i liked this little chapter, it really encourages one to think about what the ultimate goal of your fanfic is. good job.
i liked this little chapter, it really encourages one to think about what the ultimate goal of your fanfic is. good job.
Chapter IX: Homecoming
It was dark by the time Dust made it back to the village, soaking wet and spattered with mud. The rain had let up considerably, but the ground was still wet and muddy.
The trip back had been much quicker. Before, Dust had been slow and cautious, looking out for any Pokémon that would be worth catching. Going down the side of the mountain was much faster than going up it, and Dust was more confident about encountering wild creatures now that he had Poochyena to protect him.
Dust had always imagined this moment in his mind; ever since he was a young child watching the older boys come home. He'd always imagined it would be heroic homecoming, him riding in heroically on the back of the powerful Pokémon he had bravely subdued in the wild. There were adoring crowds. He would smile and the bright sun would glimmer off his teeth. The other boys would all wish they could be as heroic as him, and the girls would all throw themselves at him. Maddie would declare her undying love for him as the crowd cheered and the music swelled in the background. Dust wasn't sure where the music came from, but in his daydreams it just seemed appropriate.
Somehow, he had never considered it would be like this; stumbling blindly through the dark and rain, filthy and stinking and cold, his clothes ripped up and his arm caked in blood from Poochyena's bite. Instead of a magnificent steed, he had an infantile crocodile and a mangy hyena. As unrealistic as his daydreams were, he still thought they would at least be closer to reality than this.
Dust came to the bed of the river. It was odd seeing it now; all calm and slow, when in the mountains it had been so strong. He wondered if the Ariados had been carried all this way, and if anyone had seen it. He looked at himself in the water's reflection, barely visible in the faint starlight. The creature looking back at him did not help his mood. Dust was horrid to look at right now.
He could see the faint lights of the village off in the distance. He had come upon the main part of town, and his home was still a few miles away. On the long trip home, Dust had already made up his mind that this was going to be the night he asked Maddie to marry him. Coming all this way only to go home and wait a whole other night was not an option as far as he was concerned. Dust was a man now, and he needed a woman.
But no self-respecting female would ever be caught talking to the ghoul he was right now though. Dust was dirtier than a Diglett, and smelled like a Gulpin. He looked down at the water again.
Well, I can't get any wetter, he reasoned, and let himself fall face first into the water. On a sunny day, this would have felt refreshing, but now it only made him feel clammier and even more freezing. He was wrong, too. He most certainly could be wetter. Dust crawled out the water, shivering. At least he wasn't covered in mud anymore.
Dust clambered to his feet and set off toward the lights.
Maddie's sister Bianca was working the bar when Dust stumbled through the tavern door. She looked up and let out an exited squeal.
"Dust! You're back!"
"You knew I was gone?" Dust asked. He hadn't told anyone he was leaving.
"Of course we knew." Bianca said, "Your mother came and told everyone. Maddie's been worried sick about you. I have too." She added hurriedly. "You look awful, you know."
Dust sat down at the bar. "I fell in a hole while I was up there."
The men in the bar had taken notice of him by now. They all came round to slap him on the back and offer congratulations.
Bianca poured a beer and put it in front of him.
"I don't have anything to pay with." Dust said.
"You just came back from the wild." Bianca laughed, "You don't have to pay for anything tonight."
"Alright." Dust said. "Then I want to buy a round for the whole house."
A cheer went up through the tavern. Bianca's face soured. She really did look cute when she scowled, like a younger copy of her sister. "Dust, I'm not giving free beer to all these louts. If I started doing that, my dad would be out of business in one night."
A bearded old drunk named Gavin Firthing leaned over the bar. "Come on sweetheart," He said with a belch, "Ain't ev'ry day a boy becomes a man. Give us a drink, luv."
Bianca's face melted. "Well alright, but only if Dust shows us what he caught out there."
Another raucous cheer swept through the place, along with a few hiccups.
Dust reached for one of his pokeballs, making sure it was the one with the dark light, and released Poochyena. It immediately bared its fangs and growled at its new audience. It tensed; it muscles, ready to leap.
"Poochyena, stand down!" Dust yelled at it. The hyena backed down, but continued to glare at everyone around it.
"Scruffy little sod, ain't it?" Gavin said.
"It's a fierce one, that." Another man said. "I've seen those Poochyenas taking down Pokémon twice their size."
Everyone had their opinion on Dust's new catch, and aside from one man boasting he'd once caught a Barboach twice its size("You ain't ever caught a Barboach in your life, you drunken idiot."), it was mostly good.
Bianca was staring at him with dreamy eyes. Dust sometimes suspected that she wished she was his girl instead of her sister. "Tell us what happened up there, Dust. How did you get your arm hurt?"
"Look, I'm really tired right now," Dust said, "I just want another drink."
Bianca scowled and refilled his empty cup. "You're no fun."
Dust took a long draught. The beer certainly tasted better than Totodile's stomach water. "Is Maddie here? I was hoping to see her."
Bianca's face split into a knowing grin. "Is that why you're guzzling down beer? I don't know what you're worried about, Dust. She already knows you want to marry her. It's all she's been talking about since you left."
Dust slammed down the empty cup.
"She started home just before you left. If you hurry you might catch her." Bianca said.
Dust bolted out of his seat, recalled Poochyena and was out the door with barely enough time to get out a rushed thank you.
Bianca stared after him as he left. "Someday," she sighed, "I'm going to marry a boy exactly like him."
Gavin came sidling over. "Does tha' free round go for seconds, luv?"
"You pay for your own booze, you old drunk."
Dust ran out into the rain, his boots squelching in the wet street. He rushed down the road, heedless of the thick mud and water. Several times he slipped in fell, but he just got back up and started running again. Nothing was going to stop him now.
He knew he had to find her before she got home. Maddie's father didn't approve of Dust much, and if he showed up at the door at this hour, soaked in rain and covered in mud, hair unkempt and clothes torn, he would be turned at the door and his chance would be lost.
His boot slipped on a puddle and he almost fell on his face again. He reached out and steadied himself on the wall of a building. Dust took a moment to catch his breath.
He was about to take off again when he thought he could hear voices. In the soft light of the moon, Dust could just barely make out a person standing in a nearby alleyway. He tried to hear what was being said over the steady roar of the rain.
"Come on, luv. Give us a kiss now. " That was Ashton's voice. He was probably down here, getting drunk and throwing his rank around to get some common girl to go to bed with him like he always did. Dust hoped that he didn't notice him going by; he hadn't seen the baron's son since the night he stole his bull and he wasn't in the mood to see him now. He'd just have to go by as unobtrusively as he could.
"Ashton, I said leave me alone." Dust stopped in his tracks. That was Maddie's voice.
"Jus' one kiss, sweetheart, tha's all I'm askin'. Jus' a peck."
"You're drunk, Ashton. Go home."
Dust took a look into the alley. The figure he saw earlier was on the many nameless black clad men who worked for the baron and lived near the manor away from the villages. Further down, Ashton was standing with Maddie, grasping her by the arm.
"C'mon luv, you can't say no to a bit o' 'fection a nob like me. It's all you common girls want, innit?" He said.
"My dad's waiting for me, I have to go." Maddie tried to pull away from him, but Ashton yanked her arm back and shoved her hard against the wall. His groping fingers began to pull at her bodice.
"Yer Dad can wait til I'm done wit' ya." He said.
Maddie smacked him hard in the face with her other hand. "Get your hands off me!"
Ashton recoiled from the blow, bringing his hands up to where she had hit him. A moment passed without a sound but Maddie's heavy breathing and the patter of rain. Ashton's hand curled into a fist.
"You hit me." He said with an even voice. "You bloody hit me."
Maddie slowly backed away from him, like a rabbit from a wolf. Her voice quavered with fear. "Ashton, you're drunk. Don't do anything-"
Maddie screamed as he brought his fist swinging and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground.
"You ****ing hit me, you dirty little pig*****!" He aimed a kick at her gut, making her cry out. "You bloody *****!"
It was illegal to harm a noble. The Baron had a special jail waiting for anyone who attacked him or his son, one where you didn't come back from. It was the reason Ashton could terrorize the villages free of any fear of repercussion, as black clad men would come for you and take you off. It was a system that never needed to be enforced, because everyone knew it would be.
Dust knew all this, but all he could see now was a thick red mist in his vision. Someone had hurt Maddie. Someone had hurt his Maddie.
Dust rushed forward, slamming into the bodyguard with enough force to bowl him over, and tackled Ashton to the ground, screaming like a mad animal. He rained a flurry of punches at the boy's face, hitting him again, and again, and again.
Ashton had hurt his girl, and Dust was going to make him pay.
The black clad goon grabbed him from behind, and with considerable effort, dragged Dust off the Baron's son and threw him into the mud. Dust tried to scramble to his feet, but the guard's boot came crashing down on his back. Another kick hit him below the ribs.
Ashton rose shakily to his feet, blood pouring from his nose. "You're a cheeky little muckdweller, aren't you, Dust? Got lots of big ideas about your station in life, huh?" His accent had completely vanished "Is she your girl, is that it?" He wiped the blood from his mouth. "I took your bull, and now you're mad because I'm taking your cow too? Hit him again."
The bodyguard obliged. Dust doubled over in pain. His hand slowly reached for a pokeball. If he could just get Poochyena out, maybe he could-
Ashton brought his ivory tipped cane down on Dust's back. "I was gonna be real friendly to her, you know. I was gonna be the perfect gentleman, maybe only smack her around a little bit, but now, I think I'm going to enjoy myself." Dust began to reach for the pokeball again, slowly. "After Cyril takes you up to the manor, I'm gonna pay real special attention to your little sweetheart." He grabbed the finger of his leather glove and pulled it off, then the other one, and cracked his knuckles. "But first, I'm going to have some fun with you."
"Ashton, don't hurt him, please." Maddie sobbed.
"Shut up, you little ****!" Ashton brought his cane up over his head about to swing down.
A flash of white light filled the alleyway, and Totodile appeared.
Dust's heart sank. He had reached for the wrong ball. Poochyena might have given him a chance to escape, but Totodile wouldn't be able to defend itself at all. He tried to grab the other ball, but Cyril kicked it away from him.
Ashton cocked his head and looked down at the little croc. Then he burst into laughter. "An' wha' the bloody 'ell is this thing?" He howled. "It looks like a bloody ponce! I think I'll 'ave it fer dinner tonight!" He swung at Totodile with his cane and knocked it to the ground. "Tha's yer Pokémon? It's ****ing useless!" He turned to Cyril. "Stand 'im up." Dust was yanked to his feet. Dust brought his face right up to Dust's his mismatched eyes gleaming with anticipation. "I'm gonna teach you somethin' you might want ta remember." He raised his fist and punched Dust in the gut. "Respect!" He punched him again. "Your!" Another punch. "Betters!"
He was about to hit him again, when a soft gurgling growl came from below. Totodile had risen to its feet. The growl became louder. Ashton broke into another fit of laughter. "What's tha' little bastard doin'?" He brought back his leg to kick it.
Totodile leaped into the air and brought its heavy skull crashing into Ashton's chest. Ashton fell to the ground with the croc on top of him. He brought up his hands to push it off. Totodile opened its big mouth and slammed its jaws shut on his would-be attacker's arm.
"Aaaaaarrrrggghhh!" Ashton screamed in agony. He threw Totodile off him and scrambled to his feet. His arm was bleeding profusely. It was deep gashes running through it. "You're a dead man, Dust, you bloody peasant!" He staggered against the wall. "Cyril, 'elp me get home before this thing gets infected!"
"But what about the-"
"We'll get 'im later. Just 'elp me get out o' 'ere."
Cyril dropped Dust to the ground and he and Ashton left. Dust just lay there, unable to move, the rain splattering down on him.
Totodile's leathery snout nuzzled his face. Dust looked up at it. "Good job, Totodile." He said weakly. He staggered up and went to where Maddie lay crying, his body aching and stinging with every movement.
"Are you alright?" Her dress was caked with mud, her matted down with rain and her eye was beginning to swell up. Dust figured he must look much worse, but he wasn't worried about himself right now.
"You shouldn't have done that, Dust." She said, tears streaming down her face. She flung her arms around his neck and he pulled into a close embrace. "Why did you have to do that?"
"I wasn't going to just let him do that to you, Maddie." He said.
"He's going to send the Blackshirts after you now!"
"I couldn't just stand there and let him have his fun with you. What was I supposed to do?"
"Dammit Dust!" She screamed at him, "Why can't you stop being a hero and start thinking about yourself for once! He's going to take you to the manor house and probably kill you or whatever the Baron does with people who cross him. If you're not going to care about yourself, at least think about what that's going to do to me." She buried her face in his shoulder, crying almost uncontrollably.
"I can't bear the thought of anything happening to you, Dust! I can't!"
Totodile nuzzled up to Maddie, as if it knew what was going on and wanted to comfort her.
"Everything's going to be alright. It's all going to work out and we're going to be fine, Maddie." He wiped away some of the mud on her face and kissed her on the forehead.
"You have to leave." She said, "You have to get away right now."
"Right now, Dust! Or else they're going to come down and get you."
"I can't leave you here." Dust said, "He'll come after you out of spite."
"Dust, if you want to protect me, then leave right now. They won't care about me. I'm just a girl. I'm not even worth the effort. But if something happens to you, I'll die Dust. I'll die. So leave right now. Go home, get your things packed and run as far as you can from here. Whatever happens to me, I can take it if I know you're safe. Go!"
"Go!" Maddie cried, "Before it's too late."
Dust grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her passionately. Normally, kissing someone you weren't either married or betrothed to was frowned upon, but he didn't much care right now. Then he turned and left.
As he made it to the end of the alley, Maddie called out to him. "Dust?" He stopped. "Thank you for saving me from him." She said. Dust nodded and ran.
I read all of this now and can say I am very, very interested. Please add me to the PM List, and please update soon.
Chapter X: Higher Blood
Dust pounded along the soaked grassland, raindrops splatting heavily in his face. All the fatigue from his journey in the mountains, and all the pain of the beating he'd received were pushed aside by fear.
He'd assaulted a noble. One of the people he'd spent his whole life living under the rule of, who could put him away for good with little more than the point of a finger.
Dust could only remember one instance when somebody had done that. When he was seven, the Baron had his men burn down an old man's house when he could no longer afford to pay his taxes. In an alcohol fueled rage, the poor farmer set his Tranquill on the Baron in the middle of the village. Before the bird even had time to so much as scratch him, the Baron set loose an enormous metal man Dust later learned was called a Golurk. The Tranquill was smashed to a bloody pulp and the man was publicly whipped by the Blackshirts and carried off to the manor. He wasn't seen again.
Attacking one of the ruling class was stupid, even a repulsive bastard like Ashton. But what was Dust supposed to have done, stand there and let him have his fun with Maddie?
A voice in the back of his head said yes. The nobles weren't subject to the same standards as everyone else. Higher blood meant they could do what they wanted, and the only way to keep your head from being pounded in was to stand by and let them. Dust quickly shut that voice up. High blood or not, nobody was allowed to touch Maddie.
Dust's house appeared through the haze of rain. There wasn't any light coming through the window, meaning everyone was probably asleep. Dust entered his room through the back door and scrambled to grab his things. One other set of clothing, a rock that had been cut open to reveal some beautiful pink crystals, and a pair of hunting knives. Other than his pokeballs and the pile of straw he slept on, these were the only things Dust actually owned for himself. He sank to the floor and looked around at the room. This was where he lived, a shoddy house with a dirt floor and a roof that sometimes leaked, whose only furniture was a single table and some chairs. At this moment though, it was better than even the most glorious palace in the world. This was where Dust had spent his whole life, and he didn't want to leave.
He quietly stepped into the other room, and over the sleeping forms of his family. He set the rifle against the wall. As much as he would like to take it with him, it was his father's gun and Dust wasn't about to become a thief on top of his other crime. He began rummaging through their food stores, taking things out and putting them in his sack. He hated the idea of stealing food from his family, but he was going to need it when he left. And, he reasoned, he was going to eat some of this food anyway, so if he only took his own portion, it wasn't really stealing, was it? It was certainly better than living on roasted Mudkip.
Dust filled his sack and looked again at his sleeping family. They all still thought he was out in the mountains, and were waiting for him to come back. And now he was leaving, maybe for good. He didn't know if he should wake them or not. He wanted to goodbye, but he had to leave before the Blackshirts arrived, and he was running out of time. If they were there to see him go, would they be in trouble for helping him escape? He didn't want to take that chance.
He stood up and opened the door to leave.
Dust sighed. This was a conversation he was hoping to avoid. He turned around. Mona was standing behind him, clutching her threadbare Teddiursa.
"Mona, what are you doing up?" Dust said.
Mona had become much better at talking in the past few months.
"Where you going?" She asked
Dust crouched down. "I have to go."
"Why?" That was her all-purpose response at this age.
"It's hard to explain." Dust said, "Maybe Mom and Dad could do it better than I could, I don't know. But I have to leave right now."
"When you coming back?"
"I don't know, sweetheart. Hopefully soon." He picked her off the ground and hugged her tight. "I don't know if I'm ever coming back. You have to listen to me carefully Mona. Some men are going to be here soon. You can't tell them I was here. Don't say anything to them at all. Just go back to bed and pretend you never saw me at all?"
Tears were streaming down Mona's little face. "I don't want you to go."
"I know, sweetheart. I don't want to go. But I have to, to protect you and Mom and Dad." He kissed her on the forehead and set her down. "I love you, Mona. Now go back to bed. Don't say anything about this. Pretend it never happened."
He left and shut the door before Mona could say another word.
Maddie was standing outside, hair plastered down with water and a small bag slung over her shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" Dust asked.
"I'm going with you." She said.
"No you're not."
"I'm going to be your wife aren't I?" Maddie said. "A wife goes where her husband goes."
"You're not my wife, Maddie. I never even asked you to marry me."
"So that's why you were out in the muddy street in the middle of the night looking for me? To not ask me to marry you?" She said. "Look Dust, there isn't any time for this. Let's just skip to the end of this argument where I've won and go."
"It's too dangerous."
