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Thread: Pokemon Revolution: Advent Phoenix (Rated T)

  1. #76
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    In a twisted world........
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    211

    Default

    Alright, I'm done.

    Her white tanktop was ordinary except for the fact that it did show a bit of her cleavage, flaunting to young males around the city that she was quite...well-endowed for her age.
    tank top, two words, not one, surprised me too.

    Her white tank top was ordinary except for the fact that it did show a bit of her cleavage, flaunting to young males around the city that she was quite...well-endowed for her age.
    You don't need the hyphen for well endowed.

    A bright flash of light produced a moderately-sized creature with mostly white fur, except for aggressive-looking red stripes in some cases.
    Doesn't need to be a compound word. Moderately sized, will do just fine. (Yeah that ugly off of hasn't reared its head!!!)

    Crescent got there first, as a Quick Attack is designed to do – but the force was not quite enough to knock Zangoose off of her feet, or to interrupt her attack.
    I spoke too soon. You know the drill by now, it was listed enough in the third chapter.

    At the apex of her air time, she broke out of her spin and reassumed a ready position as she began to come back toward earth.
    According to my dictionary, this is a compound word. Airtime... although that may have a different meaning, I'm not sure...

    “<That’s okay – you don’t have to talk about it,>” Angel said quickly, knowing exactly who Crescent was talking about.
    Reasonable grammar mistake, Who vs. Whom. In this case it is Whom.

    Within those five thousand people...were there some that had indeed heard his name before?
    Instead of the ellipse, I would put a comma there, this is my personal opinion though.

    That trump card,” Travis said, a lightbulb having gone off in his brain.
    I mentioned this before, somwhere.... Light bulb is two words.

    Immediately, he took off toward the descending Treecko, who had a mind to (once again) use Linoone’s head as a springboard to put some distance between himself and the russet-colored Normal-type.
    You tend to split the infinitive a lot. Don't do it. do not split up to + verb, nothing should come between them.

    Unfortunately for Champ, Linoone saw this maneuver coming this time, and purposely stopped short, pulling his head back so as to avoid getting stomped on the nose.
    Since this is not in quotations I can finally correct this!!!! ^_^ Alright!!! You would use being, not getting, although we use getting instead of being all the time in normal English!

    The Treecko’s normally-green tail was white and pale with cold.
    You don't need a hyphen there.

    She got to her feet, hardly able to even keep her balance for several seconds.
    Don't split the infinitive!!!!

    Travis shouted, determined to stay one step ahead of Stella so that Angel didn’t get frozen solid.
    would not be. Would not be or Wouldn't be is what you would use here.

    “Try four...five,” Travis growled savagely. “Try not having won a damn thing since you got here. How many times to I have to get up off the ground before you finally say that it’s over?”
    Your first typo, ever. "How many times DO I have to get up..."

    Travis gasped, not willing to even believe what he was hearing.
    Jeez, first it is off of now splitting the infinitive with even! >_< Are you going to start interchanging these mistakes! Even would go before to believe.

    Out of everybody we knew, who can say that they were at least the third generation in their family to be a Pokémon Trainer?
    Who could say. Not who can say.

    Out of everybody we knew, who could say that they were at least the third generation in their family to be a Pokémon Trainer?
    No they or their. It would he or she and his or her, respectively. This means were needs to become was.

    Using his thumb to partially unsheathe his sword from its scabbard, Travis muttered, “Bad idea.”
    Again, don't split the infinitive. Put adverbs BEFORE the infinitive

    <More humans...>” the foxlike creature groaned in a voice that Travis could understand, signaling that this creature...whatever its species was...was a female.
    Fox like is two words not one.

    Angel lowered her head and, from the ruby-like circle on her forehead came a star-shaped beams of Megacite energy.
    You can't have a star-shaped beams. You either have a star-shaped beam OR star-shaped beams. Second option is best in this scenario

    Then, a beam with all of those seven colors...and then some...shot forth from the Espeon’s head, smashing into Kitide with monolithic force and lifting her off of the ground with its power.
    It is only your second one, so I won't kill you... yet...

    There’s supposed to be this one guy called the Iceman – that’s why there’s soldiers all over the place in this city.
    Subject-verb agreement. It should be there are.

    Her austerely straight, blood-red hair went halfway down her back, and her outfit –

    No time.
    No hyphen needed.

    The young girl quickly did a backflip off of the building and out of sight.
    Back flip is two words not one.

    The young girl quickly did a back flip off of the building and out of sight.
    Third... Next time, I'm obliterating you...

    Done with grammar, not as much as usual! This Chapter was great plot wise and also grammar wise! ^_^ Nice!

  2. #77
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Maryland
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    1,058

    Default Chapter numero cinco...

    Alright, chapter five. Don’t you just love how my chapters are like a weekly drama – you skip one, and you’re basically screwed when it comes to knowing what’s going down? The good news, though, is that you can go back and read them instead of having to wait nearly six months for them to show that episode again. I say that to say...well, don’t miss this one. If you skip over this one, your computer will suck out your soul and send it to the hottest, darkest level of Hell...

    Nah, it won’t be that bad. You’ll just be completely lost as to what’s going on and who’s who. So, on with the chapter.

    Chapter 5: Pursuit of the Scarlet Shadow

    May 25, 2013 – Route 104


    Fourteen feet – six belonging to three human beings and eight belonging to the two Pokémon that were with them – traversed the coastal Route 104, which led northwest from Petalburg City into the Petalburg Woods, which led (sooner or later) to Rustboro City. This coastal road was a very beautiful place with a rather scenic view of the sea – but there was no time to stand still and admire that. They were pursuing someone and had been for a full day with very little rest to speak of. Behind them were the cliffs that were right above the beach that was right next to the ocean. It was at that point when the oldest member of the group – a young man by the name of Kenjiro – directed them slightly away from a dock that was close to there. It was at that point that Travis had a horrible thought.

    “I hope she hasn’t hopped a ship somewhere...” he muttered, speaking, of course, of the girl that he, his girlfriend, and this mysterious young man were pursuing. That girl had stolen his sword and taken off west with it, in hopes of reaching (at least this is what Kenjiro speculated) Rustboro City.

    “Nobody with any sense would try hopping one of those ships,” Kenjiro replied. “Just trust me on that. I know a little bit more about this area than you do.”

    “Well, yeah...” Travis panted. The fact that Kenjiro had just stated had been, of course, what Travis had been counting on when he enlisted Kenjiro’s help to find the thief who had stolen the Sacred Flame. The fact still stood, though, that as much as Kenjiro knew about the land, Travis and Katrina knew just that little about him. Here’s what they knew: his name (if, of course, he hadn’t told them a bold-faced lie) was Kenjiro Kazaki. Apparently, he was number six or so of the ‘ten most wanted’ people in Hoenn. For his age (which he had not revealed, but Travis figured that he was somewhere around his late teens or maybe twenty), he was very worldly as opposed to being naive, which might be expected of someone of his youth. He was far from innocent. Travis’ original thought, which he’d had at their first meeting, had been right – it was clear that this young man had seen things far beyond his years, which made him not so different from Travis himself. The question was, though – what were those things? It was a question to which Travis knew he would probably never get an answer.

    “You’re not tired already, are you?” Kenjiro asked.

    “Of course not,” Travis replied defiantly. The truth was, he felt like he’d just run a marathon – and, since he could see the edge of the forest from this hill...the forest that he knew from planning this leg of his trip with Katrina was two days off...and they had gotten here in less than one...he probably wasn’t that far off, either.

    “Wait a second! Look down there!” Katrina shouted, pointing. Travis shielded his eyes against the sun and looked off into the distance. He saw a small dot moving very quickly into the forest.

    “That’s her!” Travis shouted instantly, taking off at a run. This time, he was in the lead, followed by Kenjiro and Katrina, who both broke into sprints themselves to keep up. He tore down the hill, these long yards feeling like nothing because of his adrenaline and his desperation to get his sword back.

    Two summers ago, he would have liked nothing better than to be rid of it – to have given the sword and the responsibility that came with it to another. Now, though – a bit older and a bit wiser – he realized that he and that sacred sword were one. Having that sword stolen was like having a small part of his soul stolen. So, he had to get it back, for his own sake. Not to mention the fact that...if that sword ever fell into the wrong hands, he might never get it back.

    As they neared the forest, Travis saw two forms standing near the edge of the woods. Katrina gasped as she got a good look at the face of the girl, who was brunette and wearing a schoolgirl outfit.

    “That’s Jadyn,” Katrina gasped. “How’d she get here already?”

    “Who?” Travis asked.

    “Jadyn – I’ve battled her before,” Katrina said. “Let’s just hope they don’t lock eyes with – damn it!”

    Jadyn and the boy that she had been talking and giggling with – he had spiky hair the tawny peach color of sand, and was wearing a mustard-colored shirt and jeans – both locked eyes with Travis and Katrina simultaneously. Of course, in the Pokémon world, if Trainers lock eyes like this in any sort of wilderness, it was taken as a wordless challenge, and the only way out of it was usually if all parties involved refused to battle.

    “Ngh...there’s no time for this...” Travis muttered.

    “Try telling them that,” Katrina said as the tawny-haired boy and Jadyn approached their counterparts. Kenjiro frowned and groaned loudly.

    “Well, you can keep going after her,” Travis said curtly, not bothering to look back at Kenjiro. “You don’t have to stand here.”


    “Fine – I’ll do that,” Kenjiro replied with a hint of irritation in his voice, running off and smirking. Without their witness and potential interference, he could dispose of her anyway he wanted.

    The tawny-haired boy extended his hand. “Cliff Arland – Littleroot Academy Alumni. Class of 2013,” he introduced himself.

    “Travis DePaul – New Bark Academy,” Travis replied, taking Cliff’s hand and matching his formality.

    “Johto?” Cliff asked. “That’s cool. I’ve never met anyone from Johto before. Oh – right. This is Jadyn –“

    “We’ve met,” Katrina interrupted coldly. “She seems to have a knack for getting in our way when we have to be somewhere...”

    “Now’s not a good time to argue,” Travis said seriously. “I’d rather not have to battle you two, but if you won’t let us go, then let’s make this quick.”

    Both pairs of Trainers took ten long steps away from each other, creating a battlefield in the space between them. They all turned around and chose their Pokémon.

    “Since you didn’t bother to speak up, I’ll assume you know that this is a double battle,” Cliff said. “You do know what a double battle is, right?”

    “You’re not dealing with rookies, Cliff,” Katrina said coldly. “We’ve won double battle tournaments while you were still sucking your thumb in fourth year.”

    Cliff, justifiably, was a bit put out by this statement. “I trust you’ll make this a challenge, then.”



    Kenjiro squinted for a bit of extra clarity of vision as he moved as a shadow through the myriad trees in Petalburg Woods. The scenery around him consisted of earthy greens and browns, shaded by either sunlight or shadow. Small, white Cocoon Pokémon known as Silcoon, and lilac ones known as Cascoon hung from the trees. He walked slowly, listening for any noise and looking for any motion that might alert him to another presence there in the forest. She was around here somewhere.

    “I know you’re here, rogue,” he said in a breathy growl. “Come out, come out, wherever you are...”

    His words echoed into the eerie silence and seemed to travel for miles – yet they returned to him empty. He could find nothing or no one – let alone the person he was searching for. He walked a few more yards and then heard a rustling sound to his left. His golden-brown eyes narrowing, he pointed his gun to his left without looking. Then, turning his head in that direction, he fired a shot.

    “GOT YOU!” he yelled as a lightning bolt shot forth from the barrels of his gun and burned the bush to a crisp. As the ashes that were formally the shrub started to fall apart, they parted to reveal a small, bright red worm-like creature that was curled up in a ball and shaking horribly. After taking a close look, he realized that he had frightened a Wurmple rather badly. Sighing, he muttered dispassionately, “Guess not.”

    He then heard a buzzing sound of sorts and looked up with a rather confused expression on his face. His eyes widened as he had to jump out of the way of two rainbow-colored beams of energy. He saw buzzing toward him, two angry-looking giant insects with purple bodies and huge eyes. These were both Dustox, Bug/Poison-type hybrids which were one of the possible final evolutions of Wurmple.

    “Shit,” Kenjiro cursed. “Those’ll be the parents...”


    He saw the Pokemon’s eyes glowing and took off in the opposite direction. Rainbow-colored beams of energy exploded behind him and sailed dangerously close to his head, exploding on nearby trees and blowing large chunks of wood out of them. He gained some space and then dove sideways into a thicket. Unfortunately, this thicket was quite thorny, which caused Kenjiro a great deal of pain as he crouched there, his body now riddled with small puncture wounds and scratches. He heard the buzzing of the two Dustox as they flew past the bush. Sighing in relief, Kenjiro now worked to extricate himself from the thorny bushes. After about ten seconds, he rolled out onto the ground on the other side, landing on it with a clearly-audible THUMP. Grunting in slight pain, he worked to stand to his feet. He found that he was standing in a clearing now. This large patch of grass, accented in places by small, wild flowers, was colored in tones of yellowish sepia from the sun that was filtering through the topmost leaves of the trees above him. With a suspicious expression on his face, he worked his way around the clearing until he had his back to the nearest tree. He looked up.

    On a high limb on the tree directly opposite him was a shadow of sorts...Kenjiro couldn’t make it out, but it looked like it shouldn’t have been there...

    He then heard a yell reverberate throughout the clearing...

    Baishoraizan!

    He made the mistake of looking up in the opposite direction. He then looked up toward the tree where he’d seen the shadow before and saw a gleam of sorts coming toward him. It took a second and a half – almost a half-second too long – to realize that this gleam was a glowing blade. He leapt sideways out of its path, rolling to his feet as he watched it hit the tree behind him and explode in a flash of light and a puff of smoke. He looked back to where the knife had come from, and there, he saw the full body of the attacker. She was a beautiful girl with a youthful face that made her at least appear to be in her mid-teens. Her tight, scarlet outfit matched her hair, which appeared to be just past her shoulders. Her hands were covered by gloves that extended from her hands all the way up to just below her shoulders. One of those hands had just dropped a sword with a white sheath. The other was clenched into a fist around a kunai knife.

    “I was right about you...” Kenjiro muttered.

    “I have no business with you,” the girl said. “I thought I made that clear.”

    “Circumstances change,” Kenjiro said, pointing his gun up into the tree. “People’s minds change. In other words...**** happens. Now that I know for sure...you’re under the judgment I vowed to bring down upon them...so you must die.”

    “I can’t let you kill me,” the girl said. “I’m searching for something important, and I can’t die until I find it.”

    “Sure, you can,” Kenjiro replied nonchalantly. “In fact...YOU CAN DIE NOW!”

    He roared as he fired a thunderbolt into the tree. The girl jumped into the air, pulled out a solitary kunai, and shouted, “Shoraizan!

    Kenjiro leapt into the air just as the lightning-charge knife exploded where he’d just been standing. He turned his head and set his eyes on the girl’s airborne body. Roaring loudly, he swung at her with the sword that was between the twin barrels of his gun. She blocked with two kunai that she’d somehow come up with in mid-jump. Kenjiro yanked his sword away and then attempted to slash her again. The scarlet-clothed girl blocked a second time. Kenjiro snarled maliciously as he attempted to force through her guard. He then pulled the trigger on the gun portion of his weapon. The gun, as expected, let off a shot, and a small explosion occurred, blowing the girl backward and away from him. Performing a rather acrobatic move in midair as her body was trailed by smoke, the girl righted herself. She and Kenjiro landed on the ground simultaneously...




    “C’mon, let’s go, Royal!” Jadyn shouted, throwing her Pokéball and revealing her Taillow.

    “Arcus!” Katrina shouted. Out of her Pokéball came the Arcidane she had caught a few days earlier – this would be his first battle against another Trained Pokémon since he’d been under her command.

    “Meru, let’s go!” Travis yelled. Out of this ball came the aquamarine-haired, brown-eyed, fox-like Kitide. She looked sideways and realized who her partner was going to be. Apparently, Arcus saw her, but didn’t acknowledge her by looking.

    “<Stay out of my way,>” Arcus growled tersely.

    “<That’s not how it works,>” Meru said just as sharply.

    “<I can take these two down on my own,>” Arcus replied. “<I don’t need or want your help.>”

    “<Well, you’ve got it, so you’ll have to deal,>” Meru answered, to which Arcus responded by growling loudly.

    The fourth Pokémon – the one belonging to Cliff – had been revealed. He was a small, green, birdlike creature with a body that was a light green color, almost like the inside of a lime. His sky-blue eyes were so bright that Travis could pick them out even at this distance, and two dark-green leaves protruded from his body. One was short and stubby and served as the crest of his head. The other was long and flowing and served as his tail. He flapped his short wings and took to the sky with surprising skill, considering his small size. Scanning the creature, Travis saw that it was a Leafen – a Grass/Flying-type with decent speed.

    “Vipiri, use Razor Leaf on the Kitide!” Cliff shouted. Vipiri swung his tail twice, revealing several spinning leaves that were designed to cut into their target.

    “Meru, shoot down what you can with Water Gun, then get out of the way!” Travis shouted.

    “Arcus – use Quick Attack on Royal!” Katrina yelled. Arcus, growling loudly, took off in a blur toward Royal, who attempted to fly higher. However, Arcus performed an amazingly athletic jump and managed to clip the bird Pokémon before he got too far. At the same time, Meru skillfully shot down several Razor Leaves with a rapid-fire Water Gun, rolling to her left to avoid the last two, which both arrived too quickly for her to shoot down. She looked up and saw Vipiri descending toward her, his beak posed to strike. Inhaling quickly, she shot a jet of water directly at the Leaf Chick Pokémon, not damaging him much due to his Grass-type affinity, but obscuring his vision and causing the Peck attack to miss her by a mile.

    “Shoot!” Cliff groaned.

    “Nice defense, Meru!” Travis shouted encouragingly.

    “<You know it!>” Meru affirmed.

    “<Tch...not impressed,>” Arcus muttered, getting the attention of Meru, who looked at him for a second before getting bowled over by a flying Taillow.

    “<Crud! See what you did, Arcus?!>” Meru shouted, rolling to her feet.

    “<Blame that on your – short attention span!>” Arcus grunted, jumping out of the way of Vipiri, who had been ordered to switch sides and use Wing Attack.

    “Damn it...why did it have to be two Flying-types...” Travis swore.

    Cliff and Jadyn looked at each other, and nodded.

    “Vipiri!” Cliff shouted.

    “Royal!” Jadyn yelled as well.

    “WING ATTACK ARCUS!” they chorused. Both of the bird-like Pokémon turned around in midair and proceeded to dive-bomb the flightless wolf Pokémon. He looked up and growled loudly in an attempt to intimidate them. It didn’t work very well, though (which was saying something, as many bigger Pokémon have been known to run from an Arcidane’s growl), and Vipiri and Royal continued to descend upon Arcus’ position. Then, Vipiri banked all of a sudden. The Arcidane looked up and could only see one flyer or the other. They were about to catch him in a pincer. He bared his fangs. He’d take a shot, but he could at least get a chunk out of one of them before everything was said and done.

    “Arcus!!” Katrina shouted in concern. All of a sudden, a fast-moving jet of water came from Arcus’ left, striking the Taillow dead-center and sending him into a tail-spin. Noticing this, Arcus focused his attention on Vipiri, who was still coming in to strike. Although not an expert at scratching, he managed to jump and lay a grazing claw into Vipiri’s back just as he passed by. He landed on the ground and saw Meru running over to him, continuing to fire Water Guns at Royal, who had weighed his options and thought it better to retreat.

    “<I said, don’t get in my way!>” Arcus exclaimed.

    “<You’re welcome,>” Meru replied.

    “<What are you, stupid?>” Arcus barked. “<What part of ‘stay out of my way’ don’t you understand?!>”

    “<The part that involves you getting your *** kicked and leaving me to fight these two birdbrains by myself!>” Meru exclaimed pointedly. Arcus growled in frustration.

    “<It’s time to end this,>” he growled. “<I want to take a nap.>”

    “<Oh, widdle wee Archie wants to take his nappy-bye?>” Meru teased. “<What’s next? Does the cute widdle emo baby want his bottle and pacifier, too? Aw...too bad...>”

    “<Meru...you’re starting to act like Amber,>” Arcus warned. “<Don’t push me.>”

    “<What’s widdle Archie gonna do? Run and tell his mo–>” Meru started, but ended up squealing loudly in pain as she felt something sharp slash her across the face...



    ...he felt something slash him across the face and growled loudly. He looked up into the trees and only saw a moving shadow. He tried to take aim with his gun – no good. She was too fast, even for him. He only saw his shadow bouncing from tree to tree. With her smaller frame and quicker style of fighting – a style which he’d seen and knew firsthand – he was definitely at a speed disadvantage. He had to admit...picking of the King’s soldiers wherever and whenever he could was a lot easier than chasing prey like this girl or that kid. Because the King’s soldiers couldn’t move quicker than the naked eye – and ear – could follow.

    He saw a thin, pale arm, grabbed it, and threw the mysterious girl to the ground. She slammed into the dirt and began to roll away from Kenjiro, who drew his gun and began shooting. Somehow, though, she was able to roll and evade Kenjiro’s shots (which consisted of small fireballs and lightning bolts), finally vaulting herself off the ground from that position and barrel-rolling to a standing one. Kenjiro was a bit taken aback. It’d been a while since he’d seen moves as good as these right here. He had no time to marvel on them, however, as he watched the girl leap into the air. She ended up on the same tree limb where he’d seen her last. Her voice began to echo throughout the forest.


    “Shoryuu-ninjutsu! Kaen!” she cried, leaping into the air. Kenjiro recognized the chant and his eyes widened. She held her hands above her head and a fireball about the size of a beach ball formed. She hurled it at Kenjiro, who jumped to the right and avoided direct contact, but was still too close to the resulting explosion. He saw flames leap up around him and felt himself being uncontrollably knocked backward. He felt a sharp pain in his back as it smashed into one of the larger trees surrounding the clearing. He looked up and saw smoke. And then he saw something come flying out of that smoke.

    “Guargh–“ he gurgled as he felt one of the girl’s kunai penetrate the flesh in his side. His eyes glossed over momentarily, and then regained focus as he grabbed hold of the girl’s wrist and looked into her eyes. They were silver and seemed, again, to be widened in an apparently-permanent expression of fear. Even now, when she was fighting...and beating him...she looked so incredibly afraid...

    ...and that would be her undoing.

    He raised the gun to her belly and fired it. She screamed loudly as she was blasted backwards. Once there was some distance between him and her, Kenjiro yanked the knife out of his side and, for good measure, chucked it rather skillfully at the girl’s retreating form. To his great shock, the young kunoichi, while drifting backwards, caught the blade of the knife between her index and middle fingers as she landed.

    “What in –“ Kenjiro muttered in frustration. Meanwhile, the scarlet-clad girl flipped the kunai and caught it by its handle. “Shit!”

    Kenjiro rolled out of the way as the girl threw the kunai, which glowed an electric blue and hit a nearby tree and exploded. Seeing that the girl had (somehow) drawn two more knives – slightly longer, this time – and was rushing him, he defiantly brandished his blade and charged her.

    The weapons clashed as the two wielders met over the soft grass. They traded blows for several seconds until finally, Kenjiro, his patience at an end, turned on his heel and aimed a swift kick at the girl’s face. He made contact, which resulted in her being sent into a fast and uncontrollable barrel roll as she flew backward. His eyes wide and glittering with malice, he roared, “SLAVE OF THE TEMPLE! DIE!!”

