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Thread: Glitched

  1. #1

    Default Glitched

    I've been working on a new fanfic, quite by surprise. It was one of those that was just begging to be written. It's rather different. I really wanted to get enough written to upload for the 20th anniversary, so here we are! I hope you'll give it a go, despite its oddness, and find it an enjoyable read!
    Allow me to explain, in a quick blurb, what this story is about.

    Set in an AU Cyberpunk PMD universe, a scientific experiment has gone horribly wrong, sucking the capital city of System into a massive glitch called the Fracture, and dragging the human world into it! Humans are scattered throughout the region, some of which have gained strange abilities, or been transformed into Pokemon. Many are lying in comas, leaving only a mere handful of humans alive in System.
    Meanwhile, a small team headed by a mawile called Pixel are investigating an outbreak of a virus believed to be leaking from the Fracture and corrupting Pokemon and the entire region slowly but surely. They team up with a human/talonflame named Switch and a corrupted meowstic named Vector to try and stop the virus at its source, even if that means risking their lives by breaching the Fracture... AKA Glitch City.


    Yes. It's a strange one! I've currently written not quite seven chapters, so updates are going to be weekly while I try to keep my head above the water. Feedback is always appreciated, but so are silent reads! =D (Don't worry. The End is finished and is being updated regularly! This is just something new I'm currently working on.

    Disclaimer - I do NOT own Pokemon or any of its critters!


    Glitched

    Prologue

    The air was different in this area of System, heavier, and seemed to have a static about it that made Vector's fur stand on end. The meowstic and his teammates stood a few feet away from the distorted scenery, a corrupted reflection of the abandoned villages around them. Strings of letters and numbers stretched up from the ground towards the sky, changing intermittently. Nothing but jargon to the pokemon that watched them with curious eyes.

    He'd never been this close to the Fracture. No one dared. From the day it appeared, the world had received a massive blow. Seed – the former capital city of System – had, as a result of some unknown event, been sucked into what they could only describe as a 'fracture'. The event had pulled humans into their world, humans who wanted to go back home.

    Vector clenched his fist as he stared at the anomaly. It wasn't news to him that pokemon had sent drones into this thing. Drones that had never made it back. Drones that had lost their signal, that those who sent them had been unable to track.

    “All right, Bridge!”

    The sudden outburst didn't just startle Vector. The pachirisu beside him let out a loud squeak as the pair of them turned to face the speaker – a throh named Raw.

    The large fighting pokemon marched through the small group towards the Fracture, holding a small computer in his hand. He nodded a couple of times then turned back to them.

    “We're going in,” he said.

    Vector felt his throat turn dry and he looked back up at the jumble of letters and numbers that impossibly made less sense than they had previously.

    Going in...

    “Make sure you stick together,” Raw went on. “We don't want any mishaps. Our mission is simple – get in there, trigger what started the Fracture in the first place, and hopefully reverse the problem and bridge a way back home for the humans.”

    Simple...

    It didn't sound simple anymore.

    “We don't know what caused it in the first place,” said Vector.

    Raw looked up at him and narrowed his eyes. “The idea is we find out what it is. Explore. We believed it to be an explosion. If it is, we cause another one.”

    Vector snorted. “What? And risk blowing the place to bits?”

    “Pull yourself together, soldier!”

    Vector stared at the throh, meeting his eyes and reflecting his frown. His paws fell to his sides and he looked away, casting a glance over the rest of the team – the young pachirisu, a frogadier and a graveler.

    “Now hurry,” Raw commanded. “We're going in. We've not a moment to lose.”

    Vector watched as the throh turned away, the rest of the pokemon following after him. His paws wouldn't move. That wall of incoherent text seemed as formidable as steel.

    Raw reached the edge of the Fracture and looked back at him with a scowl. “Vector! Hurry up!”

    The meowstic met his eyes again briefly and shook his head. “Sorry. It's too risky.”

    “The benefits outweigh the risks! We could be saving lives!”

    Vector bit his lip and clenched his paws so tight his claws dug into his pads.

    “What's your problem?” Raw barked. “You were all for this! Most of the ideas here are yours!”

    “We might not come back...”

    Raw's scowl fell as he rolled his eyes. “All right. Forget it. We're going without you.” He turned back to the Fracture and closed the small computer, letting it hang from a belt around his waist. “Come on, Bridge. Vector will stand watch and keep an eye open.”

    It was all he could do to watch.

    The group of explorers vanished through the Fracture wall, their forms distorting and vanishing as the text washed over them, the air once more reflecting the desolate wreckage around it. Former towns, crumbling buildings covered in weeds, trees that seemed hauntingly lifeless even though their branches were full of leaves, swaying on the static-filled air.

    He had no idea how long he stood there. It seemed like an eternity, but the sun had barely shifted in the sky when the wall to the Fracture vibrated, a deep rumble coming from somewhere deep within it.

    An explosion.

    His heart leapt at the thought of them finding it, at the thought of the Fracture breaking and the world returning to normal.

    His dreams were short lived. The wall lurched, a bright flash spanning from it as the explosion dragged up the ground, scattering it into the air where it vanished. A fissure expanded through the floor shaking every rock beneath his paws and he flailed his arms as he tried to run backwards. His eyes didn't leave the endless drop that seemed to be chasing his feet. Nothing fell into it, it just vanished. The buildings, the trees – they all disappeared as the light engulfed them.

    Then it washed over him. An awful, electrical surge that caused his scream to die on his lips. He watched in horror as the blue fur on his arms slowly drained of its colour. The strength drained from his body and he crumpled to the ground.

    Then everything went black.

    ...

    The flash had seemed like a mere blink on the horizon, but the noise alone caused Switch to falter in the air and almost plummet to the floor. He flapped his red wings frantically as he tried to remain airborne, watching as the light flickered away. It could only have been an explosion, but the location... his heart hammered in his chest.

    He'd been heading that way.

    He stared at the point the light had vanished. It seemed oddly silent now. Almost normal. What had caused that flash?

    The talonflame shook himself sharply and turned a full one-eighty. His curiosity wasn't worth the risk. Whatever had happened over there wasn't any of his business, but he couldn't let the incident go unvoiced. Whatever it was reeked of danger. Maybe someone back at base would know more about it.
    Last edited by DeliriousAbsol; 26th February 2016 at 9:53 PM.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  2. #2

    Default

    1 – Bar Room Brawl

    “Pixel? Pixel!”

    The mawile's dream of frozen berry sorbet shattered and she blinked her eyes open, the former dessert now replaced by fluffy, white clouds blotted across a brilliant blue sky. They moved overhead as the drifting continent floated silently beneath them.

    “Pixel!”

    The face of an ivysaur blocked her view of the sky and he flashed his teeth in a grin.

    “Come on, sleepyhead! We're almost there.”

    “Oh, Leaf.” Pixel sat up and closed her eyes in a smile as she rubbed her paw on the back of her head. “I guess I nodded off.”

    The ivysaur offered his paw and pulled her to her feet. “If I could fall asleep in a sunbeam as easy as you do, we wouldn't be getting anywhere fast.”

    He flashed her another grin and turned away from her, rushing back towards the large tower that marked their headquarters atop Cyan Island. Leaf waved his card key at the door and it slid open, and he held it in place so she could slip in ahead of him.

    “I think we might be getting warmer this time.” Leaf followed her down the spiral staircase. “Raster is one of the towns she was dealing with.”

    Pixel glanced back at him. “So you think Retro might be in Raster Town?”

    Leaf shook his head, making his bobbing shadow behave even more erratic in the flickering light. Pixel filed a mental note to get the bulb replaced.

    “I'd be surprised if she were still there. But someone might know where she went.”

    She bit her lip and turned her attention to the final two steps. She hopped into the hallway and used her card key to open the control room. Flashing lights danced over the buttons and screens on the vast platform that Leaf manned with phenomenal expertise. A pair of emolga twins named Nybble and Byte sat on either side of a large chair checking over information as it popped up on hologram screens, most of which were requests and news from System. One of the boxes was highlighted – the last mission Retro had taken before she vanished.

    The ivysaur scurried over to the control deck and jabbed a claw at an image of a large map. “We'll be floating over it in about ten minutes. You'll have enough time to disembark and ask a few questions before the continent turns to head east.”

    She nodded her understanding as she watched the little blinking dot that was the drifting continent head steadily towards the spot Leaf had marked. If they really could get information on where Retro had got to, it would really help lift the concerns their small team already had. Any news that their boss hadn't actually contracted the virus would give them new hope in actually finding her.

    And maybe the other missing members of their team, too.

    “Get to the drop point,” Leaf told her. “I'll stay in touch over the head set, like I normally do.”

    Pixel nodded again and turned to head back into the hallway. “I'll try and be as fast as I can.”

    “Do.” He scratched his head beneath his headphones. “Remember, all I can do is slow the continent. I can't stop it.”

    She flashed him a grin and bolted from the room, her scarf billowing behind her and almost getting caught in the door as it hissed shut after her. The drop point was only a short walk away, down another flight of steps. Cold air whipped up from the hole at the bottom which provided a fantastic view of the desert and towns below.

    On impulse, she reached out behind her and grabbed the foot of the beam ladder. It looked like nothing more than a horizontal cylinder of pale purple light, but was as solid as steel. She'd never questioned how it worked. As far as she knew, all drifting continents had them.

    “Pixel?” came Leaf's voice from her head set. “I'm letting you down.”

    “Great!” She grinned and pulled her pink-rimmed goggles down over her eyes. “I'm ready!”

    She gripped the beam tight as the ladder dropped from the wall. It descended quickly, making it feel like her stomach had been left behind her. The sound of the other rungs appearing above her rang out in a series of electronic flashes. It slowed down as it reached the ground and she let go, landing on her feet with a soft tap.

    Raster Town.

    It was one of those towns that didn't look as advanced as the cities that sprouted up in the distance. There were no tower blocks, no electronic billboards advertising the latest in berry juice or the most popular music releases. The buildings looked worn, dyed a dingy brown from the dry air of the desert just outside it. Even the street seemed to be made entirely of dirt due to the sand trampled into the tarmac. The only sign that reminded her this town was still connected to System was the giant antennae standing in the middle of it, its narrow point visible over the rickety houses and shop buildings occasionally flashing between blue and green as it transmitted its signal.

    There wasn't a single pokemon on the streets. It felt like a ghost town. She strutted between the buildings casting her eyes over the windows. The shops seemed empty save for one or two customers, giving her reassurance that the town was indeed inhabited.

    As she rounded a corner past a little bakery, the soft sound of music reached her ears. She turned her head to follow it, and standing on her left a few feet away was a bar, its stable doors swaying in the breeze. Leaning against the wall beside them stood a gabite chewing on a stiff twig with his arms crossed.

    A huge smile spread across her face as she swelled with optimism. A watering hole. If she was going to find any information anywhere in this town, it would be there.

    She trotted over to it, her scarf whipped up in the sudden wind. Sand brushed against her fur and she instinctively closed her eyes behind her goggles. As she reached the bar, the gabite peered at her below his wide-brimmed hat and followed her with his eyes. She acknowledged him with a brief nod before pushing through the swinging doors.

    The smell of old fermented berry juice and sweat stung her nose and she masked a grimace, disguising her hesitation as curiosity by pushing her goggles up onto her head and scoping out the inhabitants of the bar. A pair of cacturne and a krookodile sat in a corner playing cards, while in another corner far from the door were a garchomp, krokorok and heliolisk muttering quietly amongst themselves. A handful of pokemon were gathered around the bar on stools while two maractus trotted back and forth serving drinks.

    Most of the pokemon were the sort she'd expect to be living in such a warm, desert area, but what piqued her interest was the bored-looking human sat alone sipping at a green drink. She didn't know a whole lot about humans, but what always fascinated her was the fact that they seemed to make up for their lack of fur by wearing far more accessories than pokemon. However, the amount of layers on this human seemed to be causing him a bit of distress as his untidy brown hair was half-plastered to his forehead, the humidity emphasising his red highlights. From his flight jacket and long brown scarf to his heavy black cargo pants and black boots, he certainly wasn't dressed for the desert.

    She turned her attention away and scoped out the pokemon again. Any one of those here might know something about Retro or the other missing investigators. She just needed to find the right one to ask.

    One of the maractus gave her a smile and she flashed one back, making her way over to the bar. She squeezed between a tyranitar and sandslash, perching on a small step and pulling herself up so she could see over the counter, and waved.

    “I'd like a cheri juice, please?”

    The tyranitar and sandslash burst into laughter, and the latter struck the bar with his claws as he tried to regain himself. She looked from each of them, feeling her face heat up with embarrassment.

    “What?” she asked.

    The maractus smiled. “We don't do cheri juice here,” she explained.

    “Aye!” The tyranitar wiped a tear away from his eye with a claw. “Y'can get yer girly drink in the city, lass.”

    Pixel crinkled her muzzle in a frown and eyed up the incomprehensible menu. “Then... I'll have... what do you do?”

    “Rabuta, watmel, durin and maranga,” answered the maractus. “We also do some apicot and ganlon mixes.”

    Pixel eyed up the tyranitar's rather sour smelling blue drink and decided strongly against it.

    “Watmel, please.”

    The maractus grabbed a glass and filled it with a translucent pink liquid. The glass was placed with a clatter in front of Pixel and she watched the juice slosh around inside before it settled into place. Already condensation was trickling down the surface. She gave it a cursory sniff before sipping it. The sweet flavour she'd expected was somewhat watered down. She thanked the bar maid and handed her a silver coin.

    “I was wondering if you could help me,” she said.

    The maractus raised an eyebrow at her as she absently grabbed an empty glass from the sandslash. The two large pokemon on ether side of Pixel eyed her curiously.

    “I'm looking for someone,” she went on. “A pokemon called Retro.”

    The tyranitar snorted. “Never 'eard of him.”

    “She,” Pixel corrected.

    The tyranitar snorted again.

    “We think she was around here before she went missing,” she said.

    The sandslash quietly sipped his drink while the tyranitar decided to forget about her, clearly more interested in the contents of his glass.

    “I'm afraid I can't help you,” said the maractus. “We know all the regulars here, and no one by the name of 'Retro' has been here. You and the strange human over there are the first new customers we've had in weeks.”

    The tyranitar twisted on his stool to look back at the human and grunted, taking a massive swig of his drink.

    Pixel followed his gaze, then glanced around the rest of the bar. Maybe someone else might know something? Hopefully the cacturne and his friends wouldn't mind her interrupting their game of cards.

    “Oi!”

    The voice made her snap her head round so quickly she almost stumbled off her perch. The garchomp had abandoned his table and stood behind the human with his arms folded, his mouth twisted into a sneer so his sharp canines poked intimidatingly from his lips. The krokorok and heliolisk weren't far behind him, and the pair of them looked as annoyed as he was.

    The human lowered his glass but he didn't look back at them. “What?”

    “We don't have humans here in Raster,” the garchomp growled. “You filth ain't welcome.”

    The human looked back at him now, not a single hint of fear in his eyes. “You think we're here by choice?”

    “You're in this bar by choice,” hissed the heliolisk.

    “Choice or not,” rumbled the garchomp, “it's you stinkin' humans' fault this world's sufferin'!”

    The human looked away and tutted.

    The garchomp's voice took on a dangerous note. “Get out, or we'll throw you out.”

    “We won't just throw you out either,” said the krokorok. “There'll be nowt left of you when we're done.”

    Pixel balled her paw into a fist. She'd seen enough. Abandoning her glass on the bar, she hopped from her perch and trotted over to the garchomp.

    The tyranitar turned in his seat, his eyes wide as he watched her. “No, no, no! Kid!”

    “Hey!” She came to a stop between the dragon pokemon and the human. “Leave him alone.”

    The garchomp's eyes widened with surprise briefly. A chuckle escaped his mouth and he glanced back at his friends.

    “Look at this! This little runt here wants us to leave this vermin alone!”

    Pixel's jaw dropped. “Vermin?”

    The human snorted. “You should be more offended about them calling you a runt.”

    She waved him off. “In what way are humans vermin? There's hardly any of them in this world.”

    The garchomp leant towards her, the smell of fermented berries thick on his breath. “They brought a disease with 'em!”

