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Thread: Web of Deception (PG-15)

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    Default Web of Deception (PG-15)

    Hey all. I'm your friendly neighborhood Cyberhamon. As you can see, I'm a recent addition to this forum. I've been a fan of Pokemon ever since the original fad over ten years ago. I mostly came here to post this fanfic, though I'll probably branch out to the rest of this forum.

    But enough about me. I have to introduce this fanfic. This is something that I've been working on for over a year, in various forms. I've spent months intricately planning out this fic. It's my magnum opus, if you will. This fic is also posted on FFN, but I figured I'd post it here too.

    About the content rating: On FFN, I rated this fic an M, to play it safe. However, I always saw it as about halfway between a T and M rating. And since this site has a rating which is literally halfway between those two, I went with that.

    This fic will contain violence, language, some amount of blood and gore (not graphic enough for an R rating), and a few minor sexual references (which are mostly confined to one chapter later in the fic; no explicit sexual content is shown).

    About this fic: This fic is a mystery fic, in a similar vein to the TV show Lost (no, I am not copying Lost; I merely drew some amount of inspiration from it). What this means is there will be many mysterious happenings, with few answers, at least in the short term. I will personally guarantee, however, that all plot-relevant mysteries and questions will be answered.

    I am NOT making this up as I go along. I have the entire fic planned out in advance. There are 121 chapters (remember that number, as it's very important to the mythology of the story), divided into 6 parts (essentially, story arcs).

    This is a Pokemon-centric fic, told from a first-person viewpoint. In Part 1, there are 13 main characters who will receive centric-chapters, as well as flashbacks of their backstories (yeah, I borrowed that idea from Lost. So sue me. Actually, please don't sue me, Darlton). Also, I've picked orchestral themes for many characters. I'll find a way to provide links to said music, and let you know how I'm doing it.

    Alright, enough of that. Let's get down to it. Remember to pay close attention to detail in this story. Nothing is ever what it seems. Reviews are appreciated. This first chapter contains sections written during different time periods, so it's not the greatest. I'm still happy with it though, but the chapters coming up after this one are better.

    DISCLAIMER: If I owned Pokemon, why the hell would I be writing fanfiction?

    Web of Deception


    Part One: Potential

    Chapter One: A Bad Feeling

    Luke's POV

    Day One

    I awoke with a start. I had no idea what woke me, since there was nothing in my immediate vicinity that could have done so. I immediately took notice, however, that I wasn't in the same place that I had gone to sleep last night. I wasn't even in the same type of terrain at all. Instead of the cool Johto woodland where I usually lived, I was in a hot tropical jungle-type area. Like the kind you'd find on an island. I stood up, trying to get my bearings. Where was I? How could I have gotten here?

    I turned on the spot where I was standing, trying to find a way out of the jungle. Sure enough, I saw an area where the trees seemed to thin out a bit, and more sunlight was streaming through. I started running towards that area, though I didn't seem to be moving at the full speed I knew I was capable of running at. There seemed to be something wrong with my right leg. Still, I pressed onward, hoping that if I could get out of the jungle, I might find some form of civilization, where I'd be able to figure out how I'd gotten here in the first place.

    Finally, I broke through the tree barrier. I had to shield my eyes from the sudden, intense glare of sunlight. Though I couldn't see yet, I could feel sand under my feet. Consistent with my initial theory of where I was. Once my eyes had adjusted, I took a look around this new area.

    I was standing on a beach, overlooking some ocean or another. It wasn't a very big beach. It seemed to be a fairly narrow, but fairly long strip of land bordering the ocean. I couldn't see any signs of civilization. Well, actually, that wasn't quite true. I couldn't see any signs of a living civilization.

    What I could see were corpses. Dozens, if not hundreds, of them, from various species of Pokemon, as well as a number of humans. I spun around on the spot. There were dead bodies everywhere! On both sides of the beach, and even floating in the water. Suddenly, I heard laughter coming from behind me.

    I whirled around to see something standing in the middle of all of the corpses, which hadn't been there just a few seconds ago. Or rather, sitting in the middle of the corpses. It was a human, with gray hair and a slight gray beard, dressed in all black. He was sitting in a high-backed wooden chair, in front a small, squarish collapsible wooden table. The table was covered by a black-and-white checkered pattern tablecloth. The man was obviously the source of the laughter; his laugh was a laugh of pure mirth. Which was not to say that it was a pleasant laugh. It wasn't pleasant at all. The man raised a glass of blood-red wine (or possibly blood itself) towards me in a toasting gesture.

    A loud thunderclap startled me. I looked up to see that the sky had gone completely black, and that a torrential downpour had started. Which made no sense, as the sky had been sunny and cloudless less than fifteen seconds ago. When I looked back down, the man and his table were gone.

    I heard a loud, animalistic roar coming from behind me. I whirled around to see that a creature had appeared down the beach from me. I could see that it was reptilian in nature. Its skin was a pure ebon black. It looked almost like a living shadow; a shadow lizard if you will. The creature roared again, and began charging toward me, opening a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, and extending wicked looking claws towards me. Panic set in, and I tried to back away from the creature in pure terror. However, I slipped and fell, and the creature began getting very close. As it started coming closer and closer to me, however, a brilliant azure blue light filled the area, and a low hum (which sounded almost electrical in nature) began nearby. As the creature drew near enough to strike, the light intensified, and the hum increased in both pitch and volume until it was deafening. And then–

    ***

    I woke up. This time, I was fairly certain that I was actually awake, given that I was in the same place I had fallen asleep. I was sweating heavily. That...was a weird dream. It wasn't my usual type of nightmare, either. Usually, my nightmares involved my father ruining my life in some way, like he always did in real life. And the last time I had checked (which was actually just a few days ago), my father was not a shadow lizard.

    It was probably just a really bizarre nightmare, brought about by a combination of a lack of good sleep (you'd think finally having some closure with my father would help me get better sleep), and the stress of having to meet with some clients tomorrow morning to discuss a new mission. Speaking of which, I'd need to be rested for that. Hopefully, I'd be able to go back to sleep without having any more dreams like that one. I laid back down on the ground and shut my eyes.

    ***

    What I was being asked to do wasn't my usual kind of job. I was not at all opposed to taking risks in my ventures, especially for the greater good of all, but this one seemed especially dangerous. I had a bad feeling about this operation. Maybe it was my natural Lucario ability to read Aura, and some higher power was telling me that this was a bad idea. Or maybe it was an aftereffect of the dream I had had last night. Or maybe my clients were in over their heads and I knew it.

    It's well known among Pokemon living in the Johto region that I make it my business to help individuals. I don't profit off of it; I consider it my duty to help those in need. Over the last few years I have done many good deeds on demand: I've helped Pokemon to escape from abusive trainers and mates, I've helped Pokemon to find homes. And yes, on occasion, I have fought Team Rocket. In case you don't know who they are, they're a human criminal organization based in the Kanto and Johto regions dedicated to making money by misusing Pokemon. But this mission was different.

    My clients, a female “shiny” Lucario named Kris, a male Delibird named Santos, and a male Raichu named Bolt, all known to have previously struck at Rocket operations, wished me to assist them in liberating the captives held at a TR research facility, and to subsequently destroy the facility. This facility was one of the largest in the region. Destroying it would harm Team Rocket greatly. Logically speaking, I could not refuse.

    So what was my problem? I had gotten such feelings before, but this one felt different. It felt to me that if I went to that facility, I would not come back.

    Then again, my feelings had been wrong before. And whether I lived or died, I would do so in service to life and the Aura.

    There was only one answer I could give.

    ***

    “Oh, yeah!” the Raichu exclaimed for the thirteenth time. “When we get there, we are gonna beat the bloody hell outta those Rockets!”

    The Raichu, Bolt, had an interesting accent, as well as a wide variety of expressions which seemed to be unusual variations on normal profanity. I believe that accent came from one of the many former colonial powers on the other side of the planet. I can't remember which one. Santos, the Delibird was much more focused on our quest, which I could appreciate. Of course, I knew that he was a much more straightforward mercenary, who hadn't been previously involved with the other two until they'd hired his services, so it's possible that that focus was more out of a desire to profit than anything else. As for Kris...the female Lucario was hard to read. Most likely, she was actively blocking my empathic probes. I could respect this. I don't much like telepaths myself. I had had a run-in with an Espeon once...I never want to meet him again, and I believe the feeling is mutual.

    “Maybe we should worry about getting to the facility first, and then worry about 'beating the bloody hell outta those Rockets,'” I suggested.

    “Alright, cool,” the Raichu said. “Yeah, we'll worry about it once we get there. We'll just keep walking on and on through the creepy woods for the time being. Terrific.”

    The path we were taking to the facility was overgrown with all sorts of vegetation. It seemed to be one of the myriad roadways across the area that had been established by human explorers in the previous century, and then abandoned once the current governments had established laws protecting Pokemon habitats. I guess that's one thing humans had going for them. Most seemed to be truly decent beings. It's just that small number of bad people caused big problems.

    The sky was rather gloomy and overcast. Come to think of it, it had been for the last couple days. A thought went through the back of my head: what if the dark sky was an omen of bad things to come? And maybe the dream was, too? I pondered the thought for a second, then dismissed it. I didn't really believe in the supernatural. I believed in the physical world, and the ties that bound it together.

    After about a half-hour's walk from the clearing where we began, we arrived at the facility. It was odd to me that the facility was built rather close to Ecruteak City. You would think that a criminal enterprise would not want their presence to be known to everyone else. Then again, if they were smart, they wouldn't mistreat Pokemon at all.

    Eventually, we reached the base. To my surprise, the front gate was open. That didn't seem like a good way to manage the security of the base. Of course, it was beneficial for us. And that's what really mattered. Yet this new sight only seemed to increase my feeling that something was very wrong here.

    ***

    Two months ago...

    I had just completed another assignment. This time, I had been tasked with dealing with a pack of hostile Houndour in the Ilex Forest. It wasn't hard for me to drive them off. The trick was to make sure they wouldn't come back later, while still trying to avoid killing them, if possible. I had managed to do this by defeating the Alpha in a fair fight, and then claiming dominance and using it to order the pack to leave and never return. The great thing about it was that if they ever caused trouble again, I'd be able to use my position of power to stop them again. That worked out rather nicely. And the person who had hired me, a Weepinbell named Adam, seemed pretty pleased too.

    “I can't thank you enough for everything you've done!” Adam exclaimed.

    “There's no need to thank me,” I said again. “Helping people is my duty.”

    “Yes, but still,” he said. “Just because someone has a duty, doesn't always mean they'll fulfill that duty.”

    I shrugged. “Maybe that says more about those people than it does about me,” Modesty is a virtue I always try to uphold.

    “No, I think it says a lot about you,” he said. “I really think you have a lot of potential.”

    Okay, that part didn't make sense. “Potential?” I repeated.

    “Indeed,” he said. “I think you're very...special.”

    Okay...either he was coming on to me, or there was more to this Weepinbell than meets the eye. “I'm not sure I'm following you,” I said carefully.

    “What I'm saying is, you're gifted with great power, and you are the type of person who would use it for the right reasons.”

    “What power? What are you talking about?”

    “What I'm saying is, I represent a...school...for very special people. People like yourself. If you choose to come with me, I can give you answers to questions you've never even dreamed of asking. All you have to do is come with me.”

    By this point, I was pretty sure that my client was completely crazy. “Come with you where?” I asked.

    “I can't tell you that. At least, not yet,” he said.

    “Well, then I guess this is goodbye,” I said brusquely, getting ready to leave as fast as I could. I turned my back and prepared to put as much distance between him and I as possible.

    “You can leave if you want,” he called after me. “But one day very soon, you're going to be called to serve whether you're ready or not. And at that time, 'no' will not be an acceptable answer.”

    I pretty much ignored him as I walked quickly towards the edge of the woods. But what he said lingered in my mind as I left. I couldn't shake the feeling that what he had said wasn't the rant of someone insane, but had real meaning. I couldn't wait for someone to hire me again so that I could push this conversation from my head. That Weepinbell was just too weird.


    ***

    My sense that something was wrong only intensified upon entering the base. The base was lit only with red lights along some walls, which I believed to be emergency lights. That meant the base's power had been knocked out. I looked over to Kris, who nodded.

    “I can't sense anyone,” she whispered.

    “Great,” the Delibird said wryly. “A dark, gloomy, abandoned, creepy building. Now all we need is thunder and lightning.”

    “I could help with that, mate,” Bolt replied mischievously.

    “Don't,” I said warningly. I needed time to be able to focus on my feelings without distractions. I guess I wasn't exactly being personable, but I've never been great at getting along with others. You can thank my father for most of that.

    We continued on into the base, though very cautiously. The feeling I had had all day was only getting stronger. Something was wrong at this base. But what? What could have happened here that was so terrible that I could sense it from a great distance away, long before I arrived here?

    This question was partially answered when we arrived at a central room filled with computers. There, it became very apparent why we had detected no living beings.

    Scattered around the room were dead Rocket grunts. Each appeared to have been killed the same way. They had each been impaled by something very precisely so as to quickly kill them. Many had pulled out Pokeballs but had died before being able to throw them. All of the Pokeballs that they had had seemed to be broken. I didn't know what that meant for the Pokemon inside. Some had drawn guns, and had been similarly killed. The thing that struck me, though, is that each grunt had a look of terror on his or her face. Like they had been facing the most terrifying sight imaginable. Judging by the injuries, that could very well have been the case.

    “Bloody hell,” Bolt muttered. “In...pretty much every sense, actually.”

    “Has anyone ever seen anything like before?” the Delibird asked, looking as if he were about to throw up. Had I eaten lunch, I could honestly have considered joining him.

