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Thread: Pokemon Revolution: Advent Phoenix (Rated T)

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    Well, guys, we’re finally here.

    It took fifty-eight chapters, several hundred (if not thousand!) pages, and hundreds of thousands of words – not to mention a total of about four years, but here we are.

    For those of you that are new, or might have simply forgotten, I’m EonMaster One, veteran member and fanfic writer of SPPf. This is the Pokémon Revolution Trilogy, a trilogy of fan-fics based very loosely on the game and anime worlds. All three involve original main characters as well as occasional cameos by trainers and people (mainly gym leaders) from the anime and game world of Pokémon.

    The first fan-fic I wrote, Pokémon Revolution: Johto, actually started as Pokémon: Johto Generations about five years ago. That fanfic died and was revived three years later in its present incarnation, which I saw all the way to its completion on March 22, 2007, with the posting of the 58th chapter. It would actually be a good idea for any new readers to read that fanfic first, as it is the beginning of the journey of Travis and Katrina (the main hero and heroine, respectively) and covers many questions that you would no doubt have about them if you were a new reader.

    I predict that this second part of my planned trilogy might be a bit easier for a few new readers, as the Pokémon Journey remains an integral (and necessary – though I won’t spoil anything here) part of the heroes’ adventure.

    DISCLAIMER: This fanfiction, like the entire trilogy is an AU (alternate universe) work. There are objects, characters (human and Pokémon), concepts, ideas, and events that might be based on, but do not appear in, the game, anime, or manga versions of the Pokémon World.

    Pokémon, the license and products thereof, and the 493 confirmed canon species all belong to Satoshi Tajiri...I think I spelled his name right. With the exception of the obvious canon characters, all featured characters and fan-made Pokémon belong to either myself or fellow authors here on the Serebii.net forums and the rights to use them must be obtained with the creator's permission. I do not make it a practice to lend out my human characters to very many authors as it affects and might conflict with said character's intended storyline. If I've created a fan Pokémon, however, I usually lean toward answering a request like that positively. Of course, not all fan-made Pokémon in this fanfic were created by myself. Eventually, I will finish citation of all featured fan Pokémon at the chapter of their first use, but until then, anyone who wants a fan Pokémon from this fic is going to have to ask me which ones are mine and which one's aren't - and then obtain permission from the appropriate person if they want to use them.

    Finally, this fic is rated T - intended for readers ages 13 or older. I tend to be very descriptive in Pokémon battles, but probably the bigger concern (as the worst you'll get from the former is slight descriptions of blood) is the human-on-human violence contained in the story. I try to avoid completely outlandish, horror-movie-style gore, but because of the content of this story, human beings are going to be injured, bleed, and die on many occasions. It contains some strong language (although most occurrences of strong swearwords are censored either by asterisks or by comic parenthetical comments). As for sexual content, while there are several romances within the story, each with varying degrees of physical contact, all but the most sheltered teenagers (who likely wouldn't be on a forum like this one anyway) should be able to handle it easily. There are no detailed sex scenes/lemons, but a few characters (all female, obviously) are or will be pregnant and produce offspring, at which point there's no getting around the fact that something must have happened. As for that, let me say that I wonder as to the real-world preparedness of anyone thirteen or older who has absolutely no knowledge at all on the subject.


    So, with all that said, let us begin.

    Welcome, new readers and old, to the second part of the Pokémon Revolution Trilogy:

    Pokémon Revolution: Advent Phoenix



    Chapter List:

    Return of the Phoenix Arc (Chaps. 1-8)

    Chapter 1: Landing of the Phoenix
    Chapter 2: Adversary (Part 2)
    Chapter 3: Blue Streak (Part 2) (Part 3)
    Chapter 4: Breakdown and Takedown (Part 2) (Part 3)
    Chapter 5: Pursuit of the Scarlet Shadow (Part 2)
    Chapter 6: Start of A Rocky Road (Part 2)
    Chapter 7: Return of the Phoenix (Part 2)
    Chapter 8: Onslaught from the Wood! Kenjiro's Decision (Part 2)


    Pirate Passage Arc (Chaps. 9-12)

    Chapter 9: A New Adventure! The Natus Sets Sail! (Part 2)
    Chapter 10: Backlash! The Selma's Vengeance (Part 2)
    Chapter 11: One Journey Ends (Part 2)
    Chapter 12: The Sapphire Stratagem (Part 2)


    Dewford Arc (Chaps. 13-18)

    Chapter 13: A Day On The Sands (Part 2)
    Chapter 14: Dreadnaught's Order (Part 2)
    Chapter 15: The Wise Man and the Wanderer (Part 2)
    Chapter 16: A Collage of Confrontations (Part 2)
    Chapter 17: The Art of Knuckling Down (Part 2)
    Chapter 18: At Last, Restored (Part 2)

    Mauville Arc (Chaps. 19-23)

    Chapter 19: The Eye of the Voltyger (Part 2)
    Chapter 20: Two Arrivals (Part 2)
    Chapter 21: Spare Not the Rod (Part 2)
    Chapter 22: Revolution In Flight (Part 2)
    Chapter 23: A Destiny Accepted (Part 2)

    Prelude to Battle Arc (Chaps. 24-31)

    Chapter 24: Elrik, Lord of Verdanturf (Part 2)
    Chapter 25: The Heart of Stone (Part 2)
    Chapter 26: Act Two (Part 2)
    Chapter 27: A Step Short of Oblivion (Part 2) (Part 3)
    Chapter 28: Pyrokinetic* (Part 2)
    Chapter 29: Finally, Clarity (Part 2)
    Chapter 30: The Distant Storm (Part 2)
    Chapter 31: Fire Starters (Part 2)

    First Campaign Arc (Chaps. 32-??)

    Chapter 32: The Gambit, Successful Part 2
    Chapter 33: The Good, the Brad, and the Ugly
    Chapter 34: An Angel With Broken Wings Part 2
    Chapter 35: Revenge Served Flaming
    Chapter 36: The Hatching Scheme++


    NEXT CHAPTER!
    + Tentative Chapter Name +
    ++ Confirmed Chapter Name ++

    First off, let’s set the table:

    Chapter 1: Landing of the Phoenix



    2012, Sootopolis City, Hoenn

    In Hoenn, there is a large island. On this large island sits the capital and royal citadel of Hoenn, Sootopolis. In that citadel, there is a large room. This large room belongs to King Elvanan of Hoenn. Hoenn has been known for its slight technological advantage on the countries of the continent of Albara – Johto and Kanto. On the other side of that, however, compared to the governments of Johto and Kanto, which are essentially federated republics, Hoenn’s government – a monarchy – is rather archaic. As in the vast majority of monarchies, the oldest son is to be the crown prince – and therefore become king in the event of the king’s death or permanent incapacitation. What had happened in Hoenn, therefore, was a kingdom’s worst nightmare. For, in PA (Post-Adventus, the world calendar with 1 being the first globally recognized appearance of one of the three High Legendaries – that is, Lugia, Ho-oh, and Rayquaza – to a human being) 1990, the Queen of Hoenn had given birth to twin boys. King Elvanan loved both of his young sons equally and dearly, to the point where he simply could not choose between either of them for a successor. Both sons were good young men while their father was living, but their personalities were different. One son was extremely intelligent and masterful at diplomacy and internal affairs. The other grew up to be a military genius, as well as a master swordsman in his own right.

    But one of them had to be chosen. Only one could rule, and the other would likely be shunted sideways into some sort of advisory role (though he would still be second in line to the crown in the event that the other brother died in short order, neither one having found for themselves a suitable wife, let alone borne any sons).

    In this large room – with red carpet with golden designs, was an enormous four-poster bed worthy of a king. In this bed lay the current monarch, His Royal Majesty King Elvanan. Now sixty-two years old and with his health rapidly deteriorating, he had called in three men to his chamber, sensing that the end of his life was very near. He stared blearily toward the covering over his bed, reflecting on his life. He had been doing a lot of reflecting over the last several days. Did he indeed have any regrets? Anything that he wished he could have done differently? He wished he could have told his wife that he loved her one last time before she passed in on in childbirth to his two sons. He wished that he could have better fostered the relationship between his own country and the two nations of Albara. He wished, laughing inwardly, that he could have been confident enough in the ability of his country to run without him to vacation outside of it for at least a short while. He wished...

    There was a knocking in on the door and it opened. A short, bald, and unscrupulous-looking man in his forties wearing a white collared shirt with fancy black and red trim as well as black slacks, walked into the room. His eyes, wreathed in apple-green irises, peered out from under his thick, black eyebrows, which had much more hair than his bald and rather shiny head. To complete this picture or shadiness, he bore a thin mustache and a jet-black goatee that jutted straight down from his strong chin like the edge of a sword.

    “Malachi Gorba...” the aged king groaned. “You’ve arrived...”

    “Your Majesty,” Gorba, the king’s chief advisor, replied with a respectful bow.

    “Have you...” Elvanan asked, “...brought them?”

    “Yes, sire,” Gorba said. Stepping away from the door, Gorba allowed in two young men, both wearing lordly garbs with capes, but looking altogether different. One young man watched his dying father through violet eyes behind a curtain of long, black hair. He wore two iron shoulder pads that were attached to his red cape, which trailed behind his black-and-red outfit. The other young man wore no shoulder pads. His hair was the same-length as his brother’s, but a chestnut brown. His eyes were also a significantly lighter shade of purple than the other young man’s eyes. They were rather almost lavender in their color. His outfit was a lot like his brothers with two major differences. First, not preferring the military appearance, he wore no shoulder pads with his green cape. Also, his outfit, whereas his brother’s was red and black, was green and silver. In reality, it was a bit hard to believe that these two young men were twin brothers, but there was no doubt that they were princes.

    “Father? Are you alright?” The brown-haired young man spoke with an extremely worried look on his face, stepping forward.

    “Yes, Elrik, I’m fine...” Elvanan said weakly.

    “Prince Elrik, Your Majesty...” Gorba said with a strange look on his face that looked suspiciously like a grin. “Death...is only another part of life.”

    “He’s not five years old, Malachi,” the black-haired young man said, looking askance at his father’s chief advisor. “He can handle it.”

    “Gorba...” groaned King Elvanan. “I have a question.”

    “Yes, my king?” Gorba said.

    “Who would you have?” Elvanan asked weakly. “To rule over you...who would you have?”

    “It depends...” Gorba sighed. “Your Majesty...Your Majesty!!”

    For Elvanan had seemingly stopped speaking mid-sentence. Gorba ran over to the king’s bedside, as did the two princes. The king of Hoenn had ceased to speak...

    Ceased to breathe...

    Ceased to live.

    Righting himself, Malachi Gorba turned around to the two princes, and said four words that would change the fate of a kingdom.

    “The king...is dead.”


    It had been a week since the king’s death. The castle had been locked down, and no one was allowed in or out. A necessary measure, according to Prince Edgar, until a successor was chosen. Strangely enough, it was Elrik that was quarantined in his own room by Silver Knight guardsmen. But he had figured something out – he desired no civil war, so he had made this decision.

    Prince Elrik jumped as the door to his room, which looked a lot like the king’s bedchamber except for the fact that it was smaller and had considerably more books, was opened. In stepped his twin brother, Prince Edgar, along with Gorba. Why were two guardsmen with them, though? And where did they get the black armor? The king’s soldiers usually wore silver armor. On top of that, the armor that they wore while guarding the castle in peacetime was considerably lighter. Presently, however, these soldiers were wearing their full armor, almost as if they were preparing for battle.

    “Brother, we have good news,” Edgar said loudly, walking toward Elrik, who backed off a step or two. Even as his twin brother, Elrik thought that Edgar’s very demeanor was very intimidating. “You may freely leave the castle now.”

    “I’ve come to a decision,” Elrik sighed. “For the sake of the country – to keep us out of a conflict as brothers and to keep our country from civil war...you take the throne as King.”

    “That’s where you’ve made a mistake,” Gorba muttered, appearing from behind Elrik. “You act like we are giving you a choice in the matter.”

    Elrik looked at Gorba and his own brother, and his eyes widened.



    The next several minutes had been a blur. Elrik, to this day, has no idea how he made it through the castle to the stables and then out of the castle without being at least touched by one of these new black guardsmen, who seemed to be positively popping up all over the place in the castle. Presently, he was riding his own Rapidash from the Royal Citadel with all haste. To his enormous surprise, he had been joined by two other riders. These men – both relatively important figures in Hoenn’s military – were seemingly anticipating an effective coup by Edgar. They had never truly supported Edgar, even though he was the more military-minded of the two brothers.

    “You’ve become a good rider, Your Majesty, if it is alright for me to say,” Elrik looked to his left. On the Rapidash there was a middle-aged man of almost fifty years of age. He had milk-chocolate wore a blue outfit with a white scarf that made him look rather like a nomad. His dark gray hair fell to his neck and was the exact same length all the way around, and his beard – also a graying black – was trimmed to be roughly the same length all across his chin. He was carrying what appeared to be a scimitar at his waist.

    “This isn’t the time, Sir Roald,” Elrik replied, looking dejectedly downward and seeing only the saddled neck of his Rapidash.

    “Rashid, how long to the port?” Roald asked a young man that was riding astride him and looked a lot like him. This young man (who could have passed for a boy, honestly), looked simply like Sir Roald as he would have been about twenty years ago. His youthful face, brown skin, brown eyes, and perfectly-trimmed curtain of black hair sat atop a body clothed with nearly the same clothing ensemble that his elder counterpart was dressed. One difference, however, is that his weapons of choice seemed to be twin sabers.

    “Not long now, Father,” Rashid responded.

    “Good,” Roald growled. Elrik’s worried face as he looked ahead of him caught the aged, dark-skinned warrior’s attention. Out in front of them stepped three of the black guardsmen, each about six feet tall.

    “Sir Roald...” Elrik groaned worriedly.

    “Damn!” Roald swore, drawing his scimitar. “I was hoping it wouldn’t have to come to this...”

    “Father...” Rashid sighed. He didn’t like the idea of being forced to fight fellow Hoennite soldiers. Reluctantly, he drew both of his sabers and assumed a battle position on his mount. Both of them had extremely long spears designed to forcefully dismount riders. Roald and his son had to be quick.

    “NOW!” Roald shouted. Both of the men swung their weapons around their steeds without looking while the Prince trailed behind them so as to not get caught in the crossfire. Yelling was heard as the Prince got through barely, having to dodge a pair of wayward spears as he rode past the guardsmen.

    “Did we hit anything?” Rashid asked his father.

    “I’m not looking back to f–LEFT TURN!!” Roald yelled suddenly, as they were approaching a gate that held a sharp left turn that spiraled down around a rocky cliff into a slope that led to the lowest level of the city. Sootopolis was arranged in three rings that were all mainly made into that shape by the large lake in the center of the city. There was only one level to go. As the Prince and the others emerged on this level, they realized that several guardsmen had already beaten him there and had already had designs on killing the Prince. No doubt Edgar had offered a reward for bringing him Elrik’s head. As long as Roald and his son were present, however, that reward would never be claimed. The two warriors reared back and pounced on the guardsmen with their swords, tearing a hole right through the small line. The remaining guardsmen turned and began to chase the riders.

    “They’re chasing us!” Elrik exclaimed.

    “Don’t worry, Prince, they can’t catch up with us,” Roald replied.

    “We’re going to be trapped,” Rashid groaned with a blank looked on his face. “The port. We’re going to be trapped.”

    “You give up too easily!” Roald chided his son as they (in single-file) rode through the last tunnel to the harbor. The clip-clopping of the horse Pokemon’s hooves changed in tone as the surface on which they rode changed from stone to solid wood.

    “Your Majesty!!” a shout sounded from the Prince’s far left. There were two people dressed in silver armor with red-and-white helmets. One of them was a tall, burly man carrying a great sword. He had silver-blond hair and a tough face. The other was a short, young woman who had her blonde hair arranged in two braids that hung under her red-and-white helmet. The prince, under different circumstances, would have smiled at seeing her. Behind them, the prince saw a small ship with mostly white sails and one green (that hadn’t been there before), upon which appeared to be several knights, who were dressed in their peacetime armor plating and seemed to be making preparations to cast off.

    “Good girl,” Prince Elrik sighed, petting his Rapidash as he dismounted her. His two protectors followed suit, and all three steeds were led by three different knights across the plank of wood and onto the ship.

    “We made it,” Roald groaned. “It was pretty close, though...”

    “Sir Izaak,” Prince Elrik sighed, “What’s going on here?”

    “It appears your brother has seen fit to banish you from the castle, Your Majesty,” the middle-aged knight replied.

    “I had a strange feeling it would happen,” Elrik muttered.

    “So did we. So, the day His Majesty died – rest his soul – we sent out a call to any soldiers that would be willing to support you as King,” Izaak replied.

    “We didn’t anticipate the lockdown, though,” Roald said, walking up alongside the brown-haired prince. “We wanted to get you out peacefully, but then things got a little hairy.”

    “ ‘A little hairy’? We had to fight our own soldiers!” Rashid groaned. “Who knows how many we killed on our way here...”

    “I took care not to beat them too badly,” Roald replied. “How about you?”

    “Of course I did!” Rashid exclaimed. “Several of those men were my classmates...”

    “Rashid, calm down...” the prince said in a calm tone that wouldn’t have elicited any other response. “What’s the use of this??”

    “You might have conceded the kingship to your brother,” Izaak replied, “but Gorba still sees you as a threat.”

    “So...he wishes to remove me,” Elrik sighed. “Just because I’m the only left in the Thalrair family...the only other that has royal blood. What a mess...”

    “That’s the truth,” Roald said firmly. “So, we’ve got to get you the hell off of this island and somewhere safe where Edgar can’t touch you.”

    “Why?” Elrik asked.


    “Because we want you alive!” the young woman to Izaak’s left side said rather firmly. The prince turned in her direction and caught her eye. Immediately, the woman bowed and said quickly, “Your Majesty, please forgive my disrespect...”

    “Please excuse my daughter, Your Majesty,” Izaak piped in quickly. “That was just a slip of the tongue, it won’t happen again...”

    “Ivanna,” Elrik replied, shaking his head. The young woman looked up, having registered the informal use of her name. Turning toward Izaak, he asked, “Are you asking me to stand against my own brother? Even if I was willing...”

    “Edgar might be a military genius...” Izaak started to reply. “But there’s no denying his imperialism and even his cruelty. Surely, you have seen it as well.”

    “Yes...but...” Elrik sighed.

    “There’s no time for this conversation!” Roald yelled suddenly, drawing his scimitar. When Elrik turned around, he saw several soldiers in black armor advancing toward their position. They were hemmed in. With only way off of the harbor, they had nowhere to go. Roald and his son were in front of Elrik with their weapons drawn, but they would not last long against those numbers, especially since they lacked any defensive equipment whatsoever.

    “Sire! Board the ship! Please!” Izaak pleaded, brandishing his great sword. Elrik backed onto the ship. He saw Ivanna drawing her longsword as well and shouted from the ship.

    “Ivanna! Get back onto the ship!”

    “I’ll be fine, Your Majesty!” Ivanna shouted. “Set sail!”

    “All of you, back onto the ship!” Prince Elrik shouted. “Th-that’s an order!”

    With those words, Rashid, Roald, and Ivanna pulled away from the line, leaving Izaak by himself. With a couple dozen soldiers in black armor coming toward him, Izaak did not look like he intended to budge.

    “Sir Izaak!” Prince Elrik shouted. Suddenly, he felt a lurch under him. The ship was starting to set sail as the ramp that Elrik and the others had used to board it closed and melded into the ship’s wooden railing. “Sir Izaak!”

    “I’ll hold them off here!” Izaak shouted. “Ivanna!”

    “Father!” Ivanna shouted, leaning over the railing as she watched her father slowly shrink into the distance.

    “We’ll see each other again!” Izaak shouted. “Until then, you command the Silver Knights and guard the Prince with your life!!”

    “Father!” Ivanna repeated.

    “Sir Izaak!” Elrik shouted as well.

    In a matter of seconds, the ship was out of sight, gone around the huge rock and headed for open sea. Seeing that, Izaak turned around, brandished his large sword and said to the advancing mob, “Anyone who seeks an early death, come forth! Long live the king!”


    The ship was quiet. While the rest of the people had backed away, Ivanna continued to blankly stare over the railing at absolutely nothing now but open water. After a few minutes of shocked silence, the prince approached her.

    “Ivanna,” he called. Ivanna turned around and began to bow, but the prince waved her off. “Stop that. Why are you always so formal?”

    “The proper respect must be shown to a prince,” Ivanna replied, “Your Majesty.”

    “We’ve known each other since we were small children,” Elrik replied.

    “That might be so,” Ivanna said, bowing again, “But you’re still the prince, and I am nothing but a guard.”

    “Well, it looks like I’m not a prince anymore,” Elrik commented. “And even if I were, I’m not much more than just another man who happened to be born to the Thalrair royal family.”

    “With all due respect, Your Majesty...I wish you would not say that,” Ivanna replied, facing him. “Your Majesty is gentle and virtuous, just like we wish this nation to be.”

    “Ivanna...” Elrik sighed.

    “I shall keep the promise I made to my father, and continue to guard you with my life,” Ivanna replied formally with another bow. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must see about our destination.”

    “Alright,” Elrik sighed as the blonde-haired lady knight walked off. Elrik sighed and looked over the railing at the rippling reflection of the full moon on the night-darkened waters of Hoenn. “Father...was leaving...the right thing to do?”


    Using all of the skills and agility taught to her, she sprang from tree to tree in this dense forest. Her scarlet hair trailed out behind her, and her green outfit, torn in places, continued to lose more shreds as her forest-green-clad pursuers followed her exact path, sending darts and the occasional fireball after her one by one.

    Her nearly sixteen years of memories had been a blur. Her muddled mind held very few singular and distinguishable memories, the first of which was a baptism – a sprinkling of water upon her forehead at the age of five – an age at which she could not understand the purpose. Then, immediately after that, she remembered hands...merciless and firm, hands that held down her small, completely bare body and put her head into a blanket as she felt a burning pain right under her left shoulder. She remembered flailing her legs and screaming into the blanket, wishing for either salvation or death right in that moment – but neither came...until finally, the brand was removed and her tiny, sobbing, choking, trembling frame wrapped in the blanket that had been the only containment as she had released audibly her agony.

    She had never allowed those hands – or any others – to touch her, ever again. Yes, they had tried...they had said that it was one of the ‘requirements’, and part of the ‘training’...but she had never allowed it. She grew up watching and being forced to imitate the men and women around her, all bowing to a large golden dragon in a dimly-lit room that reeked always of incense. She had been forced to watch the ‘training’ of the other girls and young women around her. No one ever said a word. She knew the Seven Sacraments...”to the return of Arceus – Faram.” She knew the ritual prayers. She knew the techniques which she had been taught – techniques that were to hasten the Appearance...by punishing heretics. She knew not joy, happiness, peace, or love. But she had heard whispers about them...whispers that drifted in from the outside world – a world she was told that she could not enter.