    She grimaced as her eyes watered and pushed him back firmly by the snout. “They didn't bring the virus with them.”

    He spread his arms wide in a shrug. “Then where's it come from? Eh?!”

    “Where did pokerus come from? Or the common cold?”

    “Pokerus don't harm ya. And the cold only harms the sickly.” He crossed his arms again and leant towards her. “My big brother, however, caught that wretched virus and now his hide is made of ice!”

    She pointed behind her at the human. “It doesn't mean he's got anything to do with it.”

    “Leave it.” The human stood up and fired the garchomp a glance. “I know when I'm not welcome. I'm leaving.”

    The garchomp shoved Pixel aside and she stumbled into a chair with a yelp.

    “No yer not!” he boomed. “I've changed my mind! We're gonna pound yer wretched bones into dust.”

    The human looked back at the garchomp and gave an irritated sigh. He span as the dragon pokemon lurched at him, raising his arms to defend himself against his sharp claws.

    Pixel pushed herself from the floor and leapt between them, raising her horn up in an arc to strike the garchomp on the chin. He keeled back from her into the krokorok and the pair of them fell into their table.

    The resounding crash was followed by a couple of squeals as many of the bar's occupants made the wise decision to leave. Only the card-playing gang, the tyranitar and the sandslash decided to stay, watching the events unfold. Even the two maractus were nowhere to be seen.

    Pixel's heart pounded as she watched the dragon push himself back up. He wiped blood from his lips with a claw and spat onto the dusty floor, fixing her in a yellow leer.

    “You have no idea what you've just got yerself into, squirt.” He rounded on his friends. “Deal with her! I'll sort the human scum out!”

    Pixel braced herself as the krokorok and heliolisk raced at her, sparks dancing on the reptile's body as his frill fanned out and flashed with a blinding light. She closed her eyes and span, catching one of them in the jaws of her horn and swinging him blindly round over her head before she released him to crash into the table. As the dazzle spots cleared from her eyes she realised with a wave of relief she'd caught the heliolisk. He lay sparking on top of the garchomp who spat a chain of insults as he turfed the reptile off him. She brought her arms up to block the krokorok's snapping jaws and tossed him towards his fallen comrade, knocking the garchomps feet out from beneath him.

    “Not bad,” said the human.

    “Okay.” Keeping her eye on the riled dragon, she turned to the door. “I think we can go now.”

    The human placed a hand on her shoulder. “I don't think so.”

    She followed his gaze to the door. The two cacturne and the krookodile stood barring their way, the krookodile's maw flashing two rows of sharp teeth.

    “Pick on my little brother?” he growled. “You've got some nerve!”

    Pixel glanced back at the dazed krokorok and put two and two together. She gulped and looked back at the large crocodile. The garchomp was currently pulling himself to his feet behind them, and his two friends were only dazed. If they managed to pull themselves together, she'd be rather outnumbered.

    “I can deal with the cacturne,” said the human. “You sort out the krookodile.”

    Pixel looked up at him sharply. “What?”

    Her attention was drawn to a chunky watch on his right wrist. He pressed a small button on it and his body distorted and shrank down, turning a dramatic red and black. Two wings shot out to the side as he rose into the air, flames dancing around his body and emanating off him to engulf the two cacturne. As the flames subsided, she got a good look at the creature flying above her.

    A talonflame! She shook her head in disbelief. That human was a talonflame?

    “Watch out, lass!”

    She jerked her head around as the tyaranitar bounded past her and collided with the garchomp, beating him back with his tail. The Sandslash had already intersected the heliolisk during her confusion.

    She shook herself and turned back to the krookodile who was trying in vain to swat the talonflame. Spinning so her horn was facing him, she lurched towards him and caught him in her jaws, swinging him behind her and clearing the way to the doors.

    As they burst outside, the gang of riled pokemon flowed after them. The gabite beside the door leapt back with a squeak and the hat fell off his head to be caught in a sudden breeze. Their yells filled the street as they clambered over one another to get to the fleeing mawile and talonflame. Pixel felt a pair of claws fasten over her shoulders and she was lifted into the air with a yelp. The krokorok skidded face first in the dirt as his tackle missed her, dragging up sand to reveal the tarmac beneath it.

    She looked up at the talonflame's mottled stomach and felt a smile spread across her face.

    “Thanks!” she said.

    He glanced down at her and winked. “Don't mention it. I should be thanking you! So, where are you heading? I don't imagine you're staying in Raster?”

    She shook her head. “No. If you just drop me over there,” she pointed to a spot in the desert cast in a heavy shadow from Cyan Island, “that would be great!”

    “What? In the desert?” He frowned. “I don't think the desert is a good place for a steel type. Besides, the pokemon there are as rough as they are in the town.”

    “I'll be able to get back home from there,” she explained. “I live on that drifting continent.”

    A look of realisation crossed his face as he looked up at the massive floating island and he beat his wings, rising higher into the air.

    “What are you doing?!” She wriggled in his grip.

    “Taking you home!”

    “It's authorised pokemon only!”

    “I'm with you aren't I?” He chuckled. “You can vouch for me!”

    Cyan Island grew closer and closer as the talonflame sped towards it creating a growing dread over her. The secret base of the Cyan Investigation Squad, unknown to those who didn't reside on the island, at risk of being discovered by a human.

    A human...

    She looked back up at the flying pokemon as her mind reeled with confusion.

    He glanced back down at her. “Did I hear you talking about a missing pokemon?”

    “Huh?” Her mind snapped back into reality and she nodded with a jerk. “Yes! We're missing three pokemon actually.”

    “But you were only asking for one?”

    “There was no point asking about all three,” she said. “I was told no newcomers had been in for weeks.”

    “Huh.” He inclined his head on one side. “I travel a lot so I might be able to help you. What pokemon are they?”

    She pursed her lips and watched the base draw closer. “A charmander, a buneary and a mew.”

    His wings went rigid and he swerved precariously, giving Pixel a good view of the desert below. Her stomach lurched into her throat as he lost altitude and she yelled, clutching at his claws with her paws in a desperate bid to not hit the ground. He regained his composure and lifted them back up above the continent again.

    “A mew?” he gasped.

    She tore her eyes from the ground and looked up at him, taking in his wide, surprised eyes. “I guess you haven't seen her then?”

    He fired her a confused glance and looked back at the drifting continent. “No... no, I haven't seen a mew.”

    They flew in silence for a moment, and when the solid ground of Cyan Island appeared below them, he dipped down towards it and her feet finally touched the soft grass. He landed beside her with a thud as he took on his human form and cast his eyes over the little houses at the far end of the island and the tower on their right, separated by a massive meadow.

    “So, tell me.” He turned on the spot to face her. “How are you friends with a mew?”

    “I can't go into detail,” she said. “She's a friend of ours, and she's missing. She went to Raster with Nano and Chip and they didn't come back. That's all I can tell you.”

    He looked away from her, back out at the sky as it passed them by. “Let's hope she's not fallen victim to the virus.”

    She stared at him silently, her eyes trailing down his arm and lingering on his watch. She realised she'd been staring too long when he looked down at her and raised an eyebrow.

    “How -” She paused and cleared her throat. “How do you change form like that?”

    He closed his eyes and smirked. “Science.”

    Her eyes widened in a questioning stare.

    “It's common knowledge that when humans came into this world some stayed as humans and some were turned into pokemon.” He gave her a smile. “But a small number manage to change between the two.”

    “How small a number?” she asked.

    “Two.” He looked away again. “It was actually a huge problem, because neither of us had control of it. It would happen randomly, sometimes in quick succession. Fortunately I found someone who could help stabilize it to such a degree I can go back and forth at the push of a button.”

    “And what about the other human?”

    He was silent as he stared out at the sky. Finally he crossed his arms and closed his eyes as he said, quite flatly, “Quarantine.”

    Pixel played with the hem of her scarf, staring at its pattern of pink squares and rectangles against a blue background. “They got the virus?”

    “No.” He scratched his head and sighed. “Some humans just can't handle being here. Anyway. I need to go back, otherwise they're going to be sending out a search party.” He smiled at her and gave her a wink. “Now I know who you're looking for, I'll let you know if I find them.”

    “Wait!” She grabbed his sleeve as he went to raise his watch. “You never told me your name.”

    He laughed. “It's Switch.”

    She released his sleeve and smiled. “Pixel.”

    “All right, Pixel. Then I'll be seeing you!” He rose into the air as his talonflame form solidified and span to face her, beating at the air with his strong wings. “I don't imagine this continent will be hard to find if I have information for you?”

    She shook her head and smiled. “But I need to remind you-”

    “I know, I know.” He nodded. “Authorised pokemon only.”

    She laughed and he gave her a grin. With another wink, he did a backflip and took off through the sky, performing a small corkscrew as he vanished behind a cloud.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  3. #3

    Default

    2 - Gateway

    Leaf almost dropped his headphones. “You brought a human here?”

    Pixel leant back against the sliding doors and crossed her arms. “I didn't bring him here. He flew me here then left.”

    “Argh.” Leaf closed his eyes and popped his headphones back over his ears. “I can't believe you breached security like that. And a human of all things?”

    “I told him it was authorised pokemon only. I'm guessing that's why he didn't stick around.”

    He ran a paw over his face with a flustered sigh.

    “Besides.” She narrowed her eyes at the ivysaur. “You're not one of those who believe humans brought the virus here are you? I mean... there have been humans living in System for more than a decade, and the virus only cropped up a month ago.”

    Leaf sighed and shifted under the gaze of Pixel and the emolga twins. He turned back to the control deck and scrolled absently through pages of text.

    “There's not enough evidence to support either side,” he said. “We don't know if humans carry the virus or if they can even be affected by it. All we know is three of our members are lying in quarantine while another three have gone missing.”

    She looked away from him and stared at the blank wall. It wasn't unusual for pokemon to react negatively to humans. Since they appeared in System, they'd been forced to live alongside them. Some of them were transformed into pokemon, while many others received such a shock as they were dragged through the fracture they went into comas and had been filling hospital wards for twelve years. Finding one outside the form of a pokemon was an anomaly in itself and Leaf clearly didn't like it.

    It was probably better to change the subject.

    “Where do you want me to go next?” she asked.

    “Call it a day.” He flicked a claw on one of the hologram screens, making the text move so quickly she wondered if he was even reading it. “There are a couple of new situations that have cropped up but they're a good way away yet. I might assign Nybble and Byte to them actually.”

    The two emolga span sharply in their seats on either side of him, giving him identical stares of bewilderment.

    “You don't need us here?” they asked simultaneously.

    “What about the communication system?” Nybble asked.

    “You might need me to answer the phone!” said Byte.

    Leaf laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “Calm down. We're short staffed right now!” He looked back at Pixel. “Besides. I need you in case any news on Retro, Nano or Chip comes up. My heart skips a beat whenever I hear of new cases showing up at the hospitals and quarantine.” His voice dropped in volume as he muttered to himself, “We might not even be able to recognise them any more.”

    Pixel felt her stomach tie in knots. She turned and scanned the door open.

    “I'll be at home if you need me.”

    Leaf waved a paw behind him. “I'll let you know when we start drawing close to Meta City.”

    She quickly glanced the map, catching the blinking dot as it drifted east towards a digital sketched drawing of a group of tower blocks. Meta City. System's main metropolis. If you were looking for it, it was probably there. Somehow she felt they weren't visiting simply for a shopping trip. She turned and paused with one paw on the door and glanced back at Leaf. He had his back to her, still tapping away at the holographic screens.

    “I'm sorry.”

    “Huh?” He raised an eyebrow at her over his shoulder.

    “For bringing someone to the base,” she explained. “I'm sorry.”

    He chuckled and waved her off. “Forget about it. No harm done. See you in the morning.”

    She grinned and trotted from the room as the door hissed shut behind her. Since he'd let her off early, there were a good couple of hours of sunlight left yet. Its rays danced across the grass and cast long shadows from the trees and little houses. She threw herself down into one of the beams and let out a long sigh as she stared up at the sky. Not a single grey cloud threatened her relaxing afternoon.

    It wasn't long before the warm sunlight had lulled her to sleep.

    ...

    The small city of Spool squatted on the outskirts of System's bustling metropolis. So far it had no recorded cases of the virus. Meta did a good job of keeping the virus contained within the hospital wards. That filled Switch with relief. Spool had its own problems.

    He released his talonflame form and landed in a crouch at the mouth of an alley between a boarded up book store and a beauty salon that even at this time of night stunk of acrylic. He crinkled his nose and moved away from it down the narrow alley, shutting out the jeering voices from the stunky and rattata pair across the street and keeping a careful eye on the piled up bin bags and overflowing trash cans.

    Sirens blared in the distance, growing in volume as the emergency group – police, hospital, he didn't know which it was – drew closer.

    One of the bins opened beside him and he stepped back, bringing his fists up to his chest. Two long ears twitched as a trubbish peered out at him, then turned its eyes in the direction of the sirens.

    “I didn't do anything!” he wailed.

    Switch lowered his arms and turned away. “Then stay in the trash can, Kurg.”

    The trubbish grunted and pulled the lid back over himself.

    Giving a small sigh of relief, Switch continued down the alley until his eyes fell on an open manhole cover. He muttered under his breath and climbed onto the ladder, dragging the cover back over the hole with a loud clatter. The fetid smell of the sewers filled his nose, urging him to speed up. He dropped the rest of the way, the metal grate clattering under his weight. It was a short trot around the corner to a thick cable hanging down from another manhole cover. This one, however, had been put in place fairly recently. He shimmied up it and shoved the lid out of the way, breathing in musty air as he clambered out of the sewers and into a dark corridor. Lights blinked from the room on his left, generated merely from seven computer screens.

    The small room housed two long desks each holding up computers that were retro in design compared to the holographic screens most pokemon operated, however only two were currently occupied. A helioptile and lillipup nattered amongst themselves while the helioptile worked on a strange device at the back of the room. The lillipup had a diagram of it open on his computer screen, but seemed more interested in the conversation they were having which was heavily dominated by the lillipup. The device closely resembled a very old camera, except it didn't have a lens and where the flash would be was instead a large round disc with lots of small bulbs around the perimeter. Ignoring the conversation around him was a pikachu dressed in a suit, sat in a high backed chair with his back to the door. Connor, the very definition of a hermit. He'd founded the small group and made the building impossible to leave or enter without taking a detour through the sewers.

    The lillipup turned his head as Switch entered the room and a grin spread across his face while his tail turned into a blur behind him.

    “Oh! You're back!”

    “Who left the manhole cover open?” he asked.

    The lillipup lowered his head and his ears drooped. “Oops...”

    “Switch!” The pikachu span in his chair, his look contrasting that of the lillipup as he gave him a frown.

    “What?” Switch asked. “No wagging tail?”

    Connor practically bristled. “Where is it?”

    Switch let out a sigh and fell down into one of the spare chairs.

    “The component,” Connor demanded. “You said you were going to Raster for it. Where is it?”

    Switch closed his eyes and shrugged. “I didn't get it.”

    “Then what did you go all the way out there for?”

    “The pokemon that had put out the advert for the dynamo wasn't there,” Switch explained. “And I had no time to go looking for him either. They don't exactly give humans a warm welcome.”

    Connor slammed his paw into his face and groaned. “You moron! You went full-human didn't you! I made you that watch so you could stick to one shape.”

    “You try picking up a glass without fingers.”

    Connor looked down at his paws and narrowed his eyes at him.

    “Or paws,” Switch added.

    Connor leapt from his seat and took a couple of steps towards him, electricity bouncing off his cheeks. Switch did a quick mental calculation of how long it would take him to reach the door.

    “Sometimes I think you find this funny!” screeched the pikachu.

    “Funny? I'm stuck in this world just like you are.”

    Connor snorted and strutted back to his chair. “You don't act like it.”

    The other two pokemon had been sat silently watching the heated discussion, looking back and forth between them. Connor rounded on them and narrowed his eyes.

    “Come on! We've got work to do! Diode, focus on getting that laser to work. And N00b...”

    The lillipup's tongue lolled from his mouth in a grin while he excitedly wagged his tail.

    Connor waved a paw at him and looked away. “Make me some coffee.”

