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Thread: Hero's Path

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feralninja View Post
    Joan is actually based of a real, historical figure... Let's see if you can figure it out. Shouldn't be too hard.
    Joan of Ark the famous martyr maybe? This is getting better and better it seems.
    I've gotten into IV Breeding. I'll breed any Pokemon that can, just ask and I'll see what I can do!


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  2. #77
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    I'm more interested in Aceus myself, and I love your telling. He's certainly a kind, though somewhat sarcastic being.

    Cole has shown a penchant for losing his way, has he not? Straying from the path? I have made it so he will no longer want for guidance on this journey
    Truthfully, this sounds more maleveolent though than it really should to my ears, that whole scene reminds me of the first time we see Galvatron "heel" to in the 1986 Transformers Movie.
    Last edited by Glover; 17th December 2011 at 4:13 AM.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  3. #78
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    Default Unholy Night

    “I’m getting to old for this,” Magnus grumbled. “Someone my age shouldn’t be slogging through these snowfields.”

    “Magnus,” Cole cried. “You live up in the Sinjoh ruins! You should be used to this!”

    Magnus cast Cole a dirty look and pulled his hat down. “All right, first off, that’s up in a valley in the mountains! The peaks keep out the chill! Second, this isn’t just a chill! This is a blizzard! Third… you’ve got a nice warm Charizard next to you, and a Samurott plowing the way!”

    Joan laughed. “Magnus, you could come over behind Masamune too!”

    “I have my pride, girl. I have my pride.”

    Magnus continued slogging through the snow. Finally, he grumbled a long string of obscenities, called out Macbeth, and set the Ursaring to helping Masamune clear a path through the chest-high drifts. He strode through the path in front of Cole and Joan, who were sheltering under Charizard’s wings.

    “Now let the record show,” Magnus declared, “that I am still going on my own power, for Macbeth is my pokemon, and his actions are reflected through me. My pride is intact.”

    Cole and Joan laughed as Macbeth glanced over his broad, furry shoulder and rolled his eyes. The two bulky pokemon in front used their massive size to level a path for the trainers, and showed very little care for the gusting wind.

    Despite Magnus’s claims, there was no blizzard. The blowing snow was cold, certainly, but there was nothing unseasonable or particularly dreadful about it. Such conditions were commonplace for this area of Sinnoh, the highlands in the foothills of Mount Coronet. After some time, Joan remarked that Masamune and Macbeth must be freezing.

    Masamune was quick to assure her than he barely felt the bitter wind. While Cole doubted that, he knew Samurott had a high tolerance for cold, simply through evolution (the Darwinian kind, not the flashy form-change variety) to suit their environments. According to Professor Juniper, she had identified two schools of the Oshawott family, one freshwater, and one sal****er.

    The freshwater school lived high in Unova’s mountains, near the frigid sources of its iconic rivers. The sal****er group lived off the coast, in a chain of islands that ringed Undella Bay. In both places, the water was very cold for most of the year, and the weather was often little better. Samurott had thick skin, and hardy muscles to cope. Masamune was in no danger of freezing.

    Macbeth also waved away Joan’s concerns, but Cole could not understand the Ursaring's speech. Again, though, he wasn’t overly worried. Ursaring lived mostly in mountainous regions where the temperature could get very low. Macbeth had a dense fur coat, and a hide at least as thick as a Samurott’s. Their living snowplows were in no risk of frostbite.

    Maeve gallivanted through the snow, happy to be once again back in her native land. She had been born near Lake Acuity, and that was perhaps a day’s travel away. Her arm was healing nicely, Cole had removed the bandage two days ago. The Weavile called out a greeting to a hazy pack of Abomansnow on a distant ridge, and then glanced at Cole. “It’s a good thing we didn’t bring Shiva along.”

    Cole was forced to agree. The Sceptile would not have liked this, not one bit. And when their quest took them closer to the poles, and Keldeo, the cold would only get worse still. They passed some time in relative silence, the only noise being the soft grunts of Masamune and Macbeth, and the crackle of Charizard’s tail flame.

    Joan pressed closer to the orange dragon’s body as they made their way over a wooden bridge. Magnus glanced over the rope railing and down into the gorge. “Well. Look at that.”

    Cole peered over the edge. “What’s up?”

    “See the way the water is frozen?” At Cole’s nod, the old man continued. “Well, there must have been a sudden surge for it to be all up in spikes and ridges like that. You can make out several back eddies even from way up here, see?”

    Cole leaned over a little, making the bridge creak and sway. “Oh, please stop,” Joan moaned.

    “Afraid of heights?”

    “Not usually,” she confessed. “But on a rickety old bridge like this? Yeah, a little.”

    Magnus swayed from side to side, making the bridge creak and wobble. “Madame, I assure you, this bridge is quite stable. Why, it’s maintained by Sinnoh’s Ranger Corps every ten years or so.”

    Joan gulped, and pressed closer to Charizard. Magnus returned to gazing at the frozen river below. “Anyways, as I was saying, I believe there must have been a flash flood, and then a freak cold spell to make all this water freeze like that.” He shrugged. “Probably for the best. If this had been left unchecked, it would have decimated the valley…”

    “A bit convenient, don’t you think?” Masamune asked Cole as they started on again. “Things like that don’t just happen, or if they do, it’s hardly often.”

    Cole nodded. “I thought I saw some movement down there, but I may be imagining it. Whatever froze this thing, it happened weeks ago.” But he was convinced he saw a flash of red…

    They forged on until the cloudy sky above was tinged with smoky orange. Magnus glanced at the surrounding tundra, and gritted his teeth. “We need to find some shelter, and soon. The temperature will drop dramatically when the sun sets, and I don’t think even our pokemon will be able to keep us warm. All we need is a ridge, something to get out of the wind…”

    Athena, who had climbed up on Charizard’s head, scanned their surroundings. “It all looks flat, for miles and miles.”

    Joan shivered, and Cole noted that her jacket was well suited to most autumn and spring climates, but was far too flimsy for the wintry weather of northern Sinnoh. And just think, it was barely summer up here!

    An abnormality in the snow caught his eye. “Masamune, go look over there!” He swung up onto the Samurott’s back, and the blue behemoth surged through the snow, following Cole’s directive. “Magnus! Joan! Come look at this!”

    Cole dragged his body through the snow, the cold already seeping into his bones. He leaned against the doorframe of the small wooden cabin nestled into a deep in the snow. “Please! Please, open up! My friends and I need to get out of the cold!”

    The door creaked open, heat spilling out. A kindly old woman with a wizened, smiling face peeked out. “Why, you poor dears! Come in, come in!”

    Cole, Joan and Magnus tumbled into the cabin, quickly recalling their pokemon. The woman let them sit in several comfortable armchairs around the hearth, and bask in the heat of her fireplace. “I was just making soup,” she said, and bustled into the next room. There was a clattering of kitchenware, and moments later, she was back with three bowls of soup and four mugs of tea. She sat in the chair opposite Joan, and allowed the travelers to eat in silence. Athena sipped from Cole’s bowl, her tongue lapping it up like a Meowth’s.

    When they finished, the woman took their bowls away. Joan pulled two pokéballs out, and allowed them to drop to the ground. Cole winced, half-expecting her to call out her towering Aggron. When the white light cleared, a fluffy white Swablu sat on her head, and a Banette drifted next to her chair.

    The old woman stopped dead when she saw the Banette, and visibly swallowed. The Banette followed her every move, and it was clearly putting their hostess off. “That’s enough, Eris,” Joan reprimanded. The Banette slumped, and folded her arms.

    Cole reached out to pet her, but Joan cried out. “Be careful! Eris is special! Her ability is Cursed Body!” Cole quickly pulled his hand back. Joan sighed. “Usually it’s not a problem, because it’s activated by a special hormone in her body, but when she experiences a negative emotion, sometimes it comes out. Better safe than sorry.”

    The old woman stared at them. Cole tried to remember if she had blinked this entire time. “What brings you three out here, in this weather?”

    Magnus quickly improvised. “Well, you see Madame, we were traveling already. My sister in Snowpoint is ill, and we have to go help her. My grandchildren came along to make sure nothing happened to me along the way.”

    “Why not just fly? Most trainers do now.”

    Cole jumped in. “Uh… there was some stormy weather over Mount Coronet. We thought it better to try on foot, and we haven’t been able to lift off since.” What he didn’t want to say was Charizard couldn’t even lift off the ground right now, Magnus’s Pidgeot didn’t like cold weather, and Joan confessed she didn’t have a pokemon strong enough to carry her to Snowpoint.

    “Ah.” The woman was quiet for a while. “So you’ll be leaving in the morning?”

    “Yes, likely. Provided the wind dies a little.”

    “I’ll leave you to sleep then. Good night.” She exited the room, leaving Cole and his companions alone with the fire. The Swablu on Joan’s head sang a tired little song, and Joan reached up to stroke its cotton-like wings. “Shh, Cirrus. Shh.”

    Magnus flicked a lever on his armchair; making the footrest pop out and the upper part of the recliner lean back. “Ahh…” the old man sighed as he pillowed his head on his arms. Joan removed Cirrus from the top of her head, and cradled the little bird in her arms until it went to sleep. She hummed a lullaby, and lay out on the couch she had taken as a seat. Eris drifted to the opposite side; never taking her eyes off the door the old woman disappeared through.

    Cole shifted his legs over the arm of the chair, his head resting against the padded back. Athena curled up in his lap, and was soon asleep. Cole watched the flickering embers of the fire die down, before his eyelids grew heavy.

    ***

    The Firebrand leapt up, making Athena cry out. Morning sun was filtering through the curtains, but Cole was shivering. He grabbed his duster from the coat rack, and glanced around the cabin. The only sound was Joan’s soft breathing, and Cirrus’s tinny snores. Magnus slept like a statue, his chest barely rising and falling. Of their mysterious hostess, there was no sign.

    Cole drifted into the kitchen, trying his damndest to be quiet. He opened one of the cabinets, hoping to find a bit of food. His stomach ached with hunger. But to his surprise, the cabinet was barren. He tried every other cupboard, and likewise, there was nothing. No food, no pots, no pans, no cutlery. There was no sign of the bowls they had used the night before.

    He tried in vain to ignite the old gas stove. It merely clicked as it tried to light fuel that simply wasn’t there. Cole poked his head into the third and final room of the cabin. Aside from a plain, immaculately made bed, it was empty. Of the strange old woman, there was no sign.

    With a strange sense of foreboding, he padded back to the parlor. Magnus was slowly rising. Cole moved quickly to his side and whispered, “Something’s wrong. The lady isn’t here. There’s no food. There’s… well, nothing at all.”

    Magnus’s eyes narrowed. “There are no ashes.”

    “What?”

    “Look in the fireplace. After last night, there would be ashes. One of us would have heard if she came in to sweep them away, I’m sure of it. And look, the basket that held the firewood. It’s empty too.”

    They quickly awakened Joan, and informed her of the strange occurrence. The young woman glanced around furtively. Eris mumbled something, but she shook her head. “Don’t be silly.”

    Magnus strode over to the door and flung it open. Cole winced as the icy air poured in. The man from the Sinjoh ruins shook his head. “The only footprints in the snow are ours, and though they are mostly faded, they were clearly there. Our hostess is simply… gone.”

    “You don’t think it was just a dream, do you?” Joan asked with a shudder.

    Cole shook his head. “It would require some serious psychic power to induce it in all of us, with that kind of vivid imagery. It could have been an illusion, but even Scathatch has a hard time replicating multiple sensations at once. The kind of focus it would have taken to simulate the warmth of the fire, the texture and taste of the soup, and the caster itself would have to be incredible.” He started out the door, pulling his duster around him. “Either way, I think we should get out of here fast. I don’t want my mind messed with any more than it already has been.”

    ***

    The Froslass stood atop the roof of the cabin, completely at ease with the frigid wind. The three strangers trudged through the snow beneath her. She inclined her head to try and catch a snatch of conversation, but the gale blew it away.

    She turned and drifted down, floating over the ever-changing snowfields. Today, like every day, she would go down into the gorge and make sure the floodwaters stayed frozen. A Sisyphean task it might be, but if she did not do it, all of the pokemon living in the valley would die.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 23rd December 2011 at 4:50 PM.
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  4. #79
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    Default Converging Destinies

    In honor of the holiday, I'm posting two chapters of Hero's Path this week. So... yay! Also, if you haven't already, make sure to check out A Journeymen Solstice Carol, a League of Heroes holiday special.


    “It’s very beautiful,” Joan whispered as they hiked along Acuity Lakefront. The evening sun sparkled along the crystalline water. Despite the harsh temperature, the lake wasn’t frozen. Masamune splashed through the shallows, completely comfortable with the frigid water.

    Charizard grumbled, shivering a little. Cole patted the dragon’s neck. “Why couldn’t the Gate be at Lake Valor?” He drew his duster tighter around him. “It’s summer! I don’t want to be cold!”

    Magnus rolled his eyes. “Cole, just enjoy it! The worst of the wind has abated, and Snowpoint City is in a valley. There will be almost no chill there.” He chuckled. “That said, there is a Gate along the Valor Lakefront. I suppose Arceus just had bigger plans for us up here.”

    “That’s just cruel and unusual punishment. I’ve never done anything but help Arceus. I hate having to walk through ankle-deep snow.”

    “You’ll manage, I’m sure. This all builds character.”

    Joan glanced at them. “Do you… want to keep going? The lake is nice, but I would prefer not to camp tonight. Let’s get to Snowpoint before the temperature drops.”

    Magnus threw the folds of his cloak back, and thrust his walking stick out in front of him. “The lovely lady has a point! Let us continue!”

    The two younger people huddled against Charizard’s warm flanks again, though Magnus was stubborn as ever. After another hour of walking, they arrived at the outer line of the city. Several boats bobbed in the harbor, and the loading equipment was shutting down for the day.

    Magnus sighed as the sound of the wind died away. Charizard snorted a puff of smoke out his nostrils, making Athena cough. The old man turned to Cole. “Perhaps we should go to the pokemon center, and make sure no one is at risk of frostbite?”

    Cole nodded. “I could go for some hot chocolate.”

    They tramped through the town, eventually reaching the iconic building. The Temple loomed up in the background, but Cole forced that out of his mind. They would handle the Gate tomorrow. The glass doors slid open, and the heavenly feeling of central heating washed over the company.

    Cole and Magnus strode up to the main desk, already bringing out their pokemon for treatment. “Joan?” Cole asked.

    The young woman stood behind them, not moving from the doorframe. Her eyes were wide, and she was shaking. She hurriedly unclipped her pokéball holster and threw it to Cole. Then, as soon as he caught it, she turned and bolted.

    Cole passed the harness to Magnus. “You handle things here, I’ll go find her.”

    He dashed out the door, and hurried down the main byway of the city. The streets were freshly shoveled, so he couldn’t track her by her footprints. Anywhere that there was a light dusting of snow was so trampled by other peoples’ feet, it was impossible to track.

    “Joan! Joan!”

    The Firebrand saw a man leaning against a bar, smoking a cigarette. “Hey!” Cole said, sliding to a stop. “Hey, I’m looking for a woman.”

    The man exhaled a puff of smoke, and then waved his hand dismissively. “Aren’t we all, brother?”

    Cole grabbed the man’s collar and pinned him against the wall. “I don’t have time for games. She must have run right past you. Where did she go?”

    “Listen man, I got no idea what you’re talking about.” The smoker struggled against Cole’s grip.

    The young man leaned in closer. “There are only a few places anyone can run to in this town. Where. Did. She. Go?”

    “Look, I don’t want any trouble Maybe I saw this chick, maybe I didn’t. What’s it to you? You should keep better track of your girlfriend.”

    Cole dropped the man. “It’s not like that.”

    The man stamped out his cigarette and drew a pokéball. “Oh yeah? Well, we’ll see.”

    “I don’t have time for this.” Cole stalked away, his duster flaring. He stalked down to the docks. Joan had run this way initially, so perhaps she had continued in a straight line. Certainly, it was worth investigating. As Cole walked, he immediately regretted accosting that man. He hadn’t done anything wrong to Cole, so his reactions were wholly unwarranted.

    Besides, it wasn’t like he was even close friends with Joan. If it were Becca, or Ammy, or any of his other female friends, then perhaps he would have had a reason to act so brashly. Why did he feel so protective of this girl, who he had only known for a week?

    A lone figure leaned against the railing of the Snowpoint Dock, staring at the boats. Cole slowly made his way down the icy stairs. The evening sun glinted off the harbor waters, dazzling his eyes slightly. Cole leaned against the rail, and glanced at Joan, who was shivering.

    She looked up when he draped his duster over her shoulders, leaving him in nothing but a t-shirt. “I’m not cold,” she muttered, and went to take the jacket off.

    “Well, you’re shaking. Excuse me for being a gentleman.”

    “Sorry. I just don’t do hospitals.”

    Cole raised an eyebrow. “Why not? I’ve never had any problems with pokemon centers. The staff is always nice, and my pokemon don’t mind the attention, not a bit.”

    “It’s not the center. It was… the smell. That antiseptic.” Joan stared down at her hands. “You probably think I’m crazy.”

    “No, of course not.”

    Joan didn’t speak for a while, and the two of them stared at the setting sun. “They put me in a hospital, back when I was a kid.”

    “Oh?”

    The young woman puffed out a breath of air, making a cloud of steam. “Yeah. When most kids were starting out on their journeys, I was put in a mental institution. Oh, don’t give me that look. I’m not some dangerous escaped patient. Okay, so I am an escaped patient. But I’m not insane, and I’m not dangerous.”

    “You escaped…? Joan, I have so many questions right now, I don’t know where the hell to even start. I’m not sure if I should be calling the cops, or running for my life, or hiring a lawyer…”

    “I’ll give you the abridged version then,” she replied, shifting in the duster. “You deserve at least that much. When I was little, I heard voices. Arceus and Mesprit, though naturally I didn’t know it at the time. But no one else seemed to understand that these voices in my head were actual entities communicating with me. It got worse as I got older, so when I was eleven, they brought me to a mental hospital. It was okay at first, just some psychoanalyst stuff. I had a nice enough room, and all the books and puzzles I could ask for.

    “But as I got a little older, and none of the doctors were making any progress, the tests got more intense. There was this helmet thing they put on me, monitoring my brainwaves. They used psychic and ghost types to get inside my head, try and see my thoughts and memories and where all this stuff came from. I can remember one Alakazam particularly. He used all the finesse and subtlety of a bulldozer.

    “A few months ago, the wall to my… well, I guess it was a cell at that point… exploded. Mesprit was there, and she led me out and hid me while the doctors tried to track me down. Like something out a damn movie, Houndoom trying to sniff me out and everything. I made my way across Hoenn, before all this war business began, and caught my first few pokemon. Then, I made my way to Sinnoh, and from there, to Spear Pillar.

    “Cole, I have to admit, when I first saw you, and recognized you, I really thought everything was going to change. I mean, a real, true, genuine hero was backing me up! And this past week, it’s been a lot of fun. But walking into that center, and smelling that… it made something snap.

    “Suddenly, I had to face it. What if this is all some freakish dream? What if I’m going to wake up on an operating table again, and all the doctors are going to be scribbling and muttering and I’m carted back off to my cell? Or worse, if this is all some psychic test, and I really am insane? How do I know you and Magnus and Mesprit and Arceus and all my pokemon aren’t real? What if it’s just some crazy dream?”

