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  1. #1
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    Default Hero's Path

    Hero's Path: A Journey of Song and Story

    Chapter Listing:
    1. Unexpected Visit
    2. A Brief Stop
    3. Exit Interview
    4. Old Wounds
    5. Strange Lands
    6. Dread Wizard
    7. Chance Meeting
    8. Flesh and Blood
    9. Storm Front
    10. Master of the House
    11. Fool's Errand
    12. Look Down
    13. Fallen Fire
    14. Echoed Past
    15. Call to Arms
    16. First Attack
    17. Hero Rising
    18. Revolution
    19. Last Stand
    20. Final Call
    21. Falling Stars
    22. Final Farewells
    23. Hero's Home
    24. Guilty Conscience
    25. Healing Words
    26. Honest Work
    27. Leaving Home
    28. Bird Brain
    29. Chance Encounter
    30. Top Percentage
    31. Summer Knight
    32. Unholy Night
    33. Converging Destinies
    34. Forgotten Empire
    35. Old Lessons
    36. Paradigm Shift
    37. Clouded Future
    38. Twisted Paths
    39. Coming Storm
    40. Lightning Strike
    41. Divine Might
    42. Knights Errant
    43. Empty Chairs
    44. Brigand's Choice
    45. Midnight Visit
    46. Dead Walking
    47. Icy Visage
    48. Lonely Hearts
    49. Grand Maestro
    50. Mending Scars
    51. Darkest Night
    52. Sun Rise
    53. Wonderful Emperor
    54. Glancing Blows
    55. Drinking Songs
    56. Show Time
    57. Into Flames
    58. Final Battle
    59. Journey's End
    60. Answers
    61. Changes

    SYNOPSIS OF LEAGUE OF HEROES:
        Spoiler:


    Character Bios (ONLY OPEN AS A REFRESHER! MASSIVE SPOILERS!):
        Spoiler:




    This story is a sequel of sorts to my other fic, League of Heroes. However, there are some notable differences. The first, and most important of which, the League has a very negligible role here. In fact, after the third chapter, they won't feature at all. The first fic focused more on battles, and ultimately war. This one focuses more on an adventurous spirit.
    But, this takes place roughly six months after the epilogue in League of Heroes. So Cole is now a little older, a little more jaded, and a little bit darker.
    So now, without further ado, here's the first part of Hero's Journey:

    Unexpected Visit

    Cole was frantic. He had just gotten the call an hour ago. A surprise visit from Raj! The Champion was flying up from the Tower, and he was going to test Cole’s team! “Charizard, get yourself warmed up! This is going to be a heated battle! C’mon, get the A-List ready! Athena, head up to the top of the tower! Let’s go!”


    The young man tripped over a rock, stumbled and fell flat on his face. He took a deep breath, stood up, dusted off the legs of his jeans, and surveyed the area.


    The Flare Gym, a small collection of cabins deep within the Autumn Forest, was clean enough. The tower in the middle of the clearing soared high above his head, and many of his pokemon relaxed in the early morning sunlight. Wild fire and flying types could be seen drifting through the red, gold and orange leaves of the forest. Entei and Firekeeper the shiny Absol were out there somewhere, but he didn’t need them for this battle.


    Kami, Cole’s Lucario and second in command, appeared at his side. The blue fox inclined his head slightly. “No, Kami,” Cole said softly. “I don’t need you right now. Just make sure Raj gets here safely.” The Lucario nodded, and bounded off.


    Cole looked at the base of the tower. Charizard was there with Ninetails, Infernape, Solar the Sceptile, and Swampert. Athena, his Victini, was already climbing up the curving tower steps.


    “Well? Get on up there.”


    Cole turned away from his top-tier gym team, and whistled. Masamune, his Samurott, Scathatch, his Zoroark and Thor his Zebstrika, came around the buildings. Faust, Houdini and Ruki, Masamune and Scathatch’s children, followed them with little tottering steps.


    Unlike pokemon raised to battle, Cole allowed these to grow up at their own pace. Ruki had evolved into a Dewott a few months back, but Houdini and Faust were still mischievous Zorua pups. Cole smiled at the sight of them, and crossed his arms in mock severity. “We have an important visitor coming. Best behavior.”


    Scree, his Pidgeot, called out from above. Cole looked up and nodded. That was the signal Raj was close. However, Cole remembered its origin with a pang. That particular cry had been developed in the war against Team Omega to alert the Journeymen and their allies of an approaching enemy.


    Far in the distance, a dark speck appeared. It grew and grew, eventually taking the shape of a Hydreigon. Cole’s own Hydreigon, Tri, roared a challenge, but Cole gave it a sharp glare. The dragon, chastened, lowered its heads in deference.


    Raj descended on his dragon, Mr. Socky. The dragon gave a scary grin in greeting, and Cole shuddered involuntarily. The tanned, bespectacled man on Socky’s back leapt off and grinned at Cole. “Hey! It’s been a while! How’ve you been?”


    “Pretty good,” Cole replied. “How are things at the Tower?”


    “Good, good. Now, let’s cut to the chase. It’s battle time.”

    ***


    They climbed the long steps to the tower. When they reached the top, Cole recalled all the pokemon waiting for him there, except Athena, and shuffled the balls in his hand. “It’ll be a surprise who you go up against.”


    Raj scowled. “I saw Swampert and Solar. One wild card. The rules clearly state…”


    “I know, I know,” Cole replied. “But there’s gotta be some surprise. I’ll only use one, promise.”


    Raj sighed. “All right.” He walked over to the northern dais, and experimentally worked the foot pedals that turned it. “Now, the rules are simple,” Cole explained. “Rotation battle. Four pokemon each. I don’t have a referee, so Kami will fill in.” The Lucario nodded brusquely at the Champion of the Journeymen league. “Shall we begin?”


    “With pleasure. Snowcone, Socky, Medusa, take the field!” Raj cast out the three pokeballs, and from them materialized his Hydreigon, Samurott and Steelix.


    Cole raised an eyebrow. “You should know by now that type advantage alone won’t win you this battle. Ninetails, Charizard, Solar, let’s do it!”


    Ninetails gracefully assumed the position of lead battler, with Solar and Charizard flanking her. The fox howled, and the skies cleared as her Drought ability came into effect. Raj’s eyebrow rose. “Good strategy. Socky, Dragon Pulse!”


    “And that’s just the beginning.” Cole tapped one of the rotation pedals, turning the dais counterclockwise. “Solar, protect!”


    The Sceptile threw up a wall of light, stopping the purple rush of energy. “All right, follow it up with a Focus Blast!” Solar nodded brusquely even as Socky shot a column of flame from his left maw. The orange ball of light struck the fire, and burst through it, striking the Hydreigon down.


    Socky howled in indignation. It was injured, but somehow not down. The creature was tenacious, Cole would give it that. “All right, Flamethrower!” Raj ordered.


    Cole tapped the counterclockwise pedal again. “Charizard, Dragon Pulse.”


    The orange dragon took the fire attack and brushed off the damage. He grinned, baring a mouth full of sharp fangs. A blast of indigo energy issued forth from his mouth. It struck Socky, and this time, the Hydreigon did fall. Raj sighed, and returned the dragon. “All right, Donnie, it’s your turn.”


    He threw out another pokéball, revealing his signature Accelgor. Cole laughed. “You brought a bug type to a fire battle? I thought you were smart.”


    “I always have a plan, Cole. Don’t get overconfident.”


    The fire leader scoffed. “All right, whatever you say. Charizard, Heat Wave, finish it.”


    The sunlight bolstered the power of the already-mighty attack, and the rush of fiery hot air rushed at Donnie. Raj tapped his foot on one of the pedals, and the dais quickly turned. Snowcone, Raj’s Samurott, took the blow.


    Despite the fact that the strike was sun-charged, the Samurott brushed it off like it was nothing. “Snowcone, Waterfall.”


    Snowcone dashed at Charizard, cloaked by a veil of water. Charizard withstood the attack, but only because of the sunny weather. The dragon quickly ate the Sitrus berry it grasped in its claw.


    Cole cringed. “Damn.” He tapped the pedal for a clockwise turn, and brought Solar to the fore. “Energy Ball!”


    Raj too rotated. Donnie leapt forward and used a Bug Buzz attack, which caught Solar off-guard. The super-effective attack brought the Sceptile to her knees.


    “You’re not done yet!” Cole cried. “Come on! Dragon Pulse!”
    But before Solar could move, Donnie launched another Bug Buzz. This time, Solar fell forward, and did not rise. Kami held up a flag, signifying that she was knocked out.


    Cole returned the lizard to its pokéball. “All right, Athena. Time to shine.”


    The Victini leapt from Cole’s shoulder, and took an empty space on the dais. Ninetails rotated to the front. Raj quickly switched to Steelix. “I expected that,” Cole said softly. “Ninetails, Solar Beam!”


    The attack, already charged by the bright sunlight, shot down from the heavens. Medusa took the attack, and retaliated with a Stone Edge. Ninetails dodged, but barely, and attacked with another Solar Beam. This time, Medusa shuddered, it’s steel plating making an unearthly hiss and clatter, and fell to the ground.


    Raj recalled the metallic serpent, and Cole realized he had just gained the upper hand. With Raj’s rock type out of the picture, it would be no problem to deal with the other two in the sun-saturated weather.
    “All right! Ninetails, use Solar Beam on Snowcone!”


    “Snowcone! Waterfall!”


    The Samurott surged forward. Ninetails was knocked out by Snowcone’s brute force before she got a chance to launch her attack. Cole returned the canine, and rotated Charizard to the fore. “Dragon Pulse!”


    “Waterfall!”


    Charizard took to the air, dodging Snowcone’s attack, and then unleashed a Dragon Pulse at the aquatic creature. The Samurott drew back to Raj’s side of the tower, and Charizard landed. It winced at the wounds it had taken in its earlier clash with Snowcone. Cole would have to end this quickly.


    Then, Raj surprised him. He rotated Donnie to the front. “Final Gambit!”
    The Accelgor rushed at Charizard. It glowed with white light, and crashed into the dragon at top speed. Charizard roared in pain, and fell to the ground. Donnie staggered next to it, and fell as well.


    Both trainers returned their pokemon, and rotated the dais to their final battlers. Snowcone glowered down at Athena, but the small fire type bravely glared back.


    “Athena! You know what has to be done!”


    The little creature jumped up high into the air. Electricity crackled around it. Raj scowled. “What’s going on? Is that a Wild Charge?”


    The lightning took on a blue tinge, and flowed up around the creature, becoming an energized comet tail. Athena cried out. “Vic-tini!” Then, it dove at the ground.


    She slammed into Snowcone at top speed, and the explosion of electricity was immense. Cole threw his arm in front of his face as his leather duster flapped in the wind.


    The smoke from the attack cleared, revealing Athena panting slightly over the unconscious form of Snowcone. “What was that?” Raj cried.


    “Fusion Bolt,” Cole replied, a little breathless. “When Athena and I paid a visit to Dragonspiral Tower about a month ago, Zekrom taught her how to use it. We’ve never tried it before, so I’m a little surprised it worked this well.”


    Raj sighed. “Well. You won. Come on, let’s heal these guys up.”

    ***


    The two young men sat outside, on a fallen log Cole used as a bench. Inside one of the cabins, their pokemon were recovering from the strain of battle. “So,” Raj said finally, nursing a mug of coffee. “Have you seen any of the other league members lately?”


    Cole shrugged. “Not since our beach party a few months back. I went flying with David when he was on vacation. I see Becca sometimes when I go to Mistralton or Driftveil for supplies. Oh, and a few weeks ago I met up with Ammy in Undella Town.”


    “Oh, did you now?” Raj said, a teasing note in his voice.


    Cole didn't catch it. “Yeah. She was staying with Cynthia. We hung out on the beach for the day, and then flew over to Nimbasa City. We caught a musical, and then got dinner.”


    “Nice date.”


    Cole blushed. “It wasn’t a date!”


    “It sounds like a date.”


    “It does not!”


    They sat in silence for a time. Finally, Cole took a deep breath. “Raj, before you started the Journeymen, you were going through a crisis, right?”


    “Yeah, man. I lost that spark I had when I first started out. I needed something fresh and new to get me started as a trainer again. So I traveled around, and after meeting all of you guys, I realized that there was more to pokemon than endless battles. There’s a journey involved too, and bonding with your pokemon, developing strategies that work. So I started the league, and well, we all know what happened after that!”


    “Right. But you had to go on a journey?”


    “Yeah.”


    “And find out what your true purpose is?”


    “Sure… I guess you could put it that way…”


    “Well, Raj, I need to go on a journey.”


    The other man smiled. “Really?”


    Cole nodded gravely. “Uh-huh. I haven’t had a true adventure since the war with Omega. And that was eighteen months ago! I need to go off into the world, and rediscover that spark I used to have.”


    “What do you plan to accomplish by this?” Raj asked. If Cole had no goal in mind, he was going to stop him, and prevent him from leaving until he did. Every quest had to have a goal.


    “Keldeo. I made a promise to Athena. I’m going to go and find Keldeo.”


    “That’s not much of a plan.” Raj pushed his glasses up his nose. “Don’t rush blindly into this. Yes, okay, plenty of trainers have gone off on a journey because of rash decisions. But you’re not a little kid anymore, Cole. You need a clear objective. A place to start. And then there’s your gym to think about…”


    “I’ve got a proxy lined up,” Cole replied. “My friend Taylor. I’m leaving a lot of my pokemon behind. He can use them.”


    “And what pokemon are you taking? You still have that special license, don’t you, that allows you to carry more than six?”


    The fire leader nodded. “I do. But… I’m leaving it here. I only want to bring six with me. It just feels right. I’m bringing Charizard and Athena, of course. Along with Masamune, Scathatch, and Thor.”


    “That’s only five.”


    Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Cole shot back. “I know. I was thinking about bringing Kami, but he has to stay here and keep the gym in order. Taylor has his own life, and can only be at the gym on an as-needed basis. He’ll come out to meet the challengers and so on. When he’s not here, Kami will take care of the pokemon.


    “I also considered Shiva, one of my Sceptiles, the one who was with me in Johto. But from what I’ve heard about Keldeo, that’s not the wisest choice.”


    Raj sat back, and took a long swig of coffee. “Oh really? And what, pray tell, have you heard of Keldeo?”


    “Not much,” admitted Cole. “But he makes his dwelling at a place called the Edge of the World.”


    “I’ve never heard of it.”


    “Well, yeah, that’s kind of the point. It’s supposed to be secluded. If people knew where it was then it would defeat the purpose. Athena doesn’t know much about it, because she’s never been there. Only that it’s near one of the poles. It will be really cold, and Shiva doesn’t like the cold.”


    Raj looked pensive. “You realize that ‘near the poles’ is like, hundreds of thousands of miles.”


    Well, yes. But Athena says that it’s an island. So I’d only have to search the areas outside the Artic and Antarctic Circles, because anything over that point would be covered in a sheet of ice. And I only have to look near the oceans. Now, Athena does know a place where we can get more information. It’s in a jungle far south of the Tower of the Ancients, where a monument of the old Pokemon and Human war is.”


    “Keldeo was orphaned in that war,” Raj said softly, recalling the one bit of the Keldeo legend passed down through the years. “And it was raised by the Unova Warrior Trio.”


    “Right. And they built that monument.”


    “Oh! So you’re hoping that information on Keldeo’s whereabouts can be found there!”


    “Yes. And Shiva does like forests. So he’d be useful there. But that would only be a short leg of my journey, and I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.”


    Raj thought for a moment. “Cole, don’t you have a Weavile? I bet it would do well in cold temperatures.”


    Hearing her name, Weavile bounded over from where she was entertaining Ruki and Faust. The black creature blinked up at Cole. “Hey there Maeve,” Cole said, scratching her behind her head. He had named the Weavile after the legendary Seelie Warrior of the North Wind, and sometimes consort of the hero Cuculain. In the Old Stories, Maeve was the most powerful warrior in the Winter Court of the Celtic Fae. “Want to go on an adventure?”


    Maeve nodded. Raj laughed. “Looks like your sixth companion is found. Well, Cole, I won’t stop you from undertaking this journey. It seems like it’s something you have to do. Just… stop by the Tower when you leave. It’s on your way, isn’t it?”


    Cole nodded, and Raj stood up. He walked into the cabin with the recovery equipment. His pokemon called out to him, and he returned Medusa, Snowcone and Donnie, and then mounted Socky. “I’ll see you soon Cole.” Then, the Champion shot off into the encroaching night.


    Cole stood up. It was time to make arrangements for his journey. He would leave on the vernal equinox, the traditional start date of quests in his ancestor’s homeland. That meant he had just over one week to prepare.


