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Thread: ~ Another Ordinary Day ~

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    Default ~ Another Ordinary Day ~

    A/N: Okay, so it took me a while, but here's the fic I entered for the Sacrifice: Battle Contest. It took second place. ^^ Tell me whatcha think.

    For those of you reading CaC--I know, I'm sorry. >.< There are various reasons why the next chapter isn't out yet, but I won't go into them. Suffice to say that the story is not abandoned, and I have been working quite diligently on the next chapter. It's just being exceptionally difficult.

    This fic is rated, eh, better make it PG-13, I guess--warning for some violence and minor swearing... and obviously I don't own Pokemon.

    Enjoy!



    ~ ANOTHER ORDINARY DAY ~



    HE RAN.

    The lights of the corridor were bright around him, gleaming off the steel struts that flashed past, his boots pounding the tiled floor and alarms blaring in his ears. As he moved he pulled off the thick black jacket he’d been using as a part of his disguise, tossing it hastily aside without bothering to see where it landed. Behind him he knew the doors were barred shut, the controls left sparking in the panel, but that was only from his side and the lab had some fine technicians at its disposal.

    He was keenly aware of the object at his back, slipped into the thin pocket of the pokéball holster he’d been wearing over his sleeveless turtleneck but under the uniform. That object was the reason he was there.

    And it was the reason he probably had the entirety of the lab’s security on his tail.

    Not that that was entirely new.

    Red lights flashed, the passageway resounding with a series of clunks and a grind, and his stomach clenched with urgency as a piece of ceiling moved ahead of him, a blast door plunging towards the ground. He threw himself forward, hitting floor hard enough to spark pain all down one arm and skidding beneath the thick steel gate just seconds before it slammed shut with a boom echoed by another on the other side.

    With a grimace he hauled himself up again, rubbing his shoulder, boots slipping on the polished tiles. Thought I’d shut the damned securities off; guess they managed to fix them.

    Which means they’ve probably already sealed the hatch…


    It wasn’t that bad, really; it wasn’t as though he was locked in—not for long, at any rate. It just meant he’d be making a bigger bang than he’d planned as he went out.

    And that they’ll be on my tail as soon as they know which hatch has been damaged.

    So it’d make his escape a little more difficult, but he was planning to take to the air as soon as he saw sunlight anyway. Might even be a little fun. As fun as flying for your life can get, anyway.

    The hatch in question wasn’t far—the entire corridor was pretty short, actually—only a dozen meters or so down the way and just around the corner. He was there in seconds, hands running over the latch, but even so he could see that the automated locks had been activated, a light blinking red on the switch.

    Time for Plan B, then, he thought with a slight sigh and a cast of his eyes to the heavens as he reached back for a pokéball. It’s no wonder people think I have no subtlety.

    A minute later the relative quiet of a certain gorge exploded with a blast of rock and steel, the ravine clouded with dust and debris, the crags nearby tremoring so violently under its force that they threatened to send a cascade of boulders plummeting to the creek far below, and Lance Blackthorn blew through the stifling dust with a flurry of his aerodactyl’s leathery wings, his shaggy pink hair whipped by the gale.

    Lance cursed as the wind threatened to grab hold of the billowing scarlet cloak the pokémon had been carrying for him, shrugging it on with some difficulty; if this was going to turn into a pursuit then he was going to need its protection. Already, despite the air rushing past his ears, he fancied he could hear the whir of helicopters reverberating across the sparsely forested highlands and through the narrow gorge.

    Fancy that. They do learn.

    Next instant he was forced to grab wildly for a hold as his aerodactyl banked sharply to avoid a shower of rocks tumbling down the opposite wall of the gorge, wings drawing in towards her scrawny body, pebbles bouncing off her bony grey hide.

    “Little warning next time, Hooshah!” Lance shouted from where he was braced just behind the stubby horns jutting back from her head.

    “Rrryyll,” the pokémon rumbled in apologetic amusement, the surface beneath him vibrating with the sound, the wind snatching it away as her wings spread once more to catch the swelling thermals.

    Good. The sooner we can get out of this gorge, the sooner Draca and the twins can come out to play. The lab was small, so there wouldn’t be more than two or three helicopters at its disposal, but that still potentially (if unlikely) meant three times six pokémon, and nothing Team Rocket’s agents had would be as big as Lance’s dragons.