    The little terrier bolted from the room towards the adjoining kitchen. Switch watched him go, briefly wondering if he needed a hand. The sound of shattering pottery solidified his curiosity and he caught a glimpse of Connor ramming his head into the computer's keyboard.

    Switch pushed himself to his feet and went to assist N00b in the kitchen, relieving the lillipup of his duties and suggesting he sweep the floor instead.

    Within minutes, Connor had a steaming cup of coffee and Switch returned to his desk, mug in one hand as he logged into his computer and loaded up information on the Fracture.

    Nothing new.

    Nothing about that flash.

    Several more pokemon infected with the virus.

    “Do you even want to go back home?” Connor asked quietly.

    Switch looked over at him.

    “I've asked you countless times,” the pikachu went on. “And I'm beginning to doubt your answer.”

    Switch shrugged and turned back to absently scroll through the news. “Don't we all want to go back?”

    “That's why I'm asking you. You seem to have accepted your fate here. You changed your name. You've been helping me for three years and I don't even know your human name.” Connor turned his head to look at him. “What is it?”

    Switch avoided his gaze and sipped at his hot coffee.

    The pikachu tutted. “Surely you have someone to go back to, right? Family, like the rest of us? I was on vacation with friends. My parents are probably worried sick.”

    “Then we'll find a way back,” said Switch. “It'll probably go a lot faster if you got out there, or extended our team a bit.”

    The pikachu stared down at his paws.

    “You don't need to keep relying on us three,” said Switch. “I'm sure you can find more pokemon to add to the team if you just ask.”

    Connor's fur stood on end. “I'm not leaving this building.”

    “Why? What are you scared of?”

    Connor picked up his cup and stared silently into the steaming contents. Whatever his problem was, he'd been hiding it for years. Switch wasn't going to find it out any time soon.

    “I can put an advert out!” said N00b. “That'll find us some friends! Right?”

    “No!” Connor rounded on him. “Gateway is a secret group! You put an advert out, you'll ruin everything. We'll have rioters down here in a heartbeat!”

    The little lillipup cowered in his seat and looked away. Diode gave him a reassuring tap on the shoulder and they both returned to their work.

    Switch gave a flustered sigh and sipped his coffee. “Not every pokemon hates humans, Connor.”

    He clicked his mouse, opening up the list of virus-ridden pokemon that had found themselves quarantined in hospitals. Unfortunately, in a bid to find their identity, pictures had been shared with a warning that some were distressing. He quickly scrolled through them absently, hoping to find something they'd missed that would shed some light on where it had come from.

    One image caused him to choke on his drink, and hot coffee fired from his nose to spatter over the computer screen. The words accompanying it brought back the conversation he'd had with the mawile only hours before.

    Connor and the other two span in their chairs to face him.

    “What?” The pikachu left his seat to peer over his shoulder.

    'I travel a lot so I might be able to help you. What pokemon are they?'

    She pursed her lips. 'A charmander, a buneary and a mew.'


    Diode and N00b joined his side, the latter placing his paws on the back of Switch's chair and fixing two wide eyes on the computer screen.

    He couldn't form words. All he could do was stare at the text that accompanied the sludgy photo of a pokemon that wasn't dealing well with the poison type change.

    'We think this might have been a charmander. Awaiting confirmation.'
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  4. #4
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    Your style and your phrasing needs work. I find that you repeat words ("snort," "grin," and their variations) and phrases ("x flashed y a grin") to where one would be on the look out to catch some of them. You should also pay attention to your choice of words. If we look at this sentence "the former dessert now replaced by fluffy, white clouds blotted across a brilliant blue sky," I think there's some dissonance between the clouds being fluffy and them blotting in the sky.

    I find that you seem to be rushing some things, trying to get from place to place rather quickly. This rushing not only affects the plot but simple interactions as well:

    Vector snorted. “What? And risk blowing the place to bits?”
    “Pull yourself together, soldier!”

    Vector did not sound as if he were terrified. You made it clear later on that he was worried, but at the time it seemed like an overreaction. You could've hinted at this better with Vector's dialogue or describing his actions better. This problem also reflected itself here: "The sudden outburst didn't just startle Vector. The pachirisu beside him let out a loud squeak as the pair of them turned to face the speaker – a throh named Raw"

    It didn't simply startle him, so what did it do? Do you see?

    Other problems can basically be summed up by telling you to read more careful with certain words. Some "onto" to "into," some "on" to "in." Not necessarily those words. Careful with your commas and your voice.
    Last edited by Vernikova; 5th March 2016 at 2:17 AM.

    Fighting for real American turtles everywhere. Pro-Turtle since 6/30/13


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vernikova View Post
    .
    Thanks for your feedback =) I know I repeat words a fair bit and I appreciate that you mentioned this. I've asked my proof reader to help me pull those out. I'm going through the first submissions and will fix them over time, but this chapter and future ones will be hopefully kept free of that. As for the rushing - I could have made Raw say something else. I may go back and fix that since it does seem abrupt.

    ...

    3 – Broken Sky

    Soft beeping woke Pixel from her dream, and she blinked her eyes open as daylight flooded through her lightweight yellow curtains. A soft smile spread across her lips as she stretched and kicked off her duvet. The motion caused the hologram screen above her bed to activate and throw up lines of text displaying news headlines, many of which were dated today. She waved an arm to scroll through them quickly, looking for mission opportunities and any sign of their missing members.

    Most of them listed the spread of the virus that caused her smile to falter and she pushed herself up, yawning widely as she dropped onto her feet and grabbed the scarf and goggles she'd discarded on her desk chair.

    A short stop in the kitchen rewarded her with two slices of berry bread and cheri jam. She'd finished one slice before she stepped out of the front door, and just as she was tucking into the second one, a movement to her right caught her eye. She paused in the long grass of the meadow, squinting into the clouds. Something was flying this high habitually? That wasn't normal.

    Giving the flying pokemon another glance, she trotted towards the tower, stuffing the rest of the bread in her mouth simply to free her paws should she need to use them.

    She pushed the button on the strap of her goggles and Leaf's voice rang near her ear.

    “Good morning, Pixel! Is something wrong?”

    “Someone's flying towards us,” she said.

    Leaf made an exclamation of mild surprise. “Who'd be flying this high up?”

    The microphone picked up another smaller voice from one of the emolga. “Maybe they're scared of flying beneath us in case the continent falls from the sky and lands on them?”

    Leaf chuckled. “I think that's just your fear, Nybble.”

    “Can we focus?” Pixel demanded. “They're getting closer.”

    “Give them time. They might fly away from us,” said Leaf. “Hurry up. We've had some new requests arrive this morning.”

    Pixel released the button and picked up her pace, tearing her eyes away from the flying pokemon. Whoever it was didn't seem to be that much closer by the time she reached the door. Maybe Leaf was right? Maybe they were moving away?

    Light flickered from the weak bulb on the stairwell, distorting her shadow as she trotted down them. When she reached the control room she was feeling quite breathless.

    The emolga twins raised their eyebrows at her.

    “Did they chase you?” Nybble asked.

    “They're not on the security footage,” said Byte. “I think she's just being fraidy like you.”

    Nybble elbowed him in the ribs.

    Leaf ushered Pixel to sit beside him and pointed to the screen. “We've got a request to find a missing vulpix. Her mother is worried sick, and thinks she might be in the outskirts of Meta City.”

    “The outskirts?” She felt a small shudder run through her. She didn't quite fancy a stroll through 'the badlands'. Raster was bad enough.

    “You may need to ask around there,” said Leaf. “I've loaded up the recent pokemon placed in quarantine in Meta's two largest hospitals. There is no sign of a vulpix.”

    She watched the photos scroll by, many of which were unrecognisable. He flicked through them at such a pace they seemed to blur together with the text. But one word leapt out at her and she lurched forward, grabbing the ivysaur's large paw in a bid to stop the whirring text.

    “Scroll back up!” she squeaked.

    Leaf obeyed, moving slowly back up the screen. Her fears solidified as she read over the word 'charmander' several times before looking away from the screen.

    “Did you not see that one?” she asked.

    Leaf scratched his head as he stared at the gruesome image. “Yes. It was quite late though. I don't think it registered in my mind.”

    The two emolga sat frozen to their seats.

    “It's not Nano, is it?” Nybble asked.

    “I don't know.” Leaf turned to Pixel and cleared his throat. “Could you go and check? Scan them and see if it picks up her data chip? I'll send the twins to find the vulpix.”

    “What?!” Nybble gasped.

    “Really?” added Byte.

    Leaf looked round at them. “Don't worry yourselves. Grab your head sets.” He turned back to Pixel. “Is that okay? It's not too upsetting for you?”

    “We need to know if it's Nano or not, don't we?” She pushed herself from her seat. “How long until we're over the city?”

    “We're moving over it now.” He pointed a claw to the map. “I was going to wait until we were in a convenient enough location for you to reach the outskirts, but now plans have changed, you may as well disembark.”

    She gave a nod and stood up. “Which hospital does it say the charmander's at?”

    Leaf checked the information once more. “Central Meta Hospital.”

    “Okay.” Pixel adjusted her goggles over her eyes and sprinted from the room. With one glance back, she forced a smile. “I'll keep you informed!”

    She reached the drop point and held onto the beam as it let her drop with the familiar resounding flash as each beam appeared in place. Her mind was elsewhere as she thought about the poor charmander's fate. A whoosh by her face snapped her back to reality and she yelled as two large red wings flapped around her.

    “Pixel?”

    She shook her head sharply as she looked up at the talonflame desperately trying to keep up with her.

    “Switch?!” She glanced down at the floor as it rose up rapidly towards her. “What are you doing here?”

    “I came to tell you something.” His words came in fragmented bursts as he strained to talk over the effort of keeping up.

    “Wait until we're on the ground,” she said.

    It didn't take long. When her feet touched concrete, the ladder vanished beam by beam behind her, and Switch landed beside her in his human form, doubled over with his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. Passing pokemon shot him curious looks and some made the effort to cross the busy streets to pass on the other side.

    “So what is it?” she asked him.

    He stood up to his full height and adjusted his scarf. “I read there's a charmander arrived in quarantine.” He gave her a smile. “I told you I'd be back if I heard anything.”

    “Yes, that's why I'm here.”

    “Argh.” He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I worried as much. I guess I wasted the trip.”

    “Maybe.” She grinned up at him. “But I appreciate it. You didn't fly too far, did you?”

    “Not really.” He closed his eyes and folded his hands behind his head. “I should probably head back then.”

    “Okay. Well, thanks for your help.”

    She rummaged through her bag to make sure she had the handheld computer and turned away from him, making her way along the busy street. The main vehicles trundling along were automated, delivering produce to the massive superstores, stopping only at lights or when the more daring pokemon would rush along in front of them. Thankfully their sensitive sensors prevented dangerous collisions. The only other traffic were young pokemon riding hover boards and the tauros, gogoat and bouffalant that made their earnings pulling rickshaws through the city.

    A skidoo skipped up and down the street firing adverts at the passers by. He quickly garbled out something about 'seeing the sights' as she walked past him, and she gave him a polite wave and stuffed one of his fliers in her bag.

    “It certainly feels different here to the smaller cities,” said Switch.

    She looked up at him with a jerk, her eyes widening in surprise. “You're still here?”

    “Turns out we're heading the same way. Central Meta Hospital, am I right?” He chuckled at her blank expression. “I pass it on the way.”

    She gave him a small smile. “Where are you headed?”

    “Spool City.”

    “The outskirts? You don't look like you belong there.”

    He turned his attention back on the sidewalk, nimbly dodging an excited sentret and his mother.

    “I'm an adventurer for hire,” he explained. “You might even call me an 'adventurer of many talents.'”

    “Talents that landed you in Spool City?”

    He laughed. “You could say that. The pokemon I'm doing a job for resides there.”

    Pixel looked away sharply. “Oh...”

    He laughed again and shook his head. “Don't worry. I can't go into detail but I can assure you he's not a shady character.”

    She glanced back at the drifting continent as it moved along in the sky behind them. “Well I guess that's fair. I can't give you the details about my work either.”

    They stopped at a junction as two lorries rolled past. The massive vehicles came to an abrupt halt as a group of pedestrians decided they simply couldn't wait. Red lights flashed in the rear of the lorries, creating a domino effect along the line of traffic and bringing everything behind them to a stand still. Pixel decided to join the flow of pedestrians as the traffic signal changed to green and rang out with a shrill whistle, just audible over the drone of voices and engines.

    This area of the city was filled with superstores and entertainment shops, which meant the streets were crammed with shoppers. Some pokemon had stopped to watch the advertisement billboards causing a roadblock of standing pedestrians that Pixel and Switch had to move single file to get through, bumping elbows and catching heels with strangers. Across the road, a meowth bellowed an announcement into a megaphone for the latest video games in his arcade. Above him a screen looped through a battle between a lucario in a cape and a blaziken.

    Pixel rounded a corner into a much less busy street with a narrow sidewalk, catching the large sign that indicated 'Central Meta Hospital' was only a short walk away. The quieter atmosphere offered a breath of fresh air and she warred with the desire to enjoy it and the urgency of her mission.

    The narrow street ended with a chain of white and red bollards marking a dead end to a one way street. On the left stood a line of emergency ambulances and on the right loomed the grand white building of the hospital with its tall glass doors.

    “Well.” Switch stopped beside her with his hands still tucked behind his head and stared up at the hospital. “This is where we part ways.”

    Pixel nodded and absently checked the computer was still tucked safely in her bag.

    “I'm not sure what to say,” Switch went on. “If it is your friend, at least you know where they are. But that virus... I kind of hope they're not who you're looking for at the same time.”

    She wound the end of her scarf around her paws as she stared at the foreboding doors. A growing sense of dread was washing over her and she licked her dry lips. “Then we're of the same mindset.”

    A chill ran over her, causing her fur to prickle down her back. If it was Nano, then... she grit her teeth and tugged at the fabric of her scarf.

    No cure... there was no known cure...

    “Are you all right?”

    Switch was still standing next to her, eyeing her with a look of concern. She forced a smile and was about to speak, but all that came out was a non-committal grunt.

    “Look, I know you don't really know me,” he went on, “but I'm not in any rush. If it helps, I can go in with you. At least you won't be alone, and after you saved my hide yesterday I kinda feel like I owe you a favour.”

    She cast him a sideways glance as she ran this over in her mind.

    “And afterwards, if you need to take your mind off things, we can visit that games arcade.” He smiled. “Although few have beat me at Pocket Brawlers.”

    She chuckled. “All right. I probably won't be very long anyway.”

    A buzz resounded in her ear and she leapt slightly.

    “Pixel?” Leaf's voice asked.

    She pushed the button on her goggle strap. “Yes?”

    “Is everything okay? Your tracker says you're at the hospital, but you've not gone inside yet.”

    “Everything's fine, Leaf. I just needed a moment to gather myself. I'm heading in now.”

    “Okay. Take your time, don't rush yourself. The base is heading towards the outskirts of Meta City now, so when you're done you may need to hitch a ride to catch up with us.”

    “I'll figure something out. Take care, Leaf.” She released the button and glanced up at Switch. “That was my friend making sure I'm okay.”

    He raised an eyebrow. “Are you?”

    “We'll see soon enough.”

    The doors opened and closed with a gentle whir from their well-oiled motors. A wigglytuff greeted them from behind a desk with a jubilant wave.

    “Good morning!” she said. “How can I help you?”

    “I'm here about the charmander you've got in quarantine,” Pixel explained.

    “Oh!” The wigglytuff tried to mask her surprise behind a professional smile and tapped on a hologram pad, the keys lighting up under her touch. “The species is yet to be confirmed. Are they a friend of yours?”

    Pixel ran a paw over the back of her head and diverted her gaze to the wall. “They might be.”

    “Is your friend going with you?” The wigglytuff eyed Switch curiously.

    “Moral support.” He winked.

    The receptionist cleared her throat and looked back at her screen. There was a short beep and she looked back up at them, her eyes closed in a smile.

    “Follow the right corridor around to the quarantine area. A doctor will meet you there shortly.”

    They thanked her and followed her directions down the pristine white and chrome corridor. A few rooms span off from it, all with 'restricted access' printed in red on the doors. Each one was eerily silent as they passed, and Pixel could feel herself growing more and more uneasy.

