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Pokemon Fanfiction: Distortion

#1
Chapter One: End of the Road

“Uhm… Sir? There’s a challenger here to see you.” The voice floated in from somewhere seemingly far away. Why can’t they just let me sleep? My eyes opened slowly, well adjusted to the near pitch darkness of my room.

“Sir?” The voice insisted.

“I’m coming Jacob, just give me a minute”, I responded gruffly, stretching languidly as I stood up. My black long sleeve shirt was wrinkled from yet another awkward night’s sleep on the floor. Honestly, it wasn’t as uncomfortable as it sounded. I could hear Jacob’s footsteps as he marched down the unlit hallway. I yawned. The kid took his job too seriously.

“You need to stop sleeping on the floor. Its not fitting of someone in your position.” The voice paused. “Then again neither is your attire. You look as though you belong in a gang not in our League.” Eve. I doubt she could even see me. Although she was right, I was anything but neatly dressed. I groaned to myself, wondering when she’d get off my case. She was probably here to interrogate me again.

I crossed my arms and turned to face her. She squinted at me, eyes still adjusting to the lack of light. Looking around, she spotted the one thing I wanted her to leave alone. The curtain. She pushed it open, letting the painful late morning sunshine in through a narrow window, illuminating my empty room.

“I’ve already told you, Eve..” I replied, squinting angrily in the bright light. “ I don’t understand what happened anymore than you do. It’s been nearly two years since then. Can’t the League just leave me be?”
Impatience crept into my voice: I was tired of my time being wasted. I held my fists clenched at my side, struggling to restrain my voice.

“First off, you may address me by my title. I will not tolerate such a casual address to your superior. Secondly, that’s not what I’m here for.” Her hazel eyes glared at me from beneath her dark brown hair. The truly sad thing was that she would be rather attractive if she weren’t so stuck up about everything.

She paused for a moment and I seized the opportunity to butt in. “Well, if that’s not what you need from me, it can wait until after I finish with the challenger.” I brushed past her and into the dim hallway, not waiting to see her reaction. At the end of the hallway I paused, and took a deep breath. I let it out slowly, my hand wandering to the pendant dangling from my a chain on my neck. The cold stone surface gently stole the last warmth from my hand .

Time for a little theater. Smiling softly, I took hold of the door handle and swung it open. Donning a stone face, I strode confidently into the Gym.
Glancing to the left I saw the Jacob, who stared down at the ground. So, the challenger had already defeated him. Straight ahead of me stood a boy around two years than myself, maybe 15 years old. The challenger. I strode purposefully up to him and looked him dead in the eye.

“So. You’d like to challenge my Gym would you?”

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll be much of a challenge.” The boy sneered, returning my gaze defiantly. I noticed that his gaze flickered to rest on Professor Eve as she entered the Gym after me.

I smirked. “ I hope you’re ready then.”

“More than ready.” The boy returned his attention to me. With a self-confident grin, the boy grabbed the 6 pokeballs seated on his belt and tossed them into the air. A flash of light was followed by the cry of the boy’s team, anxious for battle. I glanced critically over it.

Quagsire was a pain in the neck, but manageable. Electivire wouldn’t be a problem. Sceptile was... an interesting choice but again, no problem. Umbreon, with its type advantage, would be a real issue no doubt. Torkoal was easy to manage. His last pokemon was the most menacing., Garchomp, a true offensive threat, capable of dealing high physical damage with the possibility of special. Unlike the rest of the team, the dragon had a look of experience about it. The creature had a scar across its left eye, which was glazed over, yet still held a fierce look of intelligence. No doubt a veteran of many battles… A present from a parent perhaps?

“Very well. Let me explain the rules of play.” . You will have all six of your pokemon out at all times unless fainted, however only one pokemon may be on the field at a time. No items may be used except for those your pokemon themselves hold. No pokemon listed on the League-wide ban list may be used in this battle. The battle ends when one of us runs out of active pokemon. Your prize, should you manage to defeat me will be the Distortion Badge. My prize when I win will be the standard fee for a Gym Challenge.” I paused, staring past him before continuing, my voice raised in a verbal cue for my own pokemon. “Challenger! Do you accept these terms?”