    Stepping off his right foot, he charged and went in for the kill...



    “Arcus, look what you did!” Katrina shouted – for, it seemed as if right when Vipiri had come in for an attack, Arcus had clawed Meru across the face while he was aiming for the bird Pokémon. “Watch where you swing next time!”

    “<Ah...>” Meru rolled to her feet and seemed a bit unbalanced – probably understandable, as she’d just nearly gotten half of her face clawed off by her partner. But something settled in her heart, demoralizing her. Arcus was...

    “Meru, watch out!” Travis shouted. “Dodge that attack!”

    Meru looked up and saw Royal bearing down on her with a Wing Attack. She inhaled quickly and produced an extremely powerful Water Gun that smashed into Royal just as Royal hit her. She fell to the ground, her will to fight utterly lost – just as Royal crash-landed into the dirt, knocked out.

    “Tch,” Katrina groaned. “Now, it’s one-on-one...”

    “Let’s finish it, then!” Cliff shouted. “Hit him with Razor Leaf!”


    “Dodge it, Arcus!” Katrina shouted. Fearlessly, the Arcidane stared down the sharp, spinning leaves and, at the last second, rolled out of their path. Just after that, he was hit hard by Vipiri, who had been ordered to follow up with a Wing Attack.

    “<Damn!>” Arcus swore.

    “Hey, Katrina!” Travis shouted. “Isn’t Arcidane an Ice-type?”

    Katrina gasped – Travis was right. If Arcus had any Ice-type moves, it would be extremely advantageous for him and Katrina, as Leafen were part-Grass and part-Flying, both of which were weak against Ice-type attacks.

    WHAM.

    Arcus rolled to his feet again after getting nearly knocked silly by a second Wing Attack from Vipiri. Growling loudly, he looked up at the Spring Fowl Pokémon as Vipiri banked and came around one more time with the intention of finishing off Arcus.

    “Arcus, wait for it!” Katrina yelled. Travis held his breath. The eyes of Meru, whom Travis had picked up, opened slightly and looked straight at the Puppy Pokémon, who crouched low and narrowed his eyes as he watched Vipiri go in for the kill. “NOW! Grab his wing with Bite attack!”

    Arcus leapt high and sank his sharp, dagger-like teeth into the left wing of Vipiri, who screeched in pain as he was dragged downward and hit the ground hard. Arcus let Vipiri go, but with an injured wing, the small Flying-type was completely at the mercy of his opponent.

    “Now, use Aurora Beam!” Katrina shouted. Arcus, growling loudly, reared back and shot a rainbow-colored ray of light into the ground. This light engulfed Vipiri and sapped what was left of his energy. After five seconds or so, Arcus leapt back toward Katrina, leaving the fallen Leafen in the middle of the field, knocked out with an injured left wing.

    “Vipiri!” Cliff shouted. “No!”

    “Maybe you’ll think twice before challenging us next time,” Katrina said. “Now, move. We’ve got somewhere to be.”

    “Are you alright, Meru?” Travis asked. “Meru?”

    “<Don’t talk to me,>” Meru whined, looking down morosely at Arcus, who caught her eye and then spat on the ground in disdain. “<I can’t believe you’d attack your own friends...>”

    “But that was an accident...right?” Travis asked. “I mean, Vipiri was coming in, and Arcus just missed. That’s what I saw, anyway?”

    “<Either way, you deserved it,>” Arcus said nonchalantly. “<Oh, yeah...and I don’t attack my friends. Because I don’t have any...because I don’t want or need them.>”

    Meru attempted to keep a defiant, angry face while watching as Arcus was pulled back into his Pokéball. She closed her eyes then, and two fat tears spilled forth from them.

    “We need to hurry,” Katrina said. “Who knows where Kenjiro or that girl went...”



    Kenjiro let out a malicious chuckle as his sword finally pierced the heart of...

    An afterimage.


    “The hell?!” Kenjiro shouted, turning around and barely blocking a knife from the young kunoichi he was fighting. Dodging another slash, he bent over backwards in a way that would have made Neo proud. Sliding to his left, he slipped one of his legs behind hers, and swept her off her feet, causing her to land face-first in the ground. Standing, he gesticulated defiantly with his blade and raised it high, turning it downward with the intent of stabbing the girl through her back. She rolled over and looked straight at him just as he was about to bring the sword down. “You’re too late. DIE!”

    He started and then heard her ragged, short breaths. He looked into her silver eyes as he had the sword to her throat now. He tried to push and end it, but it was as if there was some sort of barrier preventing him from advancing his blade those last few inches into her windpipe. What the hell was his problem?

    He’d never had an issue with killing anyone before – personal grudge or not. Why was he hesitant to kill her, of all people? He hated her – he hated her kind. All of them. Rogues, not rogues – it didn’t matter. He hated her kind with every fiber in his being. Far from having a problem with killing someone of her kind when he had the chance, he found that he enjoyed it. He took a pleasure in hearing them beg for mercy in the last moments of their life. He found comfort in the chance to withhold that mercy – because they had withheld it from him.

    And yet...this one...he couldn’t do it. She didn’t look like someone who actually believed it all. If you looked in her eyes, she looked like someone who didn’t want to fight, yet was being forced to fight. He couldn’t do it...he couldn’t kill her for some reason.

    WHAM.

    Before he knew what was going on, he was on his back with a debilitating pain coursing through his body, the epicenter being his nether regions. With her silver eyes suddenly aflame, she was on top and in control. He saw her eyes from point-blank range, although his own were out of focus because of an extremely painful injury coming from less than a foot below his navel. She could kill him right now if she wanted to...the funny thing was, though, that she didn’t look like she wanted to.

    She stood up, allowing him to stand as well – or at least, try to. The pain still hurt too badly, and all he could manage was to roll over and get into a kneeling position. The roar of his agony and rage echoed in the clearing as he heard her quickly escape on foot, no doubt with the Sacred Flame in her possession.



    By this time, Travis and Katrina were in the forest. They peered around vigilantly, looking for any sign of a human presence other than their own.

    “Still no sign of Kenjiro,” Travis said.

    “You don’t think he bailed out on us, do you?” Katrina asked.

    Travis responded by shaking his head. “I made a deal with him, remember?”

    “Yeah...about that...” Katrina muttered. “Why’d you do that, anyways?”

    “Like I said,” Travis replied. “The fact that everyone on the face of the planet suddenly wants my sword for some reason or another just confirms what I thought earlier – something’s rotten in Hoenn.”

    “What do you mean by that?” Katrina asked.

    “See, that’s just it. I don’t know,” Travis responded honestly. “When I fought Kenjiro the first time...”



    “One thing history has taught us...” the young man said. “When a sword crosses the borders of its home continent and enters another...something big is going to happen.”

    “Something big?” Travis said.

    “Do you know the political situation in this country currently?” the young man asked. Then, shaking his head, he said. “Never mind – a kid like you wouldn’t understand conflict.”

    “You want to bet?” Travis replied harshly, the young man’s comment having set him off.

    “In any case, I know one thing that the stories say – those swords are powerful,” the young man said. “If the sword you carry really is the one I think it is...it might be a risk for it to be in this country. There are some who seek power...and they will seek your sword.”


    “ ‘Political situation’?” Katrina repeated.

    “Yeah, those were the words he used,” Travis replied.

    “What kind of ‘political situation’?” Katrina asked.

    “No idea,” Travis replied simply. “But since Kenjiro knows something about it, I figure he might have something to do with it – and so would this ‘somebody important’ that he wants me to see in exchange for helping me get my sword back.”

    He stopped walking and shook his head.

    “Travis?” Katrina uttered, walking to his side.

    “It’s maddening,” he sighed. “I keep trying to put two and two together, but I’m getting – three-and-a-half or something. So, that’s why, maybe if I see this person and find out what the hell’s going on, I’ll know what to do next. Of course, it’d be better if I could just have a normal Pokémon Journey without a whole bunch of extra garbage. This is so irritating...”

    “Maybe you shouldn’t have brought the sword with you,” Katrina said.

    “No, that’s not the answer – that would have been worse,” Travis answered. “Think about it – what if it turned out somebody in Johto still wanted that sword for something? I couldn’t put my family in danger like that. Especially Kylie. That’s why I wanted to bring it with me. Actually, seeing all that’d happened in the last few days, I was stupid to just leave it in the room like that...”

    “Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Katrina sighed. “All we have to do is find that girl, and...”

    “...’All we have to do.’ Right,” Travis replied bitingly. “It doesn’t really help that she’s gotta be as fast as I am...”

    “You really think that?!” Katrina exclaimed, knowing what the implications would be if Travis were right.

    “She was a fighting machine,” Travis said emphatically. “You don’t just run into some random person on the street that has that kind of martial arts training.”

    “You’re right...” Katrina muttered. “I hope she’s not giving Kenjiro a hard time...what if he’s...”

    “No,” Travis cut her off, shaking his head. “I fought Kenjiro, too – he can definitely take care of himself.”


    Just then, they heard a human voice yelling. The voice seemed to be coming from a male who sounded like he was in pain.

    “You don’t think that was –“ Katrina started to ask quickly.

    “I sure hope not!” Travis replied, taking off at a run with Katrina right on his heels.


    Two infantrymen in light, black armor stood on the other side of the forest, flanking a figure with a royal-blue, sleeveless garment over an orange shirt and blue pants. He looked to be over five and a half feet tall – therefore a bit short compared to the two soldiers, both of whom were at least a head taller than him. This figure had his head bowed and covered with a hood as the two infantrymen addressed him.

    “There are rumors that the known serial killer known as the ‘Iceman’ is around this area,” one of the soldiers said clearly. “Have you seen anything suspicious?”

    “Actually, I have,” the figure spoke in a voice befitting of a young man.

    “Really?” the soldier who had spoken first intoned. “You mind telling us what it is?”

    “I’m not sure you would like it,” the young man replied.

    “The only thing I’ve seen suspicious is you,” the other soldier said. “What kind of person that’s up to any sort of good walks around a forest in a disguise?”

    “You ask me for your assistance and then you question my motives?” the young man said. “That’s not a good move, since I’m not obligated to tell you anything.”

    “What was that?” one of the soldiers exclaimed. “You’d better retract that statement quickly if you want to live!”

    “And you’d better retract that sword quickly if you want to live,” the young man said flatly, knowing that the soldier who had just yelled had pulled a weapon on him.

    “How dare you disrespect the army of your king?!” the soldier shouted.

    “He’s not my king,” the young man replied. “You see, I’m not from around here...”

    “A foreigner? That’s even worse!” the soldier yelled. “I should have you dragged to Sootopolis and executed for sedition!”

    “Try it,” the young man said. “I can’t die until my atonement is finished.”

    “ ‘Atonement’? What are you, one of those freaks from that cult?” the other soldier asked.

    “ ‘Cult’? No. This is a personal atonement,” the young man replied. His hood flapped around in a sudden breeze, revealing that his left cheek bore a long, cross-shaped scar. “But while we’re on the subject of a cult...”

    “Come out with it!” the soldier shouted. “Tell us what you know!!”

    “That’s just it – I don’t know, I’m only guessing,” the young man replied.


    “That does it!” the young man didn’t even bother to look up and watch the soldier’s blade come toward him. He raised his hand and, in a flash of white, the soldier was blasted a nearly immeasurable distance. His cry echoed through the forest, grew faint, and then disappeared entirely.

    “Wh...what are you?!” the other soldier asked, dropping his sword.

    “A broken soul seeking redemption,” the young man replied, his eyes flashing.

    “You’re a freak of nature...” the soldier stammered. “You’re too dangerous to be left alive. Die!”

    BANG.

    This soldier was blasted in the opposite direction. At this point, the two soldiers who had, a minute ago, been in the center of the forest, were each at opposite ends.

    “You don’t understand,” the young man said to no one. “I’m already dead. I’m just waiting until the day I can stop breathing.”

    He turned to his front. There, framed in the trees, was a girl with scarlet clothing and scarlet and silver hair. The young man’s eyes turned to the sword she was carrying –

    She charged – whether she was coming straight at him or trying to run past him, he wasn’t completely sure. It didn’t matter, though. He went inside of his cloak and pulled out a straight longsword. Taking one quick step, he aimed the hilt right at the charging girl’s face.

    WHAM.

    He made contact, causing her to flip in odd angles and directions not known to man before she finally came to a stop, face-down, in the dirt and grass. Her body was tense against the ground for a moment – then she went limp. The sword she’d been holding, meanwhile, went flying and clattered several yards away from the girl. Quickly sheathing his sword and concealing it within his cloak, the young man turned around and began to walk off.

    “Sorry...but I can’t let you have that sword. It’s no good in your hands,” he muttered, sounding suddenly very sympathetic for someone who had just knocked a girl out cold with the hilt of his sword. He leapt into the tangle of tree limbs above him as a breeze, caressing the hair and face of the girl that now lay unconscious on the ground, signaled his departure.

    Forced into sleep on this bed of earth, this girl’s dreaming mind wandered, as it often did when she slept, back to her past...


    A young girl of about ten with short, scarlet hair and clothed just within the limits of decency, destroyed targets with the two kunai that had been given to her as two figures with green hoods watched her through a glass screen. One of them was quite portly and short, and the other (as if to be the perfect answer) was tall and lanky.

    “She is improving rapidly, this one,” the portly man commented. “She’s a natural fighter.”

    “Yes, I’ve heard about her,” the lanky one replied in a calm, almost sleepy voice. “She’s good, all right. There’s just one issue with her – well, this is what I’ve heard...”

    “Hm? What’s that?” the portly man asked.

    “She won’t submit to one part of her training,” the lanky man replied. When this heavyset fellow looked at him with confusion obvious on the visible, lower part of his face, the lanky counterpart continued, “You know which training I speak of.”

    “Oh – well...is that absolutely necessary?” the portly man asked.

    “It shows them their place,” the tall man answered. “If they do not know that they are literally the property of this temple...they have a tendency to...rebel.”

    “Well, then, we do what we do to all of the other ones who rebel, right?” the portly man said. “We kill them.”

    “Kill her?” the lanky monk repeated. “You’d really kill someone this skilled? I’m not sure that’s the right answer.”

    “It’s the only answer,” the fat monk said emphatically. “If they do not submit, they die. Surely you must know the repercussions if she lives...and manages to escape.”

    “I know that!” the taller of the two shouted. “Maybe we don’t have to. Maybe we can break her...”

    “We’ve been trying,” the portly man sighed. “She won’t let anyone even lay a finger on her.”

    Last edited by EonMaster One; 24th April 2007 at 7:46 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.




  3. #78
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    She felt somebody moving her and immediately – almost unconsciously – reached her hand out and grabbed. She heard a gasp and opened her eyes very slowly. It turned out she was grabbing the wrist of a pink-haired girl – the same one that had fought her before...

    Travis picked up his sword and strapped it back to his hip. As that was happening, the kunoichi had a merciless hold on Katrina’s wrist. The scarlet-haired girl stood up, slowly, still seemingly attempting to break Katrina’s wrist. After a few moments, Katrina wrenched herself free of the other girl’s grip. Favoring her right wrist, she looked up at the girl in front of her, who was clutching her face. The red-haired girl removed her hand from her face, revealing that her lip was dripping blood.

    “What happened?” Katrina decided to ask. “Was it...Kenjiro?”

    “Where the hell is he, anyway?!” Travis shouted, looking around.

    “In any case, the jig’s up,” Katrina said, conjuring her rod and pointing it straight at the other girl’s throat.

    “Katrina, let her go,” Travis said loudly. Katrina put her rod at ease and looked back at Travis questioningly.

    “Let her go? Why?” Katrina asked. “She stole your sword.”

    “Just look at her,” Travis said. “She looks so afraid.”

    “I guess...huh?” Katrina turned around to see a tall figure walking in through the curtain of trees. After a few seconds, Travis was able to take a look into the eyes of the young man – the golden-brown eyes of Kenjiro Kazaki. The young girl let out a scream and turned to run. Travis continued to look at Kenjiro’s eyes as he heard the icy young man growl and snarl.

    “Hey, no!” Travis shouted. “Let her go – we’ve got the sword! Kenjiro, what are you –“

    “DIE!!” Kenjiro’s eyes went beyond reason as he raised his gun and fired. A bolt of lightning shot forth from the twin barrels of Kenjiro’s gun and struck the girl directly in the back. She fell limply against the ground, groaning loudly. Katrina and Travis both gasped as they watched Kenjiro walk between them, wearing something of a snarling, quivering smile. His teeth were bared like the fangs of a wolf that sees his prey. In an unnaturally low growl, Kenjiro said, “Did you honestly think you could escape from me, priestess?”

    “Kenjiro!” Travis shouted hotly, shocked that anybody could be so violent of his own free will. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

    “Exacting justice,” Kenjiro growled. Turning to the unconscious girl, he nudged her with his foot, turning her over onto her back. Kneeling down next to her, his free hand found his way around her slender neck, and he began to slowly choke the very life out of her.

    “Kenjiro, stop!” Katrina shouted. “She’s defenseless!”

    “Defenseless...” Kenjiro laughed. “Exactly. I’m going to enjoy this.”

    “Kenjiro!” Travis roared. The aforementioned’s hand, meanwhile, was still over the girl’s throat as she choked and sobbed, her tears mingling with the blood on her face.

    “Didn’t I tell you before?” Kenjiro’s voice dropped to a dangerous whisper. “I hate your kind, priestess. I hate you. And do you know what I do to the people I hate? Huh? Do you have a guess, priestess?”

    “You’ll...k-kill...” the girl started to sob.

    “No,” Kenjiro laughed, a hungry look in his eyes. “I don’t just kill them. That’s too easy. That’s not enough. I torment them. I make them suffer like they made me suffer!

    “That’s enough, Kenjiro!” Travis shouted. “I don’t care who she is, she doesn’t deserve that type of treatment!”

    “Oh, trust me...she does,” Kenjiro growled over the sobs of the girl that he was gradually strangling. Kenjiro, growling, continued to pin her to the ground.

    “But...I...” the girl choked.

    “Cry and squirm all you want. That still won’t sa–hm?” Kenjiro looked up and to his right when he felt a sudden, intense heat next to his right ear.

    “Enough!” he heard Travis exclaim. “Kenjiro, get off her. Right now.

    “She’s a priestess...” the young man growled. “They’re the scum of the earth, the members of that ‘Faith’.”

    “Look at her,” Travis said. “That’s a human being! She’s afraid! She’s injured! If you have any morals at all, you’ll let her go.”

    “Morals...?” Kenjiro said. “Monsters like her have no morals – despite their ‘Faith’ and religion.”

    “Let her go...or you’re on your own,” Travis said. “I’ve got my sword back. So...we really don’t need you anymore. It’s only because I’m a man of my word that I agreed to your deal – but I could always change my mind...if ‘morals’ are that flexible.”

    Kenjiro looked straight into the azure eyes of the teenager standing above him with the sword to his head.

    Tilting his head, Travis said, “So...take your pick. I don’t know why...but you need me for something. I’m not the type to sit by and watch someone be mistreated.”

    Kenjiro growled for a second and looked into the eyes of the crying girl. His hand loosed her grip on the girl’s neck, leaving red, finger-shaped marks on her pale skin. “You’ve been spared, priestess. Thank that damn dragon or whatever the hell you guys have that ‘Faith’ in nowadays...”

    “What are you talking about, anyway?” Travis asked.

    “You don’t know about the ‘Faith’ – no, you wouldn’t...you’re not from around here,” Kenjiro commented. “Nevermind...let’s get the hell outta here.”

    “Travis! Kenjiro!” Katrina shouted. “We can’t leave her here. She can’t walk on her own.”

    Travis turned around and then Kenjiro whirled around as well.

    “Does it look like I care?” Kenjiro asked, scoffing. “It’d suit me just as well to leave the priestess here to die.”

    “I have a name...” the girl groaned, soon screaming because of an injury to her knee.

    “Save your strength,” Katrina advised.

    “Well – you actually know your own name. That’s pretty rare among your kind,” Kenjiro said, smirking. “Tell us what it is, then. What are you called?”

    “My name...” the girl said, sitting up with help from Katrina. “My name...is Reivyn.”

    “Reivyn...” Katrina repeated. “It’s a beautiful name. I’m Katrina. Where are you from, Reivyn?”

    “I don’t want to talk about it,” Reivyn said, shaking her head. “I don’t want to talk about that hellish place...”

    “Sounds like you didn’t enjoy your little religion very much,” Kenjiro said, smirking. “Heh. My guess was right about you. You are a rogue.”

    “Don’t talk to her, Kenjiro,” Travis said in a dangerously calm voice. “You don’t have the right after what you did.”

    “Keep your mouth shut about **** you don’t understand!” Kenjiro shouted, bringing everything to utter and total silence.

    “No – I don’t understand,” Travis admitted. “I don’t understand how you could treat someone so cruelly. You can see that she needs our help – what are you doing about it?”

    “What the hell do you want me to do?!” Kenjiro yelled. “How shall I serve the priestess?!”

    “My name is Reivyn!” Reivyn shouted vehemently, attempting to stand. However, her knee buckled and she fell to the ground, groaning in agony. Katrina looked at her knee, which was quickly turning a shade of blue. She shook her head.

    “No way in hell she’s walking on that,” Katrina sighed sympathetically. “At least, not today. So...what are you going to do?”

    Travis had already decided – he looked straight at Kenjiro. Looking at Travis’ eyes, Katrina gasped and her heart skipped a beat. She realized she was looking, presently, not at the face of the fourteen-year-old that had grown up from the boy she had fallen in love with years ago...but she was looking at the face of the war veteran. She was looking at the face of the young man that had, two summers ago, commanded hundreds of troops to victory in order to save his family, his country, and her.

    “Why are you looking at me like that?” Kenjiro asked. “If you’re trying to scare me, it’s not working.”

    “If I was trying to scare you, you’d know it,” Travis said tersely. “Now, listen to me.”

    “Wait a second – you can’t just start ordering...” Kenjiro began to shout, but Travis cut him off.

    “Watch me,” he said defiantly. “You’re the one that needs me for something. I don’t know what it is, but something. Me, on the other hand – I don’t need you, and, frankly, my life would be a little less complicated if we were strangers. So, since you need my help, it follows that now the ball’s in my court.”

    “You’re just a Pokémon Trainer,” Kenjiro scoffed. “Granted, the sword has fallen to you, but –“

    “Tch, I wish,” Travis said bitingly. “That’s the attitude that nearly got you killed the first time you fought me.”

    “Hey, wait a second –“ Katrina warned, hearing the tone of voice that indicated that the war-torn, emotionally and mentally-unbalanced, and potentially violent side of Travis’ personality was dominant at this point.

    “I’ve gone through hell and back, Kenjiro. I’ve seen and heard things that would make your hair stand on end. I have stood at death’s door more times than I care to count,” Travis said, his eyes narrowing. Kenjiro felt his heart literally stop beating for a moment and fell to his knees, clutching his chest. Sweat began to run down his brow and face, dripping off his nose and splashing against the dirt below.

    “Please calm down!” Katrina exclaimed, grabbing hold of Travis’ arm. Travis looked into her pleading eyes and the grip that was on his heart suddenly broke. His eyes softened as he looked at Kenjiro, who was looking up at him from his knees.

    “What do you want from me?” he asked.