    The waiting area had only a scattering of seats, and she dragged herself up into one while Switch plonked down beside her. She kicked her legs unable to keep still, looking left and right at the various screens that displayed moving posters with health warnings and advice. Deciding it was too hard to stay sat down, she leapt up and paced back and forth with her paws clasped behind her back. Switch seemed to be feigning obliviousness as he sat tapping at the screen of a small pocket computer tablet.

    A door whirred open to her left and she froze, following the noise with her eyes. A gallade strolled into the waiting area and looked at Switch and Pixel in turn.

    “You're here to see the 'charmander'?” he asked.

    Pixel nodded. “Yes. I'm worried she might be a friend of mine.”

    “Gender and identity is still unknown,” the doctor explained.

    “That's why I want to see them. I'm going to scan their data chip.”

    The gallade waved a paw. “Already done it. It's useless.”

    Her arms fell to her side as her heart sank. Switch's eyes burned into the side of her head as he watched her silently. Finally he stood up and was about to address the doctor when she finally found her words.

    “Maybe I...” She looked back at the doctor. “If you could let me at least try?”

    He nodded. “I can let you try, yes. If you would follow me? You'll need to wear hazmat suits.”

    They followed him through the mechanical doors and down a corridor that looked identical to the one they'd left.

    “My name is Doctor Hertz. I head the quarantine department here. The pokemon you are visiting is one of many to have arrived recently, and if they are a friend of yours...” He stopped at a door and flashed his name card at it. It hissed open, revealing a curtain of heavy plastic. “I hope you have a strong stomach, Miss.”

    Pixel gulped and followed him through the curtain.

    White hazmat suits with heavy clear masks hung on the walls in varying sizes. He pulled down a small one, muttering something about her size then looked over at Switch.

    “We don't get many human visitors, nor do we have any working here. I'm afraid the largest suit we have is for a pokemon of the size and build of a zoroark. If you think you can squeeze into it, they do have some give to them.”

    “I thought it didn't affect humans?” Switch asked.

    “Such theories are mere speculation. If you're going in, wear this.”

    Switch excused himself behind the curtain while Pixel pulled on the small suit and zipped the helmet over her head. The gallade beside her did the same and checked her to make sure everything was fastened where it should be. When Switch stepped back into the room, she had to stifle a chuckle. The suit was quite loose around the shoulders where it was built to provide room for a zoroark's immense amount of fur. As for the height, it had managed to give quite well. Hertz gave him a quick once over and nodded as he pulled the next set of curtains aside.

    “All right!” said Switch, rather cheerfully. “Let's check on this charmander.”

    Hertz raised an eyebrow at him. “I don't think it warrants much enthusiasm. If this pokemon is indeed a friend of yours, they are in no fit state, and as you know there is no cure for this virus yet.”

    The door slid open, revealing rows of white beds in a room with bare white walls, each one separated by a white curtain. Pokemon filled the beds, chained up to drips and heart monitors. Pixel couldn't help but notice some of them were linked to life support machines, highlighting how severe their situation really was.

    Hertz stopped beside a closed curtain and ushered Pixel towards it.

    “This is the patient you requested to see.”

    She swallowed drily as he pulled the curtain aside, and her paw instinctively went to her mouth.

    If it was meant to be a charmander, the only sign it may have been one was the size and head shape. The pokemon had no arms to speak of, and their tail and legs were hidden away under the damp duvet. Their entire body had been turned purple and seemed to have the consistency of a muk or grimer. The machine wired up to their body beeped in rhythm to the infected pokemon's steady heartbeat, the only sign they were still alive at all. The sight caused her heart to break.

    Putting on a mask of professionalism, she pulled out her computer and pushed herself forward, scanning the holographic screen over the 'charmander'. The device beeped and her heart raced as she snatched her eyes to the screen. The word 'error' stood out in large red letters.

    She grit her teeth in frustration. Was this pokemon her friend or was she still out there? With a sigh she stuffed the computer back into her bag and looked over at Hertz and Switch.

    “You're right,” she said. “Their data chip must have been corrupted.”

    The gallade nodded. “I'm sorry we can't be of more help.”

    Pixel gave one last look at the poor pokemon as the curtain was whipped back around them, and followed Hertz from the room. He stopped them between the door and the curtain and a clear gas washed over them.

    Once they had removed their suits, Pixel turned to the doctor.

    “If you find out who they are, please contact me.” She handed him a small card. “We're missing a few pokemon, and we're desperately trying to find out what's happened to them.”

    He took it with a nod and slipped it into his pocket. “Any others you would like me to keep an eye out for?”

    She shook her head. “We'll keep an eye on the lists. I don't want to put you out.”

    “Well, the offer's there.” He placed a paw on her back and steered her from the room. “Although I do want to say I hope we don't see you again. I sincerely hope your missing friends are okay.”

    She flashed him a smile. “Thanks for your help, doctor.”

    He waved and ducked back into the room, leaving her standing once more in the waiting area.

    Switch looked down at her and shrugged. “I'm sorry we're non-the-wiser.”

    She sighed and headed down the corridor. “Don't worry about it. If it's not her, then there's hope she's still alive and well somewhere.” She shuddered and hugged herself. “Although I doubt I'll be able to get that image out of my head any time soon.”

    “Hey, the offer for a game of Pocket Brawlers is still there.”

    She chuckled and let her arms relax to her sides. “I might take you up on that offer.”

    He grinned. “Like I said, few have beaten me.”

    The breeze from the air conditioning washed over them as they entered the reception and the wigglytuff gave them a huge smile. She waved them farewell as they slipped out through the doors into the street.

    Switch took in a huge breath and stretched. “Ah! Fresh air!” He chuckled drily and let his arms fall to his sides. “Sorry, I don't do well in hospitals.”

    “You didn't need to come in,” said Pixel.

    “Well, let's get to the arcade. I'm itching for a good game.”

    She laughed and adjusted her bag on her shoulder. As she turned away to head towards the main street, she felt a firm hand grab her shoulder. She looked back at Switch and he released her, standing up straight, but his eyes were fixed on a spot above the buildings. She followed his gaze and her heart leapt into her throat.

    A black, jagged line vanished beyond the high roofs of the department stores, glowing with a deep violet light.

    “What... what's that?” she stammered out.

    “I don't know...”

    Switch warped into his talonflame form and spread his wings wide. She reached out and grabbed one, halting his rise into the air.

    “You're not investigating it are you?” she squeaked.

    “Are you kidding? Of course I am! It wasn't there earlier, and I want to know what it is!”

    She released his wing and took a step back, meeting his golden eyes. “Then take me.”

    He inclined his head on one side, his beak slightly open as he considered turning her away. With a sharp nod, he lowered himself to the ground.

    “Get on.”

    She clambered onto his back and he launched himself into the air with such speed her breath was snatched away from her. When he gained enough altitude he paused enough for her to catch her breath and moved over the buildings, leaving the busiest part of the city behind as he headed towards the outskirts. The jagged black line vanished beyond the buildings and always seemed to be ahead of them.

    “I'm going to have to get higher,” he said. “Hold on.”

    She wrapped her arms around his neck as he launched himself upwards like a dart. When he levelled out, lorries in the city below them looked minute. The jagged line was as clear as day now, still ahead of them and curving down towards the ground well outside the city. From this height they could see the outskirts, the berry fields in the suburbs and the lumpy trail of the Backbone Mountain. That was where the jagged line ended, joining more of its kind stretching back towards the Fracture hidden away in the distance.

    Pixel pressed her paw to her chest as she took in the scene. Those jagged lines... they seemed so wrong.

    “What are they?” she gasped.

    Switch shook his head in disbelief.

    “The Fracture... that virus... those strange cracks...” Her head began to feel light and she felt herself slumping forwards. “What's happening to the world?”

    He lifted his head to look back at her. “Pixel? Are you all right?”

    “I don't...” Her grip on his feathers began to slack as her vision blurred.

    “Hold on!”

    He twisted towards the ground and she felt herself losing her grip. She didn't remember even hitting the ground.

    ...

    It wasn't right.

    It just wasn't right.

    Vector pushed himself through the streets of Meta City, staying as close as he could to the quieter areas. The looks he was getting off the passing pokemon were enough to turn his blood to ice. Parents snatched their hatchlings out of the way, many crossed to the other side of the streets.

    He placed a paw on the wall of an office block to steady himself as he tried to get his breath back. Days... he'd been walking for days... no, weeks... and he felt wrong.

    The hold-up in the rough towns of the outskirts only served to emphasise that fact. Battle after battle had made him feel ill.

    The claws of his black paw dug into the concrete surface as he stared at his fur – black and white. White with black markings. It didn't feel like his own body.

    It was wrong.

    He swayed as he pushed himself back from the building, dragging himself down the quiet streets and bumping between two red and white bollards, stopping only to glance at the sign that marked the giant building of the Central Meta Hospital.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  6. #6

    Default

    4 – A Plan of Questionable Morals

    Pixel's eyes were dazzled by the harsh light from the halogen bulbs, made all the more intense by the pristine white walls and tiled floors. Her heavy paw flopped across her face, shutting out the worst of it as she let out a low groan. Her head felt like someone had stuffed it with cotton wool and a dull pulse thrummed above her ears.

    “Ah! You're awake!”

    She removed her paw and squinted to her left. The unmistakable shape of an ivysaur sat all too close to her bed as he leant forward in his chair. This was confusing. She didn't usually have a chair by her bed. She frowned and placed her paw over her eyes again.

    “Where am I?” she mumbled.

    “Hospital,” Leaf answered bluntly. “Apparently you fainted.”

    “Fain-” Her arm fell to her side as her eyes flew wide open regardless of the pain in her head, and she pushed herself onto her elbow to look around the bright room. “We were flying! Those cracks...” Feeling light headed again, she let herself flop back onto her pillow, fixing Leaf with a look of panic. “What's happening? Have you seen them?”

    He nodded and looked down at his pocket computer. “It's all over the news, but the authorities are assuring us it's nothing to worry about. I don't want you to stress yourself over it. Focus on getting back on your feet so we can get back to our base.”

    Trying not to worry was much easier said than done. She pushed herself up again and looked around the room. The other beds were empty, and from the looks of it, it was only her and Leaf in the ward.

    “Where's Switch?” she asked.

    “After I arrived, he left.” The ivysaur looked up at her. “Said he had places he needed to be.”

    She sighed and rolled onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. “You didn't give him a hard time, did you?”

    “Are you kidding? If he didn't contact me, I'd have no clue you were even here!” He chuckled, drawing a perplexed look from her that prompted an explanation. “He used your headset. Told me you'd fallen from his back, but he assured me you never hit the ground.”

    “That's a relief.” She pushed herself up with a groan, rubbing her head. “I was worried the impact had concussed me or something.”

    “No. You're probably dehydrated. You've been out for a couple of hours now. Drink some water and see if the headache goes away.”

    She accepted a glass from him and downed it in one sitting. He wasn't wrong. She offered her glass for a refill and adjusted her pillow so she could lean against the wall.

    Leaf nodded to the table beside her bed. “He left his contact information in case you need it.”

    She looked over at the table to see a plain scrap of crumpled paper placed beside her bag. Scrawled on it was a number she assumed was for Switch's pocket computer. It would certainly be convenient, and would save him any more wasted flights. She chuckled and stuffed it in her bag, then leant back and sipped her water.

    “Who's at the headquarters?” she asked.

    Leaf grimaced and looked away. “No one. Nybble and Byte are on the vulpix mission. I headed down here as fast as I could.”

    “So... Cyan Island is...?”

    He laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “Well outside the city. We'll have to hitch a ride if we want to catch up to it.”

    Pixel felt a looming sense of dread as she stared into her glass. “Those black lines aren't in its circuit are they?”

    “Nope. No need to worry there.”

    The door opened and they both looked up at it in unison. Hertz the gallade strode in, but he didn't look up at either of them as his attention was fixed on a holographic screen in his paws.

    “Pixel?” he asked.

    “Hmm?” She lowered her glass. “Am I ready to go?”

    “I'm not your doctor,” he said. “Your nurse will be through shortly. I'm here to see if one of your missing friends is a meowstic?” He finally looked up at her.

    She stared back at him for a moment then shook her head. “No. Why?”

    “I just wanted to check.” He looked back down at the screen and pressed a button. It flickered and vanished into thin air. “One has just turned himself in, but we can't identify him.”

    She blinked her eyes in confusion. “Has his data chip corrupted?”

    “If he's not a friend of yours, I can't give you any further information. Hospital policy.” He moved out of the door and glanced back at her over his shoulder. “I hope you are feeling better. Take care, both of you.”

    As the door closed behind him, Pixel looked over at Leaf. They both appeared to be thinking the same thing. Most pokemon were rendered immobile by the virus, so one strolling into a hospital to turn himself in, although not impossible, was an odd occurrence.

    Leaf rubbed his head and looked away from her. “How are you feeling?”

    The brief spectacle with the doctor had taken her mind off her head. She smiled into her glass as she realised that dull throb had finally subsided. “Much better, actually.”

    “Great!” He leant back in his seat and poked at his computer screen with a claw. “Hopefully you'll be released soon. The longer we wait, the more we have to catch up with Cyan Island.”

    “You won't be going anywhere just yet, miss.”

    They both looked up as an audino approached the bed. She scanned over Pixel with her eyes with a look that exuded business and took the glass from her paw. Pixel found herself pinned down by her shoulder as a light was aimed into her eyes much to her displeasure. When the nurse stood back, she tucked the tiny light away and scrawled something onto her clipboard.

    “Why can't I leave?” Pixel asked as she rubbed a paw over her watering eyes. “I'm feeling better.”

    “We need to wait until the tranquilliser is completely out of your system,” the audino explained.

    “Tranquilliser?!” both Leaf and Pixel exclaimed.

    “Yes. We had to knock you out for a while so we could run tests. It was imperative we made sure you didn't show any signs of the virus.”

    “Are you kidding?” Pixel gasped. “I fainted!”

    The nurse shrugged. “You visited quarantine, then left and had a fainting spell. We were being cautious.”

    “That human didn't say anything about this!” said Leaf.

    The audino didn't look up from her clipboard. “That would be because we didn't tell him.”

    Pixel crossed her arms and huffed. “I think this is a little unacceptable.”

    “Just a little?” Leaf asked.

    She silenced him with a wave of her paw. “Why wouldn't you tell him?”

    “We didn't want to spook your friend unnecessarily.”

    “And what did your tests show?”

    “You are clear from any sign of a virus, and that your fainting spell was probably down to a fear of heights.”

    Leaf laughed. “Fear of heights?! We live two-hundred miles above System!”

    Pixel bit her lip. She knew it was down to what she'd seen, but the nurse seemed oblivious to this. She opened her mouth to speak, but the audino cut her off as she finally looked up from her notes.

    “Now.” The nurse forced a smile, but it was still drowned in an air of authority. “In about twenty minutes, you should be clear to go.”

    Leaf slumped in his chair and sighed. “It's gonna be a hard trip back.”

    ...

    Hertz tapped a few words onto the keyboard. The situation baffled him. All results were coming back negative and it caused his head to spin.

    “What do you think?!” a voice boomed by his ear.

    He flinched and glanced at the exploud sat beside him. “Sample, please. Use your indoor voice.”

    The exploud cleared his throat and muttered an apology, glancing at the doctor's computer.

    “As for your question,” Hertz sighed, “I haven't a clue.”

    “Well if results are coming back negative,” Sample began, “then we can assume the meowstic's clear, right?”

    “One would think.” Hertz steepled his claws together and leant back in his seat. “But explain the mutation.”

    Sample grunted and looked at the ceiling, rubbing a paw over the back of his pipes. Hertz waited a moment to give the exploud a chance to answer, but he didn't actually expect one.

    “You see?” Hertz looked back at his computer. “There doesn't seem to be an explanation, but there must be.”

    “Is there a chance,” Sample said slowly, “that he's had the virus and it's gone?”

    Hertz said nothing as he stared blankly at his screen, the letters swirling and blurring together as his focus went to the exploud's words. A cure... the meowstic couldn't possibly have found a cure?

