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Thread: Operation GEAR: The Angel of Reckoning (R)

  1. #126
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    He came to the same conclusion,” the sullen young woman explained.
    Matt nodded to her, and Nekou turned to Olivia, fixing a determined, eye-level gaze on the young woman.
    I have a pet peeve over epithets like “young woman”, “taller man”, etc because you often don’t think someone close or yourself as “woman” or “man”. I know sometimes I use title epithets like “detective”, “professor”, etc., but I think those are okay as it’s a bit more respectful and the career title gives the readers an idea of a person’s traits.

    “Looker, why are you even here? Last I had heard of you, you were off in Kanto investigating the Kiss of Death case.”

    Looker sighed and crossed his arms. “Taken off the case, I happened to be. It has not seen wide reporting, but there occurred to be two more murders.”

    “Why would they take you off the case just because the killer struck again?” Matt wondered, not noticing Nekou briefly shoot a glare at him.
    I was actually wondering when the Kiss of Death case will be brought up again and glad to hear it’s being mentioned.

    “Two prisoners jailed by the International Police whose cycles reached their opportunity for parole and return to life being ordinary. They both received negative judgments of their readiness and must be escorted back to the adjacent nation of Kanto for return to prison. One is the former tycoon of business Grings Kodai, and the other… the other’s your friend from the past, Jacob Alexison.”

    Matt nearly blacked out the moment Looker said the name Jacob Alexison, as a flood of memories came rushing back to him – none of them positive. He held his chest as if in pain.

    “Where he shot me still hurts every time I think about him…” he growled, “…but I’m going to need to ask you a favor. Let me talk to him before you ship him off.”
    Oh boy. D: You mentioned vaguely time to time the meeting would happen, and yeah already looking forward to it, even though I know it’ll be quite an awkward situation.

    “Is that how you will continue to grow closer together?”

    Surprised by the voice behind them, Matt, Olivia and Nekou all turned around sharply, only to discover Nikolai standing behind them with his hands in the pockets of his coat. He looked as listless as ever, and his sudden appearance provoked both Nekou and Looker to grimace.
    Oh, hi Nikolai. Yeah, he always seem to depart heh.

    “You’ve been. My plans are moving ahead to the next stage, and I am about to leave Polaris’s temple for Ecruteak City to begin putting the final touches in place. How prepared are you for the Goldenrod phase?”
    Ghetsis going to Eruteak City. That doesn’t sound too good. O.o

    “Every Pokémon I choose will be determined by your answers to questions about Bug-type Pokémon and moves,” Bugsy explained as he took out and opened a green Pokédex. “As the Walking Bug Pokémon Encyclopedia, it’s my job to ensure you leave this Gym knowing more about them than when you entered.”

    “Well, that’s unusual,” Nikolai muttered.
    I like that extra detail you put in for Bugsy. It’s amusing though Nikolai thought it’s weird, lol.

    Olivia’s mental breakdown during the breakdown…oh ouch. O.o; Like Matt I too wondered why Bugsy didn’t notice that, though it can be easily explained he was focusing too much being the gym leader there.

    Dewott snapped one of the shells off his thigh and held it up, causing it to turn into an elongated blade, then lunged at Scyther. Scyther took a similar action, and soon, the two were locked in a vicious swordfight using their respective weapons. While Bugsy’s Pokémon was the more aggressive of the two, he was crippled by an unexpected disadvantage – Dewott’s smaller size enabled the Water-type to quickly dodge in and out of Scyther’s slashes, rendering the Bug-and-Flying-type Pokémon unable to land any of his strikes.
    I like this particular detail here. Overall glad Olivia was more relaxed in the last part of the battle and she’s closer with Dewott now (yay for Oshawoot evolving!). Enjoyable overall.

    James leaned down to read the sign. “Lost four times at Goldenrod Gym. No more money for healing, food or lodging.”
    I know this is supposed to be serious and all (and I do really like you had Team Rocket help him out), but I can’t help but think “Whitney’s Milktank sure is a beast…”.

    An animation of a telephone shaking over its cradle looped on the screen for some time, but when the line was finally picked up, it was replaced by a video stream of a pale woman with a somewhat sunken face and long, unkempt lavender hair.

    “…Olivia?” the woman said in surprise.
    Yeah, gonna be picky over epithets again. Because the characters already knew Anabel, it’s weird to refer her as woman like that. Just referring to her name would be better.

    The last scene with Olivia not feeling well kinda caught me off guard. Something related to her mental breakdown earlier or her food, perhaps?

    Overall another enjoyable chapter there. Looking forward to more!


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    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  2. #127
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    “There are a lot of trainers who don’t make the big time,” Nekou explained, “but you don’t need to worry about that because you’re not going to be a statistic.”
    Great dialogue from Nekou.
    “Two prisoners jailed by the International Police whose cycles reached their opportunity for parole and return to life being ordinary. They both received negative judgments of their readiness and must be escorted back to the adjacent nation of Kanto for return to prison. One is the former tycoon of business Grings Kodai, and the other… the other’s your friend from the past, Jacob Alexison.”
    Anime Easter egg and continuity with a character from Matt's past.

    Ignoring Silver’s rudely-put question, Nikolai walked right up to Olivia and lowered himself to see eye-to-eye with her. “I can feel it, even through the Poké Ball… your Oshawott is bursting with an incredible amount of energy,” he quietly but firmly said. “It’s got far more energy than before. You did the right thing and trusted it to indulge in its natural instincts.”
    Just another great piece of dialogue from the enigmatic "Nikolai."

    Anyway, the little interrogation scene with Looker and Silver was...interesting. Silver expressing a disdain for his father, I wonder who his father could be and seeing Silver again in-general was certainly unexpected. Looker's little thing with the Kiss of Death killer too, didn't expect to have that referenced. That being said, I also enjoyed how you played up Olivia's reluctance to answer the question and the aftermath of her encounter in Union Cave. Though if there's anything I think could have needed improving, the scene where Olivia comes to be comfy around Nekou again so easily felt more like a situation that would have more of a long-term impact for a little bit longer. Doesn't have to be in a huge way, but simply her being more hesitant of her and a bit unnerved at times and finally coming to have restored trust completely in Nekou at the end of the chapter.

    Loved seeing Colress once again, he's got to be hands down my favorite scientist from the whole Pokemon series. You portrayed him well, not as a malicious jerk 24/7 but as a regular person with a bit of an ego and a scientist who seeks his own personal intellectual curiosity. Whether this aligns him with the most brutal or kind people has nothing to do with his own morals. Foreshadowing, Ghetsis, Elm, Seduire...Ilex Forest and malicious threats directed at Matt...this can't be good. The foreshadowing with the Rockets and how torn-up that Goldrenrod civilian was worked really well.

    Nekou was entertaining and more "mature" this chapter, not as much of her snarky and crazy-beer chugging self and more down to Earth in this chapter. Which makes sense considering the overall tone and what just happened with her, letting Olivia take charge and caring for her so much and not intruding on her and keeping Matt at bay the whole time was for the best. I can say Nekou is easily becoming an even better and better character for me, not only because of how strong she is in-mind, physically and in maturity when the times come but because of how she had been an integral part of Olivia's influence. Olivia even was known for imitating her actions before.

    Bugsy had personality and an interesting gimmick in his gym challenge, that's a first, most media I across portray Bugsy blandly and/or androgynous and not as this knowledgeable young boy he's meant to be. His actions actually made him an entertaining gym leader, a sharp contrast to the more self-important/prideful Falkner. The battle against Pineco with Lillipup was entertaining, the battle against Illumise with Minccino was a huge shake up in Olivia's character. I wish I could say it was as entertaining but it wasn't, which is good, Olivia's inability to think up a strategy with her mind stressed and just attacking and attacking over head on could have well take her out of the gym battle. Still, surprisingly enough, her pulling through with a draw was satisfying if only because she's a character who you care for this chapter and truly root for because of how terrible she has it. You portrayed the decline in Olivia's humanity with the Swift attack showing Illumise and how it "cut" Illumise's body and Olivia's delight in how the attack is doing really well, the description pulls it together well and I have to say she looks really at her limits to a dangerous point here with the convulsing and Nikolai leaving.

    The illusionary Rich, Avril and Renzo was a great way of showing her downward spiral and showing off two prominent figures in the form of rivals in the story. In particular Avril, who views her as a true competitive rival who can bring out the best in her. That's a more dimensional approach from the spiteful Renzo. Liked the last battle and how innovative Olivia was during crunch time, needless to say I liked the evolution and how Olivia finally gave Dewott his props for once. Dewott has been a big part of of Olivia's character development thus far since she started out pretty uncaring and apathetic toward him but has grown to like him and realized how wrong she was with being so critical of him. Even Dewott seemed to have grown since he had achieved his goal of gaining Olivia's praise and attention and more confident a battler in his own right.

    And surprisingly we end this chapter on a cliff-hanger, I'm interested to see what happens next given there seemed to be something foreshadowing Seduire.

  3. #128

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    I loved everything about this chapter, and I'm going to cover a lot of ground in this review, so let's get going.

    Inside, Olivia was sitting at a table in the common area with Looker and Silver. She was sipping tea and eating a biscuit, while Looker had a cup of coffee and Silver simply sat scowling, a glass of orange juice in front of him.

    “Mr. Looker,” Olivia questioned, keeping her eyes on the teacup in front of herself to avoid having to meet Looker and Silver’s gazes. “Why were you in Union Cave yesterday?”

    “Being there was a strange energy pulse in that area. Identical to it was the energy pulse that struck Route 29, so suspicious something there is, I suspect.”

    Olivia looked up slightly, though not far enough to meet either pair of eyes opposite her. “So Matt was right…”

    “Hm? What are you precisely speaking words about?”

    “He came to the same conclusion,” the sullen young woman explained. “I believe it, too. The Geodude, Sandshrew, Drilbur and Onix we saw all were acting strangely, just like the Pawniard and Bisharp on Route 29.”

    “Did you say Geodude, Sandshrew, Drilbur and Onix?” Silver interrupted. When Olivia nodded, he pushed for further confirmation by asking, “And no other Pokémon, you’re sure?”

    “Just those four species, I’m sure.”

    Silver quickly turned to Looker. “Geodude, Sandshrew, Drilbur and Onix are all at least part Ground-types. If no other Pokémon were affected, those energy pulses might only affect a single type of Pokémon at a time.”

    “You are suggesting the notion which I am thinking?”

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of Team Rocket’s experiments. She’s here, so there must be other Team Rocket members in Azalea Town, and I intend to take them all out.”

    “Duly noted,” Looker said, crossing his arms. “Olivia, what I am wondering to be asking you questions about is what I saw with my eyes when I first was encountering your friends yesterday. What are you possessing the ability to be telling me about that?”

    “I don’t want to talk about it…” Olivia answered, looking back down.

    “Please, I must be insisting on it. My investigation into these blasts of strange energy and what the kind of effect they are acting to have on the Pokémon of the local area would gain great aid from learning more true facts about what happened. Why and how can there be happening to be a person who acts sometimes with the natural savagery of a Pokémon that is wild?”

    “You should just arrest that woman,” Silver mumbled under his breath.

    “Be letting Olivia answer the question that is mine.”

    “I don’t know anything, even if I wanted to know!” Olivia finally cracked under the pressure of Looker’s questions, slamming her fists on her lap. “Actually I’m not sure I want to know. I want to forget yesterday ever happened.”

    Looker clasped his hands together and leaned forward, resting his head on them. “Would speaking of the things that make you feel good be a help?”

    “I think so.” Olivia took a deep breath, calming both her muscles and her speech. “Some good things happened yesterday. I got to train a lot with the Oshawott I got from Professor Juniper. Nekou was there for me, too. She wouldn’t stop encouraging me to do better. And Matt… well, he was there, I guess. I’m going to prove to him that I can be treated like an adult, like how he acts toward my dad.”

    “At least your father was a good man, unlike mine,” Silver spitefully interjected.

    “Be silent with your tongue, Silver, or I will be sending you away from here until interrogation has reached the point called its conclusion.” Softening, Looker continued by asking, “Olivia, please be trying to tell me about what took place in events at a point in time most immediately before Nekou’s descent into a state of being feral.”
    I really loved this interrogation scene, it really gave a clear picture of Olivia, Silver, and Looker's characters. Silver is a little **** and I found myself agreeing with Looker before too long. I also really think Olivia's choice of food fits her character well for some reason.

    He wouldn’t get a chance to, either, as Matt and Nekou came up to the table. Almost immediately, Olivia shrank back into her seat, her body shaking.

    Mindful to take great care in choosing his words, Matt gently asked, “Olivia, what’s wrong?”

    “You know what’s wrong,” she mumbled in response, keeping her eyes locked in the opposite direction of the two people who distressed her.

    Nekou turned to Matt, the two of them having anticipated Olivia’s mood.
    Poor Olivia, I can really tell just how betrayed she still feels.


    The previous night, after telling Nekou what had happened in Union Cave and doing his best to soothe her fears about it, Matt had gone back to his own room. In the light of a floor lamp next to the room’s desk, he was sitting at a painting easel, putting colors randomly on the canvas to create an incoherent display.

    He was so startled by his door opening that he nearly dropped the palette in his left hand. Spinning around, he saw Nekou staggering in with a pillow in one hand and a beer can in the other.

    “What are you doing in here?” he sharply questioned, though he quickly realized this was inappropriate and softened his tone. “Do you want to talk some more?”

    Nekou did not answer until after she threw herself down on the bed. “I don’t want to be alone. I get nightmares.” When Matt put the palette down and stood from the easel, Nekou shouted at him, “I’m not lying!”

    “No, I believe you…” Sitting down on the bed but facing away from her, Matt continued, “You must have some pretty bad nightmares, judging from how much you drink at night to escape them.”

    “How did you know that?”

    “I’ve had to do it sometimes myself. My nightmares are memories of the things I’ve seen, but I think there are some things I dream of that are memories of events I otherwise can’t remember anymore… if I might ask, what about yours?”

    Nekou put her beer can on the nightstand next to the bed, then rolled over onto her back. “They never make sense. I see and hear images and sounds that… they just don’t make any sense. It’s like a ****ing acid trip. Other times I dream of science, history, you know, textbook ****. That just goes on and on until my head explodes from it all. The one thing that’s always consistent is that I hear this woman screaming… and it just never ends.”

    “Do you think that they’re memories of something?”

    “I don’t know, and that’s what makes them terrifying.” Nekou pushed her bangs from her forehead, then closed her eyes. “Olivia’s going to be left with the same thing now. How the **** can she understand what happened if I don’t even understand it?”

    “I’m going to be blunt here,” Matt said, staring at the wall. “Preventing her from being haunted by what happened in Union Cave is up to you. She won’t want to hear it from me, and hearing it from you would give it some weight.”

    “You know, you’re right.”
    I thought this was a really adorable scene and a really close moment between the two of them, showing them truly understanding and accepting each other. The themes from the previous chapter continue, and I really like how you kept them for this scene. Seeing Nekou drop her tough exterior for just a moment was really cute and touching.

    “Looker, why are you even here? Last I had heard of you, you were off in Kanto investigating the Kiss of Death case.”

    Looker sighed and crossed his arms. “Taken off the case, I happened to be. It has not seen wide reporting, but there occurred to be two more murders.”

    “Why would they take you off the case just because the killer struck again?” Matt wondered, not noticing Nekou briefly shoot a glare at him.

    “You see, the two victims, they were having something in common that they shared. They were both employees working in the employ of the Angel Corporation. Suspicious I became when I noted this about both men, because Melvin Clemens, the murder before them, he was involved as an employee of the Angel Corporation as well. But that wasn’t all. I made my decision to go back and look once more at the Clemens case once I came upon having this realization and I struck a discovery – he was employed at one of the highest salaried positions within the corporation’s umbrella, but in complete spite of the paycheck he received, Melvin Clemens was living his life in the state of bare bones poverty. Suddenly, and lacking in any sort of warning to me, I was removed from the investigation, halting my efforts to put my eyes on his financial records.”

    “Financial records? I thought this was a murder case alone.”

    “Three of the men whose lives met their end are connected through sharing the same place of employment, and one of them lived in a lifestyle that completely has contradictions against the kind of money he should have owned in his possession. I have a suspicion that the victims have a deeper link than just how their deaths came to pass in history.”

    Matt held his chin and pondered Looker’s information, which he had to admit sounded fairly suspicious. He intended to question the detective further about the case, but he never got to put words to any of his thoughts before Olivia interrupted.
    The mystery deepens... I'm wondering how it is Looker was off the case too, and Looker's discussion of the newest details makes me think something fishy is going on here. I can't wait to learn more.

    “Another Polaris broadcast…” A violent scowl appeared on Nekou’s face, one that she only faintly tried to pull back. “They’re stepping up their game. We’re running out of time…”

    “Greetings, people of the Tohjo Continent,” Ghetsis spoke, his voice ringing throughout the lobby. He held a clear confidence for the speech, with a sincere smile and an intense gaze. “I come before you today with a simple message. A plea, if you will. Every day, more people, many of them your own sons and daughters, fall by the wayside in the manipulative, elitist system known as the Pokémon League. Because of the heavy hand of oppression looming over this nation, generations of ordinary citizens have been fooled into believing in a lie crafted by the rich and powerful , the notion of anyone from any background being able to attain the goal called ‘Pokémon Master.’ How can the poor and those of modest means raise themselves up when the very mechanics supposedly meant to help them actually only advance the already wealthy and elite with handouts and breaks that put them on a higher level practically from birth?!” Ghetsis’s eye was narrowing, becoming more and more intense with every sentence of his speech, and just off camera, he tightly clenched his fist. “So I ask you, citizens of Johto and Kanto… no, it is not only I, all of Polaris asks you… step up, add your names to the ranks of those brave individuals who will fight in the name of justice. Soon, your chance will come to join our crusade. You must ask yourselves, in a world where seventy percent of new trainers never reach the Pokémon League, and ninety percent of those don’t collect more than seven Badges, is that fair? No, it is not! You must rise and speak to the powers that would keep you down with this lie, telling them that you will stand for the injustice no longer! We, Polaris, are your voice, and with every one of you who joins the battle for equal opportunity, that voice grows stronger. Goldenrod City will be the place. My minister of public relations will meet with you, the people, in a few days there to plot the course forward. Please keep your eyes on our public schedules for more details. Polaris will bring freedom and justice to the people when we usher in a new era of mankind, and it will be soon! Do not let yourselves be on the wrong side of history! Thank you for your time today, and we will be seeing you again very, very soon.”

    When Ghetsis disappeared from the screen, the crowd surrounding it instantly descended into a flurry of discussion.

    “What do you think they mean? A new era of mankind?”

    “You know, he’s right, though. I just saw a report on TV the other night that backs him up…”

    “I just heard that… what was it, like seventy percent of new trainers never even make it to the Pokémon League, and ninety percent of them don’t collect more than seven Badges? Is that what he said?”

    “There have been more and more trainers washing up at Pokémon Centers in cities all over the place unable to continue going. Between the cost of healing their Pokémon, rooms and supplies, it’s no wonder so many don’t make it…”
    The way Ghetsis' speeches can be so gripping and enthrall such huge crowds is nothing short of chilling, and this speech, like the others, was terrifying, particularly in how the crowd is eating up his every word.

    Matt didn’t realize right away that Nekou had pulled Olivia away from the storm of speculation, with everyone else but himself following in kind.

    “Is it really true, though?” he could hear Olivia asking Nekou as he rejoined them.

    “There are a lot of trainers who don’t make the big time,” Nekou explained, “but you don’t need to worry about that because you’re not going to be a statistic.”
    Poor Olivia... she's been having a rough journey and this certainly probably isn't inspiring any confidence in her. Nekou's reassurance is really sweet, though.

    “Two prisoners jailed by the International Police whose cycles reached their opportunity for parole and return to life being ordinary. They both received negative judgments of their readiness and must be escorted back to the adjacent nation of Kanto for return to prison. One is the former tycoon of business Grings Kodai, and the other… the other’s your friend from the past, Jacob Alexison.”
    Nice shoutouts to both Movie 13 and to your previous work.


    “Where he shot me still hurts every time I think about him…” he growled, “…but I’m going to need to ask you a favor. Let me talk to him before you ship him off.”

    “Yeah, I want to talk to Jacob Alexison too,” Nekou butted in, having wandered over with Olivia.

    A silence met them as Looker stared back, considering their requests. “Fine, I shall consent to giving my consent for such a plan,” he finally responded, “but you will be needing to make haste to Goldenrod City. I will not find myself waiting for you.”
    I wonder where this is going to go?

    Surprised by the voice behind them, Matt, Olivia and Nekou all turned around sharply, only to discover Nikolai standing behind them with his hands in the pockets of his coat. He looked as listless as ever, and his sudden appearance provoked both Nekou and Looker to grimace.

    “Who is this guy?”
    Shut up, Silver.

    Ignoring Silver’s rudely-put question, Nikolai walked right up to Olivia and lowered himself to see eye-to-eye with her. “I can feel it, even through the Poké Ball… your Oshawott is bursting with an incredible amount of energy,” he quietly but firmly said. “It’s got far more energy than before. You did the right thing and trusted it to indulge in its natural instincts.”

    “Th-thank you, I guess?” Olivia shifted her weight from one leg to the other and looked away from Nikolai’s intense gaze.

    “Wait, what even happened to you?” Matt questioned in confusion. “You were sick from the poison that ninja hit you with, and we took you to Violet City’s Pokémon Center for help, but then you disappeared.”

    “I recovered and departed…” As he spoke, Nikolai rose back to his full height and faced Matt. “Your Eelektrik… it is happier than it was before, too. You took my advice and used it…”

    “You’re right, I did. Your advice when we met before was sound.”

    “Is he talking to Pokémon that are still in their Poké Balls?!”

    “He is accomplishing just that,” Looker replied to Silver, though with his eyes closed. “That is a power that he is in possession of.” Turning away, the detective thought to himself, “This boy is here… and so is Ghetsis. There is a connection between Team Plasma and Polaris, but I lack enough evidence to prove any wrongdoing…”
    Hopefully Nikolai's assessment will make Olivia feel a little more confident in her abilities as a trainer as well as Oshawott's power as a Pokemon.

    Colress’s gloved fingers flew busily over the electronic keyboard of his computer console, manipulating the data he was working with. On the main display screen, a double helix with some segments missing and relevant information regarding the strain of Pokérus he was engineering was shown.

    “Now, time for another stability hypothesis experiment.” A window containing an image of the Meteonite and its associated data appeared alongside the main window, prompting Colress to smile and say, “Very well. Apply the calculated dose of radiation.”

    Once Colress gave this order to the system and pressed the key to confirm it, three red arrows appeared between the two windows, indicating the flow of data from the Meteonite to the DNA structuring program. Within seconds, the helix began to glow, and the missing segments filled themselves in.

    Colress’s eyes went wide. Barely able to contain his excitement, he gestured widely with his arms and shouted, “This is it! I knew I could do what nobody else could! The mystery behind the true strength of Pokémon… and I, Doctor Colress Antimony, am the one to bring it to light! My genius made it possible!”

    All the windows shrank away, and Colress pulled a rectangular data drive from the console before turning and running out of his lab.
    I really enjoyed the way you perfectly captured Colress' excitement over working with technology and science and accomplishing his goals. I think you really do both his game as well as his anime personalities justice and combine them fairly well.

    The three members of the Shadow Triad stood before Ghetsis, each of them holding one of his prisoners.

    “We have to go out to Ecruteak City to prepare for our mission,” explained the tyrant, firmly gripping the handle of his cane. “Bring Concordia, Anthea and Professor Elm to the transport and guard them with your lives. If anything happens to any of them, your lives literally will be the price. Do not fail me.”

    “Yes, Lord Ghetsis!” all three of the Shadow Triad replied.

    Ghetsis watched as the trio of ninjas dragged their captives off. Concordia and Anthea didn’t resist at all, instead merely hanging like ragdolls in the grip of Darkness and Pestilence. Professor Elm, however, tried in vain to fight his way loose, only for Chaos to sharply knee him in the back. Once Elm was doubled over in pain from the blow, Chaos followed his brothers.

    Satisfied that his followers had the situation under control, Ghetsis lifted his cane near his mouth and twisted the knob atop it to activate its communicator. “Zinzolin.”

    “Lord Ghetsis!” the old man responded from the other end, his voice giving away the surprise he felt. “I was not expecting to be contacted so soon.”

    “You’ve been. My plans are moving ahead to the next stage, and I am about to leave Polaris’s temple for Ecruteak City to begin putting the final touches in place. How prepared are you for the Goldenrod phase?”

    “You’ll be quite pleased to hear that we are fully prepared. All of our resources are in place. All that we need is for Getriebe and Jeunes to get the go-ahead from Finansielle to set the Meteonite extraction plan into motion. Once that starts, it cannot be stopped. As for my role, I am more than ready to take our message to the people in the most powerful way yet.”

    “You’re right, I am pleased. I’m taking the Shadow Triad along with me to Ecruteak City, so don’t let anyone foul up your work like you did in Violet City. Getriebe and Jeunes are relying on you…” Ghetsis stopped speaking briefly and smirked. “…and I’m relying on you even more. It’s absolutely vital that the people are hungry for what I will give them in Ecruteak City.”
    This chilled me even further... Ghetsis, willing to kill his most trusted underlings for failure, and all of them still sound eager to carry out their orders, Chaos' cruelty to Elm... every one of his scenes are terrifying with how they show his utter lack of any decency to achieve his goals.

    To the west of Azalea Town lay Ilex Forest, an wooded expanse grown so thick with tall trees that within its boundaries, little sunlight reached the ground. Many local residents considered the forest’s environment that of a permanent night, and as Séduire lurked in the darkness, sitting in the branches of one of the trees, she found herself in full agreement.

    The amount of sunlight in the forest wasn’t of much concern overall to her, though. On her lap she had a small hand cannon. It was generating a holographic computer display for her, which she was casually flicking through with her fingers while talking to herself in an almost sing-song manner.

    “Oh, it’s just going to be so much fun when you get here, Matt. I’m going to have so much fun… breaking you by making you see that ***** and the girl go down… then I’ll take you back home with me and you’ll never leave me alone ever again…”

    The windows were displaying the different species of Pokémon currently in the area along with numerical readouts and energy charts associated with each one. One of the species Séduire scrolled past caught her by surprise, prompting her to go back.

    “Well then, look at you! I didn’t expect to see you around here… looks like I’m not the only one Matt will be having a reunion with, and for you to meet him, I don’t even have to work for it! You ought to cut him down to give me what I want without any prompting…”
    Seduire's glee at the idea of attacking Matt and the Pokemon she's spotted is both funny and creepy as hell. I love her innocent excitement she gets from thinking about doing awful things to her victims.

    Azalea Gym, located on the western side of the town, was a battling facility within a large greenhouse dome. As Matt, Olivia and Nekou entered, with Nikolai, Looker and Silver in tow, they found the interior to be a lush indoor forest, with many of the trees linked by threads of silk.

    “This place didn’t earn its reputation as a Bug-type Gym for nothing,” Nekou remarked.

    At the center of the structure, nestled snugly in the embrace of the surrounding foliage, was the battlefield. It was simply a field drawn in white paint on the grass, but it was still more than enough.

    Sitting in the stands just to the side of the battlefield was a teenage boy dressed in khaki-colored safari gear. He was reading a thick book and didn’t notice the Gym’s visitors as they arrived.
    Excellent use of detail to paint a very vivid picture of the Azalea Gym. Bugsy reading a book while waiting for challengers is a really nice detail, it fits him.

    Matt started to raise his arm to wave to the boy, but Nekou grabbed it and pulled it back down; he quickly understood why she did this, and said to Olivia, “Go ahead, it’s your turn.”
    It took me a minute to understand why she did this but then I realized she was trying to help Olivia gain confidence in herself. I like the detail, it's a really nice and touching one.

    “Hello!” he cheerfully greeted the guests. “Please forgive that, I got so wrapped up in my reading…”

    “Books are great, aren’t they?” Nekou blurted out.
    I have been Nekou many times.

    “Olivia, how many Badges and Pokémon do you have?”

    “No Badges…” Olivia answered, her voice suddenly becoming weak. “…but I do have four Pokémon.”

    “So then, as by the Pokémon League regulations, this will be a three-on-three Single Battle. I won’t be able to make substitutions, and if you beat all three of my Pokémon, you win. Of course, if I beat all three of yours, I win.”
    I actually really like the concept of scaling battles to the number of badges a challenger possesses.

    “Wait, no referee?” Olivia asked, having become confused immediately upon noticing the absence of one.

    “We’re really easygoing here in Azalea Town… if you noticed, we haven’t been touched much by the flow of time, while all the other cities have been to some extent. I’m the only one at this Gym, so it’s really my passion project. I want to create a shrine to Bug Pokémon with my own hands… and that’s why, in this Gym, everything that happens will depend upon your knowledge of Bug Pokémon.”
    I like Bugsy's motivations for running his gym to reflect his interests.


    “O-okay. Lillipup, let’s play!”

    While Olivia’s Lillipup took shape on the battlefield, Matt watched Olivia’s movements and listened to her voice. “She’s nervous, I can tell. I hope she can handle this…”
    I could really tell just from how shaky Olivia's voice was that she was still a little nervous about battling in a gym.

    “A Lillipup? I’m pleased to be getting the chance to battle a Pokémon from Unova. Now then, my first Pokémon will either be Kakuna or Pineco, depending on whether or not you answer this question correctly: of all Bug-type moves that directly inflict damage on an opponent, which of them delivers the weakest blow? Pin Missile, Leech Life or Twineedle?”
    I can tell Bugsy truly enjoys discovering and battling new Pokemon from this.

    I'll give my impressions of the battle up to the next point I'm going to discuss together, since there's so much ground to cover: I think this really shows Olivia's strengths as a trainer and the way she strategizes well, and I think you paced it fairly well. It shows how she's grown, even with the setbacks in her life, and how she's coming to more fully trust her Pokemon. Lillipup, of course, is cute as ever, and I like Bugsy's battle style, as well- I think he really uses the typing of his gym well.

    “Let’s see…” Thinking back to her classes, Olivia recalled the effects of all three choices. “Hyper Cutter blocks any lowering of attack power… Anger Point maximizes its attack power when it’s hit critically… Mold Breaker ignores the target’s Ability… all three of them are good choices, but the one that doesn’t fit is Mold Breaker, so I’ll have to go with that.”

    “Sorry, it was Anger Point!” Bugsy revealed before taking up and throwing Illumise’s Poké Ball.

    “How did I mess that up?” Olivia thought to herself in panic. How did I mess that one up?”
    Oh no... I understand totally why Olivia is panicking over getting the answer wrong too, knowing she probably feels like she has a lot expected of her. What she learned earlier in the story probably isn't helping much either.

    There was no chance Lillipup could escape, however, and Olivia knew it. He was too close to Illumise to escape, having ended up falling for the trick of getting in close anyway. When Illumise punched Lillipup with a surprising amount of force for her small arms, he was thrown back and then crumpled to the ground. When combined with the injuries he’d suffered from the battle with Pineco, both from his opponent and self-inflicted through Take Down, the Brick Break was far too much for Lillipup to take.
    Poor Olivia and Lillipup...

    “Looks like we’re even now, Olivia!” Bugsy said from across the battlefield. “So who will it be next?”

    Olivia didn’t respond, instead falling into a hunched, limp stance as she stared at the ground, her hair obscuring her anguished eyes. Voices were tormenting her from inside her head.
    When Olivia doesn't respond to a challenge like that, you know something's wrong...

    “ Someone who should not exist has no right to consider themselves entitled to anything more than the air they are lucky enough to breathe!”

    “Wow, you didn’t even take the good one, but then again, someone who’s childish in both body and spirit taking a childish Pokémon makes sense!”

    “How can the poor and those of modest means raise themselves up when the very mechanics supposedly meant to help them actually only advance the already wealthy and elite with handouts and breaks that put them on a higher level practically from birth?!”

    “No,” she mumbled, trying to fight back the memories that were forcing doubt onto her. “No, no, no, no, no…”
    Oh no Olivia... poor Olivia. I can really identify with what she's going through now and totally get why you put those warnings at the beginning of the chapter now.

    “Nekou,” Matt quietly said, “are you really sure this is okay? I think she might be pushing herself too hard…”

    “I… I have confidence in her,” Nekou answered, although the nervous tone of her voice betrayed her words.
    When not even Nekou is sure about her...

    Suddenly, a wide, broken grin intruded onto Olivia’s face. “I just have to overcome your Pokémon, one by one, right?” she said as she recalled Lillipup. “It won’t be hard to do that if I go with my strongest!”
    Oh no...

    Olivia didn’t even bother to throw the Poké Ball when she decided on her next Pokémon, instead, she simply opened it in her hand. Her Minccino was that choice, and the Normal-type fretted about the dirt floor, completely failing to notice her trainer’s temperament.
    Yeah, that's not like her at all. Something is definitely going horribly, horribly wrong.


    “All I have to do to show them I’m not weak is beat you and get that Badge!” Olivia punctuated her strange rant with a giggle, then added, “I get that Badge and then the others and then they all stop tormenting me and then they care about me and then…” Limply raising her arm to point at Illumise, she said, “Minccino, use Tail Slap!”

    I really enjoy how her mannerisms reflect her slow spiral into insanity she's experiencing right now.

    “I get it now, I finally get it now…” Olivia said to herself in a hissing voice. She looked to the floor as her body convulsed, then continued, “…all I need to do is rely on my strongest Pokémon and I’ll overcome anything you throw at me!”

    Almost immediately, Nikolai stood up from his place in the stands, pulled his hat over his eyes and began walking off, muttering, “I can’t be here for this.”

    Looker and Silver watched Nikolai leave, but Matt and Nekou paid him no mind. They were much more concerned by the mental breakdown they both saw Olivia having in the middle of her Gym battle.

    I'm concerned too. You're doing amazing capturing just how terrifying it is to have this kind of thing happen.

    “It’s about time we put an end to this,” Olivia said as Minccino and Illumise separated from striking each other. What she didn’t mention, however, was why she was suddenly eager to end her frenzy of attacks – her manic rush of energy was beginning to abate, and she could feel the crushing fear coming back worse than ever. As she fought the slowly-increasing urge to flee the battle and escape its pressure, she found her sight becoming cloudy. “I’ll end this… right now… Minccino, Wake-Up Slap!”
    She's going to crash soon...

    Olivia barely even heard the questions and choices, and she had even less capacity to consider an answer. Swaying around and just managing to stand on her feet, she replied, “Y… Yanmega…”

    Little of what came out of Bugsy’s mouth next even reached Olivia’s ears. She heard him say that her answer was incorrect, but she failed to register anything significant after that until his Scyther appeared before her eyes, which snapped her back to attention somewhat.
    I know that feeling of being unaware of your surroundings all too well... Olivia isn't doing great right now and I can tell she's really scared and confused at everything happening all around her.

    That was when it all went horribly wrong.

    The one thing Olivia hadn’t fully realized until that moment was that she was up against Bugsy’s strongest Pokémon with only one of her own Pokémon still left. Further, with the way the types of the remaining Pokémon in play matched up, there was only one choice she could make. Scyther, being a Bug-and-Flying-type, would make short work of a Grass-type like Roselia, and her moves would do little against the beast. That left Olivia with one option: Oshawott, who still hadn’t regrown his shell and as a result was left with only Water Gun and Tackle for an offense.

    “I can’t do it…” she quietly said in a broken voice while staring at the ground. In her mind, she was very aware of the exit door right behind her, but her shuddering, numb body wouldn’t move toward it. Her heart felt to her as if it would tear from her chest. “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it…”

    “You little wimp. To think I even thought about respecting you.”

    Jerking her head up, Olivia saw Avril and Renzo standing before her. They weren’t actually present, but her downward spiral left Olivia unable to realize her hallucinations, which replaced everything that truly surrounded her.

    “When I watched you battle Falkner, I saw you stick it out right to the end,” the hallucinatory Avril continued, her hands on her hips. “But no… you’re so weak that you can’t even beat a bunch of Bug-types? And to think I’m the one who’s a student.”

    “I just… I couldn’t win, why is that such a big deal to you?!” At this point, Olivia’s mind was just about completely broken. A sick feeling was rising in her stomach. “I just couldn’t do it!”

    “If it’s not a big deal, why are you whining about it?”

    “I…”

    “Silence!” boomed the vision of Renzo. “You disappoint me, Olivia Lynn Mistbloom. I had hoped that you would prove to have earned at least some of your birthright… but you are a disgrace to your name. Your father never would have accepted this.”

    “Shut up! Don’t talk about him! What right do you have…”

    “He is right, Olivia.”

    Olivia stiffened and blinked through the tears filling her eyes. In an instant, Avril and Renzo were gone, replaced by a hallucination of Olivia’s father Rich.

    “Dad, what are you…”

    “I raised you to be my heir, Olivia. Even after I died I made sure your education would continue by leaving you in the care of Matt Chiaki… but when your time finally came to shine, you couldn’t even get one Badge. With my job, how could I accept such a thing?” Turning away from Olivia, the false Rich reached into his coat and put a large hat on. “This is goodbye, Olivia. We will not meet again.”

    As her vision of her father walked off, Olivia broke down and became hysterical. Tears poured from her eyes as she desperately pleaded, “No! Dad, don’t leave me alone! It’s not my fault! I didn’t… Matt didn’t teach me well enough, is that possible? It’s not my fault! I did everything I had to! I don’t want to be left alone…” Suddenly digging her fingernails into the skin on her face, she continued, “I’ll go with you! I’ll go where you are! It’s not my fault, so don’t abandon me!”

    And then, everything went black.

    -:-
    This hit me really hard... all of Olivia's past failures coming back to haunt her, speaking to her in her hallucination, and then Rich appearing before her and completely crushing her world. I seriously teared up reading her hallucination of Rich, reading as she saw her father- even if he wasn't really there in the scene- completely reject her, her worst fear in the world, and her begging to go back to him. You do a fantastic job capturing what it's like to be someone who's lost all faith in everything, and I think that's something you should be proud of, because it's not an easy thing to write. You truly made me feel the hopelessness and desperation Olivia was experiencing.

    In a different part of the Adenosine Base fairly far from Colress’s main lab was another research facility. Papers and equipment were neatly arranged around the laboratory’s perimeter, while several tall, hexagonal tanks filled with blue liquid stood in the center. It was a professional but cold place, the general mood only broken by a Polaris banner hung on the wall and the photographs littering the work stations.
    I like this description of the facility. You really set a good atmosphere with it.

    “Casual day today, Lady Finansielle?” Colress jokingly said, noting that his superior was wearing her helmet, but not the rest of her armor.
    I laughed. Typical Colress, never caring what's appropriate for the situation.

    “Ah yes, I should get to that. With my genius, I have already solved the puzzle you gave me.” Turning to the other scientists, Colress took the data drive from his pocket and presented it to one of them. “On that drive is the entire genetic sequence of the Pokérus strain I was tasked with creating, as well as instructions on how to synthesize it. From here, creating it is an easy task.”
    I love Colress so much. You really do capture his character perfectly.

    With that, Colress pressed a button on the console, causing a container on its top to open. From within he withdrew a computerized visor, which he then replaced his glasses with on his face. He then put his glasses in his coat and took out his tablet, which with a few touches illuminated the visor.
    Google Glass? (brick'd)

    Gasping deeply for air, Olivia awoke just as abruptly as she’d collapsed.

    Her vision took its time to refocus, but when she finally could see clearly again, the greenhouse roof of the Azalea Gym was what she saw. She suddenly became aware of the prickling of grass on her legs and realized she was still on the Gym’s battlefield. That shock sent a cold shudder coursing through her body, but her shuddering was restrained.

    The last thing she came to realize was that while she was lying on the ground, Nekou had her in a tight embrace.

    “Breathe.”

    Olivia had no capability to reply, so she just did as she was instructed and drew deep breaths in, one after the other. She turned her sunken eyes upward and saw the simultaneous worry and relief on Nekou’s face, as well as the small teardrops glistening on her glasses.
    Awww

    Nekou is being really sweet here and I can tell she was really worried about Olivia.

    “I’m… still here?”

    “Yes. We agreed to not try to move you out of fear that it would make things worse.” Seeing Olivia beginning to recover brought a slight but warm smile to Nekou, though it faded somewhat as she recalled what she had seen Olivia doing during her breakdown. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”

    Olivia hesitated with the realization that there were witnesses to her hallucinations. “No… not… not yet.”

    “That’s fine. Tell me when you’re ready.” Nekou put her hand behind Olivia’s back and helped her sit up.


    As Olivia sat up on the grass, Bugsy approached with his Scyther. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize you weren’t well. If I did, I would have put the battle on hold.”

    “Olivia, you don’t have to continue this,” Matt gently said, lowering himself to eye level with her after joining them. “There’s no shame in knowing when to stop.”

    “But at the same time,” Nekou added, “if you think you can keep going, we’ll support you. It’s entirely up to what you think you can handle.”

    “I started this. I have…” A clear image of her father appeared once again in Olivia’s mind. “I have to finish it.”

    “Then we’re behind you.”

    In nearly perfect unison, Matt and Nekou both stood and extended a hand to the girl, and after a moment, Olivia smiled and accepted their help to stand.

    “You want to continue our battle?” Bugsy questioned, intending to clearly confirm Olivia’s wishes.

    “Yes.”
    I'm really happy Nekou, Bugsy, and Matt are being shown handling the situation with sensitivity to Olivia and her boundaries, and they're doing all the right things in this situation. There need to be more stories like this.

    “Very brave, she is,” Looker remarked.

    “She’s tougher than she lets on sometimes…” Matt replied. “I just hope this holds. She was talking to her father and at least one other person who wasn’t there…”
    Well, Matt's right.

    “I… I don’t want you to take it easy on me. I have to do this if I’m going to get stronger, because the Gym Leaders after you will just keep getting tougher…” Olivia trailed off as she briefly remembered Renzo and Avril, then added, “…and they aren’t the only ones, either. I have to do this.”
    I really admire Olivia in this situation. She just went through hell but even after that, she wants to challenge herself.

    Olivia took out a Poké Ball and stared at it for several long seconds, thinking intensely about what she was about to do. “I know we haven’t necessarily connected all that well before... but I’m standing behind you this time, so please, do what you can to pull this off…”

    Olivia’s judgment about the situation she was in hadn’t changed, even though she had had the chance to reevaluate it from a slightly calmer viewpoint. She still knew that Roselia would be helpless against the likes of a Scyther, so it was Oshawott that emerged from the Poké Ball. The moment he realized that the Scyther before him was to be his opponent, he looked back and forth to his trainer in a panic.

    “Oshawott, calm down.” Olivia did the best she could to soothe Oshawott’s nerves, but hers were so taut that it proved to be a difficult task. “I believe in you, okay? So don’t be afraid.”
    This just shows so much how Olivia's grown since the beginning of the story, and how much her friendship with Oshawott has strengthened. She's gone from accepting him begrudgingly to fully accepting him as part of her team.

    “Another Pokémon from Unova, huh? I’ve got a Shelmet, but I haven’t seen too many others yet. This ought to be a fun challenge for us both.”
    I'm not really surprised Bugsy has a Shelmet.

    “Well then, let’s get started! Scyther, Fury Cutter!”

    “Try to get out of the way and then use Tackle!”

    Using his strong legs, Scyther sprang at Oshawott with his blades at the ready. Olivia’s Water-type was able to roll out of the way, however, leaving Scyther to strike at the ground instead. He then jumped up and collided with Scyther’s back, but the Gym Leader’s Pokémon only stumbled as a result.

    “Oh no!” Olivia gasped when she saw how close to Scyther Oshawott landed.

    “Yes, I’ve got you this time! Fury Cutter, again!”

    “Use Water Gun!” This was an act of desperation on Olivia’s part. She was aware of how limited her options were with only Tackle and Water Gun to use, and she was putting all the thought she could into ways to apply them.

    Luckily for her, Water Gun had an unintended effect she never would have thought of. Before Scyther could turn around to lash out again, Oshawott sprayed a jet of water in his face. Not only did this stun Scyther, but the force of the water also propelled Oshawott backward, putting distance between the two.

    “Oh, that was clever, Olivia,” Bugsy complimented, believing Olivia had deliberately intended to cause what had happened. “Scyther, Vacuum Wave! Catch it!”

    Before Olivia or Oshawott could react, Scyther crossed his glowing blades and then sharply separated them, sending a bright blue pulse of energy to engulf his Water-type foe. Oshawott was left to fall face-first to the ground.

    “You have it now, Scyther! Fury Cutter!”

    “Oshawott, be careful!” Olivia cried, seeing that Oshawott was seemingly trapped underneath the sickle that was bearing down on him. Her focus on the seemingly hopeless situation suddenly produced an answer, however, when she realized exactly how Oshawott was lying on the ground. Smiling, she quickly called out, “Oshawott, use Water Gun to power your Tackle!”

    Scyther was completely caught off guard by Oshawott abruptly rocketing off the ground by using Water Gun to propel himself, and ended up taking a blow right to the chin. The Bug-and-Flying-type Pokémon stumbled back and nearly fell, while his Water-type opponent managed to flip through the air and land neatly. A slash from Scyther’s Vacuum Wave was visible on Oshawott’s torso, but the rush he was getting from fighting back gave him enough resolve to try and ignore the pain.

    “So this is how an Oshawott with no shell actually stands up against a Scyther,” Silver uttered, unable to stop himself from getting drawn into the battle.

    “I must compliment you, Olivia,” Bugsy said, a wide, satisfied grin coming onto his face. “I don’t see too many challengers with the kind of fire you have… funny, considering you’re using a Water-type starter Pokémon, isn’t it? But let me show you something… Bug-types are weak to fire, I’m sure you know that. But did you know that Bug-types can fight with the same fire you’re showing me now? Scyther, Razor Wind!”

    Scyther straightened out his body and stood at his full height, looking down on Oshawott as he began to flap his four wings. A whirlwind took shape in front of him, rapidly growing in intensity.

    Both Olivia and Oshawott realized that using Tackle would mean willingly jumping right into the vortex, so without any order being necessary, Oshawott aimed a Water Gun at Scyther. It was, however, ineffective, as the whirlwind acted as a shield that blew away all the water. Compounding Olivia’s problems, Scyther then pulled back, allowing the twister to consume Oshawott. He was pulled upward through the funnel, with the violent winds cutting at him repeatedly, until he was thrown out through the whirlwind’s top and crashed to the ground, covered in cuts. The twister then continued on until it crashed into one of the trees, dissipating as it shredded the silk connected to it, bits of which fell near Olivia’s feet.

    “Vacuum Wave!”

    Scyther quickly followed up his successful Razor Wind by lashing Oshawott with another energy blast.

    With Oshawott left lying on the ground and panting, Olivia realized that one more severe blow would likely bring her second Gym challenge to another failure of an ending. She grasped her left arm as her body trembled; once again, the walls felt like they were closing in on her, and she felt trapped in more ways than one.
    After the stressful moment with Olivia's panic attack, it's good to see the battle back in full swing. This is a pretty exciting battle and I think you really did a good job keeping the action going at a steady pace. I think Olivia and Bugsy's passions for battle both show really nicely in this scene.

    All of a sudden, a bright blue glow surrounded Oshawott’s body, and he stood back up, growling at Scyther as if he was more energized than ever.

    “That’s Oshawott’s Ability, Torrent!” Nekou exclaimed. “Bugsy weakened Oshawott so much that it activated!”

    “This battle just stopped being so one-sided,” Silver observed. “I’ve seen the use Torrent can provide with my Feraligatr.”

    Bugsy stood just as surprised as Olivia was herself. “I… thought I had this. I guess it goes to show that I still have plenty to learn… but first, I have to put an end to this battle! Scyther, Razor Wind once more!”

    While Scyther started forming the whirlwind again, Olivia understood what Bugsy’s logic was – neither Tackle nor Water Gun would get past it, so he was betting on her not having another move he hadn’t yet seen. She was, however, herself willing to gamble that Oshawott’s newfound energy would change the tide by itself.

    “Water Gun!” she commanded, discreetly crossing her fingers.

    The whirlwind was nearly up to full strength when Oshawott fired a blast of water at it, but in spite of that, it was easily sliced through by Oshawott’s attack, which was many times more intense than it had been before. With his vision blocked by his own preparation, Scyther could never have seen the Water Gun coming, and he took a direct, powerful blow to the head. Olivia’s eyes glowed as she excitedly watched her fortunes change.

    “She can win this with power like that!” Matt said, getting uncharacteristically excited.

    “I should have expected Torrent,” Bugsy remarked, “with the number of Totodile, Squirtle and their evolutions I see here. I guess I got thrown off by it being a Unova Pokémon… no matter. You put in a great effort, but I’m ending this! Scyther, use Vacuum Wave!”

    “Try Water Gun again!” Olivia reflexively countered, reacting nearly instantly upon Bugsy giving his order. She recognized that if she was to have any chance of overcoming Scyther, she would have to get around this latest attack first.

    In front of many pairs of anticipating eyes, Oshawott’s water blast and Scyther’s energy wave met. Torrent gave Oshawott the power he needed to equal Scyther’s offense but not to overwhelm it, so the two attacks explosively negated each other, sending a cloud washing over both Pokémon.
    Seeing the battle turn in Olivia's favor feels really good after everything that's happened to her.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  4. #129

    Default

    Moments later, a bright light burst out from where Oshawott was standing within the smoke.

    “That’s…” Looker gasped. He was the only one of the spectators able to think quickly enough to speak, as the others were all enraptured by what was happening in front of them.

    Olivia knew what was going on, but she was so surprised that all she could do was watch. She thought back to the events earlier in the day and remembered Nikolai telling her that Oshawott was bursting with energy, a memory that left her smiling to herself.

    “All that training in Union Cave had a point to it, I guess,” she thought as she took out her own Pokédex.

    The light and smoke disappeared roughly simultaneously, revealing that Oshawott was no longer anywhere to be seen. Instead, standing in his place was a taller otter Pokémon, colored mostly in shades of blue and bearing a shell on each of his thighs.

    “Oshawott evolved,” Nekou smugly said. “Told you something good would happen for her.”

    “Dewott, the discipline Pokémon. Type is Water. Evolved form of Oshawott. As a result of strict training, each Dewott learns different forms for using the scalchops.”

    Olivia continued thumbing through the Pokédex to learn if Dewott had acquired any new moves. “Razor Shell and Aqua Jet… yes, I think I can do with those. Now that you’ve finally got your shell back, Oshaw… Dewott, let’s put it to use. Razor Shell!”
    Holy crap, I did NOT expect that to happen at all. Great twist. Nekou's right, and Olivia having to remember Oshawott isn't Oshawott anymore is really cute.