"That's why I have a big strong man like you with me. You and your ferocious Totodile." She took his hand. "And besides, you're going to need someone with some common sense with you."
Dust sighed. "You make my life a living hell sometimes."
"I love you too."
The hall leading to the Baron's sitting room was full of the heads of Pokémon mounted as trophies. The Baron came from a long line of adventurers and big game hunters, and the trophies were from all over the world. To this day, Ashton still didn't know what some of these animals were Above the door was the bright blue head of a big mouthed creature in mid roar, with a crest of yellow tubes, like pipe organs, jutting from the top.
He knocked on the door with the big brass knocker. His father's voice came from within.
Ashton and the two Blackshirts he had brought with him stepped through.
The Baron had his back to Ashton sitting in a large chair on the far side of the room with a pair of Sawsbuck antlers, stripped bare of the leaves that normally adorned the live animals. A fire roared behind him, making the chair an imposing and monstrous silhouette.
A pair of Machops stood at either side of the door. The manor's staff consisted almost entirely of the creatures, and they were the only ones allowed in the Baron's chambers without permission.
"The Blackshirts will not be required for this conversation." The Baron said.
The two men left the room, the Machops shutting the door behind them with a loud boom.
The Baron appeared from behind the chair. "Now tell me Ashton. To what do I owe the pleasure of this meeting?"
"I got bloody-"
"That ridiculous accent may amuse the peasant girls," The Baron cut in, "but it has no place here."
Ashton started again, working class inflections gone. "I was attacked by a blo-" He stopped himself from saying the word "by a-"
"A Totodile. Yes, Cyril informed me of the whole event while you were being bandaged." He ran his hand down Ashton's arm, causing his son to wince. "Tell me Ashton, what prompted this young man to attack you?"
"I was teaching his ***** a lesson in manners. The ***** hit me while I was exercising my rights as a noble."
The Baron's expression didn't change in the slightest. "Your rights?"
Ashton smiled. "We give them land to work on and we basically own them, right? I was taking what's already mine."
The Baron's stony expression cracked, and he began to laugh. Then he drew back his hand and struck Ashton across the face.
He punched his son in the gut and shoved him to the ground doubled over and groaning.
"Get up." He said.
Ashton rose to his feet.
"You're right; we do basically own the commoners. We provide them with land to live on and they give us their money, their crops, their livestock and their lives. You can tax them and keep your boot stamped down firmly on their heads forever and they will just fall in line. They may be angry, but they'll keep their heads down because as long as they stay in your good graces, they will have a place to live and food to eat. Commoners are little more than animals. They go in the direction the food is coming from, and they don't try to upset that status quo. But just like animals, all it takes is one angry member of the herd given the proper push to start a stampede. Tell me Ashton, what gives us the right to rule over the people in this valley?"
Ashton answered immediately. "We're higher blood. It's our natural place to be on top."
"Blood is the same all over. Nature never makes any one person with the right to rule. You're great-great-great grandfather was a simple farmer, but he rose up and led a revolt against the Baron of that time. Many of our class will tell you otherwise, but I've seen too much of the world to not know the truth. Power is not given, it's taken, and that is why we call ourselves the higher born, so that the common man doesn't start to think they could have the same power. If you tie a baby Phanpy to the ground with a stake, it will grow into a giant Donphan but still spend the rest the rest of its life unaware of how easily it could pull that stake from the ground. Power is an illusion. You can beat a Donphan and it will cower from you, but if you give it a reason to fight back, you'll find that you are powerless to do a thing to stop it. We do not have the manpower or the Pokémon to stop a full peasant revolt. All it takes to start a stampede is one angry herd member, and there is very little more likely to cause anger than a girl being victimized. You have a dangerous combination of parental outrage, general male protectiveness, and a simmering frustration that causes all of the other inequalities between the ruling and the ruled to come to the surface. One angry Tauros can be put down. A thousand is much more difficult. I will not have our family's work undone because you couldn't control yourself. Do you understand?"
Ashton nodded his head.
"Good. Now, we must settle this issue before it gets out of hand. The boy violently assaulted the girl, and then ran off when you stepped in. He is a violent criminal and must be dealt with like the mad dog he is. The girl you will bring back here, safe and untouched. She will have the honor of being our permanent guest, her father will be happily compensated and no one will speak about what transpired tonight. Noblesse oblige."
"Noblesse oblige." Ashton repeated.
The Baron went to the mantelpiece over the fire, where a row of pokeballs was kept. "The name of the young man who attacked you, what was his name again?"
"Dust." Ashton replied.
"Dust. I remember him. Such an unusual name." He picked up a ball with a brown light around the button. "We have a mutual friend who I'm sure would be pleased to him." He tossed the ball to Ashton. "Show him what happens to people who don't respect their betters."
Chapter XI: Maddie's Big Day
The first night was the hardest. Dust and Maddie huddled together under a large tree in the forest, trying to get as much shelter as they could from the torrent of rain. Dust had Totodile stand watch, since it was the only one out of the four who actually liked being soaking wet.
By morning the rain had stopped, but Dust's injuries had begun to really set in. He was sore on almost every inch of his body, and it made fighting through the thick underbrush extremely painful. Maddie for her part had a large black eye, but she wouldn't let him worry about it, saying his bruises were a lot worse.
Dust carried a branch that had fallen off a tree that he swung back and forth at the foliage, blazing a trail through the woods while Maddie followed behind, with Poochyena in the rear to watch for anything coming from behind.
When Dust had first met the Hyena, he had been too busy trying to keep it from ripping his throat out to check its sex, but now he knew that it was a female.
Maddie may have been the very first person Poochyena didn't try to attack. When Dust first showed Maddie his new Pokémon, the hyena actually laid down at her feet like a tame dog, though it still snarled when she tried to touch it. Dust figured it must have been the bonding. Dust had received part of Poochyena's mind, and it had gotten part of his back. Dust loved Maddie so Poochyena at least tolerated her. He still told her not to touch it for now though. Poochyena may have been under Dust's control, but it was still a wild animal.
Totodile on the other hand, seemed to love Maddie with the same blind affection that it showed towards every other living thing that wasn't either food or actively trying to kill it. She carried it in her arms like an infant, smiling and cooing and making Totodile make noises that Dust assumed must have been the reptilian equivalent of giggling.
"Will you stop treating him like a baby?" Dust finally said.
"He is a baby." Maddie replied, "He's only a couple months old."
"He's a killer! You should have seen what he did to this Mudkip I was trying to catch."
"Of course he's a killer. He's a carnivore. But such a cute one, aren't you Totodile?" She said, using her mommy-voice.
As if understanding her, Totodile snapped his jaws shut with enough force to blow Maddie's hair back a little.
"He does have a nasty bite though." She admitted.
"Yeah, I wouldn't try to kiss him if I were you."
Hours went by. It was hard to tell exactly what time of day it was since the sun was obscured by the tall trees.
"Does your dad know where you are?" Dust asked.
"He'd have locked me up if I told him I was leaving the village with you. The only person I talked to was Bianca. I told her to tell him what happened. She was sad to see me go, but I think she was a little jealous too."
"She thinks the whole thing is really romantic, like something out those stupid novels she reads."
Dust laughed. "Yeah. Slogging through a rainy forest full of vicious bugs and wolves and hyenas with no idea where you're going while you've got the Blackshirts wanting to kill you. Really romantic."
A roar sounded off in the distance. "Bears too." Dust added. He was really wishing he still had a rifle.
"But we have a hyena of our own now." Said Maddie.
They were getting into the cliffs now, were the river rushed by at high speeds as it crashed its way down the mountainside. Dust and Maddie rested for the night by the side of a small lake at the foot of a waterfall. Totodile was showing more signs of being a hunter. He lurked at the surface of the water like a log, and snapped his jaws at anything that got close. That night, they ate roasted Barboach around the fire while Poochyena stayed off in the shadows. She refused to eat the fish and wouldn't go near the fire. Dust never saw her go out to hunt, but in the morning there were the remains of a Bidoof lying next to the still alert hyena.
The third day was uneventful, and the fourth was too until early in the evening.
Dust hacked at the bushes ahead with his makeshift club. The pain in his body had gone away now, and he was able to swing with more strength. Poochyena had gone off on her own to hunt.
At first, Dust had been wary about letting her go out, but she always returned, and since she refused to eat anything Dust ever gave her, it was the only way she could get food.
Dust stepped forward and his foot broke through the earth. He looked down and saw he had stepped on a horribly rotten log that had been partially buried. From the hole he had stepped in, a swarm of tiny Weedles was pouring out. He quickly removed his leg. A lot of the poisonous larva were clinging to it.
"Totodile, get things off me."
Totodile spat out a blast of water that swept away the Weedles. The ground was crawling with them.
"Don't let these things sting you." Dust cautioned Maddie, "They'll make you swell up for days."
Something buzzed up in the trees. "What was that?" Dust said.
Maddie was looking up. "Look."
High on the trees all around them were Kakunas, insect chrysalises that looked out with dead black eyes. They were attached to the tree trunks, as many as six or seven to a tree, and they were everywhere. Almost every tree capable of holding them had Kakunas stuck to them. Some of them rattled and buzzed, as if trying to move.
Dust grabbed Maddie by the arm. "We need to get out of here right now."
"Those things can't hurt us can they?" Maddie asked.
"I'm not worried about them." The chorus of buzzing grew louder. "I'm worried about what's protecting them."
The buzzing had become a cacophony. Dust could barely hear himself think. Where was Poochyena when you needed her? Dust shouldn't have let her go off by herself.
Dust saw something move out of the corner of his eye. "Oh ****!"
He shoved Maddie to the ground as a massive Beedrill shot past where she had been a second ago. The enormous bug was nearly six feet tall, with giant stingers on its front legs. The Beedrill hovered off the ground with its buzzing wings, and its emotionless red eyes locked right on Dust.
Dust took a step back and bumped into a tree. The bee raised its arms and charged. Dust ducked out of the way as the needle struck the tree behind him. The Beedrill had stabbed its stinger right through the wood almost to its elbow. Dust didn't want to contemplate what it would have done to him. The Beedrill lashed out with its other arm but couldn't reach Dust.
It tried to pull its stinger from the tree, but it had stuck it in too far. Dust pulled out his last pokeball and threw it at the bug. Beedrill disappeared inside.
Maddie had gotten to her feet. "Are you okay?" Dust said.
"I'm not of porcelain." She replied. "I think I can survive a three foot fall into leaves."
"Did you see me catch that thing?" Dust said.
Maddie was looking past him. "Uh, Dust?"
Dust turned around. The pokeball was still lying on the ground, but shaking.
"It was supposed to start glowing by now." Dust said, worried.
The pokeball burst open with a blinding flash. The Beedrill stood there like a monster from a fairy tale. Dust was no entomologist, and as far as he knew, the bug's eyes didn't have a hint of emotion in them, but he could swear that the Beedrill was regarding him with a look of white hot fury.
Its wings whirred faster and faster until they were just gossamer blur. The bee charged, stingers out like poison swords.
Dust brought up his tree branch and a stinger crashed through it, breaking it clean in half. He jumped back as the other stinger swung at him, tearing the front of his shirt and just barely missing his skin. He threw one half at of the branch and hit the bee in the face with it.
The Beedrill was hit with a blast of water. Totodile leaped up and closed his jaws around its head. The Beedrill flailed its arms and spun in an erratic circle, trying to throw Totodile off. Dust ran in, ducking under the arms and slammed his stick into the thorax. The Beedrill hit him with the blunt side of its stinger and knocked Dust to the ground. It finally managed to dislodge Totodile and threw the little croc into a tree with a loud thud.
Dust rolled sideways as the bee brought its needle down on him, stabbing the earth. He tried to scramble away but the bee grabbed him with its hind legs and held him in place. It raised its arms and readied them to plunge downward and then vanished into white light.
Dust sat up. The Beedrill was gone, and the pokeball was on the ground at his feet. Maddie stood behind it.
"I thought maybe it would work this time." She said. The pokeball sat still for moment, and the light around the button turned pale green, then purple, then green again and purple, and changing every several seconds. Totodile got up and looked at it like it was a snack. "Are you going to pick it up?" Maddie asked.
"Why?" Dust said, "You're the one who caught it. It's yours."
"Me?" Maddie said, surprised. "I can't take it. It's your ball. And I'm a woman. I'm not supposed to have Pokémon. I'd be shunned. It'd be like a woman trying to join the army. They'd say I was trying to become a man."
Dust rose to his feet and brushed the bits of dead leaves off. "You just saved me from being impaled by a giant Beedrill. You really think I'm going to shun you?"
"Then who cares about anyone else?"
"It's picking up a little metal ball. Anyone can do it." He took her hand in his. "Come on, we'll do it together." He lead her arm down to the ball. "This is the hard part right here."
Maddie closed her fingers around the pokeball with Dust's larger hand over hers. Her eyes shut tight and she began to shake, and screamed as the ball burned itself to her hand. Dust held her body as it convulsed. A few seconds later her eyes opened again.
"That's whatbonding is like?" she said, breathing heavily. "Does it get easier?"
"I hope so." Dust said.
"Maddie took a second to catch her breath. "I saw… images. It's like I didn't even see them, they were just burned into my head." She paused. "What does Vespida Acicula mean?"
"I have no idea. I think that's another name for it. Totodile is a Crocodylus Liberis." He slid his arm under her legs and picked her up. "How do you feel?"
"Like I just got burned from the inside." She smiled. "I just caught a Pokémon, Dust!"
"And do you still feel like a woman?"
"More than ever. I feel like a real woman." She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him as he set her down on the ground.
Dust started to undo the laces on her bodice. She pushed his hand away.
"Dust! Totodile's looking right at us!"
"He's an animal. What does he care?" Dust said dismissively. He started again on the laces, and she didn't stop him this time.
Totodile sat in the leaves and watched them. Human mating rituals were no interest to him, so he began to look around for something to eat. Off in the distance he could hear the barking of dogs, but paid it no mind.
Okay, so that chapter was extremely interesting. Maddie gets a Beedrill, which in itself is cool, considering it isn't the most womanly of Pokemon. But I also wonder whats up with the "barking" and if Poochyena is okay. More. I need more. Haha
I dont know about you, but I wouldnt have the stamina to enact a 'human mating ritual' if I'd just been 'burned from the inside'. I dunno Never thought much of this story until now. I know it's not set in the old west but it sure feels that way. I'll be back.
I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.
Chapter XII: Noblesse Oblige
Poochyena heard the barking too, and she did think something of it.
Contrary to popular belief, hyenas were not a type of dog, and thus did not bark. There were no wild dogs living in the forest, so when dogs were nearby, that meant humans were nearby, and humans were bad news.
She slunk through the underbrush toward the sound of the barking. Sometimes humans left behind food and if you were careful not to be caught, you could eat well without much effort.
Poochyena had never really thought about humans before. They were just some large creatures who came into her pack's territory every now and then. Things were different for her now. For one thing, she had never been Poochyena before a few days ago. She always knew what she was, not a "Poochyena" but just simply one of the pack. She had no concept of names back then. You were who you were.
The human had changed things. Before the ball, she would have killed and eaten him and never thought about him again. She remembered the ball, though when she was inside, it was like a dream. The ball was… strange, alien. It spoke to her while she was in it. Not words exactly, because what were words to an animal? But she knew that neither she nor the human were simply another couple of creatures now. She was Poochyena and he was Dust. And while his words were simply a bunch of noise to her ears, when he spoke her name, suddenly she understood in perfect clarity what he was saying. Again, not the actual words but the meaning behind them.
Had Poochyena been wiser, she might have realized just how much things had changed. When Dust told her to do something, she obeyed. Not because of any outside influence or even because she felt compelled to please him. It was just that when he gave a command, following that command was just what had to be done. Not doing it wasn't even an option. Things had never been like that before.
The barking was getting nearer.
Poochyena found a clump of shadowy bushes and crouched down. After a few minutes, four big black dogs with red eyes and bony plates like skulls on their heads raced past. For the first time in her life, Poochyena knew that these dogs were called Houndours, even though she didn't know why.
The Houndours were running in the direction she had come from, toward Dust and the female human.
She had seen Dust fight, and she knew that four Houndours would be more than a match for him. The female human was smaller and weaker than he was, and the Totodile was barely more than an infant.
She raced after the dogs. The Houndours were fast, but these were Poochyena's woods and she'd been running through them her entire life. She bounded through the brush until she was running alongside the lead dog. Angling herself toward it, she aimed carefully and lunged for where the Houndour's throat would be.
The dog never saw her coming, and by the time it noticed her it was too late. Poochyena stood up from the prostrate Houndour, its bloody trachea hanging from her jaws.
The three other dogs circled around her, growling. These were not simple farm dogs. These Houndours were some of the Baron's personal hunting pack, trained from birth not only to kill, but to enjoy killing. Animals that were caught by them were always ripped to shreds and eaten, and then killed.
The dogs bared their fangs, and the inside of their mouths began to glow orange with the fire inside of them.
Suddenly a loud cackle came from the bushes, followed by another and another. Poochyena and the dogs were surrounded by whooping and seemingly maniacal laughter on every side. Poochyena knew that laughter. If she had been capable of smiling evilly, she would have.
Dust and Maddie also heard the barking, though now it had been replaced the sound of cackling, snarling and whimpering. They both stood up, hastily putting their clothes back on.
"What's going on?" Maddie said.
"I think they're about to find us." Dust said.
"The Blackshirts? Sounds like something else found them." Maddie said. "Isn't that the same sound Poochyena makes?"
"I'd rather not run into more of them." Dust said. "Most of them aren't as nice as the one I have."
More barking came from a different direction. It was getting close.
Dust pulled out Totodile's pokeball and recalled him. "I think now would be a good time to let your new Pokémon out." He said.
Maddie released Beedrill, and the bug instantly turned on Dust. "Don't attack him!" she yelled at it. The Beedrill ignored her and sliced it's stinger at Dust. "Why isn't it listening to me?"
"You have to-" Dust ducked under the stinger, "say its-" He fell to the ground, "name!"
"Beedrill, stop attacking him!" The Beedrill immediately stopped moving. "Never attack him again." Maddie added, "And if he tells you to do something, do what he says."
