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Thread: Pokemon Revolution: Advent Phoenix (Rated T)

  1. #101
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    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Fifteen hectic minutes later, Kenjiro, Katrina, and Travis were closing the trapdoor in the Romero Mansion. Standing up, they heard the clanking of armor and a woman’s voice saying, “Don’t you ever knock?”

    Travis, a bit surprised, looked over toward the wall nearest the door. Leaning against it was a woman. She wore a chest plate and round shoulder pads that were a silver color over what appeared to be an emerald-green body suit. Her pants were also an emerald green color, so there was probably no question about for whom she was working. At her waist was a sword, in a black-colored scabbard. The woman had blonde hair tied in a ponytail and fringe that fell symmetrically over her brown eyes.

    “What are you doing here, Ivanna?” Kenjiro groaned.

    Her arms folded, she walked toward Kenjiro and said, “Where have you been? Why’d you just run off like that?”

    “I’m not a kid, Ivanna,” Kenjiro sighed. “I don’t need a chaperone.”

    “Apparently, you do,” Ivanna commented. “Captain Fergus is dead.”

    “Really?” Kenjiro uttered, sounding rather innocent. “That’s good news. Now, tell me something I don’t know.”

    “Who are these two children?” Ivanna asked. Travis frowned. This woman couldn’t have been any older than twenty-five, perhaps even twenty.

    “Witnesses,” Kenjiro said simply. Ivanna groaned, gesturing with her arms.

    “I thought so,” she said. “You’re always stirring up trouble for us, Kenjiro! Seems like you’re even more reckless than you used to be! First, the killing spree in Petalburg, then that girl –“

    “Hey!” Kenjiro shouted. Apparently, the comment about the ‘girl’ had touched a nerve. “I’m helpin’ you guys out here. These two are actually people I’m interested in recruiting for the Dragonfall Project.”

    “Dragonfall Project?” Travis repeated.

    “Don’t we already have two?” Ivanna asked. “Why’d you pick up two more?”

    “These two are special,” Kenjiro replied. “Travis here, he’s – well...I guess it’d be better to show her.”

    He cast a glance at Travis, who sighed, shook his head, and drew his sword.

    “That’s – what are you doing with that?” Ivanna asked, seemingly recognizing the weapon. As a response to the question, Travis, using his power, caused the sword to glow. Ivanna took a step back and had a surprised expression on her face. “You weren’t lying after all...Rashid said you’d brought a Swordbearer here, but I didn’t believe him!”

    “Well, there you have it,” Kenjiro replied, smirking. “I think His Majesty needs to see them personally.”


    “The Prince is here?” Travis asked.

    “Very well hidden,” Kenjiro said. “Now, before we take you to see him, you must promise two things.”

    “The first one’s that I don’t run my mouth about where he is, obviously,” Travis said before Kenjiro had a chance to open his mouth. “Don’t worry – I won’t.”

    “The second one is that you don’t walk out on the Prince like you did to me,” Kenjiro said. “Some of our members might not take very kindly to that.”

    “I won’t,” Travis said. Right as he said that, he felt Katrina grab his hand.

    “I want to talk to you,” she whispered in his ear.

    “Can you give me a second?” Travis asked. Kenjiro and Ivanna looked at each other.

    “Alright – meet us out in the lobby when you’re ready,” Kenjiro replied. Ivanna sighed and turned around toward the door. She opened it and looked back at Kenjiro, who followed her out. The door slammed behind them and Travis let out a sigh, slumping down onto the nearby bed.

    “Are you sure about this?” Katrina asked. “I’m a little bit worried about you.”

    “You’re not the only one,” Travis muttered. “I think I’ve lost my sanity. It’s like...when I fight, all I think about is how much I hate war and how I can’t stand people that try to start wars. But...I can’t ignore people in need. I didn’t know that things were that bad around here.”

    “There’s one side of you that wants to move on,” Katrina sighed. “But there’s another side that knows that you don’t retire from being a hero. Is that it?”

    Travis stood up, looking a bit like he was on the verge of tears. There was indeed a huge lump in his throat as he pulled Katrina into a tight embrace. She leaned her head against his chest and felt it move as he heaved a loud sigh.

    “You’re probably the only one in this world that really understands me,” he said. “I really wish I didn’t end up putting you through this all the time...”

    He let go of her and walked toward the door a few steps. Stopping, he pulled out his sword and looked at it.

    “You’re going to go through with it, aren’t you?” Katrina asked.

    “Sorry...” Travis sighed. “It’s who I am.”

    He heard a clanking sound and felt a weight on his sword. He saw the length of a rod crossing over his sword and looked to his left. She was there, a slight smile on her face.

    “Don’t apologize,” Katrina said. “It’s who we are.”



    Accompanied by Kenjiro, Ivanna, and two guardsmen clad in green-and-silver armor, Travis and Katrina entered a hall with scarlet carpeting, at the end of which was a table. At this table were three men seated in a row of three chairs. The men to the left and right of the hooded one in the center looked a lot like each other. They had the same brown skin and the same, extremely straight haircut that surrounded three sides of their heads. The only difference was that one was obviously younger, clean-shaven, and had jet black hair. The other, though, had hair that was graying and a short, straight beard that traversed the entire lower outline of his face. This one was obviously older. Travis wondered for a moment, though, if these two men were son and father, respectively.

    “Your Majesty!” the older man on the right side of the table exclaimed. “Lady Ivanna is here – she’s brought our spy and two children.”

    “You’re a spy?” Travis muttered in Kenjiro’s direction.

    “Hell, no,” Kenjiro responded, also in a mutter. “They just say that because no one in this entire mansion likes me enough around her to refer to me by name exc–never mind. Look sharp.”

    Travis and Katrina both turned in the direction of the hooded man, who had removed his hood and stood, along with the younger and elder knights that flanked him. He had long, brown hair that appeared to be very straight and seemed to be pulled back into a ponytail for convenience. He had a golden circlet that went about his forehead, and very distinguishing, lavender eyes. They were gentle, but at the same time displayed the obvious battle scars that his soul had been forced to endure. He looked rather like someone who had just been stripped of the naivety that says that all can be trusted. Travis wondered for a moment. What had the eyes of this man, who looked hardly older than twenty, seen over the years?

    “Your Majesty,” Ivanna had her head bowed to the ground as she greeted the young man. Travis, Katrina, the two guards, and Kenjiro (the last of these rather reluctantly) followed suit.

    “Ivanna,” the young, brown-haired man stepped around the table and walked toward her. With her head bowed to the ground, however, she didn’t see him and was surprised indeed when she felt two hands on her shoulders, looked up, and saw that she was looking into the smiling face of the Prince himself. “I’m glad to see that you’re safe. I worried about you when I heard that you had gone out to look for our spy and found out that Captain Fergus had been killed. Are you alright? You’re not hurt, are you?”

    “I’m fine, Your Majesty,” Ivanna replied very formally.

    “Those two, apparently, were good friends growing up,” Kenjiro muttered into Travis’ ear. “I sort of think that, if Ivanna wasn’t such a stiff...”

    “Yeah, I kind of got that vibe,” Travis replied.

    “With all due respect, Your Majesty, you should not worry so about me. A king should not be seen showing favoritism to one of his knights...” Ivanna said.

    “Ivanna,” the Prince said. “I am not a king – at least, not at the moment. And, besides that...do I not have the right to be concerned for a friend?”

    Ivanna would not meet the prince’s eyes.

    “I am relieving you for the day,” the Prince said.

    “Your Majesty –“ Ivanna started, but the Prince shook his head.

    “It’s alright,” he said. “Sir Rashid and Sir Roald will be able to handle anything that needs to be done. Get some rest. You look tired.”

    Ivanna frowned and heaved a sigh. Reluctantly, she replied, “Yes, Your Majesty. Thank you.”

    She took a step backward, turned on her heel and walked toward the door, opening it just wide enough for her to slip through and allow it to close again. The Prince turned toward Travis and Katrina and sighed as well.


    “Please pardon her,” he said. “She becomes a bit...uptight at times and I have to remind her that she’s pushing herself too hard.”

    “It’s all right...Your Majesty,” Travis added at the last moment.

    “So then...what are your names?” the Prince questioned.

    “Travis DePaul, sir,” Travis replied.

    “Katrina Sasano,” Katrina echoed.

    “Travis and Katrina...I see. I am the Prince of Hoenn, but my friends – I wish Ivanna would as well – call me Elrik,” The Prince responded.

    “I’ve heard many things about you,” Travis replied. “Good, of course.”

    “I can say the same,” Elrik replied. “But you are quite younger than I had envisioned you to be.”

    “Sorry to disappoint you, sir,” Travis said, bowing and hiding a smile. It seemed like he was receiving that reaction from just about everyone nowadays.

    “It’s no problem at all,” Elrik answered with a smile of his own.

    “Actually, that might be quite helpful – Your Majesty,” Kenjiro piped in. “He might be the Swordbearer, but he is a Pokémon Trainer by career. He will be the main catalyst for the Dragonfall Project.”

    That DePaul family?” Elrik repeated. His face broke into a smile. “Arceus smiles down on us.”

    “You’ve heard of my grandfather, then?” Travis asked.

    “He was the Johto Champion in my father’s youth. They met on one occasion, actually. He was a good man.” Prince Elrik replied. “My father was saddened to hear of his death two years ago. While we are on that subject – were you not also the one involved in a series of battles around Blackthorn City about that same time?”

    “Yes,” Travis sighed. Smiling, he added, “So you might say that I have experience in bringing justice to evil tyrants.”

    “I very much wish that I could defend my brother from insults like that,” the Prince sighed. Travis realized he had made a mistake.

    “Your Majesty, I didn’t mean –“ Travis started, but Elrik shook his head again.

    “Alas, I cannot,” Elrik sighed. “I now think the same thing of him. I realize that I made a horrible mistake last year. If I’d had the confidence then to do what I’m doing now, things would be so much easier on everyone. Especially someone that I care about...”

    “We’re a lot alike, then,” Travis stated. “If I’d had the chance to do it all over again...”

    “But...those that dwell too much on the past find themselves vagabonds in the face of the future,” the Prince replied. “One of my father’s proverbs. He was a wise man. I try to be as much like him as I can. No doubt you have the same respect for your grandfather.”

    Travis nodded. “But...I realize that I can only follow in his footsteps so much. At some point...”


    “You’ll have to establish a legacy of your own,” Elrik finished for him. It was a bit surreal, almost as if he were watching the conversation from the perspective of a third person. Here he was, a mere boy of fourteen aspiring to be a Pokémon Trainer and make something of his life, and he was speaking to the Prince of one of the Four Great Nations of the World – almost as if they were...friends. “I believe Kenjiro filled you in on the details?”

    “You want me to go to Sootopolis and assassinate the King, is that right?” Travis asked.

    Kenjiro laughed.

    “No,” Elrik said. “If it is all possible, we want to avoid that approach. It is too obvious and appears very senseless.”

    “Enter the ‘Dragonfall Project’,” Kenjiro muttered. To his and Elrik’s surprise (Roald raised an eyebrow and Rashid smirked), Travis turned and pulled his sword on Kenjiro.

    “What, then?” Travis asked, annoyed at another piece of information that Kenjiro had seemingly withheld from him. “It’s someplace out of the way, isn’t it? You’d better not interrupt my journey, or there’ll be a problem.”

    “Out of the way? I guess it depends on how good you are,” Kenjiro said.

    “Where, then?” Travis asked. Kenjiro opened his mouth.

    “Evergrande City,” he said.

    “Evergrande?” Travis repeated incredulously. “That’s where the Emerald League Championships are held in August! I can’t get in. I’d need the eight badges to –“

    “Bingo,” Kenjiro replied with a smirk. “You really should do something about your anger problem. Causes you to miss things. It turns out that the one thing you’re worried about us stopping you from doing...is the one thing that we need you to do.”

    “You want me to get into the tournament – am I hearing this right?” Travis asked, the thought of this sounding almost too good to be true.

    “Not just enter the tournament – we need you to get all the way in. In fact, it might be better if you go in seeded, because we need you to get to a certain arena, and if you lose in the prelims, you won’t be able to,” Kenjiro replied. “It would help everyone involved if you were ranked. Someone did explain the ranking system to you, right?”

    “Yeah,” Travis replied. He sheathed his sword.

    “So...we want to you get into Evergrande, Top Sixty,” Kenjiro said. “Is that too difficult for you?”

    “Probably not,” Travis answered. “Unless there’s some sort of catch.”

    “No catch,” Kenjiro said. “But maybe it’s better that I go with you.”

    “Why is that?” Travis asked.

    “I mean, nobody knows – except for the people here, obviously – that I was the one that finished Fergus off. Half the city probably saw your antics, though. You’ll likely have Imperial Guards after you,” Kenjiro replied. Travis winced and swore under his breath.

    “Forgot about that,” he muttered.


    “Besides...” Kenjiro replied. “With the port the way it is, it’ll be...well, a regular ***** trying to get to Dewford. That’s your next stop, right?”

    “Yeah...” Travis said after looking at Katrina for confirmation and seeing her nod.

    “Trust me. The more bodies and brains you have, the better,” Kenjiro said.

    “I suppose, then...” Prince Elrik replied, “...that we can consider the two of you members of the Emerald Knights?”

    “Yes,” Travis said.

    “Well...can you do us another favor? Don’t worry, it won’t be very strenuous,” Roald spoke up for the first time. “As a resistance movement, we’d like to add more people to our cause...but, since everyone from the Prince down to Kenjiro is pretty high on Edgar’s ‘most wanted list’...we’re not feeling quite reckless enough to show our faces in public to do that. Do you think you could seek more support for us? Our operations are sort of confined to northwestern Hoenn, and that really limits us in what we can do actively.”

    “That sounds like a good idea,” Travis said. “Sure – I’ll do that.”

    “Thank you very much,” Roald replied gratefully. “Good luck, and be careful.”

    “Erm...Your Majesty?” Kenjiro piped up again.

    “Yes?” Prince Elrik looked at Kenjiro a bit distrustfully.

    “I think that it would be a better idea for us to bring Reivyn – that’s the other girl that came here with me originally – with us,” Kenjiro said.

    “You think she’d be in better hands with you?” Rashid asked, smirking knowingly.

    “This is for the safety of the Emerald Knights,” Kenjiro replied, shooting Rashid a cold, warning gaze. “The Shoryuu Temple has ways of finding its escapees. If she remains here, she could at the very best endanger the secrecy of our mission – and, at the very worst, endanger the very lives of the people that work with us. Obviously, we don’t want anyone’s lives in danger unless it’s completely and totally necessary.”

    “You’ve got a good point,” Rashid sighed. “I still think that there’s some other motive, but...”

    “Or you can keep her – but that’s at your own risk,” Kenjiro cut him off coolly. “But don’t come crying to me if somebody ends up getting killed.”

    “Alright, I get the point,” Rashid groaned.

    “Don’t be so argumentative,” Roald scolded.

    “Father...” Rashid groaned. “He can’t be trusted.”

    “Well, I’m glad you think so highly of me, Rashid,” Kenjiro said.

    “Kenjiro – although his methods are...questionable...” the Prince said clearly. “...has not as of yet given us a reason to think that he would betray our cause. In other words...innocent until proven guilty, Rashid. With the fact that Captain Fergus is gone, the people in Rustboro and Petalburg can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for a while.”


    “But...Prince!” Rashid moaned.

    “I don’t condone his brutality – make no mistake about it,” Prince Elrik said, “but one thing that I’ve learned over the last year is that true freedom is won at a price of a life or two. Sir Izaak fought so that we could have this chance. He suffered torture and died. I won’t let that sacrifice be in vain.”

    “For Ivanna?” Roald asked.

    “For all of Hoenn,” Prince Elrik replied, not meeting Roald’s eye. Turning to Travis, he smiled.



    May 28, 2013 – Outskirts of Rustboro


    “The future of this kingdom is in your hands. I wish you all good luck.”

    Travis turned back and took one last look at the city of Rustboro as the last words that Prince Elrik said to him rang in his mind. To think that he could possibly save a kingdom from a reign of terror...just by doing what he wanted to do all along. The very concept put a smile on his face. He saw in the distance, a set of bridges between pillars that zigzagged their way across the Rustlake, which was essentially a large crater that had filled with water, which seemed to be much more plentiful inland here in Hoenn than it was in Johto. This water was clear and crisp, and the sun shone brightly on it, illuminating its waves and undulations here and there. Standing still for a moment, he heaved a sigh. Everything seemed brighter now that he knew for sure that this journey would not be a repeat of the last one. He looked to his right. Kenjiro was standing there wearing his gi and traveling coat. Outside of him was Reivyn, who seemed to have overcome her fear of Kenjiro and the others, and now at least talked on her own.

    “Hoenn’s countrysides are very beautiful,” Reivyn said.

    “You’re right,” Katrina, on the left side of Travis, echoed. “This is the most you’ve seen of it, isn’t it?”

    “Yes,” Reivyn replied.

    “Well, you’ll be seeing a lot more,” Katrina said. “We’re going on a grand tour, aren’t we, Travis?”

    “I guess you could call it that,” Travis answered. “We have to visit just about every city in Hoenn at least once, right?”

    “Just don’t neglect your training,” Kenjiro said. “We need you to get into that tournament.”

    “You don’t have to tell me that,” Travis said coolly. “This isn’t my first rodeo. This place might be new to me, but there’s a lot of stuff that stays the same about Pokémon Training, no matter where you go.”

    “The Emerald Knights are counting on you,” Kenjiro commented. “You’ve got a lot to live up to.”

    “Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy I can help Hoenn by doing this,” Travis replied. “But, this journey is for me, too. If nothing else, I’ll do my best not to screw it up for myself.”

    “That works,” Kenjiro sighed. After all, it was Kenjiro’s style to do everything he did for himself – and use his actions to help others, when it was convenient.

    “It’d better,” Katrina said. “You’re working on our terms now, and if you misbehave, we’re fully within our rights to...well, dump you like yesterday’s garbage.”

    “That’s a friendly way of putting it. Don’t worry – I’ll be a good boy,” Kenjiro said, frowning. Reivyn let out a laugh. Kenjiro was taken aback by this, as he’d never heard Reivyn laugh before. “What’s with you?”

    “This feels like...” Reivyn said cryptically. “...like happiness. Is that what this is?”

    Kenjiro shrugged his shoulders and begin to walk off.

    “The hell am I supposed to know?” he muttered. “You’re the one that’s laughing. You tell me.”

    Reivyn walked down after him (perhaps, because of what happened on their first trek through the forest, she was a tiny bit closer to Kenjiro than she was to anyone else), leaving Travis and Katrina to look at each other and smile. Angel and Crescent ran back up the hill (Travis and Katrina had sent them to see if there were any Imperial Guards on the bridge) to Travis and Katrina.

    “<A couple of bored-looking Trainers on the bridge, but that’s about it,>” Crescent said. Angel nuzzled up to him.

    “<I’m so excited!>” she exclaimed.

    “<I guess I am, too,>” Crescent said. Angel sighed.

    “<You’re being dull, Crescent,>” she groaned.

    “<I just don’t wear my heart on my sleeve like you do,>” Crescent replied. “<To each his own, right? I’m the voice of reason.>”

    “<Then, what does that make me?>” Angel asked, sounding as if she’d been insulted.

    “<The voice of personality, I guess,>” Crescent replied, smiling.

    “<I’ll take it,>” Angel said with a smile. “<C’mon, let’s go!>”

    “<I just ran up here,>” Crescent sighed. “<Lemme rest.>”

    Angel didn’t. She began nuzzling him again – this time, less mercifully.

    “<I love you,>” she sang.

    “<Alright, you win,>” Crescent sighed. He turned and ran after Angel, who ran toward the bridge again. Watching their two Pokémon frolic on the small hill, along with Reivyn, who was waving at a Taillow that she’d scared into flight by her presence, and Kenjiro, who was walking toward the bridge slowly and shaking his head, Travis and Katrina grasped hands.

    “This isn’t exactly gonna be the most conventional way to do a Pokémon Journey,” Travis commented. “It’s better than nothing, though.”

    “I think it’ll be pretty fun, actually,” Katrina said. “Just don’t you act so depressed during the entire thing.”

    She let go of his hand, walked around to stand in front of him, faced him, grabbed his hand again, and placed it over his heart, placing her other hand over her own chest at the same time.

    “Even though your body’s healed,” she said. “Most of our hurts are right here...and those don’t go away so easily. You know what they say, though – laughter is the best medicine.”

    Travis’ face broke into a smile again as he lowered his lips onto hers. She laid her head on his shoulder and, guided by his point, watched a lone Taillow ascend into the firmament.

    “How are you feeling?” Katrina asked. Travis smiled.


    “If I had wings...” Travis replied with a sigh. “I’d be right up there with him.”

    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.




  2. #102
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    yerse, first review!!!!

    Be back in a tic with the real deal...

    L@er!

    “<You’d better,>” Angel said. “<If you don’t...I’ll kill you.>”
    Yeah, cause that’ll so make everything better…

    “Isn’t there another way?” Katrina asked. “I mean...a ferry or [i]something[i]?”
    Edit… tags… so…screwed…

    It’s the only thing worth drawing your weapon.
    Not totally wrong. This just sounds a little better:

    It’s the only thing worth drawing your weapon for. Or


    Isn't it the only thing worth drawing your weapon for?

    “Where he hear that story?” Katrina whispered.
    Where’d he hear that story?” Katrina whispered.

    Or

    Where'd he hear that story from?” Katrina whispered.

    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!
    A little unhinged when angry, maybe… but certainly not certifiable…

    ”You’re overthinking things
    ”You’re over-thinking things

    “That’s Captain Fergus, commander of the 10th Imperial Battallion,”
    “That’s Captain Fergus, commander of the 10th Imperial Battalion,” Spell Check.

    “I’m about to wet my pants. I’m frozen with fear,” Travis said sarcastically.
    Well, unfreeze. Don’t do that stuff outside, you prat! LOL!

    “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.”
    Go, Travis! Himura Travis, it’s ya birthday! The last line was from RK episode one by Kaoru’s dad when he smashed Gohei’s thumb, right?

    This was full of drama, eye openers, soft spot moments and... awwww... PLEASE don't go on hiatus yet!

    Ah well, if it works for you, it works for me...

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 11th May 2007 at 11:15 AM.
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  3. #103
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    cool! second post... I'll take that....

    nice chap, everything that i noticed was covered by Air Dragon, and since i'm not good at grammer at all, i did not see/correct any.

    but i loved the battle scene with the general, aswell as some of the more comical moments... though i'm not one for lovie-dovie scenes, such as the last.... but overall great chap.

  4. #104
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    Arrrrrg!! My eyes! My heart!! Never, EVER end a sentence with a preposition!! *points at Air Dragon* Where do you come from?? :P

    Oh, yes, review thingy. I always loved seeing Katrina in gym battles (the whole tactical defense theme), but it seems that she has gotten much more... violent. Just a little taste of megacite uberness and she's ordering one point blank to the back of a Rhyhorn. My point is this: That battle was plain fun to watch, read, whatever. The conversation between Travis' team made it that much better.

    Now on to my next topic: Travis' team. I don't believe that I've slathered this with praise yet, but I haven't had this great a time reading a team since Dragonfree. The sarcastic thorn-in-the-side Meru, sports nut Champ, and the ever-cynical Angel. ...I could make that into a banner. Anyway, it's always fun to match Angel and Champ repeatedly burn (if I my use out of date teen dialect) everyone's favorite water fox.

    I wonder how long it's going to be until someone spots either Travis, Kenjiro, or Reivyn? I mean, one's a Swordbearer who beat down a knight leader, the other a serial killer, and the next a cult escapee. Odds are Katrina had ticked someone off in the past too. That's sure to be eventful.

    Believing that everyone needs a break from criticism since 1991, -Oath

    PS: Any clue when we'll get to see more of the other Swords' powers. The Flare Calibur judges, but what does Nate's and Rayquaza's blade do? Find out in the next exciting episode of P:-A-P, eh? /dragonballZreference.

  5. #105
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    Default Chapter 8!

    (Takes a mental note that the last three posters all had Dragonite as their Avatar) O_O. I don't know. Just something I noticed, is all.

    Well, I'm going to get another chapter up before my hiatus. I may be on a few times this summer, but it'll be limited, and I likely won't be posting any chapters. Likely. If you don't hear from me again, though, assume for now that I will begin reposting chapters toward the end of August, when I return to school - unless I...well, DIE, which I'm really hoping doesn't happen, you know?

    You're going to get a bit of action in this next chapter as well as some more shipping in the form of a slightly awkward but very heartwarming scene at a lake near the end of the chapter.

    Well, here we go...

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

    Chapter 8: Onslaught From the Wood! Kenjiro’s Decision


    May 29, 2013 – Petalburg Woods

    It had taken a day of rather swift traveling for Travis and the others to reach the Petalburg Woods. The trip back had been easier because of several factors. First off, they already knew which way to go, as they had been before. Second, there were none among them that were injured.

    In fact, Reivyn looked very healthy. Her silver eyes, like they always did, scanned the forests. Kenjiro took no notice of her, or at the very least appeared not to take any notice of her. The Temple was located deep in a forest in Hoenn, but the fact remained that this, like practically everywhere else in Hoenn, was a place that Reivyn had never seen before. She had been brought up as a priestess in the Shoryuu conclave – not allowed to leave or see any other places. The most she knew of the world was what she had read in books and what the Temple Knights and Bishops had chosen to tell her and her fellow acolytes, which wasn’t much.

    “Kenjiro, what’s that?” Reivyn asked, pointing at a purplish, cocoon-like thing suspended between the limb and trunk of a tree. Kenjiro sighed. “I think I’ve seen it before, but I forget the name.”

    “That’s a Cascoon,” Kenjiro muttered. “It evolves from Wurmple.”

    “I know what a Wurmple is,” Reivyn replied. “But how does it do that? That looks nothing like Wurmple.”

    “It usually happens when a Pokémon gets stronger or older, alright?” Kenjiro sighed. “Now, leave me alone.”

    “Why are you so angry?” Reivyn asked. “Did I do something wrong?”

    “Angry? I’m actually in a good mood,” Kenjiro commented in a lazy tone of voice. “You’re just...irritating.”

    Reivyn’s eyes stared down toward her shuffling feet.

    “Don’t be a jerk, Kenjiro – she was just asking you a question,” Travis scolded.

    “You two are the Pokémon Trainers – this should be your field of expertise,” Kenjiro said. “But, no...she keeps asking me the questions.”

    “She wants to talk to you,” Travis muttered too quietly for Kenijro to hear him.

    “Apparently, the concept of socializing was lost on you,” Katrina said aloud.

    “Isn’t that just too bad?” Kenjiro replied sardonically.

    “Actually...” Travis said aloud, trying to get Katrina’s attention before this argument got out of hand, “...Katrina, didn’t you say you wanted to catch a Wurmple?”

    “Yeah,” Katrina said. “I’ll keep that in mind the next time I see one.”

    “I’d give it about ten seconds,” Travis commented. “There are a million of them around here...”

    “I really wish you wouldn’t mess with the Wurmple...” Kenjiro muttered.

    “Why?” Reivyn piped in. “Do they scare you?”

    “Hell, no,” Kenjiro said rather sharply, making Reivyn cower again. “I just scared one and then had a run-in with its parents – both Dustox...who tried to blow my head off with Psybeam.”

    “<Blow your head off with Psybeam? That sounds like an idea...>” Angel muttered.

    “Angel!” Travis exclaimed scoldingly. Crescent laughed.

    “...Which wouldn’t have happened, of course,” Kenjiro continued, “If I hadn’t been chasing you. And I wouldn’t have been chasing you if you hadn’t tried running off with Travis’ sword. Speaking of which, I think you owe him an apology...”