    Plus, with a chopper’s rotor-span, they could easily box us in and send out their teams from above.

    If they did that, it would force his hand. It was always dangerous having technology around highly-charged pokémon, especially highly-charged pokémon in battle—it was so easy to make things go ‘boom’.

    And the bastard knows it, which is why he keeps sending his people out in machines—if I want to keep casualties to a minimum I have to keep a leash on my dragons, and that makes harder for us.

    That was definitely the sound of helicopters he heard now; if he craned his head, through the spiky bangs lashing in his eyes and past the swell of his cloak, he could see them in the sky above the laboratory, black mosquitoes in the distance. “How ’bout getting us some space soon, girl?”

    “Drryl,” Hooshah crooned back, angling her flight-path upwards with strong, regular beats of her wings, lifting them past the crowding crags looming to either side.

    They never made it.

    The only warning Lance had was a movement, a flash of sunlight, out of the corner of his eye as they rose towards the lip of the rock-face, and before any kind of thought could cross his mind he’d already thrown himself instinctively to the side. A split second later something—bullet!—hammered into the thick hide of Hooshah’s back with a spray of leathery flakes, driving the aerodactyl down with a wrench of her wings and a surprised cry, echoed by an automatic curse from her trainer as what was left of his unstable footing was yanked out from underneath him. In a suspended heartbeat his world tilted sideways, granting him a fleeting glimpse of a Jeep speeding towards the lab along the edge of the gorge, the sun shining off the barrel of a rifle held by a figure in black, gleaming off a staryu’s golden-brown carapace.

    Time restarted. Instead of resisting the blow, Hooshah folded her wings to her body and rolled with it. A second bullet chipped her haunch as Lance reached out against the drag of his billowing cloak to snag her shoulder, the centrifugal force pulling him in to her chest just as a blast of high-pressured spray jetted past where they’d been, water splattering across weathered hide.

    Leathery wings unfurled, vibrating under the force of the air-currents, and their coasting fall was halted as Hooshah regained her equilibrium, steadying her flight-path with a powerful beat of her wings. The jolt almost made Lance lose his tenuous hold, as if the gale wasn’t already doing its best to tear him away from where he clung to the aerodactyl’s underside, boots braced against her knees. With difficulty he managed to grasp one of her horns, pulling himself up into an awkward perch between her shoulder and her neck. Over the top of her head he looked up to the height of the gorge above them, not so far away but no longer drawing nearer.

    Shit, was about all he had time to think upon seeing the two Jeeps purring along the upper boundary of the ravine, having turned around and now struggling to maintain their lead on the Elite. Then there was a flash, two flashes, three—

    And he barely had time to duck the rifle-shot before Hooshah banked, another burst of a Water Gun coursing beneath her wing as the impending, white crackle of a Thunderbolt burned her silhouette into his retinas, static raising chips of stone and dust, fizzing over his hair and cloak.

    He wasn’t sure if he’d ordered it aloud or not—although he was betting not, because while he held a certain lack of regard for his own safety Hooshah had an irritating habit of trying to predict his commands—but he felt it when the aerodactyl’s ribcage expanded against him, felt the vibration an instant before she let loose her Supersonic. He just managed to tuck his head down against hard stone, feeling the pull and lash of his cloak, the eerie tingle of the ultrasonic sound waves that rolled over him and the snap of electricity hurricaning around them.

    Then the resonance died, the pressure lifted, and Lance pulled himself up again with a slight groan at the spasm in his muscles, shaking off the rogue filaments of lightning which skipped across woven scarlet fabric. The Thunderbolt had been close, tossed on the ripples of unheard sound, searing huge chunks of rock and dust from the opposite cliff-face, but a true dragon trainer’s cloak was never just for show, no matter what common trainers believed; they were specially made to be resistant to a dragon’s various elemental attacks, had been practically since dragon trainers first came into being.

    Of course, they worked quite well against the elemental attacks of just about everything else, as well.

    Blinking against dust and the formless afterimage which still marred his vision, it took a moment to register the fuzzy shape of the raticate perched on the back of the closest Jeep, its fur standing up on end either from the residual static of the Thunderbolt or the gathering of a new attack.

    I hate lightning attacks. You can never tell which one’s which until they’re about to hit you. Lance grumped briefly before tapping at Hooshah in warning. “Down, I think, girl!”

