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Thread: Pokémon Ranger and the Gardener of Gratitude

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    Default Pokémon Ranger and the Gardener of Gratitude

    And so it has come. I’ve promoted it for a long time, and worked hard on it....

    The events in this story take place after the events of Chapter 16 of Pokémon XD^3: The Waves of Truth.



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


    PROLOGUE: Cube


    Pokémon.

    The mysterious and wondrous creatures that fill our world.

    Over five hundred known species exist, and more are being discovered every day.

    There are those that are known by many....

    [Several Pikachu run next to a stream, where a number of Marill swim. Some Kirlia and Nosepass lounge in the grass nearby, while Aipom and Ambipom hang in the trees]

    ...and those that are known by few.

    [A sinister shadow appears before statues of Dialga and Palkia, then rises out of the ground to reveal Darkrai. In the sky, Rayquaza flies past, followed by Ho-oh. Mewtwo watches, arms crossed and cape blowing in the wind, from the top of a nearby cliff]

    People interact with these Pokémon in various ways, from the Pokémon Trainers who train them for battles...

    [A stadium. A boy in a red beret and blue striped shirt throws a Poké Ball, sending out the Scizor within. His opponent, an older purple-haired woman in red, wearing dark sunglasses and knee-high boots, responds by sending out a Porygon-Z]

    ...to the Pokémon Coordinators who participate in Contests.

    [A tall man, sporting long black hair beneath his green wide-brimmed hat, golden shoulder armor, a green cape, black boots and holding a golden harp shaped like two Mews accepts a red-and-white ribbon while standing next to his Kricketune and Roserade]

    However, not all intentions are pure. Many people exist who would take advantage of the rarest, strongest Pokémon to fufill their selfish desires...

    [Two helicopters, one red and marked with a mountain-like “M” and the other blue with a skull-and-crossbones style “A,” fly over a tall skyscraper with a big red “R” logo. They are soon followed by a UFO with a sharp-edged yellow “G.” Out on the nearby ocean, a cargo ship bearing a mark of two triangles sticking out of a curl sails by]

    And that is where this story begins. A story of long-obscured secrets, a story of a troubled young man seeking to find the truth behind both those mysteries and his own broken identity...





    December 23, 1994



    Frosted from the frigid cold outside their boundaries, the snow outside the log cabin’s windows could barely be seen. Of course, for Snowpoint City, this was an everyday occurance.

    The room was small, yet packed full with a computer on a desk, several dressers, and a bed. In the bed sat a young boy with sandy yellow hair and thick-rimmed glasses, while a much older man sat next to him. The older man’s hair was a steely silver-blue, and a beard of the same color hung from his droopy, wrinkled face. He wore a blue suit jacket with giant red, silver and gray buttons and green cuffs, shades of green and brown on top, and gray pants ending with black shoes. Finally, he also possessed thick glasses.

    “Matt, before I leave, would you like me to tell you a story?” the old man asked.

    “Yes, grandpa!” was the young boy’s enthusiastic reply. “I love your stories!”

    The old man smiled wearily. “Well then, this is one your old grandpa loves a lot. It’s about a legendary city made entirely of solid gold.”

    “Solid gold...”

    “Yes. Long, long ago, some say five hundred years, there were a group of settlers in a far-off land. These settlers had departed from their kingdom in hopes of establishing new land for it. However, they were beset by trouble when a group of one hundred and eight evil spirits attacked them.

    Weeks turned into months as the settlers suffered under the cruel spirits. Just before they gave up, however, a savior appeared. A savior in the form of a noble masked knight with a Rampardos. This brave knight, whom they called the ‘Azure Angel’ after the flute he carried, crossed the ravaged land and fought the spirits. For forty days a great battle raged on but in the end the knight used his holy powers to bond them into a keystone, which he then buried.

    Rejoicing, the settlers decided to lead the knight to their kingdom---a lush, verdant city built entirely out of gold. With the approval of the Pokémon they worshipped, Shaymin, they showered the knight in the bounties of their kingdom for forty nights, one night for each day he spent fighting the evil spirits on their behalf.

    On the forty-first day, he departed... however, when he attempted to return one month later, the kingdom had vanished. Not one trace of the great empire remained, only the verdant land it once stood on.”

    “There was no answer to what happened?”

    “No, my grandson, nothing. The kingdom simply disappeared. Nobody to this day has been able to discover the answe...”

    “Sutter, get out of there!” a deep male voice screamed from outside the door. “I don’t want you planting that golden city crap in my son’s mind!”

    “Oh, relax!” Sutter called back. “It’s just a story!”

    “One that made you neglect me all those years! Leave this house now!”

    Sutter stood. “Matt, I’m sorry that your father wishes me to leave. But before I do, let me give you something.”

    Reaching into his briefcase, Sutter found and handed to Matt a golden cube. One side had seven dots arranged in an H shape, another with seven dots in a sideways cross, and a third with the dots in a circular pattern.

    “Grandpa, thank you! What is it?”

    “This is an item I discovered during my own hunt for the Golden City. I now pass it to you... perhaps you will be the one to discover its secrets.”

    Bowing politely to his grandson, Sutter then walked to the door, passed through, and gently shut it behind himself.

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


    April 20, 2006


    Sutter sighed as he shut the drawers of his fine maple desk for the last time.

    Having served on the board of the Rustboro School in Houen for decades, Sutter had rightfully earned his retirement, but as he looked over his dark maple Victorian office, over all the photos of himself with his colleagues, achievements and discoveries, and at his beloved floor-to-ceiling painting of a Togekiss with Lileep, Aerodactyl and Shieldon, he couldn’t help but feel down.

    Just when he was walking over to his bookshelves, though, there came a knock at the door.

    “Come in!”

    The handle turned, and in stepped a finely tailored---albeit masked---man. His yellow top hat was immediately striking, while his black-and-gray suit gave him the appearance of a Dusknoir.

    “Dr. Sutter Chiaki, I presume?” he said calmly.

    “That’d be me. What is it?”

    “I’d like to speak to you regarding an old project of yours. Specifically, La Ciudad Dorada.”

    The mere mention of this name filled Sutter’s heart with startled fear, and his eyes widened. “La...Ciudad ... Dorada?”

    “Yes. The legendary Golden City. You spent fifty years seeking it, as I do recall.”

    “...Yes. That is true. However, I didn’t find anything after those five decades. It’s probably just a fairy tale.”

    The man raised his voice. “Don’t lie to me, doctor. I know you are in possession of a puzzle cube bearing the markings of Regirock, Regice and Registeel that is relevant to the Golden City. I have come here to obtain it, as I am now taking up that hunt.”

    “Are you threatening me?” Sutter snapped as he turned back to the bookshelf. “I’m going to ask you to leave. I’m not even in possession of such a thing anyway.”

    “Very well, doctor.” Out of Sutter’s sight, the man had a Poké Ball armed. “I regret our meeting had to go this way. Dragonite, Horn Drill!”

    As soon as the man threw the ball, a Dragonite burst out and immediately lunged head-first for Sutter with the horn on its head drilling rapidly. Sutter turned, and seeing the Dragonite approaching, gasped in terror as his face turned white as a sheet.

    Then the Dragonite struck, just above Sutter’s heart. Blood flew everywhere, staining the office, as he fell to the ground.

    “I bid you good evening, doctor. Please say hello to King Fernando VII for me.”

    As the man left, Sutter weakly dragged himself towards his desk, and pulled down a sheet of paper and a quill, with which he wrote his last words...

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

    That evening was a pleasant one in Rustboro City, and Matt, now grown and looking sharp in his blue school uniform, was enjoying it at an outdoor café with a girl a few years younger than him, who was red-haired and wearing a green top and blue pants.

    “Anything good on your computer, Matt?”

    “Nah, not much, Cassy,” Matt replied, typing leisurely. “I’m still having a look at that data that was presented in class the other day. It’s quite fascinating.”

    “Bah. I’m bored. Maybe I’ll order another tea.”

    “You could order two. I’d like one.”

    Cassy turned and raised her arm. “Waiter, two teas plea---“

    Just then an alarm sounded on Matt’s computer. The image of a male police officer appeared in a window on the screen.

    “Matt Chiaki,” the officer said blankly, “we obtained your contact information from the school. Come to your grandfather’s office at once, and hurry!”

    “What was that about?”

    “Cassy, we have to go. Something bad happened at the school.” Despite his even tone, Matt was panicking inside.

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

    Matt and Cassy ran through the hallways to Sutter’s door, which they found already open. However, when they entered and saw about six officers standing around Sutter’s blood-stained body, Matt nearly doubled over and collapsed.

    “G-Grandfather!” he screamed in horror.

    “Oh my...my....Garchomp! What the hell happened here?!”

    The officer who had contacted Matt approached the pair. “We’re conducting an investigation. From what we determined so far, an unknown assailant with a Dragonite---which we identified from these footprints---came in here. There does not appear to have been an altercation. It’s likely the assailant used Horn Drill to kill your grandfather.

    However, the reason we called you here is because we found this...”

    The officer handed Matt a note half-drenched in blood. Seeing it instantly caused all manner of feeling in Matt’s body to vanish, and he turned ghastly white.

    “What?” Cassy inquired. “What’s it say?”

    “Grandson, someone’s after the cube. Protect it...

    That’s what it says. He used his... last words... to warn me of this danger....” Finally the emotion overwhelmed him, and he lost composure as he bound towards Sutter’s body with tears flooding from his eyes. “Grandfather, no! No! This can’t be... this can’t be happening! Not after your long life!”

    Two other officers had to restrain Matt while the first turned to Cassy. “I’m going to have to ask the two of you to leave now. We can’t have him interfering with the investigation.”

    “I understand.”

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


    Present day



    Click-click.

    Click-click.

    Click-click.

    The sound of the train’s wheels coursing over the rails it rode on provided a hypnotizing distraction for Matt, sitting in its exquisitly-furnished dining car and staring absently out the window at the rolling landscape, his computer open but shut off and sitting on the table in front of him.

    “Having fun?” Unnoticed by Matt, Cassy had returned from the other car---where their cabin was---and was sitting back down. “Staring that long will make you fall asleep.”

    “Oh, oh yeah. I just kinda drifted off. Sorry about that...”

    “Let me have a look at that letter you got again.”

    “Oh? Yeah, that.”

    Matt reached into his brown shoulder bag, which was resting on the seat next to him, and took out a piece of paper which he then handed to Cassy. Upon having it in her hands she began to read it aloud.

    “Greetings, Mr. Chiaki,

    My name is Fernando, the eighth Count of La Ciudad Dorada. Our kingdom is in dire straits right now. Two years have passed since the mysterious disappearance of King Fernando VII and Queen Cassandra, my parents, and owing to the fact I cannot claim the throne until that case is solved, we are suffering without a ruler.

    Furthermore, a terrible drought has recently stricken our land. The once-verdant land has become ravaged, and our people are suffering.

    Mr. Chiaki, I know of your deep connection to our city. Please, I implore you, come at your earliest convenience. You can catch a train here from the station in Passho City.

    Please, come and help us. I will be waiting.

    Yours,
    Count Fernando VIII”

    “Did you have to read it so loudly?” Matt hissed in annoyance.

    Cassy shrugged. “Sorry.”

    “Oh, I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m bored.”

    Pressing a button on the side of his computer, Matt turned the power on, and by entering a sequence of keys, he made several windows appear on the screen along with nine symbols in circles---a green leaf, a red flame, a blue water drop, a yellow lightning bolt, an orange fist, a purple eye, a white star, a black semicircle, and a silver triangle. Once the computer was booted up, Matt removed the cube from his bag and set it before the computer, making it appear in the windows.

    And then it happened.

    “Isn’t that the grandson of that crazy old archeologist?”

    “Yeah, that Chiaki guy. I thought he looked familiar.”

    “That guy who wasted fifty years of his life hunting for a fairy tale? This is funny! His grandson’s gonna waste his life the same way!”

    Desperately, Matt tried not to let the whispers and comments behind his head get to him, but that didn’t work, and he visibly began to tense up.

    “What was it? Something about a city made of gold?”

    “Such a thing doesn’t exist. He’s just some foolish idiot trying to live up to his grandfather’s fame. What a loon.”

    “Hah! You couldn’t be more right. He’ll get his soon enough, and go back to being a dead-end scientist in Sinnoh.”

    Finally, Matt snapped, the humiliation and rage overwhelming his mind and erasing his better judgment. He lept up from his seat and turned to face the group who had been whispering.

    “Listen to me!” he yelled. “It’s not a fairy tale! It’s real! My grandfather was a great and brilliant man, and he’d never make this up. If it was a fairy tale, he would be the first to not believe it!”

    “And we should listen to you why?” countered one of the people, a brown-haired businessman in a dark suit. “He was just a crazy, senile old man, and you’re gonna waste your life away following his fallacies. Grow up.”

    Left at a loss for words as his own anger and shame completely choked him, Matt finally just turned around, snapped up his things and left the car.

    “I guess....I guess I’ll be going too,” Cassy said, following him.

    When Cassy got back into their cabin---furnished with blue carpet and cushioned chairs, two oak end tables, a wide window with red sash curtains and a pair of bunk beds all surrounded by fine maple walls---she found Matt staring out that window, his computer and bag thrown on the bottom bed.

    “They think I’m mad,” he said with a sad tone while not removing his eyes from the window. Clearly, just hearing what the people in the dining car said was tormenting him. “I can’t take this anymore. I’m so ashamed of myself and no matter where I go, people remind me of it.”

    “You still say you can’t just go hom...”

    “NO!! Absolutely NOT! You know that’s impossible! And I can’t go to any school, I’ll just be bullied out like I was before. Where can I go?”

    “Well, you’ve got me, I guess.”

    “And I hope that at least stays constant...”

    Matt trailed off as the train vanished into the darkness of a tunnel, heading rapidly towards its destination: La Ciudad Dorada, the Golden City....





    Pokémon
    Diamond – Pearl – Platinum
    XD


    [View flies through a great garden of flowers and into a cave, where two vertical rows of lights flash rapidly, then up and through a fountain with fire raging around it. A red flower appears atop the fountain and releases a green pulse, turning all the fire into verdant flowers]


    Pokémon Ranger
    ~and the~
    Gardener of Gratitude






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


    In a land far away, large numbers of people had gathered in the square outside a great palace. All the earth in the area looked burned and ruined, as if a great fire had gone through. Statues of the bell Pokémon Bronzong surrounded the square.

    Up many stories above the square, two young women stood in a window of the palace, dressed in rather revealing Bronzong-themed uniforms and each carrying a silver staff with a Bronzor shape on top. Red curtains hung just above the window and a well-designed wood room could be seen behind them.

    “And now,” one of the guards announced, “the one you have all gathered here to see! Ladies and gentlemen, Count Fernando VIII!”

    The two guards stepped aside, and a stylish, bright-yellow-haired young man stepped into view, to the immediate pleasure of the crowd. His ponytailed hair’s vibrance contrasted with the dull light green large-buttoned shirt he wore, as well as his blue pants, but from where the guards could see, his red boots were quite loud. Briefly, he looked down at the crowds and smirked, then began talking.

    “My loyal subjects! My people!” he boomed in a deep, powerful voice. “I come before you today to address the subject of your recent suffering. I promise you, the dawn of a new day is not far off! This terrible drought will soon end, as I, Count Fernando, have begun the process of making just that happen! I have called in assistance from a fine young scientist who will aid me in that endeavor. And once the disaster has finally passed, we will be able to resolve the issue of who will succeed the throne after my father’s disappearance. They say the night is darkest just before the dawn, but I promise you, the dawn IS coming!”

    While the crowd went wild for Fernando’s bold declarations, he turned, shut his eyes, and smiled before walking away from the window.






    END of PROLOGUE

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    (Please forgive the double post. I felt it necessary to seperate this from the rest)

    To promote Pokémon Ranger and the Gardener of Gratitude, I now announce a contest of my own.

    To enter, all you must do is review at least two (2) chapters and submit your Friend Code for Pokémon Diamond, Pearl or Platinum.

    Three winners will be drawn, each of which will recieve one of the three prizes: a Shaymin, a Heatran, and a Regigigas, all of which are holding the item Nugget.

    Shaymin's moveset:
    -Seed Flare
    -Air Slash
    -Earth Power
    -Psychic

    Heatran's moveset:
    -Magma Storm
    -Flash Cannon
    -Earth Power
    -AncientPower

    Regigigas's moveset:
    -Crush Grip
    -Giga Impact
    -Stomp
    -Fire Punch


    Entries can be made at any time up to the posting of the final chapter of the story.

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
    Most Recent: 18: Winter of Discontent
    Next: The Weight of the World (Part 1)

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  3. #3
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    I thought you won't be posting this for a while! ^^; I know you told me this is on hold until Platinum news come (one other member actually did the same thing with his fic XD), but since it's out in the open for...wow, three months already? O.o I guess you got most of the plot planned, I assume.

    Anyways, gotta say interesting prologue. A cube, huh? Wanna say more about this (since I know pretty much the plot and how you're going about on that), but I might slip up a couple of things, so I'll stop there. :X If you want me to talk to you a bit more on this though, I might by PM.

    To tell you the truth, the second part of the prologue I felt it was a bit rush more than the prologue you posted in the preview thread. I know true now you developed the plot of the story more than from that preview thread and also of the radical changes (like the cube and also the background story of the Golden City). The thing is the prologue in the preview thread you put a bit more detail on Sutter's personality. For instance,

    A poignant feeling crept into his mind as he peered down at the gold nameplate at the front of the desk. 'Professor Sutter Chiaki, PhD Archeology," it read.

    A poignant feeling, as this night was the last night Sutter would spend as the most revered archeology professor at the Rustboro School, and probably in all of Houen. He'd lived over one hundred years, yet he was healthy enough to be no more than seventy-five. In his mind, Sutter felt that it was simply time to retire from the limelight after over eighty years of being a world-renowned archeologist, time to let a younger generation enjoy their discoveries as he had. Sutter had particularly high hopes for his grandson, a studious young man in the school who had shown interest in archeology from an early age.
    From the preview thread. You put more detail and emotions when protraying Sutter's personality. The second part I felt you kinda rushed it to get to the action and didn't flesh out more depth into that part (here I go with "flesh" again XD; ). I too have this problem as I would just write the actions and not emotions due to me wanting to write the good parts. ^^; However, one great thing I like about the second part better than from the preview thread is the last part where you have Sutter writing something before he died. Makes the second part of the prologue more finished and also to show because of the situation, Sutter actually does something about it before he died.

    Despite my criticism on the second part of the prologue, I thought the third part of the prologue you did great with Matt''s emotions when he got frustrated the people badmouthing his grandfather. This shows a bit more of Matt's personality, gives the readers a picture of how much he cares about Sutter.

    I have to say, am hooked already and also interested with how you're going to go through with the story this time since it seems you already made a lot of changes after a few months ago when you told me the gist of the original plot. If you want, I can make a banner for this story and also can help you with anything else like plot ideas too. Can't wait for next chapter, then!


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    Very nice, great description and an interesting storyline. However, I'm not sure whether you wanted to in the prologue but, you didn't describe the Pokémon. You've got to imagine that we don't know what the heck a Pokémon is. But it's a great story, very exciting and keep up the good work!
    this hope is treacherous, this daydream is dangerous.
    ~I've claimed Turtwig~

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    Interesting...very, very interesting.

    Lucas and Rebecca made nice cameos, as did Nando. I noticed that the murder scene was significantly shortened from the preview, and the guy with the Dragonite had some more detail on him. Nice.

    I also want to quote this:

    “My loyal subjects! My people!” he boomed in a deep, powerful voice. “I come before you today to address the subject of your recent suffering. I promise you, the dawn of a new day is not far off! This terrible drought will soon end, as I, Count Fernando, have begun the process of making just that happen! I have called in assistance from a fine young scientist who will aid me in that endeavor. And once the disaster has finally passed, we will be able to resolve the issue of who will succeed the throne after my father’s disappearance. They say the night is darkest just before the dawn, but I promise you, the dawn IS coming!
    TDK references make me happy.

    Can't wait for more. This is going to be good!
    Current fanfics:


    Proving Grounds

    How far will one boy go to prove something?

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    Hello!

    Well, I can't say I've looked at the preview, so I'll just go with what I know from here.

    Someone said that you didn't describe the Pokémon and I respond with a "true that" and also say that you didn't. If that makes sense. =/

    I also thought that you could have described everything better. Mostly, your description was a list. Tacked on with ---s. Example:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Butler
    Rejoicing, the settlers decided to lead the knight to their kingdom---a lush, verdant city built entirely out of gold.
    Shortest one I could find. You really could have fleshed this out more. Show, don't tell.

    A little bit rushed, agreed, and I am just realizing that I'm simply restating what everyone else has said already. =/

    Um, the plot has me greatly intrigued. Who knew a simple cube could spark such controversy, eh?

    Don't get me wrong, I really do like this. I just think that it's better to point out areas that need work than just dishing out compliments and giving the writer a big head, y'know?

    I shall stick around. xD

    ~BM
    ~Keep on truckin'!~


    Thanks to Zadros for the banner!

    Not coming soon, but
    it's a pretty banner, yes?

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    Wow, lots to respond to.

    I thought you won't be posting this for a while! ^^; I know you told me this is on hold until Platinum news come (one other member actually did the same thing with his fic XD), but since it's out in the open for...wow, three months already? O.o I guess you got most of the plot planned, I assume.
    I actually did not have much of this done until Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia came out, at which point I realized I could flesh out the story more to my satisfaction using that and what details of Platina were known.

    Anyways, gotta say interesting prologue. A cube, huh? Wanna say more about this (since I know pretty much the plot and how you're going about on that), but I might slip up a couple of things, so I'll stop there. :X If you want me to talk to you a bit more on this though, I might by PM.
    If you want to know more, feel free to PM me, but what I will say is that the cube moved into the role occupied largely by the split map in the preview.

    From the preview thread. You put more detail and emotions when protraying Sutter's personality. The second part I felt you kinda rushed it to get to the action and didn't flesh out more depth into that part (here I go with "flesh" again XD; ). I too have this problem as I would just write the actions and not emotions due to me wanting to write the good parts. ^^; However, one great thing I like about the second part better than from the preview thread is the last part where you have Sutter writing something before he died. Makes the second part of the prologue more finished and also to show because of the situation, Sutter actually does something about it before he died.
    I see what you mean. I didn't leave the part that was in the preview as long as it was because I felt I fleshed him out more in the new first segment, but your point is still fair.

    I thought the third part of the prologue you did great with Matt''s emotions when he got frustrated the people badmouthing his grandfather. This shows a bit more of Matt's personality, gives the readers a picture of how much he cares about Sutter.
    That was one of my favorite parts, too.

    Very nice, great description and an interesting storyline. However, I'm not sure whether you wanted to in the prologue but, you didn't describe the Pokémon. You've got to imagine that we don't know what the heck a Pokémon is.
    True. My intent though was to not get too ... "heavy" too soon.

    Lucas and Rebecca made nice cameos, as did Nando.
    Slight nitpick - it was Stage Madonna Kate that Lucas was battling.

    TDK references make me happy.
    Me too, and there's a good reason I did it.

    Shortest one I could find. You really could have fleshed this out more. Show, don't tell.
    In this specific case, I intentionally made the description sparse because of the fact it was in the context of a story.

    It shouldn't be too long for the first real chapter. I'm working on this to try and get my fire back up for XD^3.

    (Banner by Matori)
    Beyond all ideals, the truth shall set you free...
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    Like I said in the preview I am going to follow through this all the way. I cant wait for the next chapter. You also used my favriote quote.
    They say the night is darkest just before the dawn, but I promise you, the dawn IS coming!
    I wont review the prolauge but I will on chapter one.

    ---------- join ever grande city, a fun and new pokemon forum!! // tumblr

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    Problem. The server issues have made me unable to post the chapter. I'd appreciate it if you guys read and commented over at Bulbagarden:

    http://bmgf.bulbagarden.net/showthre...246#post732246

    (Banner by Matori)
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    The steps on the road to the truth.
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    And here we go.

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


    CHAPTER 1: Sand





    11/8/00
    16:32:89


    “Matt? Matt, do you have the video on?”

    “Grandfather, it’s been on for the last five minutes!”

    Evidently, and made especially obvious from the static and poor quality of the image, this was an old home video. Matt could be heard from behind the camera, while Sutter was in front of it being filmed. They were in what appeared to be a system of ancient tunnels and paths, walking in some tall grass.

    “Okay then... Sutter Chiaki here, and today my grandson is assisting me in exploring the legendary Ruins of Alph in Johto. We’re investigating the Pokémon native to this area, as you might be quite surprised at their variety. Matt, name some that you know.”

    “Besides Unown?”

    “Besides Unown.”

    “Well, I think Natu live in this area. I’m pretty sure Smeargle and Wooper do, and...” Just then, a flock of small, green, round-bodied Natu flew out of a tree behind Sutter and swooped down near him. “Grandfather, look out!”

    “What? OH!”

    Though the Natu didn’t actually hit him, Sutter was shaken by their appearance, and stumbled forward before falling onto the ground. Matt shouted in shock and dropped the camera, causing it to cut out temporarily.

    When the image returned, Matt---dressed in a white lab coat with various shades of blue and mint-green pants beneath---had rushed to Sutter’s side and begun helping him up.

    “Are you alright?” the concern in Matt’s voice was easily noticed.

    “Oh, I’m fine. That was some swarm of Natu though!”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Back in the present day, Matt was actually sitting at a table in a small café at the train station, watching that video on his computer. At this time, they’d reached their destination, La Ciudad Dorada, in the early evening.

    “Matt, stop watching that video,” Cassy hissed from where she was standing nearby, in front of a wall map. “You’ve watched it four times in the past twenty minutes, and we have to go.”

    Sighing, Matt closed the computer and stood. “You’re right. I’ve just been watching it because...”

    Matt trailed off. Together with Cassy, he began walking down a path away from the train station, one that was surrounded by ravaged land, land that was framed with sadly cracked and broken white fencing. It wasn’t until they had walked down the path a ways, taking note of the unfortunate look of many of the stone and clay buildings, that either spoke again.

    “Well? Are you going to finish that sentence?”

    “What?”

    “When we were talking back there. You never finished your sentence.”

    “Oh, that. It’s just that I’ve never had to go on such a major expedition without him around for support before...I’m nervous.”

    “Don’t be,” Cassy said reassuringly. “You need to get more confidence in yourself.”

    “That’s easy for you to say,” Matt snapped back, doubt clouding his mind. “You haven’t been through half of what I have.”

    Turning her head away, Cassy looked back at Matt one more time through the corners of her eyes and grimaced, then continued walking.

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

    Meanwhile, in a checkerboard-floored chamber of the palace, Count Fernando stood staring out a window over his land. Two of the guards entered, both of whom bowed carefully even though he didn’t turn around to acknowledge them.

    “Count Fernando,” one said slowly, “your expected guests just arrived at the rail depot.”

    “They’re heading for the palace now.”

    “I know, my adorable guards, I know...” the Count murmured. “You are both doing a good job at your positions. Certainly much more than I’d expect out of most women. Please return to your posts.”

    “Right away!” both guards shrilled before turning and leaving.

    Once he was alone again, Fernando took a step closer to the window and looked downwards toward a ravaged garden in front of the palace. A number of pillars had cracked and fallen over in it, and its earth, like everywhere else in the kingdom, looked burnt beyond belief.

    “Sad, so sad... such a sad sight. I truly believe this will be resolved, but first... ahahaha...”

    Down in the garden, some of the terrain began to quake and crack, as if something were emerging from it.

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

    As Matt and Cassy took their steps up to the grand palace, two of the young guards stepped in to impede their path.

    "Not just everyone gets in here," one of them droned in a thoughtless voice.

    "Do you have invitations?" the second demanded.

    Matt fumbled for his bag. "Actually, we do. A gentleman named Count Fernando sent us a letter requesting that we---"

    Suddenly, an explosion from somewhere not far away shook the ground. Both Matt and Cassy spun around in shock, only to see a large fire burning a short distance from the castle.

    "The garden!" screamed the first guard. "That fire's in the garden!"

    "After the drought?! We have to alert the count at once!"

    With that, both guards turned and ran through the front gates and inside the palace. Left with no other choice, Matt and Cassy went the other way and headed towards the fire in the garden.

    When they got there, a terrible scene was unfolding. With no good coming from the obviously dry and dead grass surrounding the paths and stone pillars, a raging fire burned, frightening away all the Pokémon, among them some Buizel, Kricketot, Combee, Yanmega and Nosepass.

    "Look at this! We have to do something..." Reaching for her Poké Balls, Cassy chose one and threw it upward. "Wave Rider, Hydro Pump!"

    Bursting from the light of the open ball came the streamlined, bullet-shaped body of a Sharpedo. It immediately opened its mighty mouth and loosed a flood of water onto the flames, yet, only a tiny bit of the fire actually seemed subdued by it.

    Seeing this wasn't helping, Matt decided to add his own effort, and threw a ball of his own. "Harvey, make your mark!"

    An oozing, slimy Muk emerged from the Poké Ball. It stretched its body, preparing to take any impending order.

    "Mud Bom---"

    "Stop! Help me! Just get me out of here, someone!"

    Matt froze, then gasped as he looked closer into the flames. "Cassy... someone's trapped!"

    Indeed, on closer inspection, a light-blue pigtailed girl with a big pink hair bow stood at the center of the blaze, cringing as the flames lapped dangerously close to her ruffled green, floral-patterned dress. A Teddiursa was clinging to her leg in fear.

    "What should we do, Matt? We can't get her out of there..."

    "Stand back!"

    Coming in from the bushes, a young blue-haired man wearing dark black sunglasses stepped in front of Matt and Cassy. He was also wearing a black coat with the neck lined with fur, purple pants, and black shoes. On his right arm was a red device shaped in an elongated oval, bearing a top-like object at the tip near his hand---a Fine Styler. At his heels was a Riolu.

    "A Pokémon Ranger?" Matt and Cassy both said at once.

    Without a word the Ranger opened the monitor screen on his Styler and quickly became interested in the three Buizel nearby.

    "Buizel, help me save your home. Capture on!"

    The top launched out of the Fine Styler, and soon it began circling the Buizel at a high rate of speed.

    "Batonnage! Aha!"

    As the Ranger spun his arm in circles, the circles around the Buizel became more solid, and soon, they absorbed into the bodies of the three Water types.

    "Capture complete! Now Buizel, all of you use Water Gun!"

    Following what they had been told to do, the Buizel all spat streams of rapidly-flowing water on different parts of the fire. Unlike the single attack used earlier, this technique proved effective. The fire faded, and soon enough was gone, much to the girl's visible relief.

    "T-thank you..." the shaken young woman said gratefully. "Thank you...um..."

    "Ross. Top Ranger Ross, the pride of Almia. Just doing my job, even though I'm on vacation." Finishing with the girl, Ross turned to Matt and Cassy. "You two shouldn't have gotten involved in this. Only Rangers get the training necessary to deal with these dangerous situations."

    "We were here first!" Cassy screeched.

    "It doesn't matter who was here first!" interjected the girl. "You two tried to help me too... so thanks. My name's Eleanor, Eleanor Laplace of the Laplace Doll Shop in Auraline City. I'm on vacation too, I guess. And you are?"

    "Matt Chiaki's the name. This is my friend Cassy Natsuka."

    "Those are nice names... and you're kinda cute." Matt clearly was taken by surprise by this. "Oh, don't mind me."

    "Ahaha! Bravo!"

    From behind, the sound of clapping alerted them all to another presence, which was that of Fernando himself. A pleased yet amused look was on his face as he stepped up to the group.

    "Thank you! Thank you very, very much, all of you. My guards alerted me to this fire but I couldn't make it in time. Thank you for taking care of it."

    "Guards?" Cassy remarked, puzzled. "If you have guards, does that mean you are...?"

    "Aha! Yes, my fine young example of a woman..."

    "Don't call me that, you lech."

    "...AHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, what a fiery spirit! But I digress. My name is Fernando, the Eighth Count of La Ciudad Dorada. You may call me Count Fernando."

    "Fernando," inquired Ross, "can you give us any insight into the cause of this calamity?"

    "Oh, can I ever. Heatran..."

    "Heatran?!" gasped the entire group other than Eleanor, before Matt spoke up, "The legendary deity of fire, Heatran? It appeared here?!"

    "There have been a number of sightings of Heatran in the kingdom recently, from around the time this dreadful drought occurred. Ahahaha, but this is not the place for such talk. Let's go back to my palace."

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

    Unlike the garden and clay paths of the city, which were drenched in horrid heat, the inner hall of the palace---tiled neatly in a black and white checkboard patterned floor, orange brick forming the walls, which were lined with silver shields in the shape of Bronzor---was very cool and comfortable. A number of blue tapestries hung down from the high ceilings, and multiple paths split from the main hall just a short distance in. Fernando led his followers to the nexus of the paths before stopping and turning to face them. He immediately zeroed in on the worry plastered on Eleanor’s face.

    “Oh? What’s wrong, my lovely little piece of lolita fluff?”

    “Don’t speak to me in such a way, you! Especially...not now! Just...not now...”

    Fernando stepped back. “Mmm...alright, I apologize. What is bothering you?”

    “I...I was right there.” Eleanor’s voice was quaking. “I was walking in the garden with my Teddiursa, and...Heatran just burst out of the ground and started burning things! It was terrifying!”

    “Mmm. I can see you’re shaken.” Turning, Fernando directed his guests’ attention to a hallway to the right. “I’ll get a larger account a little later. For now, let me escort you to the museum portion of this palace. There, I’ll show you about the history of my kingdom. Is that acceptable?”