    But nothing else made sense. The signs of a virus were all there. The mutation – quite unlike the mutations other pokemon had gone through – but it was a change nonetheless. The patient claimed to have forgotten his abilities too, instead using ones he never thought he had.

    But then there was the puzzle of a data chip.

    Instead of an error, he didn't have one at all.

    Hertz let his eyes focus back on the computer screen. “If he has found a cure, then why hasn't he changed back to his normal form?”

    “Maybe it's like when you sew up an open wound from surgery and there's always a scar?”

    “That would explain his appearance, but what about his abilities?”

    He could see Sample scratching his chin out of the corner of his eye. With a sigh, Hertz leant his elbows on his desk and placed his head in his paws.

    “I think he has had it,” he said. “But he's immune to it. I think his body killed it off, but it didn't actually heal, and as such he's still suffering with the symptoms.”

    “Huh!” A smile spread across Sample's large mouth and he nodded. “That makes a lot of sense.”

    “It's the best possible answer.” Hertz looked up at him. “I want that meowstic in his own private room. Make sure it's locked, I don't want any unauthorised access. I'm going to run more tests on him. If we can extract whatever fought the virus, we might be able to stop the spread in our critical patients, and maybe even devise a way to reverse it.”

    The exploud's eyes flitted left and right as his face twisted with confusion. “Erm... he's not really in any fit state to put under anaesthetic. He might not survive it.”

    Hertz stared silently at the computer.

    “I mean, the virus doesn't just change the appearance,” Sample went on. “It attacks everything inside. The heart, the brain... everything! If nothing's showing up in the blood samples, then what do we do? I doubt he'll survive an intrusive examination. And what do we extract to run tests on?”

    Hertz rolled his eyes to look up at Sample, remaining quiet for a moment longer as he warred with his conscience.

    Finally, he glanced away and said, “Would it really be so bad to sacrifice one life if we can save hundreds of others?”

    “I dunno... would you be willing to go through with it in his situation?”

    It was easy to agree with such a hypothetical statement, but in reality... Hertz buried his face in his paws and let out a long sigh.

    “Exactly,” said Sample. “We'd need his permission, and even then, I don't think it's morally sound.”

    “Hundreds of lives are at stake,” said Hertz bluntly. “And goodness knows how many more! Every day, new patients show up with this virus. Every day, many die because of it. If we can save them at the expense of one life...” Everything snapped into place in his mind. He looked up at Sample with such ferocity the large pokemon took a cautious step back. “Gather all the scientists, doctors and nurses working in quarantine. Tell them there's an urgent meeting. Regardless of how it goes, afterwards put him under, because we're starting the experiment.”
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  7. #7

    Default

    5 – Rescue Mission

    The buildings blurred past as Pixel and Leaf zipped along on a pair of hoverboards, following the flow of traffic in hot pursuit of their base. Cyan Island was visible above the skyscrapers, trudging steadily along as it followed its circuit.

    “How close are we now?” Pixel asked.

    Leaf looked down at his digital map. “Its moving over Proxy City. That might prove problematic if we need to board there, especially now the sun's setting.”

    She pursed her lips and fixed her attention on the island. Hopefully their fresh purchase of hoverboards (much to Leaf's dismay when he had to fork over three-thousand credits per board) would give them the edge they needed to avoid any unwanted conflict. The outskirts were renown for the hostile pokemon that inhabited them.

    A loud horn rang out through the streets as the traffic came to a sudden stop, shattering any hopes the pair of them had about making it through Proxy City before sundown.

    “What's going on?!” Leaf whined, straining to see around the rear of a particularly large lorry. “Argh, we're never going to make it at this rate!”

    Pixel hopped from her hoverboard and scooted over to the side of the road. The head of the traffic jam was hidden from sight as the chain of traffic vanished around a sharp bend between a department store and an electronics tower that displayed an advert for a new camera on a massive LCD display.

    She returned to her hoverboard and Leaf looked over at her.

    “Any joy?” he asked.

    She shook her head. “We'll have to move on foot if we want to get past it.”

    He dismounted his board with a sigh and tucked it under one arm, waddling onto the sidewalk on his hind legs. She followed after him, casting a glance back at the motionless traffic. Many of the other hoverboard riders followed their example, gathering their boards and deciding to go on foot.

    “You know what would be useful?” said Leaf. “If we could fly like your human friend.”

    “I think it would be more useful if we could get the drifting continent to move backwards and come for us,” said Pixel.

    “You don't want to fly?”

    She chuckled. “Not especially.”

    He grunted and paused at the edge of a narrow road to allow a lorry past as it deviated from the traffic. “I suppose any desire to fly went out the window when you fell off Switch's back, huh?”

    Before she could answer, he waved a paw to silence her and turned his focus onto his headset. They walked across the street in silence, joining the pedestrians on the other side. He appeared to be having some difficulty hearing the speaker on the other end as he apologised a couple of times and had them repeat themselves.

    Finally, he looked back at her, but his expression caused a flood of nauseating anxiety in her stomach.

    “That was Byte,” he explained. “They're actually in Proxy City but they're not having the best time.”

    Her eyes widened and she picked up pace to walk beside him. “What's going on?”

    “They've had a run-in with the vigoroth brothers. We're going to need to hurry.” He pulled out his computer, dodging the pedestrians without even looking up while he scrolled through a map of Meta City. “There are several side streets we could take to avoid this traffic, provided it doesn't go the full length of the city.”

    He paused and looked left and right, muttering the names of the road signs and comparing them to the map. Finally, he stuffed it away and grabbed her paw, dragging her down a narrow street. He ran off ahead of her and hopped onto his hoverboard, causing a squeal of surprise from a young glameow.

    “We need to hurry,” he called back. “They're not known for being understanding.”

    Pixel gave the glameow a quick apology as she zipped past after him, the hoverboards whipping up a light trail of dust.

    ...

    Proxy City was cast in shadow, rarely getting much sun as it was situated between the high rise buildings of Meta City and the high peak of the Backbone Mountain. Empty wrappers blew across the streets, joining small spirals of debris amongst the wind-traps and moving along the alleys like tiny tornadoes where they joined the garbage filling the gutters and crevices from the overflowing trash cans.

    Curious pokemon daring not to step outside watched Pixel and Leaf as they zipped through the streets on their hoverboards, the sound creating a gentle thrumming in the polluted air. Few pokemon were on the streets at this hour. Even though the sun wouldn't be setting for a little while yet, it still seemed very dark, almost as though it might rain but there were barely any clouds in the sky.

    “Did they say where they were?” Pixel spoke quietly, almost a whisper, keeping an eye on the shadows of the alleyways.

    “They were ambushed at the Metalclaw Tavern,” answered Leaf. “They'd gone in to ask for information, and as soon as they stepped outside they were bundled into an alleyway. The brothers had left them tied up to go and look for someone they were calling Hax.”

    She grimaced. “Hopefully they've not returned with him yet.”

    “I'm hoping that's the case. I dread to think what kind of trouble those kids have landed themselves in.”

    An endless flow of questions ran through her mind. Who would want to harm Nybble and Byte? And if so, what had they done to trigger the anger of the vigoroth brothers? Did the brothers have something to do with the missing vulpix?

    The questions kept on coming as she followed Leaf around another bend, this one revealing a small group of pokemon standing outside talking, clutching glasses in their paws. A sign creaked in the wind above their heads displaying a crude drawing of a bisharp's claws that were designed to look like they were slicing through the sign itself. The group looked up at them as they drew closer, and one of them – a toxicroak – narrowed his eyes in a leer.

    “Newbies!” he grunted.

    “More o' them?” An aggron crossed his arms, fixing one eye on them. “Thought those pesky kids were weird enough.”

    Pixel leant into Leaf and spoke quietly. “Do we talk to them?”

    “Just keep going,” he muttered back.

    “Oi!” The aggron stepped in front of them, and they brought their hoverboards to a halt. “No whisperin'! You got summat t'say, you say it t'me!”

    “Okay!” Leaf stood up as tall as he could. “We're looking for those 'pesky kids' you were just talking about.”

    Pixel grimaced at the ivysaur's use of air quotes and watched the aggron closely, bracing herself for him to lash out in anger. Instead, he pointed at Leaf and looked over at his friends.

    “They lookin' for 'em emolga kids!”

    A durant whistled through his mandibles and looked up at a charizard and the toxicroak. “Think summat's happened to 'em?”

    “Yes,” Leaf went on. “I got a frantic call. They've been taken by the vigoroth brothers, and they've gone to find someone named Hax.”

    The aggron's demeanour changed drastically. He leapt back from Leaf, his weight causing the buildings to shake and the sign to swing dramatically, its rusty hinges screeching with the momentum. His wide eyes reflected fear at some unseen memory and he scurried backwards, almost tripping over the toxicroak. The other pokemon looked uneasy, and the durant walked backwards until he was crouching safely just inside the bar.

    “I take it you've heard of them then,” said Leaf.

    “Heard of them?” The aggron shook his head. “You ain't wanna be messin' wi' them. You turn around an' go back. Those kids are a lost cause. Take my word fer it.”

    Leaf exchanged glances with Pixel and they both looked up at the aggron.

    “They're our friends,” said Pixel. “We're helping them. Where does this Hax hang out?”

    “On the roof tops,” answered the charizard. “Keeps an eye out for easy victims. Has the vigoroth brothers doin' his dirty work, and he comes along and finishes 'em off.”

    The aggron glanced away from them and wrung his heavy paws together. “Look. Ya gonna be messin' wi' him, yer messin' wi' the wrong pokemon.”

    Leaf hopped onto his hoverboard and kicked it off the ground, moving slowly past the now spooked gang.

    “Then don't follow us,” he said bluntly.

    Pixel followed after him, looking back briefly as the aggron shouted after them.

    “Yer brave, ivysaur! But yer foolish!”

    His words didn't seem to phase Leaf at all. He kept his eyes fixed on the road ahead, scouting out the alleys they passed for any sign of their friends. Pixel, however, kept looking up at the rooftops. Those jagged black lines were visible above the low buildings, causing an unsettling feeling to spread throughout her stomach. However, her mind was on rescuing Nybble and Byte right now. If they lost them, that would be to more of their rapidly decreasing team. What kind of pokemon was this Hax and what danger did he pose? She had no idea.

    “Ah!” The tail of Leaf's hoverboard screeched against the floor, digging up the dirt as he brought it to a halt. He pointed a stubby claw into a narrow alley. “I can see them!”

    Pixel's violet eyes widened as a smile spread across her face, but it was soon wiped off when she noticed the two emolga's matching expressions of fear.

    They were both sat on the filthy floor in the shadow of an overflowing trash can, tied up back to back. The wall behind them marking the alley's dead end seeped a green, slimy substance that Nybble flinched away from as it dripped by her head. When they spotted Leaf and Pixel, Nybble almost cried with relief while Byte strained against his tethers.

    “Hurry!” the male emolga hissed. “They said they're coming back!”

    Leaf was already beside them, tugging at the ropes while Pixel kept an eye on the alley's opening. There was no sense in all of them becoming trapped between angry pokemon and a brick wall.

    Leaf ushered the two emolga out of the alley, following close behind and giving Pixel a nudge to follow him.

    “You take Nybble. If we move now, we should be out of this city before -”

    “Where d'ya think yer goin'?!”

    The gritty voice caused all four of them to spin on the spot. Two vigoroth rushed at them, their sharp claws raised above their heads. Above them, whipping up dust with his powerful wings, was a large unfezant, a heavy gold medallion swinging from a thick chain around his slender neck.

    “I'm assuming that's Hax?” said Leaf.

    The emolga twins let out a squeal and threw themselves behind him.

    Pixel grit her teeth and braced herself to launch a counter-attack on the closest vigoroth, but before any of them could reach them, Leaf span in the air, firing a cloud of spores at the three aggressive pokemon.

    The vigoroth sniffed at the air and sneered, flashing their canines in an intimidating grin while the unfezant screeched and beat his wings, sending the spores back at Leaf and his friends. Pixel covered her mouth and nose with her paws, but it was too late. Leaf looked back at her, doubling slightly in her vision.

    “I'm sorry! I wasn't thinking.”

    The vigoroth lunged at them, their roars almost shaking the flimsy windows. She span, bringing her horn up and clubbing one on the chin, but the other grabbed it in his paws and dragged her backwards. As she fell onto her back, she saw Hax strike Leaf and send him rolling backwards into the alley. The large bird battled with a spray of paralyzing spores the ivysaur had scattered during the impact. He beat his wings against the wall, trying to beat them free of the powder, his movements erratic. No longer able to stay airborne, he'd be easier to battle.

    That was, if she'd not inhaled a lungful of sleep-inducing spores. She struggled to sit up, pinned in place as the vigoroth refused to release her horn, but her efforts were becoming weaker as the sleep powder took over.

    Hax cast a glance down the alley and grinned, turning his beady eyes back onto Pixel. She could hear the cries of the two emolga, but they were out of her eyeline.

    “Well!” The unfezant stood over her, watching whatever was going on behind her. “Looks like your friend's out of action. Pity it only took one air slash to take him down. Pathetic weakling.”

    He blurred in and out of focus as he moved with jerky motions, keeping one eye on the vigoroth and the other on her. Her heart was pumping. Any moment she feared she'd fall asleep.

    “Grab those two, and dump them in the alley with the mawile and ivysaur. I've got some questions for them.”

    “Aye!”

    She felt herself hoisted discourteously onto her feet. Sharp claws rammed into her back, pushing her into the alley. She almost tripped over Leaf sprawled in the opening. He groaned as the vigoroth grabbed him and threw him forwards into a pile of trash bags. She rushed to assist him, but the other vigoroth grabbed her horn and threw her further into the alley towards the dripping wall. She landed with a grunt and pushed herself up, fixing the group in what she hoped was an intimidating glare.

    “What do you want with us?!” she roared.

    “Tsk!” Hax strutted over to her, his movements more fluid as his body won the war against the paralysis spores. “I didn't want you. I wanted them.” He nodded to Nybble and Byte.

    The emolga twins cowered between the vigoroth brothers.

    “Giga and Tera told me they'd found them poking around Proxy City looking for a vulpix pup.” Hax shrugged. “I don't really want pokemon sticking their noses into my business. So I wanted to know how much they knew. Then you two showed up!” The large bird looked back at Leaf with a leer then narrowed his eyes at Pixel. “How much do you know?”

    She rubbed a paw over her head and pushed herself into a sitting position. Hax watched her cautiously, his entire body taut like a spring.

    “Not much,” she said. “All we were told was that a vulpix child has gone missing, and her mother wants to know what's become of her.”

    Hax chuckled drily and looked up at the sky. She instinctively followed his gaze to the jagged black line poking above the rooftops.

    “Do you know what that is?” he asked.

    She shook her head. “No.”

    “Neither do I.” He looked back down at her, a smile tugging at the corners of his beak. “All I know now is, you go into it, you don't come back out.”

    Everything inside Pixel suddenly felt very heavy. Her jaw dropped as the realisation of the poor vulpix child's fate fell heavily upon her. Her head shook from side to side of it's own accord.

    “No...” She glanced over at the two vigoroth then back at Hax. “You wouldn't.”

    He closed his eyes and shrugged.

    Her skin prickled as her fur stood on end and she sprang to her feet, but the large bird didn't so much as flinch.

    “You're a monster!” she roared.

    “Hey! At least we know it's not safe, right?”

    The two vigoroth laughed, and an amused smirk spread across the unfezant's face.

    “You killed her! She was a child!”

    Hax inclined his head on one side. “Hey. I never said she was dead. I said she never came back out.”

    Pixel clenched her jaw and glanced away from him. “It's as good as,” she muttered.

    A movement in the trash bags caught her eye, and Leaf winked at her. She looked back up at the unfezant and scowled.

    “Why a child?”

    “She was as curious as I was,” he said. “And an easy pokemon to talk into doing it.”

    The vigoroth chuckled again.

    Pixel placed her paws over her muzzle and shook her head. “I can't believe this. It makes me feel sick.”

    Green spores engulfed the unfezant in a cloud and he let out a squark of surprise, spinning to face Leaf. His legs wobbled and he fell sideways, and Pixel leapt back, narrowly avoiding the large bird's falling body.

