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Thread: Requiem (PG-13)

  1. #176
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    It took the police four days to find the crazy man’s hidey-hole.
    Heh heh. Hidey-hole.

    “Shut up,” Dorian replied, hastily gathering their trash.
    Poor Dorian. That's all he can say lately.

    “Don’t be shellfish!” Dorian cackled, doubling over in laughter.
    I love this joke. It gets me every time!

    Dorian explained, attempting to take his eyes off the celebrity but not quite being able to do so.
    Yeah I know how this feels. People can't take their eyes off of me either.

    Shelton activated her own pokeflect.
    I noticed you capitalized Pokeflect a few lines before, but not here. Nothing really wrong, just pointing it out.

    That chapter was filled with sadness, action, awesomeness, and holy crap that was good! The return to Kanto wasn't as peaceful as it seemed to start out. The pacing was nice, the characters was awesome, and that ending gave me so many feels. An amazing return to SPPf and an amazing chapter. Oh and to Knightfall, Garrett is the guy from the bar Dorian went to after Dorian's guardian died. I cannot remember his name for the life of me. DX Keep up the amazing work. Until next time.
    Credit goes to MagicMochi. Check out their shop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder
    While it is very reminiscent of a lot of journey trainer fics, it held my attention. It stands out among a lot of the other fics I've read lately and I'm excited to continue the story.

  2. #177
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    Great update, great comeback. Thanks for responding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall View Post
    First off, while I hadn't read in a while, I do not recall Garrett at all. I do remember most of the characters before this, but his name does not register
    I have a fresher memory of the canon than you and even I blanked on that name until the Ledian came into the picture. To poorly summarize it, he was the guy who ended up helping Dorian overcome the sorrow of his loss by talking about how shitty his dead father was.

    Now he's lost his best friend though so maybe he'll talk Dorian back up on to that roof (or back into that bottle really) and they can get drunk and cry about their losses together.

    Also I've been taking my time going through the recs you gave me so you'll hear about that soon. Thanks for that
    >having a sig

  3. #178
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    Thanks for the reviews guys. New job has been taking up a lot of my time so I apologize for the belated response to your lovely comments. BTW, I've finished the newest chapter and it should be up sometime tonight. Thanks for all your support!

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876
    Pokémon jokes… that’s quite clever. :P
    Hah! Thanks! My friend told me that joke a few months back, but it instead of the Pokemon I listed, the convo was between a shark and an oyster. I laughed until I cried when he told it to me haha

    When Shelton was looking at the poster, I actually thought, What if they totally meet her soon? Bam, they met her soon. I win.
    Lol good call. Sarah Ball is actually exactly based on one of my wife's best friends. Evil scientist laugh and all

    I just finished reading and all I have to say is wow. I thought a friendly excursion of motorcycle riding would be just that—friendly. But Ethan showed up and ruined everything. All of the attacks and movements were beautifully and realistically described. I can’t really find anything to criticize. I feel sorry for Garrett mostly, and I’m glad Shiftry’s safe. I hope Ethan eventually gets what he deserves though.
    Coming from you that's quite a compliment. Thanks! He does tend to me quite the party killer doesn't he. Literally!

    Thanks again

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall
    I do not recall Garrett at all. I do remember most of the characters before this, but his name does not register
    As hl23 said below, Garrett is the trainer Dorian met while he was in Pewter after Ronnie died. He told Dorian a few stories about his abusive father and helped Dorian to slightly overcome his anguish and guilt about Ronnie's death. Hope that rings a bell lol

    Secondly, the entire chase scene. I mean, goodness. You really know how to convey emotions and adrenaline-fueled panic into writing. And once again, you display Ethan's heartless brutality by having him kill Ledian. That was good, my friend. Ethan truly deserves the Best Human Villain award.
    Thanks very much! I was honored to recieve it. Just to give you a little more insight into how my head works, when trying to write the chase sequence, I actually drove up and down the interstate in the early morning hours a few times. Went as fast as I could and weaved through lanes a little bit while listening to some fast-paced dubstep to try and get into that mindset. Guess it worked!

    Nice cliffhanger. Though, I'm not sure how the police could hold them for too long, as there were plenty of people who witnessed Ethan's attack and, might possibly, see that it was an act of self-defense. I'm sure it will be resolved in the next chapter.
    I can defintetely see the logic as to why they immedeately arrested them, but you're right, I don't see the police holding them for very long

    Thanks for the review buddy

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Lucario
    Heh heh. Hidey-hole.
    I'm surprised that two of you liked that phrasing so much lol

    I noticed you capitalized Pokeflect a few lines before, but not here. Nothing really wrong, just pointing it out.
    Thanks! *fixes*

    That chapter was filled with sadness, action, awesomeness, and holy crap that was good! The return to Kanto wasn't as peaceful as it seemed to start out. The pacing was nice, the characters was awesome, and that ending gave me so many feels. An amazing return to SPPf and an amazing chapter. Oh and to Knightfall, Garrett is the guy from the bar Dorian went to after Dorian's guardian died. I cannot remember his name for the life of me. DX Keep up the amazing work. Until next time.
    Thanks for the kind words buddy, I really appreciate the support. You know all the stuff I was going through, and I felt bad that it took me so far from the forums, but your glowing review makes me think the chapter was worth the wait. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by hl23
    Great update, great comeback. Thanks for responding.
    No problem at all. Thanks for reading! I thrive on the opinions of new readers and I appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts

    I have a fresher memory of the canon than you and even I blanked on that name until the Ledian came into the picture. To poorly summarize it, he was the guy who ended up helping Dorian overcome the sorrow of his loss by talking about how shitty his dead father was
    Exactly. Thanks for clarifying that for knightfall, I appreciate it

    or back into that bottle really)
    That's where I think they're going to go too

    Also I've been taking my time going through the recs you gave me so you'll hear about that soon
    Recs?

    Thanks for the review!

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  4. #179
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    Chapter 22


    “Mr. Dvakna?” the detective asked.

    Dorian stared at the cigarette stuck between the crook of his fingers. The way the smoke undulated was fascinating. Sometimes in curvy lines, sometimes in small quick spirals. The dark color of the smoke matched the steel desk his arms were resting on down to the exact hue. It was almost mildly peaceful watching the cigarette burn itself out, as it made his mind blank and forgetful towards the situation that had landed in this place.

    “Mr. Dvakna?” the detective asked again.

    “What?” Dorian snapped as the man broke him from his trance.

    “I asked if it was alright if I bring your sister and Mr. Cayden in. The police chief would like to have a word with all three of you before you leave.”

    Dorian nodded and the man stalked off towards the door of the small windowless room. As the door clicked shut behind the man, Dorian thought back on the last sixteen hours. When the three of them had been arrested, there wasn’t any sort of reading of their rights or really any cordial behavior at all. The men had handcuffed them, shoved them into their cars, and plopped them into separate cells at the Cerulean City Jail. No matter how hard Dorian pleaded to passing officers, or even screamed at them, he wasn’t spoken to or even let out for a solid five hours. When he was eventually escorted out of his cell, he caught a glimpse of Shelton and Garrett in identical one’s right next to his.

    Hour upon hour of questioning soon followed. At first Dorian thought that the police suspected him of wrongdoing, but it became quickly apparent that he wasn’t in trouble at all. According to the detective, he was there for his own protection. From traffic cameras and dozens of eye witnesses, the police knew that the man that had attacked them was Ethan Bernard, and since he had escaped capture once again, the police naturally assumed that he would still be in the area and after them. Something told Dorian though that they were wrong. He didn’t have any proof that Ethan was still nearby, but the longer time went on, the further away he felt.

    The door opened again and a burly man with a thick handlebar mustache walked through, followed by two jittery looking officers with uniforms so crisp and ironed that they verged on unnatural. Shelton and Garrett followed next, his sister wearing a large orange shirt with the word ‘inmate’ stenciled on the shoulder. Her hair was wet so Dorian assumed that they had let her shower to get the bits of blood and gore from her hair. They had disposed of his shirt when he had been let out of his cell, partly to get him one not soaked through with blood, and partly so that they could analyze the blood for a record of Ethan’s DNA.

    Dorian tried to catch Garrett’s eye as he passed, but he walked directly past him and leaned against the wall in the far corner of the room. Lighting a cigarette, Garrett stared at the floor. Shelton took a seat next to Dorian and quickly found his hand and gave it a squeeze.

    “So, here’s what we got,” the police chief started. “I’m sorry that the three of you were put through this ordeal, especially you Mr. Cayden.”

    Garrett continued to stare at the floor.

    “As I’m sure you’re aware, Ethan Bernard is now on the federal watch list on every continent in the world, with the exception of Unova. Since we still have no idea as to his whereabouts, myself and the Pewter City Police will share employing a security detail with you until this situation has been resolved.”

    “I don’t want it,” Garrett spoke, his voice low and monotone.

    “Neither do we,” Dorian agreed.

    “Why is that?” the chief questioned, his voice adopting a stern tone. “Is there some reason you don’t want protection from a murderous psychopath?”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” Shelton asked.

    “You know what that means,” he snapped.

    “No, we don’t,” Dorian snarled. “And don’t talk to her like that.”

    “What that means is that Mr.Cayden said that he put in excess of thirteen rounds of forty caliber ammunition into Ethan Bernard, yet when my officers arrived at the scene, he was not only unhurt, but standing on his own two feet. Something doesn’t add up here. No doubt the three of you were the victim of an unwanted attack, but you all seem like you’re hiding something.”

    Before Dorian could open his mouth in protest, Garrett spoke.

    “Am I under arrest?”

    “Of course not,” the chief exclaimed, throwing up his hands in mock exasperation.

    “Then I’m leaving, and I’m not having any security detail.”

    “It’s for your own protection, son.”

    “First off, I’m not your son. Secondly, go fuck yourself,” Garrett spat, flicking his cigarette to the floor.

    “How dare you speak to him like that!” one of the younger officers roared.

    “Jones, quiet,” the chief said, raising a hand. “It’s not an option Mr.Cayden. You’re free to leave whenever you’d like, you can pick up your Pokemon and your effects at the front desk.”

    Garrett made a big show of slamming the door as hard as he could as he left.

    The chief paused for a moment and tugged hard on his facial hair. “Do either of you object to having a detail outside your home?”

    “Do we have a choice?” Shelton asked.

    “Until Ethan Bernard is caught, no. Well, unless you want the blood of more people on your heads.”

    That was a low blow. An officer had told Dorian that Ethan’s Salamence had caused the deaths of three people during their battle on the freeway. While it was in no way their fault, the words still cut deep. Dorian had declined to know the names of the people that had died when the officer had offered. Partially because it made it more real, but mainly because he knew that the guilt of having a name associated with the people would eat him alive.

    “Then we would like to go,” Shelton said.

    “Be my guest,” the chief said, gesturing towards the door.

    They both got up and strode towards the door. A few tense minutes followed as they collected their Pokemon and belongings, the police chief and a gangly group of officers watching their every move. As they walked across the grimy tile towards the exit, Dorian ran a finger across the polished curve of Shiftry’s pokeball. They entered the early morning fog of Cerulean with closed eyes and empty hearts. Both of them were so exhausted that they could barely stand. Through the fog Dorian caught sight of a shadow rising high above the tree line.

    “Did you see a guy walk out of here a minute ago?” Shelton asked a cadet standing guard outside the building.

    “Guy with short blond hair?” the man suggested.

    “Yeah,” Dorian answered.

    “He released a Pidgeot when he walked outside and flew off in that direction,” the cadet said, motioning towards the west.

    Shit,” Dorian muttered.

    “Yup.” Shelton agreed.

    “These officers will drive you back to Pewter, at which time some officers from there will stay stationed outside your house. Is that acceptable?”

    Dorian gave a curt nod as the officers from the interrogation room led them into the back of a sapphire car parked nearby. Dorian wanted to speak to Shelton so badly about what happened in the field and whether the police confiscated the shard or not. However, every time he tried to open his mouth she cut him off with a well timed glare. After the first few attempts Dorian stopped trying to talk and stared out the window as they drove home. The look she had given usually meant he was about to be maimed in some way, and thinking logically it probably wasn’t the best idea to have this sort of conversation in front of the cops.

    Almost half an hour later they arrived at Ronnie’s house where a slate gray police car was already parked. They exited the vehicle and began walking towards the house as their police car rolled up to park beside the one situated at the end of the driveway. To Dorian’s immense surprise, he saw Vibrava lounging on the tin roof of the house. Startled, he turned to Shelton who simply smiled in return.

    “How the hell did he get here?” Dorian asked.

    “I sent him back here right before the police came down the hill,” Shelton explained.

    “Why?”

    “I sent him with the shard, idiot. The police know that Ethan is after them, and I wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of letting them have the one thing we can track him with.”

    “That…was actually pretty smart,” Dorian admitted.

    “You think so?” Shelton said, rolling her eyes and entering the house.

    “Choooookkeeee!” Machoke moaned as he tackled-hugged Shelton.

    Golduck inclined his head at Dorian as he entered close behind.

    “Christ I missed you too!” Shelton said, shoving the muscular Pokemon off of her.

    Dorian cracked open a beer and quickly downed it, following the action by grabbing another and plopping himself down on the sofa next to Golduck.

    “Duduck, duckduck,” the Pokemon said, gesturing towards the coffee table.

    Sitting on the small table was a postmarked box from Orre addressed to Dorian and Shelton, the words ‘Stool Samples’ printed in large print on every side. In the haze of yesterday’s battle he had forgotten all about the package they had sent themselves. Smacking his forehead dramatically, Dorian turned to Machoke.

    “Hey man, do me a favor and close the blinds and the door.”

    “No! Sit down!” Shelton ordered Machoke. “Until you get a hold of your strength, I don’t want you touching anything resembling home furnishings.”

    Dorian went for his dagger to slit the box open, but when his hand reached the sheath he found it empty. Then he remembered that Ethan had thrown it after pulling it from his stomach where Dorian had stabbed him. Ronnie had given him that knife. His heart skipped a beat as a wave of self-disappointment enveloped him. He couldn’t believe that he had forgotten it. Clenching his teeth in anger, Dorian dropped the box back on the table.

    “Check and make sure it’s all in there, I’ll be back in awhile.”

    “Um, no. You’re not going anywhere until we talk about what happened.”

    “Yeah I am,” Dorian challenged.

    “No, you’re not.”

    “Okay then,” Dorian said as he walked back out into the sunlight.

    All four cops swiveled around in their seats to face him as he walked outside. Wasting no time, Dorian called up to Vibrava. “Oi!”

    His dragon Pokemon awoke with a start and grinned broadly as he saw Dorian waving his arms below. Vibrava rolled off the edge of the warm roof and beat his wings quickly to hover at eye level with his master.

    “I know we haven’t really tried it yet, but do you think you could fly me somewhere?”

    “Bravvvaaa,” his Pokemon replied, enthusiastically bobbing his head.

    Towards the end of the driveway, all four cops exited their vehicles and started walking towards him.

    “Let’s go then,” Dorian said.

    Vibrava flew around him in a wide arc and wrapped all four of its spindly legs around him; two hooking under his armpits and the other two around his thighs. Vibrava kicked up a thick cloud of dust as they rose above the house. Dorian tossed a salute to the officers below, to which they responded by jumping back into their cars and activating their sirens.

    “Follow the south road towards Viridian, but when we get out of their sight, cross the woods and double back towards Cerulean.”

    “Vibravvv,” the dragon acknowledged.

    Dorian was no stranger to riding on flying Pokemon, but they had mostly been feathered birds, and he had always been on top. Riding beneath Vibrava was a little unnerving even though his Pokemon had an iron grip on him. After the first several minutes though, Dorian began to enjoy himself. Vibrava rose and fell with the updrafts, soaring so high that the road become no bigger than a pencil, and dropping so low that Dorian could almost touch the tops of the trees. The woods beneath them were mottled sparsely with waves of yellow and orange, signaling the arrival of fall.

    Vibrava broke off his current heading and started northeast. In no time at all they were back to the battleground of the previous day. They landed where Dorian had stabbed Ethan, and he noticed that the grass around the spot had turned an ugly shade of brown. He found his dagger embedded in the ground a few inches from the moaning river. It took two hands to pry it loose, after which he washed it in the water and slid it back into his sheath.

    As his hand left the dagger, Dorian found that his knees lost the strength to keep him erect and he collapsed to the ground. Vibrava padded up to him and ran his scaled head against Dorian’s shoulder. He felt his eyes begin to moisten but held back the tears. This wasn’t the right time for this. At the same time though, nothing was right anymore, not after what he saw Ethan Bernard do yesterday. Defeated, Dorian rested his head against Vibrava’s and let his mind wander.


    *******


    Shelton was beyond infuriated as Dorian left the house, and it was doubled as she saw Vibrava fly him off towards Viridian. Her justified anger vanished however as she opened the package on the coffee table and beheld its contents. The diamonds they had stolen glittered in the fluorescent lights above. They knew in order to get them back here they wouldn’t have been able to carry them on their person. Dorian had had the bright idea to stuff a box full of straw and construction paper so they wouldn’t clink, and simply overnight the box two days before they left. The words ‘Stool Samples’ were sure to deter anyone from peeking inside, and just as they planned, here they were.

    Closing the cardboard parcel, Shelton strode across the living room and deposited it into Ronnie’s floor safe. The steel safe was empty save for a single framed picture.

    It was of the three of them together on the day she and Dorian had graduated high school. Dorian’s old Raticate was clinging to his leg, and Shelton’s Psyduck was staring blankly forward at the camera, looking like he had absolutely no idea what was going on. Ronnie was between them, his arms wrapped around both their shoulders in a tight embrace.

    Shelton’s lip quivered.

    She picked up the frame and set the box inside, gently laying the frame on top. The lock to the safe clicked lightly as she closed the door and walked back to the living room. Golduck cocked his head sideways as she approached. Before he could say something, she spoke first.

    “Where’s Machoke?” she asked.

    “Duck,” he responded with a shrug.

    “Alright, well, I’m gonna go put some flowers on Ronnie’s grave, you wanna come along?”

    “Duduck duck,” he replied, pointing to his head and squinting his eyes.

    “Are you okay?”

    “Golduck duduck gold,” he said, nodding his head.

    “Take a nap or something, I’ll be back in a bit. I love you.”

    “Duck duu.”

    As mad as she was at Dorian for blatantly doing what the police chief told them not to do, he had gotten rid of the officers posted outside, allowing her to slip out the front door and walk towards town without an escort. Time passed quickly for her as she walked, as she was barely even paying attention to what she was doing. Shelton had always been a pro at ordering her thoughts into tight rows of easily accessible information. The attack from Ethan though had scrambled her mind into a swamp of disbelief and unadulterated shock.

    Well, perhaps disbelief wasn’t the right word. She couldn’t argue with what she saw. She had seen Ethan jump twenty feet into the air, she had seen Dorian stab him, she had felt the gore hit her face as Garrett blew the madman’s head off. She knew without a doubt that it wasn’t possible, she just knew it. At the same time though it had happened, and now she was a believer. Ethan wasn’t a man at all. As much as she hated to admit it, the raw power he possessed, his apparent invulnerability, made her feel a twinge of jealousy. Shelton had always loved and respected strength; it was part of the reason she had trained in combat for so many years. That man though, that was something else entirely.

    Before she realized it, she had arrived at the cemetery. In her arms were a dozen long stemmed roses she had purchased from outside the gas station. The short walk to Ronnie’s grave felt like it took more time to get to than the entire walk from the house, despite his plot only being about thirty yards from the entrance. Just as she knelt down to place the flowers on his grave, a voice whispered in her ear.

    “Graveler.”

    Shelton spun around in time for the Graveler to grasp both of her forearms in two hands, and yank her feet out from under her with the other two. Her back slammed into the ground as the Graveler jumped up and straddled her. Its face was a patchwork of black burns, and its eyes shone with a furious anger. As Shelton struggled against its grasp to try and reach her Pokeflect, she noticed that portions of its body had been blown off, which instantly made her realize who it was. The Graveler’s rough hands broke her skin and she screamed as blood began to roll down her arms.

    ”Grav, Graveler grav!” the Pokemon shouted.

    The Graveler released the lower grip it had on her legs and placed one hand on her mouth and began squeezing her neck with the other. Tighter and tighter the Pokemon squeezed as muddy tears streamed out of its eyes. Just as her vision began to blur and her body began to shake, a shadow fell across them.

    Something roared so loudly that the ground trembled around her. The weight of the Graveler was suddenly gone and she quickly sat upright. As stars danced across her eyes she saw a blue humanoid figure jump high into the air, the Graveler held in a tight embrace. As Machoke reached the apex of his jump and began to fall, he flipped the rock Pokemon upside down and slammed it headfirst into the ground. The Graveler bounced out of the newly formed crater and laid motionless face down in the grass.

    “CHOKE!” Machoke bellowed again as he bounded forward.

    Before Shelton could rise to her feet, Machoke flipped the unconscious Pokemon over and began viciously slamming his glowing right fist into the Pokemon’s body. Squirts of mud shot in long arcs as the Pokemon’s body began to shatter. Machoke relentlessly continued as Shelton approached. After a few more seconds however, the Graveler had been reduced to nothing more than a wheelbarrow load of gravel. As Shelton crept around the side of Machoke, she saw his thickly muscled arms twitching and his hands still balled into fists.

    “Machoke?” she asked.

    Machoke turned to face her and roared, baring his fangs and jumping to his feet. His face fell after a moment and his tensed muscles lost rigidity. He looked down at his mud covered hands and turned them over, as if they were foreign objects that had been grafted to his body. Tears welled in his eyes and he collapsed to the ground, shaking from head to toe. Shelton moved forward and wrapped her arms as far as she could around his thick frame.

    “How did you get here, sweetie?” she asked, her voice quivering.

    “Choke, Machoke, choke choke Machoke ma,” he managed.

    “Sweetie I told Golduck that I would be right back, I wouldn’t ever leave you,” Shelton replied. “I would never leave you sweetheart.”

    Machoke began to sob harder and in response she hugged him closer.

    “Don’t cry sweetie. You saved me. I know you’re scared sweetheart but it’s okay, you did the right thing.”

    “Machoke? Machoke ma, choke choke?”

    “Of course I’m not mad at you sweetheart, I would have died if you hadn’t shown up.”

    Shelton knelt down to the ground and sat cross-legged against Ronnie’s tombstone. She grabbed Machoke around the middle and pulled him backwards, sitting him down on the ground with his back on her chest. He continued to cry but it was much less frantic. She started singing his song and after awhile the crying stopped completely; and all they were left with was the rustling of the trees.


    *******


    Twilight had fallen before Dorian decided to head back to Pewter. He had taken to absentmindedly stabbing the ground for a few hours before he felt the extreme urge to get hammered. Vibrava picked him up off the ground and they followed the freeway back home. Vibrava bellowed at a flock of Spearow as they flew, scattering them down to the trees below. Dorian chuckled and waved his hand through the rushing air. By the time they saw the lights of Pewter, Dorian was already through his fourth plan on how to escape a beating from Shelton for ditching her.

    Vibrava slowly descended towards Ronnie’s house as to not alarm the officers stationed outside. As he waved thumbs up towards them, he noticed a Pokemon parked on the front lawn. The officers paid him no mind as he landed, and it was only as he felt his feet touch the ground that he recognized Garrett leaning against the breast of the Pidgeot.
    The flying type screeched at him ferociously and flared its wings as he approached. That action elicited a snarl from Vibrava, to which the Pidgeot bent low to the ground and started digging its talons into the dirt. Dorian returned Vibrava in a flash of ruby light and spread his arms wide. The Pidgeot snorted and raised its head. Garrett pushed off of his bird and took a few steps towards him, his body swaying gently from side to side. From ten feet away Dorian could smell the liquor on his breath.

    “Flying makes me feel better too,” Garrett slurred.

    “That was my first time on my dragon,” Dorian responded.

    “Geooo!” Garrett’s Pidgeot screeched, golden plumage glittering in the failing light.

    “Oh grow up, I told you he’s fine,” Garrett replied, retrieving a great ball from his pocket and returning the bird.

    “It doesn’t like me?”

    “She, doesn’t like anyone but me,” Garrett laughed.

    “You alright?” Dorian asked.

    “What kind of question is that?”

    “A pretty simple one?”

    Fuck you, Dorian.”

    “Look man, I’m sorry, you know I didn’t want this to happen.”

    Garrett’s voice faltered as he spoke, “I’m sorry, I know you didn’t, it’s still just lik-“

    As the words left Garrett’s mouth he fell facedown into the grass. Dorian knelt next to him and saw that he was breathing steadily so there was probably no cause for worry.

    “Christ.”

    Dorian fingered through his belt clip and released Spoink. The purple and black Pokemon bobbed up and down and gave Dorian a grimace as she saw Garrett.

    “Do me a favor and lift him up and help me put him in bed?”

    “Spoink, spo oink oink!”

    “Look, I still have no idea what you’re saying but I’m pretty sure you know what I mean. Will you just help me out?”

    The Spoink rolled her eyes then glared at Garrett. A mauve glow enveloped his body as he was lifted off the ground. Dorian ascended the porch and left the door open as Spoink and Garrett’s floating form followed him inside. Dorian had Spoink deposit Garrett on Ronnie’s bed. After thanking her and shooing her from the room, Dorian yanked off Garrett’s boots and deposited them at the foot of the bed.

    After closing the door and walking back to the kitchen, Dorian rifled through the cabinet above the oven. Jackpot. The amber colored liquor inside the jar glistened softly as Dorian opened it. The alcohol was fermented Victrebell nectar and it was aged almost twenty years. Dorian poured himself a generous helping and slammed it back. It tasted pretty much like burning plastic mixed with an oil well fire but he was able to keep it down.

    He poured himself another glass and trudged past a sleeping Golduck up to Shelton’s room. A slice of light cut through the dark hallway as he reached the top of the stairs. He followed the trail and gingerly pushed open Shelton’s door. She was sitting in a chair facing her desk and smoking a cigarette. The shard they had gotten from Orre was lying on the desk in front of her, and she was so focused on it that she didn’t even notice when Dorian entered the room. Curious, Dorian slapped a hand against her door, causing her to spastically jump to her feet.

    “The fuck was that?” she angrily asked.

    “Just trying to make sure you don’t try to start making out with a rock,” Dorian offered.

    “Shut up. What is that?” Shelton asked, pointing to his glass.

    “Victrebell nectar.”

    Shelton snatched it from his hand and took a swig. She made a grimace as she swallowed and started in on him again. “Are you gonna be around for awhile, or should I rent out your room?”

    “I lost my knife. I had to get it back,” Dorian responded. “Garrett’s here, by the way.”

    “Why? Where?”

    “He was obliterated. I put him in Ronnie’s bed.”

    “Alright. What’s the plan?”

    “You tell me, sensei.”

    “Still cool with talking to the director tomorrow?”

    “Yup.”

    “Then that’s the damn plan.”

    “You wanna talk about what happened?”

    “No.”

    Noticing the open cuts on her arms and neck, Dorian took a step closer. “What happened to you?”

    “One of the Graveler from that debacle followed us back. I was replacing Ronnie’s flowers when it attacked me.”

    “Kecleon fuck it up?” Dorian asked.

    “Nope, Machoke did,” she smiled.

    “Haha, sure. For real though, what happened?”

    “Machoke saved me. He seismic tossed the little shit then killed it.”

    “Machoke?”

    “Yup.”

    “Shelton,” Dorian started. “I slammed the door once and he hid under your bed for two days. You can’t be serious.”

    “That’s what happened. Apparently he got freaked out when I left the house without telling him and tried to track me down.”

    “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah I’m okay,” Shelton admitted.

    Dorian embraced her then, glaring hard at the shard lying on her desk. He took another swallow from his glass and shifted his footing slightly. Shelton put her forehead against his.

    “Are we okay?” Dorian asked.

    “We’re fine. You should go to bed.”

    “Yeah well, you’re not the boss of me.”

    “Yes I am,” Shelton declared.

    Dorian hugged her again and polished off the rest of the liquor. Feeling somewhat disoriented and suddenly sleepy, Dorian walked out of the room and crossed the hallway into his. He fell onto his bed without taking his shoes off and pulled the comforter over him. He quickly fell asleep and did not dream.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  5. #180
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    A perfect chapter to describe the aftermath of the horrifying scenes in the last chapter.

    To begin with, I had already guessed that the police didn't detain them for wrong-doing, but it was interesting. I liked the whole "detached" atmosphere about Dorian and the others while being interrogated. Dorian's observation of the detective's cigarette smoke was, in particular, a bit of description I enjoyed reading. Now that I remember who Garret is, I can connect with his character more (and I should have remembered, thanks hl23 for reminding me), and feel his loss and hopelessness even more now. Their argument with the police chief about the guards was interesting and I quite liked Garret's reaction.

    Just hopping on a Pidgeot and flipping off the police. Just brilliant.

    Anyways, I do have my qualms about the next scene. Mainly, when Shelton goes to Ronnie's grave. Now, I'm not sure what I think of the entire Graveler attack scene. It just seemed so ... random. Something about it just felt very, very forced. Seriously, this Graveler tracked her all the way to this cemetery just to get revenge? Even if it is a feral creature demanding vengeance, the odds of it finding her just seem too slim. Though, I have to admit, seeing the normally timid Machoke go all Incredible Hulk on that piece of rock was very, very, very fun to read and reread.

    On the other hand, I loved how Dorian's scene with flying on Vibrava and going after his dagger. His shattered emotions and going into that trance-like state were excellent touches. I can't help but shudder at how well you have your characters react to the tremendous guilt, regret, and depression that seems to follow them everywhere they go.

    So, overall, a somewhat relaxing chapter after everything that happened in the previous chapter. I quite enjoyed the character development, and the brief scenes with Garret were meant more to me now that I remember him. XD

    Seriously, great chapter and I hope to see the next installment soon.

    Knightfall signing off...

  6. #181
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    “Mr. Dvakna?” the detective asked.

    Dorian stared at the cigarette stuck between the crook of his fingers. The way the smoke undulated was fascinating. Sometimes in curvy lines, sometimes in small quick spirals. The dark color of the smoke matched the steel desk his arms were resting on down to the exact hue. It was almost mildly peaceful watching the cigarette burn itself out, as it made his mind blank and forgetful towards the situation that had landed in this place.

    “Mr. Dvakna?” the detective asked again.
    A nice intro, but I’d do a few tweaks. I’d remove “the detective asked” at the beginning to give an air of mystery as to who is speaking. Dorian himself is not paying attention, after all, so I feel we should be in the dark, too. Also we could probably guess who’s speaking anyway, because not many people address Dorian this way.

    I’d also turn “almost mildly peaceful” into just “mildly peaceful” as the “almost” seems redundant.

    “Am I under arrest?”

    “Of course not,” the chief exclaimed, throwing up his hands in mock exasperation.

    “Then I’m leaving, and I’m not having any security detail.”
    These police are rude! I’d beat them up.

    “It’s not an option Mr.Cayden. You’re free to leave whenever you’d like, you can pick up your Pokemon and your effects at the front desk.”
    Forgot space after “Mr.”

    As they walked across the grimy tile towards the exit, Dorian ran a finger across the polished curve of Shiftry’s pokeball.
    I’ve always wanted to ask this, but why don’t you use nicknames for pokémon?

    Shelton knelt down to the ground and sat cross-legged against Ronnie’s tombstone. She grabbed Machoke around the middle and pulled him backwards, sitting him down on the ground with his back on her chest. He continued to cry but it was much less frantic. She started singing his song and after awhile the crying stopped completely; and all they were left with was the rustling of the trees.
    They just can’t get a break, huh? Sweet scene, though. Poor Machoke.