    “I think so,” Matt said, nodding. “Let’s hear what this is all about.”

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

    The heavy wood door, marked on both sides with a brass plate reading “MUSEUM,” creaked weakly as Fernando pushed it open in order to allow his guests inside. Though the blue stone walls emenated coldness, the fact that they were lined with things like red tapestries, silver shields and numerous paintings allowed Matt and the others to ignore that fact.

    “Impressed?” the young count said boastfully. “This area highlights our rich history. It’s everything you could possibly want to know about my kingdom.”

    “Well I bet there’s stuff my grandfather told me that isn’t here.”

    Fernando turned, a sort of irritated rage on his face. “Don’t be a smart guy with me. The old man and this place were tied together without fail, and from the impression I’ve got of you, you’re just an annoyance compared to his genius!”

    Matt, Cassy and Eleanor all recoiled at this sudden outburst, but it was the latter who actually spoke up. “What was that for? Absolutely rude!”

    “Mmm...you’re right, forgive me. I’m a little...touchy...about that kind of thing. Sorry.”

    While all three others rolled their eyes, Ross had approached an imposing statue of an especially tall man. Whoever it was, the figure was wearing a mask with a cross cut out of the face, revealing two narrow eyes, a nose and part of a mouth. Long hair draped around the mask and the figure was caped and holding a spear. Standing next to the statue was another statue, this of the dinosaur-like Pokémon Rampardos.

    “Who is this?” questioned the Ranger.

    “That is a very important figure in our history, Ross. He is a knight who lived around five hundred years ago and is said to have been one of the last living people to have seen the Golden City. People called him the ‘Azure Angel’ in his time, as you can see.”

    Matt’s eyes widened as he approached with Eleanor and Cassy. “The Azure Angel... that is the knight in the story my grandfather told me as a boy, but I didn’t know what he looked like before.”

    “Matt...” Cassy said quietly, “why do I get the feeling I’ve seen this guy before?”

    “You know, on second thought he does look familiar. I think we’ve met someone who looks like him.”

    “That’s impossible!” Fernando snapped haughtily. “This man died centuries ago. Anyone you saw who resembled him was just an imitator. Let’s move on.”

    Matt shrugged, and with the others, followed Fernando to another display, a row of golden statues of men. Though stands and display panels were set up for seven, the first and seventh had no statues.

    “What’s up with this?” Eleanor inquired. “Why are some of the statues missing?”

    “If you’d let me explain...” hissed Fernando, momentarily losing his composure again, “this section is dedicated to the kings of La Ciudad Dorada. Many of our kings have been blessed with unusually long lives, so that’s why there have been a total of only seven to the present day. When a king does pass on, we encase their body in gold and set it up as a display to memorialize them.”

    “Like mummies...” Matt said in wonder. “So I guess this first space would be for Fernando I? Why isn’t he here?”

    “Read the panel.”

    Figuring Fernando was going to force him if he didn’t, Matt approached the panel next to the empty space and began reading it aloud.

    “King Fernando I. Said to have lived 1422-1508. Fernando I was the only king to have actually ruled over the Golden City of La Ciudad Dorada, and it is said his body disappeared with his kingdom. Revered as the founder and first leader of the city.

    ...That’s it? The details are rather sparse.”

    “Well, what do you expect? We couldn’t exactly get perfect information, everything recorded about that part of history went away with the Golden City!”

    “That’s true,” Cassy concurred. “Let’s see the next one.”

    “Alright.”

    The next statue was that of a gaunt man holding a scepter, a figure that didn’t cut the kind of appearance one would think of a king. Matt thought about saying that, but then realized Fernando would probably snap again if he did, and just went about reading the tablet instead.

    “King Fernando II. Lived from 1497-1689. The son of the great King Fernando I, and one of the only known survivors of the Golden City. Fernando II was the founder of what became the modern-day La Ciudad Dorada. He ruled with an iron fist but meant well for his people, believing that it was necessary for their well-being.”

    “That’s interesting,” uttered Eleanor. “Who’s next?”

    Next in line, there was a statue of an obviously very old, elderly man, whose face was completely sunken in and droopy, with sunken eyebrows over his eyes to match. His attire was unremarkable, except for a cape.

    “Let’s see this one...

    King Fernando III, known as the Forever King. Lived from 1619-1851. Fernando III was the longest reigning and longest living of all the kings of House Fernando. After taking over following his father’s death, Fernando III implemented a more open society than that of his predecessor, bringing freer will and life to the kingdom.”

    “Besides Fernando I,” the count said proudly, “I’m most prideful of him. Fernando III was a truly great man and did many good things for us.”

    “I can imagine,” Ross replied. “He does sound like a good ruler.”

    Matt had already moved on to the next statue---which surprisingly was a man much, much younger looking than the three before him.

    “King Fernando IV, the Boy King. Lived from 1840-1910. The youngest king and the one with the shortest life. Fernando IV, owing to his age, did not accomplish many new feats, instead continuing the successful path of his father.”

    Before anyone else could say anything, Matt had already looked at the next statue---a bearded man with long hair---and rushed over to it with a sense of familiarity. This visually annoyed Count Fernando but he remained silent.

    “I know this one! My grandfather worked with him!

    King Fernando V. Lived from 1888-1995. While continuing on the path set by his father and grandfather, Fernando V spurred into action an investigation into the history of the Golden City. Along with the archeologist Sutter Chiaki, Fernando V made much headway into revealing the truth about La Ciudad Dorada’s past.”

    “Yes, that is true. I met your grandfather when he was alive and working with my grandfather on this project. For all his faults, he was a very smart archeologist.”

    “Faults?” Matt snapped. “I’m so sick of hearing about his supposed faults! Back off!”

    “Sensitive much? I mean, fifty years searching for something most consider a fairy tale. Seriously. But fine, if you want to move on to the next one...”

    Again rolling his eyes, but saying no more, Matt moved to the final statue in the row. This one greatly resembled the count standing next to him.

    “King Fernando VI. Lived from 1910-2006. Like his father, Fernando VI sought to find the Golden City and restore the lost history of La Ciudad Dorada. Also along with Fernando V, Fernando VI is remembered as a kindhearted and gentle king.

    ...That’s nice and all, but why is Fernando VII’s booth empty?”

    Count Fernando shut his eyes. “Nobody knows where he is or what happened to him. He merely vanished one day last year along with my mother, Queen Cassandra. No body has ever been recovered and it is not known if he still lives. That’s why I can’t claim the throne. I’m just ruling in place of my father until I can take my rightful place as King Fernando VIII.”

    “Isn’t it strange though?” Eleanor commented. “Look at all the strange things that have happened in relation to this place in the past two years. First Sutter was murdered, then the king and queen vanished, and now the appearance of Heatran with this drought. I think something more is going on here.”

    Matt nodded in agreement, saying quietly, “I think you might be right. It’s getting a little late, so tomorrow I’d like to have another look at that garden where you saw Heatran. I think there may be some answers there.”

    “Aha! Very well then!” boomed Count Fernando. “Do allow me to show you to your accomodations for the night.”

    In a rather hasty fashion, Fernando ushered his guests out of the museum hall, back into the main area of the palace.

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

    Some time later that night, much later, a shady figure was moving about inside a chamber of the palace that, with the equipment present---several ornate globes, multiple maps and star charts, and a telescope---greatly looked like an observatory. Eventually, the man approached the window, and the moonlight revealed his appearance---rags covering his face, a yellow top hat, and gray clothing giving him the general appearance of the ghost Pokémon Dusknoir.

    Before he spoke, he peered through the telescope. “Ah, La Ciudad Dorada. Soon, soon you will fall under my rule. All that is left is to discover the secret of the Golden City and capture its lord, then I will have my wish...”

    “That is my wish as well, Dominar...” said a deep voice from the nearby darkness. Glowing yellow lines in the shadows revealed the presence of an actual Dusknoir, which resembled a round-bodied magic genie with one red eye in a mouth-like opening on its head, while its body had jagged yellow marks across it.

    “Yes, Dusknoir,” the man said to his Pokémon, turning from the window. “Our plan is nearing its climax. We now only need to manipulate the Chiaki boy into doing the dirty work of deciphering where the Golden City is and how to enter it. From what I understand, tomorrow he is going to investigate today’s sighting of Heatran in the garden. I plan to free the Hippowdon to test him.”

    “A wise choice...”

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

    “Ugh... what... oh geez, why is it so hot in here?!”

    Sitting up in his plainly-sheeted bed with a start, Matt looked around the equally plain lodging room to see his companions all standing by a nearby open window, desperately trying to cool off.

    “Guess the heat finally woke you up, eh?” Ross said, rather jovially. “Can’t explain what’s with this sudden heat wave, but I guess it’s to be expected when there’s a drought.”

    “You’re right. Still though, it’s way too hot for me to be wearing my school uniform. Good thing I brought my old expedition clothes from the old days.”

    Matt headed into a side room through a curtain. While he was in that room, the others continued staring out the window.

    “This place is so beautiful, yet it’s so sad...” Cassy stated softly. “I think it’s good, though, that there’s someone who cares about it as much as Count Fernando does. Once he becomes king, hopefully things will turn around.”

    “I don’t know about that...”

    While Cassy was talking, Matt had returned from the side room, now dressed in his blue and green expedition clothes and wearing a black backpack instead of his computer bag, one that had gray egg-shaped devices with red buttons on both straps. Just then, the sound of bells ringing sounded through the air outside, coming through the window.

    “The problems here are too great to be solved by any one person,” he continued, “and I think even Count Fernando knows that. He contacted us because outside of anyone living here, we probably know the most about this place through the fifty years my grandfather spent studying it.” Matt then turned towards the door. “Come on, let’s get on the move. I’ve got my palm computer all set up, so I don’t need that big laptop. It’ll just get in the way during fieldwork.”

    In response to this, Cassy gave a nervous smile, not doing well at masking her embarassment. “I think Sutter trained you too well. You’re always in research mode...”

    Matt gave a similar smile back, however his was simple amusement. “You’re probably right, but it’s good to always be ready for anythi---“

    It was a good thing that Matt was about to say ‘ready for anything,’ as a great banging on the door came through the air, followed by the panicked voice of one of the palace’s guards.

    “Matt Chiaki! Cassy Natsuka! Eleanor Laplace! Ross...um, whatever your last name is! Count Fernando needs to see you now! There’s an emergency!”

    “What’s the emergency?” Eleanor asked, becoming slightly alarmed.

    “Look! Out in the garden!” shouted Ross, pointing out the window. This prompted the others to rush alongside him. “Look out there! Is that a sandstorm?”

    The Ranger’s vision wasn’t fooling him---there did indeed appear to be a swirling cloud of sand down in the gardens outside the palace, where Matt and Cassy had found Eleanor the day prior.

    “Hm? What’s that?” Seeing something within the sandstorm, Matt pressed the button on his right backpack strap, bringing a robotic arm out of the bag that held a viewing lens up to his face. He then pressed a button on the lens several times to adjust the view, then gasped. “I can see something inside that mass of sand. It looks like a bunch of wild Hippowdon!”

    “That would make sense,” Ross concurred. “Their ability, Sand Stream, is causing the sandstorms... I’d assume this is the emergency Fernando wanted to tell us about.”

    “You’re damn straight it is!” Not a soul in the room didn’t know that the voice now booming through the door was Count Fernando’s. “I need you guys down there right away! You’re probably the best battlers in the kingdom right now, and those Hippowdon need to be quieted down!”

    “Alright!” Matt shouted back. “Come on, guys, he’s not gonna leave us alone until we do something about this. Let’s get moving.”

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

    Minutes later the group of four had left the palace and were running into the garden, towards the sandstorm, and oddly enough, Fernando hadn’t followed.

    “This isn’t gonna be easy,” Matt observed. “Cassy, you’re gonna have to help me with this, and Eleanor, I don’t know what kind of Pokémon you have, but I’ll need your help too.”

    “Right.”

    Both young women nodded briskly and readied one Poké Ball each.

    “Sand gets washed away by water, so go Wave Rider!”

    “And Ground-types hate ice. Jynx, I’m sending you out!”

    Wave Rider emerged once more from Cassy’s ball, while a humanoid, purple-faced Jynx burst from Eleanor’s. Side by side, they stood ready to face the Hippowdon onslaught.

    “As for me....” Matt pressed the left-strap button, bringing out of his bag a robotic arm holding a palm computer that unfolded at its bottom half to reveal a keyboard, then drew out two of his own Poké Balls and threw them. “Zero and Clay, make your mark!”

    Matt’s Magnezone, a UFO-like silver iron creature named Zero, and Clay, his dark brown and black ancient clay doll Pokémon, a Claydol, sporting red eyes around its head.

    “I think the best solution would be to get rid of this sandstorm first. Clay, use Rain Dance!”

    Clay’s two bulbous arms began to glow blue at their tips, as did its eyes. Soon, a blue beam of light shot out of the point on its head into the sky, creating dark clouds that quickly began to drop rain. This rain, in turn, washed away the sandstorm and exposed the three Hippowdon, which all had strangely vacant looks in their eyes.

    Even as such, one of the Hippowdon immediately turned to face its enemies and opened its mouth wide with a mighty roar, making spears of dirt burst out of the ground heading in Zero’s direction.

    “That’s Earth Power!” Eleanor shouted. “Zero’s going to get hit hard!”

    “I don’t think so,” was Matt’s calm reply. “Zero, Magnet Rise!”

    Before the Hippowdon’s Earth Power attack could hit its target, Zero formed beneath itself a field of electromagnetic energy, rising several more feet upward. Not only that, the energy field deflected the Earth Power blasts when they entered it, rendering them all useless.

    “Wave Rider, attack them with---“

    “Stop!” Ross cried out, frantically looking up and down from his Styler’s monitor screen. “Don’t attack!”

    “What?” answered Cassy in hesitation.

    “Something’s wrong with these Hippowdon. It looks like they’re under some kind of mind control. If you can defeat them, it’ll be useless still if I can’t capture them...”

    “That glow in their eyes? That’s got to be it.” Dubious, worrying thoughts entered Matt’s mind about the situation, but beyond dampening his expression a bit, he pushed them back. “Then there’s only one thing we can do. Clay, Ice Beam, now!”

    “Wave Rider, Hydro Pump!”

    “Use Ice Beam too, Jynx!”

    While Clay formed a sphere of ice in front of itself using energy from its arms, Eleanor’s Jynx formed a similar sphere in between its hands, which it was holding over its head. Simulatenously, beams of ice shot out from these spheres, at the same time as Wave Rider releasing a jet of pressurized water from its mouth.

    Together, these three attacks buffeted the Hippowdon; the combined force of the two Ice Beams was enough to fell one of them, while the Hydro Pump significantly weakened another.

    “Buizel, hurry and use Aqua Jet!”

    While the others had been fighting, Ross had gone off and captured a pair of Buizel, which he now had under his control. The two Buizel both sprang at the pair of still-standing Hippowdon, propelling themselves with their spinning tails and surrounding themselves in water. Each one inflicted a hit that, while not causing much visible damage, stunned both of the Ground types.

    “Now, capture on! Batonnage!”

    Ross pointed his arm at the fallen Hippowdon and activated his Styler. The Capture Disc shot out of it and began spinning around its target as Ross spun his arm in wide circles, forming a boundary of energy and finally taking hold on the Hippowdon.

    “Capture complete! That’s one down, get the others!”

    “Alright.” Turning back to the battle, Matt raised his arm to give his next command. “Flash Cannon, Zero!”

    Using its centrally-located, red eye to aim, Zero locked on to the Hippowdon farthest from Matt and quickly fired out a glowing silver blast, which the Hippowdon attempted to counterattack with a failed attempt at using Hyper Beam that simply exploded in its face upon being struck by Flash Cannon.

    Turning to Eleanor, Cassy then said with a trace of urgency, “If we want to finish this quickly, we’ll have to work together. There’s no other way.”

    “You’re right,” the other girl replied, nodding. “So let’s do just that.”

    However, while Cassy and Eleanor plotted their strategy, the other two Hippowdon had recovered, and both let loose their Earth Power attacks at Wave Rider, the combined force battering down and crushing the shark.

    “W-Wave Rider! Matt, get those ugly things back for doing that!”

    “Allow me!” Eleanor burst out confidently, stepping in front of Cassy---but not noticing her scowl upon this event. “Jynx, attack with Blizzard! Hit them both!”

    “And you use Earthquake, Clay!” Matt added.

    Beginning the offensive, Jynx extended both of its open hands in the direction of the Hippowdon; gusts of icy wind immediately blasted out of them to buffet the two Ground-types. Not only was this quite effective in stunning them, it caused enough damage to actually frost their shell-like backs.

    Clay followed this by floating upwards about a foot then slamming its entire weight forcefully downward into the ground, creating a shock wave. While it did impact Jynx, the force on the already-significantly-weakened Hippowdon was enough to fell them both.

    “Good going, you guys. Capture on! Batonnage!”

    Ross took full charge of the situation once both Hippowdon were down, launching his Capture Disc at them both, and only a few quick loops later, he had captured them.

    “Capture complete! I think we’re done here.”

    Taking a step back and looking around, Matt gasped as he took in just what had happened. “Look what those Hippowdon did to this garden...”

    Indeed, the garden lay in ruins. What appeared to have once been pools of water were now drained and largely refilled with sand, and the stone pillars around the pools were cracked. Not only that, sand filled the cracks of the stone plates that formed paths, at least where there wasn’t completely dry and dead soil.

    “It’s a shame.” All four jumped, only to find Fernando behind them. “This place used to be so lovely, but look at it now! Look, it doesn’t fit the beauty of my kingdom at all!”

    “No offense,” Eleanor deadpanned, “but it isn’t exactly beautiful right now.”

    An absolute mistake. Instantly, Fernando exploded. “Shut up, you short-sighted *****! It’s no good to see the kingdom now, if you had actually been here before this drought you’d have to eat your words!”

    “Well I never! Such ill manner for a supposed member of royalty. Where I come from, I would treat your type as a servant!”

    “Um, guys, cool it long enough to have a look at this...” As Eleanor and Fernando had been going at it, Matt had approached one of the destroyed columns. Inside one of the cracks in the column appeared to be some sort of stone tablet. “Look at this. I think those Hippowdon did us a favor.”

    “What is that?” Ross had approached and was now peering into the crack.

    “It looks like...” Reserving comment, Matt carefully removed the object from the crack in the pillar. “...some kind of tablet. Who would have thought these things were hidden in pillars?”

    Fernando took a step forward. “And look at the writing on it.” It was true that the tablet was covered in markings, but they were blurred and and difficult to make out. “You studied under the great Sutter, so shouldn’t you be able to read that?”

    “I don’t know. I’ve definitely seen these before but their meaning isn’t coming to me right away...”

    “Come on!” Once again the count was becoming angered. “With all your studies, everything you’ve learned, you’re telling me that you can’t read that and tell me where the next one is?!”

    Matt shrunk back, fear visibly reaching his face. “Just...um.... look, he didn’t teach me everything... but I’m trying...” And with that, Matt broke down in tears.

    “Matt!” Immediately, Eleanor rushed to him and embraced him. “Calm down, it’s okay...”

    “What a whiner. He needs to toughen... no, he needs to grow up.”

    Cassy, however, ignored Fernando’s snide remark and concentrated on something else. “You said you wanted Matt to tell you where the next ‘one’ was? What’s this ‘one?’”

    “Oh, uh, nothing. I just think there might be more of those tablets, that’s all.”

    “That’s...that’s fair...” Matt had recovered a bit and now could speak again as he regained his composure. “I just need to... have a look at it. I should be able to decipher it without too much difficulty.”

    “Good. Perhaps there may be a book in the palace’s library that can help you. I’m heading back, meet me there. The guards will direct you.”

    Fernando turned, maintaining his haughty air, and began walking back towards the palace. Matt followed with the tablet tucked under his right arm, while Cassy, Eleanor and Ross were behind him.

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

    Some time later, in a mysterious, unseen temple, the man in the yellow top hat and his Dusknoir stood before a strange machine. This machine appeared to be some kind of computer, but on its top was a gyroscope with a craggy red rock in its center.

    “The Hippowdon experiment was a failure,” the man stated evenly. “It would appear that the Ranger’s Capture Styler is enough to counteract this machine’s influence. However, the machine still can control Pokémon, and as long as I have the Magma Stone, Heatran is under my command.”

    “Excellent, Dominar. By my judgment, the birth of our era is nigh. It will not be long now before those children lead us to the Golden City and its promise of unlimited power.”

    “Indeed, my faithful servant. We have manipulated everyone perfectly. Things are quickly falling into place... ahaha! Ahahaha!! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”


    The man continued to laugh maniacally as the sound of bells ringing filled the chamber.




    END of CHAPTER 1
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 1st October 2011 at 8:57 AM.

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  11. #11
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    Nice! Dominair, huh? And a talking Dusknoir? Whoa, that's interesting.

    Fernando...oh, great, he's both a pervert and a jerk. Something tells me we're not going to like him...let's hope he gets what's coming to him (you might know what I mean by that...heh heh).

    Okay...so, Matt has a Muk and a Claydol, huh? Love the TDK reference in Harvey the Muk

    I am darn sure I know who the "Azure Angel" is...but I'm not telling for the sake of anyone who hasn't read XD^3. Avoiding spoilers and such.

    Overall, pretty good chapter. It'll be really interesting to see everything unfold in later chapters. Can't wait!
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  12. #12
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    You know, I feel a bit weird reading this, since in NE Matt got shot and all...^^;

    Oh Fernando... Yeah, I would too willing to punch him if he makes those remarks on me! XD

    Have to say, I really feel bad for Matt when he gone through a nervous breakdown. Seriouly, you're getting better with emotions, that's for sure.

    A couple things, though. First you mention there's a Rilou with Ross, but then after that Pokemon's not mentioned again. You should have mention some things Rilou did like battle or just looking around the garden a bit or something.

    Another thing is whenever Dominair and Fernando laughs. IMO, having someone laughed like this: "AHHHHAAAA!" seems a bit tacky and unprofessional. Instead you could have just said "After he laughed like a maniac," etc.

    Well, can't wait for the next chapter and see how the events are unfolding.


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  13. #13
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    Nice! Dominair, huh? And a talking Dusknoir? Whoa, that's interesting.
    Dominar, actually. It's European Spanish for "master." I wanted to use something a little more exotic sounding.

    I am darn sure I know who the "Azure Angel" is...but I'm not telling for the sake of anyone who hasn't read XD^3. Avoiding spoilers and such.
    This is going to be elaborated on more.

    Have to say, I really feel bad for Matt when he gone through a nervous breakdown. Seriouly, you're getting better with emotions, that's for sure
    It's tricky. I want to develop everything about his personality now but there are so many plot points tied to it.

    Another thing is whenever Dominair and Fernando laughs. IMO, having someone laughed like this: "AHHHHAAAA!" seems a bit tacky and unprofessional. Instead you could have just said "After he laughed like a maniac," etc.
    You're right. I'll note that.

    Right now I'm feeling out that there should be about six or seven chapters in this. I want to tie the next few chapters into a certain group of three Pokémon, then we just have to carry through the last clues and the battles with Dominar/Dusknoir, Heatran, and ... anything else.

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  14. #14
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    Chapter 2....

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


    CHAPTER 2: Ice





    While only a few hours had passed since the battle with the crazed Hippowdon in the gardens outside of La Ciudad Dorada’s palace, the sun was already down. Because of this, Matt and his friends were left with only the light of fire-lit lamps to work in the palace’s library.

    Speaking of Matt, the young researcher had his laptop out with his palm computer attached to it, and was analyzing the markings on the tablet after scanning it. Ross was talking to someone on his Styler, and Cassy, Eleanor and Count Fernando all had books open.

    “Professor Hastings,” said the Ranger to whomever he was speaking to, “I think something is going on here. I just captured three Hippowdon that appeared to be under mind control.”

    “Blast it!” spat back a voice from the Styler, one that sounded as if it belonged to an elderly man. “I hope that Team Dim Sum...errr, Sun.... hasn’t returned in La Ciudad Dorada with their Gigaremos!”

    “I don’t think so, Professor. No Gigaremo Units were confirmed at the site. Anyway, I’m assigning myself a Mission even though this is my vacation leave, to investigate the sighting of Heatran and the mysterious mind control.”

    “Alright, that’s accepted. Misery!” Now Hastings sounded muffled, as if he’d moved away from the speaker. “Miser...err, Rhythmi, Ross has assigned himself a mission! File it as ‘Heatran in the Golden City?!’ for me!”

    “Oh, Hastings, you’re such a card.” Ross shut his Styler and sighed. “Riolu... he’s the chief of technology for the Ranger Union but he really isn’t no help...”

    “Rio, riolu,” Riolu answered, grimacing.

    “Make any discoveries on that tablet yet, Matt?” inquired Eleanor, her Teddiursa still standing tightly against her leg.

    “Not completely. I’ve identified the language it’s written in. It’s just a matter of decoding it now.”

    Matt went back to his work. As noone else was speaking, the sound of the keys clicking on his computer was the only thing filling the dead air. Soon, though, Fernando looked up from the thick ancient book he was reading.

    “Matt. Can I see that cube you have?”

    “Oh, sure.”

    Going into his backpack, Matt quickly produced the cube and placed it on the table. Fernando walked over to the table and examined the markings carved into the cube.

    “I think I know what these markings are.” He reopened the book and raised his voice slightly. “This is a text containing theories on what the Golden City was and what may have happened to it. One theory in particular sticks out here.

    The symbols on three of the sides of this cube are the markings of Regirock, Regice and Registeel, which were created by man in order to seal a great titan called Regigigas.”

    “Regigigas? There’s a saying in Almia about that Pokémon,” Ross said while rubbing his chin. “It’s brief. ‘Regigigas, the final Pokémon that should be etched in the memory of the chosen one.’ It doesn’t say anything more.”

    “Well, this book contains a theory that it was Regigigas who caused a great, calamitous battle near the Golden City. It’s said that a Pokémon called Shaymin, which fed on the gratitude of people and other Pokémon, battled Regigigas and used the help of man to seal it away along with the entire city.

    What I’m getting at is that I think that cube is tied to this theory somehow, seeing as it is connected to the three beings that act as keys to awakening Regigigas.”

    “You may be right,” was Matt’s thoughtful reply, even as he didn’t look away from the computer screen. “My grandfather told me he found it in a hidden underwater chamber of the southern oceans of Houen. But anyway, I’ve decoded some of the text... this is what it says.

    ‘To he who searches ... the fortune awaits. The seekers shall find the blessing at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’

    What?”

    Cassy came around the side of the table to look at the screen. Immediately she pointed at a strange marking that appeared to be a pyramid. “What does this mean?”

    “That should be...” Fernando also came around the table, and he gasped as soon as he clearly saw the carving. “That symbol appears in numerous texts! It’s the icon of La Ciudad Dorada, the Golden City!”

    “So then the full text on the tablet should then be ‘To he who searches the Golden City, the fortune awaits. The seekers shall find the blessing at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’”

    “It sounds like a clue,” Cassy realized. “We’ll find the Golden City at a place with three bells.”

    “But where would be three bells?” wondered Matt. “In a bell tower?”

    “There’s a bell tower in the city right there.” Ross had gone to the window and was now pointing at a tall tower a fair distance away, nestled in smaller clay buildings and dried-out aqueducts. “We’ll check that out tomorrow.”

    “I wish you would,” Fernando added. “I don’t think that any answers will be found without following these supposed clues.”

    “Yeah, I agree,” Eleanor put in. “We’ll take a break for the night and check it out tomorrow.”

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

    Dominar stood in the balcony at the top of a tower overlooking the city as his Dusknoir came up behind him.

    “Dominar...”

    “Dusknoir, they have learned that there is something at a place with three bells.”

    Dusknoir recoiled slightly but quickly regained his composure. “D-Do we know where that is?”

    “Hm? You’re usually much calmer than that... but to answer your question, no, we do not. It is only a matter of following them, however.”

    “That is right, Dominar...

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

    Around ten ‘o’ clock the next morning, the sun had returned to shining brightly above La Ciudad Dorada. Already bright and awake, Matt and his group had taken to the streets, walking through neat rows of dried-out clay buildings.

    “There’s something I want to check out,” Ross commented quietly while rubbing his chin. “That tablet said there’s a secret at ‘the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’ I think there might be something at the bell tower in town.”

    “That is a place one would find bells.”

    “Gee, Matt, you think?” snapped Cassy, hands on her hips. “Don’t play games. We’re going to have to be serious if this is going to succeed.”

    Ross sighed. “Come on, you two, don’t fight. Look, we’ve already reached it.”

    A grand building, a pyramid built out of gold-colored bricks stood before the group. Atop it stood a giant statue of the bell-like Bronzong, while shapes of Bronzor lined the walls around the edges of the structure. A black door obstructed the entrance.

    “What’s this door?” Approaching the door, Eleanor looked carefully at it and then pushed---but it wouldn’t budge. “It’s quite heavy.”

    “Wait a minute, Eleanor. Back up.” After Eleanor backed away, Ross raised his Styler and used it to scan the door. “Of course. I should have known. Riolu...”

    “Rio!” Riolu snapped to attention, awaiting Ross’s command.

    “Riolu, use your Aura on that door, please.”

    Leaping forward, Riolu placed its hand on the door. After a few seconds, a strange pattern of glowing, pulsating blue circles appeared on it.

    “What’s that?” Matt, Cassy and Eleanor all shouted together.

    “It’s a Sealed Door. I’ve seen a few of these on my duties in Almia. It’s a door sealed with a strong psychic power, and we’ll need an equal power to open it. I think this one is going to take a Dusclops or something.”

    “I don’t know where we’ll find a Dusclops, one.” Matt turned and rested his chin on his hand. “And two, why would a Sealed Door like that be here of all places? Does someone not want us getting in there?”

    “I don’t know. Just because I’m a Top Ranger doesn’t mean I know everything. We’ll have to come back once we find a Dusclops or a similar Pokémon.”

    Just then, Riolu began jumping up and down and pulling at Ross’s leg in a very hyper manner. “Riolu!! Rio, lululuuuu, rioluuuuu!!!”

    “What, Riolu? What is it?”

    “Rio, rio!” The small Fighting-type pointed back towards the palace.

    At that time, what sounded like music could be heard faintly from that direction. Specifically, it sounded like random notes being played on guitars while others banged on drums and played violin. The moment he heard this music, Ross went wide-eyed.

    “That’s...that’s....IT’S THEM!!” he screamed, losing all composure. With that, he shot off like a bullet for the palace.

    “What? Who’s them?”

    “Eleanor, not now! Follow him!”

    Leaving the bell tower, Matt chased after Ross with Eleanor and Cassy close behind. Once they were a sufficient distance from the building, Dusknoir arose from a shadow in the ground.

    “I see my seal on this door did its job...”

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

    The scene in front of the palace was a noisy one. A stage had been set up and on it was the source of the music---a four-piece band. Three of the band’s members were male with only one female accompanying them, and all four had white hair. The female, who was wearing a black cape with a short blue dress underneath, had a finely crafed wood violin in her hands. One of the others was clad in a dark blue jacket with similar clothing and playing drums. The last two, one in a white coat patterned with red flames, the other wearing a black trench coat with a gray fur-lined collar, had guitars, the former with an acoustic bass he was playing left-handed while the latter had a star-shaped red-and-black electric guitar.

    “Pokémon a go-go!” cried all four together.

    The bass player took a step forward. “From across the sea, the Fiore-born quadruplets have arrived!”

    “If you know us, you’re a beloved fan!” sang the violinist. “You knew us as a criminal quartet then!”

    “But that’s all in the past! We’ve had a change of heart and direction!” This was the electric guitar player. “We’ve transformed into purveyors of theatrical rock!”

    “What’s the name of our band?!” shouted the drummer.

    The three others then joined in, “Go-Rock Quads! We can’t hear you! Go-Rock Quads!! Don’t be shy! Shout it, loud and proud! GO-ROCK QUADS!!!”

    “Billy!”

    “Garret!”

    “Clyde!”

    “Tiffany!”

    “The worldwide superstars who will rock your world! We’re the Go-Rock Quads!!”

    Together and in perfect unison, the four siblings played their instruments, creating a harmonic sound while confetti shot from cannons at the back of the stage. The small crowd that had gathered cheered enthusiastically.

    “Was that good?” wondered Billy, the black-clad guitarist, turning to his siblings. “Eh, it sounded a bit off-key to me. We’ll have to practice more if we’re going to perform at the coronation.”

    “I REFUSE to play that song!” was the angry reply from Clyde, the brother stationed at drums. “It’s absolutely awful, the kind of awful I haven’t seen since Blake Hall wanted us to sing that dreadful song Dream Energy for him.”

    “Look, Clyde,” Billy answered, “I don’t like it either, but if we don’t come up with something better really soon, we’re stuck with it.”

    Out in the crowd, Matt, Cassy and Eleanor had finally reached a point where they could see the stage.

    “They’re...!”

    “Right, Eleanor... the Go-Rock Quads! Cassy and I have been fans for years!”

    “We have been...” Just then Cassy heard a familiar voice shouting nearby. “Wait, is that...?”

    Indeed, it was in fact Ross – his eyes were filled with the kind of overzealous glee that those of a child on Christmas morning would have. “Billy! Garret! Clyde and Tiffany!! The Go-Rock Quads! I love you guys!!”

    “Rogyaaaa...” Riolu, however, was clearly embarassed by its master’s behavior, holding its paw to its forehead.

    “Oh, Billy, look...” This was Garret, the left-handed bass player. “It’s that Ranger. The one who comes to all our performances.”