    “Rryyyyyyll,” Hooshah resonated, and then, without warning, tucked her wings to her sides and plummeted.

    For a moment Lance’s head swirled dizzyingly with the spinning fall, held tight against Hooshah’s side by her leathery forelimbs. He caught sight of the Water Gun that blasted across her back to hit the cliff nearby and wondered at the lack of thunder.

    Then Hooshah’s wings snapped out, beating the gusty air, and the jolt almost ripped him away from her, his shoulders wrenching as he fought gravity. It was a few moments before her path evened out, the aerodactyl coasting with the gale instead of against, and it was with a muttered, irritable oath that the dragon trainer finally managed to properly pull himself onto her back again.

    That was about when he looked up and saw them, his ears still numbed by the Supersonic, only just now beginning to hear the pound of the helicopters once more through the buzz. The whir of the rotors was magnified by the narrow space as they approached in a swirl of dust and debris, hampered by the bends of the gorge but steadily drawing near.

    He only managed to catch a glimpse—only two, where the hell’s the third?—before something rocketed past, something small and sharp, something that was purple, with four blade-like wings and an oversized mouth.

    He flinched aside automatically, cheek already lining with beads of red, and cursed out loud when he realized that what he’d feared had happened; the third helicopter was an ominous black monstrosity looming overhead, its blades near enough to cut chips and dust from the cliff wall.

    There wasn’t much time to think—the next few moments happened as though they’d been choreographed.

    Sunlight flashed off the rifle-barrel in the hands of the blonde-haired Rocket at the hatch, brought up and aiming at near point-blank range. Automatically Lance’s legs pumped, launching him sideways into the air as Hooshah’s wings drove her upward to catch the bullet on the thick stone hide of her back.

    For a moment it seemed that he hung, suspended. In that moment, a purple blur streaked back upwards towards him; Hooshah drew back her head, a rumble of flame and heat growing in her throat; his thumb brushed the switch of the pokéball in his hand.

    Then he fell, the cliff wall nearby a blur of grey and brown, his cloak rippling around him, the click of the pokéball’s release lost to the wind. The responding flash was overwhelmed by the torrent of roiling flames that blasted past, the sleek serpentine form which materialized lit with flickering red and orange and gold.

    “Nnnrrai!” With a resonant, jubilant call and a quick, whip-like movement the dragonair surged up beneath him, while below them a certain four-winged bat tumbled desperately in the rough winds of the gorge and the Flamethrower’s backlash. One grasping hand caught the silver horn jutting from the pokémon’s forehead, halting Lance’s fall with a jerk, his boots finding purchase on the smooth-scaled body which rose to catch him.

    “Up, Naire!”

    “Nnnrr,” was the dragon’s cooing answer, his long body uncurling with a flick and a swift upwards surge, the rough airstream rippling across resistant scales, trying to tug the defiant human from his perch. With one hand Lance snatched up Hooshah’s pokéball, returning the flame-lit aerodactyl as they passed in a rush of heat and wind, Naire flicking his sleek, feathered ears at the other pokémon in an almost cheerful greeting.

    The Flamethrower died. With a whoomph and a rush of heat and embers the gale filled the void, pressing Lance against his dragon’s back and momentarily stealing his breath away, his face flushed from the heat and flames. The Elite heard the hitch of the helicopter’s rotors, the squeal of metal as the pilot struggled against the sudden uprush of hot air which lifted they themselves still higher in a sleek cerulean spiral. The uniformed Rocket in the hatchway clutched the frame to keep balance, his face a mask of frustration and fear, automatically lifting his rifle in one hand when his eyes lit upon the redheaded dragon trainer.

    Too late.

    “Slam!”

    “Nnnrrr!”

    With a violent backlash of air the dragonair turned on himself, his muscular body whipping around to smash viciously into the bottom of the aircraft. If the Rocket fired his weapon the sound and flash were lost in the screech of buckling steel, the man flung back into the belly of the helicopter as it pitched up and across the short span of the gorge. With a whip-like motion, pushing a little off the vehicle, Naire twisted away, the chopper’s glass windows scraping the scales of his belly as the wind carried him out from beneath it. It lurched unsteadily, turned almost on its side, and before the pilot could regain control the rotors sheared the cliff-face.