I smiled inwardly. He didn’t even notice my team assembling directly behind him. Unable to contain his anxiety and excitement, the boys voice shook. “Yes!” He shouted, the cries of his pokemon echoing his own. Then he paused for a moment, confused. “But… where’s your team?”

“Right behind you kid.”

He whirled round and came face to face with my Cofagrigus, Akiiti. He fell back, landing on his rear with a soft thud. Slowly, the rest of my team faded into view and moved towards me. Golurk, Chandelure, Gengar, Sableye, Akiiti and Aegislash, were now all standing or floating beside me.
He stood up and turned back to face me, his hands shaking slightly now. People tend to get that way after seeing ghosts.

“Are you ready to begin?”

“Y-yes.”

I could see the gears in his head turning as he debated which pokemon to lead with.
“Umbreon, you’re up!” The creature stepped timidly forward, glancing back at its master. There was no bond, no trust between them. What a shame.
And a miscalculation on his part. Umbreon’s dark type advantage would not prevent me from removing it from play.

“Summit, take em out.” I ordered. My Golurk stepped dutifully forward, the ground shaking slightly beneath its weight. I crossed my arms and looked at the challenger. “Battle starts on your cue bud. Make your move.”

The boy took a deep breath, and swallowed hard. “Alright then” he muttered beneath his breath. “Umbreon hit em with Foul Play!” The creature was small compared to Summit, but it still hit hard. With a cry, it charged forward.

Summit didn’t even bat an eye as it took the blow. It was a super-effective hit, even more painful due to Foul Play’s nasty habit of using the defendant’s own attack stat against itself.

“Dynamic punch” I ordered flatly.

Summit responded beautifully, swinging its fist and catching the Umbreon in the flank, tossing it into the air and across the gym. It landed not far from its trainer, disoriented and confused.

The challenger grimaced, and did the one thing he shouldn’t have.

“Umbreon! Get up and hit him with another Foul Play!”

I frowned: what chance did it have? The poor creature struggled to its feet, but only managed to trip and hurt itself in its confusion.

“Summit, Earthquake.”

The ground shook, and dust fell from the rafters. The Umbreon cried out in pain as the tremors shook its small body, bombarding it with fragments of rock. The deed was done. With one last feeble cry, the creature’s legs collapsed beneath it as it fainted.

Wordlessly, the challenger returned the Pokemon to its ball and pondered his next move. I could see the bloodlust in his eyes. He was already getting worked up. I sighed, disappointed. This battle wasn’t worth my team’s time.

The Garchomp looked down at him and growled. The boy nodded.

“Sceptile, you’re up.”

I glanced at him, eyes narrowed. Was the boy taking orders or giving them? Turning my attention away from the battle for an instant, I noticed Eve standing off to the side, next to Jacob, watching the battle intently.
I shook my head. Back to the battle, you can’t let yourself lose focus.
Summit stood stoically, facing off against the boy’s Sceptile, both Pokemon were tense, ready to move at a moment’s notice. “Not a favorable matchup by any means…” I muttered to myself.

“Sceptile! Leaf Storm!” The boy shouted, taking advantage of my moment-long hesitation.

“Druaga! Take the front! Summit, stand down.” I shot back, ordering Summit out of danger. Aegislash could take this hit without breaking a sweat.

Aegislash moved swiftly, taking his place in the direct path of Sceptiles attack. Summit retreated behind me without sustaining damage. I realized I’d been holding my breath and let it out with a soft ‘whoosh’. I reexamined the battlefield. Aegislash waited, unfazed by the attack.

The challenger and his sceptile both looked worried. This was my chance to get another knock out in. The boy was worried, and wouldn’t want to lose his starter pokemon, his best special sweeper. He’d switch to quagsire, banking on its bulk to take a hit. That... that would be my chance.