    “So it is!” Billy lept down from the stage to greet Ross directly. “Ross, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think the last time we met was...”

    “Altru Inc.’s 70th birthday event in Almia,” Ross said, finishing Billy’s sentence. “Best show of all, I think. The one in Fall City’s Amity Square was great too, though.”

    “So why are you in Aquane now?” When Matt and the others joined Ross, Billy turned to them. “And who are your friends?”

    “Well, this is my vacation leave. The Union gave me some time off, but... certain events have led to me taking an emergency Mission here. And these are my friends that I met here, Matt, Cassy and Eleanor.”

    “Pleased to meet you all,” Billy greeted with a smile.

    “We’re all fans too, myself and Cassy and Eleanor... you are playing a show here?”

    “The man to become king... I believe his name was Fernando?... hired us. He wants us to play at the coronation and he even wrote a special song for us to perform, but...”

    “It’s bad,” Tiffany cut in. “Really bad. None of us want to perform it. Not to mention we need a keyboardist.”

    “A keyboardist, you say?” Ross’s eyes lit up upon hearing this. “It just so happens that I play some keyboard...”

    “Well then, we’ll give you a shot, right, Billy?”

    “Sure, Garret. It can’t hurt.”

    “You three train him then,” Tiffany huffed as she lept down from the stage. “I’m going shopping and then taking a run by the bathhouse.”

    “Bathhouse?” The mere mention of this seemed to catch Eleanor’s attention.

    “Yeah, this city has a rather renowned spa bathhouse that I wanted to visit. You guys can come with me, if you want.”

    “Oh, Matt, let’s go there!” Eleanor’s enthusiasm for this was now about equal with Ross’s over the Go-Rock Quads. “It sounds nice!”

    “You guys go, I’ll stay behind. I have some things to do.”

    With that, Cassy walked off, leaving her companions slightly confused. Matt thought about calling to her to find out why she had to suddenly leave, but soon thought better of himself.

    “So let’s see this bathhouse then.”

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

    Cassy’s destination was, in fact, the palace itself. She dwelled in the doorway of a dark chamber while the shadowy figure of Count Fernando stood near a window.

    “We went to the bell tower,” she said quietly. “It was sealed by a cursed door.”

    “A cursed door, you say. Very well, I will look into it.” Fernando turned and walked calmly over to Cassy. He then gently pushed her head upwards by the chin and appraised her face carefully. “You are the one. The one who will allow me to always know what they’re doing. That, in turn, will always allow me to stay one step ahead of them. And when my era dawns, you will be there to stand alongside me.”

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

    Some time later, Matt, Eleanor and Tiffany had located and arrived at the spa bathhouse. The two young women, after a quick visit to the changing room necessary to getting into their bathing suits---Eleanor’s was all black while Tiffany’s had a yellow and red flame pattern---were soaking in the warm, clear water. Matt, however, just sat on a rock between two of the three Bronzong sculptures that acted as faucets for the spa’s water, staring into space dully.

    “What’s wrong, kid?” Tiffany finally asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence. “Why don’t you join us?”

    “Oh, um...” Matt’s voice was listless, almost despairing. “I... always felt more comfortable around computers and machines instead of people. I feel like I...” He hesitated for a moment. “...I have a reassuring sense of control when dealing with them.”

    “You’re kind of like me, then,” said Eleanor. “I own a doll shop in a city outside this region, but even there, I don’t deal with the customers much. My one employee really handles the customer service end of things. I find my solace in working on the dolls themselves in my workshop. To me, the dolls are my children. They speak so strongly, they convey things that even real people sometimes cannot. I believe they are really like little people with completely open hearts.”

    “That’s nice that you have something you can put your heart into. I’d prefer to spend my time lost in the wonders of history and science, where the world can’t find me, but... sometimes it does...”

    “What’s that mean?”

    Matt recoiled, realizing he’d said too much and now owed Eleanor an explanation. “Well, well, uh...”

    “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” Eleanor smiled.

    “I think I kind of owe you a story now. My father... he didn’t exactly get along with his father, who was my grandfather, the genius archeologist Sutter Chiaki.”

    “Why was that?” Now Tiffany was interested.

    “I really don’t know, but I get the feeling Sutter’s first love was always his archeology, and he may have not been a very good father to my father. I still remember that first time...”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A heavy snowstorm raged, but for Snowpoint City, this was typical. A much younger Matt---his hair was shorter and his glasses disproportionately large for his face, yet he still wore a blue and green combination very similar to his present day clothing along with a red scarf---came trudging into a bedroom inside the log cabin in which he lived. After shaking the snow from his boots and removing them, he walked over to his computer desk and pulled a stapled-together pile of papers from his backpack.

    The top sheet read “Sinnoh History Exam” and had “100%” written on it in red marker.

    “A perfect score on the biggest test of the year,” the boy thought to himself. “They’ll be proud of me.”

    At that moment, an older man entered the room.

    “How was school today?” he asked curtly.

    “Look!” Excited, Matt presented the man with his perfectly-scored test. “A perfect score on the Sinnoh History test, dad! The teacher loved the essay I spent all last week on!”

    The man, Matt’s father, stared dubiously at the page for several tense moments---then he began to rip the test to shreds. Matt’s eyes widened as he gasped in horror, watching the fruits of his labor crumble before him.

    “I’m not going to let you end up like your grandfather, so your fascination with history ends here! You’re NOT going to turn into a neglectful slob like him! And as for your essay...”

    Matt’s father threw the shards of paper to the floor, then stormed over to the computer and began typing commands into it. A window reading “Essay.doc > Delete this file?” soon appeared.

    “...Let’s see how much you like THIS!”

    Time seemed to slow as Matt watched, terrified, as his father’s hand descended towards the button that would erase all traces of his essay. He wanted to scream but couldn’t, as his thoughts clouded with all the hard work and pride he’d put into the work, a five-page thesis on the ancient history of the Sinnoh Region. All that could escape his mouth was a gasp of fear.

    “File: Essay.doc deleted”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “...That’s terrible!” Eleanor shrieked. “What in the name of Darkrai did he think made it okay to do that?”

    “He hated everything about the subject of history because of his poor relationship with Sutter. He felt like history had stolen away his own father.”

    “What about your mother? How did she ever get off letting him do that to you?”

    Matt had recoiled about a foot into the air well before Eleanor actually finished her sentence. “My...my... I am not on speaking terms with my mother. She left us long before that happened, after she became... one of them...”

    “One of them?” said Tiffany, scratching her head. “I can confess, I had parental issues too. My brothers and myself, we never knew our mother, and our father, who was once a colleague of the Ranger Union’s Prof. Hastings, founded an evil team to get revenge upon his old ally and forced us all to help him run it. Actually, Clyde didn’t really care but... oh, I’ve rambled. Who is ‘them?’”

    “’Team...” Before he finished, Matt looked up. His eyes widened as he finally took in what he was surrounded by.

    Three Bronzong sculptures.

    Bronzong sculptures that were dispensing water.

    Suddenly, something clicked in the young man’s mind, and he jumped up. “The blessing is at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix... it’s here! The ‘three bells’ are these Bronzong!”

    “That’s silly,” Tiffany said dismissively. “Why or how could something be here?”

    “I know it. It’s got to be...” Matt then noticed something odd about the three sculptures. He walked over to one and examined it carefully. “Eleanor. Come up here and help me push this.”

    “I don’t understand why, but alright...”

    Eleanor climbed out of the water and gingerly walked across the rocks to the side of the statue opposite Matt, then stopped, awaiting his instruction.

    “Help me push the arms of this thing clockwise.”

    Nodding, Eleanor applied as much force as she had in her body to the arm on her side of the Bronzong, while Matt did the same to the one on his side. After a moment, a portion of the top of the statue began to turn, leaving Tiffany to widen her eyes in surprise. The wheel turned for a few moments before reaching a point where it locked.

    “Believe me now?” Matt asked Tiffany with a wide grin. “Come and help us with the other two.”

    “Uh... yeah, of course!”

    With Tiffany’s help, it took the trio very little time to push the second Bronzong’s secret wheel into place. The third, however, seemed a bit heavier and was a challenge even for three people. After much effort, though, they finally managed to move it into place---but nothing happened.

    “Now do YOU believe me?” remarked Tiffany smugly. “There’s nothing her...”

    The young singer’s sentence got cut off as the ground began to quake violently. Panicking, both Tiffany and Eleanor jumped back in the water, but they didn’t need to---the only effect of this was that what seemed to be a solid rock wall nearby crumbled, revealing a hidden passageway.

    “Get dressed, you two. We’ve got some exploration to work on.”

    Both Eleanor and Tiffany listened, promptly getting back out of the water and wasting no time in gathering up and changing back into their clothes. Once they were all ready, the trio entered the cave, where it quickly became dark.

    “I...I...” Tiffany’s voice was quivering.

    “Haha, you’re afraid of the dark, aren’t you?”

    “I am NOT afraid of the dark, Matt! I just...” A sudden creak caused Tiffany to scream in fear and rush to hide behind Matt. “I...I...”

    “It’s alright. I’m actually afraid of the dark too, but it’s something you learn to get over, at least on expeditions. I still sleep with a light on.” Matt laughed and produced a Poké Ball. “It is pretty dark here though. Zero, come out and use Flash for us.”

    Matt’s Magnezone emerged from the ball, let out a single cry that reverberated through the cave, and began to emit a beam of light from its central, red eye to light up the passage.

    Not another word was spoken as the group walked down the narrow, damp passageway. After some time, strange markings began to appear on the walls. Although he tried to ignore them, Matt eventually stopped to examine these runes.

    “What are these all?” he wondered. “They look worn by age.”

    Matt pressed the button on his backpack strap to bring out the palm computer. While he used the device to record the carvings on the wall, Eleanor wandered a few steps ahead... and promptly stepped on something, sending herself skidding into the darkness while screaming madly.

    “What?! Eleanor! What happened?!” Matt shouted, beginning to panic due to the surprise of the sudden screaming.

    Tiffany approached where Eleanor had fallen, and managed to see something in the darkness. “There’s ice here. She slipped and fell.”

    “Oh. Zero, let’s have some light so I can help her up.”

    Complying, Zero moved its light so Matt could see where Eleanor had fallen, and he quickly helped her up. Looking around, there appeared to be multiple patches of ice – they were all circular, and arranged in an unusual sort of cross shape.

    While the three observed the icy pattern, a strange, robotic voice began echoing through the cave. “Re...re....gi...giiii...”

    “That voice!” Matt’s eyes widened, and he took a step back. “If that’s... we have to get out of here! Now!”

    Matt fled, leaving Eleanor and Tiffany confused. However, when the strange voice continued, they did not hesitate to follow his lead. When the two women emerged into the light again, they found their companion already furiously working on his palm computer.

    “Bring all autopilot systems online. Set destination to La Ciudad Dorada.”

    “Who are you talking to?” asked Eleanor curiously.

    “You’ll see. Let’s head back to the palace for now.”

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

    As soon as the trio arrived back at the square outside the palace, Tiffany immediately had to jump back up on stage to rejoin her brothers. The crowd present for the rehearsal had grown in the interim.

    “I thank you all for turning out!” Billy said into one of the stage’s microphones. “And it’s only a rehearsal!”

    “Psst, Billy...are you sure we should do this song?”

    “It’s fine, Garret. We can get through this. Ladies and gentlemen, your leads on this new song written just for us by Count Fernando VIII, Garret and Tiffany! And our guest keyboardist, Ross!”

    Ross stood briefly at his keyboard and bowed while Garret and Tiffany bowed at their microphones. After Clyde tapped his drumsticks together several times, the music began.

    “Some people long for Berlin and Barcelona
    They yearn for Paris, Madrid and Rome...”

    “And I know some who prefer Arizona
    And some prefer home...”

    “There's only me who is dying to see...

    Damn it, Billy, this is terrible!”

    Garret’s outburst stopped the band in the middle of the song. Judging by their reactions, Matt thought while watching, none of them really liked the song.

    “Oh hey guys.” This was Cassy, returning from whereever she had gone. “How’d the bathhouse go?”

    “We found something there. I called HR-E and...”

    “Move it! Coming through here!”

    Two of the palace guards came pushing through the crowd, rudely shoving aside anyone in their way. They reached the stage and looked brazenly up at Billy and Garret.

    “Move it. Count Fernando is coming to give a speech.”

    “Huh?” Clyde was puzzled, and it was easy to see in his face. “We never heard anything about a speech.”

    “I do believe she said get off the stage. Guards, do what you need to get those four off.”

    The regal voice that had given the order obviously belonged to Fernando himself, and on that command the two guards climbed onto the stage and used their Bronzor rods to shove Billy, Garret, Clyde and Ross off. Fernando then approached the stage and extended his hand to Tiffany.

    “Now you, my lovely lady, I will help you down myself.”

    The count was smiling, but this only made Tiffany’s obviously disgusted reaction more pronounced. She did accept the help, however, and he gently guided her down before winking at her as he mounted the stage himself.

    “Lech...” Tiffany mumbled under her breath.

    On the stage, Fernando approached the microphone while his guards stood behind him. “Hello, people of La Ciudad Dorada! I am very pleased to be able to speak with you today!”

    “Is it just me,” Matt said to Eleanor, “or does this guy love himself a little too much?”

    “Yes, I’m very pleased to be able to speak to you all today. And what do I want to talk to you about? Why, the future of this kingdom, that’s what. With the continuing absence of my parents, the kingdom has lacked leadership for some time. I am pleased to announce that, very soon, I will be crowned the eighth King Fernando of La Ciudad Dorada!”

    Matt, Cassy and Eleanor all had blank responses to this bold declaration, but the townspeople began murmuring restlessly.

    “The eighth king? How can he crown himself when the current king and queen have never been found?”

    “Who knows? I really wonder who’ll be his queen, though.”

    “His queen will be a lucky girl, that’s for sure.”

    “Now, quiet down everyone, I know that that’s a big announcement. But besides that, I’d like to share my vision for the future of our beloved homeland. It is a strong and prosperous future! It is one where La Ciudad Dorada will once again fufill its name and become the shining golden capital of all of Aquane!”

    In response to this, the crowd began cheering loudly and enthusiastically. To them, any good, uplifting news during the current crisis was worth it.

    “Move aside! Someone more important has something to say!”
    Out of nowhere, a dark orb came shooting at the stage, its impact causing an explosion that knocked Fernando backward into Clyde’s drums. The crowd gasped just as a Dusknoir emerged and took center stage.

    “What’s going on?!” shouted someone in the throng of people. “How dare you attack Count Fernando!”

    “Count Fernando is none of my concern,” the Dusknoir snidely noted. “Someone much more important has something to say. Dominar, if you would...”

    Gesturing with its wide hands, the Dusknoir pointed to a dark portal that slowly opened in the stage. From it emerged the man with the yellow top hat whose face was cloaked in rags.

    “Ahaha. A spectacular speech if I do say so myself, Count Fernando.”

    “Who are you?!!” Fernando demanded, eyes wide in panic.

    “The future king of La Ciudad Dorada,” replied the man as he turned back to the crowd. “You heard right. Standing before you all is the future ruler of this kingdom. Count Fernando? Don’t count on it.”

    “We’ve got to do something!” Matt hissed, reaching for the Poké Balls on his waist.

    “No! I’ll handle this!”

    “Cassy, stop!”

    It was too late. Cassy had already rushed the stage to confront the mysterious villain, much to the surprise of all the others.

    “Oh? And who are you?” the man asked calmly, with a vaguely amused tone in his voice.

    “More like who are YOU!” Cassy snapped back. “I’m putting a stop to this!”

    “Hmph. I’ll play with you then, if that’s what you want.”

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Pkmn Trainer Cassy ---vs.--- Mystery Man ???
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    [The man’s Dusknoir floats into battle, opening the mouth on its stomach wide as a taunt]

    “Only one option for me. Torkie, let’s go!”

    From the Poké Ball Cassy threw emerged a tall, red chicken-like Pokémon with flames erupting from its wrists – a Blaziken.

    “Torkie, Fire Punch!”

    “Take this!” the Fire and Fighting type roared as it rushed its foe with a fire-packed punch ready.

    However, just as Torkie swung, Dusknoir vanished.

    “This is already over. Dusknoir, Hypnosis.”

    Torkie barely had enough time to turn around before Dusknoir reappeared and grabbed it around the midsection.

    “Unhand me!”

    “No.”

    The red eye in Dusknoir’s head began to glow viciously, filling Torkie’s eyes with the same glow. Moments later, Torkie had fallen asleep.

    “No! It can’t...”

    “I said I’d play. But I play rough.”

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    “No... Torkie...” Strangely, there was little emotion in Cassy’s voice, even though one would have suspected despondance or fear.

    “See?” the man said to the crowd. “This is what happens when you oppose fate. Dusknoir, gather them up. We’re leaving.”

    “Yes, Dominar.”

    Dusknoir grabbed up both Torkie and Cassy – the latter not even resisting – and disappeared into the ground with them. The man did the same, with the dark portal closing once he vanished.

    “Cassy!” Matt screamed in panic. “She’s...she’s...” Matt stared blankly at the stage, seeing everything – his hopes, dreams and ambitions – that he had accomplished with Cassy vanish.

    “Matt...”

    With his heart and mind racing, and despite Eleanor’s attempt to calm him, Matt took a gulp and screamed, “SHE’S GONE!!!”

    Fernando, meanwhile, regained some composure and returned to the stage. “I do not know what just happened, my friends, but rest assured, I will investigate it and catch those responsible. I guess... I guess that concludes this. You all may go now.”

    With much murmuring, the crowd quickly dispersed. Billy, Garret and Clyde returned to the stage while Ross rejoined Matt and Eleanor.

    “What’s going on?” inquired the Ranger. “What’s up with him?”

    At this point Matt’s eyes were watering up, and he was mumbling incoherently in his inconsolable despair.

    “Oh, um...”

    Ross looked apologetic, and was about to say more, but just then a large, robotic vehicle glided up to the group. It was mostly black with some blue lines, and sported four polygonal hover engines on its corners.

    “Ooh, what’s that?” said Eleanor in wonder.

    This provided Matt the out he wanted. “It’s my lab... my robotic... lab. I called it to help me investigate what I found at the bathhouse, because my travel computers don’t have the capabilities. Come inside.”

    Matt stalked off towards a door in the machine’s side, which he entered. Ross and Eleanor quickly followed.

    Inside was a very bright room with many silver fixtures along with multiple white dry-erase boards, which had complicated scientific formulas written in colorful markers on them. There were also a number of unusual robots; they had heads like pairs of binoculars on thin pole-like bodies, mounted on which were pairs of clamp-like arms.

    A door on the far side of the room was open. The two went inside to find a smaller, cockpit-like room with three chairs arranged in a row, the middle one clearly having the ability to compact into the floor. Matt was sitting in this center chair, with a large keyboard in front of him and surrounded by screens displaying various data. Two larger golden robots sat at the back of this room.

    “Initiate upload sequence,” Matt commanded as he plugged his handheld computer into the machine, seemingly oblivious to the others. “Scan the data.”

    “As you wish, sir,” droned the robots. “Scanning data.”

    “Watch them have it done before I...”

    “Scanning is now one-hundred percent complete. Data fully available.”

    “...finish this sentence.” Obviously Matt did know the others were there now, but didn’t turn.

    “Wow, that’s amazing!” raved Eleanor.

    “Only this machine has the ability to fully process the data we collected at the bathhouse. Watch.” With the press of a button, Matt brought up a blurry image of the carvings on the wall of the cave. He then entered another command into the computer. “Enhance this image.”
    “Enhancing image.”

    In little time, the image quickly became much clearer; however, even in better quality it was enigmatic. It was simply a gray stone wall with many dots carved into it.

    “I think I’ve seen something like this before,” Ross stated plainly. “I saw it in some ruins once.”

    “Right. It’s an ancient language.”

    With that, Matt leaned forward and typed “Command: Translate” into the computer. After taking a moment to scan the image, words appeared on the screen.

    --Three guardians bind the seal of the great titan of destruction. He who awakens the titan must stop the disaster by its hand.—

    “Three guardians?”

    “A seal on a titan of destruction?”

    “Eleanor... Ross... I don’t understand it either.”

    “Data scanning indicates presence of the legendary Pokémon, Regice,” announced the computer.

    Immediately, all three jumped at this news.

    “Regice?!” Eleanor gasped. “Was that... the voice I heard?”

    “No wonder there was ice on the ground,” Matt said bitterly. “I’d guess Regice is one of these three guardians, which means...”

    “Regigigas! It’s a well-known legend in the Ranger Union. They say that when a chosen one brings the powers of Regirock, Regice and Registeel together, Regigigas appears. Could it be that Regigigas is the ‘great titan of destruction’ in that description?”

    “There’s only one way we can find out. We have to go back there.”

    After he stood, Matt entered one last command into the computer, which closed the open windows and retracted the chair into the floor.

    “Return safely, sir.”

    “I will.” He turned and began walking for the exit. “Let’s move.”

    “Right.”

    Eleanor and Ross followed Matt, however, near the door something caught Eleanor’s eye, prompting her to stop. It was a pair of photographs. One showed Matt with a young blue-haired girl, the other Matt in a lab coat with three others in lab coats: an older, orange-haired man, a man about Matt’s age with long white hair over his right eye, and a young woman whose hair was long and brown with yellow highlights.

    “Wait. Matt, who are these pictures of?”

    Matt stopped and made a half-turn. “The one on the left is me and my sister. The other is me with a group of people I studied with at one time.” His voice becoming wistful as the memories came back, Matt continued, “The old guy is Dr. Newton Graceland, an old friend of my grandfather’s, while the girl is his daughter Synni and the white-haired guy is another of his students. His name was Viktor but we called him Zero because of his last name... good times.”

    “What about your sister? You’ve never mentioned her before. What’s her name?”

    Instead, Matt ignored Eleanor. “Let’s get going.”

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

    The cave was still open when the group arrived back at the bathhouse. Matt immediately deployed his small computer again, but then froze.

    “There’s a sudden chill in the air. Be cautious.”

    Eleanor and Ross nodded, and the trio began their careful advance into the cave. Only a few feet in, however, strange noises could be heard echoing from deeper inside.

    “Re.... Regi... ice...”

    “It’s that voice again!” Eleanor screeched. “Was it Regice?!”

    “We can’t run this time, right?”

    “Ross, that’s spot on,” replied Matt. “Let’s move!”

    Together, all three ran deeper into the cave. Like before, though, they soon found themselves unable to see farther, owing to the lack of any kind of light.

    “Don’t worry about this, I’ve got it.” Reaching to her waist, Eleanor produced a Poké Ball of her own. “Froslass, let’s go!”

    Erupting from the ball came a white-and-blue creature, one with a strange socklike body beneath a sideways-waterdrop-like head. It had yellow eyes and strangely shaped, droopy arms ending in tiny fingers.

    “Froslass, use Flash!”

    Letting out a gentle cry, the Froslass spread its arms. A burst of bright light flooded forth from its body, illuminating the cave so that Eleanor and the others could see.

    “Good work,” Matt complimented. “Let’s keep moving.”

    As Matt headed ever deeper into the tunnel, Ross, Eleanor and Froslass all followed him. Before long they arrived at the end of the cave, where Eleanor had fallen earlier. With more light, they could see a statue with the same dot pattern as the one on the floor. This statue’s main body was bullet-shaped with a point at the top, while featuring needle-pointed feet and clublike arms with small bullets for fingers that matched the larger spikes on its back.

    “That statue, it’s...”

    “Yeah, Eleanor, it’s Regice...” With a look of wonder on his face, Matt slowly approached the statue. “My grandfather taught me the legend of Regice and its two siblings, yet, I never imagined I would stand before the actual shape of...”

    A bizarre glow began to come from Matt’s backpack. He turned and removed the cube, which was the source of the light. Suddenly, an odd moaning sound came from the statue. “Reee....gggg...REGIIII!!!”

    It was then that the statue seemed to come to life. Matt jumped back in fear as the dots on the statue’s face lit up, but it wasn’t him the statue was after – instead, a beam of ice shot out from the center of the dots and formed a transparent barrier between itself along with Matt and Eleanor and Ross.

    “Matt!” Eleanor cried out. “Matt, are you okay?!”

    “I’m fine!” he shouted back. “But this.. this...”

    Matt trailed off, and with good reason – the statue was now crumbling. Fear and panic filled his mind as the pulsating glow of his grandfather’s treasure became one with the gradual transformation of the statue. Where there once was stone had now become transparent, shiny sky blue ice. Incredulous, Matt could only silently press the button on his backpack strap again to bring out another robotic arm, which held a device of similar color that unfolded to reveal two screens. The top screen displayed a scan of the now-living statue, while the bottom displayed a file photo of it, which was a darker blue in color.

    “Regice, the iceberg Pokémon. Type is Ice. Its body is made of ice from the Ice Age. It controls cold air that is minus two hundred degrees. This specimen is alternately colored.”

    “So we meet at last... Shiny Regice. I don’t understand why you’re here, but you’re challenging me, aren’t you?” There was a sense of defiance in Matt’s voice.

    “Regiiice...Regiiice...”

    “Fine. If that’s what you want from me, that’s what you’ll get!”

    (Banner by Matori)
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  15. #15
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    Mar 2006
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    Chapter 2....

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


    CHAPTER 2: Ice





    While only a few hours had passed since the battle with the crazed Hippowdon in the gardens outside of La Ciudad Dorada’s palace, the sun was already down. Because of this, Matt and his friends were left with only the light of fire-lit lamps to work in the palace’s library.

    Speaking of Matt, the young researcher had his laptop out with his palm computer attached to it, and was analyzing the markings on the tablet after scanning it. Ross was talking to someone on his Styler, and Cassy, Eleanor and Count Fernando all had books open.

    “Professor Hastings,” said the Ranger to whomever he was speaking to, “I think something is going on here. I just captured three Hippowdon that appeared to be under mind control.”

    “Blast it!” spat back a voice from the Styler, one that sounded as if it belonged to an elderly man. “I hope that Team Dim Sum...errr, Sun.... hasn’t returned in La Ciudad Dorada with their Gigaremos!”

    “I don’t think so, Professor. No Gigaremo Units were confirmed at the site. Anyway, I’m assigning myself a Mission even though this is my vacation leave, to investigate the sighting of Heatran and the mysterious mind control.”

    “Alright, that’s accepted. Misery!” Now Hastings sounded muffled, as if he’d moved away from the speaker. “Miser...err, Rhythmi, Ross has assigned himself a mission! File it as ‘Heatran in the Golden City?!’ for me!”

    “Oh, Hastings, you’re such a card.” Ross shut his Styler and sighed. “Riolu... he’s the chief of technology for the Ranger Union but he really isn’t no help...”

    “Rio, riolu,” Riolu answered, grimacing.

    “Make any discoveries on that tablet yet, Matt?” inquired Eleanor, her Teddiursa still standing tightly against her leg.

    “Not completely. I’ve identified the language it’s written in. It’s just a matter of decoding it now.”

    Matt went back to his work. As noone else was speaking, the sound of the keys clicking on his computer was the only thing filling the dead air. Soon, though, Fernando looked up from the thick ancient book he was reading.

    “Matt. Can I see that cube you have?”

    “Oh, sure.”

    Going into his backpack, Matt quickly produced the cube and placed it on the table. Fernando walked over to the table and examined the markings carved into the cube.

    “I think I know what these markings are.” He reopened the book and raised his voice slightly. “This is a text containing theories on what the Golden City was and what may have happened to it. One theory in particular sticks out here.

    The symbols on three of the sides of this cube are the markings of Regirock, Regice and Registeel, which were created by man in order to seal a great titan called Regigigas.”

    “Regigigas? There’s a saying in Almia about that Pokémon,” Ross said while rubbing his chin. “It’s brief. ‘Regigigas, the final Pokémon that should be etched in the memory of the chosen one.’ It doesn’t say anything more.”

    “Well, this book contains a theory that it was Regigigas who caused a great, calamitous battle near the Golden City. It’s said that a Pokémon called Shaymin, which fed on the gratitude of people and other Pokémon, battled Regigigas and used the help of man to seal it away along with the entire city.

    What I’m getting at is that I think that cube is tied to this theory somehow, seeing as it is connected to the three beings that act as keys to awakening Regigigas.”

    “You may be right,” was Matt’s thoughtful reply, even as he didn’t look away from the computer screen. “My grandfather told me he found it in a hidden underwater chamber of the southern oceans of Houen. But anyway, I’ve decoded some of the text... this is what it says.

    ‘To he who searches ... the fortune awaits. The seekers shall find the blessing at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’

    What?”

    Cassy came around the side of the table to look at the screen. Immediately she pointed at a strange marking that appeared to be a pyramid. “What does this mean?”

    “That should be...” Fernando also came around the table, and he gasped as soon as he clearly saw the carving. “That symbol appears in numerous texts! It’s the icon of La Ciudad Dorada, the Golden City!”

    “So then the full text on the tablet should then be ‘To he who searches the Golden City, the fortune awaits. The seekers shall find the blessing at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’”

    “It sounds like a clue,” Cassy realized. “We’ll find the Golden City at a place with three bells.”

    “But where would be three bells?” wondered Matt. “In a bell tower?”

    “There’s a bell tower in the city right there.” Ross had gone to the window and was now pointing at a tall tower a fair distance away, nestled in smaller clay buildings and dried-out aqueducts. “We’ll check that out tomorrow.”

    “I wish you would,” Fernando added. “I don’t think that any answers will be found without following these supposed clues.”

    “Yeah, I agree,” Eleanor put in. “We’ll take a break for the night and check it out tomorrow.”

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

    Dominar stood in the balcony at the top of a tower overlooking the city as his Dusknoir came up behind him.

    “Dominar...”

    “Dusknoir, they have learned that there is something at a place with three bells.”

    Dusknoir recoiled slightly but quickly regained his composure. “D-Do we know where that is?”

    “Hm? You’re usually much calmer than that... but to answer your question, no, we do not. It is only a matter of following them, however.”

    “That is right, Dominar...

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

    Around ten ‘o’ clock the next morning, the sun had returned to shining brightly above La Ciudad Dorada. Already bright and awake, Matt and his group had taken to the streets, walking through neat rows of dried-out clay buildings.

    “There’s something I want to check out,” Ross commented quietly while rubbing his chin. “That tablet said there’s a secret at ‘the place where the bounties of the three bells mix.’ I think there might be something at the bell tower in town.”

    “That is a place one would find bells.”

    “Gee, Matt, you think?” snapped Cassy, hands on her hips. “Don’t play games. We’re going to have to be serious if this is going to succeed.”

    Ross sighed. “Come on, you two, don’t fight. Look, we’ve already reached it.”

    A grand building, a pyramid built out of gold-colored bricks stood before the group. Atop it stood a giant statue of the bell-like Bronzong, while shapes of Bronzor lined the walls around the edges of the structure. A black door obstructed the entrance.

    “What’s this door?” Approaching the door, Eleanor looked carefully at it and then pushed---but it wouldn’t budge. “It’s quite heavy.”

    “Wait a minute, Eleanor. Back up.” After Eleanor backed away, Ross raised his Styler and used it to scan the door. “Of course. I should have known. Riolu...”

    “Rio!” Riolu snapped to attention, awaiting Ross’s command.

    “Riolu, use your Aura on that door, please.”

    Leaping forward, Riolu placed its hand on the door. After a few seconds, a strange pattern of glowing, pulsating blue circles appeared on it.

    “What’s that?” Matt, Cassy and Eleanor all shouted together.

    “It’s a Sealed Door. I’ve seen a few of these on my duties in Almia. It’s a door sealed with a strong psychic power, and we’ll need an equal power to open it. I think this one is going to take a Dusclops or something.”

    “I don’t know where we’ll find a Dusclops, one.” Matt turned and rested his chin on his hand. “And two, why would a Sealed Door like that be here of all places? Does someone not want us getting in there?”

    “I don’t know. Just because I’m a Top Ranger doesn’t mean I know everything. We’ll have to come back once we find a Dusclops or a similar Pokémon.”

    Just then, Riolu began jumping up and down and pulling at Ross’s leg in a very hyper manner. “Riolu!! Rio, lululuuuu, rioluuuuu!!!”

    “What, Riolu? What is it?”

    “Rio, rio!” The small Fighting-type pointed back towards the palace.

    At that time, what sounded like music could be heard faintly from that direction. Specifically, it sounded like random notes being played on guitars while others banged on drums and played violin. The moment he heard this music, Ross went wide-eyed.

    “That’s...that’s....IT’S THEM!!” he screamed, losing all composure. With that, he shot off like a bullet for the palace.

    “What? Who’s them?”

    “Eleanor, not now! Follow him!”

    Leaving the bell tower, Matt chased after Ross with Eleanor and Cassy close behind. Once they were a sufficient distance from the building, Dusknoir arose from a shadow in the ground.

    “I see my seal on this door did its job...”

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

    The scene in front of the palace was a noisy one. A stage had been set up and on it was the source of the music---a four-piece band. Three of the band’s members were male with only one female accompanying them, and all four had white hair. The female, who was wearing a black cape with a short blue dress underneath, had a finely crafed wood violin in her hands. One of the others was clad in a dark blue jacket with similar clothing and playing drums. The last two, one in a white coat patterned with red flames, the other wearing a black trench coat with a gray fur-lined collar, had guitars, the former with an acoustic bass he was playing left-handed while the latter had a star-shaped red-and-black electric guitar.

    “Pokémon a go-go!” cried all four together.

    The bass player took a step forward. “From across the sea, the Fiore-born quadruplets have arrived!”

