, for some reason, very tense – and followed the others.

    Sheridan always had a good gut feeling of when someone didn’t like him very much. It seemed that Talan was one of those people.

    No matter. There was work to be done.

    “I’ll explain this to you quickly,” Sheridan announced. “Even in the best of times, Verdanturf is vulnerable. They keep just enough defenses around themselves to be able to survive everyday life. There is hardly anything of strategic interest to either side. Why does Edgar want to retake the town, then? Let me tell you. Like a schoolyard bully, he thinks that a level of power is proven by how many he can subjugate and bend to his will. Why do we want to keep Verdanturf?”

    “Actually, that’s a good question,” Orda muttered under his breath.

    “Shut up!” Jillian elbowed him in the ribs, causing the slovenly blacksmith to cough.

    “What’s wrong with you??” Orda grunted. Jillian folded her arms and kept her eyes fixed on Sheridan.

    “It’s a matter of principle,” Sheridan explained. “Verdanturf is a peace-loving town. Right now, they can’t fight for themselves. They’re depending on us to defend them. Nobody deserves the kind of treatment Edgar has been giving the people of Hoenn – least of all them. So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to march to Verdanturf. We’re going to guard that town…and if an Imperial soldier so much as steps one foot inside the gates…”

    Sheridan drew his sword.

    “We will drive them back…with steel and courage!” Sheridan exclaimed, a glint seizing his green eyes. “Those are your orders. Do you understand?!”

    “Yes, sir!!” a chorus of fifty men and Jillian shouted back to him. Sheridan nodded.

    “Let’s go.”
    -----------

    Sigh...somehow, that was a hard chapter to write.

    Anyway, I'm officially on summer vacation, so keep your eyes peeled because I'll probably start churning them out once a week.

    That's all for now. Well, actually not...
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 11th May 2008 at 11:43 PM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  10. #360
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    Heh, again I have bested Air Dragon.

    A chapter with a Pokemon battle? Oh noes! Honestly, it was a nice reprieve from the sword fights. Not saying that they're bad or anything, it's just nice to see Travis take command in a different way.

    Plot wise; nothing that furthers Travis's journey. The scene with the Emerald Knights did intigue me though, it shows not everyone is fighting for the right reasons. And I suspect Crescant and Angel's breaking up will have some major affect on Travis aand Katrina.

    Overall it was an excellant chapter, as usual.

  11. #361
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    Hooray chapter! I could call it a filler, but there's the little point of Crescent going crazy and breaking up with Angel. I don't think this is a "what if" type either. Man, how's that for a bombshell? I honestly expected a cat, er- Eeveelution fight and everything to be said and done after one emotional outburst, but this... This drags on and makes the reader agonize over possible solutions. Honestly, it reminds me of Saber. Either way, way to suprise me. *thumbs up*

    Champ versus Arcus was entertaining as well, to say the least. Nothing is better than two characters that hate one another going at it. For a friendly, there was plenty of brutality in it as well. Of course, the fact that Champ is facing off against Arcus should've foreshadowed that. It's nice to see more development of the Pokemon. They go so underappreciated in most other fics.

    As soon as the matchup was set, the weight of the tension in the air seemingly doubled…it had gone from being palpable to as thick as the grass was around these parts. One needed a machete to cut through it…or perhaps a LARGE axe if they all didn’t utterly hate them so much for the bad memories they invoked…
    This paragraph just wins, and that's all I have to say about that.

    “<Cheerleader, huh?>” Sparx commented. “<Hey, maybe we should get him a little skirt and some pom-poms.>”

    “<I don’t know, babe,>” Hotshot replied across Crescent. “<He would look cute in a dress.>”
    I can imagine that rather vividly, actually. Also, Sparx should watch Hotshot very carefully...

    “<Current weather: thunderstorms…>” one sang.

    “<Total rainfall…one-and-a-quarter inches…>” another chimed.

    “<Rain expected through tomorrow morning,>” both intoned in stereo.

    “<Yeah, yeah, you’ve told me already,>” Crescent grunted, rolling his eyes. “<A hundred times. Now go away so I can think.>”

    “<Tomorrow’s weather: showers early…>” a third Castform announced.

    “<Partly sunny and humid in the afternoon,>” a fourth sang.

    “<Expected high temperature – eighty-two degrees…>”
    I can't help but think that this is a clever method of foreshadowing. *thinks* Yep.

    Until next time, -Oath

  12. #362
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    ... after all... three's my lucky number.

    Ah crap. Anyways, now that my finals start today, i'll let this time slide...

    Got to study and all, but this review will be up in no time flat.

    It's time...

    Well, this chapter had more edit work to be expected. When did you type this... three a.m.? LOL... not.

    “Ngh…” Travis gritted his teeth.
    Grovyle descended upon him with a further Fury Cutter
    How much (what?) would it have sucked to try and travel in this weather?”
    “Not necessarily,” Katrina said, latching onto Travis’ arm. “Two of us could, you know…share.”

    “Er…what? That’d be…kind of awkward…” Travis uttered, his face a bit pink out of shock at Katrina’s risqué-sounding suggestion.

    “Well, there are curtains on the beds…” Shiro said offhandedly, believing that his comment was harmless. However, a smack to the head from Madeline showed him just how wrong he was.

    “Thanks – you just made it a hell of a lot more awkward,” she commented while she was doing this.

    “Ow!” Shiro grabbed the back of his head, one eye closed in a pained squint. “Shit…”
    LOL! Man, Shiro sure knows how to get himself into trouble, doesn’t he?

    “That was the last guy. We’ve got everybody,” he said to Sheridan.
    Arcus vs Champ was insane... and that’s in a good way...

    Damn... Crescent being insecure much? Count on Hotshot to put everyone in a hot spot... geez, lame...

    SheridanxJillian, sittin' in a tree... i guess they are nice together. But sonething tells me Talan wouldn't side with me on that part.

    Hooray for Castforms! They reminded me of Silver (soon to be renamed...) A little spoiler: Castforms will be coming up in the next chapter! (Shameless plug... i know...)

    I have my suspicions for the Brad vs Travis battle, but i'll hold my peace.

    Well, i've got a chapter to post myself... and three exams to write this week! Can i do it?

    Wish me luck!

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 12th May 2008 at 9:23 AM.

  13. #363
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    Default Chapter 34

    Part of me really can't believe I got this chapter up this quickly...it's not like I have anything else to do right now, though...

    Chapter 34: An Angel With Broken Wings

    July 11, PA 2013 – Hoenn Meteorological Tower


    “<I want to be worthy of you…and I’m not.>”

    That was what he had said to her…right as her worst nightmare had come true. She still couldn’t believe it. She stared at the ground, trying to concentrate on her battle. She would likely be called on later to finish the battle, and she couldn’t let anything keep her from winning.

    But even if she did, what would it do for her? She wouldn’t hear his words of encouragement, no matter what she did. In fact…maybe if she had been a bit less eager to win…she wouldn’t have found herself in this situation.

    But what was this situation? He clearly said that he still loved her…but he also said that they could no longer be together. She had never known what it felt like to love someone and to have someone love her back, yet they were separated. It was as if a wall of glass had built itself between them all of this time. They could see each other…yet they were divided – perhaps forever.

    A week ago, it hadn’t crossed her mind that things could ever go this wrong.

    Now, she was left picking up the pieces…or at least, trying to pick them up.

    Travis hadn’t seen the confrontation between Angel and Crescent. He wouldn’t have known that it had been less of a split and more of a ripping away where the heart itself was torn into pieces.

    He only saw Brad…and in Brad, a dangerous opponent that was no doubt stronger than what he had been the last time Travis battled him.

    Travis tried to think…what Pokémon had Brad been training when the two battled the first time…?

    “Electabuzz, let’s GO!” Brad shouted, throwing his ball into the air. It landed on the hard ground with a metallic CLINK and then burst open in a blaze of white light, which cooled and faded to reveal a stockily-built creature that stood at well over three feet tall and was colored a bright yellow, with black stripes (many of which resembled thunderbolts) streaked across his body. He had a definitive fierceness to him - his face, which contained a fanged maw as well as two, slanted, beady eyes, seemed to be locked in a feral growl.

    Travis had his mouth set in a firm line.

    “Let’s go, Champ!!” Travis shouted. He threw his ball, and out came the Grovyle.

    “<Another start for me, huh?>” Champ commented, obviously referencing the increasing frequency with which Travis used him as his first choice. He gazed over the field at the Electabuzz, who was now growling very angrily. “<Uh….huh. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you before.>”

    “You have,” Travis replied flatly. “You fought him a month ago. He was an Elekid back then…”

    “And your Grovyle was still a Treecko,” Brad commented.

    “<Oh…guess that explains the grudge,>” Champ replied nonchalantly.

    “Electabuzz, use Thunder Punch!!” Brad shouted. Electabuzz rotated both of his yellow arms and pounded into the ground with surprising speed as he came toward Champ, both of his fists crackling.

    “Damn, he can move for his size,” Travis commented. “But not fast enough. Champ, use Quick Attack!”

    As Electabuzz let loose an electrified haymaker, Champ disappeared, leaving the Electric-type to hit the ground, causing a fist-sized crater where he had struck. Champ had appeared at Electabuzz’s flank, ready to impact him with the Quick Attack. Electabuzz’s small, black eyes shifted to his periphery. Electabuzz turned and raised his other fist.

    Champ took the blow right on the chin and flipped backward before hitting the ground at Electabuzz’s feet.

    “Ooh…” Shiro grimaced. “I felt that one…”

    “Watch out, he’s following up!!” Katrina shouted.

    “Mega Punch!” Brad ordered. Electabuzz leapt several feet into the air. As he peaked, he raised one fist, which seemed to draw in power from the air around it and began to glow a bright white. He began to fall, and streaks of white energy trailed behind this fist as if it were a meteor plummeting toward earth.

    “<Let’s see how deep I can put you,>” Electabuzz growled. “<My guess is a hundred feet!>”

    “Champ, get the hell outta there!” Travis yelled.

    Fortunately, Champ moved his head to prevent Electabuzz from splattering him all over the ground. Electabuzz’s fist made contact with solid earth. Champ felt the ground tremble violently…and then heard cracking.

    “<Oh, ****.>”

    With a CRUNCH, the ground under Electabuzz and Champ gave way. The former leapt as the fragmenting ground seemingly began to swallow the latter.

    “CHAMP!” Travis cried.

    “You can’t be serious,” Shiro muttered in dumbfounded shock as he saw a ten-foot hole that seemed to be filled with fragments of rock and earth.

    Everyone went silent for several moments.

    “Champ…” Travis whispered in horror.

    “No way…” Shiro said hoarsely.

    “He’s not…” Madeline trailed off, unable to bring herself to finish her thought aloud.

    Suddenly, the entire group heard a rather violent rumbling from the ground. Moments later, the earth exploded and sent chunks of itself into the air in no particular direction. From the hole leapt a battered and bruised Champ. He had many cuts and scrapes, some of which appeared to be bleeding. Moreover, one of his eyes seemed to be unable to open completely. Nevertheless, he was standing.

    “<Okay, that’s about enough of that,>” Champ panted, clenching his fists and revealing two blades on his elbows seemingly made of reddish energy.

    “You must really be a glutton for punishment,” Brad commented.

    “Nope – we’re just persistent,” Travis replied. “Champ, use Fury Cutter!”

    Champ advanced on Electabuzz for his first offensive. Electabuzz, still catching his breath, was a beat too slow in dodging, thus taking the first of Champ’s barrage right across the face and receiving a long, bleeding scar. Champ laid the second Fury Cutter into Electabuzz’s unprotected torso, slicing that as well. The third cut was also a body shot. It connected.

    Just as Electabuzz lowered his hands, Champ went upstairs – right at the side of Electabuzz’s head. This attack hit its mark as well, sending Electabuzz backwards right as Champ leapt.

    “Crush him!” Travis shouted. “Leaf Blade attack!”

    Champ came out of his rotation and blasted Electabuzz’s head with the dreaded Grass-type strike that had become one of his signature moves. Electabuzz, predictably, reeled and hit the ground on his back, cuts blooming from several different places on his head. Champ leapt backward and set himself at ease.

    “<You’re not the only one who can get physical,>” Champ taunted.

    “Obviously…” Brad grunted. “Except you just ****** him off.”

    Brad pointed to Electabuzz, who was staggering to his feet, his eyes now red with anger.

    “He was in a good mood before?” Shiro questioned incredulously. “Oh….****.”

    “<You’ve got no kind of technique. You just hit things.>” Champ taunted again.

    “Pound him! Use Thunder Punch!” Brad yelled. Electabuzz slammed his fists together, creating his own miniature thunderstorm, right as he rushed the Grovyle on the other side. Champ barely avoided the first fist but was clouted hard by the second, reeling backward as sparks flew from his face. Electabuzz kept coming, prompting Champ to duck another fist that screamed by his head, missing his jaw by inches.

    “Leaf Blade!!” Travis called. As Electabuzz rushed in with a fourth Thunder Punch, Champ leapt to the side, laying into the Electric Pokémon’s head as the latter groaned and snarled in pain and whirled around, connecting with a surprise Mega Punch.

    As if in slow motion, flecks of spit and blood flew from the Grovyle’s jaw as he was hit square in the face with the attack. Champ fell backward as he was hit by the fist as well as the forearm and the elbow – all within a matter of a second. Then the other hand got him right where the red of his chin met the green of the rest of his face. He went skyward.

    Travis groaned.

    “Finish him – you know what to do!” Brad shouted. Electabuzz took off running, his legs coming for the first time to a full sprint as Champ reached the apex of his flight and began to fall downward and backward.

    “Damn, he’s fast!” Shiro commented.

    “Any more brilliant observations?” Katrina asked a bit sourly.

    “Yeah…one way or another, Champ’s landing is going to be a *****,” Shiro replied simply.

    Electabuzz raised both arms and leapt right into the Grovyle. At a height of ten feet, one large, yellow, muscular arm found its way around Champ’s neck, and Electabuzz used it as a grappling hook to swing around behind Champ, at the same time hooking the other arm around the Grass-type’s throat. Electabuzz, as images of an Earth quaking in fear began to flit through his mind, yanked downward with all the strength that his arms could muster in that one moment.

    A BANG and subsequent rumble were the descriptors of strength as Electabuzz slammed Champ to the ground headfirst – so mightily that the unfortunate Wood Gecko Pokémon’s legs flicked into the air as the earth beneath his head splintered.

    A pile of rubble stood, heaped upon Champ, who was obviously knocked out, as Electabuzz stood upon this heap, flexing his arms and roaring.

    Shiro blinked twice.

    “Oh, my gosh…” he exclaimed in shock, looking at Brad, who was whistling himself.

    “We like to call that the ‘Seismic Toss, version 2’,” Brad replied. “That…might’ve been a little much, actually…”

    “You think?!” Shiro shouted. “You’re gonna get somebody killed!!”

    Travis returned Champ to his ball without saying anything. He was shocked beyond words – like someone had just sucker-punched him down low without his expecting it.

    “…Whoa,” was the only comment he could manage.

    Great, Travis thought to himself. I knew Brad would be better than he was, but I had no idea that he’d be this good. Meru would get zapped in no time flat…

    “Who’s next?” Brad shouted. “Or are you going to give up on me?”

    Travis removed a Pokéball from his belt and responded with a curt “Hell, no. This is the perfect chance for me to show you how much stronger I’ve gotten. Raiden!!”

    As Travis threw his Pokéball, it burst open to reveal a feline creature with a coat of fur as black as midnight, streaked about his body with jagged, electric-blue stripes in a similar manner to Electabuzz’s markings.

    “Quick Attack,” Travis said simply. Raiden blurred out of sight for a moment and then reappeared at the same place – while Electabuzz began to reel backward as if something had hit him.

    “Did he just…” Shiro stammered.

    “Yeah, he did,” Katrina replied, folding her arms.