    The vigoroth stood wide-eyed, watching their fallen comrade and scratching their heads with their claws. One of them looked up as Leaf raced towards him on all-fours, his head lowered as he picked up speed. The vigoroth dropped the rope he was holding and raised his paws to defend himself. His claws fixed over Leaf's ears as the ivysaur launched himself into a full body tackle, sending his target tail over head.

    The other vigoroth rushed at Pixel, and she raised her horn to meet his claws. His paws struck his own face and he stumbled backwards into the two emolga. His body jerked as electricity coursed through him, and the twins leapt aside to make room for his falling body as he spasmed on the filthy floor.

    “Quick!” Leaf barked at them. “Climb on!”

    Byte joined him on his hoverboard and he waited for Pixel to gather hers and follow after him. Nybble held onto her waist, watching with fascination as the buildings rushed by.

    “Do you think they'll chase us?” she asked.

    “If we're not fast enough!” Leaf jabbed at his personal computer and glanced back at Byte. “How did you get yourselves caught?”

    “They ambushed us,” said Byte. “And that rope absorbed electricity. There was nothing we could do!”

    Pixel crinkled her muzzle in thought. “It sounds like they were prepared for you.”

    Leaf made a thoughtful noise. “Either they overheard you and singled you out, or someone's intersecting our computer.”

    “Which do you think is more likely?” asked Byte.

    “The first one, although I am going to make sure the computer is safe just in case. Ah!” He pressed a claw to his headset. “Yes, police department please.”

    He glanced back as he muttered to the pokemon on the other end of the line. Pixel followed his gaze. No one was giving chase. Hax was likely still under the influence of the sleep powder. Fortunately she'd managed to battle it, otherwise she feared they wouldn't have been so fortunate.

    That poor vulpix...

    A wave of nausea ran through her and she turned her back on the city. Buildings zoomed past in her peripheral vision, but she couldn't shake the mental image of the vulpix child walking straight towards her demise.

    She wasn't sure she'd be able to sleep that night.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  8. #8

    Default

    6 - Intelligence

    The sun beat down on the lush grass of Cyan Island, dusting away the lingering fog of sleep from Pixel's mind. She yawned and stretched widely as she trudged across the meadow towards the control room. Despite only being able to grab around three hours of sleep, she was feeling oddly awake.

    Nybble and Byte, however, were a stark contrast. The latter looked like he was about to take a nap on the control deck while his sister lazily, and absently, flicked through the morning's news.

    Leaf gave Pixel a wide grin as the door hissed shut behind her.

    “You look cheerful,” she said.

    “I have reason to be.” He nodded at the screen then span to face it. “Hax and his goons have been arrested and are locked safely away in Meta Prison. We've received a grateful, yet heartbroken message from the vulpix's mother thanking us for our efforts.” He sighed and scratched his head. “Such a shame we couldn't give her better news.”

    Pixel peered over his shoulder at the long article, skimming over the text. Meta Prison, despite its name, was situated on the outskirts in Server City, providing an imposing threat to the gangs that formed there, forcing them to hang around the other two small cities instead. The article briefly covered the case of the missing vulpix pup along with three other hatchlings believed to have been tricked by Hax and his gang. However, the unfezant denied such claims, saying he was responsible for only the vulpix. The other three – a ratatta, growlithe and patrat – had allegedly been missing for about the same length of time.

    But one thing really struck her. The article only brushed the fact the vulpix had entered one of the black cracks. Other than that, there was no speculation of the dangers the anomalies caused.

    “They're keeping it under their hats, aren't they?” she scoffed.

    “Hmm?” Leaf looked round at her.

    “The cracks. It's as though the situation doesn't bother them.”

    “They're probably wanting to avoid getting the entire of System into an uproar. If the authorities aren't bothered by it, then the rest of the pokemon won't be. What we can take from this recent case is to stay away from them.”

    She made a non-committal grunt. “How come we weren't told about the other three missing hatchlings?”

    Leaf shrugged. “The ninetails messaged us directly. My guess is they were all lumped together in the news. There's only the four of us left now. We can't read everything, Pixel.”

    “I know. I know.” She fell down in the seat beside Nybble and logged in to her account. “Did they hack into our data by the way? You said it was strange that they seemed to know to target Nybble and Byte.”

    Juice flew out of Nybble's nose and she looked between them with a look of surprise.

    “It doesn't look like it,” said Leaf. “But I don't really know what to look for. So I've changed all passwords just in case. I recommend you change your log-in.”

    She nodded her understanding while reaching for a slice of toast on the small table beside her. She appreciated the snack. There'd been no time to make breakfast that morning.

    She couldn't deny it was a real pain to have to change her password. She worried she'd forget it, so she recited it over and over in her mind as she pulled up her tasks for the day. At the top of the list was her daily duty to check the log of newly infected pokemon in the hospitals, first checking Central Meta. Nothing leapt out at her. None of them were pokemon she recognised, which caused both a wave of relief and a flood of anxiety.

    An alarm went off in her mind and she stalled mid-bite.

    She recognised none of them.

    Didn't the doctor mention a meowstic?

    She scrolled to the top again and went through them one by one carefully until she reached the 'charmander'. Just for good measure, she skimmed through the rest.

    “Is there a problem?” Leaf asked.

    She glanced at him then turned back to the screen. “There's no log of the meowstic on here.”

    He grunted and gave a shrug. “If you're worried, check the claimed section?”

    The claimed section... she tapped the screen and a much smaller list of claimed and recognised victims flashed before her.

    None.

    They weren't listed.

    She shook her head and went back to the previous page. “Not there. I wonder why they didn't log him on here?”

    Leaf leant across Nybble to peer over her shoulder, scanning his eyes over the screen. “It could just be a simple error? I wouldn't worry about it.”

    “I suppose it could just be an oversight, but it seems rather careless, especially at this time.” She sighed and leant back in her chair. “Maybe you're right.”

    He pushed himself back to his seat and gave her a reassuring smile. “Don't stress yourself over it. We've got other things to deal with.”

    “I know, but -”

    “There's no easy way to find out what's happened to him, if anything at all. Short of hacking their systems, which none of us can do.”

    She made a non-committal noise and closed the website, then clicked on the icon for her email account. While she waited for it to load, she dropped her bag on the desk and pulled out her personal computer. A small, crumpled piece of paper tumbled out beside it and she picked it up and smoothed it out, revealing a number scrawled across it. A number that flicked a light on in her mind.

    An adventurer of many talents... Maybe one of those was gathering intel?

    A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. There might be some way to find out what had become of that meowstic after all. All she had to do was fire out a quick message.

    ...

    Lights flickered around the dark room from the various computer screens, many of which were dormant as they flashed through a colourful yet rather retro screen saver.

    Switch threw his feet up on the desk, nudging his mouse and causing the image to break, revealing his previous day's work of sending out requests for a dynamo. Many of them had answers, and the red outline around them told him all of the answers were 'no'.

    Connor bristled beside him as he looked at the man's screen. “You're not getting very far, are you?”

    Switch shrugged and folded his arms behind his head as he leant back in his seat. “It's just a shame Diode can't design one that works.”

    The helioptile looked over at them from his position beside the laser, his sullen expression making him seem small as he almost cowered behind it.

    Connor snorted. “He can design machinery but can't design the parts needed to make it run. Useless!”

    He rammed his paws onto the desk, causing the contents to bounce and sparks to fly from his cheeks. The other two pokemon ducked away, but Switch just watched him out of the corner of his eye.

    “I'm never gonna get home,” the pikachu sighed. He turned his livid expression back on Diode. “Is there really nowhere we can buy a dynamo?!”

    Diode grit his teeth together and returned to tightening a loose screw on the machine.

    “They're old, Connor,” Switch explained. “Parts like that aren't going to come easy to us. We need to find a specialised market.”

    A soft beep followed by a buzz resounded from his pocket. He pulled out his small computer and flipped it open.

    “Then find one,” said Connor. “They can't be that hard to find. There were retro shops all over the place in our world! Surely this place has the same thing!”

    “You'd think.” Switch spoke absently as he read over the text on the small computer's screen.

    'Hi! It's Pixel. I was wondering if you could help me? I was told about a meowstic at Central Meta Hospital yesterday, but he's not listed on their website. I'm worried something might have happened, but right now we're busy trying to find our missing members. Is there any way we can find out? I can pay you.'

    He raised an eyebrow. “Why come to me?”

    Connor's rambling voice cut short and he fixed him with a stare. “What? Because I hired you!”

    Switch looked over at him with a start. “Oh!” He cleared his throat and chuckled, stuffing the computer back into his pocket.

    Connor's eyes didn't leave his hand, his expression becoming more furious as his small muzzle crinkled. “Did you get another job?”

    Switch raised his hands. “I've got to make money somehow, Connor. But I'm always here to help you, you know that.”

    The pikachu snorted and turned back to his computer. “The day you bail is the day you'll regret it. Like I've said before, I seriously doubt you actually want to leave this place. Makes me sick -”

    “Ah, here you go again, be rantin' an' ravin'!”

    All eyes went to the door. A slender leavanny strolled in, pushing a trolley ahead of her with four steaming bowls of soup. She stopped beside Connor and set a bowl down in front of Switch.

    “I tell you now, Connor-boy, you stress too much! When did you sleep last? You got dem heavy bags under yer eyes!”

    “I sleep when I need to, Snippet,” Connor said bluntly.

    The leavanny placed a bowl before a very grateful N00b who wagged his tail in appreciation. She turned back to Connor and shook her head.

    “I be tellin' you before, you got to get some sleep! You can't be doin' all dis with no rest! You'll make yeself ill!” She placed her leafy paws on her hips and frowned. “Stand up, let me have a look at you.”

    The other two pokemon and Switch watched as Connor slid from his chair with a sigh and stood before Snippet, avoiding her eyes. She placed a leaf under his chin and tilted his face up so he was looking at her. Tutting, she released him and took a step back.

    “Dark bags like an insomniac delibird!” She looked at each of the others in turn. “Do none of you tell him to get some rest?”

    N00b and Diode looked away, but Switch caught the amused smiles on their faces. Snippet looked back own at Connor and shook her head again, tutting softly.

    “Young man, you be gettin' yourself to bed, you hear?”

    He clenched his jaw together and turned towards the door. “Fine! An hour, tops!”

    “You'll sleep til you be wakin' up, young man! I'll bring your soup up, an' put yer favourite film on for you. Then, after a good long rest, you'll be fit to continue workin'!”

    He waved a paw in dismissal and vanished through the door.

    Snippet shook her head and tutted again, then grabbed her trolley.

    “I tell you all now, since the day I found him all lost and confused like, he's been nothin' but trouble. But I can't let him suffer now, can I? Poor love. I feel so sorry for him, stuck in a world he ain't no clue about.” She looked over at Switch and gave him a sad smile. “An' you too, dear. You'll both get back home, I'm sure of it.”

    “Thanks, Snippet.” He sipped his soup and gave her a smile. “Good soup, as always. What's in it?”

    “Carrot, lentil an' oran berry! Good for keepin' up dat energy! Now, you lot need to look after each other a bit more, I keep tellin' you dis. I'm happy to be lookin' after you all, but I'm not gonna be around forever, an' wi' dat virus, who knows how long we're gonna be well an' kickin'. I hate to be pessimistic, but we gotta be sensible, ain't we? I'll be back in an hour or so to collect yer dirties.”

    With that, she left the room. They watched her go, then all let out huge sighs of relief.

    Diode left the laser and fell down into his seat, promptly opening up a video website.

    “I reckon he'll be sleeping for a few hours,” said N00b. “Anyone fancy a game of chess?”

    Switch watched the lillipup pull a chessboard from beneath his desk and start lining up the black and white figures. Chess mastery was one of the small pokemon's many surprising talents and trying to finally beat him would surely be a great way to pass some time. Something tugged at his mind and he removed the small computer from his pocket, still showing Pixel's request.

    He still didn't know why she'd turned to him, but if she really wanted this information then there was someone who could help her. His eyes went back to N00b, now neatly lining up the chess pieces so they were all facing the right way.

    “I'll be white.” His tail blurred behind him as he gave Diode and Switch an innocent smile. “If you both want to play, you'll have to flip a coin or something.”

    “I think Diode's quite happy catching up on his dramas.” Switch stood up and moved over to the lillipup, stopping beside him and placing a hand on the back of his seat. N00b glanced back at him out of the corner of his eye as he spoke quietly to his ear. “While Connor's gone, I have a little request of you. Something only you can do.”

    N00b wagged his tail and his tongue lolled from his mouth in a grin. “What is it?”

    “I want you to hack into Central Meta's system and find out what's happened to this meowstic.”

    Switch handed him his pocket computer, letting him read over the mawile's request. He watched his friend's face go from surprise to confusion to concern and once he'd finished he clicked his tongue in thought.

    “Hmm. Suspicious doesn't even begin to describe it.” The lillipup turned his full attention to the computer, his brow furrowed in concentration. “Gimme five... maybe ten minutes.”

    The hospital's website flashed up on the screen as N00b's paws blurred across the keyboard. The image changed so quickly, Switch couldn't keep track. N00b muttered to himself, the odd word more coherent than the others, until he froze on a black screen displaying a chart of green text. He trawled through it, pausing momentarily to jot things down on a notepad.

    Then the images flashed again as the lillipup expertly retraced his footsteps back to his desktop. He leant back on his chair with a sigh and flashed Switch a grin as he hadned him the notepad.

    “There! Didn't even leave a paw print. Got all the information you wanted, and more. I doubt your friend is going to like it though.”

    Switch thanked him and read over his notes. The lillipup's child-like writing left little to be desired.

    'Despite the results of the meeting, Hertz wants to go through with the tests to find out why the meowstic has recovered from the virus. The meowstic won't recover from these experiments, but hopefully we'll find a cure from these tests. If not, his life will have been sacrificed in vain. Hertz refuses to tell the subject anything, in fear he'll decline.'

    The hair on the back of Switch's neck stood on end. “They're not serious?!”

    “I told you.”

    “Hang on. It says here they've put the tests put on hold due to Hertz's health. They will commence on the 22nd.” Switch checked the date on N00b's computer. “That's the day after tomorrow.”

    “It certainly explains why they didn't have him listed,” said N00b. “Too scared someone would come forward and claim him, and mess all this up.”

    Switch snorted. “I can't believe anyone would do this.”

    “He has the world's best interest at heart in the long run. However, his solution is rather warped.”

    “Warped? It's enough to turn your stomach.” Switch tore the page free and stuffed it into his pocket.

    “So what are you gonna do?” N00b asked.

    “I can't tell you that.”

    N00b's eyes widened so much they reminded Switch of a begging puppy. He gave a flustered sigh and shook his head.

    “Fine. I'm going to break him out.” He gave N00b a wink. “Don't breath a word of this to Connor.”

    “I can't anyway.” N00b grinned and wagged his tail. “I won't be here. I'm coming with you.”

    Switch narrowed his eyes. “You'll be staying here. If I take you with me, Connor will have my head!”

    N00b waved a paw. “Forget it. You need me for this.”

    “I need you?”

    “Sure. Data, infiltration tactics. With the plans they've got at hand, they're surely going to have raised their defences.” He nudged one of the pawns across the chess board, then moved an enemy knight across to intersect it. “If you think it's going to be so easy to get past them unprepared, you've got another thing coming.”

    Switch gave a flustered sigh and ran a hand through his untidy hair. “Fine. But you need to keep up.” He glanced over at Diode, meeting a pair of wide, curious eyes. “I can trust you won't say anything either?”

    Diode shook his head and ran a paw across his lips like a zipper.

    Switch smiled. “All right. We'll be back soon, hopefully. Thank Snippet again for her soup for me?”

    N00b cheered rather too loudly and leapt from his seat. “Oh boy! Road trip!”

    “Keep your voice down!” Switch hissed, prompting the lillipup to cover his mouth with both his front paws.

    As he raced from the room, he fired a quick message to Pixel. Hopefully the mawile wouldn't have any plans taking up her schedule for the next couple of days. He had no idea how any of them were going to go about this, but he knew they were going to have to work fast.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

  9. #9

    Default

    7 - Breakout

    Fluffy white clouds hung heavily in the sky, casting the drifting continent in a light mist and obscuring the view of the world below. Pixel could just make out the narrow trail of a river making its way towards the Backbone Mountains in the distance.