Beedrill didn't have facial expressions, but Dust could swear it was glaring at him. "I guess the pokeball doesn't make them forget grudges." He said.
The dogs were nearly on them. The snarling and barking had reached fever pitch levels, and Dust thought he could make out the smell of brimstone. Beedrill began to flit its wings and buzz loudly.
"Do you think Beedrill can take the dogs?" Maddie asked.
"I hope so."
"Those things can breathe fire, you know."
"Really not making me feel better."
Beedrill was staring straight ahead, its solid red eyes locked on the direction of the coming hounds. Then, it seemed to reach a decision. Faster than anyone could react, it lifted Maddie over its shoulder and zoomed off.
Dust stared at the fleeing bug in disbelief. A sinking feeling of despair overtook his body. "****."
The bushes in front of him exploded into flame. "Oh **** **** **** **** ****!" He turned and ran.
The dogs were right behind him. Four, five, six, he couldn't tell how many. He sprinted at full speed, adrenaline taking over. The dogs followed in close pursuit. They barked and snarled and blew jets of flame that ignited the forest floor behind him, and Dust just kept on running. Up ahead something was running too, a silhouette in the roaring firelight. It looked a little like Poochyena, but was far too big. All around, smaller figures ran beside him. These were definitely Poochyenas. If Dust's heart could sink any lower it would have. Not only did he have a pack of murderous fire breathing hounds on him, but the hyenas had decided to join in.
A Poochyena darted in front of him. No, not a Poochyena, it was his Poochyena. All around, the hyenas closed in and lunged at the Houndours. They all fell upon each other in a pile of fur, claws, teeth and fire, growling and cackling and roaring.
Dust just kept on running.
He reached the foot of a steep cliff and took a moment to rest. Doubled over and panting heavily, he leaned against the rock tried to make sense of the situation. The Houndours were hunting dogs, and Dust was the prey. But hunting dogs weren't there to kill the prey. Their job was to go in and flush it out.
"Ah crap." Dust said. They weren't trying to kill him, they were chasing him, which meant that if the Poochyenas hadn't come in, Dust would have run right into the Blackshirts. And what other choice would he have had? The Houndours may have just been trying to draw him out, but he had little doubt that they would have hesitated before ripping him apart if he hadn't run.
A shadow moved in the trees. The large running figure he'd seen came bounding up to him. Now Dust recognized it. It was a Mightyena, the bigger and nastier version of Poochyena. It was massive, taller than Dust's waist and almost as long as he was tall. It could disembowel him with very little effort. But the hyenas had fought off the dogs. These things were helping him.
The Mightyena snarled, its cold yellow eyes locked on his. Dust had once been told what to do when being stared down by a hyena, but now he couldn't remember if keeping their stare intimidated them or made them angrier.
The beast roared, deep and loud. Dust almost fell over from the deafening noise. The only thing that kept him from running was the knowledge that the Mightyena would most likely kill him if he made any sudden moves.
A higher pitched whoop came from farther on and Dust's Poochyena came running up. It placed itself between Dust and the big hyena. The Mightyena snarled at her and Poochyena whooped back. She averted its gaze and lay on the ground in front of it. The Mightyena was big enough to kill her with a single bite, but instead it lowered its head and muzzled her.
This must have been Poochyena's old pack, Dust realized, and the Mightyena was the pack leader. Dust briefly entertained the possibility that Poochyena had brought them to kill him. No, that was ridiculous. Dust had gone through the bonding with her. Poochyena was loyal, she had to be.
A pair of Houndours ran by, whimpering. The Mightyena took one last moment to snarl at Dust, and took off after them. Poochyena followed in pursuit.
Dust would have called her back, but he had a feeling that whatever pack animal politics were keeping him alive right now, he was best off not interfering with them. Dust didn't trust that Mightyena to stay on his side for long. That thing was like looking into the yellow eyes of death.
He was alone in the woods, with Houndours and hyenas in one direction and Blackshirts in the other.
Which way to go?
Beedrill zoomed through the trees, gossamer wings whirring furiously.
The bug was fast, agile, and strong. Even with Maddie's added weight, it shot through the trees, going over, under, around and through the foliage. Even though Maddie was angry at it for leaving Dust behind, she couldn't help but marvel at her new Pokémon's agility.
The Houndours were left far behind now. Maddie had screamed and shouted at the Beedrill to go back but the giant insect didn't listen to her.
Men's voices sounded up ahead. Beedrill turned and headed off toward the roar of the river.
Beedrill reached the edge of the raging water and dropped Maddie on the rocky sand. She brushed her hair out of her face and stood up.
"Beedrill, we have to go back!"
Beedrill didn't respond. It was looking off into the dark trees, buzzing intently.
Maddie punched its hard carapace. Her hand hurt, and the bug barely even seemed to notice.
"Dammit Beedrill! I caught you, and that means you do what I tell you to! Now go-"
A shot rang out and Beedrill fell to the ground. There was a bullet hole in its thorax, with yellow bug blood oozing out.
Maddie screamed and dove to the ground behind a sand bank.
Beedrill was still alive. It scanned the trees with its impassive red eyes. Its mandibles worked busily and its wings flitted weakly. Suddenly, it spat. For a brief moment, Maddie could see a small pin shaped projectile blur past into the shadowy green, and an agonized cry came out from the woods.
A Blackshirt stumbled out of the woods. The pin needle was sticking from his arm, spilling blood down his shirt. The rifle clattered out of his hands, and he drew a pistol with his good arm.
"Damn bug!" He raised the gun and fired.
Beedrill was too quick for him. In the blink of an eye, it had gone from lying on the ground, seemingly wounded, to standing upright, and took to the air as the bullet impacted the sand. Beedrill arced up and over the Blackshirt, who tried to turn around and fire again. Beedrill's arm slapped the gun away, and it discharged harmlessly into the undergrowth. It raised its other arm, ready to strike.
Maddie cried out. "No! Beedrill, don't-"
The spear arm impaled the man as easily as if he had been made of paper. He was dead before he could even scream.
Maddie was no stranger to death. You didn't live in the valley for eighteen years without somebody dying in a farm accident, or some boy going off to capture his first creature and not coming back. One of her sharpest memories was watching the men bury her mother and her newborn brother on the same day. Death was just something you dealt with.
But not like this, so sudden, so brutal. To actually see the life go out of a man in a single stroke, that was something different.
Beedrill yanked its arm from his chest and watched the man collapse to the ground. Its arm was coated red.
Her Pokémon. He'd been killed by her Pokémon.
Beedrill hadn't done anything wrong. The Blackshirt had shot it, it was just defending itself. It was defending her. That bastard had it coming.
Maddie knew all this, but she couldn't help but feel like she had been part of a murder.
Something cold and metal was pressed to the back of her head. "Tell that thing to stay right there."
Beedrill had taken notice. It's wings blurred as it prepared to charge in.
"Tell that damn thing not to move," the new Blackshirt said, "or I blow a hole through your pretty little head."
With some effort, Maddie was able to find her voice. It came out shaky and quavering. "B-Beedrill. Stand down. Stay where you are and don't move."
The man's body lay in the sand. His blood was beginning to seep into the river. How did it feel to die like that? Maddie began to shake. She was not going to cry. She wasn't going to give this man the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
"Good girl." The other Blackshirt said, "Now turn around."
Maddie spun slowly and found herself face to face with the barrel of a revolver.
"Give me the pokeball." He said.
Maddie reached into her bag and brought it out. Her shaking hands fumbled the ball and dropped it.
The Blackshirt clubbed her with the revolver. "Pick it up!"
She knelt to the ground. Her fingers closed around the sand. She picked up the ball and stood.
"Hand it over now."
Maddie held out her hand. The Blackshirt reached for it. The barrel of his gun pointed away for just a split second.
Suddenly, Maddie flung her handful of sand into the man's face and ducked as he fired blindly.
"Bloody hell!" He shouted, covering his inflamed eyes. Maddie slammed her knee between his legs and he doubled over and fell to the ground. She kicked him again in the face, and his screams stopped as he fell into unconsciousness.
Maddie pointed the pokeball at Beedrill and recalled it. She to ground and sat there, hands over her face and breathing heavily in and out. Then she threw up.
No, there wasn't time for this. Dust was still out there.
She stood up, brushed the sand off her dress, and started back into the trees.
Dust practically felt the bullet pass through his hair before it hit the tree trunk in front of him. That had been too close.
The hunters were closer than he had realized, and he'd barely had time to catch his breath after the hyenas had left before he was running for his life again. Dust was fast, but Cyril was fast too. He came crashing through the bushes like a rhino.
"Get back here!" He shouted. Dust briefly wondered if in the entire history of civilization, yelling 'Get back here!' had ever actually worked.
Cyril aimed his gun and fired again, but he'd run out of bullets. Without slowing down in the slightest, he picked a rock off the ground and hurled it.
The rock hit Dust in the back of the head, sending him crashing to the ground face first. He scrambled to his feet, head swimming. Cyril plowed into him, but Dust was able to keep his balance and avoid the Blackshirt's powerful arms.
Both of them drew their knives.
Cyril smiled. "You're a gutsy little bastard, I'll give you that. A little temper control and you might've made a good Blackshirt."
Dust backed away. He was tall and he was strong. You don't live your whole life working on a farm and not become strong. Dust was built like a Tauros, and he had a right hook that could floor a Machoke.
Dust was an ox, but Cyril was a trained killer, and Dust didn't know the first thing about knife fighting.
He threw the knife at Cyril, who dove to the side and rolled back to his feet.
Cyril's grin grew even wider. "Wrong choice, son. You got no weapon now."
"I know. I just needed to distract you while I pulled this out." Dust flicked out his hand and a blast of white light appeared between them.
Cyril was a highly trained fighter, but even the greatest martial artist in the world would have trouble if a big mouthed Totodile suddenly materialized on his face. Dust kicked him in the shins and sent him sprawling to the ground. He pulled his knife out of the tree it had imbedded in.
"Totodile, you can get off him now."
A crocodile's jaws were powerful enough to crush a man's head in a single chomp. Luckily for Cyril, Totodile hadn't hit him mouth first. He lay groaning, a bruise the size of a crocodilian skull on his face.
More Blackshirts were coming. Dust could hear them. He lifted Totodile onto his shoulders and took off, right as Ashton from around a tree. The tiny Pichu rested on his shoulder.
Dust jumped back as Ashton swung his cane, missing him entirely.
"Totodile, water gun!"
The jet of water made the Baron's son stagger back into a tree. He opened his eyes just in time to see Dust's fist collide with his face.
Dust ran in the other direction and almost crashed into Maddie. She looked like she was in a daze.
"What are you doing back here?" He said.
"I was looking for you."
"We have to go right now." He grabbed her by the arm and took off, practically dragging her behind him.
"Pichu, shock wave!"
Electricity coursed through Dust's body. He fell over, twitching. Maddie lay next to him. Her hair had smoke coming from it. She groaned weakly. Totodile wasn't moving.
Dust's body wouldn't listen to him. His limbs were stiff, and his mouth tasted like copper. His fingers weakly grasped the pokeball with blue lights, and he recalled Totodile.
He was beginning to regain control of his body. He got back up on his knees. Then, with much more effort than he was comfortable with, got to his feet.
Blackshirts were coming from almost every direction.
He took Maddie's arms and pulled her up. She leaned against him.
"Can you stand?" he said.
"I think so."
There was a half circle of men and dogs around them, all pointing guns and baring fangs. Dust moved himself in front of Maddie while she kept her arms around him for support.
"Is this the end?" She said.
Ashton's voice came from the back of the crowd. "Hold yer fire! Hold yer bloody fire!" He pushed his way to the front. "Put yer guns down!"
He grabbed a revolver from the nearest Blackshirt.
"Good evenin', guv." He said. "Gotta say, Dust, ye led me on good chase. Tha' thing wi' the Poochyenas, don' know 'ow ye pulled tha' one off. Bloody beastmaster right 'ere. Now, if ye'd jus' hand over the girl, we'll be on our way back."
Maddie gripped him tighter.
"That's not gonna happen." Dust said.
"Will ye look at this?" Ashton said, "Real tough guy right 'ere!" The men all laughed. He pointed the gun at Dust's chest. "'Ere's 'ow these things work. Me, bein' the bleedin' nob tha' I am, tell you ta do somethin', and you, bein' the lowborn scumsucker ye are, do it. This ain't a negotiation."
"I'm not letting you just take her."
"Tell ye what, I promise ta you that if she comes over here, neither me nor these fine gentlemen lay a finger on 'er, gentlemen's honor. I shoot ye dead, and we go back, and she don' have to get inconvenienced on the way back. Or, we shoot ye dead anyway, an' then we have some fun wit' the little lady. How do ye wanna die Dust, a bleedin' hero or a bleedin' idiot?"
It was at that moment that Maddie had a very stupid idea. She took Dust's knife and pulled it out. Then she stepped out from behind him.
"What the 'ell is she doin'?" Ashton said.
"You need me alive, don't you?" She said.
"Maddie, get behind me."
"Dust, shut up." She said. She stood in front of him. "You need me. Your men could have killed me down by the river but they didn't, even after my Pokémon killed one of them. That's why you don't just shoot now, because you don't want to hit me."
"I don't care abou' you." Ashton said, "Yer jus' another common *****. There's more where you came from."
Maddie raised the knife to her throat. "Then it doesn't matter if I die right here then, does it?" She pressed the knife in.
Ashton held up his hands. "Wait!"
Maddie pulled the knife away. A thin trickle of blood ran down her neck.
Dust had no idea what to do. He'd never heard of anyone taking herself hostage before.
"If I go with you, will you let him live? He'll run off. He'll never come back. Nobody but us will ever know he's still alive."
Ashton seemed to consider this. "Alright, luv. I won' hurt 'im."
"And none of your men or your Pokémon will hurt him either." Maddie said quickly.
Ashton chuckled. "She's a smart little pig*****, ain't she? You come over 'ere, an' he walks free. Honor o' a noble. A nob never breaks 'is word, 'specially to a woman. Don' reflect too well on our family name if we go breakin' our word, right?"
Maddie turned around and threw her arms around Dust. She slipped Beedrill's pokeball into his hand. "You're not dying for me, Dust. Not now, not ever."
"Yer breakin' me 'eart, Maddie." Ashton said behind her. "Get over 'ere."
Maddie leaned up and kissed Dust. "Don't try to come back and save me. I need you to live."
She turned around and went to Ashton. He grabbed her arm and pulled her into him. He held her with one arm across her chest.
"Truth is, I did need 'er alive." He said, "Wouldn't look too good if I came back wit'out 'er. Don' go to well wi' the usual story o' things. Lowborn dung eater like you falls in love wi' a beautiful girl, but she don' take well ta 'im on account o' being a 'forementioned dung eater. So 'e goes an' kidnaps the fair maiden wi' this big 'orrible reptilian monster an' carries 'er off into the woods full o' bugs an' beasties. Then the noble an, dare I say rather han'some hero braves the dangers o' the forest, kills the dirty bastard and brings back the beautiful girl. Timeless, innit? Got all the great characters, the villain an' 'is big 'orrible reptilian monster, bein' o' course you an' yer croc, we got the beautiful damsel in distress," Maddie squirmed as he ran a line of kisses down her neck, "an o' course we got the rich an' dashin' hero in me."
"Noblesse Oblige, right?" Dust said bitterly.
"Noblesse Oblige." Ashton said, "Wouldn' be such a great story if the damsel goes an' cuts 'er own neck now, is it?"
"You don't actually think anyone will believe that insane story do you?" Dust said.
"Don' matter what they believe. What matters is tha' they don' say anythin' otherwise on accoun' o' not wantin' their 'eads kicked in. An' as long as the 'elpless little girl is safe, it don' really matter what 'appens to you. Tha' Dust was always a bit o' a hothead, wasn' he? Should o' kept 'is 'ead down. 'Ventually, no one even talks abou' ye anymore. But if somethin' 'appens to sweet little defenseless Maddie, then we 'ave an upset community, an' an upset community means trouble. An' if sweet little Maddie says somethin' along the lines o', I don' know, Ashton shot Dust dead, well then no one's gonna make an issue o' it, cause she's jus' confused an' scared from 'er ordeal, an' no one wants ta be taken away an' have their 'ouse burned down after they accuse a nob o' murder, now do they?" He pointed the gun at Dust. "I think the bes' part o' any story is the bit where the hero kills the bad guy."
Maddie pulled Ashton's arm up and bit down on it. She grabbed the hand with the gun and pushed it down. Ashton fired, and the bullet hit the ground at Dust's feet.
Dust didn't have to wait to be told what to do; he turned and sprinted off before anyone could react.
The Blackshirts all raised their weapons.
"No!" Ashton yelled. "I 'ave a better idea." He turned to Maddie. "You got a little spunk in ye, don' you." He backhanded her across the face. "I hate a girl with spunk."
"You said you wouldn't kill him." Maddie said.
"Did I now?" Ashton laughed, "Mind like a bloody sieve." He pulled a pokeball off his belt and released the eight foot Rhyhorn his father had used during the Egg Festival. "Kill the twerp an' come back 'ere when you're done."
Dust pounded along the Cliffside over the river.
If Cyril had been like a rhino crashing through the bushes, then the actual rhino was like a locomotive.
Dust had spent the last couple hours running from things that wanted to kill him, but this was the worst of them all. While Dust ran around and over the small trees and bushes, the Ryhorn ran right through them, snapping small trunks like toothpicks. It was faster than him too. Dust had had a head start of almost a minute and the rhino was almost on top of him.
Totodile was either unconscious or dead, Poochyena was missing, and neither of them would have been of any use anyway. He had exactly one Pokémon that he could use, and it had a murderous hatred of him.
Oh well. Probable death was better than certain death. He threw the Pokeball at the ground and jumped into the air, landing on Beedrill's back as it appeared and wrapped his arms tight around it.
"Fly you bastard!"
Beedrill flailed and tried to throw him off, but Dust held on tight. The insect turned around and saw Rhyhorn bearing down on it, and shot straight upward, spinning in a tight circle. Dust lost his grip and flew into the branches of one of the larger trees. He pulled himself up and came face to face with Beedrill.