    “Victrebell nectar.”
    Should be “Victreebel”

    Anyway, a good wind down chapter with a few surprises. Garrett’s grieving as I expected he would after his Ledian got annihilated. (That part still sticks out at me.) Dorian’s acting as recklessly as usual, and Shelton’s just as angry at him as ever. I wonder if they’ll ever learn to get along properly? I have to say though that the Machoke/Graveler scene was my favorite. It seemed a bit sudden by the sweetness of it by the end made me not care.


    | she will get the truth out of him, whatever it may be. |
    | letters 13/14 released 5/22/14 |


    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | COMPLETE AS OF 8/11/13 |


  7. #182
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    Well, I appreciate the reviews as always. Sorry it took me so long to get the next chapter out. I'm gonna reply to the reviews I have and bless you all with my marvelous brilliance (jk lol). But seriously, thanks to everyone who has kept reading, I really appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by knightfall
    Now that I remember who Garret is, I can connect with his character more (and I should have remembered, thanks hl23 for reminding me), and feel his loss and hopelessness even more now. Their argument with the police chief about the guards was interesting and I quite liked Garret's reaction.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it. Garrett is based completely off one of my best friends, and knowing him I thought his speech and reactions were completely true to life. It's funny, he reads as I post and it's kinda awkward portraying someone you know, especially when they're reading haha.

    Anyways, I do have my qualms about the next scene. Mainly, when Shelton goes to Ronnie's grave. Now, I'm not sure what I think of the entire Graveler attack scene. It just seemed so ... random. Something about it just felt very, very forced. Seriously, this Graveler tracked her all the way to this cemetery just to get revenge? Even if it is a feral creature demanding vengeance, the odds of it finding her just seem too slim. Though, I have to admit, seeing the normally timid Machoke go all Incredible Hulk on that piece of rock was very, very, very fun to read and reread.
    Hmm, that's too bad that it seemed too random. That scene was actually born way before the Requiem even had a real plot. I envisioned it way before I even started writing it so that's too bad that it didn't go over well. I agree with you that seeing Machoke hulk out like that was awesome (hell, I wrote it and I loved it haha). I'll make sure to work on my fluidity from now on. Thanks for bringing that up

    On the other hand, I loved how Dorian's scene with flying on Vibrava and going after his dagger. His shattered emotions and going into that trance-like state were excellent touches. I can't help but shudder at how well you have your characters react to the tremendous guilt, regret, and depression that seems to follow them everywhere they go.
    I'm glad that's what you thought because that's exactly what I was trying to convey. Dorian can be very callous and sarcastic, but I think that scene opened him up a little bit more, especially since that's the last blood family member he had. I'm really looking forward to seeing where I can take this with him

    Thanks for the review!

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876
    Also we could probably guess who’s speaking anyway, because not many people address Dorian this way.
    Nice, good advice. I'm gonna use that, thanks

    I’ve always wanted to ask this, but why don’t you use nicknames for pokémon?
    Good question. I was always the one when playing the games that never nicknamed my Pokemon. A lot of my friends did and they always asked the same question lol. I don't really have an answer, I've just always thought that the species named served each of them best.

    I have to say though that the Machoke/Graveler scene was my favorite. It seemed a bit sudden by the sweetness of it by the end made me not care.
    Glad it went over well for you. That portion at the end of the small battle stuck out for the real Shelton as well, so I'm glad you enjoyed.

    Thanks for the review pair!






    Chapter 23


    The cold wind chilled Ethan’s shaved head as Salamence landed near their temporary camp on the outskirts of Lavender Town. He hopped off the dragon and took a deep breath to calm his numbing sense of panicked fury. A twinge of pain suddenly shot down both of his arms. Startled, he took a step forward, only to be sent to his knees as an even stronger bolt of pain rocketed down his legs.

    “Wha-“ he gasped.

    Without warning, a gout of green flame blossomed on his chest. The fire quickly ate through his jacket and spread outward, enveloping his torso. Ethan tried to scream but the flakes in his chest began to vibrate, constricting his throat. His Salamence darted forward towards him as the fire spread to his legs and arms.

    “MENCE!” the dragon roared, raking a massive paw across Ethan’s chest in an attempt to extinguish the flame.

    Ethan’s arm snaked forward without his command and grabbed the dragon’s closest leg and yanked. The action sent the Salamence careening forward and into a bank of trees. The sound of pained moaning and splintering wood soon followed.

    His panic quickly transitioning to fear, Ethan attempted to roll across the ground. He found however that the same force that moved his arm also had his entire frame in a tight grip. Unable to even twitch, Ethan watched his body blacken and wither away. As the flames reached his face, the pain reached the crescendo of its intensity and he blacked out.


    *****


    The sound of the surf jolted Ethan into consciousness. It wasn’t by any means a threatening sound. On the contrary, it was one he usually enjoyed greatly. However, as he saw the tower reaching into the sky in front of him, he realized where he was and that sent a chill down his spine.

    Ethan,” the voices said, anger very evident in their tone.

    He couldn’t speak, the weight of his error crashed down on him like an avalanche. His anger had blinded him and let him to disobey the voices. What had he been thinking?

    Yes Ethan, what were you thinking?” two of the voices queried.

    “I was only trying to right the-,” his sentence was cut short by one of the voices.

    Has your mental acuity degraded to the point where you couldn’t tell the question was rhetorical?

    “I was-,” Ethan started.

    SILENCE!” the same voice roared.

    Ethan felt his eyes begin to water but held back the urge to release tears. He elected instead to hold his hands behind his back and stare at the sand.

    Is this how you repay us for the gifts we’ve bestowed upon you?” they all asked in unison.

    Ethan knew better than to answer, so he remained silent.

    You will go to Orre and retrieve the flake, and then you will go to Unova as we previously instructed. Is that in anyway unclear?

    “No,” Ethan moaned, his tears creating dark spots in the sand.

    I would advise against defying us again Ethan or you’ll suffer much more painfully next time.

    Ethan trembled involuntarily as the words hung in the air. Just as he was about to speak everything flashed white and his consciousness was whisked back to his burning body.


    ******


    The six kings floated in blackness. Their prison was not the island they conversed with Ethan on. Rather, it was a place they constructed for him so he could feel more at peace. Their shared memories of their tower and island were so precise that not a single feature was out of place.

    Whenever they constructed it for him however, they were not able to see it. They floated in a void of blackness so dark and all encompassing that even they sometimes lost track of themselves. Over two thousand years had passed since they were introduced to this oblivion. They had tried countless times through the centuries to escape this hellish bleakness, and they had never been closer to achieving it than they were now.

    His mind is beginning to fracture,” one shrill voice observed.

    Yes,” another agreed. “He’s giving more and more into the rage. It’s clouding his decisions.”

    Perhaps we should consider putting the flakes in one not so erratic.”

    He wasn’t always that way,” a meek voice added.

    No, he wasn’t, but the problem remains.

    We cannot simply put them in another person,” a raspy voice hissed. “That was our undoing for so many years. Ethan’s body is unique; all of you remember the hundreds that died after absorbing just one of the flakes.”

    We could reach out to The Wanderer, transferring a different mind into Ethan’s body would be within her capabilities.”

    Possibly, but who would we choose?

    There’s always the thief,” a gruff voice suggested.

    Dorian?” another asked. “He’s just as reckless and unpredictable as Ethan.

    Not Dorian,” the voice assured the accuser. “The female.

    Shelton,” they said in unison.


    ******


    The first thing that Ethan noticed upon awakening was the feeling of the cold dew on his bare legs and torso. Droplets begrudgingly rolled down his limbs as he got to his feet.

    Ethan had stashed a pack with a change of clothes and some other essentials at the mouth of a small cave nearby, and was on his way there when a growl from Salamence stopped him.

    Ethan turned and saw that his dragon had a human and a Pokemon pinned beneath each of its massive forelegs. The boy’s brown hair was spiked in every direction and his bright orange shirt had been lightly torn across the chest by Salamence’s ivory claws. The trainer’s Ivysaur struggled harder as Ethan approached but quickly fell still as Salamence pushed down hard on its throat. The boy looked up as Ethan came to a stop, but averted his eyes when he saw that Ethan was pretty much stark naked.

    “We weren’t going to bother you man,” the boy explained to the ground. “We were just cutting across the field and your Salamence jumped us. Could you tell it to let us go?”

    “Why would I do that?” Ethan asked as he squatted down next to the boy.

    “Look man,” the kid started. “Unless you want me to call the cops, tell your damn Salame-“

    The boy’s voice caught in his throat and his mouth dropped open when he caught sight of Ethan’s face. The look of terror that came next gave Ethan a warm feeling in his stomach and brought a smile to his lips.

    He grabbed the young trainer around the throat and pulled him up to eye level. “You know who I am?”

    The boy nodded frightfully.

    AS Ethan’s grip tightened and he began to choke the life from the boy, the trainer’s Ivysaur bellowed and lashed out at Ethan with a slender vine from its back. Ethan caught the pale green rope in his free hand and pulled it towards him, snapping it in half. Jets of blood and chlorophyll sprayed in all directions, eliciting a scream of pain from the immobilized grass type. In response to the vocalization, Salamence lifted the leg holding it in place and slammed it down into the Pokemon’s windpipe, cutting off the sound and crushing its throat.

    “Hungry?” Ethan asked.

    “Mence!” the dragon exclaimed, baring its fangs.

    Ethan shrugged to the boy in his grasp and tossed him up into the air. Salamence’s head snaked forward and caught the trainer’s face in his mouth and shook him like a ragdoll. More splattering of blood soon followed and as Ethan resumed his walk towards the cave, he heard the distinctive crack of splintering bone.

    Ethan gathered a change of clothes and stripped off the rest of his burned rags. A shallow pool further inside provided him a place to wash the layer of ash that covered his body. The darkness of the cave and dripping of water from the stalactites calmed him. He floated on his back near the center of the pool and organized his thoughts.

    Obviously Orre was where he was required to go, but the distance presented a significant challenge. Sea travel was out because he would be exposing himself to people and because of the time it would take to complete such a trek. He could try and charter a private plane as he certainly had the money to do so, but there was the same risk of being seen by the crew, not to mention having to go through customs. It seemed as if the only option was to stow away aboard a larger plane heading to Orre.

    After his body had been cleansed, Ethan rolled out of the pool and walked towards the mouth of the cave. His wind wandered towards Dorian and Shelton Dvakna on more than one occasion as he dried and clothed himself. Every time it happened though, he frantically pushed the thoughts from his mind. They would eventually be dealt with but he had his mission now, and could not afford to come up short again. The rage was ever present in his mind and heart and he knew if he dwelled on the thieves it would overcome his rational mind and force him off the path. The voices had warned him of the rage for years while they trained him, and it was only now that he was beginning to succumb to it.

    Ethan returned Salamence as he was gulping down the last remains of the boy. After aligning himself with the now faintly visible stars, he began to run. Ethan quickly bypassed sixty miles per hour as he sprinted faster, appearing only as a dark blur as he raced through the woods towards Cerulean. His mind was focused only on the task at hand at first, but slowly his mind began to wander.

    His thoughts were like slowly bubbling tar, rolling and fluid. Alakazam. It surprised Ethan how little he had thought of his partner since the Uxie had teleported him away. He knew Alakazam couldn’t possibly be dead, as he believed their mental connection was strong enough that he would notice its absence. Ethan had felt occasional tugs at his mind the last few days and correctly assumed that it was Alakazam trying to hone in on his location. Ethan didn’t have the advantage of long-range telepathy so he left the responsibility of organizing their reunion to Alakazam.

    The thought of Alakazam returning was a pleasant thought, but it did strike a chord of apprehension within him. Ethan remembered his Pokemon’s threat of desertion if he ever tried to kill again. He would find out the moment they were reunited and there was nothing he could do about it. Alakazam was far too gifted as a psychic for Ethan to deter his probing. He knew that Alakazam loved him completely but at the same time he never made idle threats. Ethan knew he could deal with Alakazam’s anger but a life without him was something he had a hard time wrapping his head around.

    The lights of Cerulean International came into view just as the night wrestled away the last remaining rays of the sun. Through the fencing that ringed the terminal he saw E-7 stenciled in black on the closest gate. Weary of being spotted by airport personnel milling about on the tarmac, Ethan slunk back into the trees. Kneeling down, he extracted a disposable cell phone from his pack and powered it up. A quick web search later and he found the number he was looking for. He took a breath as the phone began to ring.

    “Oasis Air,” a slightly annoyed female voice said.

    “Hello mam, I need your help,” Ethan said, trying his best to sound frantic. “My wife was meeting me at the airport for our trip to Phenac, but the clerk at gate E-7 says I’m at the wrong part of the airport. My wife said it left from this gate at eight, and she’s not the type to be wrong about this thing. Plus, I can’t get her on her cell phone.”

    “Calm down sir,” the clerk groaned. “First off, the next flight to Phenac doesn’t depart until nine. Secondly, in this case your wife was wrong, as flights to Phenac only ever leave out of gate D-9.”

    Ethan grinned. He profusely thanked the woman for her help and hung up. There was a sharp electronic hiss as he ground the phone into splinters and threw the device into the woods. Ethan rose to his feet and followed the concourse west and found that the gates followed alphabetical order. He arrived at the correct gate and centered himself in front of it. Within an hour, the lights flickered on inside the jet and he saw passengers start to shuffle into their seats.

    The fence that Ethan was behind was about twelve feet tall and topped with another two feet of razor wire. He took a few steps back and leaped forward, easily clearing the fence with a few feet to spare on the other side. Crouching down low to keep himself hidden, he watched the jet begin to taxi down the runway. As the plane reached the end of the runway and began to turn around, Ethan reacted.

    He jogged down the grassy slope and crossed the tarmac just as the engines began to whine. Sprinting diagonally underneath the plane, he reached the right side wheel mechanism right as the plane lurched forward. Snagging a metal rod from the frame he pulled himself up and into the wheel compartment. He pressed his back against the far wall to avoid being sucked out by the deafening wind below. After the ascension was complete and the wheel had folded back up, the lower flaps closed and he was left in darkness.

    Sighing impatiently, he placed his pack beneath his head and closed his eyes


    *****


    A sudden roar of scorching wind jolted Ethan awake. He rolled to the side as the metal flaps opened and the wheel began to descend. Reaching out, he grabbed a piece of the wheel housing in order to brace himself for the landing. The wheel gave an ear-splitting shriek as it touched down, which was quickly followed by vibration so violent that he nearly lost his footing. Grimacing as oily black rubber smoke filled his small alcove, Ethan bent down low to look towards the ground.

    Within minutes the plane had slowed enough for him to drop out. He rolled to his feet and started sprinting away towards the rocky desert beyond. Beneath the purple dawn sky he increased his speed and looped around to the far side of Phenac, being directed by the vibrations inside his chest. The sun had not yet parted the morning clouds, which painted the usually dazzling white buildings an unflattering shade of grey.

    The flakes began vibrating at a low even hum as he passed the hospital. Slowing to a walk as he came across the main entrance, Ethan entered. Keeping his eyes glued to the ground he pulled his hood as far forward as it could go. He followed the hallways, needing no map. The flake was somewhere inside this building. The flakes turned over inside his chest, longing for their brother. The waves of heat they expelled danced across his body in such a tingling way that it was borderline sexual.

    He stopped when he got to a set of double doors labeled ‘morgue’. It was here. The sanitized smell of the hospital was doubly as potent in here, almost as if the walls had been washed with it. A young orderly sat leaned back in a chair with his back to Ethan. Thinking quickly, Ethan glided silently forward and carefully gave him a sharp rap to the back of his head with his fist.

    The man grunted softly and fell backwards with the chair. Ethan caught them both and laid them quietly on the floor. To anyone who would come in after he left, it would look like the man accidentally fell backwards and knocked himself out. Smiling, Ethan flipped the lock and made his way past row upon row of polished silver tabletops.

    As he reached a chest level morgue drawer along the wall the flakes fell quiet. Grasping the steel handle, he wrenched it down and pulled out the tray. Marco’s blackened body was a grotesque reminder of the power of the voices and the consequence of thievery. Ethan stifled a laugh as the light hit the mercenary’s face, which was frozen in a soundless scream. Ethan excitedly reached out and pressed his hand down lightly against Marco’s chest.

    Ethan glimpsed a fleeting flash of green light before the flake burrowed into his flesh. As blood squirted and black smoke billowed, Ethan turned his hand over and saw that the laceration had already closed. As the flake stretched itself around his heart, Ethan’s vision blurred and his knees buckled. Steadying himself on the bank of drawers, Ethan clenched his fist as the world began to come back into focus.

    The flakes in his chest vibrated contentedly as he grasped the slide to push Marco back in. A glint caught his eye. A drop of his blood had fallen onto Marco’s thigh, where it had mixed with the flaky ash of Marco’s body and turned a pleasant shade of black. Ethan rolled his finger across the droplet and pulled it up. Sliding the tray back in, Ethan wiped the blood across his tongue. He savored the metallic taste as the flakes began vibrating even harder. His life was finally back on track.


    *****


    Thousands of miles away, the Mespirit and Azelf drifted down slowly through the light snow towards Lake Acuity below. They passed through the same entrance that Ethan had walked through days before, and they both angrily took note of his scent as they traveled deeper into the cavern. They found their brother’s body against the far wall, his jewel spattered with blood a few feet away. Without a sound they both settled down on either side of him and stared.

    Uxie had always been the strongest of the three. So proud, so unarguably fierce. The thought of him being brought down by a human was sacrilege, and neither would have believed it if they hadn’t seen it through their shared connection. They had even seen that his inner light had been extinguished, an even more unimaginable feat. Azelf wrapped his sapphire tail around his brother’s jewel and pulled it close.

    “West,” he said simply.

    “Yes,” Mespirit replied.

    In unison they bent low and kissed Uxie’s cheek. As they floated out of the cavern, dirt swirled behind them and great boulders began to crack and liquefy. As they floated into the pallid sky they turned west and rose higher, following the trail of their brother’s murderer.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  8. #183
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    Wow. Tons of Ethan in this chapter. Goodness, I thought I already had my fill of the psychopath's perspective, but apparently not.

    Anyways, let's try to dissect this down as best I can while working on a time crunch. I will say this to start: you know how to start a chapter, my friend. Having the main antagonist of your story spontaneously combust is definitely a good way to draw a reader into the chapter. I wasn't sure what was going on until the next scene with the ghost kings. In speaking of that scene, I must say I love how it was done. You know how much I love my vague, commanding, disembodied voices, so it shouldn't be much of a shock that I loved that scene.

    And then I saw this.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ghost Kings
    “There’s always the thief,” a gruff voice suggested.

    “Dorian?” another asked. “He’s just as reckless and unpredictable as Ethan.”

    “Not Dorian,” the voice assured the accuser. “The female.”

    “Shelton,” they said in unison.
    I'm not sure whether I should be anticipating this excellent piece of plot foreshadowing as an author or fear it with all my heart as a fan of this story. So ... Good job? I guess? XD I'm not sure how I want to feel about this.

    Moving on. Now, I kinda thought that the scene with the young trainer and Ethan was unnecessary, but I quite liked it. Again, another opportunity for the readers to see just how cruel Ethan can be to a complete stranger, a teenager, even. And, another reason not to choose Bulbasaur. XD Sorry, that was uncalled for.

    It was interesting to see Ethan's thoughts of Alakazam, who we haven't seen in a long time now. I am very interested in what their reunion will bring about, because, as you noted, Ethan has killed quite a lot of people in a short amount of time. So, it'll be a test of his morals versus his loyalty to Ethan. And personally, I really hope morals win.

    And the airplane scene was just pure badassery. There's no other way to describe it. Ethan may have warranted a vote from me for the Best Human Villain, but I still love what he does at times.

    Yes, Ethan. Looting badly burnt corpses is always the best way to get your life back on track. I mean, whenever I manage to screw up, I always call my local morgue and ask for a random cadaver they can't identify. XD

    And finally. I was wondering when we would be getting some news on how the Lake "Duo's" revenge was coming along. I honestly can't wait to see it all come to a boil. Based on what the Kings said before, it won't be long until their plans are put into action. I'm really excited to see what comes next, man. I really am.

    Keep up the good work!

    Knightfall signing off...

  9. #184
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall
    Goodness, I thought I already had my fill of the psychopath's perspective, but apparently not.
    Same here buddy. To be honest, lately I've kinda really had my fill of him. Then I write the chapters with him and I'm like, naw he's not so bad lol

    You know how much I love my vague, commanding, disembodied voices, so it shouldn't be much of a shock that I loved that scene
    I know you do lol. I'm glad you liked the sequence as since it's only dialogue I was hoping it wouldn't get too tedious. When I was writing it I really thought that it was the best way to go, and I'm glad it turned out well, so thanks!

    Moving on. Now, I kinda thought that the scene with the young trainer and Ethan was unnecessary, but I quite liked it. Again, another opportunity for the readers to see just how cruel Ethan can be to a complete stranger, a teenager, even. And, another reason not to choose Bulbasaur. XD Sorry, that was uncalled for.
    Well, I thought that it was maybe something that could happen and not be too forced, and looking back I can see how it wasn't completely needed. As you said though, I was trying to use it as an opportunity to show people how insane he really is by doing something intense on a minuscule level.

    Yes, Ethan. Looting badly burnt corpses is always the best way to get your life back on track. I mean, whenever I manage to screw up, I always call my local morgue and ask for a random cadaver they can't identify. XD
    Lol that's what I do as well for jollies. We're kindred spirits :P

    And finally. I was wondering when we would be getting some news on how the Lake "Duo's" revenge was coming along. I honestly can't wait to see it all come to a boil. Based on what the Kings said before, it won't be long until their plans are put into action. I'm really excited to see what comes next, man. I really am.
    Obviously they're monstrously ****ed off at him so I can imagine some bone breakage and blood spattering fun if they finally catch up to him lol

    Seriously buddy, thanks for the review. Sorry I didn't get to all of your points, I've been juggling work and trying to finish my newest chapter. I appreciate you taking the time and I hope you enjoy the next installment

    And to all my other readers, the newest chapter should be up at some point tonight so look out for it!

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  10. #185
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    Feb 2012
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    Chapter 24


    Shelton…” a voice cooed. “Shelton…

    “I swear to god, Dorian,” Shelton threatened.

    Shelton…” the voice said again.

    “Dammit what!?” she roared, popping up into a sitting position.

    Dorian wasn’t in her room however, no one was. As she scanned the width of her room the shard on her desk wiggled softly. Instantly alert, Shelton scrambled out of bed and over to the artifact. A few shallow grooves had been gouged into the wood around the shard, as if someone had spun the stone in a circle. Though the thought of the stone moving on its own was disconcerting and frankly shocking, she was actually somewhat thankful for it. She had heard slight scratching sounds throughout the night and this visual affirmation made her believe she wasn’t just hearing things.

    Not willing to try and go back to sleep with the devil stone still in her room, Shelton decided to go ahead and start her day. Pulling on a day old pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt, she pocketed her phone and grabbed the biggest purse in her closet. After spraying a quarter of a can of dry shampoo into the dried out grease bomb that was her hair, she pulled it into a tight bun at the top of her head. She grabbed Spoink and Growlithe’s pokeballs off Dorian’s nightstand before she went downstairs and jotted him down a quick note in the off chance that he woke up before she got back.

    Garrett was still asleep in Ronnie’s bed as she crept towards his closet, for some reason sleeping as close as he could to the edge of the bed without falling off. She deposited the shard in Ronnie’s floor safe and withdrew the ruby for Golduck as well as six tangerine sized diamonds. On her way to the front door she stopped at the hall closet and grabbed two of her asps. After she tucked them into the back of her jeans she grabbed Ronnie’s shehnai and clipped it onto a belt loop. Satisfied, she turned to Golduck who was watching her from the couch.

    “Guess what.”

    “Du?”

    “We’re gonna go back to Viridian and talk that doctor into fixing your head today.”

    Golduck sighed heavily and threw up his right hand in a ‘praise god’ gesture.

    “Do me a favor and get Shuppet up and around. I’m gonna go outside and try and find us a ride.”

    “Gold,” he nodded.

    Shelton stepped outside into the cool breeze and let it wash over her. The wind chimes at the far end of the porch clinked annoyingly as the air ruffled her shirt. She stood in place as long as she could, trying to enjoy the cold of the wind, but she was soon driven off by the incessant chiming.

    She had seen the ice blue Cerulean Police car parked behind the house which meant that the Pewter City protection was probably just around front. As she rounded the porch she found it exactly where she thought it would be. As she approached the vehicle, both officers inside turned to look at her.

    “Hey fellas,” Shelton said with as much flirtatious stupidity as she could muster.

    “Mam,” the older officer said.

    “Listen,” she started, pausing for a moment to flash them another smile. “I really need a ride to Viridian. Could you please help a girl out?”

    “We’re here for your protection mam, not to be your chauffeurs.”

    Dropping the airhead routine, Shelton leaned in close, “You guys get chewed out when my brother flew off yesterday?”

    “Yeah,” the younger cop admitted.

    “Well, I’m sorry about that, he can be a little impulsive. I need to get to Viridian, I don’t know how to drive a motorcycle, and there’s no way I’m walking. So since you guys have to follow me anyway if I leave, why don’t you just give me a ride?”

    Both of the officers turned towards each other for a moment.

    “Or I can borrow my brother’s Vibrava,” Shelton suggested.

    “No need!” the older officer barked.

    Shelton returned Golduck and Shuppet as they descended the porch, then slid into the backseat at the officer’s prompting. “I need to go to the Pokemon Center first.”
    All she got in return was a curt nod.

    Along the road she saw a few newbie trainers, evident by their luridly bright attire and stomped tall grass that followed their every step. They were lucky that there weren’t very many evolved Pokemon in this area as their technicolor clothing would practically ring the dinner bell for any experienced predators. She hoped they’d learn eventually, especially since only two out of the seven they saw had Pokemon with them. Didn’t their authority figures teach them anything? Ronnie had beaten proper safety into her head since, since…

    Ronnie…The thought of his name in her head wrenched her heart from side to side. The sting she felt was both physical and a ghostly shade of spiritual. Her perception slowed as the road blurred past, her thoughts crawling like recently melted wax. Where was he now? Was he waiting for her? For Dorian? Were their actions hurting him? Her throat tightened and she began digging her nails into her palm.

    When they eventually arrived at the Pokemon Center, Shelton hopped out and hurried inside, unfortunately followed closely by the two officers. After a moment of scanning the triage area she spied Dr. Thompson. He was leaning against the nurse’s station; drinking a coffee with one hand and massaging the bridge of his nose with the other. His expression changed as he saw her approach, and he nearly spilled his drink trying to shake her hand.

    “Pleasure to see you again!” he exclaimed. “How’s that Golduck of yours doing?”

    “Pretty good from what I can tell. He’s seemed to have gotten the hang of emptying his excess energy.”

    “That’s wonderful. Some patients I’ve had in the past have had trouble with that sort of transition. Once again I’m so sorry that we were not able to find a more permanent solution for him.”

    “That’s actually what I came here to talk to you about,” she admitted as she pulled the sizeable ruby from her purse.

    The technician’s eyes widened as she handed the precious stone for him. So radiant was the color of the gem that the fluorescent lights above reflected off of it and turned his face a deep shade of burgundy.

    “Where did you?” he managed.

    “My brother and I took a vacation to Sinnoh and found it on a day mining trip,” Shelton quickly lied. “Just got lucky I guess. Is there enough there to make a replacement for him?”

    “I’d say that there’s enough for three,” he laughed. “Wonderful, just wonderful.”

    “Would you be willing to do the surgery?”

    “Of course. Though it may take some time for us to get the crystal shaped. We have the machinery required but we don’t keep that kind of specialized technician on staff. I do have several colleagues at Saffron Memorial though who would be up to the task.”

    “Sounds good, what time do you think I should come back?”

    “Well,” he started, clearly uncomfortable with what would come next. “I should be able to fit you in within a week, two at most.”

    “What would it take to get someone down here today?” Shelton asked.

    “An extremely handsome fee,” he replied, topping the statement off with a nervous laugh.

    “How about you just get the technician here today, and after they’re done shaping the stone, let them know that I’ll give them half of whatever’s left of it. You think that would do the trick?”

    “I would say that would definitely do the trick. But if I may ask, what’s the rush? Has he been exhibiting symptoms that would make you think he needs the surgery immediately?”

    Shelton stared at him blankly as she thought. She could see why he asked the question, though her motivation for wanting him to fix him now was in no way medically related. She had guilt. She and Dorian had chosen the route that had led to the Graveler confrontation. He had almost died trying to protect her; and not only did he succeed in doing so, but he held not the slightest bit of resentment even when he woke up and faced his disfigurement.

    “He’s lost so much for me. He’s never going to be completely whole again, but I want him to be as close as possible. Period.”

    Thompson smiled. “Understood. Let me make some calls.”

    Shelton took a seat as the technician disappeared down a hallway. The younger officer shot her a few looks as she waited but she paid him no mind. A few minutes later he returned with a stack of papers.

    “As I expected, someone is more than happy to make the trip now. We should be able to set something up for tonight, if that’s agreeable. However, I will need the stone now to go ahead and start prepping it for shaping.”

    Shelton smiled and gripped the technician around the neck. She pulled him tightly and squeezed. After she had signed over temporary ownership of the stone to the center and signed off on the usual medical forms for Golduck’s surgery, she practically skipped out the front door.

    “We can go ahead and start heading back,” Shelton told the officers as they walked back to the car. “I just need to make one more stop along the way. I’ll tell you when.”

    They begrudgingly nodded and resumed their stark silence as they headed up the highway towards Pewter. She thought she remembered an empty field about two miles outside of town, but despite her eyes being glued to the side of the road, all she saw was the cement bike path that was closely lined by trees. Sighing, she had just about given up when woe and behold, the emerald field came into view.

    “Can you pull over?” Shelton asked.

    The car slowed and pulled about ten feet into the field before halting. Shelton exited the vehicle and pulled five pokeballs from her purse. The officers exited as well and took up positions on either side of the car. Placing one pokeball on the ground, she opened the rest and shielded her eyes as light splashed brightly across the clearing.

    “Listen up guys, I need some help.”

    Golduck and Shuppet turned towards her and stared, while Spoink rolled her eyes and Growlithe trotted forward and flopped onto his back for a belly rub. Shelton rubbed his stomach for a moment then shooed him away towards the others.

    “Golduck, take this and empty some water pulses into it. Growlithe, come with me.”

    As Shelton watched, Golduck retrieved the shehnai from her and opened it to its full length. The suction and barbed end both blossomed lethally and the sapphire avian began emptying stream after stream of glowing water into the receiving end of the weapon.

    “Growlithe, do you know what an x is?”

    “Grooo!”

    “Alright. Use flamethrower to make an x here, here, and here,” Shelton instructed, pointing to three separate spaces of grass about twenty feet apart.

    The fire type nodded and unleashed torrents of flame in x formations where instructed. The grass smoked heavily at first, but then quickly yellowed and blackened as the fire took its toll. Turning back towards Golduck, Shelton saw the younger officer stalking towards her.

    “Mam, you can’t just start lighting fires! This is public land. What are you thinking?”

    “Sorry,” Shelton said with a wave of her hands. “Golduck?”

    The water type nodded and sprayed each flaming letter with a wide stream of water. The fires quenched, the officer stalked back to the car. When the smoke lifted, Shelton saw that three jagged x’s had been burned into the ground, precisely what she was hoping for. Shelton took the shehnai back from Golduck and spun it a few times by her side. Blue white light crackled on the barbed end of the weapon, signaling that it was fully charged.

    “Alright. Spoink, I need your help.”

    “Oink, Spoink oink!” she growled.

    “Please?”

    “Oiink!”

    “Growlithe, throw a flamethrower in the air. Spoink, could you please trap three bubbles of it and hold them? Please?” Shelton pleaded.

    “What are you doing?” the younger officer asked.

    “I’m about to try and break a Steelix I caught,” Shelton admitted.

    “Yeah right,” the officer laughed.

    Fighting the urge to call the man a jackass, Shelton crossed her arms and waited for the two Pokemon to follow her instruction. Growlithe breathed in deeply and released an inferno into the air, making the grass dance with orange light. Spoink flared mauve and three bubbles of the roaring flame coalesced around in the stream and floated over to hover above the psychic type.

    “Here we go,” Shelton warned, steadying the Pokemon as well as herself. “When I release it, no one do anything. It’ll probably go after me, and if the shehnai doesn’t work, throw those fireballs down its throat. Everyone clear?”

    A series of nods and bobs followed immediately. Whispering a quick prayer, Shelton picked the Steelix’s pokeball off the ground and pressed the button to release it. The white beam of energy shot forward and pooled on the ground ten feet away. The light grew longer, thicker, and more defined as it rose taller. After another two seconds of cascading light, the iron snake materialized. Rising to its full light and casting a sizable shadow across the ground, the Pokemon drew in a deep breath.