We called out our commands simultaneously.

“Sceptile come back. Quagsire, take em out!”

“Aegislash, you’re job is done. Lurre, show em who’s boss!”

The boy smiled and raised his eyebrows as Chandelure entered the ring, blissfully unaware of the punch my Lurre could pack, even with type disadvantage.

Again, we called out our commands simultaneously

“Quagsire use Scald!”

“Lurre, hit em with Energy Ball!”

Lurre was faster, responding swiftly to my command and gracefully launching its attack.

The Quagsire took the hit full on. The blow sent it staggering backwards I smiled. Energy ball was a grass type more, more than just super effective against a ground/water type like Quagsire. Despite its natural bulk, the pokemon just couldn’t take the hit. The challenger returned his pokemon to its ball and muttered something under his breath.

Two down. Four to go.

“Electivire! GO!” The boy shouted. Boy was he pissed off now.

The pokemon rushed onto the field with a roar and faced off with
Chandelure, ready to charge. I frowned. I always gave Lurre a choice scarf to insure its ability to outspeed most threats, unfortunately that limited it to using the first move it used upon switching out. I couldn’t let my pokemon take a hit from Electivire… Lurre was far too frail for that, and couldn’t do enough damage with energy ball to finish off the electric pokemon growling in front of it.

He was getting frustrated. I could see it in his eyes, he wasn’t going to think his attacks through.

“Electivire! Wild charge!”

“Let’s have a little bit of fun, shall we? Summit, take the hit. Lurre, come back to me!” Summit rushed into the ring to replace Lurre. Sparks flew as the enraged Pokemon connected with Summit. I smiled in satisfaction. Electric-type moves such as wild charge couldn’t damage a ground-type like Summit. Unfortunately, Summit wouldn’t be able to take another hit after the first Foul Play.... Akitti would have to pick up the slack here.

“Electivire, Ice Punch!”

“Akiiti, take the front!”

Another clean switch. Akiiti took the hit without sustaining much damage. Cofagrigus’ were amazing physical walls.

The challengers face was twisted in frustraton.

“Wild charge!” He cried, sending his pokemon charging recklessly forward.
Akiiti didn’t even flinch, taking the hit head on while sustaining substantial damage. I grimaced, hating to put my friend through any kind of pain.
“Akiiti! Will-o-wisp!” This was a bit of a gamble, since a miss could leave Akiiti vulnerable to another high power attack. Luckily it paid off, and the bright tongue of flame landed squarely on Electivire’s chest. The creature grimaced in pain, burnt. Perfect. The burn would lower its attack power and cause damage over time.

The boy’s defiant look was replaced by doubt as he clenched and unclenched his fists at his side, clearly unsure what to do next. Beside him, the Garchomp snorted. He glanced up at it and nodded slowly.

“Electivire… come back. Garchomp… Go get him.” The boy took a step back, and held his arm up, fist by his shoulder, revealing a thick banded bracelet with a dark stone which sparkled menacingly.

A mega stone? My hand once again wandered to the stone hanging from my neck, gripping it tightly. Mega stones weren’t supposed to be so dark…
Suddenly the boy’s bracelet flashed white and then black again, seeming to warp the light in the room. The boy’s Garchomp reacted to the stone’s call, roaring with rage and lust for battle. Suddenly darkness encompassed the Gym, and faded just as quickly. The creature’s transformation was complete.

What in the name of…. Something’s not right here…

No. Now wasn’t the time to worry about that. Focus… Focus…

A roar shook me out of my thoughts. The Garchomp was charging Akiiti. Without an order from its trainer? Something really wasn’t right here. I glanced at the challenger. His face was blank. No clues there.
The ground shook as Garchomp unleashed an Earthquake

“Akiiti, do you trust me?”

Akiiti nodded, grimacing from the blow.

“Then just hang in there for me bro!”

Akiiti roared in answer, and braced itself for another attack

Wait for it… wait for it.