    Even though Dewott wasn’t getting hit, though, Olivia could tell that he also wasn’t going to get in any blows of his own. Looking around at her surroundings, she suddenly noticed the bits of silk at her feet and came up with an alternative idea. “Dewott, use Aqua Jet and go into the bushes, then keep moving!”

    Water surrounded Dewott as he rocketed away into the foliage surrounding the battlefield and disappeared. Scyther loudly snarled about the inconvenience, and Bugsy indulged his Pokémon’s desires with his next direction. “Go in after that Dewott, Scyther!”

    Scyther cried out and then lunged into the bushes as well, vanishing just as Dewott had done.

    For the next few minutes, an uncomfortable silence broken only by the sound of rustling leaves settled over the Gym as Dewott and Scyther chased each other in a circle around the edge of the battlefield. Olivia focused carefully on the sounds and where she perceived them to be coming from. Bugsy was certain she had something up her sleeve, but could only grimace in frustration as he was unable to figure out what it was.

    Suddenly, Olivia screamed, “Now! Come out!”

    Dewott darted out of the brush as soon as Olivia gave the command to do so, and Scyther followed moments later – only to be violently lashed to a halt in midair as his wings got caught in the sticky silk linking the trees he’d emerged between. Dewott was small enough to fit between the threads but Scyther wasn’t.

    “You led me into a trap!” Bugsy uttered in disbelief.

    “That’s right, I did,” Olivia answered, smirking deviously. “Now take this! Dewott, Razor Shell!”
    This is really clever strategy on Olivia's part and it's clear now she's back to herself. Excellent thinking there.

    After snickering mischievously, Dewott armed himself, once again taking one of his shells in his right hand, and jumped at the trapped Scyther, first bashing him over the head with it. Dewott then spun around and delivered a devastating hit to Scyther’s chin, one so powerful that it tore Scyther from the silk and threw him up into the air.

    “Scyther!”

    Bugsy’s plea was in vain. As soon as Scyther crashed to the ground, he collapsed and did not get up. The battle was over.

    As the weight of the situation began to sink in, Olivia’s body became weak. “I… I did it…” she whispered as she fell to her knees. “I actually… didn’t fail…”

    Before Olivia even knew what was going on, Nekou was on the field embracing her. “I’m ****ing proud of you, Olivia! I told you you could kick the *** of a Gym Leader, and you did!”
    Heh, Nekou's hug is awesome and I want to hug Olivia too, because I'm so happy with her.

    Hearing Matt’s voice snapped Olivia to attention, and she stood and turned to face him. However, she said nothing and merely stared at him, conflicted about how to react.

    And then, he smiled. It was small, but for him it reflected significant warmth. “Good work. That proved to me how misguided I was with the way I treated you. You’re someone who is grown up enough to handle the truth, so no more lies. I’m going to respect you from now on. Not only that, I promise to do whatever I can to make your life easier, so just ask me if you ever need anything. My promise is to you now, not to a foolish idea of what I think will help you.”

    “Thank you,” Olivia graciously replied.

    “There’s not really much I can add to all of this, is there?” Olivia, Nekou, Matt and Dewott all turned to Bugsy, who had approached to join them. Scratching the back of his head, the Gym Leader said, “I just have to compliment you, Olivia. I’ve seen challengers lose their will and leave, but you didn’t do that… you stuck it out and overcame everything thrown at you. You deserve this.”

    Bugsy extended his hand to Olivia. In it was a round pin bearing a red-and-black ladybug pattern – the Hive Badge.
    I'm really happy Olivia got the badge after all the trouble she went through during the battle, and I think it's really inspiring how even after going through her worst despair ever, she managed to bounce back.

    Hours later, after night had fallen, a clear sky full of stars hung over Goldenrod City. The metropolis stretched on for what seemed like forever, sprawled over most of Johto’s central peninsula with a densely populated, heavily developed area at its core.

    The bright neon lights shining from buildings, billboards and countless other structures gave the city the golden glow it was named for, and one could be fooled by it into thinking that the city was a man-made paradise. However, the stark reality was more like the typical negative stereotype of a big city, at least in the less-developed areas. Discarded trash was scattered about many of the streets, and numerous Pokémon considered pests, including Rattata, Grimer and the occasional Trubbish and Garbodor, were lurking about. The unsettling truth hidden by the fancy cover of the city’s central area wasn’t lost on Jessie, James and Ariana as they escorted Giovanni through the streets of the southern district, all four of them concealing their identities behind black trench coats and hats.
    I really love the description of the setting in this paragraph. I think it really effectively shows the contrast between the part of Goldenrod that they want others to see vs. the part they don't.

    “Look at this place,” Jessie whispered to James as they walked. She was observing the run-down conditions of many of the buildings, and her stomach turned to think of the people who had to live in them. “I lived this, and for everything I’ve done, this is what I wouldn’t want to wish on anyone. Not even that bratty twerp.”
    Knowing what Jessie went through, I believe her.

    Subtly nodding in agreement, James added, “If we did take over, we’d definitely treat the people better than this. Just because we want to be in charge, that doesn’t mean we want to cause too much harm to who we rule. We’d take over but make sure people could live better than this.”
    James is a bro.


    “Hey, wait. Shouldn’t we do something about him?”

    At James’s notice, Jessie, Ariana and Giovanni stopped walking and glanced in the direction he was pointing. It turned out that he had noticed someone sitting on the sidewalk as they passed, and the young man’s physical state was a perfect example of the problems Goldenrod’s slums had. Dressed in a dirty brown coat and holding a cardboard sign, he was slouched against one of the buildings in a way that made it difficult to tell if he was awake, asleep or even alive.

    James leaned down to read the sign. “Lost four times at Goldenrod Gym. No more money for healing, food or lodging.”

    “James!” Jessie’s sudden call startled her partner, and he turned abruptly to look at her. “Give him this.”

    Jessie reached into her pocket for a roll of money that she then tossed to James. After catching it, he reached down to the failed trainer.

    “Hey, are you awake?”

    “Wh…what…?” the young man weakly asked, pushing his hat up so he could see.

    “Take this. Try to take better care of yourself.”

    The young man hesitated out of surprise before taking the money from James. “Thank you, really! This will get me into the Pokémon Center so I can heal my Pokémon and have a place to rest tonight!”

    “Think nothing of it,” Jessie said. “Just don’t spend it all in one place. Rest up and try training more before you challenge another Gym.”

    “I will. Just... thank you so much!”

    Jessie and James turned away as the young man stood up, but Ariana caught Giovanni furtively stopping him and slipping him some more money out of the corner of her eye. She smiled to herself before he could notice. Soon, the four were walking again.
    This is really touching, particularly Giovanni slipping the young man some money. You know things are bad when even he finds himself caring...


    “That was kind of weird,” James commented to Jessie. “We used to be the ones with no money. Now we’re the ones giving it out.”

    “Well, that changed because we got the Boss to have faith in us, of course. After we got promoted, money wasn’t a problem anymore.”
    Nice nod to previous events.

    “Yes, yes it is.” Pierce had emerged from the alley without notice to join the quartet. “It is good to see that you’ve all made it here in one piece.”

    “Pierce, where is the base you were going to have prepared?” Jessie sharply questioned.

    “Right this way. Professor Rosalie, Trevor, Ada and I have been awaiting your arrival.”

    Pierce turned, crossed his hands behind his back, and began walking down the alley. Giovanni, Ariana, Jessie and James followed.
    I should have expected Pierce coming out, but I didn't. He really is an awesome secret agent.


    Olivia thought for a moment while petting Dewott, who was sitting contently next to her, then said, “I want to talk to my mom. Can you guys make that happen?”

    “I don’t see why not.” After taking his tablet computer out of his bag, which was sitting on the seat next to him, Matt tapped the phone icon on its menu screen and selected ‘Anabel’ from his contact list. He then handed the computer to Olivia while the phone function dialed.

    An animation of a telephone shaking over its cradle looped on the screen for some time, but when the line was finally picked up, it was replaced by a video stream of a pale woman with a somewhat sunken face and long, unkempt lavender hair.

    “…Olivia?” the woman said in surprise.

    “It’s good to see you, mom! Ask me how I’ve been!”

    “Where are you?”

    “Olivia, let me talk to her for a second.” Olivia tilted the computer toward Matt so the woman on the screen could see him. “Anabel, she’s with us, like always. Right now, we’re sitting down for dinner in Azalea Town.”

    “And do you want to know why?” Olivia asked as she turned the computer back to herself. “I got my first Badge today!”

    “Oh, is that so…? Well done, Olivia. I’m proud of you.”

    “And I know Dad would have been, too.” Anabel visibly recoiled at Olivia mentioning her father, but Olivia wasn’t fazed. “I know about what really happened.”

    “I’m sorry, Olivia. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you…”

    “I don’t blame you for it. I… I think I’m over not knowing the truth now.”

    “Our food’s coming,” Nekou interjected, having spotted their waiter approaching the table.

    “Olivia, keep going and be strong. Make your father proud. He’s always going to be with you.”

    “I will! Bye, Mom!”
    This conversation was really adorable but also bittersweet. I could really tell Anabel's barely getting by and probably doesn't know what to say to Olivia at all.

    “Two premium steaks, one medium with grilled onions and the other rare with garlic and chili powder?”

    “Rare’s mine,” Nekou said. “Nice, hot and raw, the way I like it.”

    “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Matt sighed as he set up his own plate.
    Wow, Nekou.

    “My dad used to make something like this for me,” she answered, a strong hint of melancholy in her voice.. “He said it was something from where he grew up, Sootopolis City.”
    Aw, that's really sweet. I think it's fitting for her to order a dish her dad made for her after winning that gym battle.

    Matt and Nekou began eating, but Olivia didn’t touch her food at all right away. Instead, she spent the next few minutes sitting silently and staring at it.

    “I’ve decided,” she suddenly blurted out.

    “Decided? What do you mean?” Matt questioned.

    “I… I think I know what I want to do now. I mean, I don’t know why I want to do it yet… but I feel like I need to focus on Gyms and forget about Contests for now…”

    “I was wondering what had happened to those, actually,” Nekou said while spinning her fork in her fingers.

    “Are you absolutely sure you want to do that? When I first met you, you loved Contests.”

    Olivia returned an intense gaze into Matt’s eye. “I still do. But if I’m going to find what I’m meant to do, I have to focus on one effort at a time. Otherwise my attention will be spread too thin. Before I can worry about Contests, I have to really learn more about straight battling.”

    “That’s a very mature thing you’ve done, then, making such a decision by yourself. I think Nekou would agree with me on that.” Matt sighed again when he saw that Nekou was already eating and could only respond by nodding wildly. “My point is, you’re taking charge of your own future, and I couldn’t be more proud of you for that.”

    “Thanks… now, I think Nekou’s right, we should eat.”
    I get the feeling Olivia spent a lot of time quietly contemplating this to herself, and I think it shows how much she's grown to be able to make that decision.

    Even later on in the middle of the night, a man in a Team Rocket uniform was hiding out in a cave somewhere and speaking to Dr. Zager using a computer contained inside a heavy briefcase. He wore a black beret over his green hair, which was styled into the shape of an axe blade on its side.
    PROTON!!!!

    I think you did well with Zager's personality in this scene and the way he stays fairly cool even in situations like the one he found himself in with his readouts.

    In the Pokémon Center, Olivia awoke with a start, clutching her stomach. Unable to move her legs much, she simply rolled out of her bed and crashed to the floor, waking Matt up. She barely missed falling on Dewott, who was sleeping next to her bed and also awoke with a start.

    “Olivia?!” he gasped, desperately trying to put on his glasses without catching them in his eyepatch. “What’s wrong?”

    “It… it hurts…”

    The noise stirred Nekou, and she dropped the beer bottle she had been clutching while sprawled on her bed. “What’s going on…?”

    “I’m… I’m…”

    Unable to speak further, Olivia suddenly vomited onto the floor and rolled over on her side. Nekou was up and at Olivia’s side in an instant, throwing two more beer cans aside from under the sheets as she sprang up. Dewott, meanwhile, cried out, unable to do anything to help.

    “Go get the nurse,” Nekou directed Matt while holding Olivia in her arms. “This is a Pokémon Center, but they should be able to help her.”
    Oh no... just when I thought Olivia would be okay, more stuff happens. Poor Olivia


    Overall, I really enjoyed this chapter, and it took me on quite the emotional rollercoaster. Excellent work, especially with all the characterization Olivia received. I'm really looking forward to what's in store for the next one, especially with that cliffhanger you left all of us on.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  5. #130
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        Spoiler:- Chapter 12 teaser:



    Quote Originally Posted by Bay View Post
    I have a pet peeve over epithets like “young woman”, “taller man”, etc because you often don’t think someone close or yourself as “woman” or “man”. I know sometimes I use title epithets like “detective”, “professor”, etc., but I think those are okay as it’s a bit more respectful and the career title gives the readers an idea of a person’s traits.
    I understand. I was worried about sounding like I was reaching too far into 'too many synonyms' territory, but it looks like I went too far in the other direction. I'll try to fix that in the next chapter.

    I was actually wondering when the Kiss of Death case will be brought up again and glad to hear it’s being mentioned.
    Good. It's not going to be the most often-revisited plot point, but it's out there.

    Oh boy. D: You mentioned vaguely time to time the meeting would happen, and yeah already looking forward to it, even though I know it’ll be quite an awkward situation.
    Not just awkward, intense.

    Oh, hi Nikolai. Yeah, he always seem to depart heh.
    He's quite good at disappearing and arriving abruptly.

    Ghetsis going to Eruteak City. That doesn’t sound too good. O.o
    Oh, it's not. Trust me.

    It's going to come to a head in chapters 18, 19 and 20, so look forward to that.

    I like that extra detail you put in for Bugsy. It’s amusing though Nikolai thought it’s weird, lol.
    I'm actually going to address this point while I reply to Doryuzu, so hold on for a second on that.

    Olivia’s mental breakdown during the breakdown…oh ouch. O.o; Like Matt I too wondered why Bugsy didn’t notice that, though it can be easily explained he was focusing too much being the gym leader there.
    Yes, that is correct. Bugsy was too focused on the battle to notice what was going on around him.

    I like this particular detail here. Overall glad Olivia was more relaxed in the last part of the battle and she’s closer with Dewott now (yay for Oshawoot evolving!). Enjoyable overall.
    Thank you.

    I know this is supposed to be serious and all (and I do really like you had Team Rocket help him out), but I can’t help but think “Whitney’s Milktank sure is a beast…”.
    That's precisely it, actually. Miltank really is a beast.

    Yeah, gonna be picky over epithets again. Because the characters already knew Anabel, it’s weird to refer her as woman like that. Just referring to her name would be better.
    I suppose you're right, though when I did it I thought that since she hadn't really appeared in the story yet, I shouldn't identify her by name immediately.

    The last scene with Olivia not feeling well kinda caught me off guard. Something related to her mental breakdown earlier or her food, perhaps?
    Maybe, maybe not...

    Overall another enjoyable chapter there. Looking forward to more!
    Thank you! I certainly will try to not have it be two months between chapters again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doryuzu View Post
    Great dialogue from Nekou.
    I loved writing that one.

    Anime Easter egg and continuity with a character from Matt's past.
    I had juggled a few different ideas for different people the cameo could have been before settling on Kodai.

    As for Jacob, he's going to be quite a bit more than just a shout-out of continuity.

    Just another great piece of dialogue from the enigmatic "Nikolai."
    I liked it as a bit of continuity, too. I had the idea of what would happen with Oshawott planned out very early, so when Nikolai said that to Olivia earlier, it was foreshadowing.

    Anyway, the little interrogation scene with Looker and Silver was...interesting. Silver expressing a disdain for his father, I wonder who his father could be and seeing Silver again in-general was certainly unexpected.
    Silver's issue with his father is actually a subplot; I think you're going to like where it goes.

    Looker's little thing with the Kiss of Death killer too, didn't expect to have that referenced.
    It actually is a central plot point in more threads than you'd expect.

    That being said, I also enjoyed how you played up Olivia's reluctance to answer the question and the aftermath of her encounter in Union Cave. Though if there's anything I think could have needed improving, the scene where Olivia comes to be comfy around Nekou again so easily felt more like a situation that would have more of a long-term impact for a little bit longer. Doesn't have to be in a huge way, but simply her being more hesitant of her and a bit unnerved at times and finally coming to have restored trust completely in Nekou at the end of the chapter.
    Hmmm... I can definitely see your point. I'll need to be more mindful of that in future chapters.

    Loved seeing Colress once again, he's got to be hands down my favorite scientist from the whole Pokemon series. You portrayed him well, not as a malicious jerk 24/7 but as a regular person with a bit of an ego and a scientist who seeks his own personal intellectual curiosity. Whether this aligns him with the most brutal or kind people has nothing to do with his own morals.
    My personal view on him is that he doesn't actually have any morals, be them good or bad. One reason why I like him so much as a character is because his moral center is truly neutral and driven by his desires for scientific discovery.

    Foreshadowing, Ghetsis, Elm, Seduire...Ilex Forest and malicious threats directed at Matt...this can't be good. The foreshadowing with the Rockets and how torn-up that Goldrenrod civilian was worked really well.
    Yes, you're right, it's not going to be good... not for the story's world, at least. I think you'll like it.

    I'm glad you liked how that foreshadowing was handled; it's something I thought of at the last minute but I think what was introduced will be quite important.

    Nekou was entertaining and more "mature" this chapter, not as much of her snarky and crazy-beer chugging self and more down to Earth in this chapter. Which makes sense considering the overall tone and what just happened with her, letting Olivia take charge and caring for her so much and not intruding on her and keeping Matt at bay the whole time was for the best. I can say Nekou is easily becoming an even better and better character for me, not only because of how strong she is in-mind, physically and in maturity when the times come but because of how she had been an integral part of Olivia's influence. Olivia even was known for imitating her actions before.
    Thank you for your kind words. I'm truly glad that you appreciate what I'm trying to go for with her, and because you like what I've done so far I feel confident in saying that what I have planned for her will be to your liking as well.

    Bugsy had personality and an interesting gimmick in his gym challenge, that's a first, most media I across portray Bugsy blandly and/or androgynous and not as this knowledgeable young boy he's meant to be. His actions actually made him an entertaining gym leader, a sharp contrast to the more self-important/prideful Falkner.
    Now this is what I was saying to wait for an answer to until I got to it.

    There were several motivating factors for me when it came to Bugsy's portrayal. One is his depiction in the games (which to a degree also carries over into Pokemon Adventures.) He is supposed to be a knowledgeable student who is smart enough to have even created his own move in Fury Cutter; even his title, The Walking Bug Pokemon Encyclopedia, reflects that. From what I have seen he isn't the most often seen character in fanfiction to begin with, and when he does appear, it doesn't really seem like the author puts much focus on him. I wanted to shake up that expectation.

    Another thing is that I recently read someone comment that they wished the anime depicts Gyms more like they're depicted in the games. I couldn't implement that into this adaptation in a practical manner, but I found an alternative - each Gym having a specific test or theme based on its setting, type and Gym Leader. Bugsy's theme was easy to decide; given his character centering on knowledge of Bug-type Pokemon, making the Gym become about that knowledge seemed an easy decision.

    The battle against Pineco with Lillipup was entertaining, the battle against Illumise with Minccino was a huge shake up in Olivia's character. I wish I could say it was as entertaining but it wasn't, which is good, Olivia's inability to think up a strategy with her mind stressed and just attacking and attacking over head on could have well take her out of the gym battle. Still, surprisingly enough, her pulling through with a draw was satisfying if only because she's a character who you care for this chapter and truly root for because of how terrible she has it. You portrayed the decline in Olivia's humanity with the Swift attack showing Illumise and how it "cut" Illumise's body and Olivia's delight in how the attack is doing really well, the description pulls it together well and I have to say she looks really at her limits to a dangerous point here with the convulsing and Nikolai leaving.
    If you don't mind, I'm going to skip over this part since we kind of discussed it already in VMs.

    The illusionary Rich, Avril and Renzo was a great way of showing her downward spiral and showing off two prominent figures in the form of rivals in the story. In particular Avril, who views her as a true competitive rival who can bring out the best in her. That's a more dimensional approach from the spiteful Renzo.
    I should just remind you that those were Olivia's hallucinations of them, so what they were saying was merely Olivia's imagination of what they might say. But you're right. I found it to be an effective method of showing what kind of pressure she truly was under. She could have just talked about Rich, Avril and Renzo, but that wouldn't have illustrated the overwhelming point of what kind of stress she felt. The severity of the situation for her called for a dramatic illustration.

    Liked the last battle and how innovative Olivia was during crunch time, needless to say I liked the evolution and how Olivia finally gave Dewott his props for once. Dewott has been a big part of of Olivia's character development thus far since she started out pretty uncaring and apathetic toward him but has grown to like him and realized how wrong she was with being so critical of him. Even Dewott seemed to have grown since he had achieved his goal of gaining Olivia's praise and attention and more confident a battler in his own right.
    Like I mentioned earlier, I had Oshawott's story planned out to this point from a very early stage. I think there's still some ground to cover with it on both Olivia and Dewott's parts (especially Dewott's) but those will come with time.

    And surprisingly we end this chapter on a cliff-hanger, I'm interested to see what happens next given there seemed to be something foreshadowing Seduire.
    Get used to those cliffhangers, you'll be seeing a lot of them.

    The foreshadowing with Seduire is leading right into the next chapter.

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  6. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matori View Post
    I loved everything about this chapter, and I'm going to cover a lot of ground in this review, so let's get going.
    Okay, let's.

    I really loved this interrogation scene, it really gave a clear picture of Olivia, Silver, and Looker's characters. Silver is a little **** and I found myself agreeing with Looker before too long. I also really think Olivia's choice of food fits her character well for some reason.
    I think I enjoyed writing it for similar reasons. It really felt like a good chance to put characters with differing personalities together, and it was fun to see it play out.

    And yes, I did try to make the food choices match the characters at least loosely.

    Poor Olivia, I can really tell just how betrayed she still feels.
    Yeah, that's definitely strong here. She was putting a lot of stock in her relationship with Nekou, and for something so frightening to happen... it really shakes her faith.

    I thought this was a really adorable scene and a really close moment between the two of them, showing them truly understanding and accepting each other. The themes from the previous chapter continue, and I really like how you kept them for this scene. Seeing Nekou drop her tough exterior for just a moment was really cute and touching.
    This was really a very vital scene. Nekou was always much more complex than her surface would make it seem, and this scene combined with what happened in the previous chapter is absolutely vital to beginning to open up her true self.

    The mystery deepens... I'm wondering how it is Looker was off the case too, and Looker's discussion of the newest details makes me think something fishy is going on here. I can't wait to learn more.
    You bet something fishy is going on.

    The way Ghetsis' speeches can be so gripping and enthrall such huge crowds is nothing short of chilling, and this speech, like the others, was terrifying, particularly in how the crowd is eating up his every word.
    And if you think this is bad... the next speeches are going to be much, much worse. This is just the end of the beginning.

    Poor Olivia... she's been having a rough journey and this certainly probably isn't inspiring any confidence in her. Nekou's reassurance is really sweet, though.
    You're right, none of this is helping. She's swept up in something much bigger than her, which is an important plot thread.

    Nice shoutouts to both Movie 13 and to your previous work.
    Now, I've got to correct you here. Bay created Jacob and was generous enough to let me use him. What happened in the past between Matt and Jacob was in Bay's fic.

    I wonder where this is going to go?
    Someplace... startling, let's say.

    Shut up, Silver.
    You know everyone was thinking that.

    Hopefully Nikolai's assessment will make Olivia feel a little more confident in her abilities as a trainer as well as Oshawott's power as a Pokemon.
    It's going to be a help, yes.

    I really enjoyed the way you perfectly captured Colress' excitement over working with technology and science and accomplishing his goals. I think you really do both his game as well as his anime personalities justice and combine them fairly well.
    Like I've mentioned before, I wanted to portray Colress as someone who has absolutely no moral center. He isn't consciously good or consciously evil, he simply is, and that might be more terrifying than either of the other possibilities.

    This chilled me even further... Ghetsis, willing to kill his most trusted underlings for failure, and all of them still sound eager to carry out their orders, Chaos' cruelty to Elm... every one of his scenes are terrifying with how they show his utter lack of any decency to achieve his goals.
    That's right. While they're both unbound by normal rules and governed instead by their desires, Colress's most selfish wish is to get credit for his discoveries. Ghetsis, on the other hand, is a raging egomaniac and even today sees himself as far superior to everyone and everything around him. To Ghetsis, the way he treats his followers and captives is entirely justified because in his mind, he is better than them and thus has the right to do it.

    Excellent use of detail to paint a very vivid picture of the Azalea Gym. Bugsy reading a book while waiting for challengers is a really nice detail, it fits him.
    Yes, I knew right away it would. Like I mentioned earlier, a big part of my inspiration for his character was the academic background his character has in the games.

    It took me a minute to understand why she did this but then I realized she was trying to help Olivia gain confidence in herself. I like the detail, it's a really nice and touching one.
    I'm proud of that part, because usually I'm not able to pull off character development and plot advancement in such a strong way while still remaining subtle.

    I have been Nekou many times.
    Well, books are great.

    I actually really like the concept of scaling battles to the number of badges a challenger possesses.
    And it appears to be canon now thanks to Pokemon Origins, so everything worked out, didn't it?

    I like Bugsy's motivations for running his gym to reflect his interests.
    I wanted to portray a sense of small-town innocence that hasn't been touched by the flow of time. Given what's about to happen, it may be the last time you see such a thing.

    I could really tell just from how shaky Olivia's voice was that she was still a little nervous about battling in a gym.
    Did I effectively get across that she was intimidated by being in a Gym again? I wanted to show her being intimidated due to the memory of what happened the last time she was in a Gym.

    I can tell Bugsy truly enjoys discovering and battling new Pokemon from this.
    Well, it fits with his student theme. He's someone who always is trying to gain more knowledge.

    I'll give my impressions of the battle up to the next point I'm going to discuss together, since there's so much ground to cover: I think this really shows Olivia's strengths as a trainer and the way she strategizes well, and I think you paced it fairly well. It shows how she's grown, even with the setbacks in her life, and how she's coming to more fully trust her Pokemon. Lillipup, of course, is cute as ever, and I like Bugsy's battle style, as well- I think he really uses the typing of his gym well.
    Thank you! I really tried to put effort into it, so it's gratifying to hear that it turned out well.

    Oh no... I understand totally why Olivia is panicking over getting the answer wrong too, knowing she probably feels like she has a lot expected of her. What she learned earlier in the story probably isn't helping much either.
    That's correct. The expectations she felt, both her own and those of other people, she perceived them as all piling on her. It's a steadily building problem.

    When Olivia doesn't respond to a challenge like that, you know something's wrong...
    Oh yes, very wrong.

    Oh no Olivia... poor Olivia. I can really identify with what she's going through now and totally get why you put those warnings at the beginning of the chapter now.
    I wasn't sure at first whether to put the warnings/what warnings to put, but I'm quite glad I did in the end.

    When not even Nekou is sure about her...
    Precisely what I was going for. Nekou's extreme moods and behaviors make her useful for conveying the seriousness of a situation when necessary.

    Oh no...



    Yeah, that's not like her at all. Something is definitely going horribly, horribly wrong.
    Hold on, it's about to go downhill.

    I really enjoy how her mannerisms reflect her slow spiral into insanity she's experiencing right now.
    Not just her mannerisms, but her speech too. Notice how with this specific line she's begun rambling incoherently.

    I'm concerned too. You're doing amazing capturing just how terrifying it is to have this kind of thing happen.
    Thank you. I put a lot of thought into this scene in order to get this right in a way that was accurate and respectful.

    She's going to crash soon...



    I know that feeling of being unaware of your surroundings all too well... Olivia isn't doing great right now and I can tell she's really scared and confused at everything happening all around her.
    That's what I really wanted to show, the loss of awareness of all of your surroundings as those surroundings are replaced by fears and hallucinations.

    It's a relief to know it worked.

    This hit me really hard... all of Olivia's past failures coming back to haunt her, speaking to her in her hallucination, and then Rich appearing before her and completely crushing her world. I seriously teared up reading her hallucination of Rich, reading as she saw her father- even if he wasn't really there in the scene- completely reject her, her worst fear in the world, and her begging to go back to him. You do a fantastic job capturing what it's like to be someone who's lost all faith in everything, and I think that's something you should be proud of, because it's not an easy thing to write. You truly made me feel the hopelessness and desperation Olivia was experiencing.
    This was what I had to do. In order for Olivia to begin building herself up as her own person and grow to be independent of needing what she perceives as Rich's approval, she had to hit absolute rock bottom first, and this was the form it took. Of course, she was hallucinating Rich here, meaning that this was a hallucinatory manifestation of her absolute worst fears, but again, she had to address these things before being able to pick herself up. She had to feel that hopelessness and desperation.

    I like this description of the facility. You really set a good atmosphere with it.
    Thanks. I'm hoping to use this scene to build off of later.

    I laughed. Typical Colress, never caring what's appropriate for the situation.



    I love Colress so much. You really do capture his character perfectly.
    He's a lot of fun to write. I kind of picture him as the one who nobody really likes working with, but they do it because despite his arrogance he is undeniably brilliant.

    There's a secret in this scene.

    Google Glass? (brick'd)
    Specifically it's designed after Gendo Ikari's visor in the third Rebuild of Evangelion film, but I suppose it does have some similar functions.

    Awww

    Nekou is being really sweet here and I can tell she was really worried about Olivia.
    She is capable of being serious and legitimately caring when she needs to. Nekou's really a character full of contradictions.

    I'm really happy Nekou, Bugsy, and Matt are being shown handling the situation with sensitivity to Olivia and her boundaries, and they're doing all the right things in this situation. There need to be more stories like this.
    Like I mentioned earlier, I did a lot of research to ensure I got this right. It was very important to me to accurately depict someone suffering from a panic attack and that person being treated respectfully afterward.

    Well, Matt's right.
    I want to think that he learned something from what just happened with her, too.

    I really admire Olivia in this situation. She just went through hell but even after that, she wants to challenge herself.



    This just shows so much how Olivia's grown since the beginning of the story, and how much her friendship with Oshawott has strengthened. She's gone from accepting him begrudgingly to fully accepting him as part of her team.
    I think she recognizes what she has to do to move on. She might not be able to cope with it all easily, but she knows what has to happen.

    I'm not really surprised Bugsy has a Shelmet.
    Me neither. I just wish I had gotten the chance to have him use it, but the flow just didn't work out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matori View Post
    Holy crap, I did NOT expect that to happen at all. Great twist. Nekou's right, and Olivia having to remember Oshawott isn't Oshawott anymore is really cute.
    I thought it would be a cute little bit to toss in.

    This is really clever strategy on Olivia's part and it's clear now she's back to herself. Excellent thinking there.
    It's probably obvious since I foreshadowed the silk, but this was one of the first things I came up with for this battle.

    Heh, Nekou's hug is awesome and I want to hug Olivia too, because I'm so happy with her.



    I'm really happy Olivia got the badge after all the trouble she went through during the battle, and I think it's really inspiring how even after going through her worst despair ever, she managed to bounce back.
    I'm glad you liked it. You already know what I wanted to accomplish with the chapter, so it's good to know I accomplished it.

    I really love the description of the setting in this paragraph. I think it really effectively shows the contrast between the part of Goldenrod that they want others to see vs. the part they don't.
    Good. This was very important, as the next chapters will be dealing with it extensively.

    Knowing what Jessie went through, I believe her.
    That's right, her actions in this scene are indeed building right off of her past in the anime.

    James is a bro.




    This is really touching, particularly Giovanni slipping the young man some money. You know things are bad when even he finds himself caring...
    Now see, I know we know that James is capable of doing good when he wants, but I really believe that despite being a hardened villain Giovanni still has some nobility about himself. I kind of get the feeling that Giovanni approaches villainy like a business, especially compared to someone like Ghetsis, who is just evil because of his ego. I think Giovanni might just like a good underdog story, too.

    Nice nod to previous events.
    It felt right.

    I should have expected Pierce coming out, but I didn't. He really is an awesome secret agent.
    Hey, that corner was dark. He just couldn't help it.

    This conversation was really adorable but also bittersweet. I could really tell Anabel's barely getting by and probably doesn't know what to say to Olivia at all.
    That's an understatement.

    Wow, Nekou.
    It's true, though.

    Aw, that's really sweet. I think it's fitting for her to order a dish her dad made for her after winning that gym battle.
    I felt it helped to give closure to a major stage in her life.

    I get the feeling Olivia spent a lot of time quietly contemplating this to herself, and I think it shows how much she's grown to be able to make that decision.
    She was thinking about it for quite a long time, really.

    PROTON!!!!

    I think you did well with Zager's personality in this scene and the way he stays fairly cool even in situations like the one he found himself in with his readouts.
    I always intended to bring in more Team Rocket members.

    This situation Zager discovered isn't over yet... it's going to escalate.

    Oh no... just when I thought Olivia would be okay, more stuff happens. Poor Olivia
    Will be elaborated on next chapter... sort of.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this chapter, and it took me on quite the emotional rollercoaster. Excellent work, especially with all the characterization Olivia received. I'm really looking forward to what's in store for the next one, especially with that cliffhanger you left all of us on.
    Glad you enjoyed it! I think you'll be pleased with where it'll go next.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 9th October 2013 at 9:44 AM.

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  7. #132
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    “Being there was a strange energy pulse in that area. Identical to it was the energy pulse that struck Route 29, so suspicious something there is, I suspect.”

    Olivia looked up slightly, though not far enough to meet either pair of eyes opposite her. “So Matt was right…”

    “Hm? What are you precisely speaking words about?”
    Lol, I’ve got to say, you’ve got Looker’s unique sentence structure dialogue down.
    “I’m going to be blunt here,” Matt said, staring at the wall. “Preventing her from being haunted by what happened in Union Cave is up to you. She won’t want to hear it from me, and hearing it from you would give it some weight.”
    At least Matt knows his place. I can give him credit for that.
    “I just heard that… what was it, like seventy percent of new trainers never even make it to the Pokémon League, and ninety percent of them don’t collect more than seven Badges? Is that what he said?”

    “There have been more and more trainers washing up at Pokémon Centers in cities all over the place unable to continue going. Between the cost of healing their Pokémon, rooms and supplies, it’s no wonder so many don’t make it…”
    A nice look into the harsh realities of pokemon training. I like it.
    “But first, we have to have the next question. Answer it correctly and you’ll face my Shelmet, answer incorrectly and you’ll face Illumise. Here’s the question: which of these is not one of Pinsir’s possible Abilities? Is it Hyper Cutter, Anger Point or Mold Breaker?”
    An interesting way to go about picking pokémon for a gym battle. Pretty clever and fits Bugsy well.

    Bugsy’s words were barely getting through to Olivia at that point, though. She was too dizzy, too weak and too panicked to even register the compliments she’d been given. When she recalled Minccino, however, Bugsy took it as a signal that she was ready to continue, and he readied his Pokédex once again.
    You’re doing a pretty good job at showing Olivia’s tension during this battle. I also like how Nekou and Matt want to interfere, but it’s probably not the best idea. They’re torn and quite frankly I’m not sure what I’d do for her either if I were in their shoes. I was sorry to see Olivia react as badly as she did, but the hallucination with her father was heartbreaking and interesting to read. I was also glad to see her win, but then she collapses? Will she ever get a break? You might want to watch out on how many bad things you do to her or your readers may lose interest because they know only bad things will happen.

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  8. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by diamondpearl876 View Post
    Lol, I’ve got to say, you’ve got Looker’s unique sentence structure dialogue down.
    I was running with the (seemingly now canon?) theory that the different regions actually speak different languages and he's not in his native region. That's why his inner thoughts were in correct English while his actual speech is jumbled.

    At least Matt knows his place. I can give him credit for that.
    As I think about it, though, I don't know if he'd actually be able to admit such a thing to Olivia herself, at least at the precise point we're discussing.

    A nice look into the harsh realities of pokemon training. I like it.
    I think it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Especially in the games, where the statistics I gave here are probably too low - for a system where anyone with eight Badges can challenge the Elite Four directly to work strictly as depicted in the games, a challenger would have to be an extreme rarity.

    An interesting way to go about picking pokémon for a gym battle. Pretty clever and fits Bugsy well.
    Thanks.

    You’re doing a pretty good job at showing Olivia’s tension during this battle. I also like how Nekou and Matt want to interfere, but it’s probably not the best idea. They’re torn and quite frankly I’m not sure what I’d do for her either if I were in their shoes.
    Thank you, I'm glad I succeeded in creating the moral conflict I was aiming for. I don't think I could have done any better than how you got it.

    I was sorry to see Olivia react as badly as she did, but the hallucination with her father was heartbreaking and interesting to read. I was also glad to see her win, but then she collapses? Will she ever get a break? You might want to watch out on how many bad things you do to her or your readers may lose interest because they know only bad things will happen.
    I understand why you'd feel that way, and it's perfectly legitimate. I'll offer, though, the same explanation I gave earlier - in order to overcome the problems created by her past and then grow into someone better, Olivia first had to absolutely hit rock bottom so hard that she would literally have nothing left, and only then would she be able to begin rebuilding from scratch. It is a fair point to say that I should avoid doing too many bad things, and I agree with that, but a major theme in the story is the idea of finding the good hidden by the very bad things that happen.

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  9. #134
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    I understand why you'd feel that way, and it's perfectly legitimate. I'll offer, though, the same explanation I gave earlier - in order to overcome the problems created by her past and then grow into someone better, Olivia first had to absolutely hit rock bottom so hard that she would literally have nothing left, and only then would she be able to begin rebuilding from scratch. It is a fair point to say that I should avoid doing too many bad things, and I agree with that, but a major theme in the story is the idea of finding the good hidden by the very bad things that happen.
    That makes sense. As long as you have a reason for it, then I don't see a problem with it. Thanks for clarifying.

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  10. #135
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    There is some drug use and bloody violence in this chapter, just a warning.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 12: Alekhine’s Gun

    -:-

    In the dark alley within Goldenrod City’s southern slum, Pierce led Giovanni, Ariana, Jessie and James to a hidden doorway. Once inside the building, he brought them to the top floor and stopped just outside of a closed room.

    “Giovanni, Ariana, right this way,” Pierce said as he inserted a key into the door and opened it.

    Giovanni nodded to Pierce and entered the room, followed in similar fashion by the others. Pierce closed and relocked the door once they were all inside.

    The base Pierce had spoken of was, in actuality a mostly empty storage area. Three laptop computers were set up on some tables at the end of the room, where three other people were waiting. Jessie and James hung back, their faces glistening with nerve-induced sweat.

    “Giovanni, sir!” the older of the two women happily said. Her age was given away by the streaks of gray in her thick, dark green hair, but she was also bound to a sophisticated computerized wheelchair. Using a trackpad located next to the red digital keyboard on her right armrest, she maneuvered herself up to Giovanni. “Good to see you all here in one piece. We’ve gotten the base together, as ordered.” She took an ornate pipe and lighter out of the pocket on her floral-necked lab coat, then lit the pipe and deeply inhaled from it before adding, “It’s a modest affair, I know, but it serves its purpose.”

    “Rosalie, what of the Meteonite?”

    Before Rosalie could answer Giovanni’s question, Jessie and James jumped in front of him and interrupted. The worry they both felt was overwhelming, and when added to how close they both felt to what they wanted, they were both left fighting back tears in front of their superiors.

    “Boss, please forgive us, but we can’t wait anymore!”

    James immediately continued Jessie’s thought by saying, “Meowth has been missing for too long! Do you three know where he is?!”

    Giovanni clenched his fist, but calmed when Ariana grabbed his arm.

    “Don’t get mad at them, it’s not worth it. They just miss their teammate… which is understandable.”

    Rosalie smiled warmly. “My, my, you’re quite eager, aren’t you? Luckily, I think I have some good news. Trevor, Ada, come here.”

    Responding to the scientist’s gesture, the other two Team Rocket members who had been waiting with her approached. Both of them were wearing black variations of Stacia’s uniform, complete with the same parallel columns of gold buttons on the chests. Trevor wore pants and boots with his uniform while Ada wore a one-piece, knee-length dress and sneakers.

    “Go ahead and tell them what we got,” Rosalie directed after a moment of Jessie and James just staring eagerly up at them.

    “W-well…” Ada shyly said. Out of nervousness, she scratched at her sky-blue hair as she spoke. “…Team Rocket has… someone on the inside of Polaris. Based on what he’s told us… Meowth is somewhere in this city.”

    “Really?”

    “Is that really true?”

    Amused by Jessie and James’s passion for saving Meowth, Trevor laughed and brushed some of his long brown hair from his face. “It’s called the Purine Base, apparently. We know that it’s one of Polaris’s major facilities and that it’s in this very city, but we don’t know exactly where. Apparently, the exact location is kept a secret even from Polaris’s members.”

    “It would stand to reason that they also took the Meteonite there,” Ariana concluded, disgust evident on her face and in her voice. “If we find Meowth, we find the Meteonite.”

    “Correct, Executive Ariana,” Rosalie confirmed. “We know that wherever the Purine Base in Goldenrod City is, Polaris has definitely taken both Meowth and the Meteonite there.”

    “Then we should find out where they are, march right in and take what belongs to us!” Jessie boldly proposed. She accentuated her point by balling up her fist and striking it against her chest.

    “Patience.” Trevor urged, before smirking mischievously. “We’re working on a plan for when all our forces are ready, but mark my words, we will look for Polaris, we will find them, and we will beat them.”

    “W-we can’t b-be… too reckless. Polaris is… already planning something in this city.”

    “Do explain,” Giovanni ordered.

    Rosalie took a long drag from her pipe and exhaled the smoke, then entered a command into her wheelchair’s computer. A red-and-black digital screen was projected in front of her, and an intense look filled her somewhat-bloodshot eyes as she looked at it.

    “A post went up on the Polaris website,” she explained. “It says that a ‘day of the people’ will take place in Goldenrod City in three days… well, two, once midnight passes… and it will include a speech presented live in person by Ghetsis’s deputy Zinzolin. We suspect they might be planning to use the public protest as a cover for some other deed.”

    Giovanni did not respond right away. Instead, he walked across the room to a large chair that was set up near a wide window, sat down, and leaned to his side as he thought.

    “I agree,” he finally said, “they’re likely using it as a distraction. We can try to implement our own operation to derail theirs. Rosalie, Ada, Trevor, keep gathering intelligence from our man on the inside while we wait for our remaining field agents.”

    “Yes, sir!” all three of them responded.

    “What about us, dear Boss?” James asked, resisting the urge to fall to his knees and beg.

    “You two will wait here,” he rumbled dramatically. “I have a very specific job in mind for you.”

    -:-

    On the eastern end of Azalea Town, a short distance from both the main population and the town’s entrance, stood the Slowpoke Well. While on the surface it merely seemed to be an unassuming stone tube piercing the earth, at the bottom of the well was an expansive cave, the environment of the Pokémon that loaned the well its name.

    The next morning, having recovered from her sudden bout of illness the night before, Olivia had gone to the Slowpoke Well with Silver, looking to capture Pokémon. It was home to more than just Slowpoke, and she had found a Pokémon she wanted to catch. Silver stood back, leaning against a wall and watching as Olivia battled the Pokémon with her Roselia. She overwhelmed it quite quickly and threw a Poké Ball at it, at which point she could only stand by and watch as the ball shook on the ground.

    “Come on…” she thought, clenching her fists and teeth. “I have to get more Pokémon if I’m going to get anywhere!”

    The Poké Ball pinged just then, almost as if it was responding to Olivia’s pleas. She didn’t react right away, instead, she simply stared at the now-still sphere, letting what had happened sink in.

    “I… I actually got another Pokémon…” she uttered, slipping to her knees behind Roselia. Tears briefly welled up in her eyes as she realized that it was the first Pokémon she had captured after finding out the truth about her father. A feeling of confusion came over her, and it didn’t go away even when Roselia tried to hug her leg.

    “It’s just capturing a Pokémon…” Silver said as he walked up to her. “I don’t understand why you’re so worked up over it.”

    “Sentimental value!” Olivia shot back. “The Pokémon I caught before this was… I caught it while being driven by something I don’t have anymore. This is really the first time I’ve caught a Pokémon for myself and not for my dad…”

    “I will never understand the attachment someone like you gets to a father figure,” he harshly stated. “I have no need to be seen as worthy in my father’s eyes, and if you ask me, you should get over it too.”

    “Shut up! What right have you got to tell me what to do? My dad meant everything to me and now he’s completely gone!”

    Silver opened his mouth to answer, but didn’t speak a word before he froze. After remaining still for a moment, he sharply lashed his head around, listening for something.

    “Collect your Pokémon and come here,” he whispered. “I heard something. Someone’s here.”

    Olivia quickly heeded Silver’s advice, picking up the Poké Ball containing her new Pokémon and returning Roselia to her own. Once she moved up alongside Silver, she quietly asked, “What’s going on?”

    “I heard someone moving around. Be careful.”

    Silver stepped out from the wall and took several paces forward, intending to peer down a nearby tunnel to see if he could make anything out. However, as soon as he reached the tunnel, someone came running out and collided with him.

    “What are you...” Silver froze when he saw who he was looking at – a man wearing a black uniform that bore a red ‘R’ insignia. Almost instantly, his mood turned to pure rage. “You, Proton!”

    Proton initially reacted with surprise to his encountering Silver, stepping back with a wide-eyed look on his face. He quickly shifted to a more sarcastic tone, however, with his expression changing to a manic grin to match.

    “Well, well, look who the Meowth dragged in!” Proton chuckled menacingly. “It’s the return of the prodigal son!”

    “Shut it!” Silver growled, sweeping his arm before himself. “Tell me what he’s got you doing here right now!”

    “Maybe you should go ask your daddy yourself. I’m sure he’d like to see you!”

    “Silver, what’s going on?” demanded Olivia. She felt her stomach beginning to turn.

    “Nothing you need to get involved in,” Silver answered through clenched teeth while arming himself with one of his Poké Balls. “Get out of here. Go find Looker and tell him what’s happening.”

    Proton shrugged and turned up his hands. He hadn’t immediately noticed Olivia, but her presence barely fazed him. “So sorry, little lady, looks like you just got stuck in the middle of this. Thank Silver for getting you caught in the sights of the scariest and cruelest guy in Team Rocket!”

    Before either Olivia or Silver could react, Proton opened one of his own Poké Balls, releasing a Shuckle. Much like his trainer, the Shuckle wore a crazed, menacing look.

    “Hold her down, Shuckle! Wrap!”

    Taking aim squarely at Olivia, Proton’s Shuckle reared back and shot his front legs from his shell like tentacles. Repulsed by the idea of even being touched, she recoiled and started to run, but a huge shape towering over her shielded her from Shuckle’s grasp.

    “Feraligatr,” Silver shouted over Olivia’s gasp, “Ice Punch!”

    Using his right arm, Feraligatr delivered a forceful chop strengthened by freezing air to the tentacles wrapped around his left. Shuckle recoiled from the chill and pulled his legs back into his shell.

    “Tch… giving us a hard time like always, Silver?” Proton spat, his face curling in disgust.

    “More like beating you and taking you down again!” Quickly turning to look at Olivia over his shoulder, Silver again yelled, “Go! Get out of here and go get Looker!”

    Olivia wanted to run, but she found her body slow to respond to her mental commands due to her fear in the moment. The only immediate response available to her was to back up slowly and just try to put some distance between herself and the danger.

    Proton laughed, his sadistic grin returning. “Boy, Silver, aren’t you a hero? Some hero when you don’t even bother telling her how close she really is to us!”

    “Go!” Silver roared at Olivia, ignoring Proton’s mocking.

    “O…okay!”

    Olivia’s mind and body finally clicked together, allowing her to turn and run. As she fled she could hear the crashes and explosions of an unfolding battle behind her, but she could not pay much attention to it. She just knew she had to get away as quickly as possible.

    -:-

    “The Pokémon World Tournament is soon to begin!” the stout, thick-browed man on the Azalea Town Pokémon Center’s television announced. “ Pokémon Trainers from all around the world are gathering here at the Realgam Tower in Orre, and I, Freddy the Scoop, will be there to bring you all the exciting action!”

    The lobby of the Pokémon Center was fairly empty that morning. Azalea Town wasn’t often visited by large amounts of traffic, instead, it was usually the case that only a few trainers at a time would come for their Hive Badges and leave as soon as they got them. Only a small handful of people, including the nurse, were in the lobby while Matt, Looker and Nikolai were there watching television and drinking coffee.

    “It makes me happy…” Nikolai mumbled, staring at the screen.

    “What’s that?”

    Shifting his gaze sideways to look at Matt, Nikolai answered, “…that Pokémon can bring people together over such distances. I want the world to be a place where people and Pokémon can grow together through their interactions with each other. That’s my ideal formula…”

    “I can appreciate that. I mean…” Matt noticed Looker staring intensely at the two of them, but didn’t pay it much attention. “…if that kind of thing came to pass, perhaps it would be therapeutic to Olivia’s mind. I’ve noticed that she really opens up when Pokémon are involved.”

    “So where is Olivia, anyway?” Matt and Nikolai’s conversation was interrupted by Nekou swaggering in, with yet another beer can in her hand despite the early hour. She sipped at it, then continued, “I expected her to be out here with you.”

    “So you finally woke up, huh?” Matt said with a wry grin. “Don’t worry about her. She felt better after last night, so she went with Silver to the Slowpoke Well to catch a new Pokémon.”

    “The… Slowpoke Well?” In an instant, the cool, flippant attitude present in Nekou’s expression evaporated, giving way to a hardened, dismayed look. “With Silver?”

    “Yeah, when she brought up the idea, I didn’t want her to go alone but I did want her to strike out on her own a bit. Looker was the one that suggested Silver go with her.”

    “But… the Slowpoke Well? What made you think that **** was a good idea?”

    Matt shrugged. “It’s open to the public, so she’s not going anywhere she shouldn’t. What’s the worst that could happen?”

    As if on cue, at literally the moment Matt closed his mouth, the Pokémon Center’s doors slid open and Olivia came crashing through.

    “Matt!” she screamed out, not realizing where her group was yet. “Nekou! Mister Looker!”

    Nekou immediately pitched her beer can into a nearby garbage pail with great skill, then hurried to Olivia. The three men were left standing behind her, confused and worried about what had upset her.

    “Olivia, calm down!” Nekou implored her young friend, who collapsed into her arms. “Tell me what happened!”