    He stared up at the sky. Soon, soon, he would be flying free among those clouds. Flying to his destiny, whatever it was.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 8th June 2012 at 3:18 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Well, it's about time you got a sequel going! Just kidding, but seriously it was a good start. The battle flowed nicely, and the conversation was pretty good. It's too early to really critiaue anything yet.
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    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in thier shoes, that way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away, and you have thier shoes.

    Shiny Expert: Xander
    After Xander loses the Unova League, he gets a mysterious call from Prof. Rowan saying that he must come back and see what he's found. Xander has no idea what's in store for him.

  3. #3

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    Nice a good start, but I can't help but feel you sorta rushed straight into it. BUT as Xander said it's too early and I know that the best is yet to come, good job Feral!

  4. #4
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    Default A Brief Stop

    Cole guided Charizard down on the slopes of Twist Mountain. He hadn’t been here in months, but little had changed. The small cabin was still a shining beacon of light set amongst the unforgiving rocks.

    Charizard deftly navigated down, and Athena clung to his shoulder. Cole suddenly had his doubts about this stop. Surely, it was only fair to tell Her he was leaving, but would She really want to know? Well, he was this close. Better to just see it through.

    The orange dragon landed softly on the rocks just outside the light of the cabin. Cole walked slowly up to its wooden door, his hand poised to knock. He was certain he would not be seen; the light from within would ruin any vision without. The young man peered into the window, hoping not to catch Her at a bad time.

    Inside the cabin’s main room, a young woman was leaning forward, talking animatedly with a young man. He had dark hair and dark blue clothes, and his hand rubbed through the fur of a Glaceon at his side. The young woman laughed at something he said, and then brushed her hand against his.

    They both fell silent for a moment and looked at each other. Then, they started talking again. The thick glass of the window and the sturdy wood walls of the cabin made it so Cole could not hear the conversation, but it seemed rather intimate. Perhaps it was best if he just left…

    Who was he to barge in on Becca when she had done exactly what he hoped she would have? She had new friends now, not just the ones she had made through the Journeymen. Obviously, very close friends. Cole was happy for her, but at the same time a little sad. Though both of these emotions were eclipsed by the pride he felt at being the one who drew Becca out of her rocky, cold shell.

    A growl behind him startled Cole out of his thoughts. Athena hissed, and Charizard moved forward in the darkness. “Hang on,” Cole whispered. “Hang on, it’s just me. Hey there, Ferocity. Oh! And Dracoburn.”

    The Garchomp and blind Charizard stood just outside the light behind him. Cole slowly walked over. “I haven’t seen you guys in so long.” He ran a hand along the ridge of Ferocity’s back. The Garchomp bristled for an instant, but then relaxed as she recognized Cole’s gentle touch. “Looks like you’ve got a few new notches there. But still, you’re looking well. I just came to say hello to Becca. And goodbye. I’m going away for a while, you see. Perhaps a very long while.”

    Dracoburn, the blind Charizard, inclined his head. Cole’s Charizard edged over to his side, and looked sharply at Cole. “Oh, and Draco? I’ve learned something, a little while ago. Apparently… you and Charizard are brothers.”

    Dracoburn inclined his head and growled softly. “He says he has known for some time,” Athena translated.
    “You did?” Cole was a little surprised. “And I suppose Becca knows too. Well… just know that I think of my Charizard as a brother. And if you’re genetic brothers… welcome to the family.”

    He moved forward, and wrapped his arms around Dracoburn’s neck. “I know you can’t see me, but… I’m very, very happy I got to tell you. And it’s nice to know.”
    Dracoburn made a soft growl, which in the tongue of Charizards was the equivalent of a cat’s purr. Ferocity whistled through her fangs. Athena tapped Cole’s shoulder.

    “She says that Becca won’t be satisfied with just a brief goodbye. Even if she’ll never admit it.”

    “You’re right, Ferocity. I’m being stupid. Hang on.” Cole reached into his backpack, and drew out a pencil and a piece of stationary. He quickly wrote a brief letter, folded it, and placed it in an envelope. “Give this to Becca for me.”

    Dracoburn took it in one clawed hand, navigating by the slight rustle of the paper. Cole embraced each of the draconian pokemon in turn, and then walked to his Charizard. “Goodbye, you two. Good flying, sweet hunter, and clear skies, scarred warrior. Give the others my best.” And then he flew off into the night.

    ***

    The next morning, Becca rose early. She walked out of her bedroom to find Matt, her boyfriend, stretched out on her couch, right where he’d dropped off the night before. His Glaceon looked up at her, and blinked. It opened its mouth, yawned, and padded over to her small kitchen, looking for something to eat.

    Becca moved to follow it, but caught a small movement out of the corner of her eye. A flame flickered outside her window. She vaulted over her coffee table and threw open the door. Was Dracoburn hurt? Why was her Charizard lying on her doorstep? Did something happen to Ferocity? Was, Arceus forbid, Team Omega reformed and attacking her mountain?

    Hearing the door open, Dracoburn grumbled softly, stretched, and got to his feet. “Draco!” Becca cried. “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you down the mountain with the others? Did someone ditch you up here? It was Scarr, wasn’t it? Ooh, I’m going to kick his…”

    Dracoburn shook his head, cutting her off. The Charizard held out an envelope. “A letter?” Becca asked. “For me? From who?” Dracoburn simply shook the letter, obviously saying that she should just shut up and read it.

    The Mountain Trainer tore open the envelope and drew out a piece of thick, pale stationary. On it were words drawn in a close, hasty scrawl that looked like a fifth-grader’s handwriting. Becca immediately recognized it as Cole’s from another letter he had sent to her a few months ago, inviting her to his villa in Undella Town. At the time, she had to decline because she had an appointment with Skyla, and besides, she hated the beach.

    She quickly scanned the letter, and began to regret not going to the beach that day. At least then she would have been able to say goodbye. She whispered the words aloud as if to make sure they were real.

    “Becca, I’ve decided to go away for a while. I don’t know when I’ll be back. Hell, I barely know where I’m going. I need to figure out what it means for me to be, well, me. I came to say goodbye, but I saw you had company, and I didn’t want to intrude. I’m sorry. Stay safe. See you again someday. Cole.”

    Becca shook her head. The tears in her eyes were from the mountain wind, or at least she tried to tell herself that. “Oh, Cole…”

    Matt roused himself from the couch. “Becca? What’s up?”

    “Remember Cole? He was here last night.”

    The dark-haired young man got to his feet. “Whoa. I must have been out cold, if I missed the Firebrand. Did he stay long?”

    Becca sighed. “I don’t think so.”

    “You don’t think so?” Matt growled. “What do you mean? Did he rob you? Are you hurt?”

    Becca glared at him. “Cole wouldn’t do that! No, he landed here, but didn’t come in the cabin. He gave a letter to Draco to give to me. And now he’s gone.”

    Matt shrugged. “Well, you’ll see him again. He probably just went to Driftveil City or something, right? He’ll stop by on the way back. Oh, I should totally get an autograph for my little brother…”

    “No, Matt. I don’t know if he’s coming back at all.” She passed him the letter, and Matt read it over.

    “Oh. Becca, I’m sorry. I know he was your friend, but he’ll be back someday. Didn’t you tell me once that Cole is impossible to tie down? Well, this is probably just one of those things. A guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. How about I make us some breakfast?”

    Becca nodded, but her mind was elsewhere, far away, over the mountains.

    ***

    Cole was flying over the Entralink, when he made Charizard stop. The gray dawn light made the world look flat below him, and the trees glistened with a light rain that had fallen the night before.

    “Land down there. Just for a little while.”

    Charizard, understanding his trainer’s intent, obliged. They drifted down through the lofty boughs of the trees. The soft cries of wild pokemon waking up filled the air. Athena peeked out of Cole’s backpack. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

    “I... I have to. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t.”

    They landed on the soft, damp grass, and Cole started his pilgrimage through the trees. He had to reach the deepest part of the forest, where the strange power of the Entralink was at it’s most powerful. It wouldn’t be long now.

    He finally stepped into a small clearing at the heart of the Entralink Forest; far from the field that was it’s center point. In the center of that clearing was a marble stone, perfectly rectangular. It was unadorned, except for a single Victorian letter, an ‘N’.

    Cole knelt down in front of the stone, and laid a hand on it. “I’m going away now. For a while. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I just thought I should probably say goodbye before I left. I’m sure my path won’t be taking me anywhere near Unova for a long time. So… wherever you are, I hope you can hear me, and I hope you’re watching over me. Goodbye, N.”'

    He sat in silence for a moment. The forest around him seemed to fade, the cries of pokemon simply vanishing. A light breeze played through Cole’s hair. “Beee.”

    Cole looked up sharply, and saw a brown creature hovering in the air above N’s grave. “You!” He staggered back, and glared at the Beheeyem. Ghetsis’s Beheeyem. “Why are you here?”

    “Heeeeeyem.”

    “She says that she is the guardian of this place,” Athena translated softly. “She wants to atone for her sins, so she made herself the keeper of N’s grave.”

    “Oh. I’m sorry. And… I should know better. You were under Ghetsis’s control. I shouldn’t fault you for what he made you do.”

    The Beheeyem nodded, and held out one of its hands. There was a flash of light, and a vivid crimson rose appeared, hovering just above its tri-colored fingers. It held it out to Cole.

    The fire leader took it, and laid it atop N’s perfectly geometric headstone. “Thank you.” Then, he lowered his gaze. “Someday, my friend. Someday, I’ll come back.”
    Last edited by Firebrand; 18th July 2011 at 2:34 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Very nice, and touching. I only noticed one grammar mistake. You said Sweet Hunter, instead of Hunting. Minor, but I thought I should point it out.
    3DS FC:0533-4900-6084

    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in thier shoes, that way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away, and you have thier shoes.

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    After Xander loses the Unova League, he gets a mysterious call from Prof. Rowan saying that he must come back and see what he's found. Xander has no idea what's in store for him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xman96 View Post
    Very nice, and touching. I only noticed one grammar mistake. You said Sweet Hunter, instead of Hunting. Minor, but I thought I should point it out.
    No, that was intentional. Cole was calling Ferocity sweet hunter. As in, a nickname.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feralninja View Post
    No, that was intentional. Cole was calling Ferocity sweet hunter. As in, a nickname.
    Ah, thanks for clearing that up.
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    After Xander loses the Unova League, he gets a mysterious call from Prof. Rowan saying that he must come back and see what he's found. Xander has no idea what's in store for him.

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    Love it. I'm really going to need to include this in my fic.
    "Trainer: We would like to invite you to try your hand at a new kind of challenge. The League of Heroes is a league of world-class battlers, with its own set of leaders and elite four members. If you are interested, please mail your invitation to the location listed below with your RSVP and we will send you a map with the locations of our gyms.
    Yours truly, the Elite Four of the NCTH
    Tower of the Ancients, Unova"



    If you challenge our league and are lucky enough to get to me, you have a shot at winning the Mountain Heights Symbol. Credit to Northern Lights for the badge.

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    Very nice! Good flow and I like the visit to N's grave.
    Name: Forrest

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    Default Exit Interview

    And here ends the involvement of the Journeymen, the League of Heroes.

    The Tower of the Ancients loomed up against the horizon. Charizard huffed, flaring out his wings to reduce speed and allow for a smoother landing. He glided to a stop on the flat top of the mesa, cutting his momentum just before he crashed.

    Cole walked slowly up to the large wood and brass doors of the Tower, and took a knocker in his hands. He hit it twice, and a man in a suit opened the opulent portal. “Ah, Sir Cole. The present Journeymen are convening in the Council Chamber. Shall I take you?”

    “No thanks, Hastings,” replied Cole. “I can get there myself.”

    As the young man walked through the halls of the Tower, and up the winding, twisting staircases, he remembered his first time coming to this Tower. He had been exuding energy back then, bursting with excitement that he had been chosen to be a gym leader.

    He had met Mozzeh and David, and become fast friends. He recalled Fire and her large steel types, Metagross and Steelix, blasting down the doors with a Hyper Beam. Nate trying to buy Athena and Charizard off of him, and Athena biting his hand. And meeting Becca, who had seemed so abrasive and mean at the time. And of course, it was the beginning of the brutal war against Team Omega.

    That had been the start of a new chapter in his life. And now, it seemed only fitting that it draw to a close in the same place. He walked up to a large set of ostentatious doors that were rather newer than the rest of the Tower. They had been put in six months ago to replace the ones Fire had blown apart.

    Cole threw them open, and strode confidently into the hall. “Raj, I’m here, just like you ordered.”

    The bespectacled man looked up. “It wasn’t an order. Merely a... request. Still, I’m glad you came.”

    Three other young men were seated at the table with Raj. One looked up and smiled, while the second scribbled at some paperwork. The third abjectly refused to look at Cole, his face twisting into a sneer.

    Cole walked over to the smiling one first. “Hey, Phoenix. It’s been a while!”

    “It has,” Phoenix replied, shaking his hand. “Keeping well?”

    “Yeah, and you?”

    “Oh, I’ve been great. Went back to Sunyshore for a vacation, and now I’m back, albeit a little sunburned. I won’t say where!”

    Cole smiled. Then, he turned to the second young man. “Xander? Hey, Xander? What’s up?”

    The fighting elite four member looked up with a start. “Cole? Cole! How are you?”

    “Well enough. How does the research go?”

    “Well, I’ve been examining various shiny pokemon at the P2 Lab, where I’ve sort of set up. Professor Juniper helped me out, and now I’ve converted it into a sort of preserve for them. I can observe how they interact with their habitat, and if the environment, or specifically, any factors in the aforementioned environment, play any effect in the proteins that govern color in pokemon. In fact, I’m wondering if it’s a spontaneous mutation at all, and a new theorem I have is that it is a highly recessive gene that once engaged—”

    “Whoa. Slow down there. You lost me.”

    Xander smiled. “I know. It’s a lot to take in. I’m sorry.”

    “I know what you mean. I felt the same when I gave a lecture on fire-type physiology at Castelia University. So… you’re at P2 Lab, huh? If you find any NES games, make sure you blow them up. Can’t let them fall into the wrong hands.”

    Xander smiled at the old joke. “I will. Or maybe I’ll send them to Jo. She’s researching the Regis off in Hoenn, you know.”

    “I said don’t let them fall into the wrong hands!” He laughed. “But yeah. She challenged me for the Flare Badge a while back. She barely won, and only because I didn’t use Charizard or Athena.”

    Xander smiled. “She’s set her sights on Champion.”

    Cole turned to the third man. “Nate? How are you?”

    “Humph.”

    The Firebrand sighed. “All right. Well, has Raj told you why I’m here? No? Well, it’s because I’m leaving on a journey. The Flare Gym will be taken care of by a friend of mine. I just need to go back out into the world and make something of myself.”

    Nate sneered. “Yeah, life must be tough when you peak at seventeen.”

    Cole ignored the jibe. “Well, I’ve decided to go look for Keldeo. Make sure he’s safe.”

    Raj nodded. “I’ve given him clearance to go. I don’t know how long this journey’s going to take, but… our league is founded on that adventurous spirit. I could not in good faith deny him his request.”

    Phoenix looked down. “Aw. We’re going to miss you.”

    “Stay safe, Cole,” Xander added. “And come back soon.”

    Nate pushed back from the table. “Are you freaking serious? We’re just going to let him waltz out of here? He has a duty to the league! Okay, sure, he was important in the Omega conflict. Big deal. That doesn’t give him an excuse to just drop everything and go traipsing around the globe. Look, Cole. No one leaves like that without an exit interview.”

    “Let me guess,” Cole sighed. “A battle?”

    “You got it.”

    “Look, Nate, I don’t have time for this…”

    “I don’t care. Crawdaunt, let’s go!” The crimson lobster appeared before him in a burst of light. It clicked its claws and started towards Cole.

    Cole sighed, and glanced at Athena. “We have to get going. End this quickly.”

    Athena jumped up, and began gathering electrical charge. “Oh no,” Raj muttered. “Get down.”

    Xander and Phoenix quickly flipped the solid oak table over, and hid behind it. Athena let loose a cry. “Fusion Bolt!” she screamed in a voice only Cole could hear. She crashed down onto Crawdaunt with an incredible amount of force.

    The smoke from the impact cleared, revealing the water type lying on the ground, unconscious. “What?” Nate shouted. “That’s… That’s cheating! Cacturne, go!”

    “Athena, follow it up.”

    The Victini channeled her power, and let loose a giant pillar of fire that crashed down on the grass type. Cole turned his head slightly, to look at Raj. “Oh yeah. Did I mention Reshiram taught Athena how to use Fusion Flare, too? Because he did.”

    Nate recalled the knocked-out Cacturne. “All right! Enough of this madness! Mightyena! Finish it!”

    “V-Create.”