The bug had its needle arm poised to strike, but it didn't impale him. The needlepoint wavered; Beedrill shook its head as if trying to shake off a notion.
"That's right." Dust said, "You aren't allowed to kill me, are you?"
The tree shook. Ryhorn was down below, ramming the base of the trunk. But this was a strong tree. Even that monster would have trouble bringing it down.
Dust hoped so.
The tree shook even harder. Beedrill took off.
"Oh, no you don't." Dust aimed the pokeball and fired the red beam, bringing Beedrill back into the ball.
The tree began to fall. Dust could see the ground coming, and then disappear as he went over the cliff. The trunk slammed into the earth, and Dust was thrown out of the branches and fell into the white water below.
Evil Cliff hanger!
liked th bit about get back here never worked.
They say if you press cntrl and W you get to see the programming of a website after making a signature with 3 ws and 8qs
Fanfics I like that are still in production: Author's Run, Pokémon emerald the better version
This the aquabats song awesome forces:
and here is their song shark fighter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wchrctxFo
I NEED A BETA READER!
Check out my fic.
Chapter XIII: Picking Up
When Dust came to, something warm and wet and furry was licking his face. Groaning, he opened his eyes. Poochyena was standing over him, her muzzle in his face.
Dust pushed her aside softly and sat up. He was on the bank of the river among the hard stones. He was at the precipice of a large waterfall. It was daylight now. Dust must have been lying there all night. He vaguely recalled what had happened. The Rhyhorn had knocked over the tree and he'd tumbled into the river. He was thrown around, battered by rocks, almost drowned several times, and had managed to pull himself on shore before he fell off the waterfall. He'd crawled, gasping and dizzy across the rocks before collapsing from exhaustion.
His head was swimming. Dust could only barely remember anything that had occurred before his drop into the water. His head hurt just thinking about it.
There had been barking, and running, and two horrible yellow eyes, and the smell of smoke and sweat and terror and he'd been with Maddie and…
Dust sprang to his feet and stumbled across the loose stones. He slipped and scraped his leg. The pain in his body was unbearable but he pressed on.
He had to go back. He couldn't leave her with them.
The only way up was the cliff. Dust dug his fingers into the side of the dirt wall and tried to climb up its sheer surface but the soil just came loose and he slid back down. He tried again and again but each time he just fell back down in a shower of dirt. He tried to get Beedrill to take him to the top, but it just glared at Dust and wouldn't let him near.
He attacked the cliff with renewed vigor, scathing and digging at the dirt, trying to gain a handhold, and eventually just pounding at the wall and screaming.
Dust sat down beside the river and sobbed uncontrollably. Why was this happening to him? What had he done to deserve this? Ashton should have been the one down here, but as always, the nobles got what they wanted and the regular folk had to pay for it.
If he could go back, he could…
What? What could he do? He was one person against a small army of trained killers and fire breathing hounds, armed only with a knife, and whose allies included an unconscious baby Totodile and a Beedrill that wanted him dead, and even if he could use all his Pokémon, they wouldn't be enough to help anyway.
He was helpless; completely, utterly, and pathetically without any way to do anything at all.
Maddie was still alive, Dust knew that. Ashton had said himself that killing her wouldn't do any good. And if Dust tried to go back for her, the Blackshirts would just kill him anyway. And that was assuming he even knew how to get back. Dust had no idea where the river had taken him, or even if it was the same river that ran through the valley or another one.
All he could do was get away. Away from these mountains, away from this valley and away from Maddie.
'I need you to live' she'd said. Well, Dust was going to have to live, even if he hated himself for it. He had to get out of these mountains and then… who knew? Dust didn't have a clue what waited on the other side of the mountains.
Less than a week ago, Dust would have given anything to be able to get out of the valley, but now that he actually was, he wished that he could go back and plant rabutas and feed cattle and never ever see what was on the other side of those mountains as long as he didn't have to be alone.
And now he was alone for the first time in his life.
Dust stood up and headed off in the direction he thought was away from home.
Chapter XIV: Espa
Can you hear me? Can you understand me? It's been so long now; I can barely remember what it's like to see another person.
It's dark in here; cold and lonely, like the space between stars. I don't know how long it's been. Days, years, centuries go by and I have no knowledge of them. This place is my world now, and time is meaningless here.
I can feel the monster outside. It's searching, always searching for a way to get in, to exterminate me. I can hold it off as I have always held it off, but I'm getting weak now. I don't know if I can hold it off forever.
It wasn't always like this. There was warmth once. There was sunlight, and cool breezes and the sound of birds and laughter. I was like you once, but that was a very long time ago, and I was only a child then. It feels more like a dream now than anything.
I have not thought about those days in a very long time.
My name is Espa.
Or, at least it was Espa. I don't know if that name still applies to me. I was her a long time ago, or at least, I remember being her. Things are different now.
Time has become a blur. A month, a decade, a thousand years, I can't distinguish them anymore. Everything that has happened in this place is unclear, distorted, but I can remember back then like it's happening right now.
I relive those days when I can, going over my life and wondering, could things have been different? My father once spoke of an infinite series of alternate realities, each one the result of the most seemingly insignificant alterations of events. In all those countless iterations of my life, there has to be one where I, her, we lived a normal, happy life, free of fear and pain and sadness.
But that never could have happened here. If ever there was a reality where everything went wrong, it was this one. Even if what occurred had never come to pass, Espa would have almost certainly died in a poison gas attack, or a nuclear strike, or been swallowed up by the sea, or been captured and sacrificed to the dark energy. Or worse, she could have survived and have had to live in the world that followed the calamity. No, there was no hope for her. There was no hope for me.
I hope whatever happened to Espa, she was allowed to die. She deserves the peace that this world never allowed her to have.
There was a time before all that pain though. I think I'll go back to those days for now.
My childhood was a perfect one. I lived with my mother in our little house with a little yard on a little street outside the city. I loved her more than anything in the world, and she loved me too. Her emotions were like soft sand, warm and comforting and safe. Looking back, I think that's what I remember most about my mother, how safe I felt with her.
I remember every detail about her, her hair, the same perfume she wore every day, how she cut nanab sandwiches into four pieces every time so they'd be small enough for me to eat without getting the jelly on my face, and I remember the way she always sang the same sad song to me when she tucked me into bed. She was beautiful to me. I wanted to be exactly like her when I grew up. Yet, in spite of all this, I can't remember her name. It's always something that made me sad.
Even now, I don't know if she was actually my biological mother or not. Whoever it was that birthed me, I will always think of her as my real mother. She is one of the only people from who I have ever sensed true affection.
I hope whenever she died, it was in peace.
At the time, I never realized how unusual it was that I could feel other people's emotions. When I came to see that I was unique in this way, I asked my mother why. She smiled and told me that it was because I was meant for something special. When I asked her what that was, she just said that I would have to find that out on my own, that everyone makes their own purpose, and then she kissed me and told me to go play. I could feel her sadness when she said this, but I didn't think much of it at the time.
She had no job, no husband, and no visible means of supporting herself. Yet, we always lived in comfort, and we were always together. Had I been older, I would have found this odd. But I was a little girl back then, and I was wrapped in my own world.
There was park in the city that we would go to almost every day. I could always remember this place distinctly; it had a yellow slide and one of those animals on springs for children to ride on. I always rode on the one shaped like a Lanturn while my mother pretended to be a Sharpedo chasing me.
In retrospect, I realize now that this part of my life was never really free, and that my mother was only another piece of the system I have spent my entire existence trapped in. I wasn't taken into this life, I was born into it.
I was seven years old when the black car came. Some men came to the door and my mother talked to them for a few minutes, and then she came to get me. Her misery washed over me like a tsunami. It was overpowering, and I began to cry even though I had no idea what was happening yet.
He held me tight and kissed me and told me I had to go with the men. I asked how long I'd be away but she didn't answer. I could tell she was trying to keep a brave face, but she was barely managing not to collapse into sobbing. She kept saying I had to go now, but she wouldn't let go of me.
Finally one of the men had to pull her off me and she lost all composure, screaming and crying and calling after me as I was led to the car. She told me she would see me soon as I left with the men.
I never saw her again.
I don't sleep anymore, but sometimes I imagine that she's here with me, and her soft singing is like a dream I don't want to wake up from. But dreams don't last forever, and I can feel the monster clawing outside, trying to find a way through my defense.
I have to go now, before it's too late.
Chapter XV: Storm Rider and Sun Bringer
Loose rocks slid under Dust's feet as he climbed up the slope. He stuck his hand out for balance and stumbled on forward. Three days and nights of this had gone by, trudging along alone through increasingly steep and rugged terrain, barely eating or sleeping. Dust could barely stand from exhaustion, but he didn't care anymore. He was like a corpse now, just taking one step after another, not thinking about where he was going, just walking until he either got to the other side of the indomitable mountains before him or he fell into a ravine.
The ground gave away and he slid down several feet and landed face down in the dirt. He groaned wretchedly and tried to stand, but he didn't have the strength to get up. And he couldn't find the willpower to even care. This was what he deserved, to die alone like the coward he was in the peaks that had served as his world's boundaries, with only the scavenging birds to know of his fate.
So he lay there, face in the dirt and bereft of all hope.
The sun set over the world, and Dust was left in darkness.
When he woke, the air was cold and silent. A heavy wind rushed over Dust. A raindrop plinked on the back of his head, and then another.
Dust opened his eyes, and with much effort, rolled over on his back. A cover of grey storm clouds was swiftly advancing across the morning sky, heavy with rain. Dust sat up, wincing from the strain. The wind was swirling around, cold and crisp up on the mountainside.
A dark shape moved inside the storm cloud. Its features were completely obscured by the grey haze, but Dust could make out massive wings beating hard. Suddenly the shape dived down, straight at him.
A great bird emerged from the storm cloud, white and fearsome with massive wings that beat furiously, pummeling Dust with their wind power. The bird swooped up, barely twenty feet above him, and climbed upwards. Its sharp cry rang out, echoing across the snow peaked mountains, seeming to reverberate across the whole world; loud and shrill and beautiful.
Dust ran after it as it soared away. His whole body felt rejuvenated, like the last several days of hardship had simply rolled off his aching muscled and exhausted spirit. He pounded up the slope, not slowing as the stones slid under his feet, not feeling the pain as he slashed his hand on a sharp rock while steadying himself for balance. Everything in the world had disappeared, and now it was just him and this great white bird, and he felt, with not actually knowing why, that he had to follow it.
He ran up the slope, higher and higher until, suddenly, there was no slope anymore. Dust tried to regain his balance before he almost tumbled down the other side of the small mountain.
He'd reached the top.
He looked out at the land in front of him. He hadn't expected the world outside the valley to look like this at all. Beyond the small foothills at the mountains' base, flat plains stretched out in every direction, brown and barren, the only trees being small scraggly things sparsely spread out along the bank of the river that twisted through the dusty land. It was desolate, but strangely beautiful too.
The white bird soared over the wasteland. It shrieked over the plain, high and shrill lonely. The storm clouds followed it, spreading out until the whole sky was grey.
Looking at it now, with its serpentine neck and long powerful tail trailing behind, Dust thought that the creature looked less like a bird than like a dragon.
It circled out over the dusty plain far off in the distance now, when the storm cloud above split open in a burst of brilliant golden light that forced Dust to shield his eyes. Bright colored rays of light illuminated the overcast sky, creating a dazzling rainbow that cascaded from the breach in the clouds and hung over the landscape.
Through the hole of sunlight came another bird, this one with feathers of gold and red from which beams of sunlight and rainbows radiated brilliantly. The golden bird swooped down at the white one, which rose up to meet it.
Was Dust about to witness a battle between these two aerial beasts?
The birds rushed past each other at high speed, and then turned to circle one another. Just when Dust thought they would soon begin to fight, they both rose into the air, side by side, and disappeared up into the cloud cover above.
And then it was all gone. The storm clouds dissipated, the rainbows disappeared, and the two birds were nowhere to be seen. The sun was still shining, but it less brilliant, and now just more hot and oppressive.
He could feel the weariness returning to his body, and the pain of his injuries coming back. Whatever spell the white storm bird had cast over him was gone now.
Dust sighed and began his journey down the treacherous mountainside.
Chapter XVI: Samaritan
After three days Dust was out of the mountains. Three days after that and he was well out onto the plains going along the river.
It's water was red and muddy and foul tasting, but it was the only water he had left at this point. What food he had that wasn't destroyed when he fell into the river earlier had run out days ago, and outside a couple of awful tasting Barboach he had managed to catch in the river, there wasn't much to eat. Poochyena caught the occasional Bunearies and one night, an Ekans, but once divided between the two of them they didn't count for much. Poochyena was a much better forest hunter, where she could hide and stalk her prey, and there was no chance of her taking down any large game without the help of a pack.
It was hot too. All the clouds seemed to stop at the mountains behind him, leaving little cover from the sun. Dust doubted that it rained here very often. There didn't seem to any vegetation beyond bits of sagebrush and the occasional scraggly tree.
One day, Dust was fishing using a bit of string tied to a stick with a little Stunfisk he'd managed to find on the end of it. It hadn't taken him long to learn that the flat little fishes could deliver a nasty jolt of electricity when you tried to eat them, but the Barboaches that ate them seemed to be immune to it, making the Stunfisk good bait for catching them.
Dust noticed a small yellow shape behind a rock on the other side of the river. He peered around the rock and saw a small yellow fox looking at him. Well, maybe 'looking' wasn't the right word seeing as how its eyes were closed, but somehow, Dust couldn't shake the feeling that it was watching him intently. It must have been some creature he hadn't seen yet. Dust considered having Poochyena go after it, but then a Barboach suddenly yanked on the line and Dust lost interest in the fox.
The next day he was walking along when he saw it sitting up in the branches of one of the river trees. It was probably a different one, Dust told himself, but it seemed to be looking at him through those tightly shut eyes as well.
Dust stared at it. It stared back. And then it was gone.
Dust had to take a step back. The fox hadn't just simply left; it had actually disappeared, vanishing completely into the air. Dust looked around, wondering if it had reappeared somewhere else, but there was no sign of it.
A couple days later and the fox hadn't shown up again.
One thing that was very different about the plains was that you could see everything in every direction. Dust was used to the world having defined boundaries, a dark forest with tall mountains behind it, but here the only boundary was the horizon. It was freeing in a way, but also disconcerting. Dust felt exposed out here, like if anything dangerous saw him, there was no way to hide and certainly no way to run.
Dust had heard the stories of the Zoroarks that stalked the plains at night, hulking bipedal wolf creatures who hungered for human flesh and could easily outrun even the fastest man.
As tough and mean as Poochyena was, he doubted she could protect him from any Pokémon much bigger than herself, and trying to use Beedrill in defense could possibly result in two dangerous creatures trying to kill him. Beedrill was under orders from Maddie not to harm him, but Dust didn't trust that to keep him safe. Beedrill was strong minded; it might be able to disobey orders if it really wanted to.
So when Dust saw three dark figures in the distance, he was apprehensive. They clearly saw him too, because they began to move in his direction.
It didn't take long for Dust to realize they were humans, not horrific man eating wolf monsters, so he waved to them, and they waved back. He recalled Poochyena to her ball. The last thing he needed during his first encounter with another person in almost two weeks was an overaggressive hyena attacking them. It took a couple hours for them to finally reach him.
The men were not very tall, certainly not bigger than Dust, and they looked like burlap sacks that had been left out in the baking sun, their skin dry and cracked. They wore wide brimmed hats that were beaten up after what appeared to be centuries of hard living.
They regarded him with friendly smiles.
Of them approached with his arms open. "Howdy, stranger. What brings you to these parts?" he said cordially.
"I'm from the mountains." Dust said, "I've been following the river looking for civilization."
"What's your name?" The one on the right said. They had formed a loose triangle around him, appraising him from all sides.
"Dust." He replied.
The one in front hooted in laughter. "Well I'll be! Ain't never heard a name like that before! A man named Dust, walking through a dusty place like this covered in dust. Hell, you even got dust on your head." He said, pointing at Dust's sandy brown hair.
If Dust had been looking, he would have seen a small yellow fox vanish into the air several dozen yards behind him.
"Look," said Dust, "I lost most my food when I got pushed into river back in the mountains. I've been living off those nasty river fish since then. Do you have anything to spare, or maybe directions to the nearest town?"
"Yeah, I think Goldilocks has some food he can give ya."
The man on the left approached. "They call me Goldilocks on account of my hair color, you see."
Whatever Goldilocks's hair had been before, it was a dirty shade of sunbaked brown now. Dust imagined that that any color these men had been before had been sunburned off years ago.
"Just let me look in my bag for a moment. " Goldilocks said, rummaging through his sack. "Ah, here we go."
The knife was jammed into Dust's side so quickly he barely even realized he'd been stabbed before he fell over. Goldilocks and the man who had been on his right immediately started searching him.
"He was right." Goldilocks said, looking through Dust's sack, there isn't anything in here but a water skin."
"Looks like he's got three used pokeballs." said the other one, looking at his belt. "Dark, water, and some kind of poison bug. This knife he's got is a beauty too."
Dust tried to stagger weakly to his feet and was rewarded with a punch to the face. He groaned. His body was on fire. The knife he'd been stabbed with had poison on it, and he was starting to see double now.
"A water type will be useful out here." The leader said, "We don't need the other two."
"This wanker's a waste of our time." Goldilocks said. "Should I just kill him?"
"Don't worry about him." The leader said, "That Swalot poison will have him out for a while and he's not going anywhere with that knife wound. Leave him here. The Zoruas will take care of him."
There was a pop behind them. A thin, lithe girl had come from seemingly nowhere. She had jet black hair under a blue hat topped with white flowers and a fine blue dress that suggested he was of a wealthy disposition. In her arms, the yellow fox lay asleep.
"Leave him alone." She said.
The leader of the bandits rounded on her. "Just what the Sam hell is this?" he demanded.
"Now what kind of language is that to use in front of a lady?" She said, "Leave him alone right now. I won't ask again."
"You won't ask again?" The leader chuckled, and broke into loud whooping laughter. "You won't ask again? A slip of a girl like you?"