    “No,” I replied. “Whoever did this had no empathy. I haven't seen many murderers, but of the few I have seen, even the most violent and hardened showed some hesitation in committing their acts. This perpetrator knew exactly what they were doing, and simply did not care.”

    “There's more to it, though,” Kris said. “Whoever did this did not spare any, which means they specifically wanted all dead. They didn't touch any computers, which means they weren't interested in any information. The corpses weren't moved, and the Pokeballs were left broken, which means they weren't interested in stealing money or Pokemon. Add to that the fact that I don't know of any living creature that can impale a dozen humans in only a few seconds all while leaving perfectly straight wounds, and these murder make no sense.”

    “Okay look, stop,” the Delibird said somewhat frantically. “I signed up for this whole thing because I thought we could make a difference, and it would come without much risk. I didn't come to hunt down some axe murderer!”

    “Axes don't make that kind of wound,” Kris replied.

    “That's even worse! We don't have a clue what's going on! I came here because-”

    “Because destiny told you to,” a calm voice came from behind us.

    Whirling around, I saw a Scyther, a green bug Pokemon with arms tipped with curved blades. Obviously, the first thought that jumped into my mind was that he had used those blades to murder the Rockets. Already, my compatriots were readying attacks to defend themselves if necessary. I was more than capable of defending myself, but I have always preferred to act with a calm mind, and resort to force only when absolutely necessary.

    I stretched out my Aura-sense to find the Scyther's Aura. What I sensed was...unusual. A sense of purpose, coupled with self-doubt. A seeming paradox, for someone to simultaneously believe in themselves and to doubt themselves. What I did not sense, though, was any echo of pain or death around the Scyther. Whoever he was, he was unconnected with the murders.

    “Wait,” I said aside to the others. I did not want them to injure a potential friend. “Who are you?” I asked of the Scyther.

    “My name's Scimitar,” he replied. He smiled. “I'm here to find you.”

    ***

    The Scyther, Scimitar, maintained that he had been led to the facility by a dream. In the dream, he claimed that he had seen that this facility was the point on which the future turned, and that he, I and the others were the ones who would decide that future. He did not elaborate further.

    I, personally, was doubtful. I had sensed that he was telling the truth, or at least what he believed was the truth. But it all seemed a bit too convenient. I know that some Psychic and Ghost Pokemon can reach a level of connection with Aura that allows them to glimpse the future. I have even heard that some can see more than brief glimpses, though I have never encountered such a thing. But I have never heard of any Psychic events of this magnitude coming to a Scyther, and unsought at that.

    I am a great advocate of free will, so I scrutinize the whole concept of a predetermined destiny. But this Scyther was the opposite. He seemed to genuinely believe that there was some higher order pulling the strings of every living being, at least in terms of major, future-altering events. He was a bit of an enigma to me.

    My companions seemed to have their own doubts.

    “Strange bugger,” said Bolt. “I wonder if he could dream me up a weather forecast?”

    “Maybe he could go to the Goldenrod Game Corner with me?” joked Santos.

    “You know, it's not real money they give out there,” Bolt said.

    I pulled Kris aside. “What do you make of him?” I asked her.

    “He's...strange,” she replied. “I don't know what his deal is, but the reading I got suggests that he's conflicted, even if his words say otherwise.”

    “That was my inference as well,” I agreed. The female Lucario was a bit of a mystery herself. While the Raichu and Delibird did not seem to stop talking, Kris had barely spoken during the whole trip. She was...attractive though, with her gold fur and everything. I pushed that thought aside. It would only lead to trouble.

    My thoughts were interrupted when a very loud roar came in the distance. The roar was very startling, for two reasons. One, it came very suddenly, and caught me off guard. But the other, far more important reason was that it was nearly identical to the roar that shadow creature made in my dream. Now, it's possible I was imagining it, but I highly doubted it. Perhaps my dream wasn't entirely random after all. Whatever the roar had come from, I had to assume it was connected with the mysterious deaths of the Rockets.

    Everyone shot to their feet. “What the bloody hell was that?!” exclaimed Bolt.

    “That's what we're gonna find out,” replied the Scyther.

    “Now hold on!” Bolt protested. “You've been here five sodding minutes! What makes you think you can decide what we do? And if you use any variation on the words 'fate' or 'destiny' in your response, I will murder you!”

    “But it is your destiny, Bolt,” It was slightly unnerving to hear the ease with which the Scyther spoke, as well as his use of Bolt's name as if he had known him for years. “Everything happens for a reason. Now, I don't know why you think you're here, but the truth is, you're here to write the future. And to know the future, one must understand the past. And if you want to do that, you're gonna need to find out what killed these men, which is probably what just roared at the top of its lungs. You can stay here if you want, but it won't make a difference. What will be, will be.”

    “I doubt it. I'm very good at staying out of trouble,” Bolt sneered.

    “'If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow, and which will not, speak,'” the Scyther said slowly.

    “Huh?” Bolt said with a confused look on his face. I recognized the quote as coming from an old human theatrical production, though I could not remember which one.

    “If you've got a better idea, or some knowledge of the future, let's hear it,” the Scyther explained. “Otherwise, I'm going to investigate.”

    No one could come up with a good objection, so we followed him. We decided to break into groups. Bolt and Santos went to a lower level of the base, where the labs were. Scimitar, Kris, and I went to explore the upper levels, where the command areas would most likely be found.

    As we walked, we passed by an increasing number of Rocket corpses, all identically killed. It worried me that such an efficient killing machine might be on the loose. Most likely, it was some Rocket experiment gone horribly wrong, as I knew of no Pokemon capable of doing this.

    We arrived at the command center of the Rocket base soon enough. Many corpses were lying around here, too. Interestingly, however, some had appeared to have been able to open fire on the entity with heavy caliber rifles, though they only succeeded in shattering the windows of the chamber. There were many bullets and shell casings lying all over the ground. The Rockets must have been so terrified of whatever they saw, that they weren't able to properly aim. Or, the killer was so fast that it simply dodged every bullet fired at it. I considered the possibility of the bullets merely bouncing off the killer, remembering the black armored scales of the creature in my dream. But that couldn't have been the case, since none of the bullets were deformed as they would have been if they had impacted on a hard surface.

    Or, there was the possibility that the Rockets were simply such bad shots that they couldn't have hit the killer no matter how much they tried. That was the way the standard soldiers for villainous groups always behaved in movies. Then again, movies were not reality.

    The computers appeared to be intact, however. I called the others' attention to them, intending to use them to get information on the experiments being done here, hoping that might shed some light on these violent acts. As I did this, however, each screen simultaneously flashed on, and white writing appeared on the black background. The writing read:

    Joseph loves you. Joseph needs you.

    I stared between the others and the monitors, confused. The writing vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, and the monitors switched off again.

    The words meant nothing to me, and clearly the others had no insight either.

    “Hey guys!” Bolt called from down the hall. He must have come back upstairs. We went out into the hallway to meet him. He came running towards us. “We found some prisoners in stasis cages; you know where they're kept sedated by some electromagnetic thingy. We also found a computer, so we went on it, but we couldn't find anything about any creepy monsters.”

    “We found computers too,” I replied slowly. “Did you happen to get a message about someone named Joseph loving and needing you?”

    Bolt looked at me as if I was crazy. “No. I got a phone call from Tyler telling me we should see other people, and that he needs me to move my stuff out of his place.”

    “Yeah, that's funny,” said Scimitar seriously. “Is the Delibird still downstairs?”

    Bolt looked shocked. “I thought he was here. I could have sworn he was right behind me coming up the stairs!”

    The question was seemingly answered when a bloodcurdling scream came from somewhere downstairs. I ran as fast as I could to the stairs. The screams kept coming. Not wanting to waste time, I took a reckless route and vaulted over the guardrail, and let myself drop all the way to the bottom of the stairwell. Had I not been part Steel type, I probably would have broken many bones.

    The screams had stopped, which I took as a bad sign. Cautiously, I peered in each room as I walked past. I knew immediately when I had found the right room.

    Santos's corpse was laying on the floor by the far wall of the room. He was badly mangled, and was barely recognizable. Rather than the neat, precise wounds of the Rocket victims, Santos's assailant had set upon him viciously and torn him to pieces. But that wasn't the worst part.

    The worst part was that someone had taken a fair amount of Santos's spilled blood, and used it to scrawl a message on the wall in huge block letters. By far the most chilling part was the message itself. It read simply:

    You're next!

    ***

    Next chapter – Chapter Two: There's No Such Things As Monsters - Bolt

    The group encounters a number of other Pokemon who have been held captive by Team Rocket. Meanwhile, someone from Kris's past reappears, a deadly creature appears, and an even greater mystery is discovered. Flashbacks center on the event that led Kris and Bolt to attack the Rocket base.

  2. #2
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    Okay, I am torn between creepy, scary, and pretty darn cool. I think I'll go with all three.

    I had had a run-in with an Espeon once...I never want to meet him again, and I believe the feeling is mutual.
    That made me laugh for some reason.

    “We found computers too,” I replied slowly. “Did you happen to get a message about someone named Joseph loving and needing you?”

    Bolt looked at me as if I was crazy. “No. I got a phone call from Tyler telling me we should see other people, and that he needs me to move my stuff out of his place.”
    Heh heh!

    Santos's corpse was laying on the floor by the far wall of the room. He was badly mangled, and was barely recognizable. Rather than the neat, precise wounds of the Rocket victims, Santos's assailant had set upon him viciously and torn him to pieces. But that wasn't the worst part.

    The worst part was that someone had taken a fair amount of Santos's spilled blood, and used it to scrawl a message on the wall in huge block letters. By far the most chilling part was the message itself. It read simply:

    You're next!
    *screeches* Holy...! You, sir, have obviously put a considerable amount of work into scaring me a little bit. Just a little! I'M NOT SCARED! I AM NOT SCARED! AHHHHHHHHHHH!

    To put all of this into a simple sentence, I like it. Chapter Two sounds pretty interesting.
    Grovyle is awesome. So is Celebi. 'Nuff said.



    BTW
    Fanfics by me! (The ones that aren't on hiatus)
    PMD2: Blind Eyes, Gazing Hearts Chapter Eight is up!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaggerThruMyHeart911 View Post
    Okay, I am torn between creepy, scary, and pretty darn cool. I think I'll go with all three.
    Well, the 'creepy' and 'scary' were intentional. I'm glad to hear that you think it's 'pretty darn cool.'


    Quote Originally Posted by DaggerThruMyHeart911 View Post
    That made me laugh for some reason.
    Yes, I tend to use a lot of humor, too. It actually works pretty well when combined with the more serious elements. I'm a big fan of the 'Mood Whiplash' and 'Mood Dissonance' tropes (yes, I am a troper). Basically, they refer to the use of imagery, dialogue, and other literary elements that stands in contrast to the overall intent of the scene. Throwing humor into a scene where there's a base full of dead people killed in a gruesome way would be an example. Rather than clashing with the other elements, it actually meshes well, heightening the effects of both the humor and the creepiness, which fleshes out the scene and keeps the reader interested.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaggerThruMyHeart911 View Post
    *screeches* Holy...! You, sir, have obviously put a considerable amount of work into scaring me a little bit. Just a little! I'M NOT SCARED! I AM NOT SCARED! AHHHHHHHHHHH!
    And, there's the part of Mood Whiplash where it snaps back to what it was before. This story delves into...just about every genre really. But at its core, it's grounded in the genres of Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. And all of those genres (esp. Thriller and Horror, obviously) can have some pretty scary stuff. So yeah, there's going to be plenty of scares along the way. Not all of them will be visceral like this; there'll be psychological horror too. Of course, the story isn't all horror. There's plenty of happy moments too. The creepiness helps enhance the mystery, but I'm not going overboard here.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaggerThruMyHeart911 View Post
    To put all of this into a simple sentence, I like it. Chapter Two sounds pretty interesting.
    Thank you for your praise. And thank you for taking the time to review. Chapter Two is already done, I'm just reformatting it a bit to post it on SPPf. Rather than being a composite of different parts written at different times, Chapter 2 was all written recently, so the overall production values are a bit higher. I should have it up soon.

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    I don't much like telepaths myself. I had had a run-in with an Espeon once...I never want to meet him again, and I believe the feeling is mutual.
    This made me laugh

    “Alright, cool,” the Raichu said. “Yeah, we'll worry about it once we get there. We'll just keep walking on and on through the creepy woods for the time being. Terrific.”
    This also made me laugh.

    “Great,” the Delibird said wryly. “A dark, gloomy, abandoned, creepy building. Now all we need is thunder and lightning.”

    “I could help with that, mate,” Bolt replied mischievously.
    Yep, this made me laugh too. I love Bolt.

    “Has anyone ever seen anything like before?” the Delibird asked
    You forgot an 'it' in there between like and before. It could also be 'this'.

    and these murder make no sense.”
    Should be 'these muders.' You forgot an s.

    You're next!
    DUN DUN DUN

    This was a wonderful first chapter. I give you my applause. It's suspenseful and kept my attention the whole time. I can't wait for the next chapter.
    I was born a Unicorn
    I could've sworn you believed in me
    Then how come all the other Unicorns are dead?



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    This made me laugh
    Yes, that seems to be a popular line.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    This also made me laugh.



    Yep, this made me laugh too. I love Bolt.
    Yes, Bolt's a comic relief character of sorts, but he's a darker sort of comic relief character. He's not just a lovable funny guy; he has serious issues. Of course, in my opinion, serious issues make characters more interesting. And unlike many comic relief characters, Bolt is a major influence on the storyline.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    You forgot an 'it' in there between like and before. It could also be 'this'.
    Yeah, there should've been a 'this.' I'll edit that and fix it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Should be 'these muders.' You forgot an s.
    I don't normally harp on people for making minor spelling mistakes, but I find it kind of ironic that you made a spelling error in your correction.