    “Okay…” Shiro blinked blankly. “That’s just not right.”

    Electabuzz hit the ground on his back, his eyes in a blank, unfocused stare toward the sky.

    “He’s…” Brad uttered as he returned his defeated Electabuzz to his ball. “…fast.”

    Travis simply nodded.

    “Yeah,” he uttered. “I’m betting your lineup’s pretty thin behind that Electabuzz, huh?”

    “You kidding? It doesn’t get any easier from here,” Brad answered sharply. “I’d love to use Lanturn here, but…”

    Damn it! He evolved the Chinchou, too? Travis thought angrily.

    “The matchup doesn’t really favor her like it favors my other choice…” Brad finished. “Let me ask you – did you go through the Sand of Khalid at any point?”

    “Of course not – we tried to avoid it,” Travis answered truthfully.

    “That’s too bad for you. You would have found some pretty interesting Pokémon – like this, for example!” Brad shouted, throwing his second Pokéball. This ball sprang open on the ground to reveal what appeared to be an overgrown insect. It was a burnt sienna kind of color and the only thing really extraordinary about it was the fact that its head seemed to be roughly twice the size of its small body.

    “That’s a Trapinch,” Katrina muttered.

    That’s Trapinch?” Shiro looked at her in disbelief.

    “You’ve heard of it?” Katrina asked.

    “Of course I’ve heard of it,” Shiro answered. “It evolves…after a while…into Vibrava – then Flygon. Those are both Dragon-types.”

    “Dragon-types? I heard Trapinch’s evolutionary line was all Ground-types,” Katrina remarked.

    Travis overheard their conversation.

    “Ground-types…” he muttered to himself. “That’s just great. That means none of Raiden’s Electric-type moves are gonna work against this thing.”

    “Trapinch! Use Bite!” Brad yelled. The Ant Pit Pokémon made some sort of clicking noise as it broke into a full run, which really wasn’t saying much.

    “Quick Attack!” Travis ordered. Raiden vanished once again. A squeak less than half a second later told Travis that the attack had hit its mark. Trapinch, however, was still moving toward Raiden. His maw was opening…

    CRUNCH.

    With a sickening sound and a splatter of crimson, Trapinch clamped down on a jumping Raiden’s leg and slammed him to the ground.

    “Trapinch can take a good pounding before you knock him down, too,” Brad said. “Oh, and I think I forgot to mention – Trapinch might not be the fastest thing around, but its Bite is strong enough to crush boulders.”

    “That’s a problem,” Katrina uttered worriedly.

    “You’re damn right – that’s a big problem!!” Shiro exclaimed. “How the hell is Raiden supposed to use his speed with one of his legs mangled?”

    Raiden was indeed having issues standing with his right hind leg severely damaged by Trapinch’s Bite.

    “<My leg…>” Raiden grunted. “<Shoot…>”

    “Can you move?” Travis asked.

    “<I can…but it won’t feel good,>” Raiden responded.

    “Okay, I’ll return you for now,” Travis sighed.

    “<No!>” Raiden grunted. “<I-I-I’ll be fine. I can tough this out.>”

    “Really? Just say the word,” Travis answered. After pausing, he shouted, “Quick Attack!”

    Even on an injured leg, Raiden still moved much too fast for Trapinch to keep up with. He slammed himself into the Ant Pit Pokémon – again…and again…and again…

    “That’s alright, Trapinch – hang in there!” Brad yelled encouragingly.

    Trapinch groaned under yet another Quick Attack and began to glow white for moments at a time as the Ground-type absorbed hit after hit from the opposing Voltyger.

    “That’s it – good girl, just a little more…” Brad muttered.

    Trapinch was pounded again and again, but the attacks were coming slower and less often. It was at that point that Travis noticed something that made the bottom fall out of his stomach – small droplets of red littered the ground between him and where Trapinch had been standing. Raiden slowed to a stop in front of Travis…

    He nearly buckled as a spurt of blood gushed forth from his leg. Raiden’s eyes shut tight and he uttered a feral snarl of pain.

    “<Ngh…>” he grunted, his entire body shaking as he tried to stay upright.

    “Damn!” Travis groaned. “Raiden’s leg is hurt worse than I thought…”

    “<Don’t give out on me – come on!!>” Raiden snarled, propelling himself back at his opponent.

    “Raiden, no – come back!!” Travis shouted. Raiden, however, wasn’t listening – he tore toward Trapinch, leaving trails of crimson on the ground with each step. Trapinch’s tiny eyes focused on the incoming Electric-type. Her body glowed white one final time, and then the light overtook her.

    “Oh, no, no, no, not now…” Katrina muttered.

    “That’s not good,” Shiro grunted. “That’s not good at all.”

    Raiden snarled and skidded to a stop as the mass of white light rose a couple of feet off the ground and expanded into another shape altogether. The light faded to reveal what looked rather like a dragonfly, complete with a set of four wings and a body that was several different shades of green.

    “Say hello to Vibrava,” announced Brad, smirking confidently as if this singular turn of events had already won him the match. Vibrava landed on the ground and her wings became nothing more than a blur.

    “Great,” Travis sighed acerbically.

    “Vibrava’s a little bit quicker – Dragonbreath!!” Brad shouted. Vibrava cried out and released a stream of what looked like green flames. Raiden jumped aside as the stream of verdant fire missed him by inches.

    “Not quick enough – Quick Attack!!” Travis yelled. Raiden blurred out of sight.

    “Vibrava – leap and hover!!” the dragonfly-like Pokémon bounded off the ground as Raiden’s blurring form screamed under her. As Vibrava landed on the ground, Raiden lost his balance, overextended himself, and slid rather nastily on the dirt as he rolled to his feet. Vibrava’s eyes stared into Raiden’s…

    “Dragonbreath!!” Brad ordered. Vibrava let loose another stream of green flames. Raiden looked up and made to move, but a crimson spurt gushed forth from the Electric-type’s leg, freezing him as he snarled in pain. Raiden took the Dragonbreath head-on and hit the ground straightaway, the final attack having done away with the remainder of his energy.

    “That’s all she wrote for the pesky, little Voltyger,” Brad commented as Travis returned Raiden to his Pokéball.

    “I’m not through just yet,” Travis declared, exchanging Pokéballs. Wordlessly, he chucked the ball containing his third Pokémon into the air. Seeing as he had nothing else, Katrina already knew what this Pokémon was before the ball hit the ground. The ball burst open, revealing an aqua-colored Water-type that rather resembled a fox. She stared at the big-eyed, big-winged Vibrava and offered up a snarl of her own.

    “Meru, use Bite!” Travis yelled. Meru accelerated to a full sprint as she advanced toward Vibrava, who awaited her own Trainer for an order.

    “Vibrava, dodge that!!” Brad commanded. Vibrava began to jump again, but this time, Travis was ready.

    “Meru, left wing!!” he shouted. Meru got the message instantly. Right as Vibrava started her leap, Meru clamped her open jaws upon Vibrava’s left pair of wings. The Vibration Pokémon squealed and screeched in pain as Meru held on and refused to let go. Then, in a rolling motion that would make a crocodile proud, Meru brought Vibrava back down to earth, slamming her against the ground as her sharp teeth took a chunk out of her opponent’s flying appendages.

    “<All takeoffs have been –>” Meru spat out a piece of Vibrava’s left wing. “<…Grounded.>”

    “Payback really sucks, doesn’t it?” Travis taunted Brad. Meru advanced upon Vibrava, who just barely jumped out of the way, leaving Meru clawing at nothing as she returned to Travis’ side of the field. Meru took off again with another Quick Attack, which made contact with a descending Vibrava, sending her reeling backward. The Vibration Pokémon’s big, green eyes flashed for a moment as she opened her mouth once again, letting loose the dreaded Dragonbreath attack. Meru reacted quickly and fired a Water Gun to counter. The two long-range attacks struggled as each combatant poured more and more energy into her respective assault. Meru’s Water Gun attack, however, found a second gear, which left Vibrava to hover awkwardly out of the way using her gimpy wing as one of the Kitide’s most powerful attacks barely missed her.

    Travis’ eyes narrowed momentarily.

    “Uh-oh…” Katrina uttered, prompting Shiro and Madeline to look straight at her.

    “What do you mean, ‘uh-oh’?” Shiro asked.

    “I didn’t want to have to break this out,” Travis sighed. Clenching his fist, he ordered, “Meru, use Rain Dance!!”

    Meru leapt to a spot in the center of the battlefield and screeched to the sky, her eyes glowing blue. Before long, clouds began to gather as suddenly as they had before a summer storm the day before – and within seconds, the heavens opened up, drenching all in a downpour.

    A hundred feet above the battlefield, a Pokémon of sorts resembling a sun with a face floating atop a small cloud looked up morosely as its body began to morph. Three seconds later, instead of a small sun, it was a giant raindrop.

    “<Sudden change in weather patterns…>” it muttered, seemingly surprised. “<Current weather: thunderstorms. Rain extremely heavy. Winds increeeeeeeeeea…….>”

    It never finished the sentence as a sudden gust of wind indeed blew, sending the tiny, two-pound Castform looping high into the air and faraway.

    Meanwhile, rain fell hard and fast onto the battlefield, leaving Travis satisfied, Brad surprised, and Shiro rather annoyed.

    “Aw, dammit! C’mon, man!!” the last of these shouted to Travis as he tried to cover his head. “Didn’t we get enough of this **** yesterday??”

    “Heeeelp, I’m meeeeltiiing!!” Madeline teased Shiro with a giggle as she bolted for the awning that hung over the doors of the Meteorological Tower, followed quickly by Shiro, Madeline, and Crescent.

    “What the hell?” Brad muttered, watching the steam that was beginning to rise from the ground as the result of cool rain water hitting sun-scorched earth.

    “Now you’re in trouble,” Travis said, staring at Brad through the curtain of sopping-wet cobalt hair that had fallen in front of his eyes. “Meru, Acid Armor!!”

    “<Now you see me…>” Meru seemed to fade into the steam around her, leaving Brad blinking rather dimly.

    “Where is she??” Travis shouted across the battlefield over a clap of thunder. “Huh? Where is she, Brad??”

    “Damn you…” Brad snarled.

    “Don’t damn me yet,” Travis responded wryly. “Wait until after I beat you. Meru, use Double Team!!”

    Travis heard a whooshing sound that told him that the attack had been successful.

    “Isn’t that overkill?!” Brad yelled across the field to Travis. “I can’t see her, anyway!”

    Brad ordered his Vibrava to use Dragonbreath – which she did, hitting absolutely nothing in particular.

    “Meru, use Double Team again!!” Travis yelled.

    Another loud WHOOSH. Now even Travis didn’t know how many clones Meru had created of herself – he just trusted that she had made more than enough for his plan to work.

    “Vibrava, use Dragonbreath again!” Brad yelled. He was starting to sound desperate.

    Vibrava shot off her Dragonbreath at nothing once again.

    “That’s it – time’s up,” Travis announced ominously. “Meru, Quick Attack!!”

    Vibrava began to move from side to side as Brad caught sight of several blurs assailing his newly-evolved Ground-Dragon hybrid.

    “What the hell? There’s, like, fifty of them!!” Brad groaned in shock as Vibrava flinched under attack after attack. Strangely enough, though, Brad heard no sounds of impact. Five seconds into this barrage, Brad saw a bluish form hovering right above Vibrava. “Oh, ****! Vibrava, that’s the real one! Get outta there!”

    Vibrava shifted herself left just as Meru went flying past her headfirst, rolling to her feet immediately after hitting the ground. Vibrava had no time to turn around…

    “Gotcha,” Travis’ hair hung in a lank curtain around his head, and he threw it back with a snap of his neck as he pulled out of his crouch and looked straight through the fog at Brad, a thunderous look in his azure eyes. “You want a finisher? Here’s one!! Meru, end it!!”

    “Vibrava’s in for it now,” Katrina muttered.

    Meru knew exactly what Travis wanted. Just as Vibrava turned around, she rammed into the unfortunate Vibration Pokémon with a well-aimed Tackle. Vibrava went flying another few yards backwards as Meru smashed her with a follow-up Quick Attack. As Vibrava went reeling from the second strike, Meru leapt and flipped. On the backside of her somersault, she clamped her jaws down onto Vibrava’s left wing again, completing the roll and using the strength of her jaws to throw Vibrava skyward.

    “Holy…” Shiro watched Vibrava rise into the air. Meru snarled and inhaled deeply.

    Then, it happened – Meru unleashed Water Gun after Water Gun after Water Gun with the strength and deadly accuracy of a dread outlaw in an old Western. After almost no time at all, Vibrava was buffeted. No less than eight jets of high-pressure water slammed into various parts of her frame in the matter of three seconds, twisting her and turning her every which way until the ninth – a final, mighty behemoth of a blast – hit Vibrava square, engulfing her for four full seconds before finally dissipating and leaving her to fall from several dozen feet in the air.

    “Okay…so how much damage does nine souped-up Water Guns from a ******-off Kitide add up to on a Ground-type?” Madeline asked.

    “That’s easy – a shitload,” Shiro replied, blinking his golden eyes in astonishment.

    Brad returned Vibrava before she even hit the ground, not willing to allow her to suffer any further damage.

    “Don’t mean to sound crude,” Brad said, inhaling deeply. “But what the (four-letter swear) was that?!

    “That’s called the ‘Desperado’,” Travis explained just to humor him. “I save that for when I want to be damn sure the job gets done.”

    “I think the job’s done, dude,” Shiro muttered.

    “Yeah, no kidding,” Madeline commented.

    Meru traipsed back over to Travis’ side of the field, thinking how much she’d love to show that combination to Arcus if she ever got the chance.

    “I won’t be stupid enough to get caught by that one again – trust me,” Brad replied over the sound of the rain. “Not especially when my next Pokémon can match you move for move.”

    Well, he’s got that Cactadder, Travis thought to himself. Or probably whatever its evolved form is now…Cactadder’s a Grass-type – it’d have a type advantage…but…

    “Let’s go! Scyther!” Brad shouted, throwing another Pokéball into the air. The ball burst open to reveal a large, winged, mantis-like creature that was a solid green and had two deadly blades for arms. It screeched at Meru, who stood her ground, undaunted.

    “Scyther, huh?” Travis muttered with a tone of intrigue. “This is gonna be interesting.”

    “You didn’t see this one when we battled each other the first time,” Brad explained. “I’ve had him since he was a Scyple.”

    “Oh, boy…” Travis murmured to himself.

    “Scyther, Quick Attack!!” Brad yelled. Scyther tilted his body and he was gone.

    “Meru, roll out of the way!” Travis cried as soon as Scyther had disappeared. Meru wasted no time doing so, which was good because it was at that very moment that Scyther blurred back into sight with one of his blade-arms slicing through the place where Meru had just been. Meru jumped away from the attacking Mantis Pokémon just as he took a wide, arcing flight back toward her.

    “Slash!!” Brad shouted, his eyes glinting. A ringing sound split the air as Scyther took a wide hack at the Kitide, who avoided it by rolling just as the large Bug-type got there.

    “<ARGH! How do we get rid of him?>” Meru shouted at Travis.

    “I’m working on it,” Travis grunted.

    “<Just to let you know…>” Meru jumped backward and avoided Scyther’s scythes again. “<…getting a limb or your head chopped off can really ruin your day.>”

    “Believe me – if I just had a buck…” Travis replied to her just as she narrowly missed losing a chunk of her face to one of Scyther’s blades. “Okay, that’s it. Water Gun!!”

    Meru skidded to a stop and let fly a blue, liquid missile straight at Scyther, who took the shot right to the chest and stopped dead in his tracks.

    “That wasn’t smart,” Brad grunted. “Scyther, use Fury Cutter!”

    “Damn! Meru, move it!!!” Travis exclaimed.

