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Thread: The Human Species (PG-13)

  1. #426
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    The only way I can imaging Blue as an old man is to simply change his hair color to gray while keeping his other physical qualities the same. He sure doesn't act like an old man like Red does. He might be my favorite of the three champions only because of his friendliness. I'm sure Lucario agrees, although he doesn't seem to particularly like any of them.

    Rukario is finally making another appearance. I can't picture how she'll respond to seeing him again. I thought she had come to terms with him not being her husband any longer, but she sure didn't seem to mind the idea of being captured as long as she was with him. I still can't really picture how the immanent confrontation will go down. I thought that the reintroduction of the Piplup/Prinplup would prompt an awkward conversation. Nah. Nothing but hatred and fertility reduction. Things certainly DID get awkward afterwards, though. Not going to make any assumptions this time. I'm prepared for whatever 'weird' you're going to throw at us.

    Lot of ambiguity in this post. Fehh...

  2. #427
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    The only way I can imaging Blue as an old man is to simply change his hair color to gray while keeping his other physical qualities the same. He sure doesn't act like an old man like Red does. He might be my favorite of the three champions only because of his friendliness. I'm sure Lucario agrees, although he doesn't seem to particularly like any of them.
    The champions actually represent different ways of handling old age.

    There's Red, who has more or less given up and simply doesn't care much about the world around him, mostly stuck thinking about events and friends of the past.

    Then there's his opposite Blue, who desperately tries to keep up with the times, always striving for a future goal and an idyllic tomorrow that he might not come to see.

    And Brendan, who's… Well, odd. Between dementia, Alzheimer's and all other sorts of fun mind-corroding diseases we get to experience as we grow old, there's a plethora of choice as to which you would attribute him with.

    Ethan's plight should be pretty obvious by now - Regret, the desire to go back and do things differently. The only one who doesn't fit into this is Lucas, because although he is a champion, he's very young and his Pokemon journey is far from over. We'll see which role he falls into when he starts to mature.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    Not going to make any assumptions this time. I'm prepared for whatever 'weird' you're going to throw at us..
    Rukario is an alien. Machine. That was built to represent the real Rukario who was possessed by Zerobi's mother.

    Weird or not, I put in foreshadowing for nearly every future event, so if you study previous chapters you can probably predict what's going to happen. Think back, and not just about the Rukario we know, but the Rukario that Cyon knew.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  3. #428
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    Chapter 105

    Bedridden Spouse Rukario


    Rukario heard someone coming up the stairs and hastily pulled the bedsheets up to her neck. Not because she was cold, in fact adding cotton to fur would soon make it quite unbearably hot for her, especially now that winter had departed. Instead it was to keep up the appearance of a meek, badly hurt woman, for the aura approaching her was someone she hoped to get as much sympathy from as possible.

    To her surprise, there was a soft knock on the door. Surely he knew she could sense him from miles away?

    "Come in," Rukario said loudly, and Lucario started fiddling with the doorknob on the outside. He found the enormous hands of a Pokémon incompatible for the task, and eventually had to resort to using his forearm to open the door.

    Lucario's heart sank as he saw Rukario, bedridden nearly two years after their last meeting. It had been dreadful to find out how much the Piplup had changed, but with Rukario it was equally saddening to see she had not changed at all. Rukario had to make an effort to keep from gasping, faced once again with her lost love. She quickly studied his body and to her dismay noticed a few new scars added to his already generous supply.

    But with that, she had her evidence. She had doubted herself and promised to move on with her life for a long time now, yet still a strangely triumphant feeling filled her heart when she realized she had been right about him being Cyon all along. This new information overwhelmed her, and she had no idea how to go about using it. Lucario mistook her stunned gaze for impatience, as if waiting for him to start the conversation.

    "Y-Yo," Lucario stammered, losing his cool from the sudden oppressive atmosphere, "How are you, uh, feeling?"

    An awkward silence filled the room as Rukario regarded him quietly. She could tell that he was nervous, and it surprised her. This behavior was much more reminiscent of his old self. Had he regained some of his memories? Is that why he was here? Left hanging without a reply, Lucario figured he should just get things over with before any more misconceptions could take root.

    "I found out what happened to Cyon," he spoke while trying to remember the speech he had fabricated earlier during his drinking binge. Perhaps not the best origin for an explanation, but in a case revolving around body abduction and ghosts, the wild tales of a drunkard were more reasonable than the truth. Not that Rukario was someone who normally adhered to logic, but outright admitting that he was Cyon would only continue their pointless waltz towards mutual despair. He figured that giving any reasonable explanation would be a better idea, enough to rid him of guilt and help her to move on.

    "Uh… Are you ready?" he asked, worried by Rukario's silence. If she was giving him the silent treatment, her sweet expression failed to show. In fact, it looked as enamored as when she had first thought him to be her husband.

    "… Go on…" Rukario answered, surprisingly uninterested in hearing what he had to say. She wanted to confront him with her evidence as quickly as possible, but did not want to appear too forceful or even giddy about it.

    "You… Probably already expected this, but…" Lucario explained while looking down at the floor in a feigned attempt at sorrow, "… It was Deoxys. I spoke to a legendary Pokémon who fought Deoxys and found Cyon's body nearby. She left it together with the other victims."

    His simple yet somewhat unlikely tale did not sound quite as convincing now as it had after 12 beers, but he opened his eyes hoping for an expression of acceptance quick resolution to this awkward situation. He felt so relieved when he saw Rukario looking at him with a gentle smile that he was forced to give one in return.

    "Liar," Rukario replied with a sweet voice, and Lucario froze up. With Cyon's voice, Cyon's aura and while covered in Cyon's scars, this Lucario still had the gall to tell her there was no connection. Granted, he did speak in a very different manner, and it would not be completely impossible for two Lucario to share similar voices or similar aura. But…

    "Your scars are precisely the same," Rukario presented her evidence with a soft, enchanting voice, "And no spikes… That cannot be a coincidence."

    Lucario turned away from her, trying to suppress his panicked expression. He hadn't thought about that - There was actually no way of denying that whatever scars Cyon had, he had as well. He had always relied on logic being his strongest weapon against Rukario, but now it was somehow being used against him. He suddenly realized that she had been right all along in thinking that he was Cyon, and was in fact not the unreasonable spouse he had always thought of her as.

    "Please, Cyon…" Rukario spoke up while trying to figure out what his shunning reaction meant, "You are in denial, you must have simply forgotten-"
    "I got these scars the same way Cyon did," Lucario interrupted her, hinting at the only explanation with even a shred of plausibility to it. He prepared himself for further probing, but had a feeling bluffing would not get him much further. He had no idea how Cyon got his scars, and even if he did, Rukario would never believe the inane notion of two individuals ending up with the exact same scars.

    But there was no retort. He turned back to see Rukario looking very surprised, an expression he unintentionally copied.

    "You mean… You were also a part of…?" Rukario whispered in astonishment as she felt her mouth drying up. Lucario realized he was on to something and quickly wiped any trace of befuddlement from his face.

    "You… Know about that?" he asked with a frown while brushing past the scars on his chest in a seemingly meaningful way, "Yeah. I feigned memory loss because I hate talking about it. These scars… They start to ache when I do."

    "… There were… More…? But you… I…" Rukario spoke quietly in defeat, Lucario keeping up his charade and cursing himself for ruining his only chance to find out just how the hell Cyon did get those scars. He quickly thought up more lies to cover himself, but it seemed Rukario had at long last given up.

    And with that, Rukario's undeniable evidence was ripped away from her. She had been so sure this time. Her newfound hope fell to pieces almost immediately and was replaced by a strong feeling of doubt in herself.

    "… Deoxys…?" she whispered to herself in disbelief, the name of the feared one suddenly sounding a lot more menacing than before, "Was it… Really that simple…? I… Oh my god, I…"

    Rukario grabbed the sheets hard and stared blankly at foot of the bed. Of course Cyon was dead. Why had it been so hard to admit? He would never abandon her like he did out of his own free will, ever. This Lucario was obviously nothing like her husband, yet she had tried clinging on to a random stranger based only on his appearance, fervently ignoring reality to desperately pursue a mere fantasy. Was she really that desperate? Had she completely lost her sanity?

    "Ruined your life, didn't I?" Lucario said after a while with a guilty tone. Rukario looked up at him in dumbfounded silence, and Lucario found her endlessly longing eyes particularly painful to look at.

    "You know… Gave you false hope about Cyon being alive…" Lucario continued while looking off to the side, wondering if he at least could make her realize the kind of internal distress he suffered from mistreating her, "Made you sacrifice yourself to help me defeat Blue…"

    "Must you take credit for everything?" Rukario suddenly asked with a stern voice, forcibly choking down her sorrow. Lucario sighed out loud, staring up into the ceiling.

    "… Alright, fine…" he groaned agonizingly, "… You beat Blue… I was just in the way, like usual…"

    "Not that," Rukario clarified. The innocent Lucario she had led on with her denial and desperation looked back at her, and she suddenly felt both amazed and grateful that he had not taken advantage of her weakness.

    "The one responsible for ruining my life is not you…" she admitted quietly before looking back at the foot of the bed, "… It was me."

    A pressure lifted off her chest and left her body through a very deep sigh. The Cyon she knew had been gone for a few years, but the notion that he would one day return, that she could reawaken his memories within the spikeless Lucario or at least find a clue as to what happened had always stayed with her. But now, all that was but a feverish dream of the past. Her obsession was over, and it was time to move on.

    Rukario rubbed her face to dispel any forming tears before sitting up and flipping the bedsheets away. Lucario flinched in shock as he was flashed by her naked body, forgetting he had witnessed naked Pokémon on a daily basis for the past 2 years. This one was particularly jarring though, because she was not wearing her trademark pants. However, her undergarments had not been hiding anything he had not seen before, and he quickly composed himself as to not stir up any unwarranted feelings in either of them.

    He was glad to see that she was not hurt in any visible manner. In fact, going by the last time he looked at himself in the mirror, she seemed a lot healthier than his malnourished self. Her arms and legs were visibly strong yet slender and flexible, something Lucario would liken to a toned feminine gestalt were it not for the fact that it was a spitting image of his own. The color of her fur is what signified her as a shiny, but Lucario found it difficult to see how it would make her stand out in a universe where nearly inhabitant was painted in screaming, garish colors. Any admiration of her womanly chest would ultimately divert to the enormous spike protruding between them, and Lucario had to remind himself that no matter how emotional things get, hugs were out of the question.

    "Hey, take it easy… Can you walk?" Lucario asked as Rukario slowly got out of bed. She looked at him for a moment before straightening her back.

    "I am fine. I was just trying to evoke pity," Rukario admitted with a hint of shame before looking out of the only window in the room, "I can't believe I almost… No, this ends here. I am done with this silly game."

    She bent over and picked up a yellow piece of clothing – Her pants, newly washed and even more sparkling clean than before. Faced with her posterior, Lucario decided this was a great time to look outside the window as well, noticing a line of peculiar footprints in the melting snow just outside the window. Almost looked like pawprint, the kind of pathetically simplistic writing Pokémon used and he had no idea how to read.

    "… I need to work out. A lot," Rukario suddenly said, not taking very long to put on her only article of clothing, "Join me."

    Hesitating, Lucario realized he had nothing better to do at the moment, and that he could use some training after doing nothing but sleep and drinking for so long. They went downstairs, getting a dirty look from the grumpy owner behind the desk. Blue was nowhere in sight, and Lucario understood that he was effectively stranded in Snowpoint City with Rukario until the aged champion returned.

    Rukario led him through the crowds of humans and Pokémon to an empty area just at the edge of town, a place Lucario remembered running through with Zerobi with police hot on their tail. Thinking Rukario had some secret agenda with bringing him back there, Lucario was a bit surprised to find they were actually going to train. Both too strong for activities like pushups and jogging, they were forced to find creative ways of training, such as lifting heavy rocks, jumping several feet into the air and, of course, the inevitable sparring. Lucario figured it would be a lot safer compared to sparring with Zerobi and her unwieldy claws, or Mew and her inherent ability to very easily crush him like a bug. Withholding his strength in fear of hurting her and causing more distress, Lucario was quickly reminded of how Rukario had soundly trashed the Skarmory and Arcanine despite being at a severe type disadvantage against both. Rukario proved to be absolutely nothing like the frail bedridden woman he had first gotten the impression of, and soon Lucario found himself with his arms forced behind his back.

    "Don't hold back. I can take it," Rukario requested between gasps, annoyed she had won in such a simplistic manner.

    "O-Of course I'm going to hold back, we're only sparring!" Lucario growled in equal annoyance as she released him, but still decided to put in some more effort. Although his muscles had deteriorated a bit from his long inactivity, it was clear who the superior fighter was. Rukario was both fast and powerful, but not to the horrifying extent of Torana, and lacking unpredictable attributes like Darkrai, Lucario was easily able to dodge, block or parry her physical strikes. When the time came to go on the offensive, he held back the bulk of his strength, as he assumed she also did since he was not being barbequed by her expert use of blue fire with every blow.

    "Aura allowed!?" Rukario asked in a hurry as they clashed together, as if reading his mind.

    "Hell no!" Lucario shouted back, having suffered more than enough of the painful and bile-inducing aura during practice sessions. Rukario huffed in frustration as she stepped back, only to put her whole body into a tackle. Lucario did the mistake of blocking it instead of avoiding it, a flash of pain shooting through his arms as he realized it had been a serious attack. Rukario delivered several fast punches, and although Lucario was able to deflect most, anyone else would have been turned into mincemeat by her assault.

    "Whoa! Hey!" Lucario yelled to interrupt her, "Find someone else if you want a real fight!"

    "Ten… Seconds…!" Rukario panted with exasperation as she stepped back, "Fight me… For real… Even if… Only ten seconds… Please…"

    Obviously low on stamina, her expression was pleading yet full of determination. Lucario had no idea what she hoped to achieve with this, but then again he never seen her this fired up before either, not even when they had been fighting Blue together. The memory of how she had taken a few nasty hits and come out fine resonated within his mind, and he decided to at least partially fulfill her wish. Had it been for real, he would have used Extreme Speed or an Aura Sphere. Instead, he decided to give her the brawl of a lifetime.

    Lucario dashed towards Rukario, pretending to go for a full-on tackle yet dropping low for a leg sweep in the last second. Falling for his feint, Rukario was fast enough to step back from his attack anyway, exploiting the opening by bringing her fist down like a hammer upon his exposed shoulder. Lucario groaned in pain as the force pushed him closer to the ground, but the next second used the very same arm that had been struck to retaliate with an uppercut. Caught off guard by his resilience, the blow struck Rukario's chin with perfect accuracy, causing her to lose balance, stumble away for a few paces before falling flat on her back.

    Adrenaline soared, but quickly diminished as Lucario exhaled and witnessed Rukario's immobile form on the ground. It reminded him of his second battle against Zoroark, who had been utterly defeated by a single one of his uppercuts. He ran over to see if she was still conscious, and was surprised to find her staring up into the sky with a very rare smile across her face.

    "Amazing…" she whispered quietly, a trickle of blood running down her chin. She was dizzy and cold uncomfortably crept up her neck, but the chilly soil made for a perfect ice package against her headache. Her smile rid Lucario of whatever guilt was building up inside him, wondering why punching her in the face had not provided this pleasant result when he had done it earlier. As she was apparently not in any hurry to get up, Lucario decided to sit down beside her, the frozen soil making him glad he was at least wearing pants.

    "You're way stronger than you appear," Lucario mumbled, scratching his buzzing shoulder. He hoped it was not simply because she was a Lucario, as it would belittle his own achievements.

    "All free shinys are strong. Or very good at running," Rukario said with clear pronunciation, proving she had withstood the blow considerably better than Zoroark. Lucario decided not to point out that technically she was captured by Blue, because if the old trainer was a man of his word he would release her whenever she was ready, and the lingering pain in his shoulder proved that she was definitively more than ready.

    "Did you and Cyon, uh, 'work out' like this often?" Lucario asked with genuine curiosity, wondering if maybe he was on to how Cyon got a few of those scars. Rukario's smile faded, and Lucario realized he had unintentionally brought up a painful subject.

    "… No. I stopped after we became a couple," Rukario answered bitterly, "He always hated it. Training. Fighting."

    "Yeah… Nothing says romance like punching each other," Lucario muttered as he used his hand to wipe away some of the blood from Rukario's chin, a habit anyone familiar with Zerobi would eventually develop. To his surprise, her smile returned as she suddenly started to giggle.

    "What?" Lucario asked, rubbing his hand against the ground to replace the blood with dirt.

    "I suppose I used to be a bit of a… Brawler," Rukario admitted before closing her eyes, "Guess I never stopped enjoying some things about it."

    "Used to be…?" Lucario repeated quietly, twisting his shoulder around and noticing it still wasn't feeling quite right. Rukario felt the dizziness receding and coldness increasing, finally sitting upright.

    "Like I said, Cyon hated violence," she elaborated while wiping some of the outdoor filth away from her back, "I was fighting on a daily basis when he appeared and spoke of a different way, that strength wasn't everything. He used to say there was a peaceful resolution to every problem."

    Lucario withheld any attempt to point out Cyon's sentiment sure didn't save him against Deoxys, especially respectful of the dead when they possessed the ability to occasionally pop up and chastise him.

    "I quit battling after we became a couple, and figured that it was because I matured…" Rukario explained while looking up at the sky, her eyes squinting in the sunlight, "… But I've been thinking… What if I only changed for his sake?"

    Rukario thought back to her days as a Riolu. Punching and kicking, scratching and biting almost since birth to stifle those wanting to capture or simply challenge a shiny. Cyon had always felt so sorry for her because of it, cursing those who would force someone into a life of endless battle at such a young age. While her friends had spoken of these times with contempt, she herself had never truly understood why. She did not mind fighting, because she was good at it. It was an excitement found nowhere else, an endless source of thrill which yielded both prestige and rewards.

    Of course, there were many other things in life she enjoyed, so giving up battling did not seem like a big deal at the time. She and Cyon had fallen deep in love, but realized many of their habits were quite incompatible for a relationship to fully work out. Rukario had been forced to evacuate the area whenever Cyon cooked up one of his revolting human meals, as he was incapable of eating berries without choking in disgust. Meanwhile, he had become increasingly distressed with her perchance to accept any challenges, returning home with bruises, fractures and a far too narrow escape from capture. To nurture their relationship, they had decided to both make sacrifices - He would learn to eat like a Pokémon, and she would learn to stop fighting.

    Flooded with memories of the past, Rukario felt her eyes grow a little tired from the strong light. She bent her head down and saw Lucario staring off into the distance, and suddenly realized she really knew nothing about this person she had been chasing for so long.

    "What about you? Have you ever met someone who changed you?" Rukario asked while patting him on the shoulder she had previously attacked, making one Lucario's long ears twitch.

    "A couple," Lucario answered honestly without really pondering the question. Seemed reasonable - Ivy had made him hate Pokémon, Zerobi had made him stop hating Pokémon and so on.

    "A… Couple!?" Rukario repeated in shock, wondering if Lucario realized the gravity of her question, "No, I mean… Someone who changed your life forever. Someone so important, your life would have been radically different without him."

    This time, Lucario thought hard to himself. The list of people and Pokémon who had affected him in some way was innumerable, but had any of them fundamentally altered his course in life?

    "Yeah… Like I said, a couple," Lucario insisted as he turned to face her to prove he was earnest, "Honestly, I never had a decided path in life to follow. I just keep moving in whatever direction people push me in."