    “I want to thank you...for helping me get this back,” Travis said, quickly sheathing his sword. Wondering what’d happened, Kenjiro stood up. “But, now that it’s my turn to do something for you...you’ll have to follow my terms.”

    “What are those terms?” Kenjiro asked, his defiant nature starting to come to the surface again. “Nothing ridiculous, I hope. Let me guess...you want us to help the priestess?”

    You are going to carry Reivyn yourself until she can walk on her own,” Travis said firmly. “And if you hurt her...well, let’s just say that you haven’t seen me upset yet.”

    “Tch...fine. Whatever...” Kenjiro turned around toward the scarlet-haired girl, who was in a supine position and trying to scoot away from him. “Well, it looks like today’s your lucky day, priestess.”

    “My name –“ she began to shout, but Kenjiro cut her off rather smoothly in a lazy voice.

    “Reivyn – I know. You don’t have to keep shouting...” Kenjiro groaned, extending his hand. “Now, I’m going to help you. Give me your hand.”

    “Don’t touch me!” Reivyn suddenly shrieked, slapping Kenjiro’s hand away. Kenjiro reacted with a smirk. “...I don’t...like...”

    “You’re a priestess,” Kenjiro cut her off, smirking. “I’m sure there’s been a lot more done to you.”

    “No,” Reivyn said simply, shaking her head. “But they tried to...”

    As if though she could not help herself, she dropped her head and burst into tears. Kenjiro sighed and closed his eyes.

    “I understand...you were held there against your will. Speaking of which –” he said. Then, moving quickly so that Reivyn did not have time to react, Kenjiro grabbed Reivyn’s arm and hoisted her up onto him piggyback-style. Once Reivyn realized what was going on...she completely freaked.

    “STOP! NO! GET OFF ME! LET ME GO! GET OFF! NOOOOOO!” she shrieked at the top of her lungs, scaring entire flocks of Taillow into sudden and frenzied flight. Travis and Katrina sighed and began to walk onward while Reivyn continued to scream bloody murder. After several steps, Kenjiro stopped and let go, causing Reivyn to land – BUMP, on her rump...with a resounding THUMP.

    Author’s Note: Amber suggested that I use that phrase, so you can cruc–er, congratulate her.

    “If your feet and arms are going to continue flailing around to the point where I have to worry about getting hit in the face...or somewhere else...” Kenjiro explained calmly. “I’m going to leave you here. You can’t move, and they’ll find you for sure.”

    “But...” Reivyn whimpered. Kenjiro knelt down in front of her with a serious expression on his face.

    “I’m helping you this time,” he said. Then, turning around and beginning to walk off, he added, “But, of course, if you want to die, I don’t have a right to...”

    Kenjiro felt a tug on his pant leg and turned around. Falling forward, Reivyn had reached out for him and was holding on, seemingly for dear life.

    “I see you changed your tune,” Kenjiro said with a smirk, taking her hand and draping it around his shoulder. Getting the message, Reivyn, much like a small child would do, grabbed onto his jacket with that hand, as well as the other arm. With a slight grunt of effort, Kenjiro lifted the girl up onto his back and began to walk. By this time, of course, Travis and Katrina were several yards ahead and hadn’t yet registered Kenjiro’s absence. The bronze-haired youth walked with a long stride to catch up with his younger counterparts. Travis chose the moment right after Kenjiro had settled in at the back of the pack to look over his shoulder.

    “Don’t worry, Kenjiro,” he said. “It’s getting late. We’re not getting out of this forest today. We’re just looking for a spot to camp at this point. So you won’t have to carry her for long.”

    “That’s good,” Kenjiro muttered. He looked to his right and saw the teenage kunoichi peering intently over his shoulder, her bright, silver eyes taking in all they could at once. Kenjiro rolled his own eyes. “Okay, there’s no way you can tell me you’ve never seen a forest before. Isn’t the Tem–“

    “Your name’s Kenjiro, right?” Reivyn asked. Not really feeling up to talking, Kenjiro nodded. “It’s too long, if you ask me. Why don’t you shorten it. Maybe...Ken?”

    “Don’t call me that,” Kenjiro said quickly. “Only my family can call me that.”

    “Where is your family?” Reivyn asked.

    “Dead,” Kenjiro said. “They’re all gone. That’s why...”

    “I don’t have a family, either,” Reivyn said. “I’m all alone. It’s not good...being alone.”

    “Better to be alone than to have your family taken away from you,” Kenjiro said.

    “ ‘Taken away’? By who?” Reivyn asked. Kenjiro’s eyes looked into hers and went as hard and as cold as ice. Reivyn gasped. “Is that why...why you hate me?”

    “Yes – that’s why I hate you,” Kenjiro said with the air of someone trying to explain something to a four-year-old.

    “But...” Reivyn whimpered. “I didn’t do it...”


    “Doesn’t matter,” Kenjiro said. “All of you are the same to me. But I think I might keep you around a while.”

    “Why?” Reivyn asked. “If you hate me, why don’t you kill me? He’s not looking.”

    “If you don’t want to die, then you’d better not give me any ideas,” Kenjiro said. “No...I’ve got a bigger plan for you. They’re hunting you down, aren’t they?”

    “I’ve been running for almost a year,” Reivyn replied. “It’s hard...”

    “Don’t get me started,” Kenjiro muttered. “In any case...they’ll send hundreds and hundreds of theirs in order to find one escape.”

    “How do you know?” Reivyn asked.

    “Believe me...I know,” Kenjiro responded simply.

    “So...what does that have to do with me?” Reivyn asked.

    “Let me make this simple so you can understand it,” Kenjiro replied with a smirk. “I have you – they come looking for you. They come looking for you – they find me. They find me – I kill them. Every single one I can get my hands on. They’ll all die.”

    “I’m...bait, then,” Reivyn sighed.

    “Now, you’re catching on,” Kenjiro said. “And before you ask me if I care about whether or not the fish actually bites the bait off the hook, the answer is no.”

    “You’re...brutal,” Reivyn whimpered.

    “That’s the only way I know how to survive...kill or get killed,” Kenjiro said. “So, I guess, in that sense, we’re not all that different, are we?”

    “Is there anything I could do...” Reivyn asked. “...to make you stop hating me?”

    “Bring my parents and brother back,” Kenjiro said with an extremely vicious tone in his voice. As if she knew the impossibility of what Kenjiro was asking and knew the hopelessness of her own situation, Reivyn burst into tears again. Kenjiro groaned in frustration.

    “What the hell are you doing to her?” Travis asked, turning around.

    “She’s just being a crybaby – that’s all,” Kenjiro commented.

    “That’d better be all,” Travis replied, staring a hole through Kenjiro before turning around.

    “I didn’t do it,” Reivyn sobbed. “I didn’t...”

    “You’re just another priestess, so you might as well have,” Kenjiro replied mercilessly.

    “My name is –“

    “Shut the hell up about it already, Reivyn,” Kenjiro groaned. “You’ve told us a thousand times.”

    To Kenjiro’s great surprise, the tears stopped. To his great dismay, he felt a hard pressure on his torso area – almost as if Reivyn were suddenly trying to embrace him with all four of her limbs at once.


    “No one called you ‘Reivyn’ when you were at the Temple, did they?” Kenjiro asked. Reivyn shook her head.

    “I was a number,” Reivyn said simply. “Eight-zero-seven-zero-two. You’re the first people to call me by my real name.”

    “Well, isn’t that an honor?” Kenjiro muttered sarcastically. “You really didn’t want to be a priestess, did you?”

    Reivyn shook her head. Kenjiro stopped and closed his eyes.

    “All this time, I thought you were working for them...” he muttered.

    “I can’t...” Reivyn sighed. “Three days...I’m sorry...”

    “What are you apologizing to me for? And what the hell do you mean by ‘three days’?” Kenjiro asked. He didn’t get a response...only ragged breathing. He looked to his right. The girl’s eyes were closed in peaceful slumber and her head had lolled harmlessly onto his neck. Her arms were still wrapped tightly around him, refusing to let go. Kenjiro figured out at that moment, looking at her serene and beautiful face in sleep, what she had meant by ‘three days’...it had been ‘three days’ since she had slept at all. She’d been on the move for that long, running from the Temple, afraid that if she ever closed her eyes, the next time she opened them would be in the beyond.

    A strange lurch happened in the pit of Kenjiro’s stomach. For a moment, he felt like he could have projectile vomited. It felt familiar...like the first time he’d had to kill someone to save his own life...

    He realized what it was. It was guilt. He had tormented her and treated her badly...and now, for the first time in years, he was feeling remorse.


    At last, Travis picked out a nice spot for them to camp for the night. This small patch of land bore very few trees around it. The setting sun shone down onto a small, calm lake, flooding the water and the grass land around it with warm tones of yellow and orange. Upon Katrina’s order, Amber had lit a woodpile ablaze for heat in anticipation for the cool night that was predicted to come. A blanket was spread out for the sleeping Reivyn to rest peacefully. Katrina brought it to Kenjiro’s attention, and the latter, with the scarlet-haired girl still on his back, trudged over there and crouched low, laying her peacefully onto the blanket. As she came to a rest on this green piece of cloth, her eyes opened blearily and looked straight into Kenjiro’s. She still had her hands clasped around his neck, so he wasn’t going anywhere soon.

    “Do you...still hate me?” Reivyn asked – again, sounding about ten years younger than she actually was.

    “Are you a priestess?” Kenjiro replied with his own question.

    “No,” Reivyn answered simply as her back finally hit the blanket. She let go of Kenjiro’s neck and allowed her arms to fall on either side of her.

    “...I don’t have any reason to hate you, then,” Kenjiro said. Reivyn sighed and her eyes closed. Folding the blanket over her sleeping body, Kenjiro thought, You’re a little girl in a woman’s body. It’s not even your own fault. How much could you learn about the outside world, stuck in that Temple? That’s why you wanted out, wasn’t it? You’d heard about the outside world and you wanted to see it for yourself. You wanted...to be free.

    “Kenjiro,” the bronze-haired young man heard Travis’ voice. He turned around and saw him, seated by the fire with his girlfriend (he figured this out on his own, as Travis forgot to tell him) at his side. Kenjiro stood, took one last look at the sleeping girl below him, and turned around to walk toward him. “I’ve got a couple of questions.”

    “Shoot,” Kenjiro said simply. “I think I’m up to talking as long as it isn’t anything ridiculous.”

    “I don’t think it is,” Travis replied. “It’s pretty obvious you’ve got a personal issue with Reivyn. Have you two met before?”

    “Well...yes – and no,” Kenjiro replied, sitting down. “We ran into each other about a week ago and ended up fighting.”

    “That seems to happen to you a lot, doesn’t it?” Katrina asked suspiciously.

    “Well – yeah, it does,” Kenjiro responded in a tone that made it clear that Kenjiro thought that Katrina should have figured this out on her own. “Especially when everyone in Hoenn’s made to think you’re a serial killer and everybody and their brother’s got a bounty on your head.”

    “You’ve got a bounty on your head?” Travis repeated. “Not to say that I’m surprised, but that might kind of complicate things. How much?”

    “Seven...” Kenjiro said.

    “Hundred? That’s no big deal,” Travis said. “You can hardly get three Pokéballs with –“

    “Million,” Kenjiro cut him off. Travis’ eyes nearly popped out of his head momentarily before he regained his composure.

    Million,” he repeated blankly. “Okay...that’s a problem. How’d you manage to rack up a seven-million-Pokedollar bounty?”

    “I came from – no, that’s another subject – but, when I got out in the world, I found I had to defend myself. When I was young and inexperienced, I had the tendency to forget to dispose of bodies properly,” Kenjiro said flatly.

    Katrina gave him a horrified look.

    “So, you are a serial killer,” she muttered.

    “I’m not a serial killer, damn it,” Kenjiro groaned in frustration. “Here’s the fact – for nearly two years now, I’ve had someone or another after me. Before the bounty hunters, there was another group...the Shoryuu Temple.

    “Temple? Is that the Temple that Reivyn –“ Katrina started to ask.

    “Unless there’s another cult in Hoenn that we don’t know about yet,” Kenjiro replied.

    “And I’m guessing ‘priestess’ refers to the girls in that Temple,” Travis said.

    “Exactly. They get a pretty raw deal, too. Not only are they forced to learn to become fighting machines...but their innocence is stripped away from them, leaving nothing but a emotionless, heartless, and blind servant of the ‘Faith’,” Kenjiro explained.

    “What do you mean, ‘their innocence is stripped away’?” Katrina said.

    “They are basically slaves,” Kenjiro said, sighing. It was at this point that Katrina finally got the hint.

    “No!” she gasped, leaning over Travis’ legs. “You don’t mean...”


    “Reivyn was one of the lucky ones...she got out,” Kenjiro said, glancing over her shoulder at the sleeping girl. Then, his eyes darkened as he looked at Travis and Katrina and said, “Few ever do – and when they do, they usually don’t live long. The rest of the Temple usually makes sure of that.”

    “Isn’t this supposed to be a secret cult?” Travis said. “How do you know so much about it?”

    Kenjiro stood up quickly.

    “I’ve been around the block a bit,” he said, beginning to walk off. He looked down at the girl wrapped in the green blanket. What are we going to do with you? he thought to himself, walking away from the group to be alone with his thoughts. This left Travis and Katrina by the crackling fire, as Angel had already gone to sleep and Crescent along with her.

    “So...let me get this straight,” Travis said, counting off on his fingers. “If these two tag along, we’re going to have problems with bounty hunters, the Shoryuu Temple, the king’s soldiers, in addition who whoever it is out there that wants my sword so badly.”

    Sighing, Katrina responded. “Yeah, I think that’s about it.”

    “And I still want to get eight badges and get to Evergrande City – alive,” Travis stressed the last word.

    “Mm-hmm,” Katrina replied. In reaction, Travis groaned loudly and leaned back onto the ground.

    Smirking bitterly, he commented, “Damn it. Why is my life always so complicated?”

    “I really couldn’t tell you,” Katrina sighed. “But I want you to promise me something.”

    “Hm?” Travis uttered as Katrina laid right next to him.

    “When we do have happy times,” she said, looking into his slightly-troubled azure eyes. “I want us to enjoy them. Smile once in a while. Laugh. Don’t be so serious all the time.”

    “You sound like a broken record,” Travis said, smirking and looking straight up at the sky. “ ‘Smile – laugh – don’t be so serious...smile – laugh – don’t be so serious...smile –‘ “

    He felt a slight weight on his chest just as Katrina leaned on it with her forearms and looked right into his eyes.

    “That’s because...even though I’d love you anyway,” she said. “I like the new you a lot better. I’m not sure about that other side of you...I know you’d never hurt me either way, but still...he scares me.”

    “Sorry,” Travis said reaching up and stroking her face. “It just feels like I’m under a lot of stress lately, and when that happens...”

    “I know, I know,” Katrina repeated sympathetically. “Don’t let it get to you.”

    She turned, laid her head back on Travis’ chest, and looked up into the sky.

    “The sunsets are beautiful in Hoenn,” she sighed.

    “You’re beautiful,” Travis said. Katrina turned toward him and reached her hand up toward her face. Travis grabbed it with his own hand and kissed it. “I’m lucky. Really lucky.”

    Travis understood now – if he was ever to combat the huge, unpleasant memories from his past, he would have to counter them with many small, good memories. A victory here and there, the beautiful scenery of this new country that he had never seen before...

    ...and looking up at a fiery sunset with the one he loved – and the one he was sure loved him back.

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

    So, introducing one fakemon this time.

    Leafen
    Type: Grass/Flying
    Height/Length: 2'00"
    Weight: 20 lbs.
    The word on Leafen: Due to its size and mid-air quickness, Leafen's pretty hard to hit. Its special attack stat is also rather devastating. Fire and Ice don't agree with it well, but it's grass-type properties negate its weakness to Rock and Electric-type attacks.

    Supplied by: Air Dragon

    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. #79
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    Sorry I haven't reveiw your chapters lately, no time.

    But you have certainally outdone yourself, what with all the sword fights and the romance and the Pokemon battles. It is brilliant sir, truely brilliant. I am also loving how we learnt the history of the sword and how its power could affect all of Hoenn (sound familiar).

    I'm going to make an obvious guess that boy near the end was Nate.
    Breezy is my little sister. Anyone who messes with her has to answer to me!
    My Twin's are Trillian and Sakara

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    ^^^^^^^^^

    Perhaps its mister Raquaza boy?

    Really amazing chapter EM1. One thing thats been kinda bugging me.

    We have yet to meet a character that has surpassed Travis' strength. I love his character to pieces but it'd be nice to see him loose to someone once in a while?

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazekage View Post
    We have yet to meet a character that has surpassed Travis' strength. I love his character to pieces but it'd be nice to see him loose to someone once in a while?
    Doesn't losing the sword count as loosing?
    Breezy is my little sister. Anyone who messes with her has to answer to me!
    My Twin's are Trillian and Sakara

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    ^^^^^^^^^^

    Not really.....

    I wanna see him loose in a sword b

  8. #83
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    Damn, fallen behind again. Must request review time over weekend due to paper tomorrow. Peace ooouuuuttt...

    L@er!

    Aaand I'm back...

    “You don’t know about the ‘Faith’ – no, you wouldn’t...you’re not from around here,” Kenjiro commented. “Nevermind...let’s get the hell outta here.”
    “You don’t know about the ‘Faith’ – no, you wouldn’t...you’re not from around here,” Kenjiro commented. “Never mind...let’s get the hell outta here.”

    After several steps, Kenjiro stopped and let go, causing Reivyn to land – BUMP, on her rump...with a resounding THUMP.

    Author’s Note: Amber suggested that I use that phrase, so you can cruc–er, congratulate her.
    Congratulations…

    Awww… Kenjiro and Reivyn (I dunno, but the name’s just so lovely…) are so cute together. Almost picture-perfect… if you get my drift. Looks like the iceman’s gonna thaw soon…

    and Arcus needs t o chill a little more. yeesh. i know he's a lone wolf, but this is plain ridiculous. Let's put Hotshot and Arcus in a ring and then see who's bad...

    Nice chapter as always, and i belive you have an appointment with the Castform...

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 26th April 2007 at 4:54 PM.
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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    ^^^^^^^^ x 2

    Travis has lost in a swordfight before in PRJ...

    And, if you want to be technical, he did lose to Kenjiro in Chapter 2. (Katrina just got to Kenjiro before he could finish Travis off.)

    That's difficult, though, seeing as, given the nature of this fanfic, whoever loses a swordfight has about a 10% chance of survival. And, obviously, we don't want to kill Travis off, do we?

    AD: Take your time. Your and Castform's reviews are always a help. I know how you feel. Believe it or not, I had to work to finish that chapter by Tuesday because I'm up to my eyeballs in it next week.

    Soo...there we have it. I'll try to get a chapter up next week, but it might be a stretch - like I said, more work than you can shake a stick at. If it goes up, it'll be later that week - as in Wednesday or later. See ya.

    - EM1, out.

    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.




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    Sorry for not posting in the time since i last did. I was occupied with the reading of PR:CoF, and if I was reading two things at once, It would have gelled in a massive mix of Saber, Kai and Chris in Hoenn, if ya catch my drift.

    Anywho, I'm gonna get back up to speed with your fic, and I'll post again when I'm done....

    I'll be back.
    Skogsrå

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

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  11. #86
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    I'm aaaalmost done with Chapter 6. It should be up within the next couple of days. I would be finished already, but my sleep pattern was incredibly messed up by a couple of late nights this past weekend, so I've been catching up...sometimes involuntarily.

    Anyway, I'm working on something that will ensure that the quality of my battle writing doesn't go down when I go on hiatus for the summer.

    When I mean 'hiatus', it doesn't mean that I'm going to quit writing. Quite the opposite. On summer vacation, I'll be doing more writing than ever. I just won't be able to post as often, if at all, because my computer access (as far as I know) will be limited to only getting onto dial-up for a few minutes every several weeks or so.

    That and I'll be spending lots of time and money watching the bumper crop of summer movies that are coming out.

    (While we're on the subject of blockbusters, Spider-Man 3 comes out on Friday. I can't wait!)

    Anyway, keep watching this week - it'll be up very soon.

    - EM1, out.

    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.




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    Amen brother.

    Spidy's gonna rock, along with our favorite Pirates and Ogres. And of course the amazing boy wizard we've all come to love.

    Can't wait for chapter six, and seven, and eight, and nine, and thirty-six :P

    (P.S Can't believe the school year's over.... Next year will be middle school for me! WAHOOO no more Gym class. If I lived in any other school district I'd be in middle school now...

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    Okay Grammar Time, first time I've had time to do it all week!

    Nice chapter as always, and i belive you have an appointment with the Castform...
    Next time when you introduce me use correct grammar!!!!!!!!!! j/k

    ^_^

    Anyway....

    Katrina gasped as she got a good look at the face of the girl, who was brunette and wearing a schoolgirl outfit.
    No proper term for it, it just seems like you are saying the girl is brown, I think what you are try to say is she has brown/brunette hair.

    These were both Dustox, Bug/Poison-type hybrids which were one of the possible final evolutions of Wurmple.
    Few mistakes so far but that is bound to change! This is the Which/That problem, it should be that.

    After about ten seconds, he rolled out onto the ground on the other side, landing on it with a clearly-audible THUMP.
    You repeatedly make this mistake and now, sorry to inform you it has become an unforgivable sin just like "off of" and splitting the infinitive. j/k ^_^ Anyway, hyphen is not necessary.

    not impressed,>” Arcus muttered, getting the attention of Meru, who looked at him for a second before getting bowled over by a flying Taillow.
    This also is to be added to the list, you pretty much make only four mistakes in your writing repeatedly, That's actually pretty good, you're not getting any worse. ^_^ and you are getting better since that off of hasn't reared its ugly head and so as the split infintive thing. In dialogue chracters can say getting, since thats what we speak, but the actual word that should be used is being.

    All of a sudden, a fast-moving jet of water came from Arcus’ left, striking the Taillow dead-center and sending him into a tail-spin.
    No hyphen necessary. Simple as that. Tailspin, however, is one word. no hyphen necessar in that either. Compound words are becoming common mistakes, might want to be careful with this next chapter.

    With her smaller frame and quicker style of fighting – a style which he’d seen and knew firsthand – he was definitely at a speed disadvantage.
    Which/That, in this situation it would be that.

    Somehow, though, she was able to roll and evade Kenjiro’s shots (which consisted of small fireballs and lightning bolts), finally vaulting herself off the ground from that position and barrel-rolling to a standing one
    Another compound mistake, barrel rolling needs no hyphen.

    It’d been a while since he’d seen moves as good as these right here.
    It just seems, i don't know, wrong. these right here... I'd get rid of right here...

    They were silver and seemed, again, to be widened in an apparently-permanent expression of fear.
    Hyphen Abuse! Your Abusing them!!! What did they ever do to you??????

    Arcus rolled to his feet again after getting nearly knocked silly by a second Wing Attack from Vipiri.
    Another one of the major four, getting vs. being. Guess which one is correct. (hint: starts with a be and ends with ing)

    Two infantrymen in light, black armor stood on the other side of the forest, flanking a figure with a royal-blue, sleeveless garment over an orange shirt and blue pants.
    I have also noticed that you abuse one of your major four like a billion times, but the other are like never there! Last time, tons and tons of "off of." Second time, Split infintive, and now Hyphen abuse, next time your probably going to abuse getting vs. being! Anyway, no hyphen necessary.