    Nevertheless, I'll correct that too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    DUN DUN DUN

    This was a wonderful first chapter. I give you my applause. It's suspenseful and kept my attention the whole time. I can't wait for the next chapter.
    Well, I'm glad you think so. The next chapter was written all in a single time period, which happens to be just a few weeks ago, so it has the benefit from the improvements I've made to my writing technique over the past couple months. It's not as exciting or suspenseful (though it gets a bit more exciting and suspenseful towards the end of the chapter), but it's got a lot of great character moments, as well as necessary exposition. I personally think it's better than chapter 1. A friend of mine who's helping me out with editing this story disagrees (he thinks it's roughly the same in quality). Either way, you should like it.

    And Chapter 2 shall be posted...right now actually.



    Chapter Two: There's No Such Things As Monsters

    Bolt's POV

    Day One

    I like using electric attacks. They have a calming effect on me. I don't buy into the whole concept that all electric Pokemon are crazy. I don't think I'm crazy. Of course, if I was crazy, I wouldn't. Hmmm...well, I suppose I'd have to be crazy to do what that blasted Scyther said. He's about two sprays short of a Hyper Potion, if you catch my meaning.

    Honestly, who would go running towards an extremely loud and nasty sounding roar? I know I wouldn't...and yet I did. Luke the Lucario seemed to think it was a good idea, so I guess I just thought I would follow his lead. I've only just met him to recruit him for this mission, but his reputation is impressive. If anyone would have a clue what the hell they're doing in this kind of situation, it would be him.

    So it came as no surprise to me that when the screams started, he was the first to respond. What did surprise me was that I was almost right behind him. I'm not courageous normally. You might think that I am based on the fact that I blow up Rocket bases for a living, but I'm not. That's more about revenge than anything else. See, I was once held in a Rocket facility not unlike this one. I only escaped due to sabotage that someone else inflicted. I'd thank them if I had any idea who they were. Maybe a disgruntled former employee, possibly in the mail division.

    Anyway, there I was, running through a deserted Rocket base filled with corpses to find out what the bloody hell was causing that Delibird to scream bloody murder. Luke, the dashing hero, apparently thought he was too cool to use stairs, and jumped all the way to the bottom. Doesn't that hurt?

    Unfortunately, neither my nerves nor my bones are made of steel, and I had to go down the old fashioned way. Naturally, the Scyther flew down, and Kris followed Luke's lead, meaning I was the last one down. I love being left behind.

    When I finally did get down, I emerged into a long hallway. I had been down this hallway just a few minutes ago. If I'd known there would be an emergency, I would've stayed. Of course, then I'd probably be dead too.

    I saw everyone congregated around a doorway. Kris looked shocked. I couldn't see the faces of the other two. I squeezed through them to see what the hubbub was about. I kinda wished I hadn't. The mutilated Delibird corpse was...rather gruesome. Now, I could've dealt with that. These things happen...I guess...and I didn't know him that well. But then I saw the message. Written-in blood, no less-in huge letters were the words, “You're next!”

    “Oh, bollocks,” I muttered.

    ***

    What was even worse was that the Delibird's death was actually much worse than those of the Rockets. Their deaths had been fairly clean and quick, but Santos's was much worse. Not sure what that meant exactly, other than the killer wanting to send us a warning of some sort. Yeah, I was pretty much clueless.

    It was a real shame about the Delibird, though. He was a mercenary Kris and I had enlisted just before this mission, so I didn't really know him that well. I kind of liked him though. He could've been a friend.

    “What are we gonna do now?” I asked.

    “I think we should go back,” Kris said sadly. “It's not safe to stay here. Whatever being killed these people is still out there.”

    The damned Scyther shook his head. “We're here for a reason. I'm sure of it. I'm willing to let myself be killed if it means that events play out the way they're supposed to.”

    I'd had enough of that.

    “Who the hell are you?!” I shouted, bringing myself closer to him so I could get in his face a bit. “You seem to think we all have death wishes. For all we know, you could be connected with these murders! Anyone ever think of that?!”

    “He isn't,” Luke said calmly. “I'm certain of it.”

    “Well I'm not! What makes you so sure he's on the level? I don't care about any of that Aura mumbo-jumbo! Some people are just that good at lying.”

    “No one can lie to the Aura,” said Luke angrily. “And that Aura 'mumbo-jumbo' is why you called me in for this mission. And it's what is going to get us out of here alive. Maybe you should stop trying to find a scapegoat, and start trying to contribute.”

    “If you're that upset with my presence, you could always remain behind,” Scimitar said surprisingly brightly. “I'm sure the killer wouldn't dare harm a sardonic Raichu.”

    Okay, on any other day, I might have deserved that. Hell, I've been beaten up for less. It's why I can't go back to Cherrygrove. But today, I was running my mouth off for a very good cause. Truthfully, I felt uneasy around the Scyther. My gut instinct told me that the Scyther was being deceitful about his reasons for being here. My gut's been wrong before, but this time...something was wrong. I'm hardly an expert, but I know from my time spent on the run when I'm being played. And I was pretty damn certain of it now.

    I wanted to get as far away from that Scyther as possible. He was bad news. But I was worried about my friends. Well, Kris was a friend. I don't know much about Luke, but I don't want to see him get hurt either. And since I was the only one with an attack super-effective against the Scyther, I decided to stay.

    “Never mind,” I grumbled. I was not admitting defeat. I was merely planning to finish the argument at a later, less threatening time.

    Scimitar did not seem concerned either way. Which concerned me, as in my experience, those who are not concerned with circumstances are those who are in control of them. I'd be keeping my eye on that Scyther.

    ***

    Three weeks ago...

    Most humans would never have guessed that Pokemon had bars. Hell, most probably didn't know they drank alcohol. But they do. Most of these establishments are run out of the numerous abandoned buildings throughout the world. The reason why humans continue to build new buildings when they don't use the ones they already have escapes me. Regardless, Kris and I were at one of these places.

    I had joined up with the female Lucario a couple months ago. We both had a common interest in working against Team Rocket. I didn't know what her beef with them was. She didn't really like to talk about her past. I could respect that; there's parts of my past I don't particularly like to talk about either. She was a good partner though; very talented, good personality. As far as I was concerned, that was good enough.

    We were in the bar to meet with a new contact who might want to hire us. He had contacted us specifically, so I guess he had heard of our work. The contact in question was a Smeargle named Adam.

    “So, what's the mission?” I asked casually, not really touching my glass of...you know what, I'm not sure what it was. Probably best not to drink it.

    “Well,” said the Smeargle, “the 'mission,' as you put it, deals with a major Team Rocket research facility near Ecruteak City. You're familiar with that area, yes?”

    “Kind of,” Kris said. “Neither of us have really done much work in that area. But I probably know enough to find the place.”

    “Good,” said Adam. “The research facility is holding quite a few captive Pokemon that need to be freed. Problem is, the facility is heavily guarded. You're gonna need more help if you plan to attack it.”

    I kind of doubted that. Kris was like a one woman army in battle. And I was...kind of good...you know...I guess.

    “And what kind of help do you think we need?” Kris asked, her eyes narrowing.

    “Well, I would suggest that you consider utilizing the services of the Lucario named Luke,” Adam said. “I trust you're familiar with him?”

    “Of course I've heard of him!” I said, starting to smile. “That guy's a legend!”

    “Legends are fairy tales designed to make someone seem better than they really are,” Adam said, a dark look creeping onto his face. To be perfectly frank, the look on his face was downright scary. It was almost demonic. But it passed almost as quickly as it appeared, and Adam started smiling broadly. “Nevertheless,” he said, as if nothing creepy had just happened, “his reputation is incredible. A strong battler, a great leader, and someone who believes it is his duty to help others at no gain to himself. There are very few people in the world like him. And none of the others with those qualities are currently operating out of the Ecruteak City area.”

    Now that was interesting. “You mean to tell us that this Luke fellow is operating out of the same area that the facility is located in?” I replied. “That's quite a coincidence, wouldn't you say?”

    Adam smiled. Unlike his previous broad grins, this smile was more of a smirk than anything else. “Are you sure it's a coincidence?” he asked, his eyes seeming to pierce into my mind as he stared at me. Man, this guy knew how to be creepy!

    “Huh?” I asked, not quite sure what he was getting at.

    “Never mind,” he said. “You'll find out soon enough. So, hire Luke. Oh, and it couldn't hurt to hire another mercenary or two either. I'm counting on you to free those Pokemon. I would say good luck, but there's no such thing. Goodbye. For now.” With that, the Smeargle vanished. He must've Sketched Teleport at some point in his life. Bloody Psychic powers.

    I don't think there was any question that that guy was effing crazy. But still, I had to hear the professional opinion.

    “What do you make of him, oh great goddess of emotion?” I said in a tone of mock awe and subservience. I did things like that because I knew it annoyed her.

    “It's odd,” she said, not bothering to play along this time. “I spent most of the time we were talking trying to get a reading on him, but...I couldn't sense anything coming from him. No thoughts, no emotions. Nothing.”

    I did not like the sound of that. “Which means?” I asked, pretty sure it meant nothing good.

    “It could just mean he's adept at shielding his mind,” she said. “But either way, I'm not sure we can trust him.”

    Remembering the evil expression I had seen on his face, I couldn't have agreed more. But then another memory came into my mind. This one was a memory of what Team Rocket had done to me. “Then what do you want to do about the base?” I asked, torn between my sense of foreboding about the Smeargle and my desire for vengeance.

    “I'm not sure we have a choice,” Kris said. “We can't just pretend we never heard about it. We have to at least investigate.”

    I hated to admit it, but she was right. We couldn't just leave innocent Pokemon to suffer at the hands of the Rockets. “We'll just have to be careful,” I said.


    ***

    After the incident, I led the others to the room where I had found the captured Pokemon. They were being held in stasis by some kind of electromagnetic...generator...thing. I had understood that part when I had looked it up on the computer. The complicated series of equations afterwards? Not so much. There was this really weird 'S' in front. That's all I know. I'm not sure how it was still running with the power knocked out. There must've been an emergency power supply somewhere.

    Unfortunately, we must have been cursed with bad luck or something, because many of the Pokemon in the cages were missing. I had counted over twenty Pokemon in cages when I was first in this room. Now, only six remained.

    “What the...?” I said in disbelief. “Where's the rest of them?! There used to be twenty!”

    “It's certainly odd. Perhaps someone came and removed them while we were busy elsewhere?” Scimitar asked thoughtfully while pacing around the area. Bloody enigmatic...I hope he trips and falls and kills himself on those stupid arm blades!

    “It's possible,” Luke said. “But who took them? And why leave these six?”

    “I'll bet the one who killed the Rockets took them,” Kris said.

    Luke shook his head. “No, it doesn't add up. There were dozens of Pokemon being kept in Pokeballs by the Rockets that the killer could have easily taken. Why ignore those and take these?”

    “No, I think she's right,” came a new voice from outside the room. This voice was gravelly and kind of weak. We all kind of clamored over to the door to see who the voice belonged to. Looking out into the hallway, I could see a Floatzel with a massive wound in his side lying on the ground in a pool of blood. A very familiar Floatzel.

    “You have got to be kidding...” I murmured. It was bad enough for me. I had only met him twice. But Kris claimed that this Floatzel had been hunting her for almost two years. She just couldn't get away from him!

    “Hey hotshot,” said the Floatzel, who I knew to be named Flow.

    “Flow,” Kris said, her eyes narrowing. She looked to be on the verge of losing her cool. I couldn't say I blamed her.

    “You two...know each other? Luke asked, seeming surprised. Of course, he wouldn't have known about their history together. Probably still wouldn't if we hadn't run into the guy.

    “He spent the last two years hunting me!” Kris yelled angrily. I had only seen her this angry a couple of times. Kris is usually very quiet, but if you're around her when she blows, then Arceus help you.

    “Hey, take it easy hotshot,” Flow said. He always calls her hotshot for some reason. “It was just a job, you know? It only ever became personal once you started escaping every time I tried to catch you. You were making me look bad; something had to be done. And even then, I was still just following orders, you know?”

    “Oh and I'm sure that's a great excuse for torturing defenseless Pokemon?!” Kris yelled. She was getting louder.

    “Oh come on. I know why you're really angry,” Flow said. “But it's been four years, you know? It's too bad about what happened to you, but you've got to move on, you know? It's not my fault your daddy was-”

    “YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, FLOW!” Kris practically roared. I glanced around nervously. Whatever killed all of these beings was still around somewhere. They had to be able to hear the racket we were making. I wasn't exactly keen on attracting its attention.

    Fortunately, Luke intervened before Kris could start snapping necks at random. “Tell me what happened here,” he said calmly.

    “And who are you, exactly?” asked Flow. Flow coughed a bit before continuing. It wasn't looking good for his odds of survival. YAY! “If you're in with Kris here, you may want to reconsider. She's dangerous.”

    “Tell me what happened here,” Luke repeated, much more forcefully this time, before Kris could respond to what Flow had said.

    “Alright, alright,” Flow said, holding his paws up in a gesture to show non-aggression. “What happened was, it was a normal day. Everyone was happy, we were all doing our patrol rounds. Then, all of a sudden, the power goes out. Backup generators came on, so the restraining field doesn't go out. Some people go to investigate. Then I start hearing screams and gunfire. Technically, I should've gone up to help out, but I chickened out. Wasn't the only one either. So we all stayed down here, hoping to hide out. But that didn't work out. This creature thing came down here really quickly and killed all of the other guys. And it got me too, but it didn't kill me for some reason.”

    “What was this creature? Describe it,” Luke said.

    “It was big. Black. Reptilian. Nasty looking teeth and claws. Mean roar, but you probably already heard that. It was practically giving off bad vibes. Like it was evil, you know?”