    “I… I caught a new Pokémon… but then we ran into him…”

    “Who is ‘him?’” Matt questioned, not noticing how Nekou shuddered upon Olivia’s revelation.

    “And Silver, what is the location of his being currently?”

    “It was a man called Proton, who was wearing a Team Rocket uniform. Silver knew him, I think. He tried to capture me when we ran into him but Silver stayed behind to battle him.”

    “If the Team Rocket has started some sort of operation of sorts,” Looker pondered while holding his chin, “it is being my duty as an International Police agent elite in rank to stop it!”

    Stopping only to shoot Nekou a brief, venomous glare, Looker sprinted for the door, leaving Matt, Olivia, Nekou and Nikolai no choice but to leave their coffee behind and follow.

    Bright, blazing sunlight greeted them as they reached the outdoors, forcing them to try and hastily adjust their vision. Having gotten outside first, Looker got used to the morning sun before any of the others, and ran off to the east while shouting nonsensically about Team Rocket. The others were able to follow him after a brief moment.

    As soon as the stone entrance to the Slowpoke Well came into view, it became clear that the conflict had escalated. Proton had fled to the surface with Silver in pursuit, and the two were now fighting out in the open. Silver’s Feraligatr had just delivered a finishing blow to Proton’s Shuckle, and having recalled his Pokémon, Proton was starting to flee using a jetpack strapped to his back.

    Just as his jetpack’s rockets ignited, Proton caught sight of Looker. Shooting the detective a sarcastic grin, he saluted and yelled, “Missed me again, didn’t you?”

    “Stop! International Police!”

    “Oh, come the **** on!” Nekou groaned in exasperation. “You seriously think that he’ll stop for that?”

    Proton lifted into the air and, without hesitation, turned to Ilex Forest to the west and began to fly off.

    Silver, however, would have none of it, even as Matt, Looker and the others just watched the Rocket Executive flee. “Feraligatr, shoot him down, right now!” he shouted, pointing at Proton. “Dragon Pulse!”

    Locking his gaze onto the shrinking figure in the sky, Feraligatr opened his mouth as widely as his large jaw would allow. A cluster of blue light took shape just within, which within seconds fired like a cannon of energy. The attack managed to hit Proton with pinpoint accuracy, and though none of the group could hear him swearing his luck, they were able to see his jetpack fail, sending him falling into the forest.

    “What are you all waiting for?!” Silver demanded, recalling Feraligatr as soon as his work was done. “Let’s go after him! I’m sure that’s not a problem for any of you, is it?”

    Silver didn’t wait for an answer to his question. He just turned and ran, his body overflowing with more than enough energy to run all the way across Azalea Town and into Ilex Forest. Matt, Olivia, Looker and Nikolai all followed immediately while Nekou brought up the rear, scowling viciously all the while.

    -:-

    In his laboratory, Dr. Zager was frantically entering commands into his computer while Galvantula skittered around in the background, alarmed by the sound of his voice.

    “Proton? Proton, come in!” Overcome by frustration, Zager slammed his fist down on his desk. “Of all the times to lose communication...”

    Returning to the thermal imaging of Ilex Forest, the scientist found himself unable to do much more than stare at the readouts it displayed. Since the night before, multiple bursts matching the signature of Meteonite energy had been detected there, but there was something else, another kind of energy flowing through the area that truly put his nerves on edge. He kept watching the time-lapse reading of the forest over and over, searching for an answer he wasn’t sure was there.

    -:-

    Even though it was the middle of a clear morning, Ilex Forest was still a gloomy place. The one saving grace that the group had was the availability of a long but clear and distinct path to follow. The relatively small number of travelers that came through the area were still enough to convey the need for a road; without it, the forest would be nearly impossible to pass through.

    “He’s got to be nearby here,” Silver said. “He didn’t get far into the forest before I shot him down.”

    “Pardon me for chiming in, but maybe it would help to have a Pokémon search? You have a Gengar, as I recall.”

    Silver was caught by surprise by Matt’s suggestion, but he thought about it and quickly realized that the idea was a smart one. After removing Gengar’s Poké Ball from his belt, Silver opened it, releasing the ghost. Gengar grinned widely and laughed, happy to be doing something.

    “Gengar, look through this immediate area for a man wearing a Team Rocket uniform,” the red-haired trainer directed. “If you find him, bring us to him immediately.”

    Gengar nodded and said his name to confirm that he understood what Silver wanted him to do, then drifted off into the woods. However, Silver let out an angry sigh and sharply turned to his companions.

    “I could use a little help, you know. I don’t expect it from all of you but I’m sure at least one of you will put in the effort.”

    “You know, you could just say please,” Olivia muttered, though she did let her Minccino out. Almost immediately, the Normal-type Pokémon fretted about cleaning up some nearby leaves using her tail.

    “For as rude as he was happening to be behaving in the manner of, Silver does occur to have a point,” Looker commented. “Matt, what Pokémon have you got in possession on your person?”

    “Right now? I’m carrying Heatran, Sigilyph, Eelektrik, Golurk, Roggenrola and Drilbur.”

    “A Psychic-type ought to be of use…” Nikolai listlessly said.

    “And she can fly, too. I agree.” Matt reached into his bag, intending to take out the Poké Ball containing Ayingott, his Sigilyph.

    Just as he put his hand on it, though, an unexpected interruption broke in. A loudly-screeching horde of Zubat and Hoothoot, numbering about thirteen total, emerged from the trees. The Hoothoot had dull, tired looks in their eyes, and despite having no eyes to share it, the Zubat were carrying themselves in the same agitated manner.

    “Look at their eyes,” Nekou growled, “or at least the Hoothoot, anyway. And nocturnal Pokémon out in the daytime?”

    “Are you suggesting what I think you are?” Matt asked without looking at her.

    “Yeah, I am. They’re under Meteonite influence, just like all those other Pokémon… like the ones in Union Cave.”

    “I can feel something influencing their minds…” added Nikolai, standing with his arms spread.

    Some of the Zubat and Hoothoot took notice of Olivia’s Minccino sitting on the ground before them and became even more angered. Before she even realized what was happening, she found herself being targeted by multiple Air Cutter and Night Shade attacks.

    “Stop those with Swift!” Olivia quickly commanded.

    Minccino lashed her tail forward, spraying a wave of stars to shield herself. Most of the white and purple energy waves coming her way were dispelled, but a few still got through. She was only struck by the Air Cutters, though, as she was immune to the Ghost-type Night Shades. Scratched in several places and dirty from the dust kicked up around her, she fled back to the safety of Olivia’s arms.

    “Minccino, it’s okay…” she whispered to her Pokémon, gently stroking Minccino’s head.

    “I’ll take care of this. Ayingott, make your mark!”

    The Sigilyph burst from the Poké Ball she was contained within. Right away, she noticed the injured Minccino in Olivia’s arms and realized the Zubat and Hoothoot were to blame. She confronted the gang by angrily chirping at them, but they were too far gone under the Meteonite’s influence to fully notice.

    They did, however, perceive Ayingott as a threat. The Hoothoot hung back while the Zubat encircled her, preparing to attack.

    “Ayingott, that’s nothing to you! Wipe them all out with Psychic!”

    Much to Matt’s surprise, Ayingott hesitated. She didn’t wait for long, but it was enough that Matt and the others noticed. When she attacked, she used her psychic power to surround all of the Zubat with blue light before tossing them away.

    “What happened?”

    Nikolai stepped up alongside Matt, but didn’t look at him, instead covering his eyes with his hat. “I sense that your Sigilyph is unhappy with something. Not you, but… there is something weighing on its mind.”

    Matt looked back up, struggling to identify in his mind what it was that he had done wrong, only to see that the Zubat had somehow quickly returned to surround Ayingott once again. Meanwhile, Silver had sent out his Alakazam, and the two of them were trying to cut down the Hoothoot with electric bolts Alakazam was launching from the spoons he held.

    Suddenly, a Swift attack struck some of the Zubat, breaking their formation around Ayingott. Matt turned in surprise to see that Olivia’s Minccino had regained her courage and was rejoining the fight, having climbed out of her trainer’s arms.

    “Thanks for that, Minccino,” he said, though he was looking at Olivia. “How about we do this together?”

    “All three of us?” Nekou interrupted, holding a Poké Ball in her hand.

    “You know what, that’s a good idea,” Matt said with a smile. “Let’s go for it, all of us! Manticore, make your mark!”

    “Join them, Marie!”

    Matt’s Roggenrola and Nekou’s Sneasel stepped up alongside Minccino after taking form. Marie looked to Minccino and growled sharply, smiling to encourage her companion. Manticore, however, didn’t wait for Minccino and Marie or even for any orders from Matt. As soon as she saw the swarm of Zubat, she jumped into battle, shooting a stream of four rocks at them. The Zubat scattered but reformed with some speed.

    “Manticore, I didn’t tell you to use Rock Blast yet!”

    “Looks like it hasn’t gotten much more obedient since you caught it,” Nekou remarked. “Fine. As always, woman must clean up the mess created by man, huh? Olivia, let’s team up and do this. I want you to use Swift again.”

    “Alright,” Olivia answered, nodding. “I trust you. Minccino, do it! Use Swift!”

    Nekou watched as Minccino followed Olivia’s direction. Once the stars of Swift were in the air, Nekou followed with, “Now, Marie, use Ice Beam on Minccino’s Swift!”

    While sharply hissing, Marie looked up at Minccino’s Swift attack and fired rays of blue, freezing energy from her claws. The ice surrounded the stars on contact, turning them into sharp-edged weapons that slashed through the Zubat horde. Many of them dropped to the ground, unable to continue after being cut down by the combination, leaving only three severely weakened Zubat still airborne.

    “Let’s put an end to this all at once! Ayingott, hold them still with Psychic, and Manticore, hit one of them with Rock Blast!”

    “Marie, take one of them out with Knock Off!”

    “Minccino, you finish the last one off with Aqua Tail!”

    The last three Zubat had attempted to attack again by opening their mouths wide, but Ayingott pinned them with her psychic power, rendering them unable to do so. Marie jumped at the trio as soon as they were frozen and smashed the middle Zubat into the earth with her right arm. Manticore followed up by taking aim at one of the others and shooting three rocks at it, and just as Olivia intended, Minccino smacked the last down with her glowing tail.

    At the same time Matt, Nekou and Olivia were defeating the Zubat, Silver was finishing off the Hoothoot on his own using his Alakazam. The owl Pokémon proved to be little of a challenge to the powerful Psychic-type.

    “Alakazam… you did well.” Holding up a yellow-and-black Ultra Ball, Silver recalled Alakazam back to its confines. Just as he did so, though, Gengar returned and began pulling on his arm. The ghost Pokémon gestured into the brush, prompting Silver to turn around – only to see a figure rushing through the forest not far away. “There he is! He was hiding right in front of us!”

    “Silver, be waiting!” Looker’s call was in vain, as Silver, overcome with his wish to capture Proton, dashed off into the bushes to give chase after recalling Gengar. With no other options, Looker turned to the others and said, “We shall make note to meet up at the other end’s exit of the Ilex Forest!” before hurrying off after Silver.

    “What is going on?” Matt wondered out loud as the detective departed.

    “**** if I know,” Nekou said with a shrug. “But I’d be willing to hazard a guess that it’s Polaris’s fault. Those Zubat and Hoothoot were clearly under the influence of Meteonite energy, but there shouldn’t be any way for that to be possible. There were no meteor strikes in this area.”

    “Nikolai, what did you mean by Ayingott being unhappy with something?” Matt questioned.

    “I haven’t pinpointed it just yet… let’s walk with the Pokémon and perhaps I will figure it out.”

    “I like that idea.”

    With their plan set, the group continued down the road, walking with Ayingott, Manticore, Minccino and Marie alongside them.

    They didn’t notice the twelve pairs of small, yellow eyes watching them from the bushes.

    -:-

    A large, metallic airship piloted by Colress was flying over the western ocean, heading in the direction of Goldenrod City. He was seated at an expansive control panel within the craft’s cockpit, and while flying it, he was also carrying on a videophone conversation with Getriebe and Jeunes.

    “Everything’s all in order here,” Jeunes stated, smirking. “Two days from now, we’ll be able to execute the operation just as planned.”

    “The research has been promising,” Getriebe added. “If my calculations are correct, the Meteonite will work exactly the way we want.”

    “I’ll be there in plenty of time,” answered Colress. “Nothing will get in our way. Between the power of the Meteonite and the public support Mister Ghetsis’s speeches have been gaining for us, Polaris will reach its objective soon enough. What are you two currently doing?”

    “We’ve nearly finished scanning our stocks of Pokémon into the Purine Base’s databanks,” Getriebe explained. “Once our indexing is complete, we’ll send the data to the Adenosine Base so you can use it.”

    -:-

    “I figured it out,” Nikolai abruptly announced while the group and their Pokémon were continuing down the road in Ilex Forest. “I know what your Sigilyph is distressed by.”

    “Oh? What is it?”

    “Your Sigilyph does not like its nickname. It wishes to be given a new one.”

    “Wait, I don’t understand,” Matt replied, raising an eyebrow. Ayingott didn’t seem to dislike that nickname before.”

    “I feel it may have been waiting to see on its own if you would change its nickname… now that Sigilyph has decided that you aren’t going to be doing that, it’s beginning to act out.”

    “I guess that makes sense,” Nekou remarked, walking with her arms crossed behind her head. She then glanced back to Olivia, only to notice that she had her head down. “What’s wrong?”

    “Something doesn’t feel right,” Olivia sullenly said. “I feel kind of sick again… and I really want to see my mom for some reason. All of a sudden I really miss her.”

    “We’ll call her when we get to Goldenrod City, okay?” Matt was attempting to reassure Olivia, but in his own mind, he was nervous. Anabel’s poor state when they’d contacted her the day before didn’t give him a good feeling.

    “Wait, do you hear something?” Nekou suddenly said.

    Snapping out of his thoughts, Matt focused his hearing, and Olivia focused hers as well. Both of them quickly heard loud voices coming from some place nearby, which evidently was what Nekou was referring to.

    “I hear it, too...” Nikolai uttered. “Let’s go find out what it is…”

    Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Nikolai ran further down the road, seeking the source of the voices. They quickly came upon a young boy and girl, both dressed in sky-blue school uniforms and carrying lunchboxes.

    “Are you two okay?” Matt addressed them.

    Reacting to his accidentally overaggressive tone, the pair reeled back. “Stop! Don’t take any more of our Pokémon!” the boy cried.

    “We didn’t take any of your Pokémon to begin with,” Nekou rebuked. “What’s going on here?”

    “Who are you?” questioned the girl.

    “Just some traveling trainers, as you seem to be,” Matt answered, gesturing to Ayingott, Manticore, Marie and Minccino. “If I frightened you before, I’m sorry. Please explain to us what happened.”

    “Our Ivysaur disappeared into Ilex Forest... we were looking for it and now we can’t find our way out anymore!”

    “Did it run away?” Olivia wondered.

    “Y-yeah, it did…” The girl sniffed before adding, “but when it ran away, right before it ran away it was struck by a beam of red light.”

    Matt, Nekou and Olivia all gasped and looked at each other in shock, and though Nikolai’s reaction was far more muted, the surprise in his eyes gave away that he had a similar feeling.

    “You guys are all thinking what I’m thinking, right?”

    Nekou closed her eyes in disgust at the answer she had to give to Matt’s question. “No doubting it, it’s a Meteonite strike. But this isn’t like the others, this is ****ing deliberate…”

    “There’s children here!” Matt hissed before softening his tone. “But what do you mean?”

    “If that’s the worst thing they ever hear, they lived some pretty sheltered lives,” Nekou said with a shrug. “Consider the past Meteonite strikes… the one in Union Cave, I mean. Only Ground-type Pokémon were affected. Meanwhile, today we’ve seen Flying-type Pokémon and now Grass-type Pokémon affected, plus, did you hear what she said? Their Ivysaur was struck by a beam of red light before it ran off. Someone in this forest is using a Meteonite and deliberately controlling certain Pokémon with it.”

    “What are you talking about, lady?” the girl whimpered. “Who took our Ivysaur? You know, don’t you?”

    “Not for certain, but… I have a good suspicion about it. Come on, we have a Psychic-type Pokémon, we’ll help you search for it. We’re heading through the forest anyway.”

    “How do we know we can trust you?” The boy was suddenly growing angry, and he stood glaring up right into Nekou’s eyes. “They’ve been talking about Team Rocket being around here lately. You could be one of them! This could all be your fault!”

    “If someone from Team Rocket stole your Ivysaur, you would have known it,” Nekou coolly dismissed. “Those guys… they’re way too showy for their own good. They wouldn’t have taken it in the way you described.”

    “I think… I think you can trust her…” Matt put in. “She’s right, after all. Team Rocket’s members run around in those uniforms with the huge red ‘R’s on them. You didn’t see one of those, did you?” The boy shook his head, prompting Matt to say, “Then please, trust us. Come along, Ayingo…um… I’ll think of a new name for you soon, okay? Let’s just help these kids find their Ivysaur and see if we can’t get down to the bottom of these Meteonite attacks.”

    “Sigi, sigi,” Ayingott chirped, her cry filled with equal parts enthusiasm and frustration.

    -:-

    Elsewhere in the forest, Silver and Looker were still sprinting after Proton, who was unable to shake them despite his best efforts to vanish into the underbrush.

    “Stop, you piece of scum!” Silver shouted through the trees at his target. “I swore I’d take all of you down, and I’m keeping my word! You won’t escape!”

    “Be halting! The long arm of the law can manage to work to reach anywhere!”

    Proton didn’t say anything, but he did glance over his shoulder at his pursuers. He realized that they were slowly closing in on him, meaning he wouldn’t be able to keep running forever.

    “Oh, if ever I’ve needed some luck, now would be a hell of a time for it!” he thought to himself.

    Much to his surprise, however, his wish actually came true. Over a dozen Psybeam attacks suddenly burst from the surrounding bushes, striking the ground all around Silver and Looker. They had to stop their chase as they were surrounded by Venonat, Butterfree and Masquerain. Proton, meanwhile, knew this turn afforded him the chance he needed to escape.

    “Damn it, we lost him!” Silver growled as soon as he realized he couldn’t see Proton anymore. “We’ll have to track him down all over again... but we can’t do that until we deal with this problem.”

    “I am finding myself in complete agreement with you, Silver.”

    Some of the Butterfree and Venonat broke from the horde and moved forward, aiming another round of their multicolored Psybeam attacks at the two humans, who swiftly jumped aside to get out of the way. Silver quickly sent out his Gengar to face them, while Looker brought out his Toxicroak.

    -:-

    Far north from the unfolding events in Ilex Forest, another incident was about to take place. Another of Polaris’s airships descended to the ground near the vast autumn forests surrounding Ecruteak City, and after its stairs unfolded, Ghetsis stepped out. The crazed dictator’s cape blew in the gentle wind surrounding him as he set his intense, wicked gaze upon the city before him.

    “Ah, Ecruteak City…” After looking from the west half of the city, which was urban and developed, to the east, which was still filled by a small number of older, traditional wooden buildings, he closed his eye. “A city of contradictions that proves the sins of the Tenganists… what a fitting place for my ascension to my rightful throne as the King of Harmonia…”

    After pulling on the button fixing his cape around his neck, Ghetsis turned and walked toward a nearby pagoda, sitting alone at the northern edge of the city against the forest. His cane made a loud tapping noise with every step he took on the stone roads of the city’s traditional half. When he reached the building, he stopped only for a moment to grin to himself before stepping inside. To announce his presence, he simply slammed his cane against the wooden floor.

    From the halls of the temple, three elderly men dressed in black robes emerged. They all regarded Ghetsis with a mixture of confusion and anger in their eyes.

    “We are the Wise Trio…” one of them said, stepping forward, “…and I am Masa, the head Sage here. What business have you with us, intruder?”

    “Now, now, there is no need for such hostility, for I am but a simple sage like you,” Ghetsis answered, smiling disarmingly. “I have simply come to talk about some very important business with you.”

    “What business would that…”

    “Master Masa…” one of the other two Sages interrupted.

    “What is it, Koji?”

    “I recognize this man…” The fear evident in Koji’s voice grew with each word he spoke. “This is the man who represents Polaris… Ghetsis… Harmonia…”

    “So my secret’s out, then.” Ghetsis opened his eye again, but never stopped smiling. “I guess it’s time to dispense with the formalities.”

    His eyes widening, Masa pulled a Poké Ball from his robes. He then gestured to Koji and the third Sage, who did the same. “Koji! Gaku! Prepare to defend Bell Tower! We won’t let him destroy another of our holy sites!”

    “You foolish Tenganists… Pokémon cannot stop me from reaching my destiny.”

    Ghetsis banged his cane against the floor again. On cue, the Shadow Triad materialized in front of him with swords in their hands. Before they even knew what was going on, Masa, Koji and Gaku were cut down. The last thing the three Sages ever saw was Darkness, Pestilence and Chaos wiping splashes of blood from their uniforms while Ghetsis towered over them, his face twisted into a sadistic grin.

    “We’re establishing a base here until the event,” Ghetsis declared. “Darkness, Pestilence, go fetch the prisoners from the transport.”

    “Sir!”

    After the pair of Shadows warped away, Ghetsis looked to Chaos and gestured at the fallen Sages with his cane. “You, Chaos, get rid of them. Dead men don’t put up a fight so I know you can handle this.”

    -:-

    Much like she had been since arriving in Ilex Forest, Séduire was hiding up in one of the trees. Using the holographic display on her Meteonite cannon, she was observing the movements of Matt and the others as they went through the forest.

    “Yes, come to me… you’re almost here…” Taking a deep breath, Séduire shifted her weight on the branch. “I think I’ll give you a gift to welcome you home…”

    With a flick of her hand, Séduire moved off of her surveillance of Matt and onto a control panel for her weapon itself. She smiled to herself as she programmed a command into its system.

    A short distance away, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Nikolai were continuing down the road with their Pokémon still out and the brother and sister accompanying them.

    “Ivysaur!” the boy called out into the depths of the forest. “Where are you?”

    “Come on, please come back!” his sister shouted in the opposite direction.

    “Nekou, are you absolutely sure that this is another Meteonite event? This doesn’t feel like the other times.”

    “I’m certain of it, no ****ing doubt,” Nekou mumbled in response to Matt’s questioning. “You’re not taking one thing into consideration. I told you someone’s doing this deliberately. They might be controlling the Pokémon too, and if that’s…”

    Suddenly, Olivia stumbled and fell against Nekou, leaving Nekou to hold her up. The entire search party stopped its trek through the forest immediately.

    “Olivia, what’s wrong?” Matt said in alarm.

    “I don’t… I don’t feel so good…” Olivia tried to push herself off Nekou’s side and onto her own feet, but she felt her body becoming weak.

    “Don’t worry, Olivia, I’ll hold you up.” Looking to Matt, Nekou scrunched up her face and said, “Find those kids’ Ivysaur so we can get out of here. Olivia’s sick again.”

    “I would if I had a lead to go on!” Just as he finished speaking, Ayingott taped his shoulder to garner his attention. “Huh? What is it?”

    “Glyph!” Matt’s Sigilyph screeched, gesturing to the bushes a short distance down the road.

    “I don’t understand…”

    “Matt… I think we have company,” Nikolai warned.

    The entire group turned to where Ayingott had indicated and stared intensely at the brush, awaiting whatever would emerge. Moments later, another group of Pokémon leapt out to attack, their eyes filled with the same tired look all the other Pokémon influenced by the Meteonite possessed. It was a team comprised mainly of several Paras and Carnivine clustered together.

    However, one of them stuck out, having no other companions like him. In addition to the other Grass-types in the swarm, a single Grass-and-Poison-type Pokémon was present.

    An Ivysaur.

    “There’s our Ivysaur!” cried the boy, a look of great relief coming across his face. Without hesitating, he started running towards the group of Pokémon, not realizing what danger he was in.

    “Stop!” Nekou screamed. “It’s not safe!”

    Dramatically underlining her point, the Ivysaur, without even briefly hesitating, attacked his trainer by launching a number of sharp-edged leaves at him. He avoided being hit by barely an inch, jumping back in a panic.

    “Ivysaur, what’s with you?”

    “Right now, that’s not your Ivysaur,” Nekou coldly said. She tapped the side of her glasses, activating their computerized scanning. “The entire energy flow in this forest is in flux, from the looks of it. That’s why all these Pokémon are acting like this… whoever is behind this has caused a lot of damage with repeated Meteonite blasts.”

    “Can you make Ivysaur go back to normal?” the girl questioned while shielding her brother.

    Before she could get an answer, three of the Paras attacked the group with Energy Ball, forcing them to jump to the sides of the road to avoid the glowing, crackling spheres.

    “We might be able to, but we have to defeat them first. Charlotte, come out and help!”

    Matt fumbled in his bag for the Poké Ball he wanted, and when he found it, he simply opened it in his hand instead of throwing it. His Eelektrik materialized, floating a few feet off the ground.

    However, as soon as Charlotte appeared, Manticore turned away from the swarm of Grass-types to face her. The Roggenrola’s memories were stirred by seeing Charlotte. She specifically remembered what had happened the day she was captured on Route 30, when she was outside Mr. Pokémon’s house. It had been Charlotte that Matt used to capture her.

    Overcome by anger, Manticore charged at Charlotte, striking her midsection with Headbutt.

    “Manticore, stop it! Charlotte’s your ally now!”

    Paying little heed to her trainer’s order, Manticore hesitated for only a second before beginning to charge at Charlotte again. Unwilling to take another hit for Manticore’s rage, Charlotte started to generate electricity around herself. Matt managed to head off the conflict by recalling Manticore, just in enough time to make sure Charlotte’s Charge Beam hit only the ground.

    “Why… did that just…” Olivia weakly said.

    “Seeing the Pokémon that was used to capture Roggenrola caused it to become enraged,” Nikolai quickly answered. “We do not have time to deliberate on such a thing. These Pokémon… are in much worse condition.”

    “Manticore wouldn’t be so great against Grass-types anyway,” Matt realized. “Charlotte, I’ll leave this to you!”

    “Marie, you go too!”

    “Minccino… do your best…”

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  11. #136
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    Much to the surprise of his companions, Nikolai even took out one of his Poké Balls. “I cannot call upon my friends in this forest while the energy here is so off balance… it wouldn’t be safe. At the very least my personal Pokémon can be protected…”

    With that, Nikolai threw the Poké Ball, releasing his Stantler. The Normal-type Pokémon stood tall next to his comparatively short allies.

    Unwilling to let the appearance of opposing Pokémon intimidate them, the horde of Grass-types attacked again. Their offense was fractured; while the Paras remained at a distance and used Energy Ball again, the Carnivine opted for a much more direct approach by lashing out with vines from under their leaves. The Ivysaur, meanwhile, erratically shot more sharp leaves at the group.

    Charlotte, Marie, Minccino and Stantler did their best to dance around the attacks barraging them. Charlotte’s ability to twist through the air served her well in her defense, while Minccino and Marie danced around on the ground, Marie with much more skill than her lesser-trained friend. Stantler, on the other hand, didn’t have as much mobility and ended up getting knocked down by one of the Carnivine with Vine Whip, but he recovered quickly.

    “It pains me to say but… the only way to stop these Pokémon is to defeat them.”

    “Nikolai, wait, I have an idea. You said you could protect your Stantler because it was your personal Pokémon… is that because you can recall it?”

    Nikolai’s eyes widened at Nekou’s suggestion. “Why did I not think of that earlier?” Turning to the children, Nikolai quickly said to them, “Hurry, try to recall your Ivysaur!”

    “I hope it works,” the sister said, taking out a Poké Ball of her own. “Ivysaur, return!”

    A beam of red light shot out of the core of the Poké Ball when the girl pointed it at Ivysaur. However, the seemingly simple plan had one major problem – Ivysaur didn’t want to be recalled, and jumped back out of the way to avoid the beam that would bring him back.

    “We’re going to have to hold it down,” Matt quickly decided. “Charlotte, Thunder Wave!”

    Still twisting her body through the air, Charlotte turned toward the Ivysaur and released a weak pulse of electricity from her body. After getting hit by it, Ivysaur became still as the electricity paralyzed his muscles.

    “Quickly! Do it now!”

    “Ivysaur, return!”

    This time, the girl had the fortune she and her brother needed. With Ivysaur held down by the paralysis, she was able to recall him safely into his Poké Ball.

    “Ivysaur…” her brother sighed in relief.

    “But how do we make him get better?”

    Four Paras decided to break from the horde and rushed the group, their claws drawn back in preparation for a series of X-Scissor attacks. Matt pulled the young siblings aside and stood in front of them, while Nekou and Olivia hid behind Nikolai’s Stantler. As for Nikolai himself, he simply ducked into a nearby bush to avoid them.

    “Come with us,” Matt said to the siblings. “We’re going to the Pokémon Center in Goldenrod City, if we ever get out of this. You can get Ivysaur help there.”

    “I don’t get it,” Nikolai coughed as he stumbled from the bush. “Why are their attacks so erratic?”

    “They aren’t in their right minds,” Nekou sharply replied. “Whoever is manipulating them with the Meteonite is causing them to go insane. Either way, though, I’ve had just about enough of this. Marie, do whatever’s necessary! **** them up!”

    “If you can… Minccino…”

    Together, Marie and Minccino leapt at the horde of Grass-types. True to her nature, Marie took the initiative to attack first, showering the entire crowd with her Ice Beam. With many of the Pokémon stunned, Minccino swept in and cut through the group with Tail Slap, rattling the heads of whatever she could reach even further.

    “Matt… your Sigilyph knows Psychic.” When Matt nodded, Nikolai continued, “Hold the Pokémon together with it. I don’t like having to do this, but it can’t be helped.”

    “Alright. Aying…well… I guess we’ll figure out your name, but for now… Sigilyph, Psychic! Cluster them together!”

    Encouraged by Matt’s willingness to acknowledge her concerns, Ayingott focused on the horde of Pokémon. All three of her eyes began to glow with blue light, which then surrounded the Paras and Carnivine as they were forced together by her power.

    “With them held together like that… this ought to affect them all. Stantler, use Stomp!”

    Stantler ran a short distance to build up speed, then leapt into the air and came crashing down onto the cluster. Nikolai’s theory was right; though Stantler had directly hit a Carnivine, the shock from the blow radiated through the entire group.

    “Let’s put an end to this, Charlotte. Acid Spray!”

    Locking her gaze onto the writhing cluster of Pokémon, Charlotte choked up a large ball of green poison. When it made impact on its target, it exploded, scattering the Pokémon around the area. The combined strength of all the attacks was enough to cause the Pokémon to faint.

    Just as Matt and the others breathed sighs of relief, though, a whole new problem erupted. The dozen pairs of yellow eyes, which had been watching them the entire time they were in the forest, finally revealed themselves as twelve Pawniard rushed from the growth, followed by a single Bisharp.

    “What now?!” Matt shouted.

    As the Pawniard surrounded the group in a circular formation, Nekou saw that one of the Pawniard closest to the Bisharp had scratches on its head and immediately realized what was happening.

    “****, they’ve been following us ever since Route 29, haven’t they?” she growled while rolling her eyes.

    “The same ones from before?” Matt said, shaking his head. “I should have realized it. But what do they want now? Last time we were disturbing them and they were under… wait, are they being controlled by the Meteonite again?”

    “No…” Nikolai interjected. “I can feel the Bisharp’s wishes… it wants to fight with you again. One on one. This is its sincere desire, not the influence of some outside power.”

    “Uh… okay, I guess… can you tell it I don’t have my Seismitoad on me right now? If it wants a rematch it might want to fight the same opponent again.”

    “Bisharp! Bisha sharp!” the Steel-and-Dark-type Pokémon immediately said in response, having heard what Matt had said.

    Nikolai chuckled gently and smiled as he turned to Matt. “It says it doesn’t care.”

    “Well then, that’s certainly a change in attitude from the last time we met, isn’t it?”

    -:-

    Having escaped from his pursuers, Proton was able to once again establish contact with Dr. Zager, though only through audio. The scientist was rapidly typing into his computer while speaking to his subordinate, the reason being that emergency messages were popping up continually on his screens.

    “Dr. Zager, tell me what’s happening!” Proton shouted over the transmission. “I can’t do anything here if I don’t know what I’m dealing with!”

    “Proton, listen to me and listen well. That temporal distortion is unstable and increasing. Get back in there, find out if a Time Gate is opening, and do whatever you can to bring it under Team Rocket’s control! We cannot risk Polaris capturing such a potent energy!”

    -:-

    “Ugh…”

    Matt didn’t have a chance to choose a Pokémon for his rematch with the Bisharp before he heard Olivia groaning behind him. He turned around just in time to see her collapse to the ground, clutching her stomach.

    “Olivia, are you alright?” Nekou said, rushing to her side. “What’s wrong now?”

    “It hurts…” Olivia whimpered, “It really hurts!”

    “There’s something very, very wrong with her…” Above everything but his worry for Olivia, Matt felt powerless. He wanted to do something to help her, but with no idea what was wrong, there was nothing he could do. The feeling of helplessness made his entire body shake. “Clearly, we’re in the middle of something very bad… we have to get out of this forest right now, no more delays.”

    Realizing that Matt was intending to leave without fighting her, the Bisharp started screaming and waving her arms, but he wasn’t going to change his mind, instead helping to hoist Olivia’s increasingly limp body onto Nekou’s back. Bisharp fired a wave of electricity into the ground as an attempt to get their attention, but Matt had no intention of wasting any further time.

    “Look, Bisharp, I’m sorry! Believe me, I would fight with you to your heart’s content, but I just have more important things to do!” A realization flashed through his mind. “If something happened to one of your Pawniard, wouldn’t you want to take care of them?”

    Matt’s question cut deeply into Bisharp, and she took a step back. She understood his words and was forced to realize that he was right.

    Suddenly, Matt, Olivia, Nekou, Nikolai and the siblings could hear the bushes rustling behind them. They all turned just in time to see Looker and Silver emerge onto the road.

    “What happened to you two?” Matt questioned.

    “Escaped, that Executive of the Team Rocket managed to achieve.”

    “Once we lost sight of him, Looker said to find you four again.” Turning up his nose, Silver said, “What the hell is going on here?”

    “Some old friends of ours,” Nekou sarcastically replied, “but we don’t have time to play with them right now. Olivia’s getting really sick.”

    “Then we must be beating haste to the Pokémon Center within the heart of Goldenrod City!”

    When Matt and the others turned around, they saw Bisharp wave her arm at her army of Pawniard. Her shrill cry was an order to them, and in complete obedience, they broke from their circular formation and lined the road, intending to let Matt’s group past.

    However, there was one individual present who had other ideas.

    “The International Police…” Séduire growled to herself from her hiding place in the trees. “I won’t be letting them get in my way of what I want!” Picking up her cannon, she opened the command window and scrolled until she reached the targeting program. A crosshairs formed on the holographic projection window, and she took aim at the back of Bisharp’s head. “Target locked, and… fire!”

    Electricity cracked from all over the small Meteonite in the weapon after Séduire pulled the trigger. A bright beam of red light shot from the cannon, and when it hit Bisharp, she started to convulse.

    “The **** is that?!” Nekou exclaimed in surprise, though that shock faded when she looked at the readings on her glasses. “Wait… the Meteonite’s energy? Whoever’s behind this is right here!”

    “Yes, that’s the same beam that got Ivysaur!” said the young boy.

    When the ray of light faded, Bisharp stopped convulsing and looked up to the group. Her eyes were tired and blank just like all the other Pokémon when they were affected by the Meteonite’s power.

    “Looks like you’re getting your fight after all,” Nekou whispered to Matt.

    “You’re right,” he said back, reaching into his bag. “We have to put a stop to this once and for all. That Meteonite has done nothing but cause trouble.”

    Much to the surprise of Matt, Nekou and the others, Bisharp didn’t attack. She merely stood still for several seconds, then turned and started to run off down the road to the north while out of the group’s sight, Séduire was rushing in the same direction.

    “Come on, let’s chase it!”

    “Nekou’s right,” Nikolai concurred. He took out a Poké Ball and recalled Stantler into it. “We must free that Bisharp. Recall all of your Pokémon so they are not at risk.”

    “Good thinking.”

    Matt recalled Ayingott and Charlotte, then Nekou did the same with Marie. From her position on Nekou’s back, Olivia weakly raised her arm and sent Minccino back as well. With all of the Pokémon recalled to their Poké Balls, the group set off in pursuit of Bisharp. The Pawniard army tagged along, willing to do anything to free their leader.

    None of the group knew what they would find when they caught up with Bisharp, but any worry they had for that impending discovery was pushed aside by a simple sense of urgency. Bisharp was heading in the direction of the forest’s exit, so following her would bring them closer to Goldenrod City and thus closer to getting Olivia the help she needed.

    No amount of mental preparation would have been sufficient for what they found in the next clearing, however. A large, glowing, amorphous cluster of energy was writhing around in midair, seemingly increasing in size in small bits. Standing before it, side by side, were the brainwashed Bisharp and a young woman wearing a colorful uniform and holding a hand cannon.

    “Who are you?” Matt gasped, stopping abruptly as he came into the clearing. “And what is that?” he said as he stared up at the energy.

    “Can’t say I know what this is,” Séduire whispered, gradually turning her head in shaky motions to look over her shoulder, “but I know who I am, and I know who you are. It’s so good to finally see you again, Matt…” She licked her lips, then wiped a small bead of saliva from her mouth. Her excitement over finally seeing Matt was so strong that she felt she would explode.

    “Wait, that voice…” Within moments, all the color in Matt’s face had drained away. He knew exactly who it was underneath the Entei mask adorning Séduire’s face.

    “A mask… you’re one of Polaris’s Chromosomes of the Sacred Helix, aren’t you?” Taking Séduire’s insane grin as a confirmation of her suspicion, Nekou continued, “And that weapon… there’s a Meteonite in there, isn’t there? You’re the one who’s been terrorizing this forest!”

    “Right and right. The name ugly *****s like you are allowed to use for me is Séduire, the Fifth Chromosome.” Twisting her head back in Matt’s direction, Séduire grinned even more widely. “But I’m sure Matt knows my real name. He’s allowed to call me it. I want to hear it right now.”

    “Matt, who is…who is she?” Olivia whimpered.

    “Be quiet!” Séduire screamed. “You took him from me too! He’s mine and mine alone! Now say my real name!!”

    Matt was paralyzed by what he saw before him. He did know the name of the person behind Séduire’s mask, but he was so horrified by even having to consider it that he was frozen into still silence.

    “Psycho ex-girlfriend or something?” Nekou sighed. “I don’t even care that she called me a *****, because she’s so obviously compensating…”

    “Shut up! I told you to all shut up! You’re nothing but trash! Matt, tell them who I am! Tell them about all the good times we had together! Tell them about how I’m a part of you that you can’t live without!”

    “You… you have no idea,” Matt mumbled back to Nekou.

    “Hold it right there, Séduire!” a voice shouted from above the trees.

    All of the assembled people and Pokémon looked up to see Proton descending into the clearing used his repaired jetpack. As soon as he landed, he gazed intensely and scornfully at Séduire. He knew he had to defeat her and that now was his best chance to do so.

    “So the gang’s all here, huh?” Séduire complained, looking from Matt’s mostly confused group to Proton and back. “Not that they weren’t already, but if you crooks are going to attack me, do it out in the open.”

    “Still your tongue, girl,” Proton scolded her. He turned to Nekou, then the others, then finally explained, “This energy is the formation of a Time Gate, which, as the name says, is a gateway that will allow traveling through time. This energy is so powerful that…” He shifted his gaze back to Séduire before finishing, “…I cannot allow Polaris to capture it!”

    “Then I will take it for Polaris’s goals, as long as you Rockets don’t get it! In the name of Polaris, Father… and the love between Matt Chiaki and me… I will take it! Go, Bisharp!”

    Quickly reopening the control menu for her weapon, Séduire issued Bisharp forth to fight for her. Proton responded without a word, instead choosing to simply throw a Poké Ball from which a Weezing emerged.

    “Well? So what’s it going to be?” Proton taunted. He spread his arms wide and shouted, “I’m right here, wide open! Bring it on!”

    “You think I’m just going to let you trick me like that…?” Séduire was nearly convulsing because of the intense anger she felt. “If I fight you head-on, that’s what you want… so I’ll open another front!”

    Séduire lashed around to face Matt’s group and entered a command into her weapon, sending Bisharp mindlessly toward them.

    Nekou scowled as she watched the controlled Pokémon rushing in her direction. With Olivia on her back, her mobility was reduced, so reaching for her Poké Balls was difficult. While she was attempting to figure out a solution, however, she was cut off when Matt stepped in front of her, clutching a Dusk Ball in his hand.

    “I’m putting a stop to this right now…Tanya, Earth Power!”

    In a flash, Matt’s Heatran emerged from the ball she resided in. Her massive body was large enough to block the entire group from Bisharp’s attack. Such defense wasn’t necessary, however, as she made the ground beneath Bisharp’s feet burst open from overflowing energy.

    “Matt, you’re being very bad right now,” Séduire growled as Bisharp was pushed back toward her. “Stop acting out. This isn’t you.”

    “But you’re acting like yourself, just like always…” Having gotten Séduire sufficiently distracted, Matt thrust his hand forward. “Go, now! Disable that device she has!”

    The army of Pawniard responded with a flurry of cries, leaping toward their target by using Matt’s shoulders and Tanya’s back as springboards. They all had their blades drawn, and before Séduire could react, she found herself set upon by them.

    “Aah! Get off!”

    Desperate to throw off the small Pokémon that were nicking her all over her body, Séduire thrashed around, but in the course of doing so, several Pawniard managed to cut some exposed cables on her weapon. Instantly, it powered down, causing Bisharp to return to normal, with the blank look vanishing from her eyes. The Pawniard, upon seeing their leader freed, retreated from attacking Séduire to support her.

    “You think this is over?” Séduire roared. “I’m not done with you yet!”

    “You really have to give this up, please,” Matt plead with her, his eye changing from a look of anger to one of genuine concern. “Even if you’re calling yourself Séduire or whatever now, and you’re mixed up in whatever it is that Polaris is doing, none of that is changing who you are or making me change my mind about you. Look around you. What was terrorizing this forest today supposed to achieve, exactly?”

    Behind her mask, Séduire’s eyes were boiling with frustration and anger. With every passing second, her goals, which Matt had accurately stated, were becoming more and more out of reach. She had one option left, and when she picked up the one Ultra Ball in her possession, she decided to take it.

    “Pyroar, go!”

    A Pokémon unlike any Matt had ever seen before took shape when the ball opened. The Pyroar was a black-and-brown-bodied lion with a great mane of red and yellow surrounding his head. He stood proudly before his trainer, unafraid of even the Heatran opposing him.

    “The ****?!” Nekou exclaimed.

    “A Pokémon from the region called by the name of Kalos,” Looker revealed. “Unknown to this country as of this day.”

    “Are we really going to do this?” Matt sadly said. “You know I have to stand against you if you choose this.”

    “No, you just need to be reminded of where you belong.” As she spoke, Séduire twisted her head sideways, falling ever deeper into her delusion. “Pyroar, Hyper Voice!”

    Matt, Nekou, Nikolai, Looker, Silver, Proton and the siblings could only cringe as Séduire’s Pokémon opened his mouth and roared as loudly as he could. Weezing didn’t like the noise either, but Tanya, the Pawniard and Bisharp were able to shake its influence.

    Even with how successful her first assault was, it wasn’t enough to satisfy Séduire’s bloodlust. Locking her gaze onto Nekou and Olivia, she said in a completely broken voice, “It’s you. It’s your fault. You took him… so the first step is getting rid of you! Pyroar, jump up and hit those two with Flamethrower!”

    Pyroar’s movements were so quick that he was already in the air before Matt could react. He realized that Tanya wouldn’t be able to stop an airborne enemy, and was overcome with a feeling of helplessness. “Stop this right now, Cassy!”

    Nikolai and Silver got ready to send out Pokémon to protect Olivia and Nekou, but they were too slow, as was Proton’s Weezing, who tried to hit Pyroar with Thunderbolt but failed to do so before a jet of fire was bearing down on them.

    “**** this!” Nekou snarled before stumbling aside, just barely avoiding getting engulfed by Pyroar’s flames. She ended up falling backward to the ground, but Olivia escaped injury. “What the **** is wrong with you?!”

    All of a sudden, Olivia screamed and pushed herself off of Nekou’s back. Everyone in the clearing turned to stare at her as she stepped backward.

    Her eyes were filled with glowing light, and her body was moving in erratic, jerking motions.

    “Olivia, what’s happening? What is this?!”

    “It hurts really bad… Nekou, Matt… someone… help me…”

    “I’m not standing around anymore,” Matt resolved. He ran toward Olivia, reaching in his bag for a Revival Herb, which was about the only thing he could think of to try and cure her illness. However, it was all in vain, for as soon as he drew near to her, an invisible force repelled him.

    “What?” he gasped from where he had fallen onto the ground.

    “We must do something!” Nikolai shouted.

    “But what?” Looker replied.

    Olivia suddenly screamed again as her body twisted to force her gaze skyward. The light glowed from not only her eyes but her entire body, and it caused the energy of the nearby Time Gate to warp and distort. Right before the eyes of everyone who had gathered around it, the Time Gate collapsed and its energy flowed into Olivia’s body. Her bloodcurdling scream continued until every trace of the Time Gate was gone, at which point she instantly fainted and collapsed to the ground.

    “What just happened?” Silver wondered, dumbfounded.

    Both Matt and Nekou ran to Olivia while shouting her name in a futile attempt to wake her up. Nekou picked her up once she could, and Matt put his hand on her neck.

    “Good, she’s alive,” he said after feeling her pulse. “Come on, Olivia, wake up…”

    “This isn’t something we can fix on our own,” Nekou asserted, her heart pounding in her chest. “We have to go, now.”

    “You’re right. Olivia, please be okay…”

    Nearby, all Séduire could do was watch in increasing jealous anger as Matt cared for Olivia with Nekou’s help. She didn’t even notice Proton preparing to escape again.

    “Well, that Time Gate’s gone, so I have to be taking my leave now. Until we meet again, sayonara!”

    Proton lifted off into the sky with his jetpack and disappeared. Unwilling to let him get away, Silver shouted to the sky and then sprinted off down the road, with Looker following once again.

    “I won’t lose what’s rightfully mine…” Séduire suddenly blurted out, even as she recalled Pyroar. “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t… Matt, you said my name… why won’t you just accept that you belong with me and not with those fake *****s?”

    “You stop that right now,” Matt scolded her. “Say what you will about me, but they’re not fair game for your jealousy.”

    “Yeah,” Nekou chimed in, “and call me a ***** if you want, but Olivia didn’t do anything to you. She’s just a kid.”

    “You refuse to see what I’m trying to tell you, Matt…” Séduire abruptly reached up and tore off her mask, revealing her youthful face and fiery red eyes that matched her hair. “Look at my face! Look at the one you belong to, me, Cassy Natsuka! Realize your mistake! You must!”

    The fear was gone from Matt’s mind, replaced by a crushing sense of simple disappointment and dismay. “I already told you… I don’t like you. None of what you’ve done is going to earn favor with me.”

    “But what about all those years we spent together?!” Cassy screamed. “Do those mean nothing?”

    “It may have taken me a while, but I finally realized that you were just controlling me for your own desires… I wasn’t anything to you besides someone to control.”

    “And what do those two give you that I didn’t?” Cassy demanded while gesturing to Nekou and Olivia.

    Matt sighed, realizing how futile his efforts to get through to Cassy were. “Olivia is an innocent girl, keep her out of this! And Nekou? Well… I just have fun traveling around with her! That’s right, it’s fun! With you keeping me under your thumb all the time I couldn’t have any fun back then!”

    As soon as Matt said that, the color drained from Cassy’s face and her eyes were covered by a blank, glazed-over look. “Is that so,” she said with an unnerving calm. “I’ll just have to fix that, then… I’ll rip them apart, limb from limb!”

    Having descended into complete madness, Cassy turned and started running toward Nekou and Olivia. Nekou seemed unfazed by this, however; she simply put Olivia gently down on the ground and then stood to face the threat.

    “Really?” she muttered. “You’re easy.”

    Cassy didn’t even see Nekou flick her wrist to produce her switchblade, nor did she even realize Nekou had it until she was already falling with a gash cut into her left leg. She looked back at the subject of her jealous hate and silently swore at her.

    “Nekou!” Matt screamed. “Why did you… did you mortally wound her?”

    “I just cut her leg in self-defense,” Nekou answered. “She attacked me. It’s a minor wound, anyway. Come on, we have to go.”

    “But can we leave her here?”

    “She’s right on the main road, and the injury isn’t that serious. She’ll be fine. We have to get Olivia help right now, though, because she’s in much worse shape.”

    Nekou nodded to Nikolai and the siblings, and they gave their wordless assent to her plan. Matt was reluctant, looking back and forth to Cassy several times, but finally accepted that Nekou was right as well. Together, they all headed down the road once again.

    Cassy, meanwhile, was sobbing hysterically on the ground. She wrested a phone from her uniform and dialed a short number into it.

    -:-

    A short time later, Matt, Nekou, Nikolai and the siblings encountered Looker and Silver once again. The detective and his partner had lost track of Proton completely, so they went to the exit of the forest, where the two groups merged. They then boarded a train at the edge of Goldenrod City that would take them to the Pokémon Center in the central area of the city.

    The seats on the train were arranged into rows facing each other. Matt and Nekou were right next to the window in their row and facing each other, while Nekou had the still soundly-sleeping Olivia in her lap. Nikolai, Silver, Looker and the siblings were beside them.

    “Look at that,” Matt remarked as he peered out the window to the Goldenrod slums below. “I don’t remember Goldenrod City looking like this the last time I was here.”

    “There’s been significant urban sprawl,” Nekou answered. “It’s pretty damn gross if you ask me. The poorer residents have been forced to live in those slums while the wealthy live high on the ****ing hog in the central area. Nobody even knows those people are there, with how little they get talked about… but on the other hand, a lot of the residents of central Goldenrod aren’t bad people, either, they’re just trying to survive. The city has a lot of spirit. It’s just a very small minority ruining everything for everyone else.”

    -:-

    A red-and-white ambulance had entered Ilex Forest and was driving to Cassy’s location after she called for it. Two thin men sat in its cab.

    “This is the last call for our shift today,” the driver said to his companion. “A stabbing.”

    “Alright, that ought to be simple enough. I’m looking forward to going home. Haven’t had a lot of time with the wife lately, what with all the fights breaking out in the slums.”

    “Yeah, it’s been ugly. You see our victim yet?”