She drew herself up to her full height, which was a little bit less than his shoulder. "Women of my family are used to having people listen when we command something."
"Look Missy, you may be someone important back in whatever cushy mansion you live in, but out here you're just a girl in an expensive outfit. This is our desert, and we don't like women telling us what to do."
"It's been a long time since we came by a woman." Goldilocks said. "Remember that last one? She came by almost a year ago in a stagecoach. Rich girl like you, lots of jewels. She was a screamer too. I love it when they scream."
They all took a step toward her. She held out the yellow fox defensively.
"You must be joking." The leader said, "Abras ain't dangerous. Everyone knows that. The only thing that thing can do is disappear. Bloody useless."
He reached out to grab her. The girl shouted something in another language and the Abra's eyes suddenly opened, pink and small and unused to the harsh sunlight. The bandit stared at it in horror, a low whimper escaping his lips. Then, he fell back screaming, writhing in the dust.
"Not entirely useless, I should think." The girl said.
She stepped toward the other two. This time they were the ones who backed away.
"What did that thing just do?" Goldilocks asked, panicked.
"It's called a Psyshock. It creates a feeling of intense pain, eventually leaving you in a completely catatonic state, sometimes leading to incurable insanity or even death. The effect is of course, completely psychosomatic but the results are quite real."
"Uh," the other bandit said, "What exactly does psychosomatic mean?"
The girl looked at him pleasantly. "Would you like to find out?" she said, holding up the Abra.
Both bandits turned and ran.
The girl rushed to Dust's side, kneeling down. "Are you still alive?" She sounded worried.
Dust groaned. "I think so." His head swam. He couldn't think straight.
"You were stabbed with a poisoned blade." She said, "These plains are crawling with bandits. You're lucky Yoko found you." She reached into her handbag and pulled out a vial. "Drink this. It will slow the poison until we can get you an actual antidote. Dust reached for the vial and missed. He could barely control his own arms.
The girl pressed the vial between his lips and poured the fluid in. It tasted bitter, but Dust swallowed without complaint.
"Why are you helping me?" he asked, but the girl placed a satin gloved finger over his mouth.
"No words." She removed her gloves and pulled out a bottle. She dipped her finger inside and came up with a big yellow glob on the end of it. "Tell me if this hurts."
She spread it over his knife wound. Dust cried out. It felt like the wound had been touched by a hot iron!
"I'm sorry." The girl said. "It's a potion meant for Pokémon. They have a higher pain threshold than we do and they heal faster. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to fight the way they do. The potion is meant to close up the wound until the Pokémon can heal naturally. I don't know how long it will last on you."
She put her gloves back on and held him by the shoulders. "You should be able to stand, at least for now."
Dust grunted and rose to his feet with some help from the girl. She pulled his arm over her narrow shoulders and placed a hand on his back. "Yoko, take us back."
The Abra clung to her leg, and suddenly they were somewhere else. A group of men stood around a fancy stagecoach tied to four large horses with manes and tails made of dancing flames. Dust wondered why they didn't set their harnesses on fire.
A barrel chested man in a bright blue uniform with gold trim and a revolver in his holster came forward, an exasperated look on his face.
"Lady Blackmoor, you know we hate it when you disappear like that. Your father appointed me and my men specifically for your protection. It isn't safe out in the wastes for a lady. What am I supposed to tell your father if you go missing?"
"I'm perfectly safe, Mr. Wadsworth." She said. "I have Yoko with me don't I?"
"I hardly think that one Abra is adequate-"
"Wadsworth!" The girl said, suddenly authoritative. "I would love to carry on this conversation, but if you haven't noticed, this boy has been stabbed and needs to see a doctor right now, and he is really quite heavy, so are you going to argue with me or are you going to help me get him into the coach?"
Wadsworth and one of his men took Dust by the shoulders and carried him into the coach. The girl climbed in behind him and shut the door. The coach began to move.
"Don't worry about Wadsworth." She said, "He gets worried every time I'm not in eyeshot. What's your name?"
She looked at him quizzically. "Dust? That's an unusual name."
"So I've been told."
"It's just Dust?" She continued, "Not even a surname?"
"We don't have surnames where I come from." Dust answered, "At least, most of us don't. What's your name?"
"Amelia. Amelia Blackmoor, Baroness. You've been on my father's land for the last three days."
"Oh. A noble." Dust said bitterly.
"You don't like nobles?" Amelia said.
"I've had bad luck with them recently." Dust said.
Amelia took off her hat and placed it on the seat next to her. "I would love to hear about it."
Dust told her his story from the beginning. Amelia listened, intrigued. She gasped when he came to the part about the giant spider, and kept stopping to ask questions about Maddie, not all of them he felt comfortable answering.
When he told her about the two giant birds, her eyes lit up.
"You saw Lugia and Ho-Oh? Together?" She asked excitedly.
"Is that important?" Dust asked.
"It's rare just to see just one of them flying." She said. "But to see them both at the same time? That's almost unheard of!"
"I just assumed those birds were common out here. What's so special about seeing them?"
"What's special? Don't you realize what you witnessed?"
Dust shook his head.
"There's only one of each in the entire world. Lugia is the Storm Rider." Amelia said with wonder, "She brings the wind and the rain wherever she goes. Seeing her is an omen of hard times ahead. Ho-Oh is the Sun Bringer. He is a symbol of hope. If you see him, then you will have good luck."
"And what does it mean to see them at the same time?" Dust asked.
Amelia shrugged. "I don't know, probably nothing. It's really just an old superstition. Still I would give anything just for the chance to see one of those birds. I would have loved to be there with you."
Dust opened his mouth to answer, but found that he couldn't get any words out. He gasped at the air, the stab wound suddenly burning hot, much more painful even than when he had been stabbed in the first place. He convulsed violently and pitched forward, unconscious before he even hit the floor.
Chapter XVII: The Man Who Came to Dinner
When he awoke, he was lying in an extravagant canopy bed with a feather mattress. The furnishings of the room around were equally opulent. There was a huge fireplace made of marble, with a mantelpiece covered in expensive looking vases from some far off and ancient land. From large portraits with gilded frames, men and women in almost absurdly fancy clothes looked down at him dispassionately. He looked under the sheets and saw that he was dressed in silk pajamas. Three weeks accumulation of dirt and sweat were gone. Somebody must have bathed him when he was out.
There was something in the bed with him, he realized. He looked under the sheet and saw Totodile curled beside him, peacefully asleep. He lay back and let out a sigh. He'd missed the little croc. Poochyena just wasn't as good company.
The door opened and an older man in a long white coat walked through. He had a stethoscope around his neck.
"What happened?" Dust asked.
"The poison you were stabbed with knocked you out." The doctor said. "Had Lady Blackmoor not given you that medicine, I believe you would have died two days ago."
"Two days? I've been here two days?"
"Three actually. You've slept like a log the whole time. Suffering from dehydration and a lot more injuries than just that stab wound. How long were you out in the wasteland?" the doctor asked.
"Too long." Dust said.
Amelia came in, wearing an elegant green dress that exposed her bare shoulders.
"Dust, you're awake!" She knelt down by the bed. "I was afraid I'd gotten here too late, but Doctor Trotsky says you'll make a full recovery."
Dust pulled Totodile out from under the sheets. "I see you got this little brat back to health."
"Oh, he was no problem at all. Twelve hours was he needed to recover from those electricity burns. He's very devoted to you. That's unusual for a reptile."
"He's been like that ever since I hatched him." Dust said.
"You bonded with him right after birth?" Amelia said, "That would explain it. To him, that makes you the most important thing in the world. I looked at your other Pokémon too. Your Poochyena is out by the stables hunting rats right now."
A feeling of horror washed over Dust. "You didn't release Beedrill did you?"
Amelia bit her lip. "That one was more difficult, but don't worry, I'm used to dealing with aggressive Pokémon. That one is mean even by Beedrill standards, but I've managed to work it down to a barely contained homicidal rage instead of an uncontrollable homicidal rage, which I must say is an improvement. It took two Machokes to keep it away from me when I first let it out."
Dust sat up, and grimaced from the sharp pain in his side.
"Your wound will continue to hurt for a few more days." The Doctor said. I suggest you get some more rest."
"I've been resting for three days." Dust complained.
"Then another day will hardly hurt, will it?" the doctor replied. "Your body is still weak from the poison, moving around will only tire you out."
To someone used to doing farm work from sunup to sundown, it didn't feel right to lie in bed all day. Still, he had Totodile to keep him company and Amelia visited every few hours, so he wasn't alone. The bed was also nice. Dust had spent his life sleeping on either a pile of straw or the rough ground every night, so a soft featherbed was like heaven. He also learned that there was a bell he could use that would signal a servant to bring him anything he wanted at any hour, but he didn't feel comfortable using it.
Dust had been unconscious when he'd been brought here, so he had no idea exactly where the mansion actually was. Of course, he'd never known much of what was outside the valley anyway. He'd once seen a map of the world when he was younger, but it had all seemed like some immaterial fantasy land. For people in the valley, most of the world was contained within the mountains around them, and all other places were part of the category of elsewhere. Dust was aware that there was the dry plains on the other end of the mountains, and he knew that there was a city nearby somewhere, but it may as well have been on another continent for all most people cared. The world at large was not a vital part of day to day life, and therefore was unimportant.
Now Dust was out in that world. It finally hit him right there. He'd been out of the valley for weeks now, but in the mountains he had been worried primarily with escaping, and out on the wasteland, he'd been focused on survival. Dust knew where he was coming from, but now he realized that he'd never thought of where he was going to.
What was he going to do now? A wave of despair washed over him. He was in a world utterly foreign to him, with no money and the only friend being an animal. Sure, he was currently resting on a feather mattress in a mansion full of food he didn't have to pay for, but that was only because he was hurt. It wasn't as if he'd be allowed to stay once he'd recovered. He doubted that the Blackmoors would be much of a help to him after he'd left. He wasn't part of their circle. He didn't have titles, prestige, or a memorized list of family members dating back to the Age of Kings. He was just some drifter from the wasteland who'd been poisoned and dragged into their house. In all probability, he'd be turned out the instant Doctor Trotsky said he was ready.
In the meantime though, at least there was a warm bed and good food.
That evening, Amelia invited Dust to eat dinner with the family. It was the first time he'd left the room. It was also a lesson about the differences between the upper class and people like him. Until then, Dust had never even heard of a dinner jacket, much less been able to tell why a certain kind of jacket had to worn to eat with. There was a selection of clothing in the wardrobe, and all of the ones he'd chosen were wrong, at least according to Jarvis, the sneering butler who critiqued his outfit in the condescending tones of those who are given even the slightest bit of power and want to exploit it to the fullest. Dust refused to let the man dress him, and came out again, this time wearing something only slightly less inappropriate in the butler's eyes, but Dust didn't care now.
Dinner itself was hardly better. After beginning to eat too soon, Dust not only held his fork wrong, but held the wrong fork. He put his elbows on the table, ate the fish and potatoes together, and basically broke all the unwritten rules of high society dining that nobody had ever taught him.
Back home, dinner was about feeding yourself because you didn't know if there would be food tomorrow. There were no rules about etiquette beyond the basic things like not spraying food on the table while you ate, and there was certainly no such thing as multiple courses. Dust had been surprised when the various servants standing motionlessly around the dining room suddenly removed his plate and brought on a whole new dish of food, which of course meant that now he had to use a different fork.
These rules, Dust suspected, were put in place with the intention of keeping normal people from ascending the social ladder. He certainly wouldn't be able to impersonate a gentleman with his table manners.
Lord and Lady Blackmoor and Amelia's plethora of younger siblings had done their best to be polite, but with each faux pas Dust committed, the air of disapproval grew thicker and thicker until Dust could practically feel the stares they were giving him boring into his skull. He avoided their gaze and stared down at the food in front of him, not eating it. Amelia hurriedly informed that this was also considered impolite.
Amelia was trying her best to keep him from feeling awkward, but it was obvious that he was embarrassing her. It was as if she had brought an untrained dog into the house and now had to pretend everything was alright even as it ruined the antique carpeting.
It wasn't long before the conversation had shifted away from Dust and he was left trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while the Blackmoors did their best to pretend he didn't exist.
"I had a chance encounter with Mr. Braxley, the owner of the sausage plant, today." Lord Blackmoor said, his Walrein moustache wobbling as he ate a spoonful of curry.
"And how is the old Wailmer?" Amelia replied. The other Blackmoor children stifled their laughter.
"Now Amelia, is that any way to talk?" Her mother chastised her.
"Why not?" Amelia said, "The man is as big around as the pigs he slaughters in those hellish pork factories of his. He has more chins than a hydra."
"He's an industrialist." Lord Blackmoor said, indignantly waving a piece of veal. "His plants can make more meat in a day than your average dirt farm can in a year. He is providing an invaluable service to society"
"I've read about the conditions of those places." Amelia said, "Full of blood and rats and dangerous machines. It's barbaric."
"It's the future." Her father proclaimed.
"The future," Amelia said strongly, "is barbaric."
"You should not be so dismissive of Mr. Braxley." Lady Blackmoor said. "After all, you may be related to him soon."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Amelia demanded.
"Before you interrupted," Lord Blackmoor began, "I was going to say that Mr. Braxley's son has expressed an interest in marrying you."
"Has he now?" Amelia huffed. "You may tell him that he can stuff his proposal into the orifice of his choice."
One of the maids giggled, and was quickly stifled by Lord Blackmoor's glare.
"Now, I would never force you into a marriage that you didn't desire, but at least consider him. The Braxleys are one of the largest and most influential families in the area."
"They certainly are large." Amelia muttered.
"It would be a boon if our two families were to be joined." Lord Blackmoor said. "After all, Evan Braxley is one of the most eligible bachelors in Ludlow."
"Evan Braxley is the most insufferable boor I have ever had the misfortune of meeting." Amelia stated. "I would sooner marry a Grimer."
"Amelia, you are nearly nineteen years old and still unmarried." Lady Blackmoor said, "I already had you when I was that age. If you didn't have such impossible standards…"
"There is a difference between impossible standards and not wanting to wed a complete and total oaf."
"It's just that this is the fifth suitor you've turned down this year."" Lord Blackmoor said.
"And all five of them were oafs." Amelia said.
"I am running out of prospects for you." He said, "You don't want a reputation of being unapproachable do you? Before long, all the good suitors will have moved on." The dishes were removed and another course was brought onto the table. "If you turn down every good man who comes along, pretty soon the only available husband will be someone like, well, him." He pointed at Dust. Dust tried to look invisible without much success. "The city gym is holding a challenge tomorrow. I want you to go there."
"You know I deplore the men who challenge those gyms. They're all a bunch of overconfident prigs."
"I am coming to believe that you simply deplore all men of every shape, creed, and color." Lord Blackmoor said. "Marriage isn't about liking someone. It's about connections. Those gym winners are the sons of powerful men."
"So whether or not I can stand being around the man I intend to spend my life with is of no consequence?" Amelia said.
"Marriage is a pragmatic thing." Lord Blackmoor said. "It isn't like the idealized romantic rubbish in novels. When you are married, then you can come to like the man you are with, perhaps you will even love him. But it is important that he is someone who will benefit you. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Amelia said, in a tone that meant anything but.
"Good." Her father said. "Now as I was saying before you interrupted, I had a chance encounter with Mr. Braxley today…"
The conversation trailed off down a long boring path that Dust didn't even attempt to follow, about business and politics and who said what about whom, culminating in an impassioned speech from Lord Blackmoor about the importance of knowing the proper cummerbund to wear to social occasions, an issue that Lord Blackmoor seemed to have strong feelings about.
When he finally came back to his guest room and began to change into sleeping attire. If Jarvis were watching, Dust mused, he would probably criticize the clothes that he was choosing to go to sleep in.
Totodile was asleep on the bed. Dust picked him up and moved him out of the way. He fished a couple pieces of veal out of his pocket and held them in front of the waking croc.
"I sneaked some of this up for you." He said, dropping the meat into Totodile's snapping jaws. "I'll tell you, Totodile. Being rich is harder than it looks." He plopped down on the soft feather mattress. "The beds are a lot nicer though, I'll say that about it." He closed his eyes and went to sleep.
And then opened them when something poked him in the chest.
Daylight was streaming through the windows. As Dust's senses came to him, he saw that the thing that had poked him was a folded up parasol. Further investigation revealed that it was being held by Amelia, who was wearing a green walking suit and a hat that a stuffed bird on top of it. The bird looked down at Dust with glassy eyes. He was transfixed by it.
"It's morning already?" He said.
"Yes." Said Amelia.
"And you're jabbing me with a parasol because…?"
"Because we are going to town today, and I wasn't going to wait until this evening for you to wake up."
"Right." Dust said, "And why are you taking me to town?"
"Because we are going to the Ludlow City Gym." She said. "Aren't you tired of staying here?"
Dust thought about spending another day in the Blackmoor house.
"Are we eating first?" He asked.
Dust smiled. "Great then. I'll just get dressed.
Dust took a long time to wash. He wasn't used to bathing more than once a week, and even then it was always in a cold river. Now that he could sit in warm water to clean, he was going to savor it.
As he dressed, Totodile splashed around in the tub. Dust had tried to wash him while he was still in the bath, but the croc had refused to go in the hot water. Apparently Totodiles preferred their water to be lukewarm, Dust reasoned, and probably full of muck and parasites too.
The wardrobe was full of the kinds of clothes that Dust would have loved to wear, but never could. He put on a sandy brown waistcoat over a white shirt and trousers to match. He looked at himself in the mirror. The word swanky was not a part of Dust's vocabulary, but if it was, that word would have sprung to mind.
He dried off Totodile with a towel and pulled on a jacket. He walked out into the hall. Amelia looked him over with a critical eye.
"Let's take a look at you. Hmm, your clothes actually look alright. A lot better than that ensemble you wore to dinner. I suppose you've seen what the upper class wears outside at least." She took his hand and held it up. "Haven't looked closely enough though. Your hand is calloused. It's obvious that you're a worker. Go put on some gloves. And a hat too, we're going to be out in public."
A few minutes later, Dust, now with a pair of brown leather gloves and a flat cap, and Amelia stepped into the coach pulled by the fiery horses.