    “If you know us, you’re a beloved fan!” sang the violinist. “You knew us as a criminal quartet then!”

    “But that’s all in the past! We’ve had a change of heart and direction!” This was the electric guitar player. “We’ve transformed into purveyors of theatrical rock!”

    “What’s the name of our band?!” shouted the drummer.

    The three others then joined in, “Go-Rock Quads! We can’t hear you! Go-Rock Quads!! Don’t be shy! Shout it, loud and proud! GO-ROCK QUADS!!!”

    “Billy!”

    “Garret!”

    “Clyde!”

    “Tiffany!”

    “The worldwide superstars who will rock your world! We’re the Go-Rock Quads!!”

    Together and in perfect unison, the four siblings played their instruments, creating a harmonic sound while confetti shot from cannons at the back of the stage. The small crowd that had gathered cheered enthusiastically.

    “Was that good?” wondered Billy, the black-clad guitarist, turning to his siblings. “Eh, it sounded a bit off-key to me. We’ll have to practice more if we’re going to perform at the coronation.”

    “I REFUSE to play that song!” was the angry reply from Clyde, the brother stationed at drums. “It’s absolutely awful, the kind of awful I haven’t seen since Blake Hall wanted us to sing that dreadful song Dream Energy for him.”

    “Look, Clyde,” Billy answered, “I don’t like it either, but if we don’t come up with something better really soon, we’re stuck with it.”

    Out in the crowd, Matt, Cassy and Eleanor had finally reached a point where they could see the stage.

    “They’re...!”

    “Right, Eleanor... the Go-Rock Quads! Cassy and I have been fans for years!”

    “We have been...” Just then Cassy heard a familiar voice shouting nearby. “Wait, is that...?”

    Indeed, it was in fact Ross – his eyes were filled with the kind of overzealous glee that those of a child on Christmas morning would have. “Billy! Garret! Clyde and Tiffany!! The Go-Rock Quads! I love you guys!!”

    “Rogyaaaa...” Riolu, however, was clearly embarassed by its master’s behavior, holding its paw to its forehead.

    “Oh, Billy, look...” This was Garret, the left-handed bass player. “It’s that Ranger. The one who comes to all our performances.”

    “So it is!” Billy lept down from the stage to greet Ross directly. “Ross, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think the last time we met was...”

    “Altru Inc.’s 70th birthday event in Almia,” Ross said, finishing Billy’s sentence. “Best show of all, I think. The one in Fall City’s Amity Square was great too, though.”

    “So why are you in Aquane now?” When Matt and the others joined Ross, Billy turned to them. “And who are your friends?”

    “Well, this is my vacation leave. The Union gave me some time off, but... certain events have led to me taking an emergency Mission here. And these are my friends that I met here, Matt, Cassy and Eleanor.”

    “Pleased to meet you all,” Billy greeted with a smile.

    “We’re all fans too, myself and Cassy and Eleanor... you are playing a show here?”

    “The man to become king... I believe his name was Fernando?... hired us. He wants us to play at the coronation and he even wrote a special song for us to perform, but...”

    “It’s bad,” Tiffany cut in. “Really bad. None of us want to perform it. Not to mention we need a keyboardist.”

    “A keyboardist, you say?” Ross’s eyes lit up upon hearing this. “It just so happens that I play some keyboard...”

    “Well then, we’ll give you a shot, right, Billy?”

    “Sure, Garret. It can’t hurt.”

    “You three train him then,” Tiffany huffed as she lept down from the stage. “I’m going shopping and then taking a run by the bathhouse.”

    “Bathhouse?” The mere mention of this seemed to catch Eleanor’s attention.

    “Yeah, this city has a rather renowned spa bathhouse that I wanted to visit. You guys can come with me, if you want.”

    “Oh, Matt, let’s go there!” Eleanor’s enthusiasm for this was now about equal with Ross’s over the Go-Rock Quads. “It sounds nice!”

    “You guys go, I’ll stay behind. I have some things to do.”

    With that, Cassy walked off, leaving her companions slightly confused. Matt thought about calling to her to find out why she had to suddenly leave, but soon thought better of himself.

    “So let’s see this bathhouse then.”

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

    Cassy’s destination was, in fact, the palace itself. She dwelled in the doorway of a dark chamber while the shadowy figure of Count Fernando stood near a window.

    “We went to the bell tower,” she said quietly. “It was sealed by a cursed door.”

    “A cursed door, you say. Very well, I will look into it.” Fernando turned and walked calmly over to Cassy. He then gently pushed her head upwards by the chin and appraised her face carefully. “You are the one. The one who will allow me to always know what they’re doing. That, in turn, will always allow me to stay one step ahead of them. And when my era dawns, you will be there to stand alongside me.”

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

    Some time later, Matt, Eleanor and Tiffany had located and arrived at the spa bathhouse. The two young women, after a quick visit to the changing room necessary to getting into their bathing suits---Eleanor’s was all black while Tiffany’s had a yellow and red flame pattern---were soaking in the warm, clear water. Matt, however, just sat on a rock between two of the three Bronzong sculptures that acted as faucets for the spa’s water, staring into space dully.

    “What’s wrong, kid?” Tiffany finally asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence. “Why don’t you join us?”

    “Oh, um...” Matt’s voice was listless, almost despairing. “I... always felt more comfortable around computers and machines instead of people. I feel like I...” He hesitated for a moment. “...I have a reassuring sense of control when dealing with them.”

    “You’re kind of like me, then,” said Eleanor. “I own a doll shop in a city outside this region, but even there, I don’t deal with the customers much. My one employee really handles the customer service end of things. I find my solace in working on the dolls themselves in my workshop. To me, the dolls are my children. They speak so strongly, they convey things that even real people sometimes cannot. I believe they are really like little people with completely open hearts.”

    “That’s nice that you have something you can put your heart into. I’d prefer to spend my time lost in the wonders of history and science, where the world can’t find me, but... sometimes it does...”

    “What’s that mean?”

    Matt recoiled, realizing he’d said too much and now owed Eleanor an explanation. “Well, well, uh...”

    “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” Eleanor smiled.

    “I think I kind of owe you a story now. My father... he didn’t exactly get along with his father, who was my grandfather, the genius archeologist Sutter Chiaki.”

    “Why was that?” Now Tiffany was interested.

    “I really don’t know, but I get the feeling Sutter’s first love was always his archeology, and he may have not been a very good father to my father. I still remember that first time...”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A heavy snowstorm raged, but for Snowpoint City, this was typical. A much younger Matt---his hair was shorter and his glasses disproportionately large for his face, yet he still wore a blue and green combination very similar to his present day clothing along with a red scarf---came trudging into a bedroom inside the log cabin in which he lived. After shaking the snow from his boots and removing them, he walked over to his computer desk and pulled a stapled-together pile of papers from his backpack.

    The top sheet read “Sinnoh History Exam” and had “100%” written on it in red marker.

    “A perfect score on the biggest test of the year,” the boy thought to himself. “They’ll be proud of me.”

    At that moment, an older man entered the room.

    “How was school today?” he asked curtly.

    “Look!” Excited, Matt presented the man with his perfectly-scored test. “A perfect score on the Sinnoh History test, dad! The teacher loved the essay I spent all last week on!”

    The man, Matt’s father, stared dubiously at the page for several tense moments---then he began to rip the test to shreds. Matt’s eyes widened as he gasped in horror, watching the fruits of his labor crumble before him.

    “I’m not going to let you end up like your grandfather, so your fascination with history ends here! You’re NOT going to turn into a neglectful slob like him! And as for your essay...”

    Matt’s father threw the shards of paper to the floor, then stormed over to the computer and began typing commands into it. A window reading “Essay.doc > Delete this file?” soon appeared.

    “...Let’s see how much you like THIS!”

    Time seemed to slow as Matt watched, terrified, as his father’s hand descended towards the button that would erase all traces of his essay. He wanted to scream but couldn’t, as his thoughts clouded with all the hard work and pride he’d put into the work, a five-page thesis on the ancient history of the Sinnoh Region. All that could escape his mouth was a gasp of fear.

    “File: Essay.doc deleted”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “...That’s terrible!” Eleanor shrieked. “What in the name of Darkrai did he think made it okay to do that?”

    “He hated everything about the subject of history because of his poor relationship with Sutter. He felt like history had stolen away his own father.”

    “What about your mother? How did she ever get off letting him do that to you?”

    Matt had recoiled about a foot into the air well before Eleanor actually finished her sentence. “My...my... I am not on speaking terms with my mother. She left us long before that happened, after she became... one of them...”

    “One of them?” said Tiffany, scratching her head. “I can confess, I had parental issues too. My brothers and myself, we never knew our mother, and our father, who was once a colleague of the Ranger Union’s Prof. Hastings, founded an evil team to get revenge upon his old ally and forced us all to help him run it. Actually, Clyde didn’t really care but... oh, I’ve rambled. Who is ‘them?’”

    “’Team...” Before he finished, Matt looked up. His eyes widened as he finally took in what he was surrounded by.

    Three Bronzong sculptures.

    Bronzong sculptures that were dispensing water.

    Suddenly, something clicked in the young man’s mind, and he jumped up. “The blessing is at the place where the bounties of the three bells mix... it’s here! The ‘three bells’ are these Bronzong!”

    “That’s silly,” Tiffany said dismissively. “Why or how could something be here?”

    “I know it. It’s got to be...” Matt then noticed something odd about the three sculptures. He walked over to one and examined it carefully. “Eleanor. Come up here and help me push this.”

    “I don’t understand why, but alright...”

    Eleanor climbed out of the water and gingerly walked across the rocks to the side of the statue opposite Matt, then stopped, awaiting his instruction.

    “Help me push the arms of this thing clockwise.”

    Nodding, Eleanor applied as much force as she had in her body to the arm on her side of the Bronzong, while Matt did the same to the one on his side. After a moment, a portion of the top of the statue began to turn, leaving Tiffany to widen her eyes in surprise. The wheel turned for a few moments before reaching a point where it locked.

    “Believe me now?” Matt asked Tiffany with a wide grin. “Come and help us with the other two.”

    “Uh... yeah, of course!”

    With Tiffany’s help, it took the trio very little time to push the second Bronzong’s secret wheel into place. The third, however, seemed a bit heavier and was a challenge even for three people. After much effort, though, they finally managed to move it into place---but nothing happened.

    “Now do YOU believe me?” remarked Tiffany smugly. “There’s nothing her...”

    The young singer’s sentence got cut off as the ground began to quake violently. Panicking, both Tiffany and Eleanor jumped back in the water, but they didn’t need to---the only effect of this was that what seemed to be a solid rock wall nearby crumbled, revealing a hidden passageway.

    “Get dressed, you two. We’ve got some exploration to work on.”

    Both Eleanor and Tiffany listened, promptly getting back out of the water and wasting no time in gathering up and changing back into their clothes. Once they were all ready, the trio entered the cave, where it quickly became dark.

    “I...I...” Tiffany’s voice was quivering.

    “Haha, you’re afraid of the dark, aren’t you?”

    “I am NOT afraid of the dark, Matt! I just...” A sudden creak caused Tiffany to scream in fear and rush to hide behind Matt. “I...I...”

    “It’s alright. I’m actually afraid of the dark too, but it’s something you learn to get over, at least on expeditions. I still sleep with a light on.” Matt laughed and produced a Poké Ball. “It is pretty dark here though. Zero, come out and use Flash for us.”

    Matt’s Magnezone emerged from the ball, let out a single cry that reverberated through the cave, and began to emit a beam of light from its central, red eye to light up the passage.

    Not another word was spoken as the group walked down the narrow, damp passageway. After some time, strange markings began to appear on the walls. Although he tried to ignore them, Matt eventually stopped to examine these runes.

    “What are these all?” he wondered. “They look worn by age.”

    Matt pressed the button on his backpack strap to bring out the palm computer. While he used the device to record the carvings on the wall, Eleanor wandered a few steps ahead... and promptly stepped on something, sending herself skidding into the darkness while screaming madly.

    “What?! Eleanor! What happened?!” Matt shouted, beginning to panic due to the surprise of the sudden screaming.

    Tiffany approached where Eleanor had fallen, and managed to see something in the darkness. “There’s ice here. She slipped and fell.”

    “Oh. Zero, let’s have some light so I can help her up.”

    Complying, Zero moved its light so Matt could see where Eleanor had fallen, and he quickly helped her up. Looking around, there appeared to be multiple patches of ice – they were all circular, and arranged in an unusual sort of cross shape.

    While the three observed the icy pattern, a strange, robotic voice began echoing through the cave. “Re...re....gi...giiii...”

    “That voice!” Matt’s eyes widened, and he took a step back. “If that’s... we have to get out of here! Now!”

    Matt fled, leaving Eleanor and Tiffany confused. However, when the strange voice continued, they did not hesitate to follow his lead. When the two women emerged into the light again, they found their companion already furiously working on his palm computer.

    “Bring all autopilot systems online. Set destination to La Ciudad Dorada.”

    “Who are you talking to?” asked Eleanor curiously.

    “You’ll see. Let’s head back to the palace for now.”

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

    As soon as the trio arrived back at the square outside the palace, Tiffany immediately had to jump back up on stage to rejoin her brothers. The crowd present for the rehearsal had grown in the interim.

    “I thank you all for turning out!” Billy said into one of the stage’s microphones. “And it’s only a rehearsal!”

    “Psst, Billy...are you sure we should do this song?”

    “It’s fine, Garret. We can get through this. Ladies and gentlemen, your leads on this new song written just for us by Count Fernando VIII, Garret and Tiffany! And our guest keyboardist, Ross!”

    Ross stood briefly at his keyboard and bowed while Garret and Tiffany bowed at their microphones. After Clyde tapped his drumsticks together several times, the music began.

    “Some people long for Berlin and Barcelona
    They yearn for Paris, Madrid and Rome...”

    “And I know some who prefer Arizona
    And some prefer home...”

    “There's only me who is dying to see...

    Damn it, Billy, this is terrible!”

    Garret’s outburst stopped the band in the middle of the song. Judging by their reactions, Matt thought while watching, none of them really liked the song.

    “Oh hey guys.” This was Cassy, returning from whereever she had gone. “How’d the bathhouse go?”

    “We found something there. I called HR-E and...”

    “Move it! Coming through here!”

    Two of the palace guards came pushing through the crowd, rudely shoving aside anyone in their way. They reached the stage and looked brazenly up at Billy and Garret.

    “Move it. Count Fernando is coming to give a speech.”

    “Huh?” Clyde was puzzled, and it was easy to see in his face. “We never heard anything about a speech.”

    “I do believe she said get off the stage. Guards, do what you need to get those four off.”

    The regal voice that had given the order obviously belonged to Fernando himself, and on that command the two guards climbed onto the stage and used their Bronzor rods to shove Billy, Garret, Clyde and Ross off. Fernando then approached the stage and extended his hand to Tiffany.

    “Now you, my lovely lady, I will help you down myself.”

    The count was smiling, but this only made Tiffany’s obviously disgusted reaction more pronounced. She did accept the help, however, and he gently guided her down before winking at her as he mounted the stage himself.

    “Lech...” Tiffany mumbled under her breath.

    On the stage, Fernando approached the microphone while his guards stood behind him. “Hello, people of La Ciudad Dorada! I am very pleased to be able to speak with you today!”

    “Is it just me,” Matt said to Eleanor, “or does this guy love himself a little too much?”

    “Yes, I’m very pleased to be able to speak to you all today. And what do I want to talk to you about? Why, the future of this kingdom, that’s what. With the continuing absence of my parents, the kingdom has lacked leadership for some time. I am pleased to announce that, very soon, I will be crowned the eighth King Fernando of La Ciudad Dorada!”

    Matt, Cassy and Eleanor all had blank responses to this bold declaration, but the townspeople began murmuring restlessly.

    “The eighth king? How can he crown himself when the current king and queen have never been found?”

    “Who knows? I really wonder who’ll be his queen, though.”

    “His queen will be a lucky girl, that’s for sure.”

    “Now, quiet down everyone, I know that that’s a big announcement. But besides that, I’d like to share my vision for the future of our beloved homeland. It is a strong and prosperous future! It is one where La Ciudad Dorada will once again fufill its name and become the shining golden capital of all of Aquane!”

    In response to this, the crowd began cheering loudly and enthusiastically. To them, any good, uplifting news during the current crisis was worth it.

    “Move aside! Someone more important has something to say!”
    Out of nowhere, a dark orb came shooting at the stage, its impact causing an explosion that knocked Fernando backward into Clyde’s drums. The crowd gasped just as a Dusknoir emerged and took center stage.

    “What’s going on?!” shouted someone in the throng of people. “How dare you attack Count Fernando!”

    “Count Fernando is none of my concern,” the Dusknoir snidely noted. “Someone much more important has something to say. Dominar, if you would...”

    Gesturing with its wide hands, the Dusknoir pointed to a dark portal that slowly opened in the stage. From it emerged the man with the yellow top hat whose face was cloaked in rags.

    “Ahaha. A spectacular speech if I do say so myself, Count Fernando.”

    “Who are you?!!” Fernando demanded, eyes wide in panic.

    “The future king of La Ciudad Dorada,” replied the man as he turned back to the crowd. “You heard right. Standing before you all is the future ruler of this kingdom. Count Fernando? Don’t count on it.”

    “We’ve got to do something!” Matt hissed, reaching for the Poké Balls on his waist.

    “No! I’ll handle this!”

    “Cassy, stop!”

    It was too late. Cassy had already rushed the stage to confront the mysterious villain, much to the surprise of all the others.

    “Oh? And who are you?” the man asked calmly, with a vaguely amused tone in his voice.

    “More like who are YOU!” Cassy snapped back. “I’m putting a stop to this!”

    “Hmph. I’ll play with you then, if that’s what you want.”

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Pkmn Trainer Cassy ---vs.--- Mystery Man ???
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    [The man’s Dusknoir floats into battle, opening the mouth on its stomach wide as a taunt]

    “Only one option for me. Torkie, let’s go!”

    From the Poké Ball Cassy threw emerged a tall, red chicken-like Pokémon with flames erupting from its wrists – a Blaziken.

    “Torkie, Fire Punch!”

    “Take this!” the Fire and Fighting type roared as it rushed its foe with a fire-packed punch ready.

    However, just as Torkie swung, Dusknoir vanished.

    “This is already over. Dusknoir, Hypnosis.”

    Torkie barely had enough time to turn around before Dusknoir reappeared and grabbed it around the midsection.

    “Unhand me!”

    “No.”

    The red eye in Dusknoir’s head began to glow viciously, filling Torkie’s eyes with the same glow. Moments later, Torkie had fallen asleep.

    “No! It can’t...”

    “I said I’d play. But I play rough.”

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    “No... Torkie...” Strangely, there was little emotion in Cassy’s voice, even though one would have suspected despondance or fear.

    “See?” the man said to the crowd. “This is what happens when you oppose fate. Dusknoir, gather them up. We’re leaving.”

    “Yes, Dominar.”

    Dusknoir grabbed up both Torkie and Cassy – the latter not even resisting – and disappeared into the ground with them. The man did the same, with the dark portal closing once he vanished.

    “Cassy!” Matt screamed in panic. “She’s...she’s...” Matt stared blankly at the stage, seeing everything – his hopes, dreams and ambitions – that he had accomplished with Cassy vanish.

    “Matt...”

    With his heart and mind racing, and despite Eleanor’s attempt to calm him, Matt took a gulp and screamed, “SHE’S GONE!!!”

    Fernando, meanwhile, regained some composure and returned to the stage. “I do not know what just happened, my friends, but rest assured, I will investigate it and catch those responsible. I guess... I guess that concludes this. You all may go now.”

    With much murmuring, the crowd quickly dispersed. Billy, Garret and Clyde returned to the stage while Ross rejoined Matt and Eleanor.

    “What’s going on?” inquired the Ranger. “What’s up with him?”

    At this point Matt’s eyes were watering up, and he was mumbling incoherently in his inconsolable despair.

    “Oh, um...”

    Ross looked apologetic, and was about to say more, but just then a large, robotic vehicle glided up to the group. It was mostly black with some blue lines, and sported four polygonal hover engines on its corners.

    “Ooh, what’s that?” said Eleanor in wonder.

    This provided Matt the out he wanted. “It’s my lab... my robotic... lab. I called it to help me investigate what I found at the bathhouse, because my travel computers don’t have the capabilities. Come inside.”

    Matt stalked off towards a door in the machine’s side, which he entered. Ross and Eleanor quickly followed.

    Inside was a very bright room with many silver fixtures along with multiple white dry-erase boards, which had complicated scientific formulas written in colorful markers on them. There were also a number of unusual robots; they had heads like pairs of binoculars on thin pole-like bodies, mounted on which were pairs of clamp-like arms.

    A door on the far side of the room was open. The two went inside to find a smaller, cockpit-like room with three chairs arranged in a row, the middle one clearly having the ability to compact into the floor. Matt was sitting in this center chair, with a large keyboard in front of him and surrounded by screens displaying various data. Two larger golden robots sat at the back of this room.

    “Initiate upload sequence,” Matt commanded as he plugged his handheld computer into the machine, seemingly oblivious to the others. “Scan the data.”

    “As you wish, sir,” droned the robots. “Scanning data.”

    “Watch them have it done before I...”

    “Scanning is now one-hundred percent complete. Data fully available.”

    “...finish this sentence.” Obviously Matt did know the others were there now, but didn’t turn.

    “Wow, that’s amazing!” raved Eleanor.

    “Only this machine has the ability to fully process the data we collected at the bathhouse. Watch.” With the press of a button, Matt brought up a blurry image of the carvings on the wall of the cave. He then entered another command into the computer. “Enhance this image.”
    “Enhancing image.”

    In little time, the image quickly became much clearer; however, even in better quality it was enigmatic. It was simply a gray stone wall with many dots carved into it.

    “I think I’ve seen something like this before,” Ross stated plainly. “I saw it in some ruins once.”

    “Right. It’s an ancient language.”

    With that, Matt leaned forward and typed “Command: Translate” into the computer. After taking a moment to scan the image, words appeared on the screen.

    --Three guardians bind the seal of the great titan of destruction. He who awakens the titan must stop the disaster by its hand.—

    “Three guardians?”

    “A seal on a titan of destruction?”

    “Eleanor... Ross... I don’t understand it either.”

    “Data scanning indicates presence of the legendary Pokémon, Regice,” announced the computer.

    Immediately, all three jumped at this news.

    “Regice?!” Eleanor gasped. “Was that... the voice I heard?”

    “No wonder there was ice on the ground,” Matt said bitterly. “I’d guess Regice is one of these three guardians, which means...”

    “Regigigas! It’s a well-known legend in the Ranger Union. They say that when a chosen one brings the powers of Regirock, Regice and Registeel together, Regigigas appears. Could it be that Regigigas is the ‘great titan of destruction’ in that description?”

    “There’s only one way we can find out. We have to go back there.”

    After he stood, Matt entered one last command into the computer, which closed the open windows and retracted the chair into the floor.

    “Return safely, sir.”

    “I will.” He turned and began walking for the exit. “Let’s move.”

    “Right.”

    Eleanor and Ross followed Matt, however, near the door something caught Eleanor’s eye, prompting her to stop. It was a pair of photographs. One showed Matt with a young blue-haired girl, the other Matt in a lab coat with three others in lab coats: an older, orange-haired man, a man about Matt’s age with long white hair over his right eye, and a young woman whose hair was long and brown with yellow highlights.

    “Wait. Matt, who are these pictures of?”

    Matt stopped and made a half-turn. “The one on the left is me and my sister. The other is me with a group of people I studied with at one time.” His voice becoming wistful as the memories came back, Matt continued, “The old guy is Dr. Newton Graceland, an old friend of my grandfather’s, while the girl is his daughter Synni and the white-haired guy is another of his students. His name was Viktor but we called him Zero because of his last name... good times.”

    “What about your sister? You’ve never mentioned her before. What’s her name?”

    Instead, Matt ignored Eleanor. “Let’s get going.”

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

    The cave was still open when the group arrived back at the bathhouse. Matt immediately deployed his small computer again, but then froze.

    “There’s a sudden chill in the air. Be cautious.”

    Eleanor and Ross nodded, and the trio began their careful advance into the cave. Only a few feet in, however, strange noises could be heard echoing from deeper inside.

    “Re.... Regi... ice...”

    “It’s that voice again!” Eleanor screeched. “Was it Regice?!”

    “We can’t run this time, right?”

    “Ross, that’s spot on,” replied Matt. “Let’s move!”

    Together, all three ran deeper into the cave. Like before, though, they soon found themselves unable to see farther, owing to the lack of any kind of light.

    “Don’t worry about this, I’ve got it.” Reaching to her waist, Eleanor produced a Poké Ball of her own. “Froslass, let’s go!”

    Erupting from the ball came a white-and-blue creature, one with a strange socklike body beneath a sideways-waterdrop-like head. It had yellow eyes and strangely shaped, droopy arms ending in tiny fingers.

    “Froslass, use Flash!”

    Letting out a gentle cry, the Froslass spread its arms. A burst of bright light flooded forth from its body, illuminating the cave so that Eleanor and the others could see.

    “Good work,” Matt complimented. “Let’s keep moving.”

    As Matt headed ever deeper into the tunnel, Ross, Eleanor and Froslass all followed him. Before long they arrived at the end of the cave, where Eleanor had fallen earlier. With more light, they could see a statue with the same dot pattern as the one on the floor. This statue’s main body was bullet-shaped with a point at the top, while featuring needle-pointed feet and clublike arms with small bullets for fingers that matched the larger spikes on its back.

    “That statue, it’s...”

    “Yeah, Eleanor, it’s Regice...” With a look of wonder on his face, Matt slowly approached the statue. “My grandfather taught me the legend of Regice and its two siblings, yet, I never imagined I would stand before the actual shape of...”

    A bizarre glow began to come from Matt’s backpack. He turned and removed the cube, which was the source of the light. Suddenly, an odd moaning sound came from the statue. “Reee....gggg...REGIIII!!!”

    It was then that the statue seemed to come to life. Matt jumped back in fear as the dots on the statue’s face lit up, but it wasn’t him the statue was after – instead, a beam of ice shot out from the center of the dots and formed a transparent barrier between itself along with Matt and Eleanor and Ross.

    “Matt!” Eleanor cried out. “Matt, are you okay?!”

    “I’m fine!” he shouted back. “But this.. this...”

    Matt trailed off, and with good reason – the statue was now crumbling. Fear and panic filled his mind as the pulsating glow of his grandfather’s treasure became one with the gradual transformation of the statue. Where there once was stone had now become transparent, shiny sky blue ice. Incredulous, Matt could only silently press the button on his backpack strap again to bring out another robotic arm, which held a device of similar color that unfolded to reveal two screens. The top screen displayed a scan of the now-living statue, while the bottom displayed a file photo of it, which was a darker blue in color.

    “Regice, the iceberg Pokémon. Type is Ice. Its body is made of ice from the Ice Age. It controls cold air that is minus two hundred degrees. This specimen is alternately colored.”

    “So we meet at last... Shiny Regice. I don’t understand why you’re here, but you’re challenging me, aren’t you?” There was a sense of defiance in Matt’s voice.

    “Regiiice...Regiiice...”

    “Fine. If that’s what you want from me, that’s what you’ll get!”

    (Banner by Matori)
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  16. #16
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    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Pkmn Trainer Matt ---vs.--- Seal Guardian Regice
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    [Regice floats forward from the stand its statue had been on, slams its weight to the ground, and releases a moaning, electronic cry]

    “Alright, I can do this. Zero and Agnetha, make your mark!”

    Alongside the Magnezone emerged an Ambipom, a monkey-like creature that was mostly blue in color with some cream-colored patches on its stomach and face and possessing two tails that ended in large hand-like appendages.

    “Agnetha, begin this with Brick Break!”

    Showing great agility, Agnetha lunged for Regice and spun around swiftly to swing its two tails. This attack struck Regice right in what could probably be called its face – quite close to its cross of yellow dots – yet Regice didn’t seem fazed much.

    “Tough, huh? Let’s see how you like this. Zero, Flash Cannon!”

    “MagNE!” Zero thrust itself between Agnetha and Regice and began charging light energy in its eye, humming as it did so. This humming got louder as the light got even brighter, reflecting the strength of the attack, which was finally loosed in the form of a spherical blast. Once again, Regice made no effort to evade and took a direct hit, yet aside from some burn marks on its surface, showed little evidence of damage.

    Moments after taking the Flash Cannon, Regice moaned again, then lunged forward and used its right arm to deliver a powerful downward punch to Agnetha, crushing it into the ground.

    “Hammer Arm,” Matt growled to himself. “Regice is strong... Flash Cannon should have...”

    “Matt, listen!” called Ross from the other side of the ice wall. “Prof. Hastings advised me on Regice once. It has substantially strong defenses against attacks that aren’t physical, so use physical attacks on it!”

    “Physical, huh? Let me think of what I’ve got... oh, well, if it’s ice then... Fire Punch, Agnetha! Go now!”

    Agnetha shook its head, taking a moment to recover from having taken Regice’s Hammer Arm. It then lunged again, this time with both its tail-hands becoming surrounded in fire, and struck with both simultaneously. Unlike the earlier attacks, this finally caused Regice to respond with a pained groan.

    “Follow up with Iron Head!”

    Zero emerged from behind Agnetha, who had backflipped away from Regice after hitting it, with its head shining brightly like a mirror. Showing great speed, it rammed Regice forcefully, throwing the golem across the chamber into a wall.

    “Re... re....reGIIIIIICE!!!”

    Immediately recovering, Regice flung itself forward and struck Agnetha in the head with its left arm again, however, this time it seemed to have much, much more power. The Ambipom collapsed, fainted.

    “DynamicPunch too?!” Matt growled. “This isn’t going to be easy... Agnetha, return. Now, Joker, make your mark!”

    Matt replaced Agnetha with a large, fat-bodied duck-like creature that sported a flame pattern on its torso along with flames on its head and shoulders and cannon-like arms, a Magmortar.

    “Zero, Magnet Bomb!”

    Unlike the earlier Iron Head, when Zero began to use Magnet Bomb, its bottom portion began to glow. A metallic sphere emerged from the ground below it, and using its magnetic power to manipulate the object, flung it into Regice’s face, where it exploded.

    “Now, Joker, you use Cross Chop!”

    Though its body shape prevented it from moving quickly, Joker had little trouble with getting right in Regice’s face before crossing its arms and delivering a double-chopping strike. Now nicks in Regice’s body were beginning to form, a visual sign that its endurance was faltering.

    Instead of it moving, though, the dots on Regice’s face lit up and began flashing. Soon afterward, a pulse of electricity came flowing out, coursing into Joker’s body and inflicting it with paralysis.

    “Well, that’s great. Looks like I’ve got no other choice now. Zero, go in with Giga Impact!”

    “Zone!” Spinning around twice in the air, spirals of orange energy surrounded Zero. It then flew at lightning speed for Regice, encased in both the orange energy along with purple energy, and struck it with great force. This time, Regice was thrown into a wall so powerfully that it actually cracked through several feet into the stone.

    After dislodging itself from the wall, Regice raised its arms into the air, cried out, and then slammed them down into the ground. This created a seismic shockwave, which in turn caused the ground around Zero and Joker to crack and shatter. Joker, though stilled somewhat by paralysis, lurched and fell to the ground, but Zero instantly was defeated due to having a double weakness against the move.

    “Zero, return...” Matt cracked a small smile, however, as he readied his next Poké Ball. “Regice, you’re a worthy foe, but now is where the buck stops. Tony, get out and make your mark!”

    Emerging from the latest Poké Ball was a giant black-and silver dinosaur-esque beast, one with iron armor all over its body.

    “An Aggron!” Eleanor exclaimed. “That’s a great choice for him!”

    “Like I said, Regice...” Matt shut his eyes. “...battling you has a been a great experience, but all good things must have an end.” He reopened his eyes, then threw his hands into the air and raised his voice. “Tony, Iron Head!”

    Tony let out an earth-shaking roar, then lowered its head and charged like a bulldozer into Regice. It directly smashed the icy creature into the wall before withdrawing – and this time, Regice just fell forward weakly out of the stone, defeated.

    “All right! ...Though I still don’t know just what’s going on...”

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    “Gasp... it’s not... like me to... get that excited...”

    As Regice lay on the ground in defeat, the ice barrier it had erected to keep Eleanor and Ross out of the battle disappeared, and they both joined Matt.

    “That was an excellent battle,” Ross said. “I have to admit, I once faced a Regice at Almia Castle. It was a challenge to capture, but I managed to do it in the end with my Riolu’s help.”

    “Rio! Riolu!” the Pokémon answered happily.

    “But we still don’t know the answer,” Matt remarked as he turned away. “Why was Regice here...?”

    Just as he asked the question, though, he got an answer – a bright light began emanating from his backpack, and after a short moment, the golden cube from Sutter floated out, glowing. It floated to between the three humans and Regice – much to their surprise, as none of them had been expecting a cube to do such a thing – and Regice rose from the ground to stand again.

    “Re...regi....ICE!”

    There was another bright flash, prompting Matt, Eleanor, Ross and Riolu to cover their eyes, but when it faded, Regice was gone.

    “What?!” all three gasped.

    Just then, the cube floated before Matt once again. Something was different this time, though – on one side, the dots that matched Regice’s were now also glowing.

    “The cube, it’s...” Ross trailed off.

    “Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on, but this glowing... it’s not natural. Sutter never told me of such a thing. Let’s head back.”

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

    Though the sun had only set a short few hours ago, Matt and his group – exhausted from the day’s events – were already all sound asleep in their lodging at the palace.

