Hey, what to say? I'm ba-ack!
Welcome to my first One-Shot! I've been sitting on this for over a year, and I'm so happy to have finally finished it! It's working title (meaning its title up 'til about ten minutes ago) was Hero. But it had to go get used. Hopefully this one is cool too.
I thought it would be cool to put this up now I mentioned the History of Pokemon according to me in my latest post of The Corei Quest (Link to said Chapter: Link). Hope this version a little less... less... oh I dunno, let's just get this party started!
I'd give this a T rating as it gets violent...
‘Battle for Freedom’
Long ago, but not too long before humans came to existence, Pokémon lived in communities. They used their phenomenal, otherworldly powers to create homes for themselves and create livelihoods for themselves. In each community, there were builders, mothers and children, workers and warriors.
Greater townships and communities had armies of warriors ready to fight for the safety of their domains, for a warrior was well trained in the utilization of their techniques for combat, and were called upon to defend their families, friends and kinsmen they cherished.
For war was not a creation of man, for even in the earliest of times, war existed and ran rampant amongst the four kingdoms of Torum, Aquarisia, Compendi and Laudernum. War-thirsty Torum existed in the mountainous regions of the Pokémon world, constantly battling with the coastal kingdom of Aquarisia and the Imperial Plains of Compendi whilst the coastal regions of Aquarisia suffered not only internal conflicts but also border scuffles with the grassland territories of Compendi, who found the necessity to remain on edge against the vicious Torum armies.
The Forests of Laudernum, however was a land which had found the blessing of peace in their democracy. Each major woodland had its own representative who sat on a council in which all, from the mightiest forests of Albara to the tiniest woods of Shin’ou were treated as equals. No one was greater than the other, and each province’s opinion was of utmost importance in settling matters. Even with the presence of warriors within their communities, Laudernum saw no need to exercise their might on the other kingdoms as their peace was all they needed to prosper. No other nation tried to take Laudernum by force either; their forests served as natural fortresses against intruders and none but their inhabitants could navigate the tree-strewn republic without fear of losing their way.
Or so the other nations thought… until Lord Charsad III decided to build on his attempts to take Compendi by taking the Republic of Laudernum… by any means necessary. Charsad’s armies were the most ruthless of the three warring nations, and their vicious forces of fire, rock, dragon and ice had stormed the minor forests of northern Hoenn and Shin’ou with unwonted brutality and razed them to the ground. None survived.
Laudernum were not ready for the initial assault of Charsad’s forces but rallied their forces quickly and marched out to put a halt to Charsad’s ambition... in the forest of Deepwood.
So began the race to save their brothers-at-arms and to stop the invaders of Torum from reaching the gates of Albara Forest.
A race that Laudernum were fast losing…
Deepwood was in trouble.
The small forest township had undergone vicious attacks from the invading army of War Prince Charzer from the kingdom of Torum. Deepwood had held off the initial assault with a brilliant display of guerilla tactics which in turn had left the Laudernum forces severely wounded and dwindling whilst the bulk of the Torum army laid siege to the wood. The barricade officers knew their duty: nothing gets in, nobody leaves.
Deepwood had no warriors; the neighboring woods had combined all forces they could spare before the blood thirsty warriors of Torum had arrived. When set beside the organized ruthlessness that was Torum’s army, the warriors of Deepwood had not a Gastly of a chance…
A lone Furret rushed through the forest at breakneck speed, her heart doing a kind of drum roll against her chest, her flanks heaving with exhaustion as she frantically scoured the forest for her youngest son.
Scrambling up onto a jagged rock, the Long Body Pokémon raised herself to her full height and called out frantically. “Senri! Senri!”
“What’s wrong, Furna?” a low voice mumbled from a clump of bushes nearby. If it weren’t for the voice’s familiarity, the Furret may just have died from fright. Instead, she turned her worried eyes upon its owner, which stepped out from behind a tree trunk half hidden in the shadows of the clearing. A wolf of sorts, the speaker had sable black fur streaked with grey which ran along the back of its lean yet rugged body. Blood red eyes which would send chills down even the most lion-hearted Pokémon gleamed from within the thickness of the gloom, though they presently wore a concerned look. The Furret however was as relaxed as she could be, given her state of panic.