    The roar that came next shook the ground and made the officers scramble back inside their cars. Out of the corner of her eye Shelton saw Golduck edging closer, seeking to put himself between her and the iron behemoth. Shelton waved him away and shifted her grip on the shehnai. What came next didn’t surprise her, as she was ready for it, but she was still shocked at the Pokemon’s speed.

    “LIXX!” the Pokemon bellowed.

    The iron serpent swung its head in a circle towards her torso, which would have undoubtedly killed her if she hadn’t swung the shehnai in an upward arc to intercept it. She was temporarily blinded as the blue nova of energy was ejected against the Steelix’s chin. The Pokemon was blown backwards so explosively that it flipped completely over and landed with a thunderous crash against the grass. A chorus of growls echoed across the field from her Pokemon as it undulated and rose to meet her again.

    “STOP!” Shelton commanded the Steelix. “Spoink! Bring those over here.”

    The three balls of captured flamethrower zoomed forward and hovered in front of Shelton, waiting. The Steelix, weary of the attack that knocked it out a few days ago, simply dropped its head lower and snarled at her.

    “Lose the attitude,” Shelton ordered, pulling one of the diamonds from her purse.

    The Pokemon’s mindset changed instantly. Its tongue suddenly wormed out of its mouth and started following the line of its jaw. Not wanting to tease the Pokemon, Shelton tossed the diamond towards it. The Steelix’s head raced forward and caught the jewel in its mouth and crunched, its eyes slightly rolling back in pleasure. After it had swallowed the precious morsel it resumed its throaty growl.

    “None of that,” Shelton cooed.

    She retrieved another three diamonds from her purse and marched over to the furthest marker that Growlithe had made. Taking a breath, she growled as loudly as she could while pointing at the spot with one hand and waving the diamonds around with the other. The Steelix growled again as the balls of captured flame settled down in front of her. Glaring at the assembled Pokemon spaced around it, the Steelix moved forward towards Shelton. As the gargantuan Pokemon arrived, Shelton tossed another diamond into its mouth. The Steelix repeated the action of crunching the diamond and swallowing the pieces.

    “Spoink, release one of the balls.”

    Refusing to take her eyes off the Steelix, Shelton felt the hot wind of the bubble bursting into the air. She saw that the Steelix took notice of it as well, and then it followed her with its eyes as she quickly walked over to the next marker burned into the grass.

    “COME!” Shelton bellowed, pointing to the new marker.

    Raising her arms wide and baring her teeth at the steel type, she kept the pose until it started moving slowly towards her again. When the Steelix arrived, she waved her arm at Spoink. As another rush of hot wind washed across her, she tossed another diamond into the air. The Steelix gobbled it up like before and turned his attention back to her. Shelton repeated the sequence at the last scorched portion of grass and found to her pleasure that the Steelix followed without her prompting.

    “Lix!” it snorted, opening its mouth.

    Shelton smiled and tossed another diamond into its mouth. The gargantuan Pokemon crunched hard and opened its mouth again.

    “Not just yet,” Shelton said.

    The steel type began a low throated growl, but stopped when Shelton made the motion for Spoink to release the last fiery ball. Confused, the Steelix lowered its head and stared. Flicking out her asp, Shelton walked a few steps forward and reached out with it towards the Pokemon’s head. Smiling broadly and humming a low tone to reassure the beast, she reached up and ran the rough iron rod against the underside of the Steelix’s jaw. The action earned her a deep chuckle and the Pokemon began to make a somewhat acceptable approximation of a purr.

    “Golduck,” Shelton said softly. “Tell the Steelix that it belongs to me now. I’ll give it food, water, and shelter. In return I want it to fight for me when I need it too. Tell it I will help it refine its strengths even more than it already has. And ask if it’s male or female.”

    Golduck sighed and approached the Steelix. Gesturing with his remaining arm towards Shelton, Golduck gave different snorts and quacks of its own name. The Steelix listened intently and looked down towards Shelton with a bemused expression.

    “Steelix, Lixxx Steel Steelix,” it said simply.

    Shelton looked towards Golduck for the translation. The avian spoke quickly.

    “Do I have more diamonds?” Shelton asked with a laugh. With a cheerful grin, Shelton reached into her purse and retrieved another sparkling gem. The Steelix excitedly slithered closer and opened its mouth. Shelton tossed the diamond inside and clipped the shehnai back to her belt loop. Looking around at the assembled Pokemon she weighed her options and beckoned the Steelix closer.

    “Should I be afraid of you?” Shelton asked.

    Golduck translated and the reply was immediate.

    “Not for the moment?”

    “Lixxxxx.”

    “Well how about this, you give us a ride back to Pewter and I’ll give you another diamond when we get there. Sound good?”

    The Steelix thought it over for a moment and lowered its head to the ground. Taking it as an affirmative, Shelton stepped forward and grasped and iron spike protruding just behind the behemoth’s head. She swung herself up and into a somewhat comfortable sitting position just as Golduck clambered up behind her.

    “Spoink, come on up.” Shelton commanded.

    Dorian’s psychic type gave her a look of supreme disgust before hopping a few feet away and turning North towards Pewter. Growlithe followed suit and trotted up next to her, while Shuppet cackled happily and swooped down to land on Shelton’s shoulder. With a sharp rap from her asp to the back of his head, the Steelix rose up to its full height and growled at the police cruiser twenty feet away.

    “I guess I’m gonna ride back on him,” Shelton called.

    “That’s fine mam,” the older officer replied. “We’ll um, well, we’ll be behind you.”

    Shelton tapped the Steelix again and it began moving forward. As they made slow but steady progress towards Pewter, Shelton was amazed at the steel type’s control. The Onix and Steelix she had seen in the past had a hard time not churning up roads or ground with their bodies as they slithered, and while hers bent the grass and flattened saplings as it moved, the dirt underneath barely shifted at all. The Pokemon seemed to float on top of the ground instead of move across it, and she marveled at its ability to move relatively silently despite its size and bulk.

    As they neared the border of Pewter, Shelton noticed a lot of people stopping in their tracks to stare or take photographs; especially the trainers who had Pokemon out beside them. A Steelix in a small town like this wasn’t unheard of, as there were a fair number of its pre-evolution located nearby, but a Pokemon this massive entering the city limits being followed by a cop car was certainly a rarity. Shelton directed him through the neighborhoods with small taps to either side of his head with her asp, and he surprised her by following her direction without question. Soon enough they came across Ronnie’s house where Dorian and Garrett were sitting on the porch. Both stopped talking and stared open mouthed as she approached.

    “Morning!” Shelton exclaimed.

    She pressed her asp down hard on the base of the Steelix’s neck as they arrived at the porch and he lowered his head so she and Golduck could hop off. Growlithe trotted inside the open front door as Garrett and Dorian descended the steps, both clutching a beer.

    “You guys are already drinking? It’s ten-thirty in the morning!”

    “We’ve only had a couple,” Dorian explained. “We had to start drinking cough syrup and schnapps because we ran out, so who’s really the loser here?”
    Garrett laughed.

    “Cough syrup? How old are you? Jesus.” Shelton muttered.

    “Don’t worry, we sent Shiftry and Kecleon for more beer. How did you manage to break the Steelix?”

    Before she could answer, the Pokemon in question lightly growled. Knowing that it wanted its promised treat, Shelton extracted the last diamond she brought and quickly tossed it into its waiting maw.

    “Was that?” Dorian asked, eyes wide.

    “Nope, rock candy,” Shelton lied. “I read online that they’re crazy about it.”

    “Thank god.”

    Shelton thanked Steelix for the ride and returned him back to his ball. She made a mental note to transfer him to a different Pokeball so she wouldn’t have to hold something that Ethan had touched. She climbed the steps and collapsed into a deck chair to get a handle on her anger. She was just about to unload on Dorian when Garrett sat down in the chair next to her and offered her a cigarette. She took it with a smile and lost her rage as she realized that he was still probably raw over what had happened.

    “How are you?” Shelton asked.

    “I’m alright,” he said simply.

    “I hope you know that we’re torn up about what happened to your Ledian. I’m sorry that you got dragged into our mess.”

    “Well,” he started, dragging out the last two letters like he was pulling out toffee. “Like I told Dorian, it’s not your fault. He would have been disappointed in me if I had seen what was happening to you guys and not done anything.”

    “You think so?”

    “Yeah, his nickname was ‘conscience’. He always tried to get me to do the right thing. Doesn’t make it easier, but, I feel like he wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

    “I’ll drink to that!” Dorian bellowed as almost fell backwards off the porch.

    Garrett’s arm shot out and grabbed the front of his shirt and reeled him back in. Dorian nodded his thanks and lit another cigarette. He inhaled deeply and gave Shelton a big smile, which made her desperately want to punch him in the face. Just before she could ask Garrett something else, Shiftry came around the corner holding a case of beer with
    Kecleon following close behind.

    “Keckec!” the diminutive lizard clicked as he saw Shelton.

    “Hey!” she grinned.

    The small Pokemon hopped up into her lap as Shiftry tossed Dorian and Garrett another beer and opened one up for himself.

    “Thanks buddy,” Garrett nodded.

    “You’re drinking now too?!” Shelton screeched.

    “Shiftry?” the grass type shrugged, spreading his arms wide.

    “Come on you wet blanket, he can have a few. He’s grown now,” Dorian said proudly, clapping his Pokemon on the back. “Now how’d you break the Steelix?”

    With a sigh Shelton regaled them with the less than exciting story on how she got it to obey. Both listened intently and quietly, only breaking their silence to laugh when she told them how the cops had rushed to their car like they were on fire and their vehicle was a pool when the Steelix was released. After she finished she accepted another cigarette from Garrett, despite the frown that Kecleon gave her as she did so.

    “Spoink helped you?” Dorian asked. “That’s not likely. She doesn’t even listen to me.”

    Upon hearing her name the psychic turned around in the grass and glared. Dorian stared right back and spoke again.

    “Yeah I’m talking about you. If you recall, I beat you fair and square, so how about you drop the attitude? Unless you’re just abnormally thick and can’t comprehend what I’m saying.”

    As Spoink heard the last word leave Dorian’s lips, she did something that immensely surprised Shelton. She smiled. Shelton saw Dorian **** his head sideways in confusion, then noticed the purple glow that enveloped Dorian’s hand. Guided by Spoink, his hand arced straight up and smacked him in the face. So vicious was the unwanted strike that Dorian flew backwards off the porch.

    Beer sprayed from Shiftry’s mouth in shock just as Shelton, Garrett, and all of the assembled Pokemon burst into laughter.

    “You little shit!” Dorian screamed.

    Dorian scrambled to his feet and launched himself at the smirking psychic type. Seeing his approaching assault, Spoink bounced upwards onto the low slung roof of the house. She lightly bobbed up and down in place and stuck her tongue out at Dorian. He stood below, seething for a moment before walking back to the porch and grabbing another beer.

    “This isn’t over!” he warned.

    “You ever notice how much trouble your mouth gets you into?” Shelton asked.

    “Shut it.”

    “Easy lippy,” she admonished.

    Garrett ran a hand through his sandy close cropped hair and turned to Shelton again. “And I appreciate you guys letting me come to Unova with you.”

    “I’m sorry?” Shelton asked, raising her eyebrows at Dorian.

    “I filled him in on everything. Shocked him a few times with the shard and he’s on board,” Dorian explained.

    “Did you think to ask me, like, anything before you decided this?” Shelton asked.

    “I think he has a pretty decent reason to want to get back at Ethan, don’t you?”

    That stopped Shelton in her tracks. Granted, Ethan had killed his Ledian, which from his reaction the day it happened she knew that he had meant as much to Garrett as Golduck meant to her. She knew that her opinion had changed over the last several days regarding Ethan and what they would do to him when they found him, and from what they had all witnessed what he was capable of, they would need all the help they could get. Acknowledging that fact though was different than inviting someone who may be unhinged along, especially since they barely knew him.

    “Of course I do, but we haven’t even figured how we’re going to get the next shard. If you recall, it’s in Unova. How are you expecting to set foot within a hundred miles of it?”

    She regretted asking as soon as the question left her mouth. They had probably already put together some hair brained scheme which was assuredly going to fail. She hadn’t thought much of Unova since they learned that’s where the last shard was. Probably for the best seeing as how it would take an act of God to get them inside. Ever since the terrorist bombing of Anville Town five years ago, the already tyrannical and perpetually suspicious communist continent had closed its borders completely. To this day, foreigners were still being deported and only top political representatives were allowed into the continent. All the borders were monitored and any kind of civilian and commercial air travel had been indefinitely postponed.

    “I think that’s why he told me about it,” Garrett started, pulling out his cell phone. “I think I can get us into Unova.”

    “And how’s that?”

    “Well, when I’m not training, I work for a company that specializes in cargo transport to Unova.”

    “There’s no cargo transport to Unova ever, there hasn’t been in five years,” Shelton said.

    “Well it’s not technically ‘legal’ in the sense that the government really knows about it,” Garrett explained.

    “So you’re a smuggler?”

    “I’d say it’s more like outlawing,” Dorian suggested.

    “Thanks buddy,” Garrett laughed, passing his phone to Shelton. “That’s mine.”

    Shelton gazed at the photo on the screen and his words started to fall into place. The picture was of a small airplane parked in a river, white hull glowing a soft ivory. Each wing had a silver propeller and flanked by radio antenna and what looked to be small satellite dishes. The most distinguishing characteristic of the plane though was that it was supported by two massive canoe-like pods that allowed it to float on the water.

    “Seats three,” Garrett smiled.

    Before she could ask how he planned to actually get them into the country, she saw Shiftry stiffen. The grass type set his beer down and jumped off to the porch, staring intently into the woods. Kecleon climbed down from her lap and joined him. The two Pokemon uttered a few quick words to one another and shrugged.

    “What are you doing?” Dorian asked.

    “Shiftry shif,” Shiftry explained with a wave of his hand.

    “You heard something? Like what?”

    Shiftry shrugged again and took a long pull from his beer.

    “Whatever. Anyway, Garrett’s coming, unless you have a better idea of how we’re gonna get in,” Dorian said.

    Knowing that it was pointless to argue and seeing as this was the only reasonable option she had been presented with, Shelton lit her cigarette and gently threw up her hands. Typical, she had been shanghaied once again.

    “That doctor that fixed Golduck says he might be able to replace his jewel today,” Shelton offered.

    “That’s awesome!” Dorian grinned. “Where’s he at?”

    “He had a little bit of a headache this morning so I’m keeping him in his ball till I go back to the hospital. You wanna come with me?”

    “Definitely.”

    “Speaking of balls,” Garrett started, pulling three shiny orbs from his pocket.

    “Hah!” Dorian laughed, swaying lightly.

    “Oh my god you’re twelve years old,” Shelton moaned.

    Garrett laughed and continued, “Here’s the rest of my bunch.”

    The first pokeball released his Pidgeot, and as the bird formed the rest of their Pokemon turned to watch. It was an impressive specimen, very large, and its plumage spoke of rich gold and tawny tones accented with light shades of scarlet. The bird Pokemon flared its considerable wingspan and screeched loudly, which elicited a snarl from Shiftry. Garrett descended the porch and flicked the bird on its wickedly sharp beak.

    “Calm down you cranky bitch,” Garrett ordered.

    The next Pokemon released was a slightly overweight Vileplume, who upon released spun in a circle, its four gigantic head petals pulling its blue body up into the air a few inches. The short Pokemon gave a small bow when it saw everyone on the porch and a noxiously sweet aroma of drying flowers washed over the assembled group.

    “This is Sticky,” Garrett explained.

    The final Pokemon had the lithe and lightly muscled body of a canine. As the Pokemon fully formed and began to bark excitedly, Shelton noticed bright sparks of electricity jumping into the air from the mane of spiky yellow hair on its head. Following the sapphire fur that lined its torso to the tip of its pointed tail, Shelton nodded in appreciation. A Manectric.

    “And this is Harvey.”

    Upon hearing his name, the Manectric jolted forward faster than Shelton could follow and tackled Garrett to the ground where he began to nip at his fingers and lick his face. Vileplume trotted over as well and spoke to Garrett while waving his stubby arms around. At the sound of the grass type’s voice, Manectric broke off his licking and started chatting away to him as well. Garrett stuttered with his words before taking a breath to calm himself.

    “He went chasing after some Ledyba that flew into the woods,” Garrett explained.

    Vileplume and Manectric started for the tree line but a yelp from Garrett stopped them in their tracks.

    “You won’t be able to find him. It was a couple hours ago and he said he’d be back later. So just hang out here, okay?”

    Both Pokemon reluctantly nodded and began creeping towards the porch to inspect the other Pokemon. Garrett followed behind them and when he spoke, his tone was barely a whisper and he wouldn’t show them his face.

    “I need to go take care of something and see about finding a hotel. Do you mind if the two of them hang out here for awhile?”

    “Hotel? Screw that man you’re staying with us. You can have my bed and I’ll sleep in Ronnie’s room.”

    “We don’t want to put you guys out, it’s cool.”

    “Garrett,” Shelton started. “We insist. It would make us feel better, especially since we don’t know where that psychopath is.”

    “We saw him in the desert,” Garrett said. “Dorian shocked me a few times while I was holding that shard-thing. He’s nowhere close.”

    “Regardless, it would make us feel better. Please?”

    “Yeah alright,” Garrett acquiesced.

    With that the lean muscled man lit another cigarette and swung himself up on top of his Pidgeot. The bird screeched in proclamation and flapped hard. Soon enough they had both vanished into the sky with a wailing police car struggling to keep up on the ground.

    “Well that sucked,” Dorian commented.

    “It’s sad,” Shelton agreed.

    At that moment she wanted to chastise Dorian for inviting Garrett along without asking her first, but after seeing what he just had to go through, he deserved the opportunity for vengeance just as much as they did. Ethan thought they had stolen from them and it was obvious he was going to do everything in his power to repay them for their supposed crime, even kill uninvolved Pokemon and people. Shelton thought she should feel guilt for the people on the freeway who had died in Ethan’s rampage, but she didn’t. She wasn’t a person who didn’t feel sympathy; it was in fact quite the opposite. It was heartbreaking, but she didn’t feel the sadness that she thought she should.

    “So when do we go to the hospital?” Dorian asked.

    “Whenever he calls me,” Shelton replied. “How about you slow down on your beer intake, I don’t want you to have to have your stomach pumped when we get there.”

    “It’s fine Shelton.”

    “I’m serious Dorian, don’t you think the answer to everything going on is not to get completely plowed?”

    “I actually think it’s a great idea.”

    Seeing the futility of her argument with him, she changed the subject. “So where’s the psycho at?”

    “Still on the roof for all I know. I’m gonna get her back though.”

    “Not Spoink you idiot, Ethan.”

    “Oh. Well, we saw him running through the desert so we were thinking probably Orre.”

    “You sure it wasn’t that desert north of Castelia City?” Shelton wondered.

    “Yeah. When the shard took each of us there, we saw ocean in the distance, Orre is the only place he could be.”

    “That’ll make sure I sleep a bit more comfortably tonight.”

    “I know what will make you sleep better tonight,” Dorian claimed, popping the top off of another beer and holding it out to her.

    Shelton’s eyes widened and she drew in a breath to yell, but the sight of Dorian’s sincere smile stopped her. As the condensation from the bottle dripped down to the porch, she looked at him fully, completely. He was scared like she was, despite his grin, but something about the way he looked made her think that he was really ready for whatever was coming. That was the one thing she knew for sure amidst all the blaring confusion of her life. That something was coming. Shelton took the beer from him and took a long pull. The liquid stung her dry throat in a monstrously pleasing way.

    “You’re an idiot,” Shelton smiled.


    *****


    Alakazam watched the three humans and their Pokemon and seethed.

    It wasn’t their fault he was angry. He didn’t share Ethan’s abominable sense of fury for them. They were a byproduct of his own crazed lunacy and an unfortunate one at that. He had tracked them down because he was having no luck whatsoever finding Ethan, and since he had vowed to murder them, Alakazam deduced being close to them would lead to an inevitable confrontation. He soon found out though that that moment had already come and passed.

    Which is why they infuriated him. If he had been faster in finding them, not only could he have found Ethan, but he would also have prevented more lives to be lost. Too slow yet again. Despite what he told Ethan about the voices and the flakes, Alakazam knew that it was all real; he had known it for years. He had tried to quell Ethan’s quest with casual suggestions and logic but they never worked. Not only that but now he was faced with the fact that he had threatened Ethan with desertion and had no idea what to do about it. The prospect of leaving him filled him with a sadness that he had never dreamed possible.

    Alakazam moved slightly closer through the woods to get a better view of the humans and his right foot snapped a twig. The sound drew the Shiftry’s attention and he hopped into the yard. Alakazam stiffened as the grass type was joined by a Kecleon. Not even daring to take a breath, he waited in silence. After a few tense seconds both Pokemon retreated back to the porch and he began listening to the conversation again.

    He had learned through the morning by watching the two males that they apparently had figured out a way to view Ethan’s location through the shard. It had to do with electrocuting themselves while holding it. He plucked Ethan’s location from their mind each time they activated it, but fought the urge to fly off in pursuit. The only reason being because they planned to go to Unova after the last shard, which assuredly would be where Ethan was heading; meaning they would probably find him and Alakazam would have the opportunity to prevent him from taking their lives. He was still astounded that he hadn’t during their last confrontation. Ethan had grown so powerful that even he couldn’t keep contained for long.

    After another few minutes of talking, the blond male released three Pokemon and flew away on his Pidgeot. The other male and the female began speaking again, but Alakazam stopped listening when he realized it was nothing of consequence. He knew that they would leave for Unova soon and that was all that mattered. He had even entertained the idea of stealing the shard from them and using it to find Ethan, but that presented two problems. First, he had no idea whether the shard would work on a Pokemon, and secondly because he didn’t want to risk getting into an altercation with them. He knew that his power was great enough to more than likely make sure that didn’t happen but there were always unaccounted variables in every situation. He wouldn’t be able to cope with himself if he accidentally hurt them. They didn’t deserve that after all they had been through.

    He would wait, he would observe, and he would follow. Sooner or later they would find Ethan or Ethan would find them. When that happened he would intervene and rid Ethan of the shards and flakes. As he began listening to the two humans again he leaned back against an ancient oak and resumed doing the only logical thing he could. He waited.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  11. #186
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    Review time!

    Alright, with what the kings said in the last chapter about going after Shelton, I got pretty scared when I saw their voices were calling her and the stone was doing strange things. I was almost certain that it was going down now, whatever was going to happen. I am very glad that it didn't.

    And, finally. I was wondering when we could be getting some development on Golduck's situation now that they had the correct ruby. I've been looking forward to this for a long time now, ever since he got injured. The guy has become attached to me and I was very happy that he's finally getting the treatment that he deserves. I hope that the next chapter has the conclusion of his surgery.

    Now, the greatest focus this chapter was the training of Steelix. I had nearly forgotten about him as it's been a while since he did anything of much consequence. I was intrigued at the regimen Shelton used and I admit, I cringed every time you wrote that the Steelix happily crunched the diamond. XD
    But, the way she did it was creative and it worked out in the end. Plus, the cops' reactions were worth it all, I'm sure. And rock candy. I would have never thought that it would be that big of a hit with Steelix. XD

    I can see Dorian's drinking becoming a problem. I'm hoping it doesn't. I'm sure he'll recover this time, but if he's faced with another loss or guilt, I'm not sure if he'll be able to break out of the bottle's grip next time. Though, drunk Dorian's interactions with Spoink were very hilarious to see and I can see Spoink changing ownership very shortly. XD

    I was very intrigued at how you portrayed Unova as a communist country. I've played through the games, and though, it is hard to tell, I never really got a communist feel to the lifestyle and society (even with my tendency to twist things). I can see how it would work, and I do like the idea of it being completely closed off from the world, don't get me wrong. But, I am intrigued at where you got the idea from.

    And of course, I am in love with the idea of flying illegally into the country (and now it makes sense at how there is only one airport and how you never see any of the piers occupied by ships from other regions).

    Alakazam frightens me. Not in the way that Ethan does, not that he's dangerous, but I am afraid at his apparent conflictions between his morals and loyalty to Ethan. I know he will have to choose a side soon. Ethan will not let him take away his shards or flakes, and it will come down to killing him. This is what I fear: that Alakazam will not be able to choose when the time comes...

    Great chapter, man. I really enjoyed it and it was nice seeing a "calmer" chapter with some plot development.

    Knightfall signing off...

  12. #187
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    I just realized I was a chapter behind. Curse you work! Stop getting in my way! Anyway, let's get crackin.

    The waves of heat they expelled danced across his body in such a tingling way that it was borderline sexual.
    The look I imagined on Ethan's face was priceless. I wish I could show you. Best line ever.

    “Hello mam, I need your help,” Ethan said, trying his best to sound frantic.
    Ma'am, I believe.

    Dorian wasn’t in her room however, no one was.
    It might be a nitpick, but I feel that a semicolon would work better here. Again, that's just me. It's fine as it is.

    “Yeah right,” the officer laughed.
    I'm with him. This ought to be good.

    “So you’re a smuggler?”
    This reminds me of the movie We're the Millers. They talk about how a dealer and smuggler are completely different. Doesn't matter! :P

    “So where’s the psycho at?”

    “Still on the roof for all I know. I’m gonna get her back though.”

    “Not Spoink you idiot, Ethan.”
    Changed my mind. This is the best part of these two chapters.

    While chapter 23 was shorter than your usual chapter, I feel that it still accomplished what you wanted it to. We got to see Ethan loot a dead body and find his way to Orre. Not too bad for one day. Chapter 24 was of the usual length. A nice Shelton chapter as well. We learn that she still feels guilty about what happened with Golduck. Poor girl. I hope she doesn't pick up drinking like Dorian. I have a feeling his liver will end up dying before he can get his revenge. Finally caught up. Hopefully work won't interfere with that again. Until next time.
    Credit goes to MagicMochi. Check out their shop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder
    While it is very reminiscent of a lot of journey trainer fics, it held my attention. It stands out among a lot of the other fics I've read lately and I'm excited to continue the story.

  13. #188
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    Apr 2013
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    Is it just me or is Shelton really is an over-reactionary c*nt man? I mean in general, friends-since-childhood or not, there are at least 10 different times in this story that I'd have fully snapped and yelled at her beyond how Dorian did. Like when Dorian snaps it's usually out of playfulness or the rare occasion he is fully mad and he leaves to be alone he comes back tired and gets beaten up for it and I would have just unloaded. Maybe that has more to say about what a sh*tty person I am though idk. Or maybe I'm the one that's overreacting.

    Anyway this chapter was a great show of restraint on Shelton's part and made her seem like a more reasonable person. I enjoyed that.
    >having a sig

  14. #189
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    Thanks to everyone for the awesome reviews, they're much appreciated! I'll reply to as many as I can below, and FYI, the newest chapter is done and should be posted at some point tonight!

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall
    And, finally. I was wondering when we could be getting some development on Golduck's situation now that they had the correct ruby. I've been looking forward to this for a long time now, ever since he got injured. The guy has become attached to me and I was very happy that he's finally getting the treatment that he deserves. I hope that the next chapter has the conclusion of his surgery.
    I'm glad you were looking forward to that. Besides Shiftry and Machoke, Golduck is the Pokemon I have clung to most in this story. His struggles have always been really fascinating to me and I really want to see him back to normal so he can get back to being a badass

    But, the way she did it was creative and it worked out in the end
    I'm glad you thought so. Ive had daydreams about how the training of Pokemon unfolds and this was one of my theories

    I was very intrigued at how you portrayed Unova as a communist country. I've played through the games, and though, it is hard to tell, I never really got a communist feel to the lifestyle and society (even with my tendency to twist things). I can see how it would work, and I do like the idea of it being completely closed off from the world, don't get me wrong. But, I am intrigued at where you got the idea from.
    I thought it would be an interesting turn from the norm. I'm trying to model it after North Korea as that country and its practices have always really intrigued me. As much as I disagree with its practices, I do feel like how the country operates is really fascinating

    Alakazam frightens me. Not in the way that Ethan does, not that he's dangerous, but I am afraid at his apparent conflictions between his morals and loyalty to Ethan. I know he will have to choose a side soon. Ethan will not let him take away his shards or flakes, and it will come down to killing him. This is what I fear: that Alakazam will not be able to choose when the time comes...
    Believe me buddy, that frightens me too

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Lucario
    This reminds me of the movie We're the Millers. They talk about how a dealer and smuggler are completely different. Doesn't matter! :P
    Lmao I just saw that movie last night so I get where you're coming from. I'm sure its obvious by now that Garrett and Dorian have a pretty shallow moral barometer XD

    Changed my mind. This is the best part of these two chapters.
    My wife laughed pretty hard at that conflict when she read it lol. Glad to see that it went over well

    . I have a feeling his liver will end up dying before he can get his revenge.
    You and me both lol

    Quote Originally Posted by hl23
    Is it just me or is Shelton really is an over-reactionary c*nt man?
    LMAO that's funny. My wife actually reads my chapters before I post them and reads the reviews I get so she was laughing pretty hard when she saw that. I based it pretty close to what she is actually like IRL, so I had a good laugh with that

    I mean in general, friends-since-childhood or not, there are at least 10 different times in this story that I'd have fully snapped and yelled at her beyond how Dorian did
    I'm pretty sure the only reason he doesn't is because he knows that she could kick his ***

    Anyway this chapter was a great show of restraint on Shelton's part and made her seem like a more reasonable person. I enjoyed that.
    I'm glad lol. Thanks for reading and reviewing as always!

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  15. #190
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    Chapter 25

    Garrett thanked the technician as he handed him the urn containing Ledian’s ashes. As his hands slid over the polished metal of the container he fought the urge to break something. Despite the bewildered look of the man behind the counter, Garrett twisted the top of the urn open and gently removed the heavy plastic bag. He saw that Ledian had been reduced to a charcoal gray powder and the ashes glittered softly in the fluorescent lights above. Cradling the bag in one arm he screwed the cap back on and pushed it back towards the technician.

    “I don’t need this,” he said flatly.

    “Sir?”

    “I said I don’t need this.”

    “But sir you paid for it,” the technician gasped, like it was some horrible crime he was committing.

    “Just give it to the next person that needs it.”

    Before the man could argue further, Garrett turned on his heel and strode out of the revolving doors of the Cerulean City Pokemon Center. Pidgeot was where he had left her and had taken to screeching at trainers who were foolish enough to get within ten feet of her. She lowered her head as he approached and Garrett slid on to her back. He deposited Ledian’s ashes into a small Milktank leather satchel secured around her neck. They rose up above the highway that ran through the middle of town and he pulled her head south towards Vermillion.

    He was not looking forward to his next stop. The illegality of what he was having done didn’t really bother him. It had been his mantra for years that everything was legal unless you got caught. What bothered him was the man who was doing it for him. He had come across the man through a contact in the Unovan Customs office as a result of a substantial bribe. This kind of thing could get him locked up in Kanto, and most certainly executed in Unova if he was found out. He didn’t know the guy he was supposed to meet with and the last thing he needed was to get held hostage in some crystal meth den with assault rifles pointed at his face. Business was business and he would have to do it if he was gonna get into the country, but he still preferred to know who he was dealing with before he made deals.

    Vermillion City blossomed into view before him as they flew closer. Steel buildings reaching upwards and crisscrossed with cobblestone roads and luridly dressed street vendors. To the west he saw the archaic pale brown rise of Diglett’s Cave, which seemed out of place amidst the modern cityscape situated nearby. No one noticed him as Pidgeot landed near the city square and began walking east towards a yellowed apartment complex. He kept Pidgeot out and motioned for her stay close as he unsnapped the button that kept his gun secured. He ascended the stone steps of the complex, having no idea that Ethan had passed within ten feet of the same building not two weeks previous. He spied the apartment he was looking for on the first floor; it stuck out from the others by the doorknob that had been painted a deep green.

    He knocked three times. The reply took almost forty-five seconds. The door opened a hairsbreadth and he was instantly assaulted by the aroma of burning marijuana.