    Months ago, she had seen her opportunity. An orb held inside the dimly-lit room...she took it, took her weapons, and ran. She was pursued, of course...one who joins the Faith – willingly or not so – cannot simply leave, for there was always a risk that this person would ‘evangelize’ – or, perhaps the proper word was ‘expose’ – the Faith to outsiders. She had no idea how she had been so fortunate. She found a passing ship and stowed away without so much as being suspected, until she made it to the mainland. There, she drifted from place to place, hearing rumors about the deaths of kings, princes, and knights.

    But she was pursued – and had been pursued for nearly a year now...and was being pursued. She groaned as a throwing knife slashed her left arm. She dropped down from the trees, hitting the ground with a loud thud.

    Shadows passed over her head, rendered colorless and nearly invisible by the angle of sunrays filtering through the canopy of green above her. She sighed, held the grapefruit-sized, emerald-green sphere close to her, and stayed perfectly still. She looked left at her arm – trickles of blood began to drip from the wound, running down her arm, and heading for the forest ground.

    Seeing nothing to use for a wipe – at least nothing that would not make her wound worse – she lowered her open mouth to her left arm. The metallic taste was horrible, but it was a small price to pay for not leaving a trail. Looking up with a bit of blood dripping from her lip that made it look like she had been hit in the mouth, she took a deep breath, righted herself, and ran, as quietly as possible with the skills that she had mastered, west...clutching the green orb in her hands.

  2. #2
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    May 15, PA 2013

    A teenage boy took in the warm spring breeze at the sunny apex of a rolling hill overlooking a small town in the southern half of Hoenn. From here, he could see the many small buildings that comprised the residences of this town, as well as small shops and stores. At the eastern edge of the town (that was, of course, judging by the sun, which had just recently risen in Hoenn and was currently burning right into the teenage boy’s eyes as he was attempting to look down on the sight before him) was a large domed building that seemed to be attached to a reasonably large field. It was there he had to go. The fringe of his navy-blue hair, which was spiky and hung mostly around his left eyebrow, tickled his face gently as the wind played with it. The breeze died down, and the teenage boy felt a small thump on his back as his nearly-waist-length braid returned to its original position after being blown away from his head and toward the side. The two bright, sapphire-colored orbs that dotted his gentle and yet strong-looking face closed, opened, and gazed again over the land that would be his future.

    He looked down at his own clothing. His shirt was a loose-fitting button-down with short sleeves. It was mainly navy blue, like his hair, but the portion of the shirt from the bottom of the shoulders up was a bright white. Below this shirt was a pair of navy blue pants that had white stripes running the entire length of the pant leg. Under these were his navy-blue sneakers with royal-blue trim and fresh, white laces. Slung over his shoulder was a one-strap backpack, which was – big surprise...navy blue with silver trim. Around his waist was a belt with one red-and-white sphere on it and five empty slots where it appeared that five more of this same ball might go. That red ball was a Pokéball, for this youth of fourteen was a Pokémon Trainer, now on his second journey since receiving his Trainer’s License at the age of twelve, nearly exactly two years ago in the year 2011. His first journey was interrupted by extraordinary events surrounding a war against a tyrant with demonic powers. For the details of this war, which are far too numerous and cumbersome to record here, it would probably serve you best to read the first chronicle concerning this young man – as this story is his second. Also at his waist, interestingly enough, was a sword with a white sheath that seemed to be fashioned after the Eastern style of blades. This sword was his good-luck charm, in a way...as it would be far worse luck for him to perhaps need it (though he doubted that he would) and be lacking.

    “We’re finally here...” he sighed as he continued to look at the town below him. ‘Here’ was indeed the town of Littleroot in Hoenn – home of the topmost Pokémon authority in the entire nation, Dr. Bruce Birch (people in Hoenn just called him Professor Birch), as well as the starting point for many a trainer whose goal it was to participate in the Emerald Tournament in September.


    “<Whew...I have to get my legs back under me...I’m used to the feeling of being on a ship, but getting off is still a bit wobbly,>” a female voice sounded from somewhere around the boy’s ankle. The boy looked down, smiling at this lavender creature with a gem on her head and a forked tail. This Espeon had been his loyal partner since his first journey two years ago, when he had acquired her as an Eevee from Prof. Birch’s Johton counterpart, Professor Horatio (named after the famed military strategist who led Johto to victory during its war for independence over two millennia ago – but that is a story for another day) Elm. “<How are you feeling, Travis?>”

    “Actually, Angel,” the boy of fourteen replied, “I’m feeling great. The breeze works wonders for that kind of thing.”

    “<You’re higher off the ground than I am,>” Angel commented, to which Travis responded by laughing.

    Laughing...he was doing a lot more of that nowadays than he was at this time two years ago. Even before the crisis of the war, Travis had not been what you would call a laughing individual. In fact, were it not for his kindness, honesty, and unwavering sense of justice, he probably would have been a very difficult person to be around. Before that war, he was not necessarily unhappy...but if he was happy, it took a lot for him to show it. At the ripe old age of twelve, Travis had always been the consummate professional when it came to his Pokémon training and his life in general. Then the war happened. As he emerged from it, he realized that it did him no good to be constantly worried – life was too short and too uncertain.

    “You sure got up here in a hurry,” a girl’s voice rang in Travis’ ears, prompting him to turn his head. Up the hill came a girl that was fourteen years old as well – only younger than Travis by just over four months. She was wearing large shades with two tones in the lenses. These sat on her baby-blue eyes and took up a reasonable portion of her face, which was surrounded by long hair of a rose-pink color. Her tank top was mainly black and exposed her midriff. On the front of the shirt was what looked to be a pink, jagged claw mark design leading to a heart, in which was a capital ‘K’ in gothic-style lettering. On the back was the brand name “Katfight”. Her pants were white and a bit tight-fitting, and her pink sandals completed the outfit. Also with her was a small, pink bag in the same style as Travis’, in which she carried supplies. She walked around to the front of Travis as a small, black creature with red eyes, one oblong, golden ring on its head, and several of these golden rings on other spots of his body, came alongside Angel and earned a look that told him that she was happy to see him.

    “And you sure didn’t, Katrina,” Travis said with a smile. This was one of the reasons that he had learned to smile more. The teenage girl approached Travis, tilted her head up, and essentially grabbed one of his lips with her own two, letting go ever so slowly as both her lips and the boy’s then curled up into warm smiles. This was nothing new for the two fourteen-year-olds, as they had been a steady couple for approaching two years now.

    In their world of adolescent infatuations and whirlwind romances, Travis DePaul and Katrina Sasano were definitely an exception rather than a rule. Whereas most relationships that occur at their age would be based on, at best, a selfish, idealized view of the other individual, Travis and Katrina were one of the few couples (and, at their age, there were very few) that genuinely did love each other because of their virtues and despite their faults. Neither one hid anything from the other because, in their world – a world in which they had literally stared together over the rocky cliff of Despair to the yawning, bottomless pit called Death...a world in which they had stood both in Hell on Earth and the Hell found in themselves...

    In that world, only she could fully understand him, and only he could fully understand her.

    As individuals, and as a couple, they were different – set apart. Not set higher or lower, but on a parallel plane – a plane which, without seeing what they had seen, hearing what they had heard, and feeling what they had felt, no one could ever hope to reach.

    She turned around, gazing toward the city through her sunglasses, and grabbing his hand. The wind played with her rosy hair as she gazed down upon the building in town.

    “Just down the road,” she said. “A few more minutes of walking and we’ll be registered for the Emerald League.”


    “This time,” Travis replied with a smile, “no interruptions. No cancellations, and no rabbit trails.”

    “<Ain’t that the truth,>” the Umbreon piped in. “<I think it’s safe to say that war was one hell of a rabbit trail.>”

    “<Crescent...>” Angel sighed with a laugh. As Travis had chosen Angel as the sole Pokémon to bring with him from Johto, so Katrina had chosen Crescent. Crescent had been with Katrina for slightly less time than Angel had been with Travis. Katrina’s very first Pokémon was a Bayleef known as Riti (short for the Bayleef’s original form, Chikorita), but this particular Pokémon didn’t like fighting all that much and, therefore, Katrina left her, along with three of her other Pokémon, in the care of Professor Elm of New Bark Town, where she and Travis both lived. Therefore, that only left Crescent, who had developed a strong bond with Katrina since being with her. In fact, the only one with whom Crescent had forged a stronger bond was with his counterpart, Angel.

    “So, it’s that big building at the east side of the city?” Katrina asked.

    “I guess it would have to be,” Travis replied. “There doesn’t seem to be much else going on in this town. Then again, you can see all the way over there.”

    “That’s true...alright, let’s go,” Katrina sighed. “On your mark...get set...”

    Katrina let out a shrill scream as Travis, with no warning whatsoever, lifted her onto his back and tore down the hill, Angel and Crescent sprinting in their wake.

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Five minutes later, Travis and Katrina were walking down Littleroot Town's Main Street, the latter laughing wildly. As they walked, she was leaning her head on his shoulder. Crescent and Angel were having an animated conversation behind him. What about? There’s no telling – but apparently, at the end of it, Crescent said something that made Angel blush furiously. As they walked, they drew looks from the few denizens of Littleroot Town that were out and about this time of day. Random strangers waved at Travis from the sides of the street.

    “You know...” Katrina sighed. “This time around...we need to enjoy it.”

    “Enjoy...what?” Travis asked.

    “Being together, silly,” Katrina laughed, hitting Travis’ shoulder jestingly.

    “Yeah, well...” Travis replied, “Last time, we were sort of...bouncing off of each other, I guess.”

    “Ha ha...” Katrina giggled. “...’bouncing’...violently.”

    “It wasn’t that bad,” Travis said.

    “Speak for yourself,” Katrina replied. “We’d been ‘bouncing’ for years, and I was a little bit bounced out at that point. Not to mention the fact that both of us were a little bit...”

    “Nuts,” Travis finished. Katrina burst into laughter.

    “Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it,” she said. “But, you know the old saying...what doesn’t kill us...”

    It was Travis’ turn to laugh this time. “So...when you say we should ‘enjoy being together’...what exactly did you have in mind?”


    “Well,” Katrina replied with a bit of a giggle, reaching up and tracing around Travis’ face with her index finger. “Everything that we didn’t do the first time around. We’re definitely going to the beach every time we can.”

    “The beach?” Travis repeated. “Sounds good, but...why so particular about that?”

    “I wanna be able to show you off at least once,” Katrina muttered, an impish grin on her face.

    “Showing off isn’t very nice,” Travis commented, jestingly wagging a finger at her.

    “Maybe I’m tired of being nice all of the time,” Katrina replied mischievously. “Besides, it shouldn’t be a secret that I’m lucky to have you.”

    “Uh-huh,” Travis uttered, smirking. “I definitely think it’s more the other way around.”

    “We’re almost there,” Katrina commented, finally letting go of the boy’s shoulder. In front of them was a large building with a white dome.

    “Good grief...it sure looked a lot smaller than this from where we were standing...” Travis groaned.

    “Meaning ‘two miles away’,” Katrina commented.

    “That’s a good point,” Travis replied, approaching the doors and making to open them. For some reason, he was surprised when the doors suddenly split apart without his touch at all.

    “This is a state-of-the-art lab,” Katrina reminded him.

    “Yeah...yeah, that’s right...” Travis muttered sheepishly, putting his hand into his pocket.



    Somehow, back home, Professor Elm always seemed to manage with a relatively small laboratory. This monstrosity, however, was anything but. As soon as they entered, they were walking through a large room with tables and huge stacks of books. There was even a desk where a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties was apparently settling in for work. She was wearing a white lab coat and had very short, blonde hair. She was also rather tall, but that might have been the six-inch heels talking.

    “I always wonder how you don’t trip in those things...” Travis muttered to himself.

    “Never mind that!” Katrina replied, elbowing him. “She works here.”

    “You think she’d know where Prof. Birch is?” Travis asked.

    “It’s a better bet than just looking around. This isn’t Elm’s lab,” Katrina answered, “Prof. Birch might just be in a place where we can’t see him from here.”

    “What with the size of this place, I wouldn’t be surprised,” Travis muttered. “Maybe we should just try to find him ourselves. She doesn’t look like she wants to be bothered.”

    “Tch...no matter how good of a boyfriend you manage to get, you’re always gonna get the same two things...” Katrina muttered. “He’s always going to fall if he gets hit in the crotch...”

    “Hey, why don’t you try being me for a day?” Travis cut in. “Or better yet, try being Shiro for a day...”


    Shiro was Travis and Katrina’s best friend from home. A couple of years ago, he had met a girl named Madeline Marius from Cherrygrove City, a town just to the west of their hometown. The two had been traveling together ever since. It was a safe bet, though, to assume that Shiro was currently in Johto right now. He was a bit constrained from leaving until at least the end of June, as he also happened that year to win Johto’s teen skate championship, and therefore had to defend his title in Goldenrod City every June. He’d won last time, and, as his only real rival (a guy by the name of Leo Richter, whom he had stripped the title from in 2011) was now eighteen and had been offered a professional contract, he was a pretty sure bet to win it again, barring some miracle performance from a relative unknown. Other than that small stipulation, though, he and Madeline were essentially thrill-seeking drifters. They loved to travel to unknown countries with no particular agenda. The sticking point of Shiro’s relationship with Madeline, though, is that, when they had just met, Madeline had a habit of kicking males in the groin when she didn’t get her way. It was a very destructive habit – as far as the men were concerned.

    “...and you all hate to ask for directions! Seriously, what is it with that?” Katrina asked, shrugging her shoulders. “Machismo, genetics...testosterone...”

    “I get your point,” Travis said in exasperation. He knew Katrina wasn’t really mad at him – because, if he’d done something to genuinely piss her off, both of them would know it.

    “You’re not as bad as most guys, though – I’ll give you that,” Katrina smiled, turned away from Travis, and walked toward this lady who looked a lot like a librarian. Travis figured that he might as well follow her, and did, followed himself by Angel and Crescent.

    “<This place is huge...>” Crescent muttered. “<Is this one of those labs?>”

    “<Yeah – but this one’s way bigger than the one back home,>” Angel replied. “<I guess we’re trying to find the ‘Professor’ – otherwise known as the ‘very skinny man with a pale face, huge glasses, and no social life to speak of.’>”

    “<Isn’t that a stereotype?>” Crescent asked. “<How do you know all Professors are like that guy?>”

    “<It’s what they usually look like,>” Angel said coolly.

    It took a moment for the young woman to register the presence of others in front of her as, when they approached, she was in the middle of an almighty yawn. Sleepily, she looked out in front of her. Her eyes focused and saw a boy with navy-blue hair and a girl with pink hair. Sleepily, she sighed, “Good morning. Can I help you find a book?”

    “So, this is a library...” Travis muttered.

    “Actually...we were wondering if we could find the Professor. I think his name’s Birch,” Katrina replied. “Is that right? We’re not from here.”

    “Professor B-B-Birch...” the librarian answered, stifling another yawn. “Alright...”

    She pressed a button that appeared to be on a desk next to her computer and spoke into a microphone.

    “Doc, there’s a couple of kids out here that say they’re looking for you,” she murmured, running a lot of her words together.

    “You get the feeling this chick isn’t a morning person?” Travis said in an aside to his girlfriend.

    “Pretty much,” Katrina replied with a smirk.

    “She’d better straighten up,” Travis muttered. “Mom worked as a clerk for Prof. Elm up until she got pregnant with Kylie. She told me, ‘the worst thing you can do as a clerk is look like you don’t want to be there’ – ‘cause, then, your customers won’t want to be there.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind if I ever want to be a receptionist,” Katrina replied with a smirk.

    “How would you feel if you had to get up at six on a Saturday?” the receptionist suddenly piped up.

    “Today’s Friday,” Katrina commented. The receptionist responded by saying another word under her breath that also happened to start with the letter ‘F’.

    “You shouldn’t be so rude to your patrons, Leslie,” hearing a jovial-sounding voice, Travis and Katrina swung around. Maybe it was the exaggerated mental effect of seeing him for the first time, but Travis could have sworn he felt slight tremors with every step this man took toward them. Granted, Travis had seen bigger guys. This man was short, but he had to be at least 230 or 240 pounds – and that would be a very well-distributed 230 or 240 pounds. If Travis’ estimation was right, this man was about the weight of a fully-grown male Donphan – that is, 250 pounds. His brown hair sat wildly upon the top of his rather round head. In addition to that, he had sideburns that curved all the way around his chin, forming a brown beard as well. His white lab coat (Travis didn’t know that the people who made lab coats could manage to fashion one to fit this man’s frame) covered a black t-shirt and went down to his shins, which were covered (as well as the rest of his legs) by khaki pants.

    “<Well...so much for the ‘skinny and nerdy’ theory,>” Crescent commented. “<Look at the size of that guy...>”

    “<No kidding,>” Angel replied, blinking in a bit of shock.

    “Oh...Doc,” Leslie muttered, looking a bit foolish. “When did you get here?”

    “I needed to get a notebook because I’m planning on doing some field work today. I think I left it up here,” the large man in the lab coat said. Suddenly, remembering something, he looked down at the two teenagers in front of him. “Oh – sorry, forgot to introduce myself. Bruce Birch, Pokémon Researcher.”

    Taking Prof. Birch’s proffered hand and fearing that her own would get broken, Katrina said, “Katrina Sasano.”

    “I’m Travis DePaul,” Travis said, also shaking Prof. Birch’s hand. Looking down and pointing out the two Pokémon, he added, “That’s Angel – she’s mine – and Crescent.”

    “Travis DePaul, did you say?” Birch asked. Travis nodded. “Excellent. We’ve been expecting you.”

    Travis and Katrina looked gave each other glances at Birch’s comment.

    “I’m assuming you came here because you wanted to register for the Emerald League?” Birch asked.

    “That’s right,” Travis replied.

    “Alright – follow me, then!” Birch said enthusiastically, turning around and striding toward the door on the far end of the library from which he had emerged, seemingly humming to himself. Although Birch was a big man – almost the height of his father and definitely heavier – Travis found it very hard to be intimidated by the guy upon meeting him. He, Katrina, and their two Pokémon followed Birch through the doors, which opened (as Travis expected) automatically as Birch approached them.


    Travis’ eyes nearly bugged out when he saw the setup of Birch’s lab. First of all. He took a couple of steps before his stomach hit the railing and he realized that he was definitely on the second floor. He looked to his right and realize that there was a sweeping staircase that ran around the outer wall of this room, leading to the ground floor below. This part of the lab looked like Elm’s, but with machines that were much bigger. Furthermore (and this made Travis smile), there was a door through which one could leave to visit the Pokémon habitats. Despite all of this advanced equipment, Travis definitely had a feeling that Birch was out there much more often than he was in here. Birch struck him as a practical, hands-on type of guy. Elm would have loved to have someone like this as an assistant, as he was just one of those people that didn’t much like getting his hands dirty. Not that he didn’t enjoy Pokémon – he just wasn’t a very physical being. Travis heard Birch say something to him, but, concentrating on something else at the moment, wasn’t exactly sure what it had been.

    “Travis?” Katrina’s voice snapped him out of his daydreaming.

    “Huh? Er...” was all Travis could utter – rather stupidly at that. “Sorry. What was that?”

    “I said, I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather,” Birch replied.

    Travis, his eyes downcast and suddenly very concentrated on the equipment below, muttered, “Oh...right.”

    “Hey, now, I wasn’t trying to depress you when I said that!” Birch exclaimed. “Perk up!”

    Travis tried his best and, finally, managed to curl his lips upward into a smile. “He’s in a better place now, I guess...”

    “So, what brings you here to Hoenn?” Birch asked as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

    “Well, I started as a Trainer two years ago,” Travis replied. “I didn’t get to finish my journey because...well, it’s a long story.”

    “I heard that Johto’s league got cancelled in 2011,” Birch commented.

    “Yeah...” Travis said, relieved that he didn’t have to explain all of the details. “On top of that, I got hurt...”

    “Hurt?” Birch asked. Travis sighed. This time, he would have to explain details.

    “Had a bad fall,” Travis replied. “I broke...what was it again?”

    “Right wrist – that’s his throwing arm,” Katrina answered. “A rib...”

    “I thought it was two ribs,” Travis commented.

    “Oh – that’s right...” Katrina said. Birch turned around and looked at Travis, raising an eyebrow. “And, a femur...”

    “Ouch,” Birch muttered sympathetically.

    “...in five places,” Katrina finished. Birch grimaced.

    “Good grief!” he exclaimed.

    “So...basically, according to doctors, I shouldn’t really be walking right now,” Travis sighed. “Much less traveling anywhere...but I recovered in a year, and here I am.”

    “You’d better be grateful for being young,” Birch replied darkly. “I know, if I broke my leg even once at this age...I’ve had broken ribs...and those aren’t fun.”

    “Tell me about it,” Travis said with a slight laugh. “What happened to you?”

    “Field work...” Birch replied. “Hacked off a couple of Tauros...”

    “Oh, boy...” Travis muttered.


    “Took me a good six months to get back to a hundred percent,” Birch replied as he approached a desk with a computer, clicked a mouse a few times, and sat down. “But, I still do field work – and I still enjoy it. You think with all my physical activity, I’d be a little more in shape, but that’s okay. Er, name?”

    “Travis Shelton DePaul, the third,” Travis said.

    “Date of birth?” Birch asked.

    “July 28, 1998,” Travis replied.

    “Hometown?”

    “New Bark Town, Johto,” Travis replied.

    “Blood type?” Birch asked. Travis’ mouth hung open as he turned to look at Katrina. He didn’t remember being expected to provide this. He couldn’t remember off the top of his head, either. Just as worry was about to set in, Birch’s hearty laugh rang through the lab as he chuckled, “You should have seen your face. Gender, male...starter Pokémon – Espeon, female. Nickname – Angel...”

    Travis laughed. He rather liked Prof. Birch. Not that he didn’t like Prof. Elm, but Birch was more his type of guy. He obviously had the head knowledge – or else he wouldn’t be a Professor – but he could mesh that with a practical approach to Pokémon, as well as a sense of humor. Birch clicked a button on his mouse and said, “There! You’re done. Now, you next...”

    “Katrina Lynn Sasano,” Katrina said without Prof. Birch asking the question.

    “You said Sasano,” Birch replied. “I think I’ve heard that name before, but I don’t remember exactly.”

    “My father’s President of Ericsson International,” Katrina sighed. Ericsson International, based in Goldenrod City, was the foremost manufacturer of modern gear and equipment for Pokémon Trainers. Katrina’s father, Drew Sasano, was essentially second from the top in terms of absolute authority.