    “Um…” spotting Cassy in front of the vehicle, the assistant pointed out through the windshield. “There! There she is!”

    Before they could even get out of the ambulance, a sudden lightning strike hit the truck, causing it to explode. Cassy could only watch in horror as her help vanished into the flames.

    But then she heard footsteps approaching her. Her heart stopped due to her overwhelming nervousness – she’d just seen the ambulance explode in such a way that nobody could have survived, so she had no idea who the one approaching her could be.

    “Hello, Séduire.”

    Cassy rolled over and looked up in shock. Standing over her was a tall, lithe man in a tight black bodysuit accessorized with a Sigilyph mask. It was the Tenth Chromosome, Geminus.

    “You… you did that…” Cassy gestured to the burning ambulance, “didn’t you?”

    “Yeah. See, we couldn’t have you going to the police and spilling our secrets, you know? But don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. I was watching you all this time.”

    “Please, do it,” Cassy begged, resigning herself to her fate. “I failed completely, I couldn’t even get back what is mine… put me out of my misery.”

    “Why would I do that when I can give you everything you want? You can have the world you desire. All you have to do is believe in me.”

    “Why should I trust you? I don’t even know who you are.”

    “Yes you do.”

    With that, Geminus lifted the front of his mask, revealing his face to Cassy. She went white as a sheet from the utter disbelief and shock she felt.

    “Yes, Séduire, just believe in me like you want to. I will make the world we deserve.”

    “…yes, you’re right…” she uttered, completely mentally broken.

    -:-

    That night, Matt, Nekou and Olivia had a room in the Pokémon Center in central Goldenrod. Unlike many other Pokémon Centers, the one they were staying at was a huge building, more like a hotel than the simple inns the others resembled, so their room was quite spacious.

    Matt was sound asleep, as was Olivia, who had recovered from her illness by the time they reached their destination despite still being overwhelmingly tired. Nekou, on the other hand, had other plans.

    Once confident she wouldn’t be noticed, she carefully climbed out of her bed and threw her uniform over her shoulders. She didn’t even stop to button it up, as she didn’t care that her nightgown was visible underneath.

    Quietly going to the door with a can of beer in her hand, she slipped out into the empty hallway. As she walked down the hall she opened the can and drank it. Within a minute she reached a row of phone booths and furtively entered one.

    She then picked up the phone, crushed the empty can and tossed it into the nearby pail, and dialed a number.

    “Unique password: Sneasel claw,” she said into the phone once it was picked up. “I’ve finally arrived in Goldenrod City. My investigations of Polaris’s plans have been going well. Yes, I’ll be able to attend the meeting tomorrow. Yes, I know, one more day until their protest. We will have to be very careful.”

    -:-

    “Oh man, that whole thing in Ilex Forest was insane!” Proton complained.

    The green-haired Executive had fled to Goldenrod City and reached the Team Rocket operating base. The other members were still there awaiting orders, while Giovanni sat at the window, petting Persian.

    “Dr. Zager told us some of what happened,” Ariana said, facing Proton. “You can’t be blamed for your failure to capture the Time Gate. It wasn’t a central mission anyway. Just as long as Polaris does not have it.”

    “They don’t, don’t worry about it.”

    “Giovanni,” Rosalie interrupted from her position at the computer bank, “I have news.”

    “Proceed.”

    “It has just turned over past midnight. Only one day remains until Polaris’s big event.”

    “Ah yes, thank you.” Giovanni did not turn around as he spoke. He instead kept staring at Goldenrod City’s nighttime skyline from his vantage point. “Team Rocket’s forces are finally assembled. Our operation will also now get underway.”





    END of CHAPTER 12

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  12. #137

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    Excellent chapter. Your work just keeps getting more exciting and gripping with each chapter you put out and this one was definitely quite the ride. Hopefully my review gets this across, because I'm not sure my words can do it justice.

    “Giovanni, sir!” the older of the two women happily said. Her age was given away by the streaks of gray in her thick, dark green hair, but she was also bound to a sophisticated computerized wheelchair. Using a trackpad located next to the red digital keyboard on her right armrest, she maneuvered herself up to Giovanni. “Good to see you all here in one piece. We’ve gotten the base together, as ordered.” She took an ornate pipe and lighter out of the pocket on her floral-necked lab coat, then lit the pipe and deeply inhaled from it before adding, “It’s a modest affair, I know, but it serves its purpose.”
    Oh, I'm already liking her. She definitely sounds interesting and very colorful. Good use of description to set the atmosphere too.

    Before Rosalie could answer Giovanni’s question, Jessie and James jumped in front of him and interrupted. The worry they both felt was overwhelming, and when added to how close they both felt to what they wanted, they were both left fighting back tears in front of their superiors.

    “Boss, please forgive us, but we can’t wait anymore!”

    James immediately continued Jessie’s thought by saying, “Meowth has been missing for too long! Do you three know where he is?!”

    Giovanni clenched his fist, but calmed when Ariana grabbed his arm.

    “Don’t get mad at them, it’s not worth it. They just miss their teammate… which is understandable.”
    I love how you wrote this scene because it's clear how much Jessie and James miss Meowth, and how much they want him back. The detail of Ariana calming Giovanni is a nice one that hints at how close they might be and shows he really respects her.

    “W-well…” Ada shyly said. Out of nervousness, she scratched at her sky-blue hair as she spoke. “…Team Rocket has… someone on the inside of Polaris. Based on what he’s told us… Meowth is somewhere in this city.”
    Ada is just too cute, just from this line I can tell.

    “Then we should find out where they are, march right in and take what belongs to us!” Jessie boldly proposed. She accentuated her point by balling up her fist and striking it against her chest.
    I really appreciate that you portrayed Jessie this way, I think it's something about her a lot of writers forget. She won't stop if there's something she wants, and that's part of what makes her awesome.

    “Patience.” Trevor urged, before smirking mischievously. “We’re working on a plan for when all our forces are ready, but mark my words, we will look for Polaris, we will find them, and we will beat them.”
    haha I see what you did there. On multiple counts.

    “A post went up on the Polaris website,” she explained. “It says that a ‘day of the people’ will take place in Goldenrod City in three days… well, two, once midnight passes… and it will include a speech presented live in person by Ghetsis’s deputy Zinzolin. We suspect they might be planning to use the public protest as a cover for some other deed.”
    "Day of the people" sounds ominous, considering what we've heard from Ghetsis, and Rosalie has some good thinking there. I wouldn't suspect any less from Ghetsis and his underlings myself.


    On the eastern end of Azalea Town, a short distance from both the main population and the town’s entrance, stood the Slowpoke Well. While on the surface it merely seemed to be an unassuming stone tube piercing the earth, at the bottom of the well was an expansive cave, the environment of the Pokémon that loaned the well its name.
    This should end well.


    “I… I actually got another Pokémon…” she uttered, slipping to her knees behind Roselia. Tears briefly welled up in her eyes as she realized that it was the first Pokémon she had captured after finding out the truth about her father. A feeling of confusion came over her, and it didn’t go away even when Roselia tried to hug her leg.
    This is really sweet, because hopefully it'll restore some of her confidence she lost when learning the truth about Rich.

    “Sentimental value!” Olivia shot back. “The Pokémon I caught before this was… I caught it while being driven by something I don’t have anymore. This is really the first time I’ve caught a Pokémon for myself and not for my dad…”
    Aww, this is really sweet and shows a lot of growth for Olivia as a character. I can see why this capture is so important to her, with that in mind- she realizes it means she's grown, too.

    “I will never understand the attachment someone like you gets to a father figure,” he harshly stated. “I have no need to be seen as worthy in my father’s eyes, and if you ask me, you should get over it too.”
    Wow, Silver, nice.

    “What are you...” Silver froze when he saw who he was looking at – a man wearing a black uniform that bore a red ‘R’ insignia. Almost instantly, his mood turned to pure rage. “You, Proton!”

    Proton initially reacted with surprise to his encountering Silver, stepping back with a wide-eyed look on his face. He quickly shifted to a more sarcastic tone, however, with his expression changing to a manic grin to match.

    “Well, well, look who the Meowth dragged in!” Proton chuckled menacingly. “It’s the return of the prodigal son!”

    “Shut it!” Silver growled, sweeping his arm before himself. “Tell me what he’s got you doing here right now!”

    “Maybe you should go ask your daddy yourself. I’m sure he’d like to see you!”
    I'm loving the interaction between Silver and Proton here. Great, and exactly how I'd imagine he'd react to someone like Proton, too.

    Proton shrugged and turned up his hands. He hadn’t immediately noticed Olivia, but her presence barely fazed him. “So sorry, little lady, looks like you just got stuck in the middle of this. Thank Silver for getting you caught in the sights of the scariest and cruelest guy in Team Rocket!”
    Still bragging about that, Proton?


    “Tch… giving us a hard time like always, Silver?” Proton spat, his face curling in disgust.

    “More like beating you and taking you down again!” Quickly turning to look at Olivia over his shoulder, Silver again yelled, “Go! Get out of here and go get Looker!”
    I actually admire Silver's toughness in this scene. Sometimes he can really come through when it counts.

    “It makes me happy…” Nikolai mumbled, staring at the screen.

    “What’s that?”

    Shifting his gaze sideways to look at Matt, Nikolai answered, “…that Pokémon can bring people together over such distances. I want the world to be a place where people and Pokémon can grow together through their interactions with each other. That’s my ideal formula…”
    This is really sweet to me, for some reason. It reminds me so much of Masuda's intentions for the games and I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I like it.

    “I can appreciate that. I mean…” Matt noticed Looker staring intensely at the two of them, but didn’t pay it much attention. “…if that kind of thing came to pass, perhaps it would be therapeutic to Olivia’s mind. I’ve noticed that she really opens up when Pokémon are involved.”
    It's sweet how Matt's started noticing this and I think it'll help him later on when trying to help Olivia.

    “So where is Olivia, anyway?” Matt and Nikolai’s conversation was interrupted by Nekou swaggering in, with yet another beer can in her hand despite the early hour. She sipped at it, then continued, “I expected her to be out here with you.”
    It's five o' clock somewhere.

    “The… Slowpoke Well?” In an instant, the cool, flippant attitude present in Nekou’s expression evaporated, giving way to a hardened, dismayed look. “With Silver?”

    “Yeah, when she brought up the idea, I didn’t want her to go alone but I did want her to strike out on her own a bit. Looker was the one that suggested Silver go with her.”

    “But… the Slowpoke Well? What made you think that **** was a good idea?”

    Matt shrugged. “It’s open to the public, so she’s not going anywhere she shouldn’t. What’s the worst that could happen?”

    As if on cue, at literally the moment Matt closed his mouth, the Pokémon Center’s doors slid open and Olivia came crashing through.
    Awesome timing on this scene. It worked perfectly.

    As soon as the stone entrance to the Slowpoke Well came into view, it became clear that the conflict had escalated. Proton had fled to the surface with Silver in pursuit, and the two were now fighting out in the open. Silver’s Feraligatr had just delivered a finishing blow to Proton’s Shuckle, and having recalled his Pokémon, Proton was starting to flee using a jetpack strapped to his back.
    Good planning on his part.

    “Stop! International Police!”

    “Oh, come the **** on!” Nekou groaned in exasperation. “You seriously think that he’ll stop for that?”
    Haha, yay for genre-savvy Nekou.

    “What are you all waiting for?!” Silver demanded, recalling Feraligatr as soon as his work was done. “Let’s go after him! I’m sure that’s not a problem for any of you, is it?”

    Silver didn’t wait for an answer to his question. He just turned and ran, his body overflowing with more than enough energy to run all the way across Azalea Town and into Ilex Forest. Matt, Olivia, Looker and Nikolai all followed immediately while Nekou brought up the rear, scowling viciously all the while.
    Silver's reaction here works, because of his past- it makes perfect sense for him to want to pursue a Rocket this way.

    In his laboratory, Dr. Zager was frantically entering commands into his computer while Galvantula skittered around in the background, alarmed by the sound of his voice.
    Good way to capture the mood in his office. I love the image of Galvantula running around like that, it's really cute.

    “You know, you could just say please,” Olivia muttered, though she did let her Minccino out. Almost immediately, the Normal-type Pokémon fretted about cleaning up some nearby leaves using her tail.
    Aww, this is adorable.


    Some of the Zubat and Hoothoot took notice of Olivia’s Minccino sitting on the ground before them and became even more angered. Before she even realized what was happening, she found herself being targeted by multiple Air Cutter and Night Shade attacks.

    “Stop those with Swift!” Olivia quickly commanded.

    Minccino lashed her tail forward, spraying a wave of stars to shield herself. Most of the white and purple energy waves coming her way were dispelled, but a few still got through. She was only struck by the Air Cutters, though, as she was immune to the Ghost-type Night Shades. Scratched in several places and dirty from the dust kicked up around her, she fled back to the safety of Olivia’s arms.

    “Minccino, it’s okay…” she whispered to her Pokémon, gently stroking Minccino’s head.

    “I’ll take care of this. Ayingott, make your mark!”

    The Sigilyph burst from the Poké Ball she was contained within. Right away, she noticed the injured Minccino in Olivia’s arms and realized the Zubat and Hoothoot were to blame. She confronted the gang by angrily chirping at them, but they were too far gone under the Meteonite’s influence to fully notice.

    They did, however, perceive Ayingott as a threat. The Hoothoot hung back while the Zubat encircled her, preparing to attack.

    “Ayingott, that’s nothing to you! Wipe them all out with Psychic!”

    Much to Matt’s surprise, Ayingott hesitated. She didn’t wait for long, but it was enough that Matt and the others noticed. When she attacked, she used her psychic power to surround all of the Zubat with blue light before tossing them away.

    “What happened?”

    Nikolai stepped up alongside Matt, but didn’t look at him, instead covering his eyes with his hat. “I sense that your Sigilyph is unhappy with something. Not you, but… there is something weighing on its mind.”

    Matt looked back up, struggling to identify in his mind what it was that he had done wrong, only to see that the Zubat had somehow quickly returned to surround Ayingott once again. Meanwhile, Silver had sent out his Alakazam, and the two of them were trying to cut down the Hoothoot with electric bolts Alakazam was launching from the spoons he held.

    Suddenly, a Swift attack struck some of the Zubat, breaking their formation around Ayingott. Matt turned in surprise to see that Olivia’s Minccino had regained her courage and was rejoining the fight, having climbed out of her trainer’s arms.

    “Thanks for that, Minccino,” he said, though he was looking at Olivia. “How about we do this together?”

    “All three of us?” Nekou interrupted, holding a Poké Ball in her hand.

    “You know what, that’s a good idea,” Matt said with a smile. “Let’s go for it, all of us! Manticore, make your mark!”

    “Join them, Marie!”

    Matt’s Roggenrola and Nekou’s Sneasel stepped up alongside Minccino after taking form. Marie looked to Minccino and growled sharply, smiling to encourage her companion. Manticore, however, didn’t wait for Minccino and Marie or even for any orders from Matt. As soon as she saw the swarm of Zubat, she jumped into battle, shooting a stream of four rocks at them. The Zubat scattered but reformed with some speed.

    “Manticore, I didn’t tell you to use Rock Blast yet!”

    “Looks like it hasn’t gotten much more obedient since you caught it,” Nekou remarked. “Fine. As always, woman must clean up the mess created by man, huh? Olivia, let’s team up and do this. I want you to use Swift again.”

    “Alright,” Olivia answered, nodding. “I trust you. Minccino, do it! Use Swift!”

    Nekou watched as Minccino followed Olivia’s direction. Once the stars of Swift were in the air, Nekou followed with, “Now, Marie, use Ice Beam on Minccino’s Swift!”

    While sharply hissing, Marie looked up at Minccino’s Swift attack and fired rays of blue, freezing energy from her claws. The ice surrounded the stars on contact, turning them into sharp-edged weapons that slashed through the Zubat horde. Many of them dropped to the ground, unable to continue after being cut down by the combination, leaving only three severely weakened Zubat still airborne.

    “Let’s put an end to this all at once! Ayingott, hold them still with Psychic, and Manticore, hit one of them with Rock Blast!”

    “Marie, take one of them out with Knock Off!”

    “Minccino, you finish the last one off with Aqua Tail!”

    The last three Zubat had attempted to attack again by opening their mouths wide, but Ayingott pinned them with her psychic power, rendering them unable to do so. Marie jumped at the trio as soon as they were frozen and smashed the middle Zubat into the earth with her right arm. Manticore followed up by taking aim at one of the others and shooting three rocks at it, and just as Olivia intended, Minccino smacked the last down with her glowing tail.

    At the same time Matt, Nekou and Olivia were defeating the Zubat, Silver was finishing off the Hoothoot on his own using his Alakazam. The owl Pokémon proved to be little of a challenge to the powerful Psychic-type.

    “Alakazam… you did well.” Holding up a yellow-and-black Ultra Ball, Silver recalled Alakazam back to its confines. Just as he did so, though, Gengar returned and began pulling on his arm. The ghost Pokémon gestured into the brush, prompting Silver to turn around – only to see a figure rushing through the forest not far away. “There he is! He was hiding right in front of us!”
    I really enjoyed this battle. Good work showing the potential danger of a horde of Zubat and Hoothoot in a dark forest setting.


    They didn’t notice the twelve pairs of small, yellow eyes watching them from the bushes.
    I feel like this is going to come up again, isn't it?

    “I’ll be there in plenty of time,” answered Colress. “Nothing will get in our way. Between the power of the Meteonite and the public support Mister Ghetsis’s speeches have been gaining for us, Polaris will reach its objective soon enough. What are you two currently doing?”
    This in particular is fairly ominous. If Colress is confident in the power of Ghetsis' speeches...

    Nekou closed her eyes in disgust at the answer she had to give to Matt’s question. “No doubting it, it’s a Meteonite strike. But this isn’t like the others, this is ****ing deliberate…”

    “There’s children here!” Matt hissed before softening his tone. “But what do you mean?”

    “If that’s the worst thing they ever hear, they lived some pretty sheltered lives,” Nekou said with a shrug. “Consider the past Meteonite strikes… the one in Union Cave, I mean. Only Ground-type Pokémon were affected. Meanwhile, today we’ve seen Flying-type Pokémon and now Grass-type Pokémon affected, plus, did you hear what she said? Their Ivysaur was struck by a beam of red light before it ran off. Someone in this forest is using a Meteonite and deliberately controlling certain Pokémon with it.”
    Nekou's reply to Matt was great. I really like her detective work here, she's showing her clever thinking as usual.

    “If someone from Team Rocket stole your Ivysaur, you would have known it,” Nekou coolly dismissed. “Those guys… they’re way too showy for their own good. They wouldn’t have taken it in the way you described.”

    “I think… I think you can trust her…” Matt put in. “She’s right, after all. Team Rocket’s members run around in those uniforms with the huge red ‘R’s on them. You didn’t see one of those, did you?” The boy shook his head, prompting Matt to say, “Then please, trust us. Come along, Ayingo…um… I’ll think of a new name for you soon, okay? Let’s just help these kids find their Ivysaur and see if we can’t get down to the bottom of these Meteonite attacks.”

    “Sigi, sigi,” Ayingott chirped, her cry filled with equal parts enthusiasm and frustration.
    Nekou's observation is correct- TR isn't known for subtlety. I feel sorry for poor Ayingott.


    Elsewhere in the forest, Silver and Looker were still sprinting after Proton, who was unable to shake them despite his best efforts to vanish into the underbrush.

    “Stop, you piece of scum!” Silver shouted through the trees at his target. “I swore I’d take all of you down, and I’m keeping my word! You won’t escape!”

    “Be halting! The long arm of the law can manage to work to reach anywhere!”

    Proton didn’t say anything, but he did glance over his shoulder at his pursuers. He realized that they were slowly closing in on him, meaning he wouldn’t be able to keep running forever.

    “Oh, if ever I’ve needed some luck, now would be a hell of a time for it!” he thought to himself.

    Much to his surprise, however, his wish actually came true. Over a dozen Psybeam attacks suddenly burst from the surrounding bushes, striking the ground all around Silver and Looker. They had to stop their chase as they were surrounded by Venonat, Butterfree and Masquerain. Proton, meanwhile, knew this turn afforded him the chance he needed to escape.

    “Damn it, we lost him!” Silver growled as soon as he realized he couldn’t see Proton anymore. “We’ll have to track him down all over again... but we can’t do that until we deal with this problem.”

    “I am finding myself in complete agreement with you, Silver.”

    Some of the Butterfree and Venonat broke from the horde and moved forward, aiming another round of their multicolored Psybeam attacks at the two humans, who swiftly jumped aside to get out of the way. Silver quickly sent out his Gengar to face them, while Looker brought out his Toxicroak.
    Great chase scene.

    Ghetsis banged his cane against the floor again. On cue, the Shadow Triad materialized in front of him with swords in their hands. Before they even knew what was going on, Masa, Koji and Gaku were cut down. The last thing the three Sages ever saw was Darkness, Pestilence and Chaos wiping splashes of blood from their uniforms while Ghetsis towered over them, his face twisted into a sadistic grin.
    This completely caught me offguard. I don't think I expected them to actually be murdered, just knocked out. It's in character for Ghetsis though- he really is a brutal character.

    After the pair of Shadows warped away, Ghetsis looked to Chaos and gestured at the fallen Sages with his cane. “You, Chaos, get rid of them. Dead men don’t put up a fight so I know you can handle this.”
    Ouch.

    Much like she had been since arriving in Ilex Forest, Séduire was hiding up in one of the trees. Using the holographic display on her Meteonite cannon, she was observing the movements of Matt and the others as they went through the forest.

    “Yes, come to me… you’re almost here…” Taking a deep breath, Séduire shifted her weight on the branch. “I think I’ll give you a gift to welcome you home…”

    With a flick of her hand, Séduire moved off of her surveillance of Matt and onto a control panel for her weapon itself. She smiled to herself as she programmed a command into its system.
    Creepy as always. I can tell she's having the time of her life though.

    Just as Matt and the others breathed sighs of relief, though, a whole new problem erupted. The dozen pairs of yellow eyes, which had been watching them the entire time they were in the forest, finally revealed themselves as twelve Pawniard rushed from the growth, followed by a single Bisharp.
    Okay I really don't have a good feeling about this.

    As the Pawniard surrounded the group in a circular formation, Nekou saw that one of the Pawniard closest to the Bisharp had scratches on its head and immediately realized what was happening.

    “****, they’ve been following us ever since Route 29, haven’t they?” she growled while rolling her eyes.

    “The same ones from before?” Matt said, shaking his head. “I should have realized it. But what do they want now? Last time we were disturbing them and they were under… wait, are they being controlled by the Meteonite again?”
    And I was right not to.

    “The same ones from before?” Matt said, shaking his head. “I should have realized it. But what do they want now? Last time we were disturbing them and they were under… wait, are they being controlled by the Meteonite again?”

    “No…” Nikolai interjected. “I can feel the Bisharp’s wishes… it wants to fight with you again. One on one. This is its sincere desire, not the influence of some outside power.”

    “Uh… okay, I guess… can you tell it I don’t have my Seismitoad on me right now? If it wants a rematch it might want to fight the same opponent again.”

    “Bisharp! Bisha sharp!” the Steel-and-Dark-type Pokémon immediately said in response, having heard what Matt had said.

    Nikolai chuckled gently and smiled as he turned to Matt. “It says it doesn’t care.”

    “Well then, that’s certainly a change in attitude from the last time we met, isn’t it?”

    That's actually surprising.


    Having escaped from his pursuers, Proton was able to once again establish contact with Dr. Zager, though only through audio. The scientist was rapidly typing into his computer while speaking to his subordinate, the reason being that emergency messages were popping up continually on his screens.

    “Dr. Zager, tell me what’s happening!” Proton shouted over the transmission. “I can’t do anything here if I don’t know what I’m dealing with!”

    “Proton, listen to me and listen well. That temporal distortion is unstable and increasing. Get back in there, find out if a Time Gate is opening, and do whatever you can to bring it under Team Rocket’s control! We cannot risk Polaris capturing such a potent energy!”
    I love the tension between Zager and Proton in this scene, and Zager's panicked nature under fire, as opposed to his usually calm and composed self.

    “There’s something very, very wrong with her…” Above everything but his worry for Olivia, Matt felt powerless. He wanted to do something to help her, but with no idea what was wrong, there was nothing he could do. The feeling of helplessness made his entire body shake. “Clearly, we’re in the middle of something very bad… we have to get out of this forest right now, no more delays.”
    I wish I knew what was wrong with Olivia... I feel so bad for her.

    “Can’t say I know what this is,” Séduire whispered, gradually turning her head in shaky motions to look over her shoulder, “but I know who I am, and I know who you are. It’s so good to finally see you again, Matt…” She licked her lips, then wiped a small bead of saliva from her mouth. Her excitement over finally seeing Matt was so strong that she felt she would explode.
    I shivered.

    “A mask… you’re one of Polaris’s Chromosomes of the Sacred Helix, aren’t you?” Taking Séduire’s insane grin as a confirmation of her suspicion, Nekou continued, “And that weapon… there’s a Meteonite in there, isn’t there? You’re the one who’s been terrorizing this forest!”

    “Right and right. The name ugly *****s like you are allowed to use for me is Séduire, the Fifth Chromosome.” Twisting her head back in Matt’s direction, Séduire grinned even more widely. “But I’m sure Matt knows my real name. He’s allowed to call me it. I want to hear it right now.”

    “Matt, who is…who is she?” Olivia whimpered.

    “Be quiet!” Séduire screamed. “You took him from me too! He’s mine and mine alone! Now say my real name!!”

    Matt was paralyzed by what he saw before him. He did know the name of the person behind Séduire’s mask, but he was so horrified by even having to consider it that he was frozen into still silence.

    “Psycho ex-girlfriend or something?” Nekou sighed. “I don’t even care that she called me a *****, because she’s so obviously compensating…”

    “Shut up! I told you to all shut up! You’re nothing but trash! Matt, tell them who I am! Tell them about all the good times we had together! Tell them about how I’m a part of you that you can’t live without!”
    Excellent work making her truly terrifying. I enjoy her and Nekou's exchanges though. Nekou definitely knows how to deal with shittalkers.

    Seduire is definitely a fascinating character and seeing how she's slowly losing it is great. Amazing characterization.

    Pyroar’s movements were so quick that he was already in the air before Matt could react. He realized that Tanya wouldn’t be able to stop an airborne enemy, and was overcome with a feeling of helplessness. “Stop this right now, Cassy!”
    oh ****

    The reveal of Cassy as Seduire, and her explanation of her motivations, makes her character even more chilling. Here is a woman who will stop at nothing to try to get her lost love back... even when she knows he no longer wants anything to do with her. She's not afraid to hurt his friends while she's at it, and she's a fantastically written character even if she does terrify me.

    Cassy didn’t even see Nekou flick her wrist to produce her switchblade, nor did she even realize Nekou had it until she was already falling with a gash cut into her left leg. She looked back at the subject of her jealous hate and silently swore at her.

    “Nekou!” Matt screamed. “Why did you… did you mortally wound her?”

    “I just cut her leg in self-defense,” Nekou answered. “She attacked me. It’s a minor wound, anyway. Come on, we have to go.”
    Badass Nekou is badass.


    A short time later, Matt, Nekou, Nikolai and the siblings encountered Looker and Silver once again. The detective and his partner had lost track of Proton completely, so they went to the exit of the forest, where the two groups merged. They then boarded a train at the edge of Goldenrod City that would take them to the Pokémon Center in the central area of the city.

    The seats on the train were arranged into rows facing each other. Matt and Nekou were right next to the window in their row and facing each other, while Nekou had the still soundly-sleeping Olivia in her lap. Nikolai, Silver, Looker and the siblings were beside them.

    “Look at that,” Matt remarked as he peered out the window to the Goldenrod slums below. “I don’t remember Goldenrod City looking like this the last time I was here.”

    “There’s been significant urban sprawl,” Nekou answered. “It’s pretty damn gross if you ask me. The poorer residents have been forced to live in those slums while the wealthy live high on the ****ing hog in the central area. Nobody even knows those people are there, with how little they get talked about… but on the other hand, a lot of the residents of central Goldenrod aren’t bad people, either, they’re just trying to survive. The city has a lot of spirit. It’s just a very small minority ruining everything for everyone else.”
    I love how you show a different side to the universe than we're used to seeing. Just like the real world, there's a dark side to everything.

    A red-and-white ambulance had entered Ilex Forest and was driving to Cassy’s location after she called for it. Two thin men sat in its cab.

    “This is the last call for our shift today,” the driver said to his companion. “A stabbing.”

    “Alright, that ought to be simple enough. I’m looking forward to going home. Haven’t had a lot of time with the wife lately, what with all the fights breaking out in the slums.”
    Very realistic dialogue. I especially appreciate the last line here, which echoes Nekou's earlier comments.

    Geminus is a really mysterious character and now I'm wondering even more about him. What inspired him to rescue Cassy like that?

    That night, Matt, Nekou and Olivia had a room in the Pokémon Center in central Goldenrod. Unlike many other Pokémon Centers, the one they were staying at was a huge building, more like a hotel than the simple inns the others resembled, so their room was quite spacious.

    Matt was sound asleep, as was Olivia, who had recovered from her illness by the time they reached their destination despite still being overwhelmingly tired. Nekou, on the other hand, had other plans.

    Once confident she wouldn’t be noticed, she carefully climbed out of her bed and threw her uniform over her shoulders. She didn’t even stop to button it up, as she didn’t care that her nightgown was visible underneath.

    Quietly going to the door with a can of beer in her hand, she slipped out into the empty hallway. As she walked down the hall she opened the can and drank it. Within a minute she reached a row of phone booths and furtively entered one.

    She then picked up the phone, crushed the empty can and tossed it into the nearby pail, and dialed a number.

    “Unique password: Sneasel claw,” she said into the phone once it was picked up. “I’ve finally arrived in Goldenrod City. My investigations of Polaris’s plans have been going well. Yes, I’ll be able to attend the meeting tomorrow. Yes, I know, one more day until their protest. We will have to be very careful.”
    Even on what seems to be important business, Nekou needs her beer, doesn't she? I'm wondering what the deal is with this, it sounds like she's up to something super-important, and I'm wondering how this will affect the plot later.

    “Oh man, that whole thing in Ilex Forest was insane!” Proton complained.

    The green-haired Executive had fled to Goldenrod City and reached the Team Rocket operating base. The other members were still there awaiting orders, while Giovanni sat at the window, petting Persian.

    “Dr. Zager told us some of what happened,” Ariana said, facing Proton. “You can’t be blamed for your failure to capture the Time Gate. It wasn’t a central mission anyway. Just as long as Polaris does not have it.”

    “They don’t, don’t worry about it.”

    “Giovanni,” Rosalie interrupted from her position at the computer bank, “I have news.”

    “Proceed.”

    “It has just turned over past midnight. Only one day remains until Polaris’s big event.”

    “Ah yes, thank you.” Giovanni did not turn around as he spoke. He instead kept staring at Goldenrod City’s nighttime skyline from his vantage point. “Team Rocket’s forces are finally assembled. Our operation will also now get underway.”
    Proton and Ariana's dialogue is great. I can tell Ariana understands Proton's frustration.

    You ended this on a cliffhanger that makes me excited for the next chapter's events. I really can't wait for the next chapter because it's definitely shaping up to be exciting.

    Excellent work again. I love your updates and this one was no disappointment.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  13. #138
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    Feb 2006
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    Aw over Jessie and James missing Meowth. :< At least Ariana stepped in to calm Giovanni. And hm, “Days of the people”… yup, a distraction for sure.

    “It’s just capturing a Pokémon…” Silver said as he walked up to her. “I don’t understand why you’re so worked up over it.”

    “Sentimental value!” Olivia shot back. “The Pokémon I caught before this was… I caught it while being driven by something I don’t have anymore. This is really the first time I’ve caught a Pokémon for myself and not for my dad…”
    I like this small development of Olivia there. Ah oh to the battle between Silver and Proton, though .D:

    Shifting his gaze sideways to look at Matt, Nikolai answered, “…that Pokémon can bring people together over such distances. I want the world to be a place where people and Pokémon can grow together through their interactions with each other. That’s my ideal formula…”
    I also like Nikolai’s part about Pokemon and humans working together. Would be of him to say that.

    “Stop! International Police!”

    “Oh, come the **** on!” Nekou groaned in exasperation. “You seriously think that he’ll stop for that?”
    Okay, I laughed at that part.

    While sharply hissing, Marie looked up at Minccino’s Swift attack and fired rays of blue, freezing energy from her claws. The ice surrounded the stars on contact, turning them into sharp-edged weapons that slashed through the Zubat horde. Many of them dropped to the ground, unable to continue after being cut down by the combination, leaving only three severely weakened Zubat still airborne.
    Nice detail of Ice Beam and Swift there.

    Ghetsis banged his cane against the floor again. On cue, the Shadow Triad materialized in front of him with swords in their hands. Before they even knew what was going on, Masa, Koji and Gaku were cut down. The last thing the three Sages ever saw was Darkness, Pestilence and Chaos wiping splashes of blood from their uniforms while Ghetsis towered over them, his face twisted into a sadistic grin.
    That’s some wicked appearance of the Shadow Triad there. *_*

    I like the little characteristics you gave Matt’s Sigilyph and Roggenrola and they get a bit of spotlight in the forest scenes.

    As the Pawniard surrounded the group in a circular formation, Nekou saw that one of the Pawniard closest to the Bisharp had scratches on its head and immediately realized what was happening.

    “****, they’ve been following us ever since Route 29, haven’t they?” she growled while rolling her eyes.
    I too got taken back those Pokemon had been following them, haha. Good thing Matt convinced Bisharp to not fight him when he needed to get away.

    Oh, hi there Cassy. Glad Matt got over her really quickly, though I too was a bit stunned Nekou used her switchblade on her. Yay though for a Kalos Pokemon making an appearance and Looker recognizing Pyroar.

    Desperate to throw off the small Pokémon that were nicking her all over her body, Séduire thrashed around, but in the course of doing so, several Pawniard managed to cut some exposed cables on her weapon. Instantly, it powered down, causing Bisharp to return to normal, with the blank look vanishing from her eyes. The Pawniard, upon seeing their leader freed, retreated from attacking Séduire to support her.
    All right, the Bisharp and the Pawinard weren’t influenced by the Meteonite anymore after they attacked Cassy, but there wasn’t any mention of them after the part I pulled out. Did they leave quietly during Matt and the group’s confrontation with Cassy?

    Olivia’s Time Gate scene…What is going on? O.o;

    “Ah yes, thank you.” Giovanni did not turn around as he spoke. He instead kept staring at Goldenrod City’s nighttime skyline from his vantage point. “Team Rocket’s forces are finally assembled. Our operation will also now get underway.”
    About time.

    Another enjoyable chapter there! Looking forward to the stuff going down at Goldenrod.


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  14. #139
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    Well, I'm here to tackle your latest chapter, sorry about the general lateness of it. This won't be blow by blow since I feel a general actions summary of my thoughts would be more beneficial and less wordy. So without further ado, I'd just like to say I found the chapter engrossing from start to finish in terms of the plot and details, you managed to get so much out of one chapter and cover your bases well without anything getting sloppy at all and I commend you for being able to juggle so many proactive actions at once.

    The beginning scenes between all the Rockets was an excellent way of beginning the chapter, not only because we got to see more of the Rockets in-general(There are a good number of them and many might not have them all memorized and recognized yet) but the way you characterized them all was well done. Especially Jessie and James who show immense concern for Meowth and Ariana being understanding of these feelings instead of being generic, mean, villain lady 24/7. It does add more to her character at the end of the day, even if it's in a small fashion I enjoyed that a good bit. The continued plot development of something big to come in the near future and the tense mood of the whole scene really captured my attention well and held it. While I'm on villain-esque stuff, the scene between Ghetsis and the sages certainly was brutal, wasn't it? He certainly does live up the general title of being a pure monster in his ways.

    Speaking of characterization, Olivia's scene with capturing a Pokemon not connected to her father and Silver's scene of disdain of his own was an interesting interaction. Mainly because we get to see how these two contrast in general opinions of each other's parents. Seeing her capturing a Pokemon for her own sake was a nice benchmark of showing how she changed and grew past her former pain. Nikolai read really well this chapter, mainly because of how rhythmic his dialogue was, as to be expected of someone as steady as he is and the way he understand Bisharp's wishes completely.

    As for the Pokemon of this chapter, they did have a lot going on, didn't they? Two of Matt's Pokemon having bad blood with each other, Bisharp and her gang's advancement and find of Matt's group, Matt's Sigilyph dislike of the nickname he gave it, I never expected to see this much happening with them in one chapter. I really didn't expect for the Bisharp clan to make another showing. Though it not being one of ill will but of Bisharp wanting the desire for a rematch and letting Matt leave to take Olivia to safety was a nice way of showing the gang and being more of anti-heroes in that notion stood out to me. I guess I could hazard that Bisharp had grown to respect Matt's strength and has no intention of trying to kill him nor his friends.

    You have a knack for doing good characterization and I find that riveting about a lot of Pokemon and characters thus far, though Nekou's still stands above the rest as my favorite among Matt's group. And as for Cassy, wow, would it be accurate to call her Matt's own yandere? Truly, truly something else in terms of being an antagonist. After reading her this chapter, there are many different roads you can take her. The scene of her weeping for help after being slashed by Nekou and being taken into the care and understanding of someone like Geminus who she thinks means her well definitely showed more to her character. It showed she's more than just a psychotic yandere character, I wonder if the door for her to reform as an individual and get some help is open? Of course I could easily see her continuing on the path of anger and jealously as well and that's not a bad thing at all. Nice Kalosian Easter egg right there, didn't expect for her to have a Pyroar.

    Nekou and Olivia....just what is going on? What motives does Nekou have in-mind. Nice enigmatic way to finish off a strong chapter, there wasn't much to criticize so I'll point out to try to continue to be tight knit and great about your character juggling.

    Matt turned in surprise to see that Olivia’s Minccino had regained her courage and was rejoining the fight, having climbed out of her trainer’s arms.
    I gotta hand it to you, this description was pretty cute.
    Last edited by Doryuzu; 24th November 2013 at 8:50 AM.

  15. #140
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    This is probably going to be a pretty long chapter, but on the other hand, there really isn’t anything to warn for, aside from major XY spoilers. Get ready for this one…

    -:-

    CHAPTER 13: Sweet Little Lies

    -:-

    Goldenrod City took on a completely different appearance when under the sun’s warm glow.

    At night, it was a neon-laced metropolis, glowing so brightly that it could be seen from space. While the central part of the city retained its glory during the day, sunlight showed the uncomfortable truth of the slums surrounding it much more than the night did.

    Matt, Nekou and Olivia, much like most of the other trainers and travelers who visited Goldenrod, were nestled away far from the concerns of the city’s poorer section. The gigantic Pokémon Center was right at the heart of the city, cradled by its many distractions, which spread out in all directions.

    Inside the building, the three were just entering the vast lobby after coming down from the floor where their room was. Many others were milling about the space, engaging in a wide range of activities from eating and watching television to playing with their Pokémon.

    “Feels like forever since I’ve gotten a rest that refreshing,” Matt said while yawning and stretching his arms. “I think I might actually miss that room when we leave here.”

    “Was your bed as comfortable as mine was?” Olivia asked, though it was unclear if she was directing it at Matt or Nekou. “Taking a shower and getting my hair cleaned out felt good enough, but then getting to sleep on that? I’d do it again and again.”

    “Olivia…” Matt said, becoming serious. “Are you feeling okay?”

    “I got a good sleep and I feel completely better. Why would you think anything else?”

    “Well…” Matt looked up at Nekou, who was looking back at him. Both of them had great concern in their eyes, but what he got from her was feeling that he shouldn’t push the subject. “Yeah, I guess the beds were comfortable,” he said, resigning himself to not pursuing his worries.

    “I know mine was.” Nekou assumed that Olivia was talking to her. “Plus, I can drink as much as I want in there and get away with it.”

    Matt sighed, though it was due to a mixture of frustration and amusement instead of just frustration. “What’s different about that room? You drink all you want everywhere you go.”

    “You wouldn’t know about drinking in small spaces.” Much to Matt’s surprise, Nekou was actually taking his question, which was intended as a tease, seriously. “Get drunk in small areas and things can get weird. Believe me when I say that you want space if you’re getting ****ing bombed.”

    “I guess I’ll cede to the master on that subject, then.”

    Just then, Matt glanced over toward the bank of videophones against one of the walls and did a double-take. There weren’t many people there, but he swore he recognized one of the few that was.

    “Hey, isn’t that…”

    Nekou stopped walking, albeit only because Matt stuck his arm out to stop her. “What now?” She saw him silently pointing in the direction of the phones, so she followed his direction and looked in that direction as well. Almost immediately, she saw exactly who he was talking about. “Yeah, that’s her.”

    “I thought so.” Matt started walking toward the videophone area, but before long he broke into a stride. “Bunny!”

    Immediately upon hearing Matt’s voice, Bunny turned from her call. Her eyes lit up when she saw her three friends. “Matt! Come on over! Bring Nekou and Olivia too!”

    Matt reached Bunny first. While Nekou and Olivia caught up to him, he asked her, “How have you been? How’d the Ruins of Alph go?”

    “Oh, it’s been an adventure, to say the least,” Bunny laughed while rolling her eyes.

    “Is that a familiar voice I hear?” the person who Bunny had been talking to said through the videophone.

    Bunny shifted aside slightly, allowing Matt to see who she had been talking to. It turned out to be Professor Juniper, and judging from the room behind her, Matt realized that she was still at Professor Elm’s lab.

    “Well, hello, Professor.”

    “You guys all doing okay out there?” Juniper asked. “It’s been pretty rough in Johto lately. Is Olivia with you?”

    “I’m right here!” Olivia piped up as she jostled into the picture.

    “How’s Oshawott?”

    “We’re getting along a lot better,” Olivia said, showing a wide, cheerful smile. “He even evolved into Dewott!”

    Upon hearing this news, Juniper smiled as well. “Well done, Olivia! I’m quite proud of you!”

    “Bunny, I’m sorry we interrupted your call,” Matt said. “You can get back to it now.”

    “No, actually, I think I want you to hear this.” When her statement was met by three confused looks, Bunny elaborated, “I was just telling Professor Juniper that I caught a Pokémon that should have never been in this country, even now.”

    “Let me guess, a Kalos Pokémon?”

    “How did you know?” Bunny gasped.

    Nekou shrugged. “We ran into one of Polaris’s members in Ilex Forest, and she used a Pyroar against us. Did you catch one too?”

    “No, not Pyroar. Let me show you.” Bunny took out a Poké Ball and opened it, releasing a tall, stout-bodied creature. He had grass-like fur in different shades of green covering much of his body, as well as four strong hooves and a pair of long, dramatically curved horns. “This Pokémon is called Gogoat.”

    “Yes, you’re right about that,” Juniper commented, drawing the attention of the four. “Gogoat is a Pokémon from the nation of Kalos, as we already established. They’re very useful, as they can be ridden and have a sort of empathic power in their horns. But the thing is, Kalos Pokémon weren’t included in the government’s migration program. All I was ever aware of was the migration of Unova Pokémon.”

    “Well somebody must be bringing them here,” Nekou sharply remarked.

    “I agree,” Juniper concurred with a nod. “But the question is who. I’ll keep trying to find out what I can, but for now, I can help you a little. Olivia, would you plug your Pokédex into the external port on the videophone?”

    Olivia took out the Pokémon, but fumbled around with it as she looked for the place to connect it to the phone. “Where?”

    “There’s a small opening on the bottom that has the connector inside of it.”

    “Oh, here it is.” Olivia found what she was looking for moments after Juniper described its location, and after opening it up, she plugged the connector into a port just beneath the videophone’s screen. “What’s this for, exactly?”

    “I’m updating your Pokédex, Olivia,” Juniper cheerfully explained. “Previously, it didn’t contain any data on Pokémon from Kalos, but with this upgrade, scanning a Kalos Pokémon will work like scanning any other Pokémon. I want you to keep using it on any Pokémon you find that are unfamiliar to you, because we need to get a grasp on just how many introduced species are here and what kind of effect they’re having on their environments.”

    “I can do that,” Olivia said, accepting the professor’s request with a smile. “I do like seeing new Pokémon…”

    “Wonderful! I have no doubt you’ll do well on it.” A bell sound punctuated Juniper’s statement. “And that means your Pokédex upgrade is done.” As Olivia unplugged the device, however, Juniper’s look grew dark. “Now I have a request for you, Bunny, Matt, Nekou. Have any of you seen Professor Elm or heard anything about his whereabouts? He has still not come back.”

    “Seriously?” Matt said in surprise.

    “If he didn’t come back by now, something’s happened to him,” Bunny reasoned, holding her chin. “The question is, if someone kidnapped him, who? Considering we ran into Team Rocket, could they…”

    “What about Polaris, though?” Nekou interrupted, her voice carrying a sound of annoyance. “We also fought them. That Séduire person was responsible for the Meteonite outbreak in Ilex Forest, after all.”

    “I don’t know…” Matt said indecisively. He was genuinely conflicted between the two choices, as he considered them both equally viable.

    “I have to go now,” Juniper stated. “I’ll be in contact if I learn anything. Stay well!”

    A moment later, the screen went dark as Juniper hung up on the call. With that taken care of, Bunny faced her three friends.

    “So how did it go?” Matt inquired. “How were the Ruins of Alph?”

    Bunny sighed and grinned. “Crazy, I’ll tell you that right now. Right after we got inside, a bunch of Unown attacked us and separated us.”

    “What happened to Dante?” Olivia wondered.

    “I don’t know, but I’m sure he’s fine. Myself, though… something strange ended up happening. I fell through a doorway that sent me to some other place.”

    “What?” Nekou gasped, finally coming into the conversation.

    “That’s what happened.”

    ~:~

    After falling through the portal in the Ruins of Alph, Bunny found herself waking up in an unfamiliar place. As she came to, she looked around at her surroundings to try and deduce where she was.

    She was lying on a stone runway leading up to a huge, triangular stage. Statues of various Pokémon stood on both sides of the runway, and far up in the cavernous temple, ledges from the upper levels looked down onto the stage. More immediately, however, Bunny realized how cold she was when she noticed how everything in the temple was covered by a slight layer of frost.

    Bunny stood, but before she could understand anything more about her situation, the sound of footsteps from the temple entrance distracted her. An elderly, hunchbacked man approached her, with an Abra tagging along loyally at his side.

    “Who are you?” he coughed. “Outsiders like you aren’t welcome here!”

    “Please... I don’t mean any harm,” Bunny pleaded. “I don’t know how I got here.”

    “How do I know you aren’t one of those Harmonia loyalists?” The old man was starting to slowly circle her. “So you finally found the one place we were safe from you..”

    “Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. My name is Bunny Spruce. I’m an archeologist. I was exploring the Ruins of Alph when some Unown sent me through a portal and I ended up here.”

    The old man’s demeanor softened considerably upon Bunny’s explanation. “The Ruins of Alph? Oh, I understand now... this has happened before. I can send you back. Abra, use Teleport to send her back to the Ruins of Alph.”

    ~:~

    “…and after that, I made my way directly west to get to Goldenrod City, since I knew you would be coming here. That was when I caught Gogoat, by the way. So how are you three doing?”

    “To say that everything’s been crazy is an understatement,” Matt sighed. “There have been outbreaks of crazed Pokémon everywhere, and just yesterday we had an encounter with Cassy.”

    “I heard about the Pokémon behaving strangely, but Cassy? That crazy girl that used to hang around you all the time? Why would she have been around here?”

    “She’s a member of Polaris.” Matt’s revelation elicited a strong physical response from Bunny, as she curled her face in shock. “And apparently, a highly ranked one, I think. I don’t really know what it all means…”

    “I got the Hive Badge in Azalea Town,” Olivia piped up.

    “I’m proud of you for that,” Bunny cheerfully said, patting Olivia on the head. “What was it like?”

    “It… it wasn’t easy…” Olivia nervously looked away from Bunny as she spoke. The memories of her breakdown were returning, and she was trying not to succumb to them. “It wasn’t easy, but in the end… the feeling of holding that badge in my hand… it was something I want to feel again. I decided to put aside Contests for now so I can focus on Gyms.”

    “That’s very mature of you to make that decision,” Bunny complimented. “So where are we heading now?”

    “Oh, that’s the funny part,” Matt laughed bitterly, barely masking his disgust. “We met up with the International Police detective, Looker, and he’s taking us to see Jacob.”

    As soon as she heard Jacob’s name, Bunny’s face became completely serious. “Oh,” she mumbled, her eyes half closed from the annoyance her memories of the man brought up. “No wonder you seemed irritated about it. Oh well, I guess we best get this out of the way now.”

    Matt nodded in assent, then turned to the strangely silent Nekou, who didn’t do or say anything other than step closer to the others. They all started toward the exit, but were stopped when another voice called to them.

    “Olivia? Is that you?”

    When the newly-reformed group of four turned in the direction of the voice, they saw a familiar boy dressed in a blue-and-black school uniform.

    “A uniform from Earl’s Pokémon Academy…” Matt said in surprise. “…Monroe? Dominic’s son?”

    “…you… actually remember me?” the brown-haired young man meekly said as he approached the group. “I’m honored…”

    “What are you doing in Goldenrod City?” Olivia asked.

    “I just got a Plain Badge from the Gym, actually.” Furthering his point, Monroe extended his hand, showing them his badge, a yellow diamond outlined in silver.

    Olivia lit up immediately upon seeing it. “I’m on my way there right now! You’ve got to tell me what you can about the Gym Leader!”

    “Well…” Monroe chuckled gently before continuing, “…Whitney’s a Normal-type Gym Leader, and she uses a Miltank as her main Pokémon. She’s really imaginative with her moves, so you can’t let her surprise you. But the thing is, you have to do something else before you can face her.”

    “What’s that?” Now Olivia was confused, narrowing her left eye.

    “You have to go around Goldenrod City and collect stamps from five places before they let you in. It’s… I hope I’m remembering this correctly… the Radio Tower, the Battle Factory, the Global Terminal, the Game Corner and the Photo Studio in the underground shopping area.”

    “I’ve got an idea,” Matt chimed in. “After we go talk to Jacob with Looker, how about we all go to the Battle Factory together, and then while I’m doing my challenge, the rest of you can split off, go get the rest of the stamps and meet up with me later at the Gym?”

    “Don’t you want someone there to support you, though?”

    Matt shook his head at Bunny and smiled. “I don’t need it. Honestly, I think Olivia would appreciate it more, but I’ll leave it up to her.”