    “Actually, I do know,” Luke said. He didn't elaborate further. I hate being out of the loop. Luke knew something about the creature Flow was talking about. Kris was hiding something in her past. And the Scyther was...you get the idea.

    “Yeah,” Flow said. “So after it cuts me, it just leaves me here. And then it vanishes. Then, I heard talking in the room with the cages. But only one person was talking. It was weird, it made no sense. He was talking about how I was left alive because I was a potential.”

    “Potential?” Luke asked. He started staring at the wall, his eyes unfocused. Kind of like I do when I'm trying to remember something.

    “That's what the voice said,” Flow replied. “And then he said something about not taking all the Pokemon because some were potentials too.”

    “So he only took these...potentials?” Luke asked, obviously trying to figure out what was going on here, and not succeeding at it.

    “No, it was the opposite,” Flow said, shaking his head. “He said he was taking some as tribute, but leaving the others, because as potentials, the rules forbade him from touching them.”

    “What?” I asked in a flat tone. “What the hell does that mean?”

    “How would I know?” Flow asked. “He didn't really go into detail. He said that he'd be leaving the potentials behind, and that more potentials would come to free these.”

    “Wait a second,” I said. Something had clicked. “We came to this base to free the prisoners here. Did the guy who was talking mean us?”

    “Your guess is as good as mine,” Flow said.

    “Speaking of freeing the prisoners,” Scimitar said. I had nearly forgotten about him, he hadn't really been involved in the conversation. “I took a look at the control panel. Computers aren't exactly my specialty,” he waved his arm blades, which weren't exactly the precise limbs needed to use a computer, “but we seem to be locked out.”

    “It's an emergency system designed to protect the captured Pokemon in case of a breach,” Flow explained. “Frankly, whoever that guy that was walking was, he shouldn't have been able to take those cages, you know? He must've found some way to override the security locks on those cages only.”

    “You're a Rocket Pokemon,” Luke mused. “I don't suppose you know a way to override the system?”

    “There's two ways,” Flow said. “Either you have to go searching through all of the corpses trying to find someone with a security card with a level high enough to access the system...”

    “That doesn't sound very practical,” Luke said.

    “Right,” Flow said. “Which brings us to Option B.” He stopped talking abruptly. For a second, I thought he had fallen unconscious or maybe died, but then I realized he was just being dramatic. Not unheard of for him.

    “...Which is?” Luke pressed.

    Flow weakly lifted one paw up in the air and gestured down the hallway. “The panel's shielded against Pokemon attacks, in case something like this were to happen. Armory's down the hallway. Third door on the right.”

    ***

    Luke seemed to take the hint, and ran off down the hallway to investigate the armory. That left me as the only sane person in the area. Flow was bleeding, Kris was sulking, and Scimitar...was...smiling. Terrific.

    “Why are you helping us?” I asked Flow. In the few times I'd met him previously, Flow had seemed like a gung-ho Rocket Pokemon. Not the kind that you'd expect to just give away all of the secrets to undermine Rocket operations.

    “Eh,” he said. “I'm not gonna get out of this alive. The wound's too deep. Might as well let at least some people get out of here with knowledge of what really happened here. I have a feeling that something bigger's going on here, you know?”

    Honestly, I agreed with him. An attack by an unknown party, on the same day we got here, with some kind of secret knowledge about 'potentials,' whatever they were? That'd be one hell of a coincidence.

    I was stopped from responding when Luke returned returned from the armory. In his arms was an old-style pump-action shotgun. I'm not a gun expert, so I couldn't say anything about the specific make of it, but I knew that much about it. Lucario paws were fairly flexible, so despite not having human-like digits, they were actually one of the few Pokemon species that could use guns effectively. Having some level of Psychic powers probably didn't hurt, either. I could probably flex my paw enough to do that if I really needed to, but I wouldn't have anywhere near the natural talent that Luke seemed to have. I mean, he was just marching in and taking charge.

    Luke marched right into the room where the prisoners were being held. He walked right towards the control panel for the cages, stopped a short distance away, primed the shotgun, and blasted the panel. The panel started sparking electricity everywhere, and the lights on both the control panel and cages flickered and then went out.

    Luke put the shotgun down on the ground and went over to investigate the cages and get the captive Pokemon out of there. Kris and I followed suit. And the Scyther...didn't seem that interested actually, which was odd, because a few moments ago, he had been all about getting them out. Eh, it didn't matter; we had things well at hand.

    The first cage Luke opened was a moderately sized one. He reached inside, and pulled out a Weavile. He laid the Weavile down on the floor. The Weavile was unconscious, probably still under the effects of whatever was keeping him sedated. Kris opened another cage and pulled out an Infernape, who was pretty much the same story.

    My turn. I went over to a fairly large cage, and struggled to pull out something serpentine. I gave it a good yank, and finally got it out. Unfortunately, the weight of the creature inside knocked me off balance, and I fell to the floor, with the Pokemon landing on top of me, pinning me to the ground. As I struggled to breathe, I noticed that the Pokemon I pulled out was a Milotic. Typical. They get the average sized, lightweight Pokemon, and I get the twenty foot long, 300 pound bloody sea serpent.

    With a good shove, I got out from under the Milotic. Gasping for breath, I struggled to my feet.

    “Damn, that Munchlax was heavy!” Kris exclaimed, having, as you might have guessed, just pulled out a fairly heavy Munchlax.

    “I'm fine,” I said. “Bolt's fine, by the way. Thanks for asking.”

    Kris and Luke got the last two cages open, and pulled out an Espeon and Glaceon. They stopped to take a rest while planning what to do next.

    “No, seriously, I'm fine. Just a broken rib or two.”

    I was interrupted from continuing when the Infernape started stirring. He sat up slowly, clearly still lethargic from the aftereffects of being sedated. Taking a look around, he noticed us.

    “What happened?” he asked in a very confused tone.

    ***

    We explained the situation to the Infernape. Unfortunately, we then had to repeat ourselves several times, as the others started to wake up.

    While the Pokemon were recovering, we managed to at least get their names out of them. The Infernape was a male named Pyrus. The Weavile was a male named Darkice. The Munchlax was a male named Tuck. The Milotic was a female named Aphrodite. The Espeon and Glaceon seemed to be siblings, and were a male named Psyche and a female named Winter respectively.

    The former captives were all still a bit dazed, but they were starting to come out of it. Pyrus was investigating some of the corpses, presumably looking for more clues about the creature that did this. The Weavile was also investigating corpses, though his investigation seemed to be more focused on going through their clothing.

    The others were less active, mostly staying in the center of the room where they had woken up in the first place. Luke and Kris were talking to each other in a corner, probably trying to decide what to do next. Scimitar was standing aloof, observing everyone else. Being the only person out of the four rescuers who actually seemed to have any level of proper social skills, I decided to become the emissary of good will towards these new people, and try and break the proverbial ice a bit.

    I first approached the Infernape. He was still busy examining the killing wounds on the body of one of the Rocket grunts.

    “You find anything?” I asked, trying to sound casual. The Infernape glanced up, looking a little surprised at first.

    “Well, I can say that this wound wasn't made by any type of creature or weapon I've ever seen,” he said. “But I'm fairly certain these wounds are claw marks of some kind.”

    “How do you know so much about all that?” I asked. I'd like to think I have a fair amount of experience in the world, but I couldn't tell all that just by looking at a wound for a few seconds.

    “I spent the last few years before being captured by Team Rocket traveling the world. I became very familiar with many of the various species around the world,” he replied.

    “A world traveler, huh?” I asked, impressed. “That's awesome, mate. I'm Bolt, by the way.” I said, extending my paw.

    The Infernape clasped my paw in his hand and shook it. “It's nice to meet you, Bolt,” he said. “I'm Pyrus. But of course, I already said that.”

    “That you did,” I said, feeling a little awkward. “Uh, listen,” I said, in a more serious tone. “There was a Rocket Pokemon that survived the attack. He talked about some kind of nasty creature that no one's ever seen before. So that may be why you've never seen anything like it,” I said.

    “I see,” Pyrus said, in a calm tone, as if he was contemplating something. “Where is this Rocket Pokemon?”

    “He's out in the hall,” I said, pointing in that direction. Pyrus moved out into the hallway, presumably to question Flow about the creature. I looked around, trying to see who I should pester next in my self-appointed duty as a public relations officer of sorts. I decided on the Weavile, since he was the most alert of the rest of them.

    I walked over to him. He was still rummaging through the pockets of a dead Rocket. I guess he was looking for anything useful. “Yo!” I said, to get his attention. His reply was little more than a grunt. He didn't even look up from what he was doing.

    “Uh...” I said, not quite sure how to respond to this. “I'm Bolt.”

    “Bolt,” said the Weavile. “Now there's a creative name.”

    Okay, now that was uncalled for. “You got a problem with my name?” I asked haughtily.

    “Don't worry, it's a new experience for me, too,” the Weavile said. “Usually, I'm the one who comes up with the offensive names for people. I'm not used to having my work done for me.”

    Okay, on second thought, maybe I didn't have to talk to everyone. “Well, I'm sorry, but the genius who came up with Darkice as a name wasn't available!”

    “Yeah, but the difference is, I admit it, limey,” the Weavile said, still not looking up.

    Okay, that did it. “I'm leaving,” I said.

    Darkice sighed in relief. “Finally!”

    I instead wandered over to the Eon pair. Most Eons I'd met in the past had been pretty decent. Of course, halfway over, I realized that they were arguing over something. Which meant I was probably right about them being siblings. Or possibly mates.

    “Hi there,” I said. “Am I interrupting anything, or...”

    “Yeah, you are,” the Glaceon said. “You're interrupting my brother being an *******.”

    “Ignore her,” the Espeon said. “She's just upset because I'm not giving into any of her million demands. I'm Psyche. The pain in the *** is my sister, Winter.”

    “Hey!” Winter shrieked. “Mom and Dad said you always had to be nice to me, no matter what!”

    “Yeah, they said that when you were one,” Psyche countered. “I would have to assume that they thought you might actually grow up in three years.”

    “Uh, actually, I think I'll come back later,” I kind of murmured. Those two were gonna become real annoying, real fast, if they kept that up.

    I went over to the Munchlax, instead. He seemed fairly lackadaisical. I didn't anticipate having a problem with him. He was sitting fairly close to the panel Luke had destroyed. I walked up to him and started to lean up against the destroyed console.

    “Don't do that!” the Munchlax exclaimed, catching me off guard.

    “Huh-What?” I asked, kind of confused.

    “Don't touch that panel! Just don't. It never ends well when I'm around,” the Munchlax said, quite seriously. Okay, so he was another bloody lunatic. I walked away without even bothering to try and continue the conversation. That just left the Milotic. I went over to her, but hesitated a second.

    “Um, before I try to talk to you, I'd kind of like to know if you're going to turn crazy at any point in our conversation,” I said.

    The Milotic looked at me. She was gorgeous, in a weird, fish-like sort of way. But then, that wasn't all that surprising for a member of what was known as the most beautiful species of Pokemon in existence.

    “Uh...I don't think I am,” she said, sounding a little nervous. Come to think of it, I was probably the one who seemed crazy this time around.

    “I'm Bolt,” I said, hoping that would break the awkwardness a bit. I considered extending my paw for a paw shake, but then I realized that she didn't have really have anything except her tail to respond with, and I didn't want to risk accidentally electrocuting her. That tends to taint one's first impression of you.

    “Aphrodite,” she replied, smiling. Well, at least she didn't try to murder me or anything.

    “Sorry about that,” I said. “It's just that everyone else around her seems to belong in an asylum, so I just wanted to check and make sure...” I trailed off.

    “It's fine,” she said. “There's certainly some colorful characters around here.”

    “Yeah, lunatics, every one of them.”

    “Uh, before we go any further with this,” she said, “I just want to thank you for rescuing us.”

    “Don't thank us yet,” I replied, “We still have to get out of here. Hopefully, we won't run into any monsters on the way out.”

    “There's no such things as monsters,” came a voice from behind me. I recognized it as the Scyther's.

    “Oh yeah?” I challenged. “And what killed all of these people then?”

    “Some sort of unheard of creature, presumably,” Scimitar said. “I'm just saying, there's probably some explanation for what it is and why it killed these people. I highly doubt it just came out of nowhere for no reason.”

    Well, he had a fair point. I had assumed that it was some sort of escaped Rocket experimental hybrid creation. Flow didn't seem to have any knowledge of it, but it may have just been above his pay grade.

    “Like what?” I asked. Unlike most of my previous exchanges with the Scyther, this question was a serious question, and not a pointed statement.

    He shrugged. “You tell me.”

    Okay, that kind of thing was still annoying. Fortunately, I was spared from having to respond by Luke coming out in front of everyone to make some sort of announcement. He and Kris must've decided on something. I hated being left out of the loop, but I was never great at this kind of stuff anyway.

    “Okay, listen up,” he said in a commanding tone. “We came here to get you all out of here, and we're still going to do that. Now, there's still some kind of creature out there. We don't know what it is, but we know it killed a whole base full of Rockets without hesitation. You're all welcome to go your separate ways and take any route out of the base, and go where you will. But I think it'll be a lot safer for all of us if we all stick together, at least for now.”

    “And who the hell put you in charge?” asked the Weavile from the back of the room.

    “I did,” Luke said. “I don't want to be, but I think it's best, at least for the moment. But if you'd like, we can vote. Who here wants to come with me?”

    Kris and I both raised our paws. Scimitar raised a blade. Pyrus raised a hand; I hadn't seen him come back into the room, but I guess he had heard the discussion. The Munchlax, Tuck, also raised a paw, as did Psyche. Aphrodite gave a sort of flip of her tail. That left Winter and Darkice as the only dissenters.

    “You're not coming, Winter?” asked Psyche in a very surprised tone.