    “Really?! Isn’t that something,” Birch replied. “I thought you were the daughter of a famous fashion designer or something...”

    “That, too,” Katrina muttered. Her mother, Nicholette, was the designer of the ‘Katfight’ clothing label (which explained why ninety-nine percent of Katrina’s substantial wardrobe at her rather large house back in New Bark Town bore this brand name). Katrina was very close with her adoptive mother, who had named the clothing label after her. “A lot of people are surprised that I’m a Trainer, actually...”

    “Date of birth?” Birch asked.

    “December 1, 1998,” she answered.

    “Hometown?”

    “New Bark Town,” she replied. “Oh, and it’s A-positive.”

    Birch laughed, as did Travis.

    “Good one,” the latter commented.

    “Touch?,” Birch chuckled. “All right, let’s get the last of it. Gender – female. Starter Pokémon – Umbreon, male. Nickname – Crescent...and, you’re all squared away. So!!”

    Birch exclaimed rather loudly, jumping out of his seat in exuberance and prompting Travis and Katrina to temporarily freak out and back off a bit.


    “Er...” Travis muttered. Katrina just laughed.

    “There you have it,” Birch said, slapping his hands together and creating a great echo off of the domed ceiling of his laboratory. “You’re officially registered for the Emerald League.”

    “Thanks – where do we start?” Travis asked.

    “Isn’t it Rustboro?” Katrina asked.

    “Actually, no...” Birch replied. “Or I should say, ‘fortunately’. Hoenn’s got a rookie gym leader by the name of Stella, so the League stuck her at Petalburg. I think she’s just a year older than you two, actually...”

    “A gym leader at fifteen? That’s insane!” Travis exclaimed.

    “Wasn’t Brandon only thirteen when he got the job?” Katrina asked. Brandon Grant had been, at the time that Travis journeyed through Johto, the Bug-type specialist Gym Leader of Azalea Town.

    “He got it from his brother, though...” Travis replied. Brandon’s brother was Bugsy, who was now seventeen. “But he got kicked by Kenny, anyways...”

    “Seriously?” Katrina replied with a bit of surprise in her voice. Travis and Kendall Forrest had been acquaintances and had even traveled together at one point in Travis’ journey. Kenny was always talking about how he would like to take Brandon’s post and oust him. You can imagine Travis’ delight when the news came in 2012 that Kenny had been successful. Kenny’s gym was now one of the rare dual-type gyms in the world. Apparently, Kenny not only loved Bug-types, but had become rather fascinated with Grass-types as well.

    “Yeah...he’s not the only guy I ran into that’s got a job as a Gym Leader,” Travis said. “You remember Zinnia Roberts?”

    “At the tournament in Olivine? Where’s she leader?” Katrina asked. Travis had fought a close match with number-four-ranked Zinnia Roberts, an emo girl that (he never told Katrina this) was taken with him and was pretty vocal about it. Travis was very surprised when he found out that she, of all people, had risen to the rank of Gym Leader.

    “Ecruteak City,” Travis replied. Katrina’s smile faded a bit. Ecruteak City, unfortunately, had been the site of several bad memories for Travis and Katrina. First off, Travis had gotten into a fist fight with his former archrival, Nathaniel Elm. Nate had been involved in the war as well and went missing just after it ended. Travis and Katrina had not seen him since. Also, however, they met a young woman named Luna who had ousted Morty and become the Gym Leader at Ecruteak. However, through a series of events, the young woman was murdered weeks after they met her. It was, in fact, one of her Umbreon that was adopted by Katrina and now traveled with her as her partner.

    “<Luna...>” Crescent sighed, becoming pensive. He had been very close with his original Trainer and, therefore, her death was still rather difficult to talk about.

    “<It’s all right, Crescent,>” Angel said, licking his cheek to comfort him. “<At least you know where your sister is.>”

    The other Umbreon that had belonged to Luna was Crescent’s baby sister. By a happy turn of circumstances, a girl that had been adopted by a family in Katrina’s neighborhood of Gilchrist Heights in New Bark Town happened to have this Umbreon with her. Thus, the Umbreon (now nicknamed Artemis) was taken into this family as well as the girl. Another coincidence was that this girl claimed to know Nate, and that she and Nate had been on very good terms as at least friends – but Katrina, who lived near her and knew her rather well at this point, knew that she and Nate (if this was indeed the same Nate that they knew) had been much more than friends.

    “<Yeah...>” Crescent responded. “<I sure hope Artemis is doing alright without me. We were so happy to see each other again.>”

    “She’s a Dark-type Gym Leader...” Travis said. “It sure fits her personality.”

    “Sounds like there’s been a few job changes out there,” Birch said, bringing two white bracelet-like bands to the two Trainers.

    “So, Stella’s the first Gym Leader,” Travis replied. “Hold on a second...what are...”

    “There’s a couple of things different about the Emerald League,” Birch replied. “I believe Johto has a ranking system?”

    “Yeah...” Travis replied. During his journey, he and Katrina had been very highly-ranked, which drew admiration from some people and ire from others.

    “Well, in Hoenn, it actually matters,” Birch said. “Pokémon battles are even more of a spectator sport here than they are in Johto. So, fans who pay obscene prices to go to the Emerald League Tournament want their money’s worth. The League determined that the best way to do that was to rank their Trainers. These bracelets are linked to a satellite.”

    “A satellite? Wow, you guys really do go big,” Travis commented.

    “That satellite’s linked to a supercomputer – like that one, but bigger,” Birch said, pointing at an enormous screen behind him. “This computer covers your win-loss record, mainly at Gyms and League-sanctioned tournaments. But, also...and excuse the cliche – it’s not about whether you win or lose...”

    “It’s how you play the game,” Travis and Katrina chorused, both shaking their heads at Birch’s triteness.

    “Exactly,” Birch replied. “The League, for one thing, doesn’t like Trainers that always get owned by a Gym at least twice before they win a badge. But if you can pull out close matches and make it look good for the fans, the League’ll know that fans will pay to see you duke it out in Evergrande. Simple enough?”

    “Yeah...simple enough,” Travis replied, in slight disbelief that Birch had just used the terms ‘owned’ and ‘duke it out’ in normal conversation.

    “The fortunate thing about this is that it’s not as subjective as it sounds,” Birch replied. “That computer calculates the vast majority of the scores. But don’t worry if the time comes and you’re not ranked. If you’ve got eight badges, you still can get into Evergrande. Only problem is, you’ll have to claw your way to the top of a prelim tournament, while the guys that got seeded just wait for you at the big show.”

    “So, if you get to Evergrande and you’re not ranked, more battles –“ Katrina commented.

    “– Ergo, more chances to get knocked off,” Birch said. “So, it’d be in your best interest to try to make it into the Top Sixty. In order to get one of those last four slots, you might have to go three or even four extra rounds.”

    “Ouch,” Travis groaned, taking a bracelet, putting it on his right wrist, and giving the second to his girlfriend. “Well...I guess I’ll have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

    “You sound confident,” Birch commented.

    “Well, I didn’t come all the way out here just to lose,” Travis said firmly.

    “That reminds me...you’re not the only Trainers from Johto in this tournament,” Birch said. “I met another guy and girl. They were early birds – they got here about a week ago.”

    “Really?” Katrina replied, looking at Travis as she donned her own bracelet.

    “Wonder if it’s anyone we know?” Travis said, raising an eyebrow.

    “There’s no telling,” Birch said. “Well, if that’s all...no – wait a sec, it isn’t. I was wondering...you guys think you can do me a favor? It’s not too strenuous. I think you’ll enjoy him, in fact.”

    “‘Him’?” Travis repeated in confusion. Birch walked over and grabbed a Pokéball off of a circular rack that seemed to have several slots. “I buy these starters from breeders in Hoenn and give them to the kids that come from this town. But we started using new starters and everybody wants those. So, this poor guy had nowhere to go.”

    Birch hit a button on the red-and-white sphere and an extremely bright, white light shot out of it. This light formed into a bipedal Pokémon that looked rather like a mutated version of a certain insurance company mascot. He had yellow eyes that were large and bulged out of his lime-green head. His body, for the most part, was also the same color, except for his belly, which was a pinkish-hue and bore a stripe. He had a huge, forest-green tail that tapped the floor of the lab in relief at being let out of the ball.

    “<So...whaddaya say? One of you guys want to pick me up and add me to your team, or am I gonna be a free agent for the rest of my life?>” he said in an extremely enthusiastic voice.

    “A Treecko!” Travis exclaimed. “Nice!”

    “Nice indeed,” Birch responded. “This guy’s been itchin’ to get himself a Trainer forever. From the little that I’ve seen of him, he’s a real gamer and really competitive.”

    “<I could do one heck of a lot worse for an agent,>” the small Wood Gecko Pokémon commented, pointing back at Professor Birch’s khaki-clothed legs.

    “A real champ, isn’t he?” Birch asked. “So...what do you say?”

    “Sounds good,” Travis replied. After a rather long pause, during which the Treecko’s bulging, yellow eyes looked up at Travis hopefully, the teen trainer exclaimed, “I’ll take him!”

    “<Whoo-hoo! Good call!>” the Treecko whooped in jubilation, jumping up into the air. High-fiving Travis with his tail, he shouted, “<Just watch – you and I are goin’ straight to the top!>”


    About an hour later, Travis and Katrina were on Route 101, the short road between Littleroot Town and Oldale Town. Whatever was with that Treecko, it must have been contagious, because on the way to Oldale, Travis had a marked feeling of exhilaration and just could not stop jumping around.

    “Please don’t bottle up all of your excitement, Travis,” Katrina said with a smile, calmly walking with a Partner Pokémon at each ankle. Travis was bouncing happily down the road, looking up as flocks of a blue, swallow-like creature that Travis knew was native to Hoenn and couldn’t remember the name of at this point, flew overhead. The sun was approaching high noon, and the weather was even better today than it had been on the day of his first departure. On that day nearly two years ago, Travis had gotten caught in a storm. Today, though, there was no cloud in sight.

    “<You’re being a stick-in-the-mud,>” Angel sang good-naturedly.

    “<Hey, what’s going on...>” Crescent muttered. “<Where’d he go?>”

    For Travis had indeed disappeared. There were several trees around this dirt road, but not so many so that Katrina couldn’t see where Travis was. Where could he have gotten off to that quickly–

    Katrina screamed as she felt an unknown force lift her legs out from under her and continue to move. The next thing she knew, she was being carried bridal-style. She turned her head, and there he was. After a few seconds, he let her down. By the time she was on the ground, she had caught the bug. She held out her hand and a ball of light formed in it. It lengthened into a staff, which she grabbed as the light faded. This staff was white and ended in a golden crescent-moon shape. In the middle of that crescent was a white, pearl-like orb that seemed to be hanging onto absolutely nothing. This staff was a symbol of her heritage as an Aurillian. A long story short, she was royalty of an ancient civilization that had access to powerful magic. That orb began to glow a bright bluish-white. She began to twirl it around, causing the glow to create a trail of light wherever the core of the staff traveled. The light began to waft slightly, almost as if it was allowing itself to be caught and directed by the spring breeze. It caught across Travis’ face and lightly caressed it, giving him a feeling of warmth and comfort. He stopped for a second as Katrina reached the top of the hill and stopped as well. He ran up to catch up with her. Sensing him there, Katrina gradually started to fall back. She was still nearly upright when her head came to a rest on his shoulder.

    “Just like always,” she laughed. Reaching back for Travis’ hands, she clasped both and wrapped them around herself. Letting his chin rest on the top of her head, he looked over her. For the second time today, they were standing atop a hill overlooking a town. This one looked even smaller, but that might have been for the fact that it had no laboratory. This was Oldale Town, and here they would spend the day and stay until tomorrow, when they left for Petalburg and the first Gym. Looking down, he found that Katrina had released her hand, leaving his arms around her exposed midriff. Even after two years, this was the first time they’d had that much contact other than a kiss every now and then...but somehow, this time, it didn’t feel all that awkward. Not natural, perhaps...but not awkward.

    “We’re Trainers again,” Travis said, holding Katrina close to him.

    “Yeah...we are,” Katrina sighed.

    And as they overlooked this second town, they knew for sure that, for this summer, this land was theirs.

    This summer, they owned Hoenn.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  3. #3
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    Hmm, interesting start. I didn't bother to read the first of the chapter because it was too spoily for me. I hope that doesn't affect anything.

    [QUOTE=EonMaster One;5802623][CENTER][SIZE=4]

    “This time,” Travis replied with a smile, “no interruptions. No cancellations, and no rabbit trails.”

    “<Ain’t that the truth,>” the Umbreon piped in. “<I think it’s safe to say that war was one hell of a rabbit trail.>”
    XD LOL

    Five minutes later, Travis and Katrina were walking down New Bark Town’s Main Street, the latter laughing wildly. As they walked, she was leaning her head on his shoulder. Crescent and Angel were having an animated conversation behind him. What about? There’s no telling – but apparently, at the end of it, Crescent said something that made Angel blush furiously. As they walked, they drew looks from the few denizens of New Bark Town that were out and about this time of day. Random strangers waved at Travis from the sides of the street.
    New Bark? I thought it was Littleroot. I could tell, that that was a shippy moment *squeals*

    The sticking point of Shiro’s relationship with Madeline, though, is that, when they had just met, Madeline had a habit of kicking males in the groin when she didn’t get her way. It was a very destructive habit – as far as the men were concerned.
    OMFG, you can forget about having kids eh Shiro?

    “<Yeah – but this one’s way bigger than the one back home,>” Angel replied. “<I guess we’re trying to find the ‘Professor’ – otherwise known as the ‘very skinny man with a pale face, huge glasses, and no social life to speak of.’>”

    “<Isn’t that a stereotype?>” Crescent asked. “<How do you know all Professors are like that guy?>”

    “<It’s what they usually look like,>” Angel said coolly.
    L.O.L. with ROFLZ on top.

    “How would you feel if you had to get up at six on a Saturday?” the receptionist suddenly piped up.

    “Today’s Friday,” Katrina commented. The receptionist responded by saying another word under her breath that also happened to start with the letter ‘F’.
    Letter 'F' eh? Care to spell it out for me?

    “<Well...so much for the ‘skinny and nerdy’ theory,>” Crescent commented. “<Look at the size of that guy...>”

    “<No kidding,>” Angel replied, blinking in a bit of shock.
    Anotherto ad to teh ROFLZ line.

    And as they overlooked this second town, they knew for sure that, for this summer, this land was theirs.

    This summer, they owned Hoenn.
    That was cute^

    Anyways, nice start. Keep it up.

    Divinity_123

    P.S. First post n00bs!

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    I love it. Treeko is cool. I like a pokemon who's energitic. Keep it up.
    Visit Nocturne of Shadows. Check the chats and forums section to visit the forum. I have a guestbook and a mini shout box.

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    WWWWHHHHHAAAAAATTTTT!!!!!!!?????

    it's already up!!!???

    wow, i wasn't expecting it until next week at the earliest... you work fast.

    i'll come back and review in a sec, let me read it...


    Daaaang. nice opening, and definately par with your previous creation, EonOne. Crazy Monks, Renegades, exiled princes, and a coup with familial feuds, very nice opening.

    And a treeko, that shall be fun to read about. Especially if his enthusiasm carries over to his evolved forms, if he does...(BUT DON'T SPOIL IT! hehe.) I can already tell he will be an interesting character to view. I wonder what Katrina will catch next? My hunch is that the other trainer is.....Madelyn's brother!!!!
    (although i am pretty sure i'm wrong, its never hurts, right?)

    As always, great chapter and i can't wait for the next one.

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    I didn't read the begining also. Like Divinty has said, it spoils the rest of the story to early.

    So Travis' first capture is a Treeko. I wonder what he will name it. I also wonder who the other 2 trainers are. I would love it if it were Shiro and Maddy...but i can prob. throw that thought out of the window.
    What? Am I back?

  7. #7
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    Rawr.
    So i'm back again.
    i've been a closet reader for quite a while, eh?
    YESH. YOU WORK FAST. AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT.
    i was expecting a month or two before you continued to Advent Phoenix.
    And i HAVE to say this.
    First 2 paragraphs = PERFECT DESCRIPTION.PERFECT.HAIL TO THE UNSPOKEN WORDS EFFECT.
    And now.

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    In that world, only she could fully understand him, and only he could fully understand her.
    >.< aww...

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    Katrina let out a shrill scream as Travis, with no warning whatsoever, lifted her onto his back and tore down the hill, Angel and Crescent sprinting in their wake.
    UNSUSPECTING VICTIM.8D

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    “Tch...no matter how good of a boyfriend you manage to get, you’re always gonna get the same two things...” Katrina muttered. “He’s always going to fall if he gets hit in the crotch...”

    “Hey, why don’t you try being me for a day?” Travis cut in. “Or better yet, try being Shiro for a day...”
    Two reactions, one soo true and the other, BLAME THOE NERVES.

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    “...and you all hate to ask for directions! Seriously, what is it with that?” Katrina asked, shrugging her shoulders. “Machismo, genetics...testosterone...”
    Boys hate asking for directions. Seriously. Try observing a lost guy and you'll notice the last thing he'll do is ask for directions.

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    “Yeah...” Travis said, relieved that he didn’t have to explain all of the details. “On top of that, I got hurt...”

    “Hurt?” Birch asked. Travis sighed. This time, he would have to explain details.

    “Had a bad fall,” Travis replied. “I broke...what was it again?”

    “Right wrist – that’s his throwing arm,” Katrina answered. “A rib...”

    “I thought it was two ribs,” Travis commented.

    “Oh – that’s right...” Katrina said. Birch turned around and looked at Travis, raising an eyebrow. “And, a femur...”

    “Ouch,” Birch muttered sympathetically.

    “...in five places,” Katrina finished. Birch grimaced.

    “Good grief!” he exclaimed.

    “So...basically, according to doctors, I shouldn’t really be walking right now,” Travis sighed. “Much less traveling anywhere...but I recovered in a year, and here I am.”

    “You’d better be grateful for being young,” Birch replied darkly. “I know, if I broke my leg even once at this age...I’ve had broken ribs...and those aren’t fun.”

    “Tell me about it,” Travis said with a slight laugh. “What happened to you?”

    “Field work...” Birch replied. “Hacked off a couple of Tauros...”

    “Oh, boy...” Travis muttered.
    LOL. DIE BY THE HANDS OF TALKING ABOUT PAIN.

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    “Blood type?” Birch asked. Travis’ mouth hung open as he turned to look at Katrina. He didn’t remember being expected to provide this. He couldn’t remember off the top of his head, either. Just as worry was about to set in, Birch’s hearty laugh rang through the lab as he chuckled, “You should have seen your face.
    I WANNA SEE TRAVIS'S FACE.

    Quote Originally Posted by EonMaster One View Post
    “<So...whaddaya say? One of you guys want to pick me up and add me to your team, or am I gonna be a free agent for the rest of my life?>” he said in an extremely enthusiastic voice.
    Interesting fella.How will he fit in?

    ...Lots of ways this story can go in...a lot indeed.
    One question though,will Nate make an appearance in here? It's weird, but i miss the icy personality, and i feel that his story in Revolution Johto isn't complete.


    Sore losers get what they deserve.Also,for him,http://kevan.org/brain.cgi?Aquamia
    Once again, lugia34 and company PWNS ALL.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terria View Post
    ImA N00b c0s' i can't spe@k pr0perly!
    "You don't know how small your world really is. Nobody does."

  8. #8
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    You are the trickiest devil of the bunch... i thought i'd have time to get ready but you just had to... AAARRRGH!

    Yes, I've read it and time to review.

    I won't touch on what's been said, so i'll only add that this was a really good start to saga two. Only glitch i saw was:

    With only way off the harbor, they had nowhere to go.

    Uhm... could you clarify this for me?

    Other than that, you get a grade A+ for a grammatically error free chapter! GIve yourserlf a WOOT!

    OK, i'm gone for now...

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
    PROJECT C-SQUARE STATUS = 100.00% Complete (11-12-2010, ca. 2:40pm GMT)
    HEART OF SEVEN STONES IS ON INDEFINITE HIATUS (REAPED) UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
    Butt-ugly Banner by Me
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  9. #9
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    ''With only one way off the harbor, they had nowhere to go.''

    That one got away and the network at my school's been acting stupid, so yeah.

    Actually, I've got some good news for you. Some of you might fall over dead from shock, but I've actually been on a roll this week, so...

    Chapter 2 just might be up by this weekend. Depending on how much work I get, probably Friday or Saturday.

    Geez...I don't normally work this fast, but ever since I dropped Chapter 57 of my last fic, I've been on a hot streak. I wrote about eight pages of Chapter 2 which feature Travis getting amazingly ****** and punching someone in the face - twice.

    Interesting, neh? You'll be even more shocked who's with the guy (and, yes, I am implying a romantic relationship) that Travis hits.

    Also in this chapter:

    - Travis' first Pokemon Battle since...chapter 42 of PRJ (that was a while back!!)
    - The identity of Travis' main rival
    - Travis...like I said, getting incredibly p!ssed off.
    - The appearance of an important, story-driving main character that was NOT featured in Chapter 1.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  10. #10
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    GAH!!!!!! It's already up?????? I thought I'd be able to wonder about this, and predict but, wow... That was fast. Anyway, to the review...

    “There’s no telling,” Birch said. “Well, if that’s all...no – wait a sec, it isn’t. I was wondering...you guys think you can do me a favor? It’s not too strenuous. I think you’ll enjoy him, in fact.”

    “‘Him’?” Travis repeated in confusion. Birch walked over and grabbed a Pokéball off of a circular rack that seemed to have several slots. “I buy these starters from breeders in Hoenn and give them to the kids that come from this town. But we started using new starters and everybody wants those. So, this poor guy had nowhere to go.”

    Birch hit a button on the red-and-white sphere and an extremely bright, white light shot out of it. This light formed into a bipedal Pokémon that looked rather like a mutated version of a certain insurance company mascot. He had yellow eyes that were large and bulged out of his lime-green head. His body, for the most part, was also the same color, except for his belly, which was a pinkish-hue and bore a stripe. He had a huge, forest-green tail that tapped the floor of the lab in relief at being let out of the ball.

    “<So...whaddaya say? One of you guys want to pick me up and add me to your team, or am I gonna be a free agent for the rest of my life?>” he said in an extremely enthusiastic voice.

    “A Treecko!” Travis exclaimed. “Nice!”

    “Nice indeed,” Birch responded. “This guy’s been itchin’ to get himself a Trainer forever. From the little that I’ve seen of him, he’s a real gamer and really competitive.”

    “<I could do one heck of a lot worse for an agent,>” the small Wood Gecko Pokémon commented, pointing back at Professor Birch’s khaki-clothed legs.

    “A real champ, isn’t he?” Birch asked. “So...what do you say?”