    Reivyn’s face fell.

    “Don’t worry about it,” Travis said quickly. “I get that all the time. You tried to do it, and I don’t hear you apologizing, Kenjiro. Given your record over the past couple of weeks, as a matter of fact, I’d just keep my mouth shut if I were you.”

    “I don’t know...” Katrina sighed.

    “About what?” Travis asked.

    “About the whole catching Wurmple thing,” Katrina replied. “I really want a Beautifly, but from what I’ve heard, when you catch a Wurmple, there’s no telling what it’ll evolve into. It’s all luck of the draw, and I don’t want to blow all of my Pokéballs catching Wurmple when, frankly, there’s slightly better Pokémon out there to use them on.”

    “You’ve got a point...” Travis commented. “I’ve never thought Bug-types were the strongest out there...”

    “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!” Travis and Katrina stopped dead. Reivyn let out a short shriek and grabbed onto Kenjiro’s jacket.

    “Is there a problem, Kenjiro?” Travis asked, not hearing who had yelled that.

    “Hey – what the hell? I don’t sound like that! I’ve actually gone through puberty,” Kenjiro commented. Then, to avoid another awkward question, he added, “Don’t worry, Reivyn – you have, too. It happens to everyone...eventually.”

    “Who was that?” Reivyn asked.

    “HEY! IDIOTS! BEHIND YOU!” Six large sweatdrops appeared behind six heads as Travis, Katrina, Angel, Crescent, Reivyn, and Kenjiro turned around slowly. Before them was a small boy who looked like he couldn’t have been older than twelve...and, if he was twelve, he was a shrimp. Not even Travis, who, at that point, had considered himself short for his age (but that was probably because he was comparing himself to Shiro, whose Blackthorn blood made him about three inches taller than a boy of twelve was supposed to be), remembered being this short two years ago. He wore a straw hat and a shirt over his skinny body. His shorts were green and he seemed to be wielding a net that was bigger than he was.

    “Uh...who are you?” Reivyn asked with a strange facial expression, approaching the short kid. “You’re a strange little boy.”

    “My name’s Hal and I’m not little! I’m eleven already!” the boy shouted, swinging the net at Reivyn, who jumped backwards right into Kenjiro, who moved her aside, shaking his head and groaning disdainfully.

    “You sure look small from up here,” Katrina said. “What do you want?”


    “I want you...” Hal said, taking a deep breath, “to STOP.......DISRESPECTING.....BUG...POKÉMON!!!”

    “We hear you loud and clear,” Katrina groaned, her hand near her ear.

    “That’s all you got? My little sister screams louder,” Travis sighed. “She’s one-and-a-half.”

    “Who cares?” Hal shouted. “Bug Pokémon are the greatest Pokémon in the world, and anyone who says different is gonna get beat into the ground!!”

    “Tough talk...” Katrina said, “But I think I hear your mother calling. Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

    “IT’S TWO IN THE AFTERNOON, SMARTY-PANTS!!” Hal yelled at the top of his lungs. A large sweatdrop appeared by Travis’ head.

    “Touche...” he muttered.

    “Let’s see how good you are! C’mon, let’s go! Two-on-two, right here, right now!” Hal shouted, throwing his net down onto the ground.

    “You want to battle me?” Katrina asked. “I guess I could do that...I need to, actually – I didn’t do any warm-ups this morning.”

    “Go easy on him. We don’t want to make him cry,” Travis whispered as Katrina stepped in front of him.

    “I don’t think I’ll ever stoop low enough to start shooting little kids,” Kenjiro muttered to himself, “But, if I ever did...it’s brats like him that’d be the first ones to go.”

    “That’s not very nice,” Reivyn commented.

    “Thank you, ‘Mother’,” Kenjiro replied with unwonted venom. “I’m not a nice person, so you’ll have to deal.”

    “Alright, let’s make this quick,” Katrina said, pulling out a Pokéball.

    “Okay, are you ready for this?” Hal exclaimed, pulling out a Pokéball of his own and launching it into the air. “Ledian, let’s do it!”

    Travis paid special attention to the boy’s yell. How’d he get his hands on a Ledian?

    Out came the Five Star Pokémon from her ball. She had four arms that were all covered with white gloves, as well as two feet that appeared to have red shoes on them. Her small, white wings unfurled themselves and began to hum as she ascended into the air slightly.

    “Alright...” Katrina sighed. “Arcus, let’s go!”

    Upon her order, the Arcidane shot forth from the capture sphere and landed on the ground, looking up at Ledian and growling aggressively.

    “Alright – let’s go, Ledian!” Hal shouted, pumping his fist, “Use Tackle!”

    “Quick Attack, Arcus!” Katrina shouted. Arcus took off in a blur of white and smashed into Ledian before the latter could execute her own attack. Arcus landed on the ground, growling in a loud and threatening manner. “You’re too slow, Hal.”

    “Supersonic!” Hal ordered, Ledian emitted from the black circle on her forehead a horrific wave of sound energy, causing Arcus to whimper and everyone nearby to cover their ears.

    “What’s that noise?!” Reivyn groaned.

    “<Argh...my head!>” Arcus growled.

    “Damn!” Travis swore.

    “Can someone do something about that?!” Kenjiro groaned as well.

    “Arcus – Quick Attack!” Katrina grunted. Arcus took off in what he thought was Ledian’s direction. Quickly realizing that he was about to charge into a tree, he used his front legs to plant himself on the tree and jump back to the ground. He was left all alone in the center of the forest battlefield. Ledian had seemingly disappeared.

    “<Hey, what the hell?!>” Arcus barked, looking around. “<Where are you?! Get out here and fight, coward!>”

    Arcus turned toward Katrina, and Hal saw his chance.

    “Ledian, now!” Hal shouted. “Comet Punch!”

    Arcus heard a rustling in the trees above him and looked to his left. Two or three leaves were falling from there. Growling, he turned and looked to his right –

    SMASH.

    Arcus took a vicious blow to the face from one of Ledian’s four fists, all of which were glowing a bright white. He took a second and then a third. Groaning, Arcus fell to the ground as Ledian flew away and back to Hal’s side of the field. Katrina let out a loud gasp.

    “<Ooh...>” Crescent winced.

    “<That’ll leave a mark.>” Angel commented.

    “Wow...this kid really knows what he’s doing,” Travis muttered to himself.

    “Impressive,” Katrina said with a smirk. “I guess I can’t afford to pull any punches, can I? Use your Aurora Beam, Arcus!”

    Arcus rolled to his feet and released from his mouth a multicolored beam of arctic energy.

    “Light Screen!” Hal shouted. Ledian crossed her four arms across her golden belly and a force field of sorts appeared around her right as the Aurora Beam made contact. Arcus, however, kept chipping away, knowing that Ledian, being part Flying-type, could only stand up to an Ice-type attack for so long. After a few seconds, Arcus ran out of energy to shoot the beam, and Ledian burst out of the Light Screen that she had created as a defense for herself. The frozen Light Screen fell like shards of glass to the ground, shattering upon impact and creating rather beautiful sparkles that would have earned somebody a lot of points had this been a contest battle. “Still standing!”

    “<That’s crazy!>” Arcus growled.

    “Finish him!” Hal shouted. “Use Double-Edge!”

    Ledian took off toward Arcus from about twenty feet in the air, glowing a bright red.

    “<Freakin’ kamikaze! You’re gonna get yourself killed!>” Arcus barked.


    “Arcus, stop her with your Bite Attack!” Katrina shouted. Arcus, growling and barking loudly, jumped up into the air, his dagger-like fangs bared to strike. Arcus and Ledian hit each other at the same time, badly damaging the former of the two, but Arcus had the presence of mind to sink his knife-like teeth into one of Ledian’s four arms. As he clamped down, the Bug-type’s eyes narrowed in pain.

    “No!” Hal groaned. “Get him off! Comet Punch!”

    Ledian went into a spin, her three free fists pummeling Arcus several times before the Wolf Cub Pokémon finally let go and plummeted to the ground. Ledian, her energy completely spent, began to drop as well. Both Pokémon landed within a second of each other, each with a THUD. When the dust cleared, both Pokémon were motionless on the forest floor.

    “<A draw?!>” Crescent exclaimed.

    Sighing to herself, Katrina returned Arcus to his ball. “Shouldn’t have messed around...”

    Hal returned Ledian to her Pokéball. “That’s what you get for underestimating me!”

    “I won’t make that mistake again,” Katrina said, pulling out a second Pokéball. Travis smirked – by elimination, he knew which Pokémon she was about to use.

    “I’m just getting warmed up!” Hal shouted. “Scyple, let’s go!”

    Out of Hal’s ball came a miniature Scyther...not exactly. It was a dark green instead of the lime-green color that Scyther usually is. On top of that, it lacked wings and had actual arms instead of scythes. However, protruding from both of his wrists were small claws that enclosed Scyple’s hands. They were hooked and about five inches long. They also appeared to be very sharp.

    “I wonder...” Travis muttered, pulling out his Pokédex and scanning the creature. “Yeah, I was right – Scyple, the Claw Larva Pokémon. A pre-evolution of Scyther. I didn’t know one existed.”

    By this time, Katrina had already chosen her second Pokémon – Amber, her Fire-type Pyrika. Despite the fact that Hal had just chosen a Pokémon that Katrina had never seen before, she still had the advantage.

    “Make this one quick,” Katrina ordered. “Use Fireworks!”

    “<Bye-bye, buggy!>” Amber shouted, rearing back and shooting a yellow jet of light at Scyple.

    “Quick Attack!” Hal yelled. Scyple jumped to the left, closed the thirty yards between himself and Amber in less than a second –

    “Whoa!” Travis shouted in surprise at Scyple’s sheer speed.

    Scyple hit Amber across the face, leaving two rather deep claw gashes before he disappeared and reappeared on Hal’s side of the field.

    “<Ouch! Hey, what happened?>” Amber shouted.

    “Damn,” Katrina muttered to herself. “Caught us off guard that time...Amber, use Quick Attack!”

    “<That’s a roger!>” Amber shouted, taking off and smashing into Scyple with immense force. The Bug-type gave an odd sort of squeal as Amber’s body impacted off of his twenty-pound frame and knocked him to the ground.

    “Shoot!” Hal groaned.


    “Now, use Fireworks while he’s down!” Katrina ordered. Amber reared back and fired the familiar jet of golden light at Scyple’s forest-green body.

    “Quick Attack!” Hal shouted. Scyple disappeared just as the fireball got there. Katrina clenched her fist.

    “What – Amber, above you!” Katrina warned.

    “<What – huh?>” Amber said a bit stupidly, looking up. Her eyes reached the size of small dinner plates as she saw Scyple descending upon her with his claws again...

    “Use Fireworks, NOW!” Katrina yelled. Amber fired a Fireworks attack right into the face of Scyple, who continued to descend anyway but missed badly as a result of his entire body being covered in flame in that moment. Scyple, burned badly, landed, stood, and then fell to the ground.

    “NO!” Hal groaned.

    “<Good work,>” Crescent said encouragingly.

    “Dang...so close!” Hal moaned, returning Scyple to his ball.

    “Whew...too close,” Katrina whispered, returning Amber as well. Travis exhaled deeply as Katrina returned to his side.

    “A little more trouble than you thought, huh?” Travis commented.

    “No kidding,” Katrina said. “He’s good.”

    Suddenly, they heard a lone pair of hands clapping. After two or three seconds, a boy with a crew cut emerged from behind a tree. He was wearing a green button-down shirt and a green shorts, both of which threw into sharp relief his short hair, which was purple.

    “Oh, hey...” Hal said to the boy, who was obviously several years older than he. “Sorry – I lost.”

    “Don’t sweat it. That was a great battle. You’re getting stronger, Hal. I bet you’ll have that Scyple evolved in no time flat!” the older boy exclaimed. Hal responded by smiling.

    “Seriously?” he said.

    “Yeah,” the boy replied. Hal grinned. Looking up at Travis and the others and revealing his face in its entirety, he said, “I see my protege gave you a little trouble – wait a second, don’t I know you from somewhere?”

    “Brandon?” Travis said, recognizing the boy’s face and purple hair (although the latter was a bit longer the last time they’d met). “From Azalea Town?”

    “Yeah, that’s me,” the purple-haired teenager replied. Snapping his finger, he looked at Katrina and said, “Now I remember you – you battled me for a Hivebadge almost two years ago. Katrina, was it?”

    “Yeah,” Katrina said, nodding.

    “So, you’re Travis,” Brandon said, looking in the blue-haired boy’s direction. Turning to his junior and looking down at him, he commented, “Wow, Hal, you’ve sure been picking your battles. Do you have any idea how good these two are?”

    “I’ve never seen them before,” Hal replied.


    “Yeah, well...take my word for it. They’re good,” Brandon said. “You did a heck of a job to keep it as close as it was.”

    “So, you’re training Hal,” Travis said. “That explains a lot.”

    Brandon smiled. Looking at Travis, he asked, “So, what brings you all the way out here, anyway? You came all the way out to Hoenn looking for a Championship?”

    “Yeah – that’s the story,” Travis replied. “What about you?”

    “Well...of course, I got my post taken by Kenny, but you probably knew that already,” Brandon said. “I figured I was about washed-up in Johto, anyway, so I came out here because my brother said that there were more good Bug Pokémon to find.”

    “What do you plan to do?” Travis asked.

    “You know where Mossdeep City is?” Brandon asked.

    “Mossdeep? That island, all the way out...” Katrina started.

    “Yeah, it’s pretty far,” Brandon sighed. “Well, when the off-season rolls around, I’m planning to challenge Liza and Tate for their spots as Gym Leader. Hal’s gonna be my number one assistant. I’ve got all the credentials – experience, expertise in a particular Pokémon type...and I think, I’ll be able to take Liza and Tate after a little bit of training.”

    “Where’s your brother?” Travis asked.

    “Bugsy? Last I heard, he skipped town again and went to Sinnoh this time. I’m tired of chasing him all around the world, though...” Brandon sighed. “I’m fifteen now and I’ve got my own career to think about. I think I can stand on my own two feet instead of being in my brother’s shadow.”

    “Um...you had a sister...” Katrina commented. “Isn’t she with you?”

    “Breanna’s in Azalea Town with my aunt and uncle,” Brandon commented, sounding rather like a part of him didn’t want to talk about it.

    “How old is she now?” Travis asked.

    “She’s twelve,” Brandon said.

    “Hmm...when I met her two years ago, I thought she was only nine,” Travis commented.

    “No, she was ten...just a shrimp,” Brandon said with a smirk. “She said that she’d ‘fallen in love’ with Grass-types, so she helps Kenny at his Gym now. I don’t think it was the Grass-types she fell for, but that’s just an opinion. Well...we’re going to go back to our training. I guess I’ll see you two around.”

    “Later,” Travis said. Brandon led Hal in the other direction, waving back at Travis and the others as he walked away. When he was out of earshot, Travis turned to Katrina and commented, “His attitude’s changed for the better.”

    “Okay, so that’s three...” Katrina sighed.

    “Three...what?” Travis asked.

    “People that we met in Johto that came to Hoenn, too,” Katrina replied. “I wonder if we’ll meet any other people we know?”

    They set off walking again. As they continued to make their way through the forest, Kenjiro (to his great annoyance) had to show Reivyn a Silcoon and then explain the differences between the two. Also, Travis scored a victory against a young, flamboyant trainer by the name of Rick Torres. The ineptitude of Rick’s battling abilities, frankly, left Travis shaking his head.

    “That guy had to be our age,” he was telling Katrina fifteen minutes later. “He was more concerned about how his attacks looked than how effective they were.”

    “I know...” Katrina agreed. “I don’t know about you, but I’d take an ugly win over a good-looking loss any day.”

    “Yeah...just take your last win, for example,” Travis teased, smirking.

    “Hey!” Katrina exclaimed indignantly. “That was only because I messed around for the first half of the battle.”

    “I’m not saying you did badly – I’m just saying it was close,” Travis commented. “Anyway, you did pretty well for someone who used to be frightened to death of Bug Pokémon.”

    “I’m not scared of Bug Pokémon!” Katrina replied. “You must have me mistaken for someone else.”

    “You aren’t now,” Travis replied. “You were, though...”


    April 2007 – New Bark Town


    There were a few moments from his days at the Academy that he remembered perfectly. One of them was at the tail end of their second year. In the second-year classroom at New Bark Town Pokémon Academy, which looked more or less the same as most elementary school classrooms, there was an excited chatter and murmur of small students as classes were about to begin for the day. In a group of three, as always, were Travis, Katrina, and Shiro. In elementary school, there was always that one group of a few children that was a constant. They were always together, no matter what they did. In their class, Travis, Katrina, and Shiro were that group. Those three – all eight years old at this point – were holding a conversation about a rumor that they had heard.

    “I heard he’s bringing in a real Pokémon to show us,” Shiro said, patting down his red hair, which, even at this age, was already very wild.

    “No – he doesn’t do that,” Travis commented, scratching the back of his neck.

    “You never know,” Katrina said. Today, she had her hair tied with a red bow and was wearing a studious-looking white blouse and blue skirt. Travis indeed thought that she looked very pretty, but wasn’t going to say anything, for fear of embarrassment.

    “What could he be bringing?” Shiro asked rhetorically. “A Charizard, maybe? Hey, guys – what if he’s bringing a Charizard?”

    “Shiro!” Travis exclaimed disapprovingly. “I don’t think a Charizard would fit in here. And even if it did...it’d probably just burn down the school.”

    “Oh, yeah...whoops,” Shiro replied, grinning rather sheepishly. “By the way, where’s Becca?”


    “Rebecca? Oh – chicken pox,” Travis replied. If the New Bark Academy were a high school, Rebecca Laettner would probably be the head cheerleader. She was a pretty, little blonde-haired girl that was one of about twenty in Travis’ class. If grades were based on looks, Rebecca would have been a straight-‘A’ student. Unfortunately for her, though, this wasn’t the case. “She probably won’t be back until next week. Why? Worried about her?”

    “I was just wondering – I hadn’t seen her since Tuesday,” Shiro commented.

    “Not that I care,” Katrina muttered, folding her arms and looking put out for some reason.

    “What’s with you?” Shiro asked. “She’s my friend.”

    In this particular case, Shiro was talking about the second definition. To make a long story short, Rebecca had sent Shiro an anonymous valentine two months ago when the holiday had come around as it does every February. How did Shiro find out that it was Rebecca? Well, Rebecca was known for having better handwriting than anybody else in their year. Once Shiro found out who his ‘secret admirer’ was, though, so did everyone else in the class. Problem was, Katrina couldn’t stand her.

    “Just because you put up with her doesn’t mean that I have to,” Katrina said sharply, looking away from Shiro. “Walking everywhere with her nose in the air like she’s better than everyone else...”

    “Yeah, I noticed,” Travis, who knew for a fact that Rebecca thought him to be one of Shiro’s cronies – or something in that neighborhood – couldn’t help but agree.

    “Of course you’re going to agree with her,” Shiro said, smirking and folding his arms.

    “But...she’s right,” Travis said, looking at neither Katrina nor Shiro because he caught the latter’s hint. “She does act kind of snooty – speaking of that...”

    “What?” Shiro looked toward the door and groaned. A boy with very neatly trimmed, black hair was walking through the doorway wearing a suit and a very superior look on his face. This was the Professor’s younger cousin and a member of the class loathed by pretty much everyone – even Rebecca. “Great! Why can’t Nate have the chickenpox?”

    “He had them last summer,” Travis answered.

    “Right,” Shiro grunted. “Just my luck!”

    The black-haired boy sat down in the front of the classroom, not speaking or saying a word to anyone. Almost immediately after that, a tall, brown-haired man wearing a white lab coat and glasses came through the doorway carrying a red-and-white sphere that was perched precariously on a stack of books.

    That sphere rolled off and hit the ground with a slight tap.

    “Shoot,” Professor Elm muttered, appearing to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. “Nate, can you get that –“

    “Get it yourself,” Nate cut him off in a bratty tone of voice, prompting the Professor to groan loudly.

    “You’re supposed to listen to the teacher when he – oh, thanks, Timmy,” the Professor interrupted himself when a small, tawny-haired boy of eight picked up the Pokéball and put it on the front desk.

    “Kiss-up,” Nate said loudly enough for the whole room to hear.

    “Hey, lay off!” Shiro shouted from the other side of the room.

    “Nobody asked you, tomato-head,” Nate said harshly.


    Just as Shiro was about to present a rebuttal for that statement, his face reddened enough so as to make it very true.

    “Calm down, everybody,” Professor Elm said in a lazy tone of voice, setting his books down right next to the Pokéball on the table. “Now, today, I have a special treat for all of you. I caught it outside of the lab last week. Everyone move to the front – quietly.”

    Travis stood up, as did Katrina and Shiro (the latter of the two with a sour look still on his face). The entire class followed suit soon enough, but as Travis and his friends were the first to stand, they took position at the front. Nate eventually did so as well, although using a bit more force.

    “Everyone move in a little more,” Professor Elm said, placing the Pokéball on the ground and hitting a button. A white ball of light shot out of it and hit the ground as Elm picked up the Pokéball. This light faded to reveal a green, caterpillar-like Pokémon with a tan underbelly. Red feelers came forth from its head, where two huge, beady, black eyes sat inside their yellow sockets and looked from student to student as the Pokémon gave off a feeble squeak. “This is a Caterpie. It’s a Bug-type Pokémon.”

    The Caterpie looked a bit confused as it saw dozens of pairs of little eyes looking down at it. Not liking the surroundings or the attention, it wriggled an inch or two towards Katrina, who was standing at the front. She let out a small but very audible shriek as she jumped behind Travis, grabbing his arm.

    “Get it away!” she shouted.

    “Don’t be such a chicken,” Nate commented. “It’s just a little bug, and you look like you’re about to wet yourself. C’mon, Travis. Tell your girlfriend not to be such a crybaby!”

    “She’s not my girlfriend,” Travis said (while Katrina was still holding onto his right arm for dear life). It seemed like he had to make this statement at least twice a day – once to Nate, and once to Shiro.

    “Someone needs to tell her that,” Nate replied as Katrina, watching the Caterpie wriggle uncomfortably, held onto Travis’ arm even harder, causing his face to redden slightly.

    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.




  6. #106
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    May 2005
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    “Oh, yeah...now, I remember,” Katrina giggled, grabbing onto Travis’ arm in a similar fashion and leaning her head against his shoulder. This time, a much more mature and aware Travis received her with open arms, as the girl that he’d disowned as his girlfriend for years now actually was his girlfriend. “It was fun being a little kid.”

    “Things were definitely a lot less complicated,” Travis said with a smile. “But they didn’t have to be. We got stressed out and upset anyway.”

    “I said it was fun. I didn’t say I wanted to do it over,” Katrina said. Stopping dead in her tracks, she turned toward Travis, smiled mischievously, and added, “After all, if I was still a little kid, I’d be too embarrassed to do this...”

    And she kissed him.

    Meanwhile, Kenjiro thought to himself. Whatever Travis claimed that he’d gone through...it couldn’t have been that bad. After all, Travis wasn’t alone like he had been. And while there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Travis, Kenjiro couldn’t see his.

    He looked to his left and saw the red-haired girl next to him. She would be his ticket out of this mess, one way or another. He just knew it.


    She was no longer looking around with the curious eyes that she had been using to investigate all of her new surroundings hours ago. Instead, she looked rather uncomfortable, as if she was looking for something or someone and secretly hoping not to find it.

    What was wrong with her? Why was she so afraid all of a sudden?

    Why did he care?

    “Reivyn?” he called out her name before he could stop himself. “Reivyn, what’s the problem?”

    “Something’s out there...” she said cryptically.

    They made their way into a forest clearing. Kenjiro’s memory jarred. This was the same clearing where he and Reivyn had fought each other the first time he had come through the forest.

    An eerie silence had descended over the wood – not even the Taillow were cawing. There was just the sound of a slight breeze as Travis and Katrina also stopped.

    “You think we should take a rest here?” Travis asked.

    “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Kenjiro said, sounding a bit tense. Next to him, Reivyn was shaking.

    “What’s wrong with you two?” Travis asked, turning around. “Why do you look so uptight –“

    “GET DOWN!!” Kenjiro yelled, elbowing Reivyn to the ground. As if on cue, two kunai zoomed downward from the trees a second later. Catching both with his fingers, he muttered, “Yeah – thought so.”

    Immediately, he flipped the two kunai around and skillfully launched them back into the trees. He heard a death gurgle and watched a body fall to the ground from the trees. Reivyn jumped to her feet and looked around her, knives now drawn.

    “Hmph...that’s no fun,” a chilling voice sounded from the trees. “I would have loved to see your faces when the girl fell at your feet dead.”

    “Show yourself!” Kenjiro yelled into the trees. At that moment, a man stood to his full height on the lowest limb of a tree. He had short, royal-blue hair and yellow eyes in sockets four times too big, which (combined with his sick smile) gave him the look of one who was demented. He wore a forest-green outfit bearing a strange symbol. In the center was a perfect circle that fit exactly inside a triangle. From this circle radiated three lines, each of which bisected a side of the triangle. Kenjiro recognized this symbol. “A Temple Knight?! Who are you?!”

    “Cyris,” the blue-haired man said, a devilish look in his eyes. “The Forest Reaper. I’ve come here for a piece of the Temple’s sacred property.”

    “Is that it?” Kenjiro muttered, drawing his gun. The blade between the two barrels gleamed in the light as he pointed it directly up at Cyris.

    “You might as well give it up,” Cyris said. “I’ve got you surrounded. Moreover, there are acolytes scattered around this forest. There’s no escape from us. Just give us the girl and there won’t be any trouble – for the three of you, that is.”

    Reivyn, shaking, took a step toward Cyris, her head staring at the ground.

    “Stay where you are,” Kenjiro said in an icy and dangerous tone of voice, frightening Reivyn into immobility. Looking up at Cyris, he smiled and said, “I guess my plan worked. Now, it’s on to phase two – execution!”


    Travis looked to his right. Kenjiro had disappeared. Travis looked up into the tree and saw Kenjiro barely missing Cyris, who’d had the sense to move slightly to his left before Kenjiro had the chance to roughly separate his head from his shoulders. Cyris responded with a knee directly into Kenjiro’s stomach. A vicious follow-up kick connected with Kenjiro’s face and sent the young vagabond plummeting to the ground. He hit his back on the solid dirt right at Travis’ feet.

    “Shit!” Kenjiro cursed, staggering to his feet.

    “Too slow,” Cyris muttered. Reivyn, looking very frightened, took a step back. “Well, if that’s all you’ve got, then this’ll be boring. All of you will die.”

    Reivyn’s eyes went wide.

    “Even you,” Cyris said, his eyes staring straight at Reivyn. “Don’t worry, though. It won’t be immediately. After I capture you, I’m taking you back to the Temple, where they’ll dispose of you. But I think I’ll have a little fun with you first...”

    “No! Get away!” Reivyn shrieked, taking off into the woods to the group’s left.

    “Reivyn!” Travis shouted, but to no avail – she was gone.

    “Damn!” Kenjiro growled. “Always making things complicated...”

    “Well...looks like we have a chase on our hands,” Cyris said in a very sleepy-sounding voice. “Don’t bother following me or my acolytes will kill you. Let’s go!”

    After yelling to no one in particular, Cyris disappeared. Clenching his fist, Kenjiro growled, his eyes narrowing.

    “You’ll try,” he snarled, smirking.

    “This is annoying,” Travis commented, drawing his sword. “Now what?”

    “You go that way and find Reivyn,” Kenjiro said.

    “What about you?” Katrina asked.

    “I’m going after Cyris,” Kenjiro said simply.