“Deepwood isn’t safe right now, Furna,” the Bite Pokémon went on, stepping into a pool of light that filtered through a clearing in the trees. “Knowing the danger, why would you leave the village?”
The Furret could hardly make herself coherent over her badly controlled sobs. “Fen-f- Fenrir,” she began to wail softly. “Senri is gone.”
“I’m aware of it,” Fenrir stated calmly, coming closer. “It seems your son’s friends, Hobble and Polti are missing too. I’ve spoken to their parents.”
Despite his calming tone, Fenrir’s voice sounded evasive. Furna’s anxiety could only take so much, now her worry was quickly becoming rage.
“You know more than you’re telling me, Fenrir,” she said in a cold hollow voice, now advancing on the Mightyena. “Please… I beg of you… please tell me…”
Fenrir looked sorrowfully into her large, teary brown eyes and bowed his great shaggy head as he said, “I sent out Talla and Howser to scout for them. It seems Charzer has taken them hostage.”
Furna’s eyes dilated fearfully and tears spilled freely from them. She knew then that it was all over… that she’d never see her baby again.
“On what terms have they been taken?” Furna said in a wavering voice.
“Please return to the village.”
“Please return to the village.”
“Please tell me, Fenrir! What will they do to my Senri?!” Furna said hysterically, grabbing hold of the Mightyena’s paw in pleading.
The wolflike Pokémon averted his eyes from the Furret’s attempts to break down his resolve and said more softly than ever, “Please return to the village.”
“Please tell me!”
Fenrir gave up tried to evade the persistent questioning and taking a shaky breath and said. “I don’t know, Furna. I don’t know. My son Romulus has gone to see War Prince Charzer,” the Long Body Pokémon’s eyes snapped up to Fenrir’s worried face as he went on. “He-he wants to negotiate having Senri and his friends released... it’s not hard for you alone, Furna. Please understand…”
“Fenrir! Fenrir!” A loud voice called from the trees. The Mightyena’s head snapped up as a large purple monkey dropped from the trees and landed before them. The creature had a tuft of purple hair that stood up and yellow fur which formed a mask a round his eyes, as well as covering his underbelly and the tip of his long, limber tail which ended in a three digit hand.
“Ai-Ai,” Fenrir said, his voice steeling in their time of trouble, for it was a leader’s responsibility to show some grit in such situations. “What news?”
The Aipom’s usually cheery grin hung upside down as he said hurriedly “Romulus has returned.”
Fenrir’s breathing relaxed although his eyes looked no less worried “And?”
“And Charzer said he’d release Senri and the others only if we surrender Deepwood to the Torum forces! What’re we gonna do, Fenrir? Whatta we gonna dooo?!” Ai-Ai wailed.
“Calm yourself, Ai-Ai!” Fenrir barked, his mind in turmoil. If he surrendered Deepwood, everyone in it would die. If he didn’t, three innocent children would perish, followed by Deepwood. Both options were horrible… and the decision was on him to take!
Trying to gather time to think out a plan, Fenrir said “How’s Romulus?”
“In a bad way, Fenrir,” Ai-Ai said, his ears drooping. “The whole village knows.”
“What about Senri?” Furna inquired, her worries only exacerbated.
“Word has it they’re alive,” Ai-Ai said, smiling a worried smile. “They’ll be OK…”
“For now, anyways,” Fenrir said worriedly. It was common knowledge that Charzer wasn’t known for his mercy. “Ai-Ai, Furna… please return to the- Furna? Furna?! Where are you going?!” Fenrir howled, noticing that the Furret had dashed into the overgrowth.
To find the only one who can save Senri!” she hollered back.
The Long Tail and Bite Pokémon exchanged a glance that suggested that they knew who she was going to call, but had no real hope of getting to come along.
“Whadda we do, Fenrir?” Ai-Ai said fearfully.
The ebony wolf let out a heavy sigh before turning around and said “Let’s go back and wait at the village. All we can do now is hope Furna can get him to help us…”
A lone white figure was making its way through the trees, a child-sized haversack slung over its left shoulder. Its long bushy tail swayed from side to side as he made his way along the meandering road. Glancing at the rushing river that glittered in the sunlight, the Cat Ferret Pokémon smiled at the beauty it portrayed alongside its flowery banks, which looked white due to the multitudes of snowdrops that grew there.