    “Sounds good,” Travis replied. After a rather long pause, during which the Treecko’s bulging, yellow eyes looked up at Travis hopefully, the teen trainer exclaimed, “I’ll take him!”

    “<Whoo-hoo! Good call!>” the Treecko whooped in jubilation, jumping up into the air. High-fiving Travis with his tail, he shouted, “<Just watch – you and I are goin’ straight to the top!>”
    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally!!!!! My favorite pokemon is used as a starter!!!!!! Thank you, EM1, for making this awesome Treecko for this fic!!!!! If you need names for it, go to me!!!

    I'm guessing that Matt is here, as I have no other ideas for the poor guy Travis punches, unless you make a new character. Great job!!!!
    My bishie is Grimmjow Jeagerjaques from Bleach.

    PASBL
    B Grade Referee

  11. #11
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    Damn I'm late ARRRRRRRRGH, I wanted the first post!!!!!

    Well I was hoping to post a preview of my fan-fic but whadyah know, AP, is finnaly up, loved chapter one especially the first part.

    Damn this is gonna be one helluva summer for me Harry Potter 7 book, harry potter 5 movie, Spidy 3, Shrek three, Pirates three, and PrJ 2!

    I for one think this calls fro

  12. #12
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    Curse forum lag. CURSE YOUUUUUUUUUUU!!! My well thought out and long review was deleted, so I'll just be bitter and recap the main points of it.

    -Great description in the first 2 paragraphs.
    -I can see parallels starting in paragraph 1. Very good.
    -Nice mystery+background to the cult girl.
    -Excellent intro to Travis and Katrina
    -For so much anticipation, the chappy wasn't rushed. *thumbs up*
    -Professor Birch and Treecko=
    -Hm, let's see... Suprised for some reason by Travis bringing his sword. Seems the fic isn't just going to be about the journey this time around either. Me likey.

    Yeah, that about covers it. Great job, and glad to see it up so soon.

    PS: What're the chances of seeing Roald and Rashid again, 24-ish years later? They reminded me of Obi-wan and Anakin, and I liked them.

  13. #13
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    I'm actually hoping the journey lasts longer this time around.

    And I'm fairly certain it will, cause if read the commercial of AP, it gives HUGE, hints Travis would kill if his journey got interupted

  14. #14
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    Wow dude, I knew you were a fast typer but having the new chapter up already is fast work, even for you.

    Great start to the journey though. So Hoenn still has a royal family in place then, thats pretty cool: its like comparing England to America. But already we have the evil twin brother plot playing into it, should make an interesting character. And our heros have started off with just their eevee evolutions. Makes sence considering their love for each other, and Travis getting a Treeko is a nice touch.

    I do have a question though. Kenny is now the gym leader of Azalea Town as a Duel Type gym. Does this mean that Kenny's egg contained a grass type of some sort?? Are we allowed to know what was inside that egg yet?
    Breezy is my little sister. Anyone who messes with her has to answer to me!
    My Twin's are Trillian and Sakara

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lupin View Post
    Wow dude, I knew you were a fast typer but having the new chapter up already is fast work, even for you.

    Great start to the journey though. So Hoenn still has a royal family in place then, thats pretty cool: its like comparing England to America. But already we have the evil twin brother plot playing into it, should make an interesting character. And our heros have started off with just their eevee evolutions. Makes sence considering their love for each other, and Travis getting a Treeko is a nice touch.

    I do have a question though. Kenny is now the gym leader of Azalea Town as a Duel Type gym. Does this mean that Kenny's egg contained a grass type of some sort?? Are we allowed to know what was inside that egg yet?
    Damn I forgot all about that, man I miss Kenny wish he could've stayed, or maybe he's the one who came to Hoenn, though I bet you anything its Matt.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazekage View Post
    Damn I forgot all about that, man I miss Kenny wish he could've stayed, or maybe he's the one who came to Hoenn, though I bet you anything its Matt.
    That egg has bothered me from it was first mentioned, but I agree really. I always wanted Kenny to show up again at some point in the storyline, but then I got distracted by the war.
    Breezy is my little sister. Anyone who messes with her has to answer to me!
    My Twin's are Trillian and Sakara

  17. #17
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    i bet that egg was for a bulbasaur or something...

    but now i think of it, and the reference to England really made this clear to me, but the royal family, War of the Roses anyone? i just realized that the events in the chapter mirror those of the Yorkists... (i'm a son of a history teacher, so i know some random stuff...)

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    It was most likely a Bulbasaur or a Turtwig or somthing, wow! I forgot to give the chapter a rating.

    I liked the prolouge it was very well pulled off, and I liked the political and technological differences between the Countries, I could really realte them to our own countries.

    Johto/Kanto= England and co.

    Hoenn= Japan

    Sinnoh= America
    well my final score is 10/10,

  19. #19
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    Yay! You said April for your release date, Eon Master; it's still March. I saw the fic posted, so I was like "YIPPE!". But when I clicked on the link, it said, "Webpage can't be displayed". So I had to wait for ten minutes until the webpage would come up. And you know what? The first two chapters of Advent Phoenix were well worth the wait. Can't wait to see Travis's first battle; I wonder who it will be? Anyway, good job on the first chapters, and congratulations on your first completed fic; bask in the glory of completedficyness. xXPorygonXx, out!

    EDIT: New rank!

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    Ahh. Blue Streak, what a movie. Martin Lawrence really is a funny guy, kudos for making me remember.

    Enough nostalgia. Time to review the first chapter. The mysterious person with the mysteriou orb, hmm, i'm liking where this is going, an ancient cult, along with the musings of others about the englishness of it, these are kinda like the druids.

    and it seems we have a touch of ETS (Evil twin syndrome) you cant kill your family, its just wrong, and gets you nowhere as you will clearly get revenged upon by said good twin.

    till next time, oh and sorry for the slow review, I wasn't gonna come on till april but I wanted to see some more reviews for PRJ and saw this, fast worker you.
    Skogsrĺ

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    Default Chapter 48

    Yes, I know, fast chapter…should have been faster. Right as I was finishing it up on Monday afternoon, the wireless network I was on decided to go dead on me, so I couldn’t get on to post. Then, of course, I had to deal with getting ready to go back to Lynchburg on Friday and all that jazz. But I’m happy, as this is the fastest I’ve written a chapter in months, and I think it’s quality.

    Chapter 48: Letters and Lowlifes

    Matthew Marius, his hair a full, flaming bleach blonde, stared down a woman in her late thirties. Were it not for her sickly thin face, the bags she wore under her green eyes, and the greenish bottle she gripped in her left hand, she wouldn’t have been quite as ugly. Of course, Matt wasn’t thinking along those terms. There was nothing at all attractive about a slightly intoxicated woman screeching at you at the top of her lungs…

    …Especially when that woman was the same woman that gave birth to you.

    Matt leaned against the wall, hand running through his bleached hair as his mother continued to yell.

    “Where do you think you’re going, Matthew?” she shouted. “You know I can’t keep up this place without you!!”

    “Doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot to ‘keep up’,” Matt commented coldly. They were in the kitchen, a tiny little thing featuring a small, wooden, round table with four chairs. Not just because of the dishes that were literally overflowing in the small sink, but this kitchen had a seemingly permanently dirty look – the sort of look that is taken on by abject poverty. Matt, in a rather nice, white button-down shirt with black sleeves, looked like the best thing in the room at that point. Inwardly, he wondered if he actually had more money on him than Taylor had in her entire sorry excuse for a bank account.

    “You should be more thankful, Matthew,” Taylor snarled. “Some people don’t have homes.”

    Matt didn’t respond right away. When he did, it wasn’t nice.

    “Gimme a break,” he said, closing his emerald eyes as he looked sideways toward the front door and away from Taylor. “You call this dump a home?”

    “It’s a roof over your head, isn’t it?” Taylor said, swaying unsteadily. She had learned from years of lying to Otto to hide the natural lisp that comes with being drunk…but not every other telltale sign.

    “That’s not what I’m talking about,” Matt answered, his hands in his pockets as he leaned against the wall. “This place hasn’t been a home since Dad left.”

    “Don’t you bring that man up to me!” Taylor screeched.

    “Why not? You afraid to hear about how you blew it?” Matt questioned, his green eyes glinting. “How you were supposed to get married, have kids, and raise a happy family – but you blew it because you’re so overbearing that you end up pushing everyone away! Don’t you wonder why Madeline didn’t come back?”

    “I know exactly why she didn’t come back – she went prancing off after a worthless skate punk, trying to live some sort of – hic – romantic fantasy,” Taylor said bitterly.

    “Is that supposed to shock me? Look at this! Her reality sucked!!” Matt yelled. “It’s the same reason you don’t want to be sober.”

    “You don’t know what the hell you’re…(hic)…talking about,” Taylor gasped defensively.

    “Really?” Matt shot back, the glint in his eye growing more manic. “You don’t want to live with the pain of what you did…and the fear of losing everyone that cared about you.”

    “You’re just a boy! You don’t know anything!!” Taylor shouted.

    “And you’re a grown woman,” Matt said coldly. “And you still don’t know anything.”

    SMASH.

    Hard liquor splashed onto the floor again as another bottle fell victim to its unyielding surface, shattering and splattering its contents on anything and anyone it could reach. Matt’s eyes narrowed. His mother, disheveled ginger hair and all, had lost it.

    “DON’T – TALK TO ME LIKE THAT!!” she screeched, clenching her fist and swinging it at Matt. He grabbed Taylor’s wrist in one of his hands, stopping it cold.

    “Too bad for you…” he said through his teeth. “I’m not the same timid little kid anymore. You know, you slapped Madeline a couple of times when we were young, and I never really forgot that.”

    “That’s…none of your business…” Taylor snarled.

    “TO HELL IT ISN’T!! SHE’S THE ONLY FAMILY I HAVE LEFT!!” Matt yelled, shoving Taylor backward. She looked at her thirteen-year-old son with shock in her green eyes. “Swing at me again, and I swear on Xavier’s grave, I’ll break your arm.”

    There was a long, pronounced silence. Taylor quietly walked over to a cabinet…a cabinet that always seemed to be full, no matter how bad things got financially…and pulled out a fresh bottle of liquor.

    Sitting down at the small table with it, she said, “I loved your brother and sisters…and you.”

    Matt walked toward the door and began to push it open, but not before turning around to look at the woman with a frostbitten expression in his green eyes.

    “…Yeah. ‘Loved’ Yoshi and Xavier straight to death.”

    And with that, he left, leaving Taylor alone. She took a long, bottoms-up-type swig from her bottle and slammed it into the table, burying her face in her hand as she broke down into tears, messily drinking from her bottle between sobs.


    Hands in his pockets, Matt trudged through the streets of Cherrygrove’s housing projects – ironically called Ruby Lane. Hell, if there were any actual rubies on this street, the tenants of the project wouldn’t have to live like homeless people that just happened to have a roof over their heads. Of course, Matt, mostly thrifty during his short career as a Trainer, came back to Cherrygrove the previous August, for all intents and purposes, loaded. He was probably the richest kid on the block, which might not have been saying a whole lot – but at least he wasn’t spending the bottom half of his money getting utterly and completely smashed like Taylor was.

    The wind blew a touch chilly on this morning in April 2012. Judging by the cloud cover overhead and the wetness on the street, it had stopped raining just a few hours ago. Walking on the sidewalk, he stepped right over a graffiti piece – spray-painted into one of the panels was a logo with a capital ‘R’ and capital ‘L’ seemingly intertwined in the same symbol. Matt ignored the graffiti, as it simply didn’t shock him any longer. That particular symbol was the symbol for the ‘Ruby Lane Crew’ – who were nothing more than a bunch of adolescents that liked to hang out in the neighborhood’s alleyways and stir up trouble that never seemed to get much more serious than shaking a guy down for some extra cash. But even that eventually lost its luster as they quickly figured out that most kids in the Ruby Lane developments were even poorer than they were.

    He stopped and glanced down an alley that had been one of the RLC’s old haunts. That specific alley had memories for him…it was where he first got the idea in his head to be a Pokémon Trainer.



    Summer of 2008 – Cherrygrove City, Johto

    Nine-year-old Matt turned a corner, panting. A smile crossed his youthful face as he realized that no one was following him.

    “Yeah! No way she’ll find me now,” he laughed, running down the main road of the Ruby Lane development in Cherrygrove City. ‘She’ was Madeline, his twin sister, and one of their favorite pastimes (since they were not yet allowed to walk to the beach on their own yet) was to play hide-and-seek in the three-block radius they were allowed to travel in Cherrygrove City. (That from their father, Otto, when Taylor had insisted that they not be able to leave their small neighborhood of Walterkiel.)

    Unfortunately, Walterkiel was close to Ruby Lane, which was one of the worst neighborhoods in the city…and yet, it was still within the three blocks. Matt never came down here because his father had cautioned him not to do so unless he could absolutely help it. However, he was starting to realize that he could use that to his advantage during his little games. Since Madeline never thought that he would go into Ruby Lane by himself, she never bothered looking there, which could extend the game for hours – or at least until five, when they had to be home in the summer. (Taylor was shooting for four o’clock.)

    He found a small alleyway and stopped. It was sort of creepy, but if he hid back here, he was all but assured of victory, wasn’t he? He looked left and right to make sure that there was still no one following him, and ducked into the alley.

    He ducked again as a small, bat-like Pokémon (it wasn’t that dark in here, was it?) flew overhead. There was all kinds of trash thrown out back here. Everything to cigarette butts to old pieces of newspaper…to some weird, crumpled, grubby, rubber-looking tubes that Matt wasn’t sure he wanted to find out the use for. Ironically, there sat (as sat in many alleyways) a dumpster that was relatively empty. Boy, it was no surprise that Ruby Lane was so poor – the people here were lazy.

    “Hey, kid,” Matt’s heart nearly burst forth from his chest as he whirled around to get a look at who had spoken. There was a boy with greasy, black hair, standing flanked by two other adolescents. He appeared to be several years older and several inches taller than Matt, and spoke in a very gravelly tone of voice. “You lost?”

    Matt gulped. “N-no.”

    “So you came here to join the Ruby Lane Crew?” the tall, greasy-haired boy asked. Matt saw out of the corner of his eye that the Zubat was circling him, flapping its azure-and-violet wings frantically. “Looks like you’re a couple of years early, kid.”

    “N-no!” Matt exclaimed. “I was just hiding from my sister. I don’t know anything about any ‘Ruby Lane Crew.’”

    “What was that?” the boy asked.

    “I said, I don’t know anything about the ‘Ruby Lane Crew!’” Matt exclaimed, louder this time.


    Matt hit the ground on his back – or, more like on his hands, which had been forcefully tied behind his back. As he squirmed, he looked up at the menacing group of teenagers, many of whom had their fingers in their ears.

    “You’ll remember us now, kid!” the greasy-haired leader shouted. “Zuma, use Supersonic!!!”

    The Zubat floated down right beside Matt’s head and released a horrific wave of sound energy. Matt’s eyes narrowed to pinpricks as the sonic assault on his eardrums began to cause him unimaginable pain. Unable to cover his ears because his hands were tied, he was subjected to the attack’s full power, causing him to thrash and scream.

    Matt had no idea how long it went. He had lost track of time and believed that he had perhaps fainted at least once. His ears were bleeding and his vision was blurry. He retched once…twice…and then heaved the contents of his stomach to mingle with the trash on the dirty alleyway floor. Muscles in his body began to shake involuntarily as he coughed and screamed (between vomiting episodes) for anyone he knew to help him.

    “Matt!” he heard a girl’s voice scream and his heart sank – it was Madeline.

    “Matt!” a young man’s voice followed. Matt’s heart rose again.

    “Hey, who are you?!” he faintly heard one of the boys shout. Then, sounds of impact. Zuma was distracted and flew away…then, finally, after what seemed like hours of agony, Matt passed out.


    Cold sweat dripped down Matt’s face as he remembered one of the darkest moments in his thirteen years and change of life. His green eyes darted around him, half hoping that the boys that had inhabited his nightmares for years would burst out of the alley or come darting around a corner. He would show them his newfound inner strength…and then he would show them his Nidoking. But he left it alone. He no longer needed to do it. It was enough to him to know that he had the power to do it. Maybe subconsciously in defiance of his mother’s old rules, he set off toward the beach.

    As he arrived at the western edge of town where the beach was located, he did not know what exactly had brought him there. After all, there was nobody there in the morning in April. But, then again…that was just it, wasn’t it? There was nobody there in the morning in April. So he could be alone with his thoughts, which was really all he wanted right now.

    The sand, dampened by morning rain, felt grittier than usual on his sandals. Hardly anybody wore closed-toed shoes in the city of Cherrygrove unless it was the dead of winter, and good luck finding any snow boots. No way – the town was too used to surf, sun, and mostly warm climates.

    But today was the very antithesis of that. There was only a bit of sun, peeking out from morning clouds that were trying their best and failing to disappear. The waves were flat…not like anybody would want to go surfing when the water was this cold, but still…and it might have been fifty-five degrees at best. And yet, he was out here, watching the tide’s ebb and flow, thinking about how much had gone wrong…

    It was just ten months ago that he had come out here on his own for the first time – and not really on his own; his sister had been with him. They had finally been allowed to go on their journey (or rather, they had been told to ‘you-know-what’ off after they pestered their mother about it one time too many) and had been expected to travel together. Of course, on their first day out, it didn’t take long for that plan to go out of the window.

    Sort of tall…long, coal black hair…

    He’d had his dream stolen from him last year, though. The League was cancelled…all because a boy he had first seen on this very beach happened to be the main player in what could be best described by Matt as a fantasy novel from hell.

    Wearing a skirt…barefoot…

    Matt did a double take as he realized that he had been staring at a girl standing right at the shore’s edge, wearing no shoes, allowing the cold water to lap up onto her feet and ankles. He approached her languidly, hands in pockets, figuring she’d turn around and see him looking at her eventually.

    “What the hell are you doing?” he asked rather abrasively. “Aren’t your feet cold?”

    The girl turned around and the two pairs of green eyes met each other.

    “Hold on a second…I know you,” the girl gasped.

    “Really?” Matt said, nonplussed. “I guess that means I know you from somewhere, too.”

    “Matt,” she said flatly, not looking happy to see him.

    “You’re Mariah,” he said. “Mariah Cecil. Where’s your boyfriend?”

    At that, Mariah turned around and looked at the water.

    “I don’t have one,” she said.

    “I thought Rafael was your boyfriend,” Matt said defensively.

    “Operative word – ‘was’,” Mariah said sadly.

    “You guys broke up?” Matt asked.

    “We haven’t been together since before the Invitational,” Mariah answered. “When I met you the first time.”

    “Oh…that sucks,” Matt said curtly.

    “You wouldn’t know,” Mariah said nastily. “You’ve never been through a breakup before, have you?”

    Matt clenched his fists.

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked. “I’ve just never wanted a girlfriend.”

    “More like, there’s nobody that’ll have you,” Mariah shot back.

    “Yeah, probably not,” Matt laughed in spite of himself. “Nobody wants the bitter guy with the shitty family history.”

    Mariah smiled mirthlessly. “Well, since you’ve obviously got the weight of the world on your shoulders, maybe I should find a different spot on the beach to be alone with my thoughts.”

    With that, she turned around and walked away…five steps, then she stopped.

    “What are you waiting for?” Matt barked. “Weren’t you leaving?”

    “What are you waiting for?” Mariah asked. “Weren’t you going to follow me?”

    Matt grimaced. Mariah was right.

    That day, Matt and Mariah’s lives were loosely bonded as they shared tiny parts of themselves with the other. As Taylor’s behavior became more and more erratic, the brooding Matt spent more and more time out of the house, chatting with Mariah down at the beach. As it turned out, there wasn’t much wrong in her family life, save perhaps for the fact that her father, a firefighter, had died in the line of duty so early in her life that she could barely remember him. She had a mother that cared about her very much, as well as an older sister that was living on her own in Violet City.

    May passed, and June rolled around. Matt had decided not to participate in this year’s league – more or less because he was on a suicide watch with his mother, who had gotten more and more self-destructive, combining her nasty drinking habit with the abuse of prescribed anti-depressants. She spent most of her time in bed, leaving Matt to cook for and fend for himself – fortunately not much of a problem for a teenage Trainer. The only bad part was, with most of the time she spent in bed, there were a lot of instances when she wasn’t alone.

    Matt, wearing a new flat cap he had bought for himself, was eating toast on this particular June morning when an old phone at the edge of the kitchen rang. Rolling his eyes and knowing that his mother was either too drowsy or too intoxicated to realize that it was ringing, Matt got up to get the phone himself.

    It was a good thing he did.

    “Marius residence,” he answered calmly.

    “Matt…Matty, is that you? Get here quick…please!!” a girl on the other line was crying hysterically. Matt’s face fell.

    “Bee? Bee? What the hell’s going on?” (It was about three weeks after they met that Matt started using this nickname for her, almost unconsciously.)

    “I’m at the beach. I need you – I mean, I need to see you. Right now,” the girl sounded desperate.

    “Where are –” Matt said, starting to panic. “Never mind. I’ll be there. Give me…twenty minutes.”

    “Please come…please…” she sobbed.

    “I’m coming. I’m coming. Stay right where you are,” he said, hanging up the phone. Swearing silently to himself and wondering what the hell could be happening to her, he figured he might as well tell his mother that he was leaving. “Mom!!”

    The sight he saw next made him want to throw up. He had seen them before…long after…but never still in bed. His mother, obviously nude under the covers of her small bed, looked up at him, her green eyes filtering through her curtain of disheveled, ginger hair. Next to her, also in the bed, was a man with a mess of short, blonde hair.

    “What the…” Matt said the last word silently to himself. “That’s gotta be the third time in the last month.”

    “What is it, babe?” she asked groggily.

    “I’m going. Bee’s in some type of trouble,” Matt said. “And I need to leave now.”

    “A bee’s in trouble?” Taylor groaned.

    “No – ‘Bee.’ Mariah, don’t you remember me telling you about her?” Matt asked.

    “Mariah? A girl?” Taylor murmured. “…She your girlfriend?”

    “No,” Matt answered vehemently. “Just my friend…who happens to be a girl.”

    “Since when have you ever had friends…or started talking to girls?” Taylor asked drowsily.

    “Since you started popping pills, bringing home random guys in the middle of the night, and overall losing track of my life,” Matt said. Eyeing the man with utter disdain and venom, he asked, “Who the hell is he anyway?”

    “Adam…no, that was the last one – he was such a prick…” Taylor muttered, utterly focused on this one task and too hung over to notice her son’s shameless tone of voice. “Rob? No...that’s wrong. ****, how much did I have to drink last night? You don’t remember, do you, babe?”

    Matt was gone, muttering angrily to himself and slamming the front door behind him.

    “You know you’re f***ed up when you gotta spend an hour trying to figure out exactly who it was that got into your pants last night,” he muttered to himself savagely. “Honestly…f***ing train wreck. Why the hell do I even bother? “

    And he continued in this vein all the way out of Ruby Lane and toward the beach.