    Matt, Bunny and Nekou all looked down to Olivia in anticipation of her decision. They didn’t have to wait long, as she quickly said, “Sure, I’m up for it. I have to get my second badge as soon as possible.”

    “Second…? Huh, what do you know.” Monroe was mumbling to himself, so the others didn’t take notice of him until he directly addressed them. “I… I hope I’m not being a burden, but may I come with you? I don’t have anything to do for a while…”

    “Sure, I don’t see why n…”

    “Just as long as you can keep up,” Olivia teased, cutting Matt off in the process. “I won’t be held back.”

    “Good to see you’re back to your old self,” Matt thought to himself.

    With nothing more to be said, the group once again headed for the exit of the Pokémon Center, this time with Monroe tagging along.

    There was a small plaza immediately outside the Pokémon Center. A pair of fountains bookended the cobblestone grounds, and numerous benches provided plenty of space for pedestrians to rest. It was an area nestled in the tall buildings like a small oasis in an urban desert.

    As the group walked out of the Pokémon Center, they were immediately confronted by Silver, who defiantly stood in their way and stopped them.

    “We’ve been waiting for you,” Silver growled. “Any longer and I would have come in there looking for you myself.”

    “Well in that case it’s pretty lucky you didn’t have to, right?” Nekou sniped back at him. “What now?”

    “Let’s get going,” he ordered, pointing over to Looker, who was leaning against a lamppost with his arms crossed. “Looker says he can’t wait all day for you.”

    “Then let’s not make him do that.”

    Matt led the way over to Looker, and the rest of his friends followed closely behind. Once his audience was assembled, the detective pushed himself off the lamppost with his foot and faced them with a stern manner.

    “Being much late to this meeting, you all are,” he commented. It took him only a brief moment to realize the group had grown in number, and when he did, he scowled. “Being who is being that boy?”

    “Oh, you mean Monroe?” Matt answered. “He’s trustworthy, don’t worry about it. He’s the son of a friend of ours and one of my sister’s students.”

    “If saying so you are.” Looker turned sharply on his heel and added, “Follow me. Going we are to the place where the man with the name Jacob Alexison is held. Making haste we must be doing.”

    Matt, Olivia and Bunny were put off by Looker’s harsh tone, but it was Monroe who spoke up as they started to follow him and Silver. “I don’t understand, what’s going on?”

    “We’re going to talk to someone who’s being held prisoner before we do anything else,” Matt explained. “He may have information we need.”

    As Matt, Olivia, Bunny and Monroe walked off, they were too caught up in talking amongst themselves to notice that Nekou had stayed back. She quietly opened two of her Poké Balls, releasing her Murkrow and Duskull, then took a small camera device from inside her uniform and attached it to her Murkrow’s neck.

    “Edgar, you know what to do,” she said to her Duskull. “Use your powers to search through the city for our target. Lenore, you use that camera to record wherever it is. I’ll receive the video as soon as you get it, and then I want you two to meet me at Goldenrod Gym. Got it?”

    Edgar and Lenore happily voiced their agreement, and Nekou petted them on their heads.

    “Do a good job for me out there, okay?”

    With that, Nekou rose up, turned and rushed to catch up to the others, while her Pokémon floated up into the air over the city.

    -:-

    During the night, Colress had arrived at the Purine Base. Having safely parked his aircraft in a spacious hangar behind the facility, he joined Getriebe and Jeunes in the main lab. At the present, they were holding a video conference with Finansielle. Meanwhile, Meowth was standing behind them, still blank due to the Meteonite’s influence.

    “It would appear that Matt Chiaki’s group has reached Goldenrod City,” Getriebe explained in his monotone voice.

    “Do they know where you are? Where the base is?” she questioned.

    “No, I expect that we’re quite safe from him,” answered Jeunes with a casual shrug. He quickly turned serious, however, and added, “Team Rocket might be a different matter. There’s been rumblings about them having a presence here.”

    “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it’ll work out.” Finansielle’s nonchalant response to the seemingly bad news surprised the two masked scientists, while Colress simply stood behind them, smiling while he tucked his hands in his pockets. “Getriebe, the Purine Base is under your direction. It is up to you to prevent any leaks of its location.”

    “I accept that mission.”

    “So what do you think, Colress?” Finansielle asked, her bright mood continuing to create a jarring contrast with those of the others. “Have you got what you need to work there?”

    “More than enough, easily,” he replied. “All we have to do is finish scanning all the Pokémon that were sent here, and that’s nearly done. Once we get that out of the way, the transfer of the data from this base’s systems to our labs will be easy as pie.” Colress grinned even more widely and pushed his visor up his nose with two fingers, a habit he’d developed with his glasses. “I’m not concerned about Team Rocket or that Matt Chiaki boy you seem so intrigued by. That woman, on the other hand… I’ve been spoiling for a rematch with her since we tangled in Unova.”

    “Don’t go doing anything stupid,” Finansielle warned. “It would be awfully unfortunate if I had to pull funding for the Purine Base because you got it exposed.”

    “Don’t worry, Lady Finansielle, I’ve got no intention of starting anything with them.” Colress lowered his head, allowing the glow of the video screen bearing Finansielle’s face to reflect on his visor. “If my prediction is correct, Miss Lalume will come calling right to our door.”

    -:-

    The court complex where Looker took Matt’s group turned out to be fairly close to the Pokémon Center. It was an unassuming place, simply a cluster of gray buildings, but it was this dull appearance that made it stand out in the bright lights of Goldenrod City.

    The detective had deposited his charges in a visiting room, where a group of chairs faced a wide pane of opaque glass. Silver stayed behind while Looker went off to another room, but he simply watched from the back of the room as Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Monroe arranged themselves in the chairs.

    After several minutes of seemingly nothing happening, Olivia was looking around in impatient confusion. She nearly jumped out of her seat when the phone sitting before them on a small ledge below the window began ringing. After seeing her calm down with Nekou’s help, Matt picked the phone up.

    “Hello?”

    “It is happening to be me, Looker! All preparations of readiness have been set into their places where they belong. Are you having readiness?”

    Matt turned around, only to find his companions staring intently at him, at which point he realized that the phone’s audio was being piped into the room.

    “What’s the point of the receiver?” he asked incredulously.

    “It’s just a formality we are having, not much more! So are you having preparedness or not?”

    “Yeah, I guess I am. Let’s get started.”

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  16. #141
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    As soon as Matt gave his assent, the glass changed from opaque to clear, revealing two men behind it. One was Looker, holding a small remote in his hand that triggered the change in the window.

    The other was an elderly man in an orange prison jumpsuit. He was balding, retaining only some wisps of white hair on his head, but he also had an unkempt beard similarly lacking in color. When he set his eyes upon Matt, he smiled and slowly picked up the phone on his side of the window.

    “Hello, Matt,” he calmly said.

    “And hello to you, Jacob…” The bitterness in Matt’s voice was obvious.

    “To what do I owe this pleasure? It’s quite nice to have you come calling with your rather lovely new friends.”

    Matt didn’t see Nekou blanche at the implicit suggestion in Jacob’s words, but he didn’t have to as he felt a similar revulsion. Bunny, meanwhile, simply sat stone-faced, staring at her former professor and friend.

    “Don’t push your luck, Jacob,” Matt growled, clutching his shoulder where Jacob had once shot him. “I would rather just watch you go back to prison for the murder you committed. Unfortunately for me, I need help and you’re the only man I can turn to.”

    “So what is it? What did you seek me out for?”

    “It’s about the past of this country and the world. I am aware of the existence of a certain Guild of men that shaped the world’s history thousands of years ago, but they dropped off the charts of history around the time of Caitlin the First’s rule over this country, about a century and a half ago.”

    “Did you ever think that they don’t exist anymore?”

    Matt almost instantly became visibly flustered at the suggestion. “But… I remember back to when I found the Golden City of La Ciudad Dorada years ago… that man who tried to stop me, Count Fernando VIII… he said that he thought people from that Guild were coming for him and an artifact in his possession. He thought I was one of them.”

    “And since when do you put stock in the ravings of a madman?” Jacob reproached him. “You’re Sutter’s grandson, I know you’re smarter than that. Listen well. That Guild disbanded after the events of the attempted revolution led by Colonel Nixon against Caitlin the First in the year 1850.”

    Matt shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He knew the events Jacob was referring to, especially because he had lived them. Some time earlier, while at the Indigo Plateau investigating the ruins of an ancient city, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny had been sent back in time by a strange phenomenon and witnessed the rebellion firsthand. Recalling these events led Matt to a realization he considered even more ominous – the Time Gate phenomenon in Ilex Forest was very similar to what had happened.

    “…are you even listening?” Jacob snapped, bringing Matt back to reality. “They were disbanded because their influence was seen as no longer necessary. Caitlin the First instated the earliest workings of what would become the Pokémon League. As it were, she replaced the guiding hand of a secret organization with bread and circuses for the people, but damn if it didn’t work.”

    Matt stood and stepped away from the glass, running his hand down his face. All of a sudden, his quest for the truth of the events of the past had hit a wall. He considered the apparent link to the Guild a clue to why those events had taken place, but with that lead now quashed by Jacob, he felt helpless, as if he had run headfirst into a brick wall.

    He failed to notice Nekou take up the phone.

    “I’ve got a few questions for you too, old man.”

    Jacob’s expression brightened at the chance to talk to her. “Well, I have to consider this quite a gift. I’ve been in prison for a long time now, after all. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

    “You’re lucky I need you. And you’re even more ****ing lucky you’re on the other side of that glass, because don’t you think for a second I’d hesitate to crack you one for that. I need to know more about what’s in this book.”

    Nekou produced the book she’d stolen from the Pokémon Academy library, the one where Sutter and Jacob recounted their adventures. Much to her surprise, as soon as he saw it, Jacob turned white as a sheet and attempted to stand, only to be restrained by his handcuffs bracing him to the table. He ended up smashing his face against the glass.

    “No! Not that!” he screamed. “Don’t read that! What’s in that book should have been burned decades ago!”

    “Well I hate to tell you, but it’s more relevant than ever now. I read all about your travels with Sutter Chiaki in it… but what’s really got me intrigued is this one person, Saeko Oryo…”

    “NO!!” Jacob slammed himself against the glass again. He was blatantly trying to break the handcuffs off the table, which forced Looker to rush in and restrain him.

    “Doing that you are again, and ending this meeting will!”

    “Fine, fine, I’m sorry…” Though he stopped throwing himself around, Jacob was visibly rattled and disturbed.

    “I need to know,” Nekou repeated. “What is the truth behind Saeko Oryo, the Jewel of Life and what happened that day in the Tenganist holy land?”

    “If you really want to know, it’s a horrible story…” Jacob looked up, hoping to see Nekou dissuaded from the story, but he was disappointed to find her gaze more determined than ever. “Fine. You know of the Transcendence, the power that many Tenganists have?”

    “Yes.”

    “Saeko Oryo had the most powerful one, the ability to see the past and future. Her people called her “The Oracle” and she was held in a position of high honor within their society. But then…”

    “I know, she was burned as a witch,” Nekou said, irritated. “Stop stalling. What really happened?”

    “The… the reason she was to be burned was because… she… she got too close to us. Sutter and I, we were outsiders. That led the Tenganists in the holy land to treat us with suspicion already, but she got too close to us. When she was tried and condemned, we were exiled from the holy land. But, as we were leaving, she escaped her prison and tried to leave as well. When she couldn’t, she… she committed the mortal sin. She used the partial Jewel of Life there for her own benefit.”

    “How, and why?” Now Bunny was involved in the questioning, as she was utterly fascinated with the story.

    “As far as I can tell, she didn’t want to die, so she swallowed that accursed thing. Foolish choice… it unleashed massive energy and burned her from the inside out. She condemned herself to the very death she tried to avoid. But that wasn’t it. The backlash from her swallowing it… even though it was just partial… it unleashed a blast of energy that destroyed the Tenganist holy land. At once all of its residents perished, and a lush jungle was turned into a snowy wasteland. Sutter and I only survived because we were just outside of it. We watched as everything in front of our eyes turned to pure death in an instant.”

    “No wonder he’s so shaken…” Matt murmured.

    “You said it was a mortal sin in their eyes. Why?”

    “Your fortitude is admirable,” Jacob complimented Nekou. “Long, long ago… the Tenganists spread throughout the world. There was not one place they didn’t reach with their then-advanced society. In the Kalos region, an especially strong settlement of Tenganists took hold three thousand years ago. They were led by a mighty, powerful king… he was called AZ, the beginning and the end, because of the great power he held. He was the alchemist who first discovered the way to create a Jewel of Life using the Life Plates of Arceus. Even with just shards of the Plates, a jewel containing the life energy of the earth could be created, just as it was by Arceus itself in the legend of Michina. AZ created a Jewel of Life and led his kingdom to great prosperity, but it would not last.”

    Jacob stopped for a moment to appreciate how enthralled his audience was.

    “A war started. Greedy individuals led by AZ’s younger brother wished to capture the kingdom and the power it held. The war was so horrible and vast that AZ had to send his beloved Pokémon to fight in that war… and it perished. When he received its body, AZ was distraught. Desperate to save it, he created a device powered by the life energy of other living Pokémon to resurrect that Pokémon, but it was not enough. He had to augment it with the Jewel of Life for the device to work, and it did. But even with his Pokémon revived, he was too far gone into his madness. He further powered up the device and turned it into an ultimate weapon, a harbinger of death itself… with the Jewel of Life he set devastation and ruin on both sides of the war. He ended it, but his Pokémon left his side because of his sins… AZ then disappeared, and the kingdom was dismantled by his regretful brother. Because of AZ’s actions, using the Jewel of Life for such purposes is considered a mortal sin even by the modern-day Tenganists.”

    “I see…” Nekou passively said, lost in her consideration of what she had learned. “Well, thanks, I guess.”

    “Listen to me though!” Jacob was screaming again, and behind him, Looker was watching warily. “Don’t pursue any further knowledge about this!”

    “Why the **** would a murderer like you care?” Nekou countered with a bitter tone.

    “I learned my lesson. What I did was wrong. But if you pursue the Jewel of Life and knowledge of what happened in the past, it will bring you nothing but ruin! Listen to me! Matt, you know better than anyone here what could happen!”

    “All I know is that you shot me.” Matt shared the same audible bitterness that Nekou had. He looked down on Jacob and added, “Why should I believe that you care about my well being now?”

    “It’s not just yours but possibly this entire world’s!”

    Jacob stood up again, and at that point, Looker had had enough. “That is having it, Alexison! We are being done here!”

    The glass went opaque again when Looker pressed the button on his remote, and Matt’s group could hear several crashes against the glass, presumably from Looker restraining Jacob.

    “I guess he sure takes his job seriously,” Olivia awkwardly uttered to break the uncomfortable silence.

    “Sometimes, you’re right about that,” Silver put in, approaching the group for the first time since the meeting started. “I think he wants me to show you out now.”

    “That’s probably for the best,” Matt concurred.

    Before they started walking, though, Bunny tapped both him and Nekou on their shoulders. When they turned to look at her, she said, “I’m going to keep looking into what he told us, because that story reminded me of something I heard that happened in Unova.”

    “Unova, huh?” Nekou raised an eyebrow. “Who knows what you might find…”

    -:-

    Team Rocket weren’t the only ones with a hideout in Goldenrod’s slums. Polaris had one too, set up in a small warehouse inconspicuous to passersby on the street. Inside, Cassy lay on a makeshift bed with her leg bandaged. Geminus was with her, though he was speaking to Finansielle using a video screen.

    “I have to say, I appreciate your diligence in going out there and recovering her,” Finansielle said, “but she must be punished according to the Sacred Helix’s code for removing her mask. Do you understand why we wear masks, Geminus?”

    “Do enlighten me, my lady,” Geminus requested, standing with his arms crossed.

    “We wear masks because in the world envisioned by Polaris, we are all equal. That cannot be perfectly duplicated right now, so the next best thing is erasing who we are by all assuming the masks. I let Ghetsis get away with it for now because he’s too much of a blind egomaniac to cooperate and it’s not worth the effort for the time we need him, but I have higher expectations of Séduire.”

    “If we are trying to be the salvation of the world from its sins,” countered Geminus, “should we not forgive her for her own? I understand we must hold ourselves to a higher standard if we are to be the leaders of man’s next evolution, but she is just an innocent girl who lost her mask through an accident.” Geminus grinned, then asked, “Can she not be forgiven?”

    Geminus and Finansielle stared at each other for what felt like forever, their eyes searing into each other from behind their masks. Abruptly, though, Finansielle smiled.

    “I suppose forgiveness can be arranged.”

    His request granted, Geminus grinned a bit more widely as well. “I knew you’d find some mercy in your heart, Lady Finansielle.”

    “I sure did. Stand by for what you should do next.”

    Finansielle disappeared from the screen. Geminus then walked over to the bed, sat down and took up Cassy’s hand.

    “Don’t you worry. I’ll make everything you wish for come true.”

    -:-

    Outside the court complex, Matt, Nekou and Bunny were left standing in confusion as they attempted to rationalize what Jacob had told them while Olivia and Monroe went off on the subject of Goldenrod City’s Gym. Each of them was struggling with the new knowledge in a different way. While Matt was sullen and silent, holding his chin as he faced the wall his quest had seemingly reached, Bunny was pacing back and forth and Nekou was facing away from the others, fiddling with the stem of her glasses.

    “What’s wrong?”

    Matt jumped, having been so enraptured in his own thoughts that Bunny’s sudden question startled him. “What he told me… well, what I asked him about was what spurred me into looking for the truth in the first place. Back when we first met Dante, he told me that the Light Stone, which is necessary for finding Reshiram, will only appear to someone who has put extraordinary effort into searching for the truth. But if my search all started for a reason I was mistaken about, how can I actually find the truth?”

    “Is it really mistaken, though?” Bunny suggested. “So the Guild you thought was behind what happened five years ago doesn’t actually exist anymore. Does that really matter? The end result you’re pursuing is still the same. You still want to know the truth behind the same events, it’s just that one potential answer isn’t in play anymore.”

    For a few minutes, Matt considered what Bunny had said, taking to pacing back and forth much as she had been doing. When he finally stopped, he turned to her and said, “You’re right. Thanks for talking me down from that.”

    “So what will you do next? What’s your next step?”

    “When I defeated her in Cherrygrove, Dahlia told me that the Frontier Brain of the Battle Factory might know more about Reshiram. Plus, Olivia needs to go there to get one of the stamps she needs for entering Goldenrod Gym, so I think the answer is that we should head over there first.”

    “Alright.” Bunny smiled, then looked over to where Olivia was still in Monroe’s face regarding battle strategy. “Olivia! Come on, we’re going to the Battle Factory now!”

    “Alright!” she called back. “Come on, you’re coming with us,” Olivia then said to Monroe.

    “I… I wanted to in the first place.”

    As Olivia and Monroe walked back toward Matt and Bunny, they passed by Nekou, who was still preoccupied fiddling with whatever she was doing. Olivia realized that Nekou’s lack of presence in the conversations going on was unusual, so she slapped her friend on the back to get her attention.

    “Hey! What are you doing?”

    “What the fu…” Once Nekou had turned around and realized who was addressing her, her angry expression softened. “Sorry, Olivia, I was distracted. What’s going on?”

    “We’re heading over to the Battle Factory.”

    “Okay, obviously I’ll be coming along.”

    Matt and Bunny had been watching the entire exchange between Olivia and Nekou, and by the time the two of them and Monroe finally joined with them, they were visibly frustrated.

    “Ready yet?” Matt sighed.

    Nekou gently draped her arms over his shoulders, licked her lips and stared into his eye as she breathily replied, “I don’t know… are we?”

    “Okay, now you’re messing with me,” he said, pulling away. “I’ll take it as a yes. Let’s go.”

    “Maybe not, you don’t know…” she thought to herself with a wry grin as the group finally started on its way.

    The Battle Factory was at the far western end of the city, but not terribly far from the Pokémon Center and therefore not far from the court complex. While the trip didn’t require a significant amount of walking, though, the necessary route did take them past a number of landmarks on their way. While they passed by the Magnet Train station – a dome-roofed building that Nekou never stopped staring at as she passed – and the imposing structure of the city’s Radio Tower, a large building made of glass came into view. It was both wide and tall, with multiple antennae and satellite dishes affixed to its roof. A vast, busy plaza spread out before it.

    “Wow, that building is beautiful!” Olivia burst out, running to get a closer view of its sun-drenched splendor.

    “That’s the Global Terminal, Olivia,” Nekou explained once she caught up. “People trade Pokémon and battle with others worldwide from there. That’s the nexus of the Pokémon trading market.”

    “You have to go there to get one of the stamps,” Monroe added as a reminder.

    “Can we go to the Battle Factory first?” Matt quietly asked. “Remember, you guys can all split from me once I get started there.”

    “Fine, fine,” Nekou said, waving him off.

    Matt turned, but stopped almost instantly. Over by one of the plaza’s fountains, he could see a towering man in a dark red trench coat. The figure’s height wasn’t the only thing setting him apart from the nondescript crowd around him, however, as he had a wide shock of orange hair that spread out in both directions from his head, as well as an orange beard. He was just standing there, staring toward the rest of the plaza and the Global Terminal itself.

    “Wait,” Matt said, putting his hand up to stop the others.

    It ended up being Nekou who walked into his hand, and when her chest bumped into it, she immediately took a single step back and snarked, “I knew you were interested.”

    “Nekou, not now.” Ignoring Nekou’s attempt to get a rise from him, Matt pointed toward the strange man. “Doesn’t that guy look familiar?”

    “Yeah, he does, actually…”

    “I’ve never seen him,” Olivia remarked. “He gives me the creeps.”

    “Wait, I know who he is,” Bunny suddenly realized. “That’s Lysandre Flordelis, the president of the electronics company Lysandre Labs in Kalos. What’s he doing here?”

    As it turned out, Bunny would soon get her answer. Lysandre had seen the group pointing at him, and he slowly and deliberately approached them himself. Matt quickly understood why Olivia said she was disturbed by him; he was easily taller than the six-foot-plus Matt, and his eyes burned with an unsettling intensity.

    “I see you recognize me,” Lysandre said, his deep voice shaking the bones of his audience. “Therefore, we will dispense with formalities. Who are you?”

    “Matt Chiaki, sir.” Matt couldn’t help but show Lysandre a degree of respect he didn’t usually show. “And this is Nekou, and Bunny, and Olivia and Monroe.”

    “Matt Chiaki…” Shutting his eyes, Lysandre continued speaking, “I know of you as well. Even as far off as the Kalos region, your efforts in creating a renewable energy source are recognized. I commend you for your efforts to improve this world.”

    “Th-thank you…”

    “May I ask why you are in Johto, Mister Flordelis?” Bunny spoke up.

    “I am here because I am intrigued by the organization known as Polaris…” Nekou immediately blanched at the statement, but Lysandre didn’t notice. He instead turned away to face the Global Terminal once more. “A group that aims to reshape the world… is it a force for good? I have tried to help the world with the profits from my company but my efforts have been futile. Resources, money and land simply exist in only finite qualities. Could Polaris be able to accomplish what I could not and save this world?” Turning back to the group, Lysandre asked, “What do you think?”

    “I think Polaris is a ****ing scam and you’d have to be dumb as **** to fall for it,” Nekou immediately chimed in, causing her companions to visibly panic.

    “Nekou, don’t be so rude!”

    Nekou shrugged at Matt’s reproach. “So what? He asked what I think, and I just answered him.”

    “Yes, that is true,” Lysandre said, much to the surprise of both Matt and Bunny. “You have your opinion on Polaris. I recognize that. I wonder what you will do to contribute to the world, though. As for me, I’m interested in this place because Polaris will be holding a speech here in this plaza tomorrow. I want to see for myself if their claims have merit.”

    “Maybe we’ll meet there?” Olivia suggested.

    “Perhaps. Well, it has been interesting speaking to you and your friends, Matt Chiaki. I would like to see you again someday. I expect that I will.”

    With that, Lysandre walked past Matt and the others and left the plaza. Immediately, Nekou turned her nose up at him as he vanished into the crowd.

    “What a ****ing weirdo.”

    “Nekou, please…”

    “Actually, I think I agree with her on this one.” Bunny’s agreement with Nekou made Matt stare in wide-eyed surprise at them both. “I heard he was a strange guy, but that was actually disturbing…”

    “Come on, let’s go,” Olivia urged them. “We can’t fall behind schedule here.”

    Shaking off the sense of fear that Lysandre had instilled in him, Matt started to lead the group down the road toward the Battle Factory once again. They didn’t have far left to go, and before long, the huge, egg-shaped metallic building came into view. It was at the front of a cluster of buildings on the coast and had several large industrial fans on each side.

    “There we go,” Matt said, smiling in relief. “Now we can finally get going.”

    “Come on, you slowpokes! Get moving!”

    For the second time, Olivia ran ahead of the others, but she didn’t slow until she reached the entryway of the Battle Factory. Matt, Nekou, Bunny and Monroe all had to rush through the crowds to catch up with her at the iron gates.

    “You’re pretty enthusiastic about this, aren’t you, Olivia?”

    “After the **** we’ve been through,” Nekou said to Bunny, “I can hardly blame her.”

    Matt pushed the doorway open and held it for his friends to pass through before he entered himself. He was surprised what he found inside – unlike the Battle Arcade, which had a dark and flashy interior, inside the Battle Factory was bright and stark white, both on the walls and on the floor. The only break in this sterile setting was a path of transparent blue plastic on the floor leading from the entrance to a desk on the other side of the room, underneath which ran glowing circuitry lines.

    “Olivia, this way,” Monroe urged while gesturing toward a bank of computers nearby, “that’s where you get the stamp for the Gym.”

    “Alright.”

    “I’m guessing that’s the registry desk where I need to go…” Matt ventured while Olivia went off with Monroe. He followed the blue path, and Nekou and Bunny went after him. When he got to the desk, however, he was left in confusion as he looked around for an attendant. “What’s with this? There’s nobody here?”

    “Look at that,” Bunny said, pointing at a red button on the desk that Matt had initially missed. “Think that calls someone?”

    “Let’s find out.”

    Almost instantly upon the moment Matt pressed the button, a hologram lit up from the desk. It was of a short, droopy-eyed man, whose green hair was styled into segments wrapped around his head. He was well-dressed, clad in a black vest with a white undershirt accompanied by a slate-gray necktie.

    “…Thorton?!” Matt exclaimed, stepping back in surprise.

    “Welcome to the Battle Factory. I am the Factory Head, Thorton,” the hologram introduced. “If you are a challenger, please scan your Frontier Pass now.”

    “You know this guy?” Nekou questioned Matt as he fumbled for his Frontier Pass in his bag.

    “I went to school with him in Rustboro. We had the same robotics class together.”

    Once Matt had scanned the Frontier Pass using a small panel in front of the hologram projector, it recited, “Welcome, challenger. Today in the Battle Factory, you will face a series of three-on-three Single Battles. However, you will not be permitted to use your own Pokémon. Instead, you must select virtual rental Pokémon from our stock, and your opponents will also be using rental Pokémon. After each victory, you will get a clue toward your next opponent and the opportunity to trade a Pokémon for one of the previous opponent’s Pokémon. If you win three battles, your fourth and final will be against me. Good luck.”

    Part of the desk slid away, allowing Matt passage through to the path leading to the battlefield. Before he followed it, he turned around to Nekou and Bunny, discovering that Olivia and Monroe had rejoined them.

    “I guess I’ll be here a while if I want to talk to him about Reshiram. You guys go around the city and get the rest of the stamps. I’ll meet up with you later at the Gym.” Matt put his hand on Olivia’s shoulder and added, “Be confident when you go in there. Just go ahead and go for what you want. Make all of us proud.”

    “I will!” she responded with a broad grin.

    Matt straightened up to his full height, but before he could turn around, he noticed Nekou wink at him and say, “Nice.”

    -:-

    Roughly fifteen minutes later, Thorton was watching from his control room as Matt wrapped up his first battle. With a Tangrowth in the group of Pokémon he’d selected, Matt had made short work of the Gastrodon and Quagsire before him, and was just finishing up the last opponent, a Magnezone.

    “Tangrowth, Focus Blast!” Matt’s voice echoed in Thorton’s spacious office from the monitor the Factory Head was watching the battle on.

    A sphere of energy took shape between the Tangrowth’s arms, which she then threw at the Magnezone. There was a great explosion, and when its smoke cleared, the Magnezone was lying still on the ground.

    “Challenger wins!” the holographic referee droned. “Battle number one concluded!”

    “****…” Thorton groaned, slumping in his chair. “I can’t deal with this. Not now with Finansielle breathing down my neck.”

    “He’s going to ask you about Reshiram if he reaches you,” Jeunes said from the shadows behind Thorton. “We cannot risk letting any information fall into the hands of the enemy.”

    “Don’t you think I know that?!” Thorton snapped. “And why are you here anyway? I’m working!”

    “Cool your jets, Getriebe,” Colress sarcastically uttered, stepping forward toward the control computer where Thorton was seated. “We finished entering all the Pokémon we received from the others into the database, so you of all people should know how to fix this. The Purine Base is yours, after all. Just dial up the difficulty on his challenge. Make him face a Pokémon he cannot possibly defeat.”

    “Yes, yes, you’re right,” Thorton responded, calming considerably. “He’s gotten better as a trainer since I went to school with him, but this base contains enough data for me to create something he has no hope against.”

    With his colleagues looking on, Thorton swiftly entered a command into his control system. When he hit the execute key, the holographic referee on the battlefield instantly acted.

    “Challenger, your second opponent will lead with a Pokémon that knows Air Slash. Would you like to trade?”

    “Yes, here.”
    Matt pulled away one of the holographic Poké Balls floating next to him. Three more of them appeared in front of him, and he touched one of them – the one with the Magnezone – to add it to his team.

    “Your trade is complete. Now beginning battle number two.”

    A holographic trainer was projected on the opposite side of the battlefield from Matt. It was a young man with spiky green hair, dressed in a vest, bowtie and cape.

    “I took time off from my gig at the circus to battle you! Go, Tornadus!”

    The Pokémon that materialized from the hologram’s Poké Ball was a muscular, green humanoid, with everything below his waist enveloped by a white cloud. Another cloud sat atop his head like hair, and his long, purple tail stretched around him to its ending in a curl.

    As soon as they saw the Pokémon Thorton had sent Matt’s way, Colress broke down laughing.

    “G-Getriebe…” Colress was so beside himself with hilarity that he could barely speak. “You sure took my advice literally, didn’t you?! I mean… wow, throwing a legendary Pokémon at him… this is just too good!”

    “We just have to hope Tornadus gets past the Magnezone,” Jeunes added, sobering the mood. “It gets that far, we’re home free.”

    The sudden sound of footsteps indicated that someone else had joined the group of three conspirators. “It’s all finished… those containers are all counted and collected safely on the ship that’ll carry ‘em on out of here…”

    Colress turned around and pushed his visor up again. “Ah, good job, Meowth,” he said to the brainwashed Pokémon. “Putting you to work for Polaris’s cause was a fine idea after all.”

    “Don’t stress him too much,” Thorton remarked while pulling up a chart on his computer. “Have a look at this. If you overtax his mind, the Meteonite’s energy may cause him to simply fall into a comatose state. The energy he was exposed to wasn’t stabilized.”

    “You’re lucky you have a mind like mine working to fix that, because with just a little bit more work, I’ll have that sorted right now. Now, what’s the schedule for getting those Pokémon to the Adenosine Base?”

    “The day after tomorrow,” Jeunes answered. “Trust me. I have this all prepared already.”

    The three Polaris members continued to discuss their plans while paying fleeting attention to Matt’s struggle against Tornadus, which was unfolding on the monitor.

    What they were unaware of was that they weren’t the only ones privy to their colluding. Outside, flying over the Battle Factory, were two Pokémon staring intently at the building.

    “Duskull, dus duskull,” Edgar chattered to Lenore, his eye glowing as he gazed at the Battle Factory.

    “Mur-krow.”

    -:-

    Olivia, Monroe, Nekou and Bunny had gone to the city’s Game Corner in their pursuit of the Gym stamps. They’d saved it for last on Nekou’s recommendation, agreeing with her belief that it would be good to relax with some games before heading off to the Gym. Nekou had stayed behind as the others went to get the stamp, however, as she was preoccupied looking at something on her phone.

    That something was a direct video feed from Lenore’s camera. Grimacing at a revelation she didn’t want to believe, Nekou pressed a button on the screen to switch to an infrared view of the video. Her worst fears were realized when she could make out four figures, which with a small amount of digital enhancement took on the recognizable shapes of Thorton, Jeunes, Colress and Meowth.

    “****…” Nekou growled at the phone, a feeling of dread taking hold in her stomach. “****ing hell… I was afraid of this… the Battle Factory is the Purine Base after all…”

    “Hey, Nekou, what are you doing?” Olivia called out from a cluster of games a short distance away. “Come over here and check this out!”

    Putting aside the grave concerns she had for the moment, Nekou put her phone away and followed Olivia’s beckoning. The girl and her friends had gathered around a game machine titled “Meloetta’s Dance Rumble,” which featured a small, fairy-like Pokémon with blue eyes and long golden hair overlooking a stage.

    “Oh, this game?” Nekou laughed, a wry smirk coming onto her face. “I’m good at this ****. Let’s play.”

    ”Good, because Monroe thinks I’ll beat him.”

    “Aw, come on, Olivia, I told you I’m just not that good at it…”

    “You won’t beat me.” Suddenly thinking of something, Nekou turned to Bunny and asked, “Why didn’t you play?”

    “This game isn’t my favorite,” Bunny replied, waving off the inquiry, “you play. You guys ought to have more fun.”

    “Alright then.”

    Nekou and Olivia took the stage, each of them occupying one of the two pairs of directional arrows under their feet. After looking to Olivia to confirm that she was ready, Nekou deposited several coins into the game machine, bringing it fully to life. The Pokémon adorning the machine, Meloetta, cried out cheerfully, followed by the words ‘Both of you, dance like you want to win!’ displaying on the video monitor before its two players.

    “Get ready to lose, Olivia,” Nekou whispered while she continued smirking. “I like you, but I play to win.”

    “I won’t go down without a fight.” Olivia countered with a wide grin of her own. “Either way, we’re walking out of this with fistfuls of game coins.”

    Spotlights flared around the game, and a fast-paced dance song started to play. Arrows started scrolling up the screen to tell Nekou and Olivia which steps to make on the stage, and they furiously attempted to follow every single one.

    -:-

    “You have got to be kidding me!” Thorton screamed, standing and kicking away his chair. Behind him, Colress and Jeunes both had looks of worry themselves.

    It had taken another twenty minutes, but Matt had actually overcome the trainer with the Tornadus. Luck had played a huge part, as Matt quickly deduced Tornadus’s Flying-type from its Air Slash and sent the Steel-and-Electric-type Magnezone to face it, only to discover it also knew the Fighting-type move Focus Blast. However, all of the attempted Focus Blasts Tornadus used missed their target, leaving Magnezone able to defeat it. After that, defeating his Gengar was a simple matter, but it took Magnezone, Tangrowth and Matt’s third Pokémon, Glaceon, to finally put down his Pinsir.

    The mood in the control room was one of palpable panic. Though none of them said it, the three Polaris leaders were all thinking the same thing: if Matt could find a way around a legendary Pokémon like Tornadus, there could very well be no way to stop him.

    “Maybe try another legendary Pokémon?” Jeunes suggested. For once, the ordinarily cunning and brilliant scientist was at a loss for a solution. “Heatran? Landorus?”

    “That’s not going to work. He’ll find a way around it.”

    “Wait, Getriebe, I have an idea,” Colress chimed in. His sarcastic manner from earlier was gone. “This base contains data on just about every possible Pokémon. So far we’ve been hitting him with Pokémon he clearly can figure out. So why not hit him with something we know he’s never seen?”

    “What are you thinking, Colress?” Thorton questioned, reverting to his typical bored tone.

    “Finansielle told us about him. He’s been to Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Orre. Notice something missing from that list?”

    “Kalos,” Jeunes immediately answered, verbally stepping on Thorton, “and the only Pokémon from Kalos he’s seen is Séduire’s Pyroar. We send a team of Kalos Pokémon against him, and he’ll have no chance.”

    “Let’s do it then,” Thorton said, turning back to his control system. “I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve.”

    -:-

    Out on the battlefield, Matt had just finished his trade, swapping away his Magnezone for the Tornadus used by the previous hologram trainer.

    “Your trade is complete. Now beginning battle number three.”

    The hologram generator on the other side of the field projected a young woman wearing a tank top, tight jeans and her brown hair in a bun. Despite being just a computer program, she displayed personality by lifting her sunglasses from her eyes.

    “Oh, my, a challenger…” she said. Matt thought he detected a condescending tone in her voice. “Let me finish you off so I can go back to the beach. Go, Greninja!”

    The Pokémon sent out by the beautiful woman caused Matt to recoil. It was unlike anything he’d seen before – a purple-and-white frog with flat, webbed feet and hands and sharp, angular ears, whose tongue wrapped around its neck and flowed out like a scarf. The Pokémon, Greninja, leaned down and struck a battle-ready stance as he awaited Matt’s move.

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  17. #142
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    “It looks kind of like a frog,” Matt reasoned, “so I think it should be Water-type. In that case, Tangrowth, make your mark!”

    The virtual Tangrowth emerged from her Poké Ball and flexed her long arms, but she was barely out for a moment before the holographic trainer reacted.

    “Greninja, Ice Beam!”

    What happened next caught Matt completely by surprise. Before he attacked, the blue parts of Greninja’s body changed into a much lighter blue, and the ensuing Ice Beam he launched was far more intense than Matt expected. Tangrowth ended up taking a direct hit, and not only was she badly injured, she was frozen into a block of ice.

    “Tangrowth!” Matt gasped.

    “Greninja, Dark Pulse!”

    Greninja’s color changed again, this time to a deep black. He then brought his hands together to form a cluster of dark energy, which flooded forward in the form of black rings. Within her block of ice, Tangrowth had no hope of escape.

    “Tangrowth is unable to battle!” the holographic referee called.

    Without a word, Matt recalled Tangrowth and readied another virtual Poké Ball. “I don’t know what this is… Glaceon, do your best out there!”

    When Matt’s rented Glaceon came out of the sphere, she shook her head and stretched. Greninja and his trainer both stood still, waiting for something to happen.

    “Glaceon, try a Blizzard!”

    The virtual trainer reacted instantly. “Greninja, Water Shuriken!”

    While Glaceon took in air to use in her attack, Greninja shifted back to his original blue coloring and formed a set of four throwing stars made of water in his hand, which he used to cut Glaceon’s body in several places. When he finally got hit by the blast of ice Glaceon countered with, he barely shivered.

    A sudden realization came to Matt’s mind. “The color changes… it’s changing its type! Shifted to Water to block an Ice attack, shifted to Dark and Ice before… alright, try this! Hyper Beam!”

    “Greninja, Rock Slide!”

    Glaceon started to charge energy for her attack, but Greninja was simply too fast. His skin took on a brown hue, and he used his power to create a glowing portal that dropped large rocks onto Glaceon, crushing her. She held on even under the weight of the stones and managed to fire the crimson laser from her mouth, but like the earlier Blizzard, Greninja used his type shifting to shrug it off.

    Matt felt his heart stop as the flaws in his strategy caught up with him. He knew that Hyper Beam often required a Pokémon using it to rest afterward, but that had slipped his mind when he ordered it, meaning Glaceon had no ability to even try escaping from the rock pile. Both he and Glaceon could do nothing but watch as the computer program controlling the opposition played out its next move.

    “Greninja, Water Shuriken!”

    With his skin shifting back to blue once more, Greninja shaped another set of throwing stars – this time a total of five – in his hand. His motions were swift as he threw the quintet of watery weapons Glaceon’s way, and they hit her with such force that they even caused the hill of rocks to collapse around her.

    As the aftermath became visible, Glaceon was lying prone on the floor among the broken stones.

    “Glaceon is unable to battle!”

    Matt scoffed and sent Glaceon back to her virtual Poké Ball without a word. The same feeling he’d had after meeting with Jacob, that of his goal of finding Reshiram seemingly slipping away, was back again. The difference was that this time, he wasn’t feeling hopeless. He’d burned through that earlier. As he curled his face and burned right through the holographic trainer with his gaze, he felt his arms twitching as anger washed over him. He reasoned to himself that if he could overcome Tornadus, a Pokémon he knew was legendary, he could defeat Greninja.

    “That’s it!” he gasped out loud, realizing just what his last Pokémon was. Reflexively, he grabbed the last Poké Ball and threw it, releasing the Tornadus that had been his enemy less than a half hour earlier.

    Matt knew his situation was desperate, but watching Tornadus stretch his muscular arms in preparation for the impending fight gave him a brief sense of hope. It didn’t last long, for when he glanced over to Greninja, he saw the Pokémon adjusting his tongue scarf, equally ready for what was to come.

    “Tornadus, Air Slash! Take it down!”

    “Greninja, Ice Beam!”

    That Greninja would use Ice Beam again was something Matt had anticipated. But as the two Pokémon started to move toward each other, he realized that Greninja was quite clearly moving faster than Tornadus. Without outrunning him, Matt knew that Tornadus would be at Greninja’s mercy.

    The clash played out in the blink of an eye. Tornadus had a wave of wind energy surrounding his tail, but when Greninja slammed him with the blast of ice, he lost his aim and lashed the wave up at the ceiling as he fell to the floor.

    Matt’s thoughts were beginning to jumble, and he was no longer able to focus on the battle. All he knew was the basic type matchup of Fighting overpowering Ice. “Tornadus, try a Focus Blast!” he cried in desperation.

    Tornadus brought his hands together and formed a sphere of energy between them, but well before he could act, Greninja was upon him.

    “Greninja, Ice Beam!”

    The computer program was so confident in its impending victory that it no longer felt the need to change Greninja’s type, instead opting to go in for the finishing move immediately. With his superior speed, Greninja got as close to Tornadus as he dared and shot an Ice Beam right into the Flying-type Pokémon’s face.

    Matt looked away. He didn’t have to have his eyes on the battle to know what was coming next.

    “The house wins! Battle number three concluded!”

    -:-

    In the control room, the mood was one of celebration. Jeunes and Colress were even high-fiving each other.

    “Well that takes care of that!” Colress laughed. “Don’t have to worry about him troubling us on Reshiram now!”

    “I must give you credit, Colress,” Jeunes complimented. “Excellent idea, sending Kalos Pokémon into the battle.”

    “Well, I am a genius after all.” As he stroked his own ego, Colress pushed his visor up again and put his hands in his pockets.

    “You two are celebrating,” Thorton droned, his voice taking the joy out of the room, “but what do we do if he comes back?”

    “He won’t be back here today, rest assured,” Jeunes answered. “He’ll go back with his little harem for the night to lick his wounds. And tomorrow? Don’t make me laugh. Tomorrow we’ll have this whole area locked down. And the day after that, Getriebe, we’ll be evacuating you to the Adenosine Base to continue your work. This facility is going to be shut down. Its purpose has been served.”

    Thorton spun around in his chair, surprised at this news. “I cannot say I’m thrilled with that. This base has been my pet project since the start.”

    “You don’t have to worry. All your work will be transferred to the Adenosine Base so you can continue.”

    -:-

    Meanwhile, after winning enough Game Corner coins between them for Olivia to receive a prize, she, Nekou, Bunny and Monroe had gone to Goldenrod City’s Gym. Unlike the previous two Gyms the group had visited, this one was much more ordinary in appearance. On the outside, it was a simple brick building, while its interior held a battlefield of artificial grass surrounded by a white and pink floor.

    A young woman stood confidently before Olivia and her friends, staring them down from the opposite end of the battlefield. Her pink pigtails shook from behind her head as she walked forward to address her visitors.

    “Welcome to Goldenrod Gym!” she cheerfully greeted. “I’m Whitney, the Gym Leader here!” Whitney hesitated when she realized Monroe was there. “Oh, Monroe, it’s you again. Did you come back for something?”

    “I’m just here to support my friend,” Monroe answered, gesturing to Olivia.

    “Oh? And who might you be?”

    “My name is Olivia!” Olivia’s voice carried such confidence that Nekou and Bunny immediately felt a surge in pride for her. “I’m here to challenge you for the Plain Badge!”

    “I’m liking your spunk, challenger,” Whitney said with a wink. “Alright, how many Badges do you have?”

    “One.”

    “Then this will be a three-on-three Single Battle. Substitutions are allowed on both sides, and the battle is over when one side loses all their Pokémon. Are we all square on that?”

    “I got it, but…” Olivia wrinkled her nose. “…who’s the referee?”

    “Oh, usually, I have my assistants here, but they’re all up at the National Park today.”

    “I’ll referee the battle,” Monroe volunteered.

    Both Olivia and Whitney looked at the boy in surprise, but quickly accepted the idea. Whitney said, “That Monroe’s a real whiz kid, you know? Olivia, you pick good friends.”

    “Is that true?” Olivia asked Monroe as she stepped into her box on the battlefield and he walked to the referee position at mid-field.

    “I…” Suddenly, Monroe was flush with embarrassment. “I… guess I’m okay.”

    “Olivia, you can do it!” Bunny called out, having gone to a nearby spectator area with Nekou. “Win that Badge!”

    “Oh, I intend to,” she responded, taking up one of her Poké Balls.

    “You’ve got some fire in you, Olivia. I like that. Let’s have a fun battle!” Reaching under the end of her red-and-white baseball jersey, Whitney pulled a Poké Ball of her own from the waist of her shorts and threw it. “Go, Porygon!”

    “Lillipup, let’s play!”

    Once they arrived on the battlefield, the two Normal-type Pokémon regarded each other with caution. Porygon, being the more experienced of the pair, simply floated in the air and watched its opponent, while Lillipup began slowly circling it, looking for a weakness to exploit.

    “The first match is going to be Olivia’s Lillipup versus Whitney’s Porygon!” Monroe announced. “Go!”

    “Lillipup, use Tackle!”

    “I thought you’d begin with a Normal-type attack,” Whitney said as she watched Lillipup scamper toward Porygon. “And I’ll go with this! Porygon, Conversion 2!”

    Lillipup leapt into the air and rammed Porygon, throwing his foe back a few feet. However, Porygon quickly recovered and began glowing. Before long, the surface of Porygon’s body had changed to a brown color.

    Whitney saw Olivia’s surprised expression and felt compelled to explain. “Conversion 2 changes the user’s type into one that resists the type of the last attack that hit it. I just knew you would use a Normal-type attack when I saw you begin with Lillipup. After all,” she said with a smile, “I am the Gym Leader who specializes in Normal-type Pokémon.”

    “If you changed Porygon’s type, with that color it must be… Rock,” Olivia correctly deduced. “I just need to make my attacks stronger, then! Lillipup, Work Up!”

    Seeing that Olivia was taking care to have Lillipup raise his offensive ability, Whitney decisively said, “You make yourself stronger in one way, I’ll weaken you in another. Electroweb!”

    Just as Lillipup’s red glow from Work Up was disappearing, Porygon’s beak began to spark with an electrical charge. It fired out a clump of electrified thread that spread into the shape of a web, draping over and shocking Lillipup.

    “Lillipup, hang in there!” Olivia called out as Lillipup struggled out of the web. “That’s right, like that! Don’t be afraid of that Porygon!”

    “I see what Whitney’s doing…” Nekou muttered to Bunny on the sidelines. “Slowing Lillipup down… that’ll make it harder for Olivia to keep a leg up on her.”

    “Do you think Olivia will get through this?”

    “Of ****ing course I do,” Nekou beamed. “She’s tougher than to fall just because of such a trap.”

    With great confidence, Whitney thrust her arm forward and commanded, “Foul Play!”

    “That attack…” Olivia knew of Foul Play; she thought back to her training with Nekou, where she’d seen Nekou’s Zorua use it. Despite not fully realizing what it meant, she knew that when Porygon’s eyes glinted before it darted toward Lillipup, she knew it wasn’t a good sign. “Get out of the way, then use Crunch!”

    Unfortunately for Olivia, she hadn’t realized the secondary effect of Electroweb yet. Lillipup wasn’t fast enough anymore to move himself out of the way, and Porygon tackled him with significant force.

    “Hitting Lillipup with its own attack power…” Nekou mused, but she trailed off without finishing.

    “Whitney sure has her bases covered with Porygon,” Bunny added, effectively completing Nekou’s thought.

    Lillipup pulled himself up slowly. Once he was standing again, he realized his legs were trembling, and the fear that was sinking into his body finally struck his mind. He froze, but then he thought back to Olivia’s encouragement, which gave him a surge of energy. He could literally feel his trainer’s faith in him.

    Abruptly, he lunged at Porygon, giving so little warning that it could not get away from him. He bit down on one of Porygon’s feet, sending a shockwave of pain through the virtual Pokémon’s body. Whitney gasped as her Pokémon lashed around in mid-air and cried out, desperately trying to shake off the opponent that so hurt him.

    “**** yeah! You go for it, Olivia!” Nekou cheered.

    “Porygon, you can’t stand for that!” Whitney screamed, her voice straining in her throat. “Get it off with Electroweb!”

    With anger in his eyes, Porygon looked down at Lillipup – who was still latched on tightly to its foot – and produced another Electroweb. This one, though, was in too close a quarter, and ended up shocking both Lillipup and Porygon itself. After a moment, the electricity caused a small explosion that finally separated the two.

    “I was right in what I thought of you, Olivia! You’re quite skilled. I’ll have to step up my game to stay in competition with you. Porygon, Conversion 2!”

    In response to the Dark-type attack Lillipup had used against it, Porygon shifted the color of its body, this time to a metallic silver.

    “…oh ****.” Nekou groaned.

    “What?”

    “Bunny, that Porygon just turned itself into a ****ing Steel-type. I don’t think Lillipup has any attacks that will significantly hurt it now.” Looking away from Olivia, Nekou noticed a smile play onto Whitney’s lips. “That’s what she was hoping for, a Conversion 2 to the Steel type. I get it now… Steel is one of the most defensive types.”

    Olivia recognized this fact, and took the most immediate action she could think of by calling, “Work Up!”

    Feeling encouraged by how successful Crunch had proved against Porygon, Lillipup boldly growled at it, filling his muscles with further vigor. He punctuated this act with a loud, bone-chilling howl.

    “Sticking with Lillipup…” Whitney briefly looked confused and seemingly stared past Olivia, but swiftly recovered. “I’m not sure if you know what you’re dealing with here, now that Porygon’s a Steel-type. Let me give you a taste. Foul Play!”

    “Let it come to you, then use Crunch!”