The Garchomp charged again, preparing to hit Akiiti with a powerful Dragon Claw. The attack made contact, and Akiiti staggered back, in pain.

Now!

“Akiiti! Will-o-wisp!” I held my breath as the tongue of flame floated forward. The fragile flame shattered and went out as it contacted the opposing pokemon. A hit.

“Good work Akiiti, but its Camus’ turn now.”

Sableye floated into the battle field as Akiiti retreated. It grinned evilly. The Garchomp growled menacingly, hampered though it was by its burn.
I smiled and tapped gently on the stone around my neck. It flashed a brilliant white.

“You’re not the only one with a megastone kid!” I shouted, knowing victory was not far off.

The challengers eyes grew wide as he realized the danger. Another flash of light blinded us both, and faded suddenly. Camus was transformed and held its huge gem in front of it like a shield. A maniacal grin stretched across its spectral face.

Before its trainer could try to stop it, Garchomp rushed forward and raised its claws in attack. Camus’ gem took the brunt of the blow, and the Ghost Pokemon stood there, dwarfed by the Dragon Pokemon, but unfazed all the same.

“Camus, Calm Mind.” Camus complied with pleasure, sitting down and meditating for a moment, preparing itself for attack and defense.
Defeat dawned in the challengers eyes. Garchomp was burnt. it wouldn’t be able to damage Sableye, even if it was smart enough to be independent of its trainer’s commands. With Camus’ special attack and special defense boosted by Calm Mind, Sceptile and Torkoal couldn’t do anything either. He shook his head and stepped forward, placing a hand on Garchomps shoulder. The creature paused, looking back at him angry and confused.

“I forfeit” He said simply, turning to go.

“Wait.” I shouted after him. He paused. “What’s your name?”

“Brandon.” He replied without looking back.

“What’s up with your Garchomp… Something isn’t right with its Megastone.”

The boy smirked and glanced back over his shoulder. “Wouldn’t you like to know” he jeered, continuing on. He tossed 3 of his pokeballs into the air, and his remaining Pokemon vanished without a sound. He caught the balls as they fell and strode out the door.

I sighed. “He never even paid the challenge fee.” Turning away from the battlefield I came face to face with Eve, who was frowning critically.

“We need to talk”

“Fine, but lets at least do it somewhere I can sit down.” I yawned lazily, and began walking back towards the office where I’d been sleeping. “Good job guys. I’ll treat y’all to some lunch after I talk with Miss Professor” I gave Summit a fistbump as a passed by. Summit growled happily and turned away. “I mean, honestly, I just woke up, you’d think you could at least give me five minutes to eat breakfast or something” I muttered, once again addressing Eve.

As we entered the office I pulled the large office chair out from behind the desk, and slid one up for her. She sat primly, glaring daggers at me. I smiled as charmingly as I could manage, biting back a sarcastic remark. I spun the office chair around, and sat in it backwards, my arms resting on the back of the chair.

I put on my best smile “What can I do for you?”

“Do you recall the application form you submitted to join the league?”

“Of course I do.”

“Why did you leave you “reason for joining” section blank?”

“Because my reason for joining is personal.” I replied carefully. I didnt want to talk about this. Not now, not ever. Not until the deed was done.

“Personal or not, the League needs to know. We overlooked it at first due to your stellar performance, but certain… personality flaws require us to dive further into your motives.” She spoke softly, but weighed each word, as she watched me closely.

I didn’t respond.

“Perhaps this will jog your memory then.” She handed me a small form. “You submitted this about a week ago. Unless I’m mistaken, this is a formal request for permission to hunt down the so-called “Team Raid”. Now why would you have so much interest in a criminal organization, hm?”

“The League was formed in order to protect the populace. Don’t you think the best way to do that is to eliminate all possible threats?” I demanded, passing the form back to her.

“The League will be the one to decide that. Regardless of what you believe, Team Raid is only classified as a low level threat to public safety.” She tore the form in half, letting the pieces float down to the floor.