    “I don't think we should go with them,” she said. “We'll be fine on our own.”

    “Well, I'm going with them,” Psyche replied. “So, if you don't want to go with us, you're on your own.”

    Winter kind of paled at that. “Uh...on second thought...” She raised a paw.

    “Yeah, that's what I thought,” said Psyche.

    That only left Darkice. Everyone looked back towards the Weavile. “Well?” said Luke.

    The Weavile smirked. “Alright, fine,” he said. “I'm in, boss.”

    “What about Flow?” Kris asked. I was kind of surprised that she would care about what happened to him, since he had been chasing her for such a long time. I guess she just didn't want to leave anyone to suffer a slow and painful death.

    “I took a look at his injuries,” Pyrus said. “It's...not good. The attack missed his organs, but he's lost a lot of blood. I don't think he's going to make it.”

    Kris walked out the door and back over to where Flow was lying. He had shifted somewhat; probably by Pyrus in order to attempt to examine and treat his wound. Kris walked all the way over to Flow and knelt down beside him. Flow turned his head to look at her.

    “Well, it looks like you win hotshot,” Flow said. “I guess there's just one thing left for you to do.”

    “What's that?” Kris asked.

    “You know what I mean,” Flow said. “It's gonna be a long and painful journey for me. One that I'd rather not take. I want you to kill me.”

    “What?” Kris asked, startled. “No! I can't do that!”

    “Sure you can,” Flow said. “It wouldn't be the first time. Just do it. Just charge up your strongest-”

    Flow was interrupted from continuing by a loud noise, which I recognized as a gunshot. A bullet hole had appeared in the center of Flow's forehead, killing him instantly. I turned around to see Darkice gripping a handgun in his claws, which was still smoking.

    “Now can we get out of here?” Darkice asked sardonically.

    ***

    Luke decided that we should take a different route out of the base. He had seen a blueprint of the base while he was in the armory. On that, he had seen that this bottom level went around to a loading dock and container storage area, where there was a back gate out of the base. It was a much shorter walk than trying to go all the way back to the front of the base. A shorter walk also meant that we were less likely to encounter the creature. Which was a good thing, as the message telling us that we were next was still fresh in my mind.

    It was odd though, now that I thought about it. The message said 'You're next!' over a dead body. That would seem to imply that we were going to be the next ones to die. Yet, Flow said that someone who was talking in the base had said that the creature couldn't kill 'potentials,' and that more 'potentials' would be coming to the base. Now, since we were the only other people who had come to the base, I had to assume he meant us. But if he did mean us, then wouldn't that mean that the creature couldn't kill us, therefore making us not be the next ones to die? Or was I misinterpreting everything? Either way, this was giving me a major headache.

    Luke and Kris had been angry over Darkice killing Flow, but there wasn't much that could be done. It was technically a mercy killing of sorts. Still, nobody trusted him with the gun, which he must've picked up from one of the Rockets he had searched. Luke took charge of the gun and put it in a leg holster he found. Luke was probably the most trustworthy out of all of us, so nobody except Darkice had a real objection to this

    We reached the loading dock without further incident. It was essentially a giant garage packed with all sorts of automobiles (mostly trucks) and a whole lot of shipping containers. On the other side of the room was a massive steel door which presumably retracted to allow the trucks to get in and out. The whole place was lit with a number of lights that gave the whole place an orange glow of sorts.

    I suddenly realized a problem with this plan.

    “Uh, Luke?” I called.

    “What is it?” he called back.

    “How are we going to get the door open?” I asked. “The power's knocked out. The door isn't gonna open automatically, and it's too heavy to lift.”

    “I know. That's why we brought a portable power supply,” he said, pointing at me.

    “Oh, you have got to be kidding me!” I muttered. Terrific. I certainly could power the door by myself, but that kind of thing is exhausting. You know, one day, I hope someone actually appreciates everything I do.

    “Right,” I said, but was suddenly distracted by a skittering sound to my right. I looked in that direction, and I thought I saw an indeterminate shape move behind a container. I stopped walking, trying to see if I could see anything out of the ordinary.

    I was spared the trouble by a sudden crashing sound as the container I had seen the shape near was completely obliterated by some kind of explosive attack. In its place, I saw a completely alien site. It was a reptile about ten feet tall, which was covered in jet black scales which looked almost like armor. It had long claws and a wide mouth of nasty teeth. Had it not been for the glowing red eyes, it would have looked almost like a living shadow.

    Well, we found our killer. The creature almost perfectly matched the one that Flow had described. And it was looking at us. Not good. The creature roared; the roar was much louder and more terrifying up close than it had been from far in the distance. The creature started charging at us.

    “RUN! Luke shouted. I couldn't have agreed more. Everyone scattered, running in different directions. That'd make it harder for it to get all of us. Unfortunately, the creature was quite fast. Luke and I ran down a gap between two containers. But the creature was right behind us. It couldn't fit in this gap, but that didn't matter, as it swiped one of the containers aside and continued its charge.

    Everyone seemed to be panicking. The space we were in was pretty big, but the creature could close the distance quickly. Sooner or later, it was going to get one of us. Our only hope was getting the door open.

    I ran out into one of the wide aisles between rows of containers, hoping to use it to get to the door and get it open. Unfortunately, this attracted the attention of the creature, which also came running down the aisle. And it was a whole lot faster than I was. It started gaining on me. A few ranged attacks got launched at the creature from the left. I recognized them as coming from Kris, who was very skilled with special attacks. To my surprise, however, they sailed right through the creature, as though it wasn't even there. They should have connected, but they...just kept going. Nevertheless, it did distract the creature long enough for me to make it to the door. But then the creature was right behind me again. I didn't even have enough time to find the control panel and energize the door. The creature was right on top of me!

    But then, the creature stopped short, before it could attack me. It turned its whole head towards the right side of the room, and tilted it slightly up. It stayed like that for a few seconds, as though it was listening to something coming from that direction.

    Then something even crazier happened. The creature dissolved. I mean literally, its whole body started disappearing, and particles coming from where its body had been quickly began vanishing through the ceiling in clumps, one clump of particles at a time.

    The others from the group started coming out of their hiding places and stared in amazement at where the lizard had been.

    “Whoa,” said Tuck, as though in awe.

    “Dammit!” said Darkice in pure amazement.

    Even I got a turn to say something. “What the hell was that about?” I asked rhetorically.

    ***

    After the lizard was gone, we were all kind of on edge, worrying it might come back and kill us all. But it didn't. I got the door powered and working, and we got it open, leading out into the familiar Johto woodland. The former captives seemed especially happy to be able to get out into the wild. I couldn't say I blamed them. I know that's how I was like after I escaped from the Rockets.

    By the time we got out of the base, it was nearly night. The sun had pretty much gone down, but it wasn't fully dark out yet. I'd guess it was around 7:30 at night. I looked at the others to see how they were celebrating their freedom. Winter was running enthusiastically all over the place. Psyche was far more reserved, though he was still clearly happy. Pyrus had closed his eyes and was breathing in the fresh air. Tuck was...you know, I'm not exactly sure what he was doing. It's difficult to describe. Aphrodite was...kind of...slithering...over the ground, presumably looking for a place with water. I knew that certain water Pokemon like her species could survive indefinitely out of the water, but that they still preferred being near a major water source. Darkice was the only one who didn't seem happy. He seemed glad to be free again, but he looked like he was still brooding over something.

    Since it was getting late, Luke made the decision that we should all find a safe place to sleep for the night, and then go to Ecruteak City in the morning, where we could all go our separate ways, if we wished. No one disagreed with him, though Darkice seemed a bit halfhearted about it. Personally, I was going to be sticking around. Santos was murdered, as were close to a hundred other humans, and possibly even more Pokemon. I wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery, and figure out exactly what had happened at that base and why. For the time being though, I was exhausted. I needed to rest.

    We soon found the perfect place. It was a fairly open field, with a river and the treeline for the forest at our backs. Everyone laid down on the ground to sleep. Except for Aphrodite; she was in the river. I guess this place worked out nicely for everyone. Pyrus was careful to control his flames so as not to set the grass on fire, which was a fairly courteous thing to do. I found a nice spot, and laid down. I fell asleep almost immediately.

    ***

    Day Two


    I woke up sometime after sunrise. Luke and Scimitar were up ahead of me. The others soon awoke. We hadn't gone looking for food, but there'd be plenty of that in Ecruteak. We all started to get going towards Ecruteak City. It wasn't a long trip at all.

    Within a half hour, we were near the top of a cliff face that I knew overlooked Ecruteak. It was a quick way into the city, though only Pokemon could take it without needing special climbing equipment.

    Now, I wish I could say that, after arriving at the cliff, we went down into the city, everyone went their separate ways, and we all lived happily ever after, end of story, goodbye, the end. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be. We got to the top of the cliff, from which we could descend into Ecruteak City. There was just one huge, very glaring problem.

    Ecruteak City was gone.

    “What the-” said Luke. This was the first time I had heard him not seem calm. “Where's Ecruteak?!”

    “Are you sure we're in the right place?” Psyche asked, clearly starting to feel a bit anxious. I wish I could say I wasn't starting to join him.

    “I've been living here for a long time,” Luke said. “I'm sure.”

    “Then where's the city?” Aphrodite asked the obvious question.

    “Could it have been destroyed?” Kris asked.

    “No,” Pyrus shook his head. “If it had been destroyed, there would be wreckage left behind. Even if a nuclear weapon vaporized all of the city, there'd still be a huge crater left in the ground. But here...it's almost like the city never existed.”

    “How is that possible?” Psyche asked.

    Now, I'd like to believe that I had been fairly calm and rational up till that point. But with this new revelation, seeing a city I'd been to several times, as late as two days ago, just having disappeared into thin air, I kinda lost it.

    “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON?!” I yelled

    ***

    Next chapter – Chapter Three: Tabula Rasa – Kris & Luke

    In the wake of their discovery, the group tries to decide what course of action to take next. Tensions begin to rise as the group realizes that they'll need to rely on each other in order to survive. Meanwhile, Luke comes across a mysterious man, as well as an interesting landmark. Flashbacks center on the events that led to Kris meeting Bolt.

  6. #6
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    I don't normally harp on people for making minor spelling mistakes, but I find it kind of ironic that you made a spelling error in your correction.

    Nevertheless, I'll correct that too.
    XD My bad. That's embarrassing.

    Unfortunately, neither my nerves nor my bones are made of steel, and I had to go down the old fashioned way. Naturally, the Scyther flew down, and Kris followed Luke's lead, meaning I was the last one down. I love being left behind.
    This made me laugh.

    He must've Sketched Teleport at some point in his life. Bloody Psychic powers.
    Again. I love Bolt.

    “You two...know each other?
    You forgot to end your quote here (and I apologize if this seems nit-picky but it bothers me).

    “No, seriously, I'm fine. Just a broken rib or two.”
    Lol.

    “Now can we get out of here?” Darkice asked sardonically.

    AHHHHH! OMG that scared the crap out of me. I know I was reading it, but the vision was terrible and very sudden! Ahhhh! D=

    Either way, this was giving me a major headache.
    Me too, Bolt. Me too.

    The creature started charging at us.
    Ok, I was reading this during school and the bell rang right after I read that sentence and I was like "NO! I have to keep reading!" but I had to get to my next class. Oh, the suspense!

    Even I got a turn to say something. “What the hell was that about?” I asked rhetorically.
    Bolt always seems to be thinking the exact same thing as me. Maybe that's why I find this type of humor so funny.

    We hadn't gone looking for food, but there'd be plenty of that in Ecruteak. We all started to get going towards Ecruteak City. It wasn't a long trip at all.

    Within a half hour, we were near the top of a cliff face that I knew overlooked Ecruteak.
    Ok for some reason these few sentences felt weird. Maybe it was because you mentioned Ecruteak so many times, but I really can't say.


    This chapter was... amazing. I really loved it. The suspense and mystery were so good! It really kept my full attention even better than the last one.

    Now, call me stupid, but I didn't realize Luke was a Lucario. For some odd reason I thought he was a human. Yeah... I felt kinda dumb after I read into this chapter a little ways.

    And so ends my review/opinions/whatever for this chapter. I'm really enjoying this story. Keep at it! It's wonderful!
    Last edited by Unicorn; 31st March 2010 at 12:33 AM.
    I was born a Unicorn
    I could've sworn you believed in me
    Then how come all the other Unicorns are dead?



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    XD My bad. That's embarrassing.
    Eh, it's a relatively minor mistake. Still, because I'm mean, I had to point it out.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    This made me laugh.



    Again. I love Bolt.
    Well, that's good to hear. I think I've done a pretty good job writing Bolt so far, and I'm hoping that I can keep it up with the rest of the characters (esp. considering the fact that there will be many more main characters yet to be introduced). My personal favorites are Scimitar (you'll start to see why in Chapter 4) and Darkrai (as yet to be introduced, but will become prominent later on. Knowing about him ahead of time really isn't much of a spoiler).


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    You forgot to end your quote here (and I apologize if this seems nit-picky but it bothers me).
    Not a problem. I'll fix it when I'm done with this post.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    AHHHHH! OMG that scared the crap out of me. I know I was reading it, but the vision was terrible and very sudden! Ahhhh! D=
    Yeah, I wrote that in there for two reasons. One, it's plot relevant that Darkice is the one who kills Flow. And two, I wanted to show that the main characters (here emphasizing Darkice, obviously) are not necessarily 'heroes' in the strictest sense of the term. Pretty much any protagonist in this story is going to be extremely flawed. More along the lines of Byronic heroes and anti-heroes.

    In other words, while they are the 'good guys,' they are not necessarily good people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Me too, Bolt. Me too.
    Yeah, you might want to keep a bottle of Aspirin near you when reading this story. It's possibly the epitome of a Mind Screwy Kudzu Plot. That said, I promise that the plot is gonna make sense in the end (well, it makes sense to me, anyway).