    She could hear her heart nearly pounding out of her chest as she leapt from tree limb to tree limb as fast as her body would go. She didn’t see any pursuers just yet. In fact, all she could hear was her breathing. She leapt again and a whistling sound got her attention. She looked up.

    A kunai blade, silver and sharp, had been thrown at her from somewhere and was coming right at her face. Drawing her own kunai, she knocked it out of the air and landed on the ground. Her eyes darted from tree to tree. They were around here somewhere. She could feel them. Their vile intentions settled upon her soul like a horrible stench upon the nose.

    She felt their presence.

    Leaves rustled above her and to her left –

    She drew her kunai.

    The shadow emerged from the trees, zipping toward her as fast and as straight as an arrow.

    She swung wildly with her kunai and saw a spurt of red shoot forth from the shadow. A body, clothed in a dark green ninja garb, landed next to her with a thud, groaning loudly. She looked up only to see two more monks advancing toward her with her kunai. She hated fighting, but it appeared that it was unavoidable at this point. She blocked one would-be assailant using her own kunai and realized, a moment too late, that she was wide open to the other monk’s attack.

    Shoraizan!” this monk cried. She recognized the chant, as it was an attack she often used –

    BOOM.

    She heard a clap of thunder and felt herself being thrown to the ground. She groaned loudly as her back hit the solid earth. She struggled to look up, her vision blurred. She felt a trickle coming from her lip and knew that it was her own blood.

    This would be how it ended.

    She had eluded them for a year, but this would be how it ended. She would be captured. Then, Cyris would do whatever he pleased with her from then until the moment she was handed over to the Shoryuu Temple, where she would be tortured and killed –

    Faram.

    Just when she could see a faint glimmer of hope, it was going to be stripped away from her. None of them cared whether she lived or died. To them, she was something insignificant.

    Especially to him...

    She was nothing more than a pawn in his game. A pawn that was replaceable, as far as he was concerned. She was an annoyance – someone that he would rather have done without, but still decided to use just the same. That was all she was to him.

    She had no bonds. No one would miss her if she were to die.

    No one...

    “I c-can’t...” Reivyn heard a groan above her. She looked up to find both of the monks frozen in place, seemingly unable to move.

    “So you’re the Shoryuu Temple acolytes,” a boy’s voice said somewhere to her left. She recognized the voice, somehow. She looked in that direction and saw the blue pants and drawn sword of someone that she knew. A pair of legs with tight, short pants joined his as well.

    Travis pointed his sword at the monks and said, “I’m not impressed.”

    “Don’t be reckless,” Katrina warned. Travis simply smirked.

    “Don’t worry,” he said. “These two won’t be a problem.”

    One of the acolytes turned around and charged. Travis made his move. Moving quicker than the eye could see, he advanced on the monk and drove the hilt of his sword into the acolyte’s belly. The green-clad warrior promptly slumped to the ground, and the other wasted no time attempting to get his revenge. He threw a feeble knife slash at Travis, who seemed to be caught off guard.

    “NO!!” Katrina screamed. Just as she did so, though, the boy whom she thought had been stabbed disappeared, reappearing immediately behind the second ninja, who seemed oblivious to his presence.


    “You’re too slow,” a growl sounded from behind this second ninja and his eyes went wide. Slowly, but surely, Travis pivoted on his foot. A half-second later, a flaming fist came crashing into the acolyte’s head, and he went flying sideways into a nearby tree, hitting it face-first with a loud CRUNCH and sliding to the ground. Meanwhile, Travis opened his palm and conjured a fireball in that same hand, compressing it to the size of a cherry and pointing his fingers at the ninja as if he was holding a gun. Smirking, he let the energy dissipate, allowing his hand to rest at his side. “You’re lucky I’m not Kenjiro. He wouldn’t have been so nice.”

    “That was easy,” Katrina commented.

    “Too easy,” Travis replied. “The way that Cyris guy put it, there were monks and priestesses everywhere. I know there’s gotta be more than two –“

    Three seconds later, as if on cue, a loud chorus of “Shoraizan!” echoed through the forest. Instantly, Travis was struck by lightning bolts in droves. He cried out as these thunderbolts blasted him from about thirty different directions.

    “Travis!” Katrina shouted. Smoking from the wounds, he slumped over for a moment, panting. Then, regaining control of his breath and his limbs, he raised his head again. His hair was disheveled in the front and veins were visible in his forehead. Then, came the warning sign – his eyes were dangerously narrow.

    “Good job,” he said. His voice somewhere between that of a human and that of some kind of unknown hell spawn, he growled, “Now you’ve ****** me off.”

    Right at that moment, innumerable acolytes sprang forth from the trees. Human forms filled the air and Travis closed his eyes.

    “Watch out!” Katrina shouted, conjuring her rod. “Thordengata!

    She shot several of the warriors down with lightning bolts hurled from her staff. However, there were still an extremely large amount of them descending toward Travis, their several dozen kunai all raised to strike.

    “That’s not smart,” Travis muttered, slowly beginning to unsheathe his sword. His azure eyes flashed.

    This sword is a part of me.

    No matter how much I tried to escape my fate, the fact still remained...

    I am a Swordbearer.

    Therefore, I must train to strengthen myself. To improve myself. So I practiced...

    I trained my body for over a year...and that includes my sword arm.

    I built on the teachings of my ancestor, Paulus...

    Expanding the techniques he taught me...

    And creating my own.



    “Hundredfold Sword of Heaven!” he shouted. A translucent, red dome of energy surrounded Travis’ body. White streaks surrounded it as if it were being cut by a sword. As the ninja descended upon him, a few of them were suddenly repelled. All of a sudden, it looked as if they were being cut. They floated in the air for a few moments and spurts of blood exploded from their garbs. Yet...other than a strange blur around his body, Travis seemed to be standing perfectly still. The last two thirds of ninja that descended upon him stuck their kunai out in front of them, were repelled, and landed on the ground, unharmed. Katrina’s eyes shifted back to Travis, whom she saw sheathing his sword – although it never appeared that he had drawn...

    “The best offense is a good defense,” Travis commented. “Or, the best defense is a good offense – whatever way you want to slice it. Heh.”

    “He did use his sword!” Katrina whispered to herself. “His movements are too fast for the eyes to follow...and much too quick to dodge.”

    Travis looked left and noticed the absence of someone who’d been there before.

    “Damn,” he muttered. “Katrina! Where’s Reivyn?”

    “I thought she was –“ Katrina looked around and quickly realized that she wasn’t. “Damn it, she ran off again!”

    “Find her,” Travis said. “I’ll take care of these guys.”

    “Are you sure?” Katrina asked.

    “Someone has to keep an eye on her,” Travis said. “And try to find Kenjiro, too, while you’re at it. Having everyone split up makes this harder.”

    “Okay,” Katrina said, taking off in the direction that she thought that Reivyn had just run. Meanwhile, Travis was left to look at the several dozen monks that were around him. He stood straight, his eyes darting from shinobi to shinobi.

    “I see some of you are still standing,” Travis said a bit lazily. “We’ll have to do something about it.”

    He moved in a blur toward a random shinobi, drove the hilt of his sword into the ribs of the acolyte, and immediately leapt up onto a tree as the monk slumped to the ground, knocked out.

    One of the more courageous of the acolytes took off toward the tree at a run...and then up the tree at a run. Temporarily surprised by this, Travis unsheathed his sword quickly, hitting the advancing ninja in the face with the hilt and sending him plummeting to the ground. He unsheathed his sword completely now.

    “That’s it?” Travis snarled. A slightly unhinged grin crossed his lips as he said, “My turn.”

    He leapt from the height of the tree, descending into the fray once again...




    Reivyn looked behind her as she continued to run. Apparently, someone or something had distracted the other acolytes, as they were not pursuing her anymore. She reached a clearing beside a small lake. She stopped for a moment. The water was clear and beautiful and sparkled from the small amounts of light that were filtering in through the trees atop her...

    “Thought I’d find you eventually,” an unfamiliar voice made Reivyn jump and turn around quickly. To her great horror, she saw a blue-haired Temple Knight carrying two kunai. “You won’t be able to escape from me here, rogue priestess. But don’t worry, I won’t hurt you too badly. Heheh...”


    “You’re damn right,” this time, Cyris turned around. Heading into the clearing was none other than Kenjiro Kazaki, who had his weapon drawn and had a very confident smirk on his face. Turning toward Reivyn, he said, “Today’s your lucky day – again. I just ran past our mutual friend making quick work of Cyris’ acolytes. I could just capture Cyris and let you go...but I don’t think he’ll produce the same pity factor. Ergo, I’ve decided to keep you around a little bit longer.”

    “What are you talking about?” Cyris asked.

    “You’re done,” Kenjiro said. “You’re not laying a finger on Reivyn – not on my watch.”

    Reivyn gasped in surprise. Granted, it was likely for his own selfish motives, but...he was going to protect her?

    “You don’t scare me!” Cyris shouted. “I’ll cut you to pieces!”

    “I’ve gone toe-to-toe with a Temple Knight a dozen times – and won each fight,” Kenjiro said with a smirk. “We’ll see who’s doing the cutting.”

    “Shut up! Shut – UP!!” Cyris yelled, brandishing his two knives and charging Kenjiro. Kenjiro smirked and moved to the side as Cyris swung wildly and missed. With two precise slashes, Kenjiro wounded Cyris’ arms. Cackling in reaction to the pain, Cyris retreated and jumped into the air. “Baishoraizan...

    “No, you don’t –“ Kenjiro dodged to the left as two lightning bolts disturbed the ground next to him and revealed themselves as kunai upon impact. Cyris smirked as he landed and grabbed the handles of the knives on the ground.

    Arashi!” he yelled as he gripped the handles of the two weapons. Instantly, the ground began to crackle and spark with lightning. Kenjiro looked down and heard Reivyn screaming. His leap into the air had rendered him safe – except that Cyris wasn’t attacking him. He had been gunning for Reivyn the entire time.

    “Reivyn!” Kenjiro called. His heart skipped a beat as he heard Reivyn scream out again. It was time for Kenjiro to do a little gunning. He threw his blade and smirked as it pierced Cyris’ back. The Temple Knight gurgled and began to slump to the ground, but Kenjiro wasn’t done with him. Landing directly on the back of his own sword, he drove it further through Cyris back, pinning him to the ground. A pool of blood began to form around Cyris’ dying body, as the blade had struck the Temple Knight directly through the heart.

    “Tch...they must be pretty understaffed if they’re making hacks like you Temple Knights nowadays,” Kenjiro laughed. Carefully crouching down while still perched atop his own blade, he grabbed the trigger, pulled, and leapt, blasting a lightning bullet into the Temple Knight’s body at point-blank range, utterly obliterating him. Landing on the ground where Cyris’ body had been, he smirked and said, “Congratulations. As far as Temple Knights go, you’re lucky victim number thirteen. Didn’t even have to use any of my...special techniques.”

    “Kenjiro, Reivyn!” Kenjiro turned around as he heard a girl’s voice. In the exit to the clearing stood a pink-haired girl with a black shirt and carrying a staff. “You’re safe. Where’s Cyris?”

    “He won’t be bothering anyone else any time soon,” Kenjiro said, smirking.

    “Neither will his cronies,” a boy’s voice came from the left. Travis entered from that direction, looking a bit bruised, but otherwise okay, as a smile was on his face. “Whew...I got a little bit overconfident. Being outnumbered thirty to one’s no fun at all.”

    “Casualties?” Katrina asked, always worried about whether or not Travis had started taking human life with his sword. Granted, she knew that there would one day come a time when it was unavoidable, but she wished to postpone that day as late as possible.

    “Most of them escaped except for the ones I knocked unconscious,” Travis said. “They’ll be up in a little, but not in any shape to fight.”

    “Eh...” Kenjiro groaned, spitting on the ground. “I would’ve really liked to get a few more, but – at least that annoyance is over. Reivyn, are you alright?”

    “I’m okay,” Reivyn said a bit nervously. Kenjiro turned around.

    “You really should be a bit more confident,” Kenjiro said. “I didn’t know he was that weak. You could’ve beaten him with a little effort.”

    “I think everyone’ll agree with me when I say that I’m dead tired,” Travis sighed. “Personally, I think we should stop here for the day. There’s another clearing near here where we can set up camp. Is that alright?”

    “Yeah...” Katrina sighed. “I think we should do that. Is that alright with you?”

    “I hope they don’t come after me again...” Reivyn muttered.

    “Don’t worry – they won’t,” Kenjiro said. Reivyn looked at him. He met her eyes and, for a long and tense moment, nobody said anything.


    An hour later, the sky was aflame with a late spring sunset, making things in the forest barely visible. Travis and Katrina sat by the fire that they had prepared in the clearing, accompanied by all six of their Pokémon. Amber had begun chasing Champ around the campfire as she had become rather accustomed to doing. Champ, as he often did when dealing with Amber, just did it to entertain her.

    “<It’s a good thing Champ has so much energy,>” Crescent commented. “<I’d be dead on my feet after running that many laps.>”

    “<That’s because you’re an old geezer, Crescent,>” Meru jibed. Crescent frowned. Angel suppressed a laugh, thinking this comment to be quite funny.

    “<Hey – lay off, we can live to be decades old, you know. I’m still in my prime!>” Crescent replied.

    “<Only an old geezer makes a comment like that – when he’s in denial,>” Meru continued to tease Crescent.

    “<Urgh! This is getting nowhere,>” Crescent groaned, returning to his food.

    “<Hee hee,>” Meru giggled. The smile was quickly wiped off of the Cub Pokemon’s face as she got a look at Arcus, who was eating several yards away and looked, as he normally did, like he didn’t want to be near anyone. “<Why don’t you come over here and talk? We won’t claw your face off like some Pokémon do...>”

    “<Hey, shut your mouth,>” Arcus said without looking at Meru. “<You can’t make me socialize. Besides, you deserved what you got.>”

    “<Fine!>” Meru shouted, unwilling to continue this obviously futile conversation beyond that point. Muttering under her breath, she added, “<Prick.>”

    “<Hey, I can still hear you, you know,>” Arcus said aggressively. “<So, if you’re so brave, why don’t you say that to my face?>”


    “<Arcus!>” Crescent shouted warningly. “<Watch it.>”

    “<Who the hell do you think you are?>” Arcus shouted. “<You think I’m supposed to follow your orders because you’re the so-called ‘Team Captain’ or something? I don’t follow anyone’s orders, damn it!>”

    “<Really?>” Meru said, walking over to him. “<Some team player you aren’t. Prick.>”

    “<Say that again, and I’ll –>” Arcus started, but Meru cut him off.

    “<You’ll what?>” she asked. “<Use your Super Emo attack? Piss and moan me to death? What the hell’s your problem anyway?>”

    “<You wouldn’t know,>” Arcus said. “<Stupid fox girl without a care in the world...>”

    “<Can you prove that?>” Meru asked, an edgy tone to her voice.

    “<What’s with those two?>” Angel groaned. “<Always at each other’s throats. Especially Meru – she’s so cheerful, normally. I can’t make heads or tails of it.>”

    “<A personality clash, maybe...>” Crescent replied. “<But something tells me that there’s more to it than that.>”

    “<Your parents had to have raised you better than this,>” Meru snarled.

    “<It would’ve been a miracle or some kind of divine intervention,>” Arcus muttered. “<It’s been a while since I’ve seen them.>”

    “<How pitiful,>” Meru said, rolling her eyes, “<Should I get a violin? It’ll be pretty damn hard for me to play with no thumbs, but I can try.>”

    “<Stupid fox girl!>” Arcus shouted, slapping Meru across the face and knocking him to the ground. “<Don’t make fun of me!>”

    To Arcus’ great surprise, Meru rolled to her feet, leapt at him, caught him by the neck using her teeth, and fell into a tumble that looked something like an alligator’s death roll, only without the water. After a couple of seconds, Meru ended up pinning Arcus to the ground.

    “<You...stupid...>” Arcus groaned, panting very hard.

    “<You think you’re the only one that’s had it rough? You’re dead wrong,>” Meru whispered. Arcus looked up at her, and the look in her eyes was a bit different. Almost a second later, she disappeared in a streak of red light that was being pulled into a closing Pokéball.

    “Man...those two do not like each other for some reason,” Travis said. He had turned around once things had escalated, and decided that returning Meru was the better option.

    “<That looked sort of familiar,>” said Crescent. “<I can’t put my finger on it, though...>”

    “<You don’t have fingers,>” Angel commented. “<But I am getting a deja vu sort of vibe from what I just saw.>”

    “Arcus is...troublesome,” Katrina commented to Travis. “I have a hard time controlling him in battle. He’s just so strong-willed and...not very friendly.”

    “Yeah...a Pokémon like that would be hard to control...” Travis agreed. “Speaking of ‘hard to control’, where’s Kenjiro?”




    The cries of the nocturnal Pokémon were ambient around him as he walked the few yards toward the lake. He had a suspicious gaze in his eyes, as if he were ready for anything to ambush him at any given time. He stopped in the entrance to the clearing...the clearing where he had killed a man hours before. What bothered him was what he had been thinking when he killed Cyris. Of course, after everything was done, he bragged about killing his thirteenth Temple Knight. But, at the moment that he finished Cyris off, he remembered thinking only about one thing...

    ”Ergo, I’ve decided to keep you around a little bit longer.”
    Reivyn, are you alright?

    He knelt at the edge of the lake, the waters rushing up and stopping short of his knees. He looked to his right and saw what appeared to be a pile of clothing. Not knowing whose it was, he ignored it as he struggled with the memories in his head.

    ”You must live.”

    ”Live for what?”

    ”Live for whatever makes you alive.”

    ”I don’t understand.”

    ”Just like protecting you makes me alive...”

    ”Kazaki-sensei...”

    ”Please...Kenjiro. Call me what you do normally.”

    ”Big brother...”

    “Hayate...”

    “What’s wrong?” Kenjiro heard a girl’s voice and jumped. A barrage of surprises came in such quick succession that Kenjiro nearly fell into the water from the combination of them all. Firstly, the voice had come from right in front of him. There was a girl looking at him from a few feet away in the water. Second, this girl, with her blood red hair, silver fringe, and moon-colored irises, was unmistakably Reivyn. The third surprise is that, upon a second examination of the clothes at the nearby tree, Kenjiro found that these belonged to Reivyn, meaning, most likely...

    “Erm...” Kenjiro muttered, turning his eyes away and feeling his face grow red and hot like a burning coal. This was awkward beyond all belief. He was alone, at this lake, being questioned by this frighteningly beautiful girl whom he had some acquaintance with – and what was more, she was most likely quite naked under the water. Thankfully for him, only her shoulders and above were visible. “I didn’t know you were here. I think I’ll just go now...”

    He stood up and made to leave and then heard a voice – “Don’t.”

    “Hm?” Kenjiro stopped.

    “Don’t go,” Reivyn repeated. Kenjiro sighed and turned around, making every effort not to look directly at her. He wished that there was some way to make it clear to her that he was only there because she (for some strange reason) insisted on it.


    “Do you...always swim?” It became quickly apparent that what Reivyn wanted was Kenjiro’s presence and maybe a conversation – and, as for the latter, Kenjiro was stymied.

    “It makes everything...simpler, somehow,” Reivyn said. “I came here to think about everything that’s happened to me.”

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

    “My life...” Reivyn replied. “It’s been going in a different direction ever since I met you and the others.”

    “Really? Looks like more of the same,” Kenjiro asked, his cynical attitude surfacing momentarily. “Running, fighting, more running...”

    “Except that...” Reivyn started, getting Kenjiro’s attention easily, no matter how much attention he tried to focus it elsewhere. Do not be mistaken – Kenjiro was not perverted by nature. It wasn’t like he was undressing her in his mind – that work had been done for him already. He had not been around many girls or women in his lifetime, and therefore felt understandably awkward. “...with every day that goes by, I start to believe a little more...that I can be free.”

    Kenjiro smirked. “You’re troublesome. Just when I thought I had my life all figured out...now, I don’t know what really makes me alive anymore.”

    “Makes you...alive?” Reivyn repeated.

    “Like I said before,” Kenjiro said, “I’d killed twelve Temple Knights before I fought Cyris. After the first two or three, it just got really empty. This time...though, even though...”

    He turned and looked for a moment at the spot where it had happened.

    “Even though Cyris was a total weakling,” Kenjiro continued, “when I took him down, I felt like it meant something. I was fighting for a different reason...I could feel it.”

    “Not...revenge?” Reivyn asked.

    “No,” Kenjiro said. “Although...it doesn’t change the fact that I am an avenger...a monster bound for hell...”

    “Maybe, you can...change,” Reivyn sighed. “I have never had anyone fight for me...until today. It’s a happy feeling...to know that I’m not alone anymore.”

    “It’s been years since I’ve fought for anyone but myself and my own revenge,” Kenjiro said, looking away as if making this comment to someone so innocent and so pure was a sin worse even than taking life. “Today was different, though...”

    “Did you fight for me, too?” Reivyn asked. Kenjiro heard a splashing sound. He opened his eyes and Reivyn was at the very edge of the lake, still staring up at him.

    “You’re not a whole lot different from me,” Kenjiro said, opening his hand for no good reason. “Both young lives in danger of the turmoil of the times...”

    “I don’t understand,” Reivyn replied. Kenjiro stopped as he realized that he had confused her.

    “Yes,” he finally said. “I was fighting for you...at least for a moment.”


    To his great surprise, Reivyn had reached out of the water and grabbed his idle hand with one of her own. Bringing it down before Kenjiro noticed, she placed it on her left cheek, interlocking her fingers with it at the same time. A part of him was sickened and wanted out, but another part – a greater part – wanted to stay there and comfort her, as was her will. She continued to innocently lean against his hand, looking up at him with her huge, silver eyes.

    It wasn’t just another look. It was the look that he had seen from the first time he met. The look that turned his world upside-down and then reformed it, completely different.

    The look that told him that, somehow, their fates were intertwined.

    ...But...that was what had been guiding his recent course of action all along, was it not? All of the significant choices that he had made over the last two weeks...they all came from that meeting with her. They all stemmed from that feeling that, at this point in time, it was his own destiny to see hers through to whatever end. He found his hand slowly guiding itself around the outline of her cheek – almost as if someone else other than himself or even her, was controlling his movements.

    “You said that we would never be...’friends’. I don’t understand you...” Reivyn, showing a smile, sighed as she kept a firm grip on Kenjiro’s hands. “Kenji-chan...”

    Normally, when someone has a significant thought, it can be described as a lightbulb turning on. In Kenjiro’s case, the light bulb might have just blown out.

    What did she just call me? he wondered, not having heard Reivyn’s soft voice completely and knowing full well the ancient significance of what he thought she’d said. Standing up, he sighed.

    “I’ve been confusing myself a lot lately...” he muttered, his hand slipping free of Reivyn’s wet grip. He was just about to leave when Reivyn turned around, showing the top portion of her bare back to him. On the left side of her otherwise immaculate skin, there was a burn mark that looked like it had been put there on purpose.

    “The Seal of Shoryuu,” Reivyn explained. Kenjiro instantly felt a slight chest pain which he knew was a pang of pity, and raised his hand to the offending area, which was directly over his heart. “It means that I belong to the Shoryuu Temple forever – ‘to the return of Arceus. Faram.’”

    “Not if I have anything to say about it,” Kenjiro said quickly. Reivyn looked over her shoulder at him. Kenjiro, standing up, shaking his head, and taking his hand off of his chest, said, “You shouldn’t have been made to suffer like you did. It isn’t right.”

    And he walked off, leaving Reivyn to sink into the water on her own. He hadn’t said it to her directly, but somehow, she knew in her heart.

    From that day forward, she would be his purpose.

    He had made a conscious decision to take on a new duty.

    For his fallen family, he would be the sword.

    But for her...he would be the shield.

    NOTE: This will be the last chapter I manage to get up before I go on hiatus. I will still be writing, of course, but my internet access will be severely limited. In so many words, it’s been a b*tch getting on this site with a Broadband connection. So, if you’re on dial-up, like I will most likely be, then you’ve basically got a snowball’s chance in hell of not only getting onto the forums, but staying on long enough to post chapters the size of the ones that I write.

    Whereas PRJ was done in ‘Seasons’, I have made the decision to divide Advent Phoenix into arcs, like most good anime and manga.


    With the conclusion of Chapter 8, the ‘Return of the Phoenix’ arc is finished.

    Chapter 9 will start the ‘Pirate Passage’ arc, which features a gym battle, a junior resistance group, and – you guessed it – pirates.

    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.




  7. #107
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    *looks up at comment about avatars*
    *looks at avatar*
    *looks at other avatars*
    *looks again*

    geeze, i didn't even notice, dang. (ugh, time to change...) oh well, it was fun while it lasted. ;op

    anyway, so much for going out with a bang... that was much more like an.....


    EEEEXXXXPPPPPLLLLOOOOSSSSIIIIIOOOONNNNN!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!



    nicely done, and if i have to wait for the entire summer break (mine, anyway) then this chapter was worth it. and i like the little shipping at the end, what are you going to call that one? considering you already have a freedomshipping, i think....(if i'm not mistaken, wasn't that Nate's one?)

    anyway, great chapter....

    now, OFF TO CHANGE THE AVIEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. #108
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    Nicely done fic. You out done yourself. Can't wait for the pirates.
    Visit Nocturne of Shadows. Check the chats and forums section to visit the forum. I have a guestbook and a mini shout box.

  9. #109
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    Cool Review time!

    *Also looks at avatars*

    Damn, there goes the neighbourhood... OK, change time! I'll be back with the review later. Sorry it aint up sooner, but the link to the forums has stunk all day yesterday.

    I also started a thread in Fanart about my fakemon. I'm uploading (or trying to) now. Gotta Run...

    ...for now.

    L@er!

    EDIT: I'm back...

    “<Blow your head off with Psybeam? That sounds like an idea...>” Angel muttered.

    “Angel!” Travis exclaimed scoldingly. Crescent laughed.
    So did I… a lot.

    “<Bye-bye, buggy!>” Amber shouted, rearing back and shooting a yellow jet of light at Scyple.
    How… original...

    “But...she’s right,” Travis said, looking at neither Katrina nor Shiro because he caught the latter’s hint. “She does act kind of snooty – speaking of that...”
    Nothing wrong really… just thought trying this instead would be better…

    “But...she’s right,” Travis said, looking at neither Katrina nor Shiro because he caught the latter’s hint. “She does act kind of snooty – speaking of which...”
    “<You’ll what?>” she asked. “<Use your Super Emo attack? Piss and moan me to death? What the hell’s your problem anyway?>”
    LMAO!

    “<How pitiful,>” Meru said, rolling her eyes, “<Should I get a violin? It’ll be pretty damn hard for me to play with no thumbs, but I can try.>”
    LMAORH! (Laughing My *** Off Really Hard)

    “<That looked sort of familiar,>” said Crescent. “<I can’t put my finger on it, though...>”

    “<You don’t have fingers,>” Angel commented. “<But I am getting a deja vu sort of vibe from what I just saw.>”
    How funny can those two get?! Geez…

    Normally, when someone has a significant thought, it can be described as a lightbulb turning on. In Kenjiro’s case, the light bulb might have just blown out.
    Light bulb. Two words…

    Possibly my favourite chapter to date in the whole RJ series! Topped only by Of Angels and Insects (which ironically was when Travis first met Brandon and had that awesome battle - another favourite part of the chapter, especially the Ledian ^u^ and Scyple, despite the fact that i hate creating fakemon based as (pre)-evolutions of others. I even drew a sketch of it for you too), Roll with the Punches (those stupid mistakes of Travis still have me laughing), the whole Summer Invitational arc (loved Cannon and the tourney, period) and Banks of the Rubicon (reading the Lance & Julia story still stops time when I read it).