    Eleanor and Ross were still in their sleep, however, Matt was not. He was sweating, thrashing about, and mumbling.

    “Mmph... Regice... Regigigas...”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    December 18th, 1997
    17:12:07



    The sound of footsteps echoed through the dark halls of the old, run-down stone temple. Two shadowy figures soon entered the chamber, which was obviously quite large by how the sound echoed, and stood at the entrance.

    “Matt, be careful,” said an old, fragile voice. “There’s ice on the floors here. Watch your step until I can get the torch lit.”

    “I will.”

    Moments later, light filled the room from a large, newly lit torch on the wall, revealing the two to be Sutter and Matt. Both were dressed in heavy blue snow coats and pants along with thick black boots. The turtle-like Pokémon Shuckle was following closely at Sutter’s heels.

    The chamber itself was inhabited by a gigantic statue of a Pokémon. Most of its body was white, while a teardrop-shaped section in its middle was yellow along with discs on its shoulders and wrists. Seven black dots lined its middle, between lights of brown, blue and silver, and jagged black lines cut across its body.

    “Grandfather, is this...?” Matt gasped in wonderment.

    “Yes, my grandson, this is Regigigas! You surely remember what I’ve taught you about Regigigas, correct?”

    “Of course!” was Matt’s enthusiastic reply. “Regigigas, referred to as the Colossal Pokémon, was said to have shaped the landmasses of Earth by shifting the continents into place. Ancient peoples worshipped it once as a creator.”

    “Once...however, that ended up not being the case any longer.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “It is said that Regigigas fell corrupt. It began destroying what it was created to form. People began to fear Regigigas due to this. Today, most texts only write one small passage about this event... “A body of Rock. A body of Ice. A body of Steel. When gathers the three princes, the king shall awaken.””

    “Rock, Ice and Steel... doesn’t that refer to Regirock, Regice and Registeel?”

    “Indeed. There is one other myth about the time that Regigigas was sealed away by humans, but many have forgotten it... I believe it goes, “In this cave we have lived. We owe all to the Pokémon. But, we sealed the Pokémon away. We feared it. Those with courage, those with hope, open the door. An eternal Pokémon awakes.””



    Suddenly, though, the dream began warping around Matt, as if time and space themselves were distorting. Sutter vanished, and in his place, Cassy appeared.

    “C-Cassy?!” Matt was plainly shocked. “Why are you...”

    The ground began quaking. Looking up, Matt saw the source – his jaw dropped in fear, as Regigigas was lurching to life.

    “Re...gi....GI...GASSSSSUUUUU....”

    “Cassy!” he shouted. “Run for it!”

    Matt’s pleading, however, was in vain. Regigigas stood and walked to just behind Cassy, then leaned down and scooped her up in its gigantic hand. As Matt watched, his mind in sheer panic and fear, the titanic beast simply crushed its three fingers together, flattening the girl inside.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Wah!”

    Matt sprang up in his bed, still sweating profusely. He looked around for a minute, then put on his glasses, got up, and walked to the open window. A cool breeze blew through his hair as he gazed down.

    “Cassy... I’ve failed you...” he mumbled, completely demoralized and depressed.

    A sickening idea then entered his mind, one that only he would somehow find appealing.

    “I know what I’ll do. If Cassy’s gone... I’ll go too.”

    Taking another step, Matt stopped only momentarily to take a deep breath before making a move to walk out through the window.

    “Stop it!”

    Suddenly, there was a firm grip on Matt’s shoulder. He stopped and turned to see Eleanor standing behind him in her lace nightgown, pouting fiercely.

    “What the hell are you doing?!” she snapped. “You’re just going to walk out a window?”

    Matt hung his head in shame. “I shouldn’t be here. I failed Cassy... she’s suffering now because of me...” Tears came into his eyes, and he turned and fell into Eleanor’s arms as the thoughts overwhelmed him. “I failed her! I failed her! Everything she’s ever done for me, and this is how I repay her...”

    Pity filled Eleanor’s expression. Though she’d only known him a short time, seeing Matt in this state broke her heart. “The only way you’re going to fail her is if you give up and leave her on her own for the rest of her life.”

    “...You’re right... thank you.”

    Matt stepped away from the window and shut it, disappearing into the room. What he didn’t see, however, was that a shield-shaped Bronzor was floating in the air outside with a tiny video camera attached between its eyes.

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

    A lone man walked the moonlit streets of the city, his green fedora obscuring in shadow much of his face and purplish hair. His green outfit, sky blue cravat and blue undershirt stood out, however.

    As the man walked past a television monitor on a post, it came to life and displayed Fernando’s face. Noticing this, the man stopped to watch.

    “This is your Count Fernando with a bit of important news for you all. Matt Chiaki discovered the Legendary Pokémon Regice in our city today! Furthermore, it is currently believed that Regirock and Registeel may also exist somewhere nearby, so I request that you all keep us apprised of the situation. Thank you.”

    Fernando vanished as the man’s eyes briefly widened before narrowing to tiny slits.

    “Matt Chiaki, huh? I haven’t heard that name since the good doctor was murdered. Looks like I’ll be paying that palace a visit tomorrow.”

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

    Meanwhile, in the chamber with the machine controlling the Magma Stone, Dusknoir quietly monitored the device as Dominar shuffled in.

    “Dominar, I...”

    “Silence. I have important news. I have finally discovered the location of Shaymin.”

    “You have?! Where?”

    “It is near the Berrybell Mountains outside of the city. Tomorrow, I shall use Heatran and go there to capture Shaymin.”

    “What about Chiaki and his discovery? If you know about Shaymin, he probably knows too...”

    “That’s just fine. Even with all of them combined, they cannot best Heatran, nor can that Ranger capture it. So long as we have this device and the Magma Stone, we are unstoppable... indomitable... INVINCIBLE!!”

    Once again, Dominar began laughing maniacally, loud enough that he could be heard echoing even outside the building.




    END of CHAPTER 2
    ------------------


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  17. #17
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    Really funny scene with Matt's group and the Go-Squads. Love Ross' reaction when he saw them and the band's reaction when they saw him again. XD

    Also, I quite like how you did the battle with Matt and Regiice and making him all excited. He should be like that more often, then.

    Have to say, once again you're getting better at emotions and case in point the scene where Matt was about to jump off of the window. You did nicely with Eleanor calming Matt.

    The only thing is I think you could have put a bit more clues that Cassy's actually against them. The ones you had are good (for instance, her not resisting when the Dusknoir grabbed her), but I felt you could have put a bit more emphasis on that somehow. I don't know, but it's just that I'm not at the stage where I want to ask why she's doing that yet. If there's a couple more mentions of Cassy like that, then maybe. Also, Cassy doublecrossing Matt and the group is a big thing. I hope you get what I mean. ^^;

    In any case, I enjoyed this chapter a lot and can't wait to see what the next clues will be!


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  18. #18
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    Oooh...the plot thickens. Shiny Regice, Cassy's betrayal, and an appearance by the Go-Rock Quads...awesome stuff.

    Wonder who the fedora guy is? Seems interesting...and, of course, Fernando's as much a pervert as ever. That's a good question, though...who IS his queen? Judging by his dialogue in that scene where Cassy tells him what they're doing...well, I don't want to make random theories yet.

    Haha, Riolu's reaction to Ross's fan-ism was great XD Hope to see more of that later.

    This is getting really interesting...wonder what's next? Can't wait to find out!
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  19. #19
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    CHAPTER 3: The Gardener Emerges







    Bright sunlight brought day to La Ciudad Dorada the next morning. Of course, considering the current situation, anything but strong sunlight would have been markedly unusual.

    In the main hall of the palace, Matt, Eleanor and Ross approached the main gate at a casual pace, discussing amongst themselves their next move.

    “Where are we going now?”

    “Eleanor,” Matt answered with a confident tone, “we have to go back and double-check the bathhouse again. We battled Regice there but we never found a clue to the location of either Regirock or Registeel. There’s got to be something there.”

    “Good deduction!” Wiping the sweat from his brow, Ross then turned to the view of the silouhettes of two guards standing before the front gate. “Now I understand why they wear those skimpy outfits,” he said sarcastically.

    As the group passed through the gate, the guards moved their staffs so they could pass. Instantly, all three shielded their eyes from the sunlight, but still, they continued on....

    ...that is, until a voice called to them. “Hey, Matt Chiaki! So it really is you after all this time!”

    Matt froze. The voice was instantly familiar, though it was right in that he hadn’t met its owner in years. He wasn’t fearful, though he certainly wasn’t thrilled to turn and see the blue-haired young man in the fedora approaching him.

    “Matt Chiaki, Matt Chiaki, Matt Chiaki...” the young man said rather jovially, albeit with a pinch of sarcasm. “The great Sutter Chiaki’s grandson has come to La Ciudad Dorada. I never expected to see you here.”

    “Who is this guy?” Eleanor asked cautiously, backing up several steps.

    “Oh, it’s just an old classmate of mine... I guess you might call him my rival from the old days. Another archeologist.”

    “Is that so. Do we have to talk out here though?”

    “No, we don’t. It’s always been like Chiaki to do things the hard way.” This wasn’t actually meant to offend, and the young man laughed. “Come with me. I’ve taken a cottage on the outskirts of town.”

    Ross and Eleanor looked to Matt, who simply shrugged, accepting the offer. He led them off to follow the young man.

    Meanwhile, Fernando stood staring down at them from his balcony. None of them had noticed that he was there.

    “Carter McKenna...” Fernando said to himself, scowling slightly. “He’s here too.”

    “Did you say Carter McKenna?” a voice asked from inside the room.

    “Yeah.” Turning back, Fernando stepped back into his chamber, a finely outfitted wood room with many exquisite furnishings, like a huge armoir and plush bed – on which sat Cassy. “Carter McKenna.”

    “Matt and I went to school with him. He’s an archeologist too, the son of renowned archeology professor Howard McKenna.”

    “I know about his father!” snapped the prince. “Tell me something about him!”

    “He’s an expert in the Pokémon Shaymin. I guess he came here looking for it.”

    On hearing this news, Fernando recoiled, then stole quickly over to his armoir, which had an ornate golden scepter with a glass ball on its end leaned against it. He opened one of the cabinets carefully and withdrew a sharp-edged, glowing green orb from it. Holding it in his right hand while Cassy looked on in wonder, he spoke.

    “So long as I have this Griseous Orb, the treasure of House Fernando, I cannot be stopped. Even as such, I must get to Shaymin before Chiaki and McKenna do.”

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

    Carter’s ‘cottage’ was more like a villa, a clay building much larger than any of the houses in the town. It was just as beautiful inside as out, as he had stocked it with the finest of fineries from all over the world: he possessed shelves carved from the exquisite woods of Canalave City in Sinnoh, lined with dishes from the famed glass crafters of Fallarbor Town. He also owned a remarkable array of furniture, some of which Matt recognized from Veilstone City’s Department Store, while others could only have come from mail order. It was at a wide oak table that Carter seated his guests before himself sitting down at its head and resting his head on his clasped hands.

    “So, Matt Chiaki, what brings you here? As if I have to ask, that is.”

    “I think the better question would be why you’re here, Carter,” Matt answered with a hint of anger. “Trying to steal my glory? Again?”

    Ross’s eyes widened in surprise, and he managed to speak before Carter could counter Matt’s accusation. “Wait, your name is Carter? Are you...Carter McKenna, the son of the prestigious Professor Howard McKenna?”

    “You’ve pegged me,” Carter said with a smarmy smile. “Matt, I’m presuming you’re here to finish what Sutter started and find the Golden City?”

    “Yeah, and why are you here?” The bad blood Matt harbored for Carter could be no less obvious.

    “The same reason you are.” Despite being sniped at, Carter remained relatively calm as he spoke. “I’m here to finish what my father started in this town and find the Legendary Pokémon Shaymin.”

    “Shaymin, huh? What connection does your father have to it?”

    “My father was a member of Sutter Chiaki’s expedition team, uh....”

    “Eleanor.”

    “Eleanor, my father, Howard McKenna, was a member of Sutter Chiaki’s team back in the day. He was with Sutter on many of his expeditions in search of the Golden City, and he came to have a vested interest in the Pokémon Shaymin. Shaymin is said to have a strong connection to this city’s legend.”

    “I think I heard of that, Carter. It’s something I’m pretty sure I heard from someone at the Ranger Union.”

    “I’m sure genius boy over here can tell you all about it...” Matt sulked, staring off to the side and refusing to look at Carter.

    “Come on, Matt!” It almost seemed as if Eleanor was going to slap him, which caused Matt to back down a little. She didn’t, but she did seem agitated. “What’s your problem with him anyway?”

    “Oh, Eleanor, it’s alright. I’ll explain, but first let me tell the story of Shaymin’s connection to La Ciudad Dorada.

    You see, over five hundred years ago, the center of Oceannia was just a barren desert that nobody could live on. People came to the land, but they couldn’t survive and struggled to get by.

    One day, a pure-hearted man came to the makeshift town that the settlers had made. When he arrived, he gave thanks for the beauty he saw in the town, beauty that nobody else could see. When he gave thanks, the others began to realize the good fortunes that they did have as well, and they also gave thanks.

    Soon, a Pokémon embodying gratitude itself appeared, a Pokémon we today know as Shaymin. The Shaymin fed on the gratitude that the people felt, and soon more Shaymin appeared. When enough Shaymin had gathered, they decided to help the people that had made it possible for them to exist. The pure-hearted man came forth, and he made a wish for the barren land his people lived on to become a lush and rich place where living comfortably was possible. The Shaymin all granted his wish and created the paradise he hoped for, and the people crowned him as their king, King Fernando I.

    The flock of Shaymin eventually flew away, leaving behind one of their own to watch over the new kingdom. In gratitude for all that Shaymin had done, King Fernando I constructed a fantastic complex, a city even, made completely out of gold – the legendary La Ciudad Dorada.”

    As Carter concluded his story, he let his eyes drift down to his audience. Ross seemed to simply be letting the information soak in, whereas Eleanor wore a look of surprise that gave away her thoughts quite well. Matt even had been listening intently, though he looked away again when he realized Carter was looking at him, which made the blue-haired young man chuckle slightly.

    “Carter...” Eleanor said thoughtfully, “I understand Shaymin’s role now. But why did the Golden City just vanish?”

    “Nobody knows,” Carter answered, shaking his head. “Some say it was abandoned and thieves made off with all the gold. Others say that a great cataclysmic event took place that eradicated the city. In short, there is no definite answer.” Looking to Matt’s still-scowling face, Carter furrowed his brow a bit. “Come on, Matt, calm down. We may have been rivals of sorts, but if you learned anything from Sutter, didn’t you learn that personal differences should never interfere with the thrill of the hunt?”

    In truth, Matt actually had stopped paying attention to Carter the moment the story of Shaymin ended.

    Suddenly, Carter appeared confused. “Wait, Matt. Where’s Cassy? Don’t tell me you guys broke up.”

    This made Matt’s mind finally snap, and he stood up angrily. “She was kidnapped, you fool! The guy who brought Heatran here did it!”

    “I...I’m sorry then.... it’s just that...”

    Halting mid-sentence, Carter shut his eyes and thought back to the day he finally fully understood Matt and Cassy...

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It was late in the year 2001, at the time when the graduating class was about to leave and head off into the world. Matt and Carter, both in their blue hexagon-pattern Rustboro School uniforms, were rummaging through their old dorm room sometime prior to the ceremony.

    “What are we looking for in here, exactly?”

    “A suitcase,” answered Matt. “I put it in here years ago, and I forgot where I left it.”

    “A suitcase, seriously?” Carter turned to Matt, hands on his hips, and scoffed. “We should be out having fun at the party, not rooting around in here for a suitcase.”

    “Look, Carter, what’s in there is important to me, alright?” Matt was indignant, almost angry over his motives being questioned, especially considering what actually was in the suitcase. When he thought of that, the important contents of the case, his expression softened, and Carter immediately picked up on that.

    “It’s something about you and your squeeze, isn’t it?”

    “DO NOT CALL HER THAT!” was Matt’s enraged response.

    “Oh geez, just calm down. I don’t mean anything by it.”

    Matt grimaced and shot Carter a death stare, then the two went back to their search. Very quickly, though, Matt had a visible moment of realization and strode over to a mirror hung on the wall. He removed it, and underneath, there was some kind of scanner. Matt removed his glasses and placed his eye in front of the lens, prompting Carter to laugh.

    “You seriously hid a suitcase containing love letters or something behind a retinal scan? Knowing you, you probably invented the thing.”

    “Shut up. Although, I DID invent it...” When the door opened, Matt replaced his glasses, reached in, and removed an old, brown, dusty suitcase from the recess in the wall. He blew off the dust, then deactivated the electronic lock on the case and popped it open.

    Inside, there were multiple pieces of paper with crayon drawings on them and a black, craggy rock.

    “What are those things?” Carter asked, leaning over Matt’s shoulder.

    “Some stuff we drew as kids and an old rock we picked up at Mt. Chimney once. We put this stuff in the suitcase and sealed it away as a sort of time capsule.”

    “For...what exactly?”

    “We knew our lives would be very different when we graduated, so when we entered this school, we put away the suitcase to remind us of how things once were. I guess she forgot though...”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Matt knew what Carter was thinking and was almost frozen in time with the world spinning around him. Even though that old suitcase only contained a few scraps of paper and a rock, there was significant emotional investment for him in those items. Just thinking about them made him remember all the good times... and then he remembered that Cassy was no longer with him, being subject to untold horrors at the hands of the mysterious man who wielded Heatran’s might.

    Enough of these thoughts clouding his mind finally prompted Matt to slam his hands on the table and stand up.

    “Look, Carter,” he fumed, “somewhere in this city, that guy who’s controlling Heatran has her in captivity. Who knows what he’s planning to do with her. We have to do something!”

    Carter remained cool, though he had a snide tone to his voice as he spoke. “We? Who is this ‘we?’ Are you going to just forget about the tragedy I had to go through because of you?”

    “Tragedy? What are you talking about?” It was obvious Matt honestly didn’t know what the tragedy was.

    “You really don’t know? Listen up then, genius. My father, who was a member of your grandfather’s old expedition team, was recruited by someone who had Sutter’s blessing to continue the hunt for the Golden City after the doctor was murdered. My father never returned from that trip. You wanna fill in the blanks for me?”

    “Someone who had Sutter’s blessing...? Sutter took the secrets of what he knew to his grave! He would have never given anyone anything to follow in his footsteps!”

    “Ring ring, then, he did. All I know is that the guy who recruited him wanted to investigate a clue in Stark Mountain in Sinnoh.”

    Matt blinked, a feeling of dread coming over him. “Stark Mountain is where the first confirmed sightings of Heatran were. If there’s a connection, the guy who recruited your father may be the person who murdered Sutter, and the one who’s controlling Heatran here now!”

    Though Eleanor and Ross both stood, both ready to speak up in support of Matt’s theory, a loud knocking on the door of the villa distracted them all. All four approached the door and Carter opened it...

    ...only to find a remarkably beautiful blonde-haired woman standing there with an appearance that completely contradicted her looks. Her tattered brown cloak dragged on the ground while her head was covered by a hood. Overall, she looked like a remarkably destitute woman who happened to win the genetic lottery, yet Carter did not seem at all surprised to see her.

    “What is it?” he asked her lowly.

    “The ‘deshu hotcake’ is confirmed,” the woman answered in an equally low tone. Handing Carter a rolled up map, she then said, “Recorded location is marked as the Gratitude Shrine in the Berrybell Mountains.”

    Instantly, a new energy reinvigorated Carter, and he turned to his guests. “Chiaki! We’ll have to save our argument for later. Something remarkably important is happening, and we have to move now! Lend me usage of your HR-E, if you’ve finally completed it!”

    “Yeah, it’s done. I don’t know how I feel about letting you use it but...”

    “Save the argument! We have to go now!”

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

    Somewhere underground, deep below the palace, there was a dank, dark dungeon. Dank would actually almost be a compliment, as this place was not only damp, it had water actually dripping from the walls and cracks in the ceiling, not to mention a horrific smell permeating the air.

    Two guards were stationed at the entrance of the dungeon, but someone approached them and waved them off to make entrance possible. The lithe figure cut through the inky black darkness of the dungeon – brief flashes of light only revealed a dark suit and part of a yellow top hat – and approached the bars of an equally-dark cell.

    “Hey old man,” the voice of Dominar sneered, “I’ve got some news for you.”

    Almost on cue, a balding man quite plainly getting on in his years appeared near the bars. What was left of his hair indicated that it was once blue, and he wore tattered exploration clothes that obviously had been left on him for far too long.

    “What do you want? Usually you don’t come down here so often, fiend.”

    “Ahaha. Well, I have some news for you. It seems that your son Carter is here in addition to the Chiaki boy. This is putting my plan into place quite nicely.”

    News of Carter’s presence made the old man – now identifiable as Howard McKenna – widen his eyes in shock. “My son?! I don’t know what he’s doing here, but if you harm a hair on his head....”

    Dominar just laughed his typical menacing laugh. “Don’t you worry, the worst he’ll get is roughed up a little. You better prepare for some major father-son bonding time when I have him locked up with you! Ahahahaaha!!”

    Suddenly, the sound of another person’s footsteps echoed through the dungeon, but who it was wasn’t immediately visible, at least to Howard.

    “Dear,” the voice said, “I just noticed it. They’re on the move for the Berrybell Mountains!”

    Again Howard gasped. “Cassy, is that you?! Cassy Natsuka from the Rustboro School, after all this time? Come here and help me!”

    A snide huff could be heard in the room. “You didn’t tell me HE was here.”

    “C-Cassy? You’re not saying that...you’re with him?!”

    “Silence, old man. You are about to be witness to history.”

    With that, Dominar stepped out of the shadows, revealing his full, scowling face for the first time.

    Dominar’s true identity was Count Fernando VIII.

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

    Some time later, HR-E had reached the Berrybell Mountain area outside of the city, and Carter was leading the others on a hike through its heavily overgrown passes.

    “What exactly are we looking for in this wooded hellhole, Carter?” Matt questioned angrily. “Some poor woman shows up at your door and you instantly shoot off where you think she’s telling you to go...”

    “Matt, stop it! I don’t know why you keep being so rude to him, but stop!”

    Carter looked over his shoulder and smiled at Eleanor. “No worries, there’s no need to get worked up. It should be just ahead.”

    “Carter...” the woman said listlessly, in a way that made it impossible to read her emotions, “...there it is. The Gratitude Shrine.”

    The woman raised her arm and pointed dead ahead. Though at first Matt could only see a jumbled mess of berry-bearing vines – the range’s namesake – by squinting he was able to make out a stone building in their midst.

    Immediately upon seeing it, Ross opened his Styler and tapped in a command to activate its voicemail function. “Ranger Union HQ, this is Ross, coming in. Do you copy?”

    “Copy, this is Rhythmi,” answered a voice from the other end of the phone.

    “Rhythmi, let Erma know that I’ve got a potential ‘deshu hotcake,’ whatever that is. About to move in.”

    “Ross? Ross! Misery, give me the line!” There was the sound of someone being shoved, evidently Prof. Hastings taking over the call from Rhythmi. “Ross! Are you there?!”

    “Yeah, Hastings...”

    “Listen, Ross, listen!!” Hastings had the sound of a child on Christmas morning in his voice. “We already are one step ahead of you. The ‘deshu hotcake’ is a name that ancient La Ciudad Dorada citizens called Shaymin. Chances are that a Shaymin is inside that temple you’re about to enter. If you capture it, send the data right away!”

    “Yeah, gotcha. Over and out.” Ross shut off the communication, then turned to his sweatdropping companions. “He’s always like that. Don’t think much of it. So, it’s Shaymin you’re after?”

    “Yeah,” Carter replied, nodding. “Shaymin is a Pokémon that harnesses strong feelings of gratitude and uses them as energy. I want to investigate how that connects to the mythology of La Ciudad Dorada and its origins.”

    “Well then what are we waiting for? Let’s go in!”

    With her Teddiursa nipping at her heels, Eleanor pushed ahead into the temple. Carter and the mystery woman followed closely, and then Ross and Matt went in last.

    The inside of the temple was chilly compared to the heat outside. Brown rock comprised the walls and the cold stone was a major contributor to the low temperature. On the floor tiles there was a giant mural painted in many colors. It depicted Shaymin, a white-and-green reindeer-like Pokémon with a red scarf on its neck and a green spiky mohawk. In the mural Shaymin was floating over a ruined landscape and glowing, seemingly causing brightly-colored flowers to grow.

    In the back of the chamber sat a pedestal that had a gold orb sitting on it, and the walls were lined with ancient pottery. Carter approached the orb’s pedestal and looked down at an inscription beneath it.

    “Sealed by the orb, the gardener of gratitude sleeps. The men who would be king arrive to gain their mandate. The gardener’s awakening brings the new day.”

    “What does that mean?” Matt wondered.

    Carter didn’t answer, instead, the woman did. “The kings of La Ciudad Dorada must come to this chamber to gain Shaymin’s approval to rule the kingdom before they can be crowned.”

    “So that’s why this place is so important...” Carter shut his eyes and began saying a strange prayer. “Show me your secrets, conquer the laws of time and space...”

    Oddly, Carter’s body began to glow, and soon, the orb did too. Both glows synchronized and grew stronger as Carter’s companions looked on in shocked awe.

    ”What’s he doing?!” Eleanor shouted.

    “He has some kind of special heightened emphatic abilities. There was an accident in school once that lodged several Mind Plate shards in his skull, which gave him the power to harness the senses we all have. Then we did some experiments on him to see if we could enhance that, and we obviously succeeded.” Matt’s eyes then widened as he realized something horrifying. “Quickly, stop him! He’s trying to seize the crown with Shaymin – HE is Dominar!”

    Matt lunged at Carter, defying Eleanor and Ross’s attempts to stop him, but he fell just about a foot short of striking Carter and interrupting his ritual. As Matt looked helplessly up from the floor at his old rival, the light from the orb finally got blinding, and he had to turn away.

    Moments later, a delicate, female-sounding voice said, “My temple, yes?”

    As he stood, Matt was nearly trampled by Eleanor, who was rushing with Ross to see what had appeared on the altar. Sitting there was a tiny hedgehog Pokémon with a white body, four stubby legs and green grass instead of quills.

    “IT’S SO CUTE!!!!” Eleanor screamed in absolute joy, hearts in her eyes. “IT’S ADORABLE!!”

    The creature looked up at Eleanor and cringed. “You are not going to eat poor Shaymin, are you, yes?!”

    “Of course not! Why would I eat something so cute?” Eleanor blinked. “Wait, you can talk?”

    “Of course I can talk, yes! Shaymin is amazing like that, yes?”

    “This is Shaymin?” Matt said to himself, looking back at the floor mural. “Why did you show up for this fiend anyway?”

    “Matt, stop!” Carter snapped. “Shaymin, you have the power to judge peoples’ hearts. Look into mine and say if you see darkness.”

    Shaymin shut its eyes and thought for a second, then reopened them. “Shaymin sees you are a good person, Carter McKenna, yes!” Looking around the room, Shaymin said, “You are all good people, even if Matt Chiaki has some problems, yes?” before seeing the poor woman. Instantly Shaymin lept into her arms and nuzzled her chest. “Shaymin remembers you, yes! You are...”

    “HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!!” a voice suddenly called out, getting everyone’s attention.

    The voice was accompanied by a sudden blast of fire that scorched the floor near where the group was standing. Following the blast, Dominar, holding the staff that now contained the Griseous Orb in its tip, walked into the chamber with a sense of pride in his step, followed by none other than Heatran, prompting fear and shock in Matt and his friends. Matt in particular looked around in panic several times, not believing what was happening.

    “Carter...you are...not Dominar?!”

    “Not him!” Shaymin squealed. “He wants to eat poor Shaymin, yes!”

    “Of course he isn’t!” the real Dominar swaggered, not noticing Carter going into another of his prayer states. “I have been Dominar from the start. Your little girlfriend knows that fully now. You see that I control Heatran...” Holding the staff forth, Dominar then said, “...and you see what I possess here. This treasure grants me all the power I need, it...”

    “...is the Griseous Orb, treasure of the House Fernando,” Carter revealed, snapping his eyes open. “And your true identity, behind those rags....Fernando, the Eighth Count of La Ciudad Dorada!”

    Matt, Eleanor and Ross all screamed “WHAT?!” in unison, none of them expecting or even really believing that Count Fernando was Dominar all this time. The anonymous woman simply stood by silently.

    “Aha. Ahaha. Ahaahahaa!! So your little psychic power or whatever that is can read my heart? Fine then!” Reaching up, Dominar removed the rags and revealed his face, finally confirming that he was indeed Fernando, much to the group’s horror. “I’ve manipulated you all thus far to find Shaymin and set me on the path to the Golden City. Once I have both, I can rule an empire encompassing all the world!”

    “What did you do with Cassy?!” Of course, Matt was concerned about all of Fernando’s world domination talk, but Cassy was the first thing that came to his lips. “What have you done to her?”

    “Well...” A wry, wicked look crept onto Fernando’s face as he considered his options. “Since you all are about to take a dirt nap right here, I may as well tell you. She’s going to be my Queen Cassandra.”

    “NEVER!!” Once again Matt’s mind snapped, and he lunged at Fernando aiming to punch him in the face.

    Fernando, meanwhile, simply turned and uttered an inaudible command to Heatran, which promptly fired a blast of silver light from its mouth, hitting Matt and propelling him backward into one of the jars on the wall. The jar fell, spilling lamp oil all over the left side of Matt’s face and his left arm.

    Coughing and attempting to spat out the oil that had managed to drip into his mouth, Matt pulled out a Poké Ball and threw it, revealing a Pokémon whose smiling face was on an orange shape within its plasmatic body.

    To join Matt’s Rotom, Eleanor released a black birdlike Pokémon called Staraptor, while Carter brought out his white, paper airplane-esque Togekiss. Fernando just laughed, gesturing for Heatran to come forth.

    “Do you seriously think you can challenge me? All just for Shaymin? Fine, I’ll play with you, but like I said to Cassy before... I play hard! Heatran, Flash Cannon!”

    Heatran stomped forth on its stubby legs, let out a taunting roar, and loosed another intense blast of light from its mouth.

    “Togekiss!” Carter called out, moving himself to stand in front of the woman holding Shaymin. “Aura Sphere!”

    Carter’s Togekiss, quite fearlessly, faced Heatran’s offense head-on. It folded its wings to nearly meet at a point below its body and formed a pulsating ball of energy between them, then flung this sphere at Heatran. The two attacks collided in a fantastic explosion of red, white and black smoke that also generated a mighty gust, knocking Carter and the woman back and away from each other.

    It was then that Fernando’s eyes locked on the woman and Shaymin, and a twisted smirk crept onto his face as his eyes filled simultaneously with the fire of hate and ambition. “So it IS you. Trying to eradicate my claim to the throne once and for all, you miserable wench?”

    The villainous count took a forceful step forward, prompting the woman to cringe back by an equal amount. The Shaymin in her arms, meanwhile, was near tears out of fear.

    “He wants...to eat me....yes....” it whimpered weakly.

    “Back away from me, Fernando!” threatened the woman, showing surprising conviction. “I have bodyguards now!”

    While Carter quietly went into another prayer, Matt hacked out another spit of oil and asked, “Just who are you, if you know all of this?”

    “So she hasn’t told you anything?” Fernando scoffed, not allowing the woman a chance to reply. “Typical. This woman... is my sister, the shamed Princess Rosalita!”

    “You’re a PRINCESS?!!” Eleanor screamed in confused horror, a feeling shared by the others.

    The woman sighed and lowered her hood, revealing a full head of long, glistening blonde hair – very similar to Fernando’s. “What he says is the truth, but the shameful one is not me. It is him.”

    “How dare you accuse me, the heir to the throne of La Ciudad Dorada! Who do you think you are?!”

    “She is the TRUE heir!” Carter snapped, his eyes flying open. This claim took Fernando back a bit, but he didn’t seem overly concerned that it was untrue, either. “You guys, now I have to use one of the abilities I gained from the experiments Matt did on me. Watch this!” He shut his eyes again, and focused with a newfound intensity. “Conquer the laws of space and time, show us all the events of the past!”

    As Carter wrapped up his sentence, he accentuated the word ‘past’ forcefully, and when he did so, a hologram filled the entire chamber. Eleanor and Ross clearly found this strange, but didn’t ask questions.

    The hologram depicted in the center of the room an old man wearing robes and holding a staff, looking not all that dissimilar to the palace guards. He was standing at what appeared to be the same altar that Carter had summoned Shaymin from, with a slightly younger looking Fernando and Rosalita standing opposite him.

    ”Fernando, Rosalita, you have reached the age where we must determine which of you will take the crown after your parents. Usually, this ceremony would merely affirm the sole male heir’s right to the throne, but as there as never been a female heir of equal age prior to this moment, now is when Shaymin will determine which of you is more fit for the throne.”

    Placing his hands on the altar’s orb, the old man uttered an incantation in an arcane language, and soon, Shaymin appeared in the orb’s place.

    ”You may each make short appeals to Shaymin before it decides.”

    The holographic Fernando stepped forth. ”As you know, Shaymin, every generation of House Fernando has produced a single male heir to take the throne. Should a woman take the throne, the kingdom will be tossed into utter chaos. A woman is simply not fit to rule over anything but a kitchen and a belly full of kids. If you don’t want the kingdom destroyed you will select me to be the next king.”

    “I won’t beg to be selected over my brother. Choose the one you think is best.”