    Meru moved – but not quite fast enough. She let out a scream of shock and pain as one of Scyther’s bladed arms made contact with her for the first time. She hit the ground on her side and rolled over only to realize that the five-foot-tall giant insect was still coming. Almost instinctively, she jumped (just in time to avoid being cleaved in two) and used Scyther’s back as a springboard, slamming him into the ground with a well-placed stomp as she jumped away. Scyther dragged his left scythe on the ground and swung his legs over, righting himself almost immediately as Meru slid to a stop in front of Brad, who got a chance to look into the eyes of his own Pokémon as he issued the next order.

    “Scyther, Double Team!” the Orange Islander Trainer yelled. Scyther crossed his scythes in front of himself and split into no less than ten copies, standing straight in a row.

    “Meru, Double Team!” Travis ordered quickly in response. Meru also split into ten copies of herself, all of which stared back at the Scythers on the other side of the field.

    “QUICK ATTACK!” Both Trainers yelled simultaneously. The two small armies of doppelganger Pokémon rushed each other. Ten Scyther tried to slash ten Kitide as ten Kitide tried to ram ten Scyther. Nine of each disappeared, leaving only the real Scyther and the real Meru, who had missed each other by miles as each slid to their respective ‘home’ side of the field.

    “Guessed wrong,” Travis muttered. “Meru, use Water Gun!”

    Meru panted for a moment and then fired the attack. Scyther crossed his blades in front of himself and blocked it.

    “<Damn it…>” Meru swore to herself. “<I’m running out of gas…>”

    Meanwhile, the clouds finally cleared to allow the sunshine to peek back through.

    “I like Water-types as much as the next guy, but that Kitide is really starting to irritate me,” Brad remarked. “Scyther, use Slash!!”

    Scyther screeched and came straight at Meru, one of his scythes raised to attack. Travis stood there utterly unafraid of the coming assault.

    “Two seconds…” Travis muttered. “Meru, dodge and use Water Gun!”

    Meru leapt aside at the last minute, firing her Water Gun at the head of her assailant. With a loud CRACK, the Mantis Pokémon took the attack right to the temple, freezing in place. Meru’s feet dug into the ground and she launched herself at the Scyther right as she gained enough traction to do so. This managed to bowl her much larger opponent over while Meru sailed over the downed Scyther’s head, landing on her back and immediately rolling to her feet. Scyther staggered to his own feet.

    “Quick Attack!!” Travis shouted. Brad seemed to have known it was coming.

    “Scyther, use Swords Dance!” Brad yelled.

    Isn’t Swords Dance a support technique – Travis thought to himself as he watched Meru begin to charge right at Scyther, who extended his scythes and began to spin. Travis’ eyes went wide for a moment as he realized what was going to happen. DAMN IT! “MERU, STOP!!”

    Meru made a valiant attempt to bring herself to a stop, but by that time, she was already too close. She felt her feet being lifted from the ground as she was sucked into this bladed tornado of death. Various screams were heard as she received cuts all over her body from the spinning Scyther’s blades. Flecks of red shot out of the tornado and hit the ground like small bullets, until finally…

    It stopped.

    Meru was hurled through the air and landed on the ground at Travis’ feet, cut in several different places and obviously bleeding from some of them.

    “Shit,” Travis swore angrily. Meru’s brown eyes opened slightly as she looked blearily at her Trainer.

    “<Great,>” she muttered weakly. “<Does this mean I’m cut from the team?>”

    “Ha ha…that’s funny,” Travis laughed a bit nervously, pulling out Meru’s Pokéball and returning her. “You did a hell of a job.”

    “Boy, that Kitide of yours is a pain in the *** to bring down,” Brad commented.

    Travis sighed and crouched down near Angel.

    “<You…don’t have to tell me,>” Angel said. “<I know.>”

    With that, she trudged forward into the battle area. Travis saw so many things at this juncture that worried him besides the tone of her voice. First, she was usually eager to leap into battle; today, she approached it slowly and mournfully as a condemned man approaches his noose. Her eyes seemed glued to the ground. Speaking of her eyes, it registered with Travis how tired she looked – like she hadn’t slept a wink last night. Nonetheless, she was out on the field already. As tired and as injured as his Pokémon were from this fight, he and the rest of the group would have to stay here at least another day or two – no problem, as Fortree was less than two days away and they could afford to stick around a bit.

    She could rest…after this battle.

    “Scyther, use Double Team!!” Brad yelled. Scyther crossed his arms and split into eight copies of himself. Travis smirked.

    It was ten last time, he thought to himself. Meru must have really tired him out. “Angel, use Swift!”

    Angel hesitated for a moment and focused her eyes toward the row of Scyther, releasing a spread of star-shaped rays of energy at the entire group. Seven Scyther disappeared and one took the attack right to the chest, stepping backward just a bit as he screeched in surprise. Travis frowned.

    “Hey, is it just me or do Angel’s attacks not have the punch that they used to?” Shiro asked. Katrina stayed silent, her face contorted in sadness and concern.

    “Now, use Quick Attack!” Travis yelled. The Espeon again hesitated, but nonetheless launched into her attack, her own form (which was a bit larger than Meru’s) serving to do a bit more physical damage as she made contact with the Mantis Pokémon, who was able to keep his feet somehow as she bounced off him.

    “Well, hit back! Don’t let her push you around!” Brad yelled. Scyther’s eyes lit up and he tore straight for the Psychic-type on the other side.

    Travis grimaced.

    “Angel, use Confusion!!” Travis shouted.

    Angel’s face screwed up in concentration, and then…

    Nothing.

    She tried again.

    No dice.

    She tried a third time.

    “Angel, what’s going on?!” Travis yelled.

    “Oh, no…” Katrina whispered, her hand to her mouth in worry.

    Her Confusion isn’t working… Travis thought to himself.

    That’s strange – why didn’t she attack? Brad asked himself silently. “If you won’t attack, then I will! Scyther, Slash!!”

    “Angel, move!!” Travis ordered. Angel did manage to jump out of the way just as one of Scyther’s blades would have likely dissected her.

    “Whoa!” Shiro shouted, wincing. “Too close.”

    “Uh – hey, where are you going?!” Madeline shouted as Crescent left his post by her ankle and made for the Tower’s doors, which opened automatically for him as he approached them.

    “Scyther, use Fury Cutter!” Brad yelled. Scyther turned toward Angel.

    His scythes glowed a bloody crimson.

    Then, he charged.

    “Angel, come on!” Travis yelled, his voice now laced with urgency. “Psybeam!!”

    Angel raised her head and concentrated again. A rainbow-colored glow overtook the gem on her head, then grew…

    Then faded…

    “NO!” Travis yelled as Angel took one of Scyther’s blades right across the face – and then another. “Blast him off! Confusion!!”

    No luck. More Fury Cutter attacks to the face.

    “Shit,” Shiro swore. “Fury Cutter gets stronger with every hit, doesn’t it?”

    “Yep,” Madeline replied.

    “Damn, damn, damn it – how’s he gonna get out of this one?” Shiro muttered to no one in particular.

    For all times for her Psychic attacks to stop working… Travis thought to himself savagely. What a pain. “Angel, use Swift!!”

    Angel managed a weak stream of star-shaped rays that pushed Scyther back momentarily – but the Mantis Pokémon just kept coming. His blades rang through the air as he continued to slice into Angel with successive Fury Cutter attacks.

    Travis’ eyes glossed over as he realized what was happening. Whatever was wrong with Angel – he had no idea what it was – she couldn’t beat Scyther in this state. Add to that the fact that Fury Cutter – a Bug-type move – was especially effective against Psychic-types, and the fact that its strength increased with each successive hit…and there had been a lot of successive hits…and it was a small miracle that Angel was still standing. She refused to go down, although she could not seem to mount her own attack to defend herself. If Scyther kept working her over like this, it was only a matter of time before a Pokémon battle became the least of their problems…

    “Brad –” Travis said loudly over the commotion of the battle, raising one of his hands. “Brad, that’s it.”

    “Wha?” Shiro and Madeline uttered in unison. Katrina’s eyes closed morosely.

    “Scyther, back off!!” Brad yelled, throwing his hand out in a vehement gesture. The large Bug-type immediately ceased his assault and flew over to his Trainer’s side. After a slight pause, Brad, sounding insulted, asked, “So you’re just gonna pack it in, huh?”

    “As much as I enjoy winning,” Travis replied, walking over to Angel, who lay defeated and bleeding on the grass. “I won’t risk the life of one of my best friends – least of all for an exhibition match that doesn’t count for anything.”

    “So, I guess that ties us up, then,” Brad commented as he returned to Scyther’s Pokéball. “It’s too bad…you didn’t even get to see my Pythorn.”

    “What’s a Pythorn?” Shiro asked.

    “The evolved form of….the evolved form of…Cactadder,” Katrina replied. There was a pause.

    “What’s a Cactadder?” Madeline asked. Katrina sighed.

    “You guys need new PokéDexes,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Travis silently scooped Angel into his arms.

    “Good match,” he said robotically to Brad.

    “Don’t worry about it – I completely see where you’re coming from,” Brad said. “Guys like you are a breath of fresh air. I’ve been training Pokémon for a few years now, and it kills me how many guys I see that treat their Pokémon like slaves or tools.”

    The entire group of teens remained silent and listened to Brad, who suddenly seemed years wiser.

    “Sure, we battle them to prove our strength, but they know how to fight in the wild, too,” Brad said. “They’re not fighting machines, though. They’re living creatures. They’ve got their own minds and their own hearts. So, I’m pretty sure…”

    “About what?” Travis asked.

    “I’m pretty sure that, just like us, their minds can lose focus,” Brad said. “And I’m no expert on this type of thing, but maybe their hearts can hurt and be broken, too.”

    Travis raised an eyebrow and watched as the teenager with the surfer hair went into his pocket, pulling out a bottle of sorts and walking toward them. He slipped the bottle into Travis’ hand and shook it. Travis looked down at this hand and his eyes widened.

    “That’s a…” he stammered.

    “It’ll at least heal her wounds,” Brad said. “On the outside.”

    Brad stroked the Espeon’s fur with one of his hands, muttering an apology. With that, he turned his back on the rest of the group and began to walk away. Once he was out of sight, Travis tore for the front doors of the building, Angel in tow.

    “I’m kind of surprised,” Katrina commented. “With as vicious a battler as he is, I never thought…”

    “That’s how he became a Champion in the first place,” Madeline stated. “He doesn’t hold anything back when he battles, but he still cares about Pokémon in general…whether they belong to him or not.”

    Katrina smiled.

    “If all it takes is that and eight badges,” she muttered. “We’ve still got a good chance.”
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 14th May 2008 at 9:56 PM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  14. #364
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    Default Chapter 34-2

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    “Excuse me—” a black-haired girl bumped into a rather harried-looking man in a suit as she crossed a long, stone bridge that seemed to be suspended several dozen feet in the air. The buildings here seemed to be melded into a network of huge trees, causing the city to extend hundreds of feet into the sky. She turned around and looked up at the highest point in the city – the Gym, where the air could be thin indeed for one not used to the sheer height of the place. After a crowd of people cleared out of her way, she shouted loudly.

    “Matt!! Matt, where are you? Matt?!”

    She approached what appeared to be a landing that led to a descending flight of stairs. Quickly she went down those stairs and saw the Pokémon Center entrance just as she reached the bottom.


    Her steps took her into the room that she had registered for her time here, where she saw, sitting on the bed, the form of a boy.

    His head, covered by a mess of brown and blonde hair, was down, but by the green, short-sleeve button-down shirt with the white trim and collar as well as the jeans and dark green shoes, she could identify him easily.

    “Matt…” she approached him and sat down on the bed next to him. “Why’d you run off like that?”

    The boy looked up. His eyelashes were matted and his green eyes seemed to be a bit pink and wet. Nevertheless, he was smiling.

    “Two more to go,” Matt said in a rather sandy voice. “We’re almost there.”

    “You’ve been crying, haven’t you?” she asked, reaching up for his face. To her great shock, her hand was (gently) knocked away.

    “Of course not,” Matt laughed. “The pollen here’s making my eyes run, Bee. Lay off.”

    “Matt,” Mariah uttered haltingly, taking his other hand, which he’d had discreetly laying on his leg this entire time. She forced her way into his palm and found what looked to be a very small photograph. Mariah took it from his hand. Her heart sank as she surveyed it. “Oh, no…I completely forgot…”

    “Well, don’t mess it up now,” Matt muttered, looking pointedly away from Mariah. “You’ve got your own problems to worry about, so you don’t need to be dealing with mine.”

    “Your problems are my problems,” Mariah said emphatically.

    “It shouldn’t be like that,” Matt replied loudly.

    “So let me get this straight,” Mariah shot back, standing up. “We’re supposed to be together, and you’re supposed to try to carry all of my burdens and all of my problems – but you won’t let me shoulder some of yours? That doesn’t sound fair to me.”

    “It’s perfectly fair,” Matt stood as well.

    “Why do you try to carry the world on your shoulders like you’re some type of superhero?” Mariah asked. “You think it’s your duty to comfort me, to do all of this for me – hell, you’d even try to win the war single-handed if you had the chance! Do you think you’re impressing me or something? Huh? Well, you’re not. All it shows me is that you’re still scared to open up to people!!”

    “Well, you just try opening up to someone after losing almost everybody you care about!!” Matthew yelled.

    “I did!!” Mariah shouted back. “I loved Rafael – then he went off the deep end and killed himself! That’s when I opened up – I opened up to you!!”

    Matthew paused for a moment.

    “Exactly,” he said quietly. “That’s why I have to be strong for you.”

    “You think I’m weak?! Is that it?” Mariah continued yelling. “We’ve been playing this game this whole time because you think I’m weak and you feel sorry for me – is that what’s been going on?! You think that I have to deal with my loss first before I’m of any use to anybody?”

    Mariah had started yelling so loudly and talking so fast that Matt couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

    “I have!! I haven’t gotten over it, but I’ve gotten through it because of you! And now you won’t give me the chance to do the same thing for you. If it’s because you don’t think I’m strong enough to handle it, then swallow your pride and let me prove you wrong!!”

    Everything went silent.

    Matthew could only go on what he had heard people say about this day (or something whereabouts) two years ago. He wasn’t there. He hadn’t seen it. But he certainly felt it after he found out – and he’d been feeling it ever since. He had tried to cure the pain with anger – anger at people like Travis, whom he somehow thought could have done something to stop it. Then, when he realized that wasn’t true, he turned his anger toward himself for being a coward and running away. He also hated his mother – if it wasn’t for her, they would have never gotten involved with AURA in the first place. They would have likely been somewhere far away from the entire war. They might have been with him right now where he sat. He hated his father for leaving – although, looking at his mother, he wasn’t sure if he could even blame the man. What would Matthew himself have done in this situation?

    In any of these situations?

    He didn’t know the answer. He never seemed to have the answer. All he had left was to pick up the pieces and move on…

    He fell to his knees and the tears came forth, like a dam finally bursting at the seams after years of flood. His body shook with every sob and wail. Mariah knelt to the ground and put her arms around him, saying nothing, doing nothing…

    …but being there.


    New Bark Town, Johto

    Nate looked at his blonde girlfriend with a smile as the two sat on the grass at their usual evening meeting spot at the highest point of Johto. The only difference today was…that it was early afternoon. Professor Elm had given Nate the day off with the promise of a healthy diet of work tomorrow, giving the latter the prospect of a happy and full day off with Avril – something he hadn’t enjoyed in what felt like forever. He had almost forgotten that the two of them had only been back together for just about a month and a half. Currently, they were discussing a rather interesting phone conversation that they had engaged in a few days back. Something about…tickets.

    “So…getting excited yet?” Avril said, shrugging her shoulders. Avril, while still looking quite feminine, had done away with her normal dresses and skirts in favor of a pair of form-fitting jeans as well as a yellow shirt with a black taxicab motif. It appeared to be a mere pallet swap of a shirt that Nate himself wore often. Ever since coming back to New Bark Town, both of them had been listening to a lot of Silvercoin, and both liked them quite a bit.