    Since you won’t be on for a while, I drew a few character and one scene sketch for you.


    Disclaimer: I don’t own Scyple (left) Arcidane (centre), Reivyn or Kenji-chan (chuckles). Hope I made Kenjiro look embarrassed enough. If you wanna see more of my sketches, click here.

    OK , I’m gone. Castform will bend the rest of the chapter back into shape, as usual.

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 17th May 2007 at 4:19 PM.
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  10. #110
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    Yay! finally caught up. let me just congratulate Travis for getting out of his emo slump. thank god.

    anywho, the action is steppin up and Travis gets his journey after all. Kenjiro and Reivyn (dont know if i spelled the names right) seem to be the new Shiro and Madeline, spectators who seem to get together type people.

    yay to Arcidane, one of my ideas come to life. but to be honest my idea was just a bluey white poochyena that was ice type.

    And to finish, I'll just say to Air Dragon, that those drawings are really cool, especially Scyple, but everytime I think of it I get the feeling its like 2 foot tall or something crazy like that.
    Skogsrå

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

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  11. #111
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    Actually, you're not that far off, dude. I've got Scyple's height listed at about 2'03".

    Well, here we go again, guys and girls.

    Surprise! I got a little bit of time to get online, so I’ll shoot you a couple of chapters. Apparently, I got here just in time, as AD nicely informed me that my fic was ‘two spaces away from being archived’…the day before yesterday. What do you know? Luck of the draw! I think you’ll like what I’ve cooked up for this arc.

    Chapter 9: A New Adventure! The Natus Sets Sail!


    June 1, 2013 – Route 104, Near the Port


    On this first day of June, Travis, Katrina, and Reivyn found themselves on the beaches outside of Petalburg, crouched behind (much to their chagrin) an outhouse than had been built at the very edge of the beach for those who needed to attend to their needs. Truth be told, Travis had smelled worse, though. This particular outhouse simply smelt like the inhabitants of this port had a Grimer locked inside – which still doesn’t smell very good, by the way.

    “Dammit,” Travis muttered, looking around the corner. Even from here, Travis could see a long dock with several small ships. Pirate ships, he knew, tended to be small, but very mobile, so as to raid larger ships and escape retribution. The two largest ships were ships that he had seen before basically being ordered back here by Kenjiro, who had gone off to scout the situation and had not returned for about ten minutes. Both had flags with the traditional skull-and-crossbones pirate insignia. The only difference was that on one flag, the skull was black over a red background, whilst on the other, the skull was white over a background of royal blue. Travis wondered about the significance of this. It was very likely that those two ships belonged to two distinct groups of pirates, who were at best independent of each other, and at worst...

    At that moment, Kenjiro arrived and ducked behind the outhouse where he could talk to the other three safely.

    “It’s no good,” he said, shaking his head.

    “Not even a merchant ship?” Travis asked. “Nothing?

    “I’m afraid not,” Kenjiro sighed. “Nothing but pirate ships are sailing out of that port. And it gets worse – from what I overheard the pirates saying, there’s Edgar’s guys hanging out on the sea route between here and Dewford Island.”

    “Perfect,” Travis growled savagely. “How the hell are we supposed to get to Dewford with all those guys swarming around?”

    “It’s simple, really,” Kenjiro said, shrugging his shoulders. “We use what we’ve got. It just so happens that at least two pirate ships plan on sailing to Dewford. We can get a ride from them.”

    “That sounds like a great plan!” Katrina said enthusiastically. It took Travis a lot less time than it took Kenjiro to figure out that Katrina was being quite sarcastic. “We’ll just waltz right up to them and ask them for a lift – for free, no less!”

    “Yeah...” Travis sighed. “I’ve got this funny feeling that it wouldn’t go as planned.”


    “Hey,” Kenjiro piped up, “I said we can get a ride – I didn’t say they had to know we were getting a ride.”

    “You’re proposing sneaking on a pirate ship?” Travis asked.

    “Are you saying it can’t be done?” Kenjiro responded.

    “I’m saying that I’d rather that we didn’t,” Travis replied, grimacing.

    “This is why guys like you and Elrik need someone like me,” Kenjiro replied. “I do things and think in ways that you and Elrik aren’t willing to...basically, because my morality isn’t stiff enough to castrate me.”

    “What do you mean by that?” Travis asked, his temper rising slightly.

    “That’s why the Emerald Knights keep me around,” Kenjiro said. “I’m the guy that does the dirty work. If they ever wanted to have someone assassinated or enemy plans stolen from a base, they’d send me – because I’ve got the balls to do what the goody-two-shoes characters like you won’t.”

    “He’s got a point,” this comment came from Katrina of all people.

    “What?” Travis was understandably very shocked to hear this.

    “You might have a strong moral center, but not everyone else in the world does,” Katrina said. “Knowing that...sometimes you have to associate with people you’d rather avoid to do what needs to be done. Case in point –“

    She shot a look at Kenjiro, who frowned and folded his arms.

    “Thanks for that vote of confidence,” Kenjiro replied sarcastically. Sighing, he turned to the silent, scarlet-haired girl on the other side of Katrina. His eyes softened slightly and he muttered, “This is getting nowhere. Reivyn – what do you think?”

    Travis and Katrina looked at each other.

    Reivyn, who looked like she’d been somewhere else for a few seconds, focused her eyes on Kenjiro very quickly and responded, “We shouldn’t stay here too long. They might come looking for me again...”

    “The Temple?” Katrina asked.

    “Damn, I almost forgot about that...” Travis muttered.

    “Well, that’s some added motivation,” Kenjiro said, beckoning to Reivyn, who followed him with surprising eagerness. Walking away, he said, “You two can wait for someone with a ‘moral center’ to come along and give you a lift, but we’re getting the hell off this port.”

    Suspiciously, Travis watched Kenjiro’s and Reivyn’s forms begin to shrink into the distance.

    “Since when does he value Reivyn’s opinion?” Travis asked. “I thought he hated her.”

    “I’m through trying to understand Kenjiro,” Katrina said, shrugging her shoulders. “So, are we going or not?”

    Travis shook his head and sighed, ceasing to lean against the back wall of the small, slightly smelly outhouse. “I guess, if we don’t have a choice...”



    “So, what’s it look like?” Travis asked Kenjiro, who had gone into the port to scout it (this time, Reivyn had gone with him) and come back for a second time – this time, to a hill slightly above port, where Travis and Katrina could observe anything significant happening without fear of discovery.

    “Well,” Kenjiro replied, “We found out a couple of things. First of all – most of the small crews are independent and none of them seem to care what the other ones are doing. That’s except for the crews of the two largest ships. Those ships – the Natus and the Selma, belong to the Ruby Skulls and the Sapphire Skulls, respectively. They’re bitter rivals, and there have already been small squabbles around the port.

    “What does that have to do with us?” Travis asked.

    “Well, if we can get them to start fighting each other, that’ll give us time to slip through unnoticed and sneak onto the Natus. The Selma just pulled in here, but the Natus is leaving some time this afternoon,” Kenjiro replied.

    “And...if we get caught?” Travis questioned. “What about all of the independent ships?”

    “They’re scared to death of the Ruby Skulls and the Sapphire Skulls because they have bigger crews – about forty or fifty each next to the dozen or so of your run-of-the-mill pirate crew,” Kenjiro replied. “So, when even one of these two pulls in, most of the independent crews – and there’s some well-known ones like the guys on the Blood Tide and the Gunner – just stay out of the Skulls’ way because they don’t want any trouble. Besides that...”

    “Now what?” Travis asked.

    “The two Skulls crews have some strong men and women on their crews that enjoy what they do,” Kenjiro answered. “And worse, they’re good at it.”

    “What’s that?” Katrina asked.

    “Kicking people’s asses,” Kenjiro replied flatly. “The Skulls crews have the strongest fighters on the sea – not to mention Megacite cannons.”

    “Megacite cannons?” Travis and Katrina repeated at the same time. Kenjiro looked at them strangely.

    “I’m guessing you know a bit about Megacite cannons,” Kenjiro said. If there was any type of sentence that existed somewhere right in the middle of a statement and a question, this one would have been it.

    “A bit too much,” Travis groaned. Folding his arms, he spat, “Typical...nothing in my life’s ever easy.”

    He looked at Katrina for several seconds until the latter finally shrugged her shoulders.

    “Do you want me to argue with you?” she asked.

    “Okay, so...” Travis turned to Kenjiro. “Neither one of us has a plan. How are we going to do this?”

    “Easy – get the two Skulls crews to have a run-in with each other without being seen,” Kenjiro said.

    “Sure, that’s really easy,” Travis said savagely, “seeing as that port probably outnumbers us about thirty to one.”

    “That’ll work to our advantage, actually,” Kenjiro commented. “You figure, there’s about ninety or so Skulls pirates down there between the two factions. We just need to make it look like guys from one faction attacked the other. Best we piss the Sapphire Skulls off and make them the aggressors...”


    “Why?” Travis asked.

    “The Natus is getting ready to leave,” Kenjiro replied. “They’re making preparations, but if they hear that they’re being attacked, the ship will empty, letting us get on without being noticed.”

    “Your plan’s gonna get someone killed,” Travis sighed. “Can’t you ever think something up that doesn’t involve someone dying?”

    “I’m sure I could...but it wouldn’t be worth the trouble,” Kenjiro said. “Honestly, if Hoenn had a king that cared about the people...most of these guys would be caught and imprisoned...or worse.”

    “Fine,” Travis groaned. “But after things get hairy, you’d better not kill anybody unless you’re doing it to protect yourself. No random shooting sprees – got it?”

    “What’ll happen if I do?” Kenjiro asked.

    “Not much,” Travis said nonchalantly. “Katrina and I will just grab Reivyn and pull out, leaving you to get eaten alive by the hundreds of pirates down there. You’re good, but I doubt you’d be able to fight off an entire crew at once.”

    A bit of color left Kenjiro’s face.

    “You’re a merciless son of a *****,” Kenjiro muttered.

    Travis turned around and smirked.

    “Look who’s talking,” he said.


    A young man of about twenty, with an ordinary-looking face and short, brown hair, paced one of the several docks that were at the port. He looked around himself a bit restlessly, fiddling with the bandana atop his head – a bright red one emblazoned with a black skull and crossbones. Truth be told, he was a bit tense – all of the Ruby Skull pirates were. The Sapphires had just made berth on the other side of the port. Sooner or later (he was hoping that it was sooner), he’d receive the order to board the Natus, and they could depart this port for Dewford Island. He hoped that it was sooner because the faster they sailed out to open sea, the less of a chance there was for a confrontation between them and their rivals.

    From what he’d heard, some strange-looking youths had been loitering around the port. He dismissed the rumors – after all, it was probably every other day that children came down to the harbor seeking adventure. He just hoped they didn’t stir up any trouble, or the entire harbor could soon be in an uproar.

    Why?

    Anything that happened to one of the Skulls crews would and could be blamed on the other and escalate into full-on armed conflict, which was something that the Ruby Skull pirates did not need just hours before their scheduled departure for Dewford, where they would stop for a few days before heading out to sea again to seek a treasure. To make matters worse, there was rumor of Imperial presence on the open water.

    Granted, Edgar’s policy on the pirates had been much more lenient than his father’s had been...but the Imperials and pirates still tended to become involved in conflict against each other. The main reason for this was that the pirate crews were essentially the only major threat to the Imperial philosophy of total control.


    Pirates didn’t like being ordered around, and didn’t accept it from anyone but their captains. And, as for the choice for captain...well, there was nothing hereditary about it. When the time came, pirates chose a leader whom they would (for the most part) have no problem at all following. It was usually someone with natural leadership, or a certain quality. In the case of the Red Skull pirates, their first and current leader was chosen because of his youth, his skill with a sword and at the helm, and his confidence.

    If a fight were to be picked, it was a sure bet that their captain would be the first one to pick it.

    The young sailor heard footsteps. He turned around, felt a blow to the side of his head, and his entire field of vision went black. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.

    He then had a strange dream – something about being forced to walk a plank in his undergarments, in front of one particular female pirate who he had something of a crush on.

    His eyes snapped open and he jolted awake. He felt that the sea breeze was much cooler than usual, and started to shiver. He looked down and realized that he was indeed hidden behind a bunch of boxes, wearing only his undergarments. What happened? Who’d knocked him out for the (apparent) sole purpose of stealing his clothes?



    With the bandana around his bronze-colored hair, Kenjiro could have easily passed for a Ruby Skull pirate. He looked himself over, looking also at his gun.

    “Well, that’s the first step,” Kenjiro commented. “Now I have to find a couple of Sapphire Skulls to beat around for a little while.”

    “It’d be sort of hard to get one alone, wouldn’t it?” Katrina asked, looking out from behind the box. Indeed, the blue-clad pirates had a penchant for traveling in groups of three or more. Ironically, this was probably due to the presence of their counterparts.

    “Again, that gives us the advantage,” Kenjiro commented. “They already think that an attack’s coming, which means, if they get hit, there’ll be no doubt in their minds as to who did it.”

    “Maybe so...but...” Travis commented. “Won’t you be outnumbered?”

    “Kind of,” Kenjiro replied. “That’s why Reivyn will be going with me.”

    “I will?” Reivyn asked. Apparently, Kenjiro hadn’t told her about this part of the plan.

    “She will?” Travis and Katrina chorused, both sounding confused.

    “Why her? I can fight well enough. So, why are you putting her in danger?” Travis asked.

    “That’s easy,” Kenjiro replied. “Reivyn’s already wearing red.”

    “You’re going to put her life at risk, though,” Katrina commented. “You know she doesn’t like fighting...”

    “Never said I’d make her fight,” Kenjiro answered smugly. “She just needs to be somewhere where the Sapphire Skulls can see her before I knock their lights out.”

    “Why?” Travis asked.

    “ ‘Why? Why? Why?’ That’s getting irritating. You’re starting to sound like –“ Kenjiro said, shooting Reivyn a look, but he stopped talking and looked away from her. It was obvious that a certain incident that Travis and Katrina didn’t know about was still on Kenjiro’s mind. “Seriously, though...why can’t you trust me?”

    Travis looked at him for a second, shocked that Kenjiro could ask a question so stupid.

    “If you want to get out to sea sometime today, then I suggest you don’t get me started,” Travis replied.

    “Like I said,” Kenjiro continued. “Reivyn’s already wearing red.”

    “I still don’t get it,” Katrina commented. Kenjiro uttered a loud groan of frustration.

    “If they see more than one attacker, that ups the chances of this working,” Kenjiro replied. “Remember, both sides have very proud warriors, so the chances that one guy on one side would be able to single-handedly take a group of four or five aren’t very good. But if they see at least two attackers...our ploy will be more believable.”

    Travis had his chin in his hand. “You know...I hate to admit it, but that’s not a bad idea. There’s just one problem...it still puts Reivyn in danger.”

    “I’ll protect her with my life – you don’t have to worry about it,” Kenjiro said, sounding more serious than usual all of a sudden, which was saying something. “After Temple Knights, a bunch of pirate swordsmen will be a piece of cake.”

    “You’re not going to kill them all, are you?” Travis asked.

    “Of course not,” Kenjiro said. “If I do that, then the Selma will come after the Natus for revenge, and we’ll have a sea battle on our hands that could turn ugly. I’ll just hang around long enough for them to think that the Ruby Skulls did it.”

    “Alright...” Travis groaned. Kenjiro looked at Reivyn, who nodded and nervously followed him. Slumping against the largest wooden box at the bottom of the stack, Travis groaned. “Dammit. Why do I always get into stuff like this?”

    “You have a knack for trouble? I don’t know,” Katrina replied.

    “What’s with Kenjiro? He seems...different,” Travis commented.

    “Like I said before, you have that effect on people,” Katrina answered.

    “No,” Travis sighed, shaking his head. “I don’t think it was anything I did.”

    “You and Kenjiro...and me and Reivyn, all of us...” Katrina commented. “We all have a couple of things in common.”

    “What are those?” Travis asked, wondering how the hell he could have anything in common with a guy like Kenjiro Kazaki.

    “First...we’ve all, one way or another, been granted with abilities that normal human beings don’t have,” Katrina sighed. “Second...it seems like we’ve all got horrors in our past that shape the way we are today.”

    “Doesn’t everyone?” Travis asked.

    “Well...to a degree, I guess...” Katrina answered. “Not to sound like I think we’re better than anyone else, but...it’s pretty obvious we’ve dealt with stuff that most people, especially our age, haven’t needed to think about. You and I had to lead a war two years ago...Reivyn escaped from that Temple, and Kenjiro’s got some connection with it, too. From what I heard, that Temple’s a pretty hellish place.”

    “Well, war is hell, too...” Travis muttered, looking away from Katrina.


    “You see what I mean?” Katrina replied. “It’s a wonder we’re not all the best of friends here. Damaged people tend to understand each other better. They get their strength from each other. That might be why...why he’s changed.”

    “He hasn’t changed that much,” Travis said. “I still don’t like his methods.”

    “He’s one of those people that truly believes that the end justifies the means,” Katrina remarked. “I don’t think that’ll change about him anytime soon. Like I said before...not everybody can be you.”

    Travis looked at Katrina for a moment and sighed.

    “I think his heart’s in the right place,” Katrina commented. “Or at least somewhere in the neighborhood.”


    “What do you want me to do?” Reivyn asked. Kenjiro stopped and peered ahead. There was a group of five Sapphire Skull pirates seemingly making small talk at the end of an empty dock. Kenjiro looked around for a high spot...somewhere where Reivyn could be seen but not touched. He saw an empty house of sorts nearby – he remembered that a retired captain had once lived in that small shack until he had been forced from his home by an influx of pirate crews. He remembered the unfortunate end of that man...after being forced from his home by the Sapphire Skull pirates (the Ruby Skulls were not in existence yet), he sailed alone to Sootopolis City to appeal to the newly crowned King Edgar to do something about the pirate problem in the southwestern quarter of their country. However, it seemed as if Edgar (or at least his advisors) did not take well to the seaman’s plea. As a result, he was jailed and then executed soon after.

    Ever since then, the pirates were more or less allowed to roam the seas freely, as long as they did not run afoul of the Imperial Navy. The only problem with this agreement was the fact that the pirates rather enjoyed running afoul of the Imperial Navy. The Imperial Navy represented everything that the pirates hated – control, unnecessary regulation, oppression. Conversely, the pirates represented everything that the Imperial Navy was trying to fight – anarchy, dissidence. The polarity of ideals was far too great for the two groups to coexist on the same waters. Therefore, they simply tried to stay away from each other if they could. If they ever did run into each other, though...

    Kenjiro motioned toward the top of that building.

    “Can you get up there?” he asked. Reivyn, in an unwonted display of self-confidence, nodded in response. “Good. Throw a knife down and get their attention.”

    “When?” Reivyn asked.

    “You’ll know,” Kenjiro replied. Reivyn made four or five hand seals, focusing her mind squarely on the top of the building. With a whirring sound, her form stretched and disappeared, reappearing silently atop the roof, where she immediately lay flat on her stomach to avoid being seen for now. Kenjiro stepped forward and slowly approached the group of Sapphire pirates. He overheard their conversation.

    “So, what’s this I hear about Imperials on our water?” the tallest of the pirates asked. He was six feet and some change – even taller than Kenjiro. His long, lanky arms rested in a folded position against his chest.

    “Well...they’re sayin’ that the Solaris is patrolling the waters right now,” another one of the pirates – Kenjiro couldn’t exactly tell who at this distance – replied in a low voice.

    “Those damned Imperials...” the tall pirate muttered again. “Always making things difficult for us. Well, better they stay out there. We’ll be here on the mainland for a while, so maybe they’ll be gone by the time we set sail again.”


    “Here’s hoping our luck is that good,” a third pirate – judging by his voice, he seemed to be younger than the rest – joined the conversation. “It sure hasn’t been so far – what with coming up completely empty on that last expedition, then the Cygnus on our tails all the way from Pacifidlog...”

    “At least we survived that,” the second pirate said. “But that’s gotta mean that the Cygnus is out there, too. Heh. I don’t envy those damned Ruby Skulls one bit.”

    “They’d be better off if their captain wasn’t a hotheaded nut,” the tall pirate replied, adjusting the bandana on his head, which bore a white skull and crossbones. Kenjiro felt a cue and decided to speak up.

    “I’ll bet you don’t have the stones to say that to his face,” Kenjiro said. The five pirates all turned to find a lone figure dressed in the garb of a Ruby Skull. All five looked taken aback and then immediately amused.

    “You act like you’d want to do something about it,” the lanky pirate commented. “That is...if you could.”

    “I can...” Kenjiro replied. “...and I will.”

    “Tough talk for someone all by himself,” the gangly pirate responded sharply. Speaking of being sharp, he was presently unsheathing the cutlass at his hip. It was about two and a half feet long and curved.

    “By myself? What are you, nuts?” Kenjiro answered with a laugh. “Even I’m not that stupid.”

    He turned around and began to walk off. Two seconds later, he heard a smattering of footsteps and quickened his pace to a run, casting a glance at the old seaman’s shack. He saw the knife coming, realized with a jolt of the heart that the knife (for the short time his eyes could follow it in the air) was glowing an electric blue, and dove into a roll. He felt the deck shake and heard an explosion behind him. He sprang to his feet and turned around. With a six-foot-tall, cutlass-wielding pirate charging him, he had about three seconds to take it all in. A few feet worth of the wooden pier in front of him had been splintered, and a couple of the pirates were presently falling into the water in rather hilarious fashion. Another one stopped dangerously close to the edge of the action and then backed off. His eyes turned to the pirate in the air. With no time to draw his own weapon, Kenjiro grabbed his opponent’s arm instead, and flipped him over his shoulder, where the blue-garbed sailor crashed painfully into a pair of boxes rather far away, jarring one. Realizing which pair of boxes these were, Kenjiro’s heart sank for a moment.

    Meanwhile, behind these two boxes, two teenagers were crouching – until they felt both boxes vibrate, at which point they scooted away from them as quickly as possible.

    “What the hell is he doing out there?” Travis groaned.

    “Apparently he told Reivyn to blow up the bridge on his signal,” Katrina commented, throwing a few locks of her pink hair out of her face. “I saw her throw one of those knives – hey, where’d she go?”

    The fifth pirate slumped to the ground and Kenjiro slapped his hands together nonchalantly, indicating that his work (at least for now) was done. He turned back toward the boxes and immediately saw a red-clad form running toward him. Surprised a bit, he jumped backward, earning him a disappointed frown from a ninja-clad girl with red hair.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked. Recognizing the voice immediately, Kenjiro gave a sigh of relief.

    “Oh...it’s you,” he muttered. “I thought you were a pirate for a second.”

    Reivyn folded her arms, frowning at the irony.

    “Sorry,” Kenjiro muttered, attempting to mess with his short, bronze hair and quickly realizing that it was hidden by a pirate bandana.

    “It’s okay,” Reivyn replied, smiling with an almost childlike air of forgiveness. “So...I didn’t mess up, did I?”

    “Well, for something that wasn’t in the plan, it worked pretty well,” Kenjiro commented, looking over his shoulder. “Did you make sure they saw you?”

    “I think they did – for a second or two,” Reivyn answered.

    “Well, that’s that,” sighed Kenjiro. “Now, we just lay low and wait for things to get interesting.”


    Travis and the others spent the next half-hour or so trying to avoid being seen by any pirates on the port. Even the ‘independent’ crews (called so only because of their lack of alignment with either of the Skulls crews) could pose a problem if alerted to their presence. Travis half wondered if any of these other pirate crews were sailing to Dewford. It probably would have been a lot less of a pain executing this plan.

    Presently, Kenjiro was looking around the old sailor’s shack and saw a big man that looked like a higher-up on the Sapphire Skulls’ crew, along with about two flunkies. He was wearing a navy-blue jacket to match his uniform (unlike most of the ‘grunt’ pirates) as well as carrying something strapped to his back. It looked like a rod poking out of a very long bandage.

    “Who the hell is that?” Travis muttered. Kenjiro looked displeased.

    “Shit,” he swore. “That’ll be their bosun.”

    “Bosun?” Katrina echoed.

    “What’s that?” Reivyn asked, sounding as curious as ever.

    “On any ship, the bosun’s basically the enforcer,” Kenjiro replied. “It’s his job to keep everyone on ship in line. This particular bosun, though...”

    “Is he special?” Travis asked.

    “You see that on his back?” Kenjiro whispered, pointing to the large bandage. “That’s a zanbato.”

    “Damn,” Travis groaned. “Figures...he looks a lot like a guy I fought two years ago. You ever heard of the Marauders?”

    “Who hasn’t?” Kenjiro replied. “They were from Hoenn.”

    “Really?” Travis answered as Katrina raised an eyebrow. “That’s a revelation.”

    “Yeah, I’d heard that they got on the wrong side of a war in Johto two years ago and all ended up dead,” Kenjiro commented. “Don’t know why it took me so long to connect the dots...anyway, the bosun usually does his job by beating the living hell out of anybody that doesn’t listen to him. In the case of the Sapphire Skulls, the bosun – ‘Zanbato’ Carrigan, as they call him – is the strongest guy on their ship...and that’s saying something.”

    “Can we do a better job of staying hidden?” Travis asked, pressing himself against the wall of the shack. “I don’t feel like having to fight that guy.”

    “For once, I agree with you,” Kenjiro sighed. “I’d rather take my chances with their captain – he’s a good swordsman, but he’s getting up there in years and isn’t as fast as he used to be. This guy, though...anybody that’s strong enough to swing around a sword that size...”


    Meanwhile, Carrigan and the two lackeys were kneeling on the ground. As Carrigan walked around one of the men, who was slumped over the edge of the hole in the bridge and whose waist was submerged in water, Travis got a look at his face. The man had straight, black hair in a short, straight ponytail. His face was quite scarred. He had the look of a battle-hardened veteran – a bit reminiscent of Captain Fergus of the Imperial Guard.

    “Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Travis heard Carrigan start to speak – or at least make sound effects. As Carrigan slapped the face of the man slumped over in the water, the one closest to the shack – the one whom Kenjiro had knocked out with his own two hands – began to stir as well. Upon Carrigan’s order, one of the lackeys began to tend to that man. “Outta the water, fool.”

    Carrigan pulled his man ‘outta the water’, just as he’d said. Sopping wet and groaning, the grunt’s eyes opened.

    “Okay, you’ve got some explaining to do,” Carrigan growled. “What the hell happened?”

    “Ruby Skulls...” the grunt choked.

    A smug smirk crossed Kenjiro’s lips.

    “Bingo,” he said.

    “What?!” Travis jumped when he heard Carrigan roar. “Don’t tell me it was Ruby Skull pirates that did this to all of you! How many?”

    “Two,” the grunt groaned, flinching for some reason.

    “TWO?!” Carrigan groaned. “Incompetent *******s! There are five of you!”

    “It was an ambush,” the grunt sighed. “There was nothing we could have done!”

    “Sure, there was!” Carrigan said sternly. “Be more careful next time! Why did no one have their weapons drawn until after the fact? You’ve got to be prepared! Vigilant! Things like that!”

    “Are you going to let the captain know?” the grunt asked, struggling to his feet.

    “Of course,” Carrigan said. “I won’t let the crew of the Selma be embarrassed like this. And neither will he. Now, all of you, get back to the ship – you’re relieved.”

    “But –“ the grunt opened his mouth – big mistake. Carrigan whirled around and caught him on the jaw with a right hook, sending him to the ground again.

    “Don’t ‘but’ me!” Carrigan shouted.

    “That’s entertaining,” Kenjiro muttered. “I think it’s time we get closer to the Natus. Things are gonna heat up soon.”