    “Yeah?” a voice said.

    “I’m the guy that Stephan sent. I’m here to pick up.”

    “Hold on,” the voice said. The door closed and Garrett heard the sound of something heavy being overturned. His hand shot towards his gun and he lifted it out a few inches. He felt Pidgeot’s hot breath on his neck, which actually served to get his pulse back in check. He waited, breathless, until the door opened again.

    “I checked, the transfer went through,” the voice said. “Don’t even think about mentioning me if you get caught. I have friends in high places you know and the only reason I did this is because I owed Stephan a favor. So when you leave you make sur-“

    Garrett cut him off with a wave. “I’m not going to say anything, do you have the shit or not?”

    The man held out three thin squares of steel in a fanned playing card fashion, which was when Garrett noticed that his hand was covered with a dark blue surgical glove. No prints, smart. Garrett took the cards from him and deposited them into his pocket while simultaneously turning around and pulling his gun completely from his holster. As he walked away he heard the door close behind him and he was able to relax. As he motioned for Pidgeot to stand guard, Garrett ducked under the stairs and brought out the identification cards the man had forged for him.

    Dorian had given him a flash drive this morning containing his and Shelton’s passport photos after they had concocted their plan on how to get in. Their faces and his beamed up at him in the iridescent glow of the temperature treated steel. These identification cards would make sure they were able to stay in the country once they got in, along with allowing them access to most of the metropolitan areas. He would have to make sure to coach them on their new identities lest they accidentally say their real names if they encountered any military personnel. Satisfied, Garrett deposited them into his pocket and walked back out into the parking lot of the building.

    They lifted off again with Garrett directing her towards the open ocean south of Vermillion. The cloudless day turned the water a rich blue near the shore, which darkened deeply with every mile out they ventured. He pulled hard on her neck which prompted her to flap harder and rise higher. As they reached about two thousand feet up the temperature began to drop and he decided their current altitude was enough. Garrett patted her head softly and she leveled out, coasting on an updraft which slowed her wings to about eight flaps a minute. He reached forward and retrieved Ledian’s ashes from the satchel. His heart skipped a beat as the ashes rolled within the confines of the bag. The tears began to fall as he watched the glittering flakes and his mind went blank.

    Ledian was gone, just gone. His heart resumed beating at a faster rate and his stomach rolled within him. Garrett opened the bag but pinched it off at the top to prevent anything from being sucked out. With his free hand he removed a small plastic vial and scooped a small amount inside, clicking the top of it back into place. When he was sure it was secured he put it back into his pocket. Pidgeot began humming a low tone that vibrated his legs, and he leaned forward to hug her as they floated above the world. His tears glinted brightly against her feathers before being whisked away by the wind.

    Garrett lifted the bag higher and began working his hands back and forth over the outside. Ledian’s ashes rose out of the bag and swirled away behind them. They bloomed like dark flowers and glittered as they caught the wind and floated down to the ocean below. He took his time emptying the bag, savoring every flake that drifted out. Eventually the bag emptied completely and he allowed it to be carried away as well.

    “Take us back to Pewter,” Garrett instructed.

    Pidgeot nodded and angled left, carrying them back towards land.

    The hours passed as Pidgeot flew and Garrett barely noticed. Memories flashed through him like lightning and slowly oozed like tar. He had no control over the order of them, they just became him. His eyes saw mountains and road, Pokemon and people, but his mind only saw Ledian. The way he fought, the way he reasoned, the way his touch felt. He would never feel that again. Ever. Death wasn’t something he ever gave any real thought too, but now as he was faced with it; it seemed so profound and titanic. It was a weight that he could not lift. The only thing that snapped him out of his trance was the sound of barking as Pidgeot descended towards Dorian’s house.

    Manectric and Vileplume rushed him as soon as his feet hit the ground, both babbling away about Ledian. Vileplume said he hadn’t been back since Garrett left, while Manectric had taken to asking if Garrett had done something to anger him. He looked back at Pidgeot as he took a seat at the bottom of the porch; the bird was glaring at him. Garrett reached up and grabbed a beer from the cooler that Dorian had left outside. After taking a long pull from the bottle he began to speak.

    “Listen guys, there’s something I need to tell you,” Garrett started. “It’s about Ledian.”

    “Tric, Manectric Mane?”

    “No I didn’t do anything to him, I nee-“

    “Plume, vile vile plumevile?”

    “Not that either, just listen to me,” Garrett managed, his voice started to catch in his throat. “Those two people you met, they were in trouble and Ledian and I tried to help them. The man who was chasing them grabbed Ledian, and he, he, he killed him.”

    That moment hung in the air within a silence so encompassing that Garrett thought he had gone deaf. Vileplume dropped to his knees in shock, while Manectric stared at the ground, uncomprehending.

    “We tri-tried to help and he killed him. I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry,” Garrett moaned.

    Garrett reached out to Manectric but as his fingers brushed the canine’s mane, the Pokemon jerked his head back and snarled at him. That action sent another icy spike through his heart that nearly destroyed him. Manectric looked back up with shining eyes and bowed his head to Garrett, his species approximation of an apology. The electric Pokemon breathed in deeply and howled. The sound cut through the town and his body like a knife. It was a sound of complete and utter loss. Garrett lost it then and began to sob, his nails digging deep into his palms.

    “I’m so sorry,” Garrett softly cried. “I’m so sorry.”

    In an extremely rare display of affection, he saw Pidgeot shuffle closer and extend her wings. The avian’s wings pushed against his other two Pokemon and dragged them all together. Garrett cried harder as he felt the softness of the feathers pull him closer as well. The wings blotted out the sunlight and created a circle around them where all they could hear was the sound of their own breathing. Vileplume wrapped his arms around Garrett’s knee and he immediately felt tears soak his leg. Manectric rubbed his head against his other knee, the electricity in his fur sending a wave of visible static across Garrett’s arm. Finally, Pidgeot leaned down and pressed her head against his.

    He didn’t know how long the four of them stayed like that. Eventually though he pushed away and rubbed his shirt across his face. With purpose he walked inside the house and went straight to the kitchen. On the fourth cabinet he found the shot glass he was looking for. He took it and walked across the living room to his backpack; he heard no other sounds within the house so he assumed that Dorian and Shelton had left. Garrett extracted a flask of whiskey and poured generously. Hands trembling, he removed the plastic vial from his pocket and poured the teaspoon of ashes into the shimmering alcohol. He picked up the glass and watched as the liquid shifted from burgundy to dark brown.

    “Good-goodbye buddy,” Garrett stammered.

    He emptied the shot into his mouth and forced it down. The alcohol burned his stomach as it settled and he pushed himself back into the plush back of Dorian’s sofa. He stared forward blankly for a long time without any thought. After a while Manectric began howling again, albeit at a slightly lower volume. Garrett listened to the sound until he fell asleep.


    *****


    Garrett awoke to a hand gripping his belt. On instinct his hand flew to his holster and he had the gun out and up just as he recognized Dorian’s voice.

    “Easy!” Dorian exclaimed.

    Garrett could hear his own heartbeat in his ear, and as Dorian flicked on the table lamp it began to settle down to a more stable level. He could see through the windows that night had fallen. Dorian looked at him quizzically before sitting down next to him and speaking again.

    “Sorry man, I was just trying to get your pokeballs so I could return your Pokemon. They’re all asleep together on the porch.”

    “They’re alright. They usually sleep outside,” Garrett explained. “Sorry about drawing on you.”

    “It’s cool man, I know you’re still kinda wired.”

    “How did your sister’s Golduck hold up?”

    “Operation went great. He’ll be holed up in a heal ball for the next several days while he recovers. Apparently the organic bonding agent they used to set the ruby functions even better when the Pokemon is converted back to energy. Something about being forced into a smaller form makes the atoms work faster and harder. I’m not sure, the way the guy was talking went right over my head.”

    “Well that’s good then,” Garrett nodded. “I got the identification cards today so we’re all set. Did you talk to her about going?”

    “Yup, it took some convincing but she’s down for tomorrow.”

    “Alright good. Get some sleep then, it’s going to be a long flight.”

    “Yeah. You want to take my room?”

    “I’m good right here buddy, it’s a pretty comfortable couch,” Garrett said.

    “You sure?”

    “Yeah man this is good.”

    “Here I’ll get you some covers,” Dorian said, getting up and disappearing down the hallway.

    A moment later a thick comforter and two pillows plopped down next to him. Garrett left the pillows on the side but pulled the comforter over his legs and rested his head back again.

    “What time are you thinking?” Dorian asked.

    “If we left by six it would probably be for the best,” Garrett answered.

    “Alright, see you in the morning buddy.”

    “Night.”

    Garrett returned his weapon to his holster but left the guard unsnapped. He closed his eyes and listened to the creaks of the house, eventually falling back asleep.


    *****


    His phone vibrating in his pocket jolted him back awake. Still seeing nothing but black outside he turned off the cellular alarm and pandiculated. Feeling the urgent need for a bathroom he grabbed his pack and quietly shuffled down the hall and flicked on the light. In the small room he found a bottle of shampoo and a toothbrush neatly stacked on top of a folded towel. He turned the water on as hot as it would go while he brushed his teeth, then stripped and entered the shower. The scorching water turned his skin red as he scrubbed his body, but he enjoyed it. After a few minutes of letting the water splash across himself he turned it off and stood there as the water dripped off.

    Today was the day. He estimated that it would take them a little over two days to get to Unova. No plane was allowed within three-hundred miles of the capital city so he planned on landing near the western shore of the continent and then making their way there by foot. The whole country was bat-shit crazy but from his experience the people west of Castelia were able to exist without as much stringent interference from the military. Revolts and the like were still going on daily to the east, so that was out of the question if they were to sneak into the continent undetected.

    He toweled off and changed into a t-shirt and jeans, cursing as he had to roughly force his feet into his boots. He walked quietly back through the house, careful to not disturb Dorian and Shelton, but he found to his surprise that the kitchen light was on when he got back to the living room. They sat speaking quietly as he entered, both clutching ivory mugs of coffee.

    “Morning,” he said.

    They looked up and repeated the greeting, and then Shelton gave him a stare then began to speak.

    “We figured out one problem with us getting to Unova,” she said.

    “What’s that?”

    “The cops outside. They’re going to follow us when we try and get to your plane.”

    “Yeah I thought of that,” Garrett answered. “I have a plan.”

    He outlined his proposal, which was met by approval from Dorian but extreme distaste from Shelton. Regardless he went outside and woke Vileplume up, who grumpily took a seat at the kitchen table while Garrett got him a glass of water. Retrieving a plastic spoon from the pantry, Dorian filled four mugs with coffee and added a generous amount of cream and sugar to each.

    “Sticky, I need some sleep powder, but not very much, okay?”

    “Vile,” the grass type nodded.

    “You guys cover your mouth just in case,” Garrett said as he pulled his shirt up over his nose and mouth.

    His Pokemon leaned sideways slightly and shook his head quickly from left to right. After a moment a sparkling green powder was brought up to rest near the center of the petal on his head. Careful not to let any of it touch his skin, Garrett extracted four minute helpings and deposited into each of the cups. After mixing the powder into the beverage, Garrett grabbed two of the mugs and spoke.

    “I’ll take Cerulean, you guys get Pewter?”

    “Sounds good,” Dorian nodded.

    Garrett walked past the sleeping forms of Manectric and Pidgeot and into the dewy grass of the yard. The police saw him approaching and gunned the engine, which to Garrett was their way of calling him an asshole for flying off so many times. He kept walking and leaned down as he reached the open passenger window.

    “Hey fellas.”

    The officers refused to respond.

    “Just wanted to say I was sorry for bailing out on you guys so much, and to let you know it won’t happen again. I know this is something you guys probably didn’t ask for, and I’m sorry if I made it harder on you.”

    “Well, I appreciate that,” the officer nearest him said. “We’re just trying to protect you, kid.”

    “Believe me, I realize that now. I brought you guys some coffee, can we just put this behind us?”

    The officer nodded and accepted both offered mugs from him. As Garrett leaned down lower he saw both officers take a tentative sip of the brown liquid. Less than five seconds later, both men slumped forward, the one behind the wheel pressing up against the horn of the car which let out an ungodly scream. Garrett ran around the car and gently pushed the officer back, retrieving the steaming cup from his clenched hand. He repeated the process with the other officer, and paused to admire the finish on the handle of the man’s sidearm before heading back inside. Dorian and Shelton followed soon after, with Dorian wearing a huge grin on triumph.

    “That was awesome,” he laughed.

    “Too bad we’ll be facing sedation charges when we get back,” Shelton said glumly.

    “I don’t think you can be arrested for sedating someone,” Garrett observed.

    “You know what I mean,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hands. “Drugging charges, battery, whatever.”

    “Easy killer,” Dorian warned, then to Garrett, “We ready?”

    “As we’ll ever be. I don’t know if your Vibrava can carry both of you, so how about you ride with me, Shelton.”

    She nodded.

    Garrett headed outside first, returning Manectric to his pokeball while beckoning Pidgeot over to him. She reluctantly acquiesced, though she took her sweet time in doing so. Garrett climbed on top of her as Shelton and Dorian descended the porch. Dorian released Vibrava and was soon hovering about thirty feet above them, waiting for Garrett’s lead. Pidgeot hissed at Shelton as she approached. Shelton paid her no attention and accepted Garrett’s hand when he offered to pull her up. Garrett told her where the plane was and soon enough they were slicing through the foggy morning air.

    Garrett caught himself smiling but let it slide. This was certainly no time to be giddy but the thought of flying made him cheerful. Actually it wasn’t that, his plane was a tool, one that he would use to find that murdering bastard and rip his spine out. Like Shelton and Dorian, he wasn’t the type to relish the thought of murdering someone, but since Ledian’s death he had fantasized about killing the man. He had thought his ability to conjure macabre scenarios of torture and death was fairly adept. When it came to this man though, no scenario was ever too violent or extreme. The thing that added to his acceptance were the other people Ethan had killed, and moreover the ones that surely came before the ones they knew of.

    A little under an hour after they had left, they arrived at the river that bisected Cerulean. From the placid look of the river it looked like only one or two generators were running. His plane bobbed lightly on the water like an overturned Mantine. Snow white. Pure. They landed gently and both he and Dorian returned their Pokemon. Garrett hopped off the bank and onto one of the pods that suspended the plane above the water. Dorian and Shelton waited on the bank, both wearing the look that they had shown up at a party in costume despite it not being Halloween. He extracted his keychain from his pocket and opened the door, accidentally scratching the paint with the oversized steel bottle opener hanging off the ring. As soon as he climbed inside he pressed a button under his seat which sent an electrical command to open one of the several hidden compartments in the tail section.

    “Ya’ll put your packs in there,” Garrett instructed.

    They did as he asked, and soon enough they were crammed inside the tiny cabin, Shelton a few feet behind in the middle seat, and Dorian strapped into the right side. Both had their hands folded quietly in their laps. The plane started up with a soft purr, a joke when compared the noise it made when it was fully opened up. The toggles and buttons glowed to life in a flash of emerald. She was ready. Clutching a nearby joystick he lowered it down, opening a hatch underneath the plane and lowering a medium size motor into the water. Guiding the plane forward about ten yards, Garrett turned it left towards the south.

    About ten years ago, the government of Kanto had funded a multi-billion credit construction project to divert the Cerulean river towards the ocean in Vermillion. It was basically a giant canal that now allowed barges to float upriver towards metropolitan Saffron without having to pay trucking costs. Regardless of the reason it served their purpose extremely well. If they drifted down to the river to the ocean before taking off, radar would mistake them for a boat, whereas if he had logged a flight plan, crews would eventually be sent into the area looking for them when they didn’t come back. Any flight to Unova was forbidden under federal law, so it was helpful to be able to lift off without detection. His only fear was that a coast guard boat would see them, but seeing as how he kept the cabin dark and the running lights off, he judged their chances to be pretty good.

    It took them nearly an hour to make it down the gently rolling river to the ocean which thankfully had a thick blanket of fog over it. For the most part, Dorian and Shelton remained quiet, only breaking the silence to ask small questions about the plane and the route to Unova. From Vermillion harbor it took them another two hours to reach a point where he felt safe taking off. Garrett retracted the sea propeller and began the sequence of taking off. The twin engines roared to life with a belch of blue smoke, and soon enough they were lightly jumping waves towards the rising sun. Faster and faster their speed rose until Garrett floored the accelerator and pulled back on the stick. They ascended quickly, the usual feeling of exhilaration washing over him like a summer shower. As they crested eight –thousand feet, Garrett leveled the plane out, eliciting a sigh of relief from both his passengers.

    “Can I smoke?” Dorian asked.

    “Dorian!” Shelton hissed.

    “Yeah you can actually,” Garrett nodded. “You see that button by your window? Press it and it will open a tube to the outside. Blow it into that, and when you’re done you can shove the cigarette down it too.”

    Dorian lit up and Garrett did the same. After they had finished, Shelton passed them both some pecha berry turnovers along with some bottled water. The routine followed that way for most of the day. Alternating between smoking and eating, sighing and thinking. Few words were spoken. Garrett assumed they were all following their own ideas about the coming chain of events. He definitely was at least. Unova wasn’t a joke anymore. A lot of stuff could go wrong very quickly if they weren’t careful. The ever present military was the main obstacle, but riding a close second were the citizens themselves. The government had instilled a cautious fear of foreigners over the last five years, and Garrett was glad for the color of his skin. Unova was predominantly white which would make it easier for them to hopefully pass by unnoticed.

    Around hour nine he noticed that his fuel was beginning to look a little on the shallow side, so he pulled out his phone and went through a few lines on his route. About ninety miles away was a good place for them to fuel up according to the research he had done last night. He began dropping lower towards the azure water below which prompted Shelton to lean up.

    “What are you doing?” she asked, sounding slightly franic.

    “We need to refuel,” he explained.

    “Is there a floating gas station I don’t know about?”

    Garrett laughed. “My company has refueling pumps spaced out all over the ocean. Basically they attach an underwater tank to tsunami buoys that rise up when we play a specific radio signal from our plane. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to make our deliveries.”

    “You mean your illegal cargo?”

    “I guess you could call it that,” Garrett replied, refocusing his attention back on their descent.

    They landed in an eruption of seawater without incident. The sun was in full form as he lowered the sea propeller and taxied towards a floating buoy in the distance. Cursing, he retrieved his sunglasses and slipped them on to combat the glare of the flashing water. Eventually they arrived and Garrett quickly opened the door and snapped a hook around the lightly chiming sea marker. Leaning back inside he pressed a hidden button that extended a hydrophone into the water underneath the plane. No more than three minutes later there was a loud clang as the tank connected with the buoy beside them, bringing with it a yellow hose that languidly floated along the surface.

    “If you guys want to get out onto the pods and stretch your legs, now’s the time. We’ll be here about ten minutes. No smoking though,” he said with a laugh.

    Garrett attached the hose to the fuel port of his plane and activated the electrical pump that began feeding fuel into the craft. He noticed Shelton exit the plane and bend down to touch her toes and walk up and down the length of the craft. He didn’t know why he was noticing it now, but as the sunlight hit her golden hair and light sprays of mist hit her curvy body, he found himself appreciating her beauty. Breaking a Steelix was no laughing matter either so not only was she attractive, but she probably had a composition made of iron as well.

    “Are you checking out my sister?” Dorian asked.

    Startled, Garrett nearly sprayed fuel all over himself. “What? No!”

    “You sure?”

    “Yeah I just, I uh, I thought I saw a Starmie jump out of the water.”

    Dorian gave him a skeptical look before ducking his head back into the plane. A harsh grating of metal greeted his ears, signaling that the tank was full. Before he tossed the hose back into the water, Garrett pressed a small button on the nozzle that lowered the hidden tank below back underneath the buoy. As he climbed back aboard he saw Shelton trying to catch his eye but he ignored her and went back through his takeoff checklist. With everything where it was supposed to be Garrett throttled back and they were once again arcing across the sky. The ocean churned below, cigarettes were smoked, and food was eaten as they continued their journey to Unova. It was Dorian who broke the silence after their third stop to refuel.

    “You guys have any theories on Ethan?”

    “Like what?” Garrett asked.

    “Like how he’s basically a superhuman? We’ve seen him run and jump faster than humanly possible, as well as the fact that I stabbed him and you unloaded a whole clip into him without doing any damage whatsoever.”

    “Did you notice that he was giving off some kind of black smoke before he got back up?” Shelton asked.

    “Yeah,” Garrett affirmed. “It looked like the kind of smoke from oil. It was a thick, greasy smoke, not like when you burn brush and you can still see through it. Whatever that was coming off of him wasn’t natural. Well, it’s not natural anyway but you get what I mean.”

    “Not only that, but he took a bunch of hits from Kecleon when we were fighting him. Kecleon’s not the strongest Pokemon around but I’ve seen him split lumber with his tongue. No normal person could survive that, much less get up and keep fighting,” Dorian explained.

    “Maybe he’s getting his invulnerability from the shards,” Garrett suggested. “Maybe he’s figured out something with them that we haven’t yet. You guys said that you accidentally figured out one thing they could do with showing you their locations. Maybe he’s doing something else with them that makes him like he is.”

    “Maybe,” Shelton replied. “He has had them in a pack or in his pockets every time we’ve seen with the shards.”

    They continued to speculate on what it could be. Eventually they turned to discussing the impossibility of what Ethan was despite their views on physics and human ability. The conversation eventually waned and as Garrett saw the sun setting to the west, he decided it was time to teach Dorian how to hold the plane level so he could get some shut eye. Shelton told him however that trusting Dorian to pilot the plane would be akin to giving control of a nuclear warhead to a seven year old. As that visual set into place, Garrett decided she was right and started teaching her the basics of flight, much to Dorian’s chagrin. She seemed to grasp the concepts well enough, and after the third stop for fuel he brought the plane up to seven thousand feet and let her slide into his seat. As they passed each other his hand brushed her stomach. She was incredibly warm, a human shaped furnace.

    He watched her progress for the first hour as Dorian snored next to him. When it was clear she was able to grasp the principles, Garrett closed his eyes.


    *****


    It was six hours later that Shelton woke him up. Dawn had risen, though the sky was still scoured with patches of black. It was only after he was fully alert that he realized that the streaks of black were not the last vestiges of night, but menacing storm clouds. In the distance a monstrous thunderstorm loomed, the bottom flashing brightly with purple forks of lightning. This could possibly be trouble. They were far too close to try and fly over the top of it. The eastern edge of the storm complex was drenched in sunlight so that would be a possible escape route. Garrett had confidence in his piloting abilities, but he still preferred to not spend the next three hours being tossed around like a ragdoll.

    “This seemed like something you might want to handle,” Shelton said, raising her eyebrows. “It came up so fast.”

    “Right you are,” Garrett replied as he switched positions with her.

    Garrett angled east towards the sun which sent the plane tipping to the right. The sudden shift in direction rolled Dorian in his seat and banged his head against the window. He began yelling expletives as he awoke, but quickly broke off his yelling when he saw the tremendous storm Garrett was trying to avoid.

    “Yeah,” Garrett said to himself. “We’re not going to be able to get completely around it. Both of you strap in. If we’re lucky we’ll only have to go through the far side of it. Put anything loose underneath your seat, this is going to get shitty.”

    They did as they were told. Garrett supposed he could have turned around and doubled back but as he checked the wind direction he saw that it was coming from the north. It would hit them anyway so it was probably best just to bite the bullet and plow through the side. Just as that stroke of confidence entered him, a sudden torrent of wind pushed the plane violently to the left. The control stick suddenly jerked out of his hand and he had to push against the floor with his feet to get it back under control. Shit. This was going to be harder than he thought.

    “Everything good?” Dorian asked nervously.

    “Yeah just let me focus,” Garrett replied.

    He adjusted their altitude slightly downward and fed more power to the propellers. Judging from the way the wind was coming in, their safest bet was to angle themselves parallel to the strongest winds and let the storm carry them sideways instead of trying to fight it. After a few minutes of relatively level coasting, the winds started back up again and they were bouncing from left to right. The clouds darkened even more as they trudged forward, now with lightning flashing all around them. Suddenly, a bright ball of yellow light zipped by the right side of the plane. The ball left a small contrail that slowly faded, leaving a slight glimmer in the air. Up ahead, Garrett noticed more of the glowing balls dead ahead. More of them started to pass the plane and soon enough the air was aglow with yellow light.

    “What the fuck are those!?” Dorian yelled over the roar of the thunder.

    “I don’t know,” Garrett admitted as rain started to pelt the glass.

    More streaks of light began zipping by them the further into the storm they got. Slight pings echoed through the cabin as a few of the balls struck the body and wings of the plane. Not bothering to try and figure the situation out, Garrett instead focused instead on just trying to get them out of the situation. Just as he pulled the control stick down to get more altitude, a bolt of lightning flashed right by the plane. Stars danced across his vision and for a microsecond the world seemed to slow down. One of the glowing balls passed right by his window and he was able to observe it in its entirety. It was a Pokemon. Long black ears accented by circles of white, furry yellow webbing connecting the arms to the legs, a rodent’s face with blond ovals on the cheeks. An Emolga.

    “It’s a flock of Emolga!” Garrett exclaimed as he fought to get the plane under control.

    “But they can only glide. How the hell are they up this high?” Dorian questioned.

    Garrett couldn’t actually figure that out as he was barely able to concentrate on anything but keeping the plane level. It was Shelton who was able to finally do the math.

    “They must be riding the electrical current from the storm. Oh my god it’s super charging them. That’s why they’re moving so fast!”

    “Well it won’t matter, in just a few minutes we’ll be out of there way and we won-“ Garrett started, being cut off by a loud thump.

    Blood and gore exploded across the windshield as one of the Emolga collided with the left propeller.

    “Ugh!” Dorian moaned.

    Thankfully the rain washed most of it away but his instruments shorted out for a moment as the Pokemon’s stored electricity was expelled into his plane. They came back on immediately though which sent his heartbeat back to normal. However, as he refocused on the sky ahead of them, his heart dropped to his stomach. Up ahead, the Emolga that hadn't passed them by swirled together and lined up in the sky, blocking their path. Even at a distance of a few miles away, Garrett could see the sparks discharging from their bodies. The line of Pokemon flared brightly as lightning from the storm began connecting with their chain of bodies.

    “This is really not good,” Shelton commented.

    Seeing an event unfold in your mind is one thing, you can twist and mold different scenarios until you come out with something manageable. He imagined the Emolga firing lightning at them for accidentally killing one of their brethren, but imagining it and seeing it are two extremely different things. The assembled Pokemon let loose with a burst of electricity so incredibly strong that they were all instantly blinded. Reacting completely on instinct, Garrett wrenched the plane to the side while pushing all the way up on the stick. Garrett narrowly missed the barrage of lightning as they barrel rolled downwards, banging all of their heads together as they fell. Looking up through the rolling plane’s window, he saw the Emolga following them downwards. Their chain of bodies were glowing once again with stored energy.

    “Oh shit oh shit!” Garrett yelled as he canceled the dive and yanked the stick downwards.

    He turned his head to the side as the next blast of lightning narrowly missed them. The discharge was so great that for a split second Garrett was able to see the bones in Dorian’s face as the energy flared.

    “What the fuck do we do!?” Dorian yelled.

    “How the fuck should I know!?” Garrett fired back, rolling the plane to the side to dodge another blast.

    Garrett saw the Emolga getting closer through the pounding rain. Their fur was ripe with electricity and the lighting from the storm was spider webbing between all of them. He tried to roll the plane again as they began charging another wave, but the Pokemon had apparently wised up to this trick and they hit the plane with a glancing blow. The electronics instantly went dead and the propellers came to a complete halt. Garrett bellowed his frustration as the plane tipped nose down and began to fall. His fingers flew over the control pads and he frantically gunned the accelerator and switched the ignition on and off. As he tried to restart the plane, the vehicle had turned completely vertical and a roaring soon filled the cabin.

    “Come on you bitch!” Garrett screamed as he flipped the ignition.

    The plane roared back to life and he pulled the stick back to gain more altitude. He looked backwards and saw the Emolga starting to swarm again.

    Shit! Shelton, climb up front with Dorian!” Garrett commanded as he drew his gun.

    “What are you doing!?” Shelton screamed as she scrambled into Dorian’s lap.

    “Blowing a whole in the roof for Manectric. If we get hit again he can absorb it instead of it hitting the plane.”

    “Won’t a hole in the plane destabilize us or something?” Shelton retorted.

    “Shelton! Shut up and let him fly!” Dorian roared.

    “Listen! If we get hit again we’re going straight the fuck down! I’ll chance it! Now cover your ears!”

    Garrett brought up his knee to keep the stick level and pressed his head against the back of his seat. He emptied about nine rounds into the roof above the middle seat of the plane. The bullets deafened his left ear instantly, and all of their ears popped due to the sudden and violent change in the air pressure. Taking a quick look at the organizing Emolga, Garrett released Manectric into the backseat. The Pokemon formed with little room to spare, and he began to whine as the sudden influx of noise assaulted him.

    “Harvey! Break through the top of the plane! Now!” Garrett ordered.

    Hearing the desperation in his owner’s voice, the canine began slamming his head into the metal roof over and over again. Eventually a jagged two foot hole was opened above him. Garrett looked back again in time to see the Emolga charging up another electrical attack. A sudden gust of wind battered the plane sideways and slammed his head sideways into the console. Disoriented, Garrett fought to get the words out of his mouth but Dorian beat him to the punch.

    “Stick your head out!” Dorian yelled to Manectric.

    “Grooooooo!” Manectric howled, swinging his head upwards.

    His timing was perfect. The next wave of electricity hit the plane head on. The energy was absorbed by the Pokemon without ill effect, though Dorian and Shelton both yelped as his tail brushed them and sent a jolt of electricity through them. The cabin glowed with the energy stored within Manectric and Garrett prayed that his Pokemon wouldn’t get overloaded before they could make it out. A bright ray of sunshine greeted him as the hundreds of Emolga launched another attack. The edge of the storm was in sight and they were no more than three minutes away from it. Excited, Garrett yanked up on the stick to obscure them in the clouds as they raced towards the blue sky beyond.

    “We’re almost there! Just two more minutes and we’ll be out of it!” Garrett shouted as the plane continued to climb.

    Unfortunately for them, fate had another plan. A powerful gust of wind slammed into them just as the clouds began to thin. The plane rolled sideways from the impact, tearing Manectric from the hole and tossing him through the cabin. Sparks flew everywhere as his Pokemon bounced around. Garrett’s muscled stiffened as a bolt of electricity from the Emolga hit them head on. His instruments shorted out again and the plane slowly stopped ascending. Garrett knew without trying that the plane didn’t have it in her to start again. Despite the odds he tried as the plane began to fall, but it was just as he feared. Knowing they had no option left, he returned Manectric and yelled to Dorian.

    “Release your Spoink and have her level us out so we can glide!”

    Spoink formed immediately in a cascade of light. The psychic Pokemon grimaced and snorted disgustedly as she gazed around the small cabin and her close proximity to Dorian.

    “Spoink,” Dorian started, momentarily taken aback by the roar of the wind as the plane screamed towards the ocean. “You have to grab the plane or we’re going to die! Level us out!”

    The Pokemon reacted as her master instructed and a milky purple glow enveloped the cabin. A slight shudder shook the nose of the plane as Spoink focused on lifting it up. As Garrett watched, sweat broke across the Pokemon’s brow and she began to grind her teeth in concentration. As she did so the plane continued to fall, its streamlined construction aiding in the fatal descent towards the roaring water below. The nose of the plane jerked up briefly again as Spoink flared brighter. The psychic type poured everything she had into lifting the plane up, but no matter how hard she tried, the weight of the occupants and the plane itself was just too much for her.

    “Oh my god,” Shelton said softly as she realized that Spoink wouldn't be able to help.

    The ocean reached out to them. Despite its churning waves the color of it was serene, almost comforting.

    “I love you sis,” Dorian said.

    “I love you too,” Shelton replied, pulling her brother close.