    “I still can’t believe my parents went for it,” Nate said, still sounding incredulous. His hair was as black, as long, and as wild as ever. “I thought for sure the first thing my mom would do would be to try to chain me to a wall or something.”

    Avril giggled. Taking Nate’s hands, she remarked, “Well, I don’t see any marks on your wrists…”

    Without warning, she knocked Nate on his back, pinning him to the ground.

    “I can’t wait,” she said, nuzzling Nate’s cheek. “It’ll be the first time you and I have ever gone somewhere together.”

    “I know,” he said with a smile, guiding her face toward his so he could look straight into her silver eyes. She had completely new eyes. Her old ones, while nice, had a melancholy kind of beauty to them. These had a shine, a gentle fire that seemed to burn at the very back of them. Avril seemed puzzled.

    “What?” she uttered. Nate continued to smile.

    “You have really pretty eyes,” he said to her.

    “Oh,” Avril giggled. Blinking them twice, she purred, “All the better to see you with.”

    She lowered her face onto his and kissed him.

    Nate didn’t have the heart to tell her that there was another reason he was interested in going. He just resolved that he would do whatever he could to keep her away from it…

    Or to end it before it reached her.



    This is what I can do when I don’t have papers out the yin-yang 24/7. ^_^ I’m taking the rest of the day off from writing (which I do whenever I complete a chapter) so I can brainstorm some more for MH. If I churn out ten or so chapters this summer, we might be looking at an early ’09 release. Meanwhile, we can keep chewing on this one until I start that one.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Inside the Head of…


    Shiro

    Full Name: Shiro Michael Blackthorn
    DOB: June 20, PA 1998
    Birthplace: New Bark Town, Johto
    Current Age: 15
    Approximate Height: 5’10½ ”
    Approximate Weight: 153 lbs.
    Occupation: Semi-pro Skateboarder

    Shiro and Travis lived in the same neighborhood for nearly all of their formative years. They became friends in preschool and could have justifiably been described as something of an odd couple. Whereas Travis was meek, bookish, and quiet, Shiro was loud, outgoing, reckless…and also quite popular. Toward the end of 2004 – the year before he and Travis were to start school at the Pokémon Academy in New Bark Town – he and Travis met Katrina, who had just turned six and would also start school the following fall. While Travis and Katrina became fast friends, Shiro was a bit slower in opening up to her. Tragedy struck soon after Shiro’s first year, though – soon after the birth of his younger brother, Marco, Shiro’s mother died from complications related to the childbirth…or so everyone thought.

    The years passed, and the three children grew as they were educated. By about their third or fourth year, Shiro already felt like the proverbial third wheel of the group. At the same time, though, he began to attract the attention of some of his other classmates. Over the next several years, he became known as a flirt and perhaps even a bit of a Don Juan – think a pre-teen, red-headed version of Brock with a bad boy streak.

    Perhaps as much as any of his friends, Shiro’s first journey was one of self-discovery.

    As the summer of 2011 came, Shiro also received his first Pokémon. It had been obvious – perhaps from before they graduated – that Shiro’s battle instincts were not on the same par as Travis, but they were good in his own right.

    A few days later, he participated in an ‘official tournament’ hosted by Nathaniel Elm – really, just an attempt by Travis’ hated rival to show up his classmates. Well, ‘participated’ probably isn’t the correct word. It was there that he met a brunette girl named Madeline Marius, as well as learned about the threat of AURA. At the end of their first encounter with AURA, the friends parted ways, with Madeline basically forcing herself into Shiro’s company. It was strange and awkward for a while, but Shiro started to realize that Madeline’s spunky personality didn’t fit too badly with his own.

    By the time they reached Goldenrod, it was obvious to everyone except for Shiro himself that Madeline had a crush on him. Shortly after winning a Junior Regional Skateboarding competition (which happened to be right around his thirteenth birthday), Madeline cornered him and gave him his first kiss.

    He liked her a lot, and she liked him. That was about all there was to it for a while – even as Travis obtained the sword in Ecruteak City and they began to accompany him. It was also there that Shiro (as well as the others) met Lorca Blackthorn.

    The group of five traveled together until reaching Olivine City – a rather eventful stay to say the least. Shiro found out from Lorca that he was actually the son of Laena Blackthorn (who had changed her name and moved to New Bark Town) and therefore the nephew of Lorca, as well as of Clair and Lance. His budding relationship with Madeline was threatened when the latter decided to leave and go back to Cherrygrove. The only thing that stopped her was when Shiro realized that he loved her, and told her so.

    Days later, he, along with Madeline and the rest of his friends, would be locked in battle as AURA finally revealed themselves on the South Sea. Madeline’s two half-siblings were tragically lost in the conflict, leaving her to turn to Shiro, who felt powerless to comfort her.

    Nevertheless, Shiro eventually realized the power of simply listening instead of trying to fix things, and he and Madeline remained staples in Blackthorn City alongside Travis as he waged war against Angelos. Within that larger conflict, Shiro had a more personal battle – Eldrich Faust, who was (apparently) the last of the Blackthorn’s enemy clan and the brother of Laena’s murderer, had made his presence felt within Angelos’ army. During the final battle at the Plains of Jonah, Shiro and Eldrich faced off in a duel, with the former emerging victorious over his more experienced counterpart. He then had the opportunity to kill Eldrich, who had previously revealed that he and his wife were the caretakers of Eradel’s daughter. Not having the heart to do to this unknown little girl what Eradel had done to Marco, Shiro let Eldrich escape.

    After the war was over, a restless Shiro and Madeline spent the winter traveling Johto, then left for the Orange Islands, where they were that following July (2012) when they heard the news that Shiro’s father, Michael, had been killed in an accident. While there, Shiro accompanied Madeline to meet her own estranged father.

    Shiro and Madeline’s drifting brought them back to Johto for the following summer – right as their best friends, Travis and Katrina, had left for Hoenn. After winning the Junior Regionals for a third year running, Shiro, who had just turned fifteen, decides to journey to Hoenn in the hopes that he can be more supportive of his best friends than he was the first time around…
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's about it for now. Enjoy!

    - EM1

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  15. #365
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    Whoops. Sorry. Got a bit ahead of myself (and you) there.

    I didn't know why I thought that was the end of the chapter, the fact that it wasn't 2 pages should of been a big tip off.

    But much like Angel (not the same case I assure you) I too have been suffering some mental difficulties. Exams tend to do that, darn A-levels. Nice twist with that by the way.

    Anyway, the previous post which I have deleted, (again sorry) did have a quippy line, this one 'It was a filler, but more like a thriller in manilla'

    But then the forums died on me and it took all my interweb powers to get this through.

    So I'll leave you with some title related lyrics.

    "So take,
    these broken wings,
    and learn to fly again, learn to live so free.
    And then you hear the voices sing,
    and the book of love will open up for you and me.


    A bit of Mister Mister for ya.
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  16. #366
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    Man.

    What are you... warp-speed?

    The review for this bad boy's gonna have to wait till later this afternoon. I've got a final in about two hours and i like to get to the venues early so i'm not rushed.

    Can't wait to read it...

    IT's read. And try as i might, i found nothing to fix. Highlight of the chapter had to be:

    “Don’t mean to sound crude,” Brad said, inhaling deeply. “But what the (four-letter swear) was that?!”

    “That’s called the ‘Desperado’,” Travis explained just to humor him. “I save that for when I want to be damn sure the job gets done.”

    “I think the job’s done, dude,” Shiro muttered.

    “Yeah, no kidding,” Madeline commented.
    Gee... overkill much, you think? I like the creativity of your 'new' techniques. Desperado's such a cool name.

    More questions unfold in this chappie, including:

    Where did Crescent go during the Angel vs Scyther battle? What is Nate thinking of doing? AND WHAT THE HELL IS IN THAT ^$%^$£ing EGG?!

    Well, knowing you, the answers will reveal themselves soon enough.

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 16th May 2008 at 12:38 AM.
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  17. #367
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    That..was..an..awsome..chapter.

    I loved the battle description and the pokemon description as well.

    Well other than that I'm kinda speechless so...wow.
    Einstein: If life is XYZ then X = having fun Y = working hard and Z = knowing when to keep your mouth shut

  18. #368
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    No WAI new chapter! Dude, that was quick. Like, four days quick, and I missed it (reading Destiny Journeys...) Anyway, it was entire chapter full of pokemon beating each other up. What's not to love? SamuraiDragon summed it up with his first line, there. This WAS an awesome chapter.

    “Quick Attack,” Travis said simply. Raiden blurred out of sight for a moment and then reappeared at the same place – while Electabuzz began to reel backward as if something had hit him.

    “Did he just…” Shiro stammered.

    “Yeah, he did,” Katrina replied, folding her arms.

    “Okay…” Shiro blinked blankly. “That’s just not right.”
    I would love to see Travis and Raiden play tag. Honestly, defying the laws of physics is so fun. Air Dragon got the quote already, so let me second the motion that "Desperado" is overkill, but undeniably cool. Not to mention that the song started to play through my head after reading it. Finally, hooray for new "Inside the Head of..."! I really like reading those things. It refreshes the background you laid out so long ago, and all.

    Short review this time... Meh, -Oath

    PS:
    “Oh,” Avril giggled. Blinking them twice, she purred, “All the better to see you with.”
    Oh come on, Avril...

    PPS: Summer break is coming, and with it, hours of free time, even with work. Thus, I ask this thread for suggestions of other stories to keep track of in the time that I'm not having a life or playing Brawl. *goes to hunt*
    Last edited by Oathblivion; 17th May 2008 at 9:32 PM.

  19. #369
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    Well, dang dude. You sure update fast, don't you? Doesn't matter thougth, cause it's an awesome chapter.

    Plot: Katrina was right; Travis did lose the battle. Angel losing her abilities is definetely going to throw a wrench into Travis's battles, since she is his strongest Pokemon. Nate and Avril going to Hoenn, huh? I assume Nate's going to meet up with Travis at some point then.

    Description: Good as usual, nothing more to say.

    Electabuzz raised both arms and leapt right into the Grovyle. At a height of ten feet, one large, yellow, muscular arm found its way around Champ’s neck, and Electabuzz used it as a grappling hook to swing around behind Champ, at the same time hooking the other arm around the Grass-type’s throat. Electabuzz, as images of an Earth quaking in fear began to flit through his mind, yanked downward with all the strength that his arms could muster in that one moment.

    A BANG and subsequent rumble were the descriptors of strength as Electabuzz slammed Champ to the ground headfirst – so mightily that the unfortunate Wood Gecko Pokémon’s legs flicked into the air as the earth beneath his head splintered.

    A pile of rubble stood, heaped upon Champ, who was obviously knocked out, as Electabuzz stood upon this heap, flexing his arms and roaring.

    Shiro blinked twice.

    “Oh, my gosh…” he exclaimed in shock, looking at Brad, who was whistling himself.

    “We like to call that the ‘Seismic Toss, version 2’,” Brad replied. “That…might’ve been a little much, actually…”
    Just a bit too much...

    “That’s easy – a shitload,” Shiro replied, blinking his golden eyes in astonishment.

    Brad returned Vibrava before she even hit the ground, not willing to allow her to suffer any further damage.

    “Don’t mean to sound crude,” Brad said, inhaling deeply. “But what the (four-letter swear) was that?!”

    “That’s called the ‘Desperado’,” Travis explained just to humor him. “I save that for when I want to be damn sure the job gets done.”
    Sounds like a pretty good attack.

    “<Sudden change in weather patterns…>” it muttered, seemingly surprised. “<Current weather: thunderstorms. Rain extremely heavy. Winds increeeeeeeeeea…….>”

    It never finished the sentence as a sudden gust of wind indeed blew, sending the tiny, two-pound Castform looping high into the air and faraway.
    LOL, poor Castform.

    Overall, good chapter.

  20. #370
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    One word. Whew. After spending a large portion of the last two weeks catching up, I've got to say I wish I would've started sooner. I'm sure you're tired of all the praise, but I've got plenty to say.

    Description is very good, no doubt. Especially in the last ten or so chapters, I've noticed you've made even more of an improvement. One thing that can often be a problem with description is that the writer just doesn't describe interesting things. Sure, might be able to describe a boring little Pokemon journey, but to really complete good description you need excellent imagery, as well as a clear image of what you're describing. You have both in spades, which really makes PR:AP pop off the screen and into the reader's imagination.

    The characters...what can I say? A good friend of mine is similar to you in that somehow he can manage the names, not to mention the exploits of a vast number of characters. Something I really can't do, in fact. Normally, when dealing with lots of main and semi-main characters, I find myself scratching my head thinking "Who is this again?" This is a problem you've avoided on the whole, mostly due to the fact that each character is so unique and well-defined, and is woven so deep into the tapestry of characters and plots you have little problem remembering details that you might otherwise have missed.

    It doesn't even stop there. XD Travis...I like how you've developed his character. He's believable in all aspects, and makes for an excellent main character. Unlike a lot of people, I much prefer when a character angsts over mistakes and missed chances in his past. So long as it's realistic and believable, I like that much more than for a character to suddenly blow off whatever traumatic event after a day or two and forget all about it. That said...the way he's turned now is for the better, I think. Everyone falls into despair sometimes, but the important thing to remember is that they will eventually improve. Something you've done, and done well in fact.

    On paper, he looks almost a bit like a Stu. Grandfather a Champion, very smart and leader of his class, holds a magical sword, leads a rebellion to save the world...but I think he's anything but. Just because he has possible Stu elements doesn't mean anything in my mind so long as he's developed well (no problem), is written well (again, no worries) and all of the things are explained (well...as much as they need to be without spoiling anything, anyway). All three are a resounding check, and IMO, make the fic much better for it.

    Unfortunately, I'm not going to go over each character like this, for fear of being here all day. XD But I'll say this: None of your characters have had any resounding flaws (on your part, of course. All characters have normal sort of flaws that any real person would have) and they really do carry the fic, and carry it well.

    The plot...just wow. The amount of dedication is sky high to this thing. With anything this long (rough guess here...but so far between both fics you've got to be approaching 1500 pages), I expect all kinds of plot holes. Of course, I don't doubt that there's a couple lingering around somewhere, but none that I could see. A big kudos to you there, for sure.

    Just thinking back on PR:AP, the amount of plot is incredible. I'll take Reivyn for example. She started out as a runaway at the very beginning. Next thing we know, she's attempting to steal Travis' sword. Then she's captured, taken along as bait for the Temple by Kenjiro, only to fall in love with him and for them to save each other's lives a few times. Oh yeah, now they're on a pirate ship for some crazy reason. XD

    I think the clincher here (like I haven't filled you with enough hot air already) is your dedication to this. Again, just taking PR:AP as an example, in little more than a year you've completed what? 34 chapters? And not the short little chapters most everyone else makes. I think I counted one chapter that didn't spill over into two posts. Maybe. And I'm sorry, but did you say you wanted this to be a 100 chapters? Excuse me? That's what I'm talking about.

    Seeing as I doubt you need an 90-something chapter review, I'll do a short one for the newest chapter.

    Electabuzz’s small, black eyes shifted to his periphery. Electabuzz turned and raised his other fist.
    One thing, I've noticed, that I feel you should work on is this. Instead of just saying the majority of the time Travis did this, or Angel did this, instead don't just say their names over and over. Use that opportunity to describe them just a bit. I know that you do this some, I just think it would be better if you did it more. XD

    “Pound him! Use Thunder Punch!” Brad yelled. Electabuzz slammed his fists together, creating his own miniature thunderstorm, right as he rushed the Grovyle on the other side. Champ barely avoided the first fist but was clouted hard by the second, reeling backward as sparks flew from his face. Electabuzz kept coming, prompting Champ to duck another fist that screamed by his head, missing his jaw by inches.
    Very good description here. I've got to say, you plan out the battles well and make them a lot of fun to read.