    Rukario stared at him in silence with a confused expression.

    "Never…? Really?" she whispered after a few seconds, "No childhood dreams? Just… Letting the spur of the moment decide…?"

    It sounded less than admirable, but Lucario knew that whatever childhood dreams he once had were gone with his departure from the world of humanity. If his dream was to become a Pokémon Master, he had already fulfilled it long ago. What kind of ideas for the future did he have after that? It bothered him that he could not remember, did his life really revolve around Pokémon to the point where even his future was occupied by them?

    "I knew it. You are nothing like Cyon," Rukario said before visibly choking down what sounded a little like a laughter, "But… I think you are a lot like me. Letting yourself get swept away by someone."

    "Hey, don't make it sound like that!" Lucario burst out with annoyance from being judged, "I've never been forced to do anything. What, I'm not independent just because I followed a suggestion? If the suggestion sucked, I would've done something else."

    "So… You only agree to good suggestions?" Rukario asked while taking a gander of disbelief at the Lucario's dreadfully thin body, "Then, want to go eat something?"

    "Sorry, not a big fan of berries," Lucario answered while shaking his head, although the Tofu from earlier was hardly a filling meal. Suddenly, Rukario's smile disappeared as she gave him a strange expression.

    "… Oh really?" she exclaimed with curiosity before looking back towards Snowpoint City, "Well… I'm certain they have something else in town. My treat."

    Not one to turn down such a rare chance, Lucario nodded eagerly as they went back into town. And even though he knew he should be feeling overjoyed at the prospect of finally getting some real food, he could not shake the feeling that Rukario was planning something.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  4. #429
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    Daw, now I feel bad for assuming weird. Previously, we've had two ridiculous encounters with the penguin, three insane encounters with Brendan (not counting the time he gave Lucario bread), two heartfelt conversations with Rukario, two overpowering confrontations with Red, two eccentric encounters with Blue, and partridge in a pear tree. I guess you could say that some of these events are foreseeable.

    It SEEMS that Cyon got his scars from fighting Rukario in the past, what with him being a pacifist, and her being, uh, not that. That's my guess, although if this chapter was heavily implying that, then I feel bad again.

    So, what could she be planning? Maybe she is going to force feed him, or something. Seems that he could afford to gain a pound or twenty.

  5. #430
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    Rukario is now going to make sure that this is in fact cyon/not cyon as she probably only knows of one pokemon who doesn't like pokemon food.

    Anyway, interesting chapter again, I look forward to what Rukario has planned here.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

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    I am a little confused as to how Lucar-Ethan-io explained Cyon's death to Ru-kar-io. Did you skip that part seeing as it would just be re-explaining what the reader already knows, or am I not picking up on some implications? Kinda hope it's the former, since I am paying as much attention to this story as possible. That's 'cause I love it so very much xD. Rukario seemed to understand what happened after the word "Deoxys" was introduced, but did he get her to believe that he was human? If so, I never found out how.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    It SEEMS that Cyon got his scars from fighting Rukario in the past, what with him being a pacifist, and her being, uh, not that. That's my guess, although if this chapter was heavily implying that, then I feel bad again.
    Come on, you don't get scars like that by fighting. If so, most Pokémon would look like zombies! Zoroark suggested they were grafted by human tools back when, and Rukario seems ready to believe there are others with similar scars out there. Except WE know there isn't, because we know Lucario's just lying. Hmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Rukario is now going to make sure that this is in fact cyon/not cyon as she probably only knows of one pokemon who doesn't like pokemon food.
    It's not solid proof, but it's definitively a hint. I mean, there could be another person with the same appearance, aura, voice, scent and highly unusual taste in food, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    I am a little confused as to how Lucar-Ethan-io explained Cyon's death to Ru-kar-io. Did you skip that part seeing as it would just be re-explaining what the reader already knows, or am I not picking up on some implications? Kinda hope it's the former, since I am paying as much attention to this story as possible. That's 'cause I love it so very much xD. Rukario seemed to understand what happened after the word "Deoxys" was introduced, but did he get her to believe that he was human? If so, I never found out how.
    No, Rukario doesn't really know anything about Lucario. Remember that Deoxys claimed the lives of very many, so pretty much everyone in the world knows about it by now, and since Cyon disappeared around that time she had probably thought about the possibility before.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

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    Oh! Now it makes sense. Sorry if you had to spell it out for me. Now I'm suspecting that it was some sort of surgery, which would support Zoroark's theory.

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    Chapter 106

    Dangerous Dark Assassin


    A taste so wondrous, it surely had to be of another world. A packet of nutrition designed to encourage a pleased palette, a portal connecting his tongue with a whole new dimension of taste. It filled him with the desire to kneel in fervent prayer, praising whichever higher being would accept responsibility for allowing him this momentary yet oh so beautiful glimpse into heaven. His body sounded no complains, satisfied as it began laying a foundation of muscles and fat that would keep him alive for months to come.

    "How is it?" Rukario asked with an intent stare. Lucario remembered his situation and faked a gag reflex.

    "Terrible," Lucario lied, pulling down the corners of his mouth as if tasting something disgusting, "Whoops, manners. It's… OK, I guess?"

    Rukario looked disappointed, and Lucario knew it was not simply because she thought he had scored a bad meal.

    "No, that's alright," she said quietly while looking down at the ground, "Cyon used to… Never mind."

    Why was she admitting it? Like he was really going to fall for such an obvious trick. It bothered Lucario to publicly shame the food that pleased him so, but he considered Rukario's peace of mind a slight bit more important. Thankfully, the cook in the food booth looked unaffected by his harsh words, a bulky guy working his spatula like a warrior and filling the chilly neighborhood with steam carrying the smell of fried vegetables. Going by the numerous Pokémon wandering around, it must not be as revolting to their noses as curry and mint were to Zerobi. Suddenly, Lucario realized that if that had not been the case, his unusual taste in food would have been revealed as soon as they got within range of the aroma and he made a desperate lunge for it, before even taking his first bite.

    He looked at Rukario while finishing his meal, still feigning disgust with every bite. She was deep in thought, and it worried him because he was coming to realize that she was actually clever, and dangerously so. If he stayed with her she would find out the truth sooner or later. Even so, her behavior was giving him mixed signals and he was having trouble figuring out her intentions. After all this time, was she still trying to prove that he was Cyon? Considering the fighting, eating and getting him to talk about himself, it seemed more likely this was all just to reassure her that he was NOT Cyon.

    "What're you thinking about?" Lucario finally asked, wiping the corners of his mouth with a not-so-clean napkin. Rukario continued thinking for another few seconds, before facing him with an earnest gaze.

    "Do you think I am strong?" she asked.

    "… You were trashing Blue, and you need to ask?" Lucario answered, and Rukario took a deep breath.

    "So. Strong enough to fight on a competitive level?" she asked hopefully. The sudden question made a hairy ball of a Pokémon a few paces away turn its head towards them for a moment before walking away, quietly scoffing to itself. It took Lucario a moment to recognize the question – He had expected something regarding Cyon or maybe himself, but was instead faced with something unlike anything he had been asked before.

    "Not sure, it's not like I'm a professional," Lucario replied with a shrug, sizing up Rukario and finding it impossible not to compare her unfavorably to his more fearsome opponents, "To be honest, I've met some crazy powerful trained Pokémon, like Torana and Raik-"

    "Torana!?" Rukario suddenly burst out in shock, interrupting him as she stared in awe, "Surely you have not fought THE Torana?"

    "What, Brendan's Blaziken? Strongest Pokémon ever?" Lucario said nonchalantly with an obvious tone of glee to his voice, "Yep, fought her. Beat her."

    Rukario's stare of awe immediately turned into a skeptical look, clearly not buying his unlikely story.

    "… She wasn't using any fire moves until the end," Lucario admitted with a very bitter sigh, wishing he'd be allowed to act high and mighty just once in his life, "And I kind of, well, almost died."

    "Tell me in detail," Rukario requested, her skepticism diminishing but still desiring verification. Lucario started by simply detailing the situation and area to prove his legitimacy, but Rukario insisted on hearing a blow-by-blow explanation of the fight itself. The memory was still fresh in his mind, each faded bruise and soft spot across his body like a memo of the past. She would ask him of the techniques he used, how he was able to exploit Torana's openings and other strategic accomplishments that were really just spur of the moment. After a while, he wondered if Rukario was really just seeing if he was telling the truth, or had reasons of her own to be listening to this.

    "… Very interesting…" Rukario said after the story was finished, a rather big and excited smile on her face. Lucario felt like asking her what she was thinking of again, but decided to keep quiet. She probably had a lot to think about without him interrupting her thoughts over and over.

    "Blue has been egging me on to utilize my skill in battle," Rukario spoke up after a while, her smile remaining fast as she looked at him with genuine passion, "Real battles, I mean. Competitive level. I just never thought it was possible for a Lucario like me, until…"

    "D… Did I just alter the course of your life?" Lucario stammered in shock as Rukario giggled.

    "Second time, now," Rukario admitted before closing her eyes and shaking her head, "… No. It is like you said – This is something I want to do from my own free will. Not something I feel I have to do, because…"

    Her newfound smile suddenly disappeared.

    "… Because…" she repeated with a blank stare. Lucario looked behind him, wondering if she had seen something dangerous. Indeed, there was a rather menacing cyclops tree walking down the street with roots for feet, but such sights were really nothing special in a world of Pokémon.

    "I… Completely forgot…" Rukario gasped as she put her hand over her mouth, "For the first time since… Why is it that being with someone who looks and sounds exactly like Cyon made me forget about him?"

    "Maybe because aside from that, I'm not like Cyon at all?" Lucario responded quickly to put on some pressure, afraid she would revert to her former pitiful state. It was a fear shared by Rukario, who had previously fallen so deep into despair she thought she would never escape. Her life had been geared towards being spent in solitude while mourning Cyon forever, or latching on to anyone similar enough for endless emotional support.

    But here she was, smiling and talking about the future, battling and eating out with a friend, nary a thought spared to the past. And she had done it on her own. No, she thought, not entirely on her own – Through refusing to assist her, the spikeless Lucario had inadvertently helped her, forcing her to take command and work everything out by herself. She had reached out for a helping hand, and he had swatted it away every time.

    Removing her hand from her mouth, she looked at Lucario with skepticism. She had no idea whether to be grateful or not for what was ultimately a complete unwillingness to help someone in a bad situation, but she was suddenly feeling very good about herself and he was the only one to play any part in it whatsoever. He had come here today to see if she was alright and decided to go along with what she wanted to do, even though none of this had ever been his responsibility in the first place.

    "Not even a little," she spoke clearly before putting on her gentle smile from earlier, "I cannot believe I forgot to ask… But what is your name?"

    "Lucario?" he replied with a hint of confusion, fairly certain she already knew.

    "No, no… Your REAL name," Rukario insisted before moving a little closer to him. Lucario figured that being a Lucario herself, it must be very annoying to refer to someone else as "Lucario". He possessed one name he knew for certain he would not be telling her, and so he went for the answer he always did in these kinds of situations.

    "Ethan," Lucario said confidently while staring into Rukario's eyes. Would they display surprise? Would they display any recognition at all? Would they display amazement, would they display fear or would they even display hatred?

    His musings seemed to be for nothing, because he instantly lost sight of her face as something soft brushed past him. Glancing down, he saw Rukario taking hold of his hands. It was strange to be touched by paws as big as his own, almost like being grasped by something wearing large pillows for gloves.

    "Ethan…" she said earnestly, "I am sorry for how I treated you, Ethan."

    Lucario swallowed as he noticed two passerby's stopping and staring at them, a brightly colored hawk whispering something to what could only be described as a wormy substance sticking out of a hollow rock.

    "Whoa, hey, I'm sorry for hitting you and all that," Lucario responded shakily while twisting his head around in embarrassment, "Come on, don't apologize. You saved me and I treated you like dirt all the time."

    "Well, then. I forgive you?" Rukario redacted her statement before letting go; also starting to notice the attention they were getting. The odd duo of bird and worm smiled as they quickly turned their heads and went on their way. Lucario had no idea why they were getting so many looks from strangers, wondering if two Lucario being together was taboo or something. However, Rukario was not quite as naďve – She knew that the ones not stopped in their tracks from the fact that they were seeing a shiny would definitely be interested by a Lucario with no spikes.

    "I should go back to the hotel to speak with Blue," Rukario said as she was finally getting a bit tired of being in the public's eye, "What are your plans?"

    "Same. I need to teleport back to where I was," Lucario explained, fairly certain he had nothing else to do in Snowpoint City. Rukario looked at him with a confused expression.

    "You… Teleported here?" she asked before looking around, "From another Pokécenter?"

    "From… A cave in the middle of nowhere?" Lucario unintentionally mimicked the manner of her answer, "Why?"

    "You don't know? It's only possible to teleport to Pokécenters," Rukario explained, wondering how far Lucario had traveled just to see her, "And only the one previously visited. Flying is better, and you can usually hire a ride from cities like this, as long as you have money."

    Lucario shrugged, but was actually getting a bit concerned now. It occurred to him that Blue did not know what relationship he and Rukario had - It was possible that the trainer had dumped him there and left, thinking he was home now. Lucario had no idea where Nomad's Land was or how to get back to there, and chasing Blue around the world just for such a menial task seemed like a huge waste of time.

    "Here," Rukario said, stretching out her arm towards him. Lucario looked down for a moment, noticing four large yellow coins in the palm of her hand.

    "It should be enough for a ride anywhere," she said with an urging tone, "I owe you one for snatching you out of the sky, remember?"

    "Haha… Yeah," Lucario snickered. He had only been flying four times in his life, the first time while he was dying from a pathetic defeat, the second abruptly ending by getting tackled out of the sky, the third during a powerful storm and the fourth one while in a cage. Given this unpleasant history he was not exactly looking forward to it, but wanted to end his meeting with Rukario on a high note before anything bad spontaneously happened. Reminding himself not to instigate a hug, Lucario put his hand on her shoulder.

    "Hey, it's been fun. Let's do this again sometime," he said, Rukario looking at him with a stunned expression.

    "Ethan… Don't be gone too long," she replied with a nod, "Next time we meet, I'll show you how far I've made it on my own."

    The moment held on a bit longer than necessary before they separated, Lucario nodding to her in return. Both were filled with a great deal of thoughts about the other as they turned and walked in separate directions. Rukario turned back one last time to see Lucario disappearing behind an alleyway, faintly wondering if she was ever going to see him again.

    The temperature dropped slightly as the shadows of the afternoon grew longer, and Lucario felt a bout of nostalgia from wandering the snowy city he had left behind so long ago. Thoughts of the past clouded his mind, but cleared his thoughts as to what to make of Rukario. The strangest conjecture came upon him as he questioned if maybe they weren't so different after all. Rukario had been hunted by trainers all her life for being a shiny, and he had been hunted all of his short life as a Lucario for a bit more complex reasons. She too had trouble figuring out what to do with her life, and Lucario hoped he would not waste years wandering aimlessly as she did. But most importantly, she had fallen into depression and desperation after losing Cyon, and Lucario suddenly realized he might end up the same regarding Mew if he did not forget about her soon. How could he claim any moral high ground when he would probably react the same if someone looking exactly like Mew were to appear and taunt him with her very existence? There was a distinct match between them, perhaps even more so than when his body still belonged to Cyon.

    Lost in thoughts, Lucario failed to notice the presence of one unlike the others in town. An assassin, skulking around in the shadows of the alleyway. Despite carrying all the necessary tools for dispatching any prey, the assassin was not after anyone at this particular moment. That is, before noticing a certain spikeless Lucario walking down the street.

    Keeping to the darkness, the assassin followed the seemingly lost Lucario until certain that they were alone. Overly confident in his ability to sense the aura of those around him, Lucario was careless and took no note as the murderous assailant sneaked up behind him. Even as the killer reached out with the weapon that had seen to the death of so many others he remained oblivious, not noticing that something was wrong until the sharp edge was beginning to tickle the hair on his right shoulder.

    "Boo," the assassin whispered into his ear, causing Lucario to quickly step forward before spinning around, holding up a guard and getting ready to fight. But he eased up as he realized who it was, feeling a mixture of happiness and surprise.

    "Zerobi!?" Lucario blurted out in shock, "What the… What a coincidence! Why are you here?"

    "… I live here?" Zerobi answered with a blank stare, the elegant Weavile pleasantly surprised to see Lucario back on his feet with a sober posture, "This is the only populated area for fifty miles, where would I be if not here?"

    "Oh yeah. How's the old place doing?" Lucario asked while crossing his arms and feeling a pang of bother. Was Zerobi thinking of retiring from their adventures? Zerobi noticed Lucario's sudden unease and subdued a laughter, hoping to cheer him up somehow.

    "Oh, you know. Obnoxious squatters. Big hole in the ceiling," Zerobi muttered while waving one of her scythe-like hands around, "I think I can do better. What are you doing here?"

    "Looking for you, of course!" Lucario said loudly, but Zerobi's skeptical look told him that explanation wouldn't fly, "Nah. Just here to visit an old friend. You?"

    "Same… Which is weird, considering neither of us have any old friends," Zerobi answered while letting the tone of her voice drop. The two were seemingly trying to outmatch the other with how much skepticism they could emote, Zerobi grimacing to create many lines in her forehead with Lucario mimicking Rukario's reaction to his story about Torana while also inquisitively scratching the bottom of his chin. Eventually they both cracked from the silly display, Lucario giving a short laugh as Zerobi turned her head down and giggled.

    "Rukario," Lucario exclaimed, "Think I finally got her to stop chasing me around."

    "Ah," Zerobi replied while lifting her head, "Wait, she's still here? She lives here too?"

    "I have no idea," Lucario exclaimed while shrugging, wanting to shift the subject before being forced to revisit the past few hours so soon, "Who did you meet?"

    Zerobi closed her eyes as she thought to herself for a moment, her excitement diminishing as she was suddenly feeling very somber. She saw no reason to hide what she had been up to, it was just that she felt a bit awkward talking about it with a third party.

    "Well, I've been patching things up with my best friend…" Zerobi explained, wondering if Lucario had any idea what she was talking about, "You know, best friend pre-killing spree."

    "… Wish you wouldn't put it like that," Lucario mumbled with a hint of disgust, suddenly being reminded of a less charming part to her character. Still, one short minute together with the Weavile and he already felt like he could understand her better than the soothsaying Zoroark or Snivy.

    "Sorry," Zerobi said while wagging her colorful finger, "Anyway, it's nice to be talking to her again. She doesn't hate my guts! Can you believe it!?"

    Lucario did think it a bit weird, considering how much Zerobi had gone on about everyone wanting her dead. Well, if he was able to forgive her, why not? He was so caught up in their conversation, it took him a long while to realize something was off about Zerobi's normally colorless metal claws. He let his vision drift slowly downwards when he noticed something the size of a clove of bananas hanging from the tip of one of her fingers. A colorful box with a ribbon, a distinct lack of scratches proving it had not had too much interaction with her scythe-hands.

    "What's that?" Lucario asked while pointing towards Zerobi's midsection. Zerobi furrowed her brow as she looked down at herself, before realizing what he was referring to.

    "Oh, right, I picked up a present!" Zerobi said cheerfully as she held up the dangling object in front of him, "Christmas Eevee, or something? We were busy with that whole virus thing and missed it, but you're supposed to give each other presents. Perfect cure for a depression, don't you think?"