    No sooner than he had set foot on the beach than he was nearly knocked to the ground by a teenage girl with black hair, who was crying hysterically. In shock, he pulled her off him and got a good look at her face. Normally pale, it was red and drenched with tears.

    “What’s going on?” he asked, still surprised. Mariah looked up at him.

    “He’s dead!” she shrieked. “Rafael’s dead!”

    Matt stood still as she buried her head in his shoulder, wailing loudly. He stood there, feeling like an idiot. Why did he hang out with her, anyway? He guessed it was something about her being there to talk to…it had a calming influence on him. It kept him holding on to sanity. But what did he ever do for her but burden her with his own problems?

    …And now that she needed to be comforted, he didn’t have any words to say to her. He felt utterly powerless…

    Awkwardly, he patted her on the back. A tiny part of him wanted to swallow her in his arms and tell her that everything would be okay. But he felt he had no right. He didn’t want her to misunderstand him and made her think that he felt anything for her besides friendship.

    That was the story of their existence for the next several months. As the days passed and the seasons changed, there were less and less secrets between them. At Matt’s home, Taylor continued her partying lifestyle. On the upside, she’d stopped bringing men home for nights of drunken passion, but that was more to the tune of her determining (in no more of a sober state) that all men were dogs, and she was better off alone…and drunk. Unfortunately for Matt, he was a teenage boy, and since Taylor had no male companions – big surprise there – she projected all of her misandry onto her son.

    And yet, somehow, Matthew was numb to it all. For most of his life, he had looked upon his mother with pity, remembering that this was, in fact, the woman that gave birth to him; remembering that she had not always been like this. She had been rational…at least, for someone as moody as she had normally been. And that line of thinking was why the things she said, the things she did…always hurt.

    Then, he woke up one morning and realized that he didn’t care anymore. That he couldn’t care anymore. Even as selfish and as cold as it would seem to the outsider, he couldn’t bring himself to worry about her any longer. It wasn’t worth the stress, the emotional and mental draining.

    Matt observed himself in the mirror. Signs of the drastic bleach job that he had maintained through the summer was still there, but was now drowned by the sheer length of his dark brown hair, which he had slicked back and hung long all the way down to the base of his neck – the longest he had ever had it in his fourteen years of life. Today, he covered it with a beanie. For late November, it wasn’t horrifically cold, but it was cold enough for a black skullcap to go along with his black hoodie.

    Hands in his pockets, he sauntered down the tiny flight of stairs and looked left, expecting to hear a shout. He was surprised when he saw a woman sitting placidly at the small, ragged, wooden table, not clutching a bottle full of liquor, but rather a mug full of a piping hot coffee that might have been even blacker than the clothes he was wearing. She was poring through a newspaper.

    Holy ****ing Almighties… he swore mentally. Alcohol, prescription antidepressants, and now caffeine?

    Taylor, however, didn’t seem to be feeling the effects of the first two. In fact, just by looking at her, Matthew could tell that his mother was more sober – being slightly coffee-wired notwithstanding – was more sober than he had perhaps seen her since the last time her cabinet ran out of drinks, which was a LONG time ago. She peered over the gray paper and put it down onto the table. She stared at her son, a slightly anxious smile creeping across her thin, pale lips. Matthew stared back at her coldly.

    “Going somewhere?” she asked.

    Mariah wanted to meet him on the boardwalk at noon for lunch…but, as Matt looked for a clock and found one, he realized that it was barely after ten.

    “Not now,” he admitted.

    “Pull up a chair,” she said. Matt, figuring that he’d humor her for a couple of minutes if it meant that she wouldn’t fly off the handle, did so and sat down. This table was never big enough, but surely not now that Matt was the age and size he was. His knees and Taylor’s kept hitting each other – a fact that she seemed to find amusing.

    “I never see you anymore,” she said sweetly. Matt’s heart sank in his throat. He’d heard that before. Those words, word for word, said in the exact same tone, preceded at last half of the arguments that happened between his parents in the year before his father (who was a lawyer and, at times, used work to get away from his erratic wife) walked out.

    “It’s boring here,” Matt said tactlessly. “There’s stuff to do outside.”

    “Like Mariah?” Taylor asked. Matt’s jaw twitched for a second – he hoped to the Almighties that Taylor had asked that question while ignoring the context completely. Unfortunately for Matt, the context was the first thing to come to mind, which made him very delicate in the way he was planning to word his response. Fortunately, Taylor saved him from that particular embarrassment by running her mouth some more. “Seems like she’s really nice, the way you’re always going to see her. I’d like to meet her one day.”

    Sure, when hell freezes over and we can sunbathe in Mahogany, Matt thought to himself, remaining silent.

    “I don’t know how she deals with you, whoever she is,” Taylor commented. “You’re so…cold all the time.”

    Matt smirked in spite of himself.

    “Yeah, life can do that to you,” he said with a slight laugh.

    It was nothing short of surreal, sitting there, talking to his mother, having a civil conversation. Yesterday, it was something that he would have given his left arm to do. It was something that, in spite of himself, he had literally dreamed about. Now, he was numb. Sharing this peaceful moment with his mother didn’t make him happy.

    In fact, deep down…it made him angrier. As always, she was the embodiment of ‘too little, too late’ – just like the time she baked a lavish dinner for Otto, the day before he left to take his promotion. She was capable of being fake and acting with the best of them.

    After a bit of time passed, Matt looked up at the clock again.

    11:15.

    He jumped to his feet while Taylor was in mid-sentence…a sentence that happened to go on for about two or three minutes prior.

    “Hm?” she uttered.

    “Sorry…” he murmured. “I’ve gotta get going.”

    “Oh, okay.” No argument? No asking for specifics (even though she knew already)? Matt was right. This was too easy. This was too smooth.

    He started toward the front door. Taylor piped up again.

    “I’m looking for a job.”

    “…That’s nice.”

    Cold…
    It was still cold, and not just the late November temperatures, either. He walked out, slamming the door behind him rather forcefully and causing Taylor to jump.

    Matt took one last, gloomy look at his dilapidated house, slipped his hands into his jean pockets, and stalked off. It was on the way down Ruby Lane that he realized why he could bend so easily, why he could say two words to her without doing or thinking anything violent.

    He was already broken.

    He chuckled to himself. On the bright side, there was hardly any ways for his life to be simpler. He woke up every morning and, with nothing to do, went through the motions of everyday life. He interacted with one of two people all of his waking hours, and spent the time between those interactions alone with his own thoughts, to think about how to interact.

    It was simple, and yet…it was pathetic.

    He knew he could be much more than this. But all of his life, and all of the problems thereof, were rolled up in the woman inside his house…

    …and the one outside, too.

    If Matt had a choice of which ‘problem’ to handle, he’d take Mariah, easy, because at least she appreciated him. Then again, that was the problem. She ‘appreciated’ him too much. She hadn’t verbally said it, but he could somehow tell when he compared her now to how she had been in April.

    She smiled a bit wider whenever she saw him, and he could have sworn that he saw a faint tinge of pink on her cheeks the last couple of times. Her embraces with him lasted a couple of seconds longer. She wore her hair out around him, and started wearing nicer outfits, too. And sometimes, during or after the really deep conversations (which had gotten even deeper as time wore on), he saw this subtle motion. It was barely noticeable, but ever since Matt had seen it the first time and started looking for it again, he saw it nearly every time he expected to see it. She would stare at him, maybe for a second or two, and her lips would twitch, almost as if she was hoping for a kiss…

    Matt knew what was happening, at least for her part, and he couldn’t understand it. She had started to envision him as more than a friend.

    She was falling for him.

    For Matt’s part, he was afraid. Of course, he’d never tell her that. She trusted him with nearly everything that was happening in her life, both good and bad; because of that, he needed to be strong for her. He knew how sensitive she’d been since Rafael had killed himself. In fact, he might have been the only person that had any idea of how much it still hurt her. So, he was afraid…so afraid that he had initially made the decision that, through sheer willpower, he was never going to look at her as anything other than a friend.

    He resolved to will himself never to fall in love with her.

    He ran down the stairs at a slight jog, hands in his pockets the whole way. As soon as his feet hit the boardwalk –

    “You’re late, Matt. That’s not like you.”

    He looked up. “Oh…hey.”

    Leaning near the railing was a girl with a pale face and pretty, green eyes. She was dressed in a beige hoodie lined with fur. He approached her cautiously.

    “What’s going on?” Mariah asked.

    “Same old, same old,” Matt muttered. “Absolutely nothing.”

    Mariah giggled. Matt grimaced – he hadn’t been trying to be funny.

    “…My mom and I had another falling out,” Mariah sighed. Matt frowned. While the two undeniably loved each other, Mariah and her mother had been butting heads more and more since Rafael’s death. “She was cleaning the house and tried to throw away an old picture of me with—”

    Matt’s mouth twitched. Mariah looked away from him. It pained her even to think about speaking his name now.

    “She said I should stop obsessing over a ghost and move on while I’m still young,” Mariah said. “Then I pointed out that I hadn’t seen her date anyone at all since Dad died. She got ****** at me and said it wasn’t the same.”

    “At least you know what your mom’s thinking most of the time,” Matt said, thinking back to his ‘conversation’ with Taylor.

    Mariah was stung by this comment. “I’m sorry…”

    “Life’s a *****,” Matt grunted. “And you have to deal with a lot of them. My life is simple. I only ever talk to Taylor, or you.”

    “Must be lonely,” Mariah, who had a friend or two in her neighborhood, a few relatives in the city, as well as an older sister and a brother-in-law that had recently announced that they had a baby on the way, commented.

    “What’s the other option? Throw yourself at the mercy of the world and hope it doesn’t screw me?” Matt asked.

    “Is something on your mind, Matt?” Mariah asked.

    “Nothing you need to worry about,” Matt replied coolly.

    Mariah frowned.

    “Why…” she sighed. “Why won’t you…let me in?”

    “Let you ‘in’? You’re more ‘in’ than anybody else in my life,” Matt said. Not that this was saying a lot – he had about three people total in his life. One was off the continent, and the other was a total junkie.

    “That’s not what I mean,” Mariah said, suddenly sounding desperate. “Matt…I…”

    “Don’t joke around, Bee,” Matt interrupted, not meeting her eye. “You and I both know you can’t deal with another damaged person.”

    “I know you’re not like Rafael!” Mariah shouted all of a sudden. “You don’t want to die. You refuse to die. Even if you never had anything else, you’ve always had that.”

    “What…are you…” Matt started, but Mariah cut him off.

    “You know exactly what I’m saying, Matthew,” her green eyes pierced into his soul like never before, and spoke the words that her lips wouldn’t utter. Shaking her head, she said, “I…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…”
    But you should. What’s holding you back?

    “It doesn’t matter,” Matt said. “I’ve had worse.”
    Look at me, I’m pathetic! What the hell do you see in me, anyway?

    “I just need to know something,” Mariah said. “Will you be there for me? Like you’ve been?”
    Do you love me?

    “Of course I will,” Matt replied. “You have a friend in me – always.”
    Yes, but you can’t know that…

    Matt froze as he realized what had happened. His plan hadn’t worked at all. He was going to force himself away from falling in love with Mariah. The only problem with that plan – he had never fallen in love before, and didn’t know what it felt like…until now.

    “A friend?” Mariah asked.
    …Is that all?

    “That’s right. I’ll always be your friend,” Matt answered.
    But as for anything else…

    So, for the time being, they let their true feelings for one another stay secret, with maybe Matthew at least thinking that he had a simple crush that would pass after a few weeks. But as November ended, December blew through, and January 2013 turned into February 2013, Matt began to realize something that he should have known all along. He was not the victim of a passing infatuation. Time melts those away…just like the sun was melting water that had pooled and frozen from the overnight rain showers.

    A pamphlet had found its way to his house a couple of days ago. Hoenn…it was far to the south. Beautiful country, from what he had heard. It also, most importantly of all, had its own Pokémon League. Today was, fittingly enough, the fourteenth of February – Valentine’s Day. Matt knew that Mariah, even though they were never ‘official’ – whatever the hell that meant – would be expecting something from him. So, as a formality, he had brought her candy. He was also going to show her the pamphlet.

    This time, he called her and asked that they meet, appropriately enough, at the Pokémon Center, at eleven in the morning. He knew she would come. First of all, it was Valentine’s Day and she liked him. Second, she was the one that usually called him, so she would know that this was important.

    And that was why, at a quarter past eleven, Matthew Marius was sitting in a booth in Cherrygrove City’s Pokémon Center. He looked over the nearby tables…and wondered which one his twin sister had occupied nearly two years ago when she first met her future boyfriend…

    Mariah was late. Granted, that wasn’t very uncommon, so Matt decided to wait it out.

    Finally, after 11:20, she came strolling in, her eyes immediately scanning the foyer. She was wearing the same beige hoodie she had always worn during the cold weather months. She unzipped the hoodie. Under it, she had a white, long-sleeved shirt with a pair of pink hearts printed in the center. She also seemed to have done something with her hair. It was blacker, straighter, and shinier than Matt had ever seen it, and was adorned with a pink ribbon.

    She was beautiful…

    “You’re late,” Matt said loudly, mostly in an attempt to get her attention. She saw him and ran over to the booth, carrying a small bag and smiling widely. She slid into the booth.

    “Sorry, I spent too much time getting ready,” she explained.

    “I figured that,” Matt replied. “Looks like it was worth it, though.”

    He blinked awkwardly, wondering how the hell he let that last thought make it to his mouth instead of staying in his brain where it belonged. Mariah was too busy blushing to notice.

    “You think so?” she asked. Matt swore mentally. He couldn’t say ‘no’ after that. Besides, he’d be lying…

    “Yeah,” he answered. “Eh...Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    He pushed the box of candy toward her a bit nervously. Discreetly, he pulled his hands under the table and wiped them on his jeans, trying to stop them from sweating so much.

    “Thank you,” Mariah said with a smile. Then, her smile was gone. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” Matt did lie this time. “Well, no…I have something to tell you, Bee.”

    “Really? What is it?” Mariah asked brightly.

    “I got a pamphlet, a couple of days ago,” Matt confessed, showing her the folded brochure. She opened it and looked it over.

    “Hoenn…” she whispered.

    “I’m going,” he said. “This summer.”

    “You told me to come all the way out here to let me know you were leaving?” Mariah asked, sounding hurt.

    “No,” Matt said. “I wanted to know…if you wanted to come with me.”

    Mariah gasped.

    “Come with you?” she repeated, sounding completely beside herself with shock.

    “Do you remember the day that…you know,” Matt said. “That night on the beach when I said that I wished I could take you away from everything?”

    Mariah nodded, gulping. Then she smiled.

    “That’s good,” she said. “I don’t want to lose you.”

    “You won’t – trust me,” Matt replied.

    “How do you know?” she asked.

    “Because I…” he looked away from her. “Because I have to believe that I won’t run away this time. I won’t…screw up. I can’t.”

    “I know you won’t,” Mariah answered, reaching over the table and putting her hand on Matt’s shoulder. Using it as leverage, she began to lean over the table.

    Matt’s brain was scrambled. He knew that this was one of those points of no return. They would no longer be able to see each other as friends after this happened. They would either be something more…or fade away nothing at all. Matt didn’t want to lose his only friend. It just seemed like too much of a gamble. Then there was all that Rafael business. Did she mean this, or was she going to kiss him while remembering Rafael? Did she think about Rafael all the time when she was with him, or did she regard him as someone else entirely? Had she left Rafael behind and truly fallen for him?

    And then there was something else that was bothering him, completely separate from all of that – something less complicated, but perhaps even more frightening.

    “…W-wait,” he said nervously, stammering for perhaps the first time since he was twelve. “I’ve never…”

    Mariah didn’t pull back, but she stopped right where she was, six inches from Matt’s face, which had gone from beige-tan to red in no time flat. He felt a cool breeze and smelled a touch of mint on the air as she giggled, looking at him like he was simply the most adorable thing in the world.

    “Then I’ll go slow so you remember how,” she whispered, inching toward Matt’s face. He stayed there frozen, wanting to protest, and yet wanting to keep his mouth shut (or open, or whatever position it was supposed to be in) and let it happen. It seemed like the entire world around him was going in slow motion. Then it happened.

    The feel of another person’s lips against his was strange for a moment. His eyes began to wander around her face, and he started seeing things that he never noticed from a distance. Her almond eyes were mostly the exact same shade of green as his, with the exception of tiny, icy-blue streaks one could only see if she was this close. She had long, straight, pretty eyelashes…and dimples. Had he always stood that far away from her that he never noticed that she had dimples? What the hell was wrong with him?

    His heart started beating faster and he closed his eyes. After a few moments – or it might have been two or three minutes – she pulled back and Matt heard a ragged breath, almost like a sob. He opened his eyes quickly and saw that hers were starting to fill with tears. Almost on instinct, he reached up and caught them off her right eye. He held his hand there for a second, shocked at what he had just done and how easily it had come to him. She grabbed that hand with her own and held it against her cheek, smiling at him as her moist eyes shone brightly.

    “You’d better not forget our anniversary, either,” she said. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    BANG.

    The room shook as a sound like a bomb exploding rattled the walls of the Pokémon Center. Smoke and flames quickly filled the room.

    Matt jumped to his feet, looking around frantically for Mariah, from whom he had been separated when the booth beneath them shattered.

    “Mariah!” he shouted. “Mariah?”

    “MARIAH!!!!”

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  22. #22
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    Default Chapter 48-2

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    He looked up at a white ceiling and immediately squinted.

    This wasn’t the eatery.

    “Damn!!” he groaned, trying to sit up very quickly. His head started to spin, and he lay down again.

    As his eyes came into focus, all he saw were white and grays. One thing was for sure…he’d been dreaming – reliving many of the important moments in his relationship with Mariah. There hadn’t been an explosion at the Cherrygrove Pok&#233;mon Center on Valentine’s Day – not while he was there. He’d stayed out on the town with her that day until nearly dusk. He’d walked her all the way to her home on the other side of town. Mariah had offered him to have dinner with her and her mother before he set out across the city again, but he had refused and instead made the trip back to his house alone. There hadn’t been any danger at all.

    So, why had it been in the dream?

    He certainly remembered an explosion, but the location was different.

    His head hurt like all hell…what was happening?

    “Where am I?” he muttered. “What’s going on…?”

    “You’re in Mossdeep General,” a young lady’s voice said very informatively. Matt looked around the room and then to his left, as a young woman that might have been in her mid-twenties approached him. Since she was wearing all white, he supposed he never noticed her at his first glance, especially with her light blonde hair and rather pale face. She was obviously a nurse.

    “…Hospital?” he groaned. “I’m in the hospital?”

    “The Pok&#233;mon Center was attacked earlier this evening,” the nurse explained. “You took a nasty blow to the head, but I think you’ll be all right.”

    “Where’s Madeline? My sister?” Matt looked around.

    “Your sister? Brown hair, green eyes, light tan complexion?” the nurse asked. Matt nodded. “Right outside, waiting. I’ll go let her know you’re awake.”

    Matt slumped against the bed. So a Pok&#233;mon Center had been attacked – it had been Mossdeep’s, not the one in Cherrygrove…

    The door to the room opened. As it did, Matt’s eyes drifted upward to the clock directly above it.

    11:30.

    He went reeling as he was nearly tackled by a girl that was now crying unabashedly into his chest. She banged on his collarbone with her fists a couple of times.

    “You idiot!!” she wailed. “Don’t scare me like that!!”

    He looked down apologetically as his sister broke away from him and clung to a tall, red-haired boy – one of two that had walked in behind her. The other, a younger boy, was standing placidly near the doorway. He had a head of longish, reddish-blond hair.

    “I came back about a half-hour after it happened,” this boy was the first to speak. “Found the food court outside in pieces and cops everywhere – if it hadn’t been a Pok&#233;mon Center, I wouldn’t have gotten into the building. That was just as Shiro and Madeline were leaving, and they told me you were here. How’s your head feel?”

    “Like somebody hit me over the head with a frickin’ sledgehammer,” Matt muttered.

    “No surprise there,” Kelly responded.

    “Whatever,” Matt grunted. “Is Mariah okay?”

    There was silence. The three standing teenagers exchanged looks. Matt grew impatient.

    “Well?!” he said loudly.

    “She’s…they dragged her off,” Shiro said. The color drained out of Matt’s face.

    “What the hell would they want with her?” he said, his entire body shaking in anger. “Who the hell were ‘they’, anyway?”

    “From what I heard, the witnesses said that the guys were wearing dark suits, and all of them wore the same lapel pin,” Kelly said. “Do you remember seeing anything?”

    “It looked like…actually, it looked like some type of club or hammer,” Matt muttered after racking his brains for a few moments.

    “Hammer? As in, the Jade Hammer?” Kelly repeated.

    “Just what the (a word stronger than ‘hell’) is the ‘Jade Hammer’?” Matt asked sourly.

    “They’re a Hoenn supremacist group,” answered…

    “Travis?” Shiro uttered, looking toward the doorway. “When’d you get here?”

    “Just now,” the blue-haired teen said, walking in with an expression of artificial, forced-looking calmness on his face.

    He’d have some answers. Half of the crazy **** that had happened to Matt in Hoenn had to do with him.

    “Okay, so just what the (same word) is going on here?” Matt asked angrily.

    “Where’s Katrina?” Madeline asked quickly.

    “She’s back at the Pok&#233;mon Center, staying with Anhje and Crescent,” Travis replied.

    “How are they?” Shiro asked.

    “Physically, everyone’s fine, but…” Travis sighed. “Katrina’s gone really paranoid and keeps looking over her shoulder whenever Anhje’s with her, which is all the time. And Crescent’s been a headache. He nearly brought down the rest of the Pok&#233;mon Center. They knocked him out to pull out the bullet…”

    “Bullet?” Matthew repeated in shock.

    “Yeah, somebody in their crew was packing,” Shiro said, his arms folded.

    “…Then Crescent went nuts and started blasting the hell out of everything in sight, so they had to tie him down and shoot him up with a tranquilizer,” Travis continued. Madeline and Shiro both looked at him wearing expressions of horror. “Part of it was his injury, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that ******.”

    “What’s his problem?” Matt grunted.

    “Same as yours,” Shiro said. “They got Angel, too. We saw one them try to grab Anhje. That didn’t work out too well for the guy who did it. I’ve never seen Katrina so ******. She killed him, cremated him, and scattered his ashes all in the space of about three seconds.”

    “Katrina’s taking care of Anhje…Angel belongs to Travis…and Mariah’s Matt’s girlfriend…” Shiro muttered.

    “But we all know Travis,” Matt said, looking at the blue-haired boy. “I think I’ll go out on a limb here and say that they’re after us because we know you.”