    “Okay…so how much damage does nine souped-up Water Guns from a ******-off Kitide add up to on a Ground-type?” Madeline asked.

    “That’s easy – a shitload,” Shiro replied, blinking his golden eyes in astonishment.
    Yeah...I'd tend to agree with that one...

    Heh, I haven't written a decent review in a while now. Simply put fantastic job here. Easily one of the very best fics on SPPf, no doubt. Which is one of the reasons why I like fan fiction so much. Sure, you can go read Harry Potter. But when was the last time you could talk to J.K. Rowling about her chapters?

    Seeing as I've spent at least an hour or so every day for the past two weeks reading, I'd say you've got yourself a new reviewer.

  21. #371
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    Diddy: Don'tcha just hate it when SPPf eats your reviews for breakfast?? Nice lyrics.

    AD: Two differences between this and last summer - first off, I'm not so much under that 'stress' I was talking about earlier this year - and I've got this new laptop that has wireless internet access. Plus, for right now, I don't have one heck of a lot more to do during the day.

    Oathblivion: I wonder who'd win that race, too...

    xXPorygonXx: There's going to be a bit of a backlash that stems from Angel and Crescent's breakup. As for Travis' team...

        Spoiler:- Travis' team::



    Duncan: I really appreciate the fact that you recognized my dedication. I aim to be one of the best writers on this forum, but even if I don't quite get there, I'd rather have people say that I had the persistence to stick to my guns as far as my stories are concerned, mediocre though they may be.

    I'm aware of the fact that Travis really looks like a Stu on paper. That's why I made sure to give him some very humanizing traits. The fact is, while Travis may have a lot of great things going for him, he doesn't want half of it. He silently feels pressure from a lot of the expectations laid on him as the grandson of a Champion as well as a Swordbearer - so much so that it's actually unhealthy.

    I'm not sure you have any idea how much I needed to read that post. I know it sounds really strange, but I feel vindicated as a writer after reading a post like that in the middle of a well-thought-out review. Let me explain.

    I got into a rather heated argument with a 'critic' on this forum because this particular person was...as a good friend of mine put it, a 'canon Nazi'. It was one of those people that has zero tolerance against Stu-like character traits. I tend to be more tolerant of them as long as they're well-written and there aren't too many - just because the list of qualities that could be understood as 'Stu-like' is so long that they're hard to avoid and create interesting characters, frankly. Everything to strange hairstyles to being particularly attractive to owning freaking pets (I got all of these from a very comprehensive 'Is-your-character-a-Mary-Sue' quiz) is a Stu-like trait. It drives me up a wall, honestly.

    Welcome aboard, and if you get time, you might want to read my other fanfic - Revolution: Johto, which was my first work here. Advent Phoenix is actually a sequel and the second in a loose trilogy (the third installment's in its planning stages). Also, it'll give you the chance to see where I came from as a writer. The post dates don't reflect this, but I actually started writing that fanfic back in early '04. Then I stopped it, my account fizzled out because my computer busted and I couldn't get regular 'net access for about a year. Then, I started another story, and I just couldn't latch onto that fic. I might have been done as a writer at that point ('05), but it was due to a couple of readers who had actually saved what I had done of PRJ so far (back then, it was called Johto Generations). Since that story was really where my heart was, I asked them to send me the chapters and picked it back up from there.

  22. #372
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    Default

    You know, I had actually forgot that Travis had an egg until awhile ago. Shall it be a fan-made Pokemon or a canon one?

    And this "canon Nazi". I posted my suspicions in your profile. Let me know if they're right.
    Last edited by xXPorygonXx; 19th May 2008 at 2:00 AM.

  23. #373
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    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    Duncan: I really appreciate the fact that you recognized my dedication. I aim to be one of the best writers on this forum, but even if I don't quite get there, I'd rather have people say that I had the persistence to stick to my guns as far as my stories are concerned, mediocre though they may be.

    I'm aware of the fact that Travis really looks like a Stu on paper. That's why I made sure to give him some very humanizing traits. The fact is, while Travis may have a lot of great things going for him, he doesn't want half of it. He silently feels pressure from a lot of the expectations laid on him as the grandson of a Champion as well as a Swordbearer - so much so that it's actually unhealthy.

    I'm not sure you have any idea how much I needed to read that post. I know it sounds really strange, but I feel vindicated as a writer after reading a post like that in the middle of a well-thought-out review. Let me explain.

    I got into a rather heated argument with a 'critic' on this forum because this particular person was...as a good friend of mine put it, a 'canon Nazi'. It was one of those people that has zero tolerance against Stu-like character traits. I tend to be more tolerant of them as long as they're well-written and there aren't too many - just because the list of qualities that could be understood as 'Stu-like' is so long that they're hard to avoid and create interesting characters, frankly. Everything to strange hairstyles to being particularly attractive to owning freaking pets (I got all of these from a very comprehensive 'Is-your-character-a-Mary-Sue' quiz) is a Stu-like trait. It drives me up a wall, honestly.

    Welcome aboard, and if you get time, you might want to read my other fanfic - Revolution: Johto, which was my first work here. Advent Phoenix is actually a sequel and the second in a loose trilogy (the third installment's in its planning stages). Also, it'll give you the chance to see where I came from as a writer. The post dates don't reflect this, but I actually started writing that fanfic back in early '04. Then I stopped it, my account fizzled out because my computer busted and I couldn't get regular 'net access for about a year. Then, I started another story, and I just couldn't latch onto that fic. I might have been done as a writer at that point ('05), but it was due to a couple of readers who had actually saved what I had done of PRJ so far (back then, it was called Johto Generations). Since that story was really where my heart was, I asked them to send me the chapters and picked it back up from there.
    Yeah, no problem. Honestly, I really enjoyed it. Plus I hadn't had the chance to write a decent review in a while, so...oh, and if you wouldn't mind, don't call me Duncan? XD I prefer duncan...

    And about the Sue deal...yeah, I know what you're talking about. In fact...I believe my main character is probably worse than Travis. He's the son of a Team head, his father was Palkia's chosen one with all kinds of evil powers, he (unknowingly) has Dialga's powers and is linked to it, he's died once (supposedly) and doesn't know he has a son that disappeared after he "died". All of which counted high on a lot of those Sue tests, and yet he's never been called a Stu by any of my reviewers throughout three sagas.

    I think that if you are supposed to stay away from all so-called Sue elements, then you would have an extremely boring fic. If the special things are written well, and not specifically for the character, then I usually don't care at all. Believe me, Travis isn't a Stu. Some "critics" are like that, but the only real way to tell if a character is a Sue or not is to read it, something I doubt this "critic" did.

  24. #374
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    Default Chapter 35

    This is probably a pretty quick post, considering the length of this chapter. It’s probably in the mid-to-upper twenties as far as page length is concerned. However, as I read back through it, it feels a lot longer. Ironically, considering everything that went on in the last chapter, this one’s a little bit shippy in some places. At least, more or less, it stayed with the same main group/subplot. As much as I love it when one of my chapters jumps from Travis’ group to Rustboro to Matt and Mariah and then to Johto and back, I just couldn’t find the space in this chapter – too much going on.

    Well, enjoy!

    Chapter 35: Revenge Served Flaming


    July 11, PA 2013 – Hoenn Meteorological Tower


    All of the Pokémon that had battled that morning had been patched up with an array of different potions and health items that Travis, Katrina, Madeline, and Shiro had thought to store in their respective packs. Meru’s wounds were healed rather easily. Next came Champ, who unsurprisingly had some aches and pains from coming off worse in a rather brutal engagement with an Electabuzz earlier that day. Raiden was on his feet again, but nonetheless with a bandaged leg on which he walked with an obvious limp.

    And then there was Angel.

    Almost immediately upon going back inside, Travis had used the bottle that Brad had given him that morning. That bottle was a Full Restore – one of the rarer and more expensive healing items to obtain. As Brad promised, this balm managed to heal all of the external injuries Angel had received in her recent fight with Scyther, which left her…

    Absolutely catatonic, lethargic, and mute throughout the afternoon.

    As Travis went off to accompany Katrina, Shiro, and Madeline on a swim down at the nearby lake, the vast majority of the Pokémon remained in some capacity in or around the Weather Tower.

    Champ, Sparx, and Hotshot were by Angel’s bedside for most of the afternoon, trying their best to coax a word out of her.

    “<Don’t let it get to you,>” the Grovyle had said to her at this most recent juncture. “<Closers have to have a short memory – even the best ones will lose one every once in a while.>”

    The lavender Espeon laying on the bed remained silent, not giving Champ so much as a glance.

    “<Sometimes your stuff just isn’t going to work,>” the decidedly saurian Grass-type went on in a manner similar to a coach encouraging one of his players after a bad game. “<If you’re going to blame anybody, blame me – I’m the one that lost and put us in the hole to start with…>”

    “<Champ, shut up,>” Champ looked up as a female voice cut him off rather curtly. He saw Sparx the Pikachu, one of her little, yellow ears cocked as her brown eyes cast a dismissive glance at him.

    “<I’m trying to help,>” the Grovyle tried to explain himself – she wasn’t buying it.

    “<Well, you’re not helping,>” the Pikachu replied in a deadpan voice, her erect ear dropping down to her head.

    “<How do you know that?>” Champ asked, standing up straight. At his full height, he might have been twice Sparx’s size. The Pikachu, however, was (as always) unafraid.

    “<Because this is about something more than just the match!!>” She exclaimed, her bright red cheeks appearing to be even redder than usual in her anger. Moreover, it appeared that a vein was pulsating lightly near her temple. “<When have you ever seen Angel like this?>”

    “<Well, she doesn’t lose often,>” the Grovyle reasoned, completing missing the point of what Sparx was trying to say.

    “<Weren’t you listening to a damn thing I said?>” she shouted back, causing Champ as well as Hotshot to wince at the sudden increase in volume. “<This isn’t about the match!! Angel’s been battling way too long to let something like this get to her. It’s something different, I’m telling you!!>”

    “<You have to put those kind of things aside when you’re on the field,>” the Grovyle sighed, still utterly convinced that he was being helpful. “<You have to go after the opponent in front of you…>”

    A Thunderbolt sailed over Angel’s bed, barely missing Champ as it blasted a hole in the wall. The Espeon remained as lethargic as ever, her reaction defined by…well, an utter lack of reaction.

    “<Whoa – what the hell?!>” the dark-green Wood Gecko Pokémon shouted in surprise, looking at the chunk that had been blown out of the wall, and then back at Sparx, whose crimson cheeks were crackling dangerously as she stared him down.

    “<Get out,>” she hissed, approaching him slowly like a tiger ready to pounce on its prey.

    “<Hey, there’s no need to try and fry me – aren’t we all on the same team right now?>” he asked.

    “<This isn’t about – your ‘team’!!>” Sparx shouted, sending another Thunderbolt at Champ, who rolled out of the way.

    “<Well, if you really want to battle me that badly…>” the Grass-type muttered, the leaves on his arms retracting into two large blades and glowing bright green.

    “<Swing and see if I don’t blast you through that wall,>” A Growlithe, previously silent during this whole exchange, jumped in front of Sparx, flames flaring in his mouth. Champ stopped for a moment.

    “<Good grief – you’re worse than Serge was,>” the Pikachu commented. “<Do you even care about anyone else, or is it all about fighting to you??>”

    Champ’s Leaf Blades died on his green arms as he shot a wounded look at Sparx. There was silence for several moments.

    “<Where the hell is Crescent??>” he asked, stalking away. “<I thought this was his department…>”

    Sparx’s ears perked up as she heard a quick intake of breath for a moment. This gasp soon erupted into bitter, racking sobs, leaving Champ feeling a bit sheepish.

    “<What – what happened?>” the confused Grovyle asked, painfully unaware of his lack of tact. “<And who the hell is Serge?>”

    “<Leave. Just…go,>” Sparx chased him out of the room, where he rammed the door, which slammed behind him, leaving only the sound of Angel crying. Sparx trudged back to the bed where Angel lay to find Hotshot staring up at her, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

    “<So…it was him,>” Hotshot muttered, his voice as well as his body shaking. “<What did he do to you??>”

    Angel didn’t respond verbally – she just started crying harder.

    “<It’s okay,>” Sparx tried to be comforting. “<We’re here.>”

    “<Sparx, can you stay with her?>” Hotshot asked, walking away from his companion. “<I have to go get ready.>”

    “<For what?>” the Pikachu asked curiously.

    “<That damned Umbreon did something to her,>” the Growlithe replied, his canine face locked in an expression of pent-up rage, “<and I’m going to find out what the hell that was.>”



    “<Raiden! Raiden, where are you??>” a hyperactive-sounding voice rang through the Weather Tower, causing the young Voltyger to jump.

    “<Oh, great,>” he muttered, trying to quicken his pace. “<Ouch…ow…ouch…ouch…>”

    He made it halfway up a flight of stairs and stopped to pant.

    “<Ah…my leg…>” he gasped. “<It still hurts like…>”

    “<Raiden!! I really need to talk to you!!>” the voice shouted again. “<Stop hiding from me. Pleeeease?>”

    “<Yeah, right,>” Raiden grunted with a rare bite to his voice, taking off up the stairs again and grunting. “<Shoot. What’s wrong with this thing?>”

    “<I have something good to tell you. I promise you’ll like it!>” the voice yelled a third time. “<I think…>”

    “<There’s no way…>” the panther-like Electric-type muttered. From the top of the staircase – which seemed to be nothing more than a dead end a strange panel on the side about thirty feet in the air – he saw what looked like a ventilation shaft more than large enough for him to fit through. Thinking quickly, he sent an electric spark through said vent, knocking off the cover. Mustering all the strength he could out of his legs – especially his injured one – he leapt, landing right inside. It was at that point that he realized that past the landing (which he had overshot badly) was a sheer drop down a chute.

    “<WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAA!!>”

    A lazy-looking, antelope-like creature in another room looked up. His eyes became the size of small saucers as the cover came flying off of the ventilation shaft, followed quickly by a black blur, headed straight for him like a black cruise missile.

    THUMP.

    Grunting in pain and opening his eyes blearily, Magnus the Georyx looked around himself and found, several feet away, a small, panther-cub-looking creature staggering to his feet and groaning as well.

    “<Ouch…bad idea…>” Raiden grunted, now standing on three legs because he couldn’t put much weight on the bandaged fourth one.

    “<You’re telling me,>” Magnus agreed rather dourly, rising to a standing position. “<What the hell possessed you to take a joyride through one of the vents, anyway?>”

    “<With a busted leg?>” the Voltyger muttered. “<It was like a ‘joyride’ – only minus the ‘joy’…>”

    “<Oh, Raiden?>” a female voice sang. It was…coming closer…

    Uh-oh.

    “<Oh – damn!>” Raiden spouted off a rare oath. “<Magnus, quick – hide me!!>”

    “<Hide you?>” the antelope-like Georyx wore a befuddled expression as the small Voltyger cub frantically leapt behind his larger form. “<From what??>”

    “<Raiden??>” a rodent-like creature with fire-colored fur strode into the room. “<Hi, Magnus!!>”

    “<Erm…hey, Amber,>” the Georyx said, sounding rather uncomfortable greeting his Fire-type teammate as many often did. <Oh, great. I don’t know what the hell I got into the middle of – and I’m not sure I want to know, either.>

    “<You haven’t seen Raiden around, have you?>” she asked much too enthusiastically.

    “<Raiden…erm…er….no – no way,>” Magnus lied rather feebly. “<He’s probably in the other room. Or maybe he’s upstairs or outside or…>”

    “<Right behind you!!>” Amber opened her mouth and let loose a golden stream of light. Magnus ducked out of the way as the Fireworks attack came whizzing past his head and exploded on the floor, blowing apart the tile. “<There you are.>”

    Raiden’s heart sank like a stone. He got up and his eyes shifted toward the door.