"Why does it matter if I look like I'm working class?" Dust asked.
"I'm a daughter of a Baron, Dust. How would it look if I was seen strolling through the city hanging off the arm of a laborer?"
"You didn't lie about me before."
"Well, yes, but this is different. I brought you in because you were going to die. I was fulfilling my role as a hospitable host."
"And now you're embarrassed to be seen with someone below your class." Dust said.
Amelia sighed. "It's not that I'm embarrassed by you, Dust. It's just there are proper ways of doing things. Ladies like me don't cavort around with peasants. It isn't respectable to act on equal terms with the lower classes. My reputation would be damaged, and it would be even worse for you. They might say you were assaulting me and lock you up. Do you understand?"
Dust understood. He understood perfectly. He wondered if she did. No, of she didn't, how could she? She'd never been raised in a home with a thatched roof and a dirt floor, sleeping on straw and freezing in the winter. She'd never had to toil in the dirt to try to raise up enough crops to last until the next harvest, only to have a full half of her yield be taken away by the local baron in exchange for not having her farm burnt down and forced off her land. Never seen her family go hungry. Never been treated as a nobody, an embarrassment, a criminal, just because she wasn't born with the right last name.
"Yeah, I understand." Dust said.
"Good. Now, I was thinking that you could be from a well to do family in the country, since you know all about farming and rural life, and it would also help explain any social gaffes you make."
She did save his life though, Dust thought. She didn't have to do that. Ashton certainly wouldn't have done that. He doubted most nobles would have done that. Most commoners too, for that matter.
"Alright." He said, "I'll play along with you."
Hi! I'm from the Review Game!
I'll be reviewing Chapter IX
The scene where Ashton is abusing Maddie is very intense. It makes the readers to sympathize with Maddie, because this things sometimes happens in real life. The scene not only shows Dust's heroic personality, but it also shows how Ashton and his Bodyguard are painful Butt****.
The way you're writing this story is brilliant. It's as if you're a professional writer. This story is realistic as well, I mean this story seems to be like Pokemon in real life, only in a post-apocalyptic life that is. The Plot is well done and I like it. It's not an average Pokemon Fanfiction.
You describe things very thoroughly. It's like you imagine you're story in your mind, and just copy and paste it in writing form.
The characters are well made. I mean REALLY well made. We know that Dust is strong and has a good heart. We know he could get very impatient and stupid sometimes. But we most definitely know Dust cares a lot for Maddie. Also, The antagonists, Ashton and his evil father, Baron are a bunch of Butt****s.
The relationship between Dust and Maddie is great. It's like Dust would risk his life, just to make sure Maddie won't get hurt from the nasty Butt****s. And Maddie also cares for Dust a lot, so much she has to stay with evil Ashton. I really like the relationships in this story.
The story pace is quite okay. Meaning It's not very fast nor slow. It's like in the middle.
The dialogues in this story are always intriguing. It brings out the character's personality, And show why they're doing what they're doing.
I must say, I enjoy reading this story. It's a little hard to read because the descriptions are always glued with each sentence. But, this story is quite easy to understand because of the lack of spelling/grammar mistakes. I personally think this story needs more noticing. Because this story is awesome.
I hope this review is helpful(And not the opposite!)
So Dormant signing off..
One Author, One Creator and Two boys. Set in Johto. Where everything is not what it seems. For they must flee from the group called the Grammar Police. And saved the World from an unknown threat.
Credits to ~BrightStarVictory~ of Subspace Generate Graphics!
So Bad It's Good and, So Bad It's Good 2: War of the Turkey
Oneshot(s)! It's-IT'S. It's.....Something. Caution: May shatter your sanity. Read, if you dare.....
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Chapter XVIII: The Ground Gym
Ludlow was a grey, smelly, smog belching patch on the dull drown plains. The carriage clattered down the cobbled road, going by all manner of different stands, fruit stands, hat stands, animal stands. Factories with massive smoke stacks poured black clouds into the blue sky, creating a dark atmosphere over the city. Beggars, prostitutes and thugs went about their daily business as the dour faced townsfolk walked by. Dust watched it all with a sense of childlike wonder.
So this was civilization then? Dust had never been to a city, of course, but he'd seen pictures in a book, so he had at least some idea of what it was like. No woodcut could have done this place justice though. It was so full, so loud, so… alive.
And then there was the smell. Dust had spent his life working around the hind end of cattle, so he was no stranger to stink. The stink here was different. An amalgam of hundreds of different odors assaulted his senses all at once. It was the smell of industry, of smoke and smog and fire, and then there was the animal smell from the horses and cattle pulling carts, and the mangy dogs in the alleyways, and the cured meats and the bird poop that covered seemingly every statue and lamppost. And you couldn't forget the smell of humanity, all these unwashed people mingling together, covered in soot and sweat and, yes, somebody was definitely covered in urine.
Amelia wrinkled her nose. "I always avoid the lower districts whenever I can. It's appalling here."
"Why are we here then?" Dust asked.
"It's where the gym is." She said. "I think the Leader here likes making the rich folks have to wade through the scummiest area of the city to challenge him. The threat of being mugged makes it more exciting, I guess."
"So what actually is a gym anyway?" Dust asked.
"Have you ever been involved in a Pokémon battle? I mean a real one with rules and things?"
Dust thought back to the smell of foul Rhyhorn breath on his face.
"I've been in one once." He said.
"Well that's what gyms are." Amelia explained. "They all specialize in a certain type of Pokémon, like Water or Rock. The one here in Ludlow is a Ground gym."
"I'm sorry, what do you mean by type?" Dust asked.
Amelia sighed. "It's the categories that Pokémon are put into. They don't really mean anything biologically; it's mainly for battling purposes. There are seventeen different types, like your Totodile there is a water type and Yoko is a psychic type. Some are elemental, like fire, and some have to do with the kind of energy they use, like dark types use dark energy and so on. And then some are basically just descriptors, like flying or bug."
"So everything just fits neatly into a type?"
"Not really." She said. "Like I said, these are manmade categories, so there's some overlap in different species. So your Beedrill is a bug, right, but it can also use venom. So according to the rules, that makes it a bug and poison type. It's all rather useless. Anyone who actually breeds Pokémon knows that types don't actually mean anything. I mean, one of the types is even called Normal! As if there's actually such thing as a normal animal. It's just somewhere to lump all the ones that they couldn't come up with an actual type for."
The carriage rolled to stop in front of a magnificent building that stood out the shoddy crumbling brick structures around it. It looked like an ancient palace, though significantly scaled down in size until it could fit into a city block. It was the only building here that had a courtyard.
"This is our stop." Amelia said. "You get out first."
Dust climbed out of the carriage and stepped out onto the cobblestones. He began to walk toward the building.
"Excuse me." Amelia said behind him. "Aren't you going to help me out of the carriage?"
Dust looked at her, then down at the two foot drop to the ground.
"You really need help to get out?" He said.
Amelia sighed. "Of course I don't need help. It's called etiquette." Dust extended his hand, and Amelia took it and stepped out. "I'm trying to pass you off as a gentleman, Dust. You could at least pretend to have an ounce of class."
She opened up her parasol and took Dust's arm. "Now walk me in."
The entrance to the gym was under a large stone arch that opened into the courtyard.
"This building isn't made anything like the others." Dust said.
"It's sandstone." Amelia said. "Only building made from it in the whole city. It's a lot older than most of the buildings here too."
"How old is that?"
"A few hundred years at the least."
The footpath was flanked by sand on both sides, like a miniature desert. Two palm trees stood in front of the large metal front doors of the building. The smoggy sky overhead lessened the desert atmosphere somewhat, but it was still a good effect.
"Do all gyms look like ancient temples?"
"Just this one, I think. It's the Ground gym, so they go for a sandy look here."
Dust pushed through the doors and into the gym. Inside was a small throng of people, mostly young men and women close to his age. The air of elitism was palpable in here. The men all had stylish waistcoats and dapper white gloves, and the ladies had hats with tall colorful feathers and crinoline in their dresses. Dust's nostrils were filled with the powerful mix of expensive colognes and perfumes all fighting for dominance.
A young man caught sight of them and approached. He beamed at Amelia.
"Amelia!" he said, "How wonderful to see you." He had a piglike nose and smelled vaguely like horseradish. Dust immediately disliked him.
"Evan." She said. "How… splendid of you to be here."
"You look positively ravishing." Evan Braxley said. He took her hand to kiss it. "I trust you have come to see challenge the gym?"
"Actually," she said, pulling her hand away from his grasp. "I've come to see him." She put her arm around Dust's.
"You have?" Dust said, surprised. Amelia gave him a look full of knives. "Yes, you have. Of course."
"Ah." Evan looked at Dust, as if just noticing him for the first time. His tone soured. "And you would be?"
Amelia spoke up. "His name is-"
"Dust." Dust said. He was going to be damned if he had to go by a false name.
"Dust Caldwell." Amelia finished for him. She squeezed his arm tight, making him wince slightly. "He's from the country."
"I see." Evan looked at Dust distastefully. "And why have you come with this country boy? Surely it cannot be because you enjoy the smell of cattle."
A girl with bright golden hair piled under a hat of the same color came sauntering over. She gave Dust an appraising once over and smiled suggestively.
"Amelia! I had no idea you were coming. When were you going to introduce me to your friend here?" She fluttered her fan coquettishly. Dust couldn't help noticing how low the neckline on her bodice was.
"This is Dust Caldwell." Amelia said.
Dust took the girl's hand and kissed it. "Charmed."
"Victoria Carradine." She said, letting out a small gasp. "Your hands are so strong."
"I like to keep busy." Dust said. He tried to think of things that wealthy people in the country did. He doubted the things Ashton did for fun would be approved of here. "Hunting, fishing, playing polo, tracking down wild beasts with naught but my wits to protect me.. Why just the other week I was involved in a chase with a Rhyhorn." Well, this was technically true, he reasoned.
"A Rhyhorn!" Victoria's eyes lit up. "They are awfully dangerous."
"Worry not, my lady." Dust was beginning to enjoy this. "I escaped with nary a scratch, which is more than I can say for the Ariados I encountered and fought with my bare hands."
"And I'm sure you have many other wonderful tales to tell us." Evan said, eying him with suspicion. "Say, where are you from exactly?"
"He's from the southeast." Amelia said. "Near the mountains."
"Dunny on the Woad, it's called." Said Dust with an air of pride. "It's been owned by the Caldwells for over two hundred years."
"Can't say I've ever heard of that place." Evan said. "Or any family named Caldwell."
"I expect you wouldn't. We don't normally associate with the nouveau riche." He had heard Lord Blackmoor use that term last night and was proud to have remembered it.
"Indeed." Evan said. There was some anger in his voice. "And pray tell why you are here in Ludlow with Amelia?"
Dust looked him right in his beady little eyes. "To discuss the terms of our betrothal, of course."
That got his attention. Evan's face twitched almost imperceptibly. Victoria gasped.
Dust continued on. "I'm thinking of starting some sausage plants here in Ludlow. With the support of the Blackmoors paired with the not insignificant fortune of my own, I believe I should hold the monopoly on the entire meat industry of the city before long. It shouldn't be too hard to force out the ghastly plants already here." He looked innocently at Evan. "I'm sorry, what is it that your family does?"
A vein was throbbing on Evan's forehead. Before he could speak, a bell rung from deeper in the building.
"That will be the gym leader." Amelia said. "You should go along now. Just allow me to have a word with my fiancé. Come, darling." She took Dust by the hand and led him away. Once they were out of earshot, her voice turned to ice. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm giving you what you want." Dust said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, so this isn't the reason you brought me here?" Dust said. "Pretending I'm some rich out-of-towner so you could parade me in front of that guy like a pig at the fair? I heard what you said at dinner. You wanted him to think you were taken."
"I didn't expect to end up engaged to you!"
"I bet you enjoyed the look on his face when I told him that, though."
Her expression softened slightly. "Alright, I did. I thought the part with the meat plants was a good touch too. I'll still have to come up with an explanation for when we never get married." She smiled. "Maybe I'll have you die in some horrid accident and become a lonely old widow, refusing to ever love again."
"You don't want to get married, do you?"
"To you or just in general?" Amelia laughed. "I suppose I'm not against the idea of marriage. It's just, I cannot stand any of these boys. Look at the ones here, all bristling with arrogance and false machismo. I guarantee that none of them raised a single one of their Pokémon instead of having someone else do it. I don't to marry someone like Evan Braxley. I'd much rather marry somebody like, well like you."
Dust raised his eyebrow.
"I mean, not you, obviously." She explained, "Just someone similar, but with more money, manners and dress sense. Why did you want to marry Maddie?"
"Because I love her." Dust said.
"Exactly. But Evan Braxley wants to marry me for the money and prestige that comes from marrying into the Blackmoor family. And that's what it is with everyone else here. They don't want me as a wife. They want the connection to my family name and fortune. I'm just the prize that goes along with it. Here, you don't marry someone you love. You're lucky to end up with someone you even like. And what if you can't stand them? What if you don't even want to touch them because you find them repulsive? Well then you can have your bed in a different room from them, and that's your marriage. Sleeping alone for the rest of your life except for the few nights where you have to perform your wifely duties to a man you hate so that you will then have children to marry off for the benefits of those connections. It's so much easier for you commoners. You don't have any family prestige to worry about. No offense."
The room around them had emptied out entirely.
"You should really go. They won't let fight the gym leader if you don't show up." She said.
"I didn't come here to fight anyone." Dust said.
"It's what all the gentlemen do. You aren't a real gentleman if you don't challenge the gym."
"I'm not a gentleman."
"No, but Dust Caldwell is."
"I've never even fought in an actual battle before." Dust protested.
"You told me you were in one on the way here." Amelia said.
"I was inside the ring, being chased." Dust said.
"What were you doing in the ring?" Amelia asked.
"I kind of… jumped in."
"Why would you do something stupid like that?"
"Never mind." Dust said. "The point is that I don't have any shot of winning."
"That's alright." Amelia said. "Nobody ever wins. Look Dust, I saved you from dying alone in the desert. The least you can do for me is to keep up the charade of a rich, pompous cad."
She turned and headed off toward the door to the viewer seats. Dust sighed and went down the corridor where the other young men had gone.
"Alright, is everybody here?" He looked around the room. "Good. I am the leader of this gym and my name is Maximillion Maximillion, but you can call me Maximillion. Now, as you all know, this is the Ludlow ground gym. And since this is a ground gym," He gave a look that meant he was about to say something very witty. "We are going to go over some ground rules." When nobody laughed at his terrible pun, he pressed on undeterred. "Right. Rule number one: This is a legal organized match, not an underground fighting ring. Battles between Pokémon are fought until one is either knocked unconscious or the owner withdraws it. You are responsible for your Pokémon's safety. If it is killed by accident in the battle, the Ludlow gym is under no obligation to repay you for your loss. Intentionally killing an opposing Pokémon however is not allowed. Rule two: Challengers are restricted to a maximum of six Pokémon, but you do not have to have that many. I will have six, so if you come with only one creature, then you had better have trained it well. If you defeat me, you will receive one of these." He held out a small bronze disc. "This is an official Ludlow gym Earth Badge, very useful for impressing the ladies, I'm told. There is only one way to receive one of these, and that is by winning a match against me. You cannot buy, threaten or cajole one off of me. You have one chance and one chance only of earning one of these, so if any of you are repeat visitors, then I'm sorry but you had your chance before and missed it. You can still challenge me, but don't expect to get a badge out of it."
He stepped off the platform. "Alright, I think that wraps things up. If you would form a line, first time challengers up front, repeat challengers in back." He slumped into a chair behind a small desk in the corner of the room. "Sign your name here and we'll be all set."
One by one, the line moved forward, everyone putting their signature. When it was Dust's turn, Maximillion Maximillion looked down at his name.
"Dust Caldwell, eh? Of the esteemed Caldwell family, I presume?"
"Yes." Dust said quickly.
"The Caldwells run a bakery three blocks from here." Maximillion said. "They make the most delectable Nanab pastries in the whole city, but such things do not make one members of the gentry, I am afraid. Now, I know the Caldwells and you are no Caldwell, nor are you a nobleman. I do believe your name really is Dust though, because nobody coming up with a false name would choose a moniker as false sounding as that."
"How do you know that?" Dust said.
"I've been rich and I've been poor and I've been everywhere in between, often alternating back and forth over a period of months. I know what privilege smells like and I also know how to spot a man who's had to work for his dinner. You look completely out of place, Dust, like you've never been around rich people before. Also, your penmanship is atrocious." He said, pointing at the ugly, inexpertly signed letters Dust had put down.
"Is that a problem?" Dust asked nervously.
"It is if you want people to understand what you're writing. Oh, you mean the fact that you're actually a filthy common swine. For them? Yes. They like to think of this place as their own little gentlemen's club. If any riffraff could come here and win a badge, then that means there's a single aspect of their lives where they don't get to lord their status over someone else, and that's a big problem for them. But this isn't their club now, is it? The Ludlow gym is my own sovereign nation, and I allow any man through my doors, rich or poor, male or female, though you'll be hard pressed to find a female man. You're just as welcome to challenge me as anyone else in this room. I just wouldn't let on your identity to the others. They might be less accepting than I am. Now move along, you're holding up the line." He gave Dust a piece of paper with the number eleven on it.
Dust was ushered into the dark waiting room with the others and sat in silence as everybody behind him filed in one by one. Several minutes passed and the door on the opposite side of the room opened. The challenger holding a paper with the number one on it stood up and exited through the door. The door closed behind him.
Several minutes passed.
The door opened again. The second challenger left.
Third challenger. Time passed. Fourth challenger. Fifth, sixth, seventh. There was no way of knowing if any of them had won, because they never came back into the room.
At last, the tenth challenger went in. Dust sat, looking at small collection of remaining boys left. Nobody spoke a word.
The door opened. It hadn't been a long wait. The guy before him must have gone down quickly.
Dust stood up and stepped through the door, which closed behind him with a loud boom.
The hallway was made of stone and decorated with ancient looking hieroglyphics. Flickering torchlight illuminated the long hall until the end faded into shadow. Dust started down it. When he came to the end of the torches, he had to hold out his hands in front and feel his way along. He came to a wall, but couldn't feel anything like a door. He spread out his hands and tried to find something to grab onto.