    The old man then set his hands on the altar. ”Very well. Now, the gardener of gratitude shall make its decision.”

    In the hologram, Shaymin shut its eyes in contemplation, but only for a brief second. When it opened them, it said, [i]”Shaymin chooses Rosalita, yes!”

    “WHAT?!! You little ignorant SHRUB! You dare to defy the right of Fernando the Eighth to the throne?”

    “Shaymin doesn’t like Fernando, yes....Fernando is scary, yes? Shaymin likes Rosalita more because she is pure and nice, yes!”

    “Pure and nice doesn’t rule a kingdom, you stupid weed! You must be strong and firm in your convictions to rule a kingdom. A woman, which you seem to be too ignorant to realize Rosalita is, is a slave to her hormone-fueled emotions and far too erratic to be any kind of effective ruler!”

    “Brother, stop, please! Shaymin selected me, and that’s just the way things are. If you’re so concerned about the well-being of our kingdom, accept a position as minister in my regime.”

    “As if I would ever serve a living piece of eye candy! Hmph...you may think this is over, Shaymin, but you have not heard the last of Fernando la Dorada, the eighth king of La Ciudad Dorada!!”

    As the holographic Fernando turned and stormed away from the altar, Carter released his focus, and the hologram faded. It left behind the present-day Fernando standing with a smug look on his face as his enemies stared at him in silent rage.

    “You...filthy...swine...” Eleanor snarled with her head down. “This is how you treat women...?” Suddenly, she raised her head, revealing a deranged fury in her eyes. “Staraptor! Steel Wing!”

    Eleanor’s Staraptor – which had disappeared from sight during the hologram – suddenly reappeared behind Fernando, its wings shining like silver, and delivered a swift, crippling blow to his back, knocking him down while extracting just a gasp from him. He quickly stood back up, though, and it seemed as though this was what finally pushed him over the edge.

    “So you want to play dirty, idiotic lolita ****, you? Bronzong, we’re going to finish up here! Psychic!”

    A Bronzong, previously hidden, suddenly emerged from behind Fernando. Immediately its eyes began to glow as it used psychic power, power which it used to wrench Shaymin out of Rosalita’s hands. While Bronzong held Shaymin still over its head with its power, Fernando thrust his arm out and pointed forward, smiling wickedly.

    “It’s about time we finished up here. Heatran, burn this place down and leave no survivors! MAGMA STORM!!!”

    Opening its mouth wider than ever before, Heatran simply roared loudly and glowed as energy from all around it collected into its body. Finally, when the light coming from its body was as bright as the sun, Heatran released four giant tornadoes of fire forward.

    The fire quickly collided with all different parts of the chamber, creating a massive blaze as the temple crumbled. Carter was seperated from the others as this happened, but nobody noticed it – the blood-curdling screams that suddenly filled the room were what Eleanor, Ross and even Rosalita noticed. Just as mysteriously as everything else that happened, though, the trio was teleported out of the chamber. Luckily too, as it collapsed mere seconds later.

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

    The teleportation dropped the three in another section of the temple, one that was safe from the fire. Looking around, all they could see were some lit torches on the walls and a stone tablet sitting on an altar nearby.

    “What is this place?” Ross wondered aloud. “And how’d we get here?”

    “It’s the basement of the Gratitude Shrine...but how...”

    Rosalita didn’t need to finish, as the rather surprising answer appeared before them from thin air – a Dusknoir, quite obviously the one seemingly allied with Fernando, as it was able to speak to the three stunned people it had rescued.

    “I brought you here. It was by pure chance I managed to reach you before Fernando killed you all.”

    “Wait, if you’re the Dusknoir that was with Fernando before, then...” Ross had to stop for a second to process everything. “...you’re on our side? Just what is going on?”

    “I have been conflicted all this time, whether to follow what I should do or what I want to do, but I have decided that I cannot let what’s going on happen any further. I will reveal everything I know to you.

    I have been serving Fernando since...a certain event. He has been planning to seize the throne for a long time, and he’s using you all to achieve that end. At the Go-Rock Quads rehearsal, he had me create an illusionary Dominar so it could appear that he was present during Dominar’s speech, shifting suspicion off of himself.

    The truth is, Fernando brought Heatran here himself as part of his plan. He caused the drought with the intention of ending it himself once he procured Shaymin, earning him the gratitude of the people and thus the right to the throne.”

    “What happened to our parents, then?”

    “That I don’t know. Even I do not know it all, but what I do know is the reason why he wants to find the Golden City. It is real. It exists, and a powerful secret sleeps with it, a secret that would allow Fernando to rule the entire world if he obtained it. The secret is so powerful that when I found the Golden City myself...”

    “Wait, what?” Now Ross was confused. “You found the Golden City? What are you exactly?”

    Realizing what he’d let slip, Dusknoir gasped, then sighed in shame. “I didn’t want to tell you this part because I didn’t think you’d understand. I appear to you as a Dusknoir, a Pokémon that has the ability to touch the spirit world, but in truth...”

    Without another word, Dusknoir began glowing and then shapeshifting. He shrunk in both height and width quite significantly until he took on the shape of a man... but when the glow faded, Ross, Eleanor and Rosalita all screamed in shock at who stood before them.

    Standing before them was an elderly, bespectacled man with a sunken face. He was dressed in a sharp blue suit with a green undershirt, and had pale, bluish-gray hair that resembled the appearance of the Shaymin in the temple’s mural.

    “It... can’t be...” Eleanor gasped weakly. “There’s no way...”

    The man nodded. “Truthfully, I am the spirit of Sutter Chiaki, Matt Chiaki’s grandfather.”

    “Why, though? Why have you come back?” At a loss for words, Ross simply couldn’t handle what was happening anymore. “Just what is going on?!”

    Sutter looked down. “I can’t hide anything from you anymore. Myself, King Fernando the Fifth and Howard McKenna found the Golden City in 1989. However, we also discovered that Regigigas is sealed to it.”

    “Regigigas!” Ross cried out. “I knew it!”

    “Yes. We realized that if we raised the Golden City, Regigigas would revive, and it could possibly cause an apocalyptic seismic disaster. The Regigigas there is different. At the beginning of the world, it existed when Pangea – the single landmass on the planet – existed. Using its power, Regigigas broke Pangea apart, then it created an army of smaller duplicate Regigigas to move the continents into their present places. These are the Regigigas you know, the ones that sleep in places like Gracidea and the Snowpoint Temple.

    We agreed to never speak of our discovery. We split the keys among our grandchildren – Matt got the cube, and Rosalita and Count Fernando each got one half of a map indicating the location of the Golden City’s entrance. Count Fernando murdered me in an attempt to get the cube and is planning to resurrect Regigigas, because if he can control it, he can reform Pangea and rule the entire world. La Ciudad Dorada sits on what was the very center of the Pangea continent.”

    “So he wasn’t lying when he said he’d rule the world...” Eleanor suddenly gasped as she realized something else. “Where are Matt and Carter?”

    “I...” Sutter’s expression darkened. “I don’t know where Carter is. He got seperated from us during the chaos. Matt, on the other hand, I know exactly where he is... but what happened to him is...”

    “Something happened to him?! Please tell me he’s alright...”

    “Eleanor, he’s alive, I can tell you that, but just let me warn you that what Fernando did blew him half to hell...”

    “Spare us the speech! Where’d he go?!”

    “He’s being cared for at the Pokémon Center. By the time I send you there, he should be healthy enough to function again, since I left detailed instructions and the necessary tools. You’ll have to hurry though... Fernando plans to crown himself king and launch a manhunt to take Matt down, since he knows the truth.” Sutter turned, lifted the tablet from its mantle and handed it to Eleanor. “That tablet is something you need, but Matt will need to decipher it. Pick him up and get out of the city as soon as possible, and don’t take HR-E with you because they’ll follow it.”

    “Aren’t you coming with us?” Eleanor asked angrily.

    “I can’t. It’s not possible yet for me to openly betray Fernando. Follow my instructions and find the Golden City before he does – it’s the only way to stop his plan. Let me leave you with a phrase that always kept me going throughout my career: no matter what, always keep soldiering on. Good luck!”

    With that, Sutter snapped his fingers, teleporting the three away.

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  20. #20
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    -----------------------------------

    Howard sat in his cell, staring at the damp ground blankly and listening to the steady drip from the ceiling. He sat up in a start, though, when he heard the guards move aside and the sounds of several heavy sets of feet.

    “Unhand me, you brutes! What have you done to my friends?!”

    Instantly recognizing the voice, Howard sprang to his feet and ran to the cell’s bars. “Whoever is outside, don’t you dare hurt my son!”

    “Daddy?!”

    “Shut up, both of you!” Fernando lit a torch, illuminating the dungeon. Two guards had Carter restrained and standing between the wall and Fernando’s Heatran, while the Count himself stood nearby. “You see what I’ve done, right, Carter McKenna?”

    “Why is my father here?”

    “Because I captured him? Geez, you guys aren’t too bright. Okay, here’s the deal, kid. I know about those extrasensory abilities you have because of Chiaki’s experiments. I want you to awaken the Regirock that is in this temple.”

    Carter scowled. “Why should I cooperate with you?”

    “Because...” As Fernando said this, one of his Bronzong materialized in the cell and turned on its side, aiming itself like a cannon at Howard’s head. “If you don’t, I’ll have my Bronzong fire a Flash Cannon through your father’s head. I’ll be leaving you here for a bit to make your decision.”

    Fernando opened the cell door and gestured to the guards, who threw Carter quite roughly into it. The Count then slammed the gate shut and locked it, then swept out of the room. It was tense and silent for several moments until Howard and Carter were confident they were alone.

    “Daddy...what did he do...” Though Howard couldn’t see it due to the darkness, his son was staring in his direction with tears in his eyes. Carter knew from the start that La Ciudad Dorada was a land of mysteries, but in no way could he have ever prepared for this turn of events. “What did they do to you? Why did you disappear on Sutter’s expedition?”

    “Sutter had nothing to do with my disappearance. He was already dead by Fernando’s hand by the time that wicked man showed up and asked me to go to Stark Mountain with him. He forced me to help him gain control of Heatran using a tool called the Magma Stone, then locked me up here. What about you?”

    ”Chiaki really had nothing to do with it after all!” Carter quickly realized. Now he felt guilty that he had instantly accused his old classmate’s family of the act. “I...ran into Matt while searching for Shaymin. He was summoned here by Fernando to solve the problems that we now understand Fernando himself caused.”

    “And he’s not here? He’s in danger then! We must escape!”

    “What can we do...” replied Carter, bitterly. “If I don’t cooperate, they’ll kill you, force me to do what he wants and then probably kill me too. The only course of action is to wait for a rescue...wait, that smell...” Sniffing the air, Carter looked around in a bit of a panic. “Is there a dead body in here?”

    “I don’t know. It’s smelled like that ever since they threw out some trash behind the wall over there.” Howard pointed in the direction of a nearby wall that had a vague appearance of disgusting green mold around the bricks, visible even in the dark.

    Instantly, Carter shut his eyes and began to use his power once more. He illuminated the room with his aura, soon turning right for where Howard had pointed and focusing more. “Conquer all the laws of space and time! Show me the hidden secrets you bear!”

    When Carter accentuated the word ‘bear,’ another hologram illuminated and filled the chamber. This time, it was the throne room of the palace that appeared. A long, red carpet stretched between two grand doors on one end and twin thrones on the other, in which were seated a man in a red cape and ruffled blue shirt who resembled a more dignified Count Fernando, and a woman who had the appearance of Rosalita in a ruffled pink gown. Four red tapestries, two on each side, hung against the walls.

    The grand doors creaked slowly open, bringing the king and queen to attention. The figure of their son, Count Fernando, appeared and entered, a fire of rage burning in his golden eyes. He too was dressed in the ruffly blue shirt and red cape.

    ”Hail, your royal highness, King Fernando the Seventh! And mother, Queen Cassandra!”

    “Why did you come here, Fernando?”
    the king asked of his son, rather irritably. ”Affairs of the kingdom take precedence over your childish games.”

    “Games? The matter at hand is not a game, father! Shaymin has named Rosalita the heir to the throne!”

    “This is old news, Fernando. Don’t waste my time.”


    The holographic count took an angry step forward. ”A woman cannot run this kingdom! How can you abide by this?!”

    “Fernando, my son, keep your rage in check. You have been passed over for the role your father holds because of that rage. You must temper it before you will succeed. Why are you wearing the clothing reserved for the king anyway?”

    “I have had enough of this nonsense, mother...and that is why, with the authority vested in me as Count Fernando the Eighth, I am placing you two under arrest for the crime of treason!”

    “TREASON?!!”
    the king thundered, rising to his feet. ”Guards, remove this impudent fool now!”

    “Heh... you won’t be getting help from your little guards, father.”


    As if on cue, four guards appeared behind Count Fernando, all of them with dull, drowsy looking eyes.

    ”I’m giving you two one chance to make right what is wrong. Reverse the decision that the useless shrub made, take away the throne from the walking ovaries I must call a sister.”

    “You are mad!”
    Cassandra screamed. ”The die is cast! Give up!”

    “So you have decided to defy fate then. Fine!”


    As soon as Fernando gestured with his hand, the tapestries rose to reveal four concealed Bronzong in the rafters. Simultaneously all four Bronzong turned over and pointed their cannons at the king and queen.

    Howard could only watch in horror as the hologram depicted the gruesome murder of the king and queen by their own son, who laughed maniacally through the whole thing. Initially his mind was blank but it soon filled with questions. How could Fernando have done such a thing? How did he hide it? What was his ulterior motive?

    The image was so horrifying that even Carter’s concentration was broken by it. The hologram mercifully disappeared when he opened his eyes.

    “I don’t believe it...” the young man said blankly. “This whole thing... it’s all just one giant coup led by Fernando...”

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

    A red-haired Nurse Joy was sitting at the Pokémon Center’s reception desk, and she looked up as Eleanor, Ross and the once-again-hooded Rosalita came crashing in. Some other people were in the wood-framed lobby of the old European-style building, but none seemed terribly concerned about what was going on.

    “Can...can I help you three?” the Joy asked nervously. La Ciudad Dorada was usually a relatively quiet place, so she wasn’t used to people rushing in like this.

    “Yeah,” Eleanor answered. “Matt Chiaki. We know he’s been taken here for care. Please take us to him.”

    Joy stood and nodded, albeit a bit hesitantly. “ More like appeared here. I’ll do so, but I need to warn you, he got blasted pretty badly. Anyway, follow me.”

    The trio followed the nurse into a narrow back hallway. With each step they took the floorboards creaked under their feet, narrating their trek past rows upon rows of nondescript doors. Finally, though, Joy stopped at one and rested her hand on the iron handle.

    “Be quiet, he’s resting after some extensive work we had to do.”

    Joy wasn’t kidding – she opened the door, and Eleanor nearly began crying at what she saw, so badly that Ross had to prop her up.

    Matt lay unconsious on the bed in the room, the entire left side of his face taped up with bandages along with a purple rose eye patch slung over that side’s eye. His left arm was also propped up in a sling and had wires coming out of it.

    “I guess his face must have gotten some sort of accelerant on it,” Joy stated. “We picked up traces of oil used to light lamps. That oil ignited from a flame and totally burned him. We were able to graft some skin to cover the wounds but he’s never gonna look the same. As for the arm, it appears that a boulder or something must have crushed it, but whoever brought him here also left a cybernetic arm to replace it and instructions on its use. They also left a bunch of clothes for him...” Joy pointed to a nearby chair, which had a brown coat with a yellow trim, black lapels and black wrists thrown over it, along with white pants and a blue cravat. A pair of black boots sat next to the chair.

    ”Sutter, you old coot, you really did take care of him,” Ross thought.

    “Anyway, I’ll leave you guys alone for a while...”

    As soon as Joy left and shut the door behind her, Shaymin, who had been sitting on a table behind the door, sprang into Rosalita’s arms and nuzzled her chest.

    “Shaymin’s friend Rosalita, yes! Shaymin was scared, yes, but Shaymin was saved by a mysterious man, yes!”

    “We know, Shaymin,” replied the princess in a soothing tone, “he helped us too.”

    “But Matt is hurt, yes...”

    As the trio neared the bed to have a closer look, the sound of a bell echoed through the open window. Almost instantaneously, Rosalita sighed sadly.

    “We must hurry, for it is beginning... the bells of the tower ring a total of ten times when a new king is about to debut. If noone emerges with a concrete challenge of that king’s rule before the tenth chime, they become the ruler of the kingdom. Also, it is said that the bells bring rain, so... he’s ending the drought he began, and he could have done this from the beginning!”

    “The monster!” spat Eleanor. “If that’s the case, we have to get Matt out of here and escape, now! But how do we get him up...?”

    Without a word, Shaymin jumped onto Matt’s face. It then rested squarely upon him and said, “Shaymin wants you to get up, yes!”

    Shaymin focused all its energy and began glowing, and soon, Matt’s body did too. Eleanor and Ross both stepped back as the light got brighter and brighter until finally it faded. There was only a moment for Shaymin to rest before Matt sprang upward in the bed, flinging the hedgehog across the room.

    “Shaymin does not like moving fast, yessssssssssssss!!!!!!” it squealed – then it crashed into a wall, fell, and leaped right back into Rosalita’s arms.

    “Aromatherapy...” said Ross in wonder. “One of Shaymin’s moves...”

    “What’s going on? Where am I?” Matt asked, puzzled. Either he had been knocked out by what happened in the temple or by the teleportation itself, but either way, he was plainly confused. He suddenly felt the urge to feel the left side of his face, causing himself visible pain despite the bandages.

    “Yeah, that’s gonna hurt for a while, but something more important is going on!” As Rosalita said this, the second toll of the bells rang out, furthering her panic. “When that bell tower reaches its tenth toll, Fernando is going to crown himself king and launch a manhunt for you. We have to escape at once!”

    Matt was unconvinced. “Half my head was burned off and you want me to leave the hospital? Fernando’s a villain but he won’t do something like that.”

    “He took Carter.”

    That news was all the convincing Matt needed. He quickly stood, but then he tottered for a moment out of weakness. Looking around, he immediately spotted a wheelchair in the corner of the room and wasted no time in setting himself up to appear a cripple.

    “What’s the plan, then?”

    Eleanor put her hand on Matt’s shoulder. “We get away from here as quickly as possible. Nothing else.”

    “Fine, but... I need to get data out of HR-E even then...”

    “Matt, we cannot...”

    Ross cut Eleanor off, realizing she would reveal the truth about Sutter if she continued. “If we hurry from this place now, we can recover anything necessary and escape before Fernando launches his manhunt. Now hurry and get dressed.”

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

    Minutes later, Nurse Joy, who had gone back to the front desk, found herself quite surprised at what she was seeing – the suddenly fully awake and conscious Matt, dressed in the clothes left for him, being pushed out by Eleanor in the wheelchair while Ross and Rosalita flanked him.

    “How did he get back up so quickly?!” the nurse snapped. She quickly regained her professional air, though, and said, “You can’t really take him yet. With the burns he got and the prosthetic arm...”

    The bells tolled for the third time. Noting this, Matt firmly replied, “I’m fine! Joy, thank you for taking care of me. I must be going now.”

    Joy just stared as the group of four left through the ornate double doors of the Pokémon Center. Once they were gone she turned to a nearby window and noticed dark clouds gathering. ”The drought, is it finally over?” she thought.

    Outside, just as the fourth bell rang, Matt kicked the wheelchair to the curb and together with his companions began sprinting in the direction of Carter’s villa.

    “HR-E mainframe, come in!” Matt ordered on a two-way he had pulled from his pocket. “This is Strawberry Commander! Meet at location CMK-125 at once! This is an emergency!”

    The four continued to run as the ominous chime of the fifth set of bells echoed through the air.

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

    At a desert cliff outside the city, a very tall and ominous man stood looking over the town. His white clothes were relatively plain, but he still stood out, in a ruffled gray tie he wore at his neck and yellow boots and cape he wore, pinned down with transparent, blue shell-like armor on the shoulders. He also wore a mask that obscured his face above the upper lip, with holes cut for his striking blue eyes. The cape blew in the wind that carried the sixth chiming of the bells.

    “I sense... a dreadful aura coming over La Ciudad Dorada. A dread not felt in this place since the last time I was here... perhaps it is time for my legend to once again become real...”

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

    Matt’s group had reached Carter’s villa to rendezvous with HR-E just as the seventh set of bells went off. Frantically he entered data into the robot’s computer while Eleanor and Ross stood guard.

    “What are you doing over there?” Eleanor’s voice was laced with fear, fear that their time was running out. “We don’t have time for this!”

    “In order for everything to work I have to program the mainframe’s data into one robot, which we can then transport manually. I don’t know who brought me to the Pokémon Center but it must have been one of you, because this arm is something I designed. Who saved me anyway?”

    “Uh...” Sidestepping the question, Ross answered with one of his own. “What does HR-E stand for anyway?”

    Surprisingly, Matt didn’t press for a real answer. “It’s shortened. The full acronym is HR-EARC, which means ‘Human Resource Engine, Analytical Robot Class.’ I invented it while in school to be my assistant in the field.” Tapping in one last command, Matt finished with a flourish, picked up a ROB and strapped it to his back, then said, “Done. Let’s get out of here.”

    It was a good thing he wasted no time, as toll number eight rang out just as he finished. Matt picked up a laptop and tucked it under his arm as his group departed, running out into the desert. They didn’t know where they were heading, just that they had to get there as soon as possible.

    “You guys... just what is going on? Who took me to the Pokémon Center?”

    Eleanor clearly almost spilled the truth again, but Ross cut her off. “Does it matter? As long as you’re alright...”

    “Look, I’m not convinced.” Clearly Matt was going to press this time. “This arm is technology that I have been experimenting with. I’m glad it works, but I need to know what’s going on.”

    Just as the sound of the ninth set of bells filled the air, Eleanor stopped, prompting the others to as well. She put her hands on her hips as if in anger but the look on her face was one of confusion.

    “Why were you making artificial limbs?” she asked, blantantly ignoring the question that had been posed to her.

    “Fine, don’t answer me, even if I answer you.” Matt was indignant. He really didn’t appreciate the prying into his life in addition to being ignored, but he decided to answer the question anyway. “My sister Amanda is blind and crippled. I have experimented with artificial body parts for years in the hopes that one day she may be able to walk and see again.”

    “I see. You are noble for caring so muc...”

    That was the moment when it happened. The sound of ringing bells brought dread into the hearts of the four, especially into Rosalita’s for she was the one who understood the danger the most.

    “Heaven help us all,” the princess mused dejectedly. “A madman has now taken the throne.”

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

    Rosalita and those she’d advised weren’t the only ones who knew what the ten bell tolls meant. Every citizen of La Ciudad Dorada knew that a new king had been crowned, and, all hoping that their problems were coming to an end, were pouring out into the streets in front of the palace. As always, two guards stood at the opening up on the palace’s grand balcony, but several more were now guarding the palace’s main entrance.

    Suddenly, a guard on the balcony turned away. Someone was whispering something to her, which she nodded to before stepping forward.

    “Subjects of La Ciudad Dorada!” she announced in a remarkably powerful, loud voice that echoed over the citizens in the square. “Presenting the newly crowned eighth king, Fernando la Dorada!”

    The guards parted, and Fernando, clad in the royal clothes seen by Carter and Howard in the hologram, stepped out onto the balcony with the Griseous Orb’s staff in his hand. A cheer instantly erupted from the crowd – unknowing of his true nature, the people saw Fernando as a guiding hand in times of trouble. This probably would have held true even if some of his actions were known, as his confident, take-the-bull-by-the-horns attitude made him very popular.

    “My loyal subjects!” If one with knowledge of Fernando’s actions saw the look on his face as his said this, it would be seen as one of sheer lunacy, but the citizens, ignorant of those facts, saw just the same confident smile. “Subjects, do you recall the last time I addressed you? I promised that the night would be darkest just before the day – and with my coronation, the dark night has passed! Tomorrow will bring this kingdom the brightest dawn it has ever seen, as we bring forth a plan to move into a new era!

    I plan to introduce my queen to you in a televised address shortly. What I must tell you now, though, is of utmost importance. There is a rogue within our city, a rogue who unfortunately is my sister, Rosalita la Dorada. She is the one who caused the drought that has ruined our kingdom, and also the one who killed the last king and queen! Her own parents!

    This fugitive, who looks like a horribly feminine version of me, is being harbored by Matt Chiaki, Eleanor Laplace and a Pokémon Ranger named Ross somewhere in this city. As my loyal subjects, you must aid us in finding them in any fashion you can!

    That’s about it for now. As we head into a new and brighter era... all hail La Ciudad Dorada!”

    Fernando said this just as the bell tower chimed once again, starting rainfall.

    ”All hail Dorada!” the people chanted, pumping their fists. “All hail Fernando!”

    The chants continued as Fernando looked down on his populace from the balcony. More and more, as he listened to them chant his name, insane thoughts entered his mind. Finding the Golden City...expanding his empire... torturing and killing Matt, Eleanor, Ross and especially his hated sister... when he could no longer contain the madness within, he simply looked up and released a loud, completely insane laugh that mixed with the sound of the chanting in the city.

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

    The rainfall continued into that night, having picked up in intensity quite considerably. It even extended into the desert, where Matt’s group had found shelter in a cave.

    Eleanor was just staring out at the rain, thinking about nothing in particular. Rosalita and Shaymin were sleeping, and Ross was working with Matt on his computer, analyzing a video that had been posted to the Internet of Fernando’s speech.

    ” This fugitive, who looks like a horribly feminine version of me, is being harbored by Matt Chiaki, Eleanor Laplace and a Pokémon Ranger named Ross somewhere in this city. As my loyal subjects, you must aid us in finding them in any fashion you can!

    That’s about it for now. As we head into a new and brighter era... all hail La Ciudad Dorada!”

    ”All hail Dorada! All hail Fernando!”


    Ross’s eyes widened as he watched the video; he’d noticed something unusual. “Back up to where the bells rang.”

    Matt nodded and complied, rewinding the video. “Where should I pause it?”

    “Right...” Just as the bells rang in the video, Ross shouted, “Now!”

    With the video paused, Matt stared at the screen. The video had been shot with a camcorder held by one of the citizens in the square during the speech, however, Fernando was barely visible in it. Most of the screen was taken up by the backs of peoples’ heads.

    “I don’t get what you’re looking at,” Matt said, grimacing with the one good, unbandaged half of his face.

    “Pull out the last three seconds and next two and play that seperately at slow motion.”

    Clearly, Matt didn’t understand what Ross was getting at, but he complied with the request nonetheless. By tapping several keys he seperated the relevant section of the video from the rest, then played it in slow motion.

    “Watch the face that you can see the side of right when the bells ring.”

    Ross pointed at the screen, to a face that was slightly visible on the right side of the video. Just as the bells rung, the eyes on the face drooped suddenly. Finally Matt had seen it, after Ross caught it immediately.

    “What’s wrong with that person’s eyes?”

    “It’s Hypnosis,” Ross stated flatly. “Seen it all the time in my Ranger duties. At the time the bells rang, I’m theorizing Fernando placed the entire populace under Hypnosis to obey his commands. The bell tower is the key, since he sealed it to keep people out. I think he might have Bronzor or Bronzong in there.”

    Matt took a moment to think about this. It certainly added up, and he made up his mind to agree. “I think you’re right. So, what about that tablet you said you got?”

    “Oh, that? Okay.” Ross turned and picked up the tablet from the rock he had left it on and moved it to next to Matt’s computer. “We got this in the basement of the temple.”

    “Same language as on the other one,” Matt said, examining the dots on the tablet by running his hand over them. “This’ll be a snap to translate.”

    Reaching into the shoulder bag he’d taken from HR-E earler, Matt produced a tiny but quite obviously high-tech camera, which he attached to the computer with several wires. He pointed it over the tablet, then pressed one key on the computer’s keyboard with a firm hand.

    The camera generated a surprisingly wide blue light, and when it registered seeing the tablet, a graphic of said tablet with the text ‘SCANNING: 0%’ over it appeared on the screen. That number increased at a great speed as the light moved down the length of the stone’s inscription, until, just mere moments later, it stopped at 100%. The computer displayed the fully scanned text, then spoke out with its translation.

    ”Translation successfully decoded. Message is as follows:

    The body of iron rests in the house of the 4491. In the house of the 4491, the 312516 behind the 217 opens the door to the R3G15733L.”


    Matt stared at his screen, taking the computer’s words with a massive dose of incredulity. “They seriously wrote ‘Registeel’ in leet speak? On a five hundred year old tablet?”

    “If you think that’s bad, I had to put up with an actual villainous team that spoke in damn leet.” Ross grimaced, thinking back to those...rather lame minions. “Team Dim Sun sure earend the ‘dim’ part.”

    “Enough with the jokes, what does this mean? All these numbers... they don’t make any sense.”

    Ross looked closer at the screen. “’The house of 4491’... 4491 could be a street address.”

    “This town doesn’t use those,” Matt answered indifferently.

    “4491...what else, then?”

    “It’s got to be an identifying feature on the location somehow. Look, it’s late, I’ll just have my mainframe run searches on relevant data overnight and see if it matches anything.”

    After entering one last command into the computer, Matt snuffed out the candle providing light to the cave.

    However, outside in the rain, the Bronzor from earlier with the camera strapped on itself floated, secretly watching...




    END of CHAPTER 3

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  21. #21
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    Thumbs up

    This story might be getting a bit short and rushed, but the details presented in this chapter make a good compensation for that; specially things like the introduction of Rosalita, the "FX" of Carter and so on.

    Count Fernando's attitude, on another hand; is just the kind of character that one becomes addict to hate without too much guilt. The way he took his rejection to the throne and his chauvinistic attitude towards his sister are two key factors that have been clearly defined in the recent chapters...which considering how short this fic seems to be predestined to become, is something to be thankful for

    as a final message, welcome back to this fanfiction forum, GB!

  22. #22
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    I agree about the length. During the first chapter and prologue I was still feeling out how long the story should be, but now I have a good idea. It should be a little longer than how long Arceus: The Conquest Of Spacetime is in its extremely-faithful-to-the-movie manga form, four lengthy chapters. I'm seeing this story probably running 6-7 chapters with an epilogue.

    The accident and subsequent experiments that altered Carter's body and gave him his abilities cannot be explained without extensive detail on a character not appearing here being given. I will eventually explain it, but not here because it isn't relevant very much outside of Carter's part.

    Thank you for the review!

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  23. #23
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    Have to say, really like this chapter a lot!

    Hm, Carter seems like an interesting character and also interesting use of some stuff from the 12th movie. Trust me, you ‘re able to do that much better than me.

    The conformation scene between Fernando and the gang is a great scene too. Just love the Shaymin in there, Fernando distaste on women (okay, I hate him for thinking women are just for bearing children and cleaning around the house, but you get what I mean :P ), and the battle. However, I wish you have Rotom be involved.

    Haha, I actually love the Sutter scene. So you did use the quote I suggested. XD Funny that I thought of that quote from one comment in that Requiem Contest thread, actually. :P Hm, there’s one thing I want to say, though.

    “Yes. We realized that if we raised the Golden City, Regigigas would revive, and it could possibly cause an apocalyptic seismic disaster. The Regigigas there is different. At the beginning of the world, it existed when Pangea – the single landmass on the planet – existed. Using its power, Regigigas broke Pangea apart, then it created an army of smaller duplicate Regigigas to move the continents into their present places. These are the Regigigas you know, the ones that sleep in places like Gracidea and the Snowpoint Temple.
    While I thought this is interesting, I wonder if he knows that Jacob destroyed the Regigigas from Snowpoint Temple. :P

    The scene of Fernando being the murderer of his parents I’ll explain later. Sorry, but there’s a reason. ^^;

    The last parts are awesome also. The part where Fernando laughs while everyone is chanting I thought you did nicely there. :3 Also, already told you this, but I like the leet jokes you put at the end.

    Okay, now back to Fernando’s crime. :P The scene where it’s revealed Fernando murdered his parents I thought is a really good one. However, I felt you could have revealed that next chapter or something. Reason for that is in this chapter you pulled too many revelations already. Rosalita actually the rightful heir, Sutter being a ghost, more info on the Golden City, a bit of Matt’s past, and the tablet.

    Overall, excellent chapter here. Lots of revelations (although one I think you could have saved it for later) and also the plot is progressing at a fast pace but nothing too confusing or way too much, I feel. Can’t wait for the next chapter!


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  24. #24
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    CHAPTER 4: Gathering



    ”Where...where am I?”

    Matt opened his eyes, only to find himself floating in a black void, seemingly alone. That changed, however, when a single giant green eye opened in the void alongside a shock of white that covered the theoretical other eye. Matt gasped in horror, as he’d recognize that face anywhere. Seconds later he was silenced when the face suddenly grew a serpentine body and tentacles, then used one of said tentacles to pull him towards its mouth and devour him.





    The sound of steady rain greeted him when he awoke in a shock. He was the first among the group to awaken, and immediately, a musty smell from the mixture of rock and rain overwhelmed his senses.

    It took a few moments for his thoughts to adjust and remind him where he was. He stumbled up, nearly knocking over the lamp nearby, which awoke the others. They looked up at him with a mixture of frustration from being woken and relief that he was still there.

    “Thanks for the wake up call, Matt,” Eleanor remarked, smirking momentarily.

    Ross rubbed the back of his head and yawned. “Not now, Eleanor. Matt, see if your computer found anything.”

    Jumping up with a start after being reminded of this important task, Matt immediately went to the computer, which was still hooked up to ROB. It took a moment, but the computer quickly deactivated its sleep mode.

    ”Welcome back, sir.”