    He went inside of his cloak and pulled out a straight longsword.
    Long sword, two words, not one.

    Kneeling down next to her, his free hand found his way around her slender neck, and he began to slowly choke the very life out of her.
    I know, this time it almost seems valid, ALMOST, but don't split to and its verb. You could write ".... and he began slowly choking the very...."

    Why don’t you shorten it.
    It is a question? right? Needs a Question Mark? Correct?

    The setting sun shone down onto a small, calm lake, flooding the water and the grass land around it with warm tones of yellow and orange.
    Grassland is one word, these damn compound words are so inconsistent, no rules for them, just have to know' em

    he thought to himself, walking away from the group to be alone with his thoughts
    He should definetely be captilized, we learned this in about 1st grade, afte a ? or . comes a...

    “When we do have happy times,” she said, looking into his slightly-troubled azure eyes.
    Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not-another-hyphen-mistake-!-!-!-!-!-! You-know-what-to-do-,-right?

    Alright done, this is by far your best Grammatical Chpater in AP so far and your best in content as well. But taking into account all the grmmar mistakes, I'm afraid I can only give you a C- on this story. j/k

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    Hey, all – EM1 here. We’re moving along smashingly. Here we go with Chapter Six – otherwise known as ‘the part of the story where you find out the gist of what the hell’s going on.’

    Oh – and we have a gym battle.

    Enjoy!

    Chapter 6: Start of A Rocky Road


    May 27, 2013 - Rustboro City


    The scarlet-haired girl’s bright, silver eyes darted from building to building as she and three others walked through the streets of this large metropolis. There were shops on the left and on the right, and extremely tall buildings dotted the skyline here and there. It was still a bit jarring for her to see all of these people congregated in one place at the same time. She was used to being on the run in the wilds of Hoenn, where the only moving creatures were either the Pokémon or her enemies. It was all so new to her, even though she had been inside cities several times in the recent months. She found, actually, that the best place to hide from the Shoryuu Temple assassins was in the city among the people.

    “Reivyn?” Katrina called with a motherly air. “This is Rustboro City. Have you been here before?”

    Reivyn responded by saying, “I’m not sure...”

    “It reminds me of Goldenrod just a little bit...” Travis commented. “The layout and everything...it’s kind of similar.”

    “It is, isn’t it?” Katrina responded.

    Goldenrod City, back in Johto, was an important place for the two of them. Aside from being Katrina’s birthplace (although she considers her hometown to be New Bark Town, where she was adopted and raised), it was there that her steady relationship with Travis was also born.

    In late June of every year, a festival takes place in Goldenrod City. This festival is called the Golden Moon Festival, and it celebrates the arrival of summer. It got its name from the fact that, during the first few days of summer, the moon in Johto has a distinct yellow tinge to it. Among the parades, parties, and overall fun, there was also the Golden Moon Tournament. The Golden Moon Tournament is a tournament that is mainly open to Pokémon Trainers that consider themselves to be couples, or at least, something of the like.

    Travis and Katrina had been friends ever since the age of six, and as they grew up, each had mentally investigated the possibility of the other being more than a friend. However, there were certain things that were in the way. At that particular point – that is, the summer of 2011 – Katrina was on the rebound, so to speak. She had been involved with Nate Elm for nearly a year and a half, and they had ended in a painful breakup, at least for her part. Travis, who was a bit unsure of how he felt about her, and even less sure of how she felt about him, was reluctant to make a move and risk his healing friendship with her. ‘Healing’ because, at that point (as Katrina has mentioned before) she and Travis had barely been on speaking terms again for two weeks. Back then, Travis and Nate shared a mutual and passionate dislike for each other. Therefore, the fact that Katrina had stopped associating with Travis in favor of Nate was tantamount to the unpardonable sin.

    Months before they started their journey, Katrina broke up with Nate, who was very immature back then and liked to shower her with lavish gifts. It is a not-so-well-kept secret that it was Nate’s family that paid for Katrina’s last two years of schooling (because Katrina’s businessman father did not think it worth the money). However, the communication in that relationship – if it could truly be called one – was practically nil.


    In June, however, Katrina and Travis began to see each other in a different light. She was still recovering from the emotional turmoil of the last two years of her life, during which she found out that she was adopted, and also that she was not only a product of illegitimacy, but a product of prostitution This is scarring news for anyone, let alone a pre-teen girl who had been rather uncertain of herself from the beginning. During those two years, she sank into depression and even self-mutilation (there is still a scar or two on one of her shoulders to prove it) until she found Nate, whom she thought could stem her tide of suffering. To his credit, he did – at least for a while. Eventually, he began to treat her no differently than her father and then very immature mother had treated her. This led to their breakup and she sank into another depression that was often veiled by a plastic smile and constant repetition that she was doing just fine.

    Travis, though, had seen right through her masquerade. He’d known her for years and recognized that all was not well. When her behavior began to indicate that she perhaps saw him as more than a friend, he finally brought up the subject of her depression. He didn’t, of course, know or care at that moment that the Festival would eventually end with them sharing their first kiss.


    ...part of him was nervous for Katrina. Would this help her to let go of all the problems that weren’t her own?

    No. Not this alone. Travis would have to do something else – something he should have done a long time ago...

    Before Travis knew it, he was asked to kneel. He felt a cold, hard weight as the crown was placed on his head. He stood to cheers like he had never heard before in his life. The only cheers louder than these, Travis was thinking in that moment, was the noise generated when a new Johto Champion was announced. He looked at Katrina (who had been separated from him for a few moments) for a second, then made up his mind.

    “Sir,” he whispered to the old King, “Could I please have the tiara? I want to crown her myself.”

    “But that’s never been done before, young man,” Rondell said sternly.

    “It doesn’t matter. This is something I feel I have to do.”

    “Well...” Rondell finally gave in after a long silence. “Something special for the young lady, eh? You’d be doing me a favor. These old bones don’t move like they used to anymore...”

    He gave the tiara to Travis, who held it as delicately as if it was a glass treasure. The master of ceremonies, whose eyes finally caught those of Travis’, gave the latter a rather bewildered expression for a long and awkward moment. Travis nodded, gesturing him to go on with the ceremony.

    “Will the candidate for Queen please kneel?” The master finally spoke, and everything went quiet, save for a few hushed whispers once the crowd realized that Travis (and not Rondell) had the tiara. Travis approached Katrina and knelt in front of her.

    “You deserve this more than anyone I know,” he said, placing the tiara on Katrina’s head perfectly and standing up.

    “May I present to you...the King and Queen of the 142nd Golden Moon Festival!” The master of ceremonies shouted. Travis helped Katrina to her feet and heard a sniffle. When Katrina looked at him, tears were welling up in her eyes again. Travis wiped them away with his own hand and looked straight at her. There was nothing else to explain. All that was left was to say it.

    “I love you,” he said.


    Katrina looked shocked for about a second, then her lip began to quiver. Travis inched closer and Katrina met him, kissing him right on the lips.


    Now, nearly two years later, they were walking through a city highly reminiscent of Goldenrod City. The memories of that summer night put smiles on their faces, and their hands clasped each other. Kenjiro, watching from behind, sighed and looked over to his right distractedly.

    “Kenjiro...” Reivyn asked, “What’s wrong?”

    “Hm...” Kenjiro muttered. The gears seemed to be working inside his brain. He raised his voice. “You guys are probably gonna look for the gym and such, aren’t you?”

    “Huh? Yeah,” Travis replied, stopping and turning around.

    “Well...could you meet me at the Pokémon Center after you’re done exploring the city?” Kenjiro asked. “I’d like to talk to you about a few things.”

    “Alright, I guess,” Travis said, figuring that, once they were done around the city, they would return to the Pokémon Center anyway.

    “Good,” Kenjiro said simply, walking back toward the center, which they had passed already. Reivyn looked at Travis for a second, then Kenjiro for a second...and silently followed the latter. Kenjiro looked over his shoulder and saw her following him. She grasped onto his arm. He looked at her for a second and slowly nodded. He sighed, “Okay, let’s go.”

    “Hmm? Why’s she following him?” Katrina asked. “He wasn’t that great to her.”

    “I don’t know – I couldn’t tell you,” Travis replied. “I don’t think he’ll hurt her, though...”

    “How are you so sure of that?” Katrina questioned.

    “Too many witnesses,” Travis said. “On top of that...I think part of him feels a bit sorry for her.”

    They started to walk again.

    “I mean, come on –“ Travis continued. “How old do you think Reivyn is?”

    “She’s at least our age,” Katrina said. “Personally, I think she’s a little older...”

    “But she has the world knowledge of a five-year-old,” Travis said. “I’m not saying that she’s stupid – she’s probably very smart. She just hasn’t been exposed to much about the outside world...you know, stuck inside that temple or whatever...”

    “I know...” Katrina sighed. “It does make you feel a little bit sorry for her...”

    “Yeah...” Travis agreed, forcing a smile. “So...do you have the lowdown on Rustboro’s Gym?”

    “A little bit,” Katrina said. “The leader’s name is Roxanne. She’s a Professor at the Academy here. I heard she specializes in Rock-type Pokémon.”

    “Rock-types...damn it,” Travis groaned. “This might take a while...”

    “Maybe not...I’ve got good news for you,” Katrina said with a smile.


    “If you say anything about insurance, we’re going to have a problem,” Travis said suddenly. Katrina replied with a laugh.

    “No...but it’s good news, anyway,” she said. “Rock-types are weak against...among other things...well, you were head of our class – you tell me.”

    “Grass and water, that’s all I remember off the top of my head right now,” Travis commented.

    “Psychic, too,” Katrina added. Travis blinked and looked at her.

    “Psychic-types?” he repeated.

    “<Yeah – is that a problem?>” Angel piped in.

    “Your three Pokémon...” Katrina said. “Angel’s a Psychic-type, Champ’s a Grass-type – not to mention he can use Iron Tail, which is really effective against Rock-type Pokémon – and Meru’s a Water-type.”

    “You’re right,” Travis said, his heart lightening a bit. “What about you, though? You might have a bit of trouble. You’ve got Arcus – that’s good. But then...you’ve got Amber and Crescent.”

    “I know...” Katrina said. “That’s why you’re going first. I’ll need a little bit more time to think up a strategy.”

    “Well, you went first last time, anyway,” Travis remarked.

    “I know – you’re such a gentleman,” Katrina laughed, pecking Travis on the cheek.

    “I try,” Travis said, assuming a serious look on his face. Katrina stared back at him with a similar expression for couple of seconds until the both of them burst into laughter.

    “You’re making fun of me,” she laughed.

    “No, of course not,” Travis continued to tease her.

    “OPEEEEEEEN CHALLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENGE!” they heard a yell from just ahead and both looked in that direction at the same time. They saw a boy that couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven with a white polo bearing the Stone Badge Logo and khaki pants yelling at the top of his lungs in the town square. “OPEEEEEEEEEEN CHALLEEEEEEEEEEEEENGE!”

    Travis and Katrina both approached the boy, who was just starting to recover from yelling all of the air out of his lungs.

    “What do you mean by ‘Open Challenge’?” Travis asked him.

    “You’re new here, aren’t you?” the boy asked.

    “Uh...yeah,” Travis replied.

    “Open Challenge,” the boy panted, “It’s a thing...Miss Roxanne does...when she needs to...fill a time slot...in her gym day. It means...first one...to get...to...the elevator...gets a match...without...waiting.”

    Travis and Katrina looked at each other and took off up Main Street, leaving the little boy (whom Travis presumed must have been a student at Rustboro Academy, where Roxanne was a teacher) to catch his breath alone and continue yelling.

    “Wow,” Katrina panted, as she struggled to stay less than two steps behind Travis. “When’d you get so fast?”


    “Having trouble keeping up?” Travis teased, turning around and starting to run backwards just to show off. Katrina laughed and lunged for him, stretching out his arms to catch him. Travis nearly tripped, but managed to evade her, leaving her swinging at nothing but air. He turned off and ran in the other direction. After a few moments, Katrina finally grabbed him.

    “You remember...” Katrina said between laughs, “...when we always used to race when we were little?”

    “Yeah...” Travis replied. “You always beat me – and Shiro always beat you.”

    “You were a bookworm back then,” Katrina murmured. Grabbing his arm, she added, “Now you’ve got guns that would make Kenjiro jealous.”

    Travis burst into laughter. When he’d been given a clear bill of health by his physician last September (after breaking several bones, including his leg, a year and a half ago), he’d put himself under a rather rigorous exercise regimen to make his body stronger. One thing that he took from his incomplete journey was the fact that while strength of mind was good (Prof. Elm often said that Travis was the best student that he’d taught in years), strength of mind and of body was even better. Perhaps it was because Travis (like most intelligent people do) had a bit of a perfectionist streak, but he certainly sought to become more well rounded than he had been. However, even he was surprised at how well this worked.

    They both turned to their left and saw a large building with gray, stone pillars. It was quite large – about fifty feet tall. In the front of the building, though, were automatic-looking double doors similar to those found at the Pokémon Center.

    “I think this is the Gym,” Travis said.

    “Alright, let’s go, then!” Katrina shouted. Travis grasped Katrina’s hand, and the two of them began their walk into the Gym. Just as they did that, a boy wearing a black outfit and a skullcap was walking out hand in hand with a girl with a yellow shirt and black hair. Looking at the green eyes of the pair, Travis recognized them easily.

    “If it isn’t the gunslinger,” the boy said. “I’m guessing you didn’t give up like you should have.”

    “Uh...no,” Travis replied, smirking. “C’mon, Matt, you must not know me that well.”

    “So, I’m guessing that your presence here says that you won the Astralbadge from Petalburg,” Matthew said. “...and now you’re going for the Stone Badge here in Rustboro. Let me tell you – Roxanne’s a tough battler. Even I had a little trouble. I’d watch my back if I were you.”

    “Just worry about yourself,” Travis said. “I know what I’m doing.”

    “Of course you do,” Matthew said. “The gunslinger knows his guns...but not always his opponent’s.”

    “When did you take up speaking in code?” Travis asked bitingly. “You started hanging around those bald nut jobs at the Sprout Tower again, didn’t you?”

    “Are you looking to start a fight?” Matthew asked. “ ‘cause I’d have no problems finishing it.”

    “I don’t have time for you right now,” Travis said, walking past Matthew. “I’ve got a match to win.”

    “Of course you do,” Matt replied, looking over his shoulder. “Good luck.”

    “Whatever,” Travis grunted bitingly as the doors in front of him opened and he and Katrina walked in, all too happy to have Matthew behind them. This left Matthew and his girlfriend, Mariah Cecil, alone in front of the gym.


    “I can’t help but ask,” Mariah said quickly. “You mentioned you guys were almost friends at one point. What went so wrong?”

    “It’s complicated,” Matthew sighed.

    “Do you...hate him?” Mariah asked.

    Matthew shook his head. “I respect his skills. Part of me actually looked up to him back then. And then I got tired of looking up.”

    “Uh-huh...” Mariah muttered. “You know, you’ve been kind of merciless on other Trainers lately – especially the rookies we find around here. Maybe you need to take it easy before you destroy someone’s confidence.”

    “Can’t,” Matthew sighed. “They’re not taking it easy on me.”

    “What about Cliff, though?” Mariah asked. “You kind of ran up the score on him, don’t you think?”

    “I don’t like Cliff – he’s a pompous *******,” Matthew said curtly.

    “You just have a thing about people from Academies, don’t you?” Mariah asked. “That’s it, isn’t it?”

    “Not all of us were that lucky – financial status, location...” Matthew sighed. “The Academy students walk around like kings and queens, thinking they’ve got it made already. The majority of them have no work ethic. Their Pokémon are just a little bit rarer and a little bit stronger than ours at the beginning. By the end, though...they’re worse off than everyone else because they neglect their training. They don’t deserve to be in those tournaments and win. Personally, I think the system is all messed up.”

    “What do you mean by ‘system’?” Mariah questioned as Matthew began to walk away from the Gym. She followed him, of course, at a bit of a run to keep up with his long stride.

    “Those Academy guys get all the hype – all the attention. Hell, even Lance himself probably wouldn’t be Champion if he wasn’t born into the Blackthorn family. I mean, how many average Joes just have a Dratini given to them?” Matthew went on. He turned around for emphasis and said, “What happens to the guy that left from a broken family – didn’t know where he was gonna get his next meal at some points because his mother was too ‘emotionally distraught’ to work?!”

    “Matthew...” Mariah sighed.

    “He’s the one that’s gonna work his *** off, Mariah,” Matthew replied. “ ‘cause he has nothing but his balls, his word, and a dream. That’s all that’s keeping him going. When that tournament got cancelled because of...his war...I saw my dream slipping away from me. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

    “No,” Mariah admitted. “No, I don’t.”

    “It’s like you’re dead...except you’re still breathing. You don’t really know what the hell’s the use of living anymore. You’ve been working toward a goal forever, and just when it seems like it’s in your grasp, it’s yanked away from you,” Matthew said darkly. “See, you lived in the ‘good’ part of Cherrygrove – and when you went to school, it got even better. I come from the slums. Travis’ parents are upper-middle-class people that were pretty well off before his grandfather – a former Johto Champion – died and left his family just about everything. And don’t get me started on his girlfriend. I read a magazine last year – both of her parents are on the top ten of Johto’s wealthiest people. Her dad’s a business tycoon, and her mom’s a fashion designer. If you’ve ever seen the size of her house –“


    “Listen to yourself – your heart’s about as green as your eyes are,” Mariah scolded. “I didn’t know you were such a jealous person...”

    “Jealousy’s got nothing to do with it,” Matthew said. “I’m out to prove that you don’t need that stuff to be successful. And the best way to do that is to beat him. I rubbed his face in it after I beat him to see how he’d react. Most of those rich boys will give up on Pokémon Training when they get beaten like that.”

    “Some of them will give up on their lives...” Mariah sighed, looking away pointedly.

    “That’s exactly my point,” Matthew said emphatically. “But he didn’t...so I know now – he’s the guy I have to beat to have any shot. Because, if I can’t win against him...that’ll just prove one thing to me.”

    “What?” Mariah asked.

    “...that your fate really is determined at birth,” Matthew said with a bitter smile. “And there’s nothing you can do to change it. If that’s the case...I’ve been doomed to failure from the start – and there’s no real reason to go on living...”

    SMACK.

    Matthew’s face was so hot, it felt like someone had just thrown lava on him. He turned back toward Mariah – she had her fist clenched and her eyes were shining with tears.

    “Don’t you say that in front of me,” she said through gritted teeth.

    “What would you care?” Matthew said, turning around. “I know you only said yes because you felt sorry for me...or maybe because we both had basically the same sob story – almost. My whole life’s been a sob story, if you wanna put it that way.”

    Matt felt Mariah’s head leaning against his back and smiled bitterly to himself.

    “You see what I mean?” he said. “Pity. This is what I’ve been trying to tell people all along – this is what I’ve been fighting my entire life! I’m just as human as you are, and I have just as good a chance at succeeding in life. Income? Sponsorship? They don’t mean a damn thing to me. I’ll find my way without them. I don’t want or need your pity. I want respect.”

    “I don’t pity you,” Mariah muttered into his back.

    “You sure about that?” Matthew asked, a bit surprised at her response. “It breaks the rules, you know.”

    “I’ll make my own rules, then,” Mariah said. “Even though you hate all Academy students – and I am one – I’m not going to make the same mistake twice.”

    “What was that mistake?” Matthew asked.

    “Letting somebody I love give up on his own life,” Mariah said. Matthew stared ahead in silence – in shock. “Matt, I love you...even though I’m not even sure if you love me – I’ve never heard you say it.”

    “That’s to save you trouble,” Matthew said after a few moments. “The people that I love all have a tendency to abandon me. My mom, my dad, my brother and sisters...I’m not letting anyone else take that risk.”

    “You’re not making any sense,” Mariah said, backing away from Matthew. “You just said that you won’t say you love me because you think I’ll leave you and you don’t want me to leave because you love me.”

    “I’m not making any sense?” Matthew tried to think about a better response to Mariah’s reaction, but he couldn’t find anything. Her words had him all mixed up inside.

    “Matthew...turn around and tell me to my face that you don’t love me,” Mariah said. Matthew turned around and looked at her. His mouth opened...

    “I...” he uttered – but he couldn’t get any further than that. “I...”

    “You can’t say it, can you?” Mariah asked.

    For a long time, Matt just stared at her. Finally, he sighed, “No. I can’t.”

    “That only leaves one thing,” Mariah said. She reached back for her hair and undid the band that was binding it, letting her locks – sleek, straight and sable – fall to her shoulders. Her jade-colored eyes peered at Matthew and she took a slow step forward, grabbing his hand. She tilted her head and opened her mouth slightly as she approached him. Matthew’s brain went numb for a second, then he realized what she was about to do... something that he agreed (at least to himself) he’d never do, out of respect, if nothing else...

    “Mariah, wait...what about Ra–“ he said, but a finger to his lips stopped his words at once.

    “It’s alright,” she whispered, removing her finger and replacing it with her mouth.

    All of the noise that his ears took in from the people around...it all faded...

    ...Then, over the silence, he heard the announcer call his name over the speakers. The crowd, as predicted, erupted into polite cheers and applause despite the fact that, in this continent, he was as unknown as the next guy. He stepped out onto the field, waving appreciatively in no direction in particular – until his eyes fell on the pink-haired girl in the front row to his right. Clapping along with the rest of the crowd, she ceased for a moment and enthusiastically blew him a kiss for good luck. He responded with a wave and a smile as he tore his eyes away from her to get a good look at the field. This field, he noticed, consisted of gravel and was replete with boulders that seemed to be welded into the arena floor, as well as rocks that were small enough for a human being to throw, yet large enough to do some real damage if they connected. Across the field was a young woman with black hair that was tied back into a bun as well as extending over her forehead in the form of bangs. Her face clearly said that she was in her late teens to early twenties. However, the outfit she had chosen – a gray pantsuit (the jacket of which had the Rustboro Academy logo obvious on its right side) with a white shirt – was clearly picked to give an impression of being older...or at least being very professional. This was Roxanne, the youngest and most able instructor at the Rustboro Pokémon Academy...and, also, the incumbent Rustboro Gym Leader.

    “This will be a three-on-three battle with no time limit!” a referee (one that looked remarkably similar to the guy Travis had seen in Petalburg) shouted, raising his flags. “Only the challenger is allowed to substitute Pokémon. Are both participants ready?”

    Travis nodded when the referee turned toward him. Roxanne followed this motion.

    “BEGIN!” the referee shouted. Travis waited to see which Pokémon Roxanne would use. It’d be a Rock-type, he knew...but he could guarantee that there were likely Rock-types in Hoenn that he never would have heard of in Johto...so Travis had to be ready for anything.

    Just as he thought that, a creature that pretty much looked like a boulder with arms appeared, hovering just inches off the ground.

    “That’s a Geodude...” Travis sighed to himself. He reached for the Pokéball containing the newest of his three Pokémon. “Meru, GO!”

    The Kitide popped out of her ball, looking ready to do battle.


    “Geodude, use Tackle!” Roxanne shouted. Geodude planted his hands on the ground and used this motion to launch himself at the aquamarine Cub Pokémon before him.

    “Meru, dodge and use Water Gun!” Travis shouted. Meru jumped back right before Geodude reached her, causing the Rock Pokémon to smash into the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust and gravel. This, unfortunately, managed to get into Meru’s eyes, rendering her temporarily blind as she fired the Water Gun, indeed hitting a rock...a rock that was not Geodude. As soon as she shook the dust out of her eyes, she saw Geodude barreling toward her...