His gaze moving away from the river to stare into the late afternoon sunlight, which glinted off his orange eyes as he raised a red paw which held a makeshift vase filled with the white flowers to shield them from its glare.
Was today really so peaceful? He thought softly. If I didn’t know for sure that the anniversary was today, I’d never have guessed…
His long, stuck up ears blew in the breeze that flew through the trees, whistling a mournful tune. Lowering his paw, he shook his head and moved on.
After a few more minutes, the Zangoose reached a plain stretch of grass surrounded by trees. Although the cover branches grew thickly sunlight still found its way towards the ground, where it illuminated two smooth stones around which the grass had grown more wildly. The Zangoose stared at them sadly, a small smile curling around his face as the wind played with his bushy tail.
“Hello, Lucis… Sandaeya,” the creature said softly, looking from one stone to another. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
Walking forward, he set the haversack and vase down gently and took the flowers out of the basket. They’d been tied into two bunches like bouquets. Laying one before each stone, he bowed before turning to open the haversack from which he produced an earthen jug and a little saucer.
Uncorking the jug, he upended it over one of the graves, allowing the liquid within to trickle down it. He then repeated this activity with the second stone and sat himself before and in between them, pouring the remainder of the fluid into his saucer. Raising it in a toasting manner, he took a sip and said “Looks like I got quality party favours this year, eh Lucis? Sandaeya?”
Smiling sadly, he took another sip of what was in the saucer and looking over the rim of the saucer laughed and said “Relax, Lucis. I can always get some for next year. Enjoy the stuff now, it may go bad by next year.”
Life isn’t quite the same without you guys… the Zangoose reflected sadly, glancing up mournfully at the stones. The missions, the fun, the adventure… you always were the best rescue team leader ever, Lucis… and you were definitely the best team mate we could ever have, Sandaeya… not to mention the most attractive…
The Zangoose chuckled softly for a moment before a movement behind his made him bristle. Alert, albeit his lazy tone of voice suggested otherwise, he muttered “It appears we have visitors today. Lucis, Sandaeya, it looks like a good year.” Raising his voice, he called out, “I know you’re there, whoever you are. Why not make this easier on both of us and just tell me what you want with me?”
Out from the shadows of the trees stepped a lone Furret, her usually sleek fur disshevelled and a wildly desperate look lingering in her eyes.
“Z-Zhang,” she muttered faintly, her eyes wild. “P-p-please, help… Senri… gone… save… us…”
“Why don’t you just calm down?” Zhang said cordially. He raised his saucer and said with a lopsided, mischievous smirk, “Stay and have a drink…”
“I-I… WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A STUPID DRINK!” Furna screamed, slapping the saucer out of her hand and into the grass into which she sank to her knees, her breathing more and more labored than ever.
Zhang had a silly pout on his face as he stared at the Long Body Pokémon in surprise. Red tinges in his cheeks, he mumbled, “Do you know how much that cost?”
Straightening up, he clicked his long purple claws and yelled, “Excuse me, lady… can I get another bottle, please?”
“Oh, Celebi,” Furna said in horror, looking up at Zhang as if all hope had been extinguished and the world had lost its light and warmth. “Are yo… you can’t be…”
Letting out a huge sigh, he turned to the Furret and said as though he were her babysitter “Sake is one of life’s best quarrels, is it not, Lucis?”
“No…” Furna gasped, shaking her head wildly as she stepped away from the Zangoose fearfully. “We’re… Torum… doomed… Charzer… my-my… baby… Senri… it can’t… can’t be… no hope… Deepwood… Senri… nooo…” she mumbled, crumpling into paroxysms of grief so severe she could hardly string two words together.
Zhang peered at her for a moment, his facial expression inscrutable. Staggering to his feet, he swung the haversack over his shoulder, swaying drunkenly as he did so. His bleary eyes peered into the gloom as he fought to stay upright. Finally managing the feat, he tottered away from the grieving mother into the gap between the trees, his footsteps surprisingly firm and steady.