    Garrett pulled the rest of his Pokeballs out and clutched them to his chest. He knew there wasn’t enough time to jump out of the plane and on to Pidgeot, but at least if they weren't attached to his belt they would float on the surface and hopefully be rescued after the crash. Nothing went through his mind. Garrett closed his eyes and accepted his fate as the plane careened through the last hundred feet above the ocean. He didn’t know what death would feel like, but the sudden sensation of a force pressing against his chest was certainly not what he expected.

    Looking up, Garrett saw the nose of the plane shoot upwards so suddenly that a large crack broke out across the acrylic paint. A dark and hearty purple glow enveloped the cabin as the plane came to an almost complete halt. The metal of the plane screech in protest as it was warped and straightened out, pulling the plane completely horizontal. The glow that had enveloped the plane winked out of existence and the vehicle dropped fifteen feet straight down to land upright in a splash of seawater. Not bothering to give in to relief, Garrett flung his door open and peeked outside to check to see if the threat was completely gone.

    They were out of the storm and the sky overhead was wonderfully blue. It morphed to grey then black the further south it went, giving over to pure chaos as he observed the lightning and the yellow balls of light following it. They were out. As far as he could tell there were no more Emolga nearby. He began to breathe a sigh of relief but stopped short when he saw a quick flash of purple light far in the distance beneath the storm. Attributing it to lightning from the storm he ducked back inside the craft.

    “Well that sucked,” Dorian commented.

    “No shit,” Garrett replied. “Thanks for your help Spoink.”

    The psychic type looked perplexed and shook her head. “Spoink, spoink oink spo Spoink!”

    “What does that mean?” Garrett asked.

    “No idea,” Dorian said as he returned his Pokemon.

    Shelton crawled out of his lap and out of the plane onto one of the pods holding it up.

    “You alright?” Garrett called.

    “Fine,” Shelton said with a wave of her hand.

    Garrett reached in and tried the ignition. Unlike before, the engine didn’t even attempt to turn over. Walking along the pod to the front of the plane, Garrett popped the hatch that held the engine and gazed inside. A gout of steam greeted him and he shooed it away with a few waves of his hands. He instantly wished he hadn’t. It didn’t matter anymore if the electric ignition needed to be fixed. The engine had completely melted into a molten heap of blackened metal. Enraged, Garrett slammed the hood back down with a clang. He saw Shelton stare at him from the other side.

    “We’re fucked,” he explained.

    “What do you mean?”

    “We’re fucked,” he said again. He looked out towards the ocean. Since the storm had passed the waters had calmed, and they stretched far away.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  16. #191
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    Feb 2012
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    Chapter 26

    Alakazam sent a wave of psychic energy downward to scare off the Sharpedo that was inching closer to him. Agitated, the psychic type reorganized the telepathic bubble he was lounging on to a more comfortable position. Light mist from the ocean drizzled across him as he bobbed up and down in the ocean like a cork

    It had been two days since the humans had almost crashed their plane and he had been forced to rescue them. One of the humans had released a psychic type into the plane to level it out, but after several failed attempts to help, it was obvious that the Pokemon wasn’t strong enough and Alakazam was forced to intervene. He had spent most of his time over the last forty-eight hours reworking the situation over and over again. He wondered if he should have just let them die. Alakazam wasn’t a murderer, but the more he thought about it the more it seemed like murder and letting them die boiled down to being the same thing as intentionally killing them. He didn’t want more blood on his hands, especially after what had happened in Cerulean when he wasn’t there.

    Their accident was a welcome release from the constant mental strain he’d been experiencing. As the plane had lifted off from Kanto two days previously, he had flown about three miles behind it throughout the journey. He was lucky they had been flying a relatively low powered craft; had it been any faster he wouldn’t have been able to keep up. He hadn’t been fast enough to scatter the Emolga that had attacked them, but they were alive and that was all that mattered.

    Ethan would eventually come for the shard. Alakazam was certain of that. Though he would encounter Ethan if he simply stole the shard from them, he thought it would be better to let them keep it for the time being and make sure he didn’t kill them when he found them. He motioned at a clump of seaweed drifting nearby and the plant flew into his outstretched hand. He broke off a small sliver and began chewing it, keeping a careful eye on the humans beyond.


    *****



    Dorian’s skin itched something fierce.

    Against Garrett’s advice to stay out of the ocean, Dorian had swum frequently to cool off during the heat of the afternoon. What he failed to realize until now was that the salt from the water had gotten under his skin and now he was dealing with a persistent invisible rash. Sighing as loudly as possible, he draped his arm across his eyes and tried to picture himself somewhere pleasant. His mind automatically raced to a beach with a beautiful woman, but then he mentally slapped himself. If they ever managed to get back to land, he was never going near an ocean again. The constant sight of unending blue water depressed him to the point now that he wished the ocean was a physical entity he could decapitate.

    They had gotten absolutely nowhere in regards to getting themselves back to land. Not only had the engine block completely melted, but the wiring had been completely corroded as well. Garrett figured they were about four hundred miles from Unova, too far for the military to spot them, but at the same time it was too far for anyone else to either. Shelton had suggested that one of them use their Pokemon to fly to land and pay for a pickup for the one’s left behind but that presented two problems. The first was that as soon as the people with the plane left their sight, there was no way to accurately find their location again. The ocean currents shoved them in every direction at varying speeds during the day and night. Not only that but neither one of their Pokemon who could fly had strength enough for a distance that great. The second problem was that even if they got to Unova, there was no guarantee that they could get any of the xenophobic citizens to lend them a helping hand.

    So they floated. Ate their minimal reserves of food. They slept. They seethed at their misfortune. Dorian rolled over and pushed himself off the pod and into the cabin where Shelton was gazing longingly out the window. She looked exhausted. She smiled at him sheepishly despite the predicament, and the action sent a wave of warmth to his face. He smiled back and gripped her hand reassuringly. A sudden splash of water broke the silence between them and Dorian scrambled out of the craft to investigate.

    “Got something!?” he yelled.

    “Magikarp!” Garrett yelled back.

    Dorian gripped one of the support struts and swung himself upwards onto the top of the plane. He saw Shiftry soaking in sunlight on the far end, and Spoink bobbing up and down near the left wing. Garrett had his shirt off and tied around the top of his head, the fabric fluttering lazily as he reeled in the frantically bucking fish. Holding the fish down with his knee, Garrett extracted a knife and drove the blade up through the Pokemon’s gill slit and into its brain. Wielding the knife in an expert fashion, Garrett cut off the Magikarp’s head and started to clean its scaly body. When he was finished he had two light pink filets which he deposited near a pile of other assorted fish he had caught throughout the morning.

    “Probably enough now for a meal,” Garrett said hopefully. “You wanna get your Growlithe to cook em up for us?”

    “Yeah,” Dorian said as he released Growlithe.

    The small dog materialized where he had pointed and instantly yelped as he realized that he was surrounded by miles of ocean. Dorian sat down next to the trembling mutt and explained the situation to him. He wasn’t sure how much the Pokemon understood by the time he was finished, but Growlithe seemed to enjoy the thought of freshly charred fish. Garrett spread out the different filets in a line and told Growlithe to try and keep his flames under control in case the metal began to melt. Dorian’s fire typed breathed in deeply and breathed a small stream of flame onto each of the exposed fish. After he had walked down the line, Dorian and Garrett flipped the fish over and had him repeat the process. When he was finished they wound up with eight sizeable pieces of lightly blackened and wonderfully smelling meat. Garrett tossed two of the pieces to Growlithe for his help, and the dog began gleefully gobbling it up.

    “What do you think?” Dorian asked between mouthfuls of the tender meat.

    “Ish greatch!” Garrett managed. Swallowing, he spoke again, “Does your Shiftry eat meat?”

    “Nah, he gets most of his food from photosynthesis, but when he was a Nuzleaf he ate leaves and bark too,” Dorian explained. “Spoink? You want some?”

    His psychic type grimaced at him as she surveyed the offered portion. However, hunger got the better of her and she levitated a tiny piece out of Dorian’s hand and hopped over to the far end of the right wing to eat in silence. Grabbing two more smoking pieces of meat, he told Garrett he was taking it down to Shelton. The pilot nodded and cast his fishing line back out with one hand while stuffing his mouth full again with the other.

    Shelton ate greedily when Dorian gave her the portion and motioned him forward to wipe the grease from her mouth with his shirt when she was finished.

    “Despite the fact that those smelled like Muk breath, they were pretty good,” Shelton commented.

    “I can leave yours raw next time if you’d like.”

    “Hard pass,” Shelton said, curling her lip.

    “That’s what I thought,” Dorian laughed. “Come back up top with me, we need to come up with some new ideas.”

    Dorian clambered back up to the top with an annoyed Shelton following close behind. Garrett reeled his line in when he saw them climbing up. Dorian dropped down and sat cross-legged next to Shiftry and watched as Shelton and Garrett did the same.

    “You soaked in enough sun for a decent solarbeam?” Dorian asked.

    “Try,” his grass type nodded.

    Dorian had kept Shiftry out since they landed, owing to Garrett’s quick thinking of having him constantly absorb sunlight in case they needed the fireworks of his solarbeam for a beacon. That was pretty much the only plan they had all agreed on. The others that had been suggested were barely half-baked and completely useless. Everything from capturing a water type to swim them out of there to somehow using energy attacks to propel them through the water were suggested then immediately dismissed. All of their phones had died yesterday, not that they had any service out here anyway. Eventually Dorian had remembered that planes were supposed to carry an emergency satellite transceiver for communication, but that idea had been rendered pointless when Garrett informed him that he didn’t keep one in his plane. When Dorian asked why, Garrett had informed him that his employers didn’t want his plane found if he ever crashed.

    “Any ideas?” Garrett asked.

    “I was hoping you might have thought of something,” Dorian shrugged. “We got nothing.”

    Dorian lit three cigarettes and passed one to each of them.

    “How many of those we got left?” Shelton asked.

    “I got a pack,” Garrett answered.

    “And I have a pack and a half in the cabin,” Dorian added.

    Satisfied, Shelton started up again. “Where we at on supplies?”

    “About the same,” Garrett started. “Food ran out yesterday, but there’s plenty of stuff we can catch and eat out here. If the Pokemon stop biting we can always dry out the seaweed or eat it raw. Water is looking a little grim, but we have enough for about three more days if we don’t overdo it. It’s hurricane season so storms should roll through on the regular, and we can use the tarp to catch rainwater. Other than that we still have three guns, about eighty rounds of ammo, about sixty feet of braided metal line, and the clothes on our backs.”

    “We brought plenty of Pokemon food for all our types, what about you?” Dorian asked.

    “Pidgeot and Harvey can eat fish Pokemon, and I’ll have to try and get Sticky to eat whatever seaweed we can round up, but other than that I got enough food for them for about two weeks. We can extend that out a long ways if we leave them in their balls longer. They’ll eat more when they come out, but it will last a lot longer.”

    “So we’re basically in the exact same boat, no pun intended,” Shelton said.

    “Pretty much,” Garrett replied.

    They all smoked in silence for the next few minutes, gazing at the sparkling ocean. The clouds above were fat with tropical moisture, and to the west Dorian saw that a few of them were beginning to turn black at their bases. A few water types jumped up out of the waves every now and then, mostly Goldeen or Magikarp, though a few Sharpedo circled their plane every so often. They had all been on high alert for significant water types like Wailord or Gyarados. Something like that they could capture and train, then eventually use in an alternating fashion with their flying types to get to the mainland. Luck was not on their side however, and besides a few glittering fish, all they ever beheld was the unending ocean.

    “Well,” Dorian started. “The way I see it is we probably won’t die out here due to lack of resources. Between your fishing line and our Pokemon we won’t starve. If you’re right about hurricane season we won’t die of thirst either. What would happen though if we got caught up in a hurricane?”

    “Not good. These planes aren’t meant for those kinda waves. When the ocean is calm like this it would pretty much float for as long as we need it to. All it would take would be a forty foot wave to roll her over and she’d go straight to the bottom.”

    “That’s comforting,” Shelton commented.

    Dorian massaged his temples as his head began to pound. This was the epitome of being up shit creek without a paddle



    Five days later…



    The last vestiges of the storm were slowly starting to fade as the sun began its merry trek into the sky. They had been tossed around like the bath toy of an unruly toddler the entire night. The plane had almost been overturned six times throughout the ordeal, and two leaks had been discovered near the floorboard on the pilot’s side. Every time a wave crashed against that side of the plane, water had streamed in, dousing their legs up to the knee. None of them had slept through the night. The turning of the plane, crashes of thunder, and the grinding of metal had kept them all on edge. Now, as Dorian looked at the slowly calming sea, he felt his eyelids begin to feel heavy. Five days and not a single ship or plane had passed them. Five days of rain and ocean. Five days of carrying the impossible weight of hopelessness.

    The only thing that had made any of them a little cheery was Golduck. Shelton had released him yesterday and the sapphire avian seemed to be in perfect health. Shelton had checked him for signs of infection and distress, but found the Pokemon to be in fine form. Initially dismayed at their situation, Golduck had turned to helping Garrett with fishing in an effort to lighten his own and everyone else’s mood. The water type had even had the brilliant idea to use his ice beam attack to freeze long patches of seawater to give them room to stretch their cramped legs. The flat glaciers lasted only an hour or so before melting in the warm ocean, but it was a welcome reprieve from pacing the few feet in two directions on top of the plane.

    Dorian heard footsteps above him as he shifted into a more comfortable position. Probably Garrett pacing again. He and Dorian had almost come to blows the day before yesterday after they’re discussion about strategy on getting to land turned heated. Garrett argued that they should take their chances flying, while Dorian stood firm on waiting for a passing ship. In truth, both their theories had good points and bad, and more so than that, neither were very practical. Garrett had shoved him after the yelling had started, and almost got thrown into the water by Shiftry when Dorian fell backwards. It was Shelton who had quelled their fight before someone had gotten hurt, and they had eventually apologized and resumed their daily routines.

    Truth was they were all way past getting stir crazy. Every hour that passed made them more irritable and depressed. Shrugging off another wave of annoyance, Dorian covered his eyes with his arm. It came to him in a flash, a memory of a film he had seen as a teenager. A quick tally of their resources came to him, along with the necessary parts to bring the idea to fruition. Dorian frantically lunged out of the cabin, slipping on the wet pilot hatch and plunging face first into the water. He swam back up as the seawater was snorted up his nose, eliciting an underwater coughing fit. Gasping for air he pulled himself back up and onto the top of the plane. Garrett and Shelton raised their eyebrows as he blew air from his nostrils in order to get the seawater out.

    “I’ve got it!” Dorian exclaimed.

    “I knew it,” Shelton moaned. “All those years of whoring around Johto have finally caught up with you. What is it? Herpes? Crabs?”

    “Oh shut up!” Dorian countered. “I know how to get us to Unova.”

    Dorian told them of the film he had seen where a similar situation to theirs took place. Neither had seen the film, but Dorian explained that the only difference between them and the movie was that in the film, the characters were trapped in the middle of the desert, but in theory the principle was sound. Dorian pointed to different parts of the plane and laid out his proposition, waiting for their response. Garrett gave him a look like Dorian was the drunk guy at a party dancing to no music, while surprisingly, Shelton raised her eyebrows in appreciation of the thought.

    “You really think this will work?” Garrett asked. “Because if not we’ll be even worse off than we are now.”

    “I don’t see us coming up with anything better. Besides, we have enough cured Magikarp to last us a couple days, along with a couple gallons of water from that last storm. What do we have to lose!?”

    “Obviously it’s not completely ideal,” Shelton said to Garrett. “And usually any idea like this from him I would refuse immediately. But when you think about it, it’s actually not bad.”

    “Thanks for the confidence, sis.”

    Shelton rolled her eyes in return.

    Dorian saw Garrett massaging the back of his deeply tanned neck in concentration. After a moment he looked back up and shrugged. “Fuck it, let’s try it out.”

    The first thing they did was have Golduck use multiple ice beams to erect a floating expanse of ice roughly thirty by thirty. Next, Shelton released Machoke as Dorian released Spoink. She convinced him to fight through his fear of water, a task that required the better part of an hour, and got him to straddle the long block of ice and lift half of the plane out of the water. Spoink lifted the other half of the plane onto the ice with her mind and together they pushed the plane to the center of the ice. Shiftry helped Machoke gently roll the plane upside down, taking care to not damage the flotation pods that would form the core of their new vessel. After it had been rolled, Dorian noticed Golduck patrolling the edges of the ice square he had erected, occasionally sending more freezing beams downward to strengthen the portions that were starting to thin.

    Dorian and the others retrieved their packs and belongings from the inside of the plane and placed them near the far end of the ice shelf. Next, Dorian and Shiftry stripped as much metal as they could from the wings of the plane, while Garrett instructed Machoke on how to tear out the enormously heavy engine block. Shelton began piling all the different pieces of metal together that they were collecting while Golduck dived underneath their floating barge to create more ice in the center. After the plane had been stripped of most of the metal they would need, Machoke began ripping apart the wings of the plane. Though he was careful about it, Dorian noticed occasional small smiles from the Pokemon as he relished in his newfound strength. It would have been easier to work without pieces of the plane they didn’t need lying everywhere, but Dorian didn’t want to chance chucking it into the water in case they needed something extra. They moved everything as close to the edge as they could, clearing out a space in the middle of the ice sheet.

    At Dorian’s instruction, Spoink lifted the long floating pods that were attached to the bottom of the plane and pressed them against one another. Dorian and Shelton placed pieces of narrow metal from the wings along the length of where the pods pressed together. Releasing Growlithe into the world, Dorian walked with him along the pods as he had the fire type breathe stream after stream of flame onto the metal, effectively welding them together. As the hot metal bubbled, Shelton had Golduck breathe a stream of water onto it, creating a large gout of steam as the metal flash hardened. Spoink flipped the pods over and they repeated the process in the crack where two pods met underneath. After they had finished, Machoke pushed the newly created raft into the water, tethered to the ice with a length of braided metal rope. The result was a lightly bobbing boat about eighteen feet long and six feet wide.

    “Well I’ll be damned,” Garrett said aloud after thirty minutes of the raft floating without incident.

    “Like I said, I’m kind of awesome,” Dorian smiled.

    “Golduck,” Shelton called. “Widen the ice, I think Dorian and his ego are about to crack it in half.”

    Dorian rolled his eyes and began instructing Machoke on the next phase of the plan. He had Machoke pull the raft back onto the ice and take a couple pieces of iron from the seating of the plane and bend them into small loops that Growlithe welded to two different points of their new raft. Next he had Spoink hold together two pieces of metal tubing with her mind while Machoke wrapped another piece of iron around the point where they met. Growlithe welded the two pieces together, then Dorian had him melt what would serve as a mast at a diagonal angle at the front of the raft. Garrett took the enormous tarp they had and cut it down to a more manageable size. After that, they strung the braided metal cord through it and then around the loops that Machoke had fashioned.

    After that, another piece of metal tubing was melted to the back of the raft to serve as a perch for Vibrava. They pushed the raft back into the water, and when it was apparent that it wouldn’t sink. Dorian released his dragon. Vibrava formed in a spectacular display of pyrotechnic white, and flew in a wide arc before settling down in front of Dorian. He explained what he wanted and Vibrava immediately acquiesced. Dorian sat down as Vibrava flew up and landed on the metal pole on the back of the raft, and uttered a quick prayer as Shelton and Garrett watched from the floating block of ice.

    A buzzing filled the air as Vibrava wrapped himself around the pole and began to furiously beat his wings. Nothing happened at first, and Dorian almost screamed right then and there. Soon enough though the tarp began to ripple near the base, and that movement carried upwards through the length of it. Suddenly, the tarp was stretched forward into an eloganated bubble and the raft blasted forward. Dorian was so unprepared for the rapid acceleration that he was rolled backwards onto his back and almost off the raft. The boat went airborne for a moment as it crested a wave, almost knocking him off his feet as he stood up. Wild screams of joy met his ears as he looked back over at Garrett and Shelton.

    “Bravvvvaaaaaaa!” Vibrava yelled back with his almost digital sounding voice.

    “YES!” Dorian whooped.

    The raft sliced through the water like a knife, speeding across the waves like a bullet from a gun. They had covered a few hundred yards in seconds. A rough spray of water doused Dorian from head to toe as Vibrava angled his wings and turned the raft hard to the left. Soon enough they were closing back in on the floating expanse of ice and Dorian felt a surge of adrenaline course through him so powerful that he threw back his head and laughed until his chest hurt. As they reached the others, Machoke threw out a hand and stopped the boat. Dorian leapt off the boat and tackled his sister into a hug. They were going to make it.

    “Feel free to sing my praises whenever you’d like,” Dorian said, dipping his head and raising his arms.

    “I knew it,” Shelton laughed.

    “All I’m saying is that I may just be the best whoever was.”

    “Well then captain wonderful,” Garrett started. “Help me get the damn bags onto the raft so we can get the hell out of here. We have about eight hours of daylight left and with any luck we could make Unova by early tomorrow morning.”

    “You really think we can make it that fast?” Shelton asked.

    “Well, judging from the stars we’ve actually been inching closer to Unova with the current. With Vibrava pushing the sail, they were going about thirty miles an hour. If we leave right now we might be able to make it during the night, which would make us much harder to see by any patrolling military.”

    “Then let’s get the hell out of here!” Dorian exclaimed.

    He returned Shiftry and Spoink while Shelton did the same with Machoke and Golduck. As they scrambled around the melting glacier gathering their belongings into the raft, Dorian felt warmth flood into his fingertips. Hope had fully taken hold of him now. Not only would they be out of this godforsaken ocean, but they would be one step closer to finding Ethan. During their days on the plane, floating aimlessly, Dorian had come to view Ethan as somewhat of an enigma. It had nothing do with his power or motive, though they were both unfortunately profound. Ethan had turned into this shadowy monster that stretched into forever. Dorian had seen him die but he came back to life, he had killed his Uncle, he had vanished into thin air whenever it suited him. Ethan had become something more than just a man; of that much he was certain. Ethan was something else to Dorian, not just physically or mentally, but spiritually as well. Dorian was being driven forward by Ethan in every way he could think of.

    After the raft had been loaded and Vibrava was once again perched atop his stand, they were off. Dorian had informed his dragon that he was allowed to take commands from Garrett, and the tanned man started making course corrections for them every few minutes by watching the slowly moving sun. Some water Pokemon kept pace with them on the starboard side of the craft. They teased Vibrava by jumping up and spraying him with soft streams of water. Garrett brought out Manectric after a few minutes of this harassment and the attacks quickly ceased after he sent a thunderbolt underwater. When they were finally lined up with the sun the way Garrett wanted, he sat down on the floor of the heaving raft with a smile.

    “So what did Sarah think of you trekking off to Unova?” Dorian asked as he sat down.

    Garrett’s smile vanished.

    “I didn’t tell her,” he said flatly.

    “Because she’d worry about you?”

    “Because she would have insisted on tagging along,” he explained. “I don’t want her trampling around out there with us. Unova aint no joke. I guess I’ll have to own up to it when we get back, but for the time being I’d rather keep her in the dark.”

    “What if we don’t come back?” Dorian wondered.

    “Well, that’s a real possibility,” he admitted. “Actually there’s more of a chance that we won’t. But we both know it doesn’t matter, we got shit to do. Even if it means we don’t come back.”

    Dorian thought for a moment. “Touché sir.”

    They both stared forward after that, electing to ruminate on that thought.

    Throughout the rest of the day they alternated using Vibrava and Shiftry to power their makeshift craft. When Vibrava grew tired, Shiftry stepped up and conjured wind from his leafy hands. He didn’t push them forward at the speed that Vibrava could, owing to the exaggerated and time consuming hand gestures required, but even a slower pace was something to be thankful for. As the day progressed, they feasted on their reserves of dried fish and seaweed. Garrett had cleaned both of his pistols and his shotgun twice between making adjustments to their course, and grew livelier with every passing mile. When the sky darkened and the stars began to smile down on them, Dorian noticed Shelton sleeping against the mast. He stripped off his jacket and laid it over her chest. Garrett began instructing Vibrava on what stars to follow throughout the night, and Dorian listened to close in case the responsibility was passed to him.

    Fortunately it was not and he eventually rested his head against Shelton’s. He dozed off and on through the night, trying his best to keep his sister warm.


    *****


    The first thing Dorian did when he woke up was check his phone for the time. Habits die extremely hard; his phone had been dead for almost a week. Dorian drew his arm back in a mock display of chucking the device away, and then he noticed the yellow glow in the distance. Castelia City was the largest city in the world, and though they were still more than twenty miles away, he could still see the angled outlines of the skyscrapers. Looking back he saw that Vibrava had fallen asleep with his legs wrapped around the pole.

    Shit,” Dorian whispered.

    “It’s okay buddy,” Garrett said from the darkness. “I let him fall asleep. The current is taking us straight north.”

    Dorian relaxed and spoke again, “How long till we get there?”

    “At this rate, it won’t be until afternoon.”

    “Isn’t that the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish?”

    “Yes, but I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to get around that patrol boat.”

    Dorian looked back forward and saw a small light bobbing up and down about five miles ahead of them. From the waves he couldn’t tell if it was moving towards them, but the longer he looked the more it seemed like it wasn’t moving away from them either.

    “It’s been there for about forty-five minutes,” Garrett explained. “I’d say we just start heading east but there’s another boat about five miles east of that one. We go west, and we’ll end up straight in Castelia Harbor, which would be littered with military.”

    “What about using Pidgeot or Shuppet to distract them?” Shelton chimed in, rising from her prone position on the floor.

    “Anything that’s not human who messes with them, they’ll shoot. Any human in the water they see, they’ll interrogate first and kill later,” Garrett said with a shrug. “All I know is we need to come up with something before dawn comes or it won’t matter.”

    The decision was taking out of their hands as the roar of an engine cut through the stillness of the air. After a few minutes it was obvious that the boat was moving towards them, and Dorian shook Vibrava awake. The dragon growled annoyingly but settled down when he saw the concerned look on his master’s face. Looking back, Dorian saw two more patrol boats speeding forward to flank the ship in the lead.

    Shit,” Shelton moaned. “Do we swim for it?”

    “We’re better off in the damn boat,” Garrett said, pulling out one of his pistols and chambering a round.

    “Let’s just fly,” Dorian suggested.

    “We can’t,” Shelton said. “The light from pulling out Pidgeot will show them exactly where we are.”

    At his word, three bright searchlights exploded into life across the inky water. The lights waved sporadically. They cut across the ocean then arched up into the sky in random arcs. They weren’t yet close enough to show their position, but they were closing the distance fast.

    “Dammit, they must have us on radar,” Garrett said. “If either of you have any other bright ideas, now would be the tim-“

    Garrett’s voice was suddenly cut short by a brilliant wave of mauve light that flashed brightly about a mile to their left. The purple energy rotated into a cyclone, pulsating with a variety of purple streaks. As he looked back towards the ships, he saw that they were changing course and speeding towards whatever was generating the pyrotechnic display. Looking to the right he saw that other patrol boats were following suit. After about thirty seconds of pulsing, the light vanished, plunging them back into complete blackness again. Dorian didn’t know where the light had came from, and judging from the looks on Shelton and Garrett’s faces, they didn’t either. Ronnie had always told him to count his blessings though, so he hissed at Vibrava to get the raft moving again.

    “Aim for that eastern shore,” Garrett told the dragon.

    “Bravaaaa,” he agreed.

    The expanse of water ahead of them was devoid of light or signs of life, so they once again resumed jumping waves and speeding towards shore. They kept a close eye on the ships behind them as they moved. The boats seemed to be circling a certain point in the water. As they closed in on the beach, a brief high-pitched whistle whined over their head. When Dorian looked up he saw a shape blitz by them in the air. It vanished completely as soon as it came. He started to ask Garrett if he had seen it but was soon distracted by the rapidly approaching shoreline.

    “They’re coming back!” Garrett shouted.

    Dorian looked back and saw that the boats had looped back around and were streaming towards them. Cursing, Dorian yelled for Vibrava to beat his wings faster. They streaked through the water like a missile, aiming for a bare patch of shore that was lined with looming trees. They were almost all thrown off as their makeshift raft collided with the sandy bottom. All three of them slung their packs across themselves and began running for the forest. Dorian’s shoes sank deep into the moist sand as he trudged up the sandy hill.

    “Vibrava, go up high and scout ahead!” Dorian called as searchlights from the boats flooded the beach behind them.

    His dragon did as told and spiraled up and over the trees. Branches slapped their faces and scratched their arms as they pushed their way into the forest. The only thing he heard was his own breathing as the forest lit up around them. Dorian ran diagonally to the left, away from the lights, and he could hear Garrett and Shelton right on his heels. He could hear shouting behind them, but the further they ran the softer it became. The forest began to adopt a soft yellow glow up ahead, and as he heard the sound of boisterous hoots and screaming laughter, it overrode his screaming muscles and spurned him on faster. Buildings began to appear between the trees. Dorian’s heart leapt as they crossed a clearing right in front of the city. So overjoyed he was by the thought of safety that he almost ran into the two soldiers stationed at the very edge of the tree line.

    “On your knees!” one of them men screamed.

    Both soldiers trained their assault rifles on them as they stumbled to a stop. The men were clad in dark blue jumpsuits with matching berets. Their uniforms boasted patches of yellow and their ebony weapons glinted harshly in the artificial light of the city, which was situated only thirty feet away. Dorian struggled to come up with a worthwhile excuse to circumvent what would assuredly be an extremely unpleasant experience, but Shelton beat them to the punch.

    “HELP ME!” Shelton screamed, rushing the soldiers and falling to her knees. “THEY’RE THE MEN FROM THE BOAT! THE ONES YOU’RE CHASING! THEY KIDNAPPED ME! HELP!”

    Her sobs and screams of panic made turned the soldiers to her cause and one of them dragged Shelton across the grass behind them. As that soldier talked into the walkie-talkie, the other shifted the grip on his weapon and took a step closer. Dorian couldn’t blame them for their mistake at putting Shelton behind them. Hell, he may have done the same thing in their position if he didn’t know what she was capable of.

    The first solider fell forward with a grunt as Shelton’s asp connected with the back of his head. Acting with military precision, the other man turned around. Shelton caught the barrel of his assault rifle in her hand and threw it upwards, crushing the bones in his nose. Her right foot swung around and dislocated his knee, which elicited a scream of pain. Before the man could even fall all the way to the ground, she smashed the baton into his neck, knocking him unconscious. Dorian saw her exhale and collapse her baton against the back of the man she had hit first.

    “Holy shit,” Garrett said, obviously impressed.

    “That’s my sister,” Dorian affirmed. “Now, let’s get into the town before the one’s behind us catch up.”

    As he took a step forward he saw people lining the streets ahead. They were animatedly dressed in bright splashes of pink and green. Oversized floats slowly oozed through the crowds. A parade. He was just about to thank his luck again when the third solider walk out of the trees directly in front of Shelton. The man saw his compatriots lying on the ground and sized up the situation immediately. The world blurred and the man’s assault rifle came up in slow motion to point at Shelton’s head. Dorian saw Garrett to his right raising his gun but the action was far too slow to be able to intercept the rage stricken man. Dorian’s stomach hit the dewy ground as the man’s finger tightened on the trigger.

    Dorian’s body moved forward but then something happened. A steak of white light sliced through the man’s neck as the green hued form of Vibrava landed behind him. The man’s head toppled off his shoulders amidst a spray of blood from his neck, rolling to a stop near Shelton’s foot. Dorian’s dragon planted one of his feet on the shoulders of the man’s corpse, his angled left wings streaked with a line of red. All three of them stood there in shock for a moment before the sounds of people trampling through the woods behind them got them thinking again.

    “Thank-you,” Shelton uttered.

    “Vibravaaaa,” the dragon said with a smile.

    “I love you for that buddy, but you have to go away for a bit,” Dorian said as he recalled his Pokemon to its ball.

    “Go,” Garrett whispered.

    They heard the soldiers yelling to each other as they came across the bodies of their comrades. However, by the time the soldiers reached the bustling streets of Nacrene City, the three of them had already melted into the crowd.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  17. #192
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    Alright. Not sure how I missed reviewing Chapter 25, but I'll go ahead and do both, albeit they might be slightly abbreviated considering my time crunch.