    “…And normally, I’d say you’re right,” Travis admitted. “But, if I were you, I wouldn’t sell myself too short. What do you, Katrina, and me all have in common?”

    “…We’re Trainers,” Matt said.

    “What else?” Travis asked. “What makes us different from...Kelly?”

    “Why me?” Kelly asked. Travis shot him a look that clearly and concisely said, Shut up – I’m trying to make a point here.

    “He’s from Hoenn,” Matt answered.

    “And you’re not,” Kelly gasped.

    “I’m not sure you remember,” Travis said. “But have you ever heard of the ‘Liberati’?”

    “…Yeah, rings a bell,” Matt said after a while. “I mean, I’ve only heard stories. I think I was only a couple of years old when they were around. They were supposed to be behind the kidnappings and murders of a lot of foreign Trainers in Joh…to…oh, s**t…”

    He ran a hand through his hair in panic.

    “They’re going to kill her,” he groaned. “They’re going to f**king kill her.”

    “I doubt that,” Travis sighed, pulling out a piece of paper and handing it to Matthew. “Somebody left this with Nurse Joy right around when the attack happened.”

    “Great,” Shiro muttered as he voiced his assumption. “A friggin’ ransom letter.”

    “Yeah…and no,” Travis commented. “They don’t want money from us.”

    “What do they want, then?” Shiro questioned.

    “They want us to bring them all of our badges…and go back to Johto,” Matt said, his green eyes poring over the paper and doing a back-and-forth motion reminiscent of an old typewriter. “It says to meet them at the Old Observatory at noon tomorrow with all three sets of badges.”

    “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that it was less about where you guys were from and more that somebody doesn’t want to have to face you in the tournament,” Shiro remarked, his arms folded. “That’s a real ***** way to get rid of competition.”

    “They made a huge mistake,” Matt said, crumpling the paper in one of his shaking fists. His green irises were glinting. “If they wanted to get me out of the tournament, they should have killed me.”

    He looked up at Travis.

    “We’re going to go get them, right?” Matt asked.

    Travis sighed. “As frustrating as this is…I can’t.”

    Everybody turned to Travis in shock.

    “Couldn’t you just go in there and…you know…” Shiro said a bit nervously.

    “I could – but these aren’t drones we’re talking about,” Travis replied. “They’re real human beings. I haven’t been able to talk to any cops, either.”

    “Why not?” Shiro asked.

    Imperial police. Think about that for a second,” Matt responded. Shiro’s face fell.

    “Oh. Yeah.”

    “Plus…I can’t be taking off with the state Katrina’s in,” Travis reasoned. “I only came here because she and Anhje both fell asleep.”

    “…********,” Matt muttered. Now, everyone turned toward him. “You just don’t want to fight anymore. Everybody knows that – including your enemies. But you don’t handle undercover well, either. You like being out front. That’s why they keep taking advantage of you.”

    “Matt!” Madeline scolded.

    “Don’t pretend you know anything about it, because you don’t,” Travis said. “You decided to turn your head last time, right?”

    In a flash, Matt leapt from the bed and laid a right hook into Travis’ jaw, knocking the teenager to the floor. It didn’t matter that Matt was dressed in nothing but his boxers and an embarrassing hospital gown. It didn’t matter that his head had been stitched up in back…Travis had gone too far. Even Madeline, torn between siding with one of her best friends or her brother, seemed to recognize this as she held the latter back from causing any more damage.

    “That was over the line, don’t you think?” Madeline asked.

    “I won’t make that mistake again – trust me,” Matt growled. Travis sat up and, to everyone’s surprise, smiled.

    “That’s good,” he said. To everyone’s further surprise, Matt returned his facial expression with a smirk of his own.

    “You idiot,” he blustered. “Like I needed any extra motivation.”

    “I was just making sure,” Travis replied.

    “Nurse? When was I cleared to leave?” Matt asked loudly at the blonde nurse, who had been standing there transfixed by the entire situation.

    “Tomorrow morning,” she answered.

    “Think you could speed things up a little bit?” Matt asked, looking over his shoulder at her.


    August 1, PA 2013 – Lilycove City, Hoenn


    The room – if once could call it that, as it had no door – was filled with brown tones because of candlelight reflecting from the wooden walls. It had a small sink and mirror for basic face-washing and the like. Before this mirror stood a boy in his mid-teens. Wiping a towel over his face to clear that irritating, early morning grit from his eyes, he took a look at himself in the mirror. Staring back at him were another pair of dark red, almost burgundy, eyes. He saw a face, youthful but still a bit careworn, framed by a mane of jet black hair bearing a cross-shaped scar on the left side of his face. He saw a chest that had grown quite muscular for his rather thin build and bore several cuts and slash wounds of its own. He could have gotten something done about these, but he had chosen to let them stay, to remind him forever that doing the right thing sometimes came with a price.

    He had grown so much. Many of the people in this small compound that knew him, told him that he had the face of a boy, but the eyes of a man.

    The Eastern Liberation Army – neither as well-known nor as active as the Emerald Knights, but they were against the Emperor’s control all the same…which made it the perfect place for Nathaniel Elm to align himself. He could work to undermine the power of the Emperor and help bring peace to Hoenn…and yet still not put those he cared about in unnecessary danger.

    But today…in order to protect them from danger…he would have to do a bit more.

    He slipped into a black shirt and black slacks. Over it, he donned a new, burgundy trenchcoat that went with his eyes. He picked up what looked like a sheathed sword by its scabbard, and hooked it to his hip.

    He exited the room, not having to bother with a door, as there were no doors. He made a left, and then turned his eyes left. Sleeping placidly in a nightdress was a blonde girl about his own age. She shivered – these rooms were sometimes drafty. Silently, Nate walked over to her and pulled the cover up over her bare shoulder. He resisted the urge to scoop her into his arms because he feared it would wake her, which was not something either of them needed at this point.


    His steps took him from the compound all the way to the beach. At this early hour of five in the morning, the sun was hardly up, let alone anyone else in the city. He would not be seen, which was good, considering what he might have to do…

    The waves rolled listlessly onto the shore before they retreated into the sea once again. Yellow rays flew over the water as the sun began to break the horizon.

    Standing downwind was a figure in a long coat with a shade of icy, blue hair that looked rather familiar to him. This figure turned toward Nate and began to approach him.

    Inside his coat, Nate flicked his thumb against the pommel of his blade, unlocking it from its housing.

    “So, we finally meet…” the man said. He had long, bluish-white hair that he had combed in a rather purposeful manner over one of his eyes. The other iris was an angry bright orange the likes of which Nate had never seen.

    “Can’t say I’ve been looking forward to it,” Nate replied coldly.

    “I believe you worked with my brother two years ago?” the man said. “Ryuji? Does that name ring a bell?”

    Nate’s mouth twitched. That crazy kid that was with Hoenn’s Marauders during the Lineage War... Come to think of it, he looked just like this man, only less…sane.

    “Worked alongside him…very temporarily,” Nate answered.

    “I’m a bit surprised to find you here,” the man said. “Mr. Nathaniel Elm.”

    “How do you know my name?” Nate asked with a snarl to his voice.

    “I have my sources,” the man said.

    “Sources, my ***,” Nate grunted. “You’ve been following me around since I got here. Who the hell are you?!”

    “I am called Harland, if that knowledge makes you feel any better,” the blue-haired man replied. “I, like you, am part of a powerful family.”

    Nate’s mouth twitched.

    “Two Swordbearers that share common ancestry…” Harland uttered. “It’s really a bit unfair, isn’t it? Aren’t there other people in Johto or Kanto that are just as worthy?”

    “Worthy? You fool. Being a Swordbearer isn’t a reward,” Nate answered sternly. “It’s a responsibility.”

    “So I’ve been told,” Harland said. “But you’re still only a boy. You have dreams, do you not? I have heard you speak of them. Perhaps extraordinary dreams, but not quite as extraordinary as being a vessel of the Triumvirate’s power, correct? You want to live a…relatively…normal life.”

    “You can’t always get what you want, can you?” the black-haired youth answered. “One day, I’ll be able to lay this sword down. It’s close – I can feel it coming. But it’s not right now.”

    “You can’t honestly tell me that you enjoy fighting?” Harland laughed. “I have met the other one…fought him, in fact…”

    Harland pushed back his extremely long bangs to reveal a nasty scar running through the right side of his face and completely obliterating his right eye.

    “I could have told you that it’s not a good idea to push him too far,” Nate answered coolly.

    Hah,” Harland grunted, letting his hair fall over what was left of the right half of his face. “Do you truly enjoy fighting, then? Ironic. I thought it was your job to bring peace.”

    “I enjoy…” Nate said, his patience wearing thin. “…knowing that I’m where I’m meant to be, and doing what I’m meant to do. And I think after all that’s happened…he feels the same as I do. A drifter like you would never understand. We have a purpose.”

    “Show me, then,” he said, unsheathing a blade of his own. “Otherwise, I’d be more than happy to relieve you of your responsibility.”

    “Don’t you want to leave right now so you can keep your one good eye?” Nate asked. After a long silence, he revealed his own sword and grunted, “Apparently not.”

    The sun slowly began to come up over the horizon, throwing into sharp relief the silver chain around Nate’s neck, around which rested one half of a yin-yang charm.

    “Tell me, Swordbearer,” Harland said. “Are you afraid?”

    “No,” Nate said with conviction, his coal hair flying every which way in a sudden breeze that had kicked up on the beach and seemed to be coming from no direction in particular.

    “How do you feel, then?” Harland asked.

    “Complete,” Nate replied. “Happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I have a purpose now.”

    “Too bad you won’t live long enough to fulfill it,” Harland laughed.

    “I found that something strange happens when you try to fight a man on a mission,” Nate said.

    Harland raised an eyebrow. Nate lowered his sword and unbuckled the strap of his trenchcoat, throwing it aside to the ground and leaving him wearing all black, save for the silver chain that gleamed brighter than ever before in the rising sunlight as the wind unsettled it and flung the charm about his neck.

    “They’re that much more difficult to beat.”

    In the blink of an eye and the swirling of sand, Nate was gone. Harland anticipated the move and launched himself into a looping somersault just as a flash of white and black arrived and sliced through where he had been moments before. As Harland hit the ground, he looked up and saw Nate still charging, an orange gleam in his irises not unlike his own. Harland was able to move away just as Nate got there. He readied his own sword and struck back. Nate turned and blocked quickly, and it was at that point that the infant battle morphed into an old-school, steel-on-steel melee.

    Nate swung at least four or five times, but Harland’s defense was solid. Harland began to strike back, but could not break Nate’s guard, either. Their blades clashed against each other and grappled.

    “Give up!!” Harland shouted.

    “No,” Nate shot back. “Not after coming this far…”

    “Progress means nothing to me!” Harland yelled back.

    “That’s because you’re not fighting for anything…” Nate said, releasing his hold on Harland and causing his opponent to overextend himself as Nate pulled back one clawed hand and an orange ball of light began to materialize. “BUT YOURSELF!!!”

    He laid into Harland’s torso with that free hand and a dull but nonetheless loud BOOM shook the shoreline sands as the blue-haired Mystic was blasted backward at a high rate of speed. Harland’s feet found the sand and dug into it painfully but nonetheless effectively as a feeling comparable to the worst imaginable case of athlete’s foot was, at the time, a small price to pay for bringing himself to a stop and not flying backwards into a hard, non-flexible surface – like a tree or a large rock, both of which would undoubtedly do more damage.

    Harland fell to one knee, coughing up blood into the sand. It felt like one of his ribs had been broken.

    “Damn,” he grunted, staggering to his feet. “What the hell was that?”

    He looked up and realized that Nate was coming straight at him. He raised his own blade and knocked Nate’s away, giving him just enough time to regain his bearings. He performed a wild sweep and chuckled as he realized he had torn a slit in the boy’s shirt and drawn a bit of blood. He did not get to enjoy this small success long, however, because Nate came right back with a slash of his own.

    Harland blocked just in time and jumped away. As his feet found the ground again, he jumped left as Nate came flying in sword-first, turned on a dime, and came straight at him. Harland slid against the ground, reared back with his free hand…

    BANG.

    Nate never saw it coming – an energy ball directly to the face. He hit the ground and slammed against it hard. Harland smirked.

    Nate rolled to his feet, shaking his mane of black as his eyes refocused.

    “Sh**,” he grunted. “That didn’t feel good at all.”

    Nate’s eyes flashed as he saw a rather large energy ball heading his way. He thrust his hand forward to meet it, caught it, and with an almighty shove, returned it to its sender, who quickly rolled aside as it passed by him and went up in a storm of sand. Nate crouched to the ground, his hand glowing white, and grabbed a handful of sand. Throwing it into the air, he conjured the elemental power of his blade to send it at his attacker.

    Harland groaned as the sand first hit his eye, burning and blinding him, then felt the grit, empowered by hurricane-force winds, tear into the exposed skin on his face and hands. He kept his eyes shut tight as it continued to burn him. He stood there, hoping it would be over, praying it would be over, and then…

    It ended.

    Opening his burning eyes in an attempt to see anything at all, he raised his sword.

    “Your first mistake was picking a fight with me,” Harland heard him before he saw him. The man with the icy blue hair turned around, and immediately felt a sword forcefully pierce his belly and shoot through his spine. His ginger eyes widened to inhuman dimensions and blurred even further out of focus.

    Stomach acid, vomit, and blood all caught in his chest at the same time as he was hoisted into the air like a beast on a stake. The concoction of fluids trickled and gushed from his mouth as he looked down at his opponent, whose mane of black hair was visible and covering his face, which was turned away for the moment.

    “Your second mistake…” Nate said, finally turning toward Harland, who watched in horror as he looked into the white and orange that were Nate’s eyes and felt gale force winds whip around the both of them as a tornado of sand began to rise from the ground. “…was thinking that I would show you any mercy.”

    At that moment, he felt his own sword wrested from his grip, and then plunged into his heart. He found time for one last breath, as his world crumbled and went white…

    BANG.

    With an arcing motion and a surge of power through the pair of blades, Nate blew his opponent’s body apart. For one moment, as he looked up at the sky, he morbidly thought about how useful that particular attack was when he had to kill someone but wished not to leave a corpse.

    Next, he looked down at his opponent’s sword, now silent and useless without a wielder. He tossed it into the air and chased it with an energy sphere. The weapon shattered into dust. Silently, he sheathed his own sword and blinked. His bright orange eyes went back to their usual burgundy. As the lower half of the sun finally began to emerge over the horizon, he ran a finger along the silver chain around his neck. He trudged over to his trenchcoat and flung it over his shoulders, tying it, too, around his neck and allowing its sleeves to fly free in the wind like a cloak. He took one look at the beach and was immediately struck with the vision of two twelve-year-old boys commanding their Pok&#233;mon. This particular beach, near the lighthouse on the very corner of the coastline, looked very similar.

    Immediately after that, he remembered his fifteen-year-old self with Avril, gathered around a boat with the same blue-haired boy and his pink-haired girlfriend, behind whom was hiding a small, preschool-age girl.


    “It’s been nearly two years, Nate,” Travis said, staring a hole through the slightly older, black-haired boy. “That’s all you have to say to me?”

    “No,” Nate said. “I want to thank you. Both of you.”

    “Thank me?” Travis uttered.

    “You two never gave up on me, did you?” Nate replied. “As much of a jerk as I was to both of you, you always thought I could be something better. Now…I have something to tell you about the two of us.”

    “What is it?” Travis asked, obviously waiting for some type of new revelation about the swords.

    What he got was something altogether different.

    “Last century, there was a guy that came to Johto from Kanto,” Nate explained. “His name was Edmund Clayton. He had two sons with him – but when they became young men, they had a falling out and stopped speaking to each other. They both married and started families. One named his daughter Katherine.”

    “Isn’t that your mom’s name?” Katrina asked. Nate nodded. He looked straight at Travis.

    “The other brother had a daughter, too,” he continued. “Her name was Amichelle.”

    Travis’ eyes widened.

    “My mom’s maiden name was Clayton…” he said in a croak. “Amichelle Clayton. You mean to tell me they’re – we’re…cousins?”

    “Second cousins, yeah,” Nate said. “Just when you thought the world couldn’t get any smaller, right?”

    There was a long silence.

    “When…” Travis uttered, his mouth dry with shock. “When did you find this out?”

    “Just when I went back to Johto,” Nate replied. “My father had started up this hobby with military history and wanted to look at my mom’s bloodline. He was looking for other soldiers and found…that.”

    Silence fell again. Just what were they supposed to say to each other now?

    “This place reminds me of where I was born…a little bit,” Nate muttered. “Olivine City…well, I think we’ve beaten this whole reunion thing to death. You take care of yourself – and the kid, too.”

    Nate took Avril’s hand and both of them started their walk across the beach.

    “Nate!” Travis exclaimed. The black-haired boy and his companion stopped. He looked over his shoulder. “You should come with us.”

    “I can’t do that,” Nate sighed. “I need to be here right now. You’ve already got enough people tagging along around you; it’d look really suspicious if I came, too, especially since I’m the other Swordbearer.”

    Travis sighed in disappointment. “I understand.”

    “Besides, Avril likes it here,” he said with a slight laugh. “I’ll see you in Evergrande.”


    Nate looked out toward the sunrise.

    “One month…” he muttered. “One month left until the tournament starts. Then we can finish off this war and finally put fighting behind us. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.”

    With that, he started back into the city.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  23. #23
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    Default

    Favorite fic eva! not that I know much...

    Peace, KingT

  24. #24
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    May 2005
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    Maryland
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    Default Chapter 2 - Adversary

    Hello, all. EM1 here.

    When I came back about twenty-four hours after I posted the first chapter and saw about five replies, as well as about a hundred views, I thought, “Damn. Looks like I got somebody’s attention.”

    Now here comes the hard part – to see if I can keep it.

    Chapter 2: Adversary


    May 16, PA 2013 – Oldale Town, Hoenn

    TAP.

    TAP...TAP...

    Travis’ eyes snapped open to a sharp rapping on his door, jarring him rather mercilessly back to reality. In his dreams, his mind had gone back to his battle with Brandon in the Azalea Town Gym nearly two years ago at this time. If there was anytime he was on top of his game, it had been then.

    BANG.


    “Hey, what’s goin’ on?” he muttered sleepily, sitting up. He was about to jump out of bed, but thought better of it as he realized that he would have had to face a drop of several feet that he simply wasn’t ready for at the time. Instead, his knees, clothed in red pajama pants that he had brought from home, now dangled over the edge of his lofted bed. Both beds in the room of this small Pokémon Center were lofted, actually. Each sat against a wall. On a third wall, slightly below him, was a window, out of which a good portion of Oldale Town could be seen – which wasn’t really saying much, seeing as Oldale was probably the smallest settlement that Hoenn had to offer. On a fourth wall –

    BANG!

    On a fourth wall was a wooden door, which was currently vibrating with the impact of someone on the other side hitting it. Soon after this last sound of contact, Travis heard a young woman speaking in as much of a scolding tone as her sweet voice could manage.

    “Chansey, stop that!”

    Groaning, Travis leapt from the bed. His feet landed softly on the center of the Pokéball that was woven into this teal carpet. Just as this happened, the girl on the opposite side of the bed started to stir. With a sleepy and slightly annoyed expression on her face, she flicked some of her long, pink hair out of her eyes and leapt off of the bed, tearing straight for the restroom that was right next to Travis’ bed and closing the door.

    BANG!

    “Chansey!!” Travis heard the woman yell and recognized her voice from yesterday. This was Nurse Joy. When Travis found out that there were Nurse Joys in Hoenn as well, he was somehow relieved and unnerved at the same time.

    “<Hrmf...what the heck?>” behind Travis, an Umbreon sprang to life from his sleeping position on the floor. The Espeon, surprisingly enough, was slower to get up. Travis’ patience had run out. Tearing toward the door, he turned the knob, releasing the piece of his mind that he’d intended to.

    “You don’t just go banging on someone’s door at seven in the morning and – oh...” Travis stood framed in his own doorway and found himself looking into the eyes of a young woman of about twenty with reddish-pink hair and wearing a white nurse’s outfit. Cowering behind her, trying and failing to cover her own pink mass with the woman’s slender legs, was a Chansey in a nurse’s hat.

    “I’m sorry about that,” Nurse Joy said penitently. “We meant to wake you a bit more...gently. Were you expecting a call from Prof. Birch down in Littleroot?”

    “Er...no, not really,” Travis replied.

    “Well, he’s on the line. Says you forgot a couple of things,” Nurse Joy stated. “Should I take a message?”

    “No – we’re all up, now...” Travis sighed. Looking at the shut bathroom door and back at the nurse, he said, “Tell him to call back at...eight, I guess. It’s seven right now, right?”

    “Quarter after,” Nurse Joy replied.

    “Good enough,” Travis said. “We should be ready by eight.”

    “Alright, then,” Nurse Joy said, walking off. “Come on, Chansey...”

    The pink blob with the egg in her pouch waddled behind the petite, young nurse until they were both out of sight. Shaking his head and frowning, Travis stepped inside, closing the door. Travis grabbed his clothes and towel out of a small closet. As soon as he did that, the door to the restroom turned open, revealing Katrina, who was wearing a small t-shirt and shorts for her sleepwear, and now smelled strongly of flowers.

    “Morning,” she said briskly, immediately pecking Travis on the cheek and causing him to feel even more self-conscious about the fact that he hadn’t showered yet.

    “Geez, that was quick,” he said. “You took, like, three minutes.”

    “That’s because I thought there was something urgent going on,” Katrina replied. “What was all that about, anyway?”

    “That was a Chansey bouncing off of our door,” Travis said bluntly. Then, accelerating his pattern of speech a bit, he added, “Apparently, we forgot something at Prof. Birch’s...I don’t know what – we didn’t take anything out of our bags...and Angel and Crescent are with us...never mind. I told Nurse Joy to tell Prof. Birch to call us back at eight sharp, which means we’ve got exactly...forty-two minutes to get dressed and hopefully get a bite before he’s on the line again.”

    “Great,” Katrina said semi-sarcastically as Travis walked past her for the bathroom door. Just as he was about to open it himself, Katrina let out a giggle.

    Travis turned around. “What?”

    “Nothing,” Katrina said, smiling and looking the other way. “I’m not sure if you paid any attention...but last night was our first time staying in the same room...ever.”

    “Eh...” Travis uttered a bit stupidly. He hadn’t even realized that.

    “Awkward, huh?” Katrina said.

    “Not really...” Travis answered honestly. It took a couple of seconds before it actually hit him that it hadn’t been awkward at all.

    “That’s the right answer,” Katrina replied with a smile.

    Travis backed through the doorway, closing it.

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Travis emerged from the bathroom fully dressed what he thought was five minutes later. Sitting in a chair on the other side of the room with her arms folded was Katrina, while Angel was at his legs already.

    “<Again, way too slow...>” she commented.