    SMASH.

    The two-armed Rock Pokémon careened into her, his rock body working to do more damage than a Tackle attack normally would.

    “Water Gun, Meru!” Travis shouted. Meru inhaled and shot a blue jet of water directly at the Rock Pokémon.

    “Defense Curl, Geodude!” Roxanne ordered. Geodude tucked his arms and assumed a ball-like form. The pressure of the Water Gun forced him a few feet backward and damaged him a bit.

    What’s she doing? Travis thought to himself. She’d know that Defense Curl only works against attacks that involve contact.

    “Now, Rollout!” Roxanne shouted. Travis’ eyes went the size of saucers.

    “Geez!” Travis growled. “Meru, get the heck outta there!”

    “<You don’t have to tell me twice!>” Meru exclaimed as she ran left. Geodude locked in on her like a heat-seeking missile, ricocheting off her back and driving her into the ground. Travis winced as Meru made an attempt to stand again. “<Ouch!>”

    “Damn...” Travis swore to himself. “Rollout gets stronger with each successful strike. I can’t let Meru get hit again. Meru! Up onto the boulder!”

    “<Right!>” Meru shouted as she leapt up (a lot more easily than Travis had expected) onto the large rock at one of the near corners of the field. Travis blinked once and saw on the other side of the stadium, a young woman with black hair and black lipstick...

    He shook his head quickly, trying to clear the ghosts from his mind. It was then that Travis watched Geodude roll up the small slope of the boulder and bounce off Meru’s chin, sending her into a flip that resulted in her landing on her back outside of the ring. He gasped loudly.

    “Time-out!!” the referee shouted, raising both flags. Meru staggered around the arena to Travis’ ankle. At the same time, Angel was looking up at him.

    “<What happened?>” the latter asked.

    Travis responded by shaking his head. “I thought I just saw...never mind. I guess the whole boulder setup just reminds me a bit...it’s no big deal. Let’s go.”

    “<Head in the game,>” Meru commented, stepping back onto the field.

    “I know, I know...” Travis groaned. Meru was a bit...well, sassier than most Pokémon he’d ever put up with. There was a certain sarcasm about her that made her difficult to handle sometimes. But she was a competitive and skilled battler, and, for that reason, Travis appreciated her presence on his team.


    Geodude, who was still rolling, came careening toward Meru like a wrecking ball for a third time. Meru had the sense to roll out of the way this time, causing Geodude to crash head-on into a(nother) boulder and ricochet straight up into the air. Meru turned around.

    “Geodude!” Roxanne shouted in concern.

    “Meru! Water Gun!” Travis called loudly.

    “Rollout, NOW!” Roxanne replied. Geodude curled in upon himself and began to roll at a high rate of speed just as the jet of water smashed into him. Most of it, however, was being deflected by Geodude’s fan-like rotation. It was then that gravity began to take effect, pulling Geodude down toward the ground...and toward Meru.

    “Meru!” Travis yelled.

    “<Hey – watch it!>” Angel shouted.

    “<I’m not blind!>” Meru yelled back while rolling out of the way out of the revolving Geodude. “<There. See?!>”

    “Shoot!” Roxanne groaned.

    “Meru, finish him off! Use Water Gun!” Travis ordered. Meru turned around, inhaled, and shot an azure jet of water directly into Geodude, knocking him backward into a boulder, breaking it and his will to fight all in the same instant. He fell to the ground, sopping wet and unconscious. The referee ran over to count to five.

    “Geodude is unable to battle!” the referee shouted, raising the red flag. “Kitide is the winner!”

    “Tch...darn,” Roxanne sighed. “Oh, well. Let’s go, Nosepass!”

    “Nosepass?” Travis repeated. Out of Roxanne’s second Pokéball came a statue-like rock head with a prominent, vermillion nose against his slate blue body. He landed on the ground with a loud THUD and a slight earthquake – a testament to his immense weight. Taken aback, Travis muttered, “Ah...”

    “<Geez...lay off the donuts,>” Meru scoffed. “<Then again – does a blockhead like you even eat donuts?>”

    “Nosepass, use Rock Throw!” Roxanne shouted.

    “Dodge and use Water Gun!” Travis yelled back. Meru was forced to jump and roll away from large rocks that were being tossed from the other side of the arena. She was pelted by a third and a fourth and damaged slightly.

    “<Watch yourself!>” Angel warned.

    “<Tch...perfect!>” Meru groaned, rolling to her feet and hurling a Water Gun at Nosepass, who took it head-on and was blasted backward.

    “Tackle, Nosepass!” Roxanne ordered. Nosepass hurled itself with surprising speed at Meru, knocking her for a loop. Meru staggered to her feet and used Water Gun. She somehow managed to miss Nosepass despite his size.

    “Damn, I forgot her Water Gun’s not that accurate...” Travis muttered. “Meru, get out of there!”

    “<Ngh...>” Meru groaned in frustration as she beat a retreat over to Travis’ side of the field, tired and bruised.

    “Had enough yet?” Roxanne asked.

    “No chance!” Travis shouted. “Meru, Water Gun!”

    Meru inhaled and fired a high-pressure jet of water at Nosepass, who took it right to his prominent proboscis and held his ground.

    “Right were I want you...” Roxanne laughed. “Thunderbolt!”

    Nosepass’ body started to crackle...

    In a flash and a clap of thunder, Meru was knocked to the ground, convulsing and screaming in pain.

    “<Meru!>” Angel shouted. After a few seconds, Meru stopped moving, having lost consciousness. Travis groaned.

    “That’s my surprise for pesky Water-types,” Roxanne said with a wry smile.

    Sighing heavily, Travis returned his Pokémon. He looked up at the black-haired gym leader and smirked.

    “Don’t start scheduling the rematch just yet – we’re just getting warmed up!” Travis shouted, pulling out a Pokéball and throwing it. Out of it burst a green, bipedal, lizard-like creature.

    “<Alright! Game time!>” Champ the Treecko shouted to announce his presence.

    “Game time, indeed,” Travis echoed, smiling.

    “Treecko – you have no idea how many times I’ve battled a Treecko since I became Gym Leader,” Roxanne commented. “Grass-types with good parameters...but their move pool is limited, to say the least.”

    “How’s this for a limited move pool?” Travis shouted. “Champ, use Iron Tail!”

    “<Pullin’ out the big stick early, huh?>” Champ quipped before rushing toward Nosepass, his prominent tail glowing a brilliant white. He leapt into the air and landed on Nosepass’ head tail first. Champ leapt off, revealing that the area that would be Nosepass’ forehead was now very slightly cracked. Champ landed and turned around.

    “Rock Throw!” Roxanne yelled. Nosepass glowed a faint electric blue. He appeared to be causing small rocks to hover with electromagnetic energy. With a burst of power, the rocks zipped away from Nosepass and toward Champ. Champ avoided the first one. He was hit square in the belly by the second and third, and took the fourth off the top of the head.

    “Iron Tail again!” Travis shouted.

    “That’s a Steel-type attack! You know what to do this time, Nosepass!” Roxanne yelled. At the very moment that Champ’s tail began to glow that bright white again, he felt himself being inescapably and invisibly yanked tail-first toward Nosepass. After several seconds, he found himself sitting on the top of Nosepass’ huge, stone nose...

    ...unable to escape.

    “Your entire Pokémon doesn’t become a Steel-type when it uses Iron Tail...but its tail does, obviously,” Roxanne said with a smirk. “Metal conducts electricity, so what should I do here...Nosepass, use Thunderbolt!”


    “NO!” Travis groaned.

    “<Not point-blank like that!>” Angel exclaimed.

    Yes, point-blank like that. There was a clap of thunder and an explosion, and the Treecko was sent flying across the arena. He landed hard on the arena floor and rolled to a stop in front of Travis, knocked out and smoking from the electrical injuries. Wondering how the momentum shifted so quickly, Travis returned Champ to his ball.

    “What happened?” Travis groaned. “We were doing so well...”

    “<Don’t give up just yet,>” Angel said encouragingly, stepping onto the battlefield. “<We’re still in this.>”

    “We’ve come back from behind before,” Travis sighed. “And we can do it again.”

    “Are you giving up, or do you want more?” Roxanne called from the opposite end of the arena.

    “Sorry, we’re not letting you off that easily,” Travis said. “Angel, use Confusion!”

    A wave of invisible energy tore across the battlefield, smashing into Nosepass a second and a half later. His form blurred severely for a second as if he’d almost been atomized, indicating the point of contact, and then became solid again. Nosepass’ eyes, however, looked strangely out of focus and his rock body, as heavy as it was, looked a bit unsteady. Travis smirked.

    “Nosepass, use Tackle!” Roxanne yelled. Nosepass turned and charged...

    “Stay where you are,” Travis said nonchalantly. Angel, taking this a step further, sat down in the middle of the battlefield.

    WHAM.

    Nosepass had made contact – with a large boulder on Roxanne’s side of the field. Angel stood again, snickering slightly to herself.
    Confusion was quite literal...

    “<Didn’t really do much,>” Angel commented. “<Nosepass didn’t look that bright to begin with.>”

    After another Confusion, Nosepass fell to the ground, his reddish nose pointing straight up into the air.

    Roxanne returned the Rock-type and her eyes narrowed.

    “<I think we upset her,>” Angel commented.

    “I’m shaking in my boots,” Travis said acerbically.

    “Lucky shot,” Roxanne commented, pulling out a Pokéball that was green in color as opposed to red. “But you won’t win this last one. I caught this Pokémon all the way out at the Safari Zone.”

    “So what?” Travis retorted scathingly. “Doesn’t make it any more powerful.”

    “Just see for yourself, then!” Roxanne shouted. The Pokéball she threw opened to reveal a creature that looked a bit like a dinosaur made of solid stone. It stood about three feet off the ground and appeared to be extremely heavy.

    “A Rhyhorn...” Travis muttered to himself.


    “That’s right, a Rhyhorn,” Roxanne said – even though she couldn’t hear Travis at all. “Rhyhorn, GO! Use Horn Attack!”

    “Angel, watch out!” Travis warned.

    Rhyhorn lowered her head and came at Angel with a sharp horn made of solid rock. Angel jumped aside to avoid being gored. Rhyhorn then turned around to face the lilac-colored Psychic-type.

    “Use Confusion!” Travis shouted. The gem on Angel’s head began to glow a brilliant white and a wave of Psychic energy – this time visible, shot forth in a bright flash of white from Angel’s forehead, smashing into Rhyhorn and blasting the three-foot-tall Spikes Pokémon a large distance backward. If it is at all possible for something made completely of rock to have severe bruises, Rhyhorn now certainly had them.

    “<Direct hit!>” Angel shouted enthusiastically.

    “Too slow, Roxanne!” Travis taunted across the arena. The young teacher folded her arms in response.

    “Don’t get cocky,” Roxanne replied. “Rhyhorn, Thunderbolt!”

    BANG.

    In a flash, Angel was struck by lightning and knocked to the ground. She rose to her feet, but her knees were shaking.

    “Oh...damn it – Angel’s afraid of lightning!” Travis muttered to himself. “I gotta end this quick!”

    “<Go away!>” Angel moaned, pawing at her own shadow.

    “Go on!” Roxanne shouted. “Use Horn Attack and finish her!”

    Rhyhorn stretched out to a full trot, her horn lowered directly at her smaller target.

    “ANGEL, MOVE!” Travis yelled forcefully, getting Angel’s attention in time for the latter to dodge the Rock-type’s business end. “Slipstream!”

    Angel stood her ground as Rhyhorn advanced on her. She met the Spikes Pokémon head-on, ramming into Rhyhorn, surrounded by a violet aura of energy. Rhyhorn was blown backward again as Angel landed on the ground and advanced a second time. This time, she also made contact, forcing Rhyhorn backward again and nearly out of the arena. The aura broke and she lowered her head, her sapphire-like eyes flashing and glowing slightly.

    “Rhyhorn!” Roxanne shouted. The Spikes Pokémon shook her head quickly and appeared not to know where she was. Now was the time, while the going was good...

    “Psybeam, NOW!” Travis shouted. The gem on Angel’s forehead glowed a brilliant white. From that gem, Angel let loose a beam of energy that likely contained just about every color in the spectrum. This beam smashed into Rhyhorn and forced her backward for a third time – this time, clear out of the battle area and into a wall behind Roxanne – as the Gym Leader and teacher turned around, gasping in shock. Running over to Rhyhorn, the surprised referee began the five-count.

    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. #90
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    May 2005
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    ~~~ *** ~~~

    “So...there we go – two badges,” Travis said, opening the badge case to reveal his new Stone Badge. “How long have we been here again?”

    “About two weeks,” Katrina responded, leaning over Travis’ shoulder to see the badge for herself. “That’s because these couple of Gyms were kind of close together.

    “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that Reivyn tried to steal my sword,” Travis admitted. “If it weren’t for Kenjiro knowing his way around, we might still be lost in Petalburg Forest.”

    “I wouldn’t mind being lost in a forest with you,” Katrina said mischievously.

    “Would’ve taken a lot longer for us to get here,” Travis commented. “Speaking of Kenjiro...weren’t we supposed to meet him somewhere?”

    “Are you still taking him seriously?” Katrina asked. “We should get out while we can.”

    “No,” Travis said, stopping. Katrina walked past him and then turned around curiously. “I gave Kenjiro my word that I’d meet this person – I gave him my word more than once, actually. I can’t take off now.”

    “You and your integrity,” Katrina groaned. “I’m not saying it’s a bad quality, but still...this is a guy that tried to kill you at one point.”

    “If he really wanted me dead, I wouldn’t be standing here,” Travis reasoned, continuing to walk. “We’ve been traveling with him for three days. He could’ve gotten me when I was asleep.”

    “That’s because you sleep like a log,” Katrina commented, elbowing Travis. “I mean, the only reason you didn’t recognize Reivyn’s face is because you were still asleep the first time she tried to steal your sword. You were lucky I came back, or she would have taken it that time.”

    “That’s because Reivyn, if you haven’t noticed, moves like some sort of ninja,” Travis remarked.

    “That’s a good point,” Katrina said. “She’s not exactly the loudest person. Speaking of which, I’m worried...”

    “She’s with Kenjiro,” Travis reiterated.

    “That’s what worries me,” Katrina sighed. “He’s not exactly the most...docile person.”

    “It’s either that or have her wander around in the city all by herself,” Travis replied. “Let’s face it. She’s intelligent, yeah – but she’s got the street smarts of a four-year-old.”

    “Well, don’t rag on her,” Katrina scolded.

    “I’m telling the truth,” Travis retorted. “I don’t want her getting lost around here, especially if the King’s knights are as bad as Kenjiro makes them out to be.”

    “You mean, the bit about taking young women captive –“ Katrina started.

    “Yeah, that bit,” Travis replied flatly. “And while we’re on that subject...is this city under martial law or something? I see about five soldiers for every block we walk...”

    “Yeah, I noticed,” Katrina said in a tone that indicated that if Travis hadn’t said something about this, she certainly would have. Looking around, one could see many infantrymen and knights in onyx-black armor, walking around the city very stiffly as if on patrol. It appeared to be quite difficult even to make one’s way inside a restaurant or an office without one or more soldiers confronting him or her and inquiring about his or her intentions – at sword point.

    “It’s weird...” Travis sighed. “I thought Hoenn was supposed to be a peaceful nation ruled by a peaceful royal family.”


    “No wonder it’s peaceful,” Katrina mused. “I wouldn’t think of starting up any trouble with all these soldiers around...”

    “Right...” Travis agreed. “Unless the soldiers were the ones starting the trouble.”

    Right then, Travis and Katrina reached the Pokémon Center. Travis supposed in that moment that, even if Kenjiro hadn’t asked them to meet him here, they would be here anyway to get Angel and the others checked on.

    As the doors to the center swung open and Travis and Katrina walked through, the latter asked, “What do you mean by that?”

    “Well,” Travis replied, sounding a bit sure of himself, “like Kenjiro said before...prowling around Petalburg at night, acting like they’re patrolling so they can pick on defenseless women that obviously aren’t doing anything wrong...”

    “We can’t believe everything Kenjiro says, Travis,” Katrina said firmly. “His mouth isn’t a prayer book.”

    “We can’t dismiss everything he says, either,” Travis replied. “He knows more about the situation than we do because we’re not from here. Besides – I don’t have to take Kenjiro’s word for it. I had to rescue Meru from a couple of those guys, remember?”

    “Not really; I got there after the fact,” Katrina said as Travis put three Pokéballs (one of them did contain Angel, who had been having rather nasty headaches after using Psybeam in her last battle).



    Fifteen minutes later, Travis and Katrina (who had been debating the point back and forth for most of this time) were both finishing off their lunch at the food court inside the Pokémon Center. Travis would have to get used to this – most Pokémon Centers in Johto didn’t have their own food courts because they were too small.

    “Well, if you can’t trust Kenjiro’s word, can you at least trust mine?” Travis asked.

    “Since your thoughts are based off what he said...” Katrina muttered.

    “Not entirely – c’mon, you know I’m smarter than that,” Travis said, chewing and swallowing a french fry. “I wouldn’t just blindly follow anyone with no objective. I’m trying to get to the bottom of this. He was right about one thing – people have been trying to come after my sword. I want to find out why.”

    “Sounds like you’re using him to get what you want,” Katrina said. “That’s not very nice.”

    “I’m not using Kenjiro,” Travis said. “He doesn’t strike me as the type that would let me use him if I wanted. I’m after his information – all the information he’s got. And maybe, if I’m lucky, and I play my cards right, I can get a second opinion from whoever this is he wants me to meet.”

    Katrina gasped.

    “You know...you’ve changed a lot since the last time we traveled together,” she said, tilting her head. “It sounds a lot like you know what you want.”

    “I sure do. I want answers before the fact,” Travis said. “The way I see it, this is a negotiation – and I’ve gotta make sure to get all I can from him and avoid some kind of ridiculous price. I’m not like some people, though – there are some things I won’t do to get what I want. If he backs me into a corner, I’ll find another way.”


    “Why are you so bent on getting information?” Katrina asked. “If it isn’t any of your –“

    “I sure as hell wish it wasn’t any of my business,” Travis uncharacteristically cut her off. “But...seeing as someone wants my sword – which poses a danger to both of us – it is my business. If we’re gonna have problems, I’m not making the same mistakes I made last time. Last time...it was, ‘We’ve got a target. We have no idea who – or what – he really is...only that he’s a diabolical jerk that wants you dead. So you’ve gotta get him before he gets you.’ For most of that war, we didn’t even know where Angelos was. We didn’t know what he looked like. Actually, it was fortunate that Angelos was so hell-bent on ending the war at the Crater. He could’ve retreated without us knowing, rebuilt his army, and...hell, we could still be fighting over there. This time, if I’ve got an enemy, I want to know all I can about him. I want to know all I can about any opponent. That’s why I keep asking you if you know anything about the Gym Leaders.”

    “That was...a mouthful,” Katrina commented, a bit taken aback. “But I agree with you.”

    “Trust me,” Travis sighed, reaching over the table and caressing his girlfriend’s shoulder with a smile. “I know what I’m doing.”

    Just then, they heard a laugh to their left and both turned in that direction.

    “Geez...” a young man with bronze hair scoffed. “You two act like a married couple.”

    “I wish,” Katrina, gathering her trash, sighed distractedly to no one in particular while Travis was talking to Kenjiro.

    “If I’d had a buck for every time someone said that to me in the last couple of years...” Travis muttered.

    “I was starting to think you wouldn’t show up,” Kenjiro commented, ignoring Katrina’s activities for the moment.

    “One thing you’ll find out about me really quickly is that I keep my word,” Travis said, gathering his own paper waste. “If I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it.”

    “That’s one thing we have in common, then,” Kenjiro muttered.

    “Say what you want,” Travis said. Then, noticing the absence of someone he felt should be there, he peered around Kenjiro’s shoulder. As Katrina returned to his side, Travis asked, “Reivyn – where is she?”

    “She’s safe,” Kenjiro said. “Don’t worry about her.”

    “Nice try – not good enough,” Travis responded rather quickly. “Where’d Reivyn go?”

    “Stop breakin’ my balls about the girl,” Kenjiro groaned. “I took her where I was waiting for you two.”

    “Where were you waiting for us?” Katrina asked. “You weren’t out here. We would have seen you...”

    “I thought you’d never ask,” Kenjiro replied with a smirk.


    Kenjiro had taken them down a hallway and toward the fourth door on the right of this hallway – Room 109. Of course, it looked like most of the other rooms – two lofted beds with a Pokéball rug in the center. Therefore, Travis wondered...

    “Why 109?” he asked Kenjiro, who made his way to the center of the room. “It looks just like...well, all of the other million rooms in this place.”

    “Of course – we don’t want to be too obvious,” Kenjiro said furtively. He began to fumble with the mat and lift it up off the ground. Along with it came a large square of the carpet. Travis and Katrina gasped simultaneously.

    “Kenjiro, what the hell?!” Travis shouted.

    “That’s supposed to happen. Now, shut up before you let all of Hoenn know we’re in here!” Kenjiro said in a threatening whisper. Travis looked down into the gaping hole – a square that would have fit perfectly into the circular rug that was directly above it. Travis saw a couple of ladder rungs descending into a yawning pit of black nothingness.

    “What’s this?” Travis asked.

    “This? This is headquarters,” Kenjiro said.

    Attempting to hide his ignorance at what Kenjiro meant by headquarters, Travis made a joke. “Headquarters for what? The spawn and minions of Hell?”

    “Very funny,” Kenjiro groaned. “What are you waiting for? Down the ladder!”

    “Watch it,” Travis retorted, not the type to suffer a crude command like that one. “This had better not be a trap. I just won a badge and I’m in a good mood, so you really don’t want to piss me off...”

    “It’s not a trap, Mr. Paranoid,” Kenjiro said. As Travis lowered himself into the hole, Kenjiro added, “Geez...I’ve never met someone that thinks the whole world wants him dead as much as you.”

    “I’m not that far off, am I?” Travis commented, disappearing into the blackness. Katrina followed him quickly down the ladder, leaving Kenjiro above ground by himself.

    “Maybe you have a point,” Kenjiro sighed, lowering himself into the hole and closing the trapdoor above him with one hand. He reached up and turned the knob to lock the door. Meanwhile, one of his feet nearly slipped off the rung of the metal ladder. He slipped down a couple of rungs, his knees bashing painfully into the ladder every two feet or so. Grabbing onto a lower part of the ladder to avoid falling the full twenty feet to the ground, he muttered, “Damn it! It’s always so wet down here...”

    Meanwhile, Travis and Katrina were admiring the wonders of their new surroundings – and “admiring” here means “trying to figure out where the hell they were.” There seemed to be pathways in this huge underground structure, separated by canals of suspicious-looking water. In addition to this, the smell wasn’t that great.

    Kenjiro leapt from the middle of the ladder and landed, grunting, “Shit.”

    “Exactly. It smells horrible down here,” Travis muttered.

    “That’s because we’re in a sewer, genius,” Kenjiro said. “This way.”