    “Are you sure?” Athena asked. “We’ve never…”

    “No time like the present. Just do it. He’ll never let us go if we don’t.”

    Purple fire flickered to life between Athena’s pointed ears, and shot at the charging canine. The V grew in size, finally exploding in Mightyena’s face. The wolf yelped and tried to flee, but the damage was done. It staggered, and fell over.

    Athena panted with exhaustion. That last attack had taken all of her focus. Cole walked over and scooped her up, cradling her like an infant. “This interview is over. Goodbye, everyone.”

    “Wait!” someone cried, running in from an adjoining room.

    Cole looked up and was all but tackled by a rhapsody in blue. “Ammy? What are you doing here?”

    “Raj told me you were leaving!” Ammy said between sobs. She wrapped her arms around Cole in a tight hug. “You weren’t even going to say goodbye!”

    “I sent a letter to Lake Verity. It must have just missed you.”

    Ammy clutched Cole’s duster. “I’m going with you! Keldeo is a water type, and they’re my specialty!”

    Cole thrust the water gym leader away. He hoped it wasn’t too roughly. “No. I’m sorry Ammy, but I can’t let you do that.”

    “Why not?” the girl demanded. Her piercing blue eyes matched her entirely blue outfit, from her sky blue top to her navy blue jeans to her midnight blue shoes.

    “Because… I need a new adventure, new companions.”

    Nate looked up. “Listen to him. He’s saying we’re not good enough for him.”

    “No! It’s not that at all! I’ve had some great times with the league! We’ve done so much! But… I need to start this journey by myself, with no one but my pokemon by my side.” Cole put his hands on Ammy’s shoulders. “Can you understand that? I’d love to go adventuring with you, really, I would. Just… not this time.”

    Ammy nodded, biting her lip to keep the tears from flowing. “When will I see you again?”

    “I don’t know. I suppose a year and a day, at the earliest. That’s how long it takes to find a unicorn, at least if the Old Stories are anything to go by.”

    Ammy hugged Cole again, pressing herself close to him. “I’m going to miss you.”

    Phoenix nodded. “We all are.”

    “And I’m going to miss you all,” Cole replied. He had to concentrate on keeping the emotion out of his voice. “More than you could ever fathom.”

    Ammy stood on her tiptoes, and brushed her lips across Cole’s cheek, an incredibly chaste and brief kiss, if one could even call it that. “Come back safe,” she murmured.

    “I will,” Cole replied just as softly. Then, he gently pushed her away again, and walked to the main door of the council chamber. He put one hand on the doorknob. “Goodbye, everyone.”

    And then, he left.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 19th July 2011 at 11:22 PM.
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    Whoa that was one succint ending line. I LOVE the tower of the ancients, let's hope 'Journeymen' does it some justice! You and Xander's character development is ridiculously good at this point. I just get a chuckle knowing that Nate isn't actually as cold or cynical as his character in here makes out. Sad to see the Journeymen won't make an appearance again, but I'm glad I get to carry it on.

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    Default Old Wounds

    They didn’t understand. They couldn’t.

    Cole knew that the other league members would probably think he was selfish, or callous, or simply bored with the league. They probably thought that he felt he was entitled to go off like this. But no, that wasn’t it.

    He needed to go on this journey because soon, everything would change. Like Raj had said, he wasn’t a little kid anymore. He had grown up. Some of his friends had gone off to college. Cole just felt he needed to make something more of himself, and he needed to get away.

    He was sick of going into cities, and being mobbed by a crowd of people begging for the Firebrand’s autograph. He was even starting to think of himself as schizophrenic. There was Cole, the adrenaline junkie with the adventurous spirit, and then there was the Firebrand, the war hero and elite trainer.

    Well, the Firebrand was just going to have to go away for a while, because Cole was back in charge of his own life. He was flying high over the desert plains southwest of Unova. Mesas rose up beneath him, and a herd of Bouffalant kicked up a dust cloud some seven hundred feet below.

    Charizard’s wings caught a thermal, and the orange dragon suddenly rose up on the column of warm air. “Hey,” Cole murmured. “No rush, partner. Slow down a little. We have no deadlines or anything.”

    Charizard rolled an eye back to look at his trainer, then nodded. He banked in a long sweeping turn, cutting his speed. Now they drifted over the great plains of the south.

    Cole sort of half expected to see a group of armored men riding Rapidash to charge by below. It looked so much like a place he’d read about in a storybook. What was it called? Rohan.

    Lacho callad. Drego morn,” Cole whispered, recalling the Sindarin battle cry he’d memorized as a kid. “Hiril, Dunedian.

    “What?” Athena asked.

    Cole smiled as he scratched behind her ear. “It’s Elvish. Well, a form of Elvish.”

    “What’s Elvish?”

    “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you sometime. I’ll tell you all about Frodo, and the One Ring, and Aragorn, and Legolas, and Gimli and Gandalf, and the rest of the Fellowship.”

    “Okay! Sounds cool! What did you say?”

    “Well, it’s a battle cry from the War of the Ring. It means ‘Candle’s light, flee night.’ And the second part is a greeting, which means ‘hail Dunedian.’”

    “I don’t get it.”

    Cole looked out at the horizon. “Well, it’s early yet. Perhaps if I start now, I can get up to the end of the beginning. How about a story, about heroes and quests?”

    “Ooh! Yay!”

    “How about you, Charizard?”

    The dragon snorted a puff of smoke, and then nodded.

    “Okay. Well, I suppose I shall start at the beginning, then.” Cole cleared his throat, and settled into what he called his ‘story-telling voice’. “There once was a hobbit who lived in a hole…”

    ***

    The telling of The Hobbit took two days. Cole couldn’t remember every snippet of dialogue, but he did his best, and sometimes added his own. As he concluded the tale, Athena looked up at him. “But what about that other stuff you told me about? The War for the Ring and the Third Age and…”

    “Oh, that’s not the end. There’s a lot more left to be told. But let’s rest now. Charizard, why don’t you land there?”

    Charizard nodded, and landed on a rocky outcropping. Cole called out his other four pokemon to stretch and eat. Masamune and Maeve walked over to a nearby stream to catch some Basculin, while Charizard and Scathatch worked in tandem to bring down a Bouffalant. Cole, with his vegetarian sensibilities, took out his berry pouch and began to make a sandwich.

    Athena snatched a Sitrus Berry and ran off into the thigh-high grass to eat her prize. Thor stood nearby, cropping stalks with his powerful molars. The Zebstrika eyed Cole as he dipped his head to eat.

    Cole, sandwich in one hand, walked over and ran a hand over Thor’s glossy coat. “How are you, partner?”

    The Zebstrika blew out some air, and shook out his mane. “Cramped, huh?” Thor nodded. “I’m sorry. Hey… you want to get some exercise? I’ll let Charizard take a rest, and ride you. If you’re up for it.”

    Thor nodded, and pranced around, happy. At that moment, Masamune and Maeve returned, bearing three Basculin. Maeve carried two in her claws, and Masamune had the other in his mouth. They were already dead, felled by a quick slash from Maeve.

    Masamune tilted his head back, and the third Basculin disappeared down his throat. With a cough and a slight crunch, he spit out the bones. Maeve laid one of her prizes on a rock, while she cut into the other with surgical precision, removing any large bones.

    Then, she took out several organs, and ate them, still warm with the living flesh. “You know,” Cole said softly. “I could cook the last one. It may taste better.”

    Maeve eyed him, and finally handed the dead fish to Cole. The one-time gym leader procured a flint and pocketknife from his pack, and started a small fire with the dry brush around him, making sure to leave a wide radius of dirt.

    When he went to cut off the Basculin’s head, Maeve hissed, and slapped his knife away. “She says,” Masamune grumbled, “that it is a hunter’s duty to deal with her own prey. Crazy dark types.”

    Cole stepped back, and watched as Maeve darted her dexterous claws out over the fire, and flipped the Basculin over on it’s spit, allowing for an even burn.

    Charizard and Scathatch returned then, dragging a yearling Bouffalant buck. Scathatch sliced into the animal, and she, Charizard and Masamune began to eat from the carcass. Cole realized that the reason Masamune had only eaten one Basculin was to save room for this kill, so it would not go to waste.

    Suddenly without much of an appetite, he offered the rest of his berry sandwich to Thor, who happily snatched it from his palm. Cole had decided to go the vegetarian route when he started his journey at age ten, feeling odd about eating a pokemon who could have been his traveling partner under different circumstances.

    He did not begrudge his carnivorous pokemon from eating meat, but he did encourage them to eat berries or wild fruit if it was a viable alternative. He walked with Thor as the carnivores finished off their meals, and found his feet wandering of their own accord. He picked up Athena from her hiding place in the grass, and placed her on his shoulder.

    “Are we just going to have berries this trip?” she asked.

    “I should hope not. Even the Fellowship tired of journey bread. Or lembas, as the Elves of Lothorien called it.”

    “Huh?”

    “You’ll understand soon enough.”

    He glanced over his shoulder, and saw Charizard crunching the bone from the dead Bouffalant, to suck out the marrow. He swung up onto Thor bareback, and took a fistful of the equine creature’s mane. “Just get us away from here for a bit.”

    Thor nodded, and began to gallop off. The fur on his back was slick like a cat’s, and Cole soon found himself slipping. He wrapped his arms around Thor’s neck, and the Zebstrika eased into a canter. They rode over a ridge of hills, and Cole gasped.

    “Athena, do you remember this place? I thought we skirted it, but…”

    “No, I remember.”

    The three of them came up over the rise, and saw a large crater in the earth, a yawning black maw that revealed a dark cave. Nearby was a compound of squat ferroconcrete structure with silver Ω emblazoned on the sides. They were surrounded by what remained of an electrified barbed wire fence.

    “This was Ghetsis’s fallback base,” Cole murmured. “I thought… I thought that our escape destroyed it.”

    “No, but you did a lot of damage,” Athena said in a rather deep, slightly abrupt voice as Thor whinnied. Cole realized she was translating. “Any signs of life?” she said in the same voice. Then, she snapped to alertness and returned to her own voice. “Oh… uh, nope.” Her ears glowed indigo as she used her psychic powers to sense any life in the base. “Nothing. Abandoned. Not even wild pokemon.”

    Thor nodded slowly, and Athena began to translate. “We should destroy it. That era is over.”

    Soon after, the carnivores joined them, and Cole nodded to Charizard. “We’re going to destroy that Omega base, once and for all, okay?”

    Masamune walked forward. “Allow me to begin.” He created a wall of water that surged down the hillside and swept through the base, weakening the overall structural integrity. Athena ran forward, launching a powerful Fusion Flare that blazed through several outbuildings.

    Taking a cue from the small creature, Charizard and Thor wove together a Thunderbolt and Heat Wave, creating a devastating pillar of energy that tore through the main building of the complex. Scathatch used Night Daze to level a building, and Athena finished the job with a powered-up Fusion Bolt.

    When Cole’s pokemon had finished, nothing remained but a smoldering ruin, a large dark spot on the plains. Cole returned his other pokemon, and mounted Thor again.
    “Now, let’s begin with the Fellowship of the Ring, eh? I’ll begin with a Long-Expected Party.”

    As Thor galloped off, this time saddled, Cole wove together the vibrant tapestry of Middle Earth. “When Mr. Bilbo announced he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton...”

    Thor snorted as they galloped on, across the endless plain.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 22nd July 2011 at 4:26 PM.
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    Very nice. I love the Lord of the Rings referances, and the fact that The Hobbit made it in made me smile.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xman96 View Post
    I love the Lord of the Rings referances,
    Well, it IS a journey through song and story so expect more where that came from.
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    Default Strange Lands

    Yeah, he had seen the shows on TV, and read adventure novels, but nothing could prepare him for the harsh reality. The jungle was hot. Cole had taken off his duster and rolled up the legs of his jeans. And still, he was dripping with sweat.

    Cole was tempted to jump into the slightly green water of the nearby river, except that he had recently spotted three Gyrados surging upstream, surrounded by a school of raging Basculin. It appeared to have been a territorial squabble, and the water had been turned red with their blood.

    Cole sat down against a large mangrove tree and called out Maeve. “Hey, do me a favor?” The Weavile nodded. “Cut into this tree. I don’t want to go around in circles.”
    Maeve flexed her claws, and made a large incision into the tree’s knobby bark. Then, she sat back with Cole. “Weave.”

    Cole almost asked her to use Ice Punch on him. It was that balmy. Instead, he called out Masamune. “Masamune… can you cool me down?”

    The Samurott glared at him. “That might not be a good idea. Most of this heat is humidity. If I doused you, I might make the situation worse. Have you been keeping hydrated?”

    “Yeah. This jungle… it’s really big.”

    “Maybe you should just fly.”

    Cole shook his head. “No. The monument is rumored to have been built from a hillside, and is probably overgrown after centuries of neglect. I’d probably miss it from the air.”

    Masamune shuffled his feet, something he’s been doing since he was an Oshawott. It meant he was thinking about something, but it looked rather funny on a large, imposing Samurott. Maeve chuckled.

    “I’ll ferry you up the river. Charizard can fly in the air with Athena, directly above us to see if they spot something. Since we’d be in the river, they won’t lose sight of us or fear us disappearing into the trees.”

    Cole saw the logic of the plan, and assembled the required pokemon. Charizard and Athena swept off into the clear jungle sky, while Cole, Maeve and Masamune continued up the river. Masamune was a powerful enough swimmer to go completely against the current. The Samurott surged upriver, startling Magikarp out of their routines.

    They traveled in this manner of some time, Athena occasionally calling down how she and Charizard couldn’t find anything. At one point Cole just shouted up, “Look for hills! Or any bumps in the terrain!”

    Charizard peeled off, complying with the request.

    A soft moan made Cole glance at the riverbank. A Dragonair lay in the shallow murk, her blood tingeing the water. There appeared to be bite marks up and down her serpentine body.

    Cole leapt into the river, and swam to her side. The Dragonair hissed at him, and tried to lift her head. She collapsed back, gasping. Cole dug through his pack, and sprayed her with a Hyper Potion. The dragon-type writhed as the stinging sensation came into contact with her injured body. But despite the medical treatment, her wounds would not heal quickly.

    Cole bent down to inspect the bite marks. “Looks like Basculin. No… wait. Not enough spacing, and the cuts are too big. Seems like there are other scratches too…” He dug out his long-neglected Pokedex, and thumbed through several menus. “Ah. Carvanha. It’s not unheard of for them to come upriver, but still… it’s rather far from the ocean.”

    “Cole,” Masamune growled. “Carvanha sometimes injure prey and leave it weak, to assist in the kill later. We may be in terrible danger.”

    Cole cracked his knuckles. “I’m not going to let a defenseless pokemon die.”

    “It’s the nature of life. Death nourishes the living, and in turn the living go to the earth.”

    “I’m a vegetarian.”

    “I don’t see how…”

    “I know, I know,” Cole interrupted. “Not one of my best snappy one-liners. Still, Dragonair aren’t really Carvanha’s standard diet. I’m just going to preserve the natural order.”

    Masamune rolled his eyes. “You probably expect my help.”

    “And Maeve’s. Get ready, I see something from downstream. C’mon, Masamune, help me get Dragonair out of the river.”

    With the Samurott’s help, Cole was able to move the injured dragon, and then stood in front of her, his fists balled. The surging river erupted into a school of about twenty Carvanhas.

    Maeve surged forward, and slammed her clawed fist into the first Carvanha, in a mighty Brick Break. The fish’s Dark-typing did nothing to help it, and it fell. The Weavile hissed as its Rough Skin ability came into effect.

    Cole kicked at one of the red fish that leapt at him. Masamune struck with his horn. Maeve switched between Brick Break, Poison Jab, X-Scissor and Ice Punch. Cole noted that she was only effect by Rough Skin about half the time she attacked. Still, it was weakening her…

    “Maeve, fall back!”

    The Weavile nodded brusquely, slashed at another Carvanha, and then jumped to Cole’s side. Cole quickly sprayed her with a Hyper Potion, and then surged further into the surging river. “Protect Dragonair!”

    Then, he punched a leaping Carvanha. The instant before his fist made contact; the fish changed its aerial trajectory and fell back into the river. “How did it do that?” Cole hissed. Then he remembered a report he heard from the elder Professor Juniper, about how many pokemon were developing secondary abilities. The report had included a list of confirmed pokemon and abilities. He recalled that Poochyena were becoming Rattled, and Ponyta were developing the Flash Fire trait. His Ninetails was not alone in its Drought ability. Was Carvanha on that list?

    It was, he recalled. And its secondary ability was… Speed Boost.

    “Masamune!” Cole shouted. “We have to end this, now! Get out of the water!”

    The Samurott complied without question, leaping onto the bank. Cole did likewise, tossing out a pokéball. “Thor, Discharge in the water!”