    Her voice was gradually getting higher and more panicked. Cole grabbed her shoulders, and spun her around. “Joan, look at me! Look into my eyes! I’m not a dream! Damn it, look at me, Joan! Magnus and I are as real as can be, and you’re here, in Snowpoint City.” He slipped the duster off her shoulders a little. “This cold, this is real. And look.” He placed his hands on her neck, gingerly and carefully. “How do they feel?”

    “Warm.”

    “That warmth is real. Believe me.”

    Joan trembled and collapsed against Cole. “I want to believe… I want to believe…”

    “Then believe, damn it!”

    Joan’s shaking subsided, and she pushed herself away. “Sorry… I… I feel like such a damsel right now.” She shook off the duster and tossed it back to Cole. “Come on, let’s get back. Magnus might be worrying about us.”

    ***

    When they again walked through the sliding door, Magnus stood up from his spot in front of a television, which was playing a documentary on ancient Clefairy involvement in the foundation of the Tojoh civilization, a conspiracy theory that Cole never bought into.

    As the old man started walking towards them, Maeve looked up from the National Geographic she was flipping through, grabbed the remote, and changed to the Pichu Brothers cartoon.

    “Well, glad to see you back, mademoiselle.”

    “I’m better now,” Joan assured him. “No need for your sarcasm, Magnus. And what’s with that look?”

    He laughed. “Oh, you two just remind me of some people I knew a long time ago. Ah, young love. How beautiful it is.”

    “Wha—?” Cole cried, and Joan pushed away from him. “I don’t… I mean… Magnus, what the hell are you talking about?”

    Joan shook her head emphatically. “You think I’d settle for him?”

    “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

    Magnus chuckled and walked away to the food counter, singing under his breath. “Honor, riches, marriage blessings, long continuance and increasing. Hourly joys be still upon you, now we sing our blessings on you…”

    Joan and Cole glanced at each other, then turned away. Joan went to go check on her pokemon, while Cole sat down next to Maeve, the only one who did not need medical attention. If anything, the cold had only invigorated her and sped up the healing process of her arm. He stared at the animated Pichu running around the screen before raising an eyebrow at Maeve. “This stuff will rot your brain, you know.”

    “Well, what else is on?”

    Cole consulted the guide. “Oh, hey, V for Vendetta. I think you’ll like that one.”

    ***

    “…And V was all ‘It is my very good honor to meet you, and you may call me V,’” Maeve gushed to Athena as they walked to the Temple. “And then, he used his sword to make a V in the wall. It’s like that other guy… uh…”

    “Zorro,” Cole supplied.

    “Yeah, him. But cooler.” The Weavile fell silent as they passed through the threshold of Snowpoint Temple. A guide standing nearby scurried over.

    “Hello. Welcome to the Temple. Please, feel free to look around on this floor. If you would like a guided tour, one will be starting in about half an hour. Please do be careful, though. Our efforts to rebuild and restore the Temple after Regigigas’s attack in the Omega War are still very much underway.”

    Cole glanced around at the various scaffoldings set up around the Temple. “Um… we’re actually not tourists. I’m here on business.” He started off to the stairs that led to the lower levels, Joan and Magnus in tow.

    The worker jumped in front of him. “I’m afraid I can’t let you down there, sir. Firstly, the entirety of the lower levels has been closed to the public ever since Regigigas returned, and furthermore, many parts of the catacombs are at risk of collapsing. The wild pokemon have been restless, and at the moment are easily provoked. Not even workers are allowed down there at this point.”

    Cole turned slowly. “I’m assuming you don’t know who I am.”

    The guide shook his head. “Sir, truly, I’m sorry, I can’t allow you down there…”

    The young man sighed, and dug deep in his pockets, finally procuring his Trainer Card. “Cole Culain. The Firebrand. The Defender of Legends.”

    “Oh! Sir… I didn’t…”

    “Look, I’ve been given sanctions by the Global League Confederacy to investigate any signs of strange activity brought about by legendary pokemon, so I think you have to let me go down there.”

    “Right… of course…”

    “And do not be alarmed if we don’t come up any time shortly. We can see ourselves out. Anything that happens down there, my associates and I can handle.”

    “Uh… all right…”

    Cole motioned to Magnus and Joan, and they started down the winding staircase. Joan drew up alongside him and chuckled. “Global League Confederacy? Is that a thing?”

    “Hell if I know. Sure sounded pretentious though, right? And it served our purpose.” He shrugged, the leather of his duster making a satisfying noise as it slid.

    They made their way carefully around a large crater in the next floor, which opened up to the floor below. Maeve peered down. “Looks like Regigigas was in a rush, huh?”

    Cole nodded, and then glanced around. “I don’t see any of the pokemon that guy back there was talking about… do you?”

    Athena sniffed the air. “I smell them around, but I can’t see them…”

    There was a great rustling in the shadows, and a gigantic cloud of Golbat and Crobat swooped down on them. “Masamune, go!” Cole shouted, and the Samurott appeared with a roar.

    Joan too threw a pokéball. “Maximus, take ‘em down!” Her Aggron appeared with a cry like grinding metal plates.

    Cole hissed in a breath, but Magnus shook his head. “Don’t let it get to you. It’s just a name. How could she know?” Cole nodded, and the old man ran forward. “Hamlet, front and center!” The Druddigon roared as he emerged from his pokéball, lashing out with his wickedly sharp claws.

    “Masamune, Ice Beam, let’s go!” Cole shouted over the clamor. “Maeve, Ice Punch! Athena, Fusion Bolt!”

    The Victini and Weavile leapt at the swarming bat pokemon, jumping off walls to hit hard-to-reach targets. Athena’s telekinetically-boosted bounds were getting better and better, and Cole hoped soon she would reach the point of levitating flight. In the myths he’d studied, Victini seemed to be able to do that…

    Masamune and Maximus roared in tandem, and the Aggron swept out a heavy arm, catching a Crobat as it veered away from Hamlet. He threw the purple beast down into the crater, where it disappeared. The Samurott shot a blast of icy white light from his maw, freezing enemies wherever he swept it.

    Hamlet and Magnus were busy clearing a way to the next staircase, but the old man’s staff shot up. “Cole!”

    At that moment, Athena dove to Cole’s side. “I sense something… something big.”

    The floor rumbled as a colossal noise echoed up the stairs. “Magnus!” Joan shouted. “Get out of there!”

    Hamlet grabbed his trainer and swept to the right. A large group of Graveler and Golem rolled up the stairs and directly at them. “Maximus! Hamlet!” Masamune barked. “Get the humans out of here! Athena, take care of Maeve! I’ll handle things here and follow up!”

    Athena nodded, and caught the Weavile with a telekinetic force, before leaping down the wide crater. Maximus grabbed Joan in his left arm, and barreled towards Cole. “Wait!” the Firebrand shouted. “Masamune, I’m not leaving you!”

    “It’s only for a moment, Cole! Trust me, I’ll be fine!”

    Before Cole could protest, the Aggron swept him up and charged straight into the crater. Joan screamed as they dropped two floors straight down. Hamlet and Magnus dropped beside them, the Druddigon’s wings spread to increase drag.

    Cole winced as they landed, the ground splintering beneath them. Maximus grunted, but seemed fairly unharmed. His rocky hide and metallically reinforced skeleton had held off most of the damage. Athena and Maeve drifted down as gently as feathers, and Cole immediately grabbed them out of the air, one in each arm.

    “What’s going on up there? Where’s Masamune?”

    “He’ll be down soon. He said.”

    “But what’s happening?”

    “I dunno.”

    ***

    At that moment, Masamune roared, loud enough that Cole and his friends could hear it. Water surged around him as he prepared a Waterfall attack. He shot one final Ice Beam into the hordes of bat pokemon, and then sprang forward, water trailing behind him.

    The Samurott charged through the advancing rock types, scattering them. He leapt down into the crater, aiming for the opposite side. He scrabbled against the rocky lower ledge, and as soon as he found the purchase he needed, he jumped down once again. He continued jumping from ledge to ledge, outcropping to outcropping; a trail of iridescent water flowing behind him.

    Finally, he crashed down next to Cole and Maximus, with a triumphant roar. A cloud of Golbat had followed him down, and Masamune stepped forward. “Hold on now,” Cole muttered, and stepped in front of his valiant water type. “You’ve done your part.” With a flourish, he cast out his remaining three pokeballs. Charizard, Thor and Scathatch appeared in a brilliant flash of light.

    “Charizard, Heat Wave! Scathatch, Night Daze! Thor, dash to the other side and use Discharge!”

    The brilliant three-pronged attack hit the Golbat flock from all sides. Those that weren’t struck fled as fast as their wings could carry them. The unlucky ones that were hit fell to the ground, and limped away on their weak and spindly legs.

    Athena cheered, and Cole saw a purple and red aura fade from around her body. So that was why everyone’s attacks did so well. He had never commanded Athena to use her ability, Victory Star, but obviously it had now just activated of it’s own accord.

    Magnus turned around, tapping his staff against the old, worn stones. “Well then. Looks like we’ve reached the bottom. Shall we find this Gate?” He strode to the altar, and Joan followed him. Cole, however, remained locked in place.

    “Something’s wrong. Where’s Regigigas? The guide said it returned.”

    Magnus shrugged. “Not our problem. Probably snuck out to go wander the forest.”

    “Something the size of Regigigas doesn’t simply sneak out.” Cole brushed off his duster. “Magnus, despite whatever crap I spouted up there, I am the Defender of Legends. If there’s something wrong with Regigigas, I need to try and fix it.”

    The two other humans, who had already made it to the altar, turned back. “Cole…” Joan said. “You’ll… You’ll want to look at this.”

    The Firebrand signaled to his pokemon, who hurried after him. He clambered up onto the altar, and looked where his friends were pointing. “Arceus… it can’t be.”

    Magnus nodded solemnly. “I believe it is.”

    Cole shook his head in disbelief. “No. It can’t be. It can’t be.” The empty carcass of Regigigas lay on it’s back, it’s vacant oculi staring up at the Temple ceiling. A large cavity had been carved where the lower half of its torso had once been, revealing its ribcage and the top section of its pelvis. The gargantuan creature’s left hand had rotted away, leaving a giant cluster of bones.

    Joan pressed a hand to her mouth. “I didn’t even think the Regis could…”

    “They were biomechanical,” Cole replied softly. “I suppose it was the ‘bio’ part that did this one in. After the Omega War, Regigigas had suffered some severe injuries. I was unconscious for some time afterwards, so I never found out if it got the care it needed.

    “I suppose it was just transported back here and left to fend for itself. I know that on some species of pokemon, external wounds heal very quickly, but it can leave lasting internal damage. I think that here, this was the case. Arceus… I can’t believe Regigigas is… gone.”

    “Here now,” Magnus said, leaping down to the body. “What’s this?” He leaned into the large cavity in the behemoth’s chest. Maeve hissed and looked away.

    “Magnus, you shouldn’t do that!” Joan admonished. “Show respect!”

    “No, look at this!” The old man held up a round object for them to see. “I think… I think it’s an egg!”

    “So what?”

    “Come here, look closer. See these markings on the shell? They’re a dead match for Regigigas’s pattern, albeit on a smaller scale.” He grinned. “Don’t you two see? This is a miracle! This Regigigas might have died, but sooner or later, a new one will be born from this very egg!”

    Magnus began wrapping the egg in his cloak. “What are you doing?” Cole cried. “We can’t take that!”

    “Why not?” Magnus shot back. “Better with the Defender of Legends than the next collector to sneak down here. Besides, when it hatches, you can be right there, and we can make sure our little fledgling brute goes somewhere safe.” The spry old man jumped back up to the altar. “Come now, Cole, shouldn’t we be moving on?”

    “Yes, I suppose so.”

    Joan moved along the wall, feeling for the pattern. “Don’t we need a riddle to open the Gate?”

    “You can use the Gates?” Cole cried.

    The young woman glared at him. “Obviously. How do you think I got from Hoenn to Sinnoh?” Cole mentally slapped himself. It should have been obvious. But he simply hadn’t put the pieces together.

    Magnus glanced around. “All right, try this one on for size. How is a raven like a writing desk?”

    Cole scowled. “Oh, come on, even the Mad Hatter couldn’t get that one! Magnus, think of one with an answer!”

    “No, no!” Joan said. “I know this one! Poe wrote on both!”

    There was a flash of light as a panel on the wall light up. A great gust of wind blew through the Temple, and the band of adventurers walked through the Gate.

    ***

    Cole emerged into blinding sunlight. He blinked, trying to acclimate his eyes. Magnus emerged next to him, their pokemon in tow. The Firebrand slowly took in their surroundings. They seemed to be in the ruins of an ancient city, the stone walls of some archaic castle rising up around them.

    “Joan? Joan? Magnus, where’s Joan?”

    The old man shook out his hat. “I haven’t the foggiest. Apparently her destination was different from ours. Ah! Cole, I know where we are!”

    “That’s wonderful, but Magnus, I thought we were supposed to help Joan. She must be around here somewhere…” He began to wheel around, and only then realized that something else was very wrong.

    “Scathatch, Masamune was next to you when we came through the Gate, wasn’t he?”

    “Yes…”

    “Where is he now?”

    “Cole, I thought perhaps you had returned him.”

    The Firebrand shook his head. “No. No. This is bad. This is very, very bad.” He clambered up a ruined pillar, trying to see if Masamune was nearby.

    “He was called to be with Joan,” Magnus intoned from below. “Cole, please, try to calm down. You have been granted a rare privilege.”

    Cole slid down the pillar, recalling all his pokemon but Athena and Thor. “Screw privilege. When’s Arceus’s gift going to show me the next Gate? I want to find Masamune.”

    Magnus grabbed Cole’s shoulders. “Cole. Look around you. Have you ever been anywhere like this?”

    “N-No.”

    “This is the lost land of Sidhe.” The way Magnus pronounced it, it sounded like Shee. “This is a place where almost no humans ever tread. Only highly ranked league officials come here, and even then only to make sure nothing too damaging has happened to the ecosystem. Cole, you might be the first human to stand in that spot for at least seven hundred years.”

    The Firebrand was floored. “R-Really? That’s… kind of cool, I suppose.”

    “Listen, boy. I’ve been here once before. I know the country a little. This is a large island, located in the great ocean between Unova and Tojoh. It’s far out of flying distance to either of those places, unless we wanted to push our pokemon to exhaustion every day, or found a highly favorable current. It’s a beautiful land, Cole, and there’s only two active Gates here. I can take you to the other, but it’s on the other side of the island. Please, try and enjoy it. Masamune is where he is most needed right now.” He turned and called out his shiny Rapidash, Shadowfax. “Saddle up.”

    Cole leapt onto Thor’s back, and nodded. “The sooner we know where we’re going, the sooner we can get back to Masamune.”
    Last edited by Firebrand; 23rd December 2011 at 5:06 PM.
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  5. #80
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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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  6. #81
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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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  7. #82
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    Default Old Lessons

    There is a song in this chapter, a little later on. I'll link it in the text. Be on the lookout for the underline.

    “How the hell does he do that?” Cole muttered as he picked his way along the rocky slope. He cast another glare at Magnus, at least a hundred yards ahead. The old man had proved remarkably agile for his age, easily shuffling along the narrow ledge, despite the heavy pack on his back.

    Cole clutched at a protruding ridge, and took a deep breath. “Don’t worry,” Athena sat from his feet, patting the toe of his boot. “If you fall, I can catch you. Probably.”
    “Thanks, Fuzzball. That really makes me feel safe.”

    The Victini smiled up at him and continued walking. The ridge was just wide enough for her to be completely at ease, what with her small stature. Cole swallowed the lump in his throat and continued along, foot-by-foot, inch-by-inch.

    “Stupid rocks, blocking the stupid pass. Stupid, stupid, stupid…”

    Magnus called out to him from ahead. “Holding up okay, Firebrand?”

    “Define ‘okay’!”

    Magnus laughed and continued on, his white head of hair soon disappearing around a corner. With a heavy heart, Cole followed on. He glanced down at the seething waves below, and thought, If only Masamune were here, I could swim right over that.

    And if you don’t focus, you’ll get dashed on those rocks, he chided himself. He kept walking, and eventually came to a much wider outcropping Magnus was resting on. It was big enough for both of them to stand on it together and take a breath.

    “How much longer?” Cole asked.

    “Oh, I’d say only another seven hundred yards, tops, before we can climb up the face and get back on normal ground.”

    Cole groaned. Physically, he was capable of doing it, but mentally? It was a wonder he already hadn’t gone mad. Then, he remembered something. “Magnus, why not just use your Pidgeot? Or Hamlet?”

    “Hm, Halcyon? No, no, that would never do. The winds here are too strong, and it would be low altitude flight. Those tire him out quickly, because he’d have to flap. No way he could carry both of us, together or no. Not to mention, the wind here is treacherous. As for Hamlet, well, his wings function more as drag chutes. I was thinking we could use him and Macbeth to scale the wall once we pass all the blockage and reach the plains again.”

    Cole chewed his lips. “All right. Well, the sooner we start, the sooner we can be done with this.” He walked past Magnus and Athena, and slowly began to make his way outward. After several minutes, Magnus chuckled.

    “Can’t you go any faster? I’m old enough to be your grandfather and my mother , Arceus bless her, could be finished by now.”

    “Sh-Shut up! This isn’t like flying! It’s… it’s not fun at all!” As they neared the place where Magnus said it would be safe to try to climb back up, Cole’s foot caught on a loose piece of stone, and he stumbled. He fell towards the rock face, but when he threw his hands out to stop himself, he inadvertently pushed himself backwards.

    He didn’t even have time to cry out.

    There was a flash, and roar that Cole perceived as “No!”

    A comet shot out of the sky, and grabbed him none too gently in hooked claws. “I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet,” the comet growled as it swooped up into the sky with a great beating of wings. Cole watched the ocean and cliffs race by beneath him, and a cry of jubilation escaped his throat.

    He slumped onto the solid earth as soon as his feet came into contact with it, but quickly straightened up and wrapped his arms around Charizard’s neck. “Arceus! Y-You can fly again! And you can talk!”

    “I’ve always been able to talk,” Charizard grumbled. “You just were too dense to listen.” He affectionately shoved Cole away and winked. “Took a near-death experience to clean the clart outta your ears, huh? Should have thrown you off a cliff ages ago.”

    There was a grunt behind Charizard as Macbeth heaved himself up onto the plain, Magnus clutching his back and Athena sitting atop the Ursaring’s head. She bounded over to Charizard, and plowed into him with a hug that only reach three-quarters of the way around the dragon’s neck. “You can fly again!”

    “Sort of,” Charizard admitted. “It still hurts. I don’t think the fractures have healed all the way yet.” He winced as he flared his wings out. “But what the hell, eh? Feels damn good to be back on my feet, metaphorically speaking.”

    ***

    Magnus and Cole continued on, via horseback. Charizard flew low next to them, only on short-range flights to get used to his recovering wings. He and Cole chattered on and on, seemingly endlessly. As they passed by a cliff face, a savage roar came from the rocks. A Salamence darted out of its cave and made straight for Charizard.

    “Invade your airspace, did I?” Charizard roared. “I think it’s big enough to share!” When the Salamence reached out with wickedly sharp claws, Charizard retaliated with a brilliant pulse of indigo light. “Back, foul beast!”