    "Wow! Hey, thanks!" Lucario exclaimed joyfully as he reached out. However, Zerobi quickly withdrew her claw and stepped back, her expression showing dismay.

    "It's, uh, not for you," Zerobi explained hastily while keeping the box securely behind her back, "Sis is the only one I've heard talk about Christmas, I didn't know you… I mean, it'd be weird to just randomly give someone a present, right?"

    "Who'd complain?" Lucario asked with a shrug before trying to move around her to get another peek, "Come on, I was depressed too! Let me have it!"

    "You REALLY wouldn't find much use for this… I hope," Zerobi clarified while twisting around to keep the present out of his reach, figuring Celebi would be none too happy if someone else knew of its contents, "I burnt the last of my money on this too, so unless you feel like celebrating Christmas by beating up and robbing some helpless trainer…"

    "I do!" Lucario yelled as he gave up on retrieving the box and crossed his arms in disapproval, "Actually, I wouldn't mind having some cash. Maybe it's time for me to get a job? I mean, I bet the market for violence and theft is pretty saturated."

    "… A job?" Zerobi repeated with a baffled expression, the sudden shift in subject making her instantly forget all about the present, "Uh, Lucario? You're not human anymore. No need to slave away for cash, just find a nice cave to stay in and a good supply of berries!"

    "But I hate sleeping in caves and eating berries," Lucario pointed out while moving closer to her and stretching out his arm, "If I had a job, I could sleep in a bed and eat real food! Also-"

    Swift as the wind, Lucario's outstretched arm reached down and gave Zerobi's box a quick tap from behind, causing it to easily slip off her claw and into Lucario's other hand.

    "H-Hey! Don't open it!" Zerobi pleaded as she tried to take it back, Lucario stepping back a mile to avoid the onslaught of her massive sharp claws. He suddenly felt a bit guilty as he decided not to open the box, but instead held it up to his ear and rattled it. It was of medium weight, and there was something big and rectangular inside smashing against some kind of padding. He sighed out in disappointment – Inside the box was another box, and he had no way of determining its contents.

    Zerobi had a look of disappointment on her face as she approached him and held up her claw. Lucario reflected her expression as he slowly hung the present back where it belonged.

    "You can tell me, I'm good at keeping secrets," Lucario tried one last time, but Zerobi simply shook her head.

    "Doesn't matter. This is private," she said, and suddenly an idea sprung up within Lucario.

    "Aha! Of course, it's a pair of briefs!" he said while pointing at the box, "You know, underwear? Not even Celebi can deal with the biting cold of this region around those regions, can she?"

    "Pfft," Zerobi snorted in amusement as she turned and started walking down the alleyway, "Imagine how weird she'd look with underwear on."

    "Wouldn't be that b…" Lucario argued before imagining the silly display for a moment and cracking up, "… Heheh, yeah, I guess it'd be pretty bad."

    Fleeting images of Celebi with nothing but boxer shorts on passed imperceptibly through Lucario's mind as Zerobi took a moment to rejoice that the two of them were together again, even though they had not been apart for too long. She had always had faith that he would overcome his drunken depression, but it was still nice to verify that he back in shape, although maybe not in the perfect shape she had come to remember him by. Zerobi realized that her little prank earlier had cost her a welcome hug, and that she still had no mints for future kissing sessions. Asking her deeply grieving sister for something so selfish would be a new low, even for her. She hoped her present would not be taken the wrong way, it did cost her most of whatever little money she had left hidden in her old home, and keeping the nature of it secret from Lucario would not be easy. Even so, she was simply feeling too good with herself after reconciling with Eve, and had an overwhelming urge to share some of it.

    "So… You want to go do something?" Zerobi asked as she noticed Lucario looking into the display window of Fabricadabra, a textile shop from which she had bought a makeshift cloak a few years back. Unsurprisingly, he was sizing up a pair of shorts.

    "Sure. Just ate, though," Lucario said as he let his four coins from earlier tumble around the palm of his hand, muttering slightly while looking at the price tag.

    "Then come on," Zerobi said as she ushered him in another direction, "I know a place where you can put that money to good use."
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  10. #435
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    Huh... He got away with it. He even convinced her that he defeated the strongest non-legendary around. Which is true, of course.

    Bah, you never explained WHY teleport always brings you back to the last pokemon center you visited. Maybe psychics have this weird unwritten rule allowing only teleports to pokemon centers in the event that one gets captured. That's not realistic, though. Pokemon is supposed to be realistic!

    This is the second time that you've psyked us out with Zerobi. The last time was when she was having an emotional breakdown, and this time, well, we didn't even know it was her at first... but still!

    It has occurred to me that in the event Lucatio DOES end up breaking Zerobi's heart and DOES cause her to return to her sadistic ways, he won't be able to detect her aura, and she could pounce at any time. That's kinda scary. I love it.

    The cliffhanger of this chapter is that Lucario needs new pants, but can't decide on what brand. Maybe Zerobi has something else in mind. Maybe magazines? He does owe her some new magazines.

  11. #436
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    Chapter 107

    Epilogue of Episode XIV
    Reading


    Although fairly big, it was an inconspicuous building in every way. Clad in grey walls, it had both a sloping ramp and a staircase leading up its humble entryway wearing a telltale sign reading "Two Essay", with a figure of a boy wearing glasses lying on top of the two S:es.

    "A bookstore?" Lucario spoke up after a moment of silence, "… You do know I'm practically living in a fantasy novel, right?"

    "That's exactly why! Pick a book about something you want to learn more about," Zerobi replied as she effortlessly walked up the ramp, "You have to stop relying on me for all your information, I never even graduated high school."

    Lucario sighed as he followed her, but could not find any good footing on the slippery slope. Instead he sidetracked and went up the staircase.

    "Besides, I need to practice my reading skills," Zerobi pointed out with a sigh as the doors in front of her opened automatically, "I went from reading every day to not reading ever. I don't want to forget everything and have to start over from scratch."

    "Isn't it like riding a bike? You never forget how to do it?" Lucario asked while strenuously climbing the staircase, his misshapen feet finding it a bit difficult to accommodate the design clearly meant for humans. Zerobi looked back at him with an expression that suggested she did not agree that riding a bicycle was easy, and then they moved inside.

    The air in the bookstore was stuffy and carried the telltale fragrance of paper. Apart from the two of them there were no Pokémon inside, but there were not that many humans either. Nothing but an old lady scouring the bookcases for something to read, a younger lady by the register twiddling a pencil and a man in his forties flipping through the pages of a book, all of them looking fairly bored.

    Unsurprisingly, books were everywhere. Overflowing bookcases segregated into category and organized alphabetically, stacks of literature in bargain bins and multiple book-related accessories, one looking more superfluous than the next. Zerobi noticed they had rearranged the interior, and was busy searching for a particular section of the store that normally fancied her interests. Meanwhile, Lucario lazily perused their immediate vicinity, reading the titles and looking at the covers. Most looked pretty dull and generic, but even so there was one that caught his eye. A book called "The Islands Of Death," with a very familiar group of islands pictured on the cover.

    "Oh, hey. A book on the great war," he said out loud while opening the book, immediately recognizing a legendary photograph of a blonde man in army fatigue leaning up against the ruins of a destroyed school in Striaton City, "Brings back memories…"

    Zerobi looked at the book with mild interest, lifting it carefully with a clawed finger to catch a glimpse of the cover. She stared at it for a few moments before letting go.

    "Wait… You weren't around for the great war, were you?" she asked with curiosity. She knew Lucario was older than he appeared, on account of living a long life as a human before even turning into a Pokémon. While his body was slightly younger than hers, he was definitely a few years older in terms of how long he had been alive.

    "It happened 50 years before I was born, so no," Lucario replied with a snarky tone as he continued flipping through the pages, "They just taught us about it in school a lot."

    "Hmm. They didn't teach us much history," Zerobi mumbled as she leaned up next to him to read the contents of the book, "What was it again, Kanto fought Unova and won?"

    "Actually, it was a coalition between Kanto and Johto against Unova, who had an alliance with Sinnoh," Lucario explained, surprised to remember so much about history he had never revisited since the tedious lectures of schooldays long gone by. Zerobi nuzzled up affectingly against his shoulder which made him notice that everyone else in the store were staring at them, although he did not realize the people had been giving him odd looks for a while now simply for being a Pokémon with an open book in his hands.

    "Uh, the dispute was regarding ownership on the Sevii Islands though, so technically it was just Kanto and Unova with anything to gain from it," he continued with a rapid pace as to shift her mind to other matters. Zerobi smiled and closed her eyes, unintentionally paying attention despite the subject of war not being very romantic.

    "Sevii… You mean Navel Rock…?" she whispered dreamily before her eyes suddenly shot open in surprise, "Wait, what? Why would anyone fight a war over that tiny little island!?"

    Lucario shrugged while scanning the book for relevant information.

    "Resources, I think. No one's sure of who really owned them. Started with an embargo and things escalated," he muttered before looking at Zerobi hugging his side, "They really didn't teach you anything at school, huh?"

    "They really only taught us about it from our point of view, I guess," Zerobi responded while staring blankly at the book, "We call it the Genealogy Wars, or 'Gen Wars' for short. You made it sound like it was only a war between human interests, why do you think Pokémon were in it?"

    Lucario was about to make a condescending remark before stopping at a page, and indeed, there was a picture with both humans and Pokémon side by side in dirty conditions. The war he remembered did not involve Pokémon at all.

    "Humans… Forced them?" he suggested, figuring it would only be logical to bring super powered beasts to a conflict between life and death, "What, you're saying they had their own reasons?"

    Zerobi exhaled a puff of air as she tried to remember. History lessons about the great war took place during a time when most of her attention was focused on Evolution's Gate.

    "Supposedly most Pokémon didn't particularly like the Pokémon heralding from other regions back then," she explained in a low tone, her neck starting to hurt from leaning so heavily on Lucario's shoulder, "Figured they had inferior genes. Kanto Pokémon thought Unova Pokémon looked weird and ridiculous, they said we were weak and had really simplistic appearances and so on."

    "But… You all look weird," Lucario pointed out, not having detected any hierarchy of strangeness among Pokémon. Zerobi snickered as she separated from him and stood up, cracking her neck back into place.

    "… Heh. Hehehe. That's a funny way to look at it," she said while feeling refreshed, "Anyway, the human conflict was a good chance to show supremacy. Very many died before we came to the conclusion that Kanto Pokémon were indeed better at killing than those from Unova."

    Lucario stared at her with disbelief for a moment before putting the book back in the bookcase.

    "Hey, it's a better reason for fighting than some useless island," Zerobi said while shrugging.

    "Marginally," Lucario mumbled and started looking for something else to read. Zerobi went deeper into the store, having finally found the section she was looking for. They each tried reading a few random books before meeting up again five minutes later.

    "Found anything good yet?" Zerobi asked, trying to catch a peek on whatever Lucario was reading.

    "It's just a cookbook," Lucario muttered with disappointment before putting it back on the shelf.

    "Hold on, don't you need that?" Zerobi asked while making a mental note of the book's title for future purchase, "You always complain about everything tasting bad. If someone close to you learned how to cook…"

    "Cookbooks don't teach you how to cook," Lucario explained with disdain, "They just contain complicated recipes. Makes it more likely to screw things up."

    "Oh…" Zerobi exclaimed sadly, realizing that learning how to cook just entered the realms of impossibility, "Surely it teaches you something?"

    "Well… I did learn why humans are smarter than Pokémon," Lucario said. The corners of Zerobi's mouth quickly turned downwards and her expression demanded an explanation.

    "See, you all eat berries, right?" Lucario relegated what he had just learned with a proud tone to his voice, "Well, that cookbook said cooked food makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrition. It's like a preemptive stage of digestion outside the stomach, which in return helps build neurons and leads to bigger brains."

    "What? I don't get it," Zerobi said out loud, feeling a bit offended by the notion that humans were inherently smarter than Pokémon. Humans did have an easier time with a couple of skills that few Pokémon could appreciate such as complicated math and finer arts, but many Pokémon possessed unique senses that improved other cognitive functions.

    "According to that book, it's because you eat everything raw and thus have no brain power," Lucario chided with a superior smile. Zerobi rolled her eyes in response. While humans excelled in things such as construction and music, writing and painting, Pokémon were generally better at remembering things correctly and processing new information. Hence why she could remember the name, type and footprint of almost every Pokémon in existence after only a year of study, whereas a human would need a Pokédex to keep track of things.

    "Oh please," she scoffed, "It's not like berries are hard to digest."

    "Says you!" Lucario shouted before suppressing a laugh, "Hehehaha, whatever. Bet it's smarter than your book."

    "Bet it is," Zerobi replied bluntly, holding it up to show Lucario. On the cover was a very, very romanticized version of a Gardevoir held in the arms of a shirtless, muscled human with a confident expression on his face, the title 'Forbidden Sir Knight' hanging above them in a stylized font. Lucario still vividly remembered the Gardevoir he had seen at Brendan's side, wondering how this beautiful and attractive woman on the cover could ever be derived from that cancerous apprehension to aesthetics.

    "I didn't know you liked romantic novels," Lucario said with mild distaste.

    "I don't," Zerobi replied quickly before starting to read it again, "Well, I like some. But only the best."

    "So, you've read quite a few?" Lucario asked, but Zerobi remained silent as she continued reading. Feeling bored, he looked around and realized they were in a very strange section of the store, if the covers around him were anything to go by. Most of the books had a scantily clad woman being held by a Pokémon, the latter very male and surprisingly human-like in appearance. Some were like the one Zerobi was reading and had the genders between the species reversed, but those were few and far between. Feeling a bit disgusted by the display, he was about to leave when he found a book that really caught his eye.

    On the cover was a Lucario, one of his filthy paws caressing the thigh of a beautiful lady in regal, albeit almost fully removed clothing.

    Lucario continued to stare at the picture. Despite each passing second filling him with revulsion, he could not turn away. Many a time he had seen his reflection in a lake or mirror, but no matter where or when, he had always recognized a certain spark of humanity within himself. His bipedal stature, his strong arms and his shorts all heralded to his former appearance.

    Only when pictured in a romanticized manner could he see how wrong he had been. There was no comparison between the fair woman and the abominable beast that held her. Ears, nose and black lumps stuck out from his face like a whole hand of sore thumbs. Lucario caressed his own face, feeling every inch of his elongated nose, noting his ears involuntarily flicking from his touch and sensing minor nausea from squeezing the stuff that hung behind his head. He looked down at his legs – They did not feel too different, but boy did they look different. He himself was not sure where his legs ended and his feet began. Who would think to ruin a perfectly fine picture by forcing something like himself into it?

    "Nope, not feeling it," Zerobi exclaimed as she slammed the book shut, "I guess I've gotten too picky. I'd kill to be able to erase my memory and read 'Nine Years of Flame, Nine Years of Shame' again for the first time."

    She looked up at Lucario, who was looking back at her with a horrified expression.

    "I mean, I wouldn't REALLY kill…" Zerobi corrected herself as she waved her big hand in front of the stunned Lucario, "… It's a joke? Hello?"

    "Can we go now? I'm getting sick of this place," Lucario stated bluntly as he cast a glance around the area, trying not to let on that he was also getting sick from this place.

    "I suppose. Did you find a book about Ethan yet?" Zerobi asked while putting Forbidden Sir Knight back where she had taken it.

    "Huh?" Lucario exclaimed in confusion. Zerobi sighed as she reluctantly picked up a different book.

    "To fill in the gaps in your memory?" she asked with a slightly annoyed tone. In an instant, Lucario's muddled expression cleared up.

    "Th-They wrote books about me!?" he stammered in surprise.

    "People write books about everything," Zerobi clarified as she started reading the back of the new book with a vacant expression, "Check out any encyclopedia about famous trainers, you're sure to be in it."

    Happy with any excuse to get away from the sordid romantic section, Lucario scoured the store and finally found a book named 'How to Conquer the World of Pokémon', promising a detailed look on the lives and journeys of the four major champions; Red, Blue, Brendan and Ethan. Fifteen minutes later Zerobi had made her pick, buying two books of varying flavor; The first was named 'Debunking The Truth', a book exploring the many mysteries of the world through science and reason rather than superstition and subscription count, as Zerobi herself put it. She herself suggested Lucario not know much about the second book, an offer he gladly took her up on after his previous encounter with the horrors of romantic novels.

    The sun was setting as they left the store, Lucario letting his only remaining coin fall into the bag where their books laid.

    "Thanks for carrying," Zerobi expressed with gratitude, knowing no handle in the world was designed to accommodate her claws, "Where'd you get that money, anyway?"

    "Whoops!" Lucario exclaimed as he froze up, remembering that the money was meant to bring him to Nomad's Land, "… Uh, do you know the way back? Did you come here on foot?"

    "You didn't?" Zerobi responded with a hint of surprise, knowing how stingy the revolutionaries were with letting anyone hitch a ride.

    "Nah, I teleported here with Blue," Lucario answered calmly.

    "Blue…" Zerobi repeated in an equally calm manner, before her mouth fell open and she raised her voice, "… Blue!? Are you mad!? What if Brendan and Red-"

    "Don't worry, don't worry! I already talked to them," Lucario interrupted her while waving his hands around. Zerobi stared at him in disbelief, not seeing any visible damage across his body.

    "You're… Off the hook?" Zerobi drew the only conclusion she could think of, fairly certain the revolutionaries would not come to bat for Lucario against two legendary dogs.

    "Kind of. At least for the time being, I think," Lucario admitted as he wondered which chapter of his new book he should start with. He was eager to know more about his life as Ethan, but knowing what makes the likes of Brendan tick might come to save his life one day.

    A heavy weight suddenly lifted from Zerobi's heart, and she was forced to bite her tongue to keep herself from shouting out in joy. Victory, she thought to herself. The last obstacle before retiring to a nice, peaceful life was gone. At long last, the time had come to make a decisive move.

    "Finally. No more running," she whispered innocently while nudging a little closer to Lucario, "We've had two pretty stressful years, huh?"

    "For sure," Lucario agreed while not noticing her subtle approach, "I'm worn out as hell."

    "Then let's go somewhere!" Zerobi exclaimed happily as her face lit up, "If we stick around with those revolutionaries, we're bound to get dragged into something else!"

    "Go somewhere?" Lucario asked while scratching the back of his head, "Where? Another bookstore?"

    "Anywhere but here!" Zerobi continued while letting her hand point towards the horizon where the sun was setting, "Come on, we deserve a vacation more than anyone. Let's sit back and watch the revolutionaries and legendaries wrap this whole thing on their own."

    Surprised by this sudden request, Lucario could not help but be affected by Zerobi's peppy demeanor. It reminded him of the time they had been stuck with the rest of the legendaries, and she suggested they get out of there and go somewhere else. He wondered if maybe she had an issue with large crowds.

    "I guess," Lucario replied with a shrug, not certain that he was in a position where he was even allowed to just ditch all of his responsibilities, "I think I can go on a little bit longer, though. It'd feel a bit pointless if I just gave up now when there's so much left to accomplish."

    Lowering her arm, Zerobi looked at him as her smile suddenly began to vanish. It was a minor setback, but she had waited too long to be able to easily shrug it off. She was starting to feel tired, so very tired of this game.

    "A little bit longer…" she repeated quietly before looking the other way, not sure on what to say next. She was tethered between pressing on, and just outright giving up here and now to spare herself pointless effort.