    “Unseen?” Travis asked.

    “Sort of...” Kenjiro muttered. “You three should stay put. I’ll run ahead. They might not know I was the one who attacked them, but they do know that I’m wearing a red uniform...so I’ll probably be chased. I’ll lead them all the way over near the Natus and fire a shot when all hell’s about to break loose.”

    “Why do your plans have to be so reckless?” Travis groaned. Kenjiro stepped out into the light from the shadow of the old shack, smirking.


    “Because this isn’t a safe business,” he replied.

    “Be careful...” Kenjiro heard a small voice behind him and didn’t know exactly how to answer it. Silently, he walked ahead. Reivyn bit her lip, whimpering. “I hope he’ll be okay...”

    “...especially since he seems to be the only one out of the four of us that knows what he’s doing,” Travis added. “I can’t help but think that he’s making this up as he goes along, though.”

    “Well, as long as it’s working...” Katrina replied.

    “The faster we get on that ship, the better,” Travis commented. “I’m not sure I want to hang around to see all of the fireworks. There’s too many things that could go wrong with Kenjiro’s plans, and that’s what worries me.”

    “What should we do, then?” Katrina asked.

    “Wait till he gets a little bit off, and then keep an eye on him,” Travis replied. “Kenjiro can make plans...but so can we.”



    Kenjiro looked across the pier at the group of pirates. He moved one step closer. Sooner or later, they’d spot him.

    Another step...they were really wrapped up in what they were doing.

    A third step...(did he get all of that guy’s outfit? They didn’t seem to notice him.)

    A fourth step...(if he wanted to, he could probably kill everyone except the bosun in less than a minute, as inattentive as they were.)

    A fifth step...

    “This is getting ridiculous,” Kenjiro muttered. Raising his voice at the Sapphire Skulls, he yelled, “Hey! Lunkheads!”

    The entire group of eight turned around and looked straight at him so intently that Kenjiro immediately imagined a crosshair right on his chest.

    “IT’S HIM!” one of the pirates cried out. “He’s one of the two!!”

    “Tch,” Kenjiro spat, drawing his weapon. The blade of the sword nestled in between the two barrels of his gun gleamed in the sunlight. “Let’s go.”

    “Really?” Carrigan growled, reaching for the rod on his back.

    “Oh, ****...” Kenjiro muttered, grimacing as Carrigan unraveled the bandages around this object. They fell to the ground to reveal a steel zanbato with a blade five feet long and a foot or so wide. “Oh..........****.”

    “Who can still fight?” Carrigan asked. To Kenjiro’s slight chagrin, all seven of the grunt pirates drew cutlasses.

    “Dammit...” Kenjiro groaned. “I was afraid of that.”

    “Say your prayers, boy,” Carrigan said. “GET HIM!”


    Seven Sapphire Skulls surrounded (try saying that seven times fast) Kenjiro, approaching him from all sides of the pier. Kenjiro gradually stepped in the opposite direction from the shack. It would ruin everything if Carrigan found the other three hidden back there.

    Speaking of the three others that were hidden, they were watching everything from a corner of the shack.

    “Kenjiro!” Reivyn exclaimed. Katrina quickly clapped a hand over Reivyn’s mouth.

    “What now?” she whispered to Travis.

    “No,” Travis replied, shaking his head. “We can’t jump the gun. After all, knowing Kenjiro, he probably has something up his sleeve.”

    Meanwhile, Kenjiro was now hemmed in from all sides. The eight Sapphire Skull pirates had formed a semicircle around him, leaving his only options of escape as the sea behind him (where he’d make a sitting duck, frankly) and the air above him...

    It was extremely fortunate that he could do the latter.

    “GO!” Carrigan shouted. The seven grunts advanced on Kenjiro’s position, but the vagabond gunman was ready. He leapt into the air, somersaulting over Carrigan’s head, as the Sapphire Skulls brought their cutlasses down on empty space. The only thing that went wrong about this is that Kenjiro’s leap left him directly in front of a very frustrated Carrigan, who proceeded to lift his sword off of his back and attempt to hew Kenjiro in half with the extremely large weapon. Fortunately, Kenjiro was able to leap backward....

    Unfortunately, he leapt backward right into the hole that Reivyn had blown into the pier nearly an hour earlier. With a loud SPLASH, he disappeared underwater.

    After about thirty seconds, everyone started to get worried.

    “Kenjiro...” Reivyn whimpered. “I won’t let him drown!”

    She took off around the other side of the pier and, somewhere that Carrigan couldn’t see her, dove into the water with the grace of a professional.

    “Reivyn!” Katrina whispered.

    “Damn!” Travis groaned, slapping his head.

    “Now what?!” Katrina shouted.

    “Hold on a second, I’m trying to think!” Travis spat, leaning against the shack.

    “Well, that’s the end of that,” Carrigan muttered. “What a waste of ti –“

    He heard another loud SPLASH and turned around. Two teens in red clothing befitting of the Ruby Skull pirates emerged from the water. One was holding a gun and the other was holding a kunai knife. Both of them seemed to be crackling with electrical energy as the two wielders leapt up out of the water and sideways toward the pier.

    Shoraizan!” the girl yelled, throwing her knife as the young man aimed down at the pier and fired a bolt of lightning out of his gun. Both attacks were destined for the same point on the pier, and Carrigan quickly realized this.

    “GET THE HELL OUTTA THE WAY!” he roared, jumping back. Six pirates went with Carrigan, toward the shack...

    “Dammit,” Travis muttered, sliding further away from the corner of the building once he realized that he was in Carrigan’s shadow. “Now we can’t move.”

    ...one pirate went the other way just as an explosion blew another significant chunk out of the pier. Kenjiro and Reivyn landed on the ground and immediately saw this guy coming. Reivyn jumped back and Kenjiro, with a well-placed fist, knocked the grunt sideways, where he landed spectacularly in the water.

    “Sapphire Skulls one step behind as always,” Kenjiro commented. “Party’s over.”

    Damn you!” Carrigan growled through gritted teeth as Kenjiro and Reivyn took off running in the other direction...holding hands, as it were. It appeared as if the former were trying to drag the latter, or that the latter was simply holding on for the ride.

    “You’re making this up as you go along, aren’t you?” Reivyn asked.

    “It’s working, isn’t it?” Kenjiro panted.

    “I don’t know,” Reivyn replied. “What happens next?”

    “This is the part where we run like hell,” Kenjiro replied. “Why’d you dive in, anyway?”

    Reivyn didn’t say anything for a moment. “I didn’t want you to drown.”

    “I know how to swim, for future reference,” Kenjiro commented. “I just don’t like doing it.”

    “I do,” Reivyn replied.

    “This isn’t the time for this conversation,” Kenjiro grunted.



    Meanwhile, Carrigan was standing next to the old sailor’s vacant shack, along with five of his grunts (the sixth was pulling the seventh out of the water). With a frustrated groan, he turned around and swore horribly, kicking the wall of the solid brick shack. On the opposite side of the shack, Travis and Katrina felt the wall vibrate.

    Now,” Travis muttered. “Just follow my lead.”

    “Sir,” one of the grunts asked. “Are we going to tell the Captain now?”

    “No, we’d better not,” Carrigan muttered. “We don’t want to empty the entire ship for a pair of pirates. Besides...they’re running through our territory. Not sure exactly where they’re going, though...”

    “Back to their ship, obviously,” Carrigan heard a voice with a strange accent to his left and turned in that direction. A boy and a girl, holding hands, emerged from the other corner of the shack. “Well, that was rather embarrassing. Pity you couldn’t capture him. You would have received a rather handsome payment. Granted...bounty hunters would probably know these things, but pirates...”

    “You’re bounty hunters?” Carrigan asked. “You look a touch young for that.”

    “I get that all the time,” Travis said, still carrying on with his accent. “Truth be told, I’m just starting out. Found I was a half-decent fighter and thought I’d try my hand at a life of adventure, you see? So...not too different from you. My name is Percival Watson – Percy, for short. This is my fiancee, Clarissa.”

    Katrina remained silent but an obvious blush was visible on her cheeks for a moment as she smiled.


    “Fiancee? Don’t see any rings,” Carrigan commented, investigating both teenagers’ hands.

    “Well...we found that bounty hunting’s a bit of a nasty business,” Travis explained. “Don’t want to lose them, you see? Wouldn’t make for a good wedding later.”

    “I understand,” Carrigan said, folding his arms. “So, what brings you to these parts? Pretty obvious from your accent that you’re not from Hoenn.”

    “Johto,” Travis said. “Fine place, actually. Some of the politicians tend to be – well...rather disagreeable, classless gits – but, overall, it’s a fine place to live. Better than your monarchy, I’m sure. One person with absolute power over an entire country? A recipe for disaster, if you ask me. Especially this one in particular. I believe...Edgar was his name? If it was down to me, I’d put a knife in his belly, the power-hungry *******. Heard he tried to kill his own brother for the throne.”

    “Ah, I’m afraid you’ve got it backwards, son,” Carrigan commented. “You see, his brother Elrik was the power-hungry one. He tried to kill Edgar for the throne, and Edgar was forced to execute him. It was one of the most painful things His Majesty ever had to do, especially right after losing his father like he did. He loved his brother dearly.”

    “As a bounty hunter, I’ve been around a bit and know some things,” Travis replied. “It appears that you are quite behind on current events. Alas, this isn’t the time for this conversation. Our quarry is getting away.”

    “ ‘Our’?” Carrigan repeated.

    “We are chasing the same person, are we not?” Travis asked. “I’ve been tailing that man for nearly two weeks now. Apparently, he ran a bit amok in Petalburg and there’s a bounty on his head.”

    “Well, we’d better get going, then,” Carrigan remarked. “Those two started running about ten minutes ago, and with the speed they had, they could be on the other side of Hoenn by now.”

    “No, I think not. Slow and steady wins the race, to be sure,” Travis said. “You all go on and head him off. I’ll handle things when I arrive.”

    “Watson, your name was? Are you sure about this?” Carrigan asked.

    “This man doesn’t take well to bounty hunters...I think he’d rather enjoy fighting you, though,” Travis said.

    “How do you know him so well?” Carrigan asked.

    “I’ve investigated,” Travis replied. “As they say...’Elementary’.”

    “Well, don’t take too long,” Carrigan said. “All right, boys, let’s move out!”

    “Sir!” the seven pirates chorused, following Carrigan off of the pier (the long way around because of all of the holes that had been blasted out of it), leaving Katrina and Travis alone. Turning around, Katrina looked at Travis.

    “You really should consider a career in acting, but...” Katrina commented. “Fiancee? Sister or cousin would’ve been more believable. Are you trying to tell me something?”

    “I wouldn’t have said sister or cousin,” Travis said, returning to his normal voice. “I definitely would’ve heard about it later. Besides...no one would ever believe that you and I could come from the same family – you’re too good-looking.”

    Katrina laughed at the compliment.

    “Did you have a plan B for if they didn’t believe a word you said?” Katrina asked.

    “Not really,” Travis said sheepishly. “I was actually counting on Carrigan being as dumb as he looks. You’d think that pirates would want to stay away from bounty hunters. I’m kind of surprised that worked.”

    “Well, it’s working for now,” Katrina commented. “But, I’m wondering...if Kenjiro and Reivyn wanted to go somewhere quickly, couldn’t they just do that teleport thing with all the hand signs...?”

    “I’m not gonna ask,” Travis sighed. “I doubt I’d get a straight answer. Besides, I think Kenjiro wanted everyone to see where he was going.”

    “Speaking of going...we’d better catch up with Carrigan,” Katrina said.

    “Don’t fall in any of those holes they blew into the pier,” Travis commented as Katrina started to make her way across the pier and onto the bridge. “I’ll be forced to laugh as I fish you out of the water.”

    “Very funny,” Katrina turned around with a wry smile on her face. “Keep up that kind of talk, and you’ll find yourself in the doghouse.”

    Travis smiled, muttering to himself.

    “What was the word she used a few days ago? Unconventional?” he sighed.

    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.




  12. #112
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    May 2005
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    Default Chapter 9-2

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    In the distance, Kenjiro and Reivyn could see the red sails and flag of the Natus. They were getting closer...but so were the increasing number of Sapphire Skull pirates that were chasing them.

    “Can you see how many are behind us?!” Kenjiro shouted to Reivyn.

    “More than I can count,” Reivyn replied, sounding a little worried. “We’re not in over our heads here, are we?”

    “Dunno...” Kenjiro groaned. “But, as soon as this ship pulls off, we have to go.”

    “What about the others?” Reivyn asked. “We can’t just leave them.”

    “We can if it means getting out to open water, where the Temple Knights can’t reach you easily,” Kenjiro said. “I don’t like to stay stationary for too long. You’re not the only one getting chased by somebody.”

    “Looks like both of us are,” Reivyn commented, looking behind her. “Kenjiro! Watch out!”

    “What?” Kenjiro looked in front of him and saw a Sapphire Skull pirate charging. He pointed his gun down and shot at the man’s ankles, prompting the pirate to dive out of the way and into the water. Groaning, he cocked his gun again. “Dammit...I’m probably about to run out of bullets – we left Rustboro in such a hurry that I forgot to restock.”

    Kenjiro and Reivyn were reaching a large square area on the port, similar to the other pier near the shack. Here they saw Ruby Skull pirates and Sapphire Skull pirates flinging their swords at each other.

    “It’s started already,” Reivyn said.

    “Damn, news travels fast around here,” Kenjiro panted. Figuring that he might as well play his part, he shouted as he ran across the pier, “Reinforcements! They’ve got reinforcements!!!”


    He got to the middle of the port and heard a yell behind him. Flinging Reivyn behind him in one motion, he turned around, saw an incoming cutlass, and parried it, knocking the unfortunate pirate to the ground.

    “Reivyn!” Kenjiro shouted, realizing the situation was turning ugly. “Get to the ship!! I’ll catch up with you!”

    “What if –“ Reivyn started to talk but a roaring Kenjiro quickly cut her off.

    “GO!!” he shouted, blocking another incoming sword. He looked up and saw that this sword was not at all a cutlass. It was a long sword, completely balanced and symmetrical in its blade and its hilt. Its wielder was wearing blue, but not a bandana. Rather, he (at least, Kenjiro assumed it was a male) was wearing a hooded cloak over an orange shirt. Kenjiro couldn’t get a good look at his face. “Wait a second –“

    Grunting loudly, the figure slashed his sword quickly, nearly cutting Kenjiro in half. As he latter jumped back, he saw his opponent charging him again. Their two blades met twice with two loud clanging sounds.

    “Where are they?” the figure asked Kenjiro. “You’re with them, right? Where are they?”

    “That’s really specific,” Kenjiro replied acerbically. “Who are you talking about?”

    “Are they alright? Are they safe? Both of them? Are they together?” the figure responded with a battery of questions.

    “I’ll answer you as soon as I know who you’re talking about,” Kenjiro answered.

    “You do know,” the figure answered again. “You’ve been traveling with them for eight or nine days now. I’ve been following you about that long.”

    “Following us?” Kenjiro repeated, playing a slash toward the figure’s neck. The figure dodged it and then blocked another strike from Kenjiro. “What do you want?”

    “I want to know if they are unharmed and unseparated,” the figure said.

    “Now that I know who you’re talking about...” Kenjiro muttered. “Yes, they are. As far as I know.”

    “Good,” the figure said, lowering his sword. Kenjiro moved to try to cut the figure’s head off but stopped as he realized that this particular opponent no longer intended to fight him. “Now, hurry up and get out of here. Carrigan and his men are hot on your tail.”

    Kenjiro grimaced. He didn’t feel like fighting Carrigan again, not to mention the other seven guys that were with him. He barely got away last time, and with no shot left, he’d have to resort to his sword, putting him at a severe disadvantage.

    “You’re giving me a free pass?” Kenjiro asked, raising his eyebrow. “What’s your angle? If you try to stab me in the back, I will kill you.”

    “If I wanted you dead, it would have been done already,” the figure said, sheathing his sword. “Believe me. You’d better stall that ship, though. Do not leave them here or I will hunt you down and end your life.”

    “Big talk,” Kenjiro said. “Can you pull that off?”

    Instantly, the figure was gone. Kenjiro felt the sea breeze ruffle his hair and then heard a voice behind him that frightened him into stillness.


    “I don’t know what you did to the Sapphire pirates,” the voice said, “but you’ve gotten them angry enough to chase after the Natus. The Natus is the bigger and grander ship of the two, but the Selma does very well against the wind. Once you get on that ship, be prepared for a sea battle. I’d give it about two or three days.”

    “Psychic, are we?” Kenjiro muttered, looking over his shoulder.

    “I keep my ears open,” the figure said. Kenjiro turned around, realized that the figure was no longer there, and did a complete 360 before a hard palm to his stomach sent him flying backward a lot farther than it perhaps should have.

    “Ouch!” Kenjiro groaned, clutching his stomach. “What the hell?!”

    The figure reappeared, pointing with his chin up toward the Natus. Kenjiro understood – whoever he was, he had to make this look convincing. Kenjiro nodded a grudging thanks toward the blue-hooded figure and took off up the ramp toward the dock where the Natus was located.

    The hooded youth turned around. Just then, Carrigan and seven pirates ran into the square. Carrigan looked around. His eyes and the youth’s veiled eyes focused on each other.

    “Clayton?!” Carrigan shouted. “About time you got here – we’ve been getting our asses kicked all afternoon!”

    “You guys had better head back to the Selma,” this young man named ‘Clayton’ commented. “Those guys just ran past here – said something about ‘finishing the job’. I think the Captain might be in trouble.”

    “Seriously?!” Carrigan shouted. “Damn it! That’s the other side of the harbor! We’ll never make it there in time!”

    “You will if you run,” Clayton answered. “I mean, you guys literally just missed him by five or ten seconds. He went running that way.”

    He pointed toward the bridge to his left (as the ramp up to the Natus’ mooring was behind him).

    “Damn him...there are two bounty hunters that have decided to aid us. They’ll be this way in a few minutes. Tell them where we went. C’mon, boys!” the Sapphire Skull bosun shouted, waving his men on as he took off in that direction. This left Clayton alone, smirking.

    “Fool,” Clayton muttered. Just then a boy in a blue and white outfit with a navy-blue braid down nearly to his waist and a girl with straight, pink hair and baby-blue eyes ran onto the square. He locked eyes with the boy, who still couldn’t see his face.

    “A pirate?” the blue-haired teenager muttered. “Hey, have you seen Carrigan? Where’d he go?”

    “Back to the Selma,” Clayton said. Allowing his serious facade to drop and showing a smile under his hood, he commented, “You’re doing well.”

    “Excuse me?” the teenage boy asked, cocking his head. The girl raised her eyebrows.

    “The other two in your group got aboard safely,” Clayton said, looking back at the Natus. “Go on.”

    “Hold it – how do you know about –“ the girl started. The blue-haired boy cut her off.

    “Katrina, why are you complaining? Let’s go,” he said, beginning to pull her by the arm. Katrina took one last look back at the cloaked youth and then finally surrendered just as she and Travis reached the ramp.

    “Who was that guy?” Katrina muttered.


    “No idea,” Travis answered. They reached the top of the ramp where Kenjiro and Reivyn had been standing – apparently, for a while.

    “About time you got here,” Kenjiro said. “What took you so long?”

    “We had to stay back a little so we wouldn’t be seen,” Travis said. “In any case, that guy...whoever he was...saved us a lot of trouble.”

    “Yeah, about that...” Kenjiro commented. “I was just talking to Reivyn about him and she says that the description I gave her sounds exactly like the guy that knocked her out in the Petalburg Woods.”

    “Knocked her out? When?” Travis asked, raising his eyebrow.

    “When we found her, she was unconscious – remember?” Katrina replied.

    “Really?” Travis scratched his head. “So, some mystery guy pops into the picture out of absolutely nowhere. I don’t know exactly what’s going on here, but he’s playing things like he’s trying to help me out from the shadows. No offense to you, Reivyn, but he did help me get my sword back. And now, he sent Carrigan back to the other side of the harbor? Who is he? I wonder if he works for the – no...that incident with the sword was before I talked to the prince...”

    “You know what?” Kenjiro said quickly. “We should get on this ship before –“

    “So that’s what’s going on,” a voice behind Kenjiro and Reivyn sounded. Atop the ramp at the very edge of the ship stood a young man. He looked to be Kenjiro’s age – slightly older, perhaps. He had a red bandana bearing a black skull and crossbones atop his head, clashing horribly with his bright orange hair, which looked to be a bit messy in the back. He had two eyes with irises of an indigo color – not very common. At least, Travis’ hadn’t seen many of them. He wore a flaring coat that exposed the middle third of his bare, muscular, and tanned chest. It was tied around his waist by a black belt with a skull buckle that appeared to be made out of stainless steel. From there, it flared out behind him, giving a rather wide berth to his pants, which were black and a bit baggy. From each hip hung a weapon. On one hip was the holster for what looked like a pistol. On the other was a cutlass that appeared to be a bit longer and a bit more ornately-made than the ones Travis had seen other pirates on the port using. Unlike Kenjiro, this guy kept his gun and sword separate. Who was he, though?

    Kenjiro rolled his eyes and mouthed a four-letter word as he turned around to face the youth.

    “Can we help you with something?” Kenjiro asked.

    “I’d like to know who is sneaking onto this ship,” the young man answered, folding his red-clad arms.

    “Well, you can go get your captain – I’ll speak to him...maybe,” Kenjiro replied a bit obstinately.

    “Captain? You’re looking at him,” the young man said. Laughing, he added, “I should have known that the ‘mystery pirate’ going around causing trouble wasn’t actually one of my pirates. I’ve done some crazy stuff before, but not even I would be stupid enough to take on seven Sapphire Skull pirates and Carrigan on my own – and trying to sneak onto the ship of one of the most notorious pirate crews in Hoenn. You’ve gotta have some pretty big ones to try that...and then pull it off, no less! So...what were you four after, anyway? I like your style, so, if it’s within reason, I might just see what I can do. What’s your name, anyway?”

    “Kenjiro,” Kenjiro replied. “This is Reivyn, Travis, and Katrina.”

    “Kenjiro?” the captain exclaimed. “Not Kenjiro Kazaki!! The ‘Iceman’ himself?”

    Kenjiro raised his eyebrow and looked at Travis, who folded his arms and smirked.

    “Don’t look at me,” Travis said. “I don’t have a pen.”

    “The bounty on your head – seven million, isn’t it?” the captain asked, sounding impressed. Kenjiro nodded.

    “Last time I checked...which was about two weeks ago. If any word gets around about what’s happened since then, I guarantee you it’d be about nine or ten,” he said.

    “That’s ridiculous. My head’s worth about as much as one of your middle fingers. If I wasn’t such a nice guy, I could lop your head off right now and get my crew and I one hell of a paycheck!” the young captain exclaimed.

    “You could try,” Kenjiro commented, raising an eyebrow.

    “So, anyway...what can I do for you?” the ginger-haired youth asked.

    “We’re looking for a ship to get us to Dewford,” Kenjiro said.

    “A ride? That’s it?” the captain uttered, sounding surprised. “You raised this much hell for passage to Dewford? I wish we would have known that earlier. You could have just asked us.”

    The respective jaws of Travis, Katrina, and Kenjiro all hit the floor at the same time. Even Reivyn’s mouth was open a bit.

    “Seriously?” Travis groaned.

    “Well, why don’t you hop on?” the captain questioned. “The way things look, we’ll be shoving off here in about an hour. I’ll introduce you to some of the crew, and show you to your rooms. Don’t worry – the rooms on this piece are actually half-decent.”

    Travis showed a smile. For a pirate, this guy actually seemed...cool and friendly.

    “Hey – we never got your name,” Travis piped up as the young man started up the stairs.

    “Oh...how rude. Sorry,” the pirate captain replied, turning around. Travis was a bit surprised, as he would have never expected to hear this statement out of a pirate. “Royce Devlin. Use one or the other, but don’t use both – my dad did that and it gets on my nerves. Well, time’s a-wasting...let’s get you guys onto this ship before any bounty hunters coming over here looking to make a quick fortune.”

    Kenjiro stepped up the ramp onto the ship, quickly followed by Reivyn. Travis and Katrina looked at each other and laughed as they grasped hands and boarded together.


    The light bulb that illuminated hung bare from the ceiling. A broken shade sat upon the one dresser, and a cheap rug lined the middle of the floor. On this rug was a wooden table with two wooden chairs. This rug and table were flanked by the two beds. Upon one of these beds laid Kenjiro Kazaki, staring blankly up into the ceiling as he laid his head back on the one pillow that had been provided for him. This room sure beat his living quarters in the Romero Mansion, he thought. But he had...sort of mixed feelings about the arrangement. Apparently, Royce had seen Travis and Katrina holding hands and had booked a room for the two of them, which meant that, down the hallway a bit, Kenjiro was forced to stay with Reivyn. Reivyn had gone exploring the ship with Travis and Katrina. Kenjiro didn’t join them; he needed a day off from the constant battery of questions about what things were and how they worked – especially, when in one out of every five cases, he had no earthly idea.


    The last ten days had been so confusing for Kenjiro. He had gone to a loner and a vagabond to...something different.

    Something more.

    The door clicked and swung open. In cantered a girl of about sixteen with scarlet clothing and hair. She sat down on her bed and looked straight at Kenjiro.

    “You look troubled,” Reivyn said simply.

    “Troubled?” Kenjiro repeated. “I’m fine.”

    “You don’t look fine,” Reivyn said, innocently curling up into a ball as she pulled her knees up onto the bed and looked at Kenjiro through them. “You look like something is bothering you.”

    “I’m fine!” Kenjiro said. The statement came out about seven times as loud as Kenjiro intended, prompting Reivyn to curl up even more and whimper. He turned his head toward her. “Sorry.”

    “What do you think about when you look at them?” Reivyn asked.

    “Look at who?” Kenjiro replied with a question of his own.

    “The others,” Reivyn replied. Kenjiro looked at her and sat up. Reivyn stood and walked around the table, sitting down on the bed next to Kenjiro, who shifted away from her a bit nervously.

    “Oh...them,” Kenjiro muttered. “What do you mean?”

    “Are they two more drops in a sea of people...” Reivyn started. Kenjiro looked at her strangely, surprised that she could be so...poetic. “Or...are they...friends?”

    “Friends?” Kenjiro repeated.

    “You do know what a friend is...don’t you?” Reivyn asked innocently.

    “I know I’ve hardly had any,” Kenjiro commented.

    “A sad existence...” Reivyn said cryptically, looking away from Kenjiro.

    “You don’t have to remind me,” Kenjiro sighed, standing up. “I’m going out. I need some fresh air.”

    “I’m coming, too,” Reivyn said immediately, standing up.

    “Aren’t you tired?” Kenjiro asked...rather halfheartedly.

    “There are a lot of things I don’t know,” Reivyn said. “There are a lot of things I would like to know.”

    “About...?” Kenjiro started.

    “Anything – everything,” Reivyn said. “Anything I can learn.”

    Kenjiro sighed. “Suit yourself,” he said, walking out. Reivyn followed right behind him, eager to learn more about certain things...

    ...and certain people.



    Travis gazed over the railing of the Natus. They had been out to sea for an hour or two, after Devlin had managed to round up his entire crew, which took a while. Travis still couldn’t get over the demographic of the ship – truth be told, he fit right in there. With a few thirty-year-old exceptions, most of the crew seemed to be in their twenties or younger. Devlin himself, Travis found out, was no older than Kenjiro. It seemed as if this was a crew that valued youth among other things.