    Cole glanced at Athena. “Has he always added a running commentary?”

    The Victini nodded. “I think it’s fun.”

    Magnus called out his Chatot, Feste. “Go give that hulking behemoth some cover, would you? Draw the fire, I suppose.”

    “Thine goose is cooked!” Feste cried as he winged towards the clash.

    The Firebrand glared at Magnus. “That’s not Shakespeare.”

    “Well, he can hardly say ‘back, foul beast’ again, now that Charizard’s just said it!”

    As Charizard and the Salamence grappled, Feste flapped over the clash. Charizard caught his eye, and broke off contact, distracting Salamence with a Flamethrower. The blue dragon swept through it, and drew a rent on Charizard’s right hind leg.

    “What, this?” Charizard scoffed. “It’s just a minor flesh wound!” He beat his wings intensely, creating a sonic boom that cleaved through the air, and then winced.

    As the Salamence recoiled, Feste opened his beak wide. “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!” The Chatter attack deafened the draconian creature, and it recoiled still further. Thoroughly dejected, the great and terrible dragon retreated back to his cave to lick his wounds.

    “Aye, there he goes Malcolm, there he goes!” Feste crowed.

    “Get back here, you ninny! I’ll bite your legs off!” Charizard winked up at the little bird. “There’s a different kind of classical reference for you!”

    “I knew I’d regret renting that DVD,” Cole muttered.

    ***

    They camped a little ways further on, so that Charizard could have his few cuts seen to, and the other pokemon could stretch out. Thor and Shadowfax idly cropped grass, fairly tired from the day’s run. Newton slept under a lone willow on the banks of the river. Smaller apple trees lined the nearby riverbanks further down, and Hamlet was picking the early summer fruit from their boughs.

    Magnus shoved Aslan’s nose away from the stewpot he and Miranda the Liligant were working over. In the sky above, Caliban the Whimsicott, Halcyon, and Magnus’s Scizor, Oberon, darted through the air. Athena bounded up through the willow branches to join them, leaping from Oberon’s shoulders to Halcyon’s back with psychically-charged jumps.

    Maeve reclined in the upper branches, picking her teeth clean from a fish dinner she had snatched and eaten in the time it took Cole to unfurl his bedroll and glance over. Scathatch and Ophelia splashed about in the river, trying to clean themselves off.

    Cole and Charizard strolled through the meadow, completely elated with the newfound ability to communicate. Maeve smoothly moved her arms up behind her head, as if to pillow it on them, and then clapped her palms down over her ears. “Shut up. Arceus, you’ve been around each other for years. There’s not that much catching up to do…”

    ***

    That night, Cole woke up to the most peculiar of sounds. It was faint enough, and no one else seemed to be stirred by it yet. He did a quick tally in his head, and realized that Scathatch was not in the campsite.

    He hastily leapt from his bedroll, and glanced around. A dark shape was down near the river, some three or four hundred feet away. His bare feet dashed over the verdant, moonlit meadow as he went to investigate. As he drew closer to the river, the landscape suddenly changed.

    Cole found himself, not in the strange land of Sidhe, but in the River District of Opelucid City, the elegant brick buildings rising up around him. Scathatch stood next to the river, gazing into its suddenly crystalline depths. “And now I’m all alone again, nowhere to turn, no one to go to.” She sang with a strange, lilting melody, one that, while Cole heard it in English, also sounded haunting in her native tongue. It was a howl that rose and fell, with many strange nuances. Scathatch had yet to notice his presence. “I’m without a friend, without a face to say hello to. And now the night is near… and I can make believe he’s here…”

    A glittering cluster of lights appeared, slowly congealing into a more solid, tangible form. Scathatch swept away to stand near it, continuing her foreign song. “I’ll walk alone at night when everyone else is sleeping. I think of him and then I’m happy with the company I’m keeping. The world goes to bed… and I can live inside my head.”

    The lights flashed brightly once, revealing a construct of Masamune, standing proud and tall, nearly radiant in the moonlight. She leaned against the illusion’s flank and closed her eyes. “On my own, pretending he’s beside me, all alone, I’ll walk with him ‘till morning. And when I close my eyes, it’s as though he’s found me.”

    Cole leapt back as puddles appeared out of thin air, creating iridescent pools in the river. The trees, once bare, burst into bloom, their petals fluttering through the air. Scathatch sighed. “In the rain, the pavement shines like silver. The lights are misty I the river. In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight! And all I see is him and me, forever and forever!”

    She pulled her lips back from her fangs, eyes still closed. Her voice took on a dangerous tinge, and her howling cries grew deeper and more menacing. “And I know it’s only in my mind, that I’m talking to myself and not to him! And although I know he is gone… still I say… there’s a way for us…”

    She whirled and swiped her claws through the illusionary Masamune, dissipating him into whisps of smoke. The rest of the illusion began to collapse, revealing the land of Sidhe once again. “I love him,” she gasped softly. “But when the night is over, he’s gone. The river’s just a river. Without him, the world around me changes. The trees are bare and everywhere the land is full of strangers!”

    The Zoroark bared her fangs, and they glinted against the dark world. “I love him, but every day I’m learning that all my life, I’ve only been pretending! Without me, his world would go on turning! A world that’s full of happiness that I can never know!

    “I love him… I love him, but only... on my own.”

    “Scathatch,” Cole said.

    She whirled around, her red mane billowing. She leapt at him, and he fell backwards with a cry. She crouched on his chest, her teeth an inch away from his neck. “C-Cole! I’m sorry.” She quickly stepped off, and hid her face.

    Cole ran a hand through her fur. “You really love him, don’t you?” He felt almost heartless, having never realized it before. Surely, Scathatch and Masamune showed remarkable devotion to each other, and to their children. Most inter-species relationships between other pokemon lasted only briefly, and it was rare that any pokemon mated for life.

    Scathatch rested her head against Cole’s collarbone. “I miss him more than words can say.”

    Cole nodded. “I do too. I’m sure we’ll meet back up again. There must be a reason why we were separated, but there will be a time when we reunite.”

    Scathatch inclined her head, and together, they returned to camp.



    Well, I do like that song, however, the Eponnine in it has one of the worst voices in musical theater. Ah well, it was the best version I could find easily. I hope you survived her caterwauling and could appreciate the nuances of the song.
    That said, this is one of my favorite chapters, for all the character development. Yay, Charizard can talk!
    Last edited by Firebrand; 30th December 2011 at 6:01 PM.
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  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feralninja View Post
    I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble
    I thought that it was "Look upon my works, ye mighty and despair", not tremble in the original poem.

    That's my only criticism - great chapter otherwise!

  9. #84
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    Default Paradigm Shift

    Jasper ducked into the bar, pulling the collar of his coat up to avoid detection. He glided over to the counter, and glanced at the bartender. “Vodka. Straight. Just leave the bottle.”

    The man scoffed, taking in Jasper’s tattered clothes and matted hair. “Can you even pay for that?”

    The ex-Magma admin slammed a fistful of bills onto the counter. The barman counted them up, nodded, and returned a moment later with the ordered drink. Jasper poured himself two shots, feeling the hard liquor burn down his throat. The pain focused him, despite the alcohol muddling his brain. So what if he was a little drunk? Foolish courage worked the same as any other kind.

    He took one last swing, straight from the bottle. Jasper cringed as he swallowed, then swung off his barstool, walking slowly and deliberately to the table where the largest concentration of people was. As Jasper strode over, he took in the other bar patrons.

    This was where all the scum in Tojoh sank. Hell, the name of this bar was The Bottom of the Barrel. Ex-Rocket operatives, small-time criminals, bikers with warrants on their heads and the occasional out-of-work bounty hunters all gathered here to drown their sorrows in coarse alcohol and cheap beer.

    Jasper couldn’t help smirking at the irony. Celadon City, considered by many to be the most beautiful, wealthiest city in Kanto, had certainly seen it’s fair share of dark activities the past few years. Here he was, in the seediest bar in the region, and not two blocks from Erika’s botanical garden-turned-gym.

    Now obviously, the police knew about this place. But The Bottom of the Barrel had a valid liquor license, and so long as there were no fights, riots, or dealing of illegal substances in the back rooms, the cops couldn’t shut it down, or even come in without a warrant. Perfect for Jasper’s plans.

    The tall, imposing man stopped at the head of the table, where three men were engaged in some form of gambling game as several others looked on. Jasper smirked as he realized this was probably the last place any of these hopeless men and women could gamble, now that the Rocket Game Corner has been shut down.

    “Pathetic,” he muttered.

    One of the gamblers stood up. “What was that? You got something to say? Well then, spit it out.”

    One of his comrades snorted. “Ha, your prayers were answered. This guy comes and distracts us right as you lose.”

    Jasper waited as a few more people exchanged words, and when the bickering died down, he raised an eyebrow. “Are you quite finished? Good. Let’s move on. How many of you are familiar with a man called… the Firebrand?”

    One of the women at the table leapt up. “Arceus, I hate that kid! It’s because of him I had to do eighteen months in jail!”

    Others soon added in their accusations, and Jasper feigned interest. “Yes, I too have a grievance against him,” he finally said. “And he was here in Kanto, not too long ago.” The admin held up a hand, forestalling another outburst. “I lost his trail when he took off for Mount Moon, but he can’t have gone too far. He has a traveling companion, an old man of considerable power, not to be underestimated.

    “When I confronted him, I was outnumbered, ten to one. I was forced to retreat. To get Cole Culain, I’ll need allies. Who’s with me? I cannot make any promises that it will be easy, or even guarantee your safety. Who here is brave enough to commit to this?”

    Many people quickly turned and hurried away, finding an extremely interesting thing on the other side of the room. Jasper folded his arms. He had expected this. Several people still sat around the table before him.

    One of them, a man in a battered fedora and a threadbare opera cape, leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on the table. “I guess this could be fun. My brother Fenris got axed in the Rocket Incident. He was an admin, got caught in the crossfire trying to escape. Red took him out. But this kid took out Red, so I guess… I’m in. Transitive property of vengeance, right?” He stood up and leaned across the table, hand extended. “Peiotr. Peiotr Masgard.”

    “Jasper.” The two traded grips.

    Another man was carving something obscene in the table with his pocketknife. “Name’s Aldrick. Cole caught me in the Seafoam Islands, trying to get a couple of Articuno’s feathers. They sell for a lot on the black market, but Arceus, not even close to what I had to pay for bail. Good thing I grabbed five of ‘em. Count me in. Have to make a profit somehow. And for me, principle is good as credit.”

    His female accomplice nodded. “I once tracked Raikou down, had it cornered and everything. Of course he’s got to come and play Defender of Legends. I lost a giant profit that day.” She nodded to Jasper. “I’m game. My name’s Liath.”

    A gentleman wearing a suit that must have once been very expensive inclined his head. “You may call me Beckett. Mr. Culain thwarted my very successful… hm. Let’s call it an industry.”

    Peiotr barked out a laugh. “Beckett, your crime ring was more than an industry! It was a freaking corporation!”

    “Whatever the name was, I’m in.”

    A woman in a leather jacket and black miniskirt stepped from the shadows. A tattoo of a Seviper curled up her left leg, and its head was depicted on her slightly visible right breastbone. Jasper did not doubt that it coiled all the way up her torso. “I’ve heard of this young man. While I have not had any direct contact with him, I fear that he may stand in the way of my future… business endeavors.”

    Jasper nodded. “And you are called…?”

    “Talreya.”

    ***

    Joan crouched in the dirt, hiding behind a cluster of rocks. She glanced down at an old pocket watch without a chain in her hand “Well, the time matches up. You’re sure these are the people I told you to find?”

    Masamune nodded, the boulders just barely concealing the massive water type. “They are the only people for miles, except for the other cultists. And these five… they seem different somehow. It is your quest to defeat them, that much I have gathered. But… how? And why? And who are they?”

    Joan pointed at a woman in her twenties, with skin the color of almonds. “Elisa Gomez. Master of psychic types. She’s called the Enigma. No one, not even the other cultists, know that much about her.”

    Then, she pointed to a man with sharp, attractive features, pale skin, and his dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. “Sebastian Dragnof. Specializes in fire types, and ghost types. Also called the Acrobat. From what I’ve gathered, he used to live in Hearthome City, and was well on his way to becoming world-famous for parkour. Then, he left all that and joined up with… these people.”

    “I see,” Masamune grumbled. “As for the rest?”

    “Zhao Xangwei,” she said softly, pointing to a man with canted eyes and black hair. “Expert on flying and dark types. Also called the Puppeteer, Apparently worked for the world government until about three years ago. One of the first converts to the cult, along with… her.”

    Masamune followed where Joan pointed, to see a girl about a year younger than Cole and Joan. She was brusquely typing on a laptop while the others worked. She wore garb similar to what a warrior monk in feudal Johto would have worn. “Molly Lancaster, the Breaker. Heads, codes, security systems, computer networks, you name it. Uses psychic and fighting types. Deadly with a pair of nuchaku in her hands. Was a martial arts prodigy, and her father was a famed scientist, working for the world government. The father is currently AWOL, and here she is. Probably a connection. In fact, I’m certain of it.”

    Her eyes flicked to another young man, again about Cole’s age, and wearing a forest-green hoodie. “Lance Shield, the Phantom. He’s a strange story. Apparently, he and Molly were friends before all this madness. Went to the same martial arts school. He was already accepted into three prestigious universities by the time he was fifteen, full scholarships at all of them.

    “But one day, after Molly’s been missing for about six months, he’s spotted talking with her, or a girl who looks just like her. Vanishes the next day. And now he’s running with these clowns. Uses electric types.”

    Masamune growled softly at the Luxray Lance was petting. He didn’t have a problem with any of Cole’s electric types, but in general they set him on edge.

    “Easy now, easy now, here he comes.” Joan sank lower behind a boulder. Masamune peered through a crack, and saw a man dressed in a white shirt, white jeans, and a white jacket come striding into the center of the group. His hair was bleached silver, and his skin looked as though he hadn’t been in direct sunlight for years.

    “Vladimir…” Joan hissed. “The Savior, self-proclaimed. Masamune, he’s the one who started this cult. A complete sociopath, and merciless too. Megalomaniac, but a freaking genius for all his flaws. Uses electric and poison types.”

    The Samurott nodded. “And how many members does this cult of his have? And… well, why are they an issue?”

    Joan thought for a moment. “I’ll answer your second question first. They’re a problem because they preach against Arceus. But even if it were just that, we wouldn’t have as big an issue. No, the problem is they want to enslave other legendaries to go and kill Arceus, the Lake Trio and Dialga and Palkia. The worst of it is, they know this will start an apocalypse. They want an apocalypse, so they can rebuild civilization, with themselves as gods. That’s worse than anything Cyrus planned. Far, far worse.

    “Now, to the first question, from what I’ve gathered on the news, and seen for myself, about a hundred converts so far. But at the moment, all those converts are down the mountain. And these five are here, with their guards down. There’s never been a better chance…”

    “I thought Arceus said you would need Cole and Magnus,” Masamune growled.

    “Well, yeah. That’s why you came through the Gate with me. I needed to meet Cole, to meet you. Besides, don’t you see how bad this is? If they aren’t stopped now, I may not get another chance.” She palmed her six pokeballs. “All of you, c’mon out.”

    Maximus growled as he spied the cultists down below. A Flygon and Roserade appeared next to the Aggron, and tensed up, ready for combat. Joan’s Jolteon bared its teeth, and Eris was soon surrounded in ghostly blue fire. Cirrus, recently evolved into an Altaria, spread his wide, puffy wings.

    Masamune shook his head. “We’re not ready yet. If it’s just the eight of us, we’ll lose. I’m willing to bet that each person down there has at least four pokemon. Each. Joan… to succeed, we’ll need allies.”

    Her Roserade, Sander, nodded. “He has a point.”

    Maximus growled again. “I don’t know. I’m sure we can handle them, between us. What do you think, Nimbus?”

    The Flygon inclined his head. “It seems to me that we have a type advantage, in some regards. None of them have dragon or ice types, and from what we’ve learned there are several electric types. Between Tesla, Maximus and I, those attacks will be useless.”

    Eris nodded. “I can handle psychic and fighting types, no problem.”

    Cirrus fluttered over to Masamune. “No, Masamune is right. We’re outnumbered. It’s not just super effective moves that win battles.”

    Sander leapt to Cirrus’s side. “Exactly. Joan, I simply cannot allow this. We’re facing long odds here.”

    Maximus swung his arms. “All right, here’s what we’ll do. A quick hit-and-run, scare them a little. Then, before they have a chance to recover, we’ll retreat. They’ll be shaken up, and we’ll have bought ourselves time to find allies.”

    Joan drew two rods from her belt, her lead ‘mace’ and steel ‘sword’. Though she’d never admit it, she had gotten the idea from Cole and Anduril. “Let’s kick some cultist asses, eh?” She vaulted over the rocks, her sword outstretched. “For Arceus!”

    For Arceus!” the pokemon bellowed, and charged in after her.




    Crossover villains are fun.
    Jasper's new allies are the main antagonistic cast of Sin at press time, sans the Chancellor (because that would mean me revealing his actual name, and I'm not doing that!). The cult Joan must defeat is based off of the main cast of my story Armageddon, which, like everything else of mine, can be found on Fictionpress via my signature banner.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 7th January 2012 at 9:07 PM.
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  10. #85
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    Default Clouded Future

    Remember those Riverdance songs I recommended a few chapters ago? Yeah, they may help out here to set the mood.



    “Charizard?”
    “Hm?”

    “Have you… are you… Arceus, this is going to be a strange question. I’m not really sure how to put it, I’m afraid.”

    “Well, just stick your foot in your mouth and be out with it. You’ve proven adept at it in the past.”

    Cole thumped the dragon’s side and scowled. “All right. I guess… don’t feel pressured to answer. I’m just curious really.”

    “Out with it, boy.”

    The Firebrand stared into the embers of their campfire. “Well, here goes. Why haven’t you… mated with anyone yet? I mean, Masamune and Scathatch are happy together, and all the other pokemon I’ve had that have mated always seem really pleased. And they only get happier when they have kids. You must have seen it too.

    “And any children you have would probably inherit the best of your traits. They’d be really strong, and I think you’d make a good father. I’ve seen the way you act around younger pokemon, like those Charmanders at Oak’s Lab. So why haven’t you?”

    Charizard was silent for a long while, and he turned his head away from Cole. “I just don’t have that kind of connection with anyone. Not for a long time.”

    “So you did, once?”

    “Two years ago. But she’s gone now. Far beyond my reach.”

    Two years. That would mean about the time of the Omega War. Charizard had never shown any inclination towards any of the other Journeymen’s pokemon. Most of Cole’s deceased pokemon were male, except… “Countess.”

    Charizard visibly winced at the mention of Cole’s late Tyranitar. “Yes. I thought there might have been something. But then…”

    Cole rubbed his friend’s wing membrane. “I’m sorry. Did you ever let her know how you felt?”

    Charizard shook his head. “No. And I curse myself every day for it.”

    “Well, what about another? I don’t mean to force you to move on, but sometimes we have to put the past behind us. I… I learned that the hard way.”

    “I suppose it may be nice to start a family of my own,” Charizard admitted. “But I don’t think there are any potential mates.”