    “I can't believe you're going through with this.” Leaf crossed his arms and shook his head. “You're risking a prison sentence.”

    “You agreed with me,” she reminded him. “What they're planning is twisted. It's practically murder!”

    He gave a flustered sigh. “You know we only deal with investigations that fall between the cracks. Is this really one of them?”

    “Yes. The police want nothing to do with cases involving the virus. They've left the hospitals completely in charge of such things.”

    “But murder, Pixel.”

    “The doctors would just play the 'virus' card and tell them it's a potential cure. Unfortunately, it's a grey area.”

    He rubbed a paw over his face, nudging his headphones so they fell around his neck. “If they had his permission to perform a risky procedure, I'd understand. But either way, you're putting yourself at risk trying to stop them.”

    “I'm not going alone.”

    “No. You're going ahead with the crazy plans of a human, who – I'm not discriminating – I just don't know so I can't trust him.”

    She rolled her eyes. “You're being paranoid.”

    “Can you blame me? We've lost so many members as it is! I don't want to lose you too.”

    “You're not going to lose me.” She looked over at him, but he didn't meet her eyes. Instead focusing his attention on the misty view below them. “Besides, if we do get caught, we have all the evidence we need. I'm sure the police won't be happy with what Hertz is planning, even with all those suffering from this virus. It's still wrong. It's still murder.”

    “I think they'd be fighting for you to call it manslaughter.”

    “They know perfectly well what the risks are.” She hugged herself as a cold breeze washed over her and looked out at the horizon. “Yet they're still wanting to go through with it.”

    “I'd like to say it's none of our business, but I know you too well to know you're not going to just let this slide.”

    She gave a small smile and shook her head. “No. Not now I know it's happening. Oh! I think that's him.”

    A winged shape beat its way towards them, growing gradually larger as it surged up from the ground below. The unmistakable red and black feathers of a talonflame stood stark against the pale mist before he burst forth, whipping up the air as he landed daintily on the grass. He gave Leaf a nod then fixed his golden eyes on Pixel.

    “Are you ready?” he asked. “There's no turning back now.”

    Pixel clambered onto his back and once he was happy she was securely in place he turned to take off, but faltered as Leaf waved a paw to distract him.

    “Just so you know, I'm not happy about this.” The ivysaur pointedly crossed his arms again.

    “Don't worry.” Switch winked. “We have an expert on our team.”

    “What expert?” Leaf shouted.

    “A friend of mine.”

    His answer didn't satisfy Leaf remotely. He fired several other questions as Switch beat his wings, rising smoothly into the air and leaving Leaf's cries of protest to die out behind them.

    Pixel clasped her paws around Switch's feathers and leant towards his head. “A friend?”

    He flashed her a smile. “Yes. He's waiting for us on the ground.”

    Wind roared past her ears as the talonflame rocketed through the mist towards the world below. The slender form of the river vanished beyond the horizon, replaced with thick trees and the rooftops of houses as they descended into a small town. Waiting patiently beside a narrow street was a little auto-mobile shaped like a bullet. Switch landed beside it and gave the passenger a nod.

    “Pixel, meet N00b.”

    A young lillipup sporting a pair of flight goggles flashed her a toothy grin from behind the vehicle's steering wheel. “Nice to meet you!”

    “You too.” Pixel looked up at Switch. “This is your friend? The expert?”

    He winked. “Don't let looks deceive you. He might be a kid but he's a prodigy. If you're not convinced, he designed that car.”

    N00b gave the steering wheel a playful thump. “Yup! And I call it the awesome rocking bullet!”

    Pixel raised an eyebrow and eyed the car cautiously. “Really?”

    Switch chuckled, and the lillipup burst into laughter and doubled over on the dashboard. “Nah! I'm trolling you. It's the N00b Mobile! Get in.”

    She looked the car up and down again. It was small and narrow in design with a chrome plating and only three seats lined up from front to rear. There was no visible roof. She assumed it was folded away in the trunk. Feathers brushed her back as Switch ushered her forwards, eliciting from her a squeak of surprise.

    “You can trust him, it's safe.”

    “Yeh.” N00b widened his eyes at her. “If you don't climb in, you'll hurt my fuzzy feelings.”

    His words caused her to break into a broad smile and she hopped into the seat behind him. Once the door was shut, she looked back out at Switch.

    “Aren't you joining us?”

    He shook his head and spread his wings wide to prepare to take off. “Those seats are too small for me in either form. Even as a talonflame they restrict my wings. I'll be flying above you.”

    N00b pressed a few buttons on the dashboard and the front of the car lit up with flashing green lights. They stabilised and the display showed a list of numbers, one of which was marked 'speed'. A soft beep came from somewhere near him and he pulled out a pocket computer from the glove compartment and flinched.

    “Argh, we need to be quick. Connor's going to kill us.”

    Pixel's eyes opened wide with surprise. “Connor?” It didn't sound like a pokemon name. She looked up at Switch for an explanation. His wings hung limp at his sides and his face was twisted in a grimace. He shook it off quickly and gave her a smile.

    “He'll probably dock my pay. Oh well. Let's get a wiggle on, shall we? We've got a life to save.”

    With that, he rose into the air and N00b gave a cheer as the engine flared into life.

    “I'm glad to see you have your own goggles!” he said. “I suggest you use them.”

    She didn't question it. The pair of pink framed goggles settled snugly over her eyes just before the little car lurched forwards and took her breath away as it sped along the narrow streets, the buildings going past in a blur.

    “Is this really safe?!” she wailed.

    The lillipup chuckled. “What? You think I'd build a car like this without a collision detector?”

    His dance around her question left her feeling somewhat unsettled. All she could do was hope his statement was merely rhetorical.

    ...

    The high tops of skyscrapers appeared clear over the low roofs of the outskirts. Travelling through the outlying towns had been trivial, but as the outskirts drew closer, N00b brought his car to a screeching halt, the rear end spinning sideways and sending dust into the air. Pixel choked and wafted a paw over her nose to beat it away. She squinted through her goggles as the dust settled, revealing three pokemon in hazmat suits standing beyond a frame of yellow tape that cut off the end of the road. A large, red sign was what had brought N00b to a sudden stop. The car had halted on level with it, and the little pokemon's attention fixated on the working pokemon, watching them spraying disinfectant over the buildings and street.

    “No.” She shook her head. “Not here.”

    She knew full well if it was an outbreak of the virus the entire town would likely be shut off to become a ghost town. And this close to Meta City too... her heart hammered in her throat and she gripped the back of N00b's leather driving seat.

    The lillipup scratched at his ear with his back paw. “Argh. How are we going to get around this mess?”

    “I could fly over it?” Switch's voice drew their eyes up to him. He hovered above them, beating his wings steadily to stay aloft. “I doubt it goes all around the whole city.”

    “You can't fly over it,” said Pixel. “It's contaminated, and there's no saying you won't catch it.”

    “There's no record of humans catching the virus,” he reminded her.

    “No evidence doesn't prove you're immune. Yes, no humans lying in comas have been found with it, but some humans have turned into pokemon, and the virus renders those who catch it almost unrecognisable! You can go back and forth. You still use a pokemon's body.”

    His body slumped as he sighed and he shook his head slowly. “Very well. Let's try and find a way around it then. It might just be a small number of houses have had an outbreak.”

    The talonflame swerved and doubled back on himself, moving over the tops of the buildings. N00b revved up his car and followed him as closely as he could while sticking to the streets. He moved at a much slower pace now, scouting out the streets for any way through. Every one that led into Meta City culminated in a dead end of yellow tape and 'no entry' signs. Pokemon in hazmat suits became a common sight, and some of them shouted and turned them away. With each road, Pixel's heart sank. It was looking very likely the outbreak had started in the main city.

    Nothing in the news had prepared her for this. It must have been very recent. She pulled her computer out of her bag and switched it on, the holographic screen appearing before her eyes. Loading up the news revealed the latest headlines, and she pawed through them looking for some sign of what exactly was going on.

    Her reward came with a red notice – 'Outbreak in Meta Prison'.

    “It's the prison!” she gasped.

    “The prison?” N00b looked back at her. “It's a secure site. How did it get in?”

    “I've no idea, I-” The image of an infected pokemon graced the screen, his wings covered with a green moss. A flying pokemon...

    Wait... the previous day, the battle with Hax and the vigoroth brothers, resulting in their arrest.

    The whole ordeal with the vulpix and the black cracks...

    She felt her eyes widen slowly and she stared back down at the computer. The text was nothing but a blur to her now as her paws shook uncontrollably.

    It couldn't be. If it was the same pokemon they'd battled the day before... if it was Hax...

    Leaf had taken a nasty blow from that unfezant.

    “No...” the word came out involuntarily and she shook her head sharply.

    “Are you all right?” N00b asked.

    “I don't know. We had a run in with a pokemon who was sent to Meta Prison only yesterday, and now this outbreak...”

    He snapped his head back to her and fixed her with a mixed look of confusion and fear.

    She looked back down at the computer, trying to focus her eyes to read on. Maybe she was mistaken. Maybe it wasn't the same pokemon.

    Switch perched on the seat behind her and trailed a feather over the screen, scrolling through the article. “I thought it showed itself quite quickly. If you had it...”

    “I'm not worried about me,” she said, rather bluntly.

    Truth be told, she hadn't even been thinking about that. The sheer thought, however, made her fur stand on end all down her back.

    “So you had a run-in with this staraptor?” Switch asked.

    “Staraptor?”

    She stared at the picture once more. Hax wasn't a staraptor. Almost instantly, her vision corrected itself and the words stood out as clear as day. She grimaced and clenched her teeth together.

    “No... no, he wasn't a staraptor.”

    He chuckled and struck her in the back with a heavy wing, almost knocking her into N00b's seat. “Then you've nothing to worry about!”

    “So everything's okay?” N00b asked.

    She popped the computer away and nodded. “I was concerned. But it's okay.”

    N00b gave a dry chuckle. “Maybe you should have read the whole article!”

    She flinched back in her seat and folded her paws on her lap. “I'm sorry. We've lost a lot of friends recently. It's easy to leap to the worst case scenario.”

    Switch let out a grunt. “Unfortunately the way they word the headlines doesn't help. 'Virus takes two more' would generate more views for the news stations than 'virus claims poliwag and pidgey'.” He smiled and gave her a wink. “It's not your fault.”

    She felt herself smile back and relaxed into the seat.

    “Let's forget about it and find this meowstic,” he said. “I'll scout for another street through to the city.”

    “Don't bother.” N00b tapped a screen on his dashboard. “I'm looking for a map. It will rule out all closed off streets.”

    “And you weren't using this before... why?”

    “It's in beta right now! I didn't want to get us lost.”

    Switch sighed and shook his head. “Okay! I'll scout on ahead anyway, and keep an eye on you two.”

    N00b stuck his tongue out at the talonflame's tail as he vanished over the rooftops. “Right.” He nodded to the map on the screen. “This thinks we need to rule out Server City entirely and go through Spool.” He grimaced as he revved the engine back into action. “Thankfully Connor never steps paw outside.”

    ...

    The journey through Spool City was a sheer blur as the little car rocketed down the winding streets. Twice it came to a sudden stop as a pokemon bolted across the road, firing insults at them as they took off again.

    Finally, the car streaked into Meta City, joining the trundling wagons, smaller mobiles and hoverboards in the busy streets. The repetitive stop and start made their previous journeys through Proxy and Spool seem like a breeze. Now it felt like they would never reach the hospital.

    Pixel looked up to see if she could spot Switch, but he hadn't returned yet from mapping out the city.

    “I say we get out and walk,” she said.

    N00b tenderly tapped the dashboard with a paw. “And what do we do with the N00b Mobile?”

    “Park it somewhere.”

    He shook his head and grinned, his tongue lolling out at one side. “We need it. My plan involves a hasty get-away.”

    She raised an eyebrow at the lillipup. “I was kind of hoping for more stealth. Have you thought this through?”

    “Thought it through and penned down every possible outcome. Then I screwed it up and threw it away and decided to go rogue on this one.”

    “So what is your plan exactly?”

    He grinned again and turned his attention back to the road as the traffic moved another three meters further.

    “Wing it. I don't have one. There are several things we could do, but we need to scope out what their security is like.”

    “You haven't already done that?”

    “Yes, but the pokemon work in shifts. It could be any one of them. We'd need to tap into their security cameras first and see which one it is. I'm really hoping it's not the raichu doctor. I don't fancy being on the receiving end of a thunderbolt.”

    “Neither do I,” came Switch's voice from above them.

    N00b's tail became a blur behind him. “You're back!”

    “Take the next right turn,” Switch told him. “Follow the quieter roads. Eventually they lead to the hospital. It's not a direct route but it will certainly be faster than this one.”

    “Roger!”

    The traffic moved forwards again, stopping just as quickly and leaving them a mere two feet away from the right turn. Her nerves were now on end as she tried to think through a way to rescue this meowstic. If it went wrong, all three of them could be facing a prison sentence.

    They could be accused of breaking and entering, abduction, interfering with government projects.

    She was pushed back in her seat as the traffic surged forwards and N00b took this opportunity to speed up and round the corner before he lost his chance. Now they were in the narrow, empty streets, the wind beat at her face as he sped along them.

    Switch barked directions from above them, each one followed without flaw. N00b slowed a couple of times as they encountered a few vehicles that had decided to take the quieter route, but within minutes they had arrived at the red and white bollards that marked the location of the large hospital.

    They'd come from the other direction than Pixel had the day before. It was mildly disorienting as she tried to get her bearings. The line of ambulances stood quietly to her right, and the massive building rose up on her left.

    “Which area is he in?” she asked quietly.

    N00b was pawing at his personal computer, his attention entirely focused on his current task. She waited patiently for him to respond, occasionally casting a glance at the hospital as if she feared the very building itself might be aware of what they were planning.

    Finally, N00b looked up from his computer. “He's in the east wing.”

    “That's right at the other side,” said Switch.

    “Yup, so we'll have to take the car around there and hide it. I've got their security up on screen. Fortunately it's not the raichu.” He shook his head and chuckled at Switch. “Unfortunately for you, it's the wartortle.”

    Switch grimaced and rose back into the air with a mock sigh. “I'll just have to use my speed to my advantage then, huh?”

    Pixel felt her heart leap into her throat and she rose up in her seat. “We're not battling anyone! I want this to be as low key as possible!”

    N00b hissed at her. “Keep your voice down. You'll blow everything.”

    He pulled the car away from the bollards and trundled around the massive hospital, following the narrow road past multi-story car parks and little cafes where pokemon were likely spending their time outside of visiting hours.

    Pixel didn't like the idea of blowing their chance to rescue the poor unsuspecting pokemon, but she also didn't like the idea of running in and throwing attacks at the doctors, making a real scene of something they could do much more low key.

    The east wing was far from the quarantine ward, standing independently from the hospital. The N00b Mobile pulled up behind a wall and they peered over the top of it at the squat building. The sign above the door read 'authorised pokemon only', and standing formidably beside the door was an intercom.

    “Gah!” N00b struck the steering wheel. “Thwarted!”

    Pixel shook her head. “I don't think so. There's got to be another way in.”

    “Of course there's another way in.” N00b was tapping at his personal computer again. He held it up so Pixel could see the screen, displaying a map of the entire hospital. He zoomed in on the east wing and pointed with a claw. “See? A window.”

    She blinked. “The building is full of windows.”

    “Yes, but this one is a patio window, leading out from the dining room. If we get in through there, we'll be inside. And from there...” He flashed her a boyish grin. “We throw on some aprons and deliver dinner.”

    She frowned and Switch gave an audible snort.

    “Sounds like something from a teenage sitcom,” he said.

    N00b shrugged and looked up at him. “You got any better ideas?”

    ...

    They stood before the patio window, which was unfortunately closed. The summer sun beaming down through the glass pane must have made the dining room feel like a greenhouse.

    While they tried to figure a way in, Switch rose into the air to keep a lookout while Pixel paced up and down looking for an entry point. There was no easy way in to be seen. She turned back to find N00b tapping away at his computer.