Finally, he discovered a lever and pulled it. For a moment, nothing happened. Then a loud grinding sound came from below.
The ground dropped from beneath Dust's feet.
He tumbled down an earthen tunnel sliding and bouncing on the floor of dirt. He was deposited on a sandy floor.
He rose to a kneeling position and looked around him. He was in a massive arena with stone walls. He stood on a stone platform, but the rest of the floor was nothing but loose sand. Up near the ceiling he could just see the stands where Amelia and the rest of the ladies sat.
On the other side of the arena, a spotlight turned on, revealing Maximillion Maximillion standing on an identical platform.
"Challenger Dust!" his voice echoed across the chamber, "Are you prepared for battle?"
Dust tried to brush some of the sand off. "Hold on a-"
"Good. Then let's begin."
Maximillion tossed a ball out onto the sand. A blinding flash of energy materialized into a human sized creature with rubbery blue skin and a large fin cresting its head. Dust had a brief memory flash of a huge maw rising out of the mud to swallow him. Of course, that was a Swampert, and this one was a smaller Marshtomp.
Dust looked at his three balls. He had a Totodile whose combat skills consisted of chasing butterflies, an omnicidal Beedrill just as likely to attack him as the enemy, and well, it really wasn't much of a choice then, was it? He tossed out Poochyena's ball.
He crouched down by the Hyena. "You see that?" he said, pointing to the Marshtomp. "I need you to take it down for me." He couldn't tell if she could understand him or not, so he added, "Poochyena, attack that thing."
Poochyena rushed toward the Marshtomp, kicking up a cloud of dust behind her.
"Strategy number two!" Maximillion commanded. The Marshtomp reared up on its hind legs and blasted the sand around it with water from its mouth, creating a circle of brown mud. It gathered a mouthful of the mud and blasted a stream of it at the approaching hyena.
Poochyena rolled out the way and snarled. She ducked as another blast of it sailed over her head. She charged forward, dug her paw into the sand and flung it at the amphibian's eyes as a blast of mud struck into her. She was knocked backward and rolled several feet before coming to a stop. The Marshtomp rubbed at its inflamed eyes and roared in pain. It drew back and tried to hit Poochyena with a pressurized jet of water, but missed badly.
Poochyena rose to her feet, growling. She raced at the blinded Marshtomp, leaped over a poorly aimed mud blast and slammed her bulk into its face. The amphibian fell over backwards, Poochyena coming down on top of it, clawing and biting as it flailed at her wildly.
A wild swing connected with her and she was knocked off. Her jaws whipped around and closed on the rubbery arm, drawing blood and making the Marshtomp reel back. Poochyena launched herself at its midsection and clawed wildly; making deep gashes in its belly the Marshtomp fell over, covering itself with its arms to protect its body from the vicious assault.
It vanished as Maximillion recalled it. "Your hyena has some fight in it. But you're going to have to rely on more than just brute strength if you want to win." He pulled out another ball and it became a small brown crocodile with a thick black membrane over its eyes. "Strategy number two, Sandile. Don't let that thing get the advantage."
The Sandile burrowed into the sand and disappeared. Poochyena darted to where it been and pawed at the sand, trying to dig after it.
"It's no use." Maximillion said. "Sandile can swim through sand as easily as a fish through water."
"Poochyena, watch out!" Dust yelled. "That thing could be anywhere."
Poochyena darted around, watching the ground for movement. Almost a minute went by, but the crocodile was nowhere to be seen. Then the ground rose up right under Poochyena's feet, and two jaws shot out and grabbed her. The two animals rolled on the ground. Poochyena struggled and fought and tried to get her mouth in a spot where she could bite her foe, but the Sandile's jaws were too strong. It squeezed, harder and harder until Poochyena was no longer fighting back. It released her and her unconscious form rolled out on the ground.
Dust recalled her and looked at his other two options. Neither of them seemed very good.
He sent out Totodile, and then recalled him twenty seconds later when his dazed form came flying back and landed at his feet. One of these days, Dust was going to have to actually train him.
He looked down at his remaining pokeball. It's purple and green light looked back at him, almost tauntingly. Beedrill was unpredictable, and he didn't know whether or not it would attack him. He hadn't sent it out since he was all the way back in the mountains, running away from Ashton's Rhyhorn. But then again, Maddie had told it to do whatever he said.
He threw the ball on the ground, and the towering insect appeared. It looked across at the enemy Sandile, and then it turned around at Dust.
"Beedrill, knock out that Sandile." It still just stood there. "Beedrill, I'm giving you an order. You have to do what I say. Its pupiless eyes showed no comprehension, or any emotion of any kind. It took a step toward him. "Beedrill!" Dust yelled
Beedrill raised one spear arm, and then swung it around at the Sandile leaping at it from behind. The crocodile skidded away, sending up a spray of sand. It tried to stand, but it staggered and fell. Beedrill's venom was taking effect.
Maximillion recalled the Sandile. "That's quite a specimen you've got there. But let's see how it deals with this!"
He threw down a ball, and the light grew and grew until it materialized. Dust had been inches away from the baron's Rhyhorn. He'd felt its hot breath on his face and he'd seen its massive frame bearing down on him in nightmares since then.
This creature made that Rhyhorn look like a baby. It towered above him, standing nearly twenty feet on its hind legs, it front arms the size of tree trunks. This was what Rhyhorns aspired to be.
"Rhyperior, strategy number one!" Maximillion commanded.
The hulking monster picked up a handful of sand and squeezed it. The grains formed together into a big rock.
"Crush that bug." The gym leader said.
Rhyperior lobbed the rock at high speed. Beedrill spun out the way, but not fast enough to avoid getting winged by it. It fell over, buzzing angrily.
"Beedrill, move now!" Dust cried out. Beedrill somersaulted away as a boulder crashed down where it had just been. Its wings whirred and the bug took off into the air. "Keep moving. Try to get around it and look for a weak point."
Where did you find a weak point on a monster like this? The Rhyperior was a fortress on two legs. Beedrill was shooting pin missiles at it, but they just clattered off its armored plates. Dust tried to think. Every creature had a weak point. This thing must have had some kind of vulnerable area.
"Beedrill, get under its legs!"
Beedrill whirred around it, dodging the creature's grasping arms with lightning agility. It dropped down and darted around as the Rhyperior pounded at the sand around it, and flew between its enormous legs.
"Now stab upward!"
Beedrill stuck its spear arm up, and recoiled when it slammed ineffectually against armored plate.
"It's called a genital sheath." Maximillion said. "And Rhyperior has one as hard as granite. It was a good try though, not many challengers have thought to do that."
Rhyperior reached down and picked Beedrill up. The insect squirmed in its grasp, but was it about as effective as a bee trying to escape a giant armored rhinoceros. The hand began to squeeze.
Rhyperior brought Beedrill up to its mouth and roared so loudly that the ground seemed to shake. Beedrill looked into its mouth and spat a pin missile.
Rhyperior reeled back, roaring even more loudly. It flung Beedrill away, who crashed into the wall and sank to the ground. Its wing was bent and its carapace was beginning to crack. It staggered back on to the sand, buzzing defiantly.
Just as Beedrill was about to be buried under a mountain of rhino mass, it shot upward, barely avoiding the giant horn and landed on the moving rhino's back. Two arms came up to swat it away, but the bug deftly avoided them and crawled to the top of the angry monster's head. It flipped over and landed in the Rhyperior's mouth, stinger going in.
Rhyperior ripped Beedrill out and threw it into the ground. Its roars were weakening, and foam came from its mouth. The Rhyperior staggered over and fell to its knees, its arms holding it off the ground. Then, they gave out too, and slumped into the sand with a muffled crash.
"I guess that thing did have a weak spot." Dust said.
Beedrill crawled upward, barely able to support itself. It slowly turned and faced Maximillion, as if daring him to send another enemy to fight.
The gym leader did. This one was a blue toad the size of a large man. "That thing is tougher than it looks, Seismitoad. Don't let it get to you. Use your hyper voice."
Beedrill's damaged wings whirred, and it charged the toad at full speed. The Seismitoad planted both feet in the sand and screeched. The sonic power blew a track in the sand and blasted Beedrill back. Dust fell to his knees, covering his tortured ears.
Beedrill bounced back to its feet and charged again, and was hit by another sonic screech. It fell to the sand and this time it couldn't get up.
Dust recalled it.
"Is that all your Pokémon?" Maximillion asked.
Dust nodded his head.
"Then the match is over."
The two of them walked out to the center of the arena and shook hands.
"You lost, kid." Maximillion said, "But your Pokémon put up a better fight than I've seen in a long time. Except for the Totodile of course."
"Thank you." Dust murmured.
"Listen, your creatures have fierceness and determination. Those are both qualities that will serve you well in future battles. What they need is training. You can't just have your Pokémon rush in and fight on its own and expect to win. You and it have to work together to win. Here's something I don't tell many people. You have what it takes to challenge the league. I think you should go to the other gyms and take them on."
"Are they a around here?" Dust asked.
"No. The league is supposed to be hard to beat. The gyms are scattered across the world, making it impossible for any but those with the most drive and determination to win. Just think about it, Dust." He turned away and yelled. "Send in the next one!"
Chapter XIX: Dust Gets a Letter
Dust returned to Blackmoor Manor where he spent the next few days milling around with no idea what to do. He tried horseback riding, but climbing on the backs of animals bigger and stronger and meaner than him with manes of fire and trying to tell them what to do turned out to be a skill he wasn't cut out for.
He ate his meals alone, though sometimes Amelia would come to keep him company. She spent her time tending to Poochyena and Beedrill. Dust helped with Poochyena, as he had experience helping wounded Tauroses, but Beedrill's anatomy was beyond him. At least the bug seemed less intent to kill him lately.
Totodile recovered quickly, as all he had taken was a blow to the head. Dust attempted to train him better. They went out into the prairie and hunted Digletts together. Totodile softened the ground around the holes and dug after them, trapping the moles in his jaws and pulling them out. Totodile ate well, and Dust decided to stick to human food.
One day, Dust was playing in the billiards room when a servant came in with a piece of paper. "Message for you, sir."
Dust took the paper from him. "Who could be sending me a letter?"
"It doesn't say. But it is addressed to you."
After the man had left, Dust tore open the envelope.
When we battled, I told you that you were something special. I have an opportunity for you to prove it. If you have time, meet me at the Riverside Inn in town at eleven o'clock tonight. There is someone I want you to meet.
Dust went down to the barn area where Amelia was milking a baby Nidoran. "How are they doing?"
She put the Nidoran down and wiped her hands on her rough trousers. "The Nidorans? They're doing fine. I think in a few months some of them will make good race animals."
"I meant Poochyena and Beedrill."
"Oh them." She said. "They're fine. Poochyena is still a little tender so you should take it easy with her, but Beedrill is in ship shape. Insects have excellent regenerative properties."
"Great. I'm taking them to Ludlow tonight. I might have a job there."
She smiled. "What kind of job?"
"I don't know yet." He showed her the letter.
"Hmm." She said, "He wants to meet you at night at one of the least reputable establishments in an area of town that's already disreputable? Sounds shady. Be sure to bring the carriage back when you're done."
It was at ten forty-five that Dust arrived at the Riverside Inn, following the directions of a man with two eye patches dragging a sack that Dust whose contents Dust didn't care to speculate on. Maximillion was waiting outside.
"You're early." He said. "The letter said to be here at eleven."
"Is that a bad thing?" Dust said.
"Of course not." He put his arm around Dust's shoulder. "I'm glad you showed up. Dust, you are going to help me catch a criminal."
"I didn't realize that chasing criminals was your job."
"Keeping our city safe from scum is the duty of every citizen, Dust. And this person managed to fool me specifically, so that makes it personal."
He lead Dust to a small shack behind the inn.
"So who is this guy we're going to catch?" Dust asked as Maximillion opened the door.
There was a small table inside the shack. Ashton stood up from behind it.
"It's you, chummy."
Here from the review game.
Plot - I think you have a decent plot here which is very well explored and you also explore the theme of abuse very well. I think it was handled in a very mature manner. The intense relationships help enhance the plot very well.
Characters - Totodile was really cute and I think we pretty much saw him grow up throughout the whole story because you described him in the egg to the time he lives his life. The way Dust and Totodile interacted, especially in the end gave out a really cute and fuzzy atmosphere and imagery. In chapter five, I found it hard to like Dust because he pushes him too hard when it's still just a baby.
Enjoyment - I think the main strengths in New World is the description, and this showed up very well in chapter four when you wrote about the totodile hatching from the egg. You did a good job with the showing and not telling technique when you already showed up with a description of the baby pokemon before it was announced.
I like this part because it made me think it was a latin name for it like plants and animals have latin names.Crocodylus Liberis
Pace - I think the story is very well paced with well throughout chapters. In my opinion there is a reasonable amount of detail, description and atmosphere to understand what is going on. It shows very well in the most recent chapter which is straight to point as in it's concise.
Chapter XX: New Beginning
You weren't expecting me back, were you?
To be honest, I didn't think I'd be back either. That monster almost got me. It broke through my fortress of walls and mazes and almost purged me bit by bit until there was nothing left of me. I'm already little more than a memory as it is.
I used to believe there was a place we all went to when we died, somewhere where there wasn't any pain or sadness. But I don't think that place is open to me anymore. I won't die; I'll just not exist anymore. And lonely and broken as I am, I desperately want to exist, because the thought of being gone terrifies me.
But I've found a new place, and I will exist for a little longer.
But you aren't interested in that, are you? No, just get what you want out of me and then leave me behind, I understand. That's the story of my life.
After I'd been taken from my mother, I was driven into the city. The towering skyscrapers had always been the backdrop of my life, always in the distance, as reliable and unchanging as the sun rising. I had never actually been into the city itself though, and it was exhilarating.
I had never imagined that a place could have so many people, so many sights and sounds and smells. I forgot my grief and stared out the window with wide eyed wonder.
We came to a building with a sign that said FutureTech Enterprises, but instead of going through the big doors in front, I was led around the alley and through a small door that turned into an elevator.
We went down below until the doors opened and I was in a sterile white hallway where people in lab coats went by.
There was tall man waiting for me, with a dark beard and intense eyes. He knelt down and told me he was my father. He said he was happy to see me here, but I couldn't feel any emotion from him at all. I was never able to read anything off that man. The other scientists there were mostly all cold and apathetic to me, but even apathy is an emotion of some kind. My father was always as blank as a block of stone, like he wasn't even alive.
He tried to explain why I'd been brought here, that I was a person with special mental abilities and he was going to help me develop them. I asked him if I could see my mom, and he said that they would try to work something out soon. He was lying, of course. He always lied.
I was taken to a section of the facility where there were other children. I could see some of them through the windows and I wanted to go meet them, but the man with me said that they weren't in my group, so we couldn't talk to each other.
The first day, I sat alone in my room with nobody to talk to. At six o'clock, a plate of food slid under my door, but I didn't eat anything. I looked at the ceiling and imagined what my mother was doing. I hugged my legs and tried to remember the stories she told me every night when I was put to bed. I tried to tell a story to myself, but I didn't have her imagination and I couldn't do the voices the way she could, and it just made me feel even lonelier. I don't know what time I fell asleep that night, but I remember that I was crying when I did.
It was the second day that I met Red.
Chapter XXI: Red
The only furnishings in the room were a small bed and a dresser built into the wall with three drawers. A door at the back led to a bathroom with a toilet, a sink, and a shower just big enough for a child to stand upright in it.
A seven year old girl sat on the edge of the bed, staring blankly at the white, featureless wall. Her light brown hair was matted down and her pretty green eyes were puffy from crying the night before. A small plate of breakfast sat on the bed next to her, completely untouched.
The door swung open and a boy two years older than her poked his head in. He had messy black hair pulled under a red and white hat.
"Hey, you must be the new kid!" he said, lisping slightly because his front teeth were missing.
She looked at him, but didn't say anything.
"My name's Red." He said. Red closed the door behind him and marched in. "We all heard there was going to be a new kid, but they didn't say you'd be a girl. What's your name?"
"Espa." She said weakly.
"That's a cool name. I like you." He sat down on the bed next to her. "Are you sad? You look sad."
"I miss my mom." Espa said. "And I miss my room and my bed. This room doesn't have anything in it."
"There's lots of stuff to do out in the big area. And if you do good they'll give you things to have in your room. I have a TV." He said proudly.
"Will they let me see my mom?"
"I don't know. None of us have any parents."
"You don't have parents?" She said, surprised.
"I was born here and so were the other kids." Red said. "I guess we all had moms and dads but we never met them."
"My mom is perfect." Espa said. "She's pretty and smart and she loves me. She cried when I left."
"Don't worry." Red said. He put his arm around her. "I bet you'll see her again."
Espa leaned her head against him.
"Hey, you wanna see something?" Red said excitedly.
"Okay." Espa replied.
Red reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokeball. "Look at this." A beam shot out and the light materialized into a red lizard with a flame on the end of its tail.
"What is it?" Espa said, hers eyes wide.
"It's a Charmander." He said. "I just got him a little while ago. His name's Blazer." The Charmander curled up in Red's arms. "Do you want to hold him?"
"Won't I get burned?" Espa asked nervously.
"Put your hand on the fire." Red told her.
She shook her head. "No."
"It'll be okay." He took her hand and put it on Blazer's tail.
Espa screamed and then stopped. Her eyes shone with wonder. "It doesn't hurt."
"He can make his fire as hot as he wants it to be."
Espa picked the lizard up and smiled for the first time. "He's so pretty."
"You can carry him around if you want." Red said. "Come on, I'll show you around."
He stood up, and Espa shot her arm out and grabbed his hand.
"Sure, you can hold my hand too." He said. He opened the door and led her out of the room.
I'm here from the review game, commenting on chapter 21 as requested, but since I haven't read the previous chapters, I can't comment much on overarching plot or themes picked up from previous chapters, so this'll pretty much just be a close reading of the current chapter by itself.