“Romulus, how do you feel?” Fenrir said in a ragged voice, staring down at what seemed to be a carbon copy of himself, only several years younger and much fitter, although the fact wasn’t obvious straight away.
“I’ll live, Father,” Romulus replied groggily, stirring feebly upon the bed of leaves on which he was recovering. Romulus struggled to his feet, his legs bound from the shank downwards in stiff, white bandages. “Listen… let me try again… let me…”
“No, Romulus. I forbid it,” Fenrir said firmly.
“Father!” Romulus protested.
“I said no, Romulus!” Fenrir growled.
“Well then,” a third Mightyena said as he loped into the hut. “Let me try this time, Dad…”
“No, Remus,” Fenrir said angrily. “I forbid you, too. I can’t watch you get hurt either.”
“What is this then?” Remus yelped angrily. “Favouritism for the first-born twin?”
“How the hell does almost getting slashed apart by a contingent of Charzer’s most hard core shock troops count as favouritism?” Romulus snarled, stunned at his brother’s rash words.
“The fact that you get more action in the spotlight!” Remus yelled back.
“Romulus, Remus… enough!” Fenrir barked.
The two brothers immediately stopped their bickering, although the younger Mightyena still wore a sour look on his face.
“You want to get yourself killed, do you? D’you want to die, Remus?!” Romulus roared, jumping up to his feet, instantly wincing in pain as his legs refused to hold him up. Losing focus, he fell forward prompting his father to stoop catching the younger wolflike Pokémon and lay him gently on the makeshift bed again.
“Every member of Deepwood is important to me,” Fenrir said softly, not looking at but addressing his younger son nonetheless. “Each member of that family has their role to play; their part to fulfil. Without even one, if one should fall apart from the rest, take a burden that isn’t his or her lot… the whole body fails to function.”
“Dad…” Remus whispered, staring at his father.
“Romulus is the calmer of you two, rational and meticulous, although you clearly outrank him in brute strength and battle experience,” Fenrir went on, interrupting his second born son. “Whilst I can rely on your brother to walk into a camp of Torum’s most vicious forces and calmly negotiate with them without his cool mind losing to his hot head, I can rely on none more reliable than you to keep the rest of the village safe, when all within are terrified and wait in a state of turmoil for news of the fate of Deepwood’s young.”
Remus stood stock still as his father trotted past him out of the hut. Pausing at the door, the older Mightyena raised his voice to an authoritative volume and said, “Romulus, I want you to rest. Remus, I need you out here to help me call the citizens to order.”
“Dad…” Remus called, staring wildly over his shoulder as the tough, age-worn Mightyena loped of into the centre of the village.
Dapple green light filtered through the trees that the inhabitants of Deepwood had hollowed out ages ago for shelter. Windows were set at odd heights on the trees that Fenrir passed, though they all seemed devoid of life: indeed it felt as though his township had become one of the ghosts in the short space of time he’d spent in the infirmary, eerie and hauntingly silent. Despite the spooky silence that surrounded him, the state of the town did not seem to perturb the Dark type Pokémon, his mind struggling through the tempestuous arguments that rolled and crashed within his skull.
What do I do? Fenrir thought helplessly, looking up at the darkening skies which were visible for brief periods through the canopy of leaves that hung high overhead. How can I make a choice between two paths that will both end in our destruction?
“FENRIR!” a loud hoot reverberated from up above. Craning his neck upwards so fast that it cricked, Fenrir stared as what seemed to be a large owl with various degrees of dark brown plumage dove out from the overgrown tree branches straight for him. Fenrir’s red orbs widened in horror as the Noctowl struck a hollowed out branch that served as the home’s chimney and spin wildly out of control, slamming painfully into the ground where he stood a mere second ago.
“Ouch, now that will hurt,” a voice chuckled from behind him. The old Mightyena spun around to see Remus trotting up to the pair, wincing emphatically and desperately trying not to laugh, although his twinkling eyes betrayed his false humility.
The young Mightyena’s father frowned, shaking his head in exasperation and trying to work the kinks out of his neck, he turned to the Noctowl, who’d picked himself and was presently dusting himself off with his wing and said urgently, “What news, Howser?”