    The Zebstrika landed gracefully, and began to gather it’s electrical charge. It released a large field of electromagnetic energy into the water, shocking the Carvanha and disrupting their navigation ability. The savage fish began to crash into each other, shrieking and crying out. Cole recalled Thor as the Carvanha fled.

    The one-time gym leader knelt at Dragonair’s side, the blue serpent gasping for breath. Cole knew that he did not have sufficient medical supplies to heal the creature, and he wouldn’t let it die here. He pulled out a pokéball, one of the few he had brought on this trip. He dusted it off, and pulled out a sheet of paper. He hastily scrawled a note saying that this Dragonair needed medical attention, and that as soon as it was well, it was to be released.

    Then, he tapped the dragon with the pokéball, and waited as it shook. The Dragonair was too weak to break free, and the ball locked. Then, there was a flash of light as the ball was transported to Oak’s lab in far-away Kanto.

    Cole shivered. He hadn’t caught a pokemon in over a year. It was strange to think that he had just caught the Dragonair. But then, he really hadn’t. He had used capture as a means to an end. The Dragonair would have died if he hadn’t done anything. Now she would have a pokemon expert to treat and rehabilitate her.

    Cole nodded to Masamune and Maeve. “Let’s keep going.”

    ***

    After another three days of searching, Cole finally came upon the first structure he had seen since the Omega Base. It was an ancient stone citadel, carved out of a hillside. The marble walls seemed to shine in the dawn light. He drew closer, startling a small group of Butterfree from the ruins.

    All along the walls were glyphs, carved in Unown script. Cole tried to decipher them, but the words did not make sense. They were likely written in an ancient tongue that had been lost.

    There was a long avenue carved of cobblestones that led up to a large complex. Intimidating statues of pokemon lined the walk; in the way Mesozoic man must have viewed them. Cole saw a very intimidating Charizard, a regal Haxorus, an elegant Sawsbuck, a bold Fearow. The statues seemed to glare down on him and his pokemon.
    Cole pulled out a disposable camera and snapped a few pictures, first of the statues, then the architecture, and finally snippets of the wall writing. When he returned from his journey and had these developed, he would send them to Jo, a friend of his who was also an archeologist. She could make sense of them.

    Athena glared at a large opening in the citadel walls. “This way!” And the Victini bounded off into the darkness. Scathatch followed closely behind, slipping into the chasm with ease. Masamune, Charizard and Thor would not fit, so Cole recalled them. Then, with Maeve at his side, he ran after his two pokemon, into a dark labyrinth of tunnels.

    If Athena had not used fire to light her way, Cole would have been lost. As it was, he was left to chase her down by the ambient glow and the clicking of Scathatch’s claws on the stonework. These caverns were also decorated with elaborate friezes on the wall, but it was so dark Cole could barely make them out.

    It took a while for Cole to realize he was traveling downhill. Maeve darted along next to him, and from the way she was acting, Cole knew the air was getting danker. The Weavile hated closed-in spaces like caves and buildings, preferring the wide-open expanses of the great outdoors. She also loved clean mountain air, and the fact that she was glancing around nervously was all Cole needed to know the air was growing stale.

    Then, the ambient glow from Athena vanished, and the rapid scratch of Scathatch’s claws faded into echoes. Maeve stopped dead, and shivered. “What’s going on?” Cole demanded.

    Maeve shook her head and shrugged, then scratched out three letters on the dirt floor with her foot. B-A-D.

    Cole was at first impressed his pokemon could spell, let alone write. Then, he was worried at the danger his two companions were in. “We need to hurry.”

    He and Maeve bolted off, hurtling down the passageways. In the darkness, Maeve seemed to know exactly which way to go. Cole later found out that it was because Scathatch had made a claw mark on every turn she had made, and Maeve had been tracking those from the start.

    The Weavile led Cole into a darkened room. From the way his footsteps echoed, Cole knew instinctively that it was massive, bigger than even the Great Hall in N’s Castle. He called out Charizard, Masamune and Thor. “A little light, please?”

    Thor illuminated his mane, and Charizard made his tail fire as bright as possible. But even with these dual light sources, the cavern Cole was in stretched out far beyond visible range. Somewhere high above was a vaulted ceiling, and Cole couldn’t see the other walls or the far side of the room.

    “Moria,” he gasped.

    Masamune glanced at him, and then nodded, getting the reference. Cole had finished telling them the tale of the War of the Ring up through the end of The Two Towers. “Perhaps we should guard against any Balrog.”

    Charizard growled at the Samurott, recalling Gandalf’s warning not to speak its name. Cole moved to the near wall, and placed a hand on it. “Charizard, bring your tail over here.”

    The orange dragon did so, and Cole’s suspicions were confirmed. The entire wall was covered in Unown script. It was as if an entire saga was carved into the cold granite.

    “Thor, stay where you are. Charizard, I want to fly do a fly around; see if this continues all the way. Scathatch and Athena can’t be far.” He snapped a quick picture of the script, though it was indecipherable.

    Charizard swooped up into the still, stagnant air, and carried Cole slowly out and around the room. Cole guided the Charizard up to the room’s ceiling, and made a quick estimation. It was about a hundred and fifty feet above the floor!

    And indeed, the script continued all over the walls, but stopped at the arched ceiling. Cole took a few more pictures, before landing Charizard on the other side of the room, about the length of three football fields. “Wait there.”

    Then, his foot struck something, and there was a strange sloshing sound. “No, hang on. Charizard, what is this? Man, what I wouldn’t give for Kali’s eyesight right now…”
    Charizard swept his tail over where Cole stood, and the young man fell back with a cry. He had stumbled into a stone vat of oil, which ignited as Charizard’s fire passed over.

    It illuminated more than the dragon’s fire could, and revealed a granite portal set in the wall exactly opposite where Thor stood. “Hey!” Cole shouted. “Get over here! Athena and Scathatch must have gone this way!”

    Maeve, Thor and Masamune hurried over across the smooth stone floor. Masamune was humming something under his breath.

    “What was that now?” asked Cole. “Sounds familiar…”

    “In the Hall of the Mountain King. It seemed fitting. I heard it on your iPod. The Epica version from The Classical Conspiracy.”

    “I didn’t know you like Wager.”

    “It's not Wagner, it's Grieg. And it's not from the Ring Saga, it's from Peer Gynt. But I do like Wagner very much. And Mozart. Vivaldi, as well. I dabble in Bach, though not as much as the others. As for a more contemporary, I do enjoy Hans Zimmer. His work on the Luxray King, Inception, and Pirates of the Sevii Islands was excellent.”

    Cole gaped at his Samurott. “I… I didn’t know you liked music. And such good taste…” Better than mine, he thought a little ruefully.

    Masamune tossed his head. “Of course. Now, shouldn’t we keep moving?”

    Cole nodded dumbly, and followed behind. It seemed to be a day of revelations. First, Maeve could spell. Now, Masamune liked classical music. What next? Would Charizard pick up viola? Or Scathatch become an artist?

    Then he realized something. The stones that made up this citadel or monument or city or temple or whatever were marble at the top, and then granite under the ground level. And neither of those stones was native to this area. The closest place to find marble was Driftveil, and granite on the Great Plains. So how had it gotten here, and in such large quantities?

    Then, he noted that the passage they were in now was a large vein of sandstone with smooth, blank walls that gave off a rosy orange glow in the light of Thor’s mane and Charizard’s flame. Sandstone was native to the area, at least some miles under the earth. What was going on here?

    Then, the passage ended abruptly in a small, well lit room. It was not much bigger than the largest cabin at the Flare Gym. Fires crackled on wall-mounted torches. Athena and Scathatch sat in the middle of the room, staring at a strange obsidian fixture on the wall. It appeared to be a gateway arch, but it led straight into the wall. A door to nowhere.

    “Athena?” Masamune growled softly, his voice heavy with apprehension.

    Scathatch turned and slunk to Masamune’s side, brushing up against her mate. Athena looked at Cole with scared eyes. “I… I just felt I had to come down here. Scathatch followed me to keep me safe. I’m scared. That gate scares me.”

    Cole picked her up, and looked around the small chamber. “I guess this is the end of the line. The architecture here doesn’t look like the other ancient structures I’ve seen. The Tower of the Ancients, the Ruined Fortress, even the tower at the Gym. Those were pretty utilitarian, but these seem to have been built for beauty. And with stones from far away…”

    He laid a hand on the obsidian gate. There was a rush of wind, which was impossible this far underground. A blinding light flashed, and the torches went out. Cole’s pokemon gathered around him, and Scathatch hissed out a challenge.

    A light appeared from the gate, shockingly white. Cole squinted as he tried to make out the source, but to no avail. And then, his right foot moved forward of it’s own volition. Then, his left, and then his right again. He was moving ever closer to the strange stone gate.

    His pokemon were the same, inching steadily closer. “Guys! Get back!” Cole cried.

    “We’re trying!” Masamune roared.

    Maeve hissed and spat and clawed at the air, trying to dispel an imaginary enemy. Scathatch pressed closer to Masamune, seeking solace in that simple touch. Charizard flared his wings to try and protect Cole, while Thor struggled as though resisting a bridle. Then, they all stepped through the blinding white light. There was a roar, a sharp hiss, and a second rush of wind.

    Then everything was still. Absolutely still.


    A cookie for anyone who can remember what story that last line comes from.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 24th July 2011 at 6:58 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Default Dread Wizard

    It was cold, startlingly cold. Cole’s hands groped in his pack for his duster, and then he rolled down the legs of his jeans, trying to conserve his body heat. He realized his hiking boots were buried in a thin coating of snow. Looking at the rocky terrain around him, he assumed he was in the mountains, where the spring thaw had not yet happened.

    Charizard moved closer to Cole, trying to keep the young man warm. Maeve tasted the air and sighed happily. Cole recalled his other pokemon, and placed Athena on his shoulder. Then, he turned around to try and go back to the ruins. He was greeted with another obsidian gate, but this one didn’t respond to anything he did. It only led straight into the rock face.

    Cole hammered on the gate for a solid twenty minutes, trying to return. He was in no place he recognized. Perhaps he had gone through a tunnel that put him in the highlands south of the jungle. Perhaps he was near the South Pole, and this journey would be over faster than he thought.

    Then he realized he couldn’t feel his toes, and his fingers were turning red, obvious signs of frostbite. He needed to find shelter fast. Cliff walls rose up around him, and the only way to go was straight ahead.

    Maeve ran before him, scouting out the area. After plodding along for about fifteen minutes, Cole began to hear music, played from a flute. He felt invigorated, and began to run through the snow, Charizard following quickly.

    He came to an opening in the canyon, and saw an old man sitting on a rock. There was an Abra sleeping next to him. The man finished playing his flute, and then began to sing in a cracking voice, “An old man by the seashore, at the end of day, gazes the horizon with the sea wind in his face. On a storm tossed island, seasons all the same, the anchor lies unpainted by the ship without a name. Sea without a shore for the banished one unheard, he lights the beacon, lights at the end of the world.”

    Cole stepped forward as the man continued. “Showing the way, lighting hope in their hearts, the ones on their travels, journeys from afar.” The young man felt as though the man was speaking directly to him, and yet he had not acknowledged his presence. “This is for long forgotten, light at the end of the world. Hori-zon crying the tears he left behind so long ago.

    “The albatross is flying, making him dream. Of the time before he became one of the world’s unseen. The princess in the tower, the children in the fields. Life gave it all, an island of the universe.”

    “Sir?” Cole whispered hesitantly. The old man paid him no mind, merely folding his hands over his white beard.

    “Now his love’s a memory, a ghost in the fog. He sails one last time, saying farewell to the world. Anchor to the water, the seabed far below, wood under his feet and a smile beneath his brow…

    “This is for long forgotten, light at the end of the world. Horizon crying the tears he left behind so long ago… so long ago…”

    The old man tapped out a small rhythm on his knee to conclude the song. Then, he looked at Cole with piercing blue eyes. “Well, come on then, foolish lad. Don’t stand there in the cold.”

    “It’s Gandalf!” Athena whispered. Cole had to agree. The man wore a white cloak, had a white beard, and the same eyes. There was even a carved ash walking stick lying against the rock beside him.

    “Gandalf?” the man laughed. “Hardly.”

    “You can understand her?” Cole cried.

    “Of course, lad. Now, come to my home, for I can see you are cold.” The old man turned to his Abra. “Newton, can you take us?”

    The Abra nodded. “Aaaaah.” There was a quick flash and a feeling of vertigo, and then all of a sudden, Cole was in a wood cabin with a crackling fire. The old man went to a rack of wood by the fireplace and threw on two logs. Then, he went to a small wood-burning stove and set a kettle on to boil.

    “Sir?” Cole asked hesitantly. “Just who are you?”

    The man glanced over his shoulder. “Name’s Prospero.”

    “Like from The Tempest?” Cole asked with a smile.

    “Yeah. Everyone says that. ‘From The Tempest?’ Bah!”

    “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend.”

    “No matter. Just call me Magnus.” The man turned and pulled two mugs out of a cupboard.

    “Not ‘the dread wizard, master of a full poor cell’?”

    Magnus turned and smiled. “Ah, you know your classics, boy! How about this one?” He cleared his throat. “He who stands by my side is my brother, and I will die among my brothers this day.”

    “Henry V.”

    Magnus smiled. “I think I’m starting to like you, boy. Why’d you come out here to the Sinjoh Ruins?”

    Cole sat bolt upright. “Is that where I am?” His mind was racing. The Sinjoh ruins were very far north, located on the Johto side of a small land bridge that connected the Tojoh Continent with southwestern Sinnoh. That was halfway around the world from where he’d been this morning! Still, it made sense that it was darker here, but Cole’s C-Gear read eleven o’clock, just like Magnus’s wall-mounted analog. So he had traveled twelve time zones in a heartbeat…

    Magnus raised an eyebrow. “You seem surprised. But the Sinjoh ruins are the only reason anyone would come out here.” The kettle started to whistle. Magnus leapt up, showing remarkable dexterity, and jumped to the stove.

    He poured a steaming liquid into the two mugs, and pulled out a pokéball. “Miranda, take this to our guest please.”

    There was a flash of light, and a Liligant appeared. She took the second mug and brought it to Cole. Then, she moved to a small flowerpot on the windowsill, and began to water it with a tiny tin watering can.

    Cole took a tentative sip. “This is delicious!”

    Magnus smiled. “Hot chocolate, made from milk, with some melted peppermint. A special family recipe. Perfect for a cold day in the mountains.”

    If you had told Cole, who earlier today had been in a humid jungle far to the south, that he would be drinking hot chocolate in the mountains later, he would have laughed. But now…

    “You have a Liligant. Those aren’t native to this hemisphere.”

    “I traveled quite a bit in my youth. Ariel is good at keeping the place in order. It’s Caliban you have to watch out for. Miranda, where’s Caliban?”

    There was a clatter from an adjoining room, and a bundle of what appeared to be white fuzz shot out, whizzing around the room. “Caliban!” Magnus roared. “You’ll be pinched for this!”

    Cole smiled. Magnus took his namesake seriously, naming two of his pokemon after Prospero’s island companions. He wondered if there was a pokemon named Gonzalo hiding out somewhere. Magnus returned the Whimsicott to its pokéball, and sank back in an easy chair. “So tell me, traveler. How did you come to be here?”

    “Cole. My name is Cole.” The young man sighed. “I don’t really know how. You probably won’t believe me but… this morning, I was far south of the Unova region, in a jungle. My pokemon and I were exploring some ruins, looking for a clue about Keldeo. We went far underground, and found a chamber with what looked like a gate. The gate lit up, and sort of… sucked us in I guess. The next thing we knew, we were here.”

    Magnus smiled. “Ah. You found the Ancient Gates. Yes, it has been some time since they were last activated. You’re looking for Keldeo, you say? The pokemon that lives at the Edge of the World? Well, you won’t find it by flying there. You’ll have to pass through the Gates.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Boy, you don’t get to be my age without learning a few things.”

    Cole scowled. “I never heard of these... Gates. And I’ve met with some of the most prolific archaeologists alive, and I’ve made a study of ancient architecture. So how is this new to me?”

    “Because the Gates only show themselves to those who are worthy, and at the right time,” Magnus replied. “They’ll take you to where you need to be, even if it takes a while. Now, rest here for the night. Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the ruins, and then we can figure out where you go next.”

    “But I don’t really…”

    “Boy, if you came all this way, you should at least see the only thing in these mountains.”

    ***

    Because Cole still was operating on Unova Standard Time, he was not tired. To him, it was midday, while for Magnus it was the middle of the night. He and Athena lay awake on a sleeping pallet in the main area of Magnus’s cottage.