    "Wh-What?" Lucario stuttered, surprised by the sudden shift in tone. He thought his statement would make her happy.

    "… You're finally free, but you still want to keep going…?" Zerobi said with a questioning voice, trying to find out what he was thinking, "I don't get you. Haven't you already accomplished enough?"

    "W… Well, I'm not really allowed to tell anyone about the virus," Lucario explained, trying to figure out what was wrong about what he was saying, "And Torana decided to cop out of admitting my victory. Come on, you can see why after all this I don't want to go down in history as a nobody, right?"

    Zerobi couldn't, as she herself would have been perfectly happy going down in history as a nobody rather than a genocidal monster. It was definitively not a legitimate reason to see her golden chance to settle down with Lucario slipping away.

    "You don't have to force yourself to live in constant peril just to accomplish things, you know…" she tried to negotiate, "If you're looking for recognition, there are other things we could do. You don't even want to try something different?"

    Lucario crossed his arms, starting to realize that Zerobi was only worried about him getting hurt. For the first time in ages he was not under any direct threat, and he figured she wanted him to pull out before getting dragged into something else. However, at the same time it felt weird to give up right when he was finally free to do whatever he wanted. If things started to get dangerous again, he could always bail out then.

    "Like I said, just let me try this a little while longer," Lucario said while putting his hand on Zerobi's shoulder, "Starting to feel like all my training was for nothing. If I haven't garnished some goddamn respect by the end of this, I'm going to feel very miserable."

    Zerobi stared into his eyes, not detecting deception and not expecting it either. Her withheld hostility was starting to ebb away, and she wondered if she had overreacted. The fact that he was not entirely opposed to the idea was good news, after all. She would just have to be a little more patient.

    "Wouldn't want that," she replied and felt herself cheer up, "Bet you're still only known around these parts as the guy who beat up six police officers."

    Lucario smiled for a moment before the weight of her statement hit him. He looked around, the previously calming environment starting to feel less safe.

    "Yeah… Uh, maybe we should get going already?" he said, trying to pick up the aura of four angry Mienfoo out to exact vengeance. Remembering their narrow escape, Zerobi snickered as she waved for Lucario to follow her, and they went on their way back to Nomad's Land.

    Unnoticed by both, a minor tremor passed underneath their feet. The dying shakes of a mighty rumble originating from a place many miles away, far beneath the Earth's mantle. This seemingly unimportant event would come to baffle many dedicated geologists. A continent-wide tremble, but no earthquake or devastation anywhere. What had caused it? What did it mean? Complicated explanations and wild theories would fly around the science community for some time to come, but to the intended recipient this message was immediately obvious.

    Rise to the surface
    Let the destruction be eternal
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  12. #437
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    Chapter 108

    Many Unruly Mankey


    Dawn broke, but did little to wake up the peacefully sleeping forest. Unparalleled stillness and silence reigned apart from the quietly rustling of leaves in the wind, and the occasional muttering of a certain Lucario who was quickly getting fed up with the treacherous terrain. While not quite on the same level as the jungle surrounding No Man's Land, the many roots and bushes did their part to slow him down and stub his toes.

    "With so much overgrowth… You'd expect things to be a little warmer…" Lucario groaned as he could see that his breath was still visible from the cold. Zerobi followed him at a two meter distance, having gotten smacked by far too many accidentally bent branches snapping back into place to willingly move any closer. She also took the opportunity to make sure they were not being stalked, the unnaturally quiet forest making her feel uneasy.

    "Weren't you complaining about the climate the last time too?" she asked, wondering if she even needed to point out that things were already getting little too warm for her taste. Lucario let the comment linger in his mind for a few moments before he suddenly stopped and looked around.

    "Wait… Did we pass through here the last time?" Lucario asked, feeling a sense of familiarity about the woods. He could not shake the feeling that he had been there before, even though there weren't any unique telltale signs to set it apart from any other typical forest.

    "Nope. We went south then, this is west," Zerobi explained as she approached from behind and gave him a light push, "Come on, keep going. I don't like this place."

    "Me neither. I can't put my finger on it, but something's strange…" Lucario muttered as he continued walking, the two of entering a small clearing. A calming sunlit meadow surrounded by trees and rocks, a perfect spot for weary travelers or inhabitants looking for relaxation. However, this peaceful sight only made Zerobi feel less calm.

    "You mean, beside the fact that this entire place is completely devoid of Pokémon…?" she whispered with a low tone, certain that she had ever seen such a fine display of nature to go completely uninhabited before. There was no shortage of wilderness that even Pokémon avoided, but when she passed through here three weeks prior it had been teeming with life and action.

    "Huh? No, it isn't," Lucario said before tapping the side of his head, "I sense multiple aura all around us."

    Zerobi felt a little relieved to hear that, but looking around the spookily deserted area showed nothing but foliage all around.

    "… Really? I can't see any-" she started, but was interrupted by a nearby snort. It was followed by branches snapping and leaves rustling as several round figures popped out from above, previously hidden by the thick tree crowns. Zerobi gasped and turned around, pushing her back up against Lucario's as she realized they were being surrounded.

    "You've got some pretty bad eyesight, then!" Lucario shouted, failing to get a good look at whatever was ambushing them, the white ball-shaped creatures bouncing around from root to branch, crown to soil with impeccable dexterity. He grit his teeth while holding up his guard, but the weird Pokémon never made a move to strike, instead moving around them in disorienting patterns.

    Finally they stopped with almost perfect synchronization, and a sinister cackle filled the air. Lucario felt his muscles untighten as he got a good look at their assailants and realized it was just a pack of Mankey. Chittering balls of hair with lanky limbs, angry eyes and a slender tail, Lucario already knew the stinging sensation of their tiny claws but was not really afraid of Pokémon he had been able to trash back at the very start of his life as a Lucario.

    However, these Mankey were quite different from any other Pokémon he had met. Instead of appearing as a massive group of identical twins, each individual was wearing unique apparel to clearly distinguish them from one another. It ranged from scruffy hats to various pieces of human clothing worn on their heads, armbands and wris****ches wrapped around their tails and some had taken to use lipstick and other makeup in a poor attempt at war paint.

    "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Lucario laughed out loud, doubling over from the silly display as the sinister cackling diminished, "What are you wearing!?"

    "Society!" one Mankey with a fingerless glove on the end of its tail yelled out, "Which we killed!"

    "Taxes!" another Mankey yelled out, covered in some kind of sparkle and glittering nicely in the sun, "Your taxes!"

    Without warning, all the Mankey started answering at once in a maelstrom of chatter, drowning out Lucario's continuous laughter. Amidst the tumult, Zerobi edged closer and nudged him with her shoulder.

    "Hey, hey… Shouldn't we be running?" Zerobi whispered, wondering if this was a good time for joking around, "… Are they really that weak?"

    "Hehehe, yep," Lucario whispered confidently, not noticing any impressive aura anywhere close, "If they want to fight, I'll have this wrapped up in twenty seconds."

    The Mankey started arguing louder, prompting Lucario to stop laughing and instead cover his abused ears. But as he did so, his inner senses told him that a slightly more notable aura further away was on the move and heading towards them. As if on que, the Mankey all fell silent and looked towards a part of the forest where they could hear branches audibly snapping.

    A very large Mankey suddenly came rushing from behind one of the trees, making a mighty leap and grabbing on to a high branch. Swinging a frontal flip, his heavy body made the whole tree bend before he landed with a slam on top of the branch and immediately made himself comfortable, leaning up against the stem and letting his legs dangle.

    "Welcome to the great wild, city slickers!" the huge Mankey said with a gruff voice, raising his hand in a seemingly benevolent gesture. The rest of the Mankey cheered at his arrival, jumping up and down in excitement or swinging around in circles. Apart from the size, Lucario noticed that this particular Mankey did not have a tail, and instead of random loot taken from an old lady's handbag, he wore tough iron braces around his wrists and ankles. Zerobi had no trouble recognizing that it was a Primeape, and also that they were in more trouble.

    "… Thanks…?" Lucario replied with a confused shrug, never really sure if the random monsters he frequently met wanted to be courteous or wanted him dead. Judging by Zerobi's frantic shoulder now jutting into his ribs like a jackhammer, he figured it was the latter.

    "I'm the king of this forest," the Primeape said with an almost regal voice as he glared at them, his true expression hidden behind a wall of mossy fur, "And the tolls are very steep."

    "Kekeke! How steep are they, boss?" a Mankey chimed in before rolling around on the ground like a ball.

    "Give us everything you own, and you may go on your way!" the Primeape shouted out loud, and all of the Mankey started cackling at once. Zerobi stopped poking Lucario and looked at him with a dumbfounded expression, Lucario holding open the bag he had been carrying to let her peek inside. It contained the books they had bought a week back, but more importantly, the present Zerobi had bought for her sister. Zerobi gave off a painful expression as she stared at the present, but eventually closed her eyes and reluctantly nodded.

    "Uh, none of this is worth fighting over," Lucario tried to plead as he looked up at the Primeape, "Are we really going to argue over some books and a plastic bag?"

    "AND your pants," the Primeape answered with a grin, "Keep arguing, and we'll take your lives as well."

    In an instant, Zerobi's grim expression lightened up and instead made its way over to Lucario, a demonic shadow falling over his face. He tightened his fist, letting his knuckles drift slowly over the ragged and filthy pair of shorts that was his only proof of humanity. The very same pair that had been with him all this time, the reliable pants that had successfully withstood the fierce fire of Torana and Arcanine. It beamed of Celebi's aura, a memento of his long gone quest to find Mew that he wished to retain, still thinking he could vaguely detect her scent beneath the many layers of sweat and dirt. He was not opposed to getting a fresher, fancier pair, but had yet to find a suitable replacement since they were of unknown origin. The idea of going au naturel until that point was not an appealing thought.

    "Well, yes, that's the general idea…" Lucario said with a shrug and a smirk before raising his voice and glaring with hostility, "… Because the only way you're taking my pants is from my cold, dead body!"

    The pack of Mankey fell quiet. Thirty two eyes stared at Lucario in surprise, before sixteen mouths started laughing in unison.

    "Lucario, just give them your pants!" Zerobi pleaded, giving up on the notion of whispering as the situation was turning desperate, "These are all fighting-types! If you're looking to start a melee, I won't last a minute!"

    "Again with the 'fighting-types'," Lucario muttered while glancing to the side, making sure none of the Mankey tried to rush him from outside his field of vision, "If you're implying there's a type of Pokémon that's NOT into fighting, I sure as hell haven't met one!"

    The Mankey were still heartily ridiculing him by sticking out their tongues and displaying their bottoms when the Primeape lifted an arm, and they silenced in under a second.

    "Outmatched, outmaneuvered, outnumbered and at a type disadvantage… But you still want to fight?" he said with an amused tone to his voice, despite the fact that his glare remained unchanged.

    "We told you, boss!" a Mankey on their left chimed in, "Him and that stupid flower are crazy!"

    Zerobi's temple tightened; she had been called many derogatory things before, but never a stupid flower. However, to Lucario this expression was not quite as unfamiliar, and he tried to remember where and when he had heard it. He was not given sufficient time as the Primeape suddenly bashed his chest, or possibly his face due to the difficulty of telling where or even if his head and body were separated.

    "Fine! Been a while since we had some real bloodshed!" the Primeape roared triumphantly as he got ready to spring into action, the Mankey following his directive.

    "Wait, wait! Not all at once!" Zerobi suddenly yelled out, temporarily halting the group's advance, "You can't just gang up on travelers like this!"

    The Primeape scoffed and spat on the ground.

    "These are the wilds, you spoiled brat!" he growled while clenching his fist, "For the last time - Hand us your stuff or die!"

    Dejected, Zerobi frowned and prepared herself for battle. Wondering if this Primeape was as easily agitated as your typical Mankey, Lucario decided to try being rougher.

    "Question – How can you be the leader if you can't even handle one guy on your own?" Lucario asked with a very loud voice while shrugging, "Or… Maybe you aren't the leader? Maybe you're just really, really fat and ugly? And scared? Scared of losing?"

    The taunt did not seem too harsh coming out, but apparently it was enough. The Primeape's already hostile eyes sharpened, and he stood tall on the branch. All around them, gasps and stammering was heard.

    "H-He pissed off the boss!" one Mankey stuttered fearfully.

    "He's in for it now!" another Mankey yelled with a hopeful tone. The Primeape wasted no time in leaping down from the tree, Zerobi taking the opportunity to hastily back away from the smiling Lucario.

    "Have it your way, you little ****! I'll rip you to shreds!" the Primeape roared as he lunged towards Lucario, bringing down both fists at once to crush him. Lucario moved out of range, retaining his stability as the Primeape's mighty attack sent a shockwave through the ground. Ignoring his misses, the Primeape kept up the assault by throwing punch after punch in Lucario's direction.

    "Slowpoke!" Lucario shouted as adrenaline shot through him, finding it easy to sidestep each of the round gorilla's telegraphed punches. It did not take long for his opponent's simplistic fighting style to present an opening, Lucario pushing the ape's extended arm aside while bringing in his own for the kill. His elbow struck the Primeape's left eye, forcing the hardened primate to flinch for a moment as Lucario followed up with a few more punches.

    "Hah! Pathetic!" he yelled triumphantly as the Primeape quickly backed away from him, "Pfft, maybe I've been dealing with too many legendaries? This guy's nothing!"

    "Don't get careless!" Zerobi yelled in his direction, hoping Lucario could just score an easy victory for once so they could continue on their way.

    "Careless? I'm kicking his *** up and down the- WHOA!" Lucario replied, but was interrupted mid-shrug as the Primeape charged with a tackle. It went past as Lucario spun around his foe and snuck in a quick hit, the Primeape giving off a deep growl and starting to throw wild punches left and right in an attempt to hit him. Lucario continued dodging and wanted to exploit the hairy beast's grossly inadequate defenses, but the sheer flurry of attacks left no chance for him to even get close. He figured it was better to let the big ape run out of stamina instead of outright knocking him out.

    "Does it hurt? I can tell it hurts," Lucario taunted him on, and the Primeape responded by delivering a few devastating punches in his direction. One struck a nearby tree by mistake and ripped the bark off the impact site, although the Primeape did not show any signs of pain or stopping his endless barrage. The Mankey were cheering and shouting like spectators at a wrestling match as the Primeape tried to punch Lucario's head and he ducked. The Primeape threw his body towards Lucario and he sidestepped. The Primeape trashed violently in every direction and Lucario merely stepped back, completely avoiding the flurry of attacks. Lucario was beginning to feel complacent and wondered how much longer this was going to go on. In fact, the muscles around his torso and legs were starting to feel tired simply from twisting and dodging so much.

    "Absolutely shameful! Just give up before I get serious!" Lucario shouted, failing to hide the growing fatigue in his voice as his breathing came in hard. There was no way a bulky monster doing such strenuous moves could possibly tire him out. But just to be safe side, Lucario decided to give up on simply outlasting the Primeape and instead try a counterattack. The Primeape roared as he tried to grind Lucario's head to dust between both his fists, Lucario ducking to avoid the attack and instead sweeping the ground with his leg out to knock his opponent off his feet. It was a success and the Primeape grunted as he lost balance, but while still being in midair, he lashed out with a fearsome right hook. Still crouching, Lucario had no chance to dodge as the blow struck him in the side, throwing him a significant distance away and causing him to roll uncontrollably into a large root. There was a slam and a painful crack of something breaking as Lucario came to an abrupt halt against the tree, Zerobi gasping while the Mankey howled.

    The Primeape got back on his feet and gave off a triumphant bellow, showing no signs of weariness from the hectic fight. The loud noise echoed throughout the forest, alerting the few other Pokémon still crawling around that the Primeape and his gang had claimed yet another victim. Most would take this as a good reason to hastily crawl in the other direction. But not too far away from the scene of conflict, a rather different kind of Pokémon was leaning against a rock and sleeping.

    The sound resonated through both of its skulls as the Pokémon quietly opened its eyes. Yawning and stretching lazily, it looked around to see what had disturbed its slumber. Hearing the incessant chitter of chimps, it concluded that the pack of Mankey had found itself in great conflict. An opportunist through and through, the scaly Pokémon picked up the weapon next to it and began walking towards the noise.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  13. #438
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    Aug 2013
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    Azurus! You're supposed to be here! Come back to us, friend.

    I bet that Lucario has returned to where he met Ivy. The presence of mankey gives it away. He also seems to remember this place, so there's always that.

    Well, this is a bit pathetic. Lucario being smacked around by a non-uber powerful opponent? He's really out of shape. He seems to do that a lot. He's in great shape after dealing with wave after wave of opponents, then has his downtime like his time traveling with Mew. Then he starts kicking butt once more only to go into a state of drunken depression for weeks. Bye-bye progress. Still, considering that he's taken much more damage in the past, I don't think he's down for the count after one good hit from the Primape.

    That pokemon in the bushes... I would say that it's Ivy, but picking up weapons doesn't seem like it would be her forte. You mentioned a charmeleon in a previous chapter, so unless it's someone new, I'm guessing that we'll be encountering him. I'll be around.

  14. #439
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    I'm sorry I'm late! Been caught up in moderator and game master duties for a game recently along with playing with friends. Haven't had much time to read.

    So, Ethan's let himself go and is becoming tired from a simple skirmish and got himself pushed around, gg, git gud.
    I have to wonder who this bladed, scaley pokemon is though.

    Anyway. nice to see Zerobii again, but she never got to deliver that present, so I wonder what happened there, unless it happened between chapters.

    I also enjoyed Ethans and Rukarios interaction, and hope to see a friendly duel between them in the future.

    I feel like I'm supposed to know what that underground presence was, but at the moment, I'm drawing a blank.

    Sorry again for my absence, at least I got to read 3 chapters instead of 1 between updates.
    Keep it up, looking forward to another.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  15. #440
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    Finally caught up with everyone, yeah!
    Ok so the name of this fic alone caused me to sign-up and now that I have an account and finished reading the whole thing up till this point, I'm psyched for more!
    Now I need to read the other works you've written just to feel satisfied!
    The past few days of reading has also given me quite an interesting insight as to how others see the world of Pokemon as well as your explanation of some interesting phenomena, like reproduction within the legendaries, as well as use of realism, though I doubt humans are as pitifully fragile as you make us out to be. We can be very resilient.
    At any rate, this story has kept me on the edge of my seat through every chapter and I can't wait to read how Lugia takes the news about Mew, unless he found out already and is instead looking for Lucario for some very detailed answers and a good reason to fight/destroy him before something else takes his mind off murdering our clueless hero.

    Maybe Deoxys is finally regenerating from those arms that it left in the Earths crust during its battle against Mew & Ethan.
    I have followed in Leader Chuck's training style and have chosen to spar with my Pokemon, hoping that they will surpass even type disadvantage through sheer martial-arts skill, alongside cunning strategy!



  16. #441
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    Chapter 109

    Problematic Oppressor Primeape


    Giving off a pained grunt, Lucario struggled to sit upright, finding it difficult to move his body. The noise of laughter surrounded him as his head bobbed back and forth, his sense of balance in complete shambles.

    "Lucario! What happened!?" Zerobi shouted out in terror. The battle had been going in his favor for once, but the crack following his one failed dodge sounded unexpectedly nasty. She could not tell if he had suffered an unlucky injury, and in the corner of her eye she noticed a few of the Mankey moving closer.