Raising its enormous, cream-coloured monobrow, Howser hooted in a fluster “A-a Za-Za-Za…”
“’A-a Za-Za-Za’? That made sense,” Remus said flippantly, obviously having a joke at the old Owl Pokémon’s expense.
“Remus!” Fenrir barked.
“Sorry, Dad,” Remus said meekly, although the shadow of a laugh remained latched to his face.
Glaring suspiciously at his son, Fenrir turned back to the Noctowl, who red eyes flitted nervously from father to son and said, “Well, Howser?”
“Well, Fenrir,” the Noctowl said feebly, looking towards the village leader. “Talla sent me to report that a Zangoose was seen walking straight towards Charzer’s forces’ camp! Alone!”
Remus looked stunned. “Wait a sec,” he said as though trying to grasp information that was slipping through his mind’s grasp like water through a sieve. “There are no Zangoose in Deepwood. They’re supposed to be lead shock troops of the Compendi rebel army! What would one be doing here?”
“There is one Zangoose that has been allowed diplomatic immunity to travel Laudernum’s forests,” Fenrir informed his rash son. “He was branded a traitor by the present Emperor of Compendi, when he sided with Laudernum to thwart General Severis’s attack on the western Albaran forest of Ilesce, killing the general. He had to flee for his life when the Emperor ordered his fellow generals to assassinate him. They’d refused, and were executed for treachery. The Zangoose retrieved their bodies at great personal risk and buried them here in Deepwood and visits them annually.”
“Whoa, so who is this Zangoose, Dad?” Remus gasped, awed at the hero of the story.
Looking towards the outskirts where (although not visible from where they were standing) Charsad’s forces were encamped, Fenrir exhaled and said “His name was General ‘Shirorai’ Zhang of the Compendi Imperial Army. He is now known only as Zhang.”
A Charmeleon glanced furtively around the corner of a tent. Nervousness could be seen etched deep in her purple eyes as she raised the visor of her black war helmet. At her feet, a scared but unhurt Sentret, Seedot and Poliwag did likewise.
“Why’re you helping us again?” The Poliwag asked with a dithering voice.
“Does it matter, Polti?” The Seedot hissed back. “She’s helpin’ us escape, ain’t she, Senri?”
The Sentret simply shushed them, looking up at the three foot lizard curiously. Why was a Torum soldier helping them escape? It made no sense. Even if she felt sympathetic towards their cause, it was sheer lunacy to go against Charzer, even if you were his subordinate. When the Sentret was having his bonds undone by the mystery Charmeleon, he mentioned this fact to which she replied that she wasn’t Charzer’s subordinate.
As he became lost in thought pondering the enigmatic answer, something grasped his tail and hoisted him off the ground. Squealing in pain and shock, he twisted around to see a large and wide face who’s owner beheld its catch with a dim yet evil smile on his face.
The other three had turned around and stared horrified as the Rhydon reached for a whistle that hung around his neck and blew a loud, shrill note that resounded throughout the camp.
“Oh, scale rot,” the Charmeleon groaned as a wide variety of tough looking Rock and Ice Pokémon surrounded them in seconds.
“We’re dead!” The Poliwag moaned softly. “We are only so dead right now…”
Soon the four were bound and dragged to the commanding officer’s tent, where they were thrown at the feet of War Prince Charzer. Polti was silently weeping as he stared up into their captor’s emotionlessly cold eyes, Hobble was shaking so hard he was rattling and Senri shivered slightly as the larger-than-usual Charmeleon began to scratch its scaly chin with a long, sharp white claw. The Charmeleon that had tried to help them looked up as fearlessly as possible at the larger Flame Pokémon. Charzer wore a long, flowing cape of purple furs which trailed behind him as he marched up and down the row of prisoners before him, fixing each one in the beam of his eyes as he walked past.
Reaching the Charmeleon, he smiled nastily and said in a soft, mocking voice, “Et tu, Logaine? I’m not too surprised.”
“Father should have never attacked Laudernum,” the Charmeleon said bravely, rising to her feet before receiving a forceful blow to her temple, dropping her to her knees once more.