    Finally, they dropped off into deep, dreamless sleeps. They awoke some time later as Magnus bustled about the kitchen, preparing a quick breakfast. The gray dawn light of the mountains flickered trough the window.

    Magnus smiled. “Ah, you’re awake! Good! Here, take these,” he said as he pushed a pair of worn leather boots to Cole.

    “The boots I have are fine.”

    “For trekking through foothills and forests, sure. But they won’t do any good in the snow. Can’t have you getting frostbite.”

    Cole grudgingly put on Magnus’s old boots, and ate a quick breakfast with the man. He introduced him to Athena, and the old man’s blue eyes lit up when he saw the legendary pokemon. Athena took an instant liking to him.

    Magnus led them out of the cabin and down a short, winding trail to a cave hewn from the rock face. It was decorated with megalithic art of Dialga and Palkia on each side, and an Origin Form Giratina on top. The Giratina was flanked by what appeared to be renderings of Lugia and Ho-oh. Everything was very geometric, with distinct angles and planes.

    The old man in his white cloak led Cole into the building and lit a torch mounted on the wall. He used the torch to ignite several braisers around the altar.

    Cole examined the circular etchings on the floor, which appeared to be an artistic rendering of the signature patterns of the Sinnoh Trio. They formed a triangular shape, with a large gap in the middle.

    “It was said,” Magnus murmured, “that Arceus appeared here in ancient times to guide the first people from Sinnoh into Johto. And he would continue to appear here in times of great need.”

    “Arceus won’t be appearing anywhere for a long time,” Cole whispered back.

    “You speak as though you know Him.”

    “I do.”

    Magnus raised an eyebrow. “You’re no ordinary trainer, are you Cole?”

    Cole shook his head. “Does the term Firebrand mean anything to you?”

    “No. Why?”

    Cole breathed a sigh of relief, though he wasn’t sure why. It was nice to have a chat someone who didn’t expect him to be a war hero. “Oh. No reason.”

    Magnus smiled wanly, and walked up to the altar. The patterns on the ground glowed slightly as he passed. Cole let out a strangled cry. “Don’t worry about it,” Magnus admonished. “They always do that. Some primitive mumbo-jumbo. Come on, there’s something you need to see.”

    He led Cole to an alcove across the cavern, dominated by shadows. He laid his hand on the wall. “This should have been where you needed to come.”

    Cole realized with a start that this was one of the obsidian Gates. But this one had crumbled somehow, it’s top fallen off and the stonework chipped. “What do I do now?”

    Magnus shook his head. “I’m afraid you have no choice but to go over the mountains, into Sinnoh. There are several gates there, gates I remember from my own journey through them. There is one near the Oreburgh entrance of Mt. Coronet. If you follow this path through the mountains, you will arrive near Canalave City. I’ll have Caliban guide you.”

    “Thanks, but I can just fly on Charizard.”

    “I wouldn’t,” Magnus replied sternly. “The wind currents through the mountains, especially at this time of year, are treacherous. You may end up dashed on the slopes. No, better you travel on foot. It will take longer, but it is far safer.”

    Cole nodded. “All right. We’ll set out immediately.”

    The old man placed a hand on Cole’s shoulder. “Newton, my Abra, can get you a fair distance away.” The yellow creature appeared at his side with a slight pop. “From there, Caliban will guide you to Canalave City.”

    “Thank you.”

    Magnus fingered Caliban’s pokéball. “Cole, before you leave… I have a question. It's customary for a traveler to be asked a riddle before each leg of his journey. You know this, correct?”

    Cole nodded. “Of course. Ask away.”

    “What’s more important? The body? Or the soul?”

    The younger man paused for a moment, considering the question. “It depends on who you ask. Someone who is terribly ill or hurt will say the soul; because when they die they will be released from pain. But a man about to die for the sake of his spirituality will say the body, because he realizes how terrible it will be to lose it, and the fragility of his mortal shell.”

    “Good answer. Newton, take them away.”

    There was a rush of air and a feeling of vertigo as the Sinjoh Ruins fell away.


    Author's note: Magnus's song is actually The Islander by Nightwish.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 26th July 2011 at 6:51 PM.
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  17. #17

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    This may sound harsh from someone who has praised your work for a while, but I can't help but feel this fic is acting as a device to demonstrate your literary knowledge. I feel it would work better if the references were subtle and not paid any heed most of the time, especially the LOTR stuff (and not just because I don't get it) - it seems a bit hastily thrown in for filler if I'm perfectly honest. Just sayin'

  18. #18
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    Default

    I can see what you mean, but keep in mind that this is very much the beginning. The LOTR stuff was to help set the adventurous tone, and each character sort of represents a different literary or musical trend, and that representation reflects the world around them. Magnus, for example, represents classic literature and imposes that aura to the world (for example, having pokemon named after shakespearean characters, historical figures of mythological beings). When I start adding more characters (like crossovers from my other stories) they will add to the story a more modern fantasy twist.
    Music is not represented as much, Masamune being the only good example thus far. He represents the classical, European music, as a counterpoint to the very japanese design of Samurott.
    I have another character planned that will also showcase a different brand of music, and the action will start up very soon. I'm treating this fic pretty much as a sandbox, to try new things in. Once the foundation is in place, the rest will start to become clear.
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  19. #19

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    Well that makes a lot more sense, early days and all, as usual can't wait to see what happens with this idea.

  20. #20
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    Default Chance Meeting

    “You know,” Athena said as Cole picked his way across the rocky mountain pass. “I was thinking earlier.” Caliban, Magnus’s Whimsicott, had left them the evening of the first day, after they had been teleported out of the Sinjoh Ruins valley. They had traveled three more days after that.

    “You don’t say,” Cole replied rather absently. He grinned at Scathatch, who loped alongside. “Alert the presses. Athena’s started thinking.”

    Scathatch barked out a laugh. Athena scrunched up her nose. “Hey! That’s mean!”

    “All right, you. What were you thinking about?”

    Athena spread her arms wide. “We’re the Fellowship!” Cole had finished the Lord of the Rings saga as they traveled, calling out all his pokemon so they could listen. They all had been enthralled by the tale, and all of them were incredibly sad when it ended.

    “There are only seven of us. The Fellowship had nine members.”

    “Well, whatever. Still, it’s easy to figure out. Charizard is Aragorn, Masamune is Boromir, except he’s not dead, and Thor is Legolas, and Maeve is Gimli, you know, because she’s short.”

    “You’re one to talk.”

    “Well, I can’t be Gimli, because I’m Frodo. And Scathatch is Eowina…”

    “Eowina wasn’t part of the Fellowship. She was the niece of the king of Rohan.”

    “But she met the Fellowship.”

    “She met Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli.”

    “Close enough. Besides, there were no other girls, and Scathatch isn’t going to be Smeagollum.” Athena hadn’t understood the concept of Gollum and Smeagol being two personas in one body, so she referred to them as one being with a combined name.

    “So am I Smeagol?”

    “Smeagollum. Say it right. And no. You’re Sam or something. Or you can be Merry or Pippin if you want. Or maybe Treebeard, because you’re tall, and hobbits ride on your shoulder.”

    Cole laughed. “Maybe it’s best if you don’t think anymore!” Athena stuck out her tongue, pretending to be angry. They continued down the mountains, and camped that night in the foothills. Charizard did an aerial sweep, and relayed through Athena that a forest was a few hours journey on foot to the northeast, and he could dimly make out the lights of a city, probably Canalave.

    The Firebrand called out Masamune, and reclined against the Samurott’s body. “I’ve never asked you, Masamune. What do you want to do? In your life, I mean.”

    Masamune blinked in surprise. “Well… I suppose the only thing I want is beyond my reach.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    Masamune laughed sheepishly. “It will sound stupid, I assure you.”

    “No, no! Tell me!”

    The water type sighed. “I… I really want to learn how to play piano. I like listening to all the classical music on your iPod, and want to play it. But I can’t because, number one, I don’t have fingers, and number two, even if I did, my paws are too big.”

    Cole thought for a moment. “You know… I think there is a way you can play piano.” Masamune made a cry of surprise. “Yeah, yeah, hear me out. There’s a big toy store in Castelia City, F. A. O. Schwartz. I’ve seen it on TV. They have this big balcony that overlooks the store, and on the balcony there’s a huge electric keyboard, so big you have to step on the keys to play!”

    “And I could play that!” Masamune said, suddenly excited.

    “Next time we’re in the city, I’ll definitely take you. Athena will like it too, and so will the other younger pokemon.”

    Masamune smiled, and then decided to fall asleep. Cole was sure that he dreamt of giant pianos.

    ***

    The next morning, Cole decided that they were far enough from the mountain currents to fly. He and Charizard soared over a long hilly expanse, surrounded on both sides by raging seas.

    When they passed over a forest clearing, Cole had Charizard land, so they could continue the rest of the way on foot. Cole called out all his pokemon, and they walked along a crystal clear stream that sliced through the dense forest.

    Burmy, Starly, Staravia and Aipom greeted them from the trees, while Buizel, Finneon and Lumineon leapt through the stream. Masamune surged through the water, Athena and Maeve on his back, sending up an iridescent spray.

    Charizard, Scathatch and Thor walked at Cole’s side. Once, Scathatch jumped in abject terror as a Bidoof appeared around the side of a bush. According to Masamune, she had thought it was a much larger, more fearsome opponent. Maeve laughed uproariously that a mere Bidoof could reduce the normally unshakeable Scathatch to a frightened pup.

    Cole remembered his friend Xander telling him about a truly powerful, nigh-on unstoppable Bidoof that had been a part of the Battle of Floraroma Town some years previous. With a smile, he comforted Scathatch, reminded Maeve that any pokemon, even a Bidoof, could become powerful if they worked hard.

    As evening set in, they were still trekking through the forest. Cole didn’t mind, and switched out of the old mountain boots Magnus had given him, into his own more comfortable shoes. As the sunlight disappeared behind the budding trees, Cole and his pokemon began to look for a place to camp.

    Athena squeaked, and pointed to an orange glow in the darkness of the trees. Knowing that probably meant there was a fire, and a campfire at that, Cole recalled Thor and Masamune, because they were not native to this hemisphere. He turned to Scathatch.

    “Do you want to go for an illusion? Or take a rest?”

    Scathatch sniffed, and motioned to her pokéball. Cole smiled. “All right. You’ve traveled a lot these past few days. You’ve earned it.” There was a flash of red light, and the Zoroark disappeared into her pokéball. Athena jumped into Cole’s backpack, leaving him with only Maeve and Charizard accompanying him.

    Cole licked his lips, and approached the campfire. He had been away from civilization a long time, about two weeks, maybe three. He’d lost track of time. But in the back of his mind, Cole hoped he wouldn’t be recognized as the Firebrand, by whoever these people were.

    As he approached, he saw that it was indeed a roaring, crackling campfire. Around it sat seven people, all about his age. Three were female, and the other four were male. Each of them had a pokemon with them, standing attentively at their side or reclining at their feet.

    Cole intentionally stepped on a small branch, making a crack to alert them to his presence. One of the males, who had long, dark hair, looked right into Cole’s eyes. “Who goes there?” The Umbreon at his side bared its teeth, and Cole noted that it’s markings were not the traditional yellow, rather, they were blue. A shiny, then.

    “Um… it’s me. Cole.”

    "Is he a threat?"

    “No,” said a girl sitting next to him. She pushed some hair out of her eyes, pinned it back with a comb, and resumed petting her Pikachu. “Lucian, you really need to stop being so paranoid.”

    Another young man, this one with dark brown hair and eyes that seemed to glow gold in the firelight, smiled at Cole. “Hey there, traveler. Share our fire for a bit.”

    Cole took a seat on the log next to him. Charizard knelt alongside him, while Maeve squeezed in between Cole and the other boy. “Thanks… um…”

    “Nick. Nice Charizard.” He ran a hand through his Flareon’s fur. “Say hi, now.”

    The Flareon made a contented sound, looked up at Cole, and smiled. “Fla!”

    “Thanks. Charizard and I have been through a lot together.”

    The girl sitting next to Nick finished tying her auburn hair back into a ponytail, and scratched her Vaporeon behind its ear-fin. “My name’s Anna. Nice to meet you Cole.”

    Cole smiled back. She reminded him of Ammy a little bit. They both had the same athletic, swimmer’s body, and had a Vaporeon for a companion. Anna’s shirt was blue, adding to the comparison. It also helped that she was rather pretty.

    A girl on the other side of the fire leaned forward. “What brings you out here?” She had a Ralts on her lap. “I’m Kim by the way.”

    Cole shrugged. “I’m just doing a little soul-searching. How far is it to Canalave?”

    “Not far,” said a boy, a little younger than the rest. He sat on the ground, pillowing his head in the soft down of his Staraptor. “The pokemon center was full, so we came out here to camp. It’s maybe fifteen miles away.”

    “That’s a long distance to come to find a campsite!” Cole exclaimed.

    The boy shrugged, a little awkward when lying on the ground. “Eh. Wasn’t a big deal. We like these kinds of places. Oh, and where are my manners. Zephyr’s the name. Pleased to meet you. Want an autograph? You’ll be the envy of women everywhere!”

    The girl with the Pikachu bopped Zephyr on top of his head. “Be nice. And rather, it would repulse women everywhere.”

    “Ah, Lexa, what do you know about what women want? I mean, you’re with Seithios, for Arceus’s sake!”

    “Well, I’m a woman for one,” Lexa replied curtly.

    “And what’s wrong with me?” a young man with blonde curls and coffee colored skin growled, cracking his knuckles. An imposing Rhydon behind him rolled its shoulders back.

    “Uh… nothing!” Zephyr said, trying to save himself from a beating. “Nothing at all! Seithios is great! Awesome! Lexa’s taste is impeccable.”

    Seithios sank back. “Thought so.”

    Cole glanced at the young man. Of the group, he seemed the oldest (but not by much), about Cole’s age. “Seithios, huh? Cool name.”

    Seithios shrugged. “Yeah, I guess it is. We’ve all got kind of strange names. It sort of ties us together.”

    Cole looked around the circle. Except for maybe Zephyr, none of the names seemed too outlandish. Nick took pity on him. “Most of us shorten our names to prevent confusion. My name is actually a lot longer than just Nick!”

    “What is it?”

    “Oh, I don’t use it that much. It doesn’t matter really.” Obviously diverting the point, he nodded to Cole’s Charizard. “Looks like yours has quite a few scars. Have you been pushing him too hard?”

    Cole looked at Charizard, who had curled up on the ground, pretending to sleep. The young man rolled his eyes and mutter, “Faker.” He turned back to Nick. “Charizard and I have been together for almost ten years. Most of those scars are really old. The most recent are from about a year and a half ago. There was some tough fighting back then.”

    Nick nodded in appreciation. Cole breathed a quiet sigh of relief that no one had made the connection to the war with Team Omega. “Wait a minute,” the boy with the Umbreon, the one Lexa had called Lucian, said slowly.

    Damn. Maybe Cole spoke too soon.

    “He said his name is Cole, right? And he’s got a Charizard, right? I heard a coat flapping as he walked by. Someone tell me if he looks familiar.”

    Cole looked across the fire and realized that Lucian’s eyes were milky white with cataracts. He was blind! Perhaps his identity was safe…

    “No. Way.” Anna gasped. “You’re the Firebrand!”

    Or perhaps not.

    “The Firebrand!” Sethios cried. “Man, you are epic. We’re you’re number one fans! We’ve been meaning to take a trip up to the Flare Gym to challenge you!”

    “I think I remember that Weavile from some TV broadcast!” Lexa cried. “Do you have anyone else with you?”

    “Like Darkrai! Or your shiny Absol!” Lucian said, his aloof attitude dropping somewhat.

    “How about Masamune?” Anna asked. “Or Athena?”

    Athena poked her head out of Cole’s bag, hearing her name. “Ooh!” Lexa shrieked. “You’re even cuter in person!”

    Athena jumped down, and strutted over to Lexa and her Pikachu, relishing the attention. Lexa scooped her up and began fussing over the Victini. Seeing no way out of this, Cole called out Masamune, Thor and Scathatch. The Zoroark tried to hide in the form of Cole’s Infernape, but soon dropped the disguise.

    Lucian seemed fascinated with Scathatch, though he admitted it would be a lot cooler if he could see her actually using Illusion. Thor began posturing, looking for the entire world like a warhorse out of the Old Stories. Masamune seemed to enjoy Anna and Seithios making a scene about how strong and powerful he was.

    Nick took Cole aside. “Hey, can I show you something? You’re a fire type expert, right? And an expert on legendary pokemon?”

    Cole nodded slowly. “Don’t tell me you’ve got Moltres. Or Entei. Or Heatran.”

    “No, no. But I’ve got… well, a strange pokemon. It’s a Charizard… kind of.” He pulled out a pokéball from his belt. “Flayme, c’mon out!”