    The bronze-haired young man turned to the left and down one of the stone pathways. Travis and Katrina gingerly made their way down this pathway behind him. As they navigated this winding passage (Travis could have sworn that he’d seen a Grimer or two on the way), the smell of waste became (mercifully) less and less pronounced. After maybe five minutes, Kenjiro stopped in front of a metal door flanked with two torches emanating crackling flames. The young man turned the doorknob and opened the door. Travis and Katrina jumped backward as the door swung open with a high-pitched and eerie creak.

    “Now we’re going upstairs,” Travis groaned.


    “Stop griping – we’re here,” Kenjiro snarled, starting up the steps. Turning around, he added, “And make damn sure you close and lock the door behind you.

    “Keep your pants on,” Travis groaned impatiently, pointing with his chin to indicate that he wanted Katrina to enter first. He did so and then backed through the doorway, closing and locking the door behind him. He turned around to watch Katrina (and, a bit further on, Kenjiro) ascending a tight, spiral staircase that appeared to be bound around a tall metal pole. Travis ascended the stairs – ten, twenty...through another trap door...then his feet found the solid ground of a carpeted floor directly below him. The change of setting was rather jarring. They’d gone from an underground sewer to what looked like a successful fixer-upper project of a house. As they stepped through the door, Travis found himself in a bedroom with an old-looking bed. In the corners of the room were obvious cobwebs, flanked by dusty old pictures on pallid, gray walls. A trail of light filtered in through a large amount of dust, completing the appearance of this place as being decades, if not centuries, old. Travis looked around as Katrina grabbed onto his shoulder. She appeared nervous. Kenjiro, with a swift kick, shut the trap door as Travis asked, “Where the heck are we?”

    “We’re still in Rustboro,” Kenjiro said. “Just a ways off, that’s all. You wouldn’t know about the so-called haunted mansion here in Rustboro?”

    “Haunted mansion?” Travis asked, dusting himself off. “Doesn’t ring a bell.”

    “It’s sort of a new story around here,” Kenjiro replied, following suit. “Right after the new king was crowned last year, one of the first things he did was to eliminate all opposition – including a very old noble by the name of William Romero.”

    “William Romero?” Travis repeated.

    “Yeah...” Kenjiro responded. “He was a vocal opponent of King Edgar...feared he’d lead the nation into war. So the King had him killed – not even a formal execution. He sent soldiers straight here for the old man and had him beheaded.”

    Katrina gasped. Kenjiro, who had been expecting this reaction, let out a bark-like laugh.

    “Rumor has it, though...” Kenjiro continued, “...that his spirit refuses to rest as long as Edgar Thalrair is King of Hoenn. He’s become vengeful...it’s said that his favorite activity is to implode the souls of anyone who comes near supporting the king.”

    Implode their souls?” Travis repeated incredulously. “I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff before, but how the hell do you do that?”

    “Don’t ask me – I’m not some sort of necromancer,” Kenjiro said, shrugging his shoulders. “But I’ve heard getting your soul imploded really sucks. He only does it to the King’s knights. That’s why none of them bother coming up here. And that’s also why it’s poetic justice our group meets here.”

    “Your group?” Katrina repeated. “Who is ‘your group’?”

    “That’s what I’m going to explain to you two – among other things. Follow me,” Kenjiro said as he strode toward a door on the far side of the room and held it open. Travis and Katrina were rather surprised at what they saw. Not so much the mansion itself – they expected it to look fancy and aged like the room had looked – but the fact that there were people in green and silver armor walking all around the places. The majority of them had silver helmets that covered their eyes and noses, rendering them practically faceless. Travis followed Kenjiro down the stairs. It was just then that Katrina made a comment.

    “It looks like a cross between my house and the front of Blackthorn Castle,” she said. She and Travis had visited Blackthorn Castle. In fact, they had been forced to stay there for nearly six weeks.

    “Except about two hundred years old,” Travis added as a man in green and silver armor walked past him.

    “Actually, you’re not that far off,” Kenjiro turned his head and remarked. “I think you’re talking about five generations that this mansion was in the Romero family. William was the last Romero left, so this mansion has no heir. I think he would’ve wanted us to use it, though, considering what we’re doing...”

    As Kenjiro gestured at a soldier to open a nearby door, Travis and Katrina looked at each other. This green-armored man opened the creaky door and stood aside in order to let them in. Kenjiro flipped a switch, revealing a rather ornate-looking lamp that hung from the top of this small room. Other than that, this room was unfurnished save for a table and three chairs – almost like this was an interrogation chamber prepared specifically for the three of them.

    “What are you doing?” Travis asked, politely pulling out Katrina’s chair for her, then sitting down himself. Kenjiro seated himself on the other side of the creaky, wooden table. The dusty light illuminated his hair and turned it a burnt orange color.

    “This is gonna take a while,” Kenjiro sighed heavily. “Alright – the current King of Hoenn, his name is Edgar. I told you that much.”

    “Yes, you did,” Travis commented, folding his arms and laying them on the table.

    “Well, he hasn’t been King long – more like a year, tops,” Kenjiro said. “I’m gonna get straight to the point. We don’t want him there. We have someone else in mind.”

    “Someone else?” Travis said. “You mean, Edgar’s not the rightful heir?”

    “He’s a rightful heir, dynastically speaking,” Kenjiro said. “I say ’a’ rightful heir because he isn’t the only heir. Catch my drift?”

    “What’s that supposed to mean? Does Edgar have a twin brother or something?” Travis asked.

    “Bull’s-eye,” Kenjiro said. “Prince Elrik’s his name. He’s a lot – well...less of a jerk than his brother is. Elrik is a master diplomat, whereas Edgar...”

    “Sounds to me like a personal problem,” Travis sighed. “You can’t always use diplomacy. I found that out a long time ago.”

    “Yeah...we know. Elrik made the mistake of trying to let his brother accede to the throne without a fight,” Kenjiro commented. “Turns out King Edgar, true to form, wanted to start one anyway. He chased Elrik from Sootopolis and forced him into exile. He had a few supporters, though, and they went with him. That’s who we are. We’re the Emerald Knights.”

    “Emerald Knights...” Travis muttered.

    “Committed to the service of virtue and all that good stuff,” Kenjiro commented. “Basically, it’s those who support Prince Elrik as King instead of Edgar.”

    “And what do you want with me?” Travis asked.

    “Like we said...we want your sword. One way or another,” Kenjiro added. “You remember what I told you about the Blade Trinity?”

    “Yeah,” Travis replied. “Is one of those two...a Swordbearer?”

    “Actually, both of them are – or can be,” Kenjiro added. “Since it is the Sword of Kings, anyone in the royal line could wield that sword. Here’s the catch. The true wielder of the sword will work in harmony with the other two swords and their respective Swordbearers. Since your sword tests a person’s heart and judges it...”

    “...the true king would have to pass the test of my sword,” Travis finished. “If Edgar is as evil as you say he is, he definitely wouldn’t pass that test. You want me to ‘test’ Edgar and help his brother take the throne. That’s what you want.”

    “Pretty much,” Kenjiro said.

    “I thought we agreed,” Travis said, his eyes narrowing dangerously, “that you weren’t going to make me fight again. Now, here you are, basically asking me to carry out an assassination – to defy a king that has a right to his throne. If he was a usurper, I’d understand, but...”

    “He believes his royal name is license to treat his subjects anyway he wants,” Kenjiro said. “Hoenn deserves better.”

    “Well, let Hoenn solve her own problem,” Travis said, drawing a reproving glance from Katrina.

    “Travis!” she exclaimed.

    “I’m not telling you to let him sit there,” Travis said. “By all means, if he’s a tyrant, and you have a better ruler in mind, depose him. But don’t force me to be a part of it. I came here to win a Championship, not to be involved in some twisted political chess match.”

    “I see,” Kenjiro muttered with a smirk. “The Swordbearer of Ho-oh – the great ‘hero of justice’ – really doesn’t give a damn about anything else but his own career.”

    Kenjiro had touched a nerve – Travis stood to his feet so suddenly that he upended the chair in which he’d been sitting. At the same time, he slammed his fist into the table with enough force to leave a sizable dent in the solid wood. He leaned over toward Kenjiro, his azure eyes glittering with rage.

    “I am not...“ he shouted, snapping each word like a whip, “participating in another war!!”

    “Another war?” Kenjiro laughed. “What the hell would a kid like you know about –“

    He didn’t get to finish. A swift draw of a katana cut the table in front of him in two, and the two halves, each supported by only two of their original four legs, split apart and fell to the ground on opposite ends of the small room.

    “More than I’d like to,” Travis growled, pointing the Sacred Flame directly at Kenjiro’s face. “I have seen war. I have been at the front lines. I have been through hell. Can you say that? Can you? Have you had an entire nation depending on you for its survival? Sure, you haven’t. You’d prefer not to be put in that position – because you don’t give a damn about anyone else but yourself. You even told Reivyn to her face – you were using her as bait to draw in the Shoryuu Temple ninjas in order to kill them. You don’t give a damn about her safety.”

    “You got me,” Kenjiro growled. “Reivyn’s useful to me only until I pick up another hostage to draw them in. My plan – lather, rinse, repeat...until every single sick ******* from the Shoryuu Temple is dead and rotting in the depths of Hell itself!”

    “She’s an innocent girl,” Katrina said, rising to her feet as well. “Don’t you realize how cruel you’re being? She tried to escape the Temple, and now you’re trying to bring it straight to her!”

    “You two need to calm down,” Kenjiro sighed. “You act like she’s your kid or something. Fine – I’ll keep her safe if you agree to help me.”

    “I don’t think you get the message, Kenjiro,” Travis said, frowning. “Negotiations are over. Now, tell me how I can get the hell out of here and back to Rustboro.”


    “That’s no fun,” Kenjiro sighed, finally standing. “I could just keep you here and negotiate a little longer.”

    “There’s just one problem about that little plan,” Travis said, not looking at Kenjiro. “It’s pretty hard to negotiate when you’re dead.”

    Katrina gasped. Kenjiro (whose face went noticeably white for a moment), smiled and said, “At least now we agree on something.

    “Before you say anything else to me...” Travis said. “Where’s Reivyn? I want to know that she’s alive.”

    “Don’t be concerned about her,” Kenjiro said. “I’m not.”

    “Well, I guess I won’t be concerned about you or Hoenn, either,” Travis said. “Katrina, let’s go.”

    Katrina, casting a furtive glance back at Kenjiro, exited the room as well. Looking to his right, Travis saw a pair of doors that seemed to lead outside. He exited these doors and started down the hill without giving the dilapidated mansion a second look. Behind him, he heard and refused to acknowledge a shout behind him:

    “Are you prepared to live with two wars – and the deaths of two or more nations? If you are, then do what you want!”

    After this was repeated, Travis turned around and shouted back at Kenjiro, who was heckling him from the doorway.

    “I’ll kill anyone that tries to start another war with me at the center – and the cause really doesn’t mean much to me!” he yelled, turning on his heel and walking away. Katrina nearly had to sprint to keep up with his long strides.

    “What’s gotten into you?” she asked. “One minute, you’re completely calm, the next, you’re shouting death threats all over the place...”

    “I’m not fighting again,” Travis said, turning around and walking backwards. He had a very desperate look in his eyes. “I keep this sword for its safety. Let Hoenn deal with Hoenn’s problems. I shouldn’t be required to do it.”

    “Well, what if it’s...destiny?” Katrina asked, clutching for straws at this point.

    “Then, ‘destiny’ can just go on and choose someone else, because I’m not doing it!” Travis exclaimed vehemently. “What happens to this country isn’t really any of my business. Becoming Champion – that’s what I’m here for.”

    “Are you being a little bit self-centered?” Katrina asked.

    “Who the hell is gonna look after me if I don’t look after myself?!” Travis shouted, turning around and gesturing violently. “Everyone thinks I’m supposed to be their savior or their poster boy or some other irritating bull–“

    “You’re being unreasonable!” Katrina exclaimed.

    “Why can’t I just be a normal guy that gets a legitimate shot at being Champion? Is that ‘unreasonable’?” Travis shouted. “No! What’s unreasonable is the fact the whole world’s always on my shoulders! That I constantly have to put my hopes and dreams on hold because someone else needs me to do something. Am I gonna have to live the rest of my life like this?! I’d rather be dead!”


    “Don’t say that!” Katrina yelled back, finally catching up with him and grabbing onto his arm. “You always have me.”

    “For how long?” Travis asked, turning around. “You love the hero. What happens when I decide I don’t want to be the hero anymore?! I’m tired. I have nothing left to give! So, for how long?”

    “As long as you’ll keep me,” she replied, grabbing his hand. Looking up at him, she said, “Even...forever, if you want.”

    “Because you feel obligated?” Travis muttered, looking away from her.

    “Because I have hope for you becoming something more...” Katrina sighed. “You’re not a monster. You’re human.”

    “I’m a self-centered jerk,” Travis groaned. “I know I should care more...but what about me? All I want is to go on my journey and see if I can win a tournament. Is it that wrong for me to have my own hopes and dreams?”

    “No, it isn’t,” Katrina replied. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make something of yourself. You know that.”

    “The difference...” Travis muttered. “The Emerald Knights can probably go on without me. If they tried hard enough, they would be able to change their situation. But they can’t help me win a Championship. That’s something I have to do on my own, as a Trainer. Katrina...”

    Katrina looked up at him.

    “I came here to get away from the memory of war,” Travis sighed. “I’m not fighting another one.”

    “I’m not asking you to,” Katrina said. “I wouldn’t do that to you. I know how you feel...I just want you to know that I’m on your side.”

    “I know...” Travis replied. “Let’s just – go somewhere else. I don’t want to think about it right now. What time is it?”

    “It’s one...fifteen,” Katrina said, looking up at Travis with a worried expression.

    “That’s a problem,” Travis commented, breaking into a run. Katrina’s match was in less than an hour, and all of their Pokémon were still at the Center. They had to move. Travis was glad – this gave him a legitimate excuse to run away from that mansion without looking back. Was he running away from his problems?

    Was he running away from his war?

    Not this time. This wasn’t his war. This probably wasn’t even Kenjiro’s war. This was Hoenn’s war – and, to him, it was only appropriate to let Hoenn solve her own problems. The fitter leader would win and become King, as is expected when a throne is an object of dispute.


    At the old Romero Manor, a lone figure stood in the mansion’s large doorway, watching two people that he thought would be his allies walk away from him in rejection. Leaning on the wooden doorsill, he sighed heavily, his lip twitching uncomfortably.


    “You should have let me talk to him, Kenjiro.” A young man appeared behind the tall, bronze-haired youth. He was a touch shorter than Kenjiro, and his clean-shaven, gentle-looking, milk-chocolate-colored face was much less intimidating, covered by the straight curtain of neck-length black hair that surrounded his head on three sides. This was offset, however, by the fact that this young man was fully armed in green and silver armor. At his belt appeared to be two sabers, one on each side of his waist.

    “Now’s not a good time for an ‘I-told-you-so’ sermon, Rashid,” Kenjiro groaned. “I really don’t wanna hear it.”

    “You should try not being so obnoxious,” Rashid said calmly. “His Majesty keeps you around because you’re useful at gathering information, but everyone else is just barely tolerating you.”

    “Remind me of that the next time I decide to give a **** about someone else or what they think of me,” Kenjiro said savagely.

    “I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” Rashid said, as Kenjiro backed away from the door and shut himself inside the mansion. “Why’d you bring that girl here?”

    “Who – you mean, Reivyn?” Kenjiro muttered distractedly.

    “That’s her name? Yes, her,” Rashid replied.

    “She’s another part I worked into my plan...” Kenjiro said. “Just in case you guys don’t work out.”

    “You find a way to use everybody around you, don’t you?” Rashid asked, folding his arms. “What are you doing here, again?”

    “Once Prince Elrik takes the throne...if we all live that long...I’ll expose the Shoryuu Temple for the ruthless *******s they are,” Kenjiro growled. “Elrik, being the ‘just’ and ‘compassionate’ man he is, won’t stand by and allow the Temple to continue existing the way they are. He’ll have them disbanded. And, as for Reivyn...I really don’t feel like explaining this again, but I will for the sake of the more confused. She’s bait. You see, it could take ten years to get your Prince on the throne, and I don’t feel like waiting that long, with everyone from sellswords to the Four Bishops themselves coming after my ***. The Shoryuu Temple hates to let their escaped members live. Reivyn escaped from the Shoryuu Temple. By the sound of things, that was right around when all hell broke loose in Sootopolis. Here’s my plan in a nutshell – she brings ‘em in, I take ‘em out.”

    “Did she agree to this?” Rashid asked.

    “Rashid – what have I told you about stupid questions?” Kenjiro replied sharply. “Do people ever agree to anything I do around here? Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘If they want her that badly, why not offer her up as a hostage to trade for your freedom?’ Not even I can send her back there. You don’t know what they do to girls her age in that Temple – but I do.”

    Rashid burst into laughter. Kenjiro let out a short snarl before Rashid turned around and spoke.

    “You won’t be able to keep up that facade for long,” Rashid said with a smirk. “Face it – unless you can take another hostage, you’ll have to keep her alive. And the longer you keep her alive, the more you’ll learn to care about her.”

    “Ha! When I first met you, I didn’t think you had a sense of humor,” Kenjiro laughed. “That’s hilarious.”

    “Keep laughing...” Rashid said. “But you know I’m right. You don’t even want to keep her locked up in that room like she is. I can see it on your face.”

    “You don’t listen,” Kenjiro muttered. “The first thing she’ll do if I let her out is leave the manor like a bat out of hell – just like the other two. She’ll wander out somewhere into the city, all on her own, and –“


    “Endanger herself,” Rashid finished. Kenjiro growled. “So, you are worried about her safety.”

    Kenjiro shook his head in disbelief as he started up the stairs. “Keep telling yourself that.”

    Rashid stopped and watched Kenjiro as he walked past the room in which he’d locked Reivyn – the only room that had a window in the door. Reivyn’s silver eyes peered out of that window and watched as Kenjiro stopped and turned toward her.

    “No way. If I let you out, you’re gonna get us all killed,” Kenjiro muttered. Reivyn raised one of her hands to the window and pressed it against the glass. Kenjiro watched through the glass circle – a portrait of innocence, beauty, and fear. He raised his hand toward the other side of the window, and then stopped. He smirked, lowered his hand to his side, and commented, “If you think we’re going to be friends, you’ll be disappointed.”

    With that, he started away from her room and toward his own. Opening the door and stepping inside, he shut himself off from the world...

    BANG.

    ...loudly enough for the entire manor to hear that he did not want to be bothered.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With 2 weeks left until my school year's over, I definitely think I'll be able to get Chapter 7 up. I think you'll like it. Full of a lot of action and such. Well, I'm currently getting images of Pokemon to make it much easier for me to describe their appearances. That way, I'll be able to write quality battles without having to memorize what Pokemon look like and such.

    Okay, let's see how long it takes...

    - EM1, out.

    *starts stopwatch to see how long it'll be before Castform rips this chapter to shreds*

    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.




  16. #91
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    Finally, I'm the first one to post after EM1. Yay! Anyways, it's been a while since I last posted anything, but, you know how school can be. Very good descriptions of the new Pokemon, as well as the new charecters. And bringing Matthew back was a stroke of genius. You obviously don't need to worry about chapter lemgth, because your chapters are long enough already. Interesting....Travis refusing to accept another important role. However, I bet that eventually he will accept his role (being the 'heroic' guy he is). Another awesome batch of chapters, EM1! xXPorygonXx, out!

  17. #92
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    Angry What Did He Say?!!!

    Alright, where're my dues? 'Til Castform rips it to shreds'? Man i fell like an ol' rubber tire! LOL j/k...

    Got a paper this p.m. so i'll read and review after it's over. oh yeah, there's no electricity either. i'm posting from a cafe that use a generator. Go generators!

    I'll be back. Don't throw yours out...

    L@er!

    EDIT: Psssyche! I fooled ya! Like hell i'd wait to read this later... this was hella intense and a lot more relationships come out into the open. The plot comes to light, and Travis wins a gym battle off the bat! Matt seems more approachable now that e drops the arrogance side effect of the power bug, too...

    As grammar goes, as DJ DarkPersian says, leave a space after an ellipsis. makes your work neater...

    “<Geez...lay off the donuts,>” Meru scoffed. “<Then again – does a blockhead like you even eat donuts?>”
    LOL… looks like Meru’s the new Sparx…

    Nosepass had made contact – with a large boulder on Roxanne’s side of the field. Angel stood again, snickering slightly to herself.

    Confusion was quite literal...

    “<Didn’t really do much,>” Angel commented. “<Nosepass didn’t look that bright to begin with.>”
    Damn, Angel’s no angel…

    “<I think we upset her,>” Angel commented.

    “I’m shaking in my boots,” Travis said acerbically.
    He is! I can hear him rattlin’ all the way from here!

    This time, she also made contact, forcing Rhyhorn backward again and nearly out of the arena.
    It’s not wrong persay, but I’d reckon this sounds better:

    This time also she made contact, forcing Rhyhorn backward again and nearly out of the arena.

    And that’s also why it’s poetic justice our group meets here.”
    That way the it’s seems grammatically wrong. This way’s loads better:

    And that’s also why it’s poetic justice that our group meets here.”

    “I am not...“ he shouted, snapping each word like a whip,
    “I am not...“he shouted, snapping each word like a whip,(close the gap between the quotation mark and he.)

    “At least now we agree on something.
    “At least now we agree on something.

    That I constantly have to put my hopes and dreams on hold because someone else needs me to do something.
    That I constantly have to put my hopes and dreams on hold because someone else needs me to do something!

    “Just in case you guys don’t work out.”
    “Just in case you guys don’t work out...

    For the last two edits, next time, try putting the speech into your head, as though you're thinking them or you can hear them. hanging sentences like the second one end in ellipses. angry outbursts end in exclamations.

    sellswords
    Should that be Sellswords?

    ...loudly enough for the entire manor to hear that he did not want to be bothered.
    ... Loudly enough for the entire manor to hear that he did not want to be bothered.

    'nuff said, i'd reckon. Now start the clock to see how long Castform takes!

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 4th May 2007 at 11:26 AM.
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  18. #93
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    So, about last week, I was scanning the fanfic boards because The Legendarian Chronicles were taking forever to update and there wasn't a single good RP on the boards. I saw Advent Phoenix and I was like "Ooh! Pretty title!" So I clicked on it.

    And alas! I found that first I had to read this stupid, big, fat prequel to the story - 58 stinking chapters that took me at least a week to read, along with all of AirDragon and Castform's amusing critiques. Though it took a big chunk out of my life to read all of that, I was very pleased with your story. The characters, the plot, and your addiction to shipping were all very enjoyable. You also inspired me to make a Tyrouge kick ***.

    But yes, AP has been really good so far, though the prologue thing confused me a little. I thought that whole "redhead's escape" and "banished twin" thing was from the past, so when Travis met the girl, I got pretty confused. The only other thing about this part in your trilogy is that all of their new pokemon, with the exception of Amber, all just seem to be remakes of the older characters. Wolfy-dude is so Hotshot-esque that it's almost frightening, and ditto with Champ and Serge. But whatever... you may have a reason for doing that or something.

    But yeah, keep up the good work! I'll try to be as avid of a commenter as your other fans. =)

    Oh! Quick questions: One, do you ever go back and edit the mistakes AD and Castform point out? And deuce, is your fakemon contest still going?

    Okay, peace out. For real this time.
    Whee. I put this here just so my posts wouldn't look so ugly. You'd be amazed at how ugly they look without a siggy. Maybe later I'll put something of some consequence down here. Maybe. I'm kinda lazy. Oh well. Peace out, hommes.