“Yes, yes, I know,” Charzer said in a bored voice. “Talk of imitating the peaceful Forest Republic’s democracy is the true path to a brighter, war-free world for all. How much Father bored of you before placing you under my command, dear big sister.”
“When will you understand,” Logaine quiet voice rising in volume as she visibly shook, “that TORUM HAS NO NEED FOR WAR?”
A flash of orange claws flashed again and Logaine was hurled bodily across the tent away from Charzer, flecks of blood trailing after her limp body from a series of grisly gashes lining her left cheek. “When will you see that Torum has no need for cowards the likes of you?! I’ve changed my mind,” Charzer said shortly, a truly evil glint in his violet eye. “Prepare the shock troops! Today we raze Deepwood down to the last twig!”
Just then the screams that had been ringing out throughout the camp had finally reached the volume that made it clear that Charzer was suddenly not on top of things. Sweeping his regal purple cape about himself he stormed out to find a scene of violent pandemonium.
Tents hither and thither had been shredded and several were alight. Smoke filled the air like a noxious form of fog as his shock troops lay slumped and sprawled all over the camp floor; bleeding, convulsing or otherwise perfectly, eerily still. Charzer’s eyes swept the scene in stunned disbelief. He had been commissioned with his father’s finest shock troops outside those placed as sentinels at the Imperial Torum Palace with himself as the commanding officer. Who or what could destroy what looked like half a Torum occupation force with such savagery? A faint gurgling noise came from his right. Charzer’s furious eyes locked on a gasping Dragonair soldier who seemed totally worn out. Kicking aside carcasses and near-dead soldiers, Charzer strode over to the wounded dragon and raised it bodily by the throat.
“WHAT IS GOING ON OUT HERE?!” Charzer demanded, looking slightly demented. “WHO DID THIS?!”
“A… aaaah…oooz… uh,” the Dragonair weakly replied.
With a deranged scream, Charzer’s claws once more lit up with draconian power and ripped out the unfortunate Dragon Pokémon’s throat.
Dropping the now-limp soldier, Charzer roared to the heavens in a terrible voice, “WHO… DID THIS?!”
“If you refer to the poor Dragonair, I’d say you,” a quiet voice replied from behind Charzer.
Spinning around, Charzer’s eyes locked on those of a lithe yet dangerous white being. Red fur splashed across his face and chest in the form of lightning which ironically seemed to dance of his long purple claws. Standing behind him at the entrance to the tent he had just exited stood his four captives which had previously bound tightly.
Charzer’s eyes narrowed as they seemed to momentarily gleam yellow. “Who are you?”
“Me? You don’t know?” The Zangoose said in surprise, albeit with a touch of humour. “Well, there’s a kick to the ol’ ego…”
“ANSWER MY QUESTION, YOU LOWLY WORM!” Charzer exclaimed.
“’Lowly worm’?” Zhang said, blinking in surprise. “Well, this lowly worm’s name is Zhang. Nice to meet you.”
If anything the Zangoose had said Charzer could expect, that wasn’t it.
“Wha… you decimated my forces? YOU?!”
“Well, I wouldn’t say ‘decimated’,” Zhang explained brightly. “I’d go for half-decimated.”
“Half- decim- what the…” Charzer spluttered incoherently.
“Well, if I had killed them all, the good citizens of Deepwood would be left with the job of burying all the corpses. And that just wouldn’t be fair.”
Charzer could only mouth silently in apoplectic rage.
“I’ll be taking the young ones back to their village,” Zhang said calmly, although his eyes were on the look out for possible defiance. “Laudernum’s forces are only a few hours’ march away. You should count your losses and leave before you all face the same fate.”
Charzer began to smoke at the heels at the Zangoose’s out-of-place remarks. A mere forest yokel, underestimate him? War Prince Charzer himself.
Charzer’s eyes glowed yellow once more and a huge ring of fire surrounded all six of them. Polti began to cry and Hobble danced around, avoiding the sparks that showered them briefly.
Zhang’s eyes betrayed no surprise and his tone inferred exhaustion as he said “I suppose this won’t be negotiable?”
Charzer wordlessly ripped his cloak from around his neck and flung it aside. Crouching slightly, he raised his claws ahead of his and extended him fully. His eyes suddenly those of a cold-blooded professional assassin.