    “I've managed to access the cameras.” He looked up again at the corner of the dining room. “I've disabled all the ones in the dining room. They'll think it's merely a fault, and they'll have them back online soon.” He handed the computer to Pixel. “Keep an eye on it. If they go green again, let me know.”

    She nodded as she stared at the strange display. Every camera in the building was listed, and could be controlled through this small computer. How had he gained access to such information? She frowned and looked back up at the lillipup, watching as he used a slender rod of metal to jimmy open the lock inside the window. The only way he could do something like this was if he was a keen hacker.

    Hackers used to be rampant in the outskirts. The police didn't like them. The government had issued a warrant to have all hackers locked behind bars. And here one was, helping her...

    A sharp clink resounded through the pane and he looked back at them with a grin.

    “Tadah! We're in. How are them cameras looking?”

    She looked back down at the computer. Nothing had changed. She handed it back to him and he scanned over it then ushered them towards the window. Switch swooped down from the air to follow them inside and closed it behind him with one of his talons.

    “I have to say, I'd be much more comfortable walking around in my own body,” he said.

    “You'd also stand out like a sore paw-pad,” said N00b.

    “So where are we going?” Pixel asked.

    “Kitchen. Hopefully we can get there before the staff start preparing three-o-clock snacks.”

    The lillipup stuffed his computer back into his bag and trotted towards a door in the far left of the dining room. She had to trot to keep up with him, and Switch had even more difficulty as he hopped along behind her.

    The door led to a kitchen which, unfortunately, had an audino pacing up and down, stirring pans and arranging cakes on a dainty cake tree. She looked at the three of them with a start and raised a paw to her mouth. Pixel braced herself for the worst but instead the audino's eyes widened with delight and she lent forwards, fixing her blue eyes on the little lillipup.

    “Why if you aren't the cutest little thing! What are you doing here?”

    N00b wagged his tail and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. “I'm on work experience! And these two tell me they're interns.”

    She looked up at Pixel and Switch and eyed them curiously. Pixel didn't know what to say. All words had failed her as she just stuttered.

    Switch nodded. “Yup, we're interns. This is our first shift.”

    “Really?” The audino rubbed her chin as she looked them up and down. “I can't see your name cards.”

    “We haven't received them yet,” he said. “There's been a printing error, so we need to wait for them.”

    “Oh, dash it all!” The audino threw her paws in the air and shook her head. “Can't trust machines at all, can you? And we rely on them so much! Here. Grab an apron each, and take this trolley to room B.” She paused with the plate of sandwiches hovering over the trolley and looked at them with a raised eyebrow. “Do you know your way around? I don't imagine you do.”

    “We passed room B on the way here,” said N00b.

    “Of course you did.” She placed the plate down with a small clatter beside a steaming teapot, pausing to neaten out the already neat white tablecloth, long enough to almost reach the floor on all sides, before nudging the trolley over to them. “They'll be waiting for their sandwiches. Please be quick. I don't want Mono complaining she's had to take a late break again.”

    Pixel nodded her understanding and took the trolley from the audino. As she turned towards the door, she eyed Switch now sporting a chequered pink apron and hid a smirk behind her paw. He gave her a wink and followed her out of the door.

    “I don't know what you're smirking at. I think pink's my colour.”

    She couldn't help feeling this was all going a little too smoothly. The trolley rattled on a loose wheel as she pushed it down the hallway with N00b leading the way while Switch followed behind her. The lillipup pulled his computer out again to gather his bearings and turned a sharp right bend. Pixel glanced 'Room B' on their left. She had to hope whoever was waiting for their snack didn't come out to look for them.

    “Which room are we going to?” she whispered.

    N00b's large ear's twitched and he glanced back at her. “It's at the end of this corridor. But there's no doors to the outside, and no windows large enough to get him through.” He nodded to indicate Switch.

    The talonflame rolled his eyes. “A wartortle guard, too big for a quick escape... I'm being a dead weight on this mission.”

    “Don't be a martyr!”

    The lillipup's goofy smile and Switch's chuckle raised the tension from the air, and Pixel felt herself smile as she regained her optimism. A plan was formulating in her mind, but it felt rather cliché. If they could hide the meowstic on the trolley, they could hopefully get to the door without being seen, or close enough for an easy escape.

    N00b paused beside a door at a dead end and rose up on his hind legs to peer through the small window, although he couldn't quite reach.

    “This is it,” he said. “Room F.”

    Pixel abandoned the trolley and scooted over to him, pulling herself up so she could see through the window more clearly. The glass was tinted to keep out light, but she could make out the form of a meowstic sitting on a lone bed with his paws folded in his lap. A wave of relief flooded through her. They hadn't started their experiment yet.

    She placed her paw on the door handle and twisted it.

    Locked.

    N00b met her eyes and looked back at the door, reaching for his computer. “It's a card key panel. It'll take a minute or two for this baby to analyse it, so keep an eye op-”

    The door opened abruptly and a pair of pale blue eyes looked at each of them in turn. It opened fully and Pixel let out a gasp, her paw flying to her mouth as she took a step away from the door.

    The pokemon staring back at them looked every bit like a normal meowstic save for his colouration – white with black markings. It was as though his usual colouring had been reversed and then transformed into a greyscale picture. From the angle he was standing at, she could also make out two long, black, horizontal stripes across his back.

    Her reaction hadn't been met with enthusiasm. He sneered at her and looked away sharply.

    “Just... leave the trolley in the hall. I'll get it when I'm ready.”

    He vanished behind the door as he released it, and it began to silently shut on its heavy closer.

    “Wait!”

    Pixel stuffed her paw between the door and its frame and a surge of pain shot through her paw. It opened again suddenly, and she whipped her paw back, clasping it to her chest and grimaced. She was now stood in the doorway with a confused and irritated meowstic staring at her contrasting the looks of concern (and in N00b's part, mild amusement) from the other two pokemon.

    The door had only been locked from the outside. This pokemon was free to leave, just walk straight out of the room and out if he wanted to. What was keeping him here? If they were wrong, things could take an embarrassing turn.

    “What do you want?” he asked her. “If you need the trolley back, just leave the tray.”

    “We're not here to deliver a trolley.” She kept her voice as low as she could. “We're here to get you out.”

    “Get me out?” He snorted. “What are you talking about? I turned myself in here. They said they could help me.”

    “N00b?” She looked back at the lillipup, his nose buried behind his computer.

    “Already on it.” He handed it to her, the information loaded up neatly on the screen.

    She offered it to the meowstic. “See? From what you said, it doesn't sound like you had this in mind?”

    “Have what in mind?” His eyes widened and his frown slowly turned into shock as he read over the text. The computer was thrust back into her paws and he shook his head slowly as he looked around the bare room. Words stuttered out of his mouth, almost illegible. “What? I don't-”

    “You need to be quick,” said Switch. “I can hear footsteps.”

    “Come on.” Pixel took the meowstic's arm and led him from the room.

    Every ounce of reluctance had left him. His eyes were still wide and looked as though they were glazing over. Switch took him from her and helped him beneath the trolley, making sure the long tablecloth hid him completely from sight.

    It felt a lot heavier now as she shoved it along the corridor back the way they'd come. She was beginning to really question why it had been so easy. The door wasn't locked from the inside. There had been no sign of a wartortle guarding the room. The audino had barely questioned their presence at all.

    If this wing was meant to be high security, it was seriously lacking.

    Footsteps echoed down the corridor on the right, leading back to the kitchen. Pixel's heart began to hammer in her chest. She was really hoping things would continue to go in their favour, and now their only exit was barred off by an approaching doctor.

    The hidden pokemon's shadow spread up the wall, followed by a squat, blue form topped by the pointed, fuzzy ears of a wartortle. She blinked her heavy-lashed eyes as she fixed the three pokemon with a frown.

    “'Bout time! I was wonderin' where our snack was. I just went and asked at the kitchen, and apparently you'd left with it ten minutes ago!”

    Pixel feigned an embarrassed smile and rubbed a paw over the back of the head. Her chuckle mixed with N00b's and Switch's and the lillipup shook his head and waved a paw.

    “I'm sorry,” said Pixel. “We kind of got lost.”

    The wartortle shook her head slowly. “If three of you can't find Room B,” she pointed a claw at the room, “when it's clearly signed, then what hope have you got of stayin' on here? Gimme that trolley.”

    Pixel leant across it protectively, almost knocking over the pot of tea. The wartortle fixed her with a look of surprise and took a step back from her.

    “Sorry!” Pixel gasped. “You see, we need the trolley.”

    “You need it? You always leave the trolley!”

    “Well... you see...” She trailed off. She wasn't good at this. Lying wasn't something she was comfortable with. Behind her, Switch clicked his beak thoughtfully.

    “They've been stolen.”

    The wartortle crossed her arms. “High security ward and trolleys are being stolen? I find that highly doubtful. Aren't you new?”

    He closed his eyes and shrugged. “What can I say? This place has been rather lacking in its security. Whoever is meant to be in charge should be given a firm talking to about abandoning their post.” He caught the wartortle's frown. “But you look very capable. I bet few could get past you, am I right?”

    “Well, I...” She blushed and rubbed a paw over her head. “I do my best.”

    “I'm sure you do.” Switch grinned. “Now, if you don't mind, we need to get this trolley back to the kitchen. So if you want to take your tray?”

    Her blushing smile transformed back into a bitter frown. “I told you, the policy is you leave the trolley! Now give it here before it all goes cold!” She grabbed the opposite end in both paws and pulled, stumbling back as its weight threw her off balance. She held on to the tablecloth and fell onto her back with a shrill shriek, cakes and tea raining down on top of her.

    Pixel yanked the trolley back and shot past the flailing wartortle, the wheels clattering noisily as she bolted for the main door. It felt miles away, and the advancing audino drained what little hope was left from her body.

    “What is going on?!” the audino screamed. “I thought you were interns!” Her eyes went to the bottom of the trolley, where the black and white arm of the meowstic was hanging free and bouncing along the floor.

    Switch gave her an apologetic smile and waved a wing as they sped towards the door. “Sorry. As I'm sure you've now noticed, we were actually on a rescue mission.”

    “Don't just stand there!” barked the wartortle. “Stop them!”

    Pixel ventured a glance back. The wartortle had managed to climb back to her feet and was racing after them with a raichu and two growlithe. Her heart did a flip into her throat and she kicked the ground in a desperate bid to reach the door.

    Not one of them wanted to be on the receiving end of that assault. The wartortle and raichu were troublesome for Switch, and she wasn't happy with the idea of being engulfed in the growlithes' flamethrowers. As for N00b, she doubted a pokemon so small would be able to handle an assault from four strong pokemon.

    “You keep going!” Switch span to face the onslaught. “I'll hold them off.”

    She looked back at him, her violet eyes as wide as saucers. “But... but you can't do it alone!”

    He kicked himself up from the ground and lunged at them, his body a blur as he rocketed through the air. The raichu grunted as he struck him, sending him rolling away tail over head in an explosion of sparks until he crashed into a wall. Switch flailed backwards from him, struggling to stay airbourne as sparks danced across his feathers. His body stiffened and he collapsed to the floor, his wings splayed out at his sides.

    Pixel had almost made it through the door, but her heart had frozen in her chest. All she could do was watch helplessly as the talonflame struggled to rise to his feet, watching as the wartortle prepared to finish him off.

    She relinquished her grip on the trolley and leapt towards the turtle pokemon, slamming her horn hard into her gut. Her feet left the floor with the impact and she arced through the air, over the growlithes' flamethrowers as they aimed straight for Pixel.

    A small collision knocked her sideways and the attacks missed their mark. One of the growlithe yelped as a yellow streak crashed into him, sending sparks along his body and leaving him in a crumpled pile beside the wartortle. N00b stood with his fur on end, facing the recovering raichu and the remaining growlithe. Pixel looked around the room, feeling increasingly helpless. Not only were two pokemon still facing them, the audino had hurried to aid the wartortle and other growlithe, a pulse of pink light emanating from her feelers and healing away the two fallen pokemon's wounds.

    “Switch, can you stand?” Pixel asked.

    He let out a groan as he strained to raise his head, fixing the advancing raichu with a leer. He opened his beak and spat out a single flame, causing the raichu to flinch back as it seared through to his flesh. Switch rounded on the wartortle, still receiving attention from the audino. Another flame spouted from him, burning her on the paw.

    The audino looked back at him, eyes wide as her mouth hung open wordlessly. She looked around at her friends, eyeing the raichu as he beat at his singed fur, flinching in pain. The lone growlithe was looking to her for help, now outnumbered two-to-one.

    She stood up and gave the talonflame a flustered sigh. A small bell began to chime from some hidden area on her body, and with it the burns healed away from her two friends.

    Switch laughed and pushed himself to his feet. Two quick wisps flew from his beak, striking the wartortle and raichu before they could ready their attacks. Then, as quick as a heartbeat, flames erupted from his wings and engulfed the raichu, sending him running with his paws over his ears to escape the heat wave. The fire engulfed the walls, scattering those that couldn't take the heat.

    “You moron!” the wartortle screeched. “You're gonna burn the place down!”

    She leapt into action, spraying the walls with water which sizzled as it struck the smouldering surface.

    “I'm sorry,” said Switch. “I really didn't want to do this.”

    One of the growlithe shot from amongst the flames, snapping at his wings, only to be knocked back down with a full-body attack.

    A stream of water clipped his tail feathers and he yelped, arcing in the air to fix his eyes on the wartortle. Pixel rushed at her and knocked her backwards into the audino's arms. She nimbly dodged a stream of fire from the remaining growlithe and watched gob-smacked as N00b rushed past her, his fur sparking, and crashed into the fire pokemon in a flash of dancing electricity, sending him rolling back through the dwindling flames.

    “Hurry!” The urgency in Switch's voice shook her out of her momentary shock, and she bolted for the trolley.

    N00b pawed at the door, trying to get it open, but it was no use. The automatic button wasn't working.

    “They've disabled it!” he wailed. “There's no time for me to-”

    Glass exploded outwards, raining down around them in tiny shards and clinging to Switch's feathers as he burst through the door, his body engulfed in flames. N00b flinched under the assault of falling shards and shook his head sharply as he raced through them. Pixel followed after him, the shouts of the opposing pokemon and glass striking the metal trolley loud in her ears.

    “The N00b Mobile is just beyond the wall,” N00b told her. “Can you carry the meowstic?”

    She grimaced. “I don't think so.”

    Switch swooped from the air, knocking the trolley out of her grip as he grabbed for its passenger. The meowstic hung limply in his claws and Switch gave her a look of concern.

    No wonder he'd been so quiet. The poor pokemon had fainted.

    A streak of lightning cut through the air, and Switch swerved away from it with a squeak of surprise. Pixel glanced back at the east wing. Smoke billowed through the door, rising into the sky in a thick black cloud. The small group of pokemon stood amongst it. Not only had they recovered, they were now accompanied by two more. An exploud and Hertz. The gallade watched them silently as attacks went off around him, a look of disappointment in his eyes as he looked from her to the talonflame and back.

    A loud horn rang out from behind her, and she span, vaulting the wall and landing nimbly in the seat behind N00b. The engine flared to life and the small car shot away from the hospital with such speed the wall shook, pushing her back into her seat.

    Above them, Switch strained to keep up, holding fast to the limp meowstic.

    “Where to?” N00b asked her.

    “Cyan Island.”

    “Cyan Island, eh?”

    He pawed at the computer, and Pixel watched in fascination as two slender wings erupted from the side of the car. Slowly, it began to rise into the air, and before she knew it they were above the roofs of the skyscrapers.

    “This thing can fly?” she squeaked.

    “Wow!” Switch appeared beside them, his wings beating in steadily to keep himself and his passenger airborne. “You never fail to amaze me, N00b.”

    “It's still in beta. I have no idea how safe it is.” He flashed them a goofy grin. “Good thing Cyan Island isn't far away, huh?”

    Cyan Island... It had been a default answer. There was no way Leaf was going to be happy with all of them landing on their base.

    She looked up at the drifting continent moving slowly to the east in the distance. She couldn't really think of anywhere else to go.
    I'm an avid fanfiction writer! See below for links to some of my 'fics! =D
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched
    I'm also on FFnet with the same username!

    † I am a Christian, and not ashamed to admit it! Copy and paste this if you are too †

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