    Chapter 25

    Right off the bat, you throw an emotional scene at us. Having Ledian's ashes scattered above the ocean was very touching, and the entire scene gave a lot more development to Garrett. I am very excited to see where you go with his character, because you're building him up quite a lot here. The part where he mixes the ashes with the drink was a bit weird, but I guess it's symbolic to the fact that Garret will never let Ledian's memory fade. Very nice touch there. Despite not knowing anything about him when he first showed up in the story, you've made him an excellent main character.

    They are going to have a huge problem if and when they ever get back to Kanto, aren't they? I find myself slightly eager to see the charges for drugging the cops, but I know you've got something far better planned. Other than that, there's not much to comment on as they prepare the plane and leave. The reasoning behind why they're using the canal to leave Kanto to avoid the radar is clever and makes complete sense, especially for a smuggling operation. It's nice to see the flying scene, but, like the preparation scene, there isn't much that caught my attention other than the wonderful description of flying and the process by which the plane refuels in the ocean.

    Now, I can never look at Emolga the same way ever again. The way to make them go from a bunch of innocent, cute Pokemon to a swarm of plane-killing demons is genius. I'm not sure I'd have seen that scenario coming in a million years. So, kudos on that. Aside from the Emolga, I quite enjoyed the immense tension you put into the scene with them trying to fly the plane out of the storm and eventually having to crash land.

    So, in all, Chapter 25 was an excellent chapter at getting the plot moving towards Unova and provided plenty of emotion, character development for Garrett, and tense action. Not to mention the cliffhanger of having them stranded.

    Chapter 26

    Oh boy. There's a lot to go over here. It'll be hard to compress it all, but I'll do my best.

    First off, Alakazam. Have I said before at how much I love his character? You give him the perfect amount of development while keeping him somewhat of a mystery to us readers and the main cast. The fact that the climax will eventually come down to his thought processes and decisions makes it even better. Now that you're having him essentially stalk and help Dorian and the others only adds another facet to his wonderfully dynamic personality.

    Now, I am a sucker for extreme survival situations in fiction. I can tell you put a lot of work and detail into that entire sequence of scenes simply by how well they were done (and plus, the detail about Dorian's skin itching with salt proves that you know exactly what you're talking about). I just love how you have them pass the time on the mundane seas, how you have them fish and cook the food with help from their Pokemon, and their thoughts and conversations on plans to escape the ocean and their food rations. I just love every sentence of it!

    And, if you thought I loved the survival scene, then the boat-building scene made me want to hug my screen. Not only does Dorian's plan sound rather difficult to pull off properly, but coupled with the fact that he pulled it from a movie gives it horrible credence. But, I found myself almost enraptured with how they take apart the plane and salvage the parts into a sailboat powered by Pokemon. Your description of the scene made it very easy for me to envision the boat in my head, and plus, anything that gives Dorian more reason to gloat is gold in my book.

    There's so much more I could go into that happens next. How the scene with Alakazam's distraction fits into his complex personality, or how their landing on Unova compares with actual refugees from Cuba in their struggle to escape and make it to the US (I live in Florida, so I hear more about that than most people might). Or, how Shelton's complete badassery when she knocks out the soldiers, or Vibrava's sudden act of decapitating the third guard and how the shock of Dorian and the others was expertly placed, but that would take up time I do not have at the moment. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed every one of those scenes very much.

    So, not even in Unova for ten minutes and they are already guilty of trespassing, assaulting military personal, killing military personal, and evading capture. Goodness, they better hope that they didn't get a good luck at their faces at some point. XD
    This chapter was an excellent conclusion to the last, and provided a smooth transition into the Unova plot. I am very excited to see how their experiences in this communist country work out. Good luck, man. Keep up the wonderful work!

    Knightfall signing off...

  18. #193
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    Ethan’s as gruesome as always. Killing someone and his pokémon for no reason, and licking the blood off of Marco’s body. Gross. But I’m interested in seeing where this whole Shelton/flakes thing goes as you hinted at it. Also, the part where Mesprit and Azelf kiss Uxie on the cheek was pretty memorable for some reason.
    Lol @ Shelton just trying to start her name as normal. “Yes, I’m having near hallucinations, let’s put some pants on.” Geez, Shelton, a little clarity here? Also interesting to see how she trained the Steelix so quickly. I guess rock candy does wonders for steelixes.

    The first pokeball released his Pidgeot, and as the bird formed the rest of their Pokemon turned to watch. It was an impressive specimen, very large, and its plumage spoke of rich gold and tawny tones accented with light shades of scarlet
    I particularly liked this piece of description of Pidgeot. Nicely done.
    Also glad to see Alakazam make a comeback. It’ll be interesting to see if he ever decides to team up with Dorian/Shelton to defeat Ethan.

    The hours passed as Pidgeot flew and Garrett barely noticed. Memories flashed through him like lightning and slowly oozed like tar. He had no control over the order of them, they just became him. His eyes saw mountains and road, Pokemon and people, but his mind only saw Ledian. The way he fought, the way he reasoned, the way his touch felt. He would never feel that again. Ever. Death wasn’t something he ever gave any real thought too, but now as he was faced with it; it seemed so profound and titanic. It was a weight that he could not lift. The only thing that snapped him out of his trance was the sound of barking as Pidgeot descended towards Dorian’s house.
    Another beautiful paragraph. Poor Garrett. *sigh*

    Also, wow at the Emolga scene. I kept having to slow myself down to read thoroughly because I just wanted to know what happened. That means your description was good and gripping as was the situation itself. Also I must say you had a perfect explanation as to why the Emolga were flying so high. I’m glad they’re safe, but, as Garrett says, they seemed ****ed. I’ll be interested to see how they handle their situation.

    Reading chapter 26 now and the idea of Shiftry sending up a solarbeam as a signal is a pretty clever one.

    Overall, a crazy chapter. A lot happened in a short period of time. I’d say watch out or you’re at risk of making look like the sort of stu that has nothing good ever happen to them. I can’t think of the name right now but I am sure there is such a thing. I finally caught up, though, and I wasn’t disappointed, as you said I wouldn’t be. Sorry the review is so short but I didn't have much time to read.


    | she will get the truth out of him, whatever it may be. |
    | letters 13/14 released 5/22/14 |


    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | COMPLETE AS OF 8/11/13 |


  19. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall
    The part where he mixes the ashes with the drink was a bit weird, but I guess it's symbolic to the fact that Garret will never let Ledian's memory fade. Very nice touch there.
    I appreciate that you thought so. It's actually a really old an interesting practice. Cleopatra actually mixed in a small portion of her husbands ashes into a glass of wine when he died. I've always really thought the practice was really touching

    Now, I can never look at Emolga the same way ever again
    I've always thought that there were more to those little bastards than meets the eye. I like trying to take the ordinary and turn it into something different. Glad it worked out, especially since the Emolga portion of the chapter was the one I was most nervous about going over well

    First off, Alakazam. Have I said before at how much I love his character? You give him the perfect amount of development while keeping him somewhat of a mystery to us readers and the main cast. The fact that the climax will eventually come down to his thought processes and decisions makes it even better. Now that you're having him essentially stalk and help Dorian and the others only adds another facet to his wonderfully dynamic personality.
    Wow, thanks so much sir. Alakazam has always been kind of an enigma to me in the sense that his internal struggle is not only so much fun to write, but his thoughts and actions have differed completely from what I had originally planned for him. To be honest, what's going to happen to him is still completely up in the air at this point. So stay tuned

    I just love how you have them pass the time on the mundane seas, how you have them fish and cook the food with help from their Pokemon, and their thoughts and conversations on plans to escape the ocean and their food rations. I just love every sentence of it!
    I'm a huge sucker for survival stuff as well. Dual Survival is probably the most watched thing in my Netflix list. I'm not a doomsday prepper or anything but I've studied a lot of survival situations and techniques that I feel like would really serve me well in different situations. It's really interesting stuff. I'll have to send you some links

    And, if you thought I loved the survival scene, then the boat-building scene made me want to hug my screen. Not only does Dorian's plan sound rather difficult to pull off properly, but coupled with the fact that he pulled it from a movie gives it horrible credence. But, I found myself almost enraptured with how they take apart the plane and salvage the parts into a sailboat powered by Pokemon. Your description of the scene made it very easy for me to envision the boat in my head, and plus, anything that gives Dorian more reason to gloat is gold in my book.
    I got the idea from the movie 'Sahara'...They do something somewhat similar, I just tried to reinvent it and put my own spin on it. I'm glad it turned out well because that part of the chapter took me probably the most time to figure out how to write correctly

    or how their landing on Unova compares with actual refugees from Cuba in their struggle to escape and make it to the US (I live in Florida, so I hear more about that than most people might)
    I'm sure you do. Cuban refugees and those struggles made me implement that part of the story. I thought it would be more of a dramatic and exciting part that would seem more realistic to them just cross a country's waters and sailing easily into a harbor

    So, not even in Unova for ten minutes and they are already guilty of trespassing, assaulting military personal, killing military personal, and evading capture. Goodness, they better hope that they didn't get a good luck at their faces at some point. XD
    When you put it like that, it sounds like exactly their style haha

    Thanks for the review as always buddy, I really appreciate it

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876
    Ethan’s as gruesome as always. Killing someone and his pokémon for no reason, and licking the blood off of Marco’s body. Gross
    Yeah, he's turned into quite the creeper, hasn't he? lol

    I particularly liked this piece of description of Pidgeot. Nicely done.
    Also glad to see Alakazam make a comeback. It’ll be interesting to see if he ever decides to team up with Dorian/Shelton to defeat Ethan.
    Thanks very much! I've always loved Pidgeot. If one can be trained, I would catch one in every single game. I've always loved flying types, but Pidgeot has always really stuck out for me. I can see him helping them, but in the end I feel like Alakazam is way to attached to Ethan to ever fully betray him. Well, maybe he isn't, I'm not sure yet

    Reading chapter 26 now and the idea of Shiftry sending up a solarbeam as a signal is a pretty clever one.
    Thanks very much! That won't be the last time you see energy based attacks used in interesting ways

    Overall, a crazy chapter. A lot happened in a short period of time. I’d say watch out or you’re at risk of making look like the sort of stu that has nothing good ever happen to them. I can’t think of the name right now but I am sure there is such a thing. I finally caught up, though, and I wasn’t disappointed, as you said I wouldn’t be. Sorry the review is so short but I didn't have much time to read.
    I've been thinking the same thing for awhile now lol; maybe I should have them win the lottery. Anyway, thanks for the awesome review. Your input is always much appreciated and I thank you for taking the time. <3

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  20. #195
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    Chapter 27



    Ethan was about two hours south of Undella Town when he felt her.

    It began as a rustling in the trees despite the lack of wind. Small tendrils of dirt floated upwards as he stopped sprinting and came to a stop. The blades of grass beneath his feet began to twist into spirals. The very air around him seemed to thin and compress, making it harder for him to breathe. As these physical events unfolded around him, he felt a presence in his mind that he had not felt in a very long time. It was titanic, daunting, and inescapably terrifying.

    The Wanderer floated down from the sky, creating new shadows around him from the mauve glow that surrounded her. She was a Gardevoir that physically matched every other member of her species. Humanoid shaped, with alternating shades of deep green and ivory. She possessed a billowing skirt of flesh that rippled about her as she walked forward. A blunt scarlet horn protruded from the center of her chest, accented by pale willowy arms that ended in fingerless hands. The only thing that made her different than the others of her species that he had met was her disfigurement. The left side of her face had essentially been torched away. Through the blackened skin he could see the pearly white teeth in the sagging portion of her mouth as she smiled at him. Her emerald hair followed a neat line from the back of her head to the middle of her face, the left and hairless side of her skull cracked and jagged with scorch marks.

    Hello, Ethan,” she said with her mind. Her voice was soft and eerily smooth, like water running over glass.

    “What do you want?” He asked, not bothering to hide his disgust at her horrid appearance.

    Do I detect a note of disdain?

    “What do you want?” Ethan asked again, taking a step forward.

    Calm yourself Ethan. I come bearing great tidings. The six kings have sent me to aid you in your endeavor.”

    “I don’t need your help,” Ethan spat. “They told me what they wanted and I’m fully capable of handling by myself.”

    He turned to walk away, but the Gardevoir enveloped him in a hearty purple glow and yanked his body backwards. He streaked across the ground and stopped right in front of her, his face only inches away from her pretentious smile.

    You misunderstand me Ethan. The goal is the same, but there have been wrinkles in the plan that must be addressed. I’m speaking of course of the thieves that evaded you in Cerulean.”

    That was not something he had expected her to say. Was it possible that the voices had arranged something with The Wanderer without consulting him? True enough he had thought of the thieves throughout the arduous journey from Orre to Unova, but his mentors had been clear that they were a secondary priority. Ethan had no intention of letting his emotions get the better of him again, but the Gardevoir’s sudden appearance gave him doubt. The voices had been completely clear as to their strategy involving him and the shards. Why would they come up with a complete reversal of their command without consulting him first? It didn’t add up.

    “If they had changed their minds they would have told me themselves!” Ethan spat. “Now release me.”

    I had hoped you would have trusted in their wisdom and acquiesced without question,” she sighed. “I should have known that your undeserved sense of entitlement would cloud your judgment. You’re coming with me, Ethan; whether you like it or not.”

    Ethan felt his feet lift off the ground. The Gardevoir rose quickly into the sky and headed south, with Ethan unwillingly traveling close behind.


    ******



    The damn voices were talking to her again.

    Shelton shifted her pack and cursed under her breath. She and Dorian were waiting at the edge of Nacrene City, facing Castelia, for Garrett to return. Every few minutes she heard the chorus of voices from her backpack; a soft whisper that echoed deep within her mind. She knew that the sound wasn’t physically audible, as Dorian seemed completely oblivious to it. That realization alarmed her because not only were the voices resonating in her mind, but they seem to come from every direction around her. Shelton knew that the sound was coming from the shard, and she had tried to rid herself of it by forcing Dorian to shoulder her pack, but that hadn’t worked either. The volume had softened somewhat when she had passed it to him but it was still there.

    A few minutes of her rifling through mental options later, Garrett appeared. He was drenched in sweat and for some reason had a look like he had just tasted something long past its expiration date.

    “No go,” he stated. “The city is completely locked down. No one can go in, and from what I heard, if you leave, you stay out.”

    “So those bombing rumors were true?” Dorian asked.

    “Yup, saw the entrance station from the end of the bridge,” Garrett explained. “It looked like half of it had just been erased. Guards over there were twitchy as fuck. I also noticed that they had set up some automated turrets every two hundred yards, so flying ourselves in is out as well.”

    “What about circling around and trying that route from the north?” Shelton asked.

    “That’s a no go as well. Every route into Castelia is closed off to civilian traffic. Apparently it will be that way until they figure out whoever was responsible for the bombing.”

    Shit,” she groaned.

    Shelton lit a cigarette and took a deep drag. The three of them had learned about a car bombing that happened at a guard station at the eastern entrance to the city just three days ago. When they had arrived in Nacrene the night before, speculation about motives and persons involved were ripe among the parade. Regardless of the person who perpetrated the act, it had put the already on edge continent into a state of full panic. Uprisings and attempted revolutions were commonplace in this communist country, but until now, no one had ever dared risk an assault on the capital city. Castelia was a jewel in this dirty and desperate land, and now that the bloodshed was reaching its doors, the city government had issued a quarantine on basically everything but supply trucks from entering the city. That proclamation of dominance had put a physical and figurative roadblock directly in their path.

    “Scuse me,” a voice said behind them.

    Shelton turned and saw an extremely emaciated man staring at the ground a few feet away. The man had long waves of ragged auburn hair and the distinct smell of someone who neglected the basics of personal hygiene.

    “Yeah?” Dorian asked, suspicion evident in his voice.

    “Didn’t mean to be eavesdropping on ya’ll, but if ya-“

    “Isn’t that what someone says right before they repeat what they had no business listening to?” Garrett chimed in.

    The man shot Garrett a quick glance and resumed speaking. “I was just wondering if ya’ll are trying to get into Castelia?”

    “Why do you ask? Dorian wondered aloud.

    “Because if ya’ll got money, my boss might be able to get you in,” the man explained.

    Obviously the man was some kind of drug addict. The signs were loud and readily apparent. From the way he spoke though, he seemed confident enough in his proposition. Though Shelton was unreservedly and legitimately skeptical, she took the most direct approach.

    “How will they get us in?”

    “Dunno.”

    He didn’t offer anything else so Shelton spoke again. “That’s all you got? How do we know you’re not just trying to take us somewhere to rob us?”

    “Nevermind,” the man said simply. He turned on his heel and began to walk away.

    “Wait!” Shelton urged. “Let me talk this over with my friends for a sec?”

    The man nodded and Shelton turned to Dorian and Garrett, who were both wearing identical expressions of complete surprise.

    “You geniuses have any ideas? Because this guy obviously doesn’t care whether we go or not, which makes me think that he’s telling the truth.”

    “Are you serious?” Dorian asked. “He looks like he’s going to take us to some crack den, chloroform us, and cut out our organs.”

    “Shelton does have a point,” Garrett spoke. “Castelia is going to be closed for who the hell knows how long, and I can’t think of any other way. Besides, we could take this fucking guy if he tries anything stupid.”

    “You’re both stupid,” Dorian groaned.

    “How much will it cost us?” Shelton asked the disheveled man.

    “Dunno. You coming or not?”

    “Lead the way,” Garrett said, flashing a grin.

    The man started walking towards the west end of Nacrene, his soiled jeans slapping together with each small stride. As the minutes passed, Shelton noticed that the buildings became increasingly more decrepit. The man they were following didn’t turn around once to speak to them, turning through side streets like a programmed chauffeur. Scantily clad women, most with yellowed teeth and sagging skin, lined every street corner within eyesight. A few men skulking in an alley started following them as they trekked further into the city but Garrett quickly scattered them by turning slightly as he walked and opening his jacket to expose his gleaming handguns. When the man eventually stopped walking, Shelton noticed twin cellar doors at the base of a building beneath a glowing neon sign that read ‘The Fighting Medicham’.

    “We’re here,” the man said, reaching down and throwing open the doors. Small, flickering fluorescent bulbs lit the stairs downward beneath the building.

    Shelton looked back and raised her eyebrows at Dorian. He shrugged, his facial expression reading something along the lines of ‘How much worse could it get?’ Shelton followed the pale man down the stairs and through a grimy hallway to a metal door. The man produced a key, and the door swung open with a moaning creak. Directly inside they were greeted by pitch blackness and Shelton instinctively wrapped her hand around the asp stuck in her waistband. Suddenly, four men brandishing shotguns rushed them, quickly bypassing their guide and putting the three of them in a diamond of glaring lethality.

    Shit,” Shelton thought.

    “Weapons,” the man to her right said.

    “Go fuck yourself,” Garrett spat.

    Garrett received a sharp jab to his back from the butt of one of the guns for his remark, causing him to briefly fall to his knee. When he rose back up, his face was flushed and his hands were twitchy. Shelton began to worry that the crazy look in his eyes was going to get all of them killed.

    “Weapons,” the man said again in the same tone.

    As Garrett began to open his mouth again, Shelton quickly cut him off.

    “Do it,” Shelton hissed, slowly pulling out her asp and handing it to one of the men.

    Dorian reluctantly followed suit with his dagger, all the while refusing to look at her. Garrett bared his teeth as he handed over his firearms. After that exchange was over and they were all extensively patted down, they were led through another small corridor and into a large and dimly lit room. A walnut bar extended along the length of one wall with a man and woman speaking excitedly behind it, what seemed to be a raised dance floor in the middle of the room, and about nine tables randomly placed about the space, complete with what you would guess to be your prototypical henchmen lounging about in chairs. The room was thick with the stench of tobacco and marijuana, with light dashes of urine and the unmistakable metallic odor of blood. As they were led into the room, the man behind the bar vaulted over and strode over to them. Through sunken yellow eyes he surveyed them, and ran his tongue across his thick watery lips when his eyes found Shelton.

    “What do we have here?” The man wondered aloud as he slinked up next to her. “This isn’t the usual talent we’re accustomed to upstairs.”

    “Russell brought them,” one of the shotgun wielding men explained. “They wanna get into the city.”

    “Well, we could probably help them out, as long as this little thang will help me out with some business in the storeroom.”

    Laughs echoed through the small space at the man’s insinuation. Striding closer, the man looked back towards the woman behind the bar, who smiled and gave him the slightest nod. Whoever this man was he seemed to need permission from the woman, so perhaps she was the leader of this outfit? Shelton stole a glance at Garrett, who was staring at the woman, clearly entertaining the same possibility that Shelton was. Licking his lips again, the man from behind the bar leaned down so his face was mere inches away from hers.

    “Watcha think bout that, sweetheart?” The man asked, snaking a hand down to roughly grip her ass.

    “If I were you, I’d get your fucking hand off of her,” Dorian said from behind her.

    “Oh yeah?” The man responded. “What are you going to do about it, faggot?”

    “Me? Nothing. But keep in mind that I warned you,” Dorian responded.

    As that last word left Dorian’s mouth, Shelton turned to the man and did something that took him completely off guard. She smiled. Her knee came up faster than he could follow, and she felt the soft flesh of his testicles smash against his pelvis. His grip tightened out of reflex, and Shelton rolled backwards across his stiff arm and delivered a palm strike to his elbow. The splintering of bone echoed through the room as she reached up and viciously clapped both hands into his ears. The man fell backwards as his equilibrium was thrown off by his newly shattered eardrums. Shelton dropped low and swung a kick around to his ankles just as Garrett leapt forward and disarmed one of the men of his shotgun. The man Shelton attacked dropped to the ground with a thud, head slapping loudly against the concrete floor.

    “BACK UP OR SHE’S DEAD!” Garrett screamed, swinging the shotgun around to point at the woman behind the bar. To emphasize his point he chambered a shell into the weapon.

    The woman laughed heartily at Garrett’s threat, gesturing her men forward. Despite Garrett’s serious warning, the men dropped their shotguns to the ground and rushed the three of them. As they were all shoved backwards by the burly men, Shelton couldn’t help but be confused at their seeming disregard for their most effective way of combating them. Why would they leave the guns behind? Shelton raised her fists and leaned forward as the men backed off. The three of them were standing in the middle of the dance floor with no exit in sight. Garrett pointed the shotgun upwards and pulled the trigger to make sure they knew he was serious. As the weapon clicked however, there was no discharge. Baffled, she saw Garrett chamber another shell and pull the trigger again to no avail.

    “What the fuck?!” Garrett exclaimed.

    The gun vanished from Garrett’s hands. As in completely winked out of existence. Just as her eyebrows rose in bewilderment, she saw one of the men grab a hold of something in the air and throw it towards them. The loud sound of a steel door slamming made all three of them jump a full two inches off the ground. What was happening? This was turning into a nightmare. Shelton ground her foot against the concrete to make sure that she was actually awake. The air shimmered across the square outline of the dance floor and a loud screech filled the air. In the time it took Shelton to blink once, iron bars had surrounded the dance floor, effectively sealing them in a cell.

    The assorted goons and henchmen laughed again.

    “How the hell does this keep happening to us?” Dorian whispered under his breath.

    As Shelton watched Garrett literally shake with rage, Shelton’s mind bounced between two things. The first was the curvaceous woman stalking towards them from behind the bar. Long locks of maroon hair outlined her angled features and dark brown eyes. The second was the impossibility of what she was witnessing. How did the weapons disappear? How did they find themselves in this cell? The weight of how insane this was almost made her feel disembodied. The answer to her perplexing questions presented itself quickly however as a Zoroark materialized beside the woman dressed in black as she arrived at one side of the cell. Wonderful.

    “So sorry we had to trick you,” the woman explained. “We occasionally have visitors here sometimes that are less than amicable. I realize that this is quite a shock, so I can imagine you have some less than polite words for me, but guard your tongue around Zoroark.”

    Fuck you,” Garrett spat.

    “As I said, you’d do well to guard your words. The last person who spoke ill of me got the nasty end of Zoroark’s temper. So unless you want to be strapped to the bars and have him create the illusion that you’re trapped in a coffin for the next several weeks, be polite.”

    “What do you want?” Dorian asked calmly.

    “From what Russell has told me, you need to get into the city. I’d like to offer you safe passage.”

    “Funny fucking way to treat people to safe passage,” Garrett muttered.

    “Shut up!” Shelton hissed.

    “I’m guessing we have to pay you to get out?” Dorian asked.

    “That’s correct,” the woman smiled. “If you agree to the amount, I’ll have a psychic type wipe your minds of this place and of us, and I’ll give you a map along with a mental suggestion to follow it. If you don’t agree to these terms, we’ll kill you. You can waste your time trying to bargain or plead, but we’ve done this many times and it’s either you pay or you die. What will it be?”

    “We’ll pay,” Shelton said. “But what’s to stop you from just killing us when we give you the money?”

    “I believe in keeping to one’s word when a bargain is made. Truth is, you don’t know, but I stand by the bargains I make. Take it or leave it.”

    “How much?” Shelton asked.

    “I’d say a hundred thousand credits should do the trick,” she said with a laugh.

    Shelton’s mind flashed through the fifty ways she could maim this woman if given the chance. They had the money at their disposal from Ronnie’s life insurance, but the amount the woman requested was a completely unreasonable sum. Shelton had heard of kidnappings that had been settled for less. Still, with no other course of action possible, Shelton had no choice but to agree to her terms. The woman pointed at her and motioned her forward, gesturing for her men to keep their guns pointed at Dorian and Garrett. The woman unlocked the door to the cell and extended a hand.

    “Marissa Thatcher.”

    “Shelton Dvakna,” Shelton replied, pumping the woman’s icy hand quickly.

    “I’m assuming you’re familiar with how an electronic transfer works?”

    “Yes.”

    The woman led her over to the bar to a pair of identical glowing laptops. She stole a look over her shoulder and saw Garrett pacing the cell like a caged animal. She hadn’t expected him to act so defiant and violent. His actions reinforced her still present apprehension of him coming along with them. Making a note to coach him on tact during life threatening situations later, Shelton tabbed open a browser and accessed her account. Marissa did the same and less than five minutes later, the money was transferred and Shelton breathed a sigh of relief. She knew they were not completely out of the woods yet, but Shelton knew that if they were just going to rob and murder them, Marissa would have just taken the computer away and emptied their entire account.

    “Here,” Marissa said, handing her two sheets of paper and a pen. The first sheet of paper was blank, and the second had a detailed map of Nacrene and the forest that surrounded it. “That map will take you to the tunnel to Castelia. With the blank page, write yourself a note to follow the map. Write something convincing because you’re not going to remember any of this.”

    Shelton audibly sighed and began to write. A few minutes later she was finished and Marissa snatched it out of her hand; probably to check that there was no mention of her, the bar, or the situation. Satisfied, Marissa handed the letter back and Shelton folded them neatly into her pocket. Shelton noticed Dorian and Garrett being led over to her from the cell by a few of the men. Marissa’s black fox smiled at Shelton and stepped behind its master, revealing the petite form of a Gothorita. The small psychic type curtsied to them as she swung her black and white pigtails in a wide arc. The air shimmered as the fleshy appendages swung in a perfect spiral. Shelton found herself following them with her eyes. They were very pretty, and the pink aura they generated was so captivating that she didn’t even realize that she was slowly beginning to tip backwards.


    ******



    Shelton blinked, and then flipped her sunglasses down in front of her eyes to combat the light reflecting off the water surrounding Castelia. Something odd was happening in her head. It was almost like the times you try and remember someone’s name. You see their face, you know where you remember them from, but for some reason you just can’t place their name. That’s what she felt like, but to the best of her knowledge she wasn’t trying to remember anything. She looked to Dorian and Garrett and they were both wearing puzzled expressions of their own.

    “Weren’t you saying something about Castelia being blocked off?” Shelton asked.

    “I think so,” Garrett managed, rubbing his eyes. “Yeah that’s right. The whole city is closed to civilian traffic.”

    “Wait a minute,” Dorian started. “Do either of you feel weird? Or kind of off in some way?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Yeah.”

    “I do too. Did something happen to us or something?”

    “I’m not sure,” Shelton answered. “But I do feel weird.”

    Shelton pulled out her phone to check the time and gasped as she saw that it was now almost four hours later than when she checked ten minutes ago. Not only that, but there was a text message from a restricted number that simply read, ‘Check right pocket’. Shelton did as requested and to her immense surprise she found two neatly folded squares of paper. One was a map of some kind, and the other had hastily scribbled writing on it. Her breath caught in her throat as she realized that the writing was in her own hand and bore her signature at the bottom.

    Your mind has been erased by a psychic type. So was Dorian’s and Garrett’s. The how’s and why’s don’t matter. You had to pay some people off who gave you the map on the other piece of paper. Apparently the map will take you to an underground tunnel into Castelia. I know it sounds sketchy but you could be dead right now so just be on guard and follow the map. Show this to the guys.

    - Shelton Dvakna

    “I think I have an explanation for the fuzziness,” Shelton explained, handing Dorian the note.

    She waited for them both to read the note and lit a smoke as their mouth’s dropped open. They both followed suit with a cigarette, and Garrett took a long pull from the silver flask in his jacket. The enormity of the thought that she had done things she couldn’t remember crashed down on her like a sudden downpour. To have memories forcibly taken from her felt like the ultimate violation of her body.

    “Well, you wrote to follow it, so let’s follow it,” Dorian suggested.

    “Agreed sir,” Garrett affirmed, unsnapping the buttons holding his guns in place.

    Fuck it,” Shelton said.

    Pulling out the map she pointed them towards the forest situated northwest of the city. She released Shuppet as they walked, and Garrett did the same with Pidgeot. They sent the Pokemon into the air ahead of them to scout while they pushed through the dense vegetation below. Every so often they voiced down to them that the path ahead was clear, though they did have to change their route twice due to solider patrols. Despite those two setbacks they managed to make decent time, and as the sun began to set, they reached their destination.

    Situated right up next to the cliffs that lined the shore to the ocean sat an irreparably depressed house. It was missing shingles from more than half the roof and what she assumed to be white paint had long rotted away to a green fungus that encompassed the entire circumference of the house. It literally looked like a light breeze could blow it over at any moment. The building looked plain sad, a remnant of a once loved object. Shelton hailed Shuppet and Pidgeot down as they crouched down at the edge of the woods. Her ghost type cooed softly as she landed on her shoulder.

    “Listen sweetie,” Shelton began. “I need you to go invisible and check out the inside of the house. If you see any person or Pokemon, or if it feels off to you, come right back and let us know. Can you do that?”

    “Shup!” Shuppet affirmed.

    The ghost spiraled upwards and towards the house, her form shimmering and turning transparent as she flew. Tense minutes passed for Shelton as her Pokemon drifted through the house. The longer Shuppet took, the antsier she became. A few leaves trickled by from the air above as they waited. It seemed so irresponsible to send Shuppet in there alone given the memory wash they had all experienced. Just as Shelton began to chastise herself aloud, Shuppet appeared next to Dorian with a loud exclamation of her name. Dorian comically fell backwards in fright as the ghost cackled, yelling obscenities so vulgar that Shelton grimaced.

    “Hah!” Garrett laughed.

    “Everything good in there?” Shelton asked.

    “Shuppet shup, shup shup Shuppet!” She replied dramatically.

    “I won’t believe it?” Shelton queried. “Won’t believe what?”

    Shuppet instead elected to soar off towards the house, forcing Shelton to sprint along after her. As Shuppet phased herself through the front door they ascended the porch. The door was green with mold and the paint cracked with age. It creaked open with an eerie sigh, as if it was annoyed by them disrupting its slumber. Inside was a dirty and leaf ridden foyer complete with piles of clothes in the corners and fast food trash thrown randomly about the entryway. Shelton groaned inwardly. What kind of people had they gotten themselves mixed up with? Shuppet was floating an inch off the floor at the base of the stairs that lead to the upper level. Her skirt was drifting from side to side without the aid of a breeze.

    “Sweetie?” Shelton asked.

    “Shooooo,” her Pokemon cooed.

    Looking toward the stairs, Shelton beheld the object of Shuppet’s fixation. A small and filthy doll lay propped up into a sitting position at the base of the stairs. The figure was dressed in a torn blue dress and seemed to be missing an eye. Puffs of cotton poked through the thin fabric of its body in random locations. It was probably the most pathetically depressing toy she had ever seen in her life.