    There was a flash of light, and Cole was rather taken aback. This certainly looked like a Charizard, except that it’s coloration was a few shades lighter, and there were strange, blood red markings on it. He knew from Xander that shiny Charizards were black or indigo, so it wasn’t that. “Nick, what is this?”

    Nick shrugged. “Flayme is… Flayme. He’s a Charizard, sure, and he fights, acts and behaves like one. It’s just his coloration seems unique.”

    Then Cole remembered where he’d seen this before. It was in a report on Mewtwo, who had been rumored to have cloned several pokemon, including the Kanto starters. His original batch was rumored to have had odd markings all over its body.

    “Nick, I think… you have a cloned Charizard. The cloned Charizard. As in, the one Mewtwo made. Where did you find… uh, Flayme?”

    “The Desert Resort. Cole, I… I have amnesia. I woke up in the Desert Resort about three years ago with no idea of who I was, or how I got there. I had no pokemon, no supplies, nothing. I was wandering around aimless, dying of thirst, when I was attacked by a group of Hippowdon. Flayme swooped out of the sky to save me, and carried me to shelter. Then, he decided to come with me.

    “I met my friends shortly afterwards. We’ve been traveling together ever since.”

    Cole whistled for Masamune to come over. “Hey, can you ask Flayme a few questions for me? About where he came from, and what he was doing in Unova?”

    Masamune nodded, and took Flayme off to one side. The clone Charizard and the Samurott talked for some time before they returned. “Flayme says that he too has no memories before meeting Nick. It was their shared amnesia that bound them together. If he was an experiment of Mewtwo’s, or the first experiment of Mewtwo’s, he doesn’t know of it. I also asked him if he knew where the other clones were. Of course, he didn’t know. He just said he wants to be like all other Charizards.”

    Flayme lowered his head, as Cole’s own Charizard came over. He greeted Flayme as he would Dracoburn, a meeting of one he considered an equal. Charizard looked Flayme up and down, and then nodded. He looked at Cole and flared his wings.

    Cole smiled. “Charizard wants to battle.”

    “Really?” Nick asked. “Against Flayme?”

    “Yeah. But here’s not a good place for a fight between fire types. We could set the whole forest ablaze. Tomorrow we’ll get to Canalave City, right? Well, we’ll have our battle there.”

    Nick smiled and rubbed Flayme between the wings on the Charizard’s back. “We can’t wait.”

    Seithios called from the fire. “Hey, Firebrand! Got any stories to tell?”

    Cole shook his head. “Only Old Stories, legends from ancient times.”

    “What about from the Omega Conflict?”

    “I don’t like talking about myself. I could tell you a legend if you want.”

    Kim cocked her head to the side. “Okay. Which one?”

    “Have you heard the story of Prometheus?”

    Lucian shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

    Cole sat on the log, next to Nick. “All right, then. It’s a rather good one, if I say so myself. One of my favorites at least.

    “Centuries ago, before even the Human and Pokemon War, before the One Dragon and the Unova Hero brought life and civilization to the West, humans and pokemon lived separate lives. There was a young man named Prometheus, who lived in a village in the mountains.

    “One day, while out hunting, he came upon an injured Charizard. Not having the heart to end the magnificent creature’s life, he nursed it back to health. He and Charizard became inseparable companions, and the village rejoiced that they could use Charizard’s fire to cook their food. Before this, humans had a great deal of trouble making fire.

    “However, now they were faced with a new problem. They could not keep the fire going. No matter how much fuel they gave the fire, it would soon go out. Arceus did not want humans to harness its power, so he took it away from them.

    “Charizard and Prometheus thought this was incredibly unjust, so together they flew to Mt. Coronet, and from there, the Hall of Origin. They snuck past Arceus, and stole his Flame Plate. Then, as fast as the North Wind, they flew back to their village, and used the power of the Flame Plate to once again bring fire to humans.

    “They spread this fire to other villages, and it did not take long for Arceus to discover who had stolen from him. He descended to deliver Judgment onto Prometheus, but Charizard would not allow his partner to be harmed.

    “The brave dragon fought Arceus, but in the end, he lost. Still, Arceus’s heart was touched by the bond Charizard and Prometheus shared, and he allowed humans to continue to possess the power of Fire, and he worked to bring the worlds of people and pokemon closer together.

    “The end.”

    “Where did you hear that story?” Lexa asked.

    Cole thought for a moment. “Celestic Town. I learned a lot of stories there, actually.”

    Anna looked at her friends. “Sine we’ll be in Sinnoh anyway, we should probably go there. How about a song?”

    Nick smiled. “Sure. Who wants to sing tonight?”

    Anna shrugged. “I’ll do it. I proposed it anyway. Since Cole talked about the Ancient Times, I’ll sing an Old Song from my hometown, Iccurius City.”

    She cleared her throat and then began to sing in a clear voice, “Riddler can you ask me why the birds fly free in the endless sky. Ask me whither the wind goes hence, and the endless stream beings. Make me guess if the earth is round, set a guessing of fantasies all unbound. If tales aren’t just for children to see, that it’s peace and sleep will walk with me.”

    She pushed her hair back and took a deep breath. “All mothers beneath the earth and sky hold their children’s hands for a while, but their hearts forever, yours and mine.”

    Lexa forced back a sob as Anna continued. The other members of their group all looked down at their feet. “I wonder what’s the meaning of life. What’s the use to be born then die? Make me guess who’s behind the mask of the gods above. So I’ll wish, for the kingdom to come, to know the answers you think dwell in wisdom’s sea.”

    Kim murmured, “I remember the last part.” She and Anna began a duet. “Sweet ignorance is the key to a poet’s paradise. Challenge the Riddler and you will see.”

    Seithios turned away. “I think that’s enough for now. Good night everyone.”

    The rest of his group nodded, and began to prepare their bedrolls. Cole wondered what caused the sudden change in attitude, and suspected it was the song line about mothers. He too felt a twinge, but that was snuffed out by the wave of weariness he felt as he laid down.

    He pillowed his head on Charizard’s warm flank, while Maeve reclined against him. Athena curled up in the crook of his arm. In moments, Cole sank into a deep, dreamless sleep.


    If these characters aren't familiar to you, then you haven't read Blazing Heart. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame.
    Also, Anna's song is The Riddler, by Nightwish.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 28th July 2011 at 6:01 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Default Fool's Errand

    “We’ll get you out of here, you just have to trust us,” James said as he, Jessie and Meowth sat with Cole at one of the inn tables. They had closed the inn for business, so they would not be interrupted. Sin and Lisana sat nearby.

    “Sorry, I just have a hard time trusting criminals, reformed or not.”

    Meowth jumped up onto the table and grabbed Cole’s shirt. “Look. We’re gonna help ya. And you’re gonna get outta here, and call in the cavalry. It pains my heart, but you’re the only one who can do this. So you’re gonna suck it up and let us go to work.”

    Cole nodded. “Al right. I guess public disruption is what you do best.”

    Jessie grinned. “We’re not the glorified speed bumps you faced back in Saffron all those years ago. We’ve learned a few tricks.”

    Sin stood up. “When do we move?”

    James smiled. “Midnight. Be ready.”

    ***

    A curfew had been imposed on Fortree City. Cole, Lisana and Sin crept from shadow to shadow, trying to avoid being spotted. They padded up to the last gap before the eastern barrier. Cole checked his Xtransceiver. “Three minutes to midnight. Be ready.”

    Chifumi made a muffled cry on Sin’s shoulder. The younger man treated her in the same way Cole did Athena, never making her wait in a pokéball. Cole scanned the trees and barrier.

    Several grunts walked along its length. They would have only one shot at this, and needed to make it count. A rustling made Cole snap to attention.

    “Here they come,” hissed Lisana.

    James and Jessie leapt from the trees. “Prepare for trouble, dropping in from the skies!” Jessie called.

    “From beyond the stars a nasty surprise!”

    Jessie theatrically covered one side of her face. “A force as old as the galaxy!”

    James procured a rose from somewhere. Cole was impressed by the sleight of hand. “Sent to fulfill our destiny!”

    “To protect our home from devastation!”

    “To unite all peoples within our nation!”

    “To support the cause of truth and love!”

    James lifted his hands high, revealing that he held several pokeballs. “We extend our reach to the stars above!”

    “Jessie!”

    “James!”

    “Anywhere there is evil in the universe!”

    “Let Team Rocket be the name they curse!”

    “Team Rocket, coming at you at the speed of light!”

    “Surrender now or prepare to fight!”

    “Meowth, that’s right!” The feline had snuck around and clobbered a grunt with a length of pipe.

    Cole allowed himself a grin. “They certainly have been working on the motto.”

    “Go!” James cried, throwing out his pokeballs. “Cacturne, Carnivine, Chimecho and Mime Jr.! Go, Weezing!” Then, he cried out again as one of the energy pulses reversed its trajectory, clamping down on his head. “Carnivine, fight them, not me!”

    “James, stop playing around!” Jessie shouted, throwing out her pokemon. The resulting flash revealed her Arbok, a Seviper, Dustox, Yanmega and her Wobbuffet. “All of you! Attack!”

    The pokemon surged forward as the grunts hastily called out their pokemon. “Yam yam!” Yanmega droned, unleashing a wave of Sonicbooms.

    A Camerupt launched an Overheat at James’s Cacturne. Jessie physically threw Wobbuffet in front of it. “Mirror Coat you sentient obstacle!”

    Wobbuffet glowed red, redirecting the attack back at the grunts. Cacturne leapt over the blue pokemon, smashing a Needle Arm into an approaching Sharpedo.

    Mime Jr. danced around a Tentacruel, tangling up its tentacles. The giant jellyfish shrieked in outrage, but Dustox put it to sleep. Seviper and Arbok twined through the crowd of pokemon, lashing out with their poisonous fangs. Chimecho used psychic attacks to hurl enemies away.

    Meowth let out a savage cry. “I don’t know if I can learn Rage, but I’m sure feelin' it! Fury Swipes!” He jumped at a Magma grunt, clawing at the man’s eyes.

    One woman tried to organize her accomplices. “Powerful special attacks! Aim at the man!”

    A line of fire, electricity and ice shot at James. Wobbuffet appeared in front of him, glowing red with Mirror Coat. The grunts dove away from the reflected attack, blowing a hole through the barricade. “Mime Jr.!” James called. “Mimic!”

    The small creature glowed intensely bright, and launched a powerful attack at the palisade. Another hole was rent through it, and Cole motioned to his friends. “Come on! Let’s go!”

    They sprinted through the chaos, vaulting over pokemon and sliding past grunts. A cry went up from the houses of Fortree as angry townspeople called out their pokemon to aid in Jessie and James’s crusade. There was a shriek, and three forms eclipsed the moon. Winona descended on her Swellow, followed by her Skarmory and Pelliper. They strafed the enemy lines as reinforcements for the Rocket duo arrived.

    Cole, Sin and Lisana broke free of the village, and ran hard. Cole fumbled on his belt for Charizard’s pokéball, as Lisana did the same with Anjaru’s. “No, wait!” Sin cried.
    He pointed in the air as Magma and Aqua’s flying pokemon took to the skies, looking for anyone who escaped. “We have to get to cover!” Sin hissed. “The cave on the Scorched Slab!”

    “No!” Cole replied. “Too exposed, too obvious! Registeel’s crypt!”

    Cole led them south over several rope and wood bridges that spanned the lakes and rivers of the route. The hugged the trees, keeping out of sight and in the shadows. The Firebrand led his friends up the sheer cliff to a small cave, out of the hissing rain that had began shortly after their departure. “In here,” he whispered. “Quickly, quickly!”

    They stopped within the shelter of the cave, gasping for breath. The rain intensified outside, pouring down with a harsh staccato. Sin poked around the antechamber. “A lot of tools in here. Picks. Crowbars.” He picked up a length of iron. “We’re going to have to make a stand. They’ll find us. Dusty, Damin, get ready.” He called out his Typhlosion and Gallade.

    Lisana nodded. “I’m afraid you’re right. Anjaru, Thalia, Kelrick, you too.” The Arcanine, Froslass and Pidgeot came to attention, readying their attacks.

    Cole took his five pokeballs in hand. “Charizard, Masamune, Maeve, and Thor, get out here.” Then, he called out Scathatch. “You take Athena and Chifumi. Hide with an illusion. Whatever happens next, you need to get out of here.”

    Scathatch and Athena protested, but Cole was adamant. “We don’t have a choice. We’re outnumbered fifty to one. There are not many places to hide. They’ll find us eventually. Just be ready.”

    Masamune and Charizard took up positions at each other’s backs. Maeve hid next to the entrance, ready to leap onto the first unlucky soul to enter. Cole sat on Thor’s back, a pickaxe in hand, ready to make a cavalry charge.

    They waited in utter silence for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the scrabbling of hands, paws and other appendages sounded on the cliffs outside. Shapes eclipsed the scant light that came through the chamber entrance.

    “The trail ends here,” someone said. “They’ve got to be in there.”

    Cole tightened his grip on the pickaxe. There was a clicking noise as pokeballs expanded. “Everybody ready?” another voice asked. “Let’s go!”

    “Charge!” Cole shouted.

    They surged forward, slicing into the Magma and Aqua strike force. Cole swung his axe at a Graveler, only to have it break off. Cole glanced down at the useless length of wood in his hand and noted a piece of masking tape on it. "Property of Jo Morgan," it read. Cole winced. A quarter of his mind hoped that his friend was okay, while another quarter hoped she would never find out it was him who broke her equipment. The remaining half screamed at him to get his mind back on the fight at hand.

    Thor lashed out with his hooves, and then dropped back using Volt Switch. Cole grabbed a crowbar from the cave floor, and brandished it like a sword.

    Kelrick and Thalia launched tandem ice and fire attacks, weaving gracefully through the foe’s ranks. Damin sliced and hacked with savage beauty. Dusty created giant infernos from the fire on his back.

    Masamune and Charizard combined their respective powers, alternating waves of attack. Maeve struck from the shadows, swiftly appearing and disappearing. Anjaru buffeted foes with his mighty wings and wickedly sharp talons.

    Camerupts lowed as Torkoals cried out. Pellipers mobbed Anjaru, only to be electrified by Thor’s Discharge. Sharpedos shot through the air, gnashing their fangs. Cole slammed his crowbar into a Golbat, sending the creature flailing through the air.

    Over the sound of the battle, and rumbling was heard. An hexagonal pattern of red lights appeared from the darkness of the adjoining chamber. There was a hiss, and then a strange cry. “Regiiiiii.” Then, there was a strange sound of distortion and what appeared to be radio static.

    “Damn,” Cole spat. A yellow glow emanated from the stone archway. “Everybody down!”

    Cole, Sin, Lisana and their pokemon fell flat as a giant pulse of electricity shot by. “Zap Cannon,” Cole murmured to Sin. “We have woken up Registeel. This is bad. Very, very bad.”

    The ground started to shake, and Cole rolled over to the far wall, dodging enemies. “Quickly now!” Registeel barreled past, crashing into the Magma and Aqua forces with an Iron Head.

    It glowed brightly, and it’s eye pattern flashed. A beam of red, orange and white light shot out of it, and Registeel spun around, trying to hit everything with its Hyper Beam.

    When it paused to recharge, there was the sound of quiet applause from the entryway. “Bravo, children. You have done half my work for me.” A man in the red Magma uniform flicked out a pokéball. “Porygon Z, go.”

    The purple creature flew forth, and into Registeel’s body. The iron titan struggled for a moment, and then fell still. The man smiled. “Perfect. Registeel’s power is now mine to command!”

    Cole realized what just happened, and it chilled him to the core. Because Registeel was biomechanical, Porygon Z had hacked into its body, putting it under this strange man’s command.

    The man stepped through the troops to stand before Cole and company. “Your pokemon. Return them.” When they did not move, he scowled. “Now.”

    Cole nodded slowly for Sin and Lisana to obey. The pokemon disappeared in flashes of red lights. “Now. Give them to me.”

    “No!” Sin shouted.

    The man backhanded him. “Magma Admin Jasper is not one to talk back to! Your pokemon. Now.”

    Cole ruefully gave over his belt harness that had his pokeballs clipped to it. The man, Jasper, took Sin and Lisana’s as well. “Pathetic. Chain them.”

    Two Aqua grunts came forward, and handcuffed the three escapees. They were dragged out of Registeel’s crypt and into a truck waiting below. They were unceremoniously thrown into the back.

    A man helped Cole to his feet. “They got you, eh? Shame, shame.”

    Cole nodded slowly. The man helped Cole sit on one of the benches attached to the wall. “My name is John. This is my daughter, Colette.” He nodded with his chin to a young woman helping Sin and Lisana to a seat. “And I believe you already know these two.”