    Nevertheless, Travis was glad to be out to sea at last. It had been a crazy afternoon and he was glad that he could finally take a breather after all of the action. The next stop was Dewford Island. It would take seven days to get there – perhaps six if the wind stayed like this. The Natus wasn’t the fastest ship on the water – and, on top of that, they were taking a bit of a roundabout way because they had been warned of Imperial presence on the water between here and Dewford. He knew someone that would be looking forward to arriving there – Dewford was one of three beach towns in Hoenn.

    His girlfriend loved beaches.

    Right then, he felt something wet on the back of his head. He jumped and turned around really quickly to find Katrina laughing and flipping a squirt gun around her finger in desperado-like fashion.

    He shook his head, smiled, and commented, “Now I know we’ve been hanging around Kenjiro way too long.”

    Katrina let out a slight laugh. Angel and Crescent were walking along behind her, glad to have fresh air after being stuck in their balls for most of the day. Katrina skipped up alongside Travis, planted a swift kiss on his lips, and leaned over the railing, smiling broadly.

    “I heard Dewford has some of the best beaches in Hoenn,” Katrina said.

    “This is definitely beach weather,” Travis commented. “If it’s like this out on the water, it’ll probably be pretty warm by the time we get to land again. What’s the story on that? Are we supposed to have decent weather for this trip?”

    “Actually...I think there’s a chance for a storm a couple of days from now...” Katrina said. “Devlin said they were getting prepared just in case.”

    “How big?” Travis asked. “Not big enough to sink this ship...”

    “Just one of those late spring storms, you know,” Katrina replied. “Those move on too quickly to cause any real problems.”

    “That’s true,” Travis conceded.

    “So...what were you thinking about?” Katrina asked.

    “You,” Travis replied with a wry smile on his face.

    “That’s really flattering, but seriously,” Katrina said. Travis’ smile faded – it wasn’t like he’d been lying. “You look like something’s on your mind.”

    “That guy...” Travis sighed. “He seemed so familiar, for some reason. You know, how you get a vibe that you’ve met someone already?”

    “That’s probably because we’ve already seen so many people that we met in Johto,” Katrina answered. “But still...you bring up a good point. If we never met him, he sure found out a lot about us from somebody. He even knew where we were going, who we were with, and what we were trying to do. It’s kind of creepy. Maybe he was some crazed fan of yours.”


    “I doubt I’ve been here long enough to have any fans,” Travis said. “Remember – half of everyone in Johto thinks that I retired.”

    “But then, there’s that ranking system...” Katrina commented. “I bet a lot of people follow that – and I bet a few do it religiously.”

    “How can they check my rank, if I even have one yet?” Travis asked. “I don’t even know my own rank.”

    “Well...” Katrina froze for a moment. Putting her hand to her chin, she said, “Hmm...I don’t know.”

    “I wonder if that guy is going to be okay?” Travis asked. “I think he might have double-crossed Carrigan to help me escape.”

    He gazed out at the water. The bright late-spring sun bounced shades of white off the iron-colored currents beneath him. He fell silent for a moment as an unpleasant memory staggered to the front of his mind.

    “I remember...the last person that did that saved my life, but...”

    “I know you won’t forget that...I won’t, either,” Katrina sighed. “Is there any way at least to convince you that it wasn’t your fault?”

    Travis said nothing for a moment.

    “You’re thinking about it too much,” Katrina said finally. This set Travis off for some reason.

    “Am I supposed to just forget about her?” Travis said. “We never repaid her for what she did for us. Have we even visited her grave? Is there a grave for her – a proper one, to honor her for doing that when she didn’t have to?”

    “You did repay her,” Katrina said. “You destroyed Angelos.”

    “Somehow, I feel like that wasn’t enough,” Travis groaned. “There has to be something else I can do.”

    “<Live life to the fullest – that’s what I think,>” a voice behind Travis sounded. He turned around and saw an Umbreon’s crimson eyes looking up at him. Angel was looking at him, appearing to be a little shocked.

    “<Crescent...>” she whispered.

    “<I can’t believe that Luna gave her life so that we could spend the rest of ours mourning her,>” he said heavily. “<She did it not just because she wanted us to get to Angelos...but she wanted us to get past him.>”

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

    “<Angelos has been dead nearly two years now,>” Crescent said. “<But we’re still here – all of us. Alive, young – we all still have a lot of living left to do. Luna helped us...all of us...for all the time we had left after everything was done – for now.>”

    “<Oh...>” Angel buried her face in Crescent’s neck. Travis and Katrina looked at each other. The former had his mouth hanging open slightly. He closed it, sighed through his nose, and looked out toward the sea again.

    “<Are you okay?>” Crescent asked Angel, whom he’d heard sniffle.


    “<I’m fine,>” she laughed weakly, emerging from his neck. Looking up at him, she added, “<But you could...you know, try not being so schmaltzy.>”

    Crescent let out a laugh of his own and affectionately lowered his mouth onto the top of Angel’s head.

    “You know...today’s the first of June,” Katrina commented.

    “Really? I forgot,” Travis admitted. “June 1st...”

    “It’s been two years since we first became Trainers,” Katrina sighed.

    “<Two years since we met for the first time, remember?>” Angel commented.

    “Yeah...” Travis said, looking up. “Grandpa came to see me off. I wish he could see us now...”

    “He can,” Katrina said, grabbing his hand. Travis turned and looked at her. “He can see everything you’re doing, and I’m sure he’s just as proud of you now as he was then. Every cloud has a silver lining.”

    “<Usually, the bigger the cloud, the bigger the silver lining,>” Crescent said. “<I haven’t gotten over what they did to Luna, and I’m not sure I ever will. But, when I look at everything I have in front of me...>”

    His eyes looked down at Angel.

    “<...it hurts a little less.>” he finished.

    Travis turned his eyes toward Katrina for a long moment. He grabbed her hand, the other one in his pants pocket.

    “Is something the matter?” Katrina asked. “You look like you’re about to pass out.”

    “Hm?” Travis muttered. “Why do you think that?”

    “You’ve got sweat dripping down your face and you looked like you were staring out into space somewhere. You’re tired,” Katrina said. “You’re not used to all of this traveling yet.”

    “You say that I worry too much,” Travis said, letting go of Katrina’s hand while realizing his own was in his pocket and taking it out. “If something was wrong with me, I’d tell you. You know that. Yeah, I’m tired, but it’s not like I’m gonna collapse or anything. I’ll just sleep really well tonight, that’s all.”

    “It’s my job to worry about you,” Katrina said a bit impatiently, grabbing Travis’ arm.

    “How cute,” a voice behind the two of them got their attention. A ginger-haired young man with a long coat was walking toward them. When the looks on Katrina and Travis’ faces sent the exact same message, Devlin answered the wordless question. “Oh – Arnaz is at the wheel right now, so I’ve got the rest of the day off. So...you two okay? Not seasick or anything, are you?”

    (Arnaz was a dark-skinned teenager with black dreadlocks and a big smile. He was Devlin’s best friend and first mate.)

    “I’m fine,” Travis said, half to Devlin and half (again) to Katrina.

    “That’s exactly the kind of thing that makes me want to put off getting married as soon as possible,” Devlin said, standing on the other side of Katrina and looking out at the sea. Travis looked at Katrina and then looked away from her very quickly. “No matter how much you ask people not to coddle you, two of them always will – your wife and your mother. And with the way I live, I’d definitely give any girl I married gray hairs – especially if she wasn’t a pirate. Hey...I don’t mean to pry, but I’ve got a question.”

    “Shoot,” Travis said, looking across Katrina at Devlin.

    “How long have you two been together?” he asked. “A month...two months?”

    “Keep going...” Katrina said, looking at Travis and exchanging smiles with him.

    “Three months?” Devlin guessed again.

    “Ice-cold,” Travis replied.

    “Six months?” Devlin guessed a fourth time. Katrina shook her head. “You’re pulling my leg here. Seven months?”

    Travis looked straight at him and smiled. Devlin lost his patience a bit.

    “I give up!” he shouted, throwing up his hands in surrender.

    “Two years,” Travis replied finally. “Give or take a couple of weeks.”

    “Two years?!” Devlin repeated incredulously. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

    “I’m dead serious,” Katrina said, reaching into her pocket and handing Devlin a photograph. Travis looked at it upside-down and instantly saw what it was. In this picture, he was wearing a diadem and a blue outfit and embracing Katrina, who was wearing a thin, white dress and a golden tiara on her head.

    “King and queen for a day, huh?” Devlin laughed. Travis kept his mouth shut because he honestly didn’t feel like explaining the custom to someone who would likely not know it.

    “I loved that dress,” Katrina said to Travis nostalgically. “Too bad I outgrew it the next year.”

    “For being so simple, it was so beautiful,” Travis responded.

    Devlin turned the photo to the back. “June 21st...P.A. 2011?! Wow, you guys weren’t lying. So – what’s your secret?”

    “Er – secret?” Travis repeated.

    “Let’s just say I know a lot of guys that have a ‘Plan B’ for Saturday in case they make it through Friday,” Devlin laughed. Travis caught what Devlin meant by this and let out a laugh, too.

    “Um...” Katrina sighed for a second. “If you love someone and both of you believe you’re meant to be together, you’ll find a way to make it work.”

    Behind her, Travis showed a weak smile. She’d hit the nail right on the head. If any relationship had faced obstacles, it was theirs. Battling a demonically-aided tyrant that has designs on world domination isn’t exactly conducive to a young teen couple staying together. But they had done it. And if they could make it through that, they could make it through anything.

    That was their reasoning.

    Fourteen they were, but they had already seen and felt far beyond their years.

    And he had seen. He had not forgotten. After two years, he could close his eyes and see it all over again, just like it was yesterday. Deep in his heart, he knew.

    Nevertheless...

    He would wait. There comes a moment in every person’s life where he cannot possibly be any happier on this side. A moment where it seems that he has nothing more to gain, because he already has everything he ever wanted.

    Where was that moment?

    He didn’t know...

    But he would wait for that moment.

    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.




  13. #113
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Maryland
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    Default Chapter 10-1

    Hello, ladies and gents. We’re going all in here at the Pirate Passage Arc. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

    Here comes this chapter.

    Chapter 10: Backlash! The Selma’s Vengeance

    June 4, PA 2013 – Route 105

    His golden-brown eyes snapped open and he gave off a loud grunt that was more or less of a muffled scream, jumping and grabbing his weapon all in one motion. His vision focused itself and he quickly realized that he was pointing his weapon at a wall. Nothing was in front of him. Breathing hard, he put his hand to the left side of his chest and then raised it, placing it on top of his tired-looking face and groaning loudly.

    He swung his long legs out from the sheets that had been covering them in his slumber, sitting up on the edge of the bed. Guided by the faint light of a lone lightbulb in the room that dimmed and flickered as it saw fit, his eyes found the bed on the other side of the room, where a girl maybe a year or two younger than him was sleeping peacefully. As his eyes watched her, his lips could not help but turn upward into a smile. This was probably the first time since he had met her that he had been the first of the two to awaken. She had been afraid to go to sleep at one point, fearing that her perennial pursuers would swoop down on her and take her away quickly. Then, after they had their way with her, they would discard her life like it was nothing.

    Now, though, she seemed to feel safer. He wondered for a second if it was because of him. Initially, he’d sworn to protect her because doing so would protect his own interests. He now remembered someone saying something to him about this.

    ”...the longer you keep her alive, the more you’ll learn to care about her.”

    “Shut the hell up, Rashid,” Kenjiro muttered, reaching for his jacket on the table and slipping it around him. He stepped toward the doorway and opened it. Before he stepped through, he turned around and watched her again for a few more moments.

    Only he knew the real reason why he protected her of all people.



    The breeze ruffled his hair as he watched a beautiful dawn sky, accented by dark-gray clouds that were kissed by the rising sun. It was...peaceful out here – a different feeling for him, as it seemed that his life was never peaceful. He was always fighting...running...fighting a bit more. This was a nice change for him. Yes, he was still on the run from many people – but right now, it didn’t quite feel like it.


    And still...there were a few things that he could not run from. He could not escape the enemies inside himself, all the scars that were indeed there. It seemed like he had always found ways of concealing his own pain by focusing on how much he could inflict pain on others. Even a month ago, he had been such a hateful, hurtful person. He wanted to punish the world for the hell he knew as his short childhood. Back then, he had not had them. He had pushed them to the back of his mind. He had made himself an avenger that chose not to remember the reason for his thirst for vengeance. That approach for much longer would have made him an indiscriminate killer, just like Captain Fergus of the Imperial Army (whom he later shot) had described him. But he hadn’t dealt with those sleeping thoughts for years, it had seemed.

    “Kenjiro?” a girl’s voice sounded behind him and he turned around. There was Reivyn, walking up to him. He had a sudden urge – an urge he had never felt before – to catch her, to put his arms around her and tell her that she would be alright. He knew what that felt like, and, as a child, it was the most comforting thing one could feel on this earth. He abstained, however, and kept both arms stiffly at his sides. But why did he want to do this? And why her?

    “I didn’t wake you up, did I?” he asked.

    Why did he care?

    She shook her head. “You were screaming in your sleep again – tossing and turning almost as if you were on fire. You were screaming for your mother and father and then someone named Hayate. Were you having a bad dream?”

    Kenjiro turned around. “I don’t dream.”

    “You have dark memories,” Reivyn said, walking up alongside him. “Nothing to be ashamed of. Who is...Hayate?”

    “My brother,” Kenjiro replied. He hadn’t told anyone else about his past in detail before. “He’s...dead, just like the rest of my family.”

    “And the Temple killed him?” Reivyn asked nervously.

    “Yes,” Kenjiro said. “They tried to kill both of us. But he died so that I could escape.”

    “Escape?” Reivyn repeated.

    “We were...” Kenjiro sighed. “...imprisoned.”

    “So you had to escape, too...” Reivyn mused. “We really are not all that different.”

    “You have no idea...” Kenjiro muttered.

    “Every time I look at you, I see pain in your eyes,” Reivyn said. “You try to escape. You will not face it. But...we can be free. Both of us. Kenji...”

    Kenjiro registered the use of the nickname Reivyn had thought up for him and turned toward her.

    “We can be free,” Reivyn said again for emphasis, looking down at the ground and clenching her fists at her sides. “One day...”

    Kenjiro reached his arm up toward her shoulder and then stopped as she looked up at him with her shining, silver eyes. Now he’d done it. She didn’t like men touching her, for reasons that were obvious to him. Imagine his surprise at her response.

    “Don’t stop,” she said.


    “No,” Kenjiro said, withdrawing his hand. “I’m an avenger – a killer. I don’t deserve –“

    “A friend?” Reivyn finished. Kenjiro lowered his hand and looked away from her. “I watch them all of the time – listen to everything I hear them say. They have horrors in their past, too.”

    “I know that,” Kenjiro sighed, his mind wandering back to the three or four times that Travis, who seemed otherwise friendly and almost docile, had become horribly angry with him every time Kenjiro spoke of war. As there was something of an uneasy truce between them because of their philosophies being diametrically opposite, Kenjiro didn’t talk to Travis all that much. Yet, he did wonder sometimes about what Travis had seen and done to make him the person he was today. There was something in his past that haunted him. In that light, Travis and Kenjiro were just alike.

    “What nobody deserves...” Reivyn said, grasping Kenjiro’s hand and stepping very close to him, “...is to be alone.”

    Kenjiro looked down at the creature before him. She was strange, but in such a beautiful way. In her, there was somehow a mesh of a childlike innocence and a sagely wisdom that could only come from life experience. Reivyn approached him and took hold of Kenjiro’s arm, guiding it around her back. Kenjiro did the other one himself and pulled her close as she rested her head right below his chin for a moment. She looked up at him, beaming and giving the impression that her face, which already had a slight red glow through all of this, was glowing even more. A smile flickered on Kenjiro’s face, disappearing just as quickly as it had gotten there. A strange sort of nostalgia welled up inside him. In the last several years, he had not been wont to showing affection to anyone...because he had no one. Nevertheless, he knew what it felt like to give and receive. He also knew what it felt like to lose. Initially, he thought that the best solution was to abstain from any bonds to anybody. Even as a boy, because of his upbringing, he could watch people die brutal deaths and hardly flinch. After he lost his own family, he took on that brutality. In his mind, it was the only way to survive –

    To be more heartless, more brutal, than they were.

    That was when he became the ‘Iceman’.

    Now that he thought about it, it was a rather fitting moniker. His exterior was heard, and his heart as cold as an arctic wind.

    Today, though, he looked down and found that this girl – who, categorically speaking, was supposed to be an object of his vengeance – was resting in his arms. This was altogether worse and more maddening than a thaw. This was a melting and an evaporation, all in the same moment. His existence – the shell that had been built around him for years – was starting to unravel.

    “When we land...” Reivyn began to question, “where will I go?”

    “Hm?” Kenjiro uttered. Apparently, for some reason or another, Reivyn must have been under the impression that they were going to leave her at Dewford. Granted, if any place was safe to leave Reivyn, it’d be one of the island towns. Since the Shoryuu Temple operated in total secrecy, it had no ships. Therefore, reaching any area not on the mainland would be a bit more difficult. She knew no one at Dewford, though. He wouldn’t leave her someplace where she would be forced to fend for herself.

    He laughed inwardly – a week and a half ago, he couldn’t wait to be rid of her.

    Had Rashid been right after all?

    He’d never admit to that – Rashid would never let him hear the end of it.

    “Reivyn,” Kenjiro sighed, “I’m not going to leave you by yourself.”


    Reivyn sighed contentedly and looked up at Kenjiro again, smiling.

    “You should smile more,” Kenjiro said to her. “That worried, scared look doesn’t suit you.”

    “What about you?” Reivyn asked. “Why don’t you smile more?”

    “Because I look stupid,” Kenjiro replied, frowning.

    “How do you know?” Reivyn questioned.

    “Eh...” Kenjiro uttered stupidly. Reivyn backed away from him and let out a laugh.

    “What’s so funny?” Kenjiro asked.

    “It’s good having...friends,” she said, looking down at her feet and shuffling them a bit.

    “Uh...mm,” Kenjiro kept his face as straight as possible, turning around and looking toward the sea.

    “Knowing that there’s someone in the world that cares about me...it makes me feel like I’m worth something – like I belong...somewhere,” Reivyn started. Kenjiro looked at her. He didn’t say that – not with his mouth. In that moment, however, something had been reconciled within his mind. The only thing that his brother ever told him that he disagreed with...

    He now understood.

    There is a part in every human being that wants to be loved, and that part can feel when it is loved, even if no one ever opens their mouth and says it to them. If someone who has never felt love before knows the difference...

    Kenjiro’s eyes burned. He felt his hand being taken in another and heard a voice behind him.

    “If I said that I cared about you...would you feel the same thing?” Reivyn asked him. “Kenji?”

    He couldn’t answer. It was like someone had shoved a rock down his throat.

    “Okay...you don’t want to talk anymore...” Reivyn said, leaning over the railing. “But I think I’m finally learning how to live...instead of just trying to survive.”

    “For someone who’s never seen the world,” Kenjiro sighed, “you sure know a lot.”

    “Knowing and believing are two different things.” Reivyn laughed. “They told us in the Temple that love is a foolish idea. The love of self, the love of others...foolish.”

    “You don’t really believe that, do you?” Kenjiro asked.

    “Not anymore...because the small piece of the world I’ve seen doesn’t believe it,” Reivyn said. With an innocent smile, she continued, “I guess that makes us all fools, then.”

    They did not know that, from behind a mast, they were being observed...

    “See?” Katrina whispered to Travis, who was standing right behind her and looking over her shoulder at Kenjiro and Reivyn. “I told you it was a bad time to interrupt.”

    “No one can change their mind about anything that quickly,” Travis said. “I don’t trust him.”

    “Just because he has a dark past?” Katrina asked. Travis sighed.

    “Suppose I do make it to Evergrande...and kill Edgar like I’m supposed to,” Travis muttered. “No one’s gonna remember that I brought peace to Hoenn by putting Prince Elrik on the throne – the first thing they’re going to remember is that I assassinated the last king. How is a good cause worth anything if you do evil to further it?”

    Katrina turned around. “You think like a small child sometimes,” she said. “Always in terms of black and white.”

    Kenjiro and Reivyn had departed, and Katrina moved further away from Travis, out into the open. Travis followed her.

    “I just couldn’t trust anyone who claims to have good intentions and can’t seem to find a way to stay within the rules to carry those out!” Travis exclaimed, walking quickly toward Katrina.

    “What rules?” Katrina whispered, starting to walk around Travis, tracing his face with her finger. “Ho-oh’s rules? Your rules? Society’s rules?”

    She made a complete lap around him and then sat up on top of the sea railing. She grabbed onto Travis’ shoulders to keep herself from falling over – but nearly pulled him overboard in the process.

    “Suppose, in order to save an entire nation – your home – you had to kill one man,” Katrina whispered, nudging Travis’ sides with her knees. “The ‘purity’ of one – or the lives of millions? What would you do if you were forced to make that decision? Oh...I forgot – you’ve done that already.”

    “That’s not fair,” Travis groaned in disapproval. “You know better than I do that, normally I wouldn’t...”

    “Exactly,” Katrina said. “So...what would you do if I turned pirate?”

    “I know you wouldn’t...” Travis started, but Katrina cut him off.

    “Nothing is certain,” Katrina said. Reaching up and caressing Travis’ face, she asked, “If you didn’t think every single thing I did catered to your ‘rules’...would you still love me? Or would you use that sword to exact...justice?”

    “I’d never draw my sword against you,” Travis said.

    “But...your nature would force you to, right?” Katrina asked. “If your sword’s purpose is to judge evil...”

    “A heart of evil,” Travis said.

    “Exactly,” Katrina said. “Do you ever pay attention to what you’re doing when you fight? There’s another side of you. He still has a good heart...essentially...but his fighting style is merciless...brutal...bloodthirsty.”

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

    “But I love you...all of you,” Katrina said. “The other you...he scares me a little. At the same time, though, he has the strength to do what needs to be done, even if he has to bend ‘the rules’ just a little.”

    “You’d be a good fit for our crew, actually,” a voice rang to the left of Travis and Katrina. An orange-haired youth in a crimson bandana was to their left, walking down the stairs that led up to the bow of the ship. Feeling impatient, the young pirate captain leapt over the railing about halfway down, landing with a slight swagger on the ground. “You see, that’s what the Ruby Skull pirates are all about. You see, we don’t pillage every single ship on the water – too much work. We get after the ships of these highfalutin Imperials that hoard all of their riches for themselves. A cut of that goes back to the people that could really use it.”


    “I read a book about a guy like that back when I was little,” Travis commented. “Kinda like him?”

    “Yeah...kinda like him,” Devlin replied, laughing. Travis and Katrina looked at each other, laughed, and kissed as Travis lifted Katrina off the ledge of the ship and placed her on the ground. Travis turned back and looked at Devlin.

    “You know there’s a slight shot at a storm hitting us here, right?” Travis asked.

    “Well, that’s the risk you take at sea, right?” Devlin responded. “Now, I’ve got a question for you – how good are you with that sword?”

    “I can hold my own,” Travis replied. Katrina smirked at the irony. “Any particular reason?”

    “A couple,” Devlin replied. “First off...you probably know this already, but an Imperial warship is on these waters. Second – your friend told me yesterday to expect some more company.”

    “More company?” Travis repeated. “Again, Kenjiro knows something we don’t. What kind of company?”

    “Apparently, our fellow buccaneers in the blue and white have seen fit to pursue us,” Devlin said, scowling.
    “Didn’t even take time to restock their ship after coming back from Pacifidlog...”

    “Ngh...” Travis grimaced. “That might complicate things...”

    “Then we have the rain,” Katrina sighed.

    “Yeah,” Devlin replied matter-of-factly. “We’ve dealt with things like this before, though. All we have to do is fight one and avoid being seen by the other.”

    “If we’re sandwiched in the middle...” Travis said. “I’d have to file that under ‘easier said than done’.”

    “You’re not lying,” Devlin replied, folding his arms. “If we run into one, we can’t run from them because we’ll run right back at the other.”

    “But...the Sapphire Skull pirates and the Imperials aren’t working together, are they?” Katrina asked.

    “What? Hell, no,” Devlin commented. “The Imperials consider it too beneath them to work with pirates. In fact...”

    Devlin raised an eyebrow at Katrina, who looked at Travis, who looked back at Devlin.

    “You seriously think that’ll work?” Travis asked.

    “Well...it’s worth a shot,” Devlin said. “One thing, though – I think it’d be helpful to everyone if you guys just...kind of...blended in more. Someone would be able to tell that you weren’t with our crew.”

    “So...a change of wardrobe is in order?” Travis looked at Katrina.

    “The chance to test-drive a new look?” she raised her eyebrow at Travis, who looked at her questioningly. “Works for me.”


    She pulled the second, cardinal-red glove up her wrist and smiled approvingly.


    “Ha ha...look at you. Dressed to kill,” a boy’s voice sounded behind her. She whirled around and saw a boy leaning against the doorway of their room. He was wearing black slacks and a cardinal-red, low-cut shirt. On his head, a navy-blue ponytail sprouted from a red bandana with a black skull and crossbones.

    “Well...” he smiled as she spoke and walked toward him. She was wearing a red halter top with a black skull on the back, as well as black pants. “Here’s hoping that won’t be necessary. Hey, you don’t look that bad in black and red...”

    “They’re not really my colors,” he said.

    “More your colors than mine,” she commented.

    “You’re beautiful,” he said, taking her hand and smiling. “I’d have you fight by my side any day.”

    “If it’s you...flattery will get you everywhere,” she said, batting her eyelashes.

    “Heh...you flirt more than some girls without boyfriends,” he said, smiling.

    “I guess, since I’m not divided by three or four...” she replied. Travis laughed.

    “Let’s go,” he said. They left the room hand in hand. As Katrina turned around and shut the door. As they did so, they saw Kenjiro and Reivyn walking down the hall towards them and decided to lead the way to the deck where the entire crew of the Natus was gathering as it neared noon.

    “Are you afraid?” Kenjiro whispered to Reivyn before looking at her.

    “Are you going to leave me?” Reivyn asked. Kenjiro looked ahead, opening his mouth after a long silence.

    “No.”

    “So, Kenjiro,” Travis asked without turning around, “was this part in your plan?”

    “This is one of the things I was trying to avoid,” Kenjiro groaned.

    “Really?” Travis said, looking over his shoulder and smirking. “Isn’t that ironic?”

    “Painfully,” Kenjiro gritted his teeth. “We don’t have time for this, if only we could...”

    “We can’t do anything,” Travis sighed. “Unless you plan on jumping off here and swimming to Dewford. If so, good luck with that...”

    Kenjiro groaned and looked at Reivyn, who grinned.



    “Crew, our esteemed guests,” Travis and the others now stood in a sea of red and black, all of whom were looking up toward the wheel of the ship. Behind this wheel (and the one speaking) was Captain Devlin, along with his first mate Arnaz. Devlin continued, “Our plans have changed slightly. Once again we find ourselves the antelope between two lions. With our ship being pursued by our rivals on one side and our enemies on the other, we must find a way to minimize conflict...”

    He looked down at Travis and the others.

    “...especially because recent events have made the Natus a ferry as well,” Devlin finished. “We have stopped and turned our ship for this reason. Whether it be the Sapphire Skull pirates or the Imperials, the first shot will be ours to take.”



    “Do you really intend to fire on the Selma?” Arnaz turned to Devlin and asked.

    “I would like not to,” Devlin replied, “but I will if it’s necessary.”

    “Does Devlin have a special reason for not wanting to sink the Selma?” Travis asked Katrina.

    “Yes, actually,” Katrina replied.

    “What is it?” Travis asked.