    “What the hell is wrong with her?” Dorian asked, eyes flicking from Shuppet then to the doll. The realization of what was happening hit him at the same time as it did Shelton. “Oh.”

    “Shoo?” Shuppet questioned.

    Shelton felt her breath catch in her chest. A joy filled her so quickly that her face flushed and her knees almost lost rigidity. Eyes beginning to water, Shelton lowered herself into a crouch and spoke. “Your decision, sweetpea.”

    Shuppet turned back to the doll and drifted forward. Several glowing orbs materialized around Shuppet and began to circle the trembling ghost type. Faster and faster the spheres spun, enveloping her body in a nimbus of dark energy. Suddenly they stopped and shot into the doll, dragging Shuppet along with them. The toy vibrated intensely and shot to its feet while the three of them watched with utter fascination. The doll held itself upright on one leg and twirled around, arms waving from side to side. Then it took a flying leap backwards and landed on the bottom step of the stairs. One arm waved to Shelton as it bent low into a crouch. Shelton waved back sheepishly, unsure whether she was following the correct protocol. Apparently it was for the doll because it nodded its head and front flipped forward to the floor. The moment its rounded feet touched the floor an explosion of violet light rocked through the room. So intense was the flare of energy that Shelton instinctively cried out and shielded her eyes. Stars dancing across her vision, Shelton lowered her arm and looked back to the doll.

    Standing in its place was a Banette. Shuppet’s evolved form was only slightly larger than her previous, which was due to the new addition of legs to the previously limbless Pokemon. Identical new arms mirrored the legs, which were accented by a stubby, star shaped golden tail. Shuppet’s eyes had turned a rosy shade of violet during her transformation, and her usual gaping mouth had been replaced by a golden metal zipper that was zipped open to expose half of her mouth. Banette bowed to all three of them as they erupted with applause and shouts of praise.

    “Banette,” her Pokemon whispered, unzipping her mouth to the fullest extent and tilting her head back. A loud scream echoed through the room as her mouth stretched open and her body folded to the floor. Just as Shelton rushed forward to investigate, Banette’s body vanished in a puff of black smoke. Knowing her Pokemon’s tricks, Shelton spun around to see Banette floating at eye level with her. Her Pokemon grinned widely and spun in the air. The fleshy stocking attached to the back of her head followed and passed harmlessly through Garrett as she turned.

    “Well looka here,” Dorian smiled. “Congratulations Shup- er, Banette!”

    “Banet Banette!” Banette replied with a dip of her head.

    Shelton smiled. This slight elevation in the collective mood of the group was exactly what she needed to calm down and refocus her mind. Shelton breathed in the moment quietly, taking in the smiles of Garrett and Dorian. This was perfect. They were steps closer to their goal and they continued to grow stronger. As that thought crossed her mind, she should have realized that the other shoe would eventually drop. It had ever since they had first found that damn shard. As Shelton went to move her hand towards the map in her pocket, she realized just how far the proverbial shoe had fallen. Shelton couldn’t move. As in literally could not move one iota. She couldn’t breathe, she felt her heart stop in her chest, and felt her synapses pause midway through firing. Someone had hit the pause button on her reality and she stood in place, completely transfixed. Suddenly, violet light filled her vision and a roaring filled her ears. Then everything changed.

    Shelton blinked. Once. Twice.

    She was standing exactly how she had been just a microsecond before, but she was no longer with her friends in the dilapidated house. Shelton was in a small clearing surrounded by trees. A small pond sat about ten yards to her left, water as smooth as polished sapphire. The colors of her new surroundings were so striking they verged on artificial; the blue of the water blending with the brilliant green of the grass and trees so seamlessly that she felt she had stepped inside a portrait. Her mind struggled to analyze why she still couldn’t move and why she had suddenly been thrust into this place. The answer came quickly as someone was shoved in front of her and sent to their knees. It took her only a millisecond to realize who it was.

    Ethan Bernard stared at her with complete fury as he kneeled in front of her. His face was contorted into a feral snarl and his eyes were wild. Shelton felt her own anger well up inside of her like a vicious tornado. It clouded her thoughts and sent tingling bolts of adrenaline through her extremities. Her mind raced as she cycled through the quickest way to kill him. Just as she decided to roll to his left and wrench his neck to the side, she realized that she was still completely frozen in place.

    Something heavy pushed on the back of her knees and sent her to a kneel, and though she wasn’t able to turn her head to see what had moved her, she was able to flick her eyes to the right and see the figure who was responsible. A Gardevoir stood tall with its arms outstretched towards her and Ethan. Its skirt of ruffled white flesh was billowing around her as she gazed down at Shelton with an expression of exuberant mirth. The smile was only visible on the right side of the creature’s face as the left side looked like it had been burned away. One of the psychic type’s arms drifted down and caressed the back of Ethan’s skull, while the other did the same to her.

    This will hurt far less if you do not struggle,” a voice said to her mind.

    Another hurricane of roaring sound filled Shelton’s ears as beams of mauve energy erupted from the Gardevoir’s hands. Through the flashes of light, Shelton could see Ethan’s body vibrating, and soon enough she felt her own body doing the same. Another beam of energy coalesced into existence, this time connecting Ethan’s forehead to Shelton’s. Ethan’s panicked mental screaming filled her mind as her vision shifted into a whirlwind of color. Images flashed by faster than she could track. She glimpsed a mansion, caves, dead Pokemon, and blood, copious amounts of blood. As the pictures blitzed by her she felt an icy spike drive itself deep into her consciousness. The pain of the attack was unlike anything she had ever felt. It was ice, it was fire, it was a thousand razor sharp shards of glass shredding her very essence. The pain grew and expanded to encompass her entire body like a roaring river. As the roaring reached a crescendo she felt herself stiffen, and then there was nothing but blackness.


    *****



    Shelton gasped as her eyes snapped open.

    She registered that it was twilight. The sun had set the clouds ablaze in shifting waves of purple and orange. She sat beneath the vivid colors for a full minute, her body twitching and tingling. After taking another few breaths she rolled onto her stomach. The pond was a few feet away and she crawled towards it, desperate for water. A thirst heaved within her. She needed to quench the fire raging in her stomach. Handfuls of dirt and grass flew by the bucketful as she clawed her way forward. She reached the clear water and plunged her hand down to scoop up a mouthful.

    Shelton stopped her hand inches from the smooth surface of the water.
    She was far enough over the edge of the water that she was able to see her reflection. The face that stared back was not her own. The face she was observing was deeply tanned and the head was closely shaved. Thick black stubble lined the jaw and lips. Shelton reached up and ran a hand across her mouth, feeling the grainy texture of the hair. She blinked several times, trying in vain to convince herself that what she was seeing was an illusion. Her mouth dropped open out of shock and the reflection of Ethan’s did the same. She opened her mouth wider, daring Ethan’s reflection to do the same. It did.

    Shelton started screaming.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  21. #196
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    Ethan was about two hours south of Undella Town when he felt her.
    I like the first line already. I’m ready for this chapter, boy.
    “Are you serious?” Dorian asked. “He looks like he’s going to take us to some crack den, chloroform us, and cut out our organs.”
    This, Dorian, is why I love you.

    As that last word left Dorian’s mouth, Shelton turned to the man and did something that took him completely off guard. She smiled. Her knee came up faster than he could follow, and she felt the soft flesh of his testicles smash against his pelvis. His grip tightened out of reflex, and Shelton rolled backwards across his stiff arm and delivered a palm strike to his elbow. The splintering of bone echoed through the room as she reached up and viciously clapped both hands into his ears. The man fell backwards as his equilibrium was thrown off by his newly shattered eardrums. Shelton dropped low and swung a kick around to his ankles just as Garrett leapt forward and disarmed one of the men of his shotgun. The man Shelton attacked dropped to the ground with a thud, head slapping loudly against the concrete floor.
    Can Shelton teach me how to be this badass, please?
    To have memories forcibly taken from her felt like the ultimate violation of her body.
    I can relate a lot to this sentence. Well put and so true. Good job.
    One of the psychic type’s arms drifted down and caressed the back of Ethan’s skull, while the other did the same to her.
    A creepy but delightful piece of description. Lol.

    Shelton started screaming.
    I feel this last sentence could have been more impactful if you had just said “She screamed” or “She screamed over and over again,” as “She started screaming” implies that yes, she is screaming, but for how long, and with what intensity is she screaming? I hope that makes sense.

    Overall, a good chapter. Of course things are just turning worse and worse for Shelton, but your description is amazing as usual and the characterization is spot on. I was afraid Garett was going to get them into a world of trouble, but I’m relieved that he didn’t. Instead, Shelton’s quest to replace Ethan has finally begun. Obviously I can’t wait to see what happens next.


    | she will get the truth out of him, whatever it may be. |
    | letters 13/14 released 5/22/14 |


    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | COMPLETE AS OF 8/11/13 |


  22. #197
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    Finally here. Anyways, let's start this.


    Well, almost instantly we're introduced to a new, and presumably evil, character in this "Wanderer". I find myself asking the same questions my friend Ethan is. Who is she? Why is she here? And, what purpose will she serve in this sudden deviation from plans? While it is sudden, I think that it helps amplify her nature and character, as she's given no build-up from what I remember.


    Moving on. Again, I love how you made Unova a communist country, as the setting of a revolution-prone region is just a creative one that allows for all sorts of fun ways to screw with characters. I can imagine the drab ghettos and the seething discontent in the cities, especially with the car bombing, which makes this all the better to read.

    Now, I do find it slightly odd that the group decides to go along with this druggie. Even if they did outnumber him, they were still following him to his bosses lair. There could have been better methods used to see if it was a trap or not, like, for instance, using Shuppet to scout ahead.

    Eh, either way, I'm not going to say that I didn't like the scene at the club. The Zoroark illusion was a creative way of going about it, and completely makes sense given the criminal setting. I was a bit disappointed that they were captured yet again (this seems to be a recurring theme for them), but I thought the psychic memory wipe was a nice touch to ensure secrecy.

    Is it bad to say that I found myself laughing at their reactions to seeing Shelton's note to the memory-less group? Because I did. That bit of the scene was very well done and was exactly how I anticipated they would act.

    And did I mention that I love how you write the Pokemon characters? It may be that I'm a PMD author tried and true, but I simply love how you've given them such vivid personalities. This fact made Shuppet's evolution all the more enjoyable to read.

    And then, after all the joy and progress, this scene. There's not a lot that I can say about it as I simply don't know what words to use. I knew that the kings wanted to do something with Shelton, but I was not expecting this. I can honestly say that. Now, I'm left with this feeling of helplessness, same as Shelton. I dread the next chapter. I honestly dread the content, but some part of me still thinks that there's some chance that everything will work out.

    Congratulations, Sidewinder. A truly wonderful plot twist and cliffhanger. I'm unsure whether I want to shake your hand or punch you for leaving us in such suspense until the next chapter. XD (Kidding, totally kidding. You're awesome, man)

    Knightfall signing off...

  23. #198
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    I had gotten burnt out. I would sit down with my laptop and stare at a page for hours trying to articulate what was going on in my head. It took awhile for me to realize that I had stopped treating my characters like the people they were, and started thinking of them as more of abstract stick figures that I was bending to my will. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my last few chapters, I just feel like they could be so much more than they are. I watch their struggles and tribulations and had gotten into the habit of forcing it, which is not how it should be done. I'm not the architect of this story, they are, and I needed to get back to that point. So I shut it off. Not just my work, but with fic's in general, even one's whose authors are friends of mine.
    *Cough Cough*

    I needed to be an observer who listened and wrote, instead of a dictator who forced things to happen.
    This. Absolutely this. Its what I waspreaching when you asked how I wrote... andhen I got overwhelmed and burnt out, so you can see how well THAT worked.

    because I just wrote 5 pages in thirty minutes. I'm happy now, and my new chapter is coming along beautifully.
    Yay!

    "Shelton," Dorian asked.

    "What?"

    "What did the Sharpedo say to the Krabby that wouldn't share?"

    "Oh dear lord, please no," Shelton begged. "I told you what would happen if you ever told me another one of these moronic jokes."

    "Oh come on, I swear this one is good."

    "Fine, what did it say?"

    "Don't be shellfish!" Dorian cackled, doubling over in laughter.

    Shelton stalked forward with her fists clenched.
    Duh-dum-bum! *Pow!*

    It took the police four days to find the crazy man’s hidey-hole. Despite anonymous tips and numerous handwritten notes from her and Dorian
    Boo! I;m reviewing.

    Her? Her Who? Obviously Shelton, but its a pronoun hanging in the wind.

    As they stepped off the plane, the moisture in the air hit Dorian like a brick wall.
    This made me smile, going back to our convo on pg5

    “Can you at least try and make sure we get there in one piece?”

    Dorian answered by gunning the engine and shooting them through the narrow corridor.
    "No.."

    I'm beginning to think its agood idea that Dorian was never able to visit the dealership Wes go his bike from... The only thing worse than Dorian on 2 wheels is Dorian without any...

    exploded in a holocaust of dragon fire.
    I like this phrase

    “Get Vibrava out of my pocket!” Dorian ordered.
    I sorta pegged this...

    A quick flash later Vibrava materialized next to them, spiraling wildly as he fought for flight against the rushing wind.
    Realism!

    “What the ****!?”

    “He’s trying to kill us!” Dorian retorted, stealing a glance into the mirror.
    No shut Dick Tracey...

    Ethan caught Ledian as it tumbled and wrapped an arm around his neck.
    I liked this too, not because Ledian was killed, but because Ethan got involved. In fact, this entire battle is cool bevcause all the pieces are in play, the trainers, traffic, the Pokemon... Shelton's kinda gone awol here, but I'm also not sure how much help she can be with her team.

    Dorian tried to formulate some explanation for this pseudo purgatory of slowness they were in, but the thought vanished as his body was slammed into the river below.
    Nice, having backed out at least once, I can relate to the disconnect.

    The man looked up, playing into Dorian’s intention. As soon as the man’s attention left Kecleon, the lizard Pokemon front flipped over his head while at the same time wrapping his tongue around Ethan’s neck. Kecleon jerked his tongue taut as he landed, sending Ethan spiraling across the field.
    Keckleon for the win!

    He swung back around to see black smoke blowing from the bullet wounds all over Ethan’s body. The strangeness of the situation was all the more amplified as Shuppet suddenly dropped to the ground between them. The Pokemon twitched lightly as Ethan pulled himself to his feet. Shouting from multiple voices behind them barely registered in Dorian’s ears as the man stood upright, smiling broadly through blood coated teeth.

    “You can’t kill me,” Ethan growled, taking a step forward.
    I have to stop you here and pretned like I know what I am talking about.. That shoulda killed Ethan. Killed, or mortally crippled, or something. Silver stakes or decapitation are pretty much the typical anti-monster solutions. The fact that he just shrugged off having his brain splattered has pretty much just trumped any plausible way for you tokill him short of the Kings themselves pulling the cord. Think about it and tell me, (or don't. Spoilers and all) what more final way is there to kill someone than a stake through the heart Not to mention, the hard-earned realism in this story was basically just taken behind the woodshed and shot. Unfortunately, the only one who could plausibly rescue him is Alakazam, and I dout the Kings would interfere, ut I really feel like Ethen shouldn't be coming up that quickly from that one. Not to tell you how to write yoursytory, you understand, but look at the Marvel mvies. the most inpenetrable bruisers still had to pick bullets out of their flesh, Wolverine freely admitted to those claws hurting. Think about Ethan too, if he had to set his legs after falling from a building, if every knife wound, though not fatal,hurt. And he held a grudge for each and every one.

    Or, maybe I'm crazy. Either way, on with the show!

    ---
    “I sent him with the shard, idiot. The police know that Ethan is after them, and I wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of letting them have the one thing we can track him with.”

    “That…was actually pretty smart,” Dorian admitted.

    “You think so?” Shelton said, rolling her eyes and entering the house.
    Says the idiot?

    Sorry, I have nothing to say about the police scene

    “Choooookkeeee!” Machoke moaned as he tackled-hugged Shelton.

    Golduck inclined his head at Dorian as he entered close behind.

    “Christ I missed you too!” Shelton said, shoving the muscular Pokemon off of her.
    *Smiles*

    “No! Sit down!” Shelton ordered Machoke. “Until you get a hold of your strength, I don’t want you touching anything resembling home furnishings.”
    *Smiles*

    Just as she knelt down to place the flowers on his grave, a voice whispered in her ear.

    “Graveler.”
    Missing something, wasn't he in Johot?


    Machoke relentlessly continued as Shelton approached. After a few more seconds however, the Graveler had been reduced to nothing more than a wheelbarrow load of gravel.
    See, and heare I was thinking this was gonna be Pt3 of "Let's catch something that's gonna KILL you..."

    He was obliterated
    Not a familiar usage of the word... I nice parallell to the Graveller, ut by Obliterated I tend to think more like Alderaan or dynamite in a Lego factory more tan exhausted?

    “Or I can borrow my brother’s Vibrava,” Shelton suggested.

    “No need!” the older officer barked.
    I like this...


    shehnai
    I remember ooking this up before. Still don't remember what it is. Phot reference, for the rest fo the world:


    ...

    Dude, I LOVE that training session. That went a little... quicker than I would've liked, maybe. But it jhust re-affirmsmy belief that all the most powerful, most legendary Pokemon in the world realyl want is a good bellyrub.


    He would wait, he would observe, and he would follow. Sooner or later they would find Ethan or Ethan would find them. When that happened he would intervene and rid Ethan of the shards and flakes. As he began listening to the two humans again he leaned back against an ancient oak and resumed doing the only logical thing he could. He waited.
    And the award for most humane character in a story goes to...

    Spock??!

    ---
    Milktank
    Miltank.

    ...hmm, i THINK I missed a chapter, ut 23 looked an awful lot like something I'd read before, unless I'm nto as far behind as I thopught?

    and rip his spine out.
    That won't either.

    Ooh, what if there isn't really an Ethan? If Ehtan is just another telekinetically controlled puppet, that would certainly explain his not feeling pain, because its an outside force manipulating him...

    Oh my god it’s super charging them. That’s why they’re moving so fast!”
    Hmm, me thinks Garrett is probably not as happy as I was to learn Emolga could have Motor Drive...

    Alakazam sent a wave of psychic energy downward to scare off the Sharpedo that was inching closer to him.
    Well that certainly makes a lot of sense. Shoulda seen that coming. DIdn't. Thank you for not explaining that one to us!
    ....

    And would you look at that, I got so wrapped up in Reading I stopped reviewing...

    Dagnabbit. Oh well, anyway, to summarize:Raft boat, good idea. Stilll not sure why propeeling the plane wouldn't have worked. Some kid with a Pikachu pulled it off in a movie, after all.

    So the city of New York is a communistic region. I knew it, Mayor Bloomberg just wouldn't let the 44oz drinks thing rest...

    does that mean Shelton just bested 3 US Marines? Not sure if I am pleased or distured by that...

    Goitta be honest, the Soeak-Easy scene felt a bit like a cop-out. After all garrett's talk of being in a smu- ah, importing business, he did absolutely nothing helpful. At all. Also a bit repetitive, considering the woman told us what Shelton was going to do, and then Shelton did it, and then she read the note telling her what she did.

    I loved the way you handled Shuppet's evolution. There's only two problems:

    1) Shuppet still evolves into a Banette... (This is by no means an issiue with you, I just much prefer Shuppet's design to Banette.

    2) You wnet into great detail about the doll in the way Shuppet interacted with it, and then it was all replaced by an ugly old, boring Banette. I really hope Bane can flip back and forth between its Toy and real formes.
    She opened her mouth wider, daring Ethan’s reflection to do the same. It did.
    And if Skill Swap put her in Ethan's body, then who, I ask knowing the answer, is Ethan wearing?
        Spoiler:- Breeding stuff:

  24. #199
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    Thanks to everyone for the reviews. Sorry its taken me literally months to reply. Really needed a break to focus on other stuff but now I'm back and I'm really super stoked you guys took the time to tell me what you thought. For everyone who reads and reviews, the newest chapter is being edited right now and should be posted either today or sometime tomorrow. So stay tuned!

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876
    This, Dorian, is why I love you.
    Hah! If you actually knew him you'd probably want to knock him out on a regular basis

    Can Shelton teach me how to be this badass, please?
    Nope! Badassery on this level can not be taught! :P

    I feel this last sentence could have been more impactful if you had just said “She screamed” or “She screamed over and over again,” as “She started screaming” implies that yes, she is screaming, but for how long, and with what intensity is she screaming? I hope that makes sense.
    Makes perfect sense. Thanks for bringing that up! I'll make sure to do something about it

    Thanks for the review, pair!

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall
    Well, almost instantly we're introduced to a new, and presumably evil, character in this "Wanderer". I find myself asking the same questions my friend Ethan is. Who is she? Why is she here? And, what purpose will she serve in this sudden deviation from plans? While it is sudden, I think that it helps amplify her nature and character, as she's given no build-up from what I remember.
    The next chapter will pretty much answer every single one of those questions lol

    Moving on. Again, I love how you made Unova a communist country, as the setting of a revolution-prone region is just a creative one that allows for all sorts of fun ways to screw with characters. I can imagine the drab ghettos and the seething discontent in the cities, especially with the car bombing, which makes this all the better to read.
    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I always thought it was odd in all the Pokemon media that none of the regions had a settling like that (well, it is aimed at children, but still). I've always imagined Unova as a kind of slightly softer version of North Korea. I don't know enough about communism to make it completely the same, as much as I wanted to at first. I think it adds a nice balance between the other regions that my characters have been to and I can definitely say bouncing around Unova is going to get harder for them.

    Is it bad to say that I found myself laughing at their reactions to seeing Shelton's note to the memory-less group? Because I did. That bit of the scene was very well done and was exactly how I anticipated they would act.
    Glad you liked that too. Since the gang is modeled after me, my wife, and my best friend, I try and make their reactions pretty close to how we would react. They read the fic too and they also said thats exactly how they would have reacted lol

    And did I mention that I love how you write the Pokemon characters? It may be that I'm a PMD author tried and true, but I simply love how you've given them such vivid personalities. This fact made Shuppet's evolution all the more enjoyable to read.
    Thanks buddy! To be honest I've questioned how good I've done with them because I've tried so hard to not just make them tools to use. That compliment means a lot

    Congratulations, Sidewinder. A truly wonderful plot twist and cliffhanger. I'm unsure whether I want to shake your hand or punch you for leaving us in such suspense until the next chapter. XD (Kidding, totally kidding. You're awesome, man)
    Lmao you're not the only one buddy. A few of my IRL friends that read this groaned or screamed out are you ****ing kidding me when they finished this chapter lol

    Thanks for the review! I hope you enjoy the next one

    Quote Originally Posted by Glover
    *Cough Cough*
    He's alive! Good to see you buddy lol

    Duh-dum-bum! *Pow!*
    Hah!

    This made me smile, going back to our convo on pg5
    I knew you would pick up on that lol

    Realism!
    Lol you know I actually went back and edited that in right before I posted it. For some reason I forgot that they were going almost seventy miles and hour and there would be no way that Vibrava could just glide out of his ball with no resistance

    Shelton's kinda gone awol here, but I'm also not sure how much help she can be with her team.
    Very true. I couldn't think of any way that her Pokemon could come into play and make sense. Not only that but since shes on the back of the bike there's not much she can do

    Or, maybe I'm crazy. Either way, on with the show!
    I get what you're saying and you make quite a few good points. But maybe he just can't die. Or he can't with the flakes still inside him

    Missing something, wasn't he in Johot?
    If you recall, they met on a road I invented that goes from Johto to Kanto bypassing Victory road in Kanto that goes straight to Viridian

    nd the award for most humane character in a story goes to...

    Spock??!
    LMFAO

    1) Shuppet still evolves into a Banette... (This is by no means an issiue with you, I just much prefer Shuppet's design to Banette.

    2) You wnet into great detail about the doll in the way Shuppet interacted with it, and then it was all replaced by an ugly old, boring Banette. I really hope Bane can flip back and forth between its Toy and real formes.
    The reason for the whole doll interaction bit was because Banette's pokedex entry says that Banette's are the possessed form of dolls. So I thought it would be fun to treat the discarded toy sort of like an evolutionary stone for triggering her evolution. I hope that knowing what I intended makes it go over a little smoother now. I just thought it would be kinda neat

    And if Skill Swap put her in Ethan's body, then who, I ask knowing the answer, is Ethan wearing?
    Yup. I'm actually pretty impressed that you figured out the move that she used was Skill Swap. I thought it would be an interesting play on a move I havent used very often lol'

    Thanks a lot for the review buddy, I really appreciate it

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  25. #200
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    Chapter rated R for violence and language


    Chapter 28



    Dorian stared, transfixed.

    Shelton had just vanished; as in completely disappeared. When he had looked at her a moment ago he had seen her wearing a pained expression. A mauve glow enveloped her body a split second later, seeming to radiate from within her, and then poof, she was gone. The pokeball which held Shiftry dropped from his hand and smacked into the floor with a meaty thunk. The sound of the impact shocked Dorian back to real-time and he started forward towards the spot she had just been occupying.

    “Garrett?” Dorian questioned.

    “I, I think that something fucking teleported her,” he replied.

    “What do you mean something!?” Dorian hoarsely bellowed. “Where the fuck is my sister!?”

    “Dorian,” Garrett said softly as he took a step closer. “I only said that because I saw a Kadabra do it once in Hoenn. It looked exactly like that.”

    The concern and terrifying fright he felt for his sister squeezed Dorian’s heart like an iron vise. His stomach hit his feet and his breath caught in his throat. Hundreds of possibilities cycled through his mind in a whirlwind of disorganized confusion. It was only as he took a frantic breath did he snatch one of the scenarios from his mind. Dorian surprised himself by how quickly he formulated this particular idea.

    “Ethan has an Alakazam,” Dorian said aloud.

    The look Garrett gave him reaffirmed everything he was thinking. Dorian turned on his heel, picked up Shiftry’s pokeball and sprinted back through the house. The boards beneath his feet moaned in protest and a thunderous boom shook the house with every heavy step he took towards the entrance. He basically crashed through the front door, partially splintering the rotten wood around the frame. His stomach hit the floor once again as he saw Ethan’s Alakazam waiting for him in the walkway leading up to the house.

    Dorian heard Garrett slide to a stop behind him and the telltale snap of his gun being drawn from the holster.

    I mean you no harm,” a voice said to Dorian’s mind. “I felt a surge of ener-

    That was as far as the psychic type got before Dorian released Shiftry and slapped the button on his Pokeflect to bring his shield up to full power. As the usual blue glow enveloped Dorian’s body, he drew his dagger from the back of his jeans. He ran towards the Alakazam as he screamed to Shiftry.

    “It took Shelton! Fucking kill it!”

    “TRY!” Shiftry roared.

    His grass type streaked forward, a silvery glow of energy trailing behind him. He engaged the Alakazam with lightning quick slashes from his leaved hands, moving faster than Dorian could follow. The Alakazam parried every strike by deflecting the blows with its energy cocooned hands. They danced and rolled from side to side as Dorian closed in. Dagger raised high in his right hand; Dorian threw himself forward, aiming to bury the weapon in the psychic type’s back. Every hair he had stood on end as a mauve glow enveloped his body and he felt himself thrown backwards towards the house. His body touched down more gently than he expected and he rolled to his feet just as Garrett descended the porch with a gun in each hand.

    “Shiftry, duck!” Dorian screamed.

    His Pokemon reacted instantly and Dorian observed the muzzle flashes of the guns as Garrett fired round after round at the Alakazam. The bullets never reached their target however as the psychic type coalesced a shimmering shield of energy to deflect the speeding projectiles. Undaunted, Garrett continued to fire until both slides locked backwards, signaling they were empty. The Alakazam dropped the shield and raised his arms in a display of surrender. The action puzzled Dorian for a split second but he quickly cast the gesture aside and started running again.

    I said I meant you no harm!” the Alakazam’s voice said to Dorian’s mind. “Please stop! I don’t want to hav-“

    The psychic was cut off yet again as Shiftry launched a noxiously glowing shadow ball at his stomach. The explosion of dark energy invigorated Dorian as the attack connected. Over the screaming roar that the shockwave created, he heard a pained high-pitched bellow emanate from the psychic type. As his vision cleared he saw that the Alakazam had been blown several yards backwards, but was still standing; one yellow furred hand clutching his smoking midsection.

    “Mane!” Manectric roared as Garrett released him into the world.

    “Help Shiftry!” Garrett ordered his Pokemon.

    The electric canine bent low to the ground and fell into a run with Shiftry towards the psychic, its blue and yellow fur trailing a dazzling whirlwind of multicolored sparks. Shiftry jumped high into the air at Dorian’s command and began to absorb the ambient sunlight above just as Manectric dug his claws into the soft earth, stopping himself. Manectric’s thunderbolt attack singed the grass as it arced forward, followed closely by Shiftry’s solarbeam that blasted down from above in a beam of glowing orange energy. Dorian’s heart leapt as the attacks closed in and he became aware that Garrett had trotted up to his right.

    “Kazam!”

    As the psychic bellowed its name, it made two quick slashes through the air. Two half loops of energy materialized in front of him, each end pointing towards Manectric and Shiftry. The attacks met the loops and followed the curves of each, being directed back towards their opposite sources. Neither Pokemon was quick enough to dodge. Manectric took Shiftry’s solarbeam full in the face, howling in pain and being blasted backwards so violently, it flew directly into a sizeable twenty foot sapling and cracked it completely in half. Shiftry’s body was illuminated briefly by the thunderbolt’s surge of electricity, and he was also thrown backwards where he went crashing through one of the exterior walls of the decrepit house.

    Dorian bellowed in frustration and reached for Growlithe’s Pokeball but found that he was suddenly unable to move at all. Fucking psychics! He calmed somewhat immediately though when he found that the Alakazam was not suppressing his ability to breathe, but rather it was only rendering his limbs immobile. Dorian could see out of the corner of his eyes that Garrett was likewise rooted to the ground.

    Instruct your Pokemon to desist from attacking or I will be forced to hurt them,” the Alakazam said to his mind.

    Just as Dorian was forming a retort he saw Shiftry fall out of the hole in the house and start forward again. He felt the pressure enveloping his face lessen and he begrudgingly told Shiftry to stand down. Garrett did the same with his yellow canine and they stopped in place, but Dorian could see that their bodies were tense, ready to attack at a moment’s notice.

    “The fuck do you want?” Dorian hissed.

    Your help.



    *****



    Shelton raked her fingers across her face, trying in vain to tear Ethan’s image away. It didn’t work. His face stared back, matching her expression of unbelieving horror. Shelton cried out in frustration and slammed her clenched fists into the ground. Her hands collided with the pond bank with a crash that shook a few nearby trees. She had expected her fists to bounce back off the soft earth, but the force of her action sprayed long tendrils of dirt into the air and forced her hands almost two feet down. Shelton pulled her hands back up and turned them over. Mud caked them completely, and looking through her fingers she saw that she had set the entire surface of the pond alive with rippling waves.

    Shocked, she jumped to her feet. But that action also didn’t go as she planned. Instead of arriving in a standing position, her body flew vertically into the air, easily clearing fifteen feet. As she reached the apex of her jump and started to fall she noticed that her body, or rather Ethan’s, felt incredibly light. She drifted downwards and swung her arms to the side experimentally. They sliced through the air with no resistance. They weighed nothing to her. Not only that but despite their lightness, they felt so solid and thick, so strong. Her feet touched back down and her mind snapped back to what was important. She was no longer in her own body.

    The jeans that weren’t hers. The height she didn’t possess. The jacket that swayed slightly in the breeze. None of it was hers. They all belonged to him. The murderer. Her fear and confusion began to vanish and began being replaced by something else. It came on slowly, like a drop of water rolling down a building. The drop gained speed as it met other drops, growing in size and gaining speed. Soon enough the drops formed into a stream, and then a torrent of water that began to moan. Seconds later it was a river of roaring water that nothing could withstand. No person, no Pokemon, not even god. It became a hurricane of black and red that descended upon her mind and tore her consciousness away like a tornado. A single thought was left behind, as if it was the only thing she possessed. Rage.