    Lillipup braced himself and bravely faced down the oncoming Porygon. Just as his opponent arrived, he opened his mouth and caught the front of Porygon’s body, then attempted to bite down into it.

    Much to his shock, however, Crunch no longer worked. He could not get his teeth into Porygon’s body no matter how hard he tried. Olivia remembered the point about Porygon now being a Steel-type just in time to see it snicker at Lillipup and kick him back toward her.

    “Whitney sure isn’t letting up, is she?”

    Nekou and Bunny turned in surprise to find Matt sitting next to them. They both chuckled nervously as they realized they’d been so enraptured in the battle that they had not seen him arrive.

    “So that’s what surprised Whitney just now…” Bunny reasoned. “How’d your battle go?”

    “Let’s just say I had plenty of time to do other things before coming here,” he answered before turning back to the battle. “This is Olivia’s time now. Give her your attention.”

    “Lillipup, can you go on any more?” Olivia said, her voice quivering with worry.

    Though he stood up again, it was plainly obvious to all present that Lillipup couldn’t take much more. He was covered in scratches and burns, and his entire body was shaking. Olivia felt her eyes twitching, but with memories of her battle in Azalea Town fresh in her mind, she resolved not to cry.

    “Lillipup… just do what you can. It’s not bad if you can’t win. Just do your best.”

    Lillipup turned and gave Olivia a shaky nod. He agreed with her. He knew that while he might have been unable to defeat Porygon on his own, he would be weakening it for the next Pokémon on Olivia’s team.

    Whitney saw the courage she was facing and stared in wide-eyed surprise for a moment, before simply closing her eyes out of respect for her challenger. “Not everyone who comes in this Gym has got the spine you have, Olivia… we’ve only just begun, and yet I feel like I should be honored to be in this battle. But…” Lashing her eyes back open, Whitney threw her hand forward again and shouted, “I won’t lose! Porygon, Icy Wind!”

    “Lillipup, get through that! One step at a time!”

    Porygon was unnerved by Lillipup’s endurance, and it felt several times any desire Whitney had to end the fight. Gathering all of its power, it set upon Lillipup with a powerful gust of freezing air.

    Much to the surprise of both Porygon and its trainer, Lillipup stood fast against the cold, refusing to cede even an inch of ground to his adversary. Not only that, he was actually pushing slowly forward through the storm in direct defiance of all the pride-fueled anger Porygon was putting into it.

    And then a blinding light flashed from the heart of the heart of the attack.

    “Wha…” Whitney was finally truly speechless. She was only able to watch, her mouth open in utter shock.

    “Well, well, well, what do you know,” Nekou said with a smirk, matching the one she saw Olivia gaining. “She got lucky again.”

    “Yes!” Olivia squeaked at the top of her lungs. Even though she couldn’t yet see whatever it was Lillipup was evolving into, she fumbled out her Pokédex anyway.

    “Herdier, the Loyal Dog Pokémon. Type is Normal. Evolved form of Lillipup. This very loyal Pokémon helps trainers, and it also takes care of other Pokémon. It has black, cape-like fur that is very hard and reduces the amount of damage it receives.”

    The light exploded outward, dispelling Porygon’s Icy Wind. In place of Lillipup stood a larger, more outwardly confident canine Pokémon. The burst of cream-colored fur that had coated his face as Lillipup now formed a pair of bushy eyebrows and a makeshift moustache, while the dark-colored fur referred to by the Pokédex draped over his brown stomach and legs. He howled with newfound strength, making Porygon reel back.

    “Keep going, Olivia!” Bunny shouted from the stands. “It’s not over yet!”

    “First, let’s see what I’ve got now…” In a moment of prudence that surprised Matt but not the others, Olivia kept her Pokédex out for a moment. She was thumbing through the pages related to Herdier’s capabilities. “So two of our attacks got a little stronger… let’s show her one! Herdier, give it a taste of your Strength!”

    “Porygon, Icy Wind!!” Whitney’s confidence was beginning to give way to desperation. The battle with Herdier had dragged on far too long for her liking, and she was beginning to get nervous that she didn’t have control of the situation after all.

    Assuming the confidence its trainer had lost, Porygon locked onto Herdier with even more fury in its eyes and let loose with an Icy Wind of increased intensity. Herdier wasn’t shaken by it, though. He simply tensed his body up and then shot straight through the gust like a bullet, catching Porygon completely by surprise. Its Steel-type protection shielded him from significant injury, but Herdier’s impact against its body violently shook it.

    Unfortunately, Herdier’s display of strength also snapped Whitney’s head back into her previous sense with a realization. “That’s your Achilles heel…” she uttered. “Porygon, finish this now with Foul Play!”

    Consumed by violent urges directed at Herdier, Porygon appraised his new strength with a black glint in its eyes, then tackled him before he could prepare a defense.

    Even with his newfound power, Herdier couldn’t stand against Porygon turning his own strength on him while suffering from everything else he’d taken. He collapsed on Olivia’s side of the battlefield, but just before going down, he shot her a proud look. Olivia thought she even saw him smile.

    “Herdier is unable to battle!” Monroe announced. “The winner is Porygon!”

    “That was rough…” Matt intoned, shaking his head.

    As soon as she saw his action, Nekou grabbed Matt by the sides of his face and looked right into his eye. “Don’t do that!” she shrilled, apparently referring to him shaking his head. “She put up a hell of a fight!”

    “You’re right. I have to admit that.” Matt’s genuine reversal was the only reason Nekou released him. “But what now?”

    “She’ll pull through, I know it. Don’t doubt her.”

    “Herdier, return.” There was great peace in Olivia’s voice as she brought Herdier back to his Poké Ball. “You did really well. I’m proud of you.”

    “I am too,” Whitney commented. “You gave me a great fight there. Let me apologize now… Porygon gets a little too into competition sometimes.”

    “Oh, don’t apologize for that, I appreciate the challenge. Now, I’ll try this! Let’s play!”

    Olivia threw another of her Poké Balls, but the Pokémon that emerged was one that Matt never expected – a Mr. Mime. The Psychic-type Pokémon stretched his spindly arms then cheerfully started miming, seemingly ignorant of Porygon’s presence.

    “A Mr. Mime?!” Matt exclaimed. “When did she…?”

    “The Game Corner,” Nekou smugly revealed. “We did so well there that we got enough coins for a prize. That’s what she won.”

    “I see you took advantage of the Goldenrod City tour this Gym sends you on,” Whitney said. “I’m glad to see it… and I’ll be glad to show you what this city’s Pokémon can do! Porygon, Electroweb!”

    Olivia simply grinned and carelessly directed, “Protect!”

    Spreading his arms and gesturing in Porygon’s direction, Mr. Mime created a barrier around himself that dispelled the electrified webbing, rendering it useless. Once he was safe, Mr. Mime dropped the shield.

    “I thought you’d do that,” Olivia said. “You did it to the first Pokémon you saw that you thought would be faster, so I knew you’d do it again. This time is different, though. Mr. Mime, Mimic!”

    Mr. Mime’s body flashed in a golden hue in response to this direction. It was simple, but deceptively so, and Whitney was all too aware of what it meant.

    “Take my own attack away and turn it against me, will you? It won’t be that easy! Porygon, Icy Wind!”

    Porygon realized the trouble it was in just as much as its trainer did. Knowing it likely wouldn’t last much longer, it turned all its remaining strength toward washing a freezing gust over Mr. Mime. He stood well against it, though some frost did develop on his body.

    “Use Electroweb to wrap this up!”

    Having temporarily learned Electroweb through his use of Mimic, Mr. Mime turned it on Porygon, lashing a thread of charged silk from each of the fingertips on one of his hands. The webbing tangled Porygon up on its own, but the electrical shock that the threads delivered finished it off. As the threads disappeared, it collapsed onto the floor.

    “Porygon is unable to continue! The winner is Mr. Mime!”

    “Well then,” Matt quietly said to himself as he crossed his arms, “looks like Mr. Mime was a good prize after all.”

    Whitney recalled Porygon and readied her next Poké Ball before she spoke. “Not bad, not bad… but can you stand against my star? It’s showtime! Go, Miltank!”

    Both Nekou and Monroe regarded the seemingly jolly-looking cow Pokémon with great apprehension when she arrived on the battlefield. Their views were for similar reasons – while Nekou was familiar with the notorious reputation of Whitney’s Miltank as a Pokémon that crushed the hopes of challengers, Monroe had lived it and barely come out on top. Both of them waited nervously to see how Olivia would handle it.

    “Your star, huh? It should make a fun challenge. Mr. Mime, Electroweb!”

    “Hmph… I’ll just go ahead, then. Miltank, Stealth Rock!”

    Miltank got wrapped in the charged threads Mr. Mime threw over her, but she didn’t show much of an outward reaction to the power coursing through them. Even while tangled in the threads, she surrounded herself with bursts of light, which she quickly directed to surround Mr. Mime. The lights planted themselves in the ground and faded to reveal a number of pointed stone pillars.

    “Alright, you did your job, Miltank. Pinch hit!” Olivia was quite surprised to see Whitney take out a Poké Ball and withdraw Miltank. As she threw the next ball, Whitney said, “Kecleon, go!”

    The third and final Pokémon on Whitney’s team turned out to be one from Hoenn, as Olivia and her friends mentally noted. Kecleon voiced a low-pitched squeal and wagged her tongue in Mr. Mime’s direction as a way of announcing her presence.

    “Whitney’s Pokémon sure have a lot of personality…” Olivia thought, tiring of the overwhelming characters she found herself against. Luckily, she was also aware of Kecleon’s capabilities, so she was able to quickly figure out a plan. “Hit it with Electroweb, Mr. Mime!”

    “Kecleon, Incinerate!”

    Kecleon was too slow to act, and ended up draped in the electrical net Mr. Mime cast over her. She spent several seconds being shocked by the threads before finally launching a stream of fire from her mouth. It burned through the Electroweb and flowed over Mr. Mime, leaving small singe marks all over his body.

    Olivia stared at Kecleon and took note of a change she had anticipated – Kecleon’s skin was now yellow. “Color Change… it’s another type change strategy,” she thought. Holding up her own Poké Ball, she said, “Alright, Mr. Mime, take a break.”

    “So she’s switching as well,” Matt observed, leaning forward onto the railing in front of the seats. “Where are we going from here…”

    “Watch and see,” Nekou replied, gesturing toward the battle with her head.

    “The first Pokémon I caught for myself…” Olivia said to the new Poké Ball she held in her hand. “Not for him, for myself… I’ll get this right. Now… let’s play!”

    Olivia put all the strength she had into flinging the Poké Ball. It released a bright ball of light, from which two pincers arose before it dispelled to reveal the Pokémon’s identity.

    “Krabby…” he hissed, using his right pincer to shield his eyes from the bright lights of the Gym.

    Almost immediately, the stones planted in the ground when Miltank used Stealth Rock started to glow, and an energy field they generated gave Krabby a brief shock. He quickly recovered, however.

    “A Krabby?” Matt gasped. “But when…?”

    “That day in Slowpoke Well,” Nekou answered, not even really waiting for a question. “That’s the result. Olivia caught that Krabby in Slowpoke Well.”

    “She hasn’t used it before…” he fretted. “Is she certain this will work?”

    “I’m sure she has a strategy,” Nekou said in great confidence.

    Whitney was sure Olivia had a plan as well, and decided that she had to dispose of Krabby quickly. “Kecleon, be ready. I don’t trust it.”

    “Kec,” Kecleon answered with a nod.

    “Krabby, Mud Shot! Go!”

    With surprising speed, Krabby dug his claws into the ground and then violently pulled them out, throwing a large clump of mud at Kecleon.

    “Solar Beam!”

    When Kecleon was hit by the mound of dirt, she reeled back, a result of Color Change shifting her type to Electric. Her skin turned brown, then her entire body began to glow from her absorbing light.

    “Perfect,” Olivia said, striking a grin very reminiscent of one Nekou would have. “Dig!”

    “No!”

    Krabby jumped up into the air, turned his claws downward and began spinning, allowing him to pierce through the ground. Just after he disappeared, Kecleon fired a wide beam of light from her mouth, but with Krabby nowhere to be seen the attack was useless. Seconds later, Krabby burst out of the ground beneath Kecleon and struck her in the chin with his claw.

    “Good job, Krabby!” Olivia called out. “Keep it up!”

    “Come on, Whitney, focus…” the Gym Leader said to herself. “It’s a Water-type, so… Solar Beam!”

    “This is what I was waiting for! Bubble Beam!” Olivia immediately countered.

    There was barely time for Kecleon to start absorbing light again before she was harshly buffeted by the bubbles Krabby launched from his claws. As she had become a Ground-type through Color Change’s reaction to Mud Shot and Dig, she was especially weak to the Water-type attack. Every bubble left a noticeable bruise on her skin, and by the time the stream finally ended, she fell forward to the ground in defeat.

    “Kecleon is unable to continue! The winner is Krabby!”

    “Yes!” cheered the young trainer, basking in the admiration from her friends. “Good work, Krabby! I knew you’d go far!”

    “She’s really doing well,” Bunny said. “Was she this good in Azalea Town?”

    “No…” Matt answered gloomily, “but she’s really improved over the last few days. She’s grown up quite a bit.”

    After recalling Kecleon, Whitney threw Miltank’s Poké Ball to release her into battle again. She then put her hands on her hips and said, “You’re doing very well here so far, Olivia, but now you’re going up against my star player. Are you going to hit one out of the park, or strike out? Show me right now!”

    “Oh, I will! You ready, Krabby? Dig!”

    “Alright, here we go! Miltank, Heart Stamp!”

    As he prepared to burrow into the ground again, Miltank rushed Krabby and hit him with a crushing punch, her fist glowing with red light. Though he hissed loudly due to the pain radiating down through his body, he still managed to get underground. All that was left when Miltank pulled back was a heart-shaped imprint on the battlefield.

    Not showing any sign of doubt, Whitney announced, “Stomp!”

    Krabby burst from the ground and slashed Miltank across the leg. However, she was ready with her other leg raised, and forcefully brought her foot down on Krabby’s head. While Miltank was left nursing a gash on her leg, Krabby was already badly injured and trembling violently.

    “Okay, fine, what about this?!” Olivia snapped. “Bubble Beam!”

    “Heart Stamp!”

    Before Olivia realized it, Miltank was upon Krabby once more. She put even more strength into her Heart Stamp than the first time, smashing him with everything she had. He managed to still stay conscious, however, and he showered her with a blast of bubbles from his claws. They all left small marks on Miltank’s body, but when the injury on her leg was hit, she stumbled back and cringed.

    “Huh…” Olivia muttered when she noticed Miltank’s reaction. “Alright, go for its leg with Vice Grip!”

    “I won’t let you!” A vicious sound came through in the way Whitney snarled, reflecting a sudden change in her mood. From her perspective, Nekou mentally attributed it to Olivia finding a weakness she could exploit, thus putting Whitney at a disadvantage. “Miltank, Rollout, now!”

    Krabby rushing in with the intent to grab Miltank’s leg actually gave the Normal-type Pokémon a huge opening. She curled up into a ball and rolled forward, mowing over her foe. In her wake, Krabby was left unconscious and splayed out on the ground.

    “Krabby is unable to continue! The winner is Miltank!”

    “Rough…” Bunny mumbled.

    Having had first-hand experience with Miltank’s power earlier, Monroe looked on in worry while Olivia recalled and consoled Krabby. Though he was rooting for her, he had a terrible expectation that she wouldn’t be able to win.

    “Mr. Mime, let’s play!”

    As soon as Mr. Mime hit the battlefield, the stone pillars activated their energy field again and shocked him. He stumbled and flailed his arms, but quickly shook it off.

    “So this is it, then. Olivia, give it your best!” Smiling broadly, Whitney called out, “Rollout!”

    Turning back to Olivia’s direction, Miltank gathered speed and rolled toward Mr. Mime.

    “Electroweb!” Olivia swiftly ordered.

    Mr. Mime bravely faced the oncoming Miltank and threw an Electroweb over her. She still took the shock it brought, but her speed allowed her to break through it fairly quickly on her way to colliding with her opponent. Olivia could only gasp and watch as her Pokémon was smashed backward several feet.

    “I can’t take another one like that,” Olivia said to herself. She saw that Miltank was coming back around and even gathering even more momentum, a sight that was giving her increasing concern. Suddenly, she remembered something she’d learned once, and calmed considerably. “Use Protect!”

    Miltank once again had Mr. Mime in her sights, but she ended up only hitting the shield Mr. Mime put up around himself. This completely broke her pace, and she was left to fall back to her trainer with her Rollout ruined.

    “It’s alright, Miltank,” Whitney said. “Let’s see what happens next.”

    The sparkle in her eyes made clear that Olivia was eager to show her what would come. “Magical Leaf!”

    “You’re not putting me away this easily!” Whitney roared. “Stomp!”

    Mr. Mime hung back, allowing Miltank to come to him. For her entire approach, he showered her with sharp, glowing leaves, cutting her body up in a number of places. Some of the leaves even cut into the gash on her leg, making it even more painful for her. She did her best to endure it and managed to reach Mr. Mime, though she could only stomp on his foot.

    “Alright, throw it into the air with Confusion!”

    The two Pokémon being so close to each other allowed Mr. Mime to look right into Miltank’s eyes. She struggled to get away when she saw them filling with blue light, but it was already too late, as she was in the grip of his psychic power. He lifted her several feet off the ground, then used his mind to throw her diagonally upward.

    “Miltank, use this to build up momentum for Rollout!”

    “I’m not done, Whitney!” Olivia said, her words accompanied by a toothy grin. “Pull it down with Electroweb, Mr. Mime!”

    Mr. Mime lashed Electroweb threads around Miltank like whips. Even though she rolled up into a ball in preparation to use Rollout again, she still got shocked and slammed into the ground.

    “She’s improvising… I’m impressed,” Matt admired. “That was practically a Contest move in terms of being elaborate.”

    “Do it, Miltank!” Whitney’s voice was getting increasingly raspy as her emotions burned through into her voice more and more. “Rollout!”

    “Protect!”

    Whitney’s last-ditch attempt at a comeback with Rollout was useless, as Miltank simply bounced off of Mr. Mime’s shield again. Her slow wobbling backward in the aftermath of her failed attack gave Olivia the chance she had been waiting for, and with wide eyes and a great smile, she seized it.

    “Use Magical Leaf! Direct it all to the cut on Miltank’s leg!”

    Sharp pain shot through Miltank’s body with each one of Mr. Mime’s leaves that hit her wounded leg. It quickly clouded her mind and weakened her body, eventually bringing her to her knees.

    Whitney was speechless. With Miltank immobilized, she couldn’t order any attack – Miltank simply did not know any that it could use under the circumstances. She was completely stuck, and Whitney realized that her Pokémon was a sitting duck for Mr. Mime’s finishing move.

    “Alright, this is over!” Olivia pointed forward at Miltank and boomed, “End this with Confusion!”

    Once more, Mr. Mime used his psychic power to surround Miltank in blue light and lift her. This time, he lifted her nearly all the way to the roof of the Gym, then smashed her down at incredible speed.

    With the kind of force Mr. Mime had put into his assault, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Miltank briefly stood back up after being slammed to the ground, but her bruised, battered body could simply take no more and gave out on her.

    “M-Miltank is… unable to continue!” Monroe declared, dumbfounded by what he had seen. “Mr. Mime is the winner, and the victor is Olivia!”

    Within seconds of Olivia’s victory, Nekou had jumped the railing and run to embrace her. Matt, Bunny and Monroe followed, but at a slower pace.

    “I’m so ****ing proud of you, Olivia!” Nekou was actually almost crying while tightly hugging Olivia. “That was all you, and it was amazing!”

    “Aw, thanks, Nekou… it felt so good to just put all my own skill into wanting to win...”

    “That’s right, your win is your achievement,” Whitney said, approaching the group. “There used to be a time when I would have cried after losing, but not now. I’ve learned that my job as Gym Leader is to teach young trainers like you to do exactly what you just did. And you know, I’m proud of you too. It was great fun battling you. Here you go, you’ve earned this… the Plain Badge.”

    Matt, Nekou, Bunny and Monroe looked on as Whitney handed the Plain Badge to Olivia. Once she had it, she looked at it in her hand, almost tearing up as her emotions overwhelmed her.

    She thought of all the years she had dreamt of moments like this in a quest to get her father back, imagining that winning Badges would increase his favor of her. She thought of her mental breakdown in Azalea Town, and finally, she thought of everything she’d gone through to get to this point, where she’d won a Badge entirely for herself on her own strength.

    For the first time on her journey, she felt truly proud of something she’d achieved, and after looking at how proud Nekou and the others were of her, she fully felt like she belonged there with her friends.

    -:-

    That evening, as the sun was beginning to set, Jessie and James stood on the roof of a building across the street from the Battle Factory. They were fully dressed in their trenchcoats, accessorized with dark sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

    “So there’s where they took him,” Jessie said, peering through her high-tech binoculars at the facility. “The Battle Factory… to think Polaris even controls a Frontier Society facility.

    “We’ll make good on our mistake,” James resolved. “Meowth, we’ll get you back, and we’ll get revenge on Polaris for what they did…

    -:-

    At the same time, Looker and Silver were sitting in a small café, drinking coffee as they discussed what would come next.

    “Silver… I am wanting you to return to the company of Matt Chiaki and the people he calls friend.”

    “Why?” Silver growled, irritated. “I don’t want to put up with her any more than I have to.”

    “That’s being just the exact thing. I am having to escort the prisoners Jacob Alexison and Grings Kodai back to the region of Kanto tomorrow, no matter what. Therefore, the job falls to your shoulders to observe their actions. I am having a feeling that is bad that something of great importance will soon be taking place within this city.”

    “Fine, I guess I’ll seek them out. I’m not making any promises, though.”

    “Good. Have remembrance – if you wish to obtain the revenge you are seeking on the Team Rocket and the man who is your father, having cooperation with me is of paramount importance.”

    -:-

    Late that night, long after most of Goldenrod City had gone to sleep, Giovanni and the other members of Team Rocket were still wide awake in their hideout. Everyone was present for the meeting, including Jessie, James, Proton, Rosalie, Trevor, Ada and Pierce.

    “Where is she?!” Giovanni fumed. When he slammed his hand on the armrest of his chair, his Persian cringed next to him. “She said she’d be here!”

    Ariana, after swallowing a gulp of coffee to wash down her medication, replied, “I’m sure she’ll be here soon. After all these years, Giovanni, you should have more faith in her.”

    “Fine. But I don’t like how she pushes the line all the time. Tomorrow is going to be an important day… war might break out between us and Polaris, and I don’t want to even entertain the chance of a rude surprise.”

    “I-I… I’m sure you have nothing to worry about, b-boss…” Ada whimpered. “I have faith in Lady N-Ne…”

    Suddenly, a voice could be heard outside the door. Strangely, it was singing to itself.

    “I’ve seen you on the beach and I’ve seen you on TV, two of a billion stars, it means so much to me…”

    “Oh boy,” Trevor chuckled, adjusting the collar of the floral shirt that burst from beneath his uniform. “She sounds like she’s really going today.”

    The door burst open, and the person in question walked in with great, confident strides. She slammed it shut with her foot, as her hands were busy fumbling with the music player she’d been using.

    “Lady Nekou!” Ada exclaimed.

    “It’s good to finally see you again too, Ada,” Nekou warmly said as her teammate jumped into her arms. As a further show of affection, Nekou kissed her on the lips before they separated.

    “The boss isn’t happy with how late you are,” Pierce sternly informed her.

    “Well I’m here now.” Turning to Giovanni, Nekou raised her arm and said, “Admin Nekou Langley Lalume reporting! Hail Giovanni!”

    “Hmph, fine…” Giovanni grumbled. “Let’s get on with it.”

    Nekou reached into her uniform and took out a memory card emblazoned with the Team Rocket logo, which she then handed to Ada. Ada in turn sat down at the bank of computers and inserted the card, causing data to fill the screens.

    “Get around here, people!” Rosalie ordered. “This is the real thing!”

    Once all the assembled Team Rocket members were gathered around the computers, Nekou began her explanation.

    “This is everything I gathered during my mission,” she stated. First, a picture of Matt and relevant data to him appeared on the computers. “Matt Chiaki, grandson of archeologist Sutter Chiaki and guardian of Olivia Mistbloom. And way, way more involved in all that’s going on than he even knows.”

    “What does that mean?” James asked.

    “Well look who he’s the son of.” On Nekou’s cue, two more photos appeared. One was an old man with gray hair and red spectacles, while the other was a woman with blonde, helmet-shaped hair. “Charon and Fumika Chiaki, his parents. Charon Chiaki was better known as Pluto, one of the Commanders of Team Galactic, but passed away of old age three years ago. Fumika Chiaki, on the other hand… she was also a Team Galactic Commander under the name Mercury…”

    “Mercury?!” Jessie cut in. “That’s the woman who stole Meowth! It was her!”

    “You said someone from Polaris did it,” Proton said. “Are you really suggesting…”

    “It could be true,” Nekou replied to the incomplete question. “We know that Polaris had moles inside Team Galactic to bring them down from within. And how do we know that? This one.” Joining the pictures on the screen was one of Cassy. “Cassy Natsuka. See, nothing looks wrong with her on the surface, and at first, she seems like just the typical possessive girlfriend. She met Matt Chiaki while they were both students at the Rustboro School, fell head over heels in love with him almost immediately. From the sound of it, she pretty much owned him for years. You know, typical possessive girlfriend **** like controlling his schedule and not letting others get too close to him. Thing is, she was also a Team Galactic member at the same time as Mercury… and I just found out that she is Séduire, one of Polaris’s Chromosomes. Her motive is to force Matt Chiaki to love her again, even though he likely never truly loved her at all.”

    “You’re saying everything is connected through this guy you’ve been watching?” Even Ariana was becoming surprised at the way things were developing.

    “You don’t even know all of it yet, Maman, you guys. Jessie, James, you might want to pay attention to this part. This…” A picture of the Battle Factory replaced all the others. “…is the Battle Factory, which is also Polaris’s Purine Base. I learned through audio and visual spying that its Frontier Brain, Thorton, is the Chromosome named Getriebe. And you know what? He was also in the Rustboro School at the same time as Matt and Cassy.”

    “This is looking more and more like a bigger conspiracy than we ever expected,” Trevor mused.

    “How do we even know we can trust this Matt Chiaki guy?” wondered Jessie.

    “He’s the most harmless person I’ve ever seen. He could not be evil if he even tried. The thing is, he used to have an evil side that was yet another Team Galactic member. That side of him called itself Janus, and he was a scientist who worked in Team Galactic’s labs. In fact, it’s Janus’s fault that the Galactic Bomb exists. As far as I can tell, the last time Matt Chiaki relapsed into the Janus personality was five years ago during Team Galactic’s last stand. He was using a device to drain Dialga’s power, but it was shut down, resulting in his defeat. The red liquid that the power manifested as was accidentally spilled onto Olivia Mistbloom, but she seems to be healthy by all accounts despite this. I also became aware that during the extensive surgeries he had after his body was destroyed, he had Janus removed from his mind in a controversial, first-of-its-kind procedure.”

    “So that’s what we’re dealing with…” Rosalie lowly said.

    “Assemble,” Giovanni suddenly announced.

    Without any dissent, the members of Team Rocket present lined up next to each other. Nekou stood with Ada and Trevor, whose uniforms were similar to hers, only that hers was mostly unbuttoned and accompanied by a short skirt, customizations made to suit her tastes.

    “My followers, you must understand the severity of the threat Team Rocket currently faces. I ask of you, what is the primary goal of Team Rocket?”

    “To capture the rarest and most powerful Pokémon!” Jessie instantly responded, as if it was programmed into her.

    “We’ll assemble an army of those Pokémon and conquer the world!” James added.

    “Correct. Polaris, however, aims to change our world in such a fundamental way that it is a threat to not only Team Rocket’s goal, but our very survival. Make no mistake, this is a war for our survival. We do not know what Polaris’s true goal is, but if they trigger a revolution, we will not be able to live in that world anymore. It’s with those stakes in mind that I give you your respective missions for tomorrow. Jessie, James, Proton, you are to attack Polaris’s speech and disrupt it, while recapturing Meowth as well. Pierce, you search for where Polaris is keeping the Meteonite so we can figure out how to capture it.”

    “What should I do?” Nekou questioned.

    “Continue on your observation of Matt Chiaki. Keep him from interfering in our plans.”

    Nekou’s eyes brightened at the news. “I’ll be glad to.”

    “Boy, you sure seem happy,” Rosalie teased. “What is it? Have you fallen for him? Done what you do to get intelligence from your targets?”

    “Hahaha, **** no. Not yet anyway.” Nekou licked her lips and added, “Give it time. I’ll get him to want it.”




    END of CHAPTER 13

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  18. #143
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    The first couple parts with Matt and the rest of the group is a great read. Yay for Bunny back and having a Gogoat. Like how you incorporate the Pokedex being updated for the Kalos Pokemon (although it would be nice if Olivia tried out her pokedex on Gogoat).

    “Hello, Matt,” he calmly said.

    “And hello to you, Jacob…” The bitterness in Matt’s voice was obvious.

    “To what do I owe this pleasure? It’s quite nice to have you come calling with your rather lovely new friends.”
    I feel he should say “Hello, Matt. Hello Bunny” because he knew Bunny quite a while too. With Jacob just talking to Matt, it’s as if he’s referring to Bunny as a new friend. I know a few sentences later you have her stone-faced and all, but can’t help but feel wanting Jacob to acknowledge Bunny a bit more.

    The rest of the group’s encounter with Jacob sure is something. The tension between him and Nekou I thought was nicely done and it was nice you’re able to incorporate some events from the XY games along with the anime version of Diamond/Pearl lore.

    Finansielle disappeared from the screen. Geminus then walked over to the bed, sat down and took up Cassy’s hand.

    “Don’t you worry. I’ll make everything you wish for come true.”
    I don’t like the sound of that… :x

    I’ll admit I didn’t expect Lysandre here. With the addition of him in this story, wonder what role he’ll play.

    And we meet Thorton again. Interesting he’s interacting with Colress and Jeunes (and Thorton being one of the Polaris chromosomes). Gonna agree with Colress over throwing Matt a legendary on the second battle, haha.

    Nekou and Olivia took the stage, each of them occupying one of the two pairs of directional arrows under their feet. After looking to Olivia to confirm that she was ready, Nekou deposited several coins into the game machine, bringing it fully to life. The Pokémon adorning the machine, Meloetta, cried out cheerfully, followed by the words ‘Both of you, dance like you want to win!’ displaying on the video monitor before its two players.
    Gotta love the Pokemonized version of Dance Dance Revolution. XD

    Nice use of Greninja’s Hidden Ability there. What a tricky way to catch Matt off guard. Ouch over him losing to that Pokemon, even with a legendary. D:

    And then a blinding light flashed from the heart of the heart of the attack.
    Did you mean “from the heart of the attack?”

    Quite a few developments during Olivia’s battle with Whitney there. Lilipup evolving, Krabby and Mr. Mime, Kelecon’s ability---good stuff, good stuff. The last couple paragraphs wrapped up pretty well what Olivia wanted to accomplish and shifting her goals after some rough spots she faced.

    Usually two big battles in one chapter can get overwhelming to me, but since Matt’s battle against Greninja is fairly short I didn’t mind it this chapter.

    Had an idea Nekou is involved with Team Rocket when she wanted her Pokemon to spy at the Battle Factory.

        Spoiler:- spoilers perhaps:


    Overall another enjoyable chapter and quite a few things happened. Really like the few Kalo Easter eggs you scattered around this chapter. Looking forward to the next one!


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  19. #144
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    ‘Both of you, dance like you want to win!’
    I see what you did there...amusing little Easter egg, especially considering who Nekou reminded me of during her Union Cave rampage.

    This certainly was a whirlwind of different actions, moments, developments and character showcasings. So much went on, I followed it coherently and never once felt overwhelmed by all that went. I still have to commend you on your confidence in character juggling and focus; carrying that many aspects of a story and keeping it all together is very hard to pull off.

    On the flip side, I have to be a bit blunt here, I think Professor Juniper's role of appearing just to update Olivia's PokeDex to be pretty unneeded since that's all she appeared for and I feel like her PokeDex could have easily been updated in an easier way without Juniper's presence, whether it be through Monroe being told to do so on his way to Goldenrod or through the phone. Plus, while I had no problem at all understanding everything character wise you work with a lot of different characters and some readers might not be able to handle or keep track of each one. So that is something to be wary of in the grand scheme of things.

    Bunny making her return to the group with the addition of a Gogoat reminded me of an aspect I liked about the chapter, the Kalosian Easter eggs. I feel like you're placing them well in your story without overplaying it to a point where the reader feels it to be redundant and obvious. I partially say this because I, myself, have thought about the idea for a future story and how the implanting of Kalos elements would be handled. I feel like a good number of fanfiction writers aren't subtle about these and just feel the need to throw aspects of a new Gen everywhere in their story to the point where it feels like too much but your inclusion of it was handled so well I couldn't have done a better job myself at all.

    The sucker punches with Nekou being allied with Team Rocket, Thorton being in-line with Polaris, Matt's past, the small part about Olivia(I'm sure this had something to do with Olivia's behavior and pain last chapter.) had a good amount of shock factor behind them. As did the parts about AZ, the Tenganists, Jacob, Looker/Silver and Lysandre's debut in this story. It's a lot on your plate to handle but you're making it all work well. The immense amounts of interconnection these events have with each other and the handling of the factions in it all has a lot of impact and you show absolute control of everything well.

    To the battles, I enjoyed both battles a lot, I liked how unnerved Colress and Thorton were getting over Matt's success. I had a feeling either Olivia's or Matt's challenge would be foregone a bit. That Greninja being such a monstrosity in its own right and too much for Matt to handle certainly was entertaining to read, your use of Protean and the variation of Greninja's moves showed you clearly have done your research well. As for Olivia's situation, the battle against Whitney was written great. I was half-expecting Olivia's new debut to be a Kalos Pokemon given it was veiled a good amount up until this point and I did think the same of Whitney too, given she went with her Miltank as her second I half-expected her to use a Bunnelby or something as her third to throw Olivia off her game a bit.

    But I'm glad you ultimately didn't since there were already a good amount of Kalos in this chapter and it was more surprising that they weren't Kalos Pokemon. Now that I remember, Mr.Mime is a Fairy/Psychic Pokemon. I wonder if that'll come up at any point and/or play a role in anything. Here I thought Olivia's words about leaving with a pocket full of coins was valueless in the end of her and Nekou's scene. Needless to say the two Pokemon you chose for her surprised me.

    During the battle I was engrossed so much in everything, description was fantastic as always and I liked how Lillipup's evolution wasn't the end-all be-all and he still left in defeat. I can only say how much I enjoyed your usage of Olivia, I feel like her character has genuinely grown up and changed a lot from the beginning. This battle showcased it well and there's definitely a clear progression from what was seen in Violet, Azalea and now Goldenrod in who she is as a person. I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed the battle but I'll just say that you did everything well, even the strategy was something I haven't seen a fanfiction writer utilize. I wonder if the similarity of Color Change and Protean being important factors in both battles of the chapter were your intention, just a small possible throwback I'm assuming.

    The last minute scene with Team Rocket, this is all looking to be something explosive next chapter, looking forward to it.
    Last edited by Doryuzu; 22nd December 2013 at 11:14 PM.

  20. #145

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    This was a long chapter but definitely worth it! There was a lot I loved about this chapter so I'll just dive right in to this review.

    Goldenrod City took on a completely different appearance when under the sun’s warm glow.

    At night, it was a neon-laced metropolis, glowing so brightly that it could be seen from space. While the central part of the city retained its glory during the day, sunlight showed the uncomfortable truth of the slums surrounding it much more than the night did.
    This is a fantastic description of Goldenrod City that shows both the good and bad of the city, and I think it's an interesting way to start the chapter.

    “Olivia…” Matt said, becoming serious. “Are you feeling okay?”

    “I got a good sleep and I feel completely better. Why would you think anything else?”

    “Well…” Matt looked up at Nekou, who was looking back at him. Both of them had great concern in their eyes, but what he got from her was feeling that he shouldn’t push the subject. “Yeah, I guess the beds were comfortable,” he said, resigning himself to not pursuing his worries.
    It's really good how you show Matt and Nekou's continued concern for Olivia's well-being, as well as his respect for her.

    “You wouldn’t know about drinking in small spaces.” Much to Matt’s surprise, Nekou was actually taking his question, which was intended as a tease, seriously. “Get drunk in small areas and things can get weird. Believe me when I say that you want space if you’re getting ****ing bombed.”
    She would know...


    Bunny's re-introduction felt natural, and I'll agree it's a great way to bring Kalos Pokemon into your story that feels really natural. I also enjoy Juniper's enthusiasm for her job and helping Olivia with her Pokedex- the scene felt really natural to me, as did Bunny's flashback to the Ruins of Alph incident. I also really liked the mention of Harmonia loyalists in the old man's dialogue.

    Olivia? Is that you?”

    When the newly-reformed group of four turned in the direction of the voice, they saw a familiar boy dressed in a blue-and-black school uniform.

    “A uniform from Earl’s Pokémon Academy…” Matt said in surprise. “…Monroe? Dominic’s son?”

    “…you… actually remember me?” the brown-haired young man meekly said as he approached the group. “I’m honored…”

    “What are you doing in Goldenrod City?” Olivia asked.

    “I just got a Plain Badge from the Gym, actually.” Furthering his point, Monroe extended his hand, showing them his badge, a yellow diamond outlined in silver.
    Monroe's return is adorable. I really love how he helps Olivia out with navigating Goldenrod City and it really shows how cool of a guy he is. He clearly wants Olivia to do well.

    Matt shook his head at Bunny and smiled. “I don’t need it. Honestly, I think Olivia would appreciate it more, but I’ll leave it up to her.”

    Matt, Bunny and Nekou all looked down to Olivia in anticipation of her decision. They didn’t have to wait long, as she quickly said, “Sure, I’m up for it. I have to get my second badge as soon as possible.”

    “Second…? Huh, what do you know.” Monroe was mumbling to himself, so the others didn’t take notice of him until he directly addressed them. “I… I hope I’m not being a burden, but may I come with you? I don’t have anything to do for a while…”

    “Sure, I don’t see why n…”

    “Just as long as you can keep up,” Olivia teased, cutting Matt off in the process. “I won’t be held back.”

    “Good to see you’re back to your old self,” Matt thought to himself.

    This really made me smile. It's nice to see Matt relieved by Olivia's behavior.


    “We’ve been waiting for you,” Silver growled. “Any longer and I would have come in there looking for you myself.”

    “Well in that case it’s pretty lucky you didn’t have to, right?” Nekou sniped back at him. “What now?”
    As Matt, Olivia, Bunny and Monroe walked off, they were too caught up in talking amongst themselves to notice that Nekou had stayed back. She quietly opened two of her Poké Balls, releasing her Murkrow and Duskull, then took a small camera device from inside her uniform and attached it to her Murkrow’s neck.

    “Edgar, you know what to do,” she said to her Duskull. “Use your powers to search through the city for our target. Lenore, you use that camera to record wherever it is. I’ll receive the video as soon as you get it, and then I want you two to meet me at Goldenrod Gym. Got it?”
    This is such a cute and clever use of the two.

    The first Purine Base scene was great. Actually, I'll take this moment to comment on all of the scenes set in Purine Base, as well as the scene between Geminus and Finansielle. First, I love how you write the Purine crew interacting- Thorton making sure Matt can't win to reach him is brilliant thinking, the constant banter between him, Jeunes, and Colress reminds me of a bunch of best friends playing video games together, and the high-five near the end really was the cherry on top for these scenes. The Geminus and Finansielle scene is great because it shows that Geminus apparently cares enough about Cassy to step in and say some words in her defense to get her forgiveness from Finansielle, as well as Finansielle providing background information on Ghetsis' personality.

    Back on where I left off following that... the discussion between Matt and Jacob was amazing. Jacob is a truly chilling character, and I think his interactions with Matt had great chemistry. Jacob's characterization is great.


    “I’ve got a few questions for you too, old man.”

    Jacob’s expression brightened at the chance to talk to her. “Well, I have to consider this quite a gift. I’ve been in prison for a long time now, after all. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

    “You’re lucky I need you. And you’re even more ****ing lucky you’re on the other side of that glass, because don’t you think for a second I’d hesitate to crack you one for that. I need to know more about what’s in this book.”
    Nekou demonstrates the correct method of dealing with creepers.

    Saeko Oryo's story was chilling and the way Jacob reacted to it made sense once he'd told it. I can't imagine what it must have been like to witness that event. The way you tied in AZ's backstory was also really impressive and I feel like it was really natural and made good use of XY's plot. The amount of worldbuilding you put into the rules of the Tenganists was also really impressive. I also really was impressed by Jacob taking pride in his storytelling abilities- it seems like even though he had (or believed he had) a legitimate reason for warning them, he also enjoyed being able to totally hold their attention.

    The glass went opaque again when Looker pressed the button on his remote, and Matt’s group could hear several crashes against the glass, presumably from Looker restraining Jacob.
    I have to wonder if Jacob tried to escape at that point.

    “What the fu…” Once Nekou had turned around and realized who was addressing her, her angry expression softened. “Sorry, Olivia, I was distracted. What’s going on?”
    This made me smile.


    Matt and Bunny had been watching the entire exchange between Olivia and Nekou, and by the time the two of them and Monroe finally joined with them, they were visibly frustrated.

    “Ready yet?” Matt sighed.

    Nekou gently draped her arms over his shoulders, licked her lips and stared into his eye as she breathily replied, “I don’t know… are we?”

    “Okay, now you’re messing with me,” he said, pulling away. “I’ll take it as a yes. Let’s go.”

    “Maybe not, you don’t know…” she thought to herself with a wry grin as the group finally started on its way.
    Haha, nice, Nekou.

    As it turned out, Bunny would soon get her answer. Lysandre had seen the group pointing at him, and he slowly and deliberately approached them himself. Matt quickly understood why Olivia said she was disturbed by him; he was easily taller than the six-foot-plus Matt, and his eyes burned with an unsettling intensity.

    “I see you recognize me,” Lysandre said, his deep voice shaking the bones of his audience. “Therefore, we will dispense with formalities. Who are you?”

    “Matt Chiaki, sir.” Matt couldn’t help but show Lysandre a degree of respect he didn’t usually show. “And this is Nekou, and Bunny, and Olivia and Monroe.”

    “Matt Chiaki…” Shutting his eyes, Lysandre continued speaking, “I know of you as well. Even as far off as the Kalos region, your efforts in creating a renewable energy source are recognized. I commend you for your efforts to improve this world.”
    Oh wow, here's something I never saw coming. Nice, first we see AZ and now we get Lysandre. Great way to work the new games into your story and on such short notice too.

    “I think Polaris is a ****ing scam and you’d have to be dumb as **** to fall for it,” Nekou immediately chimed in, causing her companions to visibly panic.
    Nekou's bluntness here is great.

    Once Matt had scanned the Frontier Pass using a small panel in front of the hologram projector, it recited, “Welcome, challenger. Today in the Battle Factory, you will face a series of three-on-three Single Battles. However, you will not be permitted to use your own Pokémon. Instead, you must select virtual rental Pokémon from our stock, and your opponents will also be using rental Pokémon. After each victory, you will get a clue toward your next opponent and the opportunity to trade a Pokémon for one of the previous opponent’s Pokémon. If you win three battles, your fourth and final will be against me. Good luck.”
    The holograms system is actually really neat and I like the thought you put into it. It's a different way than I pictured it. I also loved, as mentioned before, watching the Purine Base keep throwing out Pokemon to trip Matt up- it's great thinking really- and using Meowth's speech ability to their advantage was also clever.

    Nekou and Olivia took the stage, each of them occupying one of the two pairs of directional arrows under their feet. After looking to Olivia to confirm that she was ready, Nekou deposited several coins into the game machine, bringing it fully to life. The Pokémon adorning the machine, Meloetta, cried out cheerfully, followed by the words ‘Both of you, dance like you want to win!’ displaying on the video monitor before its two players.
    Heehee, Pokemon Dance Dance Revolution. Also nice Eva reference.

    Matt's battle against Greninja was well-paced, and I have to admit I was surprised when he lost- I really thought Tornadus would have been able to pull it off. Again, great job working in Kalos Pokemon.

    “I’m liking your spunk, challenger,” Whitney said with a wink. “Alright, how many Badges do you have?”
    Whitney's speech style is really cute, and fits her.

    I really enjoyed seeing Olivia battle in this Gym battle. Her reasoning she uses during battles- like the one with Porygon- really shows how she's growing as a trainer. Her enthusiasm also made this battle really great.


    Nekou and Bunny turned in surprise to find Matt sitting next to them. They both chuckled nervously as they realized they’d been so enraptured in the battle that they had not seen him arrive.

    “So that’s what surprised Whitney just now…” Bunny reasoned. “How’d your battle go?”

    “Let’s just say I had plenty of time to do other things before coming here,” he answered before turning back to the battle. “This is Olivia’s time now. Give her your attention.”
    Heh, I love the way Matt answered Bunny.

    And then a blinding light flashed from the heart of the heart of the attack.

    “Wha…” Whitney was finally truly speechless. She was only able to watch, her mouth open in utter shock.

    “Well, well, well, what do you know,” Nekou said with a smirk, matching the one she saw Olivia gaining. “She got lucky again.”

    “Yes!” Olivia squeaked at the top of her lungs. Even though she couldn’t yet see whatever it was Lillipup was evolving into, she fumbled out her Pokédex anyway.

    “Herdier, the Loyal Dog Pokémon. Type is Normal. Evolved form of Lillipup. This very loyal Pokémon helps trainers, and it also takes care of other Pokémon. It has black, cape-like fur that is very hard and reduces the amount of damage it receives.”

    The light exploded outward, dispelling Porygon’s Icy Wind. In place of Lillipup stood a larger, more outwardly confident canine Pokémon. The burst of cream-colored fur that had coated his face as Lillipup now formed a pair of bushy eyebrows and a makeshift moustache, while the dark-colored fur referred to by the Pokédex draped over his brown stomach and legs. He howled with newfound strength, making Porygon reel back.
    I was really surprised by Lillipup's evolution. I'm so happy for Olivia.

    I also really love just how well you captured the utter frustration of battling Miltank. That thing is tough and I know how Olivia must have felt trying to deal with all the Stomps.

    Olivia's growth really showed in the battle, in how composed she was and how proud she was of herself afterward, and I was really pleased by the whole thing.

    That evening, as the sun was beginning to set, Jessie and James stood on the roof of a building across the street from the Battle Factory. They were fully dressed in their trenchcoats, accessorized with dark sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.

    “So there’s where they took him,” Jessie said, peering through her high-tech binoculars at the facility. “The Battle Factory… to think Polaris even controls a Frontier Society facility.

    “We’ll make good on our mistake,” James resolved. “Meowth, we’ll get you back, and we’ll get revenge on Polaris for what they did…
    So cool.


    At the same time, Looker and Silver were sitting in a small café, drinking coffee as they discussed what would come next.

    “Silver… I am wanting you to return to the company of Matt Chiaki and the people he calls friend.”

    “Why?” Silver growled, irritated. “I don’t want to put up with her any more than I have to.”

    “That’s being just the exact thing. I am having to escort the prisoners Jacob Alexison and Grings Kodai back to the region of Kanto tomorrow, no matter what. Therefore, the job falls to your shoulders to observe their actions. I am having a feeling that is bad that something of great importance will soon be taking place within this city.”

    “Fine, I guess I’ll seek them out. I’m not making any promises, though.”

    “Good. Have remembrance – if you wish to obtain the revenge you are seeking on the Team Rocket and the man who is your father, having cooperation with me is of paramount importance.”
    I love watching Silver and Looker interact.

    The Team Rocket scene was definitely an example of ending a chapter on a high note- it gave me a ton of feels and I think all the characters interacted really well. I loved Nekou singing outside and tipping everyone off to her presence, the various members' reaction to her being late, and Nekou's presenting all of her data she'd collected. It all came together really well and the final scene had a great reference to early BW as well as capturing the feel of those episodes perfectly. Also, Giovanni's speech at the end was perfectly worded.

    Overall this was a great chapter and I really enjoyed reading all of it. The end of it makes me really excited for the next one and I can't wait for it.
    Last edited by Matori; 24th December 2013 at 5:56 AM.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  21. #146
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    699

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    At night, it was a neon-laced metropolis, glowing so brightly that it could be seen from space. While the central part of the city retained its glory during the day, sunlight showed the uncomfortable truth of the slums surrounding it much more than the night did.
    I really like this piece of description. Short and simple, but it tells a lot.

    “I know mine was.” Nekou assumed that Olivia was talking to her. “Plus, I can drink as much as I want in there and get away with it.”
    Classic Nekou. I like the interaction between all 3 of them in this entire part really.

    Olivia took out the Pokémon, but fumbled around with it as she looked for the place to connect it to the phone. “Where?”
    I think you mean “pokedex” not pokémon.

    Matt almost instantly became visibly flustered at the suggestion. “But… I remember back to when I found the Golden City of La Ciudad Dorada years ago… that man who tried to stop me, Count Fernando VIII… he said that he thought people from that Guild were coming for him and an artifact in his possession. He thought I was one of them.”
    This must be about your last fic. Reading about Matt’s past makes me realize just how… important he is? I guess that’s the right term for it.

    Matt shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He knew the events Jacob was referring to, especially because he had lived them. Some time earlier, while at the Indigo Plateau investigating the ruins of an ancient city, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny had been sent back in time by a strange phenomenon and witnessed the rebellion firsthand. Recalling these events led Matt to a realization he considered even more ominous – the Time Gate phenomenon in Ilex Forest was very similar to what had happened.
    Is there a summary of the events that happened in your past fic, or in the general past that’s mentioned here? I’d be interested in reading it.

    “As far as I can tell, she didn’t want to die, so she swallowed that accursed thing. Foolish choice… it unleashed massive energy and burned her from the inside out. She condemned herself to the very death she tried to avoid. But that wasn’t it. The backlash from her swallowing it… even though it was just partial… it unleashed a blast of energy that destroyed the Tenganist holy land. At once all of its residents perished, and a lush jungle was turned into a snowy wasteland. Sutter and I only survived because we were just outside of it. We watched as everything in front of our eyes turned to pure death in an instant.”
    This. This is awesome. And tragically sad. As Matt said, no wonder he was so shaken up. I’m shaken up just reading about it.