    "H-He…! He broke my…!" Lucario stammered with a panicked expression while laying his arm across his upper body for support. The Mankey cheered, laughed and howled as the Primeape brushed some dirt out of his fur.

    "Mnngh, nice nice nice! What'd you break, boss!?" a Mankey chewing on a pair of sunglasses asked with excitement.

    "His arm! His leg!" a second Mankey insisted while pulling the aforementioned Mankey's tail.

    "His ribs! His butt!" a third one shouted while frantically jumping up and down in place. The Primeape shrugged, not sure if it mattered. He fastened his intimidating eyes on the previously smug Lucario leaning up helplessly against the tree.

    "Like it matters! I'm going to twist him into a pile of bone and meat!" the Primeape roared as he lunged, thinking there was no need to hold back against an undefended opponent. Lucario weakly entered a crouch, but wobbled and almost fell over in a failed attempt to dodge. All he could do was close his eyes and ready himself for the blow.

    As the Primeape came upon Lucario, the blue wolf suddenly rose up and struck the surprised monkey with an uppercut like a rocket. Although he could not pinpoint the vital spots of a creature with no head, the mighty strike was enough to halt the Primeape and force him to step back. Lucario tried to punch him in the eye but the Primeape was quick enough to block the attack by grabbing his hand. Showing a confused expression, the Primeape attempted to retaliate, but Lucario's completely unimpaired movement allowed him to kick the primate in the gut and force them to separate. A moment of calm appeared as the two of them caught their breath, and Lucario held up his clenched fist.

    "Branch," he said with a sinister grin as he opened his hand and a thick twig in two pieces fell to the ground, "You broke my branch."

    It took Zerobi a few seconds to realize where the cracking noise had come from, and the Primeape soon figured it out as well. The Mankey were all completely dumbfounded and unable to comprehend what had just happened, wondering if Lucario had some kind of rapid healing powers. But there was one that stood out from the rest.

    "Well played! A devious feint for a devious fiend, I would say," one of the female Mankey spoke in a very eloquent manner. So eloquent, in fact, the scene seemed to come to a temporary standstill before the entire pack suddenly erupted into pure chaos. Taking a risk by breaking eye contact with the Primeape and trying to spot the cause of the tumult, Lucario realized that the regal voice had not come from a Mankey at all.

    Sitting on top of a branch was a vaguely humanoid lizard, thick and short with brown scales covering her body. The first thing to strike Lucario as unusual about her appearance was that she was wearing another monster's horned skull as a masked helmet. The mask's eyes and mouth were hollowed out, and the head that lay underneath this exterior of bone seemed to match the macabre headgear in both shape and size. Her tail was nearly as thick as her torso and was seamlessly melded with her white underbelly, a subtle ridge of spines tracking up her back.

    "Thief!" a Mankey shouted, voice stricken by annoyance rather than fear, "It's the thief!"

    Twiddling a pale, thin and misshapen tree growing right next to the one she was sitting on, the Marowak crossed her stubby legs in a surprisingly limber action.

    "Mmhmhm… You boys having fun?" she asked softly, looking back and forth between Lucario and the recovering Primeape. The latter seemed rather unamused by her presence as a violent snarl flashed through his hairy face.

    "… YOU!" the Primeape roared angrily while waving a threatening fist towards the new arrival, "If you're here to steal from us again, I'll-"

    "Oh my, no," the Marowak interrupted while shaking her head, "We both know the only content of your 'secret' stash today was a pair of underwear, a newspaper dated five weeks ago and three peeled chestnuts… Well, zero peeled chestnuts as of now."

    Zerobi could not stop herself from snickering as the Marowak slightly lifted her mask and picked at the side of her sparkling teeth. The Primeape's mouth fell open in despair, but Lucario was still having a hard time getting a grip on the true nature of the somewhat draconic creature. Her aura was notably weaker than that of the Pokémon she was mocking, and if she really was a thief, her appearance was neither sneaky nor particularly nimble.

    "How… How did you…" the Primeape repeated quietly before raising his voice to a fearsome bellow, "I'll kill you, you rotten Viddrer!"

    "Yeah!" a Mankey on the other side of the meadow agreed with a cackling laughter, "This is our turf, biatch!"

    Lucario was about to say something, but stopped himself as something very surprising happened. In a hasty motion, the Marowak ripped the thin tree next to her out of its roots and lifted it up with both arms, fluently bringing it nearly horizontal. The ivory stick stretched across the entire meadow, a whooping five times as long as Lucario, its sharp end pointed directly at the mouth of the Mankey that had just spoken up, so close he could probably lick it if he wasn't so busy choking on his own spit in terror. It had not been a tree at all, but an absurdly long pike.

    "What was that, dearie?" the Marowak asked sweetly as the Mankey scrambled to back off, the impossibly lengthy spear following and jutting in his direction.

    "B-B-Beauty? Beautiful beauteous beauty!" the Mankey stammered fearfully, having suddenly gained the eloquence of someone drinking tea with a queen. Moving ever closer, he could feel the spear brush his facial hair aside, before it suddenly lifted above him and lightly smacked upside his head before withdrawing.

    "Mmhmm… Oh, I could never stay mad at a cutie like you!" the Marowak exclaimed with glee, entering a fit of giggling. While she was busy stealing all the attention, Zerobi and Lucario exchanged a few looks that suggested this was a good time to get the hell out of there.

    "Yet still…" the Marowak continued as her laughter stopped and she secured the grip around the weapon, "… I suppose I am feeling rather peeved that you had nothing of value for me to steal."

    Her eyes turned towards the Primeape, who was uncharacteristically deep in thought. Putting on a strong appearance, he remembered how they had just barely chased off the Marowak during earlier encounters while understanding the Lucario was no pushover either. Fighting both was a bad idea, but he could not back down without losing face lest he was ready to open up questions to whether he was a proper leader or not.

    "… Insolent woman!" the Primeape yelled as he pointed up at the Marowak, "You dare interrupt an honorable duel between men!?"

    "… More like a dishonorable murder-robbery…" Zerobi muttered and crossed her arms, not too convinced by the Primeape's sudden sense of chivalry.

    "… There's such a thing as an honorable murder-robbery…?" Lucario whispered but found himself in the unusual predicament of thinking along the same lines as the Primeape. The two of them looked at each other, both sure that they were certain to win if the fight continued uninterrupted. The Marowak sighed as she sat down and leaned her spear against the equally tall tree.

    "Wouldn't dream of it, my dear," she said softly as she reclined and waved her hand around, "Go on, show a lady a good time! Winner gets a kiss from the lovely moi!"

    Lucario's shoulders dropped, and he was suddenly not too keen on winning. Any further lamentations would have to wait however, because the Primeape used this opportunity to catch him off guard. Apparently very eager to receive that kiss, the Primeape struck first with a straight punch which Lucario sidestepped. The Primeape followed up by spinning around with arms outstretched, Lucario narrowly avoiding the fierce clothesline by ducking. Previously the Primape had employed a fighting style not unlike a berserking humanoid, but now it was becoming apparent that his fighting style was just as foreign as that of an overgrown canine. However, he was not as weird as the ghastly Darkrai, and Lucario was finally getting used to fighting something he was unable hit normally.

    "C'mon!" Lucario shouted as he stepped back and taunted, the Primeape doing the lethal mistake of coming straight at him. Commanding his hung over mitochondria felt a little harder than usual, but with only four seconds of preparation he managed to fire off an Aura Sphere. The Primeape made an attempt to jump, but the speedy aura sphere was impossible to dodge and struck him head on, making him instantly crash to the ground in pure agony. Not taking any more chances, Lucario sized the moment and ran up to the hulking beast, rapidly kicking him in the side before he could get up.

    "Screw! You! Piece! Of! Crap!" he articulated a war chant as Zerobi nodded in agreement, thinking chivalry did not need to apply to a jerk like the Primeape. The Mankey booed as the Marowak held her sides with laughter, and the Primeape struggled to get up for a moment before successfully blocking and grabbing hold of Lucario's leg, halting the assault. Wasting no time, the Primeape roared and lifted Lucario above his head, slamming him down hard on the ground. A painful cough escaped Lucario's lips as his back ached and he desperately tried to twist his leg away, before suddenly reaching an epiphany and stared blankly at the Primeape.

    "Oh no. I'm restrained," Lucario squabbled ironically before shooting another Aura Sphere, the blue fire licking every part of the Primeape's cranial nerves as his brain exploded with pain and he was forced to let go. Released from the grip, Lucario got up and spun around with a kick so fierce it sent the Primeape flying back several feet. As the hit connected, a cracking noise distinctly different from that of a branch echoed throughout the forest, and it was quickly followed by a united wail from the Mankey. Not getting further than to his knees, the Primeape clutched his face in agony, blood streaming out of his snout and matting down his fur.

    "Heh. Heheheheh," Lucario snickered as he admired his handiwork. He had been feeling a bit sluggish after his drinking binge and was worried he had lost his fighting abilities along the way. Zerobi's gaze affixed on the blood-soaked face of the Primeape, but not for the reasons she had initially assumed. Something had changed in the fiend's expression.

    "Hey, boss…" a Mankey with a far too big cloak wrapped around his stomach said out loud. A shiver ran up Zerobi's spine as she noticed the Mankey were suddenly unusually quiet, and she could feel many of them eyeing her with a different intent compared to earlier. Her fears were verified as the Primeape lifted his arm in an obvious signal, and without warning the pack of Mankey were upon them.

    Fuzzy primates rained down from every direction, nearly blotting out the sky. But these were merely the distraction. As Lucario reacted to the sudden shift in events and covered his head, two Mankey crawled towards him at amazing speeds and grabbed a hold of his legs, holding him in place. A similar attempt was made against Zerobi, but her sharp vision alerted her to their presence and she kicked with her clawed feet, drawing blood and forcing the two sneaky Mankey to back off. However, the same could not be said for the Mankey coming down from above – Their first action was to restrain her left hand, one Mankey clinging to her arm and weighing it down with his full body. In desperation she tried to slash at him with her right claws, and but attack merely nicked him and she soon found her other arm held in place by another filthy ape. Lucario held out a little longer, punching the Mankey at point blank range as they crawled over his body, scratching, biting and being a general nuisance. He tried charging up a focused blast of aura, but the sheer onslaught against his vital points made it difficult to concentrate. Someone was banging away at his eyelids and another was chewing down on his calf, while Zerobi found the critters rasping both her back and chest with incessant scratching.

    "STOP!" a mighty shout filled the air. Lucario slowly opened his eyes as the assault ceased, feeling weighed down by the Mankey still clinging onto his legs and the other one sitting on top of his head. Reflexively wanting to shove them off, he was instead trying to locate the origin of the command.

    The Primeape had his back against a tree. A mere centimeter from his left eye balanced an obelisk of bone, held horizontally in place by the Marowak who had finally decided to come down from her tree. Using her knee for support, her elongated weapon was held as still as a building.

    "Naughty, naughty," she said in a sing-song voice with a hint of malice apparent, "This does not look like a duel to me. I was rather enjoying the outcome, too…"

    Gulping loudly, the Primeape stared at the tip of the spear while Lucario proceeded to shove off the Mankey from his body. Zerobi tried to do the same, but one twitch of her awful claws gave them the message and made them jump off her on their own.

    "W… What do you want…?" he muttered with a dejected voice, eager to fight but not at all eager to lose an eye. What seemed like a simple shakeup had turned into a fairly nasty situation, and he could sense his pack being just as ready to give up on it as he was.

    "Nothing you can offer me, I'm afraid," the Marowak said while examining the beast and rubbing a hand over her chin, "But it seems to me that you've had enough fun with our guests. I suggest you let me handle them from now on."

    The Primeape's mouth twitched, hiding the faintest of smiles. After a moment of silence, the Marowak withdrew her spear and the Primeape got to his feet, jumping up into a tree. He glared down at Lucario with a stare of intense hatred, Lucario answering it with his own.

    "All of you, get the hell out of my forest!" the Primeape shouted angrily as he turned around, "Next time, bring something worth all this hassle!"

    Seeing their leader leaving in an awful haste, the Mankey followed suit and dispersed back into the woods. One of them tried a last attempt at grabbing hold of the plastic bag which lay forgotten on the ground, but stopped and fled as Zerobi noticed his intentions and blocked his way. Lucario humored the notion of chasing down the Primeape and finishing the process of beating the tar out of him, but was busy being amazed as the Marowak lifted her weapon, moving it in a humongous arc across the sky and firmly resting it against her shoulder.

    "Come," she said with a nod and a wave, "I will guide you two sweethearts out of these woods."

    "Who… Are you?" Lucario asked cautiously, still not sure whether he was talking to a friend or a foe.

    "Mhmmhmm… Just a stranger snubbed on a date with destiny," she replied cheerfully, restlessly moving up and down on her toes and putting the massive pike into motion behind her, "You may call me Melinia, or simply Marowak if you please."

    "And… What are you?" Lucario continued asking, wondering what kind of Pokémon he was talking to. This was not made apparent to the Marowak who tilted her head in confusion before clearing out some dirt from the eyesockets of her mask.

    "Poor dear, surely you're not worried about an alleged thief with nothing but a book and a present in your belongings?" she assured him as her green eyes shone beneath the helmet, "Merely a reputation I've developed around these parts after liberating those ethically impaired Mankey of their ill-gotten loot whenever I pass by. And helping those in need, of course."

    "Precisely! And thank you for helping us out too!" Zerobi said out loud, wondering why Lucario was being so rude before carefully brushing aside a trickle of red from just underneath her throat, "Is there a river nearby? I'm thirsty, and not a… Big fan of running blood."

    Zerobi cast a glance towards Lucario before hastily turning away. On her back were two long sores from fervent scratching, bleeding lightly. Looking down, Lucario noticed a stinging bite-mark on his right calf from which blood was still flowing freely. He crouched down to cover it up, before realizing he now had blood on his hands and would do well to not go near Zerobi for the time being.

    "… Well, I suppose a quick stop couldn't hurt," the Marowak stated, surprised to see them both so squeamish over a little blood. Quite a bit more prudish than the Pokémon she was used to, but she decided to show them the way nonetheless. She guided them through a relatively easy path through the thick foliage, constantly forced to adjust the positioning of her long lance to avoid getting it stuck between the branches. It was not long until they came across a tiny river, Zerobi making a dash for it and slurping up some water. Lucario went two meters downstream to wash off his blood, keeping his pants on just in case some thieving Mankey got any ideas.

    "What, you're not getting in?" Lucario asked while scrubbing his arms, noticing that Melinia was just standing nearby and watching.

    "I wish I could join you, my dear, but I fear it would ruin my skin," she answered while twisting around uncomfortably. In truth it did not bother her that much, but unlike blood, the fluid she commonly avoided was potentially harmful.

    "Marowaks are, PFFFFT," Zerobi said before accidentally getting a bit of dirt on her tongue and spitting it out, "Weak to water."

    "Weak to… How can you be weak to water?" Lucario asked with mild curiosity, rubbing his hands together as a string of deep red ran down the river, "How do you drink? Bathe?"

    "Ah ha ha, my oral cavities are… Excellent," Melinia admitted with a subtle wag of her hip, Lucario suddenly reminded of the herbivore teeth she had shown off earlier, "And people underestimate the hygienically beneficial effects of a proper mud bath. If you need proof, you can feel how smooth my skin is once you dry up."

    She reached out a hand towards Zerobi who promptly looked away, feeling more awkward than usual. She angled it towards Lucario instead, who eyed it pensively and wondered why on earth she kept talking about skin when her body was clearly covered in scales.

    "Alright, check me for blood," Lucario said as he moved closer to Zerobi and spun himself around in a bored, unglamorous way. She wondered why he always insisted on making sure, it was not like they made physical contact that often.

    "Looks good," Zerobi replied, most of his soars coagulated and a cause for neither bleeding nor temptation on her part. Melinia shrugged and sighed, still surprised to see them so thorough.

    "Right. Worthless Mankey, told you they wouldn't be an issue," Lucario muttered as he got out of the river and starting wiping off the water from his body with his hands. It was an inefficient method, but if there was one thing he never bothered to bring on his travels, it was something as situational as a towel. Zerobi looked at him for a moment before blowing a cold wind on her arm, causing the water on it to freeze. She then ran a claw across her arm, cracking and sweeping the ice off her now dry appendage.

    "Whoa!" Lucario gasped in amazement, Zerobi flashing him a proud smile. Melinia rolled her eyes and signaled for them to follow her. Somehow they actually managed to end up on a real path this time, likely what was used by larger Pokémon, humans and carts alike. A dead, half-eaten Weedle lay on the side of the road, eliciting a disgusted noise from all three of them even though they had definitively seen much worse things in the past.

    "So. Why did they call you a Fiddler?" Lucario asked Melinia, trying to get the cadaver out of his head as quickly as possible. She looked at him in silence and confusion as Zerobi cleared her throat.

    "Viddrer… It's a nickname for Victory Roaders," Zerobi corrected him before giving their new party member a wary glance, "Natives of the… Single most dangerous area in the world."

    "… What? The insides of a volcano?" Lucario suggested, although he secretly imagined the most dangerous place to be wherever Miltank originate from. The hellish landscape he envisioned demonic Miltank roaming in turned out to be not so different from an active volcano after all.

    "No, just a regular cave… But it happens to be one that leads up to the Elite Four," Zerobi continued explaining, trying not to offend the Marowak with some of the less flattering things she knew about that place, "To live there and not be captured, you would have to be powerful enough to defeat trainers a heartbeat away from becoming champions on a daily basis. Those Pokémon… Are unreal…"

    As the last words left her mouth, Zerobi suddenly looked down at the ground with a harrowed expression. Half expecting something bad to happen, Lucario looked at the two of them and noticed they were being oddly silent. That is, until Melinia suddenly burst out laughing.

    "Hahahaha! Oh, you foreigners from Sinnoh have such funny legends about us in Kanto!" she laughed, leaning her head back and never breaking her stride.

    "I'm from Kanto, too," Zerobi clarified while her head snapped back in place, realizing most of what she knew was hearsay picked up by word of mouth or in magazines. Many of the legends found in the occult magazine had their basis in the Victory Road, since it was a place unsafe to explore and thus had a mysterious atmosphere to it.

    "Splendid! Where, exactly?" Melinia asked while walking a bit ahead and leaning past Lucario.

    "Cerulean Cave," Zerobi replied earnestly, deciding to clear up why she was feeling bothered, "I… Thought about moving to the Victory Road once, but I wasn't really up to it."

    "Oh my, the Cerulean Cave…" Melinia whispered in an impressed tone before sizing her up, "Gives reason to your exquisite figure. I was about to ask you what kind of workout you do to stay in such good shape!"

    Unable to stop herself from smiling, Zerobi quickly turned her head the other way. She was astounded by her own bashfulness, but she had not gotten any compliments she did not have to force out of somebody in a very long time. The Marowak laughed a bit more at her reaction before moving back and sizing up Lucario next.

    "And what manner of dangerous soil did a hunk like you come out of?" she inquired while reaching a hand inside her mask for some unknown reason.

    "New Bark Town," Lucario replied firmly, feeling like he had to make up for Zerobi's irregular meekness.

    "New Bark Town… Yes, I know where that is…" the Marowak said to herself before adjusting her helmet and sighing out in disappointment, "… Not far from Victory Road. How unfortunate that we did not meet earlier!"

    Lucario shrugged in response. He looked over at Zerobi who had regained her natural deadpan expression. She shrugged as well.