    Cole folded his arms. “Well, what about Solar?” The female Sceptile and Charizard certainly got along, so a match might not be out of the question.

    “I thought Shiva had a claim on her.”

    “No, I think Shiva and Solar’s relationship is more like brother and sister than romantically inclined,” Cole replied. “And besides, Shiva really only has eyes for Kali.” Then, the young man smiled ruefully. “It’s just a right shame that Sceptile and Luxray aren’t compatible, breeding-wise.”

    Charizard huffed out a cloud of smoke. “Just hope they don’t adopt a Phampy and name it Ganesha.” Then, he shifted his wings. “All that aside, I don’t know about Solar. Maybe. When we get back from our quest, I may…”

    Cole waved a hand. “I can tell by your tone. You won’t. There’s someone else you have in mind. Who?”

    “No, it… it’s stupid. We can’t breed. We’re not compatible.”

    “Does the example of Shiva and Kali mean anything?”

    “It’s more complicated than different breeding capabilities.”

    “Charizard, I’m not sure I understand…”

    The dragon abruptly stood up, making Cole tumble to the ground. “I’ve already said too much. Forget it.”

    Cole grabbed Charizard’s head and swung it down to level with his own. “Tell me.”

    Charizard scratched his claw in the dirt and mumbled something. Cole raised an eyebrow and growled low in his throat, a primal challenge and assertion of his dominance. Charizard bared his throat in quick submission before replying.

    “Fine… It’s… It’s Swampert.”

    Cole took a step back, his mind racing. In a way, it made sense. Swampert and Charizard had been battling partners for years. They covered each other’s weaknesses completely, Charizard handling grass types and Swampert easily dispatching any electric and rock types that would bother the dragon. They knew every move their partner made completely by instinct. The two were Cole’s heaviest hitters, and the two he could always count on. Working in tandem, the two of them had beaten back the full might of Red’s team, even defeating the legendary Kyurem in the Omega War.

    The only problem was… they were both male.

    “So now you see,” Charizard replied. “It’s impossible. I know he doesn’t feel the way I do. It’s pointless.”

    The depths of his pokemon’s feelings once again surprised Cole. He had known that pokemon were capable of strong feelings, but never really thought about them ‘loving’ other creatures, as humans did. Devotion, surely, and affection, of course. But love? It wasn’t that he didn’t think they were capable of it, just that he hadn’t thought about it.

    “Charizard, I’m sure that… things will work out somehow. At least you’re friends, closer friends than any I’ve seen.”

    The dragon nodded. “Cole, I don’t understand these feelings at all. I shouldn’t even be having them.”

    Cole growled again, baring his teeth and tightening his grip on Charizard’s head. Just because he could speak in normal human tongues to his pokemon now didn’t mean he would neglect the more animalistic gestures he had picked up over the years. “These feelings are a part of who you are. No matter what, I’ll accept you, and so will everyone else in our Fellowship. All of us, no matter what. So how hard can it be to accept yourself?”

    “Pokemon aren’t supposed to have these kinds of feelings!”

    “And how do you know that?”

    “Because there’s nothing anywhere to indicate it!”

    “Probably because no other pokemon had the courage to speak up and do something about it!”

    Charizard pulled away, his wings flaring. “You may be right. But Cole, I don’t know how to handle this…”

    “One step at a time, brother, one step at a time.” He laid a hand on Charizard’s warm flank. “If there’s anything I can do to help you…”

    “There is. A name. I want… a name. From the Old Stories. I know, it doesn’t exactly relate. But the pokemon who have one seem to find guidance and purpose in it. Masamune has grown up living up to his namesake, a legendary warrior with impeccable honor. Scathatch, the warrior of the shadows, has had that to guide her. Shiva and Kali have been almost destined for each other, and find power within their names as the Destroyer of Worlds and Handmaiden of Justice.”

    “And you want that same guidance? Well, there are plenty of names.” Cole smiled, recalling as many tales as he could. “You could go Mars or Ares. Or Achilles, or Rá…”

    Charizard waved a clawed hand. “No. I don’t want to be named for a warrior. Someone wise, or who made a difference through peaceful ways. I don’t want my legacy to be that of bloodshed. Like Solomon, or Voltaire.”

    “I’ve got it,” Cole said with a smile. “Prometheus.”

    Charizard beamed. “The man who rode a Charizard and brought people and pokemon together?”

    “And brought fire to humankind. Yes. He opened new roads of communication, and is the benefactor of all creatures. So… Prometheus?”

    The dragon nodded. Cole placed his hand on his partner’s head, and murmured solemnly, “I name you Prometheus, with the stars and heavens as my witness.”

    Prometheus rose, and roared up at the night sky.

    ***

    Cole and Magnus galloped along the seaside cliffs. The ocean below surged against the white stone precipice as flying types wheeled in the sky. Scathatch bounded alongside, occasionally bolting away from Thor to investigate something in the grass, or shifting into a new form.

    Athena sat on Cole’s shoulder, her ears tilted back into the wind. “There doesn’t look like there’s much of Sidhe left.”

    Cole nodded. “We’ve ridden hard these past two weeks. It’s a shame to leave it.”

    Magnus smiled. “I told you it was a beautiful country.”

    “Do you think there’s ever a chance of returning?”

    The old man sighed. “For you? Perhaps. For me…”

    “Magnus…”

    “Well, Cole, I’m an old man. I’ve not much time left regardless.”

    “Don’t talk like that! You can’t be that old!”

    “You have no idea, boy.”

    They rode in silence for some time more. Cole noted that on the last promontory into the sea had several structures on it. A village perhaps? Long abandoned, maybe, but a village all the same. Magnus followed his gaze and nodded. “The Gate is just over there.”

    Prometheus soared above their heads, his great wings slowly healing. The Charizard was now pushing his limits further and further with every chance he got, trying to exceed his previous physical condition, before his injury. Cole looked up and smiled. “What do you see, brother?”

    “It’s strange, Cole. I’m not sure what to make of it.”

    Cole was then able to make out the structures, and they did not resemble any house or temple or palace. It appeared to be a giant circle of standing stones, as though someone had set up ten Gates all together.

    “Magnus, what is that?”

    “Our destination.”

    “I see that, but what are they?”

    The old man nodded, as if contemplating his answer. “The ancient people of Sidhe used this site to monitor the heavens, from equinoxes and solstices, to star patterns, and the phases of the moon. See, look there.” He pointed to the arch that faced out to sea. “On the summer solstice, the sun will shine right through there, illuminating the entire Circle. I saw that my last time here. It was… heh. Well, this may sound trite, but it’s the truth. It was magical.”

    They reigned in at the edge of the Circle, and Cole returned all his pokemon but Athena, who he clutched to his chest. He was not willing to let another friend leave his side, not if he could help it. The wind played through his hair, and the waves made a strange sound on the cliffs far below, almost like music.

    Magnus began to sing in a strange language, a language that had not been used or heard in eons. Cole felt himself swaying to the strange melody, and it seemed as though his mind instinctively knew the words. Athena’s ears twitched as she tried to pick up the exact timbre of the song.

    “Magnus,” Cole murmured. “It’s beautiful. What is it?”

    Magnus finished his soft, melancholy song. “It was the language of Sidhe. I was merely bidding farewell to this beautiful land…”

    “That song… I think it did something to my mind…”

    The old man glanced at Cole, his startlingly blue eyes shining with tears. “My boy, do you believe in magic?”

    “After today, how could I not?”

    The Gate, the farthest stone arch, the one that would light up with the summer solstice, burst into white light, though the setting sun was still a hand-span from the horizon. It flashed, and Cole felt the beautiful, pristine, wild land of Sidhe fall away from him.

    And he wept with the most profound sorrow.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 14th January 2012 at 1:27 AM.
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  11. #86
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    That, was an extremely bizarre chapter, and a very strane path to go down....
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  12. #87
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    Default Twisted Paths

    The sound of waves was still in Cole’s ears, but there was a different quality to the air. He couldn’t quite define it, but as the light faded, he knew for sure that he wasn’t in the land of Sidhe anymore. Small wooden houses lined the sandy beach, and several people strolled in the low light of early evening. Muffled conversation reached Cole’s ears, and he glanced around, expecting one voice in particular.

    Magnus doffed his hat. “Well. That was… that was something. Cole, what’s wrong?”

    “I-I’m just being foolish.” The Firebrand shook his head. “Foolish.”

    “You thought he’d be here, didn’t you?”

    Cole’s shoulders sagged. “Yeah.”

    Magnus winked. “The Gates work in strange ways. If we haven’t met back up with Joan and Masamune yet, I’m sure there’s a reason.”

    “I suppose.” He glanced around. “Any idea where we are?”

    “It’s your quest. You tell me.”

    Cole folded his arms, and surveyed the surroundings. “Near a town. Town’s near a beach. An island, maybe. Not a very big town, and the houses are mostly wood. I can’t really go by the time of day; I don’t really know what time zone Sidhe was in. I’m guessing it’s not Unova, though. I think we’ve gone east, since it seems later.”
    “Okay. Well, what else?”

    A bright white light flashed in front of Cole’s eyes. He clutched his temples as a vision swam to the surface of his mind. “Okay… the next Gate… it’s somewhere with a lot of fallen leaves. Red and gold. I’m guessing not the Flare Gym. Another place blessed by Ho-oh, then. And the only one of those I can think of is the Bell Tower.”

    Magnus nodded. “So what do you think?”

    “I think we’re in Johto, then. The Gates have never brought me anywhere too far from the next one. So if we have to go to the Bell Tower to get to the next Gate, I think we’re in Cianwood City.”

    Magnus whistled. “I figured that out a couple minutes ago.”

    “Well, aren’t you just brilliant, Sherlock?”

    “It was elementary, my dear Watson.” The old man pointed to a sign some ways up the road.

    Cole groaned. “Welcome to Cianwood City. Yes, thank you Magnus.”

    “Now,” the old man said with a scowl, “I can’t make sense of your vision. There is no Gate at the Bell Tower. Not to my knowledge.”

    Cole raised an eyebrow. “That is strange. But Arceus or the Gates or my quest or whatever wants me to go there. So I will. And who knows? Maybe your knowledge is incomplete.”

    Magnus rubbed a hand against the Regigigas egg, and stared at the lapping waves. “So how do we proceed? It’s not a very long journey, just from here to Olivine to Ecruteak. Should we take a ferry, or fly?”

    Cole called out Prometheus. “Well, what do you think?”

    The Charizard flexed his wings. “We haven’t flown in Johto a long time, Cole. I really like this country.”

    “As do I. So flying it is?”

    “Get on.”

    Cole cast Magnus a glance, and the old man summoned Halcyon. Together, the Charizard and Pidgeot lifted off, leaving nothing but a cloud of sand and a gasp from onlookers.

    As the pair soared into the evening sun, Cole watched the glittering water around the Whirl Islands. “Some good times there.”

    “I’d like to visit that waterfall in the grotto again,” Prometheus murmured. “Someday. Not now, maybe, but someday.”

    Magnus’s mane of silvery gray hair streamed back in the wind. “How long do you think our flight will take?”

    Cole did a quick estimation. “If we keep this leisurely pace, in this crosswind? Maybe an hour. Of course, under the right conditions, we could be most of the way to Kanto in that time if we tried.”

    “Let’s see where the wind takes us.”

    ***

    The two adventurers alighted down by the entrance to the Bellchime Trail when the sun was just sinking behind the Tower. The sage at the door bowed low, his face etched in shock. “Sir Cole! It’s been so long! Is something wrong? Is Ho-oh in danger?”

    Cole quickly assured the man he was here simply for the pleasure of the atmosphere, and Magnus added that the air was good for his old lungs. The sage waved them through, and Cole strode out to the brick walkway, letting old memories wash over him.

    “Remember the last time we were here, Prometheus?”

    The Charizard nodded. “Years ago. Our last battle with Taylor. Our last battle before you left for Unova, actually. Yes, I remember. Maeve was there too.”

    Cole got what Prometheus was hinting at, and let the ice type out for a stretch. “Remember this, Maeve?”

    “Of course. How could I forget?”

    Magnus smiled. “The scars of that battle may have faded, but I see the memories still burn bright.”

    Cole strolled up and down the path. “It’s just nice seeing something that hasn’t changed, after all that’s happened. I’ve gone through a lot, but this whole place… it’s still just the same.”

    His temples pounded again, and he sank to his knees. “Cole!” Maeve cried as she rushed forward. Magnus looped an arm around his shoulders and took his pulse. Everything seemed fine, and Cole didn’t seem to be in pain.

    The young man opened his eyes, and was greeted with a black expanse. “Well hello there.” Cole whirled, and was confronted by a man in a ragged traveling coat with unkempt hair and a pack thrown over his shoulder. “Nice of you to stop by. I was just passing through myself.”

    “Ignore him.” Cole turned again, and saw another figure, who had definitely not been there a moment ago. This one wore a leather coat with chain mail sewed on. He had a length of iron thrust through his belt, and his face was etched with scars. His eyes burned with passionate fire, and he had his arms folded over his chest. “His ramblings mean nothing.”

    “Rambler! Yeah, that’s who I am!” the first man exclaimed. “No, wait, that’s not right…”

    “What’s going on here?” Cole demanded.

    “Well, it’s about damn time,” a third voice said, slowly, as if savoring each word. “I was beginning to think you would never arrive.”

    Cole turned on his heel, and glared at a figure cloaked in robes much like the one Ghetsis had worn. They were red and gold, with a pattern like fire running up and down their lengths. A crown of gold rested upon this man’s head, with seven jagged spars coming out like rays. “Just who do you think you are?”

    “Radiance,” the man replied, sweeping across the darkness to stand by Cole’s side. “But I think you already knew that.”

    “I’ve never seen you before,” Cole spat, taking an instinctive dislike to this strange man. “And I’ve never heard of you.” He reached for Thor’s pokéball, but his hand grasped empty air. Somehow, all the capsules had vanished from his belt.

    Radiance clasped down on Cole’s wrist with a hand like a vise. “Now, I do believe introductions are in order all around.”

    The man in the tattered clothes glanced up from the watch he was tinkering with. “I’m the Wanderer.”

    The man in the armor lowered his eyes in barely concealed distaste. “And I am the Firebrand.”

    “What?!” Cole staggered back, out of Radiance’s grasp. Yes, now that he looked, the Firebrand bore startling resemblances to him. The basic facial structure, the overall pose, and the set of his shoulders were remarkably similar to Cole’s. The only thing that was different was this Firebrand had a few more scars, and his Anduril looked like a proper sword.

    He glanced at the other two men. Yes, they too bared a scary resemblance to him. “Just what are you?” Cole demanded, his hands shaking.

    The Wanderer smiled. “We’re you. Or I guess, what you could be. Kinda.” He flopped onto the ‘ground’, and began digging through his pack. He drew out a flask, took a long drink, and held it up. “Care for some?”

    “I’ll pass, thank you.”

    “Suit yourself.” The Wanderer took another drag.

    Radiance wrapped his arm around Cole’s shoulder. “We three represent your three ultimate destinies. Which one you pick is very much up to you.”

    “I don’t quite follow.”

    The sharp-featured man paused. “Well, I suppose a Charizard may be a fitting analogy. What do you think, Firebrand?”

    “I’m not speaking to you, Radiance.” The ‘armored’ man turned his back and stalked away.

    Radiance rolled his eyes. “His temper seems to be getting the best of him. Well, anyway, Charizard. Yes. You must know, Cole, that Charizards have the ability to fly all over the world, see whatever they want, and do as they like? Well, that is what the Wanderer represents. He is the side of you that travels, that can never stay in one place.”

    The shabby man glanced up. “Damn straight.”

    Radiance then gestured to the Firebrand. “He represents the honor. Charizards are very, very strong. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. But they will also not turn their fire on a weaker foe, and will always defend the downtrodden. That, Cole, is the spirit of the Firebrand, the great rebel, the hero.”

    The man in the leather coat turned and scowled. “What’s your game, Radiance?”

    “Well,” the man in the robe said with a smile, “I am the Charizard’s raw power. A Charizard has the potential to take on the strongest of opponents, and emerge victorious. Why, our Charizard has taken on Moltres and Kyurem! And won!”

    Cole recoiled. “He’s not your Charizard. Prometheus isn’t even my Charizard. I don’t own him. He’s my partner.”

    Radiance held up an appeasing hand. “Of course, of course. But Cole, I am your desire to have more power. Your deeply buried urge to capitalize on what you’ve done. Maxie offered you that chance, you didn’t take it. But there are other ways to get power. I’m sure you know them…”

    “Stop!” the Firebrand screamed, and grabbed Cole. “He’s poisoning your mind! Don’t listen to him!” The rebel hero glared at Radiance, his fiery eyes reflected in Radiance’s golden crown. “I swear, if you say one more word…” His sword left its belt holster with a sharp ring.

    Cole fell next to the Wanderer. The man was tuning a flute, preparing to play. “Care for a story? I just heard a really good one.” Cole sprang to his feet, ignoring the Wanderer. Radiance had drawn a true sword from his cloak, and was fencing with the Firebrand.

    “Stop!” Cole roared.

    Radiance raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Well, only you can do that. You must choose one of us to be dominant.”

    “Why? Why can’t I be all of you?”

    “Because,” the Firebrand growled as he fended off Radiance’s strike, “Oil and water do not mix. The three of us are simply too different to all be a part of you. One will forever be compromising the others.”

    Cole thought for a moment. Well, that did sort of make sense. The Wanderer would get in the way of his duty as the Firebrand. But Radiance’s lust for power would sabotage the Firebrand’s noble intentions. But that desire would get in the way of simply traveling…

    The young man cradled his head in his hands. “I want to be the Wanderer, but I can’t be. The world needs me too much. I have a duty to perform. Radiance, you could supply me with the power to bring peace, but it’s all wrong. Firebrand, we’d be fighting forever, in an uphill battle. The universe favors entropy. There could never be peace in the way it has to be achieved.”

    Firebrand disarmed Radiance, sending the sword clattering away. “Quickly Cole! Make your choice! Let me finish him!”

    “No!” Cole shouted. “I… I need all of you. I can’t choose. Without the Wanderer, I’d never travel. Without the Firebrand, I’d never do what I had to do. And without Radiance, I could never get stronger and keep fighting. No, I can’t choose. Not yet.”

    “That’s not an option,” Radiance hissed, lunging for him. “What’s it going to be, Cole?”

    None of you!” the young man shouted, and the vision shattered.

    He was standing at the foot of the Bell Tower again, next to Magnus. There was a rush of air, and a brilliant flash of light. The old man glanced up. “A Gate? By Arceus, Cole, what the hell did you do?”

    The Firebrand sighed. “The Gate has been here for millennia, Magnus. It just hasn’t needed to be used. But now… now there is work to be done.”
    The light enveloped them, leaving the pleasantly cool air of the Bellchime Trail far behind.




    Ah, my favorite of literary twists, the talk with the subconscious. This becomes even more fun when your protagonist has dangerous mental instability...
    Last edited by Firebrand; 20th January 2012 at 6:49 PM.
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    I know you and I have talked shop already, but you know, I shudder to think what's left when one tells their subconscious their services are no longer required.
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    These have been really bizarre chapters. First Charizard/Prometheus's, umm, love preference, and now a protagonist who is already somewhat unstable mentally begin talking to three parts of himself. Their amazing, but, different from the rest of the fic thus far. Now let's see what else you have up your sleeve.
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    Do people really have an issue with Prometheus being gay? I mean, different strokes, but... wow, is it an issue? Okay, so my Charizard's gay. He's also a giant flying orange dragon who is a complete and utter beast.