    “I don’t think...” Katrina said. “I’d rather not tell you. I’m not supposed to know myself. I overheard him talking with Arnaz a few days ago, and...”

    “That doesn’t mean that the Sapphire Skulls will show any mercy to us, though...” Travis sighed. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this. This and the weather...”

    He looked up toward the sky, where clouds were increasing.

    “You worry too much,” Katrina said.

    “You don’t worry enough, apparently,” Travis said. Quickly, he added, “I can’t believe I just said that to you of all people.”

    “I doubt that any of the four of us will die,” Katrina said. “Frankly, we’ve all seen too much for pirates or common foot soldiers to be very much of a challenge.”

    “Well, this definitely wasn’t what I was planning on,” Kenjiro commented, tapping the barrel of his gun against his shoulder. “Maybe it’ll be fun, though.”

    “You’re not planning to go on another shooting spree again, are you?” Travis looked at him suspiciously. “You remember, we’re trying to stay incognito. We don’t need you drawing unnecessary attention to us.”

    “Don’t make me laugh,” Kenjiro said coolly. “After what went down in Rustboro, you’ve got the nerve to say something about ‘drawing unneccessary attention’...”

    “Hey – Fergus’ soldiers were beating the hell out of an innocent man for no good reason. Someone had to do something,” Travis said hotly.

    “So you had to shatter every bone in his right arm into a million pieces?” Kenjiro asked. “Seems a little brutal to me.”

    “Why am I having this conversation with you?” Travis shrugged his shoulders and then folded his arms. “You shot the guy, and it’s your fault we’re in this mess to begin with. My life would be so much easier if you weren’t around.”

    “It’s always about your life when I talk to you,” Kenjiro groaned. “What about Reivyn?”

    You don’t care anything about her,” Travis said. “As a matter of fact, you hate her – all because she’s from that Temple.”

    “But he said –“ Reivyn attempted to throw in her opinion, but Travis cut her off with uncharacteristic rudeness.

    “Don’t believe a damn thing he says,” Travis said through his teeth, walking around Katrina and right up to Kenjiro (who, at 5'10", was two and a half inches taller than Travis) before the latter had a chance to quell things. “He’s a black-hearted liar.”

    Kenjiro burst into a chilling laughter. “You see? This is your problem! You think you’re too good for anyone. You look down on anyone with darkness like they have some type of disease – and you look down on them even more when they try to do the right thing. You’d think that someone who tries to do good in the world after their dark past would get a little bit of commendation – not condemnation.”

    “You’ve known me for two weeks – and you think you know me?” Travis replied. “You don’t know me. You have no idea what I went through.”

    “Oh, gosh...you’re gonna start crying about your little war again,” Kenjiro groaned, rolling his eyes. Noticing that Devlin had stopped rallying the crew and looked at the scene between these four, he shouted up toward the bow of the ship, “Hey, Devlin, Arnaz, we need a violin down here! Look, kid –“

    “Call me ‘kid’ again and see what happens,” Travis said dangerously. His katana seemed to fly out of the sheath by itself and land hilt-first in Travis’ hand, at which point he pointed it straight at Kenjiro. “I know what it means to love...and to protect what I love. Since you can’t seem to do that – since you think all lives are toys in your hands...I’d have to call you the ‘kid’. Or worse...you know what love is and choose not to do it. In that case...you’re just pathetic.”

    He sheathed his sword and turned around.

    “Easy call for someone who’s never loved and lost before,” Kenjiro said. He wouldn’t find out how big of a mistake this comment was until ten seconds later when, after a long silence, Travis whirled around and caught him sharply on the jaw with a left hook. Surprised by Travis’ physical strength, Kenjiro staggered backward for a few steps until Reivyn helped him regain his balance.

    “I know what it’s like to lose someone, and I know exactly how far I would go to save someone I don’t want to lose,” Travis said, his eyes narrow and a nasty smirk on his face. “Take the two of us for example. If you ever went after Katrina, I’d dice your entire pathetic body into small, maggoty steak cubes. But I know for a fact that you don’t care about Reivyn – so I could do this...”

    “TRAVIS!!” Katrina shrieked at the top of her lungs – for he had quickly conjured a ball of hot, white flames on the tip of the first two fingers of his right hand and, without looking, pointed it straight at Reivyn, who stood framed like a deer in headlights.

    “...and you wouldn’t give a –“ Travis stopped when he felt a knife against his throat.

    A loud growl sounded behind him. “You could always try that – and I’d kill you before you got the shot off.”

    Travis smirked and said, “At least you know how to talk the talk.”

    Kenjiro felt an immense pain in his ribs and released his grip on Travis, staggering backward and falling to his knees.

    “You’re really full of it,” Travis growled, sheathing his blade and walking off. Katrina hesitated for a moment and then followed him, leaving Reivyn and Kenjiro standing in the middle. Kenjiro staggered to his feet, aided somewhat by Reivyn, who held onto him as he regained his balance.

    “Damn it...” Kenjiro growled, nearly hissing at Travis’ back.

    “Kenji...your face...” Reivyn commented, reaching her hand up to wipe blood off Kenjiro’s lip. He stopped and looked at her for a second.

    “I’m fine,” Kenjiro muttered, grabbing onto her hand. “Don’t worry, I’m used to this kind of treatment.”

    “Why?” Reivyn asked. “Why do people treat you like that?”


    “That’s just the nature of people,” Kenjiro sighed. “We screw up, we do evil things. It’s hard trying to convince most people that you’re innocent and doesn’t take a hell of a lot of work to convince them that you’re guilty.”

    He began walking off in the other direction, and Reivyn followed him.

    “Why don’t people just let things go?” she asked.

    Kenjiro sighed and slumped against a wall to a cabin. He looked up at the sky, which was now a lumpy mass of dark gray.

    “That’s a good question,” Kenjiro sighed. “Maybe everyone’s afraid that, if we just let things go, there wouldn’t be any justice in the world. People could get away with things without being punished. The problem is that there are more people like me than you think – people that seal away their heart because it’s too painful to live with.”

    “But, justice without love...” Reivyn said. “How does that solve anything?”

    “It doesn’t,” Kenjiro said. “That’s one of the reasons the Temple is so far off. They think justice and authority are the only things that matter.”

    “You’ve done a lot of study on the Temple,” Reivyn commented.

    “I guess you could say that,” Kenjiro said. “I want the very idea of that place wiped from the face of the Earth. People are meant to be free to choose what they believe. I don’t intend to take that from anyone.”

    “Do you believe that people can change?” Reivyn asked.

    “Of course I do,” Kenjiro replied, clenching his fist and standing up. “The only problem is...after you become a new person, most people still want to keep punishing the old one.”

    “Does that hurt you?” Reivyn asked.

    “It doesn’t surprise me,” Kenjiro said. “It’s what most people do. You, though – you’re different...”

    “What do you mean?” Reivyn asked.

    “If anyone has a reason to distrust me, it’s you,” Kenjiro explained. “The first time we met, I tried to kill you. Why do you accept me?”

    “Many people only wish to cause pain to others when they are in pain themselves,” Reivyn replied.

    Kenjiro looked back at her and walked toward her. She buried her head in his shirt. Kenjiro felt a drop on his forehead and looked up at the sky only to receive a face full of rain. Almost instantly, the heavens opened, soaking the two of them too quickly for them to have the discomfort that comes with being wet. He looked at Reivyn, whose hair was now limp from the rain. He reached down and pushed a strand of hair out of her face.

    “You’ll tell me everything one day,” Reivyn said, sounding very sure of herself. “Until then...”

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Natus...

    “Why are you being so destructive?” Katrina yelled at Travis’ back as the swirling winds blew her hair into a frenzy.


    “Destructive? Is that the best you can come up with?” Travis scoffed, looking up at the ominous sky. Rain had not started falling yet, but the slate tints above him indicated that a storm was indeed imminent. Below him, the waters had begun to stir into activity, swirling towards chaos. “If there’s anyone that doesn’t have a right to judge me, it’s Kenjiro! Who the hell does he think he is?!”

    “How much right do you have to judge him?” Katrina shouted back over the wind.

    “Isn’t that my purpose in life?” Travis shouted into the wind. “To destroy evil – even at the cost of my own soul?”

    “Listen to yourself!” Katrina shouted. “Is that you or the sword talking?!”

    “You underestimate me,” Travis said in a semi-growl, walking back toward her. As always, she stood her ground. “The sword hasn’t controlled me for years. You think I’d let it start now?”

    “Listen – like him or not, Kenjiro is on our side...” Katrina said, pointing her finger into Travis’ chest ominously.

    “Oh, is he really?” Travis replied acerbically.

    “...and this is not the time for infighting.” Katrina finished. Then, assuming a dewy smile reminiscent of her mother, she said, “Have you tried being friends with Kenjiro? Just once?”

    Travis stopped.

    “He’s...not the type of person I’d hang around,” Travis replied uncertainly. “I don’t need someone like him.”

    “Maybe he needs someone like you,” Katrina said. Travis raised an eyebrow skeptically. “This would just work a whole lot better if the two of you at least tried to get along.”

    “And if I decide not to?” Travis questioned, looking up at the pregnant rain clouds above him.

    “It’ll make things more difficult,” Katrina replied simply.

    “Difficult?” Travis asked. “Like what?”

    They heard a clap of thunder, then one drop....

    Two drops...

    Then a downpour.

    “Like this,” Katrina said, holding out her now sopping-wet hand. Travis looked up into the watery firmament and felt a spray on his face. His chest heaved with a long sigh.

    “Dammit.”

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




  14. #114
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Default Chapter 10-2

    ~~~***~~~

    A candle flickered in the cabin of the stalwart captain – an aging man in his fifties with black hair streaked with gray stood from his table, which held many important books on naval warfare and things of the like. He looked up at the portrait upon the door to his cabin – a young man in his twenties with black hair and dressed in royal attire.

    His Royal Majesty, King Edgar.


    The captain stood, turned, and looked out of his window at the sea. The rain slammed against his window as a flash of lightning illuminated the frame and a subsequent clap of thunder caused the walls to vibrate. It was safe to say that this was bad sailing weather. Alas, they were indeed at sea, and had to be – especially since they received reports that pirates were coming this way.

    The aging captain sighed. He always wondered about the alternate road – what if the other twin had become king? He dared not speak the man’s name – it was considered as taboo as a four-letter word in the Imperial circle. His loyalty to the King wavered not, but he could not forget that there is a possibility that by this time he could have been serving another man entirely. He wondered what that man would have been like as a king. The captain remembered the other twin as being very similar to the last king in demeanor. He might not have placed such an emphasis on military strength as Edgar did, but he knew how to keep peace in other ways.

    Perhaps with that man on the throne, this man could have retired from his role as captain of the I.N.S. Solaris with little worry of another conflict in his lifetime. As it stood, however, he was yet a soldier.

    The transition had been much more difficult than expected. There were a few who were resistant to Edgar’s comparatively heavy-handed policies. He supposed that Edgar was rather guarded after the incident that occurred right after his father’s death, where his brother (whom the captain had always remembered as a quiet, introspective man) attempted to murder him and take the throne for himself – at least, that was the story that the captain had been told.

    He heard his cabin door swing open and whirled around. In black-and-silver garb, a sailor walked in.

    “Captain Randell, sir!” the sailor shouted, saluting across his chest. He was dripping wet, of course, but seemed to be in here on important information.

    “What is it, sailor?” Randell asked in a strong voice.

    “I believe our lookout just caught sight of a ship on our starboard side, approaching from the north!” the sailor shouted.

    “From the north? Was she flying any colors?” Randell asked.

    “Not sure, sir,” the sailor replied. “The storm’s getting worse, and visibility is next to nothing.”

    “I see...” Randell muttered, walking around his desk toward the door. “We should investigate. Back onto the deck!”

    “Sir!” the sailor shouted, turning to walk out. However, he walked into a tall man. He had a black coat with silver buttons and trim as well as a three-cornered hat. His black ponytail was tied with a tight sort of knot of fabric. The sailor seemed to panic a bit upon seeing the man’s face. “Oh – my apologies, sir! I did not see you there.”

    “It’s alright – carry on,” the young man replied. The sailor saluted him and walked around him very briskly and out of the room. “Father, that ship is getting closer.”

    “I know – he just came in here to tell me,” Randell replied.

    “It has red sails,” the young man said.

    The captain’s eyes widened.

    “Damn – not now!” he groaned. “Do they see us?”


    “They will eventually – another five minutes of sailing and they’ll ram us on the starboard side,” the young man said.

    “Well, then, Colton,” Randell sighed. “It looks like you’ll have to do what you do best.”

    “What do you mean, father?” Colton asked.

    “If we want to take that ship, we’ll have to board them,” Captain Randell replied.

    “Do we have to take the ship, father?” Colton asked.

    “Well, no...” Randell admitted. “That is, if you want to fight this battle a dozen more tries after this one. I’d very much like to see this ship brought down in my lifetime.”

    “You always talk as if you are going to die tomorrow, father,” Colton sighed. “Perhaps it would help the morale of the soldiers if you did not speak such macabre things.”

    “Not everyone is as young and confident with a sword as you, Colton,” Randell said. “A soldier always has to go into battle thinking that this one might be his last. It keeps one from becoming overconfident – and thus keeps one alive.”

    “Or it makes one afraid to fight with all of their heart,” Colton replied. “Father, with all due respect, I simply do not think that the fear of death is a good motivator for a soldier.”

    “Ha ha...” Randell chuckled. “Who would think that my own flesh and blood would be so different in his philosophy of war? But, you are a man now...and one with strong convictions for one so young. I am proud of you.”

    “Thank you, father,” Colton replied humbly.

    “Now, let’s see...” Captain Randell pulled a strap from a hook on the wall and slung it around his back. On this strap was a sword with a hilt of golden trim. “Let’s move out. We should wrap this up while the weather’s still good.”

    Colton laughed heartily at his father’s sarcasm and followed him outside.


    Devlin collapsed his telescope with a snap as a crash of thunder caused the wooden floor under him to shake. His outfit was soaked, but he couldn’t even feel it anymore. Lightning continued to flash above him, illuminating a shadow in the distance on the sea.

    “What’s going on?” Arnaz, at the wheel, turned and looked at his captain. For once, he was not smiling.

    “There’s a ship right in front of us but I can’t see her colors,” Devlin nearly had to yell over the wind and the rain. After another crash of thunder, he added, “In fact...I can’t see a damn thing!”

    “That’s not good,” Arnaz commented. “What about our stern side?”

    On that stern side, Travis and Katrina happened to be standing, watching with two other lookouts.

    “This rain is ridiculous!” Travis groaned. “How the hell are we supposed to be able to see anything?”

    “I don’t know, but we’d better see them before they see us!” Katrina shouted.


    “Hey, what’s that ball of light?” one of the lookouts pulled his right eye out of his telescope and pointed out toward sea. Travis and Katrina both stepped forward and shielded their eyes from the torrent. After a few seconds, this light seemed to grow larger. Travis’ eyes widened in horror once he realized that he’d seen a sphere of light like that before...


    Travis struggled to keep his face straight as the wind created from the small escape vessel’s sheer velocity was trying to contort his visage into ways that he would not, willfully. The rumble of the motor and the rush of the sea filled his ears and made them ring. He closed his eyes and got lost in himself, concentrating on the grave fact that these could possibly be the last peaceful moments that he would have – even on this side, he was honest enough to think to himself. Perhaps what happened next was a blessing in disguise, as Travis’ mind had done a seamless segue from what could be his last feeling of peace among the living to what exactly death felt like – and whether it felt any different by a sword than it did by the funeral march of Father Time. What happened next was the sound of an explosion and a jarring blow that instantly made Travis thankful that some brilliant and considerate mind had thought to put seatbelts on this vessel. Travis opened his eyes and was slapped by the sea breeze (or, rather, sea gale) almost right off the bat. Travis saw water on three sides of him. The Silver Milotic was slowly shrinking into the distance behind him. Travis’ jaw dropped for a second as finally got a real idea of how gargantuan the ship was. At this point in Travis’ daydreams, another explosion and another rock of the boat jarred him back to reality. In front of him, he saw a large ship – nearly archaic-looking in nature, especially when comparing it to the sleek, futuristic look of the escape boat that they were on. It had black sails – several of them. It also had several portholes – portholes for cannons...cannons that seemed to be discharging.


    “Everyone, get down!” Katrina yelled suddenly, snapping Travis out of his flashback. She had perched herself precariously on the railing of the ship and had conjured her staff. He could see this, of course, because he hadn’t followed Katrina’s instructions, unlike the several sailors that quite literally hit the deck as soon as she yelled for them to duck. “Preu Heldis!

    A strange barrier radiated from her body and formed a shield of sorts over the stern of the ship as a Megacite shell came crashing directly into the center of the barrier, right where Katrina was standing. The ball exploded in a flash of white (exaggerated by the fact that lightning tore across the sky at the exact same time), blowing Katrina off of the railing and back onto the ship, toward a wall. Reacting very quickly, Travis reached up and caught her as she plowed backward into him, forcing him into the wall back-first.

    “Ah...hi,” Katrina said a little breathlessly, looking up around her shoulder.

    “Hey,” Travis replied with a smile. “Nice weather we’re having, hm?”

    “Yeah – beautiful,” Katrina replied sarcastically as the two of them kissed and shared a slightly less serious moment in the midst of this tempest. “Uh...don’t you think someone should tell –“

    “Yeah, good idea,” Travis answered before Katrina finished, taking off around the wall toward the front end of the ship with her in his wake. They traversed the entire ship, each one slipping at least one and being supported by the other, until they got to the prow of the ship, where Devlin saw them immediately.

    “Any reason that I heard an explosion about a minute ago?” Devlin shouted into the storm.

    “This might be a good time to tell you...” Travis shouted back, “someone’s firing Megacite shells at the back of your ship.”

    “What?! Behind us?!” Devlin looked at Arnaz. “Dammit! That means they caught up. So the ship on this side must be...”

    “Imperials...” Katrina finished.


    “Tch...aw, hell no!” Arnaz groaned. “We are boxed in!”

    “Well,” Devlin sighed, “Hard to port, Arnaz. We’d better take care of the ones behind us first.”

    “Royce, I don’t know about this, man...” Arnaz muttered, turning the wheel per his captain’s orders.

    “The Imperials don’t mess with us if we don’t mess with them...most of the time,” Devlin replied. “The Selma, though...they won’t leave us alone. If we keep running, we’ll run straight into the Solaris and be caught in a crossfire.”

    “Well, that won’t work,” Travis groaned, folding his arms.

    “There we are, then,” Devlin said. Raising his voice to a yell, he shouted, “HARD TO PORT! PREPARE TO BE BOARDED!”

    “HARD TO PORT!!” Arnaz echoed.

    “HARD TO PORT!!” Travis shouted as well.

    The Natus begin to make her wide turn to the left and then sail in the other direction. They found after a while that they could no longer sail.

    “Damn!” Arnaz swore, yanking his hands off the wheel. “Looks like we’ve slowed ourselves down.”

    “Fine,” Devlin said, cocking his neck with a swagger. “We’ll just wait for him. ALL HANDS ON DECK! DRAW WEAPONS AND PREPARE FOR BATTLE!”

    Devlin drew his sword and his pistol. Arnaz drew a cutlass of his own.

    Travis went for his own sword, the Sacred Flame. To his great surprise, Katrina drew a saber of her own.

    “Hold on, what –“ he said haltingly. “Since when do you know how to use a sword?”

    “Since my friend taught me how to fence,” Katrina replied.

    “Who was that?” Travis asked.

    “The girl that the Penningtons adopted,” Katrina said.

    “The Penningtons? You mean, the Pennington family that lives down the street from you?” Travis asked.

    “Yeah, them. They make Pokémon greeting cards,” Katrina replied. “Ever heard of PennBriar?”

    “Oh...the new girl.” Travis replied. “She knows how to fence, huh? I always thought of her as a more musical type of girl.”

    “That, too,” Katrina replied. “But, that’s something she just picked up within the last couple of years.”

    “Well, she’s good at it,” Travis commented. “And she can draw?”

    “I guess the word would be ‘multitalented’,” Katrina replied.

    “I’ll say,” Travis replied.

    “Not to mention she’s gorgeous,” Katrina muttered.


    “Isn’t she the one that turned your mom down for that modeling job?” Travis asked. Katrina nodded. “Why?”

    “She doesn’t want to leave New Bark Town right now,” Katrina said. “She’s waiting for someone to come back...anyway, I do know what I’m doing with this sword. That’s my point – no pun intended.”

    “It’s okay – I need a laugh. This weather blows,” Travis said. Just then, a strong wind prompted him to shield his face from a sudden spray of water. “...in every sense of the word.”

    “Looks like trouble’s here,” Katrina said, holding up her saber. Travis looked to his left. There was the Selma – a smaller and lighter-looking ship with royal-blue sails. A group of mostly middle-age pirates – complete with dirty faces and shaggy beards on the men (and, to Travis’ horror, on one of the women) – stood in a line and looked up at the quickly forming line of pirates on the starboard side of the Natus. He caught sight of one particular pirate standing in the center. He had orange hair and a very full beard flecked with black that made him look almost tiger-like. He also wore a three-cornered hat with a white skull and crossbones. His jacket was blue with white trim, and he appeared to carry a sword on one hip and a gun on the other, much like Captain Devlin did. He was broad-shouldered and appeared to be quite large, at least from where Travis was standing. More interesting was the fact that there was a birdlike creature on his shoulder. It was white, with royal-blue stripes on its wings and tail. It had a prominent bill that was colored orange and black. Travis had seen it before.

    “Hey,” Travis said in an aside to Katrina, “you see the guy with the Wingull on his shoulder? He kind of looks like Devlin, doesn’t he?”

    “I think that’s the Captain of the Selma,” Katrina replied. “Which would mean...”

    “I would think that you would know better than to try to sail through a storm this fierce, Royce!” the man with the Wingull on his shoulder shouted. “You’re proving to me that you’re still wet behind the ears!”

    “I suppose you are as well, then,” Devlin shouted. Each could hear the other because the Selma and Natus would be trading planks if they were any closer to each other. “You saw fit to follow me.”

    “Apparently, those two have some history,” Travis commented.

    “You have no idea,” Katrina replied. “Just wait for it.”

    “You should have left us alone, boy,” the Selma’s captain replied. “Now, we’ll have to teach you a lesson.”

    “I see,” Devlin sighed. “In case you’re not aware of this, dear Father...”

    Travis gasped. Katrina nodded.

    “Captain Ferdinand Devlin is his name,” she said.

    “That’s his dad?” Travis muttered. “The resemblance is there...”

    “...there are Imperials at our backs as we speak!” Devlin shouted.

    “Looking to pick a fight that doesn’t need to be picked, eh?” Ferdinand shouted. “True pirates don’t get involved in politics, son. It’s a mistake.”

    “True pirates do whatever they choose. They don’t follow any rule books, Father,” Devlin shot back.

    “True pirates stay neutral...if they want to live,” Ferdinand said.


    “Well, that’s where we have the problem, isn’t it?!” Devlin shouted fiercely. “Better to fall for something than to stand for nothing! You dishonor Raoul’s memory when you act like you do!”

    “I don’t want you to end up like Raoul, boy!! Don’t you understand that?!” Ferdinand yelled.

    “Raoul?” Travis turned toward Katrina.

    “I’m not a hundred percent about this, but it sounds like this Raoul died fighting against the Empire...which would have had to be pretty recently,” Katrina replied.

    “You want me to end up like you – a so-called pirate that values nothing else but his own life?!” Royce shouted. “If you weren’t such a fool, your dream would have a future!”

    “Don’t you dare talk to me like that!!” Ferdinand shouted.

    “You have no sure successor for the Selma, do you, father?” Devlin yelled again. “Raoul’s gone...and I would see that ship in the depths before I laid hands on that wheel!”

    “You’re absolutely right,” Ferdinand said. “I have no sons to carry on my legacy.”

    Devlin obviously hadn’t been expecting this – he gasped loudly.

    “You...” he whispered.

    “That wasn’t cool,” Travis commented.

    “I think it’s only gonna get worse,” Katrina muttered, pointing to Ferdinand’s left. There was a big man carrying a big sword.

    “Carrigan...” Travis groaned.

    “Enough,” Devlin said, his eyes glittering, turning toward Arnaz, he made a strange and aggressive-looking hand gesture. Arnaz’s eyes widened, but he seemed to understand. He pulled a lever next to the wheel. Half of the pirates jumped away from the railing as a large portion of it collapsed to make a ramp that crashed down into the Selma, where several pirates had to dodge the large, descending block of wood. Ferdinand, however, stood there imperviously. Devlin, his face rather expressionless, said, “If you want me, come up here and try to take me by force!”

    “Looks like there’s no love lost between these two,” Travis commented.

    “You just won’t listen, will you?” Ferdinand replied. “Take ‘em down!!”

    A wave of Sapphire Skull pirates, all clad in blue garbs and bandanas, ascended the ramp. Devlin thought to order a charge, but there was one problem. Standing in front of this group was none other than ‘Zanbato’ Carrigan, brandishing his weapon and making it pretty much impossible for anyone to step down onto that ramp without being quickly and painfully dispatched. To Travis’ great surprise, Carrigan, upon reaching the top of the ramp, leapt and began to bring his zanbato down on the first thing he saw – which was Travis himself.

    “Geez!” Travis groaned as he rolled out of the way and avoided being cleaved in half by about a half-second. He stood up and shouted, “Hey – I’m over here!”

    Carrigan turned around.

    “Hold on a second!” he exclaimed. “You’re that kid from the port...a pirate? You said you were a bounty hunter.”


    “Neither,” Travis replied, putting on his fake accent. “Apologies, chap. Nothing personal.”

    Carrigan snarled and charged with his sword. Travis dodged quickly and jumped away before watching Carrigan charge again. He blocked with his own sword and found that this was a mistake, as the force from Carrigan’s blow knocked him backwards. He bounced off a mast about ten feet off of the ground.

    “GYAHAHA!” Carrigan roared as Travis began to fall. Catching him around the throat with one hand, he hurled the boy to the ground. He groaned as his back hit the solid wood deck hard and he bounced against it. “Pathetic. I thought you a better fighter than this.”

    He raised his sword...

    “Huh? What the hell?” Carrigan stopped. Travis didn’t echo Carrigan’s words, but he was definitely thinking them as he realized that a tall form in the garb of a Ruby Skull pirate was standing in between Carrigan’s sword and him.

    “Your crew and the Natus’ crew just seem to want a pick a fight with each other,” the young man said. “That’s not my issue. There are a few people, however, that I wish to keep alive.”

    “You again? So, you weren’t a Ruby Skull...” Carrigan growled.

    “Unfortunately for you,” the young man replied.

    “Kenjiro?” Travis stammered.

    “You didn’t have enough last time, eh?” Carrigan grunted, raising his zanbato.

    Kenjiro sighed and disappeared. A nasty squelching sound signaled that Kenjiro had just stabbed Carrigan in his massive chest. The latter, however, due to adrenaline or just plain superhuman toughness, didn’t seem to react to being stabbed in the gut. He did stagger backward, though, and that was all the opening that Kenjiro needed. He leapt and drove his knee into the side of Carrigan’s head, turning him around and placing him dangerously close to the ramp. Kenjiro landed in toward the center of the ship. Kenjiro took four steps and leapt into a barrel roll.

    Once around...

    Twice...

    Three times...

    WHAM.

    He nailed Carrigan in the nose with a devastating roundhouse kick, causing the rather large man to teeter backward and then roll down the ramp all the way back to his own ship, landing in a heap directly between Ferdinand and...the blue-hooded youth that Kenjiro had seen before. Upon landing, Kenjiro locked eyes with the young man (at least, he thinks he did – he couldn’t see the face), who gave him an obvious nod of approval.