    Matt began entering a command into the keyboard. “HR-E mainframe, bring up results of search.”

    ”Search for: search results.... Search results found.” Several windows full of data appeared on the computer’s screen before it continued to speak. ”Search result number one: the La Ciudad Dorada Train Station is a well-known landmark in the city. One train runs from Passho City at regular intervals. Its traditional steam engine, the Golden Express 4491....”

    Suddenly, the screen began crackling with static and the voice halted. Matt frantically attempted to fix the problem by entering commands, but nevertheless, the computer defied his efforts and completely crashed.

    “Great, just great,” Matt fumed. “Just when we needed it.”

    Eleanor stepped forth. “Hold on. It’s not a big loss – didn’t you hear what it said? ‘The Golden Express 4491’ is the name and number of the engine at the train station! The ‘house of the 4491’ in the clue must be the train station!”

    “Brilliant deduction!” Ross complimented with a smile. “Matt, forget about the computer issues for now. Let’s go get Registeel’s power.”

    “Right, right.”

    Matt stood. He turned to the ROB and disconnected it completely from the computer, then returned the computer to its bag and strapped the robot on like a backpack. Checking once more to make sure that Rosalita, Shaymin and everyone else was with him, Matt led the group out of the cave and into the rain.....

    ....and right into a trap. The four palace guards had surrounded the entrance, their Pokémon – Gardevoir, Feraligatr, Torkoal and Drapion respectively – and all of them appeared to be under hypnosis, their eyes dull and lifeless.

    “It’s a trap!” Ross cried out, his mind racing. “What do you lot want?!”

    Shaymin cringed in Rosalita’s arms. “They want to eat poor Shaymin, yes!”

    “You are under arrest...” one of the guards droned as she extended her staff. “Surrender now or face horrible consequences.”

    “My brother has you all under hypnosis... we won’t surrender.”

    Another one of the guards stepped forward. “Then you will be destroyed...”

    At the same time, all four guards extended their staves. The four Pokémon reacted to this, instictively stepping forward with the same dull look in their eyes.

    The next part happened in a blur. Matt and the others instinctively cringed, knowing and fearing what the Pokémon were capable of. On cue all four launched their attacks – Gardevoir and the purple, jagged-bodied Drapion used the same red blast called Hyper Beam, while Torkoal released a jet of fire from its mouth and Feraligatr loosed the massive water assault known as Hydro Cannon.

    The group waited for the impact, but that impact never came. Just before they were hit, the man in the yellow cape suddenly lept from seemingly nowhere. He got in between the attacks and their target, then raised his left arm, allowing a blue, rapier-like blade to emerge from his sleeve. As if it was a magnet, the blade drew in the attacks and absorbed them, removing the threat they posed.

    “Are you guys alright?” the man asked, keeping himself focused on the threat.


    Matt split two of his fingers on the hand covering his right eye and peered out. As soon as he looked up and saw who was standing before him, he gasped. “You’re...!!”

    “If you four have somewhere to go, get going! I’ll fight off these soldiers.”

    Slowly standing, Eleanor whisped, “But...”

    “GET GOING!!” the man roared. The sheer force of his voice was enough to rouse Matt’s group, getting them up on their feet. Matt and Eleanor were actually fearing him at this point, so without hesitation they took off toward the city with Ross, Rosalita and Shaymin in tow. Seeing them safely away, the man turned back to his four enemies. “Now it’s my turn. Probopass, Mamoswine, Lickilicky, come to me!”

    The man pulled three unusual, blue-colored Poké Balls from his cape and threw them, releasing the block-like, large-nosed Probopass, the brown mammoth Mamoswine, and Lickilicky, a Pokémon that appeared much like a big pink blob with a long tongue.

    This didn’t seem to faze the hypnotized guards, and one of them stepped forth. “You have let them escape...you have disobeyed. Therefore you will be destroyed...”

    Once again, the four Pokémon owned by the guards lashed out, using the same attacks as before. The man didn’t flinch, he just raised his arm and let his wrist blade absorb everything, with little more resulting than just gusts of wind blowing his cape around.

    “Counterattack! Lickilicky, Power Whip! Probopass, Flash Cannon! Mamoswine, Blizzard!”

    Lickilicky, Probopass and Mamoswine counterattacked in a methodical fashion. Mamoswine went first, blasting gusts of icy wind from its mouth; this attack particularly struck Gardevoir and Drapion, making them move closer to their counterparts.

    Next, Probopass floated forward by a few feet and took a significant amount of light energy into its big red nose, then released it in a concentrated blast. On impact, the flash of light exploded.

    Finally, Lickilicky simply extended and raised its huge tongue into the air, then brought it down like a club on the group of four Pokémon.

    Surprisingly, though, in the aftermath of this brutal attack, not one of the guards’ Pokémon appeared injured, fazed or even affected at all.

    “That steely determination... could it be...”

    The man edged his head forward, lowering rectractable visors from his mask over his eyes. These visors allowed him to see something he couldn’t before – the gray aura surrounding the guards and their Pokémon.

    “As I thought, you lot are all under hypnosis. I’ll have to do something about that.”

    Focusing his mind, the man leaned over a bit, and light began to flow into both the visors on his mask and the shells on his shoulders. As the light got brighter and brighter, he growled lowly as well, stopping only when the light got overwhelming enough to become a flash, then fade.

    As a result of the light’s influence, it became obvious that the hypnosis on the guards and their Pokémon. Their eyes were no longer dull, and they seemed unaware of where they were or how they got there.

    “What’s going on?” one of them wondered aloud, confused. “I don’t remember anything to explain this...”

    The guards all looked at each other, then at the man who had confronted them. Instantly recognizing him, three of them began to panic.

    “That’s that guy in the legend!” another guard screamed to the one who had last spoken. “You know, I thought he was a fairy tale!”

    One guard tried to remain calm. “There must be a logical explanation for this. The Azure Angel lived five hundred years ago, so this guy obviously cannot be him. It’s just a usurper looking to take up his mantle.”

    “No, uh.... that’s him. He looks perfectly like the statue... I say, we flee and see what Count Fernando says about it!”

    With that, the guards fled, dragging along the naysayer with them. Alone, the man just sighed and recalled his Pokémon.

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

    The train station was deserted and silent, to the point where one could possibly hear a pin drop. Matt looked around the corner carefully, making extra effort to not be seen, and crept around to the door when he saw that the coast was clear. When he gestured to the others, they joined him.

    He put his finger to his lips and pushed the door open slowly. While he expected to immediately be captured...

    ...the room was empty.

    “What?!” Matt shouted, startled. “Where is everyone?”

    “In their homes...” said Rosalita listlessly. “His presentation...”

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

    Meanwhile, in Fernando’s throne room, the evil king sat firmly on his golden, ornate seat, holding the rod that contained the Griseous Orb. Two Bronzong floated next to him, one on each side of the throne, while attendants readied a video camera in front of the group.

    “Going live in...” the operator held up three fingers and began counting off, “three, two...”

    Smiling broadly, Fernando boomed, “A good morning to all residents of La Ciudad Dorada! As your new king, I am pleased to announce that the drought has been negated due to heavy rains since last night.

    That’s not what I’m here to announce right now, though. As you know, every king needs a queen and I am not any exception. Therefore, to aid me in ruling the newly formed Dorada Empire, I introduce to you the next queen...”

    Fernando paused for a moment, allowing Cassy – dressed in ridiculously gaudy but obviously expensive royal blue garb of a cape and gown – to enter the shot.

    “...Cassy Natsuka, Queen Cassandra II! As she will be ruling the Dorada Empire by my side, I hereby give her the title ‘Queen of Steel.’

    Now, with that announcement out of the way, I bid you good day until the next time I see you all!”

    “...And cut!”

    The attendant shut off the camera and took it away. Immediately, Fernando relaxed and sighed.

    “This whole thing better blow over soon. Inviting Chiaki was a necessary step, but he’s since gone off the rails on me.”

    “Should I see about getting rid of them?” Cassy asked. Surprisingly, her eyes reflected an attitude of total sincerity – she was actually willing to do it. “I’ve seen myself how he can get in places he shouldn’t be. It might be wise to eliminate that threat now.”

    “No, not yet. For the sake of the Heatran Elegy, he must live until he fufills...his purpose. His grandfather was no help, so I got rid of him, but Matt Chiaki must live for now.”

    At that moment, the four guards, three of them looking horribly disheveled, rushed into the throne room. Fernando jumped up in surprise at the sight of them, while the guards themselves didn’t calm down at all.

    “What’s with you all?!” he asked. This was the last thing he had expected to see, for he was eagerly anticipating their return with his targets held captive. “What the hell happened out there?”

    It was the calm guard that spoke. “Someone appearing to be the Azure Angel interfered with us, and we had to withdraw.”

    “The Azure Angel?!! You four better not be lying!” Surprisingly, Fernando seemed to believe the claim. He pointed to one of the other guards and shouted, “You! Report!”

    “Well...well...uh....” The guard was barely able to overcome her trauma. “He... there was this guy, and he was really tall... he had a cape, shoulder armor, and two swords, one of which was a retractable rapier on his wrist...”

    “Fernando!”

    The king turned to his queen. “What?”

    “If that Azure Angel is who I think it is...” Cassy lowered her head. “...then they’re not lying. I’ve met that guy, and if it’s him, our plan is in serious trouble.”

    Fernando gritted his teeth in frustration. “I guess Chiaki’s little troop got away then. They must have headed to find Registeel... Cassy!”

    “Yeah?”

    “Escort these four useless....women...” the hatred in Fernando’s voice was easily apparent. “...escort them to the dungeon and lock them up with Carter and Howard, then stay put here and make sure things don’t go any further off the rails. I have to go recalibrate my plans.”

    With that, Fernando swept out of the hall. Before the four guards could react, the king’s two Bronzong had them restrained using psychic power, and the Steel Pokémon and Cassy marched them straight for the hall leading to the dungeon.

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

    Back at the abandoned train station, Matt and his group had seen the presentation on his laptop, and they were all in various states of shock. Matt himself was in the worst way of the lot, though, as he could only stare blankly and silently at the screen with tears welling up in his eyes.

    “That was awful, yet at the same time, I could see how it’d rile up a resident of this place,” Ross observed quietly. “What was that ‘Dorada Empire’ he was speaking of though?”

    Rosalita’s face was grim with a mix of fear and anger. “I was afraid of this. He’s planning to expand the city – to take over at least all of Oceannia.”

    “Well we should have known that he’d have insane ambitions like that!” Ross turned to Matt and yelled, “Well, where’s Registeel?”

    No response. Matt made no effort to even move his head in acknowledgment of Ross’s question. He just stared dead ahead at the screen of his computer.

    “Did you hear me? Where’s Registeel?”

    Still no answer.

    Now Ross was beginning to become angry, and he raised the tone of his voice to match this. “Where is Registeel?!”

    Matt put his computer down and rose to his full height of a bit over six feet. He turned slowly to face Ross and began to gradually approach the Ranger; however, something was clearly wrong, as he was dragging his feet and wearing a completely empty look devoid of any emotion.

    Seconds later, once he’d ambled up close enough to Ross, Matt simply and quickly pulled his arm back and punched Ross square in the face with enough force to down him. The Ranger’s Riolu immediately snarled and jumped to its master’s defense while Eleanor and Rosalita both gasped, but then things got even more bizarre – Matt just ignored his companions, dragged himself to the nearby ticket window, and began attempting to dislodge one of the window’s metal bars.

    Almost immediately, Eleanor realized what he was doing, especially when she noticed the bars had sharp tips. “Get him away from there!”

    She along with Rosalita took the action of grabbing Matt’s arms and pulling him away from the potential weapons. Instantly, he turned and collapsed as an emotional mess into their arms.

    “I can’t go on like this anymore...” Matt had tears flooding down his face, and his words were an incoherent, barely intelligible jumble. “I can’t... everything I ever wanted is... she was....” He then stood. “I’m surrendering. Whatever Fernando wants to do... let him do it. This world is worthless anyway.”

    “You can’t surrender!” Eleanor cried out, now tearing up as well. She grabbed his face with both of her hands and forced him to look into her eyes. “Listen to me. I’ve only known you for a couple of days but I can tell one thing right away – you’re one who’s passionate about what he likes. If Fernando wins, what happens to all the archeological adventures you could go on? He’d probably bulldoze the Golden City to build a new castle for himself. If that happened, he’d be happy and Cassy would be happy, but you know who wouldn’t be? Your grandfather. Sutter gave his life to protect whatever secrets that treasure holds, and are you really going to just let that all go to waste?!”

    “I...” It took a moment for the full impact of Eleanor’s words to reach Matt. When he finally absorbed it all, though, something clicked in his mind, and his expression became resolute. “You’re right. If I just let him get his way, what of the hundreds of years of history that’s gone into this place? That’s one thing my grandfather always believed throughout his long life – that history is something to be fought for and protected!”

    “That’s the spirit!” Ross beamed with a great smile, which was accompanied by a somewhat prominent bruise next to his mouth. “How’s about we get down to it and finish the job now?”

    “Let’s get it done.” Matt picked up his computer and opened the window containing the clue. “We already figured out that the ‘house of the 4491’ is the train station, where we now are. We have to find a 217, which has a 312516 behind it that will lead us to Registeel. Any idea on what that is?”

    The answer came quickly when Rosalita’s voice sounded from a nearby hall. “214... 215... you guys, the rooms in this depot are numbered! Come over here!”

    Matt tucked his computer under his remaining flesh arm and followed Rosalita’s instructions, with Ross and Eleanor behind him.

    The hallway itself was actually quite dull and unremarkable, with its gray walls and brown doors forming a space that could not be said to have any kind of personality. Matt and the others joined the princess at a door marked, quite clearly, ‘Rm. 217.’

    “So this is it, huh?” Immediately, Ross depressed the door’s silver handle and pushed – only to find it locked. He grimaced briefly, then turned to his Riolu, which was following at his heels. “We may as well. Force Palm!”

    Ross’s Riolu jumped up and pressed its right paw against the door, releasing a burst of energy that literally eviscerated it. The smoke from the blast cleared to reveal a room filled with old telegraph equipment.

    “Nice one, Ross,” Matt deadpanned. “Ever heard of going overboard? Still, let’s see...”

    The group stepped forward into the room. It was easy to tell that the old equipment had not been used in a long time, as it was all covered in a thick layer of dust. On the left side of the room was a large bank of what appeared to be safe-deposit boxes, while the station’s telegraph device itself sat to the right.

    “Okay, so this room is the 217. Now where’s 312516?”

    Eleanor stepped over to the telegraph device and tapped its button several times. “Matt, I bet you that the key is this. Enter that combination here.”

    “Good idea!” Smiling, Matt sat down on the old, creaking metal chair before the telegraph device and began entering the digits. “Dot, dot, dot, dash, dash.... dot, dash, dash, dash, dash.... dot, dot, dash, dash, dash... dot, dot, dot, dot, dot.... dot, dash, dash, dash, dash.... dash, dot, dot, dot, dot.”

    The eager look on Matt’s face faded, though, when nothing happened. Even after several awkward minutes passed, absolutely nothing happened.

    “That wasn’t it!” he finally spat, standing up angrily. “Now what? We’ve got no other leads!”

    “Yeah, actually, we do,” Ross said from behind Matt, prompting him to turn around. The Ranger was standing at the bank of safe-deposit boxes and examing them, and evidently had found something. “All of these boxes are locked with keys except for this one.” He motioned to one of the boxes, which had, amazingly enough, a combination lock on its front.

    “It was right in front of us the whole time,” Matt sighed, entering the combination into the lock.

    Sure enough, the moment he turned the lock’s dial to the final part of the combination, it clicked, and a huge, concealed door next to the safe deposit boxes creaked open.

    Without hesitation Ross produced several flashlights and distributed them to the others. He was the one to lead the way into the tunnel, his mind set on solving the problems that awaited.

    “Well, here goes nothing.”

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

    Sutter, back in his Dusknoir guise, had been watching these events unfold from a space-time portal he’d opened while alone in the Magma Stone’s chamber.

    He was distracted, though, by a sudden slamming sound nearby. He panicked and quickly closed the portal, which was a good thing, as Fernando came sweeping into the room. A feeling of relief fell over his ghostly figure.

    “Dominar.”

    “Dusknoir, the Heatran Elegy must now begin. There is no more time.”

    Though Sutter understood why Fernando said this, he feigned surprise. “W-what? Why?”

    “My attempt to capture Chiaki’s group failed due to some unexpected interference. There’s no other choice but to activate the Magma Stone fully and unleash Heatran’s full power.”

    “What if that fails?” Sutter hadn’t anticipated Fernando’s haste.

    “Then... then we will use this machine to its full potential! We’ll enslave every Pokémon in this city and use them as our servants!” Fernando then reached into his cape and extracted a small microphone. Speaking into it, he said, “Cassy, listen to me. Force Carter to activate Regirock and sic it on Chiaki’s group. After you see to that, bring the Griseous Orb here.”

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

    “I see. Got it.”

    Cassy, Griseous Orb staff in hand, was actually already standing in the dungeon in front of the cell holding Carter, his father and the guards. With two Bronzong alongisde her, she stowed the microphone and turned to her captives.

    “You heard the man, Carter. Matt and Zero enhanced you with all their experiments back when we were in school and gave you those powers. You’re coming with me and using them for a purpose.”

    “I’ll never do it!” Carter snapped, slamming his fists against the cell’s iron bars. “The abilities I have come with the responsibility to not use them for the wrong reasons! Why are you even doing this, siding with Fernando?!!” Another thought then jumped into Carter’s mind, prompting him to take a step back. “And how... do you even know Zero?! You weren’t in Dr. Graceland’s robotics class with us!”

    Cassy ignored the question, and tapped the bottom of the staff on the ground twice. This prompted the two Bronzong to float forward, and as they did so, a wicked smile crept onto the girl’s face. “I’m not going to do this to you, Carter, oh no... I’m going to do something worse.”

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

    Beneath the train station lay a dark, dank cave. The only source of light here was the flashlights being carried by Matt and his group, but these only served to provide a small area of vision for them.

    As the group pressed on, Rosalita continually looked around nervously, as if anticipating something. She stopped when something caught her eye.

    “Look over there,” she said, pointing off to her right.

    Ross trained his flashlight in the direction Rosalita pointed, revealing a crumbling wall with some kind of ruined painting on it. “It looks like... some kind of ruins?” He flashed the light in other places around himself, revealing more structure, lending the area the appearance of a ruined temple. “A ruined temple down underneath the train station? This makes no sense.”

    “It doesn’t make any sense.” Matt had walked to where the crumbling wall was and now was examining it with his hand. A look of confusion was plastered on his face. “This wall looks too neatly crumbled. It looks like it was built this way... whoever put this here did it not too long ago, and did it to intentionally look like this.”

    “Here’s a lamp!” called Eleanor from the other side of the chamber. “Hang on, I’ll light it... Teddiursa, Fire Punch!”

    The sound of Eleanor’s Teddiursa crying out as it used Fire Punch could be heard, and moments later, a small fire-fed light appeared nearby. However, this wasn’t the end – the flame spread from the lamp through a channel connected to it that was filled with oil, and soon, a whole network of flame-fueled light had appeared on all sides of the chamber.

    This quite plainly shocked the entire group, with the exception of perhaps Rosalita, whose reaction was more one of indifference. The light revealed a number of seemingly broken pillars surrounding a slightly raised pedestal, on which sat the inactive stone Registeel. Three of the pillars immediately behind the golem’s body bore imprints that looked like Bronzor near their tops.

    “Well hello there, Registeel,” Matt said smugly, taking several steps toward where the statue stood. “I believe you and I have a previous date.”

    Ross quickly put his hand on Matt’s shoulder to stop him. “Be careful. This place looks like it might have traps...”

    This warning came too late. The Registeel statue’s influence connected with the puzzle cube in Matt’s bag, and just like in Regice’s cave, it levitated out on its own. Powerless to stop it, Matt, Ross and the two women could only watch as the glowing box levitated before the statue and then seemingly vanished in a bright flash of light. When this light faded, the statue was gone, and Registeel – a bulbous-bodied Pokémon of teal color, sporting seven red dots arranged in a hexagon pattern on the black stripe in its middle – stood in its place.

    “Registeel, the Iron Pokémon. Type is Steel. Its body is harder than any other kind of metal. The body metal is composed of a mysterious substance. Not only is it hard, it shrinks and stretches flexibly. Tempered by pressure underground over tens of thousands of years, its body cannot be scratched. This specimen is alternately colored.”

    “Cannot be scratched, huh?” Matt began to reach for one of his Poké Balls.

    He didn’t act quickly enough, however, and Registeel got the first move. It raised its arms into the air and let out a robotic cry, “REGIIIIIISTEEEELLLLLLLL.” The three Bronzor shapes on the pillars instantly responded to this, and materialized into actual Bronzor.

    “Watch out!” Eleanor cried.

    The Bronzor weren’t interested in Matt, though. They flew over to Ross, Eleanor and Rosalita, then Registeel erected a barrier of light between the two groups by flashing its dots three times.

    “REGI....REGI....STEEEEEEL!!”

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Pkmn Trainer Matt --vs.--- Seal Guardian Registeel
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    [Registeel crosses its arms in front of itself then forcefully uncrosses them, showing off its glowing dots.]

    “So you want a challenge, Registeel? I didn’t want to resort to this, but... Rotom, make your mark!”

    To battle Registeel, Matt brought out his Rotom, a small, plasma-bodied Electric type with lightning bolt shaped appendages. Unlike most Rotom, however, this one wore a simple, blank look.

    “Rotom, I need you to use Thunder Wave!”

    Strangely, though, Rotom didn’t respond, instead simply staying in the air nearly still. This afforded Registeel an opening, and it fired a Flash Cannon attack from its dots. The burst of light struck Rotom, but owing to the natural resistance Electric type Pokémon possess against Steel type moves, it didn’t do much.

    By this time, Matt had his small, two-screened computer out and was analyzing Rotom’s moves. “I forgot that being a Shadow Pokémon limits its possible moves. Let’s see then... looks like I’ll go with Shadow Bolt!”

    Rotom responded to this command, absorbing a great deal of dark energy into its body. Moments later it pointed its appendages at Registeel, releasing a blast of shadowy electricity with a shrill cry. Registeel was jolted by this, groaning in response to its injuries.

    Though it had lurched back, however, Registeel quickly recovered and again crossed its arms in front of its face, but this time, when it uncrossed them, the pull of gravity intensified greatly, bringing Rotom to the floor.

    Registeel then raised its right arm up, allowing a shadowy aura to surround it. Matt’s hesitation caused him to fail to recognize this as Shadow Claw immediately, and by the time he managed to spit out a command for another Shadow Bolt, Registeel was right on top of his Pokémon.

    Rotom, practically stuck to the floor, could only release its attack as a blast of energy in Registeel’s face, producing an explosion. While Registeel was still standing as the smoke cleared, Rotom was still on the floor, and was now still.

    Matt immediately recalled Rotom without even seeing if it was really knocked out. Holding another Poké Ball in his hand, Matt said to himself, “If I’m to have any hope of winning, I need to end this now. Crusher, make your mark! Swords Dance!”

    As soon as the shining Rhyperior burst from its ball, it smashed its hands together and began growling in order to raise its focus and power.

    Registeel immediately seized this apparent opening by firing a Flash Cannon, however, despite hitting Crusher with explosive force, the Rock and Ground type’s concentration was unbroken.

    “The Solid Rock ability reduces the power of super-effective strikes... should give me time to get this done. Keep using Swords Dance!”

    Crusher responded by continuing what it had been doing, tensing itself up even more. Even under its skin of rock, it was easy to see how tightened its muscles were becoming.

    For a golem made out of metal, Registeel actually displayed some kind of intelligence, showing that it understood Matt was trying to end the fight in one strike. Acting on that, it also became still, seemingly doing nothing.

    “So you’re giving up? Crusher, use Swords Dance one more time and get ready!”

    Unfortunately, Matt totally misinterpreted Registeel’s actions. As soon as Crusher increased the amount of its focus even more, Registeel’s dots suddenly began flashing pink.

    When Registeel’s body briefly flashed, followed by it charging towards Crusher with its right arm prepared to use a Metal Claw attack, Matt realized what had happened.

    “Of course! Why didn’t I realize...PSYCH UP! Crusher, hurry and use Earthquake!”

    Seemingly, though, it was too late. Registeel was already within mere feet of Crusher by the time the Rhyperior raised its arm, yet, somehow it managed to bring it smashing down to the ground with miraculous speed. The impact created a great fissure in the floor, and when it hit underneath Registeel, the golem was flung all the way up to the ceiling by the quake’s power.

    It then crashed to the floor and collapsed.

    “That’s it! It worked!”

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Matt gasped for breath as he returned Crusher to its ball following the battle. As he did this, the fallen Registeel’s body glowed with a soft light before reforming the puzzle cube, which fell to the ground with several sharp strikes.

    Immediately, Matt walked over to it and picked it up. He only needed to examine it for a moment to discover that two sides of the cube were now glowing, the side inscribed with Registeel’s pattern added to it. The lights reflected in his glasses as he stared thoughtfully at it.

    “Obviously, this cube contains the power of the Regi trio... but what is its connection to this place...?”

    Suddenly, Matt gasped, as he’d forgotten about his friends. He turned abruptly, only to find that their situation was already resolved long before his own. The barrier was gone, and it was apparent that they had fought off the Bronzor by using Riolu along with a strange Pokémon in Eleanor’s employ that was unlike anything Matt had seen before. It was about her height, around five feet six inches, and had a lithe blue body, and a pair of prominent breasts covered with silver armor, along with long black hair and a spear made of ice in its right hand. Surprisingly enough, in its left hand, it held a Bronzor in a manner similar to that of a shield.

    Eleanor saw Matt open his mouth to ask about it and spoke first. “Yeah, I know, I don’t get it completely either, but I guess it’s a new Pokémon. My Jynx evolved when it came into contact with one of the Bronzor.”

    “Does your database have anything on it?” Ross asked, thoughtfully.

    “I don’t know. That’s a good idea...”

    The young scientist took out his handheld computer, opened it, and allowed its camera to scan the creature. A photo image of it appeared on the top screen of the computer immediately, while “SCANNING DATABASES FOR KNOWN MATCHES...” appeared on the bottom.

    Several seconds later, the words “DATABASE SCAN > POKéDEX DATABASES > KNOWN POKéMON > UNSORTED” and “MATCHES FOUND: 1” appeared, followed by the computer’s robotic voice.

    “Pokémon identified as Minnaara, the Ice Queen Pokémon. First known identification reported in Route 44, Johto. This Pokémon evolved from Jynx when exposed to the presence of a Bronzor. Behavior is largely unknown at present, however, ritualistic mating tendencies that contradict its unusual social behaviors have been observed.”

    “...well, there you go,” Matt said with a slight chuckle. “Guess we’re making inroads right now, aren’t we?”

    “I guess I have a new partner!” Eleanor’s mind lingered on her many future experiences with Minnaara, but not for long, as it soon settled on something else. “Shouldn’t there be another clue around here, though?”

    Before anyone else could even suggest searching for the clue, Rosalita finally spoke up. “I know where Regirock is already.”

    “You what?!” All the others simultaneously turned to the princess and said this.

    “Regirock is in the worst possible place... the throne room of the palace.” Rosalita’s face remained blank as she delivered this news. “If you want to get its power, you’ll have to go right into the mouth of this evil...”

    There was silence for several moments, several moments where the tension in the air was palpable, like a cup of thick pea soup. It was broken, however, when Matt slamming his foot to the ground and spoke, his fist clenched.

    “We have to do it,” he said firmly. “There’s no other way to stop him.”

    Of course, there was another reason entirely why Matt was so eager to rush off into life-threatening danger... he had to know the truth about Cassy.

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

    ‘Dusknoir’ and Fernando had been in their hideout watching all this unfold, so they knew that the palace was the group’s next destination. Of course, taking his true identity into account, Dusknoir’s overwhelming sense of dread was understandable - just as understandable as the mad glee now taking over Fernando.

    “They’re going right into my trap!” the king raved to his companion, rubbing his hands together and making no effort to conceal how much the madness in him exaggerated his facial expressions. “Perfect, perfect, just perfect! We’ll have Heatran kill him, and then even if he survives that, then Cassy will destroy him!”

    “Are you so sure, Dominar? So far he’s beaten everything we’ve thrown at him.”

    “This is the endgame, Dusknoir, are you unable to see?! We are inches from victory now! You know what, fine... you go to the palace and fetch Cassy so that the Griseous Orb is brought here. I’ll activate the Magma Stone and bring this to an end!”

    “If you insist.”

    Dusknoir opened a portal, then dove into it and disappeared. Fernando waited for several minutes before doing anything else, as he wanted to make sure he was alone.

    Finally walking towards the machine with the Magma Stone, he said aloud to himself, “That rotten ghost doesn’t know his time is almost up. I’ll dispose of him, Cassy, those soldiers, anyone I have to.” By entering a code into the keyboard of the machine, the gyroscopes around the Magma Stone began spinning. He then hissed in sadistic glee, “Dance, my little puppet. Dance...”

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

    Faint rumbles of thunder could be heard from the square outside the palace, but other than that, it was silent. The square was completely empty, too, giving the area an ominous feeling. This peace was interrupted by footsteps when Matt and his group appeared in an alley nearby, slinking through the town to avoid notice.

    “There it is,” he whispered quietly to Ross, who was right behind him with Riolu on his shoulder. “Let’s move. Quick.”

    Matt and Ross slipped out into the square, but Eleanor hesitated, and squealed quietly, “I have a really bad feeling about this...”

    “Hurry!” Ross hissed back. “If we dawdle they’ll spot us!”

    Suddenly, while Eleanor and Rosalita quietly shuffled to their male companions, Riolu’s head shot up. It looked around nervously, then jumped off Ross’s shoulder, shut its eyes and extended its arms.

    “Riooooo...”

    “What’s up, Riolu?”

    Riolu remained steadfastly silent, using its Aura to scan the area. It was when a slight quake came through the earth that its concentration turned to fear, and when that slight quake quickly became a much larger one, Riolu barely had enough time to lunge and tackle Matt and Ross away from the explosion that erupted from the ground.

    “Aaaaaah!!”

    “Ack...!! Ri...Riolu, what was that?!”

    There was no need for Riolu to respond to Ross’s question, as the answer stood right in front of them – there, bearing down from its four cross-shaped feet which were planted in ruptured, smoldering dirt, was the Pokémon they all feared, Heatran. The great magma and iron beast roared powerfully before the four, striking terror into their hearts.

    “He knew we were coming...” the princess uttered listlessly, realizing the truth. “He knew we were going to come here and sent Heatran ahead to intercept us...”

    Matt thrust his now-mechanical left arm in front of his companions to shield them, and held one of his Poké Balls in the other. “Then we’ll just have to fight and take control of this place back! Tony, make your mark!”

    As Tony, Matt’s Aggron, appeared from the Poké Ball it was contained in, Ross’s Riolu immediately ran to its side, and Eleanor sent in her Staraptor as well. Together, the three Pokémon faced the ominous threat of battling Heatran as best they could.

    “Tony, Brick Break now!”

    After letting out a short, low growl, Tony cocked its right arm and rushed Heatran. Its feet made multiple loud smashing sounds on the ground as it did so.

    Heatran responded quickly. It opened its great mouth wide, charged a blast of light inside, and fired off a fierce Flash Cannon attack, which hit Tony with explosive force and neutralized its attempt to strike.

    “Close Combat!”

    From the smoke of the explosion left behind by Flash Cannon, Staraptor suddenly emerged, lunging straight for Heatran’s silver faceplate with its talons. Once it was within range it began striking many times, and this was actually effective - Heatran stepped back slightly, and the blows began leaving scratches and chips in its armor.

    A growl escaped Heatran’s mouth, but soon enough, it managed to counter with a brief blast of dark energy that repelled Staraptor.

    Backing Staraptor, Riolu got into position, and Ross began to order, “Aura Sphe...”

    However, he was cut off when Heatran began preparing another attack. It became apparent that it intended to wipe them all out with the immense Flash Cannon it was charging in its mouth, and for all their strength, there was nothing they could do to stop such a mighty attack.

    Together, the group prepared mentally for the end. Even if they survived, they would be captured by Fernando’s forces easily, and no doubt tortured and killed, probably by the evil king himself. Maybe in that regard it would be better if Heatran killed them here and now.

    There was a strange, almost fitting silence as the light in Heatran’s mouth reached a blinding degree. There were only a few words spoken, all from Matt. “Cassy, why have you done this...” escaped his mouth as he shut his eyes and resigned himself to his fate.

    He heard Heatran actually fire the attack. It was what happened after that that caused him to slowly reopen his eyes – the sound of heavy footsteps rushing in front of him, a scraping, metallic noise, and finally, an explosion followed by a great gust of wind.

    Standing in front of Matt and his friends was the man known as the Azure Angel, who had once again saved them. Relieved, Matt noticed quickly that he had a retractable sword of blue crystal extending from his right sleeve and was holding out both hands with palms open in order to restrain Heatran using some kind of mystical power.

    “Are you guys okay?” the caped, masked man shouted without facing the group.

    “We’re fine!” Eleanor replied. “But what did you do?”

    “I don’t have time to talk! This blade on my arm blocked the attack! Just go in there and stop Fernando!” When they hesitated, the Angel finally turned his head and roared, “GO!!”

    Matt nodded, regained his composure, and turned to his companions only briefly before rushing past the Azure Angel and the paralyzed Heatran, Ross, Eleanor and Rosalita following quickly thereafter. The Azure Angel said nothing until they were inside the palace, waiting for them before lowering the visors of his mask over his eyes.