  19. #94
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    Alright, time to rip it to shreds, AD did get quite a few of them. I may repeat them, becuase i don't fee like checking all the mistakes and checking his to see if their the same. That's your job as the author, not mine.

    Anyway *crosses fingers* hope this chapter will be grammar free.

    Chapter 6: Start of A Rocky Road
    There goes that idea. Already, in the title! My oh my! Alright A needs to be lower case, A is never captilized in a title. None of the articles are.

    The Golden Moon Tournament is a tournament that is mainly open to Pokémon Trainers that consider themselves to be couples, or at least, something of the like.
    This mistake doesn't count, so it will be in italics. Its just that to be couples is a bit wordy to me. couldn't you just have 'themselves couples'?


    The only cheers louder than these, Travis was thinking in that moment, was the noise generated when a new Johto Champion was announced.
    Subject Verb Agreement! Yes isn't it just lovely! ^_^ that means when we use a plural noun (cheers) we must use a plural verb (were) not singular (was)

    “I mean, come on – Travis continued
    I'm nit-picky, I know. Consider it a luxury and not a burden, I take time to make sure your grammar and stuff is perfect. Qutoation mark is the wrong way.

    She just hasn’t been exposed to much about the outside world...you know, stuck inside that temple or whatever...”
    This shoulde be too, basically when a to is near a much it should be spelled too.

    Perhaps it was because Travis (like most intelligent people do) had a bit of a perfectionist streak, but he certainly sought to become more well rounded than he had been.
    One error and one comment. In this situation, like should be as. My comment is, I would think that would be set off by commas instead parenthesis. It has relationship to the sentence, thats why I would set off with commas instead.

    “Mariah, wait...what about Ra–he said, but a finger to his lips stopped his words at once.
    Facing wrong way, again.

    This was Roxanne, the youngest and most able instructor at the Rustboro Pokémon Academy...and, also, the incumbent Rustboro Gym Leader.
    And also, those two should never be togtehre on paper or computer for that matter. Try using either and or also, never both. Or you could use 'as well as'

    “Right were I want you...”
    Spelling mistake, so I can correct it! Anyway, you meant to say WHERE not were

    You mean, the bit about taking young women captive – Katrina started.
    quotations mark, for the third time.

    “Well,” Travis replied, sounding a bit sure of himself, “like Kenjiro said before...prowling around Petalburg at night, acting like they’re patrolling so they can pick on defenseless women that obviously aren’t doing anything wrong...”
    Even though yo are trying to continue a statement, like should be captilize, the first word in quotes is always captilized execpt when it is a excerpt from something.

    “Not entirely – c’mon, you know I’m smarter than that,” Travis said, chewing and swallowing a french fry.
    French is captilized, since it is the language of a country, even though it is not being used in that sense here.

    He slipped down a couple of rungs, his knees bashing painfully into the ladder every two feet or so.
    I can't determine if you are refering to Travis or Kenjiro...

    “I am not...he shouted, snapping each word like a whip, “participating in another war!!”
    quotations marks, again

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    OMG you did not make a single one of the deadly four mistakes you usually make!!!! ^_^ Yes!!!! My plan, its working!!!! This by far is your best chapter grammatically speaking!!!

    Quote:
    sellswords
    Should that be Sellswords?
    It should...

    AD did catch a few mistakes I didn't catch and I didn't repeat with you, as I thought I would.

    All of his corrections were valid execpt:

    This time, she also made contact, forcing Rhyhorn backward again and nearly out of the arena
    .

    It’s not wrong persay, but I’d reckon this sounds better:

    This time also she made contact, forcing Rhyhorn backward again and nearly out of the arena.


    And that’s also why it’s poetic justice our group meets here.”
    That way the it’s seems grammatically wrong. This way’s loads better:

    And that’s also why it’s poetic justice that our group meets here.”
    You clearly stated in the first one that it sounds better. For the second one you didn't. The sentence is grammatically correct, adding 'that' makes it sound better to our ears.

    As I said before well done! No great big mistakes, just a few minor ones. ^_^

    * Castform tries to rip paper to shreds but paper has two few grammatical errors and therfore is as strong as iron, Castform is able to bend it, but not rip it to shreds*

    ~ Castform Out

  20. #95
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    porygon181: Welcome. You've Got Mail.




    Sorry, I've always wanted to do that to somebody. ^^'

    Now, on to business.

    I'm glad you liked my first fanfic. The dates don't reflect this, but it took me four years to finish.

    I'm pretty impressed that you got through it in a week. I believe it's about 900+ pages, total. It's a long one. But I started it when I was about thirteen, so I didn't pay anywhere near as much attention to detail. That's why you notice a big change about halfway through the fic when my chapters suddenly lengthen from 8-15 pages to 16-30 pages. You also notice a whole lot of other changes, too - everything after Chapter 25, I've written within the last year or so, as an older and more experienced writer.

    (BTW, just for a quick comparison, this fic, through 6 chapters, is approximately 125 pages long. O_O)

    In short, AP might be compared to an amped-up version of what PRJ would have been if I had finished writing it when I started originally. I like to call it an "OT+". Actually, the entire series is an "OT+" - that stands for Original Trainer Plus, obviously. It revolves around a journey fic, but there's a lot around that journey to complicate things (as was especially visible in my most recent chapter).

    But I'm glad you took the time to read through the prequel, as it gives basis for some of Travis and Katrina's behaviors in AP.

    Travis (if no one has picked up on this) has a split personality, as referenced in Chapter 3. PRJ, in its later goings, established the fact that while he essentially a nice guy, Travis does have a dark side that was more or less created by the traumatic experiences of the Lineage War. In an attempt to move on with his life, Travis has left Johto (as implied in some passages, part of him never wants to return) with a goal of becoming a Champion in Hoenn (which would give him a legitimate excuse to stay away from home in Johto). He is a completely different person when faced with the idea of fighting or when forced to wield his sword in a fight.

    In his normal persona, the one I like to call the "Trainer", obviously, he has become a lot more carefree and cheerful of a person.

    In his "Swordbearer" persona, however, which is triggered either by being forced to fight or by a memory of Johto that he considers negative, Travis is more introverted. He is prone to fits of rage and speaks and acts much more violently (although not as much so as, say, Kenjiro). Examples of this are in Chapter 2 - his encounters with Matthew and Kenjiro - and in Chapter 6, in that 'meeting' with Kenjiro.

    I plan to make Travis a bit more unpredictable than he was in PRJ. His highs will be a little higher, and his lows will be a little lower. I hope you have fun watching him.

    (I based his AP personality on Kenshin Himura/Battosai the Manslayer from Rurouni Kenshin - including his weapon, his style of fighting, and the split-personality thing.)



    Reivyn is the same girl from the flashbacks. She's been on the run for a year.



    Pokemon personalities are based loosely off of character archetypes and Pokemon natures. Arcus has a substantially darker past than Hotshot did, and Meru has some skeletons in her own closet, so don't pass judgment on them just yet. Champ is a bit similar to Serge, but his quirk is the fact that he always talks in sports terms, and is a lot more social and cheerful.

    Amber is a combination of Cannon and the personality of another Pokemon in HLBMA by breezy.



    Question 1: I try not to repeat the mistakes. It's a pain to edit them.
    Question 2: Yes.

    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.




  21. #96
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    Ooh! I've got mail!! *checks*

    Yeah, I'm a speed reader. I can read almost anything really quickly, but I sometimes skip things that look too boring, and thusly I miss out on something important.

    I did notice the change in your writing by the "second season" of Johto Revolutions, but it wasn't that drastic - your writing wasn't too bad to begin with. Granted, I didn't read the original draft that you started forever ago, but still.

    I'm not gonna lie... I'm pretty interested to see how bipolar (or schizo, whatever) you make Travis. I thought the whole suicide part of JR was a little weak just because it seemed so out of place, like you had just thrown it in there, but now if he's constantly going to be mood-swinging... exciting. ^^

    Okay, something I intended to mention in my previous critique: Does Katrina have some ability to draw pokemon to her or something? Because twice now she's caught pokemon that aren't native to the area she's in. So I just wondered.

    Aaaand.... that's it. I may have had something else to say, but I forgot it. Keep up the good work! I can't wait for summer... one, for obvious reasons, but two, you'll get to go update-crazy. Yeah!

    Alrighty then, I'm out. I'll try not to post again 'till you've posted the next chapter... don't want to spam up the place.

    Oh, I vaguely remember something I had to say. Kazekage, or whoever else was wondering why no one's stronger than Travis, Nate is as strong or stronger than Travis, as far as we know. Also, there's still another Swordbearer out there, whether or not they'll be one of the kings. And Matt has been kicking poor Travis' butt lately. So he's pretty far from invinceable.
    Last edited by porygon181; 6th May 2007 at 1:26 AM.
    Whee. I put this here just so my posts wouldn't look so ugly. You'd be amazed at how ugly they look without a siggy. Maybe later I'll put something of some consequence down here. Maybe. I'm kinda lazy. Oh well. Peace out, hommes.

  22. #97
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    ^^^^^

    It wasn't supposed to be a huge deal, sorry if I offended anyone.

    Wait I don't know if I misread or what, but the two kings are the other two swordbearers?

  23. #98
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    Well, I see the fic is moving on nicely. Keep up the great work.
    Visit Nocturne of Shadows. Check the chats and forums section to visit the forum. I have a guestbook and a mini shout box.

  24. #99
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    Not again... Forum lag got another post didn't it?

    ANYWAY! Dot, dot, dot. These past two chapters were of excellent quality as usual. There was one hard-to-decipher typo somewhere, but I forget where exactly. I find no faults at all in plot and description and other artsy junk (Castform has grammar covered better than I could ever hope to ^_^).

    Glad to see that Travis is back to his old self, even if he did go a little *too* far back. Your sense of humor is definitely prevalent in the pokemon (even moreso than Katrina's special brand of wit/dry/generally-sarcastic humor). Amber is a much-welcomed relief, and she is AP's Cannon equivalent which is always a good thing. I'd like to applaud your mixture of the pokemon's personalities with the new and old. I always like hints of the past in a good fic.

    In fact, the only problem I have with the fic so far is Reivyn. Yes, I have a personal, undefined loathing of that name, no matter how you spell it. Reivyn in an excellent character, name aside. The fact that she "has the world knowledge of a five-year-old" and can still (by the theory of relativity) knock you into yesterday is right appealing. She's not meant to be a funny character, but that strikes me as positively laughable.

    Ahem, now for a brief Himura Battousai fanboy shout out, "Yay!" You started Travis' split personality shortly after he got his sword (the first I remember was on the ship to Olivine), but now you've made it a major part of him. I think you planned on having fun writing him, didn't you? ...Kinda reminds me of Demyx too, just not as crazy. Finally, Kenjiro definitely has a vendetta against those temple freaks, eh? Any chance that he might get to blow stuff up in sync to the last three or so minutes of the 1812 Overture?

    Still here, (even if the forum wishes I weren't) -Oath

    PS: Great to see Nate back as well. I wonder if he'll ever get to see Avril again? Or will he blow her to the other side of Hoenn too? o.o'

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    Chapter 7: Return of the Phoenix


    May 27, 2013 – Rustboro City


    Under the noise of a screaming crowd of several thousand, two female Trainers stared each other down. Each of them pulled out a Pokéball, drawing their weapons in the style of the old westerns. The question was...who was going to shoot first?

    “Geodude!” Roxanne shouted, throwing her Pokéball into the air. Out of this Pokéball burst a rock Pokémon with two fists. He beat these two fists together in a show of defiance toward his opponent.

    “Arcus! Let’s go!” Katrina yelled, throwing a Pokéball into the air. Out of that ball burst a wolf-like Pokémon with brown fur that was streaked with rays of white. He bared his teeth and growled at the Rock Pokémon opposite him. Geodude floated inches above the ground, spreading his arms.

    “Rock Throw!” Roxanne yelled. Geodude dug his hands into the ground, yanking out a stone about the size of a baseball. Spinning to gain momentum, he hurled it at Arcus, who took it square off the temple and let out a sound that was a whimper followed by a loud, angry snarl. Arcus growled loudly and took off toward Geodude against Katrina’s orders.

    “Arcus, NO!” Katrina cried loudly.

    “Use Mega Punch, Geodude!” Roxanne ordered. Katrina’s heart sank like a stone (no pun intended) as Geodude reared back with his glowing fist and drove it into the left side of Arcus’ maw, knocking him to the ground.

    “That’s enough!” Katrina shouted. “Use Aurora Beam!!”

    Arcus, barking loudly, opened his mouth and released a rainbow-colored beam of icy energy that engulfed Geodude, forcing him backward by a small margin.

    “<There’s a whole lot more where that came from!>” Arcus shouted as Geodude, who had been knocked to the ground, drove his fists into the ground and jumped into a hovering position once again.


    “Rollout, now!” Roxanne yelled. Somersaulting into a very fast roll, Geodude launched himself along the ground at Arcus. The Rock-type’s rolling made him appear to be a perfect sphere – an cannonball hewn from the Earth itself.

    SMASH.

    Arcus growled as Geodude ricocheted off his russet-colored flank, knocking him to the ground. Arcus turned his head as Geodude disappeared behind one of the boulders embedded in the arena floor. A few seconds later, the rotating Rock-type reappeared, rushing right at Arcus.

    “Jump!” Katrina yelled. Arcus vaulted himself into the air, causing Geodude to roll right under him and skid to a stop. Arcus landed on the ground and quickly pivoted to avoid being hit from behind. He stared Geodude down as the latter vaulted himself into a hovering position once again. “You’re too slow, Roxanne.”

    “Use Mega Punch!” Roxanne yelled.

    “Dodge and hit him with Aurora Beam on my signal!” Katrina said loudly enough for only Arcus to hear. The Puppy Pokémon bared his fangs and rolled away right as Geodude’s glowing fist came down on the Arcidane’s former location. Arcus rolled to his feet, a toothy grin on his face.

    “NOW!” Katrina yelled. Arcus opened his mouth, blasting Geodude in his stone back with an Aurora Beam from mere inches away. Geodude let out a gravelly roar of agony as he was blown upwards into the air. He landed on Roxanne’s half of the field with a loud THUD....face-down in the dirt. Katrina let out a laugh of delight as the referee ran over to do the five-count.

    “Geodude is unable to battle!” the referee shouted, raising his crimson-colored flag. “Arcidane is the winner!”

    Returning Geodude, Roxanne muttered, “This girl’s no rookie...so I can’t treat her with kid gloves.”

    “Less fooling around next time, alright?” Katrina addressed Arcus sternly.

    “<Okay, fine...>” Arcus groaned insolently.

    “Onix!” Roxanne shouted, throwing another Pokeball.

    “Onix?” Katrina repeated, taken aback. “Isn’t Onix kind of –“

    She stopped mid-sentence as she was now staring up into the black, beady eyes of an enormous, horned serpent made entirely of boulders. He let out a feral roar as he looked down at the Arcidane below him – a creature he had beat in terms of height by at least ten feet.

    “Big?” Katrina finished her sentence.

    “<What the hell?>” Arcus groaned. “<That’s like saying that Snorlax is kind of heavy.>”

    Meanwhile, Travis and Angel were observing the match from the crowd. As an act of courtesy, he had also let Champ and Meru out to see the battle.

    “<Yikes,>” Champ gulped. “<He’s huge.>”

    “<Arcus is gonna die,>” Meru sang.

    “<Meru! Don’t be such a jerk,>” Angel scolded.


    “<He was a jerk first,>” Meru said with the air of a five-year-old. “<So there.>”

    “<Could you two please stop fighting?>” Champ asked. “<I’m trying to watch the match.>”

    “That Onix is young and inexperienced,” Travis commented.

    “<Huh?>” all three of his Pokémon chorused.

    “<You can tell that just by looking? Man, you’re good, Coach!>” Champ shouted enthusiastically.

    “<He brings up a good point,>” Meru said sagely. “<From what I know of Onix, the stones that make up its body get rounder and harder as they get older. This Onix, though...his are still rough and jagged.>”

    “Which means he’s not very old,” Travis commented. “On top of that...Onix are usually a lot longer than this one, which means that this Onix might not even be a year old yet.”

    “<He’s a baby,>” Angel said.

    “Not so much,” Travis replied. “Most Onix are fully grown after about two years, I think. Most Pokémon in general are fully grown after two years.”

    “<That’s true,>” Champ commented. “<I haven’t grown an inch since right after I turned two.>”

    “<How old are you?>” Angel asked.

    “<Me? Three years,>” Champ replied.

    “<Really? You’re the same age as I am,>” Angel commented. “<Meru, how about you?>”

    “<I’ll be three at the end of the summer,>” Meru said.

    “<Really?>” Champ said. “<How old do you think the others are?>”

    “<Crescent’s a bit older than I am,>” Angel replied. “<He’s turning five at the end of winter.>”

    “<That’s a really big age gap,>” Meru commented. “<How do you deal with it?>”

    “<Oh – well, we really don’t pay attention to it that much,>” Angel replied.

    “<It’s probably not that bad because Angel acts older than her age,>” Champ commented.

    “<I guess...that’s a compliment,>” Angel said. “<What about Arcus?>”

    “<Arcus is – oh, he just got slammed...>” Champ muttered, wincing. Roxanne’s Onix had swatted Arcus away with his tail, sending the unfortunate Ice-type flying across the arena. He landed on his flank and skidded to a stop. After a moment, he attempted to stagger to his feet...but to no avail.

    “<Tch – serves him right,>” Meru muttered.

    “<What’s your beef with Arcus, anyway?>” Champ asked out of curiosity.

    “<Aside from the fact that he’s a prick and that he nearly clawed my face off, I don’t have a problem with him,>” Meru replied bitingly.

    “<Well, you did talk about his mother,>” Angel said scoldingly.


    “<Don’t try to scapegoat me, Angel,>” Meru shot back. “<I was just teasing him. That was no reason for him to throw a tantrum. He’s just a jerk.>”

    “<Guys, Amber just went down,>” Champ said, looking straight down at the match. The small Pyrika, being a Fire-type, had been no match for Onix’s size and physicality. It took a mere thirty seconds for Amber to be defeated.

    “<She just got out there...>” Meru commented, shaking her head. Then, turning her attention to Champ, she added, “<You know, I think she likes you.>”

    “<She has a crush on a different guy for every day of the week,>” Champ said nonchalantly. “<On the way up here – remember? She was fawning all over Arcus...>”

    “<WHAT?!>” Meru shouted, making everyone within ten yards of her jump.

    “<Calm down,>” Champ groaned, squinting. “<What’s your problem?>”

    “<I just...don’t know what she would see in him, that’s all,>” Meru said very quickly, not meeting Champ’s bulging, yellow eyes. “<I think she’s being an idiot.>”

    “<What’s with you?>” Angel asked. “<I thought you and Amber got along pretty well.>”

    “<She’s kind of hard to be around,>” Meru said sharply.

    “<She’s not that bad...except for the random comments and the occasional dirty joke,>” Champ commented. “<She’s just like a little kid...you have to keep her entertained so she doesn’t do anything stupid.>”

    “<Maybe you should entertain her, then,>” Meru said, raising her eyebrow.

    “<I don’t have time – I’ve got my career to think about, remember?>” Champ replied.

    “<Career, career, career. You’re always talking about your career,>” Meru said. “<You’re so one-dimensional. You really ought to get yourself a –>”

    “<Don’t throw stones in a glass house, Meru,>” Champ warned. “<Don’t get me started on – WHOA! That’s gonna leave a mark!>”

    Crescent, who was now out on the field, had just hit Onix square in the belly with a Hyper Beam. Despite Rock-types having a resistance to that nature of attack, the force of the blast still proved too strong for Onix, driving him to the ground. With a soft roar, he succumbed to his fatigue and lost consciousness. Crescent looked rather worn out as well, but that’s to be expected from someone who just launched a Hyper Beam.

    “<Oh, no...>” Angel groaned. “<He’s getting tired...>”

    “<You worry too much,>” Champ said. “<Just let him play his game.>”

    “<You’re gonna be one of those overprotective, overbearing mothers when you have kids, aren’t you?>” Meru laughed.

    “<What’s it to you?>” Angel responded. “<And who said I wanted to be a mother?>”

    “<Oh, c’mon...you’re not going to be a fighter forever,>” Meru replied. “<Eventually, you’re gonna have to do something else with your life. You know...settle down – with...say, Crescent, maybe...>”


    “<That’s got absolutely nothing to do with –>” Angel started, her face a shade of pink that could be compared to an embarrassed Lickitung. “<Stop making fun of me.>”

    “<But, it’s what I do best...plus, I enjoy it,>” Meru replied, sticking her tongue out at Angel in a rather silly expression. “<I think you’d make a great mother, personally...>”

    “<Just...keep watching the battle,>” Angel sighed, turning away from Meru.

    “<I think we’re just about in the books here, ladies,>” Champ commented. “<Rhyhorn just got hit with a Shadow Ball and doesn’t know what planet she’s on.>”

    “<I don’t blame her,>” Angel commented. “<I’ve felt that Shadow Ball and it’s no joke.>”

    “<Really?>” Meru asked. “<Are your fights that bad?>”

    Angel shook her head. “<No – I’m talking about the first time we met, two years ago. He was working at a Gym not too different from this one. We didn’t know each other then. Then, not too long after that, his Trainer...the Gym Leader...was found murdered.>”

    “<Murdered?>” Meru repeated incredulously.

    “<That’s an entirely separate story that I don’t feel like explaining right now,>” Angel said. “<One day, Crescent and I will tell everyone – but I’m not ready to talk about it yet. Long story short, Crescent was sent to us about a month after I met him for the first time. I was a bit of a jerk to him, actually. We tolerated each other – kind of like you and Arcus do. Funny...because we were going out not long after that.>”

    “<What?!>” Meru yelled, her aquamarine face turning a bit pink. “<What’s that supposed to mean?!>”

    “<Nothing – I’m just making an observation,>” Angel replied smugly.

    “<Yeah, right...>” Meru sighed, rolling her eyes. “<You’re trying to imply something.>”

    “<You read way too much into stuff, Meru,>” Angel said. “<No wonder you have such a hard time making friends. And before you start trying to read between the lines, that’s just another observation.>”

    Meru turned away from Angel grumpily. Angel smirked.

    “<Oh – watch it!>” Champ groaned as he watched Crescent being struck by Rhyhorn’s Horn Attack. The Dark-type fell sideways to the ground, then rolled to a laying position as Rhyhorn continued to charge. “<Yo! GET OUTTA THE WAY!>”

    “<Crescent!>” Angel yelled. Crescent leapt up into the air as Rhyhorn crashed into the ground. He landed atop Rhyhorn’s back, whirled around and reared his own head back, conjuring a huge, orange ball of energy. Jumping into the air, he blasted a Hyper Beam straight down into the back of Rhyhorn, who roared in pain as the immense amount of Megacite energy began to burn away at her rock body. Angel squealed in delight as she realized that Crescent had the match won.

    “<Good stuff!>” Champ said, applauding. “<See, Meru? You should pay attention instead of shooting your mouth off about Arcus all the time. You might get some ti–>”

    Champ was cut off as Meru raised one of her front paws and slapped Champ across his face, knocking him out of the chair.

    “<Speaking of running your mouth...>” Angel muttered with a smile.