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Ok, I was reading this during school and the bell rang right after I read that sentence and I was like "NO! I have to keep reading!" but I had to get to my next class. Oh, the suspense!
    Yeah, I hate when that happens. That happens to me all the time, really. "Okay, they're about to start fighting, this is gonna be so awesome - wait, oh crap, I've got a test in Psychology in five minutes!"


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Bolt always seems to be thinking the exact same thing as me. Maybe that's why I find this type of humor so funny.
    Well, the audience has to relate to someone. Other characters may have more sympathetic backstories and such, but when you need someone to ask the questions the audience is asking, it's gonna be Bolt, Tuck, or occasionally Darkice.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Ok for some reason these few sentences felt weird. Maybe it was because you mentioned Ecruteak so many times, but I really can't say.
    Hmmm...I do see what you mean. Not sure there's much I can do about it at the moment. It's a little clumsy, but it still works. If I think of a better way to say it, I'll rewrite it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    This chapter was... amazing. I really loved it. The suspense and mystery were so good! It really kept my full attention even better than the last one.
    Glad you liked it. Like I said, this chapter was written all at once, only a few weeks ago, so it had the benefit of the newer writing techniques I've learned.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    Now, call me stupid, but I didn't realize Luke was a Lucario. For some odd reason I thought he was a human. Yeah... I felt kinda dumb after I read into this chapter a little ways.
    I'm not gonna call you stupid. Sometimes it's easy to misread things. I've done it plenty of times. That said, I did mention at least once or twice in Chapter 1 that he was a Lucario. But humans can't communicate with Pokemon (at least, not yet) so that should've been a clue.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
    And so ends my review/opinions/whatever for this chapter. I'm really enjoying this story. Keep at it! It's wonderful!
    Again, glad you like it. And I'm definitely gonna 'keep at it.'

    Anyways, here's Chapter 3. This is the last of the 'pre-written' chapters previously posted on FFN. Chapter 4 is partially completed, and should be up soon, though it may take a little bit longer.



    Chapter Three: Tabula Rasa

    Kris's POV

    Day Two

    Everyone was in an uproar. A few were in an outright panic. I didn't blame them. I mean, cities don't usually just vanish without a trace, do they? Anyway, long story short, it ended up in a huge group discussion back in the field where we had slept the night before. A few hours ago, everyone had been eager to go their separate ways. Now, people were a bit more uneasy about going anywhere, much less alone.

    “I think we should seriously consider going for help,” Psyche said. “You know, go to one of the other cities, see if someone there can figure out what's going on?”

    “Oh, great idea Carnac,” Darkice said. “And what happens if they're gone too? Then we'll all be scattered all over the place, and that evil lizard thing can just pick us off.”

    “We don't even know if it's interested in us,” Psyche argued. “I mean, it could've killed us all back there, but it didn't. Maybe we don't have to worry about it. And you're worried about our safety? I didn't think you cared about us at all.”

    “I don't,” Darkice said. “You all can get yourselves killed any time you want. But the less of you there are, the more likely it is that I'll be killed too.”

    “If that's what you're worried about, then perhaps you should stop acting negative and start trying to contribute,” Pyrus said. “Because infighting is going to have the same effect.”

    “Alright, fine,” Darkice said. “Woohoo! Yay! We're all friends now. Let's sing Kumbaya and roast each other some marshmallows over a bonfire!”

    “Knock it off,” I said. I had mostly been trying to keep out of the debate until then. I don't like to talk a lot. But someone had to step in, and Luke and Scimitar seemed to have vanished. Probably off to scout the area or something.

    “Look,” I continued. “We're all in this together. If we want to figure out what's going on here and get out alive, then we can't keep jumping at everyone's throats the first chance we get.”

    “Alright, so what do we do?” asked Psyche.

    “Well, I think we should get out of the open,” Bolt said. “Now that we know that something big's going on, we should probably find a better place for shelter. I'm not sure we're safe here.”

    “Oh yeah, let's all be afraid of the evil grass,” Darkice said sarcastically “It'll rise up in the middle of the night and-”

    “Actually, that's the exact opposite of what we want to do,” Pyrus replied to Bolt, talking over Darkice. “If we're out in the open, it's harder to be ambushed, since we can see anyone coming from a distance away. It also gives us more room to maneuver, as well as more room to conduct necessary actions. Basically, if we try to hide out in the forest, we may inadvertently get ourselves killed.”

    “Huh,” Bolt said. “Never thought of it like that. Okay, so we'll stay here. Excellent.”

    “So who's in charge then?” Aphrodite asked. She had mostly kept out of the conversation. “I mean, someone has to be the leader, right? Because, look at us now. I mean, we're all just kind of doing and saying what we want right now. What happens if there's a real emergency?”

    That was a fair point. We were just barely held together as a group right now, and that was only because we were scared and didn't know what to do. We needed someone who could manage ten different people effectively without cracking under the pressure.

    “Why don't you be the leader?” Psyche asked Pyrus. “You seem to have a pretty good handle on the whole survival thing.”

    “No,” he said darkly, shaking his head. “I'm not anybody's leader.”

    “Why don't you just be the leader?” Winter asked Psyche. “You'd finally have a title to go with that inflated ego of yours.”

    “Oh, I have an ego problem?” he retorted.

    “Are you kidding me?” Darkice said. “That kid couldn't lead his way out of a paper bag.”

    “Why don't we just stick with Luke as the leader?” Bolt asked. “I mean, he did a good job getting everyone out of the Rocket base unharmed. Well, except one, but I still think he's a good guy for the job.”

    “Yeah, well, in case you hadn't noticed, he isn't around,” Darkice said. “Where the hell is he anyway?”

    ***

    Luke's POV

    Scimitar and I had left the group back at last night's campsite to go search the area for any signs of life. I didn't know how Ecruteak could've just disappeared like that. That was...mind-boggling to say the least. So we were out looking for anyone or anything that could help us figure out what had happened. I was kind of worried that the rest of the group would fight while we were gone, but this was more important at the moment. Also, it'd give me a little time to evaluate Scimitar to see if he was really on the level.

    I hadn't made any breakthroughs on figuring him out, but he certainly seemed to have a fair amount of tracking experience. He was currently examining the ground to try and find tracks of any kind to help us find some form of civilization. If we couldn't find anything here, we might have to consider trying to make it to another town nearby. Assuming those towns were still there.

    “You find anything?” I asked.

    “Not yet,” Scimitar replied. “But that doesn't mean there isn't anything here. Sometimes you have to be a bit patient.

    Well, I was staring to get a bit impatient. We were in a serious situation, which meant we needed results. I just hoped we'd be able to find something before dark. Of course, this did give me a chance to do the other thing I came out here to do. The Scyther was a bit of a mystery to me. Bolt certainly seemed to have reservations about him. I was still fairly certain that he wasn't connected to the murders, but I wasn't convinced he didn't have other ulterior motives. Getting him alone was the best way to question him.

    He must've noticed I was still staring at him. “Something on your mind?” he asked.

    Well, this was actually a great opportunity to talk to him. “I just wanted to know a bit more about you,” I said, being careful not to make the question too pointed.

    “Well, there's not much to know,” Scimitar said. “I spent the first two years of my life with a clan. Then I lived alone in the wild not all that far from here for another eight.”

    “Living in the wild, is that how you picked up tracking skills?” I pressed.

    “Trust me,” he said. “When you're living alone, cut off from everyone else for a long time, you pick up skills pretty quickly.”

    “Yeah, I suppose you would,” I said. Now came the important part. “And your visions?” I asked, trying to keep the skepticism out of my voice.

    “Vision. Singular,” he said. “I only ever had the one. It came as a dream. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same as what I told you at the base. And no, I didn't see any of this happening, if that's what you're asking. I saw that there would be important events that would affect the world, but I didn't see the events themselves. Satisfied?”

    “For now,” I said. I had been using my Aura sense to monitor him throughout the exchange. He didn't seem to have lied. I suppose a really skilled liar might be able to fool me, but in the Scyther's case, he seemed to be telling the truth. Or at least what he believed to be the truth. That brought me to another question. Not so much about the Scyther himself; I was more interested in his opinion.

    “What do you think the man who Flow said he heard meant by 'Potentials?'” I asked. This question had been in the back of my mind ever since we had left the base. I had a feeling, provided that Flow was telling the truth about what he heard, that this was the important question to figuring out what had happened at that base. It may also be connected to the disappearance of Ecruteak City, as well. That was another thing that was bugging me. How could an entire city disappear, just like that?

    “Potential is an interesting term,” Scimitar replied. “Potential is usually used to describe how much ability a given person has to perform a certain action. That definition actually goes back to the concept of Potential Energy; energy that's waiting to turn active. If I'm right about what I saw, we've all been touched by destiny. Maybe we're all just waiting for it to call us, so we can turn active.”

    Again with destiny. I didn't really believe that an overall force was governing every choice we made. Maybe there was a higher power in the universe, but I doubted that it controlled every choice we made. At the word 'touch,' however, another question came to mind.

    “Flow said the man also said something about not being able to touch Potentials,” I said. “But that Shadow Lizard impaled him, and left him to die. Obviously, that required Flow to be touched.”

    “Well, maybe the man was referring only to himself, and not that...'Shadow Lizard,'” Scimitar answered. “Or maybe he was using 'touch' in a symbolic sense, rather than a literal one.”

    Well, I suppose that made sense. The truth was, I wasn't sure how much of this was actually relevant to us. We were stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. We had other things to worry about. Once we got settled and had a stable living condition, then maybe we could worry about all of this.

    I looked up at the sky. It was still grey. That, coupled with the fact that the trees in the forest had lost their leaves, lent a certain foreboding air to the area.

    I looked back down in front of me, and did a double-take. There, standing a couple hundred feet away was a human man. He was wearing as business suit. I couldn't get a great look at his face, but I could see that he had sandy brown-blond hair. He was staring right back at me. After a few seconds of looking at each other in surprise, the man took off and started running back through the woods.

    “HEY!” I yelled and started running after him. He was pretty fast for a human, but I was certain I'd be able to overtake him. Scimitar was following right behind me. I wasn't sure who this guy was, but he might have answers about what was going on. There'd be a bit of a language barrier difficulty, but I was pretty sure I could find some way to communicate. I just had to catch him.

    ***

    Kris's POV

    The group had finally settled down. At least a little bit. I could sense that everyone was still a bit on edge, but people at least weren't arguing anymore. I noticed that most of them seemed to be sticking to themselves, though Bolt seemed to be talking to Aphrodite. He was always a fairly happy person, easy to get along with.

    I wasn't. I'm easy to get along with if you know me well, but...I don't make friends easily. I have trust problems. You can thank my father for that. Still, I always tried to be kind, even though I tended to stick to myself a lot. But I got angry easily too. I guess I still hadn't gotten over what happened to me.

    Who was I kidding? I'd never get over it.

    I wasn't sure of what to make of the others. Pyrus and Aphrodite seemed fairly decent. The Eon pair seemed to be more concerned with themselves than anyone else. Tuck was...odd. He had pretty much kept to himself throughout the whole thing. I had barely heard him speak at all.

    The one person who wasn't there was Darkice. I had seen him heading in the general direction of the Rocket base earlier. I had assumed that he was just going off for some fresh air for a few minutes, but that had been a couple hours ago. For someone who had been interested in keeping the group together, it seemed kind of odd for him to go off on his own for that long of a time.

    I decided to go and check on him both to see if was okay, and to see what he was up to. I didn't trust most people that I met, but I especially didn't trust him. He only seemed to be concerned with his own well-being. That meant he'd probably be a loose cannon if things didn't go his way. And considering how he killed Flow without hesitation, he could be pretty dangerous if someone couldn't keep him under control.

    I hiked back up towards the Rocket base. It seemed like a much longer walk this time around. I was probably tired out from everything that was happening. I hadn't slept well last night. But then, that was nothing new.

    Eventually, I reached the base. I extended my Aura sense, which confirmed that Darkice was indeed inside the base. Based on what he had started doing as soon as he woke up yesterday, I had a pretty good idea what he was doing here. I felt uncomfortable coming back in here after yesterday's events, but I ignored the feeling. I set out to retrace our steps from yesterday. I didn't have to look long. I found Darkice inside the armory Luke had entered yesterday. He seemed to be stripping the place clean, dumping all of the guns he could find into a cart of sorts that I think was intended for trash disposal.

    “What are you doing?” I called out.

    “What does it look like I'm doing?” he replied. If he was surprised to see me, he sure didn't show it. “I'm taking everything that's remotely useful out of this crapheap. Most of the stuff upstairs was all smashed up, but I still found some good stuff.”

    I walked over a bit closer, and peered into the cart. Inside were quite a few guns, including a number of handguns and rifles, as well as a few shotguns. Under those were some knives, some medical supplies and some non-perishable foods, as well as one brown sack that made some metallic clinking as I moved it.

    “What are you going to do with this stuff?” I asked. Obviously, this was all stuff that we could use as a group. If he was planning to keep all of this for himself, I'd have to step in and take it from him by force. I was fairly certain I could beat him in a battle, though I was hoping it wasn't going to come to that.

    “I'm giving it to you lot,” he replied. That was one thing I wasn't expecting him to say, considering how hostile to the group he had been previously. As a Dark type, it was a lot harder to tell if he was lying.

    “Why?” I asked, unable to resist the urge. “No offense, but you don't seem like the type to just give us all this stuff for free.”

    “I'm not,” he said. “I can't use all those guns by myself. Might as well give 'em to other people who can use all of them to protect me. And it's not for free. Look in the sack.”