    I hope we're all openminded enough to accept him for who he is. And besides, we've all liked Charizard and Cole to this point. What's a little quirkiness among friends?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feralninja View Post
    Do people really have an issue with Prometheus being gay? I mean, different strokes, but... wow, is it an issue? Okay, so my Charizard's gay. He's also a giant flying orange dragon who is a complete and utter beast.

    I hope we're all openminded enough to accept him for who he is. And besides, we've all liked Charizard and Cole to this point. What's a little quirkiness among friends?
    I guess it was just kinda unexpected. I think it adds to his character even more. I'll get used to it and will be ok. (and I, as well as probably most of your readers will probably be awaiting the epic time when Cole returns to his gym and to see what happens with Prometheus and Swampert)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feralninja View Post
    Do people really have an issue with Prometheus being gay? I mean, different strokes, but... wow, is it an issue? Okay, so my Charizard's gay. He's also a giant flying orange dragon who is a complete and utter beast.

    I hope we're all openminded enough to accept him for who he is. And besides, we've all liked Charizard and Cole to this point. What's a little quirkiness among friends?
    Do I have a problem with it? Not really, it's just odd considering what I'm used to. Keep in mind, I'm only a few months old on real, honest PKMN fic with reality in it, up to this point, it's been all anime and video game, and they didn't touch any of that. I have no problem with him or his interests, it's just a radical take on things.

    But then, I'm still getting over the death and destruction side of things too. It's natural, even mentioned, but something that's never really touched on.

    Admittedly, gay-centric arcs like what Blazi mentions are not my cup of tea, I prefer it as a detail of the character, not a plot device. (Do you watch Warehouse 13? They did a really nice job with a gay character. He said he was, they made three jokes across several episodes, and went on with it)
    Last edited by Glover; 21st January 2012 at 1:42 AM.
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    Magnus glared down at the valley. “This is strange.”

    Cole glanced in the old man’s direction, and folded up his duster to store in his pack. The air was warmer here, close to midsummer, and he saw no point in sweltering. “Dare I ask what’s strange?”

    Magnus chewed his lip. “Look down there, tell me what you see.”

    Cole glanced over again. “Looks like what’s left Lavender Town.”

    “That’s because it is Lavender Town.”

    “And what’s so strange about that? I mean, the rebuilding is going well enough, after what Mewtwo did in the war.”

    “No, I mean the fact that this undiscovered Gate took us to Lavender Town is strange.” Seeing Cole’s blank look, Magnus elaborated. “The Gates exist to give a chosen few an expedient way to be where they are most needed. However, in the past, if it were easy enough to reach the next destination by conventional means, the Gates would not bring the traveler anywhere, because they needed to go on their own power.

    “A flight from Ecruteak to Lavender would really take us no time at all, perhaps only a few hours. And it’s not a very taxing one either. So why bring us here?” Magnus paced about, angrily shaking his head.

    Cole tightened his belt, and checked Anduril. “My best guess would be that whatever force governs the Gates wanted us here in Lavender Town as soon as possible. Time was of the ess—”

    Magnus grabbed him as he pitched forward, his eyes distant. After a moment, Cole straightened up. “Just had a vision. Power Plant. But I have a feeling that it’s a bad idea to fly. Don't ask me why... I just think we have to travel overland.”

    Without a word, Magnus called out Shadowfax. “In that case, we’ll have to run as though all the infernal legions are after us.”

    ***

    The two galloped down a winding mountain trail, Thor and Shadowfax going at the fastest speed possible. “The plant is just ahead!” Cole shouted.

    “Do you know what’s there?” Magnus called back.

    “No, but it must be important, given the circumstances!”

    After another few minutes of traveling, a green blur tackled Cole off of Thor’s back and slammed him against the rock face. A great boulder rose up in front of the horses and roared. “Name yourselves!” a voice shouted. Cole struggled against the Flygon that pinned him.

    “What’s the meaning of this?”

    “I said name yourself!”

    “Wait!” a new, loud voice roared from above. “Can’t you see this is him?”

    The Flygon recoiled and curled in on itself. Magnus was beating back an Aggron with his walking stick, and a figure stood at the head of the trail, obscured by the sunlight at their back. “Explain yourself,” it said to the unseen voice.

    “Arceus, woman, step down there and see!”

    The shape leapt down, and into Cole’s visible range. The Firebrand did a double take, and then his face split into a grin. “Joan! You’re a sight for sore eyes!” He wrapped the woman in a quick but tight hug.

    Joan chuckled and dusted off her clothes. “What, this old thing? Oh, it’s nothing, really.” Sarcasm dripped from her tone. “I think the rips give it a little more character, and the dirt really adds that extra flare. Castoffs are fashionable this season.” Then she laughed and hugged him back. “Nice to see you too, hothead!”

    “Cole!” Masamune leapt from a ledge up above and pinned Cole to the ground with his forelegs. The Samurott’s snout rubbed up against Cole’s face. The white mustache tickled. “I missed you!”

    “I missed you too, partner! You won’t believe what we’ve seen!” He petted Masamune as he got to his feet. “Charizard, well, actually, he’s Prometheus now, but anyway… he can talk!”

    Masamune shoved Cole. “He’s always been able to talk. Just now, you can understand.”

    Cole called out his other pokemon to greet Masamune. Maximus inclined his head to the Firebrand, and then winced. Now that Cole looked, the Flygon bore recent injuries too. As soon as she had greeted Magnus, he pulled Joan aside. “What happened to those two?”

    “We’ve had a few struggles,” Joan replied.

    “With who?”

    “Well, I assume that’s why you’re here. Easier to show you.” She jumped onto Nimbus’s back. Cole recalled his pokemon and got back on Thor. They set off after Joan, and soon arrived at an outcropping. The woman made a gesture that they stay low to the ground.

    Cole, Joan and Magnus crawled to the lip of the rock, and Joan handed Cole a pair of binoculars. “Down there, see?”

    When he looked through the lenses, Cole saw a group of a little over a hundred people sitting around several fires just outside the power plant. “The fire in the center,” Joan hissed. Cole obligingly turned the glass, and saw six figures seated there.

    Joan then gave him the information on Vladimir’s cult, and exactly what they were up against. Magnus sucked in a breath. “Ye gods, Joan! This is your quest? We have to take all these people down? By ourselves?”

    “Don’t be stupid,” Joan replied curtly. “Masamune and I found some allies.” She flicked open a pocket watch and peered at the whirling mechanism. “They should be coming back to the rendezvous point about… now. Or a little after now. Come on, we’ll meet them there.”

    They set off again, hugging the deep shadows of the mountains. Joan led them to a wooded glen, and deep in the forest there was a clearing that allowed a little of the late sunlight to filter through. It would be hard to make out from the sky, but the branches were high enough to make a fire without setting the boughs alight. Cole had to admit, it was an ideal place to make a base camp.

    The soft calls of birds filtered through the air as the trio sat down. Joan drew a book of matches, and quickly built a fire. Prometheus and Maeve emerged from their pokeballs, and began scouting for kindling. Masamune stood attentively a pace behind Joan, his ears flicking.

    “Where are these allies?” Magnus said softly, staring around the clearing. In answer, Joan put two fingers to her lips and whistled a birdcall. A moment later, a response came in similar fashion, and then another from a different direction. The underbrush began to move. Two figures emerged from the east, one from the north, and three from the south. A final figure dropped from the trees overhead, landing nimbly on the balls of its feet.

    “Well, hello there,” one of the figures murmured, still cloaked in shadow. “Didn’t think we’d see you two again.”

    Anduril hissed out of Cole’s belt harness. “Show yourself.”

    Joan held up a hand. “Now, hang on. These are my allies.”

    “If they’re friends, they can step into the light.”

    One of the figures stepped forward, her hands up in a placating gesture. “Easy now, Firebrand. We’re all on the same side here. Or I should hope so at least.”

    Anduril went slack in Cole’s hand. “Arceus! Didn’t think I’d meet you out here! I thought you were in Hoenn!”

    Kim smiled. “Don’t you watch the news? They broke the blockade a few weeks ago. Magma and Aqua still control a decent part of the region, but thanks to you, we reclaimed Fortree and Lilycove.”

    “We left with one of the early transports. We were escorting the injured, and the fighting had moved on to the west. We’d done the best we could, and it was time to move on.” Nick offered his hand to Cole. “Good to see you again.”

    Cole returned the other fire trainer’s proffered handshake with a smile. “And you all are okay? What about the others?”

    Seithios stepped into the light. “We’re fine. But before we left… well, we broke up the Force.”

    “The what?”

    “The Firebrand’s Regiment. That’s what all the freed prisoners called themselves. But we started using the Force for short.” Zephyr shrugged. “But not too long after you left, we had to break it up. We were the best-trained, best-equipped, most notorious rebel group there was. We had to scatter around the region.”

    “Sin, Lisana, John, Colette and Marcus went to liberate Lavaridge Town,” Anna said. “We went south to take back Slateport. John thought that if we got the timing right, and we attacked Mauville from the south, east and north, maybe we could free it. But our group… we failed.”

    Lucian retied his black headscarf, and gazed with obscured, sightless eyes into the fire. “That’s why we were on that transport. The real reason. Our entire battalion got ambushed. Us, and a few others, we’re the only ones who got out. Twelve survivors from a battalion of fifty-five. And the twelve of us were injured pretty badly…”

    Lexa sat down next to her twin brother. “It was only by luck that we were able to get back behind our lines. We recovered after a little while, but the rebels decided to send us away. Not for any wrong we did, but because we needed to get better.”

    Nick slammed his fist into his palm. “And then we met Joan when we got back to Kanto. And this time, we’re not going to let anything get in our way. We’ll do things right!”

    Kim looked distant. “Perhaps now we can make a difference.”

    Magnus folded his arms. “Even then, there are just ten of us. As skilled as everyone here is, we are severely outnumbered. Joan, are there any others willing to join your fight?”

    Zephyr scoffed. “Yeah, we tried that. Not many people think these guys are a threat. They don’t buy that Vladimir is going to kill Arceus. And the few that do don’t want to get involved. They’re terrified.”

    Seithios bared his teeth, pushing his long golden hair back and tying it into a close braid. “I’m sure there’s someone out there. I mean, once Vladimir and the other Guardians of Truth show their hand, people will have to pick a side.”

    “Guardians of Truth?” Cole grumbled. “Pretentious name.”

    Joan leaned against Prometheus; her hand close enough to Cole’s to make him feel a little light-headed. “I don’t plan on them getting that far. As soon as Vladimir seems to be making a move, we’ll strike.”

    ***

    That night, everyone went to sleep early. Prometheus and Flayme the Charizard Clone talked softly, and Cole fell asleep to the deep growling. The entire group rose at dawn, and hastily erased any signs of making their camp.

    Kim and Lexa flew off to Saffron City, to try and convince people of the worth of their cause. Zephyr rocketed to Celadon on the back of his Staraptor, for the same reason. Nick and Lucian went down to comb the valley Vladimir had settled in, while Seithios and Anna fortified a stronghold in Rock Cave, in case Vladimir pushed them back.

    Joan, Magnus and Cole flew to the top of the highest mountain in sight, and used the vantage point to map the cult’s placement, and figure out possible attack routes. At a little after midday, Joan called out her Roserade. “Sander, go find some fruit. You’re the fastest, and you’ll probably have to go below the tree line.”

    The grass-type nodded, and vanished down the slope. Cole glanced at the young woman. “Sander? All your other pokemon have Latin names. Maximus, Nimbus, Cirrus, Eris.”

    “Not quite.” Joan tapped the pokeball of her Jolteon. “Tesla. The father of direct current.”

    “Okay, but that doesn’t answer my question. Why Sander?”

    Magnus leaned back and whistled up to the clouds. “Why, what a lovely midsummer day. Almost like a dream.”

    Cole glanced at the old man. “What?”

    Joan scoffed. “Oh, he’s got it Cole.”

    “Mind cluing me in, Sherlock?”

    “Sander is short for Lysander. From Midsummer Night’s Dream?”

    “Oh. Well, why not Puck? Or something else?”

    Joan punched him lightly on the arm. “I’m not naming him Bottom! And Puck… it just didn’t fit.”

    That night, they retreated to the base camp. As the three sat around the fire, the members of the Seven slowly crept in. Zephyr descended from the sky, looking dejected. “No one. Absolutely no one.”

    Anna and Seithios reported success in fortifying their cavern, and that it would serve as a perfectly good refuge should they need it. Lucian relayed that he and Nick had spotted a weakness in the right flank of the cultists’ camp, and that according to their best observation; only Vladimir and his group of five Daemons could enter the power plant. By then, it was getting rather late, and Lexa and Kim had yet to return.

    The girls emerged from the underbrush shortly before midnight. Nick helped them over to the fire. “What kept you two?”

    “We think we’re being tailed,” Kim murmured. “Don’t let on though. We had to run back from Saffron City.”

    Cole whistled. That was a fair distance, at least twenty miles over hilly terrain. “That’s not all though,” Lexa said. “We have one new ally.”

    Joan folded her arms. “One is better than zero I suppose.”

    A tall, elegant woman stepped out from behind a tree, pushing dark hair from her eyes. “Well. Hello to you all.”

    “Sabrina?” Cole cried.

    “Cole? I thought you went AWOL.” The psychic gym leader scowled. “What are you doing here?”

    “I had leave. I’m on a quest.”

    The leader of the Saffron City Gym raised an eyebrow. “I see. I remember you were mentioned in the Hoenn conflict…”

    “Yes, I was involved in that,” Cole replied. “And so was everyone here, except Joan. But I had to leave there. I see outside aid is coming in now. But what about you? Shouldn’t you be helping Saffron City rebuild?”

    Sabrina sat down next to Kim. “It seems to me that Miss Dark needs allies more than Saffron needs a gym leader.”

    She started going over plans with Joan, and after several minutes, went perfectly rigid. “We’re not alone. Lexa, Kim, our pursuers have followed us. Do not make any sudden moves.”

    The members of the warrior band went about their normal business, but it was easy for Cole to see that they were checking the woods. Seithios and Nick moved in front of Kim to obscure her as she strung her hunting bow. Then, the fire trainer deliberately drew out his twin steel rods and began to clean them. All of the Seven had drawn weapons, and seemed to know how to use them.

    “There are several,” Sabrina said softly. “I can sense their thoughts. Several humans, with several pokemon apiece. Stay cautious.”

    Magnus’s hands clenched around his walking stick. “I think we should issue a challenge.”

    Joan nodded, and drew her sword and mace. “We know you’re out there. Show yourself!”

    A figure detached himself from the shadows. “Well, well, well,” he growled. “Looks like we’ve found you again, Firebrand. I had a feeling these ladies would lead me right to you.”

    Cole lunged forward, Anduril flashing in his hands. “What do you want, Jasper?” He was tackled to the ground by a blur of dark fur. A Mighteya’s fangs were dangerously close to his neck.

    “Heel,” a sharp-featured woman snapped, and the wolf-like pokemon slunk to her side. Cole vaguely recognized her as someone he had arrested in years past. More figures emerged from the forest, surrounding the camp. Indeed, Cole was familiar with all of them, sans a woman in a black miniskirt and a biker jacket.

    “Aldrick, Liath,” he said with a nod to the two hunters. “Ah, and Beckett too? I heard you met your bail. And Peiotr, now there’s a surprise. The asylum let you out early?”
    The man in the fedora chuckled. “For ‘good behavior’.”

    “And you,” Cole growled to the woman in black. “I don’t know you.”

    “Talreya. You’re charmed, I’m sure.” She snapped her fingers. “Now, Jasper, what do you say we get on with this? I may make plans for later tonight.”

    The Seven all moved protectively in front of Cole, with several of their pokemon in tow. “You want to get to him,” Nick snarled, “you have to go through us. Flayme, you ready?” The Charizard clone roared.

    Liath leaned in. “A clone! One of Mewtwo’s original batch? Aldrick, we could make a fortune off of this!”

    Jasper inclined his head. “Get them.”

    The brigands lunged forward. “Stop this!” Cole shouted. He hurled Anduril at Jasper, and it tumbled end-over-end. The sword lodged itself a solid foot in the tree the ex-admin leaned on. “Jasper, we don’t have time for this! Look, all of you may have a personal vendetta against me. But out there, on the other side of these trees is a group of people. Bad people. Who want to do far worse than anything you could ever dream. They want to bathe the world in fire, just so they can watch it burn.”

    “Now, there’s an idea!” Peiotr cackled.

    Aldrick and Liath pulled back, a little interested. Beckett snapped his fingers at the two Ursaring under his command. They stepped back too. “Destroy the world, eh? I can’t very well run a business in that economy.”

    “Right,” Cole growled. “And we eleven here are the only ones making a stand to stop it. We don’t have enough power. So I’m asking you, please, join up with us. Just to get rid of the Defenders of Truth.

    “Then, you can go back to trying to kill me.”

    Talreya glanced at Jasper, and ran a hand down her Seviper’s back. “The boy makes a valid point.”

    Jasper clenched his fist. “Enter an alliance… with the Firebrand?”

    “At the moment, Jasper, you’re the lesser of two evils. And for most of your group, the end of the world could pose a potential threat to business. You know, just saying.” Cole tried, really, really tried to keep the biting sarcasm out of the last remark.

    Jasper wrenched Anduril from the tree, and tossed it back to Cole. Then, he strode over, his right hand outstretched. “Fine. A temporary cease-fire between us, to deal with a greater threat.”

    Cole shook Jasper’s hand, and glanced at Joan. “Now, report to her to figure out just what the hell we’re doing.”




    Now, this will be interesting... The Blazing Heart heroes allied with the Sin villains, fighting the cast of Armageddon. Tie-ins upon tie-ins...
    Last edited by Firebrand; 27th January 2012 at 10:15 PM.
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  19. #94
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    Default

    Magnus was beating back an Aggron with his walking stick
    One of those things that is so rediculous, it just might work...

    “Sin, Lisana, John, Colette and Marcus went to liberate Lavaridge Town,” Anna said. “We went south to take back Slateport. John thought that if we got the timing right, and we attacked Mauville from the south, east and north, maybe we could free it. But our group… we failed.”

    Lucian retied his black headscarf, and gazed with obscured, sightless eyes into the fire. “That’s why we were on that transport. The real reason. Our entire battalion got ambushed. Us, and a few others, we’re the only ones who got out. Twelve survivors from a battalion of fifty-five. And the twelve of us were injured pretty badly…”

    Lexa sat down next to her twin brother. “It was only by luck that we were able to get back behind our lines. We recovered after a little while, but the rebels decided to send us away. Not for any wrong we did, but because we needed to get better.”

    Nick slammed his fist into his palm. “And then we met Joan when we got back to Kanto.
    I find it funny how much your summary works with my story, and I've told so little. Suffice to say that probably, the ambush referenced was very large, very spiky, and very red...