    Jessie and James looked up from the opposite side of the bench. “We’re sorry,” James said softly. “They tried.”

    Jessie sniffed and tried to wipe away a tear, no easy task when wearing handcuffs. “They took Meowth!”

    Cole looked to see two other figures slumped over, two young women. One he recognized as Winona, the Fortree Gym leader. “Hey there,” she said. “Looks like my wings got clipped.” Then she sighed and fell silent.

    The other woman looked at Cole and his companions. “Call me Julia, if you must call me anything.” And then she refused to say another word.

    They drove in silence for some time. “Where are they taking us?” Lisana finally asked.

    John’s shoulders slumped. “The Safari Zone, most likely. Or what was once the Safari Zone. It’s a camp now.”

    They were silent again until the truck stopped abruptly. There were sounds of a struggle outside, and finally a chained man and woman were thrown into the back with them. The man looked up, and despite the rather nasty black eye on the side of his face, he managed to smile.

    “Hey there. Marcus’s is the name. Mind helping me up?”

    John helped him to the bench next to Cole. Marcus sat down gingerly. “Ah, that hurts. I really thought I’d gotten away. Damn it. I was so close, too.”

    His woman companion looked at the group. “Marcus, what do we do now?”

    “I don’t know, Epiny. I don’t know.” But then he squared his shoulders. “My father always said a man is at his best when he’s been kicked to the ground, so long as he keeps his head up. So that’s just what I’ll do.”

    John nodded and put a hand on his arm. “That’s all we can do for now. That, and hope, and pray.”



    Let the tie ins begin in force!
    Last edited by Firebrand; 14th August 2011 at 9:30 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Default Call To Arms

    John glanced at Marcus and Sin. “This is it.”

    “Today’s the day.”

    ”We’ll only get one shot at this.”

    John looked at Julia. “Do you have the picks?”

    “Already took care of James and the women. You three are the last ones.” She ducked low, and with a few clicks of some sharpened metal tools, the chains around John, Sin and Marcus’s legs fell away.

    Marcus cracked his knuckles. “Let’s do this.”

    The entire Group 13 turned on their overseer. “Hey!” the woman cried, panic etched onto her face. “Wh-What’s going on? Where are your shackles?”

    “Shut up,” Jessie growled, and clubbed her with a concealed lead pipe. The woman fell with a thud. Sin wondered if she was dead, and then was only vaguely surprised that he didn’t actually care.

    The group of workers nodded to the other work crews around them, and they procured their own picks. Their chains fell away, and some scattered to go help their fellows. The rest sprinted to the palisade in the forest, drawing pipes, crowbars and hammers from beneath their clothes, and striking down any Magma and Aqua grunts that dared stand before them.

    John snapped his fingers at Sin, Marcus, Winona and Julia. “You lot. With me. The rest of you, get to the barricade. Let’s make the Firebrand proud.”

    They stalked through the camp, and as they passed their fellow prisoners, a chant began. “We are the point! We are the edge! We are the ones that the Firebrand led! We are the point! We are the edge! We are the ones that the Firebrand led!”

    ***

    Jasper sipped his coffee and glanced up. “What is that racket?”

    His aide raced into the room. “Sir! The prisoners! They’re revolting!”

    “What?!” Jasper roared. He hurled the small table where he sat at the wall, where it splintered. He grabbed his pokéball harness and began barking orders.

    “Get Registeel! Arm the guards! Full alert! I want this rebellion squashed!”

    “Sir,” his aide mumbled. “They have demands.”

    “What right do they have to demands?!”

    “They’ve taken hostages sir. They say that they will kill them if you do not parley. Should I alert Archibald and Maximillian?”

    “No!” Jasper cried. “I’ll crush this before word reaches them!” Then, he paused a beat, considering his options. He growled. “Fine! I’ll parley!” He stalked out to his lavish foyer. “Where are their emissaries?”

    “Down there, sir.” The aide pointed at a group of five prisoners standing before the garrison. They were singing. Before, Jasper had enjoyed their hopeless chanting, but now it infuriated him to no end.

    “Look down, and see the beggars at your feet! Look down and show some mercy if you can!” they chorused up to him.

    “You’ll get no mercy from me! I’ll fix your bloody heads on stakes!”

    “Look down and see the sweepings of the streets! Look down, look down upon your fellow man!”

    One man, the one called John, stepped forward. His muscles bulged against his prison uniform, and despite his age, he radiated power. “Surrender now, Jasper! Every prisoner in this camp has turned against you and yours! Your defeat is imminent!”

    “You doddering old fool!” Jasper roared down. “You think that my camp guards are my only resource? Even with them we far outnumber you, and we have pokemon!”

    “Actually,” the second man, Marcus, growled, “your guards are all you have. You can’t go to the brass for help. How pathetic would that look, the mighty Warden Jasper, cowed by a bunch of prisoners?”

    Jasper hissed through his teeth. “I’m told you have demands? Speak them!”

    “Freedom for our people!” Winona cried. “You have no right to do this! You are a monster!”

    “And the Firebrand released to us!” Sin added.

    Jasper smirked. Why not crush their hopes a little bit? “The Firebrand is dead.”

    “You bastard!” Marcus roared.

    He charged forward, only to be intercepted by two guards. With a swing of a pipe, he felled both of them, and rushed onward. Jasper pulled his aide in front of him, using her as a human shield.

    “You’re worse than trash!” Sin cried, running to Marcus’s side.

    “Regiiiii…”

    “Get down, you idiots!” Julia shrieked, and not a moment too soon.

    Sin and Marcus had just dropped to their stomachs on the dirt when a gigantic pulse of white light shot across the air where they had just stood. The possessed Registeel loomed up behind Jasper.

    The overseer chuckled as Sin and Marcus got to their feet and moved to John’s side. Jasper shrugged. “I’m a man of my word, and I won’t violate the terms of parley. If I am not attacked, I will not send Registeel on you again, at least until we have adjourned.

    John glared at the man. “We have. I see there is no reasoning with you. The next time we meet, it will be on the battlefield.”

    Jasper nodded. “I see.” He thrust his aide away. “Marshal the men. We will destroy your petty resistance by nightfall. You will burn away like your precious Firebrand.”

    Winona snarled. “Cole isn’t dead! We’d know if he was!”

    Jasper smiled again, a feral grin. “Oh, he is most certainly dead. His blood is on this hand!” He brandished his right arm.

    Bastard!” Julia shouted, and hurled a stone at him. The round object struck Jasper in the forehead, knocking him back. “Now my friends, we run.”

    They sprinted for the cover of the forest, Jasper roaring orders behind them. The growls, snarls and blood-hungry cries of pokemon filled the air. Men and women shouted orders, and Sin tightened his grip on his own length of iron, and whirled on his heel, suddenly overcome with a rush of bravado. He grabbed Julia’s wrist with his free hand.

    “Sing with me.”

    “What song?”

    “Something defiant, but brief. I want to rub salt in the wound, but I don’t want us to get killed.”

    The slightly older woman nodded, and stood by Sin. Together they cried out. “At the end of the day it’s another day dawning! And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise! The waves crash on the sand! The chains will be shattered, and there’s gonna be hell to pay! At the end of the day!”




    The way I wrote this chapter made it massive, over twelve pages long. So I broke it up into two parts. Expect the next chapter sometime in the near future. Also... a good amount of Les Mis nods here, mostly from Act I.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 25th August 2011 at 3:43 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Default First Attack

    Lisana clutched at a round stone in her hand as she stood at the edge of the palisade. “Are you sure you want to be here?” Sin asked her, his voice full of concern.

    James nodded his assent. “Some of the other prisoners have taken shelter in a cave deeper in the forest. It’s more defensible than the front line.”

    Lisana looked at the two of them. “No. If everyone here is going to fight, then I will too.”

    “But, Lisana!”

    “No, Sin. I’ll fight by your side.”

    James smiled. “Jessie said much the same.”

    Down on the ground below, Marcus took Colette aside as she and some of the others made preparations for their flight into the forest. “Colette, please. A moment. I have something to say.”

    Colette blinked with innocent blue eyes. “Well… all right Marcus. But I’m rather busy here…”

    “It won’t take long. Just here me out.” He clasped her hand. “Colette… it’s very possible that I may not live through this. Hell, I might be dead before dawn. So there’s something you need to know. Ever since that night in the truck, since I first laid eyes on you, I’ve loved you. You are the angel who has kept me going these weeks. I sought your father’s blessing, and he has accepted me. Colette, I love you, and I would die for you, so that you may live.”

    Colette hugged Marcus tight. “Marcus! I… I love you too! But don’t think of me as something to die for… rather, something to live for. Here,” she stammered, taking a handkerchief probably intended to be used as a bandage from her waist. “Knights in the Old Stories carried favors from their betrothed. So carry this. For me.”

    Marcus grimly knotted the cloth around his forearm, and kissed Colette on the cheek. “Until we meet again, my lady. Fly now, with the wind behind you!”

    A few meters away, tears of rage and jealousy burned unnoticed in Epiny’s eyes.

    Julia stood next to Winona and John near the edge of the palisade. She slapped a bowie knife, stolen from a grunt, against her palm. “Looks like Sin and I pissed them off real bad.”

    “Rage blinds a man,” John replied. “Perhaps in their haste and anger they will make a fatal misstep.”

    Winona lowered her eyes. “Whatever happens, they have pokemon and we don’t. We have the distinct disadvantage here. Oh, Swellow! Where are you?”

    John placed a paternal hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry. Once this is over, we’ll find them. Until then, be ready.”

    Winona nodded, and drew a lead pipe. “Let’s take some heads.”

    John climbed up the ladder to the top of the barricade. The Magma and Aqua host mustered in the distance. He turned to his troops and raised his voice. “Here upon these stones we have built our barricade, in the heart of the forest we claim as our own! Each man to his duty, and don’t be afraid!”

    Sin looked at him. “Wait! We’ll need a report on the strength of the foe! We can outlast the first salvo, but after that we’ll need an edge.”

    A man climbed up to stand next to them. “I can find out the truth! I know their ways! I’ll sneak behind their lines and get their movements.”

    John nodded. “You’re a brave man… uh…”

    “Kain.”

    “Yes, Kain. You are a brave man. We have taken some uniforms from our hostages. See if one fits you. And godspeed, man. We’ll hold for the night perhaps, but after that…”

    Kain nodded, and departed into the dusky light of the forest. James looked out. “Everyone to battle stations! They’ll be here soon!”

    John nodded grimly. “Aye, and be ready!” He drew his hammer.

    They stood atop the palisade, the one they had built with the Firebrand, by the sweat of their brow and the strength of their backs. “Now we pledge ourselves to hold this barricade!”

    “Let their legions come!” Marcus cried. “They will be met!”

    “Have faith in yourselves, don’t be afraid,” James shouted.

    Sin leaned forward. “Let’s give ‘em a screwing they’ll never forget!”

    “This is where it begins!” John hollered, and the prisoners shouted a wordless battle call. “Let them come if they dare! We’ll be there!”

    As if a spell was cast, a great clamor arose in the distance. The thudding of claws, feet and fins reverberated through the forest. A scythe of energy cut through the trees, revealing Jasper standing before Registeel. Grunts and enemy pokemon snarled behind them.

    “Charge!” Jasper called.

    They surged forward, rushing towards the barricade. “Strike the fire types with stones!” John shouted. “They mustn’t burn the barricade!”

    “Ready… launch!” Sin shouted. A hail of stones descended on the approaching pokemon. Some tried to break ranks and flee, but the cracking whips of their trainers behind them drove them forward.

    “Come on then, close the gates!” Jessie shrieked. The giant slabs of wood they used to open and close their ragtag fortress started to slam shut. Winona peered out from the top. “Troops behind the pokemon fifty men or more!”

    “Ready… launch!” Sin shouted again. Stones rained down again. Some brave souls rappelled down from the wall to hold the line with pipes and steel. Sin and Lisana quickly joined them, beating at rock, ground and dark types as Magma’s fire types sought to regroup.

    Jasper raised a megaphone. “Hey you on the barricade listen to this!” His eyes burned with manic fire. “No one is coming to help you to fight! You’re on your own! Give up, or die! If you surrender, you will be shown mercy!”

    James turned to the stone-throwers. “Damn their warnings, hang their lies! They will hear the people rise!”

    Julia echoed the cheer, changing it just slightly. “Damn their warnings, hang their lies! They will see the people rise!”

    Soon, all the throwers were shouting it, and used it as their rhythm for casting down their missiles. However, down at the base of the palisade, a different cry resounded.
    “We are the point, we are the edge, we are the ones that the Firebrand led!” Sin chanted this as he beat a Camerupt back with his pipe. Lisana was busy fending off the razor-edged teeth of a Sharpedo. Sin tossed his ‘sword’ into his left hand, and used the right to fumble in the pouch on his waist.

    His hand wrapped around one of the stones he carried, and he hurled it with all his might at Lisana’s assailant. “Take that!” he hollered.

    The stone whizzed through the air, and struck Sharpedo on the nose. The shark screamed in indignation, and fled. A trumpeting cut Sin’s triumph short. A pack of Donphan could be glimpsed in the distance, rolling closer. With their momentum, they could decimate the rebellion’s ranks, and do terrible damage to the palisade. Magma and Aqua forces pulled back, allowing the Donphan a clear alley.

    Winona and James whistled from the barricade. They tossed down several sharpened spars of wood. Sin caught one, as did other fighters. “Jam them into the ground! We need a pike line!” Winona cried.

    Sin nodded, and gripped his tightly. Then, as the Donphan drew closer, he drove it into the ground. Some distance away, Lisana did the same. Now the approaching creatures were met, not with an open plain, but a bristling line of spears.

    Some turned away in time, but other Donphan were not so lucky. The toughness of their hide prevented them from serious injury, and the spears were not as durable as metal, so many snapped. But still the Donphan obtained many gouges and punctures, driving them into fear and retreat.

    Atop the wall, Marcus let out a cry of victory. “We got ‘em on the run, boys! Now, charge!”

    The gates of the barricade were thrust open, and a hundred and fifty angry prisoners ran forth, brandishing whatever rough weaponry they could find. They ran at the retreating grunts, and set upon them in a murderous rage. The prison guards were forced to use their pokemon’s special attacks to keep the prisoners at bay as they stumbled back to the open area before the forest.

    “Here we make our stand!” John bellowed as loudly as an Exploud. “They flee before our might! Give them something to fear!”

    “We are the point! We are the edge! We are the ones that the Firebrand led!”

    Marcus, Sin and Lisana led the charge, holding aloft their weapons. “Come on!” Jasper shouted from behind his troops. “Don’t break lines! Get them!”
    And the two armies collided.

    When asked, no one really remembered what happened that night. To Sin, it became a blur of swinging arms, panicked faces, figures moving in the smoke of home-brewed explosives, and the occasional scream or yelp. Fire burned in his peripheral vision, scorching the earth. Sometimes a shout would go up, a command that no one heeded. This was beyond battle.

    This was war.

    There was no order, no flow. It was simply lashing out at whatever came close; anything he realized was an enemy. He might have killed many people that night, but Sin would never know. As soon as the threat passed, Sin moved on. Pokemon jumped at him, and attacked him. More than once, he instinctively called out for Dusty or Damin to come to his aid, before realizing they were gone.

    He fought alone.

    Lisana was sometimes at his side, offering what support she could. But they never spoke. They fought in grim silence, determined to survive the night. To Sin, Lisana appeared to be a brave warrior from the Old Stories, her blonde hair a brilliant corona of light, piercing through the chaos.

    Above his head, the stars slowly faded with the approaching dawn. “Retreat!” John shouted. “Pull back to the Palisade!”

    Sin suddenly became aware of how tired he was. He needed to rest his aching muscles. Beside him, Winona staggered and nearly fell into the dirt. He grabbed her wrist and hauled her up. “Come on. I’m not losing you now.”

    “Get them!” Jasper cried. “They’re tired! Get them!”

    A clamor of bodies was all Sin could recall from their hasty retreat. They shambled back into the forest, piling over each other in their haste. James and Marcus lifted Winona from his shoulders. The gate slammed shut, and someone placed wood and steel bars across it.

    Sin and Lisana clawed their way up the ladder to the top of the barricade, where John gazed out with his hands behind his back, still standing tall. He turned to face his haggard troops. They had suffered only a few casualties, but everyone would bear scars, both physical and mental. The cries of pokemon echoed from some distance away.

    “We survived, brave ones. We lasted the night.” John’s face seemed to have more lines in it. “Just one day more. Arceus, that’s all we need. One day more.” He sighed and leaned against the rough wood. “One day more. Another day, another destiny. This never-ending road of agony… These men will surely come a second time… one day more…”

    ***

    Marcus sighed wistfully. Even in his ragged, tired state, all he could think of was Colette. “I did not live until today. How can I live if we are parted?”