    “<There’s no use running,>” the Marhot said simply. “<I already know your leg’s mangled.>”

    Raiden swore mentally.

    “<I want to talk to you,>” she said. What scared Raiden the most was that she sounded more serious than he had ever heard her. Shooting a dirty look at Magnus, who hadn’t even bothered to get off the ground, he followed her out of the doors. They ended up in a long hallway that no doubt connected to that large central room from which the vent had just unceremoniously ejected Raiden like old garbage. There was a long, awkward silence. “<So…hi.>”

    “<Hi,>” Raiden replied nervously.

    “<I haven’t seen you in almost a week,>” she said, trying and failing miserably to keep her gaze ahead of her. She seemed to be having a hard time keeping her eyes off Raiden, who walked astride her, completely oblivious.

    “<Well…that’s because…>” the Voltyger started.

    “<You’ve been avoiding me,> she cut him off. “<Haven’t you?>”

    “<Well…I…>” Raiden stammered, trying to figure out how he was supposed to answer that question and tell her the truth without sounding like a jerk. Fortunately, Amber chose to keep talking, rendering that decision a moot point.

    “<I can’t say that I blame you,>” Amber said. Raiden’s eyes shifted over to her. “<I’ve been trying to figure out why…I guess…I’m really weird…around you.>”

    “<Around me?>” Raiden repeated before he had a chance to stop himself.

    “<I don’t suffer from insanity – I enjoy every minute of it,>” Amber said rather confidently, causing Raiden to look askance at her and put a step more distance between them. “<But…around you, I’m just…>”

    “<You’re just you,>” Raiden replied, closing his eyes in slight annoyance.

    “<Yeah,>” Amber said, ceasing to walk as she stood still and pondered the significance of this idea for a moment. Raiden blinked rather dimly.

    “<So, what does that have to do with me?>” he asked, his feline face contorted in an expression of confusion.

    “<I think…>” Amber started to speak but broke down into giggles and looked away from Raiden, blushing furiously. Then – to the Voltyger’s great chagrin – she seemed to start talking to herself. “<I can’t believe I’m doing this – this is crazy…>”

    “<I guess it’s right up your alley, then,>” Raiden replied.

    “<I think…>” Amber said, her cheeks still pink. “<I think it’s because I really…like you.>”

    “<I knew that already,>” Raiden said, still oblivious. “<We’ve been friends ever since…>”

    Amber shook her head.

    Raiden looked like someone had hit him in the face with a saucepan.

    “<You mean…>” he started, still somehow shocked at Amber’s words. “<You like me like…>”

    She giggled. “<I know…it’s weird, isn’t it? I hardly ever felt like you were making fun of me when I said something…and when I did, I knew you weren’t doing it to be mean.>”

    “<Oh…>” Raiden uttered, feeling rather foolish. How was he supposed to respond to something like that?

    “<I only have one other thing to say to you – or ask you, really,>” the Marhot said. “<What do you think about yourself?>”

    “<Uh…what?>” Raiden uttered.

    “<What do you think about yourself? I want to know – like, honestly – if you looked at yourself in a mirror right now, what would you see?>” Amber asked.

    “<Um…I’m…stronger, I guess…>” Raiden muttered as if Amber wasn’t standing there. “<Yeah, I’m definitely stronger. I never could have fought on a bad leg before. Everybody says that I’m the fastest out of everyone here…they can’t all be lying, I guess…>”

    “<Oh,>” Amber replied, accompanied by another giggle. She turned to Raiden and took a step toward him.

    The feline Pokémon shuddered and gasped as he felt the wet tip of a tongue graze one side of his face, which went utterly red. Amber batted her eyes at him

    “<…Um…I’ll see you around, I guess,>” Amber said, beginning to walk away from Raiden. He stood there for a few moments. There was this feeling of exhilaration and happiness bubbling inside him. He couldn’t understand why, either; it was almost like he had received something that he wanted without knowing that he wanted it. That didn’t make sense, did it? Suddenly, Raiden’s mind went back to the first time he met Amber…


    Raiden stood rooted to the spot where he’d started, as Amber approached him.

    “<What?>” she piped up. “<Meowth got your tongue? Don’t worry – I’m not Arcus. I don’t bite at all.>”

    Raiden remained silent and observed her.

    “<Um…okay, guess I’ll start,>” Amber said. “<My name’s Amber and I like coconuts and rainbows, but it’s kinda hard for me to see rainbows ‘cause they happen right after it rains and I hate the rain…anyway, I like coconuts because they make funny sounds when they hit things. Oh – and I like red! My favorite color’s red. Anything else you want to know about me?>”

    Questions concerning Amber’s sanity popped into Raiden’s head, but the young Voltyger resolved to keep those to himself.

    “<I’ll stop if I’m annoying you. Seriously,>” Amber said.

    “<No, I’m okay,>” Raiden finally said. “<I think you’re very…um…interesting, that’s it.>”

    “<Really? I think you’re really cute,>” Amber responded. Raiden’s face went extremely hot and Amber, seemingly realizing what she’d said ten seconds too late, laughed, “<Oh – sorry, that must have really freaked you out, huh?>”

    “<Um…>” Raiden didn’t really know how to respond to her.

    “<I guess I just say whatever’s on my mind at the moment, which doesn’t always work because I’m thinking about a million different things in a second, like rubber duckies, milk, and coconuts,>” Amber said. Raiden couldn’t help himself – he let out a snicker. Amber seemed thoroughly pleased with herself.

    “<Um…Amber?>” Raiden uttered.

    “<I knew I could get you to laugh eventually!>” Amber squealed in victory. Raiden sighed and laid down.

    “<You have a lot of personality, don’t you?>” he asked.

    “<And you have absolutely none at all, but we’ll have to work on that!>” Amber said, placing a paw tauntingly on Raiden’s head. “<Don’t worry – if a loon like me can fit in, you should be able to do it, easy!!>”

    “<You really think that?>” Raiden asked.

    “<Of course!>” Amber answered excitedly. Raiden smiled.

    “<That’s the best thing anyone’s ever said to me,>” he said. “<But how do you know?>”

    “<Because there’s no one else in the group that’s just like you,>” Amber answered. “<You don’t say a lot, but you’re really adorable when you talk. Someone like you could get me to shut my big mouth for a second or two to listen, and that’s saying something.>”

    “<Amber…I have a question,>” Raiden said after a while.

    “<Shoot,>” Amber replied.

    “<Do you…care about what others think of you?>” Raiden asked.

    “<Yeah…and no,>” Amber answered. Seeing Raiden’s confused look, she continued. “<Of course, I don’t want to be a prick like…certain Pokémon, but, moving on. I know I’m a bubbly chatterbox….but I’m comfortable in my own skin. Everyone should be comfortable in their own skin.>”

    Amber laid down next to Raiden. The two smiled at each other.

    “<By the way…>” Amber said with a smile. “<Just so you know, I’m the most painfully honest Pokémon on the planet – and I do think you’re cute.>”

    “<Um…thanks?>” Raiden still didn’t know quite how to respond, but talking to Amber (the few words he could get in edgewise) somehow made him feel better about himself. She seemed to have all of the personality, self-confidence, and overall happiness that Raiden wished that he had. She seemed to radiate that happiness like a glow that could illuminate even a night sky as black as this one. “<You’re…pretty, too…or…erm, nevermind.>”

    Amber opened her eyes, looked at Raiden and giggled, and closed them again.


    Every time he had ever talked with her…had not made him stronger. It simply made him believe what she had been saying to him all along. The strength was inside him like a caged Taillow ready to be set free. And once someone came along and unlocked the door…

    Then he could live.

    “<Amber! Wait a second!>” Raiden found himself yelling after her before he realized what he was doing. The Marhot stopped and watched as Raiden approached her.

    “<The limp’s really cute,>” she commented.

    “<It’s a battle wound. It’s not supposed to be ‘cute’,>” the Voltyger replied, feeling the pain in said limb again. “<It sure doesn’t feel ‘cute’…>”

    “<Sorry…>” Amber apologized. “<I didn’t mean to sound happy that you were hurt or anything.>”

    “<Don’t apologize,>” Raiden said with a smile. “<I know you weren’t thinking that.>”

    “<I’m glad you didn’t take it that way,>” she answered, part of her wondering why Raiden was staring at her like that. “<I was trying to give you a com-com…pli..me..>”

    She stopped mid-sentence as the Voltyger approached her without warning and rubbed his nose against her face rather tentatively.

    “<What…>” Amber, whose face had blanched for a moment and was now quite red, seemed genuinely shocked by his actions. “<Raiden…>”

    Raiden looked at Amber. She wasn’t running away screaming – that was a good sign. Then again, knowing her, it might just have been that what he’d just done hadn’t quite registered with her brain yet. There was no use hesitating – he had already crossed the point of no return. “<You…you wouldn’t mind, would you?>”

    “<D-do you mean…!>” Amber stammered with the shocked facial expression of one who had just become an instant millionaire as the reality of what Raiden was trying to say hit her.

    “<Only if you want,>” Raiden said. Amber looked back at Raiden and smiled, still blushing.

    “<…I think I’d like that,>” she finally replied, and they exited into the foyer of the Weather Tower together. Not long after they did that, a small, orange dog that was striped rather like a tiger walked into the hallway looking back at them over his shoulder.

    “<What the hell was that??>” Hotshot muttered, stalking toward the annex room, shaking his head.


    Travis’ bare feet felt the stones under him. They were rather hot from sunlight, but fortunately dry, which was good for preventing any…undesirable mishaps.

    Undesirable…undesirable would be jumping into this lake with his shirt still on, he thought to himself with a scoff, retreating from the edge of the rock.

    It was safe to say that they found this area with a little bit of map reading and a lot of luck. Travis had heard that there was a small lake in the area between the Weather Tower and Fortree City. He had not been prepared, however, for this. Here, the water was reflecting the blue of the sky – it even sparkled a bit with the Sun’s rays. The lake was surrounded on three sides by trees. On the fourth (as Travis looked up toward it) was a rock face several dozen feet in height, over which ran a waterfall sheer and white. Travis took a deep breath of air, reflecting on their fortune at finding this place. Aside from its beauty, it would also serve for a more practical purpose – cooling them down.

    “Agh…damn it,” Shiro sighed, taking off his shirt and laying it down at the foot of a nearby tree, leaving only his black swimming trunks. Looking up at Travis with his gold eyes, he gasped. “Did you check the weather? How hot is it supposed to be?”

    “Lower eighties,” Travis replied.

    “Bull…shit,” Shiro grunted, making sure to separate the swearword into its two syllables for added emphasis as he wiped beads of sweat from his forehead. “It’s not a sunbeam under ninety out here – I’m telling you.”

    “I don’t think it’s that hot,” Madeline commented, setting her own shirt next to Shiro. She was wearing a violet bikini. Her hair was still tied back in a bun, leaving the long, bottle-blonde strands of fringe on her cheek to play about her face a bit.

    Wordlessly, Travis stripped himself off his shirt, which took a bit of doing, as the humidity had tried to fuse the garment to his skin. Upon removing it, he flung it rather forcefully at the tree, where it landed near his shoes. Shiro and Madeline had stopped what they were doing. Madeline’s jaw actually dropped, revealing an inch or so of gaping mouth before she closed it.

    “What??” Travis asked after a few moments of awkward silence.

    “You’ve been working out, haven’t you?” Madeline asked.

    “Not since last spring – haven’t had time,” Travis replied.

    “But your arms….they’re the size of – well…” Shiro took an aside glance at the nearby tree, not able to bring himself to complete the cliché.

    “Oh…that’s – well, I guess part of it’s genetics,” Travis commented, looking at his arms, which were indeed rather muscular for his age.

    “Genetics?” Madeline repeated.

    “Yeah,” Shiro replied. “His dad’s really cut. He works construction, remember?”

    “Oh…yeah, that’s right…” Madeline put a hand to her chin as she thought back a couple of years.

    “Hmm…I think I’ll call home when I get to Fortree,” Travis commented. “I haven’t talked to my dad in a while.”

    “Why can’t you call him from the Weather Tower?” Madeline asked.

    “Huh?” Travis uttered, confused.

    “There’s a phone in the Weather Tower – don’t tell me you never noticed it!” Madeline replied. “It was right next to the television and stuff in the lounge.”

    “Oh…” Travis scratched his cheek, feeling a bit foolish.

    “Uh…hey, where’d Katrina go?” Shiro asked. “…and…damn it – why don’t we have any towels?”

    “We left them back at the Weather Tower,” Travis sighed, grimacing.

    “You mean, you left them back at the Weather Tower,” Madeline corrected him, hands on her hips.

    “Whatever,” Travis intoned flatly. “Point is, someone had to go back and get them.”

    “She’s taking an awful long time for it just being five minutes away,” Shiro sighed. “Geez, I’m growin’ a beard here. …All right – screw it!

    With that, Shiro sprinted past Travis, up to the rock and leapt, tilting backward. The somersaulting dive was completed out of Travis and Madeline’s line of sight and was signaled by a loud splashing sound. Travis, followed by Madeline, jogged to the edge of the large rock and peered over it, several feet down into the water. A couple of seconds after, they saw a red head rise out of the water with a gaping mouth as Shiro surfaced and took in air.

    “Showoff!!” Madeline yelled in irritation. “Don’t come crying to me if you get yourself killed.”

    “If I’m dead, I won’t be doing much crying anyway, will I?” Shiro shouted back. Madeline shot Shiro a look as Travis watched the redheaded boy bob in and out of the water. He could have sworn he saw the teen’s face contort in a wink…

    “Guys!!” Travis heard a familiar voice and he immediately turned around and headed down the rock. A couple of steps down, he heard a high-pitched shriek and a splash – almost like a bomb being dropped into water. Not bothering to look back and see what had happened, he walked the rest of the way down the rock and down the small incline toward Katrina, who had returned in her red bathing suit, carrying four towels of various colors.

    Meanwhile, Madeline emerged from the water, looking rather displeased with herself.

    “You missed? How did you miss?” Shiro had his hands positioned in what can best be described as a ‘WTF’ pose.

    “I don’t know,” Madeline moaned, looking back over her shoulder as Travis (choosing to take the easy way into the water instead of diving) gently guided Katrina into the lake. Shiro buried the upper part of his face in his hand.

    “Dammit – we won’t get another chance like that one for ages,” he muttered.

    “What are you guys talking about?” Shiro and Madeline stopped staring at each other and both turned their heads as Travis and Katrina swam up to them. There was a silence that lasted five seconds and was broken by Madeline’s quick, mouselike squeak of:

    “Shiro wanted to prank you.”

    “WHAT?!” Shiro said in an affronted screech. “What the hell are you talking about?”

    “I dare you to tell him I’m lying,” Madeline said, her hands on her hips again. Shiro raised her eyebrows at her and turned to Travis.

    “She’s lying,” he said. “H-hey!!”

    For Madeline had just slapped the surface of the lake violently, giving Shiro a surprise face full of water. Floating upright and smirking, Shiro returned the favor, dumping a handful of the lake onto Madeline’s head as she squealed and tried to get out of the way. The redhead quickly got his comeuppance, however, when Madeline leapt into him. The two disappeared under the water with a loud splash.

    Travis looked straight at Katrina, who let out a laugh, and the two joined the fun.



    After several hours of diving, swimming, and occasional roughhousing and pretending to try to drown each other, the four removed themselves from the water permanently.

    “Whew…geez – I’m beat,” Travis said as he pulled his shirt back on. Just then, he noticed a strange feeling and sound coming from his belly region. “I’m starving, too.”

    “You and me both,” Katrina sighed. She had worn the low-cut shirt and miniskirt that she normally wore over her bikini when she went swimming.