Zhang merely took a few steps forward and lowered himself into a similar stance with his arms raised slightly higher in an upper body guard, the breeze blowing through the ring of fire and making the strong flames burn brighter.
“Aghani Kei…” Logaine whispered in hushed tones.
“A-whatta who?” Senri asked in total confusion.
“Aghani Kei,” the female Charmeleon replied in explanation. “It means ‘Fire duel’. To the finish.”
Zhang shifted forwards on one foot, his eyes following Charzer’s claws as the Charmeleon lowered his claws down and to his side, fire tracing their movement in midair. Charzer’s claws glowed golden yellow as he thrust them at Zhang’s face, creating several streams of precise fire.
Zhang’s claws glowed golden yellow as well as he traced two semicircular arcs and created a circular wall of wind that guarded him from the Charmeleon’s initial attack. Clicking his left claws together, he dragged them through the air and pointed them at Charzer, a bolt of white lightning coursing straight for the stunned Charmeleon, who had to leap to avoid the streak of electricity. At the apex of his jump, Charzer inhaled and spewed out a stream of golden-fringed flamed at the Zangoose, who repeated his earlier motion swiftly and created another air barrier.
Charzer hit the ground and went from zero to full tilt in a few paces, his claws glowing orange and his eyes alight with hate. Zhang imitated him by pouring all his speed into an all-out sprint, creating a chicken-of-the-road scenario. Charzer’s Dragon Claw swung wildly at Zhang’s head as Zhang blocked with Crush Claw from his left hand. His right lashed out at Charzer’s left side and met scaly flesh.
Charzer roared with pain fired off another Flamethrower at point-blank range at Zhang which caught his opponent full in the face. Zhang went flying back a few yards and Charzer rushed in with another Dragon Claw. Zhang rolled once, twice…
…and thrust his claws straight at Charzer’s chest which was three feet away and closing fast. Lightning flashed through the air once more and it was Charzer’s turn to roll in the dust. Zhang panted heavily as the younger Pokémon rose to his feet, coughing and convulsing heavily.
“You can’t be… ‘Shirorai’ Zhang?” Charzer gasped, his eyes desperate for focus as Zhang rose to his feet.
Flinching at the sting of the second degree burns he now suffered, Zhang smiled slightly and said, “I can’t remember the last time anyone called me by my title… but it’s a name I long since threw away. My past means nothing more to me than it should, and that’s the way I’d want it to stay.”
Charzer was shaking uncontrollably and for a moment Senri had thought Zhang real identity (which was a revelation to the Sentret himself) had scared Charzer. The next second Charzer burst into chilling, raucously evil laughter that rang throughout the camp and through the hearts of Logaine, Senri, Polti and Hobble like icy poison.
“What an opportunity,” Charzer murmured in transported delight as he somehow found the strength to rise to his feet. “What an opportunity! I take not only Deepwood forest but also the life of the infamously legendary Shirorai Zhang… all in one day! I’ll become a hero the likes of which Torum has never since nor ever will know!”
Like a madman, Charzer rushed Zhang once more, who had resumed his stance and began parrying the Charmeleon’s forceful blows with increasing difficulty. The duel had soon become a slugfest of Crush Claws on Dragon Claws as Charzer mercilessly hacked and slashed at the older and steadily weakening Zangoose, who was somehow fighting back. How, he had no idea, but he knew he couldn’t keep it up for long.
Charzer suddenly gave a split second lag in attack to deliver a blazing roundhouse kick which not only added to his foe’s fire-induced injuries but added three deep welts to the Zangoose’s belly. Zhang gasped and dropped to his knees in pain as Charzer followed through with a bestial lashing of the Cat Ferret’s Pokémon face across the eyes with his blazing tail. Zhang coughed up more blood to join the already plentiful quantities that gleamed on the ground from the blows that had connected successfully. Staggering away blindly, he heard the Charmeleon scream, “IT’s OVER! DEEPWOOD, AND ALL OF LAUDERNUM SHALL FALL!”