    Katrina was extracting her backpack (with a small measure of difficulty) from a locker in the Gym locker room when she heard a noise at the door. Crescent cocked one of his ears and ran toward the door. Katrina stood and turned in that direction to see Angel greeting Crescent affectionately. Above them was Travis, standing in the doorway of the locker room. From behind him stepped Meru and Champ.

    She let out a laugh and approached Travis, embracing him.

    “Good work,” Travis said.

    “Definitely wasn’t as easy as the last one,” Katrina commented, leading Travis over to the bench, where she would give Travis a blow-by-blow of exactly what was going on down on the ground. Meanwhile, Angel, Crescent, Meru, and Champ began talking.

    “<How are you feeling?>” Angel asked, sounding concerned.

    “<Everything hurts,>” Crescent said rather nonchalantly.

    “<I’m not surprised,>” Champ commented. “<That Rhyhorn knocked you around a little bit. Some of the hits were pretty ugly, actually.>”

    “<Yeah...>” Crescent grunted, his face contorted into a painful grimace. “<But I’ll live.>”

    “<You’d better,>” Angel said. “<If you don’t...I’ll kill you.>”

    Crescent let out a slight laugh. “<I’m really tired, though...I don’t think I’ve ever had to use that many Hyper Beams in one battle. I’m completely bushed.>”

    “<I sure hope the next Gym isn’t Rock-type...>” Champ groaned, favoring his tail. “<My tail still hurts.>”

    “<Really? I’m doing just fine,>” Meru said. Shaking one of her forelegs, she added, “<Except when my leg keeps falling asleep.>”

    “<That’s because you were hit by lightning,>” Angel commented with a shudder, walking away.

    “<What’s with her and lightning?>” Champ asked.

    “<Apparently, when she was an Eevee, she had some bad experiences with lightning. I believe she was struck as a baby and nearly killed – before she was found by a Professor near our home and nursed back to health,>” Crescent sighed.

    “<Wow, I didn’t know that,>” Champ said, sounding astonished.

    “<I don’t blame her,>” Meru commented. “<I don’t like lightning...and it sure as heck does not like me.>”

    “<She seems so strong and brave,>” Champ muttered. “<I never would’ve known that if you hadn’t told me.>”

    “<More people and Pokémon than you realize have dark pasts,>” Crescent commented, walking away to join Angel. “<That’s why it’s really stupid to be judgmental – because, when you get down to it, they might not be that different from you after all.>”

    Champ took a knowing glance at Meru and quickly looked away from her before she knew what was going on.


    It wasn’t long before Travis and Katrina were on the roads of Rustboro City again. This time, they decided to explore the town a bit, now that they had no further commitments to anyone or anything in this city. Angel and Crescent were in tow, the rest of the Pokémon having been returned safely to their balls. Travis and Katrina also took the opportunity to discuss what they knew about Rustboro.

    “So...Devon Company...their main office building is here, right?” Travis asked.

    “That one,” Katrina said, pointing at a skyscraper that stuck out in the distance. Travis gasped and looked up at a building that had to be a couple hundred feet high. His jaw nearly dropped to the floor as he saw the structure’s height.

    “Wow...that’s huge,” Travis commented. “Isn’t Ericsson Devon’s parent company?”

    “No,” Katrina said, shaking her head. “It’s pretty difficult for E.I. to get any influence over here. Devon’s run by – well, the C.E.O. is a guy by the name of Steven Stone...”

    “Steven Stone?! As in, the Champion, Steven Stone?” Travis exclaimed. “Damn, he must really have his hands full.”

    “That’s why his younger brother, Alex Stone, does most of the work nowadays,” Katrina said. “With Alex in power, Devon refuses to cooperate with E.I. They call him ‘Alexander the Great’ – and for good reason, too. He’s a card shark when it comes to business. He’s even tried to buy E.I.’s stock a few times. He’s the biggest thorn in my father’s side.”

    “Can’t something be done about that?” Travis asked curiously. “What if he puts E.I. out of business?”

    “It’ll be a cold day in hell when Alex Stone or anybody else buys out Ericsson,” Katrina replied. “Anyway, maybe one day, Devon will catch up, and there won’t be a problem. A little competition never hurt anybody. I’ll admit – not even Ericsson has enough backing to put Devon out of business. The same’s also true the other way around, though. Basically, it’s a stalemate. No one wants either one to dominate the other because that would create a monopoly.”

    “Gotcha,” Travis sighed.

    “So...” Katrina murmured, changing the subject, “Where’s the next Gym?”

    “I think it’s on Dewford Island,” Travis replied.

    “A beach town! Nice!” Katrina exclaimed.

    “I’m trying to think, though...” Travis muttered. “The only really good sea route to get to Dewford was off that port just south of the Petalburg Woods. Wasn’t that a pirate port or something?”

    “Pirate port?” Katrina repeated. “There are pirates in this day and age?”

    “Well, I guess if monarchies are still around, pirates can get away with it,” Travis commented. “If those stories are true, then we’ll have a lot of trouble getting off the mainland.”

    “Isn’t there another way?” Katrina asked. “I mean...a ferry or [I]something[I]?”

    “No idea,” Travis replied, shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe we should try to find another guide...one that doesn’t have a hidden agenda. Not today, though. We’ve been all around Rustboro. I’m bushed.”

    “Yeah, I’m kind of tired, too,” Katrina sighed.

    “That, and hungry...” Travis muttered.

    “We just ate two hours ago!” Katrina exclaimed. “You can’t be hungry.”

    “Not starving hungry; I’m just having a really nasty snack attack,” Travis replied. “That’s all.”

    “You and your ‘snack attacks’ lately – good grief...” Katrina sighed, rolling her eyes.

    “It’s not my fault,” Travis groaned. At that point, Katrina appeared to do a double take over to her right.

    “Hey, what’s going on over there?” Katrina asked, pointing. In front of one of the shops, there seemed to be a gathering of people around a bit of commotion. Men in black armor appeared to be holding the crowd at bay with their swords. Travis raised an eyebrow as he heard loud yells overlapping each other.

    “Think we should go over and check it out?” Travis asked.

    “Yeah – something doesn’t seem right...” Katrina replied tentatively. With that, they discreetly turned to their right and headed toward where the growing crowd was gathering. Amazed at their luck, they squeezed through a small crack in the sea of people and made their way to the front, where they saw what was going on for themselves.

    “Please!” a man that appeared to be in his thirties cried. He was wearing a dress shirt and green slacks. His short, black hair was very unextraordinary. Next to him was a woman of about the same age with dark brown hair holding a baby girl that appeared to be extremely young. This little girl, bless her, was sleeping like a log on her mother’s shoulder amidst the din and chaos going on around her. In front of the woman was a little boy that was the very spitting image of the man. He looked to be six or seven, maybe eight. His arms were folded and he looked rather like he wanted to kick something or someone – probably the soldier in front of him wearing heavy, black armor and a nasty grin on his face.

    “Quit yer whinin’,” the knight grunted, picking up a sledgehammer that was leaning against the building – reading the sign, it appeared to be an antique shop – and gripping its handle with both of his gauntlets. “When His Imperial Majesty says yer closed fer business, yer closed fer business. No use complainin’ about it.”

    “This shop’s been in my family for four generations!” the man cried. He seemed rather beside himself.

    “Well, it’s about time yeh did somethin’ new with yer life, then, innit?” the knight said in a surly voice, causing a bit more color to drain from the shop owner’s already pale face.

    “But – my wife...my children!” the man went on, gesturing to the people in question. “Please – my baby daughter’s only three months old, and if you close our shop down, we’ll have nowhere to go!”

    “Sounds to me like a personal problem,” the knight said dismissively. Travis grit his teeth.

    “That’s not fair,” he muttered to Katrina, “He’d put this poor family out on the street with an infant?”

    The knight raised the sledgehammer to the store window, letting out a loud and ferocious yell. The entire crowd (which now numbered several dozen) gasped as the knight bashed in the window, destroying the sign that was imprinted into the glass. The little boy whimpered. The baby girl opened her eyes and began letting out terrified shrieks, the volume and frequency of which would have made Kylie jealous. This was getting harder and harder for Travis to watch.

    “Where the hell are the cops?” Travis growled, his fists clenched and shaking. “This is messed up.”

    “I think the soldiers are the police in this case,” Katrina said.


    “Huh...that’s the biggest load I’ve ever heard in my life,” Travis muttered angrily.

    “Why?!” the man had grabbed the handle of the sledgehammer when the knight saw fit to begin unloading his destructive fury on the facade of the small antique shop for a second time. “Why are you doing this?! Why?!”

    WHAM.

    The baby girl began screaming harder as the mother let out a shriek of her own.

    “Daddy!” the little boy shouted at the top of his lungs.

    “Damn you...!” Travis growled, feeling a familiar burning feeling coursing through his body, as the two sides of him that had been created as a result of the Lineage War, now warred within himself for control of himself.

    This is someone else’s problem.

    This is cruelty!

    It’s not worth drawing my weapon.

    It’s the only thing worth drawing your weapon.

    This isn’t my job!

    Why not?!

    I’m just a kid – a traveler, passing through.

    You’re a Swordbearer. You wield the Judging Sword – the Sacred Flame.

    “We don’t have to explain ourselves to no-good peasants like you!” the knight yelled as the man writhed in agony on the ground, having been the victim of a vicious blow from the sledgehammer. “Especially because you already know the answer. Relics of Elrik – the Prince who tried to assassinate his own brother for the throne of Hoenn!!”

    “Where he hear that story?” Katrina whispered.

    “How do you know that?!” the man shouted, doubled over on the ground from the pain in his stomach. “His Majesty the Prince was – urgh! – a kind and benevolent man that loved his brother dearly! He’d never be so power-hungry! All I want to do is respect his memory!”

    “They think Elrik’s dead?” Katrina muttered to herself.

    “Please, Zalin, don’t say anymore!” the woman groaned.

    “You should listen to your dear – wife!” the knight grunted, kicking the shop owner in the head with an armored boot and knocking him sideways to the ground. Travis felt like he was rooted to the spot. His nails were digging into his palms so deeply that he could literally feel trickles of blood spilling forth from his hands. “It might just keep me from killing you. Then again, it might – not!”

    The knight kicked the man again, turning him over. The man called Zalin writhed in pain as he took another armored boot, this time to the kidney. As he stared up into the face of the knight, blood ran from both corners of his mouth.


    “Daddy!” the little boy took off running after the soldier.

    “Zarda, NO!” the woman shrieked. The boy proceeded to kick the knight in his armored shin. This of course, served to hurt the boy’s leg more than the soldiers, but the kid kept plugging away.

    “Leave my daddy alone!” he cried. “You’re a bad man!”

    SMACK.

    In a flash of metal, the boy had been slapped by one of the knight’s gauntlets. He fell on top of his father, knocked out.

    Travis felt an immense weight driving him down to his knees. He felt tears spill forth from his eyes at his sudden powerlessness. He wished there was some other way – some other route to take than taking up his sword again...he remembered where taking up that sword had led him the first time. It was place to which he never wanted to return. But if he did nothing...he could have this on his conscience for the rest of his life.

    I don’t want to fight.

    You have to fight.

    No, I don’t! I have nothing to prove to these people!

    What about you? What about her? You love her, don’t you?

    “What’s wrong with you?!” Travis heard the worried shout of Katrina among the voices in his head. He also heard his brain respond.

    ”Shut up!”

    Of course I love her – that’s a stupid question!

    All she’s wanted for the past two years is to see you get back to normal.


    I’m not normal, damn it! I haven’t been the same since the war and she knows that damn well! I mean – listen to me...or yourself...or WHOEVER THE HELL YOU ARE! I’m having an argument with myself! How the hell is this normal?! Everybody that knows me knows I’m certifiable!

    Your mental state’s got nothing to do with it! The war has nothing to do with it!


    What?

    “Yeh know what?!” the knight bellowed, gesturing to two soldiers out of a group of a dozen to stand at his side. “I was gonna just knock down yer little shop, and send yeh all on yer merry little way, but now yeh’ve gone an’ ****** me off! You two – take care of ‘em!”

    The soldiers nodded and drew their swords as one. Zalin’s wife – instantly and predictably – began screaming and making her way toward her husband and young son. She moved about a step or two before two soldiers (that had previously been working to control the crowd) restrained her and her screaming daughter. Travis looked up and watched it unfold seemingly in slow motion as the two infantrymen approached the unconscious, utterly defenseless boy and man laying on the ground.

    A long time ago, you were the type of person that stood up for right, no matter what the circumstance.



    I’ve stopped trying to take the world on my shoulders. If it’s not my job, I won’t be so arrogant to make it my job.

    Now you think you’re arrogant. I tell you, you really have some self-esteem issues.


    I guess that means you have self-esteem issues.

    IT WAS EASY FOR YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING WITH NOTHING ON THE LINE.

    ...

    ...What did you just say to me?

    ”What choice will you make when you know the high road is the hard one?”

    This voice wasn’t his own – he knew his own voice. But it did sound like him, only slightly older and with a very ancient accent.

    ”Paulus?”

    ”Every man arrives at this great fork in the way. The way he chooses will be the path he is to take for the rest of his life.”

    ”But what about –“

    ”You’re overthinking things – letting your brain take the place of your heart. That always was one of your weaknesses. It’s very simple. You can only make one of two choices.”

    The infantrymen raised their swords above the father and son as the knight stilled them with a hand and began to make a speech. “Let this be an example to all of you! The power and authority of His Imperial Majesty are not to be challenged! If you dare spit in the face of the new Hoenn...man, woman, boy, girl...no difference. This is the fate that awaits you! Now, do it!”

    Katrina, kneeling next to Travis, pointed at the two soldiers and mouthed something silently.

    “What the hell’s yer problem?!” the knight grunted, seeing that the soldiers were very slow in doing the deed.

    “I – can’t – move!” one of the infantrymen groaned.

    ”Your time is short – now, CHOOSE!”

    “IDIOTS!” the knight roared, knocking both immobilized soldiers to the ground, where they fell in a small heap. The knight raised the sledgehammer over his head and began to bring it down –

    Travis’ azure eyes opened and went completely white for one pivotal second –

    The crowd erupted into screams as a resounding CLANG was heard around the shop. From out of nowhere, a teenage boy had interposed himself in between the knight and the two fallen citizens, blocking the sledgehammer with the hilt of his sword, which he held in one hand by its scabbard while he had his back turned to the attacking knight. Katrina let out a gasp and looked down. He had just been at her side a second ago.

    The knight jumped backward with the sledgehammer and shouted, “Where the hell did you come from?”


    “I was sent by the Judge to render a verdict,” the teenage boy spoke in an extremely unfitting voice. Turning his head and casting a frighteningly aggressive stare over his shoulder at the knight, he growled, “I declare you guilty.”

    “What kind of psychobabble –“ the knight muttered. The two soldiers that were temporarily frozen in place stood up at this point and now flanked the boy on each side. “Looks ter me like yer some crazy kid tryin’ ter play hero. Well, if that’s the case, you’ll get what they had comin’ to them!”

    “Try it, fool,” the boy growled. His normally-azure eyes were a blue so bright that they appeared to be glowing. “I’ll return the pain a hundredfold!”

    “Have it yer way, then,” the knight said. “Get ‘im!”

    The two infantrymen charged. The boy, with a flick of his thumb, unsheathed his sword about halfway...

    A screaming instant later, the boy was re-sheathing the sword. He turned around and stared the knight down. Katrina gasped again as he got a good look at the boy’s face – it was indeed Travis, but there was something slightly different about him. She knew that face. This was the part of him that was less stable. This was the side of him that had to be monitored and controlled.

    “I can’t stand...” Travis muttered as the two infantrymen crumpled for a second time and hit the ground. “...tyrants.”

    “What the hell was that?!” the knight grunted. “How’d yeh just –“

    “I’d leave right now if I were you,” Travis said in a flat tone of voice. “Otherwise...I might not be responsible for my actions.”

    “I’m shakin’,” the knight said. Gesturing to another one of his knights, he ordered, “Kill him!”

    The lone infantrymen drew his sword and charged Travis, yelling. He was taller than Travis, but not quite tall enough to avoid...

    ...being grasped around the throat by the teen’s rather strong and supple fingers. Katrina put her hands to her mouth. She’d never seen Travis put anyone in a choke hold before.

    “You’re th-the ‘Iceman’, aren’t you?” the infantryman choked. “Th-the one our commander was telling us about!”

    “Sorry, wrong answer,” Travis growled, tightening his grip around the man’s throat. Lowering him to his knees, he used his free hand to point his sword right between the infantryman’s eyes. He saw the fear in those eyes...and this man was right to be afraid. “If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about ‘Ice’...not when you’re facing the flames of hell...”

    “You don’t have to kill him!” Katrina exclaimed. Travis looked at Katrina for a split second and then back at the soldier. Travis thrust his arm forward very quickly and let go of the foot soldier’s throat, sending him flying backward and careening into the leader, knocking them both to the ground. He looked around for a moment.

    “Nobody’s dead – yet,” he said. “That’s called ‘mercy’. It’s a one-time deal. If I ever hear you’ve been troubling this family again, I will personally teach you all a new level of pain. Got it?”

    “That’s enough manhandling of my men, you hear?” a voice sounded, bringing everything to silence. The line of soldiers in front of Travis parted to reveal a tall man in heavy, black armor complete with spikes coming out of his shoulders. His flat, graying hair sat atop a face grizzled and disfigured by battle scars. He was carrying a long sword that appeared to have runic lettering engraved in its blade.

    “Really? What are you going to do about it?” Travis said, feeling more reckless by the second. He looked over his shoulder and began to see the citizens begin to kneel. “What the hell?! Why are you bowing to him?!”

    “That’s Captain Fergus, commander of the 10th Imperial Battallion,” he heard a voice behind him. He smirked as he saw that Katrina refused to bow as well.

    “I’m about to wet my pants. I’m frozen with fear,” Travis said sarcastically.

    “I don’t like your attitude, boy,” the veteran knight said. “I can tell by your accent that you’re not from here, so I’ll tell you what the deal is. Look around you. These citizens are doing the right thing by me.”

    “You may think so...” Travis replied. “But I don’t think you’re doing the right thing by them.”

    “The opinion of a foreigner who knows nothing,” Fergus said dismissively.

    “I know what justice looks like,” Travis replied quickly. Then, cocking his neck toward the smashed-out window, he added, “This isn’t it.”

    “Justice is measured in terms of power. Whoever has the power can administer their own brand of justice,” Fergus answered.

    “Exactly – case in point,” Travis pointed with his chin again, this time to the two injured soldiers lying on the ground. “The problem is when someone’s view of justice is warped by their power. Justice isn’t doing anything you want just because you can. That’s tyranny.”

    “His Imperial Majesty is no tyrant!” Fergus shouted. “He merely exercises the full power and authority and demands the respect due of his kingship!”

    “Basically, he does things because he can,” Travis replied. “You haven’t been listening to a word I said, have you?”

    “He will usher in an age of glory for this Kingdom!” Fergus cried.

    “At the expense of the people? I don’t think I like that idea,” Travis said flatly.

    “Fine, then, boy – you leave me no choice,” Fergus said, pointing his sword at the blue-haired teenager. “Anyone who speaks against His Imperial Majesty is a traitor to his kingship.”

    “Put that sword down – or you’ll regret it,” Travis said, his eyes narrowing dangerously.

    “For the King!!” Fergus cried, rushing Travis. Travis’ eyes opened and he snarled loudly. He attacked from the draw and blocked Fergus’ sword. He spun under the aging captain, causing him to fall to the ground. Travis heard unsheathing swords behind him and then a roar in front of him: “No! He’s mine.”

    Fergus had risen to his feet and was now brandishing his long sword again. Travis rested the Sacred Flame against his shoulder and watched as Fergus roared and swung his blade at Travis’ neck. Fergus hit nothing but air as Travis had somehow reappeared behind him, dropping into his sword-drawing stance.

    “You missed,” the boy growled as Fergus turned around and charged a third time. This time – no defense. Travis jumped and unsheathed his sword, driving the hilt in right at Fergus’ shoulder, shattering his long gauntlet. A sound like multiple gunshots was heard as Fergus landed and hit his knees, screaming. His rune-engraved long sword flew in a high arc into the air. Travis walked away two steps, caught the sword, turned around, and pointed Fergus’ own blade at his nose. Fergus was grunting and groaning and trying extremely difficult not to scream as he held his right arm with his left hand.

    “How – you...GAAARGH!” Fergus cried.

    “I guess that makes you an ‘armchair general’ now, doesn’t it?” Travis asked. “How many places do you think your arm is broken in?”

    Fergus gave a groan as an answer.

    “From the fact that your armor gave off a sound that reminded me of bubble wrap, I’m guessing about five or six,” Travis said. With a laugh, he added, “Not to mention the fact that I just dislocated your shoulder so badly that it looks like your arm’s crooked. In any case, you’ll never be able to hold a sword with that hand again in your life.”

    “You...” Fergus groaned. “You impudent little ba–“

    “You’re just lucky I didn’t use the business end,” Travis said.

    “This kid’s insane...” he heard a soldier mutter.

    Suddenly, he saw a powerful spurt of blood issue forth from the vicinity of Fergus’ right ear, and heard what was unmistakably a death gurgle as Fergus fell sideways to the ground. Everybody in the crowd began screaming and running in different directions. Katrina approached Travis’ side and began looking around.

    “Hold on – what the hell?!” Travis roared, realizing that Fergus had just died right in front of him.

    “Get inside,” Katrina turned toward the family of the shop owner. Zalin was helped up by his wife, who in turn grabbed Zarda and draped him over his shoulder. They all made their way inside the shop and shut the door behind them. “A stroke? I wouldn’t be surprised, at his age...”

    “No,” Travis sighed, pointing toward Fergus’ head. There was a black spot surrounded by blood right in front of his ear. “That looks like a bullet hole.”

    “Shot?” Katrina said quickly, looking around. “From where?”

    “That geezer was really getting on my nerves,” Travis and Katrina heard a voice behind them. Walking toward them was a tall young man. His face was very recognizable, but his outfit had changed. He was wearing more or less the same thing he had been wearing when he and Travis met each other the first time, with the exception of a faded, brown coat that went over the entire outfit and matched his brown shoes. “I would have killed him sooner, but both of you kept dancing around.”

    “You just...” Travis said, dropping Fergus’ sword and still trying to register having seen this happen right before his eyes. “Kenjiro, what the hell?! You just shot a guy dead!”

    “He only would’ve lived a few more seconds anyway,” Kenjiro said, shrugging his shoulders. “If you didn’t kill him, he would have taken his own life. Edgar’s knights are taught to do that, should they dishonor him by losing in battle.”

    “You just shot the guy dead!” Travis shouted.

    “You’re starting to sound like a broken record,” Kenjiro sighed lazily. “But...that’s how I operate. Half the reason I did that was to get the crowd outta here and get to you two. I thought you were gonna make it a habit of avoiding trouble.”

    “That’s really hard to do when you’re me,” Travis replied with a sigh.


    “You walked out on me before I could explain our plan,” Kenjiro said. “I think you should come back to the Romero Mansion with me – or at least, let’s get the hell outta here. We’re standing next to the dead body of one of Edgar’s best generals. People are gonna think we killed him.”

    “...You did kill him,” Travis said as Katrina looked at Kenjiro blankly.

    “Nobody else but you can prove that, and I prefer that it stays that way,” Kenjiro replied. “Let’s roll.”

    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.




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