    "So, uh… Are you a Viddrer?" Lucario asked warily, realizing the Marowak had yet to outright answer his original question. The road split into two ahead, both directions going directly right or left. However, Melinia did not stop but instead carried on straight ahead into the forested upslope.

    "Yes, honey, afraid so…" she said with a hint of melancholy while signaling for them to come, "But I fear the legend is a bit overstated. Stay low and there is no need for brute strength. You know it has to be silly superstition when everyone is so intimidated by a harmless lady like me."

    "Maybe it's that freakish mask you're wearing?" Lucario pointed out, thinking she was also doing a really poor job of hiding the pike which was six times longer than she was.

    "This old thing?" Melinia responded while tapping the side of the helmet with her weapon, "Nothing special! It is only the skull of my dead mother."

    A big frown spread across Lucario's face as Zerobi involuntarily cringed. The Marowak kept up her facade for a moment before cracking up.

    "Mhmmhmm, well, I assume she was SOMEONE'S mother," she giggled while letting her tail playfully run along the ground, "I found it underground. Fantastic for skin treatment, have to look my best, no?"

    She kept up her merry chuckles as she went inside the forest. Lucario scratched the side of his head before following her, Zerobi moving closer and lowering her voice.

    "If she really is a Viddrer…" she whispered, "… The scars under that mask must be grotesque. I don't care how good you are at keeping out of trouble, that place is a battlefield that never rests."

    Their worries that the Marowak was leading them down a bum road were stilled as they came to the end of the forest just one minute later. Melinia sighed as she set down her spear into the ground and leaned up against the last tree before the hilled grasslands that lay ahead.

    "Ah, finally," Lucario said as he stretched out his arms and turned towards Zerobi, "Do you know where we are?"

    "Um…" Zerobi mumbled quietly as she looked around, not seeing any recognizable landmarks at first. However, there were two familiar mountains off in the distance which she could use to determine her location, and she used her claws to draw a crude map in the soil.

    "I must say, it has been refreshing to speak to intellectual equals for once," the Marowak said with a discontented sigh, "Where are you heading to?"

    "Nomad's Land," Lucario answered but was met with only confusion, "You know, some cold place? Where the revolutionaries are?"

    "Ah. Yes, I'd heard about that," Melinia said with a nod before pointing off towards the mountain to their left, "Past that one, should be easier to find from there. I fear this is where we part ways, though."

    "Guess so. Thanks for all the help," Lucario said before giving her shoulder a pat, Melinia closing her eyes and nodding again.

    "… Wait, which mountain?" Zerobi asked as she suddenly got up from her makeshift map.

    "That one," Lucario said, pointing at the designated peak. It was easily recognizable, possessing a very slanted ridge and an almost flat cliff sticking out of its side. She looked at it and then looked back at what she had drawn, moving around it to examine it from different angles.

    "Revolutionaries, you say…?" Melinia spoke up with curiosity as she moved away from the tree and stood up straight.

    "Yeah," Lucario replied before catching the subtle hint in her statement, "Oh yeah, you're pretty strong, right? Are you thinking of joining them?"

    "Do you think they would accept me?" she asked, "I mean, I am a Victory Roader, after all."

    "I could put in good word for you, if that's what you want," Lucario suggested, suddenly wondering why he was acting like a recruiter. Melinia was about to say something, but their conversation was abruptly interrupted by a loud crash. Looking up, they saw the ground in front of them open up into a wide chasm.

    And with a shrill scream, Zerobi was gone.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  17. #442
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    Oooh, a new character shows up, and I like them already. I was hoping the primeape and his gang to be defeated in a most humiliating way, but I guess we can't have everything we want in a story.

    Also, you have a sentence with "and but" in it, and that's not correct.

    I have to wonder what caused the fissure to swallow up Zerobii so instantly with no warning.

    Looking forward to this outcome, I was afraid things were wrapping up, but the action keeps going and I'm liking it. Keep it up, man.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  18. #443
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    Had me worried there, Lucario, what with the snapping. He'd be in the big leagues if it weren't for his recent alcoholism, but getting defeated after a single hit is unacceptable? I kinda anticipated the snapping noise coming from the tree, since that's what he ran into, but I didn't realize that the sound was a feint.

    A wild Marowak has appeared, apparently, and she's a sweetheart! She doesn't consider herself to be proficient at fighting, but she appears to be interested in joining the resistance. 'Tis interesting. Definitely has a distinct personality.

    Lucario has proven time and time again that he lacks social skills. "Maybe it's that freakish mask you're wearing?" Why you gotta be so rude, Lucario?

    I guess you foreshadowed this event, but the ground splitting open sure was abrupt. Didn't even give the characters a chance to react. One question: If the ground is splitting open, how can they look up at it? Are they next to a cliff? Okay, that's two questions. I'm assuming Zerobi fell in, regardless.

    I think I just realized that Zerobi's name is pronounced like Celebi... It's Zéh-roh-bee with the emphasis on the 'e', isn't it? Do I have to re-read everything in the event that it is?

    Alright, it's time for the next plot intensity climb! The story's like a sine wave, really, with the amplitude being larger here and there. It's science!

  19. #444
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    I have to wonder what caused the fissure to swallow up Zerobii so instantly with no warning.
    Yes, indeed, a fissure would probably not suck someone down that quickly. Maybe it's something else...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Looking forward to this outcome, I was afraid things were wrapping up, but the action keeps going and I'm liking it. Keep it up, man.
    We're still only at the start of the third year, there's plenty of mind-blowing action to come!

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    Lucario has proven time and time again that he lacks social skills. "Maybe it's that freakish mask you're wearing?" Why you gotta be so rude, Lucario?
    Just pointing out the elephant in the room... To him, anyway. At least he didn't go "Holy crap, a talking mole!"

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    One question: If the ground is splitting open, how can they look up at it? Are they next to a cliff? Okay, that's two questions. I'm assuming Zerobi fell in, regardless.
    It happened by the slight incline of a nearby hill, a detail which is... Not really amazingly helpful in figuring out what happened. Oh well, you'll see in the next chapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    I think I just realized that Zerobi's name is pronounced like Celebi... It's Zéh-roh-bee with the emphasis on the 'e', isn't it? Do I have to re-read everything in the event that it is?
    Seems legit, the key point without getting too deep into phonetics is that the Ze is sharper than Ce, kind of like comparing the Japanese Se and Ze. Also, the Bi at the end is not extended, to give a similar effect when compared to Celebi. Who even cares!? Read it however you like!

    Quote Originally Posted by Karate_Man View Post
    Ok so the name of this fic alone caused me to sign-up
    Ha! Always knew the name had to be a big draw. I mean, a Pokémon fanfiction named The Human Species? That's like building a car and naming it S.S. Anne.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karate_Man View Post
    though I doubt humans are as pitifully fragile as you make us out to be. We can be very resilient.
    Well, you know. Occasionally. People die all the time from the dumbest things possible, so living in a world with absurdly dangerous monsters everywhere can't be improving our odds. I still think the resilience is shown by how humans can even exist and flourish among Pokémon in the first place, they didn't have Pokéballs back in the classical era.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karate_Man View Post
    Maybe Deoxys is finally regenerating from those arms that it left in the Earths crust during its battle against Mew & Ethan.
    Like Cell from DBZ, regenerating from a single cell? I don't know, that's a little too cheap even for my tastes. Knitting together a hole in your shoulder or chest, sure, or solidifying a liquid, could happen, but when your brain and torso is just dust in the wind, you're absolutely totally completely dead. I do like the idea of Deoxys' mindless arms wobbling underground like a lizard's tail for all eternity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    I also enjoyed Ethans and Rukarios interaction, and hope to see a friendly duel between them in the future.
    Well, they're Pokemon, so it's probably inevitable. Then again, it's not like Lucario commonly punches his friends in the face for fun. He's so anti-social!

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    Bah, you never explained WHY teleport always brings you back to the last pokemon center you visited. Maybe psychics have this weird unwritten rule allowing only teleports to pokemon centers in the event that one gets captured. That's not realistic, though. Pokemon is supposed to be realistic!
    Am I giving away too much by saying it's going to be explained and also pretty important later on?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    This is the second time that you've psyked us out with Zerobi. The last time was when she was having an emotional breakdown, and this time, well, we didn't even know it was her at first... but still!
    Are you starting to get into the mindset where you're not entirely sure if she's going to snap or not? Because that's what her life and the lives of everyone around her is like.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    It has occurred to me that in the event Lucatio DOES end up breaking Zerobi's heart and DOES cause her to return to her sadistic ways, he won't be able to detect her aura, and she could pounce at any time. That's kinda scary. I love it.
    He's got good hearing though. She'd have to do it in a naturally noisy space, like a city. Or torture chamber.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  20. #445
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    Chapter 110

    Razed City Celadon


    "What the…!" Lucario exclaimed in surprise as he jogged forward. By the slight inclination of the hill where Zerobi had stood just seconds ago now was a hole, not even 2 meters wide but extremely deep.

    "ZEROBI!" he shouted down the shaft, but was greeted by nothing, not even an echo. Only pitch black darkness as far he could see. Panicking, he looked around the edges of the ventilation to see if there was any way to descend, but the dirt and mud that grazed the walls looked too unstable to climb. He nudged closer with care and barely even noticed Melinia coming up behind him.

    "Ho hum. How awkward," she said with an uncaring tone, "Say, could you jump in there to make sure she's fine? I will go and get help."

    "Are you… I'd just land on top of her and make things worse!" Lucario shouted back at her, immediately noticing the humongous pole in her hand and coming up with an idea, "Just give me that spear, I'll lower it so she can use it to climb up!"

    He reached out, Melinia stepping back and twisting around to keep it out of his grip.

    "Hmm… No," she responded quietly and slowly, as if trying to think of what to say, "I don't think you will be doing that, sweetie. You might get hurt."

    "Fine, go get help! Don't just stand there!" Lucario continued shouting in frustration, the Marowak's nonchalance starting to get on his nerves, "A fall like that… She might've broken something! B-But I can't even hear her scream, so that means…!"

    His voice silenced and his breath faded as he stared down the hole, feeling very cold inside. Mew's demise had taught him just how brittle Pokémon were, and Zerobi was nowhere near as powerful as she was. Noticing his anguish, Melinia again did the unexpected by turning her back to him, walking away and starting to hum to herself.

    "I dug the hole in a manner which should allow for a moderately safe descent," she chirped happily before turning around, securing her grip around the spear, "She looked a bit stressed out, probably just catching a little beauty sleep among the soft pillows at the bottom."

    Lucario felt his stomach twist, immediately recognizing the hostility in her stance. In shock he stepped away from her, almost tripping into the hole by accident.

    "WHAT!? You-" he shouted, his expression flaring up for a moment before dissipating, "Oh wait, you're showing us a secret underground passage? Geez, I thought you were betraying us!"

    Melinia stared at him in silence, clearly not sure if he was serious or not. Reviewing what she had just said, Lucario found his peaceful explanation to be very unlikely and went back to his original assumption.

    "What the hell!? What do you want with Zerobi!?" he yelled with anger and clenched his fists.

    "Not much. I rather liked her," Melinia replied with a shrug, "She's just of a troublesome typing. I feel it would be better for her to sit this one out."

    The permanent glee in her voice and impenetrable mask made it difficult for Lucario to figure out Melinia's intentions. She was keeping her weapon held at the ready, but simultaneously rocking back and forth with a subtle swing of her hips in an almost comedic fashion. Suddenly she stilled herself, lowered the lance and leant towards him.

    "Mmhmmhmm… I want you, Lonesome Wanderer Lucario," she whispered seductively, winking her emerald eyes, "You should know, you are quite the attractive specimen… For us bounty hunters, that is."

    Lucario swallowed hard, feeling stared down as the Marowak refused to break eye contact.

    "Bounty… Hunters…?" Lucario repeated with a dismal tone, many questions filling his mind. Melinia returned to her upright stance as she slipped her free hand inside her helmet, rummaging around a bit before pulling out five large papers. All of them were yellowed and old, three looking particularly beaten up with rips and tears at the edges and a big visible hole right in the middle. She carefully flipped through her possessions, sorting out two of the papers while stuffing the rest back into her mask.

    "Here is the one for Serial Killer Zerobi. Worth 130,000P, sadly issued by the police," Melinia said with a grimace visible even beneath the obscuring mask, "But here is yours! Have a look!"

    Retracting her spear, Melinia pierced the document on the edged tip and held it out towards Lucario. Stepping back from the terrifyingly large weapon, Lucario decided to examine the paper from a distance. Even with a pike jutting out from the well-used hole in the middle, the text was intact and written in both pawprint and writings he could recognize. It was still difficult to read, the paper in poor condition and the Marowak's constant bobbing not making things much easier.

    SPIKELESS LUCARIO ROAMING THE WORLD
    DANGEROUS, MUST BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE!
    Client: ELDER WHISCASH
    Objective: DETAIN AND RETURN LUCARIO
    Place: POSSIBLY KANTO
    Restrictions: NONE
    Difficulty: S
    Reward: 100,000 P

    No picture, but he figured the "spikeless" bit was all people needed. The first thing that caught his eye was the client, a certain Elder Wishcash he remembered all too well as the scumbag who had turned Ivy and the rest of the villagers against him. He barely even recalled what the ugly fish looked like, but the elder's shouts of damnation haunted him to this day.

    "That little…!" Lucario grunted to himself, sparking a giggle from Melinia. Were they still looking for him? He did run away without ever clearing things up, but they had been convinced that his mere existence would bring about the end of the world, so as the world was still intact he hoped they would have come to their senses by now.

    "Where did you get that? How old is it?" he asked politely, not sure why since Melinia's intentions were far from noble.

    "Quaint little village, not far. Mmm, splendid dancing venue," she reminisced before withdrawing her weapon and removing the paper, "Don't worry, I assure you that this bounty still active. You see, they are somewhat obsessed with you."

    "Don't believe them! They're mad!" Lucario yelled in his defense, wondering how on earth he was going to convince the Marowak of his innocence. He was not even sure if she would care.

    "Perhaps. Explains the high reward, no?" Melinia replied as she put her hands together in joy, "Oh, I am so lucky! To meet a hotshot like you, and you are actually worth something!"

    "More like unlucky, because you'll be collecting that bounty over my dead body!" Lucario shouted, pepping himself up for battle. However, Melinia did nothing to shift her casual demeanor.

    "Mmhmhm… Yes, that is the general idea," she chuckled quietly and tapped the side of her mask, "But well enough for you, I happen to have a better one. I hand you over, collect the reward, you relax and take a vacation in the slammer, and when you get out we split the cash. Excellent deal, no?"
    "Slammer? These things want me dead!" Lucario responded with irritation almost immediately, not eager to barter any plan that involved him staying in jail after his less than pleasant visit to Saffron City. The draconian seemed disappointed by his answer, sighing out loud.

    "Come now, I'm certain no matter what happened you can feign repentance and negotiate… Unless you are a murderer," she said with a dark tone before lightening up and caressing the underside of her helmet, "Hmm… You lady-killer, you!"

    "I didn't kill anyone!" Lucario clarified, getting more and more annoyed by her callous behavior, "They're crazy! They think I'm part of some old prophecy to bring about the end of the world, that’s why they want me!"

    Silence filled the air as Melinia stared at him again, and for a moment Lucario almost thought she was buying it. Instead she clicked with her tongue and shook her head, placing her hand on her hip.

    "My dear Lucario…" she whispered sweetly, "… Seduction would have been a lot more effective if you wished to deceive me. 'Restrictions: None' does not mean 'dead or alive', it only means I'm free to rough you up a bit if you're a bother."

    "Consider me a bother!" Lucario roared while throwing his arms back, "I'll kick your *** just for what you did to Zerobi! If she's hurt-"

    "Sleeping," Melinia corrected him while twirling her eyes, "You will soon come to understand the difference, my love. Weapons of this size do not allow much finesse."

    The Marowak held out the spear in front of her with ease. The sight unnerved Lucario, sensing the primal fear instilled within all humans of fighting against an armed opponent. He held up his arms in a useless protective stance, reminding himself that even if the pike was quite long, he had fought enemies that could breathe fire, puke lightning and exhale black holes only a few months prior. Even the Primeape had a far more ferocious aura to him than the Marowak, so with proper maneuvering he figured he should be able to disarm her and turn the tables very quickly.

    Feeling sheepish as he realized that taking the initiative would actually be to his advantage, Lucario ran straight towards the fearsome weapon and prayed his reflexes would not fail him. If he could just get past the bladed tip, the pike would become completely useless. As soon as he came within range, the Marowak stepped back and finally let her spear lash out. The sharp tip was aimed at Lucario's hip, forcing him to halt his run in order to twist his entire body to the side in evasion.

    "Honey, do be careful!" Melinia cheered as she pulled her weapon back and repositioned herself to keep him from getting too close, "When a spear cuts through you, it tends to hurt very badly!"

    Trying not to be intimidated, Lucario continued dashing towards her. Her spear was upon him once more, forcing him to duck. It returned to her side faster this time, Melinia making a short hop forward while thrusting the pike so hard it struck the ground like a lighting strike.

    "Dah!" Lucario exclaimed in terror as he quickly stepped backwards, fearing that getting struck by such a powerful blow would skewer him in an instant, "I thought you weren't trying to kill me!?"

    "Hmm? Mmhmm, did I say that?" Melinia hummed to herself as she pulled the lance out of the soil. Not wasting a second, she thrust it towards him as he moved back just outside its immense range.

    "Still just trying to persuade you, stubborn man!" she shouted while repeatedly stabbing in his direction, Lucario stepping further and further away from her.

    "Maybe if you dropped that weapon and fought fair, you *****!" Lucario yelled while looking for an opening, although considering the frequency of her attacks he figured he would have an easier time dodging the spines of an aggressive porcupine.

    "Oh, but you will far more eager to accept my offer when in dire need of medical attention!" the Marowak insisted as she suddenly took firm hold of the elongated bone and began charging towards Lucario. Wondering why she was shifting her tactics despite having him at the ropes, Lucario wanted to see just how strong she was and ran to the side. Despite showing great strength so far, even Melinia was forced to stop as she swung her weapon around, horizontally readjusting the pike to face him once again.

    "Of course, then we might have more of a 60%-40% deal. Or 90%-10%?" Melinia chimed as she tapped the side of her chin, "Perhaps your life will be reward enough? You would certainly still be indebted, but we could always exchange certain services to even things out…"

    A relaxing wind blew past them as Lucario ran a comparatively cool hand across his heated face. Running and dodging was exhausting, and he figured she was trying to make him run out of stamina like what she had seen happen with the Primeape. He would have to end the battle as fast as possible, and the best way to do that…

    "Take your helmet off," Lucario stated bluntly while pointing at Melinia. Aura Spheres mostly just caused pain and damage, so he figured a critical blow to the head would be the speediest way to knock her out before she got desperate and started using far more dangerous moves.

    "My, my. Enchanted, are we?" she answered as she leaned up against the spear, "Sorry honey pie, I need to preserve my skin. But I did promise you a kiss, so treat me well and I'll show you later!"

    "… Of all the dumb replies…" Lucario groaned before shaking his head, "Look, you DO realize which weak point I'll be aiming if I can't go for the head, right?"

    She stared into his eyes for a moment, probably making some expression he couldn't see. Shifting her weapon from vertical to horizontal, she appeared ready to continue fighting.