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Logaine and the young children watched on: Charzer lunged at the Zangoose’s throat with Dragon Claw once more, his face alight with vicious victory. Zhang, squinting though his burnt eyelids as he stumbled slightly, swung a lightning-fast Crush Claw to deflect the attack downwards where it lodged itself in the left side of his chest. Screaming in pain and determination, Zhang’s right claws glowed a violently neon shade of purple and using the last reserves of strength left to him struck a blow to the Flame Pokémon’s chest, puncturing the ribcage and wedging his Poison Jab attack to his foe’s heart.
Logaine watched her younger brother stare down at where the deadly attack had impaled him. With a death gurgle, Charzer, and Torum’s attempts at conquering Laudernum had been brought to an end…
“Then what happened, Grandpa? Then what?” An excitable Pichu asked in a squeaky voice.
“Easy, Chuu,” an elderly Senri laughed gently, rubbing his granddaughter’s head affectionately. Glancing around the gaggle of youngsters staring eagerly at him, he coughed slightly and continued his tale.
“Zhang unfortunately did not survive the wounds he had established in the battle and died soon afterwards.”
“No!” A female Zigzagoon cried out in sorrow. She was immediately hushed down by the other listeners and all turned dewy eyes upon Senri who likewise had tears forming in his eyes.
“He died a true hero, for people who weren’t his own. He is honoured by Laudernum and the entire Pokémon world as a whole.”
“And Logaine?” A Squirtle asked curiously.
“She took command of the remainder of Charzer’s forces and after receiving permission to bury her troops on Laudernum soil, returned to challenge her father Lord Charsad III in an allied attack with half of Laudernum’s forces. Her victory and ascension of the Torum throne brought about an end to the Torum Empire and the dawn of the Torum Republic. Soon, Aquarisia and Compendi signed peace treaties supervised by Head Councilwoman Logaine and Chief Councilman Venoise and thus began the era of peace and stability we experience today.”
A Taillow with a green scarf adorning his red-breasted neck suddenly swooped through the window and cried out in a strident voice, “Oy, Chuu… Little Water! We’ve gotten our next rescue mission! C’mon!”
Chuu looked up in surprise at the blue bird as it circled the room once and swooped out once more.
“Shoot,” the Squirtle groaned in exasperation as he resignedly rose to his feet and picked up an identical green scarf and tied it around his neck. “That darned Toby knows no rest, does he?”
Chuu giggled as she did likewise and said, “Well, at least one of us is eager about our rescue team’s promotion to bronze rank today!”
“Aw, can it, Chuchu,” Little Water groaned, slinging a fawn coloured satchel over his right shoulder.
“We’ll be going now, Grandpa Senri,” Chuu said with a respectable bow.
“Come back safe, you three,” Senri replied calmly.
Cheers of “Go get ‘em, guys!”, “Do your best, Little Water!” and “You can do it, Chuu!” rang out as the twosome left the tent and hurried off after the circling Taillow.
“So are we all for this mission?” Senri heard his granddaughter ask the Taillow as they prepared to move out.
“Well, as we may be going as far as Mount Ember, I reckoned we could use Gravel’s help too,” Toby said calmly.
“Aw, man,” Little Water groaned. “Not that dim-witted Geodude again! Last time, he nearly cracked my shell when he dropped on me!”
“I’m already decided,” Toby said sternly. “Ready, Team Toby? Head out!”
“Who died and made you boss?” Little Water grumbled as they dashed towards the mountains. “I thought we agreed that we were called Team Wave!”
Senri smiled as he watched them leave, thinking fondly... ‘Heroes had risen and fallen… to create an era of equality… of freedom… yet were not… no, never forgotten. For the future heroes that form rescue teams that aid the distressed and distraught, though not set against each other in duels to the death, or loathed on where their homes were, nor treated those who needed them with indifference on which land they came from, banded together in a unity that not for the courage and sacrifice of their fathers before them had made would have been nought but a dream few would dream, but now… now...
…any Pokémon would be willing to fight to protect. For was this not what wars were fought for? Was this not what the heroes of old had fought to achieve? After all,’ Senri reflected as the other children left for their homes, calling out in farewell.
‘Freedom’s taste truly is something so sweet that death is a price worthy of its purchase…’
So... whaddya think? Free cookies to those who can guess where I got the names of the four nations from!