    They crumpled like twigs, the heavy bulk of the aircraft wheeling erratically around to meet heavily with the crags in a burst of rock, dirt and shrieking metal. In a shower of steel and stone, what was left of the aircraft collapsed towards the sparkling ribbon of blue down below, obscured by swirling debris.

    Damn. Lance only had time for a brief pang of guilt for the pokémon onboard—the men were only worth a few moments’ regret; they knew what was coming to them when they started down their road of crime—because then the dust-churned wind shifted abruptly against them. The dragon trainer cursed inwardly, shading his face with one arm, his cloak billowing violently in the abrupt swell of ominously cool air. “Safeguard!”

    “Rrrnnn!”

    A pearly luminescence swept across cerulean scales, momentarily tinging Lance’s dark clothes with a rainbow glow—right before the thin cloud of dust parted beneath a freezing gale of ice. Naire’s serpentine body uncoiled in a coasting motion, dodging the worst of the Icy Wind with a deep-throated cry; but still the sheer cold stole Lance’s breath away, hitting bare skin like a slap in the face as patches of frost webbed across sleek hide and over scarlet fabric.

    Through his wind-lashed bangs and the glittering swirl of frozen dust he could see the pair of helicopters, near enough now for a pokémon to attack, saw the sunlight flash off the claws of the sneasel in the hatchway of the one nearest.

    “Thunder Wave,” he managed through the sudden shudder which wracked his frame, breath frosting in the cold air, clutching his protective cloak as near as he could with one numbing hand. Scales vibrating with the resonance deep in his throat, Naire lifted his back, static crackling from his pearl-endowed tail to the crystal beneath his chin. Lightning snapped, electricity arcing in runs and chains to the wallowing helicopter which turned desperately away.

    Something purple flashed at the corner of Lance’s eye and he wrenched urgently on one of Naire’s feathered ears to turn the dragonair aside, the entire length of the dragon’s body shifting with an air-current in an almost lazy curl. A second later a volley of sludge bombs streaked past from behind, trailing slimy drops behind and splattering Naire’s scales purple.

    Next instant their world was lit with dazzling white. Lance bit back a surprised cry, curling in on himself as threads of lightning swept over them, static fizzing wildly in his spiky hair. His breath caught and he swore his heart skipped a beat, his muscles momentarily seizing once, twice—

    And then it was past and Naire shook off the Thunder Wave their drift had carried them into with a slight, affronted huff, his scales flashing with the pearly-rainbow sheen of an abating Safeguard. His continuing movement took them aside as the scorched crobat arrowed past, deftly changing direction in midair to avoid the ruffle-feathered fearow soaring overhead.

    It was a moment before Lance could speak again, his heart roaring in his ears, fighting the nausea of adrenaline and the incipient tug of fatigue. God, I hate electric attacks—

    And it could have been worse, much worse; as weak as Thunder Wave was in comparison even to a Thundershock, a direct, unprotected hit was still enough to risk heart damage in a human.

    I have got to get out of here before it comes to that.

    “Twister, Naire.”

    Nnnrraaii!”

    Ears flat against the sides of his head in irritation, the dragonair coiled, spinning about on himself in a motion that had his trainer holding on for dear life against the eddy of wind, just before he unloosed like a taut spring. His serpentine body whipped the air with such violent force that it sent the two of them scudding backwards, the air roaring as it spun into a fierce tornado which lifted rock and dust and debris.

    Lance didn’t wait to see what happened; he’d already tugged on one of Naire’s ears to indicate his order, and the dragonair hummed slightly in ready acquiescence as he flicked his pearl-tipped tail and launched them into an undulating, wind-rushed run towards the height of the cliff. The Elite trainer chanced a glimpse back in time to see the twister blow itself out against the cliff, leaving a massive, rumbling landslide and a wide fissure where it had hit. As he watched he saw the original pair of Jeeps screech to a halt at the edge of the newly-formed cleft in their way, saw the tiny purple speck that was the crobat tumbling bonelessly down the crags, and had to shove aside another pang of regret.

    This is turning into a more expensive operation than I’d hoped…

    The leftover cloud of dust swirled and the ruffled fearow burst through with a clack of its long beak, broad wings thrust back in a shallow stoop. The two helicopters were some distance behind it, the familiar whir of the rotors hardly audible through the boom of settling rock as they steadied their lurching flight-paths.