    Also, Puck- End of the World bathing in fire, has someone been reading Cutlerine's work?
    Last edited by Glover; 28th January 2012 at 3:29 PM.
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  20. #95
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    Default Lightning Strike

    For the rest of this arc, the chapters will be PG-13, if that hasn't been understood already. The language will be coarser, and the story centers around some rather twisted and bloody battles. Also, the tie-ins will start coming into their own. Forgive me if things start to get a little trippy. Fair warning. Now, with that out of the way... we can begin.

    “This is a suicide mission!” Jasper snarled. “We’ll all be killed!”

    “I doubt it,” Cole growled back. “My problems rarely solve themselves so easily.”

    “Easy now,” Sabrina snapped. “Regardless of your past, you are allies for the moment. Derision in the ranks is a plague that must be stopped.”

    Cole and Jasper backed away from each other, but did not lose eye contact. Magnus led his young charge away, while Talreya placed an elegant hand on Jasper’s shoulder. “The youth is not worth the trouble.”

    The Firebrand whirled, Anduril flashing into his hand. “Say that again, to my face this time.”

    Athena hissed. “Cole’s a better man than you’ll ever be!”

    Nick pushed Cole back. “Not every problem can be solved with a blade.”

    “Hasn’t stopped you from trying,” Beckett scoffed. “From what I hear about your involvement in Hoenn, your solution to every hurdle was ‘hack them to pieces’ or ‘blow it to bits’.”

    Anna lunged forward. “If you wanted to pick a fight, you’ve got one.” Her Vaporeon crouched at her ankles, mouth drawn back to reveal sharp fangs.

    “Shut up!” Joan shouted. “All of you, back off. The past is just that. Right now, if we don’t band together, we’re finished. And the world is doomed.” She drew her own sword, and drove it into the ground at her feet. “Now, anyone who thinks they have a better way of running things, pick that up and face me.” No one moved. “Good. Now, to the matter at hand.”

    She pointed the diagram drawn in the dirt. “This is the power plant, where Vladimir is using as his command center. Around it, we have five major groups of cultists, each one overseen by one of the Daemons.” She sketched five circles with the tip of her sword. “So, we’ll need five cells, at least.

    “Cole, Magnus, Sabrina, you’re with me. Nick, Anna, Seithios, Lucian, I want you together. Lexa, Kim and Zephyr, you’re the third. Beckett, Liath, Aldrick, that makes you number four. And Peiotr, Jasper and Talreya, you’re number five.”

    Aldrick bumped fists with Liath. “We’ll wrap ours up double-quick, then come help whoever needs it most.”

    Beckett nodded to Lucian. “You think a blind man is really such a good idea to have in battle?”

    “Lucian has proven his worth ten times over,” Lexa murmured.

    “You put Peiotr, Jasper and Talreya all together,” Cole whispered in Joan’s ear. “What the hell are you thinking?”

    “I’m thinking,” Joan said softly, “that they’re all notoriously strong trainers who should be able to handle anything that gets put in front of them. And I’m sending them against the strongest, largest group, because I think all three of them are the biggest threats to us. So perhaps they’ll burn out there, and we won’t have to deal with them any longer.”

    “So it is a suicide mission?”

    “Only if they can’t handle it.”

    Talreya folded her arms. “There’s three or four of us, with a few pokemon each, going up against at least fifteen others, and they’re sure to have their fair share of pokemon too. Is this really wise?”

    Joan nodded. “We need only neutralize the Daemons, and then fight our way to Vladimir. With the leadership gone, the cult will likely collapse.”

    ***

    “Ready?” Magnus murmured, his hands wrapped tightly around his elm walking stick.

    Joan nodded, a flare in her hand. “On my mark now… Three, two, one!” She lit the pyrotechnic, and hurled it into the air. “Charge! For Arceus!”

    “Arceus!” Cole, Magnus and Sabrina shouted, racing from the brush. Their pokemon appeared in brilliant flashes of light. Prometheus roared, and Thor cried out sharply. Cole swung up onto the Zebstrika’s back. Scathatch seemed to blur in and out of existence as she wove a complex illusion around herself. Indigo fire crackled between Athena’s ears, bathing the left side of Cole’s face in warmth. Masamune barreled past, his crest shining in the midmorning light. Maeve’s claws flashed as she leapt from his back and into the first of the cultists.

    Magnus barreled past on Shadowfax, the shiny Rapidash’s gray fire blazing bright. Oberon the Scizor passed by in a flash of red, and Ophelia the Kingdra twirled about in a Dragon Dance. Caliban the Whimsicott twirled above their heads with Halcyon. Macbeth and Hamlet ran at their master’s side, fangs and claws poised and ready. Feste flapped above Magnus, shouting myriad encouragement. Newton hovered by his master’s side, opening his telepathic senses to detect any oncoming danger.

    Maximus roared as he swept three cultists aside with his powerful arm. Nimbus and Cirrus wheeled about, launching special attacks from the air. Tesla and Sander ran at Joan’s side, striking with natural grace. The Chosen Warrior herself held her sword in one hand, her mace in the other. Her dark hair blew about her face, giving her almost a black halo. Her mouth was set in a grim line as she brought the lead pipe down on a man’s cranium.

    Sabrina fought in harmony with her psychic types, her bare hands lashing out as her Alakazam defended her with invisible barriers. Her Gallade’s arm blades were a blur of motion as he swept through the enemy ranks. Her Hypno twirled his pendant, making enemy pokemon drop flat on the ground, unconscious.

    Zhao Xangwei snarled as he saw this force of four mere humans decimating his group of soldiers. “All of you, on your guard! I want this quashed, immediately!” His Honchkrow flew out from behind him, followed in short order by a flock of cultists’ pokemon. He whistled to his Skarmory, and the sliver creature rocketed towards Prometheus.

    “Back, damn you!” the Charizard roared, blasting it full in the beak with a Flamethrower. “Are you blind? Can’t you see how misguided your master is?”

    The dragon was set upon by other flying types, and soon, Zhao’s own Salamence barreled through the air. “Nimbus!” Joan shouted as she parried a blow. The Flygon bolted into the Salamence’s path and drew three deep rents with a Dragon Claw. The blue beast recoiled in anger, preparing a counterstrike. Prometheus batted a Pidgeot away with his tail, and then fired off a Dragon Pulse at Salamence.

    “Thanks for that!”

    In another part of the camp, Nick and his cell met with the full might of Sebastian, the Acrobat. The man himself somersaulted through the air, driving his foot down towards Anna. Seithios hurled a boulder at the dark-haired man with his incredible strength, and it struck Sebastian full in the chest.

    Nick’s two swords flashed as he dispatched a Nidorino and Arbok. His eyes seemed to glow with a golden light as he tracked each incoming attack. Flayme rocketed over his head, locked in combat with Sebastian’s own Charizard and Gengar. I will never submit to you! he roared telepathically, and Nick’s strong bond with his partner picked it up.

    Partner, I’ve got you!

    He drew a lighter, bottle and rag from his belt. Lighting the oil-soaked cloth, he hurled it skyward and the bottle burst on the Gengar. The ghost screamed as it dove toward the earth, fervently trying to extinguish the fire that erupted from the Molotov cocktail.

    Nick quickly lit two more. “All right then, who’s next? Come and get it you bastards!”

    Anna’s Gyrados crashed through the enemy ranks, and loosed a mighty Hyper Beam. Anna stood atop the beast’s head, one hand on its thorny crown. Her Vaporeon and Feraligatr ripped through the pokemon sent to apprehend them. Lucian fought with his Absol and shiny Umbreon guiding his movements. His rod made of dark metal seemed to drink in the light around it, and his mouth was set in a demonic snarl. His black headscarf flapped in the breeze, making him look like an avenging angel of death.

    Seithios and his stalwart ground and rock types charged straight at Sebastian. The Daemon laughed and whistled to his Typhlosion. “Let’s get ‘im, my lovely!”
    When they met, a great concussive blast ripped across the battlefield.

    Lexa screamed, but Kim grabbed her hand. “No time now! We’ve got our own fight!” Her Gallade and Lucario whirled around her in a dance of death, cutting down all that crossed her path.

    Lexa’s Electvire and Raichu raced about, discharging all the electricity they could. Her Ampharos blinded their enemies with chronic flashes of light. Her Elektross slithered past, clawing at a Nidoking. Lexa thrust her spear forward, bringing it down sharply on a Darmanitan. Kim’s epee seemed to glow as she wove through a form, finishing off a cultist with a flourish.

    Zephyr shot by overhead, clutching his Staraptor’s back. His other flying types flew in a V-formation around him, led by his Salamence. Elisa scowled at this interruption, and her Alakazam waved a hand. Zephyr’s Braviary plummeted to the ground. “No!” the youth screamed. “Metacomet!” He bared his teeth. “Oh, you’ll pay for that, bitch.” His Staraptor screamed and dove at her.

    The woman nodded to her Medicham, and the fighting type leapt into the air. With a powerful chop, it struck Staraptor, and the beast plummeted. Zephyr vaulted from the falling creature’s back, and lunged at Elisa.

    Aldrick’s Scyther swept through a rank of dark-types. His Mienshao drifted past his side, it’s fluid movements quickly dispatching foes. Liath ran with a hunting knife clutched in her fist, her two Mightyena racing along beside her. They worked as a pack, targeting and bringing enemies down one by one. Beckett commanded two Ursaring and a Mismagius to rain hell down on all that opposed him. A Tediursa hung on his back, and pointed out incoming attacks.

    Lance Shield nodded to his Luxray. “We need only hold them until Vladimir gives the signal. You know what has to be done.” He drew a pair of nuchaku in one hand, and a sharpened steel rod in the other, and followed the leonine creature to engage Aldrick. The two met in a flurry of blades, each one showing remarkable proficiency.

    “You’re tense on your right side,” Lance commented. “All your strikes come from there, and are clearly telegraphed. If this is to be at all interesting, you must at least try a little.” In three quick movements, he had disarmed Aldrick and placed the sharpened tip of his rod at the man’s throat. “I do believe this is checkmate.”

    Liath drove a flying kick into Lance’s abdomen, sending the young man reeling. “Not quite.”

    Talreya glowered at Molly Lancaster. “Girl, step down if you know what’s good for you.”

    The young woman slowly removed her glasses. “I think, Madame, that you presume too much. Electvire, go!” The yellow creature appeared in a flash, and snarled at Talreya.

    “Charizard, Kutayara and Shiradre, front and center.” A Seviper, Ariados, and Charizard as black as midnight appeared. “Take the girl down, and anyone who tries to interfere.”

    Cultists rushed to her side. “Ms. Lancaster, let us protect you!” one cried. Kutayara slashed him down.

    Molly nodded. “Yes. Die for me.”

    Jasper soared by on Mephistoles, his Hydreigon. His Sableye dropped off of his back, and landed next to the ex-admin’s Rhyperior. “Now, Dragonair!” Jasper shouted, and the serpent burst from its pokéball and shot a powerful Dragon Pulse at Molly’s newly summoned Magnezone.

    When the steel pokemon did not fall, Jasper threw down his Porygon-Z. “Hack its system!” The pokemon zoomed into Magnezone’s inner workings, and the mechanical pokemon began to twitch and shake erratically, launching volleys of electricity at irregular intervals. Molly called out a third pokemon.

    “HAL, stop this.”

    The Metagross slammed one of its legs down on Magnezone, driving it into the ground. Molly returned the mechanized creature, and Porygon-Z was left crumpled in the dirt. “Now, finish it.”

    Sableye and Rhyperior raced forward and grabbed HAL’s descending leg. The rock type growled and tried to topple the gargantuan steel-type. Suddenly, a sharp call rang through the air, and a fiery comet crashed into HAL, knocking it back. The comet bounded away to Peiotr’s side, decimating a Venusaur in its path.

    The man in the opera cape clubbed a cultist with a lead pipe until the man was on the ground and not moving. “This is fun, isn’t it, Illyrian?” The Infernape bared its fangs and hissed. Then, it sucked in air and bathed its foes in a mighty Flamethrower.

    Magnus galloped alongside Cole. “Arceus, but we’re really doing it!”

    The Firebrand bared his teeth. “I’m as amazed as you are!” A Primeape tried to attack Thor, and Cole kicked it away. “Joan was right, surprise was what did it!”

    Maeve leapt past. “Cole, look at that!” She gestured towards Nick and Anna, fighting against eight cultists and their pokemon single-handedly. Anna’s Blastoise and Empoleon loosed two mighty Hydro Pumps, but despite the various foes, they was destined to miss. Anna lashed out with her knives, seemingly at thin air, and the stream of water changed course, striking the largest concentration of foes.

    How was that possible?

    Nick whirled around, and the fire conjured by his Flareon and Flayme seemed to track along the tips of his blades. It spiraled around him, never burning the young man. He flicked his blades outward, and the fire moved to his will.

    Seithios grabbed a large boulder, and hurled it. Then, he swept his hands down, and it crashed down on a rampaging Steelix, when it should have been reaching the highest point of its arc. A dark aura surrounded Lucian, much like a Dark Pulse, but none of his pokemon was actively using that move.

    “And look there,” Athena murmured.

    Lightning bolts were flashing down to Lexa’s spear, and then being redirected outwards. She was not electrocuted at all, if anything only seeming to get stronger for the raw energy that should have been coursing through her body. Kim seemed to glow with golden light, and enemies shrank back before her. Her eyes were alight, and her iron rod pulsed in the sunlight.

    Zephyr, however, was strangest of all. He would remain in the air for incredible lengths of time, delivering sharp kicks and changing direction in the most bizarre ways, almost as though… he was flying. When his Skarmory grabbed him in it’s talons and lifted him aloft, he jumped from it’s clutches, and leapt impossibly far to his Salamence.

    “Arceus…” Magnus gasped. “Well, that’s new.”

    “Are they manipulating the forces of nature?” Cole cried.

    Sabrina darted past, her hands twirling about in an elegant form of martial arts. “Psychic powers are not unheard of. I myself stand before you, and I am clairvoyant. However, these powers… they are indeed something else.”

    The vortex of fire around Nick spread out and drove the cultists back. The other members of the Seven were having similar success now, the tide of their respective battles turning in their favor. Jasper’s mercenaries fought with grim intensity, their passions warring against the clouded ideals of the Defenders of Truth. Liath snarled something at her pack of three Mightyena, and they split to allow her Zangoose through, it’s claws flashing.

    Aslan, Magnus’s Arcanine, tackled a cultist and used it’s massive size to make sure the man would not be getting up any time soon. Oberon and Caliban zoomed by overhead, the former’s wings beating so quickly they seemed a solid blur in the sky. The old man himself was like a whirling dervish, his white robe faring out around him as his staff twirled through the air before him with deadly intensity.

    Prometheus roared as he slammed into an enemy Pidgeot. “Look out behind you!” Athena shirked as the sound made her look up. The burst of indigo fire she had shot exploded on a Torterra. Magnus was able to turn his head a fraction of an inch, and just make out the Conkledurr that was bearing down on him. There was no time to react. Cole could not reach him in time. Sabrina and Joan were too far away. The pokemon the two men commanded would risk their own lives if they stepped in, and Magnus might not survive a follow-up strike.

    The two cinderblocks drove down almost in slow motion. Cole winced as the moment just before impact was frozen, etched into his mind. Then, he realized that it was indeed frozen. A ball of white light stood in front of Magnus, conjuring a wall of solid psychic energy. The Conkledurr recoiled, and slammed against the wall again and again. It didn’t even crack.

    The white light flared, and the hulking fighting type was hurled through the air by an unseen force. It ceased in its arc fifty feet above the ground. For every action, a voice Cole had never heard before intoned, there is an equal and opposite… reaction.

    Conkledurr plummeted, and caused a crater when it landed. There was no doubt in Cole’s mind that the pokemon was dead. And if it wasn’t, he would have wished death upon it, for the injuries were so severe that the suffocating blackness of the grave would be a mercy.

    A yellow creature standing before Magnus inclined its head. The light was gone, the evolution finished. To all things, there is both beginning and end. Regrettably, the end came earlier than you thought, my friend.

    The Kadabra twirled its spoon. Now, I project only a 40 percent chance of survival if you oppose me. I advise retreating immediately. Who dares to stand before the father of science and knowledge? The battle raged on. The psychic type arched an eyebrow. I see. Well, it is no longer my fault should you fall. I gave you fair warning.

    A field of psychic energy spread from the star on its forehead, making all fighters stagger and fall, as gravity suddenly intensified. It crushed friend and foe alike into the ground. Cole crawled on his belly to Thor’s side. The Zebstrika had been rearing up when the Gravity attack hit, and was now sprawled on his back. Wherever the Kadabra looked, all over the battlefield, groups of cultists were falling to the ground. Zephyr, caught midleap, plunged earthward, and was only just barely caught in his Braviary’s talons.

    “Newton,” Magnus growled. “You have to stop this!”

    But they seek to harm us. Do I not do us a service?

    “No! We’re hurting friends here too!”

    The crushing force lifted, and the Kadabra glared at the recovering cultists. They are beneath me. If they strike us, we should cast them down.

    Magnus clutched his staff. “Newton, just because you have power does not mean you can abuse it. We fight for the powers of justice and righteousness. And if you misuse these new powers, I will be forced to retaliate in kind.”

    The Kadabra glared up at Magnus. Understood, Master.

    Maeve and Scathatch helped Cole get Thor back on his feet. The Firebrand fought on foot now, allowing the electric type time to recover from his burden. As Prometheus came in for a pass, Cole leapt onto his back and fought in the air. After a chaotic five minutes, the roof of the power plant slid backward on hidden hinges. Several shapes flew from the empty building, and one of them stood atop the right side of the roof.

    His white scarf flapped in the breeze, and his pristine shirt reflected the sunlight. The Gengar by his side cackled, bent double with manic laughter. The four larger dark shapes behind him rose up to eclipse the sun, three massive pairs of wings beating a deafening cacophony.

    Cole growled a wordless command to Prometheus, and the dragon angled up to meet the new threat. “Vladimir just pissed off the wrong Firebrand,” the young man hissed. “Oh, there’s going to be hell to pay!”

    The three Legendary Birds of Kanto wheeled in the air around a humanoid figure with blue and white skin. Thundurus raised his arms up, and a giant ball of crackling electricity appeared. The pokemon hurled it down at the battlefield.

    “Maximus!” Joan shouted. The Aggron lunged in front of the attack, taking the full force of the blast. Despite resisting it, the creature had taken many wounds in the struggle, and collapsed. Sander leapt to the behemoth’s side, and tried to help it stand.

    Vladimir whistled, and the three birds dove at the ground. Arcticuno rained a ferocious blizzard down on Jasper’s fighters, while Zapdos summoned powerful lightning bolts to strike down the Seven. Moltres focused her attacks on Joan and Sabrina.

    Prometheus roared in outrage and shot a Dragon Pulse at the phoenix. “What is wrong with you?” he bellowed. “Why do you fight for him? Moltres, answer me!”

    Cole tapped his partner’s shoulder. “She can’t… Prometheus, look.”

    Around Moltres’s neck was a collar of black iron. It pulsed with red light, and was of a make Cole would know anywhere. It was an exact replica of the collars Ghetsis had used to enslave countless pokemon in the Omega War, bending them to his will and forcing them to fight to the death against the Journeymen.

    “Get me in close,” the Firebrand cried, and Charizard soared up into the air, over Moltres. As soon as he was directly overhead, Cole leapt from the dragon’s back, plummeting fifteen feet to land on Moltres. The bird screamed in outrage, but Cole grasped two handfuls of her radiant feathers to hold on.