    “A war started. Greedy individuals led by AZ’s younger brother wished to capture the kingdom and the power it held. The war was so horrible and vast that AZ had to send his beloved Pokémon to fight in that war… and it perished. When he received its body, AZ was distraught. Desperate to save it, he created a device powered by the life energy of other living Pokémon to resurrect that Pokémon, but it was not enough. He had to augment it with the Jewel of Life for the device to work, and it did. But even with his Pokémon revived, he was too far gone into his madness. He further powered up the device and turned it into an ultimate weapon, a harbinger of death itself… with the Jewel of Life he set devastation and ruin on both sides of the war. He ended it, but his Pokémon left his side because of his sins… AZ then disappeared, and the kingdom was dismantled by his regretful brother. Because of AZ’s actions, using the Jewel of Life for such purposes is considered a mortal sin even by the modern-day Tenganists.”
    I wasn’t expecting AZ to be brought into this, but it was done masterfully so.

    “I think Polaris is a ****ing scam and you’d have to be dumb as **** to fall for it,” Nekou immediately chimed in, causing her companions to visibly panic.
    Tell him how it is, Nekou!


    Once Matt had scanned the Frontier Pass using a small panel in front of the hologram projector, it recited, “Welcome, challenger. Today in the Battle Factory, you will face a series of three-on-three Single Battles. However, you will not be permitted to use your own Pokémon. Instead, you must select virtual rental Pokémon from our stock, and your opponents will also be using rental Pokémon. After each victory, you will get a clue toward your next opponent and the opportunity to trade a Pokémon for one of the previous opponent’s Pokémon. If you win three battles, your fourth and final will be against me. Good luck.”
    It hit me here. They went to school together, right? Well, Thorton seems to be making a good name for himself, if he works here and is in a pretty high ranking system. On the other hand, Matt’s just chasing his dreams and thinks he’s getting nowhere. A sad thought.

    “He’s going to ask you about Reshiram if he reaches you,” Jeunes said from the shadows behind Thorton. “We cannot risk letting any information fall into the hands of the enemy.”
    Maybe I should take back what I just thought… If Thorton has showed up before, I obviously forgot.

    While Glaceon took in air to use in her attack, Greninja shifted back to his original blue coloring and formed a set of four throwing stars made of water in his hand, which he used to cut Glaceon’s body in several places.
    Not sure why Matt would keep Glaceon over Magnezone. I don’t know anything about competitive battling but I know Magnemite’s evolution line always messes me up in the games. It’s probably a much better choice.

    “So there’s where they took him,” Jessie said, peering through her high-tech binoculars at the facility. “The Battle Factory… to think Polaris even controls a Frontier Society facility.
    Missing quotation mark at the end.

    Also there was no one quote I wanted to show from the battle, but it was a good one. I liked the parallels between her and Matt’s battle with the type switching thing, and Herdier evolving was probably another accomplishment that Olivia needed. Surprising the readers with pokémon she had just caught was interesting to see, too, though I’m wondering if she got a little too lucky with them being powerful enough to beat a gym leader right off the bat?

    “Boy, you sure seem happy,” Rosalie teased. “What is it? Have you fallen for him? Done what you do to get intelligence from your targets?”

    “Hahaha, **** no. Not yet anyway.” Nekou licked her lips and added, “Give it time. I’ll get him to want it.”
    And suddenly my view of Matt/Nekou’s relationship just took on a whole new meaning. I’m very excited to see where this goes.

    I apologize in the lateness of me reading this. I believe I told you I lost interest in pokémon and writing for a while, and am only just now getting back into it. Reading awesome fics like yours helps me to get inspired again. Thanks for writing this. You have such a great imagination, and great talent when it comes to plot and characters. I certainly am jealous.

    | survival project |
    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
    | limited time, limited abilities. kyurem says she can be cured in exchange for saving those who need saving. |
    | chapter 3 released 11/22/14 |


  22. #147
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    New Tork City
    Posts
    7,738

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    And here we go. I think some violent content and potentially disturbing imagery is all to warn for here.

    -:-

    CHAPTER 14: Goldenrod City Under Siege (Part 1)

    -:-

    Deep beneath the temple Bunny had briefly visited, there was a vast network of caves. One such chamber within the depths of the temple opened up to a great subterranean lake, filled with clear, sparkling water that chilled to the touch. Huge stalagmites peppered the lake, rising up toward the impossibly high ceiling.

    The Tenganist prophet stood between her followers and the water, slowly walking to each of them and setting a hand on each of their left shoulders. One of the other Tenganists followed closely behind her, carrying an ornate golden pot containing water taken from the lake. Before touching each follower, the prophet returned to the pot and wet her fingers with its contents.

    “Carry the spirits of our brave ancestors inside your hearts,” she powerfully said, addressing them in a fashion meant to rally them. “Our people must once again rise up in battle to fight for our survival. Like the courageous warriors who came before us, we must fully believe in our cause. What we will do will be violent, and people will die, but we do not take this action because we want to. This is what we must do to save our people from extinction. We must strike against Polaris. We will strike them quickly and powerfully, then retreat with our spoils as quickly as we came.”

    As she said the last line of her speech, the prophet looked to the side of the cave, where a Gardevoir and Gothitelle were waiting.

    -:-

    The next morning in Goldenrod City was a dim one, as the sky was blotted with clouds that diminished the sun.

    Nearby the Pokémon Center was a grand hotel that stood taller than a good number of the buildings in central Goldenrod. Before he had gone over to the Gym from the Battle Factory the previous day, Matt had rented a suite, intending it as a surprise reward for Olivia after she won.

    “Goal! And with that goal, the Roshan Glaciers take a one to nothing lead, combining the strength of their Beartic’s goaltending with Cryogonal’s agile shots! After this break, we’ll see if the Dendemille Icicles can tie the score. You’re watching international Pokémon Baccer on GlobalNet.”

    Olivia and Bunny were sitting on the plush couch opposite the large plasma-screen television, but looked away as the sports they had been watching gave way to commercials. Matt’s coat was lying folded over next to them.

    “Wasn’t that something?” Olivia beamed. “That Cryogonal’s spin shot… I’ve been watching Pokémon Baccer for years and that stuff always impresses me!”

    “You’re right, Olivia, that was pretty cool,” Bunny replied, smiling.

    Suddenly, a great crash pierced through the suite as the door flew open. Olivia and Bunny jumped off the couch, and Matt ran in from the small kitchen adjacent to the room.

    What they found was Nekou lying face-first on the floor with a bottle in her hand. Simultaneously, they all grimaced.

    “Well I know what you did last night,” Matt sighed.

    “A night not spent drinking is a night wasted,” she slurred back, into the floor.

    “I guess it’s good to have a motto,” laughed Bunny.

    “Olivia, step back. Bunny, help me get her up.”

    Following Matt’s direction, Olivia went back to the television, while Bunny joined him in lifting Nekou up from under her arms. They helped her stumble over toward another chair near the television, but they didn’t know what was inside their seemingly drunk friend’s mind.

    The night of binge drinking was a complete lie. Nekou had only been drinking right before going up to the room, and she took satisfaction at how easy covering her tracks had been. In reality, she had spent the night at Team Rocket’s hideout at Ada’s request. As Matt and Bunny dropped her on the chair, they had truly no idea what she had really done. She rationalized her baldfaced lie by telling herself that she was still acting to protect her friends, assuaging the guilt she did feel for misleading them so badly.

    “It’s tea time! The best water, the finest leaves, warmed at the right temperature… Striaton Brothers Tea. Have a taste today!”

    “That’s some good ****ing ****…” Nekou groaned at the television.

    “We’re not going anywhere now,” Matt asserted. “She’s got to get sobered up first, and besides, I have to finish working on my coat. The weather’s getting too cold for this body to take.”

    “And I want to watch the rest of this Baccer match, anyway,” Olivia added.

    “Fair enough. I don’t think any of us had any plans until meeting up with Monroe at the Department Store this afternoon anyway.”

    -:-

    Meanwhile, on the same floor of the hotel and not far from Matt’s group’s suite, a beautiful woman with jet-black hair was sitting at her laptop, speaking to another individual on a video call. She was wearing a white bathrobe and drinking a cup of coffee as they talked.

    “It’s today, like I said, Secc,” she informed the party on the other side of the call. “Polaris has publicized an event at the plaza outside the Global Terminal, to address the growing division between the poor and privileged. I intend to film as much of it as I can and maybe grab a few interviews if possible.”

    “Fine by me, Rowena,” the young man on her computer screen replied. He brushed a lock of his green hair from his face, then adjusted the headphones he was wearing. “ONBS always seeks to broadcast the truth, and this story is something I’ve had my eye on since Polaris first entered the public sphere. With Marcia off covering stories on the other end of Orre, we have to rely on our freelancers, and you’re the finest one to ever file a story for us.”

    “Of course, on that note, we have to talk compensation,” Rowena said with a wink.

    “File the story and we’ll talk, but rest assured that if it’s the caliber of your previous work, the payment will be quite handsome. I understand you intend to reconnect with the source you used for the story on Everton International’s corruption?”

    “Yeah, Matt Chiaki is staying in this very hotel. He had a rather nasty encounter with Polaris in Violet City, so I believe he’ll be worth interviewing again.”

    “Do what your journalistic judgment tells you is right to get the story. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

    Secc disconnected from the call, cutting off the video stream on Rowena’s computer. Seeing that her trainer was finished with her conversation, a Pokémon similar in appearance to Minccino but wrapped in luxurious white fur jumped onto Rowena’s shoulder.

    “Cinci?”

    “This is a big one, Cinccino,” Rowena gently said, scratching her Pokémon on the chin. “You and I are going to get a full-fledged expose on Polaris.”

    -:-

    Getriebe, Jeunes, Colress and Meowth had been joined by Zinzolin, who was facing Ghetsis via the main communication screen in the control room of the Purine Base. The Third Chromosome was reclining comfortably in a throne-like chair, leaning on his cane.

    “You know what our message is, Zinzolin. This is the day when it reaches the people, and you have a vital role to play in that. I cannot stress that fact enough.”

    “I understand, Lord Ghetsis,” Zinzolin answered, not flinching from bowing before Ghetsis despite how much it pained his back. “My speech is prepared. It would appear that there is significant interest in the event, as well, so I fully expect that everything will work out as we hope.”

    “For your sake, I hope it does. Don’t leave me another mess I have to clean up myself.”

    -:-

    “Twelve o’ clock,” Ada announced to the others in Team Rocket’s hideout from her seat at the computers. “High noon…”

    “It’s time to get started,” Giovanni declared, staring out over the city. “Pierce, you’re up first. Rosalie, give him his gear.”

    Pierce remained rigidly still, so Rosalie guided her wheelchair to him. She handed him a device that resembled an electronic compass with a small computer attached to its bottom.

    “That is programmed to detect even latent Meteonite energy,” the professor explained between puffs of her pipe. “You are to use it and track down where Polaris is keeping the large Meteonite they took from the Ruins of Alph. The upper portion is both a map of the city and a compass, so when you find the location, make sure to mark it down. That data will be transferred to our computers here, allowing us to begin planning a takedown.”

    “You are to begin your part of the mission now, Pierce,” Giovanni added when he didn’t hear Pierce leave immediately.

    A slight flush came to Pierce’s cheeks. He always stuck rigidly to rules, and everyone in the room knew it, but he had feared accidentally leaving during his briefing so much that he ended up missing the cue to do just that.

    “Y-yes, Giovanni, sir!” he stammered, embarrassed at his failure to live up to his own standards, before turning and quickly leaving.

    As the door slammed behind Pierce, Rosalie took notice of Ariana, who was sitting nearby and weakly propping herself up on the wall. Concerned, she rode over to the Executive to speak to her. Meanwhile, Jessie and James joined Giovanni at the window.

    “Your part of this mission will begin soon as well,” he informed them. “Rosalie will be bringing you to prepare your equipment shortly.”

    “We got it, boss!” Jessie determinedly replied.

    “Meowth, you’ll be home soon…” James whispered, his gaze not breaking from the expanse of the city.

    -:-

    The trip to the Department Store wasn’t a long one, as it was directly across Goldenrod’s main street from the Pokémon Center and thus only a few blocks from the hotel. The day had turned dim as the hours passed, with more clouds gathering to completely block out the sun. As a result, the lights shining through the windows of the six-story building turned it into a beacon within the city.

    Matt, Nekou, Bunny and Olivia entered through the sliding glass doors and glanced around their surroundings. The store was packed with shoppers, making it difficult for them to find Monroe.

    “Where did he say he was going to meet us again?” Olivia asked.

    “By the first floor escalators,” Matt answered, looking around for a guide. “There’s got to be something here to tell us where everything is, an information desk or something.”

    Their search was abruptly halted when a song began playing rather loudly right near them.

    “Cover me with kisses, baby, cover me with love, roll me in designer sheets I’ll never get enough… emotions come I don’t know why, cover up love’s alibi…”

    “Oh ****, that’s me,” Nekou realized. She pulled her phone from her uniform, looked at it, and found that it had a tab reading ‘accept holo clip.’ She started to walk away and said over her shoulder, “I have to take this. Go find Monroe and I’ll meet up with you.”

    Needing a place that was quiet, Nekou slunk off toward the closed-off area in the corner of the lobby. She hesitated at the door marked with “Staff Only” for only a moment. Producing a blue card imprinted with the Team Rocket insignia, she swiped it through the door’s electronic lock to allow herself access to the dim hallway beyond.

    She took several steps into the tunnel, then took out her phone again. However, before she could answer it, she was accosted from behind by a male voice.

    “Hey! You can’t be in here!”

    Nekou didn’t turn around to face the security guard immediately. A plan instantly took shape in her head, and the brief look of surprise she had gave way to a devious smirk.

    “Oh my, officer, did I do something wrong?” As she turned, she put on her best seductive voice and glared at him through half-closed eyes. “Tell me. I was bad, wasn’t I?”

    Clearly unnerved, the guard stammered, “Y-You can’t be back here. This is a s-shipping area. Staff only. You don’t have one of our uniforms so I know you aren’t…”

    “And I think I’m already shipping you and me,” she whispered, continuing to draw closer to him.

    “You won’t get out of trouble with this. I’m a happily married…”

    Nekou was practically in his face now, and she was clutching one of the open folds of her uniform. He realized what she was intending to do and turned beet red.

    “Then just have a quick look.”

    She started to pull back the opening, but before the guard could see anything, a puff of light-blue vapor burst out. As soon as he inhaled it, he blacked out and collapsed.

    “Sweet dreams, ****er,” Nekou grumbled, taking her phone back out. Before she answered it, she thanked her luck to have Rosalie on her side.

    ~:~

    Before Nekou left the hideout that morning, Rosalie had pulled her aside to show her a small vial containing the light-blue liquid.

    “I call this perfume Meromero,” the wheelchair-bound scientist explained. “It’s substantially derived from Mental Herb, with a dash of White Herb as well as liquefied Lax Incense extract added. Hit someone with one dose of it and they’ll be out like a light, but additionally, they won’t want to wake up easily because they’ll be dreaming of the person they’re most physically attracted to.”

    “Neat,” Nekou said, taking the vial. She pulled open the right side of her unbuttoned uniform and attached it to a mechanism within, consisting of a small clamp and a tube that led to a spray device attached to the strap of her black brassiere. After fixing the one button she ever cared to close, she picked up a nearby beer bottle. “I’m sure I’ll put this to good use.”

    ~:~

    When Nekou finally pushed the ‘accept holo clip’ button on the screen of her phone, the lens on its top generated a hologram of Giovanni in his chair.

    “Lalume, what took you so long to answer the call?” he growled.

    “Had to deal with an unforeseen interruption, boss. What’s up?”

    Giovanni sighed and shut his eyes for a moment before speaking. “I have commenced the mission, so your role is now active. Keep Matt Chiaki and his friends away from Polaris’s event site. We cannot risk any interference. It has to be us against Polaris.”

    “I think that ought to be easy to do.”

    “Then go do it. I’ll communicate with you again at an appropriate…”

    “Wait, before you go, boss… tell Rosalie that Meromero worked like a charm.”

    “Fine.”

    The hologram disappeared, and Nekou put her phone back in her uniform. She took another look at the sleeping guard, shrugged and straightened out her uniform before going back out into the lobby. She knew where the escalators were, so she immediately made her way toward them, hoping that Matt and the others would already be there.

    Instead, she simply found Monroe standing there by himself.

    “Nekou, you made it!” he said in a manner that was unusually cheery for him. “Where’s Olivia and everyone else?”

    “Geez, you sure are hyper today,” Nekou sarcastically replied. She set her hand on her hip and looked around. “I guess they got turned around looking for you.”

    Nekou’s words seemed to summon Matt, Olivia and Bunny, as they turned up as soon as she spoke. She stepped back, sighing to herself as she did so.

    “Monroe!” Matt exclaimed. “We had a hell of a time finding you in this crowd.”

    “Th-that’s okay,” Monroe said back, reverting into his usual nervous self. “A-as long as we all meet up with each other, right?”

    “Come on, let’s just get going.” Olivia charged forward, in the direction that a nearby sign indicated would lead to the elevators. “I need to go find a new coat.”

    Monroe flinched, but quickly recovered and followed her. Matt, Nekou and Bunny went after them, with Matt and Bunny chuckling to themselves about Olivia’s forceful mood. Nekou, on the other hand, simply chewed on a handful of potato chips she’d gotten from somewhere.

    “So I guess I’m the only one who noticed Monroe blush before he followed Olivia?” she deadpanned.

    “Are you serious?”

    “Matt, wait,” Bunny cautioned him. “She might be onto something. Didn’t you notice as we approached that he seemed comfortable talking to Nekou?”

    “Come to think of it…” Matt rubbed his chin in thought. Bunny was right, but he hadn’t quite taken conscious note of Monroe’s actions before.

    “Well it looks like Olivia’s got her first boy crushing on her!” Nekou suddenly and loudly exclaimed, making Matt and Bunny cringe with the volume of her voice. As she walked behind the others, though, Nekou was grateful that Olivia preferred to stay at the Department Store, as it made her mission much easier.

    -:-

    Down the street from the Global Terminal stood a two-story, gold-brick building whose sign bore the words “Magnet Train station” below an appropriate image of the vehicle. Looker and Silver were sitting and drinking coffee together in the small second-floor café near the boarding area. Their table was next to a row of large windows, permitting them an unobstructed view of the road below.

    “I’m getting a bad feeling about this,” Silver said as he watched the flow of people toward the Global Terminal plaza. “How many do you think there are going to be?”

    “If I was to work into myself giving an estimate… a number touching into the range of hundreds sounds like it is correct.” Setting down his smartphone, Looker shut his eyes and rubbed his chin. “And if the Team Rocket should make an appearance…”

    “Why do you think I insisted on coming with you?!” Silver snapped, slamming his fist on the table. “You’re the one here concerned about whatever those Polaris idiots are doing, but I just consider them bait. I know that Team Rocket won’t be able to resist showing up for this.”

    “Do not be getting ahead of your own position,” Looker warned. “Action that is reckless will lead to only more problems…”

    -:-

    Meanwhile, Pierce was making his way north, concealed by his own trench coat and following the signals from the device Rosalie had given him. He was near the line where the central city area gave way to the northern slum, yet the device urged him to go further still.

    “They hid it where nobody would think to look…” he thought, seeing that the brightness of the readout was intensifying as he went into the slum. “The attention of the poor in this city will be on their speech, making it easy for them to move something out of this area…”

    -:-

    “So what do you guys think? You like it?”

    Olivia was standing before Matt, Bunny and Monroe in the Department Store’s clothing shop. Having spent some time searching for something she could wear in the increasingly cold weather, she’d chosen a simple gray leather jacket.

    “It’s… different,” Matt answered, “different for you, anyway.”

    “I like it, though,” added Bunny. “What made you choose it?”

    “I wanted something more simple, you know? It’s surprisingly warm, too.”

    “I…I… I have something I want to say…” Monroe fumbled.

    “What?”

    “Don’t… don’t you think it clashes with your hair?”

    Matt and Bunny looked to Monroe, confused by what he was saying. Olivia, on the other hand, actually seemed to understand. She walked to a nearby mirror and considered her appearance.

    “You know,” she said after a moment, “I think I actually see it. I’ll have to let my hair down tonight and see how it looks.” Turning around, Olivia smiled at Monroe, making him nearly jump from his nerves. “Thanks.”

    “I think it’ll look good.”

    While Olivia had been considering her new look, Nekou had come out from the dressing rooms as well. She had replaced her uniform and kneesocks with a black, waist-tied trench coat of similar appearance and a pair of knee-high boots.

    “You think so?” Olivia glowed in the praise her friend was putting on her. “Thanks!”

    “Gladly.” Directing her attention to Matt, Bunny and Monroe, Nekou asked, “So what do you guys want to do now?”

    Bunny opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted by an audible gulp next to her. Looking down, she saw Monroe staring at the floor. He had his arms pinned to his sides, and his whole body was trembling.

    “Monroe?”

    “I…I…” After gulping again, Monroe took a deep breath, shut his eyes and forced himself into saying what he wanted to. “Olivia, I really liked your battle with Whitney and I want to know if you’ll go to a movie with me!”

    Monroe’s face went bright red as soon as he coughed up his request, matched only by how flush Olivia’s turned. Matt and Bunny could only watch with their mouths agape, while Nekou, having been the one to figure out Monroe’s feelings first, just smirked wryly.

    Slowly, Olivia approached Monroe, her every step sending a chill down his bones. He was already embarrassed but his fear kept rising until she was right in his face, staring into his eyes. To Monroe, it felt as if Olivia was staring right into his soul.

    “Well of course you liked how I battled!” Olivia suddenly and proudly exclaimed, pulling back and shrugging her shoulders. “You’re nice enough, so sure, why would I say no? But I get to pick which movie.”

    Feeling a weight lifted from his shoulders, Monroe gasped in relief and said, “Oh, of… of course. Your choice.”

    “Olivia’s got herself a boyfriend!” Nekou playfully cheered as she threw herself onto Olivia and Monroe’s shoulders, nearly knocking them to the floor.

    “Aw, Nekou, come on!” Olivia growled, her face turning red again. Though he didn’t speak, Monroe was similarly embarrassed.

    “I’m just playing with you guys,” Nekou assured her as she rose back to her full height. “Come on, let’s hit the road.”

    As the group started walking, Matt and Bunny looked at each other and smiled. They needed no words to communicate how happy they were that Olivia was reaching out to others.

    Unfortunately, the peaceful scene wouldn’t last. As they stepped out of the clothing department, the sound from a nearby television caught their ears.

    “We’re seeing literally hundreds of people, many of them from the slums, flowing into the central area of Goldenrod City for Polaris’s speech. The best estimates are that a crowd of around three hundred is now gathered outside the Global Terminal…”

    Immediately upon hearing the newscaster’s words, Nekou became completely serious again. Even while the others just listened to the broadcast, she said, “It might get dangerous out there. Olivia, Monroe, go to your movie later. For now, let’s get something to eat here.”

    “A-Actually, that’s a good idea,” Monroe said in agreement. “I’m kind of hungry.”

    “There’s a burger stand I want to try in the food court here,” Matt piped up.

    “Then that’s where we’ll go,” Nekou concluded. “Come on. They have TVs up there, so we’ll see everything that goes on.”

    -:-

    The newscaster’s estimate of about three hundred people in the crowd was fairly close to the actual number, and indeed, most of them were from the slums. Lysandre was also present as he had promised, standing out among the crowd due to his great height and well-tailored clothing. As he waited for the speech to start, he carefully scanned the crowd, looking to see if Matt and the others had shown as well. It disappointed him somewhat when he couldn’t find them.

    Also in the plaza was Rowena, now concealing her identity behind a hooded coat and large, dark sunglasses. She was hiding in an alley near the crowd with her video camera out, Cinccino sitting on her shoulder.

    The crowd was gathered before a makeshift stage set up in the plaza. Zinzolin stood behind a curtain on the stage, looking out at the audience he was to address.

    “Lord Ghetsis’s expectations for this event were met,” he nervously mumbled to himself. After looking up at the clouds that provided him a rather ominous backdrop, he fumbled with the papers Ghetsis had written his speech on. He then reached to his collar and triggered a device hidden within, which generated a holographic prompter loaded with the same speech. Pleased that his equipment was working, he sighed in relief and stepped out from behind the curtain.

    The response from the crowd was immediate, but it wasn’t the reaction Zinzolin was anticipating. He thought he would be greeted by cheering, but instead, the crowd’s loud chattering gave way to a silence that unsettled the elderly man. He flinched but quickly recovered and reactivated his prompter, which also had a microphone built into it.

    “Welcome! Welcome, citizens of Goldenrod City!” Once he had begun speaking, Zinzolin started to settle into his comfort zone. While he was no master of giving speeches like Ghetsis – and he knew as much – he felt confidence in his ability to deliver Ghetsis’s words. “Each and every one of you deserves applause for coming this far. I know it was not easy for you, perhaps near impossible for some, but the calling of justice brought you all here today. As you know, my name is Zinzolin, and I am here as a representative of Polaris. I am here to speak to you today about the injustices visited upon you, who you should hold responsible, and what you can do about it.”

    A murmur went up from the crowd. Zinzolin regarded it as a good sign – he knew that they were interested in the lead of his speech, which meant they were listening. All that was left was to sell his case.

    “People of Goldenrod City, I ask you to look around yourselves. Are you pleased with the state of your city, divided as it is? Where we stand now, we are at the heart of this corrupt, diseased beast created by the Pokémon League! Why, just observe our surroundings as I speak to you.” The crowd was enraptured with Zinzolin already, and their collective gazes followed his sweeping gestures. “The Magnet Train station, where the wealthy and privileged who have oppressed you travel freely across these regions, while you are left with only your own feet… the Game Corner, where those people and their decadent families while away their time and ill-gotten money on frivolous games without a care in the world… the Radio Tower, which serves to further spread the siren song that calls our young people to the foolish path of the Pokémon League… and finally, I can think of no more perfect a symbol for the derelict, bloated order of the Pokémon League than the building right behind me, the Global Terminal. Behind me, hundreds if not thousands of Pokémon are traded daily by those who can afford the equipment necessary to capture them. Those individuals can easily acquire a wide variety of Pokémon from throughout the world, and every species they collect makes it easier for them to obtain even more. Not only that, it is those with the widest variety of Pokémon available to them that have the easiest way in this world. But what opportunity do those who are not permitted to even get their feet into the door have? That promise of false opportunity is what has led to the despicable status of this city! The facilities that benefit those who have grown fat on the backs of you, the people, are clustered in this neon hell at the center of Goldenrod City. Meanwhile, you are kept out of that opportunity, that gilded life, and exiled to the decrepit slums where you are neither seen nor heard! But today, that will change! Today you will be seen and you will be heard!”

    That last proclamation was what it took to finally get the reaction Zinzolin had expected all along from the crowd. A great cheer rose from the people, one that showed they were hungry for more of what Zinzolin was feeding them. Before moving to the next point in his speech, Zinzolin took a moment to bathe in the eager adoration of the crowd before him.

    “Yes, you know it all to be true! For decades, generations now, this regime known as the Pokémon League has kept you down. Through all matters of media, they present to you an idealized image, a dream, of life under their control. Pokémon Master…” Zinzolin coughed scornfully before continuing. “I must scoff at the very notion. We see media telling you day in and day out that all you need to reach a life of luxury is belief… belief in yourself, but more wickedly, faith in their leadership. They will give you everything, they claim… free care at the Pokémon Centers? A lie, such benefits are reserved only for the privileged few who qualify for a Pokédex. How about Poké Marts stocked with all the resources trainers could ever need? Another lie. The products sold to trainers at these corrupt establishments are by and large rationed in favor of those with more Badges. Good point about that, let’s talk about Badges for a second. To get a Badge, you have to defeat a local Gym Leader in a Pokémon battle, as you all already know. Of course, you are all smart enough to see the problem with this. To have the best chances of defeating Gym Leaders, you must have the leg up offered to only those already in the upper crust of society! And of course, these Gym Leaders… they are contributing to the culture of corruption keeping you in second-class status! We of Polaris have come here before you to present the truth that has been hidden, and we urge you to rise! Join us and make your voices heard! Tell the Gym Leaders and the Pokémon League that you will soon be at their doorsteps!”

    By this point, Zinzolin was getting so worked up that he was becoming short of breath, but the growing noise from the crowd afforded him a chance to recover. He gestured for calm and was met by just enough of a decrease in volume to allow him to continue.

    “So in order to ensure that their rule is unchallenged, the Pokémon League has rigged the system to make it nearly impossible for the average person to capture powerful enough Pokémon. Polaris… we intend to change that.” Zinzolin turned and called out, “Meowth, it’s your turn!”

    As Zinzolin turned back to the crowd, Meowth slowly shuffled out from behind the curtain. He moved with deliberate steps until he was parallel to but still several paces behind the old man.

    “This Meowth is an example of our work,” Zinzolin explained. “We now possess an artifact of incredible power, one that will soon allow us to awaken the true strength within each Pokémon. When that day comes, we will give the Pokémon we strengthen to those of you who join our cause. Stand alongside us and we will give you the tools to change your lives! We will give you what the Pokémon League has kept out of your hands for generations! And when that day comes…”

    All of a sudden, a number of blue fireballs descended from the sky in a ring, settling around the stage. The Will-O-Wisp attack was followed by several blades of air striking the stage, forcing Zinzolin to stumble backward and away from Meowth. When he looked up, he saw a Swoobat and Cofagrigus descending from the sky, and moments later, four laser beams shot down from above the clouds to surround Meowth. A box of light formed around him when the lasers faded.

    “Th-those Pokémon…” Zinzolin stuttered. “Who is so bold as to do this…?”

    “Do you really need to ask that question?”

    “If you really want to know, the answer is here!”

    Behind Swoobat and Cofagrigus, who were laughing at Zinzolin, Jessie and James –still wearing their trench coats, hats and sunglasses - descended using jetpacks strapped to their backs.

    “Prepare for trouble, soaring from the sky!” Jessie shouted to the assembly.

    “And make it double, over the earth it flies!” James enthusiastically added.

    “You can NOT be serious…” thought Zinzolin.

    Not caring what their foe thought, the two Team Rocket members continued their motto, with Jessie saying, “To protect the world from devastation!”

    “To unite all peoples within our nation!”

    “To denounce the evils of truth and love!”

    “To extend our reach to the stars above!”

    With that, Jessie and James tore off their disguises, revealing their customized black Team Rocket uniforms underneath.

    “Jessie!”

    “James!”

    “Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!”

    “Surrender now, or prepare to fight!”

    While Jessie and James struck dramatic poses in the air, the crowd looked on in disgruntled silence. Zinzolin gazed at them in a cold fury.

    “How dare you come here!” he roared, finding a new strength in his voice. “You two are the prime example of what goes on unchecked in this failed society!”

    Ignoring the old man’s rant, Jessie said, “It sure felt good to do that in front of them, but don’t you think something was missing?”

    “You’re right, Jessie. Meowth was missing…” Turning down to the stage and its occupants, James took a deep breath and yelled, “He’s missing because you Polaris creeps took him from us! And we’re here to take him back!”

    “Do you really think you can take me on after the lashing Mercury dealt you?” Zinzolin scoffed, pulling a Poké Ball off his coat. “Cryogonal…”

    “Dusclops, Rock Tomb!”

    All of a sudden, a flurry of stones flew from somewhere in the crowd and crashed onto the stage, extinguishing Cofagrigus’s flames but locking Zinzolin in tighter. A Dusclops rose from the assembly, holding Proton by the shoulders, and floated toward the stage.

    “Rock Tomb, once more!” Proton called.

    More rugged stones materialized around Dusclops, and when her eye flashed, they started to rain down.

    Zinzolin growled and quickly lashed one of his Poké Balls toward the threat. “Weavile, Ice Shard!”

    As soon as she burst from her ball, Weavile brought her claws together and launched a series of sharp-edged ice chunks toward the Rock Tomb. When they hit the stones, both attacks exploded into dust. Though they’d been shocked still so far, when the explosion rang out over their heads, it was like a switch was thrown in the minds of the crowd.

    Three hundred people turned and attempted to flee the Global Terminal plaza as complete chaos broke out. Zinzolin didn’t care. His mind was filled with rage, all directed at Jessie, James and Proton.

    Rowena retreated slightly into the alley, avoiding the flood of people just beyond her hiding place. Her resolve to continue pursuing the story quickly returned, though, and with a new burst of courage, she approached the crowd again and grabbed at the first arm she could reach, pulling its owner toward her. It turned out to be the homeless trainer Team Rocket had helped.

    “Who are you?” he coughed as he stumbled into the alley.

    “A reporter,” Rowena answered. “I want to ask you some questions when this is over.”

    The trainer shrugged. “I guess I can do that.”

    “Good, thank you. Now to just finish recording this…”

    Rowena returned to her vantage point, catching the fight just in time to see Zinzolin’s Weavile fighting Proton’s Dusclops while his Jynx and Cryogonal struggled with Swoobat and Cofagrigus. The entire plaza was coated in a thin layer of snow and ice from the attacks being carelessly thrown about.

    “Cofagrigus, use Toxic Spikes!” James ordered as he flew out of the way of a Shadow Ball from Jynx.

    “Cryogonal, take them out with Frost Breath!”

    Cofagrigus swept his four arms out, throwing forth several sharp traps glowing with poison, but Cryogonal immediately countered by exhaling an icy wind over them. The spikes ended up frozen within the ice as they fell to the ground, sealing in their toxicity and rendering it useless.

    “Shadow Ball!” both Jessie and Zinzolin shouted in unison.

    While Swoobat and Jynx’s attacks met in a midair explosion, Looker, Silver and several others – including Lysandre – were watching the chaos from the second floor of the train station.

    “I knew they’d show up,” Silver growled. “It’s go time.”

    “It is that it is,” Looker responded, frantically dialing a number with his phone. “Greetings, it is I, with the codename of Looker! I am needing warrants of arrest for the members of the Team Rocket, as their plea bargain has been violated!”

    “Calling up the data on Team Rocket right now, Agent Looker, please stand by…” a female voice said on the other end of the call. The sound of a computer keyboard clicking could be heard, followed by an audible gasp. “A-Agent Looker… there is… there is no logged data of any crime for any of them! According to our database, the members of Team Rocket are completely clean!”

    “What?!” Looker nearly crushed the phone in his hand, and he had screamed so loudly that everyone in the room was staring at him. “How is that possible to be happening? The Team Rocket… cleared of all crimes?!”

    “What the hell did you just say?” roared Silver. He was so overcome with rage that he put his hands on his head and pulled his own hair. “Impossible, I won’t accept it! Just arrest them for what they’re doing now!”

    Putting away the phone, Looker stared out the window and said, “If they haven’t been acting to violate the plea bargain we gave to them… then what are they happening to be doing, precisely?”

    “Are… are you actually serious? Disrupting the peace, if nothing else!”

    Looker rubbed his chin, images of the past flashing through his mind. “Polaris’s speech event was occurring to already disrupt that peace, though… and that man named Zinzolin… he is still wearing on his self the crest of the Team Plasma and working with the man named Ghetsis… I am not trusting the situation. Not to be mentioning, the Team Rocket did not harm anyone called a civilian. They only targeted that Meowth, which I am being able to tell you for quite certain does belong to them. I want to see how this will end up being played out…”

    Seeing that he was getting nowhere with Looker, Silver went back to fuming and watching the battle.

    “Jynx, use Avalanche! Cryogonal, team up with it and use Flash Cannon!”

    Leaving Weavile to spar with Proton’s Dusclops on her own, Zinzolin focused his attention on Jessie and James. His Cryogonal and Jynx aligned with each other and then delivered their respective assaults; the latter sent a rain of icy boulders toward her enemies, while the former fired a single ray of bright, silvery light from its mouth.

    “Air Slash!”

    “Shadow Ball!”

    Swoobat and Cofagrigus weren’t afraid, however, and they met Zinzolin’s offense with a spirited counterattack. Swoobat cut down the ice chunks with blades of air lashed from her wings, while Cofagrigus drifted right in front of Cryogonal’s Flash Cannon and used a Shadow Ball to nearly completely block it.

    Much to Zinzolin’s surprise, Jessie and James then recalled Swoobat and Cofagrigus, and after recalling his Dusclops, Proton flew up on his own jetpack alongside them.

    “What are you doing now, you Team Rocket cowards?” Zinzolin shouted up into the air. “Are you surrendering?”

    “Oh, we’re not surrendering,” Jessie smugly said.

    “You might call it more of a tactical retreat…” added James, “…with our spoils of victory!”

    “Stop being theatrical,” Proton warned them. “We’re at the endgame of phase one. It’s time.”

    “Got it.” Putting her finger to her ear, Jessie called out, “Yoo hoo, Wobbuffet!”

    A great roaring sound filled the air, and when Zinzolin looked up past the Team Rocket members, he saw the clouds beginning to part. Stunned, he could only watch as a hot-air balloon equipped with jet boosters on its basket descended, piloted by Jessie’s Wobbuffet. It was only when he saw the red Team Rocket insignia on both the metallic blue basket and the dark purple balloon itself that Zinzolin truly realized how coordinated the attack on the speech was.

    The laser cube containing Meowth began to rise off the stage, heading for the bottom of the balloon’s basket. This snapped Zinzolin out of his daze, and he gestured wildly to Weavile.

    “Don’t let them get away!” he snapped. “Destroy that balloon with Blizzard!”

    “Oh no you don’t!” Jessie countered. “Wobbuffet, Mirror Coat!”

    Weavile aimed her icy blast squarely at the balloon itself, but it met resistance when Wobbuffet, glowing brightly, jumped from the basket. As soon as the Blizzard hit Wobbuffet, its energy enveloped him, only to be blasted back moments later, and Weavile was cut down by the counterattack.

    While Zinzolin tried to regroup, Jessie recalled Wobbuffet and landed in the balloon’s basket with James and Proton. The laser cube had also reached and attached itself to the bottom of the basket. Jessie and James leaned forward and waved at Zinzolin.

    “Well then, toodle-oo!”

    “We’ll see you soon!”

    Using not only the boosters on the basket but a larger one installed on the back of the balloon itself, the craft surged back into the clouds and vanished, leaving Zinzolin alone with his exhausted Pokémon.

    “I just can’t catch a break,” he sighed to himself, already dreading whatever punishment Ghetsis would level out. Looking around, he realized just how empty the plaza had become, and seeing no further point in staying himself, recalled his Pokémon and fled for a car hidden behind the stage.

    Meanwhile, in the train station, the argument between Silver and Looker was coming to a boil.

    “You saw it, you have to arrest them!”

    “Yes, I did indeed happen to be seeing it, but I cannot say I support that conclusion.”

    “Why?!” Silver raged, stomping his foot on the tile floor. “They’re criminals, just as much as that Team Plasma is!”

    “That they are. But we just were seeing and witnessing them not harm anyone who is not also a criminal suspect. They were attacking only the stage and struck a retreat after taking something that rightfully was precisely their own.”

    “So what?”

    “They may be worth taking and bringing in… but first, I want to see with my own eyes their interactions with the Polaris group. They may be leading us to the answer regarding greater mysteries.” Adjusting his tie, Looker then said, “Some civilians may have taken on injuries in the plaza. Let us go inspect for such cases, then I will have to be departing for Kanto.”

    (Banner by Matori)
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  23. #148
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    -:-

    “Things appear to be returning to normal following Team Rocket’s attack on the speech being given by Polaris. Stick with us throughout this breaking news story as it unfolds…”

    All of the televisions hanging over the Department Store’s packed food court were tuned to the news, and an unsettling quiet had set into the shoppers, who had seen the entire incident from the beginning.

    “What is all of this…” Matt murmured, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. “I’m getting really nervous about Polaris. Did you hear those things Zinzolin was saying? Especially after he attacked us in Violet City…”

    “And Team Rocket, too…” Bunny said, her voice low and wavering. “I don’t know if you know about this, but a few years ago in Unova, there was a war between Team Rocket and Team Plasma, the group Zinzolin and Ghetsis used to lead. If that’s still going and is coming to Johto, we might get caught up in the middle of it…”

    “You’ve got to ask yourselves the hard ****ing question,” Nekou chimed in. She was visibly tense, and was boiling with anger internally, though Bunny had no idea it was what she said that caused it. “Who is worse here, a gang of common thieves or actual ****ing terrorists who are trying to overthrow the government?”

    “I guess you have a point there…” Matt mumbled into the table.

    “But on the other hand,” Olivia piped up, “How do we know it’s as simple as it looks? What if this is a trick, and they’re working together?”

    If it had been anyone other than Olivia saying that, Nekou would have attacked them on the spot. She had to restrain her reaction to what she considered an insulting implication, keeping her rage in check by breathing heavily and clenching her fists so tightly that her palms bled slightly.

    “Not everything has a conspiracy behind it, Olivia,” Nekou said, managing a fairly gentle tone. “I think what we saw on the TV was what really happened.”

    “You’re right.” Turning away from her friend, Olivia slumped in her chair. “But this is just so scary, all of it... is what they’re saying true, that so many people have it that bad? Am I really that well off?”

    “Yeah, I’m a bit scared too,” Monroe said in glum agreement. “My dad’s job has made my life pretty easy, so my sisters and I could be targeted…”

    “So you’re in a similar position as me, then,” Olivia commented.

    “But, Monroe, do you consider yourself better than others because of your comfortable life?” asked Nekou.

    “No…”

    “So then at least from a moral standpoint, you’re fine. Now, honestly, I think now that all ****ing hell isn’t breaking loose out there anymore, we should stop obsessing over things we can’t help and go about our business.”

    “So you are capable of good ideas,” Matt joked. Nekou looked at him with a start, but quickly caught on and laughed. He took out his tablet and asked, “Olivia, Monroe, you guys still want to go catch a movie, right?”

    “Yeah!” they both said together.

    “Then let’s have a look…” Thumbing through movie directories on the screen, Matt noticed something that he thought Olivia and Monroe would like. “There’s a showing of Fossil Island in a little while at the movie theater in this very Department Store.”

    “Oh, that sounds fun,” Monroe beamed, his usual nervous demeanor disappearing briefly. “But… O-Olivia, if you don’t…”

    “I probably would have chosen the same thing, so don’t worry about it.”

    “Good! Then you two have fun, and Bunny and I can go visit the Name Rater about Ayin… Sigilyph’s nickname. Nekou, are you coming with us or going to the movie with Olivia?”

    Nekou sighed and shut her eyes. “I’m tired. I just want to go back to the hotel and rest.”

    -:-

    As the evening sun began to sink in the sky, Pierce found himself at his destination. The radar had led him deep into the northern slum, to a nondescript warehouse with a cargo truck parked outside.

    “Got you,” Pierce said to himself. He touched the radar device’s screen at the point where its readings were most intense, marking the warehouse with a small Team Rocket logo.

    All of a sudden, he heard the sound of tires screeching up the street. Concealing himself behind a dumpster, Pierce watched as Zinzolin’s car tore up and parked next to the truck. The old man climbed out and quickly entered the warehouse, but Pierce was still able to catch a clear sight of him.

    “And there’s the smoking gun. Caught you red-handed, Polaris.”

    -:-

    Jessie and James backed through the doorway of Team Rocket’s hideout, the latter using the R-Pad to guide the laser box containing Meowth. Once they were all inside, Jessie stopped walking abruptly, causing James to crash into her.

    “Hey! Watch where you’re going, James!”

    “If you didn’t stop behind me, that wouldn’t have happened.”

    “Both of you, quiet!” Giovanni commanded, with Persian meowing to punctuate his speech. “I see you got Meowth back here safely.”

    “Good work,” Rosalie complimented, “I’m impressed. Now…”

    After placing a container on her lap, Rosalie moved her wheelchair toward Jessie and James. Once she reached them, she handed the cube to Jessie, who opened it to find a single blue rock.

    “That’s a Chargestone we had left over from Unova,” explained the scientist.

    “I know,” Jessie sharply replied, “we mined those for Dr. Zager.”

    “Well, in that case, just put it in the cube with Meowth. We have a small trigger inside the Chargestone to manipulate its energy flow, and your R-Pad has a program to control it. Some exposure to the Chargestone’s energy will reverse the effects of the Meteonite’s energy on Meowth.”

    “Let’s get to it, then.” By tapping several buttons on the R-Pad’s screen, James caused the top of the laser box to disappear.

    Jessie took the Chargestone out of its case and dropped it into the box, where it rolled over next to Meowth. She then nodded to James, who closed the container again, then activated the device within the Chargestone.

    The rock sparked to life with an electrical glow. Its light got brighter and brighter as it discharged more energy, forcing Jessie, James, Giovanni, Rosalie and the other Team Rocket members to cover their eyes. At its most intense point, Meowth could be heard screaming, and shortly after that, the light began to fade.

    The laser box, left cracked by the intensity of the energy, shattered and dropped Meowth to the floor. Jessie and James watched him, barely able to contain their anticipation.

    Finally, he slowly stood up, rubbing his head. “Ugh… where am I? What happened?”

    “Meowth! You’re back to normal!”

    “We finally got you away from Polaris!”

    Meowth turned around and saw Jessie and James. Realizing what had happened, he jumped into their arms, and the three of them all started crying in joy.

    “You two guys really saved me!”

    “We can’t terrorize Polaris if we aren’t a trio!”

    “James is right, and now we can even say the motto the right way again!”

    “G-Giovanni, sir?” Ada piped up from her seat at the computer terminal.

    “What?”

    “We… we’ve confirmed that the Magnet Train has departed from the station…”

    “Very good.” Turning to Jessie, James and Meowth, Giovanni said, “Pierce isn’t back yet, so you’ll have to go after the Meteonite…”

    “…b-but it’s not the train we were watching.”

    “What?” Ariana ran up next to Ada so she could look at the computers.

    “I’ve been watching RChannel for the signal, and… a-and there, you can see it. ‘I missed my train, what can I do until the next one leaves tomorrow?’”

    “It’s a trap,” Ariana growled. “They knew we would be watching them. I don’t know how, but they did.”

    “Rosalie, contact the Tenganists,” Giovanni directed. “Tell them to call it off.”

    “Got it.” Rosalie hit several buttons on the arm of her wheelchair, opening a hologram window that displayed ‘audio only.’ “Come in, this is Goldenrod…”

    What neither Rosalie nor Giovanni were expecting was to be met with static.

    “Come in, this is Goldenrod!” Rosalie repeated.

    There was no response. The silence sent a chill down Rosalie’s spine, and behind her, Giovanni scowled and leaned on his arm.

    She turned her head and nervously said to him, “Sir, we can’t get them to respond… we might not be able to stop this…”

    “So be it,” Giovanni growled. “We’ll have to take what losses happen and go to a backup plan…”

    -:-

    “Cordelia, huh?”

    “Yeah, he thought she would like it and she did.”

    Matt and Bunny were walking out of a shop on the northern end of the town’s central area, discussing the renaming of his Sigilyph. They were so engrossed with their conversation that they didn’t notice Rowena step out in front of them until they had nearly walked into her.

    “Oh, sorry about…” Matt cut his apology short when he saw the face of who he was talking to. “Wait, you…”

    “It’s good to see you again too, Matt, Bunny,” Rowena said with a slight bow of her head.

    “You’re the reporter from Whitegold City, aren’t you?”

    “Rowena, right?” Bunny guessed.

    “You got it. I came out here to report on Polaris’s speech, and when I found out about you being here, I wanted to conduct an interview with you about it. You had quite the encounter with them in Violet City, after all.”

    Matt chuckled nervously, then put Cordelia’s Poké Ball away and scratched the back of his head. “I guess I can do that. Sorry for almost walking into you… and sorry for forgetting your name, too.”

    -:-

    Back at the hotel room, Nekou had tossed her clothes about the bronze-colored bathroom so she could soak in the tub. She had placed pots of incense around the room and sprinkled flower petals in the water, all to help her meditate.

    “I can’t lose myself to… that… again,” she said out loud, taking deep, cleansing breaths. “For Olivia’s sake, I have to control it.”

    Between the hot water and the pleasant scents she’d surrounded herself with, Nekou did what she could to relax her mind. As she sat and soaked, she did her best to push everything out of her head, knowing that it would be the only way to reach her dark, violent side without degenerating into it.

    She sat in the tub, breathing and meditating, for around an hour before she found something deep in her mind. It wasn’t clear to her what it was, just that it gave her a very uncomfortable, nervous feeling.

    “So you came without being about to die for once, huh?”

    “The ****? Who said that?” In truth, Nekou knew who it was. The voice she heard in her head was her own voice, just with a more hissing, feral tone.

    “You know me. Or is it just uncomfortable to see what kind of a monster you really are?”

    “Oh, I know I’m a monster. But what ****ing right have you got to take over my body like you own it?”

    “Because I do own it, you dumb *****. Why do you think I’m so deep inside of you? You know, just worked nice and deep in there… at the core of your being…”

    Nekou sank lower into the bath. She knew that the entity in her mind, her berserk, animalistic side, was right.

    “As much as you want to deny it, it’s true. Everything about you is a lie. Lies you built around yourself to hide from what you really are.”

    “**** you. Why am I arguing with voices in my head again? Just shut the **** up and behave. I’m in charge, not you.”

    “Oh, ouch. As always, you’ve got quite the sharp tongue. But you know, you’re the one who should be behaving. The reason you get so violent every time I come out is because you keep struggling to control me.”

    “No, **** you. Stop taking over what belongs to me.”

    “You’re so trapped in your illusion that you don’t see how truly deep the **** you’re in is. You want to stop having problems with me? Give yourself up to me then. I see everything you want, don’t worry. I’ll take everything you want. You’re a monster, so start acting like one. I would have just broken the glass and taken that coat today. You just don’t get it…”

    “No, no, no!” Nekou screamed, pulling at her hair in anguish. She could feel her muscles beginning to tense and swell, a fact that made her realize she was losing control. “Shut the **** up! Just stop it!”

    Ignoring her pleas, the voice kept on, “We’ll have to find somewhere to live, too. There’s plenty of rich assholes in this city, we can kill one and take his **** and nobody would be any the wiser. Of course, we’d need to surround ourselves with things we like, too. Maybe we can take that guy you’ve got your eye on and that girl and make them ours, whether they like it or not…”

    “Shut the **** up!!”

    Regretting having ever tried to reach her vicious side deliberately, Nekou flipped over and hit her head against the side of the tub in a desperate attempt to escape. It didn’t help, as she could hear the twisted version of her voice laughing at her in her head.

    Suddenly, music filled the room.

    “Cover me with kisses, baby, cover me with love, roll me in designer sheets I’ll never get enough… emotions come I don’t know why, cover up love’s alibi…”

    The ringing of her phone, which had been sitting on the side of the tub, snapped Nekou out of her increasing insanity. As she flopped back over in the water again, she thought she heard the voice one last time.