    I did. Inside the sack was a wide variety of items. Most were jewelry, including rings, bracelets, watches, earrings, stuff like that. I also saw a few wallets in there.

    “As soon as I get back to someplace civilized, I can sell all that stuff off. For a bunch of thugs, they sure have some nice pieces. I could probably get quite a few grand for what's in there. So that's why I'm giving you all of that stuff. Because I've got a nice payday coming up, and you guys having all of that is gonna help make it happen.”

    I looked at him in disgust. Stealing essential supplies to survive was one thing, but taking people's prized possessions for no other reason than because you could was something else entirely.

    “You're lifting jewelry off people's corpses?” I asked in a contemptuous tone.

    “Well, you didn't seem to have a problem with us taking all the other stuff,” he argued.

    “Yeah, because we need these supplies,” I replied.

    “And I need those valuables to survive,” he said. “I don't know what kind of guy you think I am, but I'll tell you. I'm a thief. Have been my whole life. I steal things to make a living. That's what kind of guy I am. But if you'd like, don't think of it as stealing. Think of it as payment for services rendered.”

    I wasn't sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, the Rockets weren't exactly at the top of my list of people whose possessions should be respected. They had probably gotten them through illegitimate means, anyway. On the other hand, I wasn't crazy about stealing something that wasn't critical to survival. Either way, I decided to let the matter drop. I went to close up the sack, but as I did, something fell out. Looking down to see what it was, I saw a photograph on the ground. I couldn't see what the photograph was of, as it had been folded in half. Darkice also saw this, and quickly lunged downwards to pick it up before I could.

    “It's mine,” he said, without elaborating further. He took the sack out of my arms and slipped the photo in, before closing the sack up and throwing it back in the cart.

    “Since we're done talking about what kind of guy I am,” he said, as if nothing had happened, “let's talk about what kind of gal you are, goldie.” I assumed that by “goldie,” he was referring to my fur color. Normally, I was pretty sensitive about cracks against my fur color, but this time, the nickname didn't seem all that offensive. More of a comment than an insult.

    “What about me?” I asked nervously.

    “Well, that Floatzel buddy of yours said something about you killing someone. Now, maybe he was lying. But I can only think of two reasons why the Rockets would go through so much trouble to send someone out to capture you, as an individual, in particular. Either you stole something important to them, or you killed an important member. And since you seem kind of opposed to stealing, I have to assume you killed someone. So who was it?”

    Clearly, I had underestimated the Weavile. I had assumed he was just another lowlife criminal. But now it was clear that he had a fair amount of intelligence to back it up. I didn't think he would do anything to the group, as that would put his own survival at risk. But I was fairly certain now that Darkice could be quite dangerous if he wanted to be.

    “Well?” he asked, staring intently at me.

    “No one. I didn't kill anybody,” I lied. Based on the look on his face, I could tell Darkice wasn't convinced.

    “Alright, fine,” he said. “You don't have to tell. But I'm not stupid. I know your type.”

    I turned around, and began to walk towards the door. “You don't know anything about me,” I called over my shoulder.

    ***

    Four months ago...

    I had to keep running. No matter how exhausted I was, I had to keep running. I thought I had lost him, but I couldn't be sure of that. Flow was very skilled at staying out of sight, and he was very fast, which was why I needed to stay as far ahead of him as I could.

    So I kept on running through the forest I was in. It was hard though. Between all of the running I'd been doing over the last couple days, and the summer heat bearing down on me, I could barely go on. Not long after, I simply couldn't go on. I collapsed against a tree and fell to a sitting position on the ground. I silently prayed to Arceus that Flow wouldn't find me here, that he'd miss me and keep going.

    If anyone heard my prayer, it sure as hell wasn't Arceus. Flow appeared not long after I collapsed. Thanks to their physiology, Floatzel were better at covering long distances. He didn't even look tired at all.

    Flow stopped a short distance away, probably trying to judge whether I was really down, or if I was setting some kind of trap. After a few moments he seemed satisfied that I wasn't faking, and approached.

    Standing over me, he started sneering. “It's over, Hotshot,” he said. He was probably right. I only had enough strength for one attack, if that. And he'd probably dodge anyway. My best chance would be to go with him, and try and escape during the return trip.

    Before either of us could do anything, however, we were interrupted. “Uh, hi,” came a voice from behind us. The voice had a British accent to it. I think that's what they call it, although I've never actually found out where in the world Britain is. Flow turned around to see who was there, and I was able to lean past him to see that the voice had come from a Raichu standing nearby.

    “Uh, do either of you two know which way Violet City is?” he asked. “I had a map, but it was about fifty years out of date...and then it caught fire...for some reason.”

    Flow seemed taken aback by this request. “It's that way,” he said, gesturing in a direction.

    “Thanks,” the Raichu said. Then, it suddenly seemed to occur to him that a tough-looking Floatzel standing over an exhausted female Lucario seemed a bit out of place. “Uh, what's going on...” he asked, trailing off a bit.

    “I'm making an arrest,” Flow said semi-truthfully. “It's nothing you need to concern yourself with.”

    The Raichu looked suspicious about that claim. “An arrest? For who?”

    “None of your business,” Flow repeated. That was actually the worst thing he could've said. If he'd been with a police agency of some type, he wouldn't have hesitated to tell the Raichu. The fact that he didn't implied that he was working for someone who the Raichu would react badly to.

    This fact was not lost on the Raichu. “Not good enough,” he said. “Why don't you step away from her until we can sort things out, okay mate?”

    Flow tensed. I realized that he was charging up an attack of some type. I tried to shout out a warning, but it was too late. Flow launched an Ice Beam at the Raichu, who seemed to have expected this. The Raichu dodged to the side, performing a forward roll back onto his feet. The Ice Beam continued forward and impacted on a tree, freezing it solid.

    The Raichu launched an attack of his own, a Thunderbolt, at Flow. Flow jumped up in the air for an aerial dodge. The Raichu tried to redirect the Thunderbolt at Flow's new position, but Flow used Agility to make a fast, controlled lunge towards the ground. He landed not far behind the Raichu, but immediately rebounded back towards the Raichu in a Quick Attack. With Flow going so fast, the Raichu didn't have enough time to dodge. He took a hard hit from the attack, and fell to the ground not far from me. Flow made a series of quick jumps around the area to build up speed in order to charge towards the Raichu in another Quick Attack.

    This time, however, the Raichu had enough time to react. What he did next was kind of surprising to me. He charged towards Flow at a fairly high speed. As he flew towards Flow, I began to notice an electrical current of sorts surrounding him. The two finally connected. The Raichu took a minor hit to the side from the Quick Attack, but Flow took a heavy hit due to the electrical current electrocuting him. That, combined with the force of the actual charge, sent Flow flying backwards and rolling across the ground.

    I was actually fairly impressed. I had never seen an attack like that before. I had, however, heard of something like it – the Volt Tackle attack. Supposedly, only those in the Pikachu evolutionary line could learn it, and even then it was still fairly rare.

    Flow had taken heavy damage from that attack. The Raichu also looked fairly winded, even though the Quick Attack had merely sideswiped him. Neither was out yet, however.

    Flow caused a fair amount of earth material to shoot towards the Raichu. It was probably a Mud Slap. Presumably, Flow wanted to try and get a good hit in by using type advantage. It didn't work, however, as the Raichu easily dodged it. It started to rain. Presumably, one or the other used Rain Dance, as it had been a sunny day out just a few moments before. Whoever had used it was taking a risk, since both would benefit from it.

    Flow launched a Water Pulse at the Raichu. Thanks to the effects of Rain Dance, it was much larger and much faster than the ones he usually made. Still, the Raichu easily parried it with a Thunderbolt launched directly in front of him.

    This battle seemed pretty evenly matched, with the Raichu possibly a bit stronger. I would have to find a way to even the odds.

    The Raichu now used his own Agility, rebounding off a tree to try and hit Flow with a Quick Attack. However, Flow's speed was boosted thanks to the rain, and he avoided it. Just barely, though. I suddenly had an idea. I had an attack in my arsenal that would be very hard for him to dodge, though not impossible. But with him fighting the Raichu, Flow would never see it coming. I started taking in Aura energy to supplement my own. I needed to make this a big attack.

    Meanwhile, the two were now fighting at close range. They both seemed to be fighting paw to paw with Brick Break attacks. I was worried about the Raichu getting caught in the blast too, but there wasn't much I could do about it. I finally launched a fully charged Aura Sphere, which homed in on Flow. In their melee battle, the pair had ended up with Flow having his back to me and the Raichu facing me. Which was fortunate for the Raichu. When he caught sight of the Aura Sphere, his eyes widened. He immediately broke off the battle and dived out of the way down a slight embankment. Flow turned around to see what had caused this response. He also saw the Aura Sphere, but by then, it was far too late. The Aura Sphere caught Flow in the chest and exploded, throwing him quite a ways backwards. The attack had critically weakened him, but even that didn't stop his persistence. He slowly and shakily got back on his feet.

    Not for long, however. A huge lightning bolt shot down from the sky, striking Flow heavily. Flow cried out in pain and collapsed back to the ground. I'm guessing it was a Thunder attack, which was practically unavoidable in the rain. This time, he wasn't getting back up. I didn't think he was dead, but he was certainly heavily injured. He'd probably go crawling back to the nearest Rocket base for medical help as soon as he regained consciousness. Which probably wouldn't be for a while.

    Come to think of it, I wasn't doing so great either. Everything was starting to look blurry. I fell forward and collapsed into blackness.

    ***

    When I came to, I was in a different place. I was lying in the grass in an open field. There were plenty of those throughout Johto. Also, I noticed that it was night. I was feeling a lot better. I was still tired, but not to the point of exhaustion.

    “Hi, there,” the Raichu called. I rolled over to see him sitting on a stump a short distance away. “I'm Bolt, by the way.” he said.

    “Kris,” I said, sitting up. “How-”

    “After you passed out, you weren't looking so good,” Bolt said, clearly anticipating the question. “So I dragged you all the way out here, just in case that living floatation device woke up. Then you started running a bit of a fever, so I used Wish on you.” That explained why I felt so much better than I had before.

    “Wow,” I said, trying to focus. My head was a bit foggy. “Um...thank you.”

    “Yeah, no prob,” he said. Then he sat forward a bit. “So why was that Floatzel after you?”

    “He's a Team Rocket agent,” I said, hoping I wouldn't have to give away the full story. The Raichu seemed pretty trustworthy, but I had learned that the people you least expected to betray you were the ones that did. “He's after me because I raided some bases of theirs.” Which was the truth. Just not the whole truth.

    “Well, that's great to hear,” Bolt said, starting to smile. “Any enemy of Team Rocket is a friend of mine. I've raided a few bases, too.”

    “Why do you hate Team Rocket?” I asked. Might as well get as much information as I could about this guy before deciding what to do next.

    “I got captured by them once. Not pleasant at all,” he said. “They had nice restroom facilities though.”

    I stared at him.

    “It's a joke,” he said. “So what's your story? Why do you hate Team Rocket?”

    “Personal reasons,” I said, and left it at that. Bolt seemed to take the hint, because he didn't press for more information about my reasons.

    “So, uh, why's your fur gold?” Bolt asked. I started feeling anger running through me, but I tried to control it. I knew he hadn't meant anything insulting, he was just curious.

    “I was born that way,” I said in a slightly sharper tone than I had intended. Bolt didn't seem to notice that I had snapped at him, however.

    “Alright, cool. Excellent,” he said. We fell into silence for a few seconds.

    “So, you were going to Violet City?” I asked, remembering why he had initially stopped to talk to me and Flow.

    “Oh, yeah! I almost forgot! Dammit, now I can't remember which way that guy told me to go,” he said.

    “I know the way. I can take you there,” I said. “It's the least I can do for you helping me out like this.”

    “That would be excellent!” Bolt said happily. “See, everything's working out for us!”

    “So, why are you headed there anyway?” I asked out of curiosity.

    “To see my sorry excuse for a brother,” Bolt said angrily. Seeing the bewildered look on my face, he laughed. “Don't worry about it. I just need to set some things straight with him, is all. We should probably wait till morning, though. There's a lot of nasty critters that haunt the night”

    We fell silent again for a few moments.

    “I know we just met,” said Bolt, “but, uh...you hate Team Rocket, and I hate Team Rocket...maybe we could work together?”

    I wasn't sure what to say to that. I'd been alone for a long time. Almost as long as I could remember, if you counted being emotionally alone. I wasn't sure if I was ready to stop isolating myself. It'd become a part of my life.

    “Let's worry about getting to the city first,” I said finally. “Then we can worry about what happens next.”

    “Fair enough,” said Bolt. “In the morning, then.”

    “In the morning,” I agreed.


    ***

    Luke's POV

    The human was much faster than I had thought. Even Scimitar, who was flying as opposed to walking, was unable to keep up with him. Of all the humans we could have ended up chasing, why did we get the Olympic runner?

    I was still chasing him along the ground. My progress was repeatedly slowed by underbrush, roots, and other plant life. Strangely, the man didn't seem to be affected by it. He was pretty far ahead of me now, and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to catch up. Normally, I would've just used Agility to gain extra speed, but that was pretty dangerous in a forest this dense. I'd probably just end up splatting against a tree.

    Up ahead, I suddenly saw a substantial drop in the ground ahead. There must have been a fairly steep embankment ahead. Fortunately, it couldn't have been too far of a drop, as I could see trees coming up from the area below the embankment.

    The human reached the embankment ahead of me, and dropped down. Since the area opened up slightly near the embankment, I decided to use Agility now in an attempt to close the distance a bit. I practically flew over to the embankment, and jumped high into the air and plunged down to the ground below. I rolled on the ground and back to my feet, tilting my paws to skid to a stop so I could get my bearings. I couldn't see the human around anywhere. He must've found some place to hide. I glanced around the area, trying to discern which way he had gone.