    He clawed his way to her neck, and began beating at the collar with Anduril. But this was stronger than Ghetsis’s model, and did not break under the physical strain. Moltres swerved up into the air, and Cole lost a hold on her back. He tumbled through the air, singing his pant leg on her fiery tail. As he hurriedly tried to extinguish the smoldering denim, Prometheus grabbed him out of the sky.

    “No luck?”

    “Since when has luck been on my side?”

    Moltres dropped suddenly, grabbing something off the ground in her talons. There was a cry as Nimbus and Cirrus beat frantically at the bird, but Moltres surrounded herself in a corona of fire, driving them back. Thundurus lifted his arms skyward, and blasted the dragons away with a pulse of blue-white lightning. Moltres dropped her prize down to him, and he snagged it out of the air.

    “Behold, you pathetic fools!” He raised Joan’s limp arm, dragging her unconscious form with it. “I have defeated your leader! What hope do you stand? I command the powers of a god!”

    “Oh, Arceus,” Prometheus grumbled. “Where the hell did he learn to be a villain? Comic books?”

    Cole drove his heels hard into the dragon’s flanks. “Who cares? We have to save her!”

    The Charizard nodded, and shot directly at Vladimir. The man’s lips curled back into a feral grin, revealing pointed incisors. “Strike one, Firebrand.” He snapped his fingers, and Thundurus swooped in front of him, grabbing Prometheus and hurling him away.

    “Go again?” the orange dragon growled.

    “Naturally.”

    “Strike two.” Vladimir snarled. With a wave of his hand, a pulse of telekinetic energy sent man and dragon reeling.

    “He’s a psychic too?” Sabrina cried. “Cole, you have to be careful! Who knows what he’s capable of?”

    “I have to save Joan!”

    “And that’s strike three. You’re out.”

    Vladimir thrust out his hand, and a bolt of silvery-gray lightning shot from his fingertips. “What the hell is that?” Jasper roared, glaring at the Seven. “What the hell is that?”

    “He’s not like us,” Kim growled. “We don’t know.”

    “Forgive me, my brother,” Cole murmured as Prometheus flew straight into the bolt. As it struck, the Firebrand leapt from Prometheus’s back, Anduril raised high. “Lacho callad, drego morn!” By fire’s light, flee night!

    He brought down Anduril on Vladimir’s skull, or at least, he should have. The cult leader moved with inhuman speed and grabbed the sword out of the air. He threw Joan aside and broke out into raucous laughter. “How pathetic. Bow before me, Firebrand.”

    “Never!” Cole wrenched Anduril from his grasp. “Fall before the Flame of the West! Anduril will cut you down!”

    “You named your sword?” Vladimir chuckled. “How Freudian.” As Cole lashed out again and again, he dodged with fluid grace. The twinkle in his eyes showed undisguised mirth. He was toying with Cole! The Firebrand screamed in rage.

    “Fall, you bastard! Fall, fall, fall, and don’t ever rise again!”

    Vladimir grabbed the iron rod mere inches from Cole’s hand, and ripped it from his grip. “This isn’t even a real sword. Scrap metal. Heh. What’s a hero without a blade?” He hurled it off the narrow catwalk, and Cole watched as it spiraled to the ground below. “I’ll tell you.” Vladimir pressed his incisors close to the young man’s ear. “You’re nothing.”

    Then, with quick precision, his fist drove into Cole’s abdomen. The Firebrand bent double. It was like being hit by a freight train. Then, Vladimir delivered a quick snapping kick to lift him back up, followed by a heel palm to the Firebrand’s solar plexus. There was a sharp impact, and an invisible force sent Cole flying through the air. The young man heard at least one of his ribs crack.

    “Now, let me crush your petty resistance! With the fury of heaven, I shall destroy you! Behold, my friends and followers! The Firebrand dies this day!” Vladimir lifted his hands skyward, and they crackled with silver light. “Die, die, die!”

    The bolt shot at Cole, and he heard Magnus roar, “No!”

    There was another flash of light, a concussive blast, a shockwave and a loud boom. Cole blacked out before he hit the ground, one thought swimming to the forefront of his consciousness.

    They had failed. Joan was captured. He was dying. And now, when the world needed heroes most, they were powerless, defeated and broken. There were no heroes. The Old Stories were wrong. Good didn’t always win in the end. In the Stories, there was always someone looking out for the heroes, to make sure they triumphed and the bad people were brought to justice. In real life, no one did that; there were no writers or storytellers or gods looking out for Cole, or anyone for that matter. Good had lost, and evil had won, as simple as black and white. As he wandered through the layers of his subconscious mind, he realized that he wasn’t a hero, no matter what anyone claimed.

    Heroes didn’t let people down.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 3rd February 2012 at 1:52 AM.
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  21. #96
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    “I’m not just leaving her!”

    “Cole, calm down!” Seithios shouted, placing his hands on the Firebrand’s shoulders. “Look, you’re injured! You’d be more of a hindrance than a help!”

    Cole winced at the bandages still wrapped around his abdomen. “Nothing’s broken! Look, I can move, and breathe! I’m not saying we just go and attack again, we just need to get Joan back!”

    “What’s the point?” Jasper spat. “It’s been almost three days. She’s probably dead.”

    “She’s not dead,” Zephyr reported softly. “I saw her when I was scouting. She’s tied up in the middle of the cultists. She’s not dead, but she’s not in good shape.”

    Cole and Nick stood up at the same time. “Then there’s hope.” The two young men glanced at each other, their shared declaration uniting them. Nick extended his open hand. “Whatever you decide to do, Cole, I’m behind you.” Cole silently and grimly shook Nick’s proffered hand.

    “It’s foolishness,” Sabrina sighed. “She’s surrounded, we’re all hurt, and the cultists are as strong as ever.”

    “Don’t you see?” Cole cried. “Vladimir’s greatest strength is his Achilles Heel! The collars on the Birds, we all saw them! If we can get them off, they’ll turn on him and wipe him away for us. So we go in, save Joan, make a scene, he sends the birds on us again, and we set them free.”

    “There are a lot of variables to that,” Kim murmured. “Cole, I don’t know…”

    “It’s better than nothing,” Aldrick replied. “Look Firebrand. Here’s how it is. I really don’t like you. Let me just get that out of the way. But Joan… I don’t know, the chick’s got spirit. Her plan was solid, she never expected what happened. Who the hell could have? I’ll help, not for you, but to save her.”

    Liath punched her partner’s arm. “You always were a sucker for damsels.”

    Nick glared at the Seven. “We swore to always protect the weak and helpless, no matter how difficult. It’s our duty. If we don’t help Joan, we’re breaking our word. So, make your choice. Are you with me, or are you going to slink away like cowards? Again.”

    Seithios clenched his fist. “Fine. I’m in.”

    “And I,” Anna said. “There was never any doubt.”

    The other four members added their own voices. Beckett chewed his lip. “I saw what Vladimir is capable of. And I’ll admit it, I’m terrified. I haven’t been scared in years. But that… what he did… Arceus, did you see it? I don’t doubt he could start an apocalypse, and we’d be prime targets. All of us. The way I see it, either we stand and fight now, and maybe win, or run and surely die later. All right, Firebrand. You’re in charge.”

    Peiotr laughed and scratched the neck of his savage Infernape, Illyrian. “Like I’m going to leave when it’s just getting good!”

    Talreya licked her lips. “Jasper, he knows who you are now. If we don’t stop him, he’ll kill you. You have to swallow your pride and follow Cole.”

    The Magma admin turned away. “No. I pledged service to Joan. Not him. I’ll go and help get her back, but I’ll do things my way. I’m not taking orders from that brat.”

    Cole seriously considered slamming Jasper’s skull in with Anduril. He reached for his belt, and grasped at empty air. His face must have been etched with his panic, because Magnus smiled and reached into his cloak.

    “I picked this up as I was retreating.” He passed the iron rod into Cole’s hands. “Now, what do you order?”

    “Be ready to attack at sunset. As soon as it touches the mountains, we ride out.” He slammed his fist down on the log he sat on. “And we don’t come back until we have Joan, or we’re all dead.”

    ***

    Vladimir leaned over Joan, smiling devilishly. The young woman struggled against her heavy rope bonds. “What are you going to do to me?” she spat. “Come on, get it over with.”

    The cult leader stretched out a hand, and Sebastian passed him a lit torch. The cultists started to lay dry kindling around the pole Joan was tied to. “You should be honored,” the man in white drawled. “You get to be our very first martyr.”

    Joan struggled against her ropes. This was serious. Vladimir was actually going to kill her, burn her alive. Her allies were gone, Cole probably dead, Vladimir’s power only growing by the day. The strange force he wielded might indeed be strong enough to kill Arceus. For a brief moment, she considered begging for mercy. But Vladimir was a sociopath, and a dangerous one. If anything, he would only think that her begging for her life was mildly humorous.

    With great ceremony, the self-proclaimed Savior dropped the torch onto the pyre, and the fire roared to life, licking up around her feet. It crackled and hissed as it jumped from branch to branch, spreading and growing brighter and hotter. Joan screamed.

    There was a wet smacking sound, and a ripple passed through the cultists. One of their number was hacking them down with an iron rod, knocking the other members unconscious before they even had a chance to respond.

    “You sick bastard,” the hooded man growled. “By Arceus, Vladimir, you’re going to fucking pay in full.”

    “Get him!” Zhao roared. “Traitor, traitor!”

    “Traitor?” the man scoffed. “Hardly.”

    He ripped his stolen cloak off, and with a flourish, called out a mighty Zebstrika. In one fluid motion, he swung up onto its bare back, hanging on with his legs and hips. He raised his sword high. “Lacho callad! Drego morn!” The Victini on his shoulder began to glow brightly, her Victory Star ability infusing Thor and his trainer with energy.

    “Hey, Firebrand!” Another cultist hurled a black bundle at the warrior, and Cole quickly shrugged on his duster. Magnus let the disguise fall away, pulling his staff seemingly from thin air. Hamlet, Macbeth and Oberon appeared in three flashes of light. As Sebastian leapt to apprehend them, Magnus grinned. “I think it’s time you went the way of King Claudius…” He drove the tip of his staff into the Acrobat’s abdomen, and sent him sprawling. “And got the point.”

    The Firebrand jabbed his heels into Thor’s side. “Get her!”

    The black and white creature surged forward, knocking cultists aside with sheer physical force. Masamune appeared alongside, battering humans and pokemon alike aside with titanic strength. “Cole, be ready,” Thor hissed. “Our window is small.” His ears flicked forward in anticipation. “Three passes, that’s all I can make.”

    "It'll be enough."

    As the equine creature darted past, Cole used Anduril’s newly sharpened tip to slash through several ropes. After galloping for ten meters, Thor wheeled around, battering enemies with his hooves. On the next go, he slashed through almost all of Joan’s ropes.

    “Once more!” he shouted. Masamune drew his two swords, and charged forward, battering enemies out of the way. In the chaos, the other members of Joan’s tiny army had appeared, and were wreaking havoc on the outer lines of Vladimir’s defensive gathering.

    Cole leaned over and wrapped an arm around Joan’s waist and hauled her up beside him. His shoulder and damaged abdomen screamed in agony, but he bit down on his lip and endured it, for her sake. Joan collapsed almost as soon as she was on Thor’s back.

    “Take her to safety,” the Firebrand growled, and rolled off the Zebstrika’s back.

    “I’ll be back soon,” Thor replied, and galloped away.

    “I found her pokeballs,” Sabrina shouted, brandishing the missing belt harness above her head. “All of you come and avenge your mistress!”

    Maximus, Tesla, Cirrus, Nimbus, Eris and Sander appeared in a burst of light and sound. They roared as one being, and drove with manic intensity into the enemy host.

    Vladimir hissed in outrage. “Pathetic fools! All of you, fools! Your doom is sealed!” He whistled, and the three Birds crested the horizon. They screamed a deafening, unholy cacophony as they dove at the battlefield.

    Zephyr and Jasper streaked across the sky on a Salamence and Mephistoles respectfully, to meet them in combat. With a sweep of Articuno’s wing, Salamence was buffeted back by a blast of icy wind. Mephistoles summoned a giant wave of water from it’s lesser heads, and sent it arching across the sky at Moltres, following it with a Dragon Pulse at Zapdos with it’s main head.

    Thundurus rose up behind them, and slammed the dark dragon with its muscular arms. The black beast fell with a triple scream. Jasper’s eyes were wild as he clung to the Hydreigon’s back. Magnus whistled for Zephyr to clear off, and the boy did gladly.

    “Newton, now!”

    The Kadabra stretched two fingers skyward. All that rises must descend. Such are my laws.

    The legendary pokemon crashed to the ground as Gravity intensified. “Lexa! Tesla!” Nick shouted. “Now!” Bolts of lightning arched towards the collars that bound the pokemon, and they writhed in agony. Zapdos tried to counteract the pulse, and sent charges of electricity shooting through his body. Lance snarled at his Luxray and charged towards the fallen pokemon.

    The blue leonine creature charged towards the fallen legendaries, ready to electrocute them into submission. Maeve darted in front of her, the Weavile’s claws flexing. “To get them, you have to get through me.” Her eyes flashed as she dropped to a crouch.

    “Take her down,” Lance commanded. Luxray leapt at the dark type, and Maeve’s mind raced. With that angle of entry, and with her momentum, the best time to strike is… now! She drove her ice-covered fist into the Luxray’s neck, vaulting over her body as she did so. She felled Lance’s newly-called out Electvire in a similar manner, with a quick Night Slash.

    Molly’s Metagross, HAL, dropped down from the sky, where it had levitated with electromagnetism. “Maeve!” Scathatch raced by, and swept the Weavile into her arms. She was followed by Illyrian and Beckett’s two Ursaring, who beat the steel type into a hasty retreat.

    Now Vladimir was growing angry. Despite all his efforts, and the resistance being beaten and battered, they were winning. That infernal poacher Liath and her wolf pack were leaving deep scars in his right flank, while her partner Aldrick assaulted the left with Talreya. The woman in black drove her fist into Elisa’s abdomen, and the other woman sprawled along the ground, her eyes blazing with fury. But even Vladimir could tell she was defeated. The Seven attacked in a solid unit, in perfect coordination. Their pokemon fought at their side, and their trainers seemed to control their attacks with the unseen forces they commanded. The smuggler Beckett cracked a bullwhip, scaring away three Tauros. The old man with a white robe twirled through the crowd with his battle-mad pokemon. Jasper fought back to back with his Rhyperior, Sableye and Mightyena, their eyes blank as they fought for their very lives. The two young men on Charizards, Nick and that insufferable Fierbrand, wheeled through the air in perfect harmony, striking with incredible precision. And his sacrifice stolen right from under his nose…

    How could he be losing? All his careful planning… his genius intellect gone to waste. Silver lightning crackled in his palms, fury making his already unstable mental state even worse. “Vladimir!” a voice said, cutting through the chaos of battle.

    Joan sat on the Firebrand’s Zebstrika on a nearby hill. “You’ve lost! Surrender now! We’ve taken out your secret weapons! You cannot win! If you and yours surrender now, we may show mercy!”

    Defeat Vladimir might have recovered from, but condescension? No! How dare that foolish girl insult him? He wrenched a sharpened bar of black iron from the belt around his waist. The Firebrand carried a facsimile of the Flame of the West, so why should he not have the Spear of the Northern Wastes, the Gungír?

    Joan slid off Thor’s back, and drew her sword and mace. “Jasper! Meet me in single combat! Let no more blood be shed than what must be! Maximus!”

    The Aggron walked through the chaos of war to his mistress’s side, and roared. “Choose your ally, and we will finish this!”

    Vladimir shot a bolt of silver lightning at Thundurus. The creature, driven mad by pain, arched it’s back and slowly rose up on a pillar of air. It’s eyes rolled back in its skull, the only emotion it had left was murderous intent. The Savior hissed, and he ran forward.

    “Arceus!” Joan cried, and charged. Maximus thundered along beside her, his steel plates clanking as he bounded with a strange grace over the war torn earth. The two warring factions stepped back, unconsciously allowing these two champions to battle. The stronger ideal would triumph. This would be how it all ended.

    Thundurus grabbed Maximus, and the two giant pokemon grappled as their trainers engaged and disengaged. Joan’s body ached, but she did not relent. Here was a glimmer of hope, not just for her, but the entire world, and everything living on it. She could not afford to lose.

    Gungír plunged downward at her, and she threw up her sword and mace in a cross block. Vladimir swept his spear outward, and wrenched the mace from her grasp. It flew some distance away, too far for Joan to pick it up again. The psychopath then used the back of the spear to take out her knees, sending her sprawling.

    “Joan!” Magnus shouted, and tossed a glittering object through the air. Joan managed to catch it, and realized with a bit of detached fascination that it was the Steel Plate Arceus had gifted to her. What it could possibly do to help her, though, she had no idea.

    Suddenly, her whole being was filled with warmth. The throbbing pain of her wounds, her fatigue, her inhibitions all faded to the back of her mind, dull sensations that were easy to ignore. Clutching the Plate in her left hand, and her sword in her right, she struggled to her feet, and leveled the length of steel at Vladimir.

    “I defy you,” she spat. “I defy all you stand for. I defy your ideals, I defy your reason for fighting, I defy your very existence. Scum such as you has no place on a beautiful world such as this. I shall blot out your stain with the holy light of Arceus!”

    Cole suddenly went very tense. There was a sensation in the air, one he had felt before. At the conclusion of the Omega War, he had channeled an ancient power through the Light and Dark Stones, a power that had called down breathtaking lightning and holy fire, a power that had consumed Ghetsis utterly, leaving nothing but ashes and dust.

    The same Presence Cole had felt then now filled the air, swirling all about Joan, with the Steel Plate as the focus. Vladimir, undaunted by this feeling that was given all combatants on both sides pause, charged in, Gungír held high. “Foolish girl, no brave words can save you now!” As the spear drove towards her abdomen, Joan’s very skin pulsed silver.

    The Plate seemed to shift and expand. A metal covering appeared all over Joan’s body, forming itself into flawless plate armor, thick enough to provide ample protection, while light and flexible to give her a wide range of motion. The Plate became a buckler-style shield with a stylized design of Arceus on the front. Joan’s new breastplate was inset with diamond stars. Her mail gauntlets clinked slightly as she dove out of the way of Vladimir. As she brought her sword up to strike, it pulsed with the radiant light.

    Suddenly, it was not just a length of scrap iron anymore, but a true and proper sword. The elegant cross guard flared out form the hilt, and the two-edged blade glinted in the orange glow of the setting sun. From the cut it dealt Vladimir, the blade was just as sharp as it looked.

    The maniac again charged in, a madness quite unlike his usual sort blazing in his eyes. Joan brandished her new blade. “A sword granted by a god, a blade that blazes with holy light! You have answered my call in an hour of desperate need, to fight a dark power! It is only fitting then, that I name you…” She blocked Vladimir’s clumsy thrust with her shield, and raised the sword high. “Excalibur!”

    The sword swept down on Vladimir’s spear, knocking it from his grip. Then, she battered him with the shield, sending him sprawling on the ground. “Savior!” Molly cried. Talreya grabbed the girl’s collar as she ran past, and hauled her off her feet. The woman in black then tossed Molly Lancaster to Kutayara, her Seviper.