    “I’ll see you again…”

    Pushing the whole thing out of her mind as much as she could, Nekou sank down in the tub until the water was at her neck, then hit her phone, activating the hologram function. Another projection of Giovanni materialized just in time to see her reaching for a beer can on the other side of the tub.

    “Drinking again?” he sighed.

    “Oh come on, I’m off the clock now. Cut me some slack.”

    “No, Lalume, you aren’t,” Giovanni reproached her. “Polaris found out about our plans somehow and sent a decoy train. The mission isn’t over.”

    This news prompted Nekou to sit up slightly. “Well, ****. Did you manage to at least call off Pierce’s friends?”

    “No. They cut off contact. This is about to get much, much worse. Be careful.”

    “What’s…” Nekou paused to take a nervous sip of beer before finishing her question, “what’s our move now?”

    “Stand by. I will have more orders tomorrow.”

    -:-

    A three-car train sped over the plains on its way into Kanto under a clear, early night sky. Aboard were Looker and several other International Police members, with two prisoners in their custody. Looker was riding in the back car with Jacob, while in the middle car, the other officers were holding a rigid-faced man with disheveled blue hair and a matching beard. From their car, Looker and Jacob could hear the prisoner ranting out loud.

    “I see Ecruteak City burning… and I see this region falling to its knees… listen to me, we’re all going to die!”

    Looker sighed. “That man, whose name is Grings Kodai… he is still thinking he can see his vision into the future?”

    “We’re all going to die, listen to me! There’s going to be a big explosion, and, and…”

    “Wait…”

    “Alexison, you should best keep your mouth shut.”

    “No, I’m serious.” Though he couldn’t move much due to being handcuffed to a rail, Jacob stared straight at Looker with a fire in his eyes. “Listen to what he’s saying.”

    “They’re going to bomb the train!!” Kodai screamed, under the audible sounds of the officers trying to calm him.

    “Looker, if you’ve never thought about anything I say before, do it now. There might be something to what Kodai’s yelling about. He did see the future at one time.”

    Looker considered what Jacob was telling him. He couldn’t deny his prisoner’s passion for what he believed, but Looker wasn’t sure what to make of it. Standing, he walked over to a phone and picked it up.

    “Hello, this is codename Looker in car three. That is what they all call me, yes. Did you manage to happen to sweep the train for anything of suspiciousness before we departed? …I thought so.”

    “What did they say?”

    “This train does not have one spot against its record of safety…”

    In a cruel fit of irony, within seconds of Looker’s statement, a great explosion rocked the train. The bombs weren’t on the train itself, but on the tracks, decimating them just in front of the speeding vehicle. With no chance of stopping, the train plummeted off the destroyed tracks and crashed into the ground. The locomotive at the front split into two parts from the impact, while the middle car smashed into it at an angle and broke apart as well. As for the third car, it slammed into the back of the second, destroying the side that was attached to the rest of the train. Looker and Jacob were violently thrown across the car, the latter taking the broken bar his handcuffs were latched to with him.

    As smoke rose over the Kanto countryside from the combination of the bombs and the destroyed train, a thick fog suddenly began rolling in. Several men and women emerged from the fog into the site of the crash, accompanied by a Gardevoir and Gothitelle. Both Pokémon had their eyes glowing as they used their psychic power.

    “What a mess…” one of the women uttered.

    “The Prophet’s words are absolute,” another said. “We aren’t targeting anyone but Polaris, and we have to fight if we’re going to survive.”

    One of the men stepped forward and clasped his hands together. “Transcend the confines of time and space! Show me the terrain!”

    The Tenganists waited in silence for the results of their survey of the area. The man using his Transcendence took several minutes to complete the task, but when he did, he was visibly unnerved.

    “The Meteonite isn’t here… and these aren’t Polaris members, they’re the International Police…”

    “Oh damn it!” another man shouted before taking out a handheld radio. “It was a trap! We bombed an International Police convoy train!”

    “Polaris figured us out,” the Prophet said through the radio. “Are there any survivors?”

    “Two in the back car,” the man who had scanned the area reported. “Everyone else is gone already…”

    “Take the two who survived and bring them back,” came the order. “Retreat before Polaris finds you. We’ll have to heal the survivors and talk to them.”

    Several of the Tenganists made their way to the wreckage of the third car, where Looker and Jacob were unconscious on the floor. They pulled the two survivors up and dragged them out of the train. With nothing more at the site for them, the Tenganists then fled back into the fog, and once they had disappeared with their Pokémon, the fog lifted, leaving no evidence they’d been there.







    END of CHAPTER 14

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  24. #149
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    “Well I know what you did last night,” Matt sighed.

    “A night not spent drinking is a night wasted,” she slurred back, into the floor.

    “I guess it’s good to have a motto,”laughed Bunny.

    “Olivia, step back. Bunny, help me get her up.”
    Concerning the bolded parts, I recently read an article concerning bookisms, words used to replace said. Some are okay when used once in a while like mutter, yell, whisper as people do those occasionally. However others like snicker, laugh, sigh, grunt are not as it’s hard to laugh/etc. when talking. Pretty much ask yourself, “Will I be able to say this as I chuckle/snicker/etc?” You can easily edit the bolded parts I pointed out.

    - “Well I know what you did last night,” Matt sighed. (You can easily replace the comma with the period or change the dialogue tag to “Matt said and sighed”. That way it doesn’t seem like Matt is sighing as he’s saying that line—he either sighs before or after he speaks.)

    -“I guess it’s good to have a motto,” laughed Bunny. (Same thing, Bunny either laughs before or after she speaks. You can replace “laughed Bunny” with “Bunny said before laughing” or replace the comma with period and put “Bunny laugh” right after it.)

    Meanwhile, on the same floor of the hotel and not far from Matt’s group’s suite, a beautiful woman with jet-black hair was sitting at her laptop, speaking to another individual on a video call. She was wearing a white bathrobe and drinking a cup of coffee as they talked.
    “Beautiful” seems a bit off to me as people have their own ideas of who is considered beautiful. I would probably rewrite the paragraph a bit to mention that’s Rowana straight away.

    “You are to begin your part of the mission now, Pierce,” Giovanni added when he didn’t hear Pierce leave immediately.

    A slight flush came to Pierce’s cheeks. He always stuck rigidly to rules, and everyone in the room knew it, but he had feared accidentally leaving during his briefing so much that he ended up missing the cue to do just that.

    “Y-yes, Giovanni, sir!” he stammered, embarrassed at his failure to live up to his own standards, before turning and quickly leaving.
    I found this part with Pierce cute, heh.

    “And I think I’m already shipping you and me,” she whispered, continuing to draw closer to him.
    That line is priceless. XD I do like the reference to the store’s basement, though.

    “I call this perfume Meromero,” the wheelchair-bound scientist explained. “It’s substantially derived from Mental Herb, with a dash of White Herb as well as liquefied Lax Incense extract added. Hit someone with one dose of it and they’ll be out like a light, but additionally, they won’t want to wake up easily because they’ll be dreaming of the person they’re most physically attracted to.”
    That perfume sure is something. D:

    “Well it looks like Olivia’s got her first boy crushing on her!” Nekou suddenly and loudly exclaimed, making Matt and Bunny cringe with the volume of her voice. As she walked behind the others, though, Nekou was grateful that Olivia preferred to stay at the Department Store, as it made her mission much easier.
    I would cringe too if Nekou announces that loudly in public, haha.

    “Well of course you liked how I battled!” Olivia suddenly and proudly exclaimed, pulling back and shrugging her shoulders. “You’re nice enough, so sure, why would I say no? But I get to pick which movie.”
    Of course Olivia will want to pick the movie. :P Monroe’s confession is cute.

    Lysandre was also present as he had promised, standing out among the crowd due to his great height and well-tailored clothing.
    Oh hi again, Lysandre. :P

    When Zinzolin said “You can’t be serious” as Jessie and James were saying their motto, I laughed as his reaction is amusing. Their interruption with Swoobat and Cofagrigus is quite cool.

    “Calling up the data on Team Rocket right now, Agent Looker, please stand by…” a female voice said on the other end of the call. The sound of a computer keyboard clicking could be heard, followed by an audible gasp. “A-Agent Looker… there is… there is no logged data of any crime for any of them! According to our database, the members of Team Rocket are completely clean!”
    My reaction is the same as Looker’s and Silver’s. O.o

    A great roaring sound filled the air, and when Zinzolin looked up past the Team Rocket members, he saw the clouds beginning to part. Stunned, he could only watch as a hot-air balloon equipped with jet boosters on its basket descended, piloted by Jessie’s Wobbuffet. It was only when he saw the red Team Rocket insignia on both the metallic blue basket and the dark purple balloon itself that Zinzolin truly realized how coordinated the attack on the speech was.
    Okay that’s pretty awesome of Wobbuffet piloting the balloon. Very glad Jessie and James are able to get Meowth back!

    If it had been anyone other than Olivia saying that, Nekou would have attacked them on the spot. She had to restrain her reaction to what she considered an insulting implication, keeping her rage in check by breathing heavily and clenching her fists so tightly that her palms bled slightly.

    “Not everything has a conspiracy behind it, Olivia,” Nekou said, managing a fairly gentle tone. “I think what we saw on the TV was what really happened.”
    Good Nekou thought over her words before suddenly lashing at Olivia.

    “Oh, that sounds fun,” Monroe beamed, his usual nervous demeanor disappearing briefly. “But… O-Olivia, if you don’t…”
    Bringing attention to bookisms again (in this case, beamed). I would replace the comma with the period as “beamed” used to replace “said” is weird.

    The rock sparked to life with an electrical glow. Its light got brighter and brighter as it discharged more energy, forcing Jessie, James, Giovanni, Rosalie and the other Team Rocket members to cover their eyes. At its most intense point, Meowth could be heard screaming, and shortly after that, the light began to fade.

    The laser box, left cracked by the intensity of the energy, shattered and dropped Meowth to the floor. Jessie and James watched him, barely able to contain their anticipation.

    Finally, he slowly stood up, rubbing his head. “Ugh… where am I? What happened?”

    “Meowth! You’re back to normal!”

    “We finally got you away from Polaris!”

    Meowth turned around and saw Jessie and James. Realizing what had happened, he jumped into their arms, and the three of them all started crying in joy.

    “You two guys really saved me!”

    “We can’t terrorize Polaris if we aren’t a trio!”

    “James is right, and now we can even say the motto the right way again!”
    Interesting the Chargestone is used to bring Meowth to normal. And the mention over the motto not being complete without him is cute.

    “Got it.” Rosalie hit several buttons on the arm of her wheelchair, opening a hologram window that displayed ‘audio only.’ “Come in, this is Goldenrod…”

    What neither Rosalie nor Giovanni were expecting was to be met with static.

    “Come in, this is Goldenrod!” Rosalie repeated.

    There was no response. The silence sent a chill down Rosalie’s spine, and behind her, Giovanni scowled and leaned on his arm.

    She turned her head and nervously said to him, “Sir, we can’t get them to respond… we might not be able to stop this…”

    “So be it,” Giovanni growled. “We’ll have to take what losses happen and go to a backup plan…”
    Don't like the sound of that at all...

    Thank goodness Giovanni’s phone call interrupted Nekou’s arguing with her head. Having your mind keep telling you negative things over and over is the worst feeling (happens to me many times). >.>;

    Jacob and Kodai in the same train together? Why am I amused of that image. XD Anyways, in all seriousness though ah yup, Kodai is right over the explosion. D:

        Spoiler:- incase:


    Another good chapter here. Team Rocket’s interruption during the speech is fun and the train explosion is great. Looking forward to part 2 of the Goldenrod City under siege arc!


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  25. #150

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    Even though this is a shorter chapter, I felt like there was no lack of action in it. The chapter went smoothly and flowed really nicely too. Onto specific stuff I enjoyed:


    “Carry the spirits of our brave ancestors inside your hearts,” she powerfully said, addressing them in a fashion meant to rally them. “Our people must once again rise up in battle to fight for our survival. Like the courageous warriors who came before us, we must fully believe in our cause. What we will do will be violent, and people will die, but we do not take this action because we want to. This is what we must do to save our people from extinction. We must strike against Polaris. We will strike them quickly and powerfully, then retreat with our spoils as quickly as we came.”
    I thought this was a really powerful and moving speech, and the scene itself was beautiful. I really get a sense of the gravity of what they're about to undertake from this.

    Nearby the Pokémon Center was a grand hotel that stood taller than a good number of the buildings in central Goldenrod. Before he had gone over to the Gym from the Battle Factory the previous day, Matt had rented a suite, intending it as a surprise reward for Olivia after she won.

    “Goal! And with that goal, the Roshan Glaciers take a one to nothing lead, combining the strength of their Beartic’s goaltending with Cryogonal’s agile shots! After this break, we’ll see if the Dendemille Icicles can tie the score. You’re watching international Pokémon Baccer on GlobalNet.”

    Olivia and Bunny were sitting on the plush couch opposite the large plasma-screen television, but looked away as the sports they had been watching gave way to commercials. Matt’s coat was lying folded over next to them.

    “Wasn’t that something?” Olivia beamed. “That Cryogonal’s spin shot… I’ve been watching Pokémon Baccer for years and that stuff always impresses me!”
    Nice shout-out to the Zoroark movie and Pokemon Baccer here.

    What they found was Nekou lying face-first on the floor with a bottle in her hand. Simultaneously, they all grimaced.

    “Well I know what you did last night,” Matt sighed.

    “A night not spent drinking is a night wasted,” she slurred back, into the floor.

    “I guess it’s good to have a motto,” laughed Bunny.

    “Olivia, step back. Bunny, help me get her up.”

    Following Matt’s direction, Olivia went back to the television, while Bunny joined him in lifting Nekou up from under her arms. They helped her stumble over toward another chair near the television, but they didn’t know what was inside their seemingly drunk friend’s mind.

    The night of binge drinking was a complete lie. Nekou had only been drinking right before going up to the room, and she took satisfaction at how easy covering her tracks had been. In reality, she had spent the night at Team Rocket’s hideout at Ada’s request. As Matt and Bunny dropped her on the chair, they had truly no idea what she had really done. She rationalized her baldfaced lie by telling herself that she was still acting to protect her friends, assuaging the guilt she did feel for misleading them so badly.
    Great cover story for Nekou here. I especially appreciate how you showed Nekou realizing she misled them but that it's necessary to keep them safe- sometimes those decisions are necessary and you didn't oversimplify it.

    Gotta say, Nekou has some good advice as far as drinking goes.

    “It’s tea time! The best water, the finest leaves, warmed at the right temperature… Striaton Brothers Tea. Have a taste today!”
    Good Unova reference there.

    Meanwhile, on the same floor of the hotel and not far from Matt’s group’s suite, a beautiful woman with jet-black hair was sitting at her laptop, speaking to another individual on a video call. She was wearing a white bathrobe and drinking a cup of coffee as they talked.

    “It’s today, like I said, Secc,” she informed the party on the other side of the call. “Polaris has publicized an event at the plaza outside the Global Terminal, to address the growing division between the poor and privileged. I intend to film as much of it as I can and maybe grab a few interviews if possible.”

    “Fine by me, Rowena,” the young man on her computer screen replied. He brushed a lock of his green hair from his face, then adjusted the headphones he was wearing. “ONBS always seeks to broadcast the truth, and this story is something I’ve had my eye on since Polaris first entered the public sphere. With Marcia off covering stories on the other end of Orre, we have to rely on our freelancers, and you’re the finest one to ever file a story for us.”

    “Of course, on that note, we have to talk compensation,” Rowena said with a wink.

    “File the story and we’ll talk, but rest assured that if it’s the caliber of your previous work, the payment will be quite handsome. I understand you intend to reconnect with the source you used for the story on Everton International’s corruption?”

    “Yeah, Matt Chiaki is staying in this very hotel. He had a rather nasty encounter with Polaris in Violet City, so I believe he’ll be worth interviewing again.”

    “Do what your journalistic judgment tells you is right to get the story. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

    Secc disconnected from the call, cutting off the video stream on Rowena’s computer. Seeing that her trainer was finished with her conversation, a Pokémon similar in appearance to Minccino but wrapped in luxurious white fur jumped onto Rowena’s shoulder.

    “Cinci?”

    “This is a big one, Cinccino,” Rowena gently said, scratching her Pokémon on the chin. “You and I are going to get a full-fledged expose on Polaris.”
    YES, ROWENA'S BACK! Love her, and love Cinccino. Looks like she's just as serious a reporter as ever.

    “I understand, Lord Ghetsis,” Zinzolin answered, not flinching from bowing before Ghetsis despite how much it pained his back. “My speech is prepared. It would appear that there is significant interest in the event, as well, so I fully expect that everything will work out as we hope.”
    Zinzolin's dedication to Ghetsis is fascinating. Even when it hurts him from old age, he's totally loyal.

    Pierce remained rigidly still, so Rosalie guided her wheelchair to him. She handed him a device that resembled an electronic compass with a small computer attached to its bottom.

    “That is programmed to detect even latent Meteonite energy,” the professor explained between puffs of her pipe. “You are to use it and track down where Polaris is keeping the large Meteonite they took from the Ruins of Alph. The upper portion is both a map of the city and a compass, so when you find the location, make sure to mark it down. That data will be transferred to our computers here, allowing us to begin planning a takedown.”

    “You are to begin your part of the mission now, Pierce,” Giovanni added when he didn’t hear Pierce leave immediately.

    A slight flush came to Pierce’s cheeks. He always stuck rigidly to rules, and everyone in the room knew it, but he had feared accidentally leaving during his briefing so much that he ended up missing the cue to do just that.

    “Y-yes, Giovanni, sir!” he stammered, embarrassed at his failure to live up to his own standards, before turning and quickly leaving.
    okay this is adorable. Love awkwardly official Pierce.

    “Cover me with kisses, baby, cover me with love, roll me in designer sheets I’ll never get enough… emotions come I don’t know why, cover up love’s alibi…”

    She clearly has a sense of humor with her ringtones


    “Hey! You can’t be in here!”

    Nekou didn’t turn around to face the security guard immediately. A plan instantly took shape in her head, and the brief look of surprise she had gave way to a devious smirk.

    “Oh my, officer, did I do something wrong?” As she turned, she put on her best seductive voice and glared at him through half-closed eyes. “Tell me. I was bad, wasn’t I?”

    Clearly unnerved, the guard stammered, “Y-You can’t be back here. This is a s-shipping area. Staff only. You don’t have one of our uniforms so I know you aren’t…”

    “And I think I’m already shipping you and me,” she whispered, continuing to draw closer to him.

    “You won’t get out of trouble with this. I’m a happily married…”

    Nekou was practically in his face now, and she was clutching one of the open folds of her uniform. He realized what she was intending to do and turned beet red.

    “Then just have a quick look.”

    She started to pull back the opening, but before the guard could see anything, a puff of light-blue vapor burst out. As soon as he inhaled it, he blacked out and collapsed.

    “Sweet dreams, ****er,” Nekou grumbled, taking her phone back out. Before she answered it, she thanked her luck to have Rosalie on her side.
    I laughed out loud at this whole scene, especially the shipping jokes. On a more serious note though, Nekou was well prepared for this, and it shows how seriously she takes her job.

    “I call this perfume Meromero,” the wheelchair-bound scientist explained. “It’s substantially derived from Mental Herb, with a dash of White Herb as well as liquefied Lax Incense extract added. Hit someone with one dose of it and they’ll be out like a light, but additionally, they won’t want to wake up easily because they’ll be dreaming of the person they’re most physically attracted to.”
    Good touch using Pokemon herb ingredients in the formula. It makes perfect sense they'd be used together.

    When Nekou finally pushed the ‘accept holo clip’ button on the screen of her phone, the lens on its top generated a hologram of Giovanni in his chair.

    “Lalume, what took you so long to answer the call?” he growled.

    “Had to deal with an unforeseen interruption, boss. What’s up?”

    Giovanni sighed and shut his eyes for a moment before speaking. “I have commenced the mission, so your role is now active. Keep Matt Chiaki and his friends away from Polaris’s event site. We cannot risk any interference. It has to be us against Polaris.”

    “I think that ought to be easy to do.”

    “Then go do it. I’ll communicate with you again at an appropriate…”

    “Wait, before you go, boss… tell Rosalie that Meromero worked like a charm.”

    “Fine.”
    I can tell from this scene that even though Giovanni might find some of Nekou's habits annoying, he still appreciates her, and that's a great and important thing to show. I think far too often writers portray him as a grouchy jerk, with few other aspects to his character, and stuff like this makes him a little more human and is ESPECIALLY important if one wants him to be portrayed with any level of sympathy. It makes perfect sense- and fits every canon for him- for him to be appreciative and respectful of his agents who do good work.

    “Well it looks like Olivia’s got her first boy crushing on her!” Nekou suddenly and loudly exclaimed, making Matt and Bunny cringe with the volume of her voice. As she walked behind the others, though, Nekou was grateful that Olivia preferred to stay at the Department Store, as it made her mission much easier.
    Oh, Nekou.

    You're handling Monroe and Olivia really well, I think. It's unusual to see the male character on the side of the relationship that Monroe is in in this story- usually the female character is the awkward one- and that's refreshing.


    “I’m getting a bad feeling about this,” Silver said as he watched the flow of people toward the Global Terminal plaza. “How many do you think there are going to be?”

    “If I was to work into myself giving an estimate… a number touching into the range of hundreds sounds like it is correct.” Setting down his smartphone, Looker shut his eyes and rubbed his chin. “And if the Team Rocket should make an appearance…”

    “Why do you think I insisted on coming with you?!” Silver snapped, slamming his fist on the table. “You’re the one here concerned about whatever those Polaris idiots are doing, but I just consider them bait. I know that Team Rocket won’t be able to resist showing up for this.”

    “Do not be getting ahead of your own position,” Looker warned. “Action that is reckless will lead to only more problems…”
    Silver should listen to Looker's advice. I really enjoy their scenes together, they're a good duo.

    Meanwhile, Pierce was making his way north, concealed by his own trench coat and following the signals from the device Rosalie had given him. He was near the line where the central city area gave way to the northern slum, yet the device urged him to go further still.

    “They hid it where nobody would think to look…” he thought, seeing that the brightness of the readout was intensifying as he went into the slum. “The attention of the poor in this city will be on their speech, making it easy for them to move something out of this area…”
    I enjoy seeing Pierce's deduction. He seems like a fairly smart agent and this reflects that.

    Matt and Bunny looked to Monroe, confused by what he was saying. Olivia, on the other hand, actually seemed to understand. She walked to a nearby mirror and considered her appearance.

    “You know,” she said after a moment, “I think I actually see it. I’ll have to let my hair down tonight and see how it looks.” Turning around, Olivia smiled at Monroe, making him nearly jump from his nerves. “Thanks.”

    “I think it’ll look good.”

    While Olivia had been considering her new look, Nekou had come out from the dressing rooms as well. She had replaced her uniform and kneesocks with a black, waist-tied trench coat of similar appearance and a pair of knee-high boots.

    “You think so?” Olivia glowed in the praise her friend was putting on her. “Thanks!”
    This scene is really cute. It's adorable to see Olivia growing up, and Nekou and Olivia have the sweetest relationship ever.

    “I…I…” After gulping again, Monroe took a deep breath, shut his eyes and forced himself into saying what he wanted to. “Olivia, I really liked your battle with Whitney and I want to know if you’ll go to a movie with me!”

    Monroe’s face went bright red as soon as he coughed up his request, matched only by how flush Olivia’s turned. Matt and Bunny could only watch with their mouths agape, while Nekou, having been the one to figure out Monroe’s feelings first, just smirked wryly.

    Slowly, Olivia approached Monroe, her every step sending a chill down his bones. He was already embarrassed but his fear kept rising until she was right in his face, staring into his eyes. To Monroe, it felt as if Olivia was staring right into his soul.

    “Well of course you liked how I battled!” Olivia suddenly and proudly exclaimed, pulling back and shrugging her shoulders. “You’re nice enough, so sure, why would I say no? But I get to pick which movie.”

    Feeling a weight lifted from his shoulders, Monroe gasped in relief and said, “Oh, of… of course. Your choice.”
    Aww. Glad Olivia didn't turn Monroe down. I'm enjoying how their relationship is really growing this chapter, it's very realistic and sweet.

    “We’re seeing literally hundreds of people, many of them from the slums, flowing into the central area of Goldenrod City for Polaris’s speech. The best estimates are that a crowd of around three hundred is now gathered outside the Global Terminal…”

    Immediately upon hearing the newscaster’s words, Nekou became completely serious again. Even while the others just listened to the broadcast, she said, “It might get dangerous out there. Olivia, Monroe, go to your movie later. For now, let’s get something to eat here.”

    “A-Actually, that’s a good idea,” Monroe said in agreement. “I’m kind of hungry.”

    “There’s a burger stand I want to try in the food court here,” Matt piped up.

    “Then that’s where we’ll go,” Nekou concluded. “Come on. They have TVs up there, so we’ll see everything that goes on.”
    Good thinking, Nekou. I can only imagine how startling the news report must be to those in the mall.

    “Welcome! Welcome, citizens of Goldenrod City!” Once he had begun speaking, Zinzolin started to settle into his comfort zone. While he was no master of giving speeches like Ghetsis – and he knew as much – he felt confidence in his ability to deliver Ghetsis’s words. “Each and every one of you deserves applause for coming this far. I know it was not easy for you, perhaps near impossible for some, but the calling of justice brought you all here today. As you know, my name is Zinzolin, and I am here as a representative of Polaris. I am here to speak to you today about the injustices visited upon you, who you should hold responsible, and what you can do about it.”

    A murmur went up from the crowd. Zinzolin regarded it as a good sign – he knew that they were interested in the lead of his speech, which meant they were listening. All that was left was to sell his case.

    “People of Goldenrod City, I ask you to look around yourselves. Are you pleased with the state of your city, divided as it is? Where we stand now, we are at the heart of this corrupt, diseased beast created by the Pokémon League! Why, just observe our surroundings as I speak to you.” The crowd was enraptured with Zinzolin already, and their collective gazes followed his sweeping gestures. “The Magnet Train station, where the wealthy and privileged who have oppressed you travel freely across these regions, while you are left with only your own feet… the Game Corner, where those people and their decadent families while away their time and ill-gotten money on frivolous games without a care in the world… the Radio Tower, which serves to further spread the siren song that calls our young people to the foolish path of the Pokémon League… and finally, I can think of no more perfect a symbol for the derelict, bloated order of the Pokémon League than the building right behind me, the Global Terminal. Behind me, hundreds if not thousands of Pokémon are traded daily by those who can afford the equipment necessary to capture them. Those individuals can easily acquire a wide variety of Pokémon from throughout the world, and every species they collect makes it easier for them to obtain even more. Not only that, it is those with the widest variety of Pokémon available to them that have the easiest way in this world. But what opportunity do those who are not permitted to even get their feet into the door have? That promise of false opportunity is what has led to the despicable status of this city! The facilities that benefit those who have grown fat on the backs of you, the people, are clustered in this neon hell at the center of Goldenrod City. Meanwhile, you are kept out of that opportunity, that gilded life, and exiled to the decrepit slums where you are neither seen nor heard! But today, that will change! Today you will be seen and you will be heard!”

    That last proclamation was what it took to finally get the reaction Zinzolin had expected all along from the crowd. A great cheer rose from the people, one that showed they were hungry for more of what Zinzolin was feeding them. Before moving to the next point in his speech, Zinzolin took a moment to bathe in the eager adoration of the crowd before him.

    “Yes, you know it all to be true! For decades, generations now, this regime known as the Pokémon League has kept you down. Through all matters of media, they present to you an idealized image, a dream, of life under their control. Pokémon Master…” Zinzolin coughed scornfully before continuing. “I must scoff at the very notion. We see media telling you day in and day out that all you need to reach a life of luxury is belief… belief in yourself, but more wickedly, faith in their leadership. They will give you everything, they claim… free care at the Pokémon Centers? A lie, such benefits are reserved only for the privileged few who qualify for a Pokédex. How about Poké Marts stocked with all the resources trainers could ever need? Another lie. The products sold to trainers at these corrupt establishments are by and large rationed in favor of those with more Badges. Good point about that, let’s talk about Badges for a second. To get a Badge, you have to defeat a local Gym Leader in a Pokémon battle, as you all already know. Of course, you are all smart enough to see the problem with this. To have the best chances of defeating Gym Leaders, you must have the leg up offered to only those already in the upper crust of society! And of course, these Gym Leaders… they are contributing to the culture of corruption keeping you in second-class status! We of Polaris have come here before you to present the truth that has been hidden, and we urge you to rise! Join us and make your voices heard! Tell the Gym Leaders and the Pokémon League that you will soon be at their doorsteps!”
    I'm really impressed by this speech. First, the way locales in Goldenrod City are used to symbolize Polaris' objections to the League system is brilliant- Ghetsis clearly knows how to write speeches to work a crowd, and turning everyday fixtures in the crowd's life into symbols of oppression is fairly persuasive. The second half of the speech is also well written, each point flowing well into another. I've pointed out before how chilling the speeches in your story are, and this is another great example.

    All of a sudden, a number of blue fireballs descended from the sky in a ring, settling around the stage. The Will-O-Wisp attack was followed by several blades of air striking the stage, forcing Zinzolin to stumble backward and away from Meowth. When he looked up, he saw a Swoobat and Cofagrigus descending from the sky, and moments later, four laser beams shot down from above the clouds to surround Meowth. A box of light formed around him when the lasers faded.
    Okay, I was worried about poor Meowth but when this happened I couldn't help but smile. Because I knew exactly where this was going.

    “Th-those Pokémon…” Zinzolin stuttered. “Who is so bold as to do this…?”

    “Do you really need to ask that question?”

    “If you really want to know, the answer is here!”

    Behind Swoobat and Cofagrigus, who were laughing at Zinzolin, Jessie and James –still wearing their trench coats, hats and sunglasses - descended using jetpacks strapped to their backs.

    “Prepare for trouble, soaring from the sky!” Jessie shouted to the assembly.

    “And make it double, over the earth it flies!” James enthusiastically added.

    “You can NOT be serious…” thought Zinzolin.

    Not caring what their foe thought, the two Team Rocket members continued their motto, with Jessie saying, “To protect the world from devastation!”

    “To unite all peoples within our nation!”

    “To denounce the evils of truth and love!”

    “To extend our reach to the stars above!”

    With that, Jessie and James tore off their disguises, revealing their customized black Team Rocket uniforms underneath.

    “Jessie!”

    “James!”

    “Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!”

    “Surrender now, or prepare to fight!”

    While Jessie and James struck dramatic poses in the air, the crowd looked on in disgruntled silence. Zinzolin gazed at them in a cold fury.
    YES

    While Jessie and James struck dramatic poses in the air, the crowd looked on in disgruntled silence. Zinzolin gazed at them in a cold fury.

    “How dare you come here!” he roared, finding a new strength in his voice. “You two are the prime example of what goes on unchecked in this failed society!”

    Ignoring the old man’s rant, Jessie said, “It sure felt good to do that in front of them, but don’t you think something was missing?”

    “You’re right, Jessie. Meowth was missing…” Turning down to the stage and its occupants, James took a deep breath and yelled, “He’s missing because you Polaris creeps took him from us! And we’re here to take him back!”
    Okay their banter here is the single most beautiful bit of dialogue I've ever seen between the two of them. Great work.

    All of a sudden, a flurry of stones flew from somewhere in the crowd and crashed onto the stage, extinguishing Cofagrigus’s flames but locking Zinzolin in tighter. A Dusclops rose from the assembly, holding Proton by the shoulders, and floated toward the stage.

    “Rock Tomb, once more!” Proton called.

    More rugged stones materialized around Dusclops, and when her eye flashed, they started to rain down.

    Zinzolin growled and quickly lashed one of his Poké Balls toward the threat. “Weavile, Ice Shard!”

    As soon as she burst from her ball, Weavile brought her claws together and launched a series of sharp-edged ice chunks toward the Rock Tomb. When they hit the stones, both attacks exploded into dust. Though they’d been shocked still so far, when the explosion rang out over their heads, it was like a switch was thrown in the minds of the crowd.
    Didn't expect Proton there.

    Rowena retreated slightly into the alley, avoiding the flood of people just beyond her hiding place. Her resolve to continue pursuing the story quickly returned, though, and with a new burst of courage, she approached the crowd again and grabbed at the first arm she could reach, pulling its owner toward her. It turned out to be the homeless trainer Team Rocket had helped.

    “Who are you?” he coughed as he stumbled into the alley.

    “A reporter,” Rowena answered. “I want to ask you some questions when this is over.”

    The trainer shrugged. “I guess I can do that.”
    Oh nice, I never expected that homeless guy to show up again. Rowena is great not letting this keep her from getting the scoop, love me some badass reporter women.

    While Swoobat and Jynx’s attacks met in a midair explosion, Looker, Silver and several others – including Lysandre – were watching the chaos from the second floor of the train station.

    “I knew they’d show up,” Silver growled. “It’s go time.”

    “It is that it is,” Looker responded, frantically dialing a number with his phone. “Greetings, it is I, with the codename of Looker! I am needing warrants of arrest for the members of the Team Rocket, as their plea bargain has been violated!”

    “Calling up the data on Team Rocket right now, Agent Looker, please stand by…” a female voice said on the other end of the call. The sound of a computer keyboard clicking could be heard, followed by an audible gasp. “A-Agent Looker… there is… there is no logged data of any crime for any of them! According to our database, the members of Team Rocket are completely clean!”

    “What?!” Looker nearly crushed the phone in his hand, and he had screamed so loudly that everyone in the room was staring at him. “How is that possible to be happening? The Team Rocket… cleared of all crimes?!”

    “What the hell did you just say?” roared Silver. He was so overcome with rage that he put his hands on his head and pulled his own hair. “Impossible, I won’t accept it! Just arrest them for what they’re doing now!”

    Putting away the phone, Looker stared out the window and said, “If they haven’t been acting to violate the plea bargain we gave to them… then what are they happening to be doing, precisely?”

    “Are… are you actually serious? Disrupting the peace, if nothing else!”

    Looker rubbed his chin, images of the past flashing through his mind. “Polaris’s speech event was occurring to already disrupt that peace, though… and that man named Zinzolin… he is still wearing on his self the crest of the Team Plasma and working with the man named Ghetsis… I am not trusting the situation. Not to be mentioning, the Team Rocket did not harm anyone called a civilian. They only targeted that Meowth, which I am being able to tell you for quite certain does belong to them. I want to see how this will end up being played out…”
    Well, I can't exactly argue with Looker's logic there, about Meowth. Silver's not a happy camper though...

    Swoobat and Cofagrigus weren’t afraid, however, and they met Zinzolin’s offense with a spirited counterattack. Swoobat cut down the ice chunks with blades of air lashed from her wings, while Cofagrigus drifted right in front of Cryogonal’s Flash Cannon and used a Shadow Ball to nearly completely block it.

    Much to Zinzolin’s surprise, Jessie and James then recalled Swoobat and Cofagrigus, and after recalling his Dusclops, Proton flew up on his own jetpack alongside them.

    “What are you doing now, you Team Rocket cowards?” Zinzolin shouted up into the air. “Are you surrendering?”

    “Oh, we’re not surrendering,” Jessie smugly said.

    “You might call it more of a tactical retreat…” added James, “…with our spoils of victory!”

    “Stop being theatrical,” Proton warned them. “We’re at the endgame of phase one. It’s time.”
    I love how much sass Jessie and James possess in this scene.

    “Got it.” Putting her finger to her ear, Jessie called out, “Yoo hoo, Wobbuffet!”

    A great roaring sound filled the air, and when Zinzolin looked up past the Team Rocket members, he saw the clouds beginning to part. Stunned, he could only watch as a hot-air balloon equipped with jet boosters on its basket descended, piloted by Jessie’s Wobbuffet. It was only when he saw the red Team Rocket insignia on both the metallic blue basket and the dark purple balloon itself that Zinzolin truly realized how coordinated the attack on the speech was.
    Oh, Wobbuffet.

    Weavile aimed her icy blast squarely at the balloon itself, but it met resistance when Wobbuffet, glowing brightly, jumped from the basket. As soon as the Blizzard hit Wobbuffet, its energy enveloped him, only to be blasted back moments later, and Weavile was cut down by the counterattack.
    No one is ever ready for the full force of the Wobbuffet.

    “I just can’t catch a break,” he sighed to himself, already dreading whatever punishment Ghetsis would level out. Looking around, he realized just how empty the plaza had become, and seeing no further point in staying himself, recalled his Pokémon and fled for a car hidden behind the stage.
    Yeah, I can't imagine Ghetsis is going to be too happy with Zinzolin after he got beaten that hard by TR...

    “You saw it, you have to arrest them!”

    “Yes, I did indeed happen to be seeing it, but I cannot say I support that conclusion.”

    “Why?!” Silver raged, stomping his foot on the tile floor. “They’re criminals, just as much as that Team Plasma is!”

    “That they are. But we just were seeing and witnessing them not harm anyone who is not also a criminal suspect. They were attacking only the stage and struck a retreat after taking something that rightfully was precisely their own.”
    Good to see Looker being a good cop here and not arresting Team Rocket for not actually doing anything wrong. Silver might not like it, but Looker's correct.

    The entire Team Rocket vs Zinzolin scene was pretty amazing and action packed, and the kind of writing they deserve. Possibly one of the most thrilling scenes I've seen for a while, and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I read it. I've definitely got some ideas for how to write them in the future from this, so good work.


    “Things appear to be returning to normal following Team Rocket’s attack on the speech being given by Polaris. Stick with us throughout this breaking news story as it unfolds…”

    All of the televisions hanging over the Department Store’s packed food court were tuned to the news, and an unsettling quiet had set into the shoppers, who had seen the entire incident from the beginning.

    “What is all of this…” Matt murmured, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. “I’m getting really nervous about Polaris. Did you hear those things Zinzolin was saying? Especially after he attacked us in Violet City…”

    “And Team Rocket, too…” Bunny said, her voice low and wavering. “I don’t know if you know about this, but a few years ago in Unova, there was a war between Team Rocket and Team Plasma, the group Zinzolin and Ghetsis used to lead. If that’s still going and is coming to Johto, we might get caught up in the middle of it…”

    “You’ve got to ask yourselves the hard ****ing question,” Nekou chimed in. She was visibly tense, and was boiling with anger internally, though Bunny had no idea it was what she said that caused it. “Who is worse here, a gang of common thieves or actual ****ing terrorists who are trying to overthrow the government?”

    “I guess you have a point there…” Matt mumbled into the table.

    “But on the other hand,” Olivia piped up, “How do we know it’s as simple as it looks? What if this is a trick, and they’re working together?”

    If it had been anyone other than Olivia saying that, Nekou would have attacked them on the spot. She had to restrain her reaction to what she considered an insulting implication, keeping her rage in check by breathing heavily and clenching her fists so tightly that her palms bled slightly.

    “Not everything has a conspiracy behind it, Olivia,” Nekou said, managing a fairly gentle tone. “I think what we saw on the TV was what really happened.”

    “You’re right.” Turning away from her friend, Olivia slumped in her chair. “But this is just so scary, all of it... is what they’re saying true, that so many people have it that bad? Am I really that well off?”

    “Yeah, I’m a bit scared too,” Monroe said in glum agreement. “My dad’s job has made my life pretty easy, so my sisters and I could be targeted…”

    “So you’re in a similar position as me, then,” Olivia commented.

    “But, Monroe, do you consider yourself better than others because of your comfortable life?” asked Nekou.

    “No…”

    “So then at least from a moral standpoint, you’re fine. Now, honestly, I think now that all ****ing hell isn’t breaking loose out there anymore, we should stop obsessing over things we can’t help and go about our business.”
    This is a great scene to follow up that attack with, because even though Matt and the others don't know Nekou's deal yet, the reader does, and it's perfectly reasonable for her to react the way she is to what she's hearing about Team Rocket. Her understanding with Olivia shows how much Olivia means to her, and I like how you included that. I also liked Nekou pointing out to Monroe that he's not necessarily bad just for being more fortunate for other trainers- it's perspective that's lacking in Polaris' speeches.

    “Then let’s have a look…” Thumbing through movie directories on the screen, Matt noticed something that he thought Olivia and Monroe would like. “There’s a showing of Fossil Island in a little while at the movie theater in this very Department Store.”
    Heehee, Fossil Island.

    As the evening sun began to sink in the sky, Pierce found himself at his destination. The radar had led him deep into the northern slum, to a nondescript warehouse with a cargo truck parked outside.

    “Got you,” Pierce said to himself. He touched the radar device’s screen at the point where its readings were most intense, marking the warehouse with a small Team Rocket logo.

    All of a sudden, he heard the sound of tires screeching up the street. Concealing himself behind a dumpster, Pierce watched as Zinzolin’s car tore up and parked next to the truck. The old man climbed out and quickly entered the warehouse, but Pierce was still able to catch a clear sight of him.

    “And there’s the smoking gun. Caught you red-handed, Polaris.”
    I love Pierce's confidence in this scene.

    Jessie and James backed through the doorway of Team Rocket’s hideout, the latter using the R-Pad to guide the laser box containing Meowth. Once they were all inside, Jessie stopped walking abruptly, causing James to crash into her.

    “Hey! Watch where you’re going, James!”

    “If you didn’t stop behind me, that wouldn’t have happened.”

    “Both of you, quiet!” Giovanni commanded, with Persian meowing to punctuate his speech. “I see you got Meowth back here safely.”
    Great way to open this scene, especially Persian's input.

    That’s a Chargestone we had left over from Unova,” explained the scientist.

    “I know,” Jessie sharply replied, “we mined those for Dr. Zager.”
    Making Jessie know what she's talking about is a great move. She's really a brilliant character and you represent her well.

    The rock sparked to life with an electrical glow. Its light got brighter and brighter as it discharged more energy, forcing Jessie, James, Giovanni, Rosalie and the other Team Rocket members to cover their eyes. At its most intense point, Meowth could be heard screaming, and shortly after that, the light began to fade.
    Excellent use of imagery here.

    “Meowth! You’re back to normal!”

    “We finally got you away from Polaris!”

    Meowth turned around and saw Jessie and James. Realizing what had happened, he jumped into their arms, and the three of them all started crying in joy.

    “You two guys really saved me!”

    “We can’t terrorize Polaris if we aren’t a trio!”

    “James is right, and now we can even say the motto the right way again!”
    Aww, it's good to see them reunited. Nice to see friends back together.

    There was no response. The silence sent a chill down Rosalie’s spine, and behind her, Giovanni scowled and leaned on his arm.

    She turned her head and nervously said to him, “Sir, we can’t get them to respond… we might not be able to stop this…”

    “So be it,” Giovanni growled. “We’ll have to take what losses happen and go to a backup plan…”
    This dialogue really reflects their awareness that this might not end cleanly, as well as that they all seem to realize the gravity of what's going on here.

    “Cordelia, huh?”

    “Yeah, he thought she would like it and she did.”
    I see what you did there.

    Back at the hotel room, Nekou had tossed her clothes about the bronze-colored bathroom so she could soak in the tub. She had placed pots of incense around the room and sprinkled flower petals in the water, all to help her meditate.

    “I can’t lose myself to… that… again,” she said out loud, taking deep, cleansing breaths. “For Olivia’s sake, I have to control it.”

    Between the hot water and the pleasant scents she’d surrounded herself with, Nekou did what she could to relax her mind. As she sat and soaked, she did her best to push everything out of her head, knowing that it would be the only way to reach her dark, violent side without degenerating into it.

    She sat in the tub, breathing and meditating, for around an hour before she found something deep in her mind. It wasn’t clear to her what it was, just that it gave her a very uncomfortable, nervous feeling.

    “So you came without being about to die for once, huh?”

    “The ****? Who said that?” In truth, Nekou knew who it was. The voice she heard in her head was her own voice, just with a more hissing, feral tone.

    “You know me. Or is it just uncomfortable to see what kind of a monster you really are?”

    “Oh, I know I’m a monster. But what ****ing right have you got to take over my body like you own it?”

    “Because I do own it, you dumb *****. Why do you think I’m so deep inside of you? You know, just worked nice and deep in there… at the core of your being…”

    Nekou sank lower into the bath. She knew that the entity in her mind, her berserk, animalistic side, was right.

    “As much as you want to deny it, it’s true. Everything about you is a lie. Lies you built around yourself to hide from what you really are.”

    “**** you. Why am I arguing with voices in my head again? Just shut the **** up and behave. I’m in charge, not you.”

    “Oh, ouch. As always, you’ve got quite the sharp tongue. But you know, you’re the one who should be behaving. The reason you get so violent every time I come out is because you keep struggling to control me.”

    “No, **** you. Stop taking over what belongs to me.”

    “You’re so trapped in your illusion that you don’t see how truly deep the **** you’re in is. You want to stop having problems with me? Give yourself up to me then. I see everything you want, don’t worry. I’ll take everything you want. You’re a monster, so start acting like one. I would have just broken the glass and taken that coat today. You just don’t get it…”

    “No, no, no!” Nekou screamed, pulling at her hair in anguish. She could feel her muscles beginning to tense and swell, a fact that made her realize she was losing control. “Shut the **** up! Just stop it!”

    Ignoring her pleas, the voice kept on, “We’ll have to find somewhere to live, too. There’s plenty of rich assholes in this city, we can kill one and take his **** and nobody would be any the wiser. Of course, we’d need to surround ourselves with things we like, too. Maybe we can take that guy you’ve got your eye on and that girl and make them ours, whether they like it or not…”

    “Shut the **** up!!”

    Regretting having ever tried to reach her vicious side deliberately, Nekou flipped over and hit her head against the side of the tub in a desperate attempt to escape. It didn’t help, as she could hear the twisted version of her voice laughing at her in her head.
    This makes me worry for Nekou- her internal struggle, and how much it bothers her.

    Pushing the whole thing out of her mind as much as she could, Nekou sank down in the tub until the water was at her neck, then hit her phone, activating the hologram function. Another projection of Giovanni materialized just in time to see her reaching for a beer can on the other side of the tub.

    “Drinking again?” he sighed.

    “Oh come on, I’m off the clock now. Cut me some slack.”

    “No, Lalume, you aren’t,” Giovanni reproached her. “Polaris found out about our plans somehow and sent a decoy train. The mission isn’t over.”

    This news prompted Nekou to sit up slightly. “Well, ****. Did you manage to at least call off Pierce’s friends?”

    “No. They cut off contact. This is about to get much, much worse. Be careful.”

    “What’s…” Nekou paused to take a nervous sip of beer before finishing her question, “what’s our move now?”

    “Stand by. I will have more orders tomorrow.”
    What a call to get in the bath. I love how she clearly doesn't seem to care, though. It sounds like Giovanni's used to this too.

    A three-car train sped over the plains on its way into Kanto under a clear, early night sky. Aboard were Looker and several other International Police members, with two prisoners in their custody. Looker was riding in the back car with Jacob, while in the middle car, the other officers were holding a rigid-faced man with disheveled blue hair and a matching beard. From their car, Looker and Jacob could hear the prisoner ranting out loud.

    “I see Ecruteak City burning… and I see this region falling to its knees… listen to me, we’re all going to die!”

    Looker sighed. “That man, whose name is Grings Kodai… he is still thinking he can see his vision into the future?”

    “We’re all going to die, listen to me! There’s going to be a big explosion, and, and…”

    “Wait…”

    “Alexison, you should best keep your mouth shut.”

    “No, I’m serious.” Though he couldn’t move much due to being handcuffed to a rail, Jacob stared straight at Looker with a fire in his eyes. “Listen to what he’s saying.”

    “They’re going to bomb the train!!” Kodai screamed, under the audible sounds of the officers trying to calm him.

    “Looker, if you’ve never thought about anything I say before, do it now. There might be something to what Kodai’s yelling about. He did see the future at one time.”

    Looker considered what Jacob was telling him. He couldn’t deny his prisoner’s passion for what he believed, but Looker wasn’t sure what to make of it. Standing, he walked over to a phone and picked it up.
    Jacob makes a good point. Kodai could either be right, or he could be bluffing. Looker has a bit of a tough decision before him.

    “Hello, this is codename Looker in car three. That is what they all call me, yes. Did you manage to happen to sweep the train for anything of suspiciousness before we departed? …I thought so.”
    Nice touch with the reference to "that is what they all call me".

    In a cruel fit of irony, within seconds of Looker’s statement, a great explosion rocked the train. The bombs weren’t on the train itself, but on the tracks, decimating them just in front of the speeding vehicle. With no chance of stopping, the train plummeted off the destroyed tracks and crashed into the ground. The locomotive at the front split into two parts from the impact, while the middle car smashed into it at an angle and broke apart as well. As for the third car, it slammed into the back of the second, destroying the side that was attached to the rest of the train. Looker and Jacob were violently thrown across the car, the latter taking the broken bar his handcuffs were latched to with him.
    Looks like Kodai's still got it...

    As smoke rose over the Kanto countryside from the combination of the bombs and the destroyed train, a thick fog suddenly began rolling in. Several men and women emerged from the fog into the site of the crash, accompanied by a Gardevoir and Gothitelle. Both Pokémon had their eyes glowing as they used their psychic power.

    “What a mess…” one of the women uttered.

    “The Prophet’s words are absolute,” another said. “We aren’t targeting anyone but Polaris, and we have to fight if we’re going to survive.”
    This just got even more interesting.

    One of the men stepped forward and clasped his hands together. “Transcend the confines of time and space! Show me the terrain!”

    The Tenganists waited in silence for the results of their survey of the area. The man using his Transcendence took several minutes to complete the task, but when he did, he was visibly unnerved.

    “The Meteonite isn’t here… and these aren’t Polaris members, they’re the International Police…”
    I can only imagine how he must have felt...

    “Take the two who survived and bring them back,” came the order. “Retreat before Polaris finds you. We’ll have to heal the survivors and talk to them.”

    Several of the Tenganists made their way to the wreckage of the third car, where Looker and Jacob were unconscious on the floor. They pulled the two survivors up and dragged them out of the train. With nothing more at the site for them, the Tenganists then fled back into the fog, and once they had disappeared with their Pokémon, the fog lifted, leaving no evidence they’d been there.
    Wow, what a way to close the chapter. The Tenganists have Looker and Jacob, and it looks like things have only started in Goldenrod City. I'm really excited for what your next chapter will bring.

    Overall, this was great. Like I said before, it's one of your shorter ones, but short is sometimes just what a story needs to be enjoyable, and you packed a lot of action into such a short chapter. Fantastic work!

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


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