    “Wha...?” Travis uttered a bit dimly. He looked to his left at the clock.

    7:55.

    Travis heaved a sigh. “Damn it,” he swore. “Looks like breakfast’ll have to wait.”



    Travis jumped the last couple of stairs and landed on the ground floor. The scabbard of his sword, unfortunately (up to this point, Nurse Joy hadn’t asked him any questions about it), smashed into the wall, waking Nurse Joy out of what seemed to be a semi-stupor just as she heard a ringing sound behind her. Travis rather liked the set-up of the Oldale Pokémon Center. It was actually a lot like the one in Cherrygrove City, except substantially smaller. There was a restaurant bar (the restaurant was just opening for breakfast), as well as a small lounge area. In the center, of course, was business – a circular ring of desk inside which Nurse Joy sat. On one side on a straight line from this desk, which was at the center of this atrium-like room, was the exit, complete with sliding doors. On the other side, of course, was the operating room that was used for the more serious Pokémon injuries.

    “Travis,” Nurse Joy said briskly, “the phone –“

    “I know, I know...” Travis muttered as he approached the videophone on the far side of the room, Katrina, Angel, and Crescent not far behind him. He picked it up. On the screen, obviously in his lab, was a quite large, brown-haired man in a white lab coat.

    “Travis! Katrina! How are you?” the Professor asked jovially. “Did you sleep well?”

    “Right up until Nurse Joy’s Chansey tried to knock down our door,” Travis replied. “How are you?”

    “I’m doing just fine, thank you,” Professor Birch answered. “I’m calling because I’ve got two things to give you all.”

    “To give us...how?” Travis asked.

    “I can wire them – just like you’d wire extra Pokémon or items through a computer,” Birch replied.

    “Computer?” Travis repeated. Then, turning his head, he asked, “Nurse Joy! Where can we find a computer?”

    “You’re sitting at one,” Nurse Joy responded. Travis looked down and, indeed, on a pull-out shelf of sorts, were a keyboard and a mouse.

    “Okay...” he said, feeling a bit foolish. “So...what exactly did we forget?”

    “You didn’t forget the first thing, actually. I got it yesterday afternoon after you guys were gone already,” Birch said. “A guy at Ericsson by the name of Drew wanted me to send something to you.”

    Katrina’s ears perked up quicker than a Snorlax when it hears the word ‘food’.

    “What is it?” Katrina asked.

    “Let me send it to you. You won’t know what I’m talking about otherwise,” Professor Birch explained.

    Birch pressed a button of sorts that was outside of the confines of the screen through which Travis was watching him. About ten seconds later, a white glow of light emanated from a strange, disk-like semicircle that was sitting next to the computer and had several wires coming from it. This light formed into a rectangle. When the light faded, inside the dish sat a box-like contraption with a hinge on its back that said all too clearly that it flipped open. Travis grabbed it and did so with Katrina intently watching. What he saw was an array of buttons on its face, as well as a slot for a stylus that was wired into the bottom half of the small, computer-like device. On the top was a separate screen that was about five inches by seven inches – about the size of a rather large index card.

    “That’s the Ericsson Pokémon Navigator, Version 10.0,” Birch explained. “Or the PokéNav-X for short.”

    “Version ten? That’s not supposed to come out until next month!” Travis commented. Turning back and looking at Katrina, he added uncertainly, “Right?”

    “Right...” Katrina stared at the contraption rather blankly. “Professor Birch...you didn’t happen to ask this Drew guy what his last name was, did you?”

    “Um...no,” Birch replied. “But I know he had black hair.”

    Katrina smiled. “Dad actually paid some attention for once...”

    “That was your father – as in, E.I.’s president?” Birch said incredulously. Slapping his head at his own failure to recognize the man, he exclaimed, “I should have known! No common clerk would have one of those – not to mention they sure as heck wouldn’t send it to a couple of kids on another continent!”

    “So...what does it do?” Travis asked.

    “Well, from what he told me, you can’t get much more cutting-edge than the PokéNav-X...and for E.I., that’s saying something,” Birch commented.

    “Sounds like something my father would say,” Katrina laughed.

    “Well, it’s obviously got the essentials – a satellite GPS, of course,” Birch explained. “So you’ll know where you are at all times. Time, date, all that good stuff. Even the weather forecast, so you’ll know when to break out the rain gear. That’s really useful – Hoenn’s got a couple of spots that are kind of on the tropical side as far as climate is concerned. Oh, and they threw in a digital camera.”

    “A digital camera,” Travis said, his mouth dropping slightly. “It’s seriously got a digital camera?”

    “Wow...” Katrina said, sounding awestruck. This surprised Travis a bit, as it wasn’t often that Katrina sounded awestruck. “We’re definitely making a scrapbook.”

    Travis laughed and handed the PokéNav-X to Katrina, who began to put it in her backpack.

    “That’s number one,” Birch said. “Number two...you guys were so excited that you ran out of here without your Pokédexes.”

    “We’ve already got Pokédexes,” Travis commented.

    “They came out in 2011, right?” Birch inquired.

    “Actually,” Travis said a bit sheepishly, “2010.”

    “Yeah. Thought so,” Birch said. “Way out of date. This one, on the other hand, has information on more than five hundred Pokémon...”

    “Five hundred?!” Travis exclaimed. “When I checked back in January with Professor Elm, he said that they could only for sure confirm the existence of 480 or so, not counting legendaries...and about a fourth of those can only be found on Sinnoh, which is only about a world away.”

    “Well, it’s somewhere around the order of about 510 or 520,” Birch said. Travis’ eyes went wide for a second.

    “Yeesh...four months can make a lot of difference,” Travis commented.

    “Yeah...a lot of these new species have been found right here in Hoenn, within the last year,” Birch commented. “So I think you’ll be having a lot of fun with these. Here you go.”

    In a matter of seconds, two shiny, new Pokédexes were in the small dish beside the computer. They looked pretty much like the ‘Advance Generation’ Pokédex that Travis had received in 2011. Those, technically, were not intended to journey farther than Hoenn, as they had only been programmed with information on less than four hundred Pokémon, not counting those that were known to exist in Sinnoh. Instead of red skins, however, one was a navy-blue, and one was pink.

    “I guess we won’t get ours mixed up, then,” Katrina commented. “You get the pink one.”


    “Hey!” Travis exclaimed, taking the navy blue one instead. Katrina laughed and took the pink Pokédex herself. Birch looked like he was rather busy and about to sign out, but Travis had one last question for him. “Hey, Professor...what type does Stella use? Do you know?”

    “Normal-type, as far as I’d heard,” Birch replied.

    “Oh, alright,” Travis said, noting in the back of his head the trouble he’d had with a Normal-type Gym Leader during his journey in Johto.

    “Well, if that’s all, I’ve got some field work to do,” Birch said. “Good luck!”

    “Thanks,” Travis replied, pushing the button to end the call. Birch’s picture was instantly wiped from the face of the screen, leaving only a dot of bright, white light behind.

    “Can’t beat new gadgets,” Katrina commented.

    “I know one thing that could beat them,” Travis answered, his hand to his stomach. “Breakfast.”

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Ten minutes later, Travis was halfway through a sausage biscuit and a small berry smoothie that he had elected to try, as he heard that berry smoothies and drinks were...’berry’ popular among the residents of Hoenn. (Hey, don’t blame us – it was on the pamphlet.)

    “Whew!” Travis said, sighing after taking in a large gulp of his Oran Berry smoothie. “Been a while since I had a really good breakfast.”

    “I thought your mom was a really good cook,” Katrina commented.

    “She is...except, back before Kylie was born, she actually had time and energy to cook things...well,” Travis said. “By the time it was time for us to go, I was so over bag lunches. I had to eat bag lunches...at home, Katrina.”

    “Well, maybe you should learn how to cook, like me,” Katrina said with a wry smile. “I started cooking for both me and Mom and actually found that I enjoy it.”

    “Your mom’s too busy to cook, right?” Travis asked.

    “No – she sucks at it,” Katrina said, nearly causing Travis to spit Oran Berry smoothie through his nose with her candor. “And she’s too busy.”

    “I guess she would be, running a fashion design business completely from home,” Travis commented. “How does she pull that off?”

    “About half of the first floor is her office,” Katrina responded, drinking a bit of her own smoothie (she chose Pecha Berry). “...that, and a damn good computer.”

    “Ha ha...” Travis laughed. “So...I never asked you. Do you have a favorite type?”

    “Type?” Katrina batted her eyelashes flirtatiously. “Of course I do. It’s you.”

    “I meant Pokémon, but thanks anyway,” Travis replied wittily, his face a bit pink. After nearly two years of being together, Katrina had this effect on him more than ever, as she had been even more (even compared to when they had just started going out) direct about what she thought of him.

    “Oh,” Katrina giggled. “I never thought about it before. I guess I don’t, really...”


    “Me, either...” Travis said. “I know there’s a couple of types I don’t like...like Poison, for example. Their attacks have a tendency to backfire a little bit too much for me.”

    “True,” Katrina replied. “You try a Smokescreen into a wind, and...well, you’ve got smoke in your eye.”

    “Which hurts like hell, by the way,” Travis added. He was remembering in particular an incident in late October when his mother had actually tried to fix a meal for the family. Of course, Kylie was being as cooperative as possible, screaming at the top of her lungs just as Travis took the pot off. The result – smoke in his eyes, long story short. He couldn’t see straight for the rest of the day. “It was really weird, actually, that time...Mom must’ve had something really strong in that soup. I saw, like, floating Starmie for the rest of the day.”

    Katrina tried hard not to burst into laughter. “Floating Starmie?”

    “That’s what I said...Floating stupid Starmie...like somebody’d knocked me out cold,” Travis said, coolly taking a sip of his smoothie. “Yeah...if Mom was taking anything for stress at that point, then it sure got into the soup somehow. Probably lucky that stuff burned, actually...”

    “Yeah,” Katrina laughed. She started to stare at Travis’ face. Travis raised an eyebrow at her. “You’ve got something on your lip, just right...oh, never mind...”

    She was leaning over the table. Seconds later, Travis felt a slightly-wetter-than-usual kiss toward the left side of his lips. As she drew back, Travis could have sworn he heard somebody muttering under his breath. In about an instant, Katrina looked like she’d just gotten the smile knocked off of her face. Looking askance at a booth a few seats down, she muttered, “Hold on a second.”

    She stood up and strode over to where she saw a boy in a black, gold-trimmed skullcap. She couldn’t get a good look at his face, though, as it was locked very tightly around the face of a girl with a black ponytail. Katrina watched them go at it for about ten seconds, then let out a laugh.

    “You damned hypocrite,” she said. “And you were back here, muttering that we should get a room?”

    The boy and girl broke apart ever so gradually.

    “You enjoying standing there and staring?” the boy said harshly. “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

    “I have a camera,” Katrina said curtly. “So don’t tempt me.”

    The boy leapt out of his booth, revealing his full body. At first glance, he looked to be about Travis’ height. Tall and slim, he wore a black skullcap that was trimmed with a golden-beige sort of color. Over a black shirt, he wore a golden-beige jacket with black stripes down the arms, as well as pants with black stripes down the legs. He removed his skullcap, revealing slightly messy, chocolate hair with butter-blond highlights. He opened his eyes and revealed them to be of an emerald green color.

    “I’ve got nothing to say to you,” the boy said. “Get your trash boyfriend over here. I’ve got some stuff I need to say to him.”

    “No can do,” Katrina replied. “Wait a second, haven’t I seen you before?”

    She was looking, this time, at the girl. She had black hair that was tied back in a ponytail. She was wearing a yellow shirt with extremely short, green sleeves, as well as green pants. Her eyes also happened to be green and nearly the same color as the boy’s.

    “Maybe you have,” the girl said, “And maybe you haven’t.”


    “No, I’ve seen you before,” Katrina said, sounding sure of herself. “I remember battling you, for some reason. I think I won, too...”

    “Hey, let’s not lose focus here!” the boy exclaimed, walking further away from the booth. “Now, where’s your trash boyfriend hiding?”

    “I’m right here,” the boy turned around and received –

    WHAM!

    – a swift left hook to his jaw. Katrina’s eyes went extremely wide in surprise. Travis was standing directly opposite her with his fist clenched, and he looked...livid. The boy staggered backward, smirking, and then righted himself. “If it isn’t the miracle boy – the luckiest son of a ***** alive. You mean to tell me you haven’t bit it yet? Damn, that’s a disappointment.”

    “You don’t know anything about phoenixes,” Travis said coldly. Katrina put her hand toward her mouth, as Travis’ was going back toward his hip. “They don’t die.”

    “Like I said, that’s a disappointment,” the boy replied.

    “You honestly thought I was going to forgive you?” Travis said. Katrina was trying to move away from the brown-haired boy – she hadn’t seen Travis this ****** off since one time two years ago when, ironically enough, Nate (who had been her ex-boyfriend) caught him and Katrina kissing each other and then said a few well-placed words. “I’ve got a good memory. I didn’t forget that you tried to kill me last time we saw each other...Matt.”

    This boy was Matthew Marius. Again ironic was the fact that his twin sister had become one of Travis’ good friends during his first journey. When they had met him in Cherrygrove City nearly two years ago, he seemed like a very nice boy – too nice, actually. His sister implied that he often failed to stand up for himself. Somewhere along the course of that summer, though, he had caught the power bug – and he’d been a thorn in their side ever since. In Olivine City, when Travis battled him for the first time, the match ended in a draw – because, long story short, Matthew had nearly frozen Travis to death with his Pokémon’s attacks. Katrina, also, had nearly caught the business end of a Hyper Beam from Matt’s rampaging Nidoking, then his starter and powerhouse Pokémon. Travis had never quite forgiven Matt for this...among other things.

    “That’s too bad, because I forgive you,” Matt said.

    “Forgive me? For what?” Travis retorted.

    “Don’t play dumb with me,” Matt said.

    “No – you don’t play dumb with me,” Travis shot back. “You haven’t spoken to your sister in two years, have you?”

    “That’s because she’s rolling around with that no-good skate bum friend of yours,” Matthew retorted.

    “Shut up,” Travis said bitingly, his fists clenching again. “That’s no excuse. Madeline hasn’t been the same ever since the war...”

    “You’ve got no ******* right to say that to me!!” Matt roared at the top of his lungs, drawing the attention of Nurse Joy and the few people that were presently inside the Pokémon Center at this point of the morning. “I know damn well she hasn’t been the same.”

    “Have you checked up on her?” Travis asked. “Tried to? Called to ask how she was doing? She went to see her father – your father – and came back. Did you say anything to her then? No?”


    “I’ll thank you not to nose around like you do,” Matt said, his eyes narrowing. “It’s none of your business.”

    “Madeline’s my friend,” Travis said in a dangerously low tone of voice. “So, I guess it’d better be my business...’cause, now that you’re all independent, you clearly don’t give a damn.”

    Matt and Travis stared daggers at each other for a second. Even though Katrina was taking Travis’ side in this conflict (obviously) – she couldn’t help thinking, if only for a moment, that Travis was blowing this just a little bit out of proportion. After all, their serious injuries and near-deaths in that tournament two summers ago had both been (for the most part) freak accidents, right?

    Matthew was laughing. “I don’t know what the hell happened to you. You used to be so calm about things. Now...you’re a little bit – ha ha...unsettled...”

    Before Matthew knew what was going on, he was on the ground face-down. This time, Travis had caught him around the jaw so swiftly that he had sent the young boy into a tail spin, caused mainly by a combination of his natural strength and the ‘boost’ that the sword at Travis’ waist granted him.

    “You try fighting a war against a demon,” Travis growled, sounding a bit like a demon himself. “Then you’ll see why I’m so ‘unsettled’. Oh, that’s right. While people that I knew and cared about – including your own sister – were on the front lines fighting, what did you do? You ran with your tail between your legs back to Cherrygrove – ****** off at me, no less, since you thought it was my fault that the league got cancelled.”

    “What’s your point?” Matt jumped to his feet. Slowly, a ring of people was starting to gather around the two.

    “Get the hell out of here,” Travis spat, barely audible.

    “What did you just say to me?” Matt asked incredulously, almost if he was galled.

    “I said, get the hell out of here and go back to Johto before I do something that you’ll regret,” Travis said. “I don’t need any of my bad memories from that place following me here. Now, go.”

    “No can do,” Matt said. “I’ve got a job here and I’m not leaving until it’s done. So, you can just stay out of my way.”

    “I don’t have the time for a shallow coward like you,” Travis growled, turning his back on Matt. “I’m out of here.”

    Katrina, with an extremely worried face, turned around and ran after him. Matt, snarling, advanced on Travis. Suddenly, an Espeon jumped into Matt’s path. The red gem on her forehead began to glow white, and Matthew was blasted off of his feet. As soon as his rear end smacked against the ground, he sprang back to a standing position and said, “That’s it! We’re taking this outside! I challenge you to a battle!”

    “You don’t want to say another word to me,” Travis said with a dangerous whisper. “I’m leaving, so you’d best leave well enough alone.”

    “So, my guess was right,” Matt said nastily. “After two years of leaving his pistols on the shelf, the gunslinger’s afraid to shoot.”

    Travis stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes narrowed and he turned around.

    “You’re on,” he said.



    It was in a matter of moments that the two boys and their girlfriends moved outside, followed by a crowd of several of the people that had entered the Pokémon Center through the course of the morning. Children riding the wide Main Street of Oldale Town stopped and dismounted their bikes to come and watch, forming a ring around Travis, Katrina, Matthew, and the black-haired girl. Immediately in front of Travis stepped Angel, whose anger had been awakened by Matt’s sudden charge on her owner and friend. She was ready – for the first time in a couple of years – to fight.

    “So...I never asked you,” Matt shouted. “What’s it feel like, being a has-been at fourteen?”

    “I wouldn’t know,” Travis replied coldly.

    “Oh, really?” Matt said incredulously, pulling out a Pokéball and enlarging it to maximum size. “Let’s see if you’re as good at battling as you are at fooling yourself!”

    The ball, having been thrown by Matt, bounced off of the ground and sprang open. The creature looked a bit like a bipedal chicken.. Its yellow-and-orange body stood about three feet off of the ground, and all four of its limbs ended in claws. A red streak of fire shot forth from his beak hung in the air for a moment, then disappeared as this Pokémon made itself ready to fight. Travis recognized this Pokémon from the brochures and brief study he’d been doing of the Hoenn region in the month between receiving his first information and the present.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he muttered. “He can’t have trained a Torchic to that level in a week.”

    “You look awestruck,” Matt shouted across the field. “The die’s cast, though, so you can’t back down.”

    “Wasn’t planning on it,” Travis replied fiercely. “Let’s go, Angel!!”

    The fork-tailed, fox-like Sun Pokémon planted her four feet into the ground and lowered her head, the red gem on her lavender forehead flashing in the sunlight.

    “Scratch attack, Combusken!” the Young Fowl Pokémon raised his claw and advanced toward Angel and Travis. His speed seemed too much for Travis to handle, and his best Pokémon was swiped alongside to the ground in a matter of seconds. She rose to her feet and her eyes flashed.

    “Angel!” Travis shouted worriedly.

    “Maybe I should go easy on you...nah, I’m enjoying this too much,” Matt commented. “Combusken, hit ‘em again! Scratch attack!”

    A flame-colored blur advanced on Angel a second time, and a second time, she tasted dirt. Her body now stinging from multiple cuts, she staggered to her feet, looking back at Travis to see why he wasn’t issuing some order. A blank look was on his face as he stood there, staring silently ahead. He looked lost – like he hadn’t ever been here before. On her own, she jumped away from another Scratch attack and then got caught by a second that sent her sprawling to the ground.

    Meanwhile, a girl with hair pulled back in a black ponytail sidled alongside Katrina, who saw her out of the corner of her eye and smiled.

    “I was going to ask you two questions,” Katrina said. “The first one – whether you and Matthew were an item – I guess we know the answer to that question already.”

    “Anything else you want to interrogate me about?” the black-haired girl said sharply. “Before you go prying into my personal life, why don’t you at least ask me my name first?”

    “Because who I remember exactly who you are,” Katrina said. “Mariah Cecil – Gardner Pokémon Academy in Violet City, Johto. It’s been a long time.”

    “Two years...” Mariah said, staring rather blankly ahead at the battle. “People...situations...they change in two years.”

    “You don’t have to tell me,” Katrina said. “If I remember correctly, you got eliminated from the Olivine Summer Invitational...by Rafael, no less. Back that June, you two were working so well together. How’d you go from there...to this?”

    “Is it any of your business?” Mariah replied harshly.

    “No, it’s not – not really,” Katrina said coolly. “I was just curious.”

    “I don’t have anything personal against either of you, actually,” Mariah replied, turning her head toward Katrina. “So, I guess I’ll satisfy your curiosity. Rafael and I broke up.”

    “I know that already,” Katrina said calmly as he watched Angel and Matt’s Combusken continue to go at it. “Tell me something I don’t know – like...why did you break up with Rafael?”

    “There were a lot of reasons...” Mariah answered, suddenly looking rather cathartic and pitiful. “We already had our share of arguments. Rafael and I had been friends since about our fourth year of school. I was the so-called ‘genius’ – but he just scraped by. He never got over that. He wasn’t jealous of me...he just felt inferior. After the Golden Moon Tournament in Goldenrod – when we lost to you two – things just got worse after that. He broke up with me. Said that he couldn’t live up to my standards. Only thing was, I didn’t set any. It was all in his head.”

    “So what happened to him after that?” Katrina asked. “Travis had to face him later, and he looked like he was on the edge of a breakdown.”

    “He didn’t like himself,” Mariah said. “That self-hatred turned into pain. He started doing whoever and whatever he thought would take his pain away.”

    “Whoever...” Katrina gasped, catching the hint. “Wasn’t he only thirteen? You don’t mean...”

    “It didn’t work,” Mariah said. “None of it worked. The last I’d heard of him...was last year. He came to me all the way from Violet City and gave me a message. He told me not to blame myself. And then he left. I didn’t know what he was talking about. The next day, the cops found him – hanging in the basement of his old house.”

    “I...didn’t know...” Katrina gasped. Then, she clenched her fist as she turned in Matthew’s direction. “So...he’s taking advantage...”

    “That’s not it at all,” Mariah said, shaking her head. “He’s not like that.”

    “Want to bet?” Katrina asked icily.

    “He’s...actually very kind,” Mariah affirmed. Katrina scoffed, to which Mariah exclaimed, “I’m not lying to you! He’s helped me out a lot about dealing with losing Rafael. It still hurts...and he knew that – so that’s why when he came out here, he brought me out here to take me away from all of it. He asked me out then. I’m not even sure if he’d planned to, but I said yes all the same.”

    “I’m guessing you’re from Cherrygrove, originally?” Katrina asked. Mariah nodded.