    “Restrain her.” The snake coiled around the shocked girl in one fluid motion.

    “Unhand her!” Lance shouted, trying to go to her aid.

    “Not so fast,” Liath snarled, she and Aldrick appearing before him with their pokemon. “If you stop now, we won’t hurt you. More than we have to, of course.”

    Sabrina looked at Cole. “Joan is… different now, isn’t she?”

    “Cole,” Athena squeaked. “I’m scared.”

    The Firebrand could only nod slowly. Joan had accepted a power never meant to be wielded by human hands. In the exhausted state she had been in before this, that was a recipe for disaster. He himself had been laid unconscious a week after his Working.

    Maximus hurled Thundurus to lie beside his slaver, and pinned the legendary beast. Then, with a huge effort, he wrenched the collar from around Thudurus’s neck in a spray of iridescent sparks. The blue creature blinked as if awakening from a deep sleep, winced at its wounds, and threw Maximus off of him.

    Then, instead of retaliating, Thundurus fled in a giant rush of wind, vanishing to a distant speck on the horizon in mere instants. Vladimir crouched before Joan, his head bowed. “Please… show mercy.”

    The young warrior stood with her sword poised above his neck. “Why?”

    “Because surely the chosen hero of a benevolent god must have a shred of compassion for a broken, defeated man. I shall take whatever punishment comes my way. Justice will be served to me.”

    “Joan, he’s a monster!” Beckett roared. “Let justice be served now! Each life is a gift! He doesn’t deserve it!”

    “Kill him now!” Aldrick shouted.

    “No!” Kim cried. “Don’t take this into your own hands! Joan, don’t play god! Then you’ll be just as bad as he is!”

    Joan hesitated. Vladimir smiled.

    He blasted her with a spray of silver lightning, sending her flying backwards. He grabbed Gungír from the dirt, and prepared to fling it. He quickly did an estimation, and from this distance, with this power, aimed at her neck, he could kill her instantly.

    How satisfying that would be.

    With no qualms left, he hurled Gungír. To Cole, it seemed to fly in slow motion. He was too far away. He couldn’t save her. Joan was going to die, and this time, there was nothing he could do about it.

    A red comet spiraled down from the sky, taking the spear full in its center. It slammed into Vladimir, driving him again to the ground. Flayme roared as Nick leapt from his back, swords driving through Vladimir’s wrist in twin geysers of blood. Stigmata. The Charizard clone’s roar died off sharply, and he collapsed to the ground. The spear was buried halfway up its haft in his stomach.

    Flayme staggered, and fell to the ground. Nick ran to his side. “Flayme… Flayme, no, you said you could do this!”

    The Charizard growled softly. “Flayme, no! Don’t leave me!”

    It is… my destiny. The dragon’s voice was distant, and fading fast. Please Nick. Break the bond.

    “No!” Nick shouted. “You stood by me! You wouldn’t leave me to die! I’m not leaving you!”

    Nick, you’re being foolish.
    “Flayme, I can’t live without you! Letikara!”

    You must! Flayme urged. The world needs you.

    I need you!”

    Magnus and Cole sprinted to their side, as did the entirety of the rest of their war band. The various cultists drew back, whispering softly amongst themselves. Their Savior was broken and beaten. Where did that leave them? Already, many were breaking ranks and fleeing to the mountains.

    Talreya and Kim knelt next to Nick. “I’m sorry,” Kim sobbed. “It’s too severe. There’s nothing we can do.”

    Nick began to weep. He wrapped his arms around Flayme’s neck. “I’m not leaving you. I’ll stay here until the end. I promise.” They sat in silence for a long while, and it seemed as if the entire world was holding its breath.

    “Flayme… I’m going to miss you.”

    And I you. It was an honor to fight by your side. I only wish it could have been longer.

    Nick allowed the tears to fall. “You were my best friend. My brother.”

    Flayme growled a little. Oh, come on. Don’t cry. You’re a hero.

    Nick shook his head mutely. “I can’t help it. I don’t want to lose you!”

    The dragon coughed, and his blood stained Nick’s hands. He felt the heat of the ichor, but it did not burn him. Nick, I think it’s time.

    Nick nodded, and a few tears dropped onto Flayme’s gold and red scales. “Goodbye. Letikara.”

    Goodbye. They said it as one, in one voice, as one being.

    And then, Flayme died.

    His eyes closed, and his breathing slowed to a halt. The tension left his body, and Nick slowly lowered the Charizard’s head to the ground.

    “Clone or not… he was my partner. My friend. My brother.” He wiped a tear away. “And in the end, he died just the same as all of us. He was no different from any other pokemon.”

    Prometheus stared up at the clouds and roared, mourning the loss of a brother in arms. Athena buried her face in the collar of Cole’s duster, her tears running down his neck. The gathered partners of the humans raised their voices in a keening howl. The Legendary Birds soared up into the air, freed from their collars and regaining the strength of their wings. Their haunting cries would stay in Cole’s nightmares for years to come.

    Nick stalked to Vladimir. “You… you did this to him, you bastard.” His hands shook. “Nothing is going to bring my brother back. He’s gone.”

    “Your brother!” Vladimir spat, defiant even in agony. “Please! He was a pokemon! A cloned pokemon! How could you have thought of him as anything more than a tool?”

    Nick threw back his head and roared in primal fury. Fire coursed down his arms, making his clothes catch fire. He hurled his hands outward, and the power plant exploded in a giant fireball. Other explosions tore up the ground nearby.

    Anna whirled on her allies. “You all need to leave. Now. Nick’s only gotten like this once before, and it ended really badly. We’ll pull through, but the rest of you need to get out of here as quickly as possible.” The remaining members of the Seven quickly recalled their pokemon and began calling out to Nick.

    At some point during Flayme’s rapid death, Joan’s armor had vanished, the Plate was just that, and Excalibur was a steel rod. Cole was only just able to keep her on her feet. “But… Vladimir…”

    Seithios inclined his head at where the cult leader lay on the ground, in the center of Nick’s firestorm. “He’s not making it out of this alive. We… We’ll make sure of that.” Zapdos wheeled overhead, and thunderbolt tore up the earth near the group. “You all need to get out of here. Go!”

    Jasper’s band of sellswords, Cole’s company of three and Sabrina all hurried away. Sabrina called out her Alakazam. “As much as I hate to do this…”

    “Your place is in Saffron,” Cole replied brusquely. “I understand, and Joan will too. Go. It’s important you get out this. Someone has to be able to explain it to the rest of the world.”

    Sabrina nodded, and teleported away in a quick flash of light.

    As they raced over the foothills, Jasper glanced at Cole, then over his shoulders. Several more explosions tore through the power plant compound. Articuno unleashed a pillar of icy blue light as Moltres swept by, literally raining hell. A column of fire shot up into the heavens, burning blood red.

    “You realize, of course,” the ex-admin said, “that the terms of our treaty are now void.”

    “I do,” Cole shot back, keeping his responses short to save his breath. Running and carrying Joan was requiring all his stamina. “Look, do you really want to… kill each other… now… or can I… put the girl down… first?”

    Jasper smirked. “Bold words, Firebrand.”

    “Damn straight.”

    Talreya murmured something Cole really didn’t give a damn about. Beckett and Peiotr added their thoughts, and Cole couldn’t have cared less. Jasper turned back to him. “Firebrand, in light of recent events, we are willing to concede a week-long cease-fire. Find what cover you can.”

    “How bloody fucking generous of you.”

    Magnus inclined his head. “Much obliged. Until I can beat the tar out of you again, Jasper… Good day.”

    The tall, dark man motioned to his band, and the split off from Cole’s. They went southwest, while Magnus led his two charges northeast, deeper into the mountains. When they finally collapsed from exhaustion, they watched the inferno blazing on the horizon.



    Dear reader, you have no idea how hard it was to kill Flayme twice. He's always been a favorite of mine, and it was heartwrenching to do it in Scattered Sparks. Here... I couldn't bear to write a whole new scene, so, if you follow the Blazing Heart Saga, you will notice remarkable similarities between this and Chapter 41 (ironically, this is also Chapter 41. I did not intend that.).

    Also, a note. The term letikara appeared in this. In Scattered Sparks, letikara is a term used to describe dragon and rider, and the Bond they share. It translates roughly to "partner of my heart" or "companion of forever", though the elves shorten it to "Beloved" for the sake of brevity when speaking Human. The problem with this, as cited by several SS characters, is Beloved can not truly explain the deep emotional connection of the Bond.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 9th February 2012 at 11:45 PM.
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  22. #97
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    So, the Seven say that Nick has been like that before. Are they referring to SS or did I miss some part here? Or is it just not based on that at all?
    I really liked the chapter and I indeed saw the similarities between this and SS.
    Now, it's really fun that you let the Seven slowly show their powers. Whilst Cole wasn't aware of this at first it is really fun to see that he notices the differences, untill now Nick gets demonic.
    Keep it going.
    (Also, when will the sequel of SS be online? Not to put any pressure on you, or something like that, but I'm just curious.)

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    It was a subtle nod to Nurcroz's pyre, though it could also be construed to mean the Firestorm and Nihilism (though it doesn't fit the timeline). And to the second point, Fire Eternal is actually going up today.

  24. #99
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    That kinda makes sense. I thought the referance was to Nick's state of mind, didn't figure it was about the fire he created.

    And sequel coming, YAY!! I'll be following it for sure, can't really wait

  25. #100
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    The leaves were just starting to turn red and gold. Cole leaned against the mouth of the cave they had been sheltering in and smiled. Magnus raised an eyebrow. “What’s with you?” The old man took the old towel off of Joan’s forehead and replaced it with a new one. The young woman murmured something indistinguishable in her sleep. Sander the Roserade leapt to her side, and checked her pulse. Satisfied, he nodded and backed away again.

    Cole deftly caught one of the falling leaves. “Oh, nothing really. Just… realizing what time of year it is. I started my journey on the spring equinox, and the fall equinox has come and gone. In a few months, Arceus willing, I’ll be at the Edge of the World.” Then, he laughed with very little humor. “Will I even make it that long? At the rate I’m going… well, who knows?”

    Magnus said nothing for a moment. “That’s not the only thing on your mind.” He ran his hand through Caliban’s fluffy down, and fed Feste a slice of a berry.

    Cole slowly scratched behind one of Athena’s ears. She shifted in her sleep, making herself more comfortable. He turned over the leaf. “Oh, I guess I’m just thinking about home. I’ve told you about the Flare Gym, haven’t I? The trees are this color all year round. The air is… it tastes like… like slow music, if that makes sense. Beautiful, and something you never want to stop experiencing.”

    Magnus nodded. “It sounds magnificent.”

    Cole glanced over at the unconscious Joan. “Well, I can’t very well go back until I finish my quest. I’ve come this far, haven’t I? It makes no sense to go back now.” He brushed a strand of hair from Joan’s face. “It’s going to be strange, just me and my pokemon again. But I guess I’m not going anywhere for a while. I haven’t had a vision to tell me where the next Gate is, and I don’t quite feel like wandering around Kanto aimlessly with Jasper and his brigands on the prowl.”

    “What do you mean?” Magnus cried, suddenly indignant. “Just you and your pokemon?”

    Cole tilted a small cup of water into Joan’s dry mouth, slowly, so that she wouldn’t choke. “Well, Joan’s finished her quest. Vladimir is gone. Arceus is safe. She can do whatever she wishes now. And you… well, I need to ask you a favor.”

    The old man folded his hands on his lap, and Feste trilled out a few notes to a long-forgotten song. “Thine proposal, good sir.”

    “Joan doesn’t have a place to go back to,” Cole said. “I can’t send her back to the mental hospital. Besides, her voices are probably gone now. Wherever I go, danger is wont to follow. And you… well, you said it yourself, when we left Sidhe, you’re not young anymore. Is it really safe for you to keep following after me?

    “So… the favor is… take Joan and go somewhere safe. Maybe back to your home in the Sinjoh Ruins. If only for a little while. She needs somewhere to stay.”

    “Chivalry has its limits, you know.” Magnus smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. “Cole, answer me honestly. Do you think Joan could ever forgive either of us if I took her away while you were still out journeying?” At Cole’s hesitation, he chuckled. “And besides, this young lady is more tenacious than you give her credit for. She made it on her own for months without us. Without pokemon for a time too! Besides… I vowed to myself that I would get you where you are going.

    “With you Cole, I have seen things that I thought I would never see again, and even things I had never seen before. Marvelous things. Terrifying things. Awe-inspiring things. Things that make me want to weep. Cole, without you, I would be just another crazy old man living in the mountains.”

    “Another?” Cole laughed. “Just how many are there?”

    “Oh, plenty! Listen to me, Firebrand. I haven’t been to the Edge of the World in a very, very long time. I would very much like to return, to… well, a personal inquiry. I have… I’m sure you’ve seen The Tempest, haven’t you?”

    “Of course.”

    “And you know how Shakespeare wrote it as his magnum opus, his last great play, where he would tie up all his business in life?” Magnus sat back. “Boy, what’s my name? My full name.”

    “Prospero Magnus.” Then, with a grin, Cole added, “The Dread Wizard, Prospero Magnus.”

    “Watch your tongue, boy!” Magnus fingered his walking stick. “‘What strength I have’s mine own, which is most faint.’ Ah… think of this journey as my Tempest. ‘Gentle breath of yours my sails must fill.’ The Edge of the World shall be my epilogue. ‘And every third thought shall be my grave…’”

    “Let your indulgence set me free,” Feste said, in a way quite unlike his usual chirps.

    “Don’t talk like that, Magnus!” Cole cried. “Arceus, don’t do that! It’s… it’s scary.”

    “‘Release me from my bands with the help of your good hands: Gentle breath of yours my sails must fill… or my ending is despair.’”

    “Don’t you quote at me. And don’t you misquote at me.”

    Magnus leaned over and patted Cole’s hand. “That’s a good lad.”

    “Huh?”

    Cole whirled, and saw Joan struggling to sit up. He ran to her side, Sander reaching her a second before him. Together, they propped her up, and gave her a little more to drink. Joan ran her hand along Cole’s face. “Are we… are we okay? Are we safe? And Cole… you’ve got tears in your eyes.”

    “Let your indulgence set me free,” Feste intoned again.

    ***

    Two days later, Joan limped out of the cave and into the chilly autumn light. She shivered, and leaned up closer against Prometheus. Cole drew his duster closer, and glanced around. “I think we’ve waited here too long. Jasper might be tracking us even now.”

    Magnus nodded. “Hopefully, the next Gate takes us far away from Kanto.”

    Joan sucked in a breath. “Can I even use the Gates anymore? My quest is over.”

    “Of course you can, my girl,” Magnus said with a smile. “Once you have been judged worthy, you can use the Gates for the rest of your life. Just be careful, they may not always take you where you want to go. However, they will always bring you where you’re needed.”

    “Oh. Okay.” She fingered her pokéball harness. “Do you… do you mind if I stay on with you two?”

    “Of course you can!” the old man laughed. “Right, Cole?”

    “Three is a good number. Well, for humans at least. How many pokemon do we have with us?”

    “Twenty three,” Magnus promptly replied. “Which brings us up to twenty six, which is twice thirteen, meaning any bad luck that number might bring is cancelled out. Double negative property of questing.”

    “You’re making that up, you crazy old man!”

    “Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, and who’s to know? Now, Cole, where must we go next?”

    Cole shrugged. “I haven’t had a vision in a while. But we may as well head… uh… that way.” He pointed in the exact opposite of the power plant.

    Athena clambered up onto his shoulder. “Through the mountains?”

    “Well, I was thinking we could fly a little, just until Joan gets a little stronger. What’s… that way, Magnus?”

    “Cerulean City, I do believe.”

    Cole smiled. “Well, that’s it then! There’s this great restaurant in Cerulean! Once we get there, you have to try it! My treat!”

    Joan and Magnus called out Cirrus and Halcyon, and Cole mounted onto his Charizard. Eris clung to Joan’s back, and Athena whistled as the wind played over her face. Prometheus wheeled above the lofty western mountains, and when he roared it echoed for miles.

    For some time, the three trainers looped about, not really caring about their destination. The flying helped clear their minds. After the crushing emotion of the recent past, it was good to just fly through the air with no inhibitions.

    Cirrus drifted on a thermal, the warm air buoying the Altaria’s soft fluffy wings. He cooed softly, hovering in place. A flock of Pidgeotto flew beneath them, and glanced quizzically up at Halcyon, wondering at the giant interloper in their midst. But the fairly docile Halcyon paid them no mind, allowing the sunlight to play over his amber feathers.

    Magnus took his hands from the flying harness, and spread them out to each side, allowing the wind to play over his fingers. Here in the upper air, it was cold, numbingly so. But the trainers didn’t mind, and their pokemon were plenty warm. The cold let them know they were still alive, that they could indeed enjoy themselves.

    Morning gave way to afternoon, and afternoon to evening. As the sun drew close to the horizon, Cole signaled to his companions. It would be nice to arrive in Cerulean by sunset, to have a real bed to sleep in at the pokemon center.

    All three flyers were quite fast, and within an hour and a half, the group touched down in the central plaza of Cerulean City, startling several young couples. A fountain bubbled cheerfully, and a brass quintet was just striking up a rather jazzy set.

    Magnus checked them into the center, and made sure that their pokemon were seen to. Maeve gushed to Cole about the large reading room the center had, and disappeared there for the remainder of the evening. The medical staff of the center was seeing to Macbeth, Maximus and Nimbus, for several of their recent injuries could not be treated on the road.

    The plaza opened onto the Cerulean River, which was illuminated by several old-style gas lamps. After eating dinner at the bistro Cole remembered (and having only just enough to pay for it between them), Joan proposed spending the remainder of the evening in the plaza.

    Masamune and Scathatch went down to the water’s edge for a swim. Sander and Miranda wandered aimlessly around the plaza’s flowerbeds, Eris drifting a few feet behind them. Athena and Tesla began a game of tag, racing after each other or towards each other, Cole couldn’t tell.

    As the evening got darker, the band changed from brassy jazz to something a little smoother. Cole found himself drifting about the plaza in time to the music. Joan looked up from the fountain. “Are you dancing?”

    “N-Not really. Not consciously at least.”

    “Oh. I was just kind of wondering… maybe you wanted to…”

    Cole sat down next to her. “You can dance?”

    “A little. I taught myself some steps in the… the, uh, hospital.”

    Cole took her hand. “Well, some other people are dancing. Why not? You know a waltz pattern? This has the three-beat timing, and is slow enough.”

    “I… uh, waltz isn’t one I know very well.”

    “It’s not very hard,” Cole replied, guiding her hands into place. “Here, let me lead.”

    Watching his two young companions dancing around the plaza (better than he thought they could!) Magnus laughed. Glancing at Feste, he winked. “They are within each other’s power!”

    “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” Feste squawked. Then, he shook his crested head, obviously thinking the better of it and finding a better quote in his reserve. “What fools these mortals be!”

    “Fools indeed,” Magnus replied with another laugh. “And isn’t it a merry thing, to be a fool and to know it!”




    I really like this chapter. Maybe you don't, because not much happens plot-wise, but I really freaking like this chapter. Don't ask me why, maybe just because all my stories were at a really depressing stage at the time of writing. Just... so much good vibes man.
    Last edited by Firebrand; 17th February 2012 at 12:19 AM.
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