    “You alright?” Kenjiro asked, yanking Travis to his feet by the arm before the latter had a chance to protest or even process.

    “Kenjiro –“ Travis started to talk, but Kenjiro stopped him.

    “No time for talking – you’d better go get your girl. I think she’s in a little bit of trouble,” he said.


    “Where’s Reivyn?” Travis asked.

    “I left her for a second so I could – shoot!” Kenjiro groaned, making about five hand seals and disappearing, leaving Travis to watch an empty space and blink a bit dimly.

    “How does he do that?” Travis said before taking off around the ship.

    Meanwhile, Carrigan was attempting to recover himself. Ferdinand had his arms folded and looked (not surprisingly) rather displeased. The hooded boy, however, was smirking.

    “How about some help this time?!” Carrigan yelled at the boy.

    “Why? You were doing a pretty good job of it by yourself,” the boy replied. With a smirk, he added, “That is...of embarrassing us.”

    “Whose side are you on, anyway?!” Carrigan shouted.

    The boy smirked.



    Reivyn hit the ground with a grunt as one of the more unsavory-looking Sapphire Skull pirates (and that was certainly saying something) bore down on her with a knife and a cutlass.

    “Pretty and feisty!” the pirate said much too enthusiastically. “I think I’ll keep you...”

    Reivyn, snarling, turned and planted one of her kunai into the man’s foot, causing him to cry out in pain and bleed from the mouth.

    “Little *****!” the pirate shrieked, raising his knife.

    BANG.

    He looked down at the left side of his chest and saw a dark blot grow and grow. He looked to his left, groaning weakly. He took three more shots to the chest from an advancing Ruby Skull pirate with a strange gun... and by the time a lightning bolt cast from this gun struck him in the forehead and sent him overboard, he was already dead.

    “Kenji...” Reivyn sighed as the young man, still wearing Ruby Skull gear, approached her.

    “Sorry I cut it so close,” Kenjiro sighed, starting to help Reivyn up. She smiled and looked over his shoulder.

    Suddenly, Kenjiro felt himself being thrown alongside to the ground and grunted as he hit it. He looked up and saw Reivyn with both of her kunai bloody hilt-deep into a pirate’s torso. She yanked them out as Kenjiro rose to his feet quickly. She dropped her head and watched the torrents of rain wash both of her knives clean.

    “Reivyn...” Kenjiro sighed. She turned around and embraced Kenjiro, who got a good look at her left shoulder. “Hey, your arm...”

    “I’ve had worse,” Reivyn said, releasing him and looking at the wound, which was now dripping with blood in the rain.

    “You didn’t have to do that,” Kenjiro said.


    “Choices are a beauty of life,” Reivyn replied.

    “Looks like we have another one to make,” Kenjiro said. He and Reivyn turned around and saw a large man carrying a large sword.

    “You’ll find you made a big mistake by not finishing me off,” Carrigan said, brandishing his zanbato.

    “We’ll see about that,” Kenjiro replied, showing his own weapon. Reivyn steeled herself and drew her kunai.



    Katrina looked around her. As she feared, she was completely surrounded. However, with saber in one hand and staff in the other, she was doing a very good job of holding them at bay. She heard one charge from her left and immediately reacted –

    ”Thordengata!”

    A lightning bolt shot forth from her staff and blasted the unfortunate pirate straight into a wall, which he hit hard and then slumped to the ground, convulsing from electric burns that were exacerbated by the soaking wet conditions.

    “Nice shot,” a boy’s voice sounded behind her. She gasped for a moment, realized who it was, and then smiled.

    “You’re late,” she said without turning around. Travis stood straight, his right hand placed across his body and on the hilt of his sheathed sword.

    “You’re not gonna believe who just saved my life,” he said.

    “You can tell me later,” Katrina said. “First we have to do something about these guys.”

    “Obviously,” Travis said. Smirking, he looked over the pirates and muttered, “Okay...which of you guys is gonna be dumb enough to make the first move?”

    “Shouldn’t you kids be in bed?” one of the pirates asked disdainfully. “This is grown-up business.”

    “Funny...I don’t feel the least bit tired,” Travis said, looking over his shoulder at the blue-clad buccaneer. “You, on the other hand...look like you could use a dirt nap!!”

    “Tough talk,” the pirate responded. “Question is, can a kid like you ba–“

    Within a split-second, the man was airborne. In that time, Travis had somehow moved the distance of ten feet, unsheathed his sword, and drove the hilt right into the pirate’s chin, all in one motion. Travis reappeared, flipping the sword end over end and catching the hilt, so as to hold the sword in a feasible position for fighting.

    “Yeah,” he said to the man as the latter hit the wooden deck of the ship on his back, groaning loudly. “Yeah, I can.”

    Right then, he saw another pirate charging Katrina. He reacted in a split-second. He jumped in front of her, barely blocked the sword strike, and promptly kicked the grunt in the ribs, sending him staggering backward. But Travis wasn’t done with him – this particular pirate had been enough of an idiot to push one of Travis’ buttons, and he was going to make them all pay now.


    “That was a mistake,” he growled, taking the man by the neck and throwing him to the ground. Yelling loudly in fear, the pirate stumbled away from Travis and, to his great shock, dove over the edge of the ship into the raging waters below.

    Travis held out his sword threateningly toward the rest of the pirates, who all backed off in turn. Thankfully, though, none of them took their comrade’s course of action by diving overboard.

    “Tense moment,” Katrina sighed. Travis turned around and looked at her.

    “Yeah - urgh!” Travis groaned and dropped to a kneel, clutching at his chest.

    “What happened?!” Katrina shouted.

    “Nicked me,” Travis grunted, removing his hand and finding that his palm now bore a small, red stain. “I’ll be fine, though. I’ve survived worse.”



    At the helm of the ship, the young captain defeated them, one after another...after another. Backed by his first mate, who was an expert with a harpoon, he held the high point of the ship fast against his enemies.

    “Get out of the way!” a rough, abrasive voice sounded as a tall man with wild, orange hair all over his face advanced up the stairs, punching away a couple of Ruby Skull underlings who only desired to aid their captain. Devlin’s eyes narrowed as he watched his counterpart ascend the stairs. After five seconds, father and son stared each other down.

    “So you made it here alive,” Devlin said simply, a hateful glare in his eyes.

    “Perhaps it’s time to settle this,” Ferdinand said, drawing two swords.

    “I can’t believe how far you’ve fallen,” Devlin said, sounding genuinely disappointed. “You used to love the sea, your crew, and your family. Now all you care about is your own life.”

    “SHUT UP, BOY!” Ferdinand snarled, charging Devlin. Devlin blocked two strikes and staggered backward as his own father nearly cleaved his face off with one of his swords.

    “I want to have a future to live for,” Devlin said. “If it’s a future without you...then, so be it.”

    Lightning split the sky above him as he yelled loudly and jumped into battle. Ferdinand didn’t seem to be prepared for his son’s onslaught as he flailed his swords around rather frantically to block Devlin’s attacks, which came hard and fast as Devlin seemed to be able to cover as much ground with one sword as his father could with two. A sudden slash from Devlin caught Ferdinand and sent him backward into the railing of the ship.

    “You’ve become slow in your old age, father,” Devlin said insolently. “I’d have expected the man that taught me everything about swordplay to put up a slightly better fight.”

    “You are fortunate I am not ten years younger,” Ferdinand replied. “This fight would already be over.”

    “It’s true – you did teach me everything you knew about swordsmanship,” Devlin said. He flicked his sword wrist and, almost as if he’d cut on a switch, his sword glowed a bright white. “Unfortunately for you, you didn’t teach me everything that I know.”

    “You’ve mastered it...” Ferdinand whispered.

    “Kairyuzan – Sea Dragon Cutter,” Devlin announced, holding his sword out in front of him.


    “What’s – you wouldn’t do it,” Ferdinand stammered, a sense of fear obvious in his aged gaze.

    “You support the men that killed my brother,” Devlin growled.

    “Your brother was no pirate,” Ferdinand said. “His sense of what he called ‘justice’ was too strong for his own good.”

    “I thought he was a fool, too,” Devlin said. “But now I realize...he had a cause.”

    “He was fighting for a dead man,” Ferdinand commented.

    “Behind the times, as always,” Devlin said. His eyes narrowed and he added with a yell, “Prince Elrik is alive! Your dear king lied to us all!”

    “It’s only because of King Edgar that we are allowed to sail these waters,” Ferdinand grunted through his teeth. “You should be more grateful.”

    “It’s only because of a king that cares more about flexing his muscles than making sure the people that he rules are safe and happy,” Devlin countered. “That’s why these Imperials are on the water – not to stop us, but to instill fear in our hearts. You might have bought it, but I’m not.”

    “Anyone who attempts to dethrone His Majesty will have to answer to me!” Ferdinand roared.

    “You hypocrite,” Devlin retorted with a smirk. “And here you are, lecturing me about taking sides. Well, if that’s where your loyalty lies...then, we are enemies.”

    “We will meet again in the deep, boy,” Ferdinand said, brandishing both weapons.

    “You’ll have to wait a while,” Devlin replied. “I have no intention of dying today!”


    Meanwhile, on the Solaris...

    “Ah...” Colton collapsed his telescope and looked at his father. His face and hair were soaking wet with rainwater, giving his black ponytail a sleek and semi-effeminate look. “I can barely see them. The two pirate ships appear to be fighting each other.”

    “Isn’t that an interesting development? So, I suppose the rumors were correct after all,” Colton’s father, Captain Devareus Randell, commented.

    “What should we do, Father?” Colton asked. “Shall we move now?”

    “Eager as always,” Randell chuckled. “This is actually very fortuitous. We can eliminate the two largest pirate bands in Hoenn in one fell swoop. Their attention is divided between ourselves and their counterparts.”

    “It appears that the heavens smile down upon us,” Colton commented. Then, yanking his hat off of his head and flicking a large amount of water out of it, he smiled and added, “At least...figuratively speaking.”

    “It’s settled, then,” Captain Randell. “Hard to port!”




    Miles away, two groups of pirates – with our heroes in the midst – were locked in a battle with no focus on the new enemy looming in the shadow of the flashing lightning above them. Royce and Ferdinand Devlin continued to exchange blows, with neither captain backing down – and neither captain aware of the impending threat sailing at them from the south.

    “There!” Kenjiro shouted as he laid into Carrigan’s body with a cutlass that he had pulled off the ground during the battle. He jumped out of the way as he knew what was coming next.

    ”Shoraizan!” A thunderbolt struck Carrigan in the chest, causing him to roar out in agony as he still had the sword inside him. Behind Kenjiro, Reivyn landed and rolled on the deck back to her feet, wearing an expression that, for once, showed no fear at all.

    “*******s!” Carrigan swore, yanking the cutlass out of his torso.

    “You can’t beat both of us, Carrigan,” Kenjiro warned. “Give it up, or I’ll shoot you.”



    “GYAH!” Devlin screamed and slashed at his father wildly, managing to jar one of Ferdinand’s two swords loose from his grip. The blade flew through the air as lightning struck in the background. Over the edge it went, diving into the raging waters below. Ferdinand’s arm was injured. Devlin’s sword began to glow white. “Call your crew back now and I’ll let you live to fight another day.”

    “You and your mercy...” Ferdinand growled disdainfully. “I’m ashamed of you, boy. You’re soft.”

    “Yet I am the victor,” Devlin replied. “So, what does that say of you?”

    “SILENCE!” Ferdinand yelled, recklessly charging his son despite the arm injury. Devlin’s teeth gritted and he made a move with his charged blade...



    A loud yell of agony was heard right as Carrigan was about to open his mouth to respond to Kenjiro’s threat. Carrigan looked up and saw Kenjiro charging alone. Without hesitation, he grabbed his sword and took the enormous hilt of it across Kenjiro’s face, sending the young man sprawling sideways.

    “KENJI!” Reivyn shouted as Kenjiro hit the ground, groaning loudly. She ran over toward him and turned him onto his back. She quickly realized that, even though he was breathing, he had been knocked out upon impact. Her eyes narrowing and tearing up, she turned toward Carrigan, growling. “You...”

    “I’d love to kill you and your little boyfriend, but there are more pressing matters at hand,” Carrigan replied, running away from Reivyn, who thought to chase and quickly remembered that Kenjiro was on the ground and needed her help.

    Carrigan rounded the corner and, to his great horror, saw Captain Ferdinand bouncing down the stairs in a heap while his son stood atop them with a glowing sword.

    “CAPTAIN!!” Carrigan yelled, running over to where the orange-haired man lay. He knelt down next to the man, who was breathing heavily and had a face that was so matted with blood that, between the blood and the wild, ginger hair, he could hardly see the captain’s dim-looking eyes.

    “Robert...Robert, is that you?” Ferdinand groaned weakly.

    “Captain!” Carrigan yelled again. He saw Ferdinand’s eyes closing. “Captain!!”

    “Robert Carrigan – it’s been nearly twenty years now since I took you into my crew,” Ferdinand groaned. “Back then, you were a troubled teenager fresh out of prison for killing a man with that now-infamous zanbato. Just as I predicted, you’ve become a strong man. But the pleasant surprise for me...your loyalty. It exceeds even that of my own sons...”


    “Sir, the crew needs your leadership!” Carrigan shouted. “Please do not leave us now!”

    “Take my hand, Robert,” Ferdinand sighed. Carrigan took the captain’s hand in his own. “As a token of your strength and loyalty, I bestow upon you...ownership of the vessel Selma...”

    “Captain Ferdinand –“ Carrigan seemed shocked and, for once, the scarred face seemed weak...devastated.

    “...as well as the rank, power, and authority of the station of Captain,” Ferdinand finished. “May the seas find you in their favor...”

    “Sir...” Carrigan choked.

    “Good fortune to you...Captain Robert Carrigan,” Ferdinand groaned. He then heaved a huge sigh and exhaled for the last time, his eyes closing and his body falling limp. Carrigan closed his eyes in mourning for a moment. Then, they opened and looked straight at Devlin, who sighed and looked rather regretful.

    “Goodbye,” he said heavily, looking away from his father’s body.

    “Tough, isn’t it?” Arnaz’s voice rang in Devlin’s ears. The dreadlocked teenager was standing right in front of him as he looked up. Arnaz had been forced to kill his own father in an earlier battle between the two bands of pirates. “No matter how much you hate him, when it’s all said and done, you look down at the body and say, ‘That was my old man.’ And it hurts.”

    “I understand how you feel now,” Devlin said. “I want us to promise one thing.”

    “Hm?” Arnaz uttered.

    “If we ever become fathers...we’ll keep our families first. I don’t want our children to have to go through this...” Devlin sighed.

    “No problem,” Arnaz replied, showing one of his trademark smiles.

    “If anything happens to me, you’re Captain,” Devlin declared. “Remember that.”

    “I will,” Arnaz answered.



    “Those smug *******s,” Carrigan hissed. “I’m going to –“

    He looked up and saw a shadow on the water, past Devlin and Arnaz and the prow of the ship itself.

    “I completely forgot – ****!” Carrigan swore. He weighed his options, which took about five seconds, and made a decision – “RETREAT!”

    Pirates everywhere looked up. (One or two of their respective opponents took that opportunity to finish them off.) There was a scramble. All sorts of men in blue outfits came back toward Carrigan almost as if he was a magnet. Right then, Travis and Katrina came around the corner.

    “It’s Carrigan!” Travis shouted. “Why’d he give the order? Where’s Fer –“

    He stopped as he saw a corpse near the corner of the ship. The hat had been removed, exposing even more wild, orange hair. Travis did a double take and realized that Carrigan was now wearing the hat.


    “No...” Katrina whispered. “With Ferdinand dead, Carrigan and the Selma will harass Devlin like there’s no tomorrow. No family ties equals no reason for Carrigan to hold back. We’ll never make it to Dewford like this...”

    “What are you planning to do?” Travis asked. Katrina looked at him.

    “Whatever needs to be done,” she replied significantly.

    She took off.

    “KATRINA!” Travis yelled. “What are you doing?!”

    Katrina didn’t answer. She ran over toward the retreating group of pirates and, with one bound, jumped high above them.

    “DIE!” Katrina yelled. Carrigan turned around and saw a girl dressed in Ruby Skull garb bearing down on him with two swords, one of which seemed to be made of solid energy and also seemed to be protruding from a strange staff. Katrina connected and Carrigan, roaring in rage and agony, fell as the two rolled down the ramp. Travis charged and ran into a brick wall as a pirate bearing a harpoon stopped him and threw him to the ground. On the Selma, Katrina landed on top but quickly rolled off, knocked out from the two or three times Carrigan’s large body had landed on her. Sapphire Skull pirates traversed the bridge and, once the last of them was across, Carrigan stood quickly, brandishing his zanbato. He slashed down on the ramp, cutting the two ships free from each other. The Selma began to sail away. Just then, Travis and Carrigan locked eyes with each other.

    “Hey, kid! Looks like you’d better keep a better handle on your little fiancee!” he taunted. Travis’ looked up, his soaking wet hair flicking behind him and his eyes narrowing. “Don’t you worry your little head, though!! I’ll bring her back to you soon enough! Whether or not she’ll be in one piece – well, the jury’s still out on that one! GYAHAHAHA!”

    “CARRIGAN!!” Travis snarled, forming a huge ball of flame and hurling it at the Selma. A white-colored blast from out of nowhere neutralized it, though, leaving Travis to seethe on his own. Deciding that he’d had enough, he went to jump but found two pairs of arms quickly holding him back.

    “YO!” Arnaz’s voice sounded in his left ear.

    “Don’t be reckless!” Devlin yelled in his right ear. “You’d better be damn sure you can make that jump if you’re gonna try it. Otherwise, you’re gonna drown!”

    “GET OFF!” Travis yelled, powering up for a moment and blasting Arnaz and Devlin off of him. “CARRIGAN! YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH WARNINGS – YOU’RE A DEAD MAN!”

    The rain began to taper off. Realizing that the Selma was out of range for him to do anything, he dropped to his knees, throwing his head back and uttering a primal roar to the heavens.



    “Sir – they’re making a move!!” the lookout on the Solaris yelled to Captain Randell, snapping his telescope shut.

    “Tch...damn,” Randell swore. “They saw us coming.”

    “Can we not still follow through with our strategy?” Colton asked his father.


    “Of course not,” Randell said, shaking his head. “Too risky. You must remember that when these two bands of pirates are not busy fighting each other, we’re a common enemy. We’d have enough trouble with the Natus alone – not to mention what would happen if we tried to take on both ships separately at the same time. I will not risk the Solaris being caught in a crossfire. We will return to Dewford.”

    “Father –“ Colton groaned.

    “You still lack patience, Colton,” Randell said. “I know that you are eager, but we must wait a while. We may be forced to whet your appetite for pirate blood on slightly...smaller targets.”

    Colton sighed and headed back toward the cabin, punching a wall as he went inside.

    “If your thirst for revenge will hinder you in doing your duties for the king,” Randell muttered, “perhaps it is best to ignore it. We will take them later. Sailors, back to Ulrich-Pryce!”

    “SIR!” a chorus of Imperial sailors shouted, scrambling to follow orders and turn the ship around. Randell started toward his cabin, turning around and watching the two separating ships for one last time.

    “Next time, pirates,” he muttered. “Next time...”

    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. #115
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    Feb 2006
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    Holy Crap your Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Ace's PokePet

    Blazer the level 50 Typhlosion!

  16. #116
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Wow. It took forever, but your return was worth the wait, I'd say. You even gave us two chapters!! =)

    The Pirate Passage Arc is an exciting one so far. I definitely liked the image of Travis pretending to be British. Poor Carrigan certainly didn't show a very good light of the Hoenn pirates, did he? Dumb and loyal to a strange cause... he's almost like a puppy, a big, dumb, puppy that doesn't die even after being stabbed and shot by lightning a few times.

    But what was up with Travis for these last two chapters? He seemed to be taking aturn for the worst. His random outbursts, his bitterness... it was all very unpleasant and oout of character. I feel bad for Katrina, having to deal with his almost bipolar mood swings.

    Secondly, is Travis blind, or is just choosing not to see how obvious Reivyn and Kenjiro's relationship is growing? They're getting almost as sappy as Travis and Katrina are, but Travis just doesn't seem to notice it. Maybe it's just cause he can't see all the internal monologues. XD

    I felt kind of sad that we didn't see much of the pokemon in these chapters, but the swashbuckling action made up for it. I was also glad that Katrina was giving her powers a workout - she hasn't used them very much since the end of the Johto adventures.

    All in all, like I said, Advent Phoenix made a great return. Keep up the good work, EM1. I just hope that we don't have to wait another three or so months for the next installment. ^^
    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.

  17. #117
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    Nice chapters and welcome back. Hope to see you more
    Visit Nocturne of Shadows. Check the chats and forums section to visit the forum. I have a guestbook and a mini shout box.

  18. #118
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    ossu! Welcome back buddy!

    *Breaks into song*

    Ohhhhhhh,
    I've got a lovely bunch of chapterage,
    dee,dee,de,dee,dee,
    here they are a standing in the line.
    big ones, small ones... some the size of ya head,
    man, i've gotta get to work with chapter seventeen of mine!

    “Not much,” Travis said nonchalantly. “Katrina and I will just grab Reivyn and pull out, leaving you to get eaten alive by the hundreds of pirates down there. You’re good, but I doubt you’d be able to fight off an entire crew at once.”

    A bit of color left Kenjiro’s face.

    “You’re a merciless son of a *****,” Kenjiro muttered.

    Travis turned around and smirked.

    “Look who’s talking,” he said.
    LOL!!!

    He then had a strange dream – something about being forced to walk a plank in his undergarments, in front of one particular female pirate who he had something of a crush on.
    Pfft… hopeless. Does everything about pirates have to be wet?

    As Carrigan walked around one of the men, who was
    As Carrigan walked around one of the men, who were

    There’s too many things that could go wrong with Kenjiro’s plans
    There’re too many things that could go wrong with Kenjiro’s plans

    “Kenjiro?” the captain exclaimed. “Not Kenjiro Kazaki!! The ‘Iceman’ himself?”

    Kenjiro raised his eyebrow and looked at Travis, who folded his arms and smirked.

    “Don’t look at me,” Travis said. “I don’t have a pen.”

    “The bounty on your head – seven million, isn’t it?” the captain asked, sounding impressed. Kenjiro nodded.

    “Last time I checked...which was about two weeks ago. If any word gets around about what’s happened since then, I guarantee you it’d be about nine or ten,” he said.

    “That’s ridiculous. My head’s worth about as much as one of your middle fingers. If I wasn’t such a nice guy, I could lop your head off right now and get my crew and I one hell of a paycheck!” the young captain exclaimed.

    “You could try,” Kenjiro commented, raising an eyebrow.

    “So, anyway...what can I do for you?” the ginger-haired youth asked.

    “We’re looking for a ship to get us to Dewford,” Kenjiro said.

    “A ride? That’s it?” the captain uttered, sounding surprised. “You raised this much hell for passage to Dewford? I wish we would have known that earlier. You could have just asked us.”

    The respective jaws of Travis, Katrina, and Kenjiro all hit the floor at the same time. Even Reivyn’s mouth was open a bit.

    “Seriously?” Travis groaned.
    Ahahahaha! Good stuff, man… good stuff…

    His exterior was heard, and his heart
    His exterior was hard, and his heart

    Now you're back, i can nominate you!

    L@er!
    Last edited by Air Dragon; 27th June 2007 at 10:53 PM.
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  19. #119
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    You know you're addicted to a fanfic when the author says he's going away for a while, but you still check for updates at least twice a week...

    Okie dokie then, the intro to the Pirate Passage arc was hilarious. Whether it was intended or not, the fact that you spent an entire chapter detailing this grand, reckless plan that Kenjiro made up, only to have it be entirely unnecessary in the end was great. The good many call backs were nice too. Overall, this chapter was your standard intro -- minimal action with maximum information. Still, there was plenty of sword swinging to go around... Oh, and Travis' accent. Carrigan hasn't ever been to Johto, has he?

    Now, the last chapter. Here's the good stuff. A (secret) helper, plenty of gore, fluff to offset the gore, and so many twists and turns that one would have a hard time believing it if they didn't read it themselves. Avril's *really* multitalented, isn't she? Fighting, drawing, playing, and studying the art of escaping death on the side. No wonder she turned down Katrina's mom's offer, if it really is Avril o.0...

    Kenjiro and Reivyn were given some special attention this time around. Nice to see Reivyn get some world knowledge and Kenjiro soften up. We wouldn't want Mewtwo to Guard Swap with him (coughfailedattemptathumorcough). There's one thing here that I don't get though: Where'd he get the extra bullets??

    Now to the main twist, the twistiest twist of them all. The one big question everyone wants answered. How much butt is Katrina going to kick while on the enemy vessel? At first I expected it to be a damsel in distress thing, but then I remembered your status as a writer and the fact that she fended off hundreds of highly trained (programmed?) foot soldiers in the bottom of a really big hole. I'm looking forward to seeing this developed, if the sword doesn't burn Travis to ash first...

    Say "yes" to internal conflict! -Oath

    PS: I assume too much, yeah...

    EDIT: I've found the one thing that can make Advent Pheonix the greatest fanfiction on the net. You, the author, need to add more LARGE, FLAMING axes.
    Last edited by Oathblivion; 6th July 2007 at 5:03 AM.

  20. #120
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    Hoorah!

    You've returned, although I just realised, you may not get round to reading this for a while.

    Assumptions aside, the 2 chapters was it? you posted were great, a slight twist with the Katrina kidnapping mixing it up a bit, Kenjiro and Reivyn's (very tough name to spell dammit) relationship increasing as the chapterage continues.

    Ooh. Travis is gonna have a field day with a ship full of pirates who kidnapped his girl, a holy sword to judge evil, and a temper problem. Me guess that things just may get outta control.

    Oh yeah, not forgetting. 3 page bump.
    Skogsrå

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

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  21. #121
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    Damn Now I have three 20+ page chapters to correct, thats going to take a while... I'll get to them asap. I love the chapters so far, as for the mysterious swordsman

    [spoiler]Nate[/spoiler]

    At least, thats who I want it to be...

  22. #122
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    ah, he's back. thank goodness. i was starting to go into withdrawl.

    travis *twich* seems to be losing control*twich* of his anger *twich*.

    this is great, now i have something to tide me over until the end of summer. BUT D****T! YOU LEFT A CLIFFHANGER!!! NOW I'LL NEVER GO TO SLEEP UNTIL I FIGURE OUT WHAT HAPPENS!!!!!!!!!!!! *twich*.

    zzzzzz.........


    you can probably tell i'm hyped up on red bull and advil. not a good combo.






    ----


    WWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. #123
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    Neos345 is offline I am Currently Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Good fic. Keep it up.

  24. #124
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    Righto.

    Well this isn't a review per say. But I've just got to say, I tried to read another Johto based trainer fic, but totally failed. It just didn't pazazz like yours did.

    Don't know if your gonna take this as super sucking up, if you really want the ego boost, go ahead, but I'm just saying that reading this and its prior has ruined my chances of reading any other Johto based trainer fics.

    Unless. xXSaberXx decides to take her fic on over. I would read that.

    Anywho. Enough posting. I shall be patiently awaiting the next chapter, like the snake awaits his prey.

    Oh. aswell BUMP.
    Skogsrå

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

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  25. #125
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    Heylo, all. EM1 here, just posting to tell you that I and the fic are still alive and will likely be making our official return in about a month or so, somewhere around August 17-22, depending on how fast I can get to college and unpack my stuff. In terms of writing, I'm starting on a new arc and such, so I'll be back.
    Right now, I'm on vacation.

    - 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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