    “Heatran... your rage is not natural, your mind is being manipulated... but why...”

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

    The palace seemed to be as empty as the town when Matt’s group entered it. Knowing where they needed to go, they rushed straight ahead into the throne room, where another scene entirely greeted them.

    The first thing Matt saw was Dusknoir, with a portal in the wall next to him. Two of the guards were there too, as well as Fernando’s two Bronzong, and it was obvious by looking at their eyes that the Bronzong had the guards under hypnosis. Carter was held captive by them.

    “Carter!” Matt cried out, losing all ill will he held towards his colleague.

    “Matt, listen! Fernando and Cassy already left! Forget me, go after them!” When he saw Rosalita, Carter’s face twisted to one of panic. “You fools, you brought HER here?!”

    “There is no hope for you...” droned one of the guards soullessly. “Surrender now and King Fernando may have mercy on you...”

    “We will never surrender!” Rosalita, surprisingly, was the one saying this; she pushed herself to the forefront and confronted the villains bravely. “Fernando has ruined the very name of this kingdom, and in the name of my forefathers before me, I will take it open myself to stop him!”

    “Fool... you cannot defeat King Fernando...”

    Suddenly, Carter said, “Ordinarily I’d never hit a woman...”

    The guard who was speaking out of nowhere got an elbow to the back of the head, knocking her down. Carter, who had seized upon the two guards being distracted, snapped up the staff held by that guard and quickly whipped around, hitting the other in the head with it. He turned to make a move and escape, but just as quickly was stopped – the other two guards had arrived, accompanied by two Bronzong that were aiming their Flash Cannons right at Howard.

    “Professor McKenna?!” both Matt and Ross screamed, surprised to see the disheveled old man held captive.

    “Father! Don’t... don’t you dare hurt my father!”

    “Your father is the bargain, Carter!” Fernando’s voice, coming from the portal, came at such an unexpected time that all in the room except for the guards jumped. “If you want him to live, you must activate Regirock and destroy Chiaki with it! Act on all that bad blood between you two!”

    “Carter, my son...” Howard’s voice was weak. After months upon months of captivity in Fernando’s jail, he was resigned to go to his grave protecting what he had sought. “Don’t fall for his tricks. He’s a vile man and will be defeated, but it’s up to you and Matt to do it...”

    “Make your choice, Carter! Tick tock, the clock is counting down on your dear old dad’s life!”

    Carter sighed. He wanted to disobey Fernando, but he knew that if he did so, the price he would pay would be unfathomable. Reluctantly, he raised his arms and began walking toward the throne itself.

    “Carter, don’t do it...” the old man faintly mumbled in vain.

    “Transcend the confines of time and space... awaken, Regirock...!!”

    As Carter focused, allowing a glow to envelop both himself and the throne, Eleanor had finally heard enough and turned to Matt.

    “What bad blood is Fernando talking about?”

    “I...” Matt looked down, causing his hair to fall over his face and shadow over his eye. “Back when we were in school we were rivals. I think now that I took it too far...”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Carter, in his Rustboro School uniform, was standing near a desk in the dormitory when the room’s entry door suddenly came smashing open, startling him. A clearly enraged Matt stood in the doorway, clutching a newspaper.

    “Carter...” he snarled, “what is THIS?!”

    “What are you talking about?” Carter was honestly puzzled.

    “THIS!”

    Matt held up the newspaper. Its headline read “Rustboro School Students Make Major Find – Newly Dubbed “Mirage Tower” Discovered by Archeologist’s Son” and a photograph was displayed. The photo showed Carter in expedition gear and goggles smiling broadly near a sand tower in a desert setting, while Matt could be seen half in the picture from the side.

    “We worked evenly in this, Carter, and you take all the credit?!”

    Carter sighed and turned from what he was doing. “I didn’t tell them to do that. They already thought I did it all and I couldn’t convince them otherwise.”

    “I trusted you, Carter!” Matt flung the paper at his colleague, hitting him in the face, then stormed out.

    (Banner by Matori)
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  25. #25
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    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “And then what?”

    As Eleanor asked this, none noticed that Carter’s focus was intensifying, and that he nearly had Regirock awakened.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This event had happened some time later. An aging, scruffy looking man sporting orange hair and a beard stood at a lectern in the front of a packed classroom; his white lab coat and red undershirt were as equally unkempt as he was. After adjusting a pair of rectangular eyeglasses to suit himself, he picked up a paper and began to speak.

    “The demonstration portion of the final exam for Dr. Newton Graceland’s robotics class begins now. In this portion of the exam, each student will demonstrate briefly a robotic device that they have created using what they learned in my class this year. Inventions will be graded based on creativity and overall application of the class’s material.

    Now, let’s begin! The first to make a presentation will be Carter McKenna!”

    Standing to quite a bit of applause, Carter stood and walked to the front of the hall. As he did so a pair of lab assistants wheeled out a cart with his invention on it. The machine resembled an oversized silver blender.

    “Allow me to present the Apricorn Blender!” he announced proudly, setting a sack of multicolored nut-like fruits on the table next to him. “This device, when loaded with Apricorns, as I have here, will produce what I have dubbed Aprishakes. When a Pokémon drinks an Aprishake, its physical coniditon will improve, and all the Apricorn Blender needs to operate is two 9-volt batteries! Allow me to demonstrate!”

    Carter reached into the sack and pulled out four Apricorns; two blue, one pink, one white. He opened the cover of the Apricorn Blender and deposited them, then closed the machine.

    “Gentlemen, behold!” Carter pressed the switch on the machine’s control panel.

    However, nothing happened. Panicking, Carter pressed the switch several more times, but the machine still lay dormant.

    In the back of the room, Matt smirked and peered down at the two batteries in his hand.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Carter passed that year because he got exceptional grades on the other portions, but I always regretted doing that...”

    A look of pity filled Eleanor’s eyes. However, at that moment, a robotic snarl echoed through the room, and the group all turned back to the platform in time to see the black-and-brown Regirock break out of its confines within the throne and stamp forth to face its apparent enemies. Panicked and startled, Matt clumsily used his P*DA on it.

    “Regirock, the Rock Peak Pokémon. Type is Rock. Its entire body is made of rock. If any part chips off in battle, it attaches rocks to repair itself. This specimen is alternately colored.”

    “Now, Carter, fight him!” Fernando ordered from beyond the portal. “Use your anger and destroy him utterly!”

    Carter sighed and shut his eyes. “Matt, I’m sorry I have to do this... Regirock, Stone Edge!”

    The H-shaped arrangement of dots on Regirock’s body flashed wildly as arcs of energy surrounded it, soon transforming into jagged-edged rocks. With a roar the beast sent these rocks flying right for Matt, who was completely unprepared and feebly raised his arms in fearful defense.

    What happened next was unexpected and sudden – another roar came from the back of the hall, followed by a shot of light that eviscerated the rocks right out of the air. The sound of thundering steps accompanied the sudden presence of Heatran.

    “Heatran!” Shaymin squealed fearfully, clenching Rosalita’s head in terror. This was already a natural reaction if you knew of the Grass-type’s natural fear of fire, but Shaymin’s predisposal to cowardice only made it worse.

    Rosalita, meanwhile, could only clench her teeth. “He had no intention of making us fight Regirock! It was a trap...!”

    “Truuuuhhhh....” After bracing itself with its front legs, Heatran opened its mouth wide and charged up a bigger than usual Flash Cannon.

    Though blinded by its light when it was fired, Matt was able to hear it hit something, presumably Regirock, with a mighty explosion. There was enough visibility to see Carter fall backwards after screaming and shortly thereafter Regirock falling. As all of Matt’s group turned back to Heatran, none saw the energy from Regirock float to Matt’s bag in search of the cube.

    “What do we do?”

    It was Ross that took charge and stepped forth to face Heatran. “What do we do? We fight! Capture on!”

    The Capture Disc launched from Ross’s Styler when he pointed his right arm at Heatran. Upon it reaching its target, he began drawing loops in the air using his arm motions, but before long, Heatran – who had at first just looked at the object in wonder – crushed the disc with one of its massive feet, causing the Styler’s main body to shoot out a blast of sparks. Ross groaned and recoiled backwards, clutching his arm.

    “Now what do we do?!” screamed Matt, watching Heatran bring a great blast of fire – no doubt its terrifying Magma Storm attack, which had deformed him the last time it was used – into its mouth. “We’re all gonna die!”

    Yet, something happened when Heatran released the attack. Just as Matt uselessly raised his arms to protect from the vortexes of fire Heatran had loosed, a bright light filled the room, and when it faded, all that remained in the chamber was Heatran and its Magma Storm. Everything and everyone else was gone.

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

    “What was that?!” Fernando screamed angrily as he looked into his machine in the bell tower. Just at the moment Heatran had used the attack he ordered, his view of the area had been cut off. “What in the name of Giratina just happened?!”

    “We’ve been betrayed.” Cassy appeared in the shadows behind Fernando, holding the Griseous Orb’s staff and speaking darkly. “Dusknoir turned against us. He saved them from Heatran’s attack by taking them to an unknown location.”

    Fernando just tensed up as Cassy approached him. He only turned once she was within his reach, and his face was contorted into a look of uncontrollable rage.

    “Give me that!” he snarled as he snatched the staff from her. “If you were a little more careful picking your false friends, maybe we wouldn’t have this problem!”

    “But you were the one who recruited Dusknoir...”

    Cassy never had time to finish her defense, as Fernando simply smacked her across the face with the back of his hand, knocking her to the floor. “Do not backtalk me, you miserable woman! Lest I remind you, because of your gender, you are inferior to me already, and you have no chance of touching the majesty of a king such as I!”

    Turning back to the machine, Fernando opened the top of the staff, removed the Griseous Orb and deposited it in his robes before closing the staff and setting it against the machine. “Go to your position as dictated by the plans of the Heatran Elegy,” he ordered Cassy bitterly. “I must complete the initiation at any cost.”

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

    “My head...” Matt felt around for something to prop himself up with. He soon found what felt like a wooden table, and pushed himself up using it as support.

    He then slowly opened his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. He’d been taken to a pale stone room, which he quickly noticed had no apparent doors. It was a circular chamber with the half opposite Matt’s position being a huge wall of stained glass, and the half he was standing in lined with bookcases.

    While Matt looked around, the others slowly came to and stood up as well. Ross was first, followed by Rosalita and Eleanor. Carter, Howard and all four of the guards had also been transported to this chamber.

    “Is this one of the chambers in the palace?” coughed one of the guards as she leaned drastically on her staff. “I’ve never seen it!” The other three guards promptly chimed in with agreement, making it apparent that they were no longer under mind control.

    “Yeah, Carter, what is this place?”

    “Don’t snap at me, Matt!” Carter growled back. “I’ve never been here either!”

    “This room, I thought I imagined coming here all those years ago...” Howard was staring at the stained glass with wide eyes, and his speaking commanded the attention of all in the room. “I know this place...”

    “You do, my old friend.”

    Somehow Dusknoir had entered the room unseen. The faces around him soured immediately after coming off the initial shock of his appearance, and the anger in the room directed his way was so think it could be cut with a knife.

    “You want us to talk to you, after you helped that horrid man control us?!”

    “And you helped him hold me and my father in jail too!”

    “Were you there when he killed my grandfather? ANSWER ME!!”

    Matt lunged at Dusknoir but missed and went crashing face-first into a wall. Despite this he recovered quickly, returned to standing before the phantom and resumed his confrontational tone.

    “Answer me, you damn ghost! I know you know the truth about what happened to Sutter! I’m sure you know that name – Doctor Sutter Chiaki, one of the first victims of Fernando’s bid for power!”

    “Matt... you are correct. I know everything. Everything that Fernando has done and what he plans to do.”

    “Then answer this...”

    “Matt, wait!” Howard interrupted. He then took several slow steps forward, towards Dusknoir. “Dusknoir... you are not what you appear to be, are you? I am getting a feeling that I know you, and if I’m right...”

    “You haven’t lost your natural instinct, my old friend.”

    Dusknoir’s body suddenly began to glow with a soft light, and he transformed. His true identity finally began to emerge – an elderly man in a blue and green suit, pale blue hair wildly shocking out to the sides, with a dusty beard of similar color.

    Upon seeing the man, Matt’s mind went blank, and he collapsed backwards to the floor. He could only look upward in shock, his body shaking violently.

    “S....utt.... grandfather, you....?”

    “I thought you told us not to tell him!” Eleanor blurted out. Immediately, she regretted doing so.

    “You... YOU KNEW?!” Matt was back on his feet, and once again angry. “You knew that my grandfather’s...ghost or whatever was allied with Fernando AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?!!”

    Eleanor shrunk away. “He told us not to, and you don’t...have it right...”

    “I don’t...?” Suddenly coming back to reality, Matt found his mind overloaded with questions. He slowly turned to face Sutter and asked quietly, “You said you know everything?”

    “I know enough.” Sutter’s voice seemed to echo, fitting for a ghostly presence.

    “Could you start from the beginning?”

    The old man reached for a nearby chair, pulled it to near him, and gestured. “Sit down for this. You’ll need to.” Matt was clearly confused by this direction, but followed it, and Sutter only spoke then, and still was reluctant. “You see... the Golden City is not lost. We discovered it a great many years ago.”

    It was a good thing Sutter had previously warned Matt to sit down, because this sudden revelation hit him like a ton of bricks. The realization that his almost two-decade old beliefs were all untrue, that the one man he idolized had been lying to him all that time, and that all remaining of his supposed hunt for a lost treasure was just stopping a mad prince, led to many seconds of blank emptiness before Matt simply stood in a rage and began shouting.

    “You lied to me all this time, Sutter?! I can’t believe you! You manipulated me into doing what you couldn’t do and stopping Fernando, that’s what you did! You probably thought you could pull this little ‘come back from the dead’ stunt after I found the Golden City and take all the credit away from me! Dammit, my father was right... you are a monster! Your own fame and fortune first... family second!!”

    “You have it all wrong, Matt!” Howard cried out. “Sutter is telling the truth!”

    “Like you would know. Do you know how it feels to grow up constantly trying to please a man whose heart is made of stone, only looking up to a person you see as a hero that’s actually a scumbag liar? Do you?!”

    Surprisingly, in face of all these derisive attacks, Sutter was completely calm. “I understand your anger. All I ask is that you listen to what I have to tell you.”

    Matt faltered. He was now realizing the impact and meaning of his words, and deep down was beginning to regret them. There was no taking away what Sutter had done for him that was good. “Fine.” He crossed his arms and pouted fiercely.

    “We, meaning myself and Howard, found the Golden City many decades ago, long before you were born.”

    “You did too?!” Carter said to his father in surprise.

    “Yes,” the old, balding man answered with a nod. “I remember that much. Sutter and I found it as a result of quite a lot of hard work. It was wonderful to behold...”

    “Then why didn’t you two announce your findings to the world?” Matt had both his hands clenched and was looking at the floor, still angry but now confused as well. “If I made such an important discovery...”

    Sutter lowered his head. “It’s because something bad is down there. Something that we had to hide from the world... it cost me my family ties and much of my life to keep it a secret.”

    “Something...bad?” Now Sutter had Matt’s attention.

    “Look over there.”

    The moment Sutter pointed towards the wall of stained glass, it faded into black. His audience murmured at this, but they quickly silenced when a different pattern appeared on the wall. This one depicted what seemed to be a desert, with a number of people standing in it and appearing downtrodden.

    “Long ago, this land was a barren desert. The people tried to live off it, but almost nothing at all would grow. Existance was bare and times were desperate.”

    The glass switched scenes again, this time depicting a man with flowing, shoulder-length blonde hair. He was wearing tattered brown clothing and holding up his hands.

    “Then one day, a man from a faraway land appeared in this blighted region. He taught the people to give thanks for what blessings they did receive, and soon, life became tolerable.”

    Another scene change, this time to a depiction of Shaymin. This scene didn’t depict the normal Shaymin, though, it showed the modified Shaymin previously seen on the floor of the mountain shrine.

    “Feeling their emotions of gratitude, a group of Shaymin flew into the land and carried out their Flower Bearing, which turned the desolate desert into a bountiful paradise. The people were overjoyed.”

    With the next change, the glass depicted the blonde man, now wearing a white cape and blue formal clothing.

    “Grateful to the man for bringing the bounties of nature to their land, the people named him their king, Fernando the First. For quite a long time, he reigned over a populace that grew fat off the fortunes of their land, constructing a vast city made of gold to show gratitude for their blessings. However...”

    Now the glass had on it a very different depiction – a purple cloud attacking a group of three people.

    “...Fernando’s personality eventually began to change. He became more ambitious and asked a group of his subjects to set out and found a new settlement so the city could increase in size. It was then that these settlers came under attack by a group of 108 malevolent spirits that attempted in every way to destroy them, using everything from violence to temptation.”

    The Azure Angel was in the next window. He was holding a stone with a crack in its middle in his right hand and pointing his left arm towards the purple cloud, fighting it with a blue sword sticking out from his sleeve.

    “A hero appeared to those settlers when times seemed to be their worst. He fought the spirits and came out the victor, banishing them to an unusual stone forevermore. To the settlers, this masked, nameless man appeared to have come to them from the heavens, so for this and the mystical instrument he carried, they dubbed him the Azure Angel.”

    He was also in the next panel, depicting him at the center, surrounded by people handing him plates of food. Pyramids of gold lay in the background.

    “To show gratitude to their hero, the settlers took him back to their Golden City and lavished upon him their bounty for fourty nights. On the fourty-first night, the hero departed, still never revealing his true name and face to the people who had grown to know him as their savior, the Azure Angel.”

    Upon the next scene switch, Fernando I reappeared. This time, though, his face was dark, and in his hand was a greenish orb which was emitting a black glow from its core.

    “Fernando I grew to be jealous of the gratitude bestowed upon the Azure Angel, and due to his now corrupt soul, took action. He obtained the Griseous Orb, an ancient device of untold power, and in contradiction of thousands of years of warning, activated it.”

    Great chaos appeared on the wall next. Both Heatran and Regigigas were depicted, using their power to destroy the city, with a background of fire.

    “The Griseous Orb’s activation summoned two titans of destruction: Regigigas, who was asleep in the mountains near the city, and Heatran, a lava creature from Fernando’s homeland. Together, the two titans reigned a great catastrophe upon this once blessed land.”

    One final window appeared, showing a town in a dried-out land.

    “As quickly as the disaster started, however, it ended in one dark night. The Golden City vanished seemingly into thin air, as did King Fernando I. Regigigas was sealed away with the Golden City, and Heatran was banished to its own land. Only one man, the king’s son, knew the truth, and he hid it. Fernando I was said to have died as a result of the Golden City’s vitality fountain no longer working on him. As for the land, while it never reverted to the desert it once was, it was never bountiful again.”

    Sutter’s audience turned back to him from the wall of glass now that the story was over. All had wonder in their minds.

    “So it’s Regigigas down there, then...” Matt’s manner turned from thoughtfulness to shock when he fully realized what Sutter had said. “Did you say vitality fountain? The fountain of youth?!!”

    “That’s here too?” Eleanor, unlike Matt, was not shocked. She was scared. “If that’s here, is he looking for that? Is that the goal of all this?”

    “I fear so,” Sutter answered sadly. “When Howard and I found the Golden City, we realized the immense evil that could emerge if its discovery was made public. Therefore, we hid a series of clues around the area, with the final clue in this chamber. We then had our memories erased so if anyone like Fernando tried to have our minds read, he’d find nothing.”

    Howard continued on, “I don’t know anymore exactly where it is, but the final clue is a book somewhere in this room.”

    “Father, I can find it.” Carter exuded confidence as he put his hands together and shut his eyes. “Transcend the confines of time and space!”

    As was usual when Carter used his powers, a glow filled the room. As if it was itself a conscious entity, a wisp of this light floated over to the dark wood bookcases and glided over the volumes, ultimately settling on a tattered gray book.

    “It’s that one,” Carter said plainly, opening his eyes and pointing to the book.

    Following that direction, Matt wasted no time in withdrawing the tome and setting on the table while the others crowded around. It was dusty, torn in many places and quite heavy, making the rickety old table creak under its weight.

    “It’s more like a folder...” Carefully, Ross undid the tie sealing the contents of the book and opened it. A cloud of dust floated out at first, but that disappeared quickly, allowing the Ranger to have a look at the first piece of paper inside. “I write this having just fought with my father in this room... Who does this belong to?”

    “Only one way to find out. Transcend the confines of time and space!”

    Immediately upon Carter’s incantation, a hologram of past events filled the room. Much to the surprise of all present, the two men who appeared were both familiar – one was Fernando I, and the other was a remarkably thin young man whose appearance made it plain he was Fernando II. Fernando I held a staff with a thick, rounded end in his right hand, and used his left to rebuff his son from approaching.

    “The plan is perfect, son. There are no flaws. What we are going to do is going to change history!”

    “Please listen to me, Father! There’s a reason that that Guild you just betrayed didn’t want to use the device’s power. Please don’t activate it!”

    “I am King Fernando of La Ciudad Dorada! What that feeble Guild feared is nothing before me!” Fernando the first held up the staff and opened its top, revealing the glowing Griseous Orb inside. “This is the device, the Griseous Orb. By using this, we will bring great wealth and power to this land forevermore!”

    “You have changed, Father! What happened to that man who gave thanks for all around him!?”

    Angered, Fernando I smacked his son in the face. “Do not speak to me in such a fashion, you insolent pup!”

    The first king then closed his scepter, turned on his heel and marched out of the room with equal parts fury and pride. His son quickly sat down at the table with the book now held by Matt and his friends, withdrew a quill pen from its ink base, and began writing.

    “I write this having just fought with my father in this room. My father, King Fernando of La Ciudad Dorada, recently joined an organization known as the Guild, but he has betrayed them and stolen a device called the Griseous Orb. For some reason, the Guild seemed to fear activating this object, which is what my father plans to do. Ever since he began being around this thing, this Orb, he has changed from a kind and generous ruler into an ambitious tyrant. It must be because of the Griseous Orb. When he just showed it to me, I felt something from it. I felt some kind of terrible evil influence coming from it that struck me in my heart... I cannot stop what is about to happen, but I fear it nevertheless...”

    Carter lost his focus after this point, so the hologram ended. It was just as well, since the note ended at that point anyway.

    “What is this Guild he spoke of? And a Griseous Orb?” Leaning over, Matt examined the note more carefully. He was admiring Fernando II’s elegant handwriting when he found something else on the parchment – a six-pointed star made up of two overlaid triangles, with circles around the top left, top right and bottom center points, as well as lines forming what appeared to be an eye in the center. “What’s this symbol?”

    Sutter and Howard both rushed to look at it, but upon appraisal, neither seemed to know its secrets.

    “I’ve seen this symbol before. Haven’t you?”

    “You’re right, Sutter, but I don’t know what it is. It’s not the Fernando family’s crest.” Howard reached back into the book and pulled out another page of parchment, his eyes widening with a feeling of surprise when he saw what was on it. “The Griseous Orb: A Short History... by Jacob Alexison?!”

    Jacob Alexison. The moment Matt heard the name, his mind became consumed by rage, all linking back to a past memory he’d tried desperately to forget.

    “Throw that crap away!” he thundered, lunging for the paper. “I will never accept Jacob Alexison as a good man in any fashion and that includes hearing his research!”

    “You have a history with him?” Eleanor asked innocently. “Who is he?”

    “A man who tried to rob me of what little future I have...” Now Matt was shaking and tears were running down his face. Eleanor went to him, concerned, and propped him up to show her support. “Howard probably remembers when this happened. Jacob Alexison was a professor of archeology in Sinnoh that my grandfather, Howard, and many others worked with throughout the years. A while back he ‘accidentally’ committed a murder and then began a deranged bid to collect the Plates of Arceus for his own use. I tried to stop him in Snowpoint City, and he shot me.”

    “Jacob did that? Now I am glad I never sent my son to study with him!” Howard spat.

    Rosalita then spoke listlessly. “We should still read what he has to say on this matter. If we are to stop my brother we will need as much knowledge as possible.”

    “Fine,” Matt said curtly. It was clear he didn’t want to have to hear Jacob’s words, but felt he had no choice. Taking up the note and adjusting his glasses on his damaged face, he began reading aloud.

    “The Griseous Orb: A Short History
    June 8, 2000

    by Jacob Alexison

    I first heard about the Griseous Orb from my grandfather, Julian Verne. He explained to me it was the source of the legendary Pokémon Giratina’s power and for generations many people wanted it. Because of that the Guild, the group he was in, tried to protect it (they were also protecting the Red, Blue, and Life Orbs, but I do not know too much about them). I never got to see the orb though as I was very young back then. Eventually I had forgotten about it due to getting interested in other artifacts.

    I got interested in the Griseous Orb again after rereading The Original Story, which explained how the world was created. Arceus’ egg came from Chaos, or the Torn World. After Arceus was born, Dialga and Palkia were created. Giratina was created too but forgotten, so he resided alone in the Torn World. Interesting story to say the least.

    After reading that, I went to research more on Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. While looking through many papers, there were a couple mentions of the Griseous Orb. I did not find too many information on it unfortunately, but what I am able to find was astonishing.

    This is what I know so far about the orb. First off, it is known that the orb is created from the Jewel of Life’s (from the Zap, Splash, Draco, Meadow, and Earth Plates) power. It represents the Torn World and as an antimatter. I believe that to be true as it is said Giratina lives at the Torn World.

    What I find next is interesting. While talking to the great Sutter Chiaki, he told me the Griseious Orb was part of the La Ciudad Dorada history. The House of Fernando had it for 500 years, but it was never activated. When I asked why, Sutter said he doesn’t know the answer to that.

    What I am about to say next is mostly speculation, so take this with a grain of salt. It is said Giratina has two forms, an Origin Form and an Altered Form. In the Torn World he is in Origin Form and in our world he changes to Altered Form. A few pieces theorize the Griseous Orb could make Giratina be in his Origin Form if he enters our world. The only problem is only a few people saw Giratina. I have not seen it so I cannot claim this theory to be true.

    The next speculation is the orb makes Giratina’s attacks more powerful. I already mentioned how my grandfather told this to me. However, again he never showed me the orb, so I am not sure if what he said is true.

    I wish I have more information about the orb, but not too much is known about this particular item. I hope someone would be able to solve the mystery of it.”

    Ross stepped forward. “Now I understand, after hearing that. Listen, you guys, this is something I know about. I didn’t remember it initially. The Guild was a secret brotherhood of men that existed centuries ago to protect several mysterious Orbs. It was driven underground for the beliefs of its members and disappeared from history in the nineteenth century. After that, who knows what happened.”

    “Wait, wait, wait,” groaned Matt as he threw his hands up in the air. “This went from some angry prince overthrowing his parents, to said angry prince trying to find the fountain of youth, to that person using some kind of device that could theoretically end the world? What the hell is going on here?”

    “Things have gotten really bad really fast...” commented Ross quietly.He then reached to turn over the book’s next page.

    Underneath it was an old, tattered map of the La Ciudad Dorada region of Oceannia. Sutter and Howard both lunged for it the moment they saw it, and simultaneously declared with great pride, “This is it!”

    “This is the final clue, the key to the Golden City that Howard and I hid decades ago. The Golden City is...” Sutter decisively laid his finger on a faded “X” on the map. “...here.”

    “The Berrybell Mountains!” Carter exclaimed.

    “That shrine where I saved you lot from Fernando is the key. I still can’t remember much more than there being a clue on the back of that map...”

    Instantly, Matt overturned the map. On its back were a great jumble of letters. “ZKHQ IDFLQJ WKH JUHDW ZKHHOV WKH DQVZHU OLHV ZLWK VKDBPLQ?” he spat out in confusion. “A cipher. You wrote this cipher as the final clue?”

    “Yes, but I don’t remember the answer to it...”

    A sly smirk crept onto Matt’s face. “You old coot, even if you did, you’d still make me solve it. You did it to me plenty of times!”

    “I see you still remember the things I taught you!” Sutter replied, smiling broadly for the first time.

    Ross then stepped forward with obvious determination and asked bluntly, “Sutter, is there something going on at that bell tower in town? It’s closed up with a Sealed Door and every time the bells ring something bad happens.”

    Sutter’s expression instantly darkened. “There is something happening there... I’ll show you right now.”

    “Wait!” Carter cried out, garnering the others’ attention. During the exchange between Matt and Sutter, he’d found a pot of red flowers, each sporting six petals and a yellow stamen in the center. “Before we go, I think it’s worth considering that we probably will be facing some extremely harsh challenges going forth. We should expose Shaymin to one of these flowers, because as my research indicates, Shaymin’s true power comes from them.”

    A light of realization appeared suddenly in Rosalita’s eyes. “Why didn’t I realize this before... those are Gracidea flowers, aren’t they?” When Carter nodded to the affirmative, Rosalita immediately picked Shaymin up and held it near the flowers.

    “Shaymin knows these flowers, yes...”

    The moment Shaymin sniffed at the flowers and got some of their pollen on its body, it began to glow. To the surprised gasps of its friends looking on, the tiny Pokémon floated into the air over the flower pot and soon began transforming – when it was done, after the golden light had faded, the cute, tiny hedgehog was replaced by the reindeer-esque canine creature from the shrine. Matt and Eleanor both gasped in surprise.

    “What just happened?!”

    “Is that...”

    “I give you Sky Forme Shaymin!” Carter announced proudly, spreading his arms. “Shaymin, now that you have newfound stren...”

    Without a care, Shaymin violently tackled Carter out of its way in order to float before the others.

    “We’ll go get that bad guy now, and Shaymin isn’t afraid of Heatran, you! Shaymin will fight and win, you!!”

    “Maybe there’s a little too much confidence in there...” Carter then turned to Sutter and said, “We can go now.”

    Sutter nodded, then, despite the fact he was a ghost, snapped his fingers. The entire group teleported away when he did this.

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

    It wasn’t long, perhaps only seconds later, that they materialized in the room inside the bell tower. After gathering their collective bearings, all the group took a quick approximation of the room to figure out what was going on.

    It was Carter who spotted the Magma Stone on its machine first. He began to feel a sense of dread just upon seeing it. “You guys, look at this thing. I’ve seen it in my studies. This is the Magma Stone, an ancient tool that was used to control Heatran’s rampages.”

    “That’s correct, Carter,” Sutter said in response. “Fernando has been controlling Heatran with this, and...” He pointed upward. “Those.”

    As if on cue, multiple blue energy beams shot down from the rafters of the chamber to impact the Magma Stone. They were being fired from numerous Bronzong hidden in the upper levels, much to the group’s surprise.

    “So he’s been controlling Heatran using the Magma Stone and these Bronzong... is this also how he put hypnosis on the townspeople?”

    Sutter’s manner showed surprise at Ross’s question. “You figured out that happened?”

    “Yeah, we did.” By opening his Styler’s scanner and using it on the Bronzong, Ross quickly made another discovery. “He’s got the Bronzong themselves under hypnosis... looks like I’m the only one who can handle this. You guys go ahead to the Golden City and I’ll deal with this situation.”

    “No... it can’t be! NO!!” This was Rosalita, and she sounded greatly upset. She had found and opened the staff Fernando left behind, finding that the Griseous Orb was gone. “He got the orb already!” she yelled as she turned back to the others. “We have to find him now!”

    “This is bad...” Matt mused dejectedly. In his mind, the odds were stacking up against them quickly – Fernando already possessed a legion of loyal and powerful Pokémon, and now had control over an object potentially acting as a weapon of untold power. It seemed the only solution left was to beat him to whereever exactly the Golden City awaited and stop him there, and with this goal in mind, Matt took a long, hard breath and turned up to his friends. “We’re in bad shape now, so we’ll go with the plan I have.

    Ross is going to stay here and try to capture these Bronzong, as he has already volunteered to do. If he can do that and shut down that machine, we should be able to defeat Heatran.

    Now, the rest of us will split into two groups. Howard, I want you to go with the guards and Rosalita back to the palace and prepare to order an evacuation away from the Berrybell Mountains, as in, as close to the palace as possible. If something goes wrong and Fernando gains the upper hand on us, the townspeople will be in danger if they are anywhere nearby.

    As for me, I will be going to the Berrybell Mountains with Carter, Eleanor, my grandfather and Shaymin. We’ll have to hurry and get there before Fernando does, because the first rule of conduct when racing an enemy to a discovery is to assume that the enemy has all the information you do. Are we all clear with the plan?”

    As Matt’s friends each affirmed their loyalty to the plan he had devised, Sutter quietly looked upon his grandson with great admiration. This was the culmination of everything he’d tried to teach Matt, especially the rule about assuming your enemy knows everything you do, which Matt had actually remembered verbatim from when Sutter taught him it. A great feeling of pride filled the old man’s corporeal body, and he smiled slightly under his ragged beard.

    “Grandfather.” Matt had by now turned to face Sutter directly, and his voice was deadly serious. “Your final adventure is finally ready to be fulfilled. Please send Howard, Rosalita and the guards to the palace and then take us to the shrine.”

    “As you wish. It’s exciting to be able to go on one final quest with you.”

    Sutter promptly pointed an open hand towards Howard, making him teleport away, presumably to the palace. He then did the same for Rosalita and the four guards, and turned and created a portal, through which Matt, Eleanor, Carter and Shaymin went through before he himself did.

    “Good luck,” Ross uttered lowly, his Riolu jumping off his shoulder to prepare for combat. Looking up, he took a deep breath as he faced his challenge, and said out loud to himself, “Let’s get started.”





    END of CHAPTER 4

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