    "That's assuming you can touch me…" she whispered menacingly before lunging towards him, spear aimed at his hip again. Dodging it was far easier this time since he was not already in motion, and he instinctively caught the prickly pike in his hand. Realizing what he had done, he immediately latched onto it with his second hand as well.

    "Hah! I can touch this just fine!" he chided while trying to tug it out of Melinia's grasp. The Marowak simply giggled as she twisted the handle around, the prickly sensation turning into an explosive pain cutting into Lucario's hands. Eliciting a painful noise, he let go of the lance only for it to immediately push towards him, the bladed tip cutting straight into his right shoulder. A painful yell filled the air and Lucario backed off, instinctively clutching the wound in his shoulder with the wound on the palm of his hand.

    "What a tough hide," the Marowak said in a bothered tone, breathing in heavily before thrusting the pike towards Lucario again, more weight put behind it this time. This, however, also made her movements more predictable, and despite taking damage Lucario managed to dodge to the side. Instead of grabbing onto her weapon, he clenched his bleeding fist and smacked it hard, causing it to fly off to the side. Melinia did not lose her balance as he had hoped, but as the bladed tip was no longer between his fist and her face he charged, the wind whooshing past his ears.

    Melinia realized she was exposed, quickly throwing her spear to the side and spinning around. Blinded by pain and rage, Lucario failed to notice her large tail in time to avoid it, and it struck his side. However, all it did was halt his charge by a little, as he quickly took the moment into action and pummeled her lower body. Punching her underbelly and where he assumed her kidneys to be, he met great resistance from her extremely resistant scales and was unsure if he was damaging her at all.

    Something like a comet fell down on his forehead as the Marowak suddenly headbutted him with her skull, the solid material even harder than the rest of her body. Before he could recover, she made an amazingly graceful backflip away from him, her tail smacking the underside of his chin with ferocious force and lifted him off his feet. He almost felt himself slip out of consciousness before he accidentally fell on a particularly sharp rock, the cut reminding him of the wound on his shoulder.

    "Ugh…" Lucario grunted. He examined his shoulder but could only see a mass of blood, and the palm of his hands had opened up in several spots. A subtle humming forced him to look up, sending a furious stare against the Marowak who was now waving her open hand towards him.

    "Calluses," she said with a triumphant smile, "Eventuality when handling rough material like bone… Mmm, or rough and tough badboys like y-"

    "Shut up!" Lucario yelled with anger, getting back on his feet while testing the functionality of his right arm. Apart from a never-ending stinging sensation, it seemed to be working fine.

    "Now, now, don't be so rude, my dear," Melinia muttered bitterly while letting her hand graze past her lower body, "You hit… Quite hard. It would be nice to take a little bre-"

    Fed up with conversation and wishing to taste victory rather than blood, Lucario roared and unleashed an Aura Sphere from his left arm. Melinia's grin disappeared in an instant as she twitched, but had no hope of avoiding the sphere as it shot straight through her torso.

    "OH-" she exclaimed before putting a hand against her throat, another covering her stomach as she hunched forward. Lucario felt strangely satisfied as the chatty Marowak stopped talking, instead hulking and fighting back the immense sickness that usually followed a hit from the Aura Sphere. If she needed to barf she would have to take off her helmet, which was his cue to move in and finish this with a blow to her head.

    "Ulp… H-Hold…" Melinia uttered breathily and held up a hand, making Lucario stop. Wondering why he was being so courteous, he shook his head and moved towards her anyway. She trembled something ferocious and bent over, not to undo the contents of her stomach but rather pick up her weapon again. The weight of the spear made itself apparent for a second, but when she supported it with her other hand she managed to steady herself and hold it up with minor effort.

    "Whew!" she exhaled loudly before jutting the pike towards Lucario who quickly backed off, "Keep your kinks to yourself! You almost forced me to engage in something very unlady-like!"

    "Kink? I'm a Lucario, Aura Spheres are my thing!" Lucario responded proudly. It was difficult to tell how much damage his attack had done as the aura leaves no marks on the outside of someone's body, but he was unpleasantly surprised to find Melinia returning to her bouncy posture with absolutely no signs of having been weakened. Her body was far from lithe, but his aura sphere had previously decked huge beasts like the Arcanine or Raikou. It had even blasted Darkrai's arm into smoke.

    "Little man, you call that an Aura Sphere?" Melinia stifled a laugh, "Please, clearly your purpose was to make me sick. No more of that, let's fight fairly."

    "Hah!" Lucario snorted with a chiding smile, "You're the one with a goddamn weapon!"

    "… True. Unfair it is, then," the Marowak sighed quietly as she started to move backwards while keeping the spear up to deter any assault. Lucario figured she was baiting him into following and falling down another hole, so he kept still. More distance between them was to his benefit after all, unless she happened to have an even better projectile.

    "That's what I've been trying to say. How many more holes did you dig?" Lucario asked while cooling off, realizing that an unfortunate pitfall would bring a quick end to his freedom.

    "Oh, just that one," Melinia replied bluntly, raising her voice as she went further away, "Dirt is quite unappealing, I had to leave enough time to clean myself up before our meeting."

    "… One hole. A single hole to make us fall into," Lucario said, and now it was his turn to wonder if she was being serious or just immensely stupid, "No need to lie, it's not like I'll be caught off guard if the ground gives way."

    "Mmhmm, I never lie," she gave a warm response, moving up a hill that was in her way.

    "You stabbed us in the back literally ten minutes ago!" Lucario raised his voice to a shout so she could hear him, the Marowak backing so far away he was wondering if she was making a subtle escape.

    "But did I lie? I was merely hiding my intentions!" Melinia also shouted, reaching the top of the hill and finally stopping, "Lies are needless! The hole was the preferable choice, you gullible hunk! Since you avoided it, I have to do this to you!"

    Lucario watched with disinterest and she began to run down the hill. Then, his eyes shot wide open as she shoved her spear into the ground way down and the foot of the hill, and he gasped in surprise when she polevaulted herself 60 feet into the air. This expression of amazement quickly turned into one of fear, noticing she was adjusting her weapon in midair as she came down, following his movement when he tried to dodge. The thin pike was nearly invisible as it suddenly launched towards him, and he realized had come across yet another absurdly terrifying opponent.

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

    It was a warm day in No Man's Land, heralding the arrival of summer after a balmy winter of grey skies and no snow, aside from what the ice types would conjure up for atmosphere and entertainment. Some were still asleep, nocturnal or merely lazy, enjoying the lack of responsibility that comes with being born a Pokémon. Such was not the case for all of them however, as those from the newly established administrative social class headed for the city's bulletin plaza, wondering which tasks the day was to present them with.

    "Psychic needed to adjust tools… Psychic required for social experiment…" a rugged Charizard read with a huff, a puff of flame slipping out of his mouth and to his great dismay not burning down the disappointing requests.

    "What the hell is a social experiment?" a nearby Houndoom asked, standing on his rear legs to get a better view of the higher pamphlets.

    "Dunno, ask a Psychic," the Charizard growled while giving a mean look to his side, a Natu picking a request off the wall and happily skipping away, "Or not, because they're always busy with something. When was the last time they needed Fire for anything?"

    "I know… They should categorize these things… At least learn to put them lower…" the Houndoom muttered as he gave up and solemnly slid down the wall, "I wish Zoroark would come back already."

    "Maybe the next one. I'm SO not trading two days in a row," the Charizard grumbled and stepped away, wondering how an impressive beast like himself went from the most popular Pokémon in the revolution to unwanted in times of peace.

    The bulletin plaza was located in the heart of Celadon City, connected by everything from roads to vines and small ditches dug for smaller amphibians and a refreshing drink. Once a typical city square, the walls of each surrounding building had been renovated into massive billboards updated daily with work or personal requests. However, as most of them only needed specialists, those with unnecessary skills were always given the option to slack off, patrol the city or trade goods with humans.

    Many humans viewed No Man's Land with aversion – A city occupied by wild beasts, disallowing humans from living there or even visiting. Those that did not would often point out how the glory days of the Celadon Department Store had returned, mercantilism flourishing like never before thanks to the unique goods produced by organized Pokémon. In return, the Pokémon had begun to discover the wonders of technology, the external requests for televisions skyrocketing parallel to the internal requests for battery rechargers. After a somewhat nasty revolt by exhausted electric types, Zoroark finally caved in and allowed them to trade for a generator, at long last supplying the Treehouse and Earthsea with constant electricity.

    The Treehouse was the affectionate nickname given to the office building where normally Zoroark and his staff would sit and work, but was always open to those able to fit through the entrance who wanted to utilize its many computers of just the television in the lobby. The Earthsea was a commons area by the edge of the city, where a massive projector had been put into place for perpetual movie viewing. It was called as such due to the enormous pool of water dug right next to the screen, put in place after several complaints from a particularly stubborn Gyrados and other water-types. Tensions had been a bit high at the time, so Zoroark figured it would be easier to just let them have their way.

    Zoroark's absence had caused unrest, the explanation being that he was on a "secret mission" not flying too well with the Pokémon who feared their leader had abandoned them. The Whimsicott's inapt administrative abilities had done little to alleviate the issue, and so they became dependent on asking Zoroark for orders through mail, letters that could take weeks to reach their destination all the way up in the frozen caves of Nomad's Land. After many troublesome months of worry and rumors of defecting, everything had quieted down and their hectic lives had finally descended into sweet stagnation.

    Until the warm day. It was not a warning of summer as much as it was a warning of something else, the first sign being the cloud of smoke billowing up at the edge of No Man's Land's massive forest.

    "Not again," a Nidoqueen said with low voice, remembering the time when some Charizard accidentally caused a forest fire half a year earlier. Responding to her voice, the other Pokémon stopped and followed her gaze, noticing the smoke as well.

    "F-FIRE!" a Skiploon screamed out loud and fell back in terror, a Dodrio stretching its neck up to see better while the two other heads scanned the area.

    "You! Water! Do yer thing!" the rightmost head shouted as it stared down at a Kingler. The Kingler grunted quietly as he extended his miniscule legs to little avail.

    "… Can't see from down here…" he said with a deep baritone before skittering over to the Dodrio, clenching his mighty claw around its legs, "Fly!"

    "Ow ow ow! No no no! I'll choke! I'll be blind!" the Dodrio screamed in pain and panic as it tried to shake off the unaware assailant.

    By now most of No Man's Land had become aware of what was happening, a couple of flying types volunteering to scout the area around the smoke curtain with more than a few water types immediately setting off to save their precious forest. Pokémon cheered them on and could not bring themselves to return to their daily business despite not being able to do anything to help, so they gathered around and stared, hoped, waited for the smoke to stop.

    But it never did. Their hope diminished as they helplessly saw the cloud of smoke growing larger and coming closer, an unseen fire greedily eating the trees and bushes and turning their greatest protective barrier into smoldering ash. What manner of fire could withstand water they did not know, and a sense of dread began to come down upon them as they realized that the flying scouts had not returned either.

    "I know Bubblebeam," a Clefable with a concerned expression suddenly said, "I could go and-"

    "Forget it!" a brash Escavalier cut him off with a stern look while pointing towards the rising ash, "If pure water types couldn't even handle… It…"

    His sentence petered out as he fell silent and stared, the Goodra next to him gasping out loud as she saw what he had noticed.

    "Look!" she practically shouted in relief, "They're back!"

    Through the smoke, several flying Pokémon appeared. The Pokémon cheered triumphantly as the birds swooped down towards them. A very large Pidegot dove down, and the Goodra ran up to meet it. However, the overgrown avian never landed. Instead it picked her up with its talons, the Goodra crying out loud as she was carried off by her head in a very uncomfortable manner. Before anyone could react, more flying-types swooped down among the crowd and picked up Pokémon seemingly at random, carrying them screaming back into the black smoke.

    The crowd that had once been so peaceful was now retaliating wildly, few caring for the safety of their friends taken hostage as they used whatever ranged moves available to them to knock the fiendish birds out of the sky. One particularly foolish Fearow attempted to pluck a mean-looking Delcatty off the ground, the well-versed cat immediately frying it with a Thunderbolt. However, it soon became clear that the flying types were quite good at picking out their targets, most of their prey unable to break free from their hold and disappearing forever behind the shroud of darkness.

    When the fire at long last reached the edge of the forest, multiple balls of fire shot out and struck several of No Man's Land's fighters by accident. Screaming and begging for water, it soon became clear that their specialists in the matter had already been lured away. Those with minor abilities in water or ice had to work overtime as fire-breathing Pokémon jumped out of the smoke, mercilessly igniting everything in sight.

    But the fireballs were but a prelude to the terror that came next. Pokéballs in the hundreds, as if launched by a trebuchet rained down over them. The experienced and quick were able to avoid it, either by dodging or as one young Machop managed, hiding under an unconscious Braviary and using its body for cover. The rest could merely protect their heads as the well-lit area shone red for a moment, their many varied shapes replaced by a field of fire and wobbling Pokéballs.

    Humans covered in protective gear stormed in next, the Pokémon they had been tormenting so far with their expert battle plan not hesitating for a moment as they attacked. Pokémon on both sides were locked in a fierce clash, the humans quickly attempting to retrieve their Pokéballs while getting cut to pieces, burned into charcoal and murdered in many unpleasant ways as projectiles of various lethal substances and disgruntled Pokémon of dangerous ilk crossed their way.

    Although caught off guard, No Man's Land was far from unprepared. No warning siren had to be sounded, their city on fire was all it took and soon the once peaceful community had mobilized into an army. The humans and their Pokémon were just about to retreat with their loot when No Man's Land's shock troops entered formation and charged, a collection of hardy Pokémon spearheaded by a Samurott, horns and fangs cutting through the wind. A crimson fountain soared as Tauros collided with Pignite, Rhydon with Ninetails and humans fell to the ground, begging for mercy as their bodies were trampled into mush. The flying types dodged the assault, but soon fell out of the sky anyway as they were picked off by a pack of Shinx and Luxio, braving the flames and climbing the trees for better vantage. A Luxray missing one ear roared triumphantly, before immediately falling silent as a Pokéball struck the back of his head. The human responsible slid by the barrage of teeth and claws, snatched up the Pokéball and hastily made his way back into the forest, his escape covered by his trusty Golem who absorbed the lightning.

    The main force of the enemy had departed, some of the revolutionaries foolishly chasing them down, desperate to rescue their friends or family and getting ambushed on the way through the treacherous woods. Urgently dragging themselves across the ground, the fully amphibious water type Pokémon had finally arrived and hastily began to put out all the fires, a very angry Gyrados drenching the woods with a loud roar and putting out the fire that had started it all.

    Many lay dead, even more wounded and captured. In this scene of misery and gore, the revolutionaries could not help but let their adrenaline take over and cheer in victory. No Man's Land was safe. Today, on what would come to be known as "The Warm Day", they were all legendaries.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  21. #446
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    Huh, I was under the impression that Lucario could defeat almost any non-legendary at this point. He defeated Torona, and can probably fight off Suicune at this point, but then here come Primape and the Marowak seemingly not taking damage from his powerful attacks. Reminds me of the garchomp from forever ago. And here we thought that an aura sphere would have fixed that fight.

    Didn't realize Zoroark was doing anything in secrecy. I just knew that he/she/idontknowanymore was hanging at Nomad's land after the mostly successful heist. Didn't think about the why, to be honest.

    I remember Celedon well... Best place to get some great TMs in the first games. Makes sense that you'd describe it as a center of commerce. Seems that pokemon are becoming technologically proficient. Wait... computers??? Pokemon can use computers now? Must be a select few that can, since I seem to recall Zoroark being completely perplexed by them. Maybe electric and psychic types are more interested in machinery in general?

  22. #447
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    Huh, I was under the impression that Lucario could defeat almost any non-legendary at this point. He defeated Torona, and can probably fight off Suicune at this point, but then here come Primape and the Marowak seemingly not taking damage from his powerful attacks. Reminds me of the garchomp from forever ago. And here we thought that an aura sphere would have fixed that fight.
    She's from Victory Road, the last area in the game. You know, where Pokemon are like 10 levels above everywhere else? I expanded the idea, suggesting that since they're allowed to roam free in an area frequented by champion-level trainers, they would have to be awfully strong or crafty.

    Melinia is actually closer to the latter category. She's not nearly as strong as someone like Torana, but carries a deadly weapon and just happens to be good at resisting aura spheres.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    Didn't realize Zoroark was doing anything in secrecy. I just knew that he/she/idontknowanymore was hanging at Nomad's land after the mostly successful heist. Didn't think about the why, to be honest.
    The heist was the secret! Can't let just anyone know about the virus, not until it has been disposed of, at least. Hard to make up an excuse for why their leader and a vanguard went to the middle of nowhere to camp out for a year.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewLols View Post
    I remember Celedon well... Best place to get some great TMs in the first games. Makes sense that you'd describe it as a center of commerce. Seems that pokemon are becoming technologically proficient. Wait... computers??? Pokemon can use computers now? Must be a select few that can, since I seem to recall Zoroark being completely perplexed by them. Maybe electric and psychic types are more interested in machinery in general?
    There's like one or two that know how to use them, and a whole entourage gathered around to stare at the blinking lights. You know, like "fixing" someone's computer in real life.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

  23. #448
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    Chapter 111

    Flirty Warrior Melinia


    Everyone who grew up in Johto vividly remembers their first time seeing the Magnet Train. Many tour guides proudly claim that it can travel at over 340 miles per hour in an attempt to awe the crowd, but such large numbers are difficult to imagine and usually only good for comparisons. They cannot adequately portray the mind-bending sight of such a large chunk of metal moving from one horizon to the next in a matter of seconds. Standing next to the rails can be a very traumatizing experience – Feeling the pressure of wind as something that could have annihilated you in a second just barely passes you by, your mind secretly wondering what might have happened had you ended up in its way.

    This memory crept upon Lucario as Melinia's spear rived through the ground, striking where his torso had been a quarter of a second earlier. In fact, it had not been an intentional dodge at all, Lucario he had merely been twisting his body at just the right moment. It had been close, so close that he was certain some of his chest hair had been split like the soil underneath him.

    The Marowak landed with a loud thud, bracing herself with her arms. She eagerly looked up, but gasped when she noticed her attack had missed.

    "Oh dear. I suggest you don't move next time," she said with a voice caught somewhere between concern and annoyance, "It throws off my aim, and trust me - You don't want this thing anywhere near your eye or groin."

    "Next time!?" Lucario repeated with shock, certain that he was dead meat if it ever came to that. Luck was a very rare occurrence for him. He saw that the still impressively lengthy spear was halfway gone, lodged very deep into the ground. Thinking about the kind of condition his ribcage would now be in if he had just been a little bit slower, he suddenly realized that tiny little bit of luck had led him to victory.

    "What, you think I'm just going to let you pick it up?" he grunted and quickly moved between the weapon and his enemy, preferring hand-to-hand combat to trying to use a pike that would probably rip his hands to shreds again, "Because I'm not! Come on, come get it!"

    "Why, thank you!" Melinia chirped happily, completely ignoring his battle pose. She then bent forward and started digging a hole, quickly submerging herself underground.

    "Hey, where are you going!?" Lucario shouted worriedly, wondering if she was trying to trick him into following and leaving the spear unguarded. He refused to budge and listened as the sounds of the Marowak's incessant humming faded away behind a wall of mud.