    Shelton turned, and leaped forward.

    Century old trees crashed to the ground as she clenched her hands into fists and swung them with blinding ferocity. Bird Pokemon took flight and scattered as she dug trenches into the ground and hurled boulders into the sky. Shelton screamed in anger and her voice shook leaves from the trees. The power blinded her and invigorated her at the same time. It was elating, it was gratifying, it was sexual. It warmed her and penetrated her consciousness. The red veil morphed to scarlet and she began to run, drinking in the feeling of complete supremacy. Shelton was master of everything. Everyone owed her awe. As she ran, she felt a tightening in her chest as the flakes within her released adrenaline and mystical energy deep into her muscle tissue. She streaked through the forest like a lightning bolt; not bothering to even move around objects in her path, she simply ran through them. She screamed again as her body began to vibrate. This was everything, this was all.

    May I interrupt?” a voice said to her mind.

    She didn’t know where the voice came from but she followed a wrenching in her gut and skidded to a stop. Shelton turned and saw a Gardevoir floating towards her from above. The branches of the trees parted to allow her passage and her smile widened the closer to Shelton she came. Shelton’s veil of red darkened to black and she crouched low. Unconsciously her hands raked themselves across her chest as the flakes pumped more energy into her. As she felt her fingertips begin to vibrate, Shelton threw herself forward. She sliced through the air like a missile, the Gardevoir’s green and ivory body a target that she would not be denied. It turned out however that she was wrong. Her body stopped in mid-air as the psychic enveloped her in a hearty purple glow.

    Now now,” the Gardevoir admonished. “I did ask politely.”

    Shelton screamed her rage in response, eliciting a wider grin from the smirking psychic type.

    I questioned their judgment at first, you know,” the psychic admitted. “When they told me what they wanted I couldn’t fathom the prospect. It took Ethan years to even get close to your level of control.”

    Shelton struggled against the psychic’s invisible grasp. Her mind screamed for release but her muscles wouldn’t respond to her brain’s signals.

    I’ll teach you to control the rage, human. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the flakes, but with practice you’ll be able to bend them to your will instead of becoming a maelstrom.”

    The only thing going through her mind was kill, laced with destroy, accentuated with obliterate. The flakes wrapped around her heart vibrated harder, struggling to free her. This Gardevoir was nothing compared to her. Shelton could hoist the world onto her shoulders if she tried, and this speck, this nothing was telling her what was what, what she should do. The thought of this psychic implying she was inferior only incited her rage more and her vision clouded further to just flashes of color against a billowing whirlwind of black.

    I see your thoughts human, and the strength of your convictions is admirable. However, I’m one of the few things you can’t break apart. But as a gesture of our newfound partnership, I offer you some amusement.

    The Gardevoir smiled wickedly, her teeth visible through the melted left side of her face. The pressure holding Shelton in place vanished and she dropped to the ground. Before she could react further, the Gardevoir vanished in an explosion of purple light. Having her opponent disappear infuriated her further and she struggled to breathe against the waves of anger washing over her. That was when she noticed what had been hiding behind her tormentor.

    The Teddiursa was obviously a toddler. Shelton could tell from the way it wobbled on its weak legs and gazed at her with profound curiosity. The golden crescent moon patch of fur on its head glittered as Shelton took a step forward. The small Pokemon’s fur stood on end as she bent down, its ears twitching involuntarily.

    “Teddi?” the Pokemon cooed.

    The veil came down. Shelton charged.


    *****


    “So Ethan’s disappeared?” Dorian said. “I give a fuck.”

    You should,” The Alakazam countered. “The moment I lost his mind, I also lost your sister’s. It would seem the two are connected, though I can’t discern why or how.”

    Dorian couldn’t think of a worthwhile rebuttal, and he had the distinct impression that the Alakazam knew it.

    I do,” he admitted. “However, the conclusion you’ll eventually reach is that our goals are the same. We both want to find Ethan. For different reasons undoubtedly, but still, the same.

    “So you’re proposing what, exactly?” Garrett asked.

    That we temporarily pool our efforts to reach what we all want.

    “How do I know you won’t kill us willy-nilly if we figure out what happened to them?” Dorian asked.

    Considering that I have you both entirely immobilized and could snap your spinal column’s as easy as taking a breath should give you an adequate answer to your question.

    That was a tough admission to counter. Dorian tried to find some kind of flaw in the Alakazam’s reasoning but was unable to summon anything coherent or logical. He could feel Shiftry staring at him, and though his instincts and gut were telling him to somehow figure out a way to attack, Dorian chose to go with an approach that was completely out of character. The path of rational thinking and consideration was hard for him and he struggled with the words that came out next.

    “You can let us go, I’m not going to do anything,” Dorian said. The pressure holding him in place vanished and he took a breath to steady his tingling nerves. “So what do you got?”

    I propose we split up and look for them. If I find your sister, I’ll bring her to you unharmed, and if you find Ethan, I’ll expect you to do the same. If I find Ethan and you find your sister, we’ll go our separate ways. Can you agree to those terms?

    “What’s to stop us from killing Ethan if we find him? If his mind has vanished from you like you’ve said, how would you even know?” Garrett asked.

    I think you know as well as I do that you couldn’t kill him if you tried, but even if you could I would know about it. The minds of humans are easy to read. I seriously doubt that there is any thought you could hide from me even if you tried.

    The breeze ramped up as the threat hung in the air, bringing the temperature down a few degrees. Though the psychic belonged to Ethan, Dorian couldn’t shake the feeling that it was being truthful.

    “So we split up, and?” Dorian asked.

    If you find your sister, leave in peace. I was truthful when I said I mean you no harm, but Ethan feels differently. I will not allow harm to befall you from him; in return I expect the same courtesy. Regardless of whom finds who first, project your thoughts as far as possible and I’ll be able to hear you.

    Dorian looked at Garrett. He gave a gentle shrug and a nod. Dorian thought that if they found Ethan first that he wouldn’t be able to contain himself but there was no reason to give the Alakazam anything but an affirmative. After all, the only thing he had to worr-

    As I said, you can’t hide anything from me,” the Alakazam spoke, interrupting his train of thought. “I already see that you’ve decided to agree to my terms. I also see the thoughts you have of betraying our agreement. Try to think logically; because betraying me will be the last thing you ever do, human.”

    The Alakazam put enough emphasis on the word human to make Dorian think he meant it as an insult. Shiftry evidently picked up on it as well because Dorian saw him take a step forward and growl. The Alakazam mirrored the action and slightly raised his arms. Before it escalated further, Dorian glared at Shiftry and shook his head. Shiftry huffed and shot Dorian a look of disgust. Dorian’s stomach knotted up and he shifted his gaze away from his Pokemon so he wouldn’t see how much that look had hurt. It cut deep. Shiftry, or even his previous forms had never looked at him that way.

    Shall we?” Alakazam questioned.

    Dorian returned Shiftry without looking at him and pulled out Vibrava’s pokeball. His dragon immediately tensed upon seeing Alakazam, but he calmed when Dorian squeezed the end of his rigid tail.

    I’ll take the North,” Alakazam suggested. “The two of you take the East and West?

    “Fine,” Dorian said coldly.

    He looked to Garrett but he had already ascended his golden bird and was winging to the east. As hard as he tried, Dorian couldn’t get a read on Garrett’s thoughts. Partly because he was so blinded by how furious he was at the situation and more so because he was continuing to realize that he didn’t know Garrett hardly at all. Filing the thoughts away for later examination, he relaxed as Vibrava wrapped his limbs around his torso and lifted Dorian into the sky.

    They rose quickly above the treetops, Vibrava’s wings creating a calming monotonous buzz. Dorian shifted his body to the left and Vibrava followed his suggestion. They caught a thermal and soared to the west. The landscape below melted into a mesmerizing array of emerald foliage, lightly dotted with small clearings as far as the eye could see. Light caught the surface of small ponds here and there, creating small beacons of glowing golden light. Dorian sighed as Vibrava bobbed up and down.

    Working with Ethan’s Alakazam was torture for him. He would almost literally rather be water boarded than associate himself with something of Ethan Bernard’s. Obviously the psychic type was being truthful in not wanting to hurt them, as Dorian had no doubt he could have simply flown away or killed them if he had other motives. This begged an even more disturbing question. If something had happened to Shelton and Ethan simultaneously, who was the architect? Someone was trying to hurt both him and Alakazam by taking them.

    Exactly what I was thinking,” Alakazam’s voice said to his mind.

    Anger swelled within Dorian quickly. “Look, I’m sure reading minds is second nature to you, but do me a favor and stay the fuck out of my head unless I’m in front of you.”

    Dorian had said the words aloud instead of with his mind but he knew that the Alakazam heard him. Gritting his teeth, he turned his gaze downward and began scanning the land below for Shelton.

    “Bravaa?” Vibrava queried.

    “I’m fine,” Dorian answered. “Just keep your eyes peeled.”

    He noticed that homes or civilization were few and far between in this vast stretch of forest. Over the next hour he counted only two dwellings. Both were made of tin and lumber, more makeshift solid tents than actual houses. The sun was beginning to set and that infuriated him further. Since Shelton was teleported, she apparently could only be within a few miles of her original position; but with so many trees she could easily be unconscious at the base of one and he wouldn’t be any the wiser. This was such a fucking hopeless situation. He was adding to that thought when Vibrava let out a shrill whistle and dove straight downwards. Dorian yelped instinctively before getting ahold himself and looking down.

    The first thing he saw was a small pile of blonde hair, followed by Shelton’s brilliant red pack. Dorian’s heart leapt and he screamed out her name as they descended through the trees. As soon as Vibrava touched down, Dorian broke free and sprinted towards his motionless sister. Goosebumps broke out across his skin as he reached her and pulled off her pack. She was breathing. His knees hit the grass and he rolled her over to lay her head in his lap.

    “Shelton?” Dorian asked. “Shelton, wake up.”

    “Vibravvv?” his dragon buzzed.

    “I think she’s fine,” Dorian said, his voice quivering. “Go find Garrett and bring him back here, okay?”

    Vibrava leapt back into the sky as commanded. Dorian turned his attention back to Shelton. After a generous amount of pleading and shaking with no effect, Dorian reached behind himself and retrieved a small clear vial from her pack. Laying her head gently on the ground, Dorian leaned forward and cracked the vial open. The smelling salt had the effect he wanted. Her eyelids began to flutter. Dorian reached down and cupped her face in his hands.

    “Shelton, come on sis. Wake up, it’s me.”

    Shelton’s eyelids snapped open. Dorian saw her pupils dilate as she took in Dorian’s face. She looked so confused, which was understandable given what happened to her, and Dorian pulled her close. The event that followed was not one he would have ever expected.

    Shelton rolled her legs backwards and spun him into the dirt. Her body rolled sideways to rest on top of him. She looked at him with such absolute fury that Dorian shivered involuntarily. Her hands shot downwards and found his throat. Without hesitation she began to squeeze.

    “Filthy human,” Shelton hissed, leaning her full weight into her arms.

    “Sh-, St, stop!” Dorian sputtered, gripping her arms.

    He tried to wrench her arms away to free himself but her grip was too solid. Unwilling to strike his sister, Dorian began trying to roll to the side to buck her off but Shelton dug her knees into his hips. Dorian gasped but no air reached his lungs. His body began to shake from the lack of oxygen and he began to frantically swat at her face. In response Shelton squeezed harder and his vision began to blur. Reaching down, Dorian gripped a pokeball attached to his belt and feebly threw it behind Shelton.

    Shiftry blossomed to life in a cascade of white light. Instantly he assessed the situation and slipped his arms underneath Shelton’s. He pulled her off Dorian and he inhaled deeply, spots dancing across his vision. As he rapidly breathed in and out, he saw Shelton struggling in Shiftry’s grasp. Her hair whipped across her face and strange feral grunts were issuing from her mouth.

    “What the fuck are you doing!?” Dorian screamed.

    “I’ll kill you!” Shelton responded.

    “Try! Shiftry!” Shiftry broke in.

    “Let me go!” Shelton yelled. “You dare to touch me?! You’ll die along with him you filth!”

    Before Dorian could reign in his surging thoughts, something happened. Shelton suddenly stooped struggling and looked down at her midsection. Her eyes widened and her body went limp. Unsure of what to do, Shiftry let her go and she dropped to the ground. Shelton shot back to her feet and held her hands out. She turned them over slowly, as if she was seeing them for the first time. Her knees wobbled and she dropped to the ground again. Her hands found her long locks of blonde hair. Shelton’s face morphed from confusion to horror. Her face flushed deeply and she pulled on the strands of hair as if she was surprised they were attached.

    “Shelton?” Dorian whispered.

    Her body trembled and her mouth dropped open. She looked up to Dorian with an expression he couldn’t place.

    “W-what have you done to me?” Shelton stuttered.

    “One of Ethan’s Pokemon teleported you,” Dorian said as he walked forward. “Ethan’s Alakazam showed up and we thought it was him but he wa-“

    “Ethan!” Shelton screamed, cutting him off. “What have you done to me!?”

    “Shelton, you’re confused, just listen to me.”

    “Shiftry, Shiftry shif,” Shiftry affirmed.

    “My kings!” Shelton shouted, hands clawing at her face. “I can’t feel you!”

    Shelton balled her hands into fists and began maniacally beating the soft earth.

    Dorian’s mind focused on the image of an anime character absorbing so much information that its brain comically exploded. The situation applied to him but it fell drastically short of what he was feeling. Shelton had literally lost her fucking mind. He had no idea how to comfort her, or even stop her. As he stared down at her he saw a humanoid shape approaching them in the darkening sky. Dorian walked forward and grasped her arms as she slammed them down again.

    “Shelton, look at me!” Dorian shouted. “What, the fuck, is wrong with you?”

    “I’m not Shelton, human,” Shelton hissed, her words thick with hate.

    Only one other person had ever referred to him as ‘human’, and with that much distaste. Ethan. Slimy, scheming, murdering Ethan. As Dorian watched, Shelton’s body twitched and she started trying to grasp the sky. She moaned like a wounded Pokemon, her voice deep with longing.

    Step away from him, Dorian,” Alakazam’s voice said to his mind.

    He dropped down from the sky without a sound, putting himself between him and his sister. The psychic type held out an arm in warning. He took a step closer and the Alakazam turned to glare at him. Dorian could feel the energy percolating within him. It came in waves of cold heat, plucking small clumps of grass from the ground and levitating them into the air.

    “If you touch my sister I’ll kill you,” Dorian said quietly.

    This isn’t your sister,” Alakazam responded flatly.

    Dorian struggled with a response. The normal ‘what are you talking about?” played through his mind as an option to say, but he already knew the answer. Shelton didn’t feel like his sister at this moment. Despite the fact that she had confirmed this, and despite the fact that she had tried to strangle him, he really did know that something was wrong with her. He wasn’t sure whether she was possessed or had suffered some kind of psychotic episode, but the psychic was right, this wasn’t his sister.

    A piercing shriek sliced through the air and Dorian looked up in time to see Garrett’s Pidgeot flare its wings and glide into the clearing. Garrett hopped off as they touched down, immediately trotting over to him.

    “Finally,” Garrett said, clasping him on the shoulder and shooting him a grin.

    Shelton’s head whipped around towards the sound of Garrett’s voice, but stopped before she reached it. Her eyes widened as she beheld the golden brown form of Alakazam. Her mouth dropped, her cheeks flushed, and her face literally began to shake.

    “You betray me!” Shelton screamed. “I’ll have your blood! All of it! ALL OF IT!”

    “What the fuck?” Garrett whispered, recoiling slightly.

    “After everything I gave you!?” Shelton continued. “You betray me!? ME!?”

    Silence!” Alakazam hissed.

    Garrett’s hand twitched toward his gun. Suddenly, Shelton leaped forward. Her hands hooked into claws as she cut through the space between her and Alakazam. Shiftry leaped forward with a growl and caught her before she reached her target. Shelton’s hands swung around and struck his face and she screamed as he bent her arms gently behind her back.

    “Shif!” Shiftry bellowed.

    “What do you think I’m doing!?” Dorian yelled in return.

    All of you stop,” Alakazam said calmly. “I’m going to restrain her body. It will cause her no harm but we will be able to discuss our options without interruption. Can you agree
    to that?


    Seeing no other option to quell Shelton’s obvious insanity, Dorian nodded. Alakazam turned towards her and a lightly pulsing veil of energy enveloped her body. Shiftry released his hands and her body lifted upwards to float a few feet off the ground.

    “Shiftry!” the grass type roared.

    “Kazam!” Alakazam replied, his eyes glowing white at the threat.

    “Stop it right now!” Dorian commanded.

    Shiftry took a flying leap forward and landed with his face inches from Dorian’s.

    “Shiftry Shiftry shif, try, Shiftry!” he bellowed.

    “”You what?!” Dorian fired back. “I make the fucking decisions! Not you! She’s my sister!”

    “SHIFTRY!” Shiftry screamed in return, roughly shoving Dorian backwards.

    Anger flashed through him and he sprang forward. His fist sailed forward and caught Shiftry on the jaw. As his grass Pokemon reeled back slightly, Dorian lashed out with his right foot, catching his Pokemon in the stomach. He followed the strike with a jab from his left hand but his Pokemon caught the punch with a hard wooden hand. Dorian gritted his teeth and pushed harder, though he knew he had no hope of overwhelming Shiftry.

    “Try!” Shiftry bellowed.

    His grass type’s fist raced forward and connected with his outer thigh. Dorian vaguely knew through the haze of pain that Shiftry had pulled the punch at the last moment, but the blow still had enough force to send him to his knees. As soon as Dorian hit the ground, Garrett stepped forward and placed a hand of Shiftry’s chest; which was probably the biggest mistake he could have made. With a thunderous roar, Shiftry grabbed Garrett by the neck of his jacket and threw him backwards.

    Dorian could tell he regretted his action from the way his brown shoulders slumped, but that was lost on Garrett’s Pidgeot as she streaked forward and tackled Shiftry to the ground. They rolled across the grass in a whirlwind of fists and talons. Dirt flew in sprays as they both struggled for the upper hand. Pidgeot’s claws flashed despite Garrett’s commands to stop and Shiftry bellowed in pain. Pidgeot slashed with her wings but Shiftry disappeared in a flash of obsidian light. He reappeared above the flying type and wrestled the bird into a headlock with his right arm. An orb of energy coalesced in his left hand and he slammed it into the Pidgeot’s torso. The explosion of light momentarily blinded Dorian, but as his vision cleared he saw that Pidgeot had retreated to the air, her body smoking heavily.

    “Shiftry! Enough!” Dorian yelled.

    Pidgeot tucked herself into a dive and spiraled downwards with talons outstretched. Shiftry screamed his name and leapt into the air to meet her. The Pokemon collided with a clap and they both fell back to the ground. Shiftry rolled to his feet, his torso bleeding golden sap from deep slashes gouged into his chest. Pidgeot likewise righted herself and spread her wings to make herself appear bigger. As the flying type’s body began to throb with golden energy, Dorian’s hands scrambled to his belt for Shiftry’s pokeball.

    Thankfully, Alakazam solved the problem for him. The psychic type gave a growl and threw out both of his arms. Shiftry and Pidgeot both froze in place as violet bubbles of energy enveloped them. Their eyes shifted back and forth between their masters and Alakazam. Dorian knew they were struggling to free themselves but they were locked firmly in Alakazam’s mental hold.

    I’ve been patient, but this is over. Return your Pokemon now or I will be forced to hurt them both,” Alakazam said.

    Dorian saw Garrett open his mouth to protest but he silenced him with a glare. Dorian didn’t want his Pokemon back in their balls either but the Alakazam obviously had the upper hand here. The thought of it being powerful enough to restrain all four of them simultaneously filled him with a kind of revolting admiration. Better to comply with him now, and stick a knife in his back when his attention was elsewhere.

    I wouldn’t advise that,” the Alakazam said sternly. “There’s nothing you can plan that I won’t be prepared for.”

    The psychic type intruding on his thoughts was starting to get old extremely fast.

    I would imagine it is.”

    “Fucking enough!” Dorian spat. “I told you! Even if you can hear what I’m thinking, keep it to yourself!”

    Dorian returned Shiftry while keeping his eyes glued to the ground. He knew Shiftry was staring at him as he did so and it hurt him deeply to know that his partner was cross with him. They had been through so much together and he had never spoken to Dorian like that, much less ever laid a finger on him. Dorian likewise had never disrespected his character. The way Shiftry had reacted though, it was so unlike him. He was obviously suffering under the strain of all the events that had happened since Ethan had murdered his way into their lives. Dorian had noticed feelings growing inside him over the last few days as well. He was so quick to anger lately, and even his speech had turned harsher, more guttural. He pushed those thoughts aside for the moment and turned to the stoic Alakazam.

    “There,” Dorian stated. “It’s done. Now what did you mean when you said this wasn’t my sister?”

    Alakazam turned back towards Shelton, who was staring at the ground and mumbling incomprehensibly.

    This isn’t Shelton, this is Ethan.”


    *****

    She had literally torn the curious Teddiursa in half. The warm blood had bathed her face and chest in a wave of liquid red brilliance. She had stood there for a moment after the small Pokemon’s body dropped to the ground, drinking in the pleasure that enveloped her after ending its life. The thing that had shaken her from her trance had been the parents of the Teddiursa. They had charged out of the forest roaring in fury. She had dispatched one in the same way as their cub.

    No matter what the other Ursaring did to her however, Shelton survived. She felt every swipe of its ivory claws, screamed with every clamp of its jaws. The pain was unbelievably excruciating and vivid. Every strike would have killed a normal human, but through the haze of black smoke that billowed from every wound, Shelton began to understand something. Between the rage that set her skin on fire and the pain from the beating she was taking, Shelton knew that she was no longer completely human.

    The Ursaring was a formidable opponent and had been faster than she had anticipated. As Shelton was thrown once again from the blow, she hadn’t died. Her flesh had knitted itself back together almost instantly. It seemed that with every injury she received, no matter how severe, the black smoke that issued from her body would heal her. So she hadn’t fought back against the grief stricken Ursaring. She’d let it kill her a dozen times over, seeing how far she could push it. Then the haze of red came down and she attacked.

    “Ring!” the bear Pokemon bellowed as Shelton caught its arm mid-swing.

    She pulled with all her strength and the limb detached from the Pokemon’s body in a spray of blood and bone. The Ursaring went limp and dropped to the ground in a soundless howl. Her adversary was obviously defeated but Shelton couldn’t stop. She straddled the sizeable Pokemon and easily ripped off its other arm. As the Ursaring went into convulsions she drove her arms downward and began ripping chunks of flesh from its chest. The creature’s blood showered her face and torso, its rich smell of metal overpowering her senses.

    Are you sated?” a voice said to her mind.

    Shelton jumped to her feet, managing to avoid shooting straight into the air. The Gardevoir from earlier was levitating a few feet off the ground in front of her. The Pokemon was smiling curiously, as if it couldn’t quite figure out what Shelton was. The veil came down again and she threw herself forward to attack.

    Apparently not,” the Gardevoir said wishfully, waving a petite arm towards Shelton.

    She stopped mid-jump and floated in place, entirely immobile. This only fueled her rage further and she focused on the strange warmness in her chest, having learned only moments before that apparently whatever was inside her was responsible for her newfound strength. As hard as she tried though she remained firmly fixed in motionless frustration.

    I had hoped if I let you indulge in the anger you may listen to reason. It seems however that I must take a more direct approach.”

    The Gardevoir reached out and slid its fingerless hand across Shelton’s chest. Her vision cleared, the black and red light fading to the edge of her sight. Whatever was in her chest relaxed and she felt her muscles stiffen then go limp. She felt as if she was melting like butter in the microwave. Her body sagged and the Gardevoir let her drop to her knees. Shelton took a breath of the chilly air and blew it back out.

    That’s better,” the Gardevoir said, smiling wider. “Now, are you ready to talk?

    Shelton felt herself coming back. Who she was had been dragged and drowned at the bottom of a churning sea of rage and now she felt like it had released its hold for her to swim back up. As her mind broke the surface of her consciousness she remembered what had happened and her heart skipped a beat. No, not her heart, this was Ethan’s. This thought knotted up her stomach and she looked away from the Gardevoir for a moment to gather herself together for the next course of action. That’s when her eyes found the bodies of the Pokemon she had killed.

    The knot in her stomach quadrupled in size and forced itself up her throat. She retched into the damp grass. Bile burned her throat as her body shook. Shelton tried to push away the thoughts of the fight, but every time she did they returned with greater force. She was horrified over what she had done but that wasn’t the reason for her discomfort. What was causing her so much angst was the fact that she had loved it. The power that had flowed into her limbs, how she had become a personification of destruction. She had torn them limb from limb and it had felt so good, so right. She dry heaved again at the thought, just as the Gardevoir resumed speaking to her.

    You did nothing wrong,” it assured her. “As I told you before, the rage is a side effect of the flakes. You bent to their will, but as I also told you before, I’ll teach you how to do the opposite.”

    “Fl-flakes?” Shelton stammered.

    Yes dear,” the Gardevoir said softly. “I see from your memories that you heard the story from the caretaker in Orre. The flakes are the second part of restoring the six kings. The shard you carry is the first. Six shards, six flakes. When brought together with the tablet, they will raise the kings from their disembodied existence and bring them back to their rightful place.”

    “I don’t, I don-, no,” Shelton stuttered. “I don’t want to.”

    Your feelings will change once I send you to them. You’re special to them, Shelton. They want so much to meet you. When they show you what they have planned, you’ll see, you’ll understand. In fact, now would be a wonderful time for you to council with them. This will be just like falling asleep.”

    The Gardevoir stretched out one of its arms towards Shelton’s face. She struggled against the invisible bonds that held her in place but she was utterly helpless. Her mind called out to Dorian, to Kecleon, to anyone to save her. Shelton wasn’t the type to ever ask anyone for any type of salvation, but this Gardevoir terrified her almost to complete catatonia. Just as the psychic’s hand caressed her forehead, her hand jerked back. The Gardevoir’s eyes closed for a full minute and her head turned to face the thick forest across the pond.

    We have visitors,” she said.

    The Gardevoir raised both arms towards the forest and clapped them together.


    *****


    “How do you figure that?” Dorian asked.

    Because this is Ethan’s mind. I feel it. I know him.”

    “No one has ever accused me of being particularly bright,” Garrett started. “But how the hell is it possible for Ethan’s mind to be in Shelton’s body?”

    The Wanderer,” Alakazam said flatly, disgust evident in his voice.

    “You probably know I’m already going to ask, so how about you keep going,” Dorian said.

    The Wanderer is a psychic Pokemon of incredible power. She’s the hand of the six kings. She trained Ethan since he was a boy, trained both of us. Though why she would do this is beyond me.”

    “Not this six kings bullshit again,” Garrett groaned.

    “How could she have done something like this?” Dorian asked.

    I don’t know,” Alakazam admitted. “The skill required to do something like this is unheard of. I’ve been privy to a few attempts by other psychics but the result is always the same. The dexterity required to transfer a consciousness is too great and it always ends up killing all involved.

    As Dorian struggled with what Alakazam was telling him, another thought occurred to him. He mentally kicked himself and turned to Garrett.

    “Where’s my Vibrava?” Dorian asked. “Didn’t he follow you back?”

    “I haven’t seen Vibrava,” Garrett responded.

    “Then how did you get here?”

    “He called out to Pidgeot and sent her a picture of where you guys were,” he said, pointing at Alakazam.

    Then where the hell was his Dragon? Was it possible he was still out there searching for Garrett and did-. Dorian’s train of thought was interrupted as sounds of roaring shook through the forest. His head instinctively lowered and he turned his right ear towards the sound. It came again quickly. It was two Pokemon but the cries were foreign to him. He couldn’t tell what they were by their voices, but he could tell they were pissed.

    I’ve got her,” Alakazam gasped.

    “Who!?”

    Your sister. She’s that way,” the psychic said as he pointed towards the source of the roaring.

    “Let’s go,” Garrett said, loading a fresh clip into a handgun.

    We need to be careful,” Alakazam said.

    “No shit? What, do you think I usually walk towards screaming Pokemon with handcuffs on and my head up my ass?” Garrett asked.

    Alakazam ignored his sarcasm and continued. “I can’t feel The Wanderer with her, and that worries me. We’ll go together, slowly. If we see The Wanderer, release as many of your Pokemon as you can. Her power is beyond any of our talent.”

    Dorian rolled his eyes and retrieved his dagger from its sheath. He crept forward slowly, his anger beginning to bubble under his skin. He was so sick of taking orders from that insufferable psychic. Despite the fact that he was helping them he still belonged to Ethan. Which meant he wasn’t to be trusted. Remembering that every one of his thoughts was probably being read as he thought them, Dorian inwardly swore and pushed the malicious thoughts away.

    They pushed through the forest carefully over the next few minutes. The green canopy above them sparkled greenly and he appreciated how thick the forest was. It offered at least partial cover if he needed it. His mind tried to remember certain gnarled oaks he found in his path in case he needed to retreat and find his way back to the clearing. As a lifelong spelunker, that was one thing Ronnie had always tried to impress upon Dorian. When you’re somewhere new, know your way back out. Pick a stone, a tree, a body of water that’s distinctive. Dorian went through the motions of cataloguing different objects as he walked but he knew this was one lesson he was going to ignore. Apparently Shelton was somewhere out here, and he wasn’t leaving without her.

    Garrett paused to his right. “I haven’t heard anything in awhile.”

    “Me either,” Dorian admitted. “Let’s keep going for a little further and if we don’t see anyth-

    His speech was cut off for a split second as his vision flashed white and a roaring of noise pressed down on him from all sides.

    “-ing we can double back.”

    After he finished speaking, Dorian realized what had happened. He was not standing where he had been a moment ago. He, along with Garrett, Shelton’s body, and Alakazam were standing in another small clearing. Ethan/Shelton was kneeling next to a Gardevoir about ten yards away, his/her body covered in blood. Along with having been teleported with the three of them, Dorian could tell from a quick glance that they were held as firmly in place as he was. Looking down with his eyes he saw that a loop of energy was binding his ankles together and another was strapping his arms to his waist.

    Well hello!” the Gardevoir said exuberantly to Dorian’s mind.

    He could tell by the facial flinches of the others that she was broadcasting for all of them to hear. The psychic Pokemon’s fleshy skirt billowed around her without the aid of wind as she drifted forward. She was a gruesome and beautiful sight to behold. The right side of her body and face were normal, but the left half, especially her face was blackened and cracking. It looked like she had stuck her face into a blowtorch. Dorian could see pearly white teeth grinning at him from a spot above her jaw where the flesh was gone.

    I had hoped by taking what I needed without confrontation that you would likewise try to avoid it. I guess I was wrong,” the Gardevoir said. “Just between us, that doesn’t happen very often.”

    “You did this to me!” Ethan accused from Shelton’s body.

    Correct,” the Gardevoir giggled. “You failed, and the kings do not reward failure.”

    “They love me!” Ethan countered. “You’re a puppet, I am their champion!”

    Not anymore. I was going to ask all of you who wanted to die first, but I think I’ll go ahead and elect you Ethan. I never could stand you.”

    Shelton’s body lazily nudged forward. A nimbus of mauve energy flared in front of the Gardevoir’s chest. Dorian’s mind raced. If the psychic killed Ethan, what would happen to Shelton’s body? How would he get her back? There had to be another way. Something he wasn’t thinking of to help. Anything to prevent this. Dorian prayed with all his might to the Christian god, to Arceus, to everything.

    “Please help me,” he thought.

    An answer came suddenly but it wasn’t one he was expecting. Shelton’s body jerked backwards and flew to land behind Alakazam. The golden-brown Pokemon’s eyes were glowing white as the shackles of energy dissolved from his body. The Alakazam took a step forward and Dorian’s pokeflect activated, along with Garrett and Shelton’s. He took another step forward and the ground in front of him shook and began to fracture.

    You will not touch him,” Alakazam said.

    The Gardevoir giggled loudly in Dorian’s mind before speaking. “You believe you have the power to match me? I challenged Entei, youngling.”

    Alakazam took a final step forward and spread his arms outward. His eyes were glowing so harshly now that they created shadows at his feet. “You’ve yet to challenge me…

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


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