    “Yeah. I had a sister in Violet City, though...that’s how I was able to go to Gardner the entire time. I’d just go back to Cherrygrove for Christmas and summer,” she replied. Suddenly, she smiled.


    “What’s so funny?” Katrina asked rather nastily – although that might have been because she was witnessing Angel getting pummeled by Combusken rather mercilessly while Travis stood there like a statue.

    “We met for the first time at the Invitational,” Mariah said. “I didn’t know him then. I thought the same thing you did – he was a disrespectful brat out for nothing but a little attention. But I met him after whatever that incident was that happened near Blackthorn City. He seemed changed...more focused. He didn’t seemed to act like he was angry at the world. He was angry at something in particular. Whenever he’s not around it – him, he’s a very sweet person.”

    “You mean, he’s angry at Travis?” Katrina asked. “What did he do this time?”

    “Matthew told me that he’d lost a brother and a sister,” Mariah sighed. “That’s how he felt he could relate to me a little bit more.”

    Katrina frowned, feeling as if Mariah had dodged the question. Apparently, they had reached a place where either Mariah felt that she could not be honest, or Mariah simply didn’t know the answer to her question. Without another word, the conversation ended. Just as that took place, they watched Angel get hit hard and knocked to the ground for the umpteenth time by Matt’s Combusken.

    “Damn it,” Travis cursed himself. His knees were shaking, and for some reason, he couldn’t seem to remember any of Angel’s attacks. They used to have an ace in the hole....a secret weapon...but he couldn’t remember a thing about it right now. Worse, he was folding like a lawn chair in front of just a small crowd of people. This was even more embarrassing than his first gym match two years ago...but at least he’d won a few battles before then.

    “Hey, Travis,” Matthew called. Travis looked up. Matt, who had a nasty grin on his face as his blond-streaked coffee-brown hair blew in the spring breeze, said, “You remember that day at the Sprout Tower? When you unleashed that custom attack? Back then, I thought you were pretty impressive. Then, I learned that, with enough hard work and confidence, anybody could do it. Your blood doesn’t mean a damn thing.”

    “I wish it didn’t,” Travis growled, looking at the ground. Something inside him told him that it was over. He stopped fighting it, and his fists unclenched.

    “Finish this, Combusken! Meteor Ball!” Matthew yelled.

    “Meteor...Ball?” Travis repeated, looking up. Combusken gathered his hands and rounded them. Suddenly, a perfect sphere of crackling flame about the size of a regulation basketball appeared in his hands. Combusken hurled this ball of fire at Angel, who was battered and unable to even defend herself as the flames licked against her lavender body, scorching it. She had been a trooper for taking as much (unanswered) damage as she had, but this final attack proved to be too much. Badly burned and badly bruised, she sank to the ground, unconscious.

    Katrina put her hands to her mouth. Mariah blinked stoically. She seemed to be neither excessively overjoyed nor upset.

    “Return, Combusken,” Matt called, holding out a Pokéball. The Young Fowl Pokémon suddenly turned into a red light, which was promptly sucked and contained inside the red-and-white capture sphere as it closed. Matt, shrinking it down to pocket size, hooked it back onto the inside of his jacket. Looking up at Travis, he smirked. “You’ve lost your touch. Looks like your guns got rusty. Hey, maybe you’re the one that needs to go back to Johto – ‘cause the pain’s just getting started.”

    Matt turned around and began to walk off, followed by Mariah. People began to mutter disapprovingly as they returned to their former activities. This left Travis alone to behold the sight of his wounded friend lying there in the dirt road. He silently knelt down beside her and picked her up into his arms and, without a word even to Katrina, walked back inside the Pokémon Center, Angel in his arms.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  25. #25
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Maryland
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 2.

    Whoa...Oathblivion, hold your Rapidash. I'm not done yet. ^_^

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

    “<How could you let that happen?!>” Crescent shouted in the waiting room of the Pokémon Center five minutes later as Angel had to be treated for her injuries. “<How? You stood there like a statue while she got completely demolished!! Why didn’t you try to protect her somehow? Why??>”

    “Crescent...” Katrina moaned pleadingly. “Please calm down.”

    “<I’m not going to calm down until I know she’s alright!!>” Crescent shouted. “<Loyalty should be rewarded, not punished!!>”

    “Crescent!” Katrina exclaimed. But the angry Umbreon would have none of it.

    “<Some friend you are! You didn’t even try! You’d given up almost as soon as it had started!>” Crescent exclaimed. “<But I guess it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to feel the flesh being scratched off of your body over and over again. I swear, if she doesn’t come out of there alive...>”

    “She’s not that badly hurt, Crescent,” Katrina said. “Now, calm down.”

    “<How can you even trust him?!>” Crescent turned on his Trainer next. “<How the hell do you know he’s not just going to abandon you and leave you hanging?>”

    “Because I’ve known him longer than you have, and I know he’s not like that!!” Katrina shouted.

    “<People change,>” Crescent said. “<Circumstances change them. Maybe, after all this time, he’s tired of playing the hero. Maybe he’s tired of protecting and looking out for others.>”

    “I know you’re upset about Angel getting hurt, but that’s not called for,” Katrina said simply, folding her arms. “Insulting one of her best friends isn’t the way to show you care about her.”

    “<Letting one of your best friends get beaten to a bloody pulp isn’t the way, either,>” Crescent said. “<Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? Nothing? ...Say something, damn it!>”

    Travis, who had been as silent and as still as a stone throughout this entire conversation, finally stood up, to Katrina’s great surprise. She stared at him. There was something blank and empty about his face – like all traces of emotion had been wiped from it.

    “I’m...” he said, “...going for a walk. Don’t follow me – I need to be alone right now.”

    “Wait!” Katrina shouted, but to no avail – by the time the words got out of her mouth, Travis was already halfway down the hall and shrinking from sight.

    “<Running away,>” Crescent commented angrily. “<He’s just running away again. Isn’t that why we’re here in the first place? Because he couldn’t bear to stay in Johto with all of the bad memories?>”

    “You’re partly right,” Katrina sighed. “But he probably would have liked the idea of coming, anyway. But...a few of the bad memories from two years ago came flooding back to him. That’s probably why he just froze. You weren’t there the whole time – you don’t know all of the things he went through because he hardly ever talks about them. He’s usually just fine as long as there’s nothing and no one around to bring those memories back to mind. There’s been days he’s been like this, though...moody, secretive, and – I hate to admit it, but Matt hit it right on the head – unstable.”

    “<Why does he even bother, then?>” Crescent asked. “<We all know his body’s ready for him to be a Trainer again, but what’s the use of that if his mind’s nowhere close?>”


    “It’s expecting too much of anyone – even Travis – to get rid of that pain in only a year and a half,” Katrina replied. “But, I guess there was this feeling that, if he didn’t bounce back now – while all of us were still pretty young – he would never bounce back.”

    “<But will he bounce back?>” Crescent asked. “<That’s the question.>”

    A loud PING signaled the end of the doctor’s business. The sliding doors parted automatically as Katrina and Crescent simultaneously turned toward them. A lavender, fox-like creature was out of the doors first, sprinting at a full run. Crescent’s red eyes brightened as he saw her emerge, looking altogether better than she had when she went in.

    “<Angel!>” Crescent exclaimed. “<You’re alright.>”

    “<I’ve been worse,>” Angel said as Crescent nuzzled her neck. “<Where is he?>”

    She seemed to be addressing Katrina.

    Katrina sighed. “He said he’ll be back later...” she started, but Angel was already blowing past her, swearing in Pokémon tongue.

    “<He’s in danger!!>” she exclaimed as Crescent and Katrina began to follow after her.

    “<What do you mean, danger?!>” Crescent shouted.

    “<I don’t know exactly!>” Angel yelled back. Crescent and Katrina stopped. Angel, seeming to sense this as well, turned around and shouted, “<Come on, let’s go!>”


    ”Use Meteor Ball!”

    ”The gunslinger’s afraid to shoot.”

    “The gunslinger’s afraid...”

    ”Use Meteor Ball!”

    ”...afraid to shoot.”

    “I don’t know what the hell happened to you...”

    ”Meteor Ball!”

    ”You used to be...”

    “The gunslinger...”

    ”...so calm about things.”

    ”I don’t know what the hell happened...”

    “Now you’re...”

    ”The gunslinger’s...”

    ”...a little bit...”


    ”...afraid...”

    “...unsettled.”

    ”...to shoot.”


    The words of Matthew finally became too much to hold inside and Travis, leaning against a shop on the opposite side of Oldale Town (which isn’t saying much, actually), turned on his heel and, yelling, smashed his fist into the stone wall of the building, managing in his rage (although all of his left knuckles were now bloody) to induce small cracks in the surface of the wall.

    “*******!” he swore, leaning his head against the wall. He wondered why...why it seemed like he couldn’t get away from all of the things that had troubled his mind two years ago. He wondered why his **** just had to follow him. He couldn’t get away. He could run to the ends of the earth and not get away, because it would find him and hunt him down that much more relentlessly. Just when he thought he’d escaped...he hadn’t had a nightmare about the war ever since they had set sail from Johto nearly a week ago. When he had been there, he could have counted on it at the very least once a week. Maybe there was only one way to get away from this. Maybe, that day on that cliff, if Katrina hadn’t stopped him...

    “You shouldn’t loiter around shops – people’ll think you’re up to no good,” a low voice rang behind Travis. He turned around. In front of him was a tall young man about sixteen, perhaps older. He had bronze hair and piercing, golden brown eyes to go along with his hard face. He wore a black headband along with a gi-like garment, which consisted of the green outergarment and a black undershirt. Travis took his initial thought back. This guy was definitely older than sixteen. Another thing noticeable is that he had an earring in his left ear, as well as a silver necklace that was tucked under his shirt. Getting a look at his face again, Travis questioned the assumption that this guy was only sixteen. He had to be older...or, maybe like Travis himself, he had seen things to which no one his age should have to be subjected. What had those eyes seen? Who was this person? “Especially armed like that.”

    He was definitely looking at Travis’ sword. Clenching his fists, Travis responded to him.

    “You know...you should know well enough to not mess with someone when he’s in a bad mood,” he said rather harshly, walking toward the bronze-haired young man. “Who the hell are you, anyway?”

    “None of your business,” the bronze-haired youth replied.

    Travis forced a bitter smile. “What do you want with me, then?”

    “Ironically enough,” the young man replied, “I came to ask you questions. Starting with...where’d you get that sword at your waist?”

    Travis gave the young man the response that he had basically practiced for a month for just this type of situation. Not telling a lie and, yet, not telling secrets: “It’s a family heirloom.”

    “Really?” the youth said with a small twinge of incredulity in his voice. “That’s very interesting. I’ve seen a sword just like that one – well, read about it. It’s supposed to be supernatural – if you believe stuff like that. Do you, by the way? Do you believe in the supernatural? That, every now and then, the spiritual realm gets involved with the physical realm – and strange things happen...”

    “You’re preaching to the choir,” Travis said bitingly. “Get to the point.”

    “That sword you have on your waist...” the youth said cryptically, fanning a bit of his bronze-colored hair out of his golden-brown eyes. “...it reminds me a lot of a sword I read about called the Godfire.”

    Travis gasped. That was indeed one of the names for the sword at his waist. But he had to keep his poker face on.

    “That’s interesting,” he said. “I’m guessing the Godfire isn’t a very common sword.”

    “One-of-a-kind,” the young man replied. “Well, that is, there’s only one of that sword that’s authentic. It’s actually one of a set of three – the Blade Trinity.”

    “Three?” Travis said. This was indeed strange news to hear. It sounded like what this guy was saying was that there were two other swords in this world whose powers could be on par with his. But, again – he couldn’t let on that he knew more than he was supposed to. “I’ve heard of the Godfire sword, of course – it was sealed in Johto, and I’m from there. But I’ve never heard of the other two swords, though...”

    “Have you heard of Arceus?” the young man said.

    “Arceus? Who’s Arceus?” Travis asked, sounding nonplused.

    “Apparently not,” the young man said with a sigh. “Arceus was supposed to be the very first Pokémon. Ancient and more powerful than anything anyone could ever imagine. So powerful, that he created all the known species of Pokémon, starting with three – the High Legendaries. You’ve heard of them, I know.”

    “I have,” Travis replied. “Lugia, Ho-oh, and Rayquaza, wasn’t it?”

    “That’s right,” the young man answered. “After a while, Arceus went back to the High Dimension and left these three Pokémon in charge. They formed a Triumvirate – a ruling body with three beings of equal status. But they each had a separate role. Rayquaza was the governor...Lugia’s role was to bring balance and prevent wars. Ho-oh’s role was the Judge.”

    “Judge?” Travis repeated.

    “Ho-oh could look deep into the heart of a Pokémon and determine if its will toward other Pokémon and toward the earth on which they lived was good or evil,” the bronze-haired youth explained. Travis’ mouth dropped again. It all sounded so familiar. “To those whom he judged good, he granted protection. To those whom he judged to be evil...his Sacred Fire utterly consumed them.”

    He had known for nearly two years how to use the sword...but, in the few seconds that Travis had spent listening to this young man talk, his knowledge of his sword’s origins had increased exponentially.

    “Soon after, humans established contact with Pokémon. Even the High Legendaries appeared to a select few people that they deemed worthy,” the young man continued. “This event – called ‘Adventus’...is the center of our present calendar and has been for over two millennia. That’s why our years are known by the term ‘Post Adventus’. The High Legendaries wished to maintain contact with the two main nations of this world at the time – Aldibar and Hoenn. So they created three swords to be wielded by a chosen few – those that captured, in the best way humans knew how, the spirit and true purpose of the sword.”

    “An untainted judgment of good and evil...” Travis muttered to himself.

    “One thing history has taught us...” the young man said. “When a sword crosses the borders of its home continent and enters another...something big is going to happen.”

    “Something big?” Travis said.

    “Do you know the political situation in this country currently?” the young man asked. Then, shaking his head, he said. “Never mind – a kid like you wouldn’t understand conflict.”

    “You want to bet?” Travis replied harshly, the young man’s comment having set him off.


    “In any case, I know one thing that the stories say – those swords are powerful,” the young man said. “If the sword you carry really is the one I think it is...it might be a risk for it to be in this country. There are some who seek power...and they will seek your sword.”

    “Like I haven’t heard it before,” Travis said, cocking his neck. “What’s that have to do with you?”

    “I’d like to take that sword off of your hands,” the young man finally said. “It’ll just slow you down. I don’t know where you got it, but a kid like you can’t possibly know how to use it, not unless he’s a –“

    “Swordbearer,” Travis finished the statement for him. “Look, I don’t know what you were planning to buy my sword for, but I’m not selling.”

    “Buy?” the young man laughed a laugh that was filled with a dark brand of amusement. He drew a weapon. It had two barrels and a trigger – a bit like a sawed-off shotgun. The defining factor, though is that, squeezed in between the two barrels and extending out about two feet and some change past the barrels was the blade to a sword. This was indeed a unique weapon. He had seen swords (obviously), and a very limited number of people in his home carried guns. But he had never seen a combination of the two. “You misunderstand me. I don’t intend to buy anything.”

    “You’ll just threaten me and I’ll give it up?” Travis scoffed, starting to walk away from the youth. “No chance in hell.”

    “You don’t understand anything about that sword,” the young man said sharply to the teen boy’s back.

    “Like hell I don’t,” Travis replied savagely, stopping in his tracks.

    “Sounds like you’ve got some anger issues,” the young man said calmly.

    “Yeah,” Travis admitted. “Maybe the fact that I get approached by some unknown history teacher wannabe that just starts making judgments about me just because of what he sees...maybe that does piss me off...just a little bit.”

    “That’s really too bad,” the young man retorted, brandishing his gun. “I’ll be taking that sword now.”

    “Don’t make me show it to you,” Travis said calmly.

    “Die,” Travis heard the young man’s voice and a swift movement of wind. The youth, moving quicker than the human eye could follow, closed the distance of forty or so yards, raising the blade protruding from his gun to kill the younger boy. Then...

    Quicker than a flash, the sword was out, blocking his attack and forcing him backward through midair as he skidded, after a few seconds, to a complete stop. Travis had drawn his weapon and instantly felt the blade’s terrific power surging through every corner of his body. He also felt anger, just as terrible, surging through every corner of his mind.

    What the hell? the young man thought to himself. It’s like he had eyes in the back of his head!!

    “You just made a huge mistake,” Travis said simply. “The last time I drew this sword in an actual fight, I was in a war...against something a lot more powerful than you. You’re making me fight again. I didn’t want to fight anymore. So...now, the chances of my showing mercy on you are slim to none.”

    His eyes widened and acquired a slightly crazed look.

    “You wanted this sword – now, you’re going to get it!”


    Travis sheathed the Sacred Flame and dropped into a stance. He wasn’t going to go through anything else like he had two years ago. He made sure of that. He had made a promise – a grisly promise – to himself when he came out on his journey. He hadn’t even told her about it, because the very thought would worry, if not horrify her. He didn’t want her worried on his account anymore...

    ...but he promised that, if anyone else forced him to draw his sword in battle again...

    ...he would kill them.

    The bronze-haired young man waited for a moment, thinking that Travis had perhaps given up. He should have known better – Travis’ expertise for weaker opponents was fighting from the draw. The blue-haired boy’s azure eyes looked up at the young man and flashed...then, he disappeared.

    “Huh? ****!” the young man swore, leaping into the air. A half-second later, a katana came flashing from the ground up, through the space where he had just been milliseconds ago. Travis returned to an at-ease position and watched for a few seconds as the youth sailed backward through the air and then skidded to a stop several yards away from him. The youth muttered to himself, “The speed! I’ve been trained to fight at that speed, but I just barely got away. This kid’s a freak!”

    “Damn it,” Travis growled to himself. “So much for killing him with one shot...He’s fast – too fast for battojutsu to work.”

    “I had a feeling you knew more than you were letting on,” the young man said aloud, taking a few pellets out of his pocket and slipping them into his gun. “This could be interesting.”

    “I’m giving you a chance to back out,” Travis said. “I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.”

    “Why don’t you show me, then?” the young man asked. “Show me what’s below the surface!”

    Travis disappeared again. This time, however, he wasn’t as quick in the youth’s brownish eyes. The young man brandished the blade protruding from his gun and cut through an illusion, causing it to disappear.

    “What?!” the youth shouted. He then felt a piercing pain in the small of his back and cried out loudly. Somehow...someway...Travis had made his way behind the young man and was presently driving the hilt of his sword rather forcefully into the mysterious youth’s back. With an extra push and seemingly nonchalant body language, he sent the young man flying and turned around, his eyes ablaze.

    “Enough games,” Travis said flatly. Taking off on his right foot, he used his horrifying speed to beat the young gunman’s flying body to a specific point. Raising his hilt again, he caught the young man in the stomach, laying into him with all kinds of strength and causing him to cough up flecks of blood as his eyes went red and wide in agony. The young man landed on the ground and doubled over as Travis jumped several dozen feet into the air with one bound.

    “Go on – finish me, then!” the young man cried. “I can bet a kid like you doesn’t have the bal–“

    “FALLING PHOENIX STRIKE!” The youth looked up as he saw the cobalt-haired teenage boy descending from a substantial height in the air, his sword...

    Double take – his flaming sword...

    ...aimed right at the young man’s head. He smiled – Travis had taken a beat too long.

    Travis swung down, laying into the young man’s –

    Absolutely nothing. The flames extinguished on his sword, leaving Travis to wonder what the hell happened.

    “Damn it!” Travis swore. “Don’t tell me he dodged –“

    BANG.

    Travis felt a searing pain in his back as he felt himself falling forward with no way to stop it. He felt like an electric shock had just coursed through his body and fell to his knees, shaking and trying not to hit the ground.

    “Been a while since I had to use that,” the young man sighed, blowing away smoke from the barrels of his gun. He walked slowly toward Travis, leaning the butt of his gun on his shoulder for show. “You weren’t bad – a little too overzealous, though. You see, I know a couple of things. Where I was trained, winning a battle consisted of three steps – size up your opponent and see what he’s about, force him to make a mistake, and then finish him off.”

    Travis struggled to his feet – but he was still numb and had a hard time moving. And his enemy was there already. Small balls of light filtered in from Travis’ left. He could see them even with his blurry vision. It was as if he was seeing stars, descended from the heavens to coexist with man. The youth saw them as well and ignored them, raising his sword.

    “This...is step three,” the young man said as a ball of light hit his shoulder and sat there for a moment. He finally took notice and looked at his right shoulder. A second later, the ball of light exploded spectacularly, blasting the youth sideways. Turning his head slowly, Travis looked to his left. There he saw a pink-haired girl about his age holding a staff, with an Espeon at one of her ankles, and a black-coated Umbreon at the other.

    “Katrina...” he sighed.

    Meanwhile, the young man sat up, his bronze hair disheveled and his golden eyes flashing. He stood up.

    “Gotcha...you’re lucky that I’ve just realized that the sword won’t function if it’s separated from you,” he said. “So, you get to keep the sword and live...for now.”

    Making several strange hand signals, he seemingly summoned forth a vortex of wind. Katrina and Travis both covered their eyes to protect them from all of the dust that was presently flying around. They looked up and...

    “He’s gone...” Travis sighed, standing in a wobbly manner. His balance faltered and he began to fall over, only to be caught around the middle by Katrina for support.

    “Who was that guy?” she asked.

    “No idea...” Travis replied. “Said he wanted my sword. Might’ve just been some rogue bandit or something – but he sure didn’t fight or act like one. He knew more about my sword than I did...”

    “Hmm...” Katrina said simply.

    “How’d you know where to find me, anyway?” Travis asked.

    “Angel sensed you were in trouble. I’ve been following her the entire way,” Katrina answered.

    “<Yeah,>” the voice of Crescent, Katrina’s Umbreon, piped in. “<She got us lost.>”

    “<Did not!>” Angel shouted, blushing. “<Use some sense. How do you propose getting lost in a town this small?>”

    “<You managed it, somehow,>” Crescent commented. “<I always said you were a genius...>”

    Angel blushed harder. Travis, still a bit unsteady on his feet, began to make his way toward her.

    “Are you alright?” Katrina asked concernedly.

    “I’ve had a lot worse,” Travis said. “Basically, it feels like all of my limbs fell asleep at the same time.”

    He knelt down in front of Angel and patted her head.

    “I’m sorry about earlier,” he said. “I don’t know what happened to me. I just...”

    “<You’re being too hard on yourself,>” she said. “<It’s a miracle you’re even here.>”

    Travis smiled, glad that he had his partner’s forgiveness. Standing and turning toward Katrina, he called her name out.

    “Yeah?” she uttered, turning around toward him. He approached her and took her free hand, each holding their weapons in the outside hands.

    “I’m glad I brought my sword with me,” Travis said. “I’ve got this funny feeling that I’m going to need it.”

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




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