There are a few technical errors in this--some of which might just need some proofreading to clear out. The main one that stood out to me was that the dialogue tags are not properly punctuated. Such as in this example:
It should be: "My name's Red," he said."My name's Red." He said.
"He said" is a dialogue tag and part of the previous sentence, so it should be joined with a comma instead of a period. This occurs in multiple places in this chapter.
This chapter was quite short. What with that and the emphasized personal interaction as opposed to action, plot-oriented (at least as far as I can tell) material, it felt very vignettey. And there's nothing wrong with that. The moment seemed pretty darn sweet actually. You begin with emotional pain and emptiness and you end with comfort and warmth.
There are places, however, where it does start to feel a little spare. Early on you give us some description to give a sense of atmosphere and ground the scene, which is great. However, once the conversation starts, the description ceases and it starts to feel very bare-bones. I think you could break up some of your dialogue exchanges with description and with movement to make the scene feel more developed (and give some more subtle psychological looks into the characters' mindsets aside from just what they're saying) and to achieve the rhythm of the conversation.
As for the dialogue itself, I'm a little torn as to how to comment. It strikes me as very simple in places and the emotions are just laid out on the table much of the time for the reader instead of being played close to the vest and subtly through action and atmosphere. On the other hand... our speakers are seven and nine-ish respectively. That mode of speech makes a certain amount of sense for them. So I'm not really about to complain.
All in all, this was brief, but pleasant read. I wish you luck as you revise and continue to write this story.
Chapter XXII: Just Like Old Times
Two scruffy looking thugs entered the room behind him and blocked off the door. One of them carried a chair.
"Got some new goons, I see." Dust said. "What, daddy wouldn't lend you any of his?"
"The Blackshirts don' leave the valley, Dust. They're needed ta keep all you dirt people in line. Thanks fer askin' though. Have a seat, mate." Ashton said.
The chair was rammed into the back of Dust's knees. He fell backward into it.
"Well ain't this a 'appy little reunion?" Ashton said. "I believe introductions are in order. Dust, meet…" he paused uncertainly. "Hell, I don' remember their names. Meet these two scumbags who work fer cheap I found. Scumbags, meet Dust. And o' course you already know Maximillion 'ere. He's the one who sent ye tha' letter. Me an' 'im are currently wha' ye might call business associates."
"He paid you off?" Dust said to Maximillion.
"I take money where I can get it, Dust. Gym leading isn't the most lucrative job in the world."
"What happened to not being able to bought, threaten or cajoled?"
"That's only in my official capacity, I'm afraid. And anyway, you're one to talk. Ashton told me all about you, Dust. If I'd known who you really are when you walked into my gym, I'd have dragged you to the police myself."
Ashton brought his chair around the table and sat down in front of Dust.
"My my my, Dust." Ashton said, "You are quite the little bugger. Y'know, I assumed you'd been turned to paste back in tha' forest, but 'ere you are, safe an' sound in the city o' Ludlow. You clever bastard, you, how did you do it?"
Dust was clubbed in the back of the head. "Answer him." The thug said.
"I jumped down a waterfall."
Ashton laughed and clapped his hands. "He jumped down a bleedin' waterfall! Fantastic! I ne'er knew you had it in ya. I bet you got all kind o' stories. Ye' could probably write a book about it, 'cept of course fer you bein' a dirt poor peasant wi'out even the slightest bit o' an education. Can you even read?"
Dust in fact could read, but he reasoned that if he stood any chance of getting out of here, he'd be better off humoring Ashton.
"So imagine my surprise when I come 'ere," Ashton continued, "and see you saunterin' about in broad daylight wit' some new broad. Rich girl too. Good work on tha' one. She's a big improvement over yer last girl. She was good fer a roll in the hay, I admit, if ye don' mind the strugglin' and screamin'."
Dust tried to leap out of his seat, but strong arms restrained him.
"If you did anything to Maddie, I'll kill you!"
"Now Dust, I don' think yer in a position to start makin' threats, now are ye." Ashton smiled. "An' anyway, she's fine. She's up in the inn right now, actually."
"What?" Dust said.
"Well, I went and figured, seein' as 'ow you weren't usin' 'er at the moment an' whatnot, there weren't any 'arm in me sorta takin' 'er fer myself. Sort o' a fairytale endin' for 'er, don' ya think? What common little dirt girl like 'er don't dream o' one day bein' the mistress o' a big important man like me. Course, it took 'er a little bit ta come around to me, but she learned to enjoy my tender, lovin' care, if ya catch my meanin'"
Dust struggled against the thugs' grips. "You son of a *****, Ashton."
Ashton leaned in close. "Thing is, she never believed you were dead. Thought ya must o' 'scaped somehow. She's up in the inn right now. Course, she don't know what's goin' on down 'ere."
He pulled his revolver from its holster. Ashton's thugs grabbed Dust by the arms and threw him the ground. Ashton knelt down and pressed the gun's barrel to his head.
"Say Dust, you know 'er better than I do." Ashton said. "What'd be crueler, to tell 'er tha' you stumbled in 'ere like an idiot an' got yerself killed, or to let 'er go on hopin' you're still alive somewhere and never know tha' you're floatin' down tha river wit' a bullet in your skull?
"Wait a minute!" Maximillion interrupted. "You didn't say you were going to kill him! I thought you were just going to rough him up a bit and turn him in to the police."
"What do you care?" Ashton said. "Yer getting' paid anyway."
"I'm not going to help you kill someone if I don't know what he did to deserve it."
"He's a dirty criminal." Ashton said. "He attacked me in an alleyway an' kidnapped a girl."
"He's lying." Dust said.
"Shut up." Ashton commanded.
"I was defending her from him. He's a violent rapist and a bastard."
"Shut yer ****ing mouth!" Ashton said. His finger twitched on the trigger.
"Don't even think about it." A gun appeared in Maximillion's hand. One of Ashton's henchmen pointed a revolver at him. "I'm not standing here and watching you kill someone if I don't know what he did to deserve it."
"Yer getting' soft on me, eh?" Ashton said. "This 'ere's a wanted man."
"He's not the one I see about to shoot someone."
"Alright. You win, chummy." Ashton removed the gun from Dust's head. "Lower yer guns, both of you."
Maximillion and the thug both slowly put their weapons down.
"Now, there ain't no reason we can't work this all out like civ'lized people, is there?" Ashton said.
"Alright. Let him up." Maximillion said.
Ashton nodded at the goon, who allowed Dust to rise to his feet.
"Now, I want to hear the whole story of what happened." Maximillion commanded. "Starting with you." He pointed at Ashton.
"It 'appened like this. 'Ere I am one night, mindin' my business, when suddenly-"
In a flash, he brought up the gun and fired. But Maximillion was too fast, smacking his arm out of the way as the weapon discharged. The two of them wrestled for the gun.
Not being one to let an opportunity go to waste, Dust jerked his head backward, ramming it into the face of the man holding his arms. The man's pain caused his grasp to loosen and Dust jerked his arms free. He pulled his hunting knife from its sheath and stabbed him in the leg.
The other thug had pulled his gun and had it aimed at Maximillion, trying to get a good shot. Dust grabbed Poochyena's pokeball and released her.
"Get him!" He yelled. Poochyena leaped and tackled the thug to the ground, biting and snarling.
Dust kicked the revolver out of his hand and picked it up from the floor.
Ashton and Maximillion fell over the table, breaking it in half.
"Get out of here, Dust!" Maximillion shouted. "I'll handle this."
The thug Dust had stabbed fumbled for his revolver. Dust recalled Poochyena and dove out the door just as a bullet blew through the wall where he was standing. He took off running. One of the thugs ran out of the shack and fired. Dust shot a round back without even bothering to aim.
Dust took off into the dark street. He darted around an alley and was clotheslined by the person hiding behind it. Dust fell on his back seeing stars. The thug loomed over him. He had a metal pipe in one hand.
"You didn't think those two were the only here, did you?" He sneered.
The thug fell over, clutching at his head.
Dust's sense returned, and he found himself looking up at Amelia.
"There. That's the second time I've saved your life." She said.
The gun flew out of Ashton's hands and landed at the far side of the shed. Maximillion got a hand free and punched Ashton in the face. He scrambled and dove for the gun, picking it up whirling it around just as Ashton sprang to his feet and kicked it out of his hand.
Ashton grabbed his cane and pulled a sword out of it. He whirled around and pointed it at Maximillion.
Maximillion was holding a ball with a flashing brown light.
"I think you might want something a little bigger than that butter knife there." He said.
The shack exploded outward as the space it occupied was filled by several tons of angry Rhyperior.
Ashton looked up at the hulking monstrosity. "Oh that's just not fair"
"What are you doing here?" Dust said as he got to his feet. His face hurt and he thought he could taste blood.
"I was concerned. You might blindly trust anyone who tells you to come to the seediest part of town for some unknown reason, but I'm a bit more suspicious than that, so Yoko and I came to see if you were in trouble."
She was wearing a pair of form fitting leather pants and a matching vest over a blue shirt.
"I know, it's not the most proper clothing for a lady of my standing to be seen in, but it's a lot easier to move around in than a floor length dress."
"I think it fits you." Dust said. "Better than that bird hat anyway."
"You don't like my bird hat?"
There was a loud roar from back near the inn. Then the two thugs who had been in the shed came barreling around the corner. Dust fired a shot at them and dragged Amelia into an alley by the arm.
"Friends of yours?" she said.
"Something like that."
"How many shots do you have in that revolver?"
Dust looked down at it. "Four, I think."
"I hope you're a good shot."
"Yeah, me too."
Bullets struck the wall they were hiding behind, making the bricks explode into little chunks. Dust ducked out and saw one of the thugs running to the other side of the street. He leveled his gun.
The shots weren't anywhere close to his target.
"That's two bullets left." He said. "I don't suppose you're any good with a gun."
"There isn't much call for guns when you're an aristocratic animal breeder." She said.
The stone in front of him burst as a shot hit it.
"Can't that thing of yours teleport us back to your house?" He demanded.
"That's a long distance port." She said, hugging Yoko to her chest. "He needs to be able to concentrate and he can't with all this gunfire!"
"Well, have him teleport somewhere nearby!" they both fell to the ground as bullets raced over their heads.
"He doesn't know the area, and he's too scared to map it out."
"Either he does it, or we're dead! Can he do it blindly?"
"That's extremely dangerous! We could materialize inside a wall or it the pavement or even in another person."
"I think I'll take my chances."
Amelia sighed deeply. "Okay. Yoko, make a blind teleport to somewhere nearby." She grabbed Dust's hand and placed it on the Abra.
The first time Dust had been teleported, he'd been barely conscious from pain and poison and had only the vaguest recollection of it. This time around, he could really experience it.
Dust had expected it to be like standing in spot and then just suddenly be standing somewhere else, but it wasn't like that at all. It felt like an intangible hand had grabbed him and yanked him backwards into nothing. There was a sensation of falling, and then he landed on roof shingles.
That feeling of falling had turned out to be him actually falling.
He rose to his feet, being careful not to lose his balance on the slanted surface. He took Amelia's arm and helped her up.
"Two stories up." She said, looking around. "Could have been a frightful drop if we hadn't appeared over a building, but it's a safer bet than ground level with all those walls and things down there."
"So where are we?" Dust said. He looked over the edge and saw the two thugs approaching the alleyway they'd been standing in. "Not very far at all then. I think we can sneak away without them seeing us as long as we-"
A roof tile slid out from under his foot and clattered loudly on the street below.
"Of course that would happen." He said.
Ashton raced around the corner and threw himself to the side as another boulder sailed past him, smashing into the pavement. He rolled on the ground and sprung to his feet in one quick movement, almost tripped over the thug lying face down on the ground and rushed into the street.
"Oi, you!" He yelled at the two thugs who were still conscious. "Where'd the peasant kid go?"
"Up there." He said, [pointing at the rooftops. "He's got some girl with him now. They just sort of vanished and reappeared up there."
"Teleporter, eh?" He pulled out his pokeball and the little Pichu appeared on his shoulder. "Climb up there an' give em a shock." The rodent chattered and skittered up the side of the building.
Maximillion sat back in the chair that had miraculously survived the fight. He pulled a hip flask from his back pocket and took a swig.
"That was fun, don't you think? You needed an ego boost after getting beat by a damn insect anyway." he said. The Rhyperior looked down at him and grunted. "No, I don't think we need to help him. He can look after himself." He looked down at his flask. "Anyway, after a night like this, a man needs a good drink."
He stood up and wandered into the inn. That morning, he would wake up face down in a gutter with his pants missing. This was a fairly typical occurrence in the life of Maximillion Maximillion.
"Where do we go now?" Amelia asked.
"Can he teleport us again?" Dust said.
"He's done it twice now already." The more little jumps we make, the harder it will be for him to make the big jump back to Blackmoor Manor. And we got lucky on that last teleport. The next one from this altitude could make us appear two or three stories over the cobblestones."
"Alright then, I have another idea." He wrapped his arm around her legs and threw her over his shoulder.
"What are you doing?" she yelled in surprise.
"Something very stupid. You might want to hold on tight." He ran to the side of the building and jumped.
Reaching out, his fingers closed around a clothesline. The force of holding on to stop them from falling felt like it would rip his arm right off, but he managed to keep his grip. They were now dangling precariously over the street. Not a huge improvement, Dust had to concede, but at least things were going in the right direction.
He grunted and grabbed the line with his other hand. "Are you alright?" he asked.
"I'll manage." She said.
Straining from the effort, he moved one forward, and the other one, making his way across the line. It was a difficult task with another person and a small fox slung over his shoulder.
The Pichu scampered to the edge of the building and chattered loudly. Its fur crackled with building energy.
Amelia looked up and saw the little glowing mouse. She grabbed the revolver from Dust's belt and shot at it. The bullet pinged off the roof, but the distraction was enough to throw off the Pichu's aim. An arc of lightning blasted the wall in front of them.
"What was that?" Dust yelled.
"There's a Pichu on the roof behind us." Amelia said.
"Not that thing again." Dust said.
Dust looked at the distance between himself and the next building. There was no way he was going to be able to climb a across before they were zapped and sent falling.
"Alright, this is a terrible idea I have right now, so don't let go." He took the hunting knife from his belt and slashed the clothesline with it. He grabbed the line with both hands as they swung downward, smashing through the wooden slats and landing heavily on wooden table, terrifying the family inside the room.
"Don't mind us, just passing through!" Dust yelled as he ran across the room and out the door into the hall. The building looked like a tenement, with doors on every side of the corridor.
"As romantic as being carried around by a dashing adventurer seems in novels," Amelia said. "I'd really prefer it if you would let go of me now."
"Oh, right." Dust let her slide down off his shoulder.
"I don't think I much care for the people you associate with, Dust." She said.
"I think he can stay here for a little while." Dust said. "Can Yoko teleport us back yet?"
"He needs to focus. Give him some time to calm down."
"He looks pretty calm to me." Dust said, looking at the peacefully sleeping creature.
"Abra's spend almost every hour of the day asleep, but they are always aware of their surroundings. On a mental level, he's actually quite active right now."
Dust took the revolver from her hand. "One bullet and two of them."
"Three actually." Ashton rounded the corner, sword in hand. Dust raised the gun to shoot, but Ashton was too fast. He slashed at Dust's hand, drawing a deep gash. The gun fell to the floor.
Dust leapt back as Ashton swung madly. He advanced on them, grinning like a madman, which, Dust reasoned, he likely was.
"There's nowhere ta run this time, you dirty muckdweller. No waterfalls to jump off, no giant rhinos to save you. You're mine, Dust."
"Get us out of here." Dust said through clenched teeth.
"I don' know what it is wit' you an' always havin' girls come ta yer rescue, but she ain't getting' out o' here either. I think I'll kill 'er first. Big tough, 'eroic guy like you, you wouldn't like tha', would ya?"
Yoko began to stir.
"Dust, get back here." Amelia whispered.
"I don' like getting' embarrassed, Dust. I don' like getting punched an' bitten and outrun an' 'aving people I'm tryin' ta catch get away from me. I'm better than you, you scum. I'm important! I'm noble! You're barely above an animal! And now I'm gonna gut you like one, you dirty blooded peasant!"
Yoko opened his eyes.
"Dust! It's happening!" Amelia yelled. She ran forward and placed Yoko into his arms. Dust could feel himself being yanked back.
"No! You're not getting away from me again!" Ashton scrambled for the gun of the ground. One bullet. That was all the gun had and that was all he needed. He pulled the trigger. Dust and Amelia vanished.
Ashton's cronies came up from behind him.
"Did you get them, boss?" one of them asked.
Ashton sunk to his knees. He looked up. He smiled.
On the far wall, directly behind where Dust and Amelia had just disappeared into the ether, there wasn't a bullet hole.
Hey! It's me again!!! From the Review Game!
The Opening is quite intense! I mean, at the end of the last second chapter, that no-good Ashton appears to arrest or kill Dust. And now here we see Dust being held by Ashton again and seems to be in trouble.
The Scene between Ashton, Dust and Maximillion is intense as well! I mean, I like how you make Maximillion arrest Dust because his Gym needed money. And Ashton seems to be more psycho in this chapter.
Characters, I really hate Ashton. I hate his personality and how he speaks. I couldn't understand a word of what the heck he's saying. I really hate the villain in this story. You've made an excellent job on making Ashton. I also like Maximillion! He seem to be a nice guy and the reason he brought Dust to Ashton is because his Gym is lacking money. In the end, Maximillion helped Dust at the end and allow him to escape.
Relationships. You've also made an excellent job on Dust and Amelia. They're both like two partners in crime, except they're actually trying to run away from the evil Ashton. I wonder if there's going to be like a love triangle or something?
But all in all, You are one of the best writers that I have ever known. Sure, there might be better author's but I still think that you're as awesome as always!
So Dormant signing off..
One Author, One Creator and Two boys. Set in Johto. Where everything is not what it seems. For they must flee from the group called the Grammar Police. And saved the World from an unknown threat.
Credits to ~BrightStarVictory~ of Subspace Generate Graphics!
So Bad It's Good and, So Bad It's Good 2: War of the Turkey
Oneshot(s)! It's-IT'S. It's.....Something. Caution: May shatter your sanity. Read, if you dare.....
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