    “Take a look at this,” Scimitar called from behind me. I turned around to go see what he wanted to show me, keeping my Aura sense extended so I could be aware if the human decided to run again. When I got over, however, I discovered it was a moot point.

    Scimitar had discovered the human's footprints in the mud. They laid out a short trail...and then stopped in the middle of the clearing. Just stopped. There was no place he could've hidden without leaving imprints in the mud. No trees he could've climbed. Nothing. There were no imprints in the Aura either. There should at least have been minor indications of the human's mind left over, but...there was nothing. It was almost as if he had never been here, except the footprints clearly showed that he had been.

    “Have you ever seen anything like this?” I asked, trying to figure out where the human could have gone while leaving absolutely no trace.

    “No, I haven't,” he said. “And I've seen a lot of strange things in my lifetime.”

    I was fairly tired from all of that running. I decided to take a moment to rest while figured things out.

    “Found something else,” Scimitar said, pointing to a different print on the ground. “Tauros hoofprints. They're pretty fresh. If I had to guess, I'd say they're only about two hours old.”

    “That's well after we discovered that Ecruteak was missing,” I said, interested. “Do you think we should try and find them, see if they can help us.”

    Scimitar smirked. “Tauros are incredibly unintelligent creatures. They barely qualify as semi-sentient. It's a wonder humans can train them. No, the only way they could help us is as food.”

    “Food?” I repeated, somewhat incredulous. Scimitar was probably right; Tauros probably operated mostly on instinct. But even if that were true, it still felt wrong to eat another Pokemon.

    “Sure,” he replied. “I've done it before. Humans do it all the time.” Seeing the look on my face, he added, “We're gonna need a source of protein if we're gonna try and survive in the wild for the time being. Fruit and berries can only do so much. It's them or fish, and I'm not sure how many or what type of fish live in that river back near the camp. They're our best option for the moment.”

    I hated to admit it, but he had a point. I decided to sit down on a rock for a minute and think about what to do next. If there was a human out here, and Tauros were out here too, that meant that they're might be other, more helpful creatures around here. But we couldn't just walk around randomly looking for them. We needed a plan.

    I sat down on a squarish rock jutting out of what looked like a larger rockface that was covered in ivy. But something didn't feel right. It felt too smooth. Natural rocks usually had some type of deformities in them. But this one didn't appear to. I looked down at the part that I was sitting on. It was mostly white with a little bit of grey, and looked fairly polished, despite being in nature for an indeterminate amount of time.

    This wasn't ordinary rock. This was marble. Shaped marble, like that used in the construction of many of the ancient monuments that were around today.

    “Scimitar!” I called. He came running over. “This isn't a rock, it's man-made!”

    We set to work pulling and cutting some of the ivy off of it to try and get a better look at what we had found. It became readily apparent that this was a statue of something four-legged. After a few more minutes, we had mostly uncovered it. It was probably about fifty feet tall, extending all the way up the embankment. The statue consisted of a base, and the actual sculpture. The sculpture stood on the base with slim pointed legs. The main body was equine in nature, with a tail at one end, and the neck extending from the other. What made the main body odd was a structure connected to a band around its middle that looked similar to a navigator's wheel on an old sailing ship. The statue's neck was fairly thick, and seemed to have spikes jutting out of it at places. The head was ovoid in shape, with one end extending into a wavy section, almost like a mane. On either side of the head was a triangular ear.

    I had only seen a Pokemon like that in books, paintings, things like that. I highly doubted anyone would ever get to see that Pokemon in real life, though most would know his face. It was a statue of Arceus, the supreme deity, supposed creator of everything in existence. There were many statues of Arceus around the world, many made in ancient times. And Ecruteak and other nearby areas of Johto had been the center of at least one ancient civilization, which had left behind numerous ruins, so it wasn't all that surprising that there was such a statue in the area. What was surprising, however, was how well preserved it was. It could've been built yesterday. Sure, there was plant life growing all over it, but other than that...

    “How could someone not have found this before?” I asked, not really expecting any sort of answer. “People have spent years going over the Ecruteak City area thoroughly, looking for artifacts like this.”

    “Maybe they never found it because they weren't looking for it,” Scimitar answered.

    “Neither were we,” I replied.

    “Unless we were led here,” Scimitar said. I looked at him skeptically. “Come on, don't you think it's a bit of a coincidence that we chased a man who just happened to disappear as soon as we entered a clearing with a giant statue of Arceus.”

    “Okay,” I said, playing along. “Then what exactly was the purpose in being led here?”

    “I don't know,” Scimitar said. “But I'm sure we'll figure it out. Either way, we should start heading back. It's going to get dark soon, and we're still a fair distance from camp. We can tell them about the Tauros, and we can try and organize a hunting party in the morning.”

    He was probably right; it wouldn't be a good idea to get caught out here at night. But I couldn't shake the feeling that the reason for Scimitar's abrupt decision to go back had absolutely nothing to do with the night or the Tauros.

    ***

    Kris's POV

    Along with all the other supplies we had found, we also came across some supplies that would be useful for building shelters if that became necessary. Tents, tarp, pillows, blankets, stuff like that. We had to make several trips, because there was too much stuff to fit into the cart at a given time. And then the cart got stuck in the mud on one trip, which was great. Fortunately, Pyrus saw what were doing and offered to lend a paw. With his help, we were able to carry everything we might need out into the field. By the time we got done, it was nearing nightfall. Everyone was settling down. Most were lounging around. Pyrus was piling up firewood in a pit that he seemed to have created in the center of the camp. The only one missing was Aphrodite, who I assumed was in the river. Didn't she get lonely down there? I mean, she could survive on land just fine. I was planning on going over and talking to Bolt for a while, but I was interrupted by the return of Luke and Scimitar, who had been gone for most of the day. This caught everyone's attention. The others probably would've denied it, but I think that most of them were relieved that someone was here to tell them what to do.

    “Okay, listen up,” Luke said in a commanding tone. “We didn't find anyone that could help us. In fact, we didn't find many signs of life at all. Which means we're in this for the long haul. So, whatever differences we might have, we're all gonna have to put them aside and work together. Now, I haven't given up on trying to find someone who can help, and I'm gonna keep investigating the area to see what happened to Ecruteak City, and what the hell's going on here. But we may be in danger, so we're gonna have to do this intelligently. We're gonna need a plan, and that's going to take time to develop, so we're all just gonna have to sit tight for a while.”

    “We did find signs of Tauros in the area,” Scimitar said. “They're not intelligent enough to help us, but they're a great source of food. Now, I can see that you found a bit of human food yourself, but that's not gonna last very long, and berries and other fruit can't be our only source. So, first thing tomorrow, I'm gonna gather up a team and try and go hunting for them. I've had experience hunting Tauros before, so this shouldn't be too hard.”

    “What about the city?” Winter called. Clearly, she had missed the part of Luke's speech where he had said that he didn't know what had happened, and that we were going to have to figure it out.

    “Hey, didn't you hear the man, Paris?” That was Darkice, of course. “He doesn't know anything. None of us do. So why don't you keep your yap shut from now on, cause none of us wanna hear your *****ing!”

    “Hey!” Psyche yelled angrily, rising to a standing position. “No one talks to my sister like that!”

    “You do,” Darkice pointed out. “And my statement goes for you, too.”

    Before the situation could get any more out of hand, someone whistled sharply. I was expecting it to be Luke. Or Pyrus. Or even Bolt, though he does enjoy watching fights on occasion. The whistle came from the last person I'd expected: the Munchlax, Tuck.

    “Alright, look everybody,” he said. “Look, I know we've all been through a lot. You know, with being prisoners? And then waking up, and the whole place looks like something out of one of those zombie games that humans have all those posters for? I think it's Resident Hill, or Silent Evil or something. And then there was that crazy thing that looked kind of like a Charmander. Except it was black. And bigger. And with a different body. Actually, it didn't look much like a Charmander at all, did it? But there was that, too. Even though it didn't really do anything to us. It just kind of looked mean and chased us around. And then Ecruteak City was gone, like Scotty had beamed it up, except he couldn't have, cause he's not real. What I'm trying to say is, you guys all need to chill out.”

    Everyone stared blankly at Tuck for a few seconds.

    “Well said, lard-OOF!” Darkice was interrupted mid-sentence due to being knocked out cold by a blow to the head from a heavy tree branch wielded by Bolt. Nobody seemed to have any complaints about the fact that he had done this.

    “Whoa,” said Tuck.

    Regardless of the Weavile, Tuck's speech seemed to have calmed everyone down quite a bit. Most likely, their brains were shutting down while trying to understand what the hell he had just said. Either way, everyone seemed to be a little less on-edge, and a lot more friendly towards each other. We might actually make it through the night without killing each other.

    ***

    Okay, the post was just a BIT too long, so the last section of the chapter will go in a second post.

  8. #8
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    Okay, here's the last section of Chapter 3.

    ***

    Luke pulled me aside after the discussion was over. Based on the look on his face, I guessed that he was about to tell me something important. Something he didn't feel comfortable telling anyone else. Out of all of us, he seemed to trust me the most, which those who knew my past might find ironic. Of course, given the rest of the group, I couldn't say I blamed him. Well, Bolt was alright, obviously. And Pyrus seemed to be fairly trustworthy.

    “What is it?” I asked, as we moved off to the side of the main camp.

    “I...wasn't entirely truthful when I said that we didn't find anything else out there,” he admitted.

    “What do you mean?” I asked slowly.

    Luke hesitated. “Can you keep a secret?” he asked.

    Though I didn't show it on the outside, I was laughing internally. I was probably keeping over a dozen secrets about myself and my past at that very moment. “Yes, I can,” I said calmly.

    “Good,” he said. “When we were out in the woods, we saw a man there.”

    “A man?” I asked. Did that mean that there were people around who might've escaped from Ecruteak City before its...disappearance?

    “Yes,” Luke said. “We saw him...and then he took off running, faster than any human I've ever seen. And then...” Luke trailed off.

    “What?” I pressed.

    “He disappeared,” Luke said. I looked at him in disbelief. “He was there...and then he was gone. And what's more, we followed his trail right into this clearing where we found the Tauros hoofprints. But that's still not all, cause then we found a giant ancient statue of Arceus.” Luke grinned in a combination of sheepishness and disbelief. “I know it sounds crazy, but it's the truth. And honestly, I understand it about as much as you do. I just didn't want to tell the others because I didn't want them to worry any more than they already are.”

    “I understand,” I said. We stood in silence for a few minutes.

    “They think I'm some kind of leader, don't they?” Luke asked.

    “Well, yeah,” I said. I wasn't sure what he was getting at exactly. I mean he seemed to have a good handle on it.

    “I can't be the leader,” Luke said. “I don't have what it takes. I'll just end up making a really bad decision someday, and get us all killed or something. I'm not strong enough. 'I don't have the right stuff.' That's what someone I knew used to say about me. I always hated him for it. But he was right.”

    “That's not true!” I protested. “You've done a great job so far.”

    “Yeah,” Luke said. “'So far.' So far, I've made, what, two, maybe three decisions? I can't be the leader. Find someone else.”

    “There isn't anybody else,” I said. “I can't be the leader. I'm not the type of person who can lead. Most of the others are concerned with themselves. Some of them have barely talked! And none of the ones who actually could lead want to. So, you're it. If you can't do it, we're done for. We all need you to lead.” I paused. “I need you to lead.”

    Luke seemed taken aback by this. He gazed downwards for a minute. “I'll try,” he said, finally. “I don't know if I can. But, I'll try. I'll give it my best.”

    “You're not giving yourself enough credit,” I said soothingly. “I'm sure your best will be more than enough.”

    Luke seemed a bit happier. “Let's go back,” he said, pointing back to the camp, a short distance away. I could see that Pyrus had succeeded in creating the fire he was working on earlier. The fire would provide protection, warmth, and a way for someone to find us if they were out there. I was feeling rather chilled in the autumn air, and couldn't wait to get near the fire. But there was something else I needed to do first.

    “Don't you want to know what I did?” I called after Luke.

    “I'm sorry?” he said, turning around.

    “Why I was being specially hunted for by Team Rocket?” I amended. Truthfully, I wasn't sure why I was doing this. It was almost instinctive. I guess I just felt I could trust Luke, especially after the pep talk I'd just given him.

    “It's not my business,” Luke replied. “Unless it's going to create danger for the rest of us, I don't need to know. Besides, I'm sure everyone here is keeping secrets. I know I am.”

    “Thank you,” I said. Luke shrugged, and continued back towards the camp. I felt relieved, but at the same time disappointed. It was a strange mixture. I guess, after all these years, I was getting tired of keeping it bottled up. Some secrets start to eat away at you over time. But I could wait a little longer to talk about it. Until I was really ready.

    I turned to follow Luke back to camp. As I did, I noticed Scimitar sitting on the grass a short distance away. He was gazing intently at me. I shuddered. He may have been on our side, but that didn't stop him from being creepy. I wondered if he had been staring at Luke and I the whole time, and what, if anything, he'd heard.

    I shook off the feeling, and headed back towards the camp. As I did though, I thought I saw a slight smile appear on Scimitar's face.

    ***

    Next Chapter – Chapter Four: The Wild – Scimitar & Luke

    In order to procure more food supplies for the group, Scimitar leads a group out into the forest to hunt for wild Tauros. Meanwhile, the rest of the group begins to warm up to each other, while a few members decide to hold a funerary service for a fallen comrade. Flashbacks reveal a surprising secret about Scimitar's past.
    Last edited by Cyberhamon; 4th April 2010 at 4:31 AM.

  9. #9
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    one word.Awesome!but when is the next chapter?
    also is there a link to the story on ffn?
    Last edited by Anortherguy; 11th September 2011 at 8:16 PM.
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