    Shiro took one look at Madeline (who was standing next to him, holding his hand), and then looked back at Travis and Katrina with a serious face.

    “You guys go on without us,” he said. “I think we’re gonna hang out here for a little while longer.”

    Travis and Katrina looked at each other and figured that they just wanted or needed some time alone.

    “Uh…okay – we’ll see you back at the Tower,” Katrina said, taking Travis’ hand and throwing her (predictably pink) towel over her shoulder with the other hand. “Make sure not to forget your towels, like some people do.”

    “Hey!” Travis cried indignantly. Shiro and Madeline watched the two leave, exchanging quips about the fact that Travis had forgotten the towels earlier that afternoon. After several moments of silence, Madeline finally spoke.

    “I used to go to Cherrygrove’s beach to swim and surf all the time – but I only went with my mom and Matt,” she said. “And I was alone because Matt was scared to go in the water. And I didn’t have any friends to share my fun times with…the few I had.”

    She let go of Shiro’s hand and began to walk away. Shiro whirled around to see where she was going; she was headed back up the rock. Shiro followed her, making sure not to slip (as the rock now had some slick spots from all of the wet feet that had traversed it over the last couple of hours), and arrived to stand next to her.

    “You doing okay?” he asked. “This is a rough week for you, I know…”

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” she sighed, smiling weakly for a split-second. There was a long pause.

    “You miss them, don’t you?” he questioned.

    Madeline’s face twitched for a moment. “I’m not as dependent on everyone else as I was back then. I’m stronger…but still…I kind of wonder what it would be like…if they were still alive. And now that there’s going to be another war…”

    Shiro sighed and closed his eyes. For a few peaceful hours, he’d almost forgotten…

    “I’m scared, Shiro,” she admitted, looking up at him, her green eyes watering. “What if I lose someone else? What if something happens to Matt, or one of our friends? And what if…what if something happens to you?”

    “Don’t worry about me,” he said nonchalantly. “All the **** we’ve gone through the last couple of years, and I still haven’t bit it yet? It’s pretty obvious – Lady Luck just likes me too much to let me die.”

    Shiro didn’t get a chance to let this humor sink in – he found himself being forced off of the rock and falling several feet through the air. In a slight temper, Madeline had thrown Shiro from the top of the rock to the water below. She knelt down on the rock and peered over it to see what had become of the boy, and quickly got her answer when a head covered with bright red hair emerged out of the water and looked straight up to her, laughing.

    “You see?” he shouted. “Still not dead yet!”

    “Damn you, Shiro!” Madeline exclaimed tearfully, but nonetheless with a smile on her face. “Can you take anything seriously?”

    “I can,” Shiro replied loudly. “I just choose not to!”

    Madeline dove into the water and surfaced quickly. Almost before Shiro could react, she had popped out of the water and thrown herself upon him.

    “You haven’t changed at all,” she said.

    “What do you want me to do – be somebody different?” he asked, prompting her to remove her head from his shoulder and look straight up at him.

    “Of course not,” she replied.

    “Okay, then,” he laughed. She responded with a little hiccup that, judging by the smile and the tears in her eyes, might have been a laugh and a sob at the same time.

    There was something about him being in her world that gave her a sense of constancy. Everyone else around her seemed to be completely different people than they had been two years ago. Even she herself was a completely different person than she had been when she met them all on that beach in Cherrygrove the summer before last. Of course, teenagers tend to change very quickly in two years under normal circumstances. The circumstances they went through – the things they saw, heard, and felt – looked nothing like ‘normal’. Shiro had grown. He had learned how to show love – things like knowing when she needed advice and encouragement, and when he was just supposed to shut up and listen to her. But, deep within those eyes…at the core of his personality…he still had the same confident, devil-may-care attitude that he did when he was thirteen.

    She didn’t have to try to figure him out.

    She knew him already.


    After everything was said and done a couple of hours later, Travis and the others decided, far from burdening the lab workers anymore and taking up beds that could have been used by somebody else, they would just start east toward Fortree City. With Angel (who couldn’t seem to bring herself to walk despite being uninjured) in her ball the entire time, Travis and the others actually made it a good distance from the Weather Tower. In fact, with the guidance of Hotshot (who had known Flash since his days as one of Travis’ team members) the group used a couple of hours of night to travel as well. Therefore, when they finally did find a suitable campsite that was large enough for the four of them, in the middle of the extremely thick forest, it was quite late indeed. Travis and the others conversed around the fire that Hotshot and Amber had helped them build right before the latter scampered off with Raiden. Crescent ran off into the darkness before Angel was out of her ball, quickly followed by (of all possible candidates to do so) Arcus. Hotshot and Sparx stayed at the camp with Travis, who was sitting next to and attempting to console Angel, who continued to peer into the fire mutely, a tear or two running from her pearl-like eyes every so often. Katrina had gone off to check on the scattered Pokémon a few minutes before; she still hadn’t returned yet.

    “Is she still down over losing the match?” Shiro asked. “That was…yesterday, almost.”

    “No – don’t be stupid,” the brunette sitting in his lap said. “You know as well as I do that if Angel’s Psychic attacks had been working, she probably would have wiped the floor with Brad’s Pokémon.”

    “So why are they not working?” the red-haired teen said.

    “This goes back to sixth year, I think,” Travis replied, referring, of course, to his sixth year in the Pokémon Academy…back when he was still a relatively normal kid. “Professor Elm gave that lecture about the reasons a Pokémon may be unable to use certain attacks. Of course, you’ve got battle techniques…”

    “Disable and stuff like that…” Shiro mused.

    “Physical illness or injury,” Travis continued. His best friend shook his red-haired head.

    “The Full Restore took care of that already,” he muttered. “Unless the one Brad gave you was a dud or something…Devon’s not known for selling defective healing potions. And I don’t think Angel’s got any type of disease – she was fine up until yesterday.”

    “But then you’ve got the last reason…” the blue-haired boy looked down tenderly at his very first Pokémon and sympathetically scooped her into his arms, where she buried her head on his chest silently, the tears flowing faster than ever.

    “Severe emotional trauma,” Shiro said, a blank look in his yellow eyes. He blinked a couple of times. “Wait, do you think…”

    “Obvious, much?” Madeline commented, looking up at him again. “Come on – I’m not Nurse Joy or a Pokémon shrink and even I can tell that Angel’s depressed.”

    “You’ve got a point…” her boyfriend remarked. “Question is…”

    “…What happened?” Travis finished Shiro’s statement, echoing everybody’s thoughts in this short, two-word question.

    “She has a broken heart,” Katrina answered a few seconds later as she emerged from the darkness of the trees. Golden light from the fire shone and flickered on her concerned face.

    “Well, we get that,” Shiro replied, making a lazy gesture with the hand he had draped over Madeline’s shoulder. “What we want to know is why.”

    The pink-haired girl looked at him and then down at Travis and Angel.

    “I don’t know any other way to put this, so I’ll just say it,” she finally answered, closing her eyes morosely and then opening them again. “Crescent dumped her.”

    Travis’ azure irises narrowed in shock for a moment and he looked down at his crying Espeon.

    “Oh, my gosh,” he croaked. “No…”

    “Damn…are you serious?” Shiro, who had more or less been laying back with Madeline sitting across his knees, was now sitting upright, peering over his girlfriend’s shoulder at Katrina.

    “That’s horrible…” Madeline echoed. “Couldn’t you do something about it? Crescent belongs to you, right?”

    Katrina raised one of her thin eyebrows in an ‘are-you-kidding?’ expression, bringing her brunette friend to silence.

    “What – tell him that they need to get back together, or else?” she queried dryly. “This is something that they’re going to have to handle on their own.”

    “So there’s nothing any of us can do about it?” the red-haired, oldest, and tallest member of the group asked. “Damn, that sucks.”

    “I know…” Travis sighed, petting Angel’s head.

    “Your gym match is coming up, too…” Madeline remarked worriedly.

    “Relax – that’s not for a couple of days,” Shiro intoned nonchalantly. “I’m sure she’ll be fine by then – right? ….Right?”

    He had looked to Travis and then to Katrina, neither of whom answered him.

    “I don’t know…” the former sighed, running his hand through Angel’s lilac fur again. With the look on his face, you would have thought that someone had just died. “I’ve seen her depressed before, but not like this…”



    An hour later, nearly everyone around the main camp had fallen asleep.

    Everyone, that is, except Hotshot. He stared into the fire in a near daze. It was one thing for Crescent to rail on him as he had. With everything that he had been through in his lifetime, he was made of tougher stuff – too tough to be affected by some stranger’s taunts and name-calling. But this…this was too much. That sorry excuse for a Pokémon had crossed a huge line and hurt a dear friend. And if no one was going to do anything about it…

    …then he was.

    He looked slightly to his right. Sparx was laying next to Angel, fast asleep. He walked over to her. Maybe he should wake her – tell her where he was going…

    Maybe not.

    Lightly, he nuzzled her for a moment. He then stole a glance at Angel. Maybe she would forgive Crescent one day. Maybe, deep down…as much as he loathed to think of it…she still loved him. Maybe it would break her heart even more to see Crescent hurt…

    Maybe he shouldn’t do this.

    He saw the Espeon roll over. Judging by her facial expression, she seemed to be some sort of pain.

    “<Please…>” she muttered, speaking for the first time in more than a full day. Her eyes were shut tight, but fat tears were leaking forth from them. “<Don’t leave…>”

    And she ceased to squirm, now only sobbing in her sleep. Hotshot’s canine teeth gnashed against each other as his resolve stiffened tenfold. After taking one last look at her, he began to walk toward the forest.

    BANG.

    He gave a slight jump as his ears picked up the distant sound of an explosion. Maybe his ears were more acute than those of a normal human being, he thought – after all, the blast that went off should have been enough noise to wake somebody. Perhaps it was best, however, that nobody did awaken.

    “<What the hell?>” the Growlithe muttered to himself. He saw a distant flash begin to die down and heard a loud shout in a rather demeaning tone of voice.

    “<Don’t make me laugh!! You think I’d fall for a trick like that?!>”

    The Growlithe instantly recognized the voice and tore off in that direction at a full sprint, growling and snarling as the rage inside him boiled over into audible noise.
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 21st May 2008 at 8:21 PM.

  25. #375
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    May 2005
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    ~~~ *** ~~~

    In a clearing a few hundred yards deeper into the forest, the moon filtered silver light through the trees as a lupine creature with brown fur flecked with icy white skidded painfully against the ground, rolling several times as he came to a stop. He flipped over onto his feet and choked for a second, hacking up a glob of red close to the ground and retching. His breathing was labored, his coughs hollow and whooping. His teeth were bared, blood running from them not as the mark of a well-placed Bite that he had given to an opponent, but rather as an indicator of how much punishment his facial area had endured.

    Arcus grit his teeth in agony. Everything on his body hurt like hell – including his pride. He just couldn’t land a single attack on the *******. His opponent was quick – way quicker than Arcus had ever thought. He looked out of the corner of one of his icy-blue eyes. He only saw several…rings…glowing gold….coming toward him.

    <****,> he cursed mentally, <I’m seeing rings floating in midair by themselves. How hard did he hit me?>

    “<Come on,>” a voice came from the direction of those glowing rings. Arcus’ eyes finally focused as he saw a shadow step into the silver light. This creature was so black that he could have easily disappeared into a shadowed area. Arcus stared into the blood red irises and shadowy, black holes that were his opponent’s pupils. “<You mean to tell me that with all of the trash you’ve been talking, you can’t do any better than that?>”

    “<Screw you,>” the canine spat – literally...a fleck of blood at Crescent’s face. The Umbreon took the glob right on the right cheek with a sick sort of pleasure.

    “<Oh – look at that. I made you bleed,>” he said with a chillingly calm ring to his voice, much like a mass murderer used to killing. “<If you like spitting blood so much, I’ve got an idea – I can make you spit until you can’t anymore.>”

    “<Try it!!>” Arcus barked. Crescent lowered his sable frame to the ground and then charged. The Arcidane slipped over to the right, just barely avoiding Crescent’s Quick Attack, and formed a ball of cold, white light in his canine maw. The black Moonlight Pokémon looked over his shoulder and smirked as Arcus fired the Ice Beam straight at his flank. The beam of pure arctic energy seemed to have hit its mark, until the image faded….and eventually vanished. “<Damn it…quit running, you *******!!>”

    WHAP.

    Arcus was bowled over by a streak of blackness that flitted through his field of vision for the two seconds in between when he hit the ground and when it vanished into the shadow of the trees. The dog-like Ice-type staggered to his feet and was hit a second time. The form of the three-foot-tall Umbreon warped into sight again as he landed and slid to a stop on his four feet, skidding around to size up his canine opponent for another pass.

    “<It’s not too late to scream for your mom, you know,>” Crescent said savagely.

    “<Shut up!!>” Arcus snarled, opening his mouth and letting a rainbow-colored Aurora Beam fly. Crescent deftly dodged to the right, but the beam grew as it reached him and managed to take a chunk off of his ear.

    “<Grr…son of a *****!!>” he swore horribly at his Arcidane assailant, opening his own mouth and reading a black-and-purple ball of energy that seemed to crackle with ill will and malice as the Umbreon fired it off at his unprepared enemy. The Shadow Ball exploded upon Arcus’ russet coat, knocking him aside to the ground. Crescent, meanwhile, raised his head to the sky. Arcus, too injured to stand immediately, watched in horror as a ball of flame-colored energy began to gather above the Umbreon’s raised head. He was gathering energy for a Hyper Beam. There was no way Arcus would be able to dodge. Far from simply being hurt…judging by the look in Crescent’s eyes, he was planning on shooting…

    To kill.

    Just as Arcus shut his eyes tight, his lupine ears picked up nothing that sounded like the telltale bang of a Hyper Beam being fired. Arcus looked up at Crescent, who looked back down at him disdainfully through those red-and-black eyes.

    “<A little puppy dog all curled up on the ground,>” the latter said, wearing a nasty smirk. “<You’re pathetic – good thing for you, too. I make it a point to destroy strong opponents…and only strong ones.>”

    “<Y-you…>” the Arcidane mumbled, trying and failing to stand.

    “<Well, you gave me good exercise, so you can hold your head high, I guess,>” Crescent commented, turning his back on Arcus and walking away. “<Maybe in a few years, you’ll fight me and actually stand a chance.>”

    Arcus tried to stand again, but the wounds were too much. He fell to the ground in a heap, trickles of his crimson life running from the scars and cuts on his body. One of his eyes refused to open fully, as it had been bruised and blackened nearly beyond recognition. Even his nose was scorched by the explosion of the last attack that hit him.

    “<Where is he?>” a male voice snarled as a small, striped dog slashed into the clearing at full speed, coming to a stop in front of Arcus and looking down at him with two black eyes that seemed to be angry beyond reason. “<Where did he go?? I just heard him down this way. Where is he?!>”

    “<Why do you want him?>” the other canine creature asked.

    “<Why are you asking questions?>” Hotshot shot back. “<I’m going to kick the **** out of him – now tell me where he is!!>”

    “<You can have…what’s left of the *******…>” Arcus said, finally rising to his feet with a world of effort. “<…after I’m through with him.>”

    “<Enough of your bravado **** – I don’t have the time or the patience right now,>” Hotshot said.

    “<Why do you want to fight him all of a sudden, huh?>” the Arcidane asked in response. The black eyes of the Growlithe before him narrowed dangerously. Before he could react, he was under the assault of a steady stream of blue-and-white flames. Utterly forgetting his pride in the midst of the immense pain being inflicted on his already-broken body, Arcus screamed in pain as if he were being tortured.

    Just as suddenly…it stopped.

    “<I’m not sure if you realize this,>” Hotshot said in a low whisper to the Ice-type, “<but I’m not in a very good mood. And when I’m not in a very good mood and I’ve gotta get something done, you’re either part of the solution…or you’re part of the problem. Now tell me where Crescent is…or I swear I’ll burn you to cinders.>”

    “<He went that way…toward the pond,>” Arcus grunted weakly. His Growlithe tormentor stood upright and smirked.