    ***

    “One day more…” John muttered again.

    ***

    Colette, from her defended cave deep within the forest, stared out at where she knew the palisade was. “Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away. And yet with you, my world has started…”

    ***

    In the shadow of the barricade, Epiny crept along, dodging the view of the Magma grunts on patrol. “One more day all on my own.”

    ***

    “Will we ever meet again?” Marcus wondered.

    ***

    “One more day with him not caring,” Epiny hissed.

    ***

    Colette sent out a silent prayer for Marcus’s safety. “I was born to be with you…”

    ***

    Sin moved to stand next to John, supporting him despite his tired body. “One more day before the storm.”

    Lisana looked at her brave friend. “Do I follow where he goes?”

    John nodded to them. “At the barricade of freedom-”

    “I will join my brothers here,” Sin affirmed.

    “When our ranks begin to form…”

    “Do I stay and do I dare?” Lisana muttered.

    Sin looked at Lisana, and stretched out a hand. He reached for a trusted friend, a beloved comrade. “Will you take your place with me?”

    ***

    Marcus and Sin caught the eyes of Julia and Winona, and said as one: “The time is now. The day is near.”

    ***

    John, lost in his own thoughts, cried out. “One day more!”

    ***

    Jasper, surrounded by his army, ranted to his commanders. “One more day to revolution, we will nip it in the bud! We’ll be ready for these fools! We will spill their precious blood!”

    ***

    “One day more…”

    ***

    Jessie glanced at James and smiled. “Watch ‘em run amuck, catch ‘em as they fall, never know your lot when there’s a free for all!”

    James grinned, feeling the old Rocket spirit rise within him. “Here a little dip! There a little touch! Most of them are goners so they won’t miss much!”

    ***

    Julia looked at her new friends. “One day to a new beginning!”

    “Raise the flag of freedom high!” Winona said back, strong and confident.

    “There’s a new world for the winning!”

    “There’s a new world to be won!”

    Lisana shouted out to Jasper, knowing full well he could not hear her, but feeling enlivened by it all the same. “Do you hear the people sing?”

    ***

    From far away, there came a mighty explosion, ripping apart the buildings constructed for the Magma and Aqua operations. Hundreds of figures ran from the resulting smoke, and all manner of shrieks and roars issued forth. The sound struck a note of pure terror in the hearts of all who heard it.

    One mighty roar sounded above the rest, and a column of red and orange fire shot high into the air. A Charizard flew from the smoke, and seated on his back was a young man in a flapping black leather duster. He led the procession of imprisoned pokemon through the enemy’s ranks, slicing through them like a knife through butter.
    His voice rang out, carrying over the forest. “My place is here! I fight with you!”

    John smiled. “Firebrand. You’re back.” The pokemon he had liberated drove towards the barricade, crying out for their trainers. The doors swung open, and the tide of creatures swept through. Shouts of joy went up as old friends were reunited.

    Cole landed next to John. “Tomorrow we’ll discover what our fate has in store.”

    John nodded. “One more dawn, one more day.”

    Lisana smiled. “One day more.”


    The song featured in this chapter is One Day More, but I have also included parts from "Upon these Stones" and it's redux.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 30th August 2011 at 2:54 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Default

    Hey! I'm excited to say I finally got to read through Chapter Five of your story, and I'm rather impressed by your writing style. You've definitely got a knack for it - I normally can't stand fics where Pokémon are able to talk to their trainers, but it didn't even bother me in this one. That alone says something - you did well with that.

    Obviously, this won't all be praise however. As much as I actually find your writing to be incredibly well-done, there were some issues I noticed through-out the story that, if improved on, could make it reach a much higher potential.

    To begin with, you have a major tendency to tell everything that happens in your story, rather than show it. It really struck me in this passage:

    Cole kicked at one of the red fish that leapt at him. Masamune struck with his horn. Maeve switched between Brick Break, Poison Jab, X-Scissor and Ice Punch. Cole noted that she was only effect by Rough Skin about half the time she attacked. Still, it was weakening her…
    What could have been an excellent battle scene turned into a list of attacks. Now, don't get me wrong, - my battle scenes suck as well. Every author tends to struggle with them quite a bit. However, listing is something that's best to be avoided. Someone's actually choosing to spend their time seeing the world through your character's eyes... Something tells me that that's not what he saw, eh? What I mean by "show, don't tell" is that instead of saying that "Maeve switched between Brick Break, Poison Jab, etc." actually show the reader through action that Maeve did so. A sentence like that could turn into something such as:

    The swarm of Carvanha rushed towards Maeve, but the Weavile was not to be intimidated. With lightning-quick movement its claw slammed down with brutal intensity, instantly knocking out an unsuspecting opponent as its claws began to glow purple with poison and ferociously jabbed into the side of its second attacker.
    Not my best example, but what I could quickly come up with to demonstrate my point. Though the scene itself sounded great and was written well from a dialogue stand-point, the way the scene itself took place actually made me not care or become immersed in it, much like reading a grocery list will not make me care about what I'm buying. Does that make sense?

    Now, this goes in general for most of your fic - through out a lot of it you tend to simply tell the reader what happened rather than immerse them into the action, though that slightly changed in the second half of the chapter. For example, take a look at this scene (in keeping with the Carvanha tradition) :

    Masamune rolled his eyes. “You probably expect my help.”

    “And Maeve’s. Get ready, I see something from downstream. C’mon, Masamune, help me get Dragonair out of the river.”

    With the Samurott’s help, Cole was able to move the injured dragon, and then stood in front of her, his fists balled. The surging river erupted into a school of about twenty Carvanhas.
    This could really play with the reader's emotions if you played it out right. I like what you're trying to do here. However, again, this turned into a list. "Cole was able to move the injured dragon, and then stood in front of her," "The surging river erupted into a school of about twenty Carvanhas."

    Again, try to show, not tell. Having a character move an injured Dragonair while Carvanha are making their way towards him is a powerful scene, but by simply listing it you lose that possibility. I'll try to give a quick example again to demonstrate the point.

    Gingerly, Cole wrapped his hands underneath the injured Dragonair, who hissed feebly at him but was unable to defend itself from his touch. The blood trickling from its wounds felt almost as though it were staining his hands as Masamune got to the other side of the wounded creature, dipping its back into the water so that the Dragonair could be lifted onto it. Biting his lip, Cole gently began to lift up the creature from the water and slip it over Masamune, the resistance that had originally met his touch already gone due to a lack of energy to put up a fight. He frowned, wondering what the fate of the dragon would be as a churning noise was heard in the distance.

    Far off he could see the fins and hear the chattering teeth of a horde of Carvanha, their predatory gaze focusing in on him and the injured creature as Masamune tried its best to retreat. Blood trailed behind the swarm of monsters from what Cole assumed had to have been their latest snack, and he quickly realized that if he didn't act in time more would follow. He supposed thoughts of what would happen to the dragon once they got it to safety would have to wait - first, they'd have to make sure it actually got there.
    You can turn a sentence into a power-packed paragraph where you can even add some characterization to Cole - maybe he's really worried about the dragon and wants to make sure its treated so that it can live its normal life again. Or, maybe he wants to capture it and force it to be his Pokemon. (I really don't know much about Cole.) Either way, you can make his motives apparent to the reader through inner thoughts and his own actions by actually expanding those sentences to complete actions.

    Also, on one final note... You describe the river as "surging" constantly. Just thought I'd bring that to your attention - more than once have I caught myself using the same adjective more than I realized.
    The Weavile nodded brusquely, slashed at another Carvanha, and then jumped to Cole’s side. Cole quickly sprayed her with a Hyper Potion, and then surged further into the surging river. “Protect Dragonair!”
    Well, that's about it as far as advice goes... Sorry, I tend to ramble a bit in my reviews. Hopefully it makes sense. Q_Q If not, feel free to let me know and I'll gladly clarify any points I made. Your story, its characters, and your writing actually are quite good - I enjoyed it, despite what the review may have sounded like. Your dialogue is perfect, and the way you show how your characters interact through it is great. You can really feel the bond Cole shares with his Pokemon, and that's really quite fun to read. When I get some extra spare time, I may very well stop by again to read more.
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  25. #25
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    Default Forgotten Empire

    To really get the feel for Sidhe, I reccommend listening to either of these two songs. They're just instrumentals, so sit back and let the music wash over you as you read.

    The sky was a perfectly clear crystal blue above them. He and Magnus galloped across the wide, infinite plains of Sidhe. The ruins of ancient castles, villages and fortresses littered the land behind them, but Cole had seen no structures for days.

    A flock of Staravia soared over their heads, swooping and diving and singing. A herd of Ponyta and Rapidash darted across the sweeping golden expanse ahead of them, causing Thor to put on a burst of speed. A pride of Luxray and Luxio crouched in the grass, their tails swishing agitatedly as the strange new creatures rode by. Thor flicked his ears back and discharged a little electricity to scare them away.

    Magnus glanced at the Firebrand and smiled. “I told you it was a beautiful country, didn’t I?”

    Cole nodded. “Magnus, it is. And I know, I should be enjoying it more. But with Masamune gone…”

    “I understand. Perhaps, if you brought Scathatch out, she could show him the scenery if we are reunited.”

    Cole drew out the Zoroark’s pokéball, and narrowed his eyes. “When. Not if. When.”

    “Of course. A slip of the tongue, nothing more. My apologies.”

    Scathatch leapt from the capsule, and matched Thor's pace with a leaping run. “You mustn’t blame yourself,” she chided. “There’s nothing to take the blame for.”

    “I know… I just feel like I should have been able to do something.”

    Athena bounded alongside them, using jumps boosted with telekinesis. The wings on her tail fluttered to help her stay aloft. “Hey, you’re getting it!” Cole cried as she stayed in the air a full three minutes.

    “Yeah! Soon I might be able to fly for real!”

    Scathatch growled softly. “Do you see that?”

    Cole glanced up, and saw a large abnormality rising out of the plain before them. Thor galloped faster, just as eager to see it as Cole was. As the Zebstrika drew up alongside, Cole realized that it was the base of a statue. It depicted two legs, both rather worn down by wind. The tops seemed jagged, as if the rest of the statue had been knocked off. The Firebrand looked all around, but there was nothing to denote that anything else had ever existed. It was wide-open prairie as far as the eye could see. Not even a tree disrupted the landscape.

    “Cole, look,” Thor murmured, and bumped the base of the statue. Something was carved there in Unown text. “What does it say?”

    Cole knelt, but he could not decipher the glyphs. “Not sure, and the words seem different than the ones back at the Temple in the jungle. A different dialect, I mean. Obviously, the civilization there and whoever built this lived on completely different wavelengths.”

    “You’d be surprised,” Magnus said as he rode up on Shadowfax. “The Aegyptuns of Almia and the Miyan who lived south of Unova had a bustling trade, along with the Fenicians who used to live in western Hoenn. While the Kelts who lived here indeed did not trade with the Miyan, but they did trade with the Fenicians, so perhaps they met each other at some point.”

    “I’m not interested in a history lesson, at least not at the moment,” Cole replied. “Can you read what it says?”

    Magnus nodded. “I remember it, but let me check the wording…” He swung off his Rapidash’s back. “Yes, yes, just as I remember.” He stood and glanced at Cole.

    “‘I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble.’”

    Cole looked around again. “Look upon what? There’s… nothing here. Was he a king of nothing?”

    “Ozymandias was indeed a great king of old. But his empire, like all others, faded. Now, there is nothing. The earth has reclaimed all. Ironic, isn’t it? He thought he would endure for all eternity. And even he cannot stand before time.”

    Cole walked a few feet. “So you’re saying there was once a great kingdom, right here?”

    “Centuries… no, millennia ago.”

    Cole whistled out a breath. “Makes me feel kind of… small.”

    Thor cropped at a patch of grass at the base of the pedestal. “We stand on the shoulders of giants… until the giants want us off.”

    The Firebrand laughed, and swung back up into the saddle. “Wise words, partner.”

    The Zebstrika shook out his mane. “I’m not the wall of muscle and testosterone my namesake was. I’ve got a brain in my head too.”

    “And don’t ever let me forget it,” Cole said with a grin. He tapped Thor’s flanks with his heels, and the Zebstrika took off.

    ***

    Athena sat on the edge of a boulder that looked out on the sea. They had reached the coast earlier that day, two days after leaving the statue of Ozymandias. The Victini tapped her paws against the stone, looking up at the starry sky. The wind blew her ears back, and Cole stared at the moon reflected in her large blue eyes.

    “What?” she asked. “Is dinner on my face?” She rubbed at her cheeks, furiously trying to clean them.

    Cole scratched behind her ear. “No, no. Your eyes are reflective. It’s cool. I was looking at the moon in your irises. Ooh, that reminds me of a story. Want to hear it?”

    Yeah!” Athena leapt into his lap, and cuddled up against his elbow.

    Cole took a deep breath. “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Iris, who lived by the seashore. She was known throughout the land as the fastest runner alive. It was said that she could run so quickly that her feet left the ground completely and she raced through the air.

    “Now there came a time when her village was at war with another, and the leader of her village wanted to make peace before the war escalated. But the other village was fairly far away, and the armies were to clash at dawn. Even Iris couldn’t run there in time.

    “But she still accepted the task, and ran as quickly as she ever had in her life. She bounded up a mountain, but when she was running down, she tripped. She knew she couldn’t afford to fall, so tried as hard as she could to stay on her feet.

    “Well, she found that she was indeed running on the air, just like everyone said about her. She ran across the vast expanse of sky, straight for the enemy village. The guards on the wall were so amazed with this girl that they showed her to the village elder, and she presented the terms for the treaty. And the two villages lived in peace ever after.”

    Athena blinked slowly. “Was she magic?”

    “I don’t know. Maybe. But it’s just a story.”

    “No, it’s an Old Story.”

    “Yeah, and?”

    “Well, didn’t you tell me that in every Old Story, there’s a grain of truth? Like the Prometheus one?”

    “Well, yes. But somehow I have my doubts that Iris truly ran on the air. Keep in mind that it’s still a story, Old or not.”

    Athena nodded again, and looked out at the moon. “I’ll bet a lot of Old Stories happened here, in Sidhe. It looks like they could have, huh?”

    “Yeah, it fits, doesn’t it? The plains sort of look like Rohan, don’t they?” Cole leaned back and stared up at the stars. Athena bounced onto his abdomen, knocking the wind out of him.

    “Hail, riders of the Mark!”

    Cole laughed, and pointed up at a cluster of stars that looked like a box with a tail. “See that one? That’s Ursaring Major. And over there,” he pointed to a similar constellation, though it was smaller, “that’s Teddiursa Minor. Ursaring Major is bigger, but Teddiursa Minor is special.”

    “How so?” Athena blinked up at the glittering lights.

    “Well, see that last star in the trail of Teddiursa? If you keep following that, you’ll hit Polaris, the North Star. And the North Star is always at the top of the sky. If you can find it, you’ll never be lost.”

    “The stars tell a lot of stories, don’t they?” Athena murmured. “In the Old Stories, Arceus sometimes hangs people and pokemon in the stars when they die. Do you think he’ll do that for us?”

    Cole pillowed his head in his hands. “I don’t think so, Fuzzball. I’d rather just get where I’m going. I don’t need to be seen in the sky forever.”

    “I guess so. Can you tell me another story?”

    “Sure. Want to hear Hercules again?”

    ***

    “…and that’s how Hercules became the greatest hero the world has ever known,” Cole concluded with a sigh. “See, that’s him right there.” He pointed to another group of stars.

    Athena scowled. “You told it different this time.”

    “How do you mean?”

    “Well, before, the Ordeals were in a different order. Last time, the herd of the Sunset Tauros came just before Giant Salamence. But this time, the Salamence came first, and then he cleaned the king’s stables, and then he got the Sunset Tauros.”

    Cole chewed a stalk of grass in his teeth. “Well, look up at the stars, Athena. There in a different place from where they were before, right? The heavens are always shifting, always changing. The Stories are like that too. The stars and the constellations will always be in some sort of order, but it’s not always the same. The Stories were passed down by word of mouth by people like me for centuries before they were recorded. So the stories, like the stars, change.”

    They lay there under the stars for a long time. When Magnus finally came looking for them, he found trainer and pokemon asleep, their limbs splayed out like the stars themselves.




    Credit to Percy Bisshe Shelley for the use of a piece of his sonnet, Ozymandias. Also, coming up with slightly similar names to ancient civilizations is almost as fun as pokemon-ifying constellations. I always like writing these interlude chapters. Not too much happens, but it's fun playing with my characters and the world a bit.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 28th December 2011 at 6:51 PM.
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