    Suddenly he felt very paranoid, realizing she could pop up from anywhere. He could sense her aura beneath him, but his abilities were nowhere near accurate enough to determine an exact location. Even though he had seen the Garchomp and the Excadrill do the same thing previously, he still had no idea on how to deal with it. She was underground and he was not, he would have jump into the hole to keep the fight going and that would give her all the advantages, weapon or not.

    But instead of something coming out of the ground, something went inside of it. The spear trembled for a moment before sinking into the dirt, Lucario realizing his mistake just a little too late. He ran forward to try and grab it, but it was already gone, the only thing remaining a small hole leading deep underground. Caught by surprise he nearly did the unthinkable and decided to look down into it, but stopped himself just as the lance returned with a vengeance, splitting the air with terrible force.

    "Hmm… Feels a little light," a familiar voice echoed from below. The pike retracted and suddenly pierced through the ground two feet in the other direction. Lucario gasped fearfully as he fell back, the spear suddenly shooting up barely a decimeter from his left leg. He rolled away, not even bothering to scramble to his feet as the giant spike frantically stabbed through the soil until the whole patch of land collapsed, now more hole than mineral.

    "********! Cheater!" Lucario bellowed with fury as he got to his knees, feeling like the battle had gone from moderately dangerous to extremely deadly and starting to regret ever using his Aura Sphere, "You're the biggest coward I've ever met! Get up here and fight for real, goddamn it!"

    Everything was quiet for a moment. Then a segment of dirt moved around, and the Marowak's skull stuck out.

    "Oh, don't be that way. Are you really surprised to see a Ground-type digging?" Melinia asked sheepishly, "I do live underground. Do you want to see it? Would you like to come home with me? We could watch TV together!"

    Lucario slapped his forehead in frustration as she effortlessly made her way out of the mudhole, leaning the spear against her shoulder as she used her free hand to clean off the dirt. When it was done, she did a happy little twirl and went back to her habit of bobbing back and forward in place.

    "How the hell can you act so casually!? This is a duel between life and death, it's bloody serious!" he shouted and clenched his fists. He knew he wasn't the best at gauging the seriousness of a situation himself, although he had the excuse of inexperience while Melinia's behavior was just absurd. Pokémon generally did not put too much thought into the ethical implications of fighting someone, but this Marowak had taken it to another step, seemingly unaffected by the prospect of risking death or killing someone.

    "Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie… You shouldn't consider this a duel," Melinia whispered gently as she leaned forward and turned her cheek, almost like requesting a kiss on her bony skull, "This is just a prelude to my victory, I have no reason to be rude. In fact, I am quite glad to acquire such a valuable and, mmm, handsome bounty, I would much rather be celebrating if you'd care to join me!"

    "How… How the hell would I celebrate with MY OWN bounty!?" Lucario yelled as he suddenly felt his stomach growl, the gauntlet of exhausting battles taking its toll on his ravaged body, "You don't even have a bounty, there's nothing in this for me! When I beat you I'll still be poor and miserable!"

    "You didn't seem to mind fighting Prime-poopsie," Melinia pointed out while rolling her eyes.

    Yeah, Lucario thought, because Prime-poop was never a centimeter away from skewering him. Narrowly avoiding attacks that might actually kill him in one blow was a new, terrifying experience, and he felt that his usual method of trading blows was definitively going to bring a quick and painful end to his life.

    However, aside from fisticuffs he had little else to offer, his only actual moves was the Aura Sphere and ExtremeSpeed. The Aura Sphere had already proven itself less than stellar, but at least it did not put him at risk since the Marowak seemingly lacked proper retaliation aside from chewing him out for it. ExtremeSpeed was something he was extremely reluctant to try, he had a habit of failing to pull it off and ending up in an even more perilous situation. While in his physical prime he had managed it four or five times total, so his chances after months of binge drinking and no exercise had to be pretty low.

    "Excuse me? Are you ignoring me?" Melinia asked, getting a bit tired of constantly bouncing in place. Lucario looked up and figured it was better to be safe than sorry. If she was going to exploit her abilities, then so was he. Focusing with all his might, he assembled the mitochondria in his chest into a group and lead them towards his right arm, ready to fire off another Aura Sph-

    "HAARGH!" Lucario screamed as he instinctively clutched his shoulder, his body wracked in pain. He had completely forgotten about the wound there, the volatile aura losing stability when exposed to the outside and exploding, blue flames burning his already open wound and forcing him to his knees in agony. Overwhelmed by blinding pain, he tried to recollect himself while making a mental note to use his left arm the next tim-

    A stabbing pain shot through his left shoulder. Looking up he saw that Melinia had taken the opportunity into action and thrown her spear straight into him. Although not as weighty as when she had held the weapon, or even close to as destructive as when she had thrown it from above, the damage was still notable as Lucario fell on his back from the sheer force of the weapon.

    "I told you not to do that," the Marowak said darkly as she slowly moved forward and grabbed onto the other end of the spear. Caught off guard, Lucario feared she would shove the weapon all the way through, but instead she drew it out of his body and moved back as he squirmed around in pain.

    "No more Aura Spheres and I will let you keep your arms," she continued, the words sounding weird when used by her sweet voice. Lucario quickly recollected himself, noticing the wound in his left shoulder had not been as kind as the other, actually hurting pretty badly when he tried to move and would probably not let him use it to throw any more punches.

    "Hey," he grunted as he got to his feet, only to immediately move into a crouching position.

    "Hello!" Melinia responded cheerfully, oblivious to his intentions but playing along anyway, "Did you finally realize how nice I am and decide to surrender?"

    "Nah," Lucario muttered before pumping mitochondria into his legs, making sure not to hit any 'crossed wires' inside his body this time. Experience and a sense of urgency rather than luck let him perform the move without a hitch, Lucario smiling as the mitochondria detonated and filled his lower body with immense energy. With speed surpassing that of the unavoidable Aura Sphere, Lucario flew towards Melinia as time seemingly stood still.

    There was no holding back as he threw up his right elbow, ready to strike a hole through her chest. However, the twisting of his body brought about another problem as his no longer famished gut suddenly decided not to comply with his turn. At a speed where he was basically flying, it spelled disaster. He whiffed past the Marowak and slammed into a tree with his upper body so hard that a large chunk of bark ripped straight off, together with a notable amount of skin and a nasty crack filled the air.

    "H-Huh…?" he stammered in shock as he slumped down on the ground, blood rushing down his face with his body engulfed in even more agony than before.

    "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Melinia laughed heartily at the scene as she clutched her stomach, "I love your personal interpretations of the Aura Sphere and ExtremeSpeed! Now I finally have something fun to share at the party - You're going to be legendary, my love!"

    Lucario could not register her chiding remark as he was stunned, nothing about the scenario making any sense to him. ExtremeSpeed had worked, it had totally worked, somehow his aim had just been off, how did that happen? His balance had screwed with him, had he really gained that much weight just from drinking, his appearance had not changed in the mirror, or had he just been too delusional to notice? And simply striking a tree should have just given him light bump on the head, here he laid almost completely out of commission, more damaged than after one of Torana's kicks, by his own clumsy feet and a ****ing tree.

    "Are you ready to call it a day, darling?" Melinia chirped happily, doing a very poor job at feigning concern as she moved closer. Lucario felt a sense of primal dread creep up his spine, grabbing for anything within reach to help himself up. He noticed a distinct lack of painless movement from his left hand – As if the stab wound wasn't enough, this time the crack had not come from a branch as his wrist was clearly broken.

    "Does it hurt? We might need a splint for that," Melinia continued as she winced just for a moment, "Lots of bandages. Band-Aids? Mmhmm, I normally just let the Pokécenter decide what to do."

    "What!? You pussy, you afraid to lose!?" Lucario yelled desperately as he flailed around, trying to get to his feet but his legs buckling under his weight from the strain of his ExtremeSpeed move. The only thing within his reach was the large piece of bark torn from the tree, which he picked up thinking it would be solid enough to be used as a decent projectile.

    "Lucario. Honey. You cannot actually avoid my attacks anymore," the Marowak explained calmly while moving right next to him, "Please don't make me stab you anymore, it would be painful for me as well."

    They exchanged a look for a moment.

    "Well, not really!" Melinia exclaimed happily as she bounced in place. This one second of carelessness was all that Lucario needed, as he ordered his legs to get back in the game and stepped towards his enemy with bark in hand. Smacking the side of her head with all he could muster, bark struck bone with ferocity and staggered the poor Marowak inside. Letting go of the makeshift weapon, Lucario knew his limbs were in no shape to deliver a flurry of hits or some fancy combo and simply sent one brutal punch straight into her stomach, causing her to keel over.

    "URGH!" the Marowak exclaimed a guttural growl and Lucario realized he was finally doing some damage. Hoping to repeat the success of earlier, he picked up the piece of bark again, placing it against his shoulder as he tackled Melinia with all his might, sending the draconian tumbling backwards. And even though this was a perfect cue to follow up with some good old fashioned kicking-them-while-they're-down, Lucario felt his breath run and did not want to risk retaliation as he examined his newfound wooden friend with admiration.

    "Bah! Who needs a weapon when you've got a shield!?" he panted while taking better grip of it, breathing in and out to recover his stamina as fast as possible. Melinia wobbled a little as she got up on her feet, examining her helmet with care before picking up her trusty lance.

    "Mmhmm…!" she exclaimed menacingly as she thrust it straight towards Lucario's stomach. Unable to move around quickly anymore, Lucario deflected the blow with his shield.

    "Mhhmhmhmhmhhmh!" Melinia continued with obvious rage as she attacked him against and again, each blow parried but merely defending with the piece of bark was starting to hurt Lucario's arm badly. He was about to throw the shield to the side and hope for the best when she suddenly stopped.

    "W-Well, now… Stalemate against a p-paraplegic…?" she breathed heavily in exhaustion, "A conundrum… If I ever saw one…"

    "Why don't you come closer? Find out how much of a paraplegic I am!" Lucario taunted, not too sure he was still able to throw a proper punch with either of his hands.

    "Soon-to-be paraplegic, I should say," the Marowak muttered as she suddenly turned around and started walking away from him. Once more thinking she had given up, Lucario slowly realized what she was planning on doing and swallowed hard.

    He dropped the shield in defeat. It was not going to do anything to save him against what was coming. An attack so fast that mere luck let him avoid it back when he was in much better condition, and so destructive it was guaranteed to pierce straight through his body. As the Marowak began to climb up a nearby hill, all he could do was surrender or pray the spear would miss his vital organs, which still sounded like an unpleasant experience altogether.

    Bloodied and worn, bones shattered and muscles torn, he slumped down and began to reflect on this battle. He had lost many fights before, but when battles became drawn out like this he usually ended up with a victory, either due to his perseverance or simply because he bought enough time for someone to come save him. However, unless Zerobi made a miraculous escape from the pit anytime soon, it seemed that was not going to happen. If he gave up, he could always rely on Celebi or the others to come rescue him before whatever nasty plan this Marowak or the delusional villagers had in store for him.

    The mere thought disgusted him. Zerobi could be dead for all he knew, or could very well end up that way if she tried to fight Melinia. Celebi and Zoroark were big players on the world stage, surely they had better things to worry about than bailing him out. He had faced Brendan and Blue like a man, he had stood up to Darkrai and Raikou and survived, he had even defeated powerhouses like Torana and that Primeape from earlier in single combat, he was not about to surrender to a ****ing mole.

    Lucario inhaled sharply. Something of an epiphany struck him as a memory from the previous year resurfaced and made itself apparent. He could always use THAT thing. Lucario had no idea how he could possibly have forgotten about it, he used it against Raikou and then just kind of left it alone since the Aura Sphere's debilitating effects came in handy more often.

    "Hey!" he yelled as he stood up.

    "I can't hear you!" Melinia shouted back, now quite far away and almost all the way up the hill.

    "HEY!" Lucario yelled louder, "I know why you don't want to take off that mask!"

    "I already told you, pumpkin!" she responded and decided this was far enough, stopping and getting ready to rush down, unless Lucario was actually using a very peculiar method of giving up.

    "You lied! It's because you're ugly!" he shouted as loudly as he could, the words feeling very satisfying as they left his throat, "Your face is nothing but a mess of scars! Zerobi told me, since you're from Victory Route it has to be hideous!"

    The taunting was actually not part of his plan, it was just something he was dying to get off his chest. Melinia shook her head in disappointment before taking her first steps down, increasing her tempo until she was running down the hill at maximum speed. Like before she polevaulted herself into the air, even higher this time as she aimed for Lucario's leg. However, she was not the only one aiming for something.

    Lucario carefully redirected the mitochondria in his body through a very roundabout passage around the wound in his right shoulder, making his abdomen tickle in tension. With such a strange, long-winded preparation, it would take much too long to stabilize the aura into a circular motion. Such was not his intent. Knowing his life may very well depend on this, he aimed very, very carefully before firing off an Aura Sphere straight at Melinia's head.

    The Marowak frowned as she realized Lucario really was attempting one last ditch attack, because this time it was almost certainly going to make her barf. Such a waste, she thought, pain and a strong sense of nausea was nothing new and would not be enough to throw her aim off. Making her final adjustments, she prepared to throw the spear through Lucario's right leg the instant the Aura Sphere engulfed her.

    It was a very unstable Aura Sphere. Like Raikou before her, Melinia soon found the Aura Sphere just barely touching her skin before it exploded like a blue star, the shockwave ripping the side of her helmet into little bits. Startled, she threw the spear where Lucario had last been standing, but he had already moved out of the way and the mighty pike crashed down into the ground, the Marowak following soon thereafter.

    Lucario's smile quickly vanished as Melinia stood up to face him. The left side of her helmet was gone, but there was no mark of the explosion on her face. In fact, there was not even as much as a blemish or scratch. The face was similar in shape to the mask, but even from a distance Lucario could tell how incredibly lean and untarnished it was. Her facial scales almost looked like skin, and particularly smooth skin at that. Ignoring her almost draconian appearance and a powerful ridge running up from the tip of her nose to her head, it was pristine like a block of ice floating in the arctic, enchanting like wild flowers sprouting out of a split rock and beautiful to the point where it was actually not hideous at all, as he viewed most Pokémon.

    It was not her appearance that surprised him however, but the fact that his attack had done such minimal damage. Hoping to at least take off a chunk of her enviable face, the helmet had instead absorbed every last bit of the explosion. Suddenly wishing he had not taunted her so much, the Marowak stared at him with a murderous gaze, very unbefitting such a clean face but very much befitting the ragged monstrous body upon which it sat.

    He remained motionless as Melinia walked up beside him and quietly picked the spear off the ground, knowing that if he tried to stop her she would just dig underground again. Then she turned around and began to walk away, not saying a word as the process was bound to repeat itself.

    "Wait," Lucario suddenly exclaimed, feeling his bravado replaced by a sense of dread in the pit of his stomach, "Let's… Discuss the terms of surrender."

    The Marowak suddenly stopped, her now visible ear flexing.

    "No terms," she said bluntly. Lucario's spirits sunk as he tried to think of a response.

    "At least let me make sure Zerobi is alright," Lucario demanded with a stern expression as he looked back at the hole where she had disappeared a while ago, "I'll come quietly if you let me do that."

    "Sweetie, I wasn't born yesterday," Melinia clarified as she turned her still masked side towards him, "I'll be long gone before that Ice-type comes and ruins my day further."

    "But…! That's…!" Lucario stammered as he felt his anger returning, "I can't let you do that! I'll… Poke your eyes out when you fall asleep!"

    "That's why I said no terms!" Melinia shouted as she fully turned her head towards him, face warped into a dismal frown, "I surrender. That's it."

    It took a moment for the words to register with Lucario. When they did, he used his utmost self-control to keep his cool and pretend this was what he was expecting all along. Melinia longingly ran a hand alongside her exposed cheek.

    "I only have one face. I wouldn't risk it for money," she muttered melodramatically, "Do you have any idea how long it will take to find a skull in my exact size?"

    "You could maybe try to kill someone your own size next?" Lucario suggested jokingly, overwhelmed with relief.

    "Mhmmhmm, no. It would be too messy to clean out," Melinia replied, actually thinking it over for a moment, "I'll have to find one underground… But without a mask, all that dirt…"

    She sighed before suddenly eyeing the plastic bag dropped and forgotten by the outskirts of the forest. Lucario looked at it and then back at her, waving his hands around.

    "You can, uh, have it as a consolation prize," he said, making a mental note to pick out five hundred plastic bags the next time since all Pokémon were so eager to get their hands on one. Melinia smiled as she picked it up with her spear, shaking it and letting its contents fall out on the ground.

    "A present? You shouldn't have!" she joked while ignoring the books, "Still no kiss for you, you evil man. Unless you really want one?"

    "No no no!" Lucario exclaimed hastily, before noticing a foul expression suddenly crossing her face, "I mean, uh, yes?"

    The malignant intent remained for but a moment before Melinia smiled again, more now than before.

    "I told you so," she said before pulling the plastic bag over her head and leaning the spear against her shoulder. She left in her typical cheerful stride, wagging her hips while humming some foreign melody until she was but a long line by the edge of the horizon.

    Lucario collapsed on the ground and exhaled, deciding on whether to cheer like mad or simply pass out and let things sort out themselves. He wanted to go check on Zerobi, but was in such bad shape that he figured he would just trip down the hole if he even went near it. Thirty minutes passed before he heard a set of familiar curse words coming from a familiar voice.

    "Heddo!? Damn! Anibodi!?" Zerobi's slurred voiced flew out of the pit, waking Lucario from his short nap.

    "Yo, what's up?" Lucario responded instinctively, roused from his sleep. The pit was quiet for a moment.

    "Pick me up!" Zerobi shouted with confusion.

    "Can't. Blood. Tired," Lucario spoke in a broken manner as he noticed his vision was blurry for some reason. The pain in his legs were gone, but his shoulders still hurt and especially the one where his failed Aura Sphere had burst out. The sound of scurrying followed as Zerobi's head poked out of the ground, struggling to climb out using her big claws as pitons.

    "Why didn't you shave me!?" she panted as she finally made it out, her tongue clearly still paralyzed by whatever had kept her down there, "From the pit! Why didn't you reshcue me!?"

    "Kind of busy fighting," Lucario muttered, wanting to put more effort into showing how happy he was that she was alright, but completely out of willpower.

    "I'm an Ishe-type!" Zerobi insisted while getting up on her feet, "She wash Ground! I could've beaten her in five sheconds!"

    "Shave, wash… Didn't know you were that into grooming…" Lucario joked as he chuckled lightly to himself. Zerobi's irritation vanished as she noticed the wounds over his body and the copious amount of blood dried up in his fur. Both exasperated to no end, they did nothing else that day but lie in the sunlit grass. The next day they continued on their way back to Nomad's Land, leaving the troublesome forest and blood soaked grasslands behind.
    Year 1-3: Occult Magazine, Evolution's Gate [img]http://i55.*******.com/kvo8z.png[/img]
    The Eeveelution cult called Evolution's Gate was disbanded after the bizarre deaths of 47 of its members. This is a story where one must question where the line between fantasy and reality is drawn...
    Year 4-7: Forever Legendary [img]http://i52.*******.com/16a5hc2.png[/img]
    A brash Pikachu hunts down Legendary Pokémon in the hopes of becoming one himself.
    Year 10: The Human Species [IMG]http://i44.*******.com/34zypdx.png[/IMG]
    Humanity has gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon. The best of trainers will subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence. However, which side of the conflict will you end up on if you are neither human nor Pokémon...?

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