    “<I knew you’d come around eventually,>” he said, stalking off into the trees southward.

    “<Don’t…>” Arcus coughed, prompting Hotshot to stop moving. “<You’d better not kill him.>”

    The Growlithe looked over his cream-ruffed shoulder and then turned back, gazing stonily into the darkness ahead of him.

    “<No guarantees,>” he said simply, slipping off into the night.


    A pensive, pitch-black face and blood red eyes looked up at Crescent from out of the pond.

    “<I’m becoming a monster, aren’t I?>” he asked himself. “<Is that it? I don’t want to become a monster. All I want is to be strong. Not for me, but for her. She doesn’t understand now, and she doesn’t need to. I only want to be someone she can see as an equal. I don’t have to be all-powerful.>”

    He raised his eyes to the sky and shouted.

    “<You hear that?!>” he yelled. “<I don’t want to be you!! I only want enough strength to protect those I care about…without losing myself – just like him!>”

    “<Praying, huh?>” a voice caught Crescent’s attention from behind. He gasped and turned around. Walking toward him at an ominously slow pace was an orange Pokémon similar in design to a small dog. His ginger fur was accented here and there with wide, black stripes. Cream-colored fur sprouted from the crown of his head in a manner not unlike a mohawk, and also ran down the middle of his torso and split forth from his hind quarters in the form of a furry tail. In any other situation, this Pokémon might have been lovable – cuddly, even – but with the look in his black eyes, it was clear that this Growlithe had not come to cuddle anybody. “<I’ve never been what you call pious, but maybe in your situation, it’s not such a bad idea.>”

    “<You followed me all the way out here,>” the Umbreon said, crouching slightly as his red eyes narrowed. “<Why?>”

    “<No, no – you’ve got the order of things all screwed up,” Hotshot replied, shaking his head. “<I’m the one asking the questions. Why’d you dump her?>”

    Crescent stood dumbstruck for a moment, then his crimson eyes flashed.

    “<How…in the hell…is that any of your business?>” he growled.

    “<Let me ask you something,>” the canine Fire-type replied to him briskly. “<Do you have a sister?>”

    Crescent’s face assumed a rather blank look.

    “<I have a sister,>” he replied. “<What’s that matter to you?>”

    “<What would you do if someone hurt your sister?>” Hotshot asked.

    “<I would make them wish they’d never been born,>” Crescent replied simply.

    “<EXACTLY!!>” the Growlithe roared, a kanji made entirely of blue-and-white flames forming at his mouth. The black waters of the pond went alight with blue and white as Hotshot launched the dreaded Fire Blast at the Umbreon, who jumped aside and saw the flaming symbol streak across the water. He looked up, his eyes flashing, as he worked up enough energy for a Shadow Ball, which he promptly let fly right at the Fire-type, who dodged left as he kept on coming, finally slamming into Crescent with a well-placed Take Down. Hotshot planted himself over Crescent’s wounded body, white flames circling the inside of his mouth. The Moonlight Pokémon, however, was much too quick; he blew another Shadow Ball at the Growlithe point-blank. The globe of ghastly energy caught the self-proclaimed avenger on his furry chin, sending the dog-like beast skyward and into a long, loping flip.

    Hotshot landed on all four of his feet and skidded to a stop, creating two deep runs in the soft earth below him. Crescent was already coming – at full speed, glowing white…

    WHAM.

    He bowled Hotshot over with a Quick Attack, the impact of which sent Hotshot reeling even further backward.

    “<Don’t run away yet – I’m just getting started!!>” he shouted, landing and immediately bounding toward the sliding canine. This time, the trail of energy behind him was a dark purple.

    Hotshot let out a snarl as his Dark-type opponent laid into him with a Pursuit attack. The Umbreon tried another one, but his enemy wasn’t slow enough to allow himself to be struck by the same attack three times in a row. Crescent slid sideways similar to a race car on a drift, being fortunate to slip away from a round of Embers that had been shot right at him and had consequently missed his ears by mere inches. Right as the Growlithe would have connected with another powerful Take Down, Crescent leapt away and responded with a well-placed Quick Attack to the Puppy Pokémon’s flank.

    Hotshot rolled several times before coming to a stop at the edge of the pond as Crescent advanced upon him slowly…much too slowly. Before long, the Umbreon found himself pinned on the ground. In the time it had taken Crescent to get over there, Hotshot had caught him with his jaws and yanked him down to the ground. The Growlithe’s teeth were not as sharp as those of, say, an Arcidane, but they were still dangerous and painful enough.

    “<If I knew for sure she didn’t still care about you…>” Hotshot growled down into his face. “<…I’d maul your miserable neck.>”

    The Growlithe jumped backward and off Crescent as the latter got to his feet.

    “<Ask me if I give a damn about your opinion,>” the Umbreon spat. “<After all…it’s not like you actually know what the hell’s going on.>”

    “<I know that Angel’s back at that campsite having nightmares and crying in her sleep,>” Hotshot snarled, his eyes prickling at the edges as he talked. “<She won’t even talk to anyone because of you. It’s like she doesn’t want to be alive anymore.>”

    “<Well, as much as it’s touching that you want to stand up for her…>” Crescent sighed. “<I’m the only one she needs.>”

    “<Right,>” the Growlithe muttered. “<You’re right. You are the one she needs right now – which makes it even worse that you abandoned and ignored her…all because you’re insecure.>”

    He turned around. Crescent shouted at his back.

    “<Why did you have to get involved?>”

    “<Because…two years ago…someone taught me to care about others, and to use my strength not to prove how strong I was, but to protect those I care about,>” Hotshot answered.

    “<What makes us so different, then?>”

    “<I don’t second-guess myself,>” the Growlithe replied again. “<You ever stop to think that you might have been good enough for her already?>”

    “<Of course not,>” Crescent replied bitterly. Hotshot paused for a moment.

    “<You were praying earlier, right?>” he asked. “<Well…I know something that’ll be one step better than praying.>”

    “<What’s that?>” the Umbreon asked.

    “<Meeting him in person,>” the Growlithe growled. Then, with a quick turn and a yell, he conjured up a huge kanji of pure blue-and-white flame, measuring about four feet from top to bottom. As he fired it, Crescent saw the shape grow in his red-and-black eyes, knowing that he had no time to do a thing about it. He was completely unprepared…

    Hotshot turned around and walked away as the flaming character impacted into the ground, prompting an earth-shaking BOOM and causing an explosive tornado of blue-and-white flames to flare up quickly around where Crescent had been standing. The violent explosion left a flaming fire whose smoke, likely containing the ashes of the explosion’s only victim, wafted into the air like the midnight bonfire from hell. Hotshot walked on, reflecting on the full impact of what he had just done. They would search for him tomorrow…but they would not find him.

    Then again, with the way things were, it would have been easy to pass of as his running away, or even a horrible drowning accident – Umbreon, after all, were not known for being particularly masterful swimmers.

    Angel would find someone else…and for their sake, they had better hope that they were better…or they would meet the same fate.



    Back at the camp, one red-headed boy sat bolt upright, having been awoken by a strange sound.

    “Whoa!” he exclaimed, momentarily disregarding the slumber of everyone around him. “What the hell?”

    “I was about to ask you the same question,” a brunette girl muttered, her emerald-green eyes opening and fixing her reclined head on the boy in an extremely displeased fashion. “Why are you being so loud? Some of us are trying to get some sleep…”

    “You didn’t hear that?” the boy asked.

    “Shiro, w-w-what are you talking about?” the girl yawned, sitting up.

    “That explosion, Madeline,” Shiro said, his tired, golden eyes staring somberly at his girlfriend. “Don’t tell me you didn’t hear it. That **** was enough to wake the dead.”

    “Yeah? Well, so is your yelling at an unholy hour of the night,” Madeline muttered, rolling her green ones in annoyance. “Calm down. It was just a dream, probably – although I don’t know what kind of dream you’re having that involves explosions.”

    “No…I’m pretty sure I was eating a giant sundae…” the redheaded boy commented, blinking sleepily.

    “Oh…that one? I had that one over the weekend,” Madeline sighed drowsily.

    “It wasn’t on a Sunday, was it?” Shiro quipped.

    Madeline gave him as much of a laugh as someone barely conscious could perhaps manage.

    “Very funny,” she yawned. “Go back to sleep.”

    With that, she pulled a medium-sized blanket over herself and gave Shiro an example of what to do.

    “Fine, fine…” Shiro muttered, slumping back down to a horizontal position against the ground. “But I did hear something blow up…”

    He closed his eyes. After a few moments, he felt something soft and wide – perhaps like a cloth – land on top of him. He opened his eyes again and found that he was staring right in to the sleepily smirking face of his green-eyed girlfriend.

    “Madeline…” he croaked. “What…”

    “Since, apparently, you’re having some sort of nightmares, I thought you might want some company,” Madeline said, shifting closer to him.

    “I’m not having nightmares,” the boy replied dismissively.

    “So, are you saying ‘no’?” she asked.

    “That’s not it…” he answered.

    “Okay, then,” she purred, taking his hand. “I’ll trust you not to try anything really stupid…because you know what I’ll do to you.”

    Shiro looked straight up into the air.

    “Well, I guess how ‘stupid’ it is depends on whether I ask permission first, right?” he quipped, a mischievous smirk on his face. Madeline drew in a sigh.

    “Remind me to slap you tomorrow morning for saying that,” she remarked. “Right now, I’m too tired.”

    “Yeah, whatever,” Shiro laughed. He looked straight into her eyes, which closed at last. He moved closer, trying to avoid her nose. It would be tough to sneak one in. He was almost there, he was right near her lips, he was…

    Flat on his back with her pinning him to the ground.

    “You said you were going to ‘ask permission’, remember?” she whispered coyly. “What about me?”

    “You can do what you want,” he replied, wearing the same, cocky smirk.

    “Oh – okay,” she answered, entangling her lips with his for several moments before drawing back. Instead of lying down a couple of feet away like she had done, Madeline settled her head right against Shiro’s shoulder.

    “Thank you…” she whispered. “For everything.”

    “Anytime,” Shiro responded as she leaned against him. She had no problem leaning on him…

    Because, as imperfect as he was, he was yet to let her down.



    “<Urgh!>” With a monumental effort, a black-coated, fox-like creature emerged from the water and staggered back onto dry land. Predictably, his fur was dripping wet…but that was the least of this Umbreon’s problems. “<Shit…he really wasn’t screwing around.>”

    He stalked back toward camp, limping slightly because of his injuries.

    The path he took brought him right into a familiar, moonlit clearing, where he saw a dog-like creature with brown fur lying on the ground and looking straight at him.

    “<Still here, are you?>” he growled at the Arcidane. “<Didn’t I already tell you not to waste my time?>”

    “<I’d love to bite your neck right now,>” Arcus growled.

    “<You’re not the only one,>” Crescent answered flatly. “<You can try something, but I promise I won’t be as nice to you as I was last time.>”

    “<Grr…>” the Ice-type laying on the ground again attempted to rise to his feet – but to no avail.

    “<Are you picking fights again?>” a female voice caught the attention of Arcus, who could not so much as look in another direction, and Crescent, who immediately turned his head in that direction. In strode a fox-like Water-type of an aquamarine color who was known for her obvious dislike of Arcus. Surprisingly, she turned her head not toward him, but toward Crescent, who stood there looking at her with a rather unconcerned expression on his face.

    “<It’s not a pretty business,>” the Umbreon replied to her bitterly, “<but if fighting is what’s going to make me stronger…>”

    “<Attacking one of your teammates in the middle of the night, though?>” she replied to him.

    “<Meru, I’m going to say this, and I’m going to say this once,>” Crescent took two threatening steps toward her. “<Mind…your…own…(we’ve been through this already)…business.>”

    “<Hah, doesn’t that sound familiar?>” she laughed, stealing a sideways glance at Arcus. “<Or what? You’ll blast me, too, just to prove that you’re a badass? Do you want to know what you really are? You’re a sorry excuse for a Pokémon. I don’t even know what the hell Angel ever saw in you to begin with.>”

    Crescent’s eyes narrowed.

    “<Shut your mouth!>” he yelled, keeping his wide open so as to gather enough energy for a larger-than-normal Shadow Ball. Meru stepped back, swearing to herself.

    WHAM.

    A brown blur slammed into the Umbreon, knocking him to the ground before he had a chance to fire the dreaded globe of energy. Meru opened her eyes and gasped as she watched the two sprawl to the dirt together. Arcus landed on top of Crescent and rolled off him, finally standing. Crescent shot a look of venom at Arcus and then at Meru…then tore into the darkness of the forest alone.

    She looked at his pitiful form – his face still locked in that snarling expression that was clearly meant to intimidate, when it was taking all of his energy just to keep his balance and stand.

    “<And what about you?>” Meru turned her attention to the Arcidane that had just saved her a lot of pain. “<Who the hell are you trying to fool with your ‘tough guy’ act?>”

    “<What does it matter to you?>” he spat back.

    “<Why’d you save me again, then?>” she asked.

    “<We went over this already,>” the wolf Pokémon replied impatiently.

    “<Yeah, but aren’t you supposed to be the ‘equal opportunity’ hero?>” the aquatic fox cub returned fire knowingly. “<This is the second time already.>”

    “<You’re always the one getting into trouble – URGH!>” Arcus buckled under an immense flare-up of pain and rose to his feet again. The color was leaving his eyes.

    “<Come on,>” Meru finally said to him.

    “<What do you want?>” he asked her.

    “<Come with me to the pond – it’ll take the sting out of some of those cuts,>” she said. “<Here, I’ll help you.>”

    Perhaps Arcus would have objected if he knew what to think about this. Never in his life had someone shown this level of concern – or even something that looked like concern – for him. At least, not since…then.


    They came to the pond, which wasn’t too far away, and Arcus felt the cooling relief of the water as he eased into it, Meru coming in not far behind him. They swam astride each other across the pond’s moonlit surface – silently for several moments, until they got about thirty yards or so into the water.

    “<Tell me about yourself,>” Meru said. “<Why are you so…>”

    “<Antisocial? Belligerent? Cold? Depressing to be around?>” Arcus barked bitterly. “<I’ve got twenty more with no ‘Q’ or ‘X’. Which one were you looking for?>”

    “<You,>” the Kitide replied, undaunted. “<I just wanted to know why you’re so…you.>”

    “<Are you sure someone like you can handle it?>” the Arcidane replied. “<It might be too much for your happy little ears to take.>”

    “<Why do you have such a grudge against someone for being happy?>” she asked him.

    “<Why are you asking me all of these damned questions?>” he barked at her. She stopped and looked at him.

    “<What if I told you I thought that there actually could be some good in you?>” she asked. Arcus closed his eyes and laughed mirthlessly.

    “<I’d ask you who the hell you were and what you did with the real Meru,>” he replied. Now it was her turn to laugh.

    “<You just assume you’re the only one with any problems because everyone seems happier than you are,>” she said. “<Half of the Pokémon and people around you have…well, to put it bluntly, they’ve gone through a lot of ****. But…they can still smile. They’re not afraid to smile.>”

    “<What good is it?>” he grunted, turning his face away from her. “<I’ve had it taken away from me…every time…>”

    Meru was struck dumb. As Arcus dropped his head toward the water, she got a look at his eyes and was surprised to see that tears were falling from them at a quick rate. With a surge of pity, she realized that she had finally figured him out.

    “<…Arcus…>”

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm going to start work on Chapter 36 immediately...well, no. I'm gonna wait until tonight - or at least until after I get something to eat. I'm famished.

    Well, R&R if you like - see you guys later!!

    - EM1

    P.S.: If anyone's putting money on what's in the egg (for those who still remember the egg), now's the time to start making your wagers because you're going to find out in the next chapter.

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