“A low level threat?” I asked, an edge creeping into my voice. “Do I really need to list the lives lost during their raids?” I shook my head. “Two years ago on April 13th, Team Raid conducted an attack on a shopping mall in downtown Chartreuse . Sixteen lives were lost when the building collapsed.” I looked away, unable to hold her gaze. “I should know… I was there. I lost someone... dear to me.”

“Ah yes… her name was Miciah wasn’t it?”

So they know more than I thought. I nodded, struggling to hold back the memories that haunted me. What a strange problem for a ghost user to have… being haunted.

Eve interrupted my musings.

“So your reason for joining the League was to complete a personal vendetta?” She shook her head. “We simply can’t have that. I’m afraid I’ll have to relieve you of duty.”

“You can’t do that. You know you need a ghost leader.” I growled, sorrows of the past temporarily forgotten.

She rolled her eyes. “Jacob can replace you”

“You know as well as I do that he isn’t ready.” Jacob, that poor kid… He wasn’t even old enough to drive.

“At least he’ll take his job seriously. Who knows, maybe he’ll even have a little respect for his superiors..” She smiled, satisfied.
“Pack your belongings and vacate the premises.” She continued, standing up and turning to leave. “Oh and don’t forget to congratulate Jacob on his promotion.” She laughed softly and left the room.

I took a deep breath and let it out. Calm down Dakota, calm down…
Easier said than done. I pushed the office chair away in disgust and growled with rage. Turning away from the door, I punched the wall in anger. My hand went clean through the drywall and collided painfully with something solid. I took a deep breath, pulling my hand out of the wall. I’ll just cover it with a picture or something… I turned to grab my backpack and set it on the office chair, opening it wide.

I started stuffing the few possesion I brought with my into the main pouch. My laptop, a multi-tool, some duct tape, a notepad and a pencil, and a few clothes. I zipped it shut and slung the pack over my shoulder.

“Sir?”

Jacob? Ugh. I was hoping to avoid him on the way out.

“Jacob! What can I do for you?” I asked, as cheerfully as I could manage. I turned around, and my voice trailed off as I saw him.

He was clenching his fists and staring defiantly at the ground, tears of frustration tracing lines down his face. “Jacob… Are you alright?” I asked, sitting him down in the office chair, as I knelt beside him. He buried his face in his hands, and just sat there for a moment. I had no idea what to do, so I wound up kneeling awkwardly beside him with a hand on his shoulder, waiting for him to say something.

“How do you do it?” He asked between sobs.

Finally.

“Do what?”

“How can you be so good? You beat the challenger without letting a single one of your pokemon faint!” He slammed his fists into his thighs. “How come you can do it, but I can’t!? I’ve been training for this position for YEARS and you waltz in and sweep away the competition! Its not… Its not fair…”

I struggled to contain myself. Life wasn’t fair. I wanted to tell him that, while I was a strong battler, my life was anything but easy. There were more things wrong with me than I could count.

Instead I merely said, “I’m sorry… I didn’t realize...”

“Of course you didnt realize, the only things you can understand are dead.” he growled.

I paused. I had no idea what to say to that. He was right though. The only things I truly understood were myself and my pokemon.

“By the way…” I ventured. “ Eve fired me. You’re the new Ghost Leader… You’ll need this.” I dug a Distortion badge out of my pocket. It glimmered ominously. It was carved in the image of ghost pokemon, grinning as it stared into the distance. Sometimes I swore the thing knew something I didn’t. I paused for a moment and handed it to him.
“You want to know the key to success? The best way to improve your battle potential? Trust. Your pokemon have to trust you, or they won’t put their heart and soul into the battle. No pokemon can achieve its true potential without that.“

“But… they can’t fire you…. I’m not ready for this!” His voice shook with excitement He had completely ignored my advice. So its just the title he wanted. He didn’t want to work for it, he didn’t the skill to earn it.

“You’re more than ready.” I lied. Jacob was a terrible battler