    Not nearly as far as he’d like—but far enough. And the Jeeps getting railroaded is a bonus.

    Good. He wanted to get out of here before the cost mounted even higher.

    It wasn’t until he was turning back around that Lance saw them, and by then it was too late: a second pair of Jeeps keeping pace along the opposite side of the gorge to the others, emerging from the thin veil of dust which had columned to the height of the ravine. He just had time to register the gleam of a purple clamp-shell and the glitter of thickening frost, right before he was dazzled by sunlight reflecting off crystallising ice.

    The Ice Beam blasted across the short width of the gorge, impacting with Naire’s side in an explosion of sparkling fragments and powder. The world flared into one of blinding light and whirling motion, Lance’s hold wrenched away, all the air in his lungs squeezed out when a chunk of ice collided with his ribs. He gasped automatically and almost choked, the freezing air a liquid flame in his chest. Ice burned him where it hit his bare skin, a heavy, chilly pressure pressing down through the cloak where it didn’t.

    His numb hand floundered for the rime-coated feathers he could just see through the spots dancing in front of his eyes, grasping Naire’s ear in a weak grip just in time to feel the shock as the dragonair collided with the cliff wall in a burst of crumbling stone. A split second later he crashed against a squirming, serpentine form with a bone-jarring thud and an explosion of shattering ice, driving all the breath from his body yet again.

    But of more concern was the distinct crack he felt at his back as he tumbled a few feet down dissolving rock. He landed heavily on Naire’s head when the dragon moved sluggishly to catch him, the dragonair’s chin angled down to avoid impaling his trainer on his horn, the entire length of his scratched and rimy body slung out across the still-settling crags of the cliff-face, grimy, shivering.

    The Elite’s first breath was deep, shuddering and interrupted by coughs from the dust and the cold as he levered himself shakily up onto his elbows. He fumbled for the pocket at his back with a tremoring hand, a rueful part of his mind noting that he was going to have pokéball-sized bruises there the next morning, and finally managed to withdraw a slim and very obviously cracked CD-R which fell to pieces in his deadened fingers.

    Lance grimaced. Well, damn.

    “Freeeeeeeaaah!”


    At the fearow’s screech, backed by the faint whir of the helicopters, he forced himself to move, shoving himself up onto his knees despite the shiver which wracked his frame, turning about to see where the bird pokémon was.

    He caught a brief glimpse of the Rocket in the idling Jeep speaking into a radio less than a hundred feet above them, out of range; then his attention was caught by the brown-feathered fearow plummeting towards them, wickedly sharp beak glinting.

    “Nnnnrrr,” Naire reverberated furiously, and lashed his body airborne in a cascade of pebbles and stone, his trainer just keeping balance by grasping the dragonair’s ears. Air vibrated over dulled scales as they dropped a dozen feet or so—along with a slide of rocks—and fell back against the freshly-made bulge of crags, dodging the fearow’s attack.

    At first. Then the bird shrugged its shoulders, flared slightly, and tilted its wings into a corkscrewing plunge.

    Aerial Ace—!

    With a jolt of much-needed adrenaline Lance’s hand jerked up towards his chest, one of the pokéballs between his fingers opening in a flare of red light to coalesce into a familiar shape of sturdy rock, leathery wings extended protectively over the dragon trainer.

    Not a moment too soon. Hooshah yelped slightly in surprise as the fearow’s beak hammered into her back, the force throwing her towards her trainer at the same time that Lance realized the result and launched himself backwards. Naire dissolved into scarlet energy beneath his feet, the dragon tamer’s back thudding against rock, and his boots scrabbled for purchase in the jagged bottom of the cleft, finding a hold in the newly-created apertures a second before Hooshah’s clawed wings punched into the cliff-face on either side of his head.

    “Bite it, girl,” the dragon trainer hissed irately, bracing himself against hard stone with hands that throbbed as they thawed, heartily sick and tired of the whole situation. Never mind that they’ve already lost at least three of their men—press the advantage, always, no matter what the cost. Damn Rockets!

    “Rrryyyll!” Hooshah snapped her jaws in a predatory grin, hearing his frustration, and a second later she jerked slightly as the fearow yanked itself free, broad wings beating the air unsteadily in an attempt to get away and not get blown into the cliff itself by the wind.

    Instantly Hooshah pushed herself off the cliff-face with her claws and her powerful hindquarters, whirling around with a thrust of her wings. She lunged at the fearow, catching it in the crook of its shoulder and neck and sinking jagged fangs into thin flesh, crushing delicate bone. The bird pokémon thrashed and let out a long, ear-splitting shriek of agony, right up until the aerodactyl tossed her head and threw it out into the unstable winds of the gorge, its uninjured wing flapping ineffectually.

    “Krrryyll,” Hooshah rumbled, beating her wings to keep her own balance in an area devoid of any lift.

    So it was that when a black form flashed across the crags, there was no way for her to dodge the Metal Claw which carved thick furrows in her stony hide, extracting a howl of pain as her back arched and her wings thrust forward.

    Lance hadn’t even fully realized what had happened before he threw himself into open air, avoiding the gleaming claws which slashed deep troughs in the cliff in bursts of chips and dust. A pokéball—two—was already in his still-clumsy hand, the switch of the first already thumbed, the second already thrown. A great form materialised beneath him, a thick tail already whipping through the air, tracing an arc in the scarlet energy that was Hooshah being returned.

    The agile sneasel had only just found its footing when it was pounded into the cliff, the snap of bones audible even despite the whir of approaching helicopters and the momentary rattle of his body as Lance hit the thick, apricot-coloured hide between his dragonite’s wings. He kicked his feet, turning over onto his hands and knees, but not before seeing his dragon’s tail lift away, the sneasel just managing to catch a hold with its least injured claw, its black fur matted and barb-like crest fractured.

    But alive.

    Good.

    “Go, Draca,” Lance rasped, pushing himself up to the dragonite’s head, perching just between her slender silver antenna. With a concurrent resonance Draca pushed off with clawed hindfoot she’d used to brace herself against the cliff-face, tucking her leathery wings in slightly and letting herself drop to get some speed, the membranes vibrating beneath the wind as she struggled against the air-currents to angle away from the side of the gorge rushing past. Not that it helped; Draca’s wingspan was enough to reach from one wall of the gorge to the other with only a handful of feet to spare.

    Lance shifted around to face behind, using Draca’s antenna to balance against the pitched, jolting motion of the dragon’s powerful wingbeats, his hands still prickling, shaking every now and then with residual cold. The fearow was nowhere to be seen and the Elite trainer spared a hope that it had been returned; the helicopters were near enough now for him to see the uniformed Rockets in the hatchways. One had a twisted expression of frustration on her face as she lifted a pokéball, looking to where the sneasel hung, its thin chest wheezing for breath.

    The other shot overhead its fellow, making it rock slightly in the slipstream, and banked to the side to set loose a fizzing magneton, sunlight glinting off of polished steel. The pokémon dipped slightly before its magnetic field caught it, pushed this way and that by the gale, but when the helicopter wheeled around to back away Lance felt a foreboding pit settle in his stomach.

    “Draca,” he said calmly, narrowed eyes fixed upon the sparking electric pokémon over the curve of the dragon’s tail as they reached the low of a wingbeat. “Get ready for evasive action. Now.”

    Because the magneton had just turned all six of its curved magnets in their direction, its eyes going blank and steel bodies glowing with radiance, sparking with thick filaments of electricity which cut through the sound of the gale with a high-pitched drone.

    “Ddrrnn,” Draca rolled her eyes back towards him and twitched her antenna at him in a longsuffering, ‘do I even want to know?’ type of motion, unfolding her wings and banking away with a jerk in time to miss the massive bolt of lightning which blasted away a divot the size of a rhydon in the rock-face, a sizable chunk of the cliff disintegrating into showers of boulders and dust.

    Gripping awkwardly onto an antenna, boots braced against the upper muscle of Draca’s wings, Lance gritted his teeth at the static which skated over his cloak and fizzed in his windswept hair, making him shiver. The air pressure shifted as Draca turned to her belly to dodge a second bolt of lightning which ripped through the roaring wind a few feet overhead, and the scaled surface beneath him rumbled with an inquiry.

    “I’m fine, Draca,” he said tightly with an exasperated roll of his eyes. Clair’s definitely been a bad influence on her… or maybe it’s the other way around.

    A third discharge split the air over on the other side of the gorge, scraping a long furrow in the rock, and Lance smiled grimly. One good thing about Zap Cannon—it’s accuracy’s lousy.

    But it meant the magneton could shoot rapidly, and at length, and in a narrow gorge with a dragon whose wingspan was only several feet its lesser, that made it quite a few steps higher than a mere annoyance.

    We need to get out of the gorge.

    And I know how we can do that without being frozen by the cloyster lurking upstairs.


    “Draca, turn around—and Dance, girl, I don’t intend to get fried this afternoon.”

    “Ddrrrnnnii!” Draca rumbled in a tone of delight, folding her wings and turning over on herself, dodging another torrent of crackling electricity in the process. Before they’d fallen more than a foot or two her limbs shot out again, banking sharply and with a harsh judder of her membranes and bones that indicated she’d probably wind up with sore muscles the next day.

    Lying prone against her back, his cloak a streaming scarlet banner behind them and his hair lashing in the wind, Lance grimly pulled himself up high enough to see the magneton and the helicopters over her head, the walls of the gorge rushing past in flurries of grey and brown. If he’d looked around he would have seen the Jeeps screeching to a stop and moving to chase, but he didn’t; he was focussed, now, because if this didn’t work then they probably wouldn’t get another chance.

    Draca would be fine, but as well-made as his cloak was, not even it would be able to save him from a direct hit from a Zap Cannon.

    It began as a vibration in Draca’s scales, tickling through his clothes, a hum to accompany the steady beat of her wings as she arrowed towards the magneton, interrupted only when she folded them to her sides and coasted, letting a lightning bolt crackle overhead.

    And it grew, a deep resonance, making his breath catch with the reverberation which reached into his bones and took control of his heartbeat, his skin prickling with goosebumps and his ears filled with that full, harmonious song only a dragon could produce. It rose and fell in a tonal melody, and Draca’s wingbeats shifted with it, her apricot-coloured scales glinting silver as she rolled, stooped, and corkscrewed around the thundering bolts of electricity.

    And then they were there, and then they were past, the whump of their slipstream casting the helicopters to either side with lurches and hitches in their rotors’ whir. The second pair of Jeeps was left far behind, the first pair a flash in the landscape as Draca shot into the open sky, spiralling up into the wide blue and trumpeting her exultation.

    “Okay, girl,” Lance managed to say breathlessly through the pound of his heart in his ears. Damn, but can my girl carry a tune. “Home, Draca.”

    “Ddrrruuunnnuuurrr,” Draca crooned, turning her climb into a shallow stoop over the forest up on the highlands, away from the lab and in the direction of Blackthorn City. Lance couldn’t help but grin; anyone who lived in his home city for more than a year knew that dragons loved to sing—the Spring Chorus was a thing of beauty.

    With a slight groan he tugged himself upright, crouched between her antenna, and let out a breath, glancing back towards the gorge in time to see the black figures of the helicopters rising out of it. They had no chance of catching him now; they were heading back to the lab. If he hurried Officer Jenny might be able to catch them before they got too far—it was the least he could do, for those pokémon lost.

    And if not, then… He palmed a pokéball from his holster, lifting it to smile at the miniaturized sky-blue dratini curled inside and the tiny square held gingerly in his mouth that was the real disc, the one containing the locations of at least a half-dozen other Rocket labs hidden around Johto. Well, I got what I came for.

    It was only when he moved to put the dragon’s pokéball back that his arm flamed in complaint and he hissed, one hand moving automatically towards it. Now he was becoming aware of his scrapes and bruises, his arms scratched and weeping from ice-shards and stone, his limbs heavy with electrical exhaustion, his face smarting as his hair lashed at the cuts on his cheek.

    None of that was really new.

    He looked towards the source of the biggest pain, fingering his grimy cloak, and it was only then that he saw the long tear near the shoulder, the scrape which bled red and throbbed every time he moved his arm.

    You’re kidding. He stared, grimaced, then fisted his sleeve and pressed it to the bullet graze with a hiss at the pound it sent up and down his arm in accompaniment to the one in his temples. If Clair finds out I got shot she’ll kill me.

    Or try to, at any rate. Mostly she’ll just yell a lot.

    Maybe I’d be better going to the Indigo Plateau… I have a headache.

    But if Karen’s there she’ll tattle, and then I’d have
    both of them after my blood.

    Nothing new there, either.

    In other words, just another ordinary day.

    ~ finis
    Last edited by purple_drake; 29th January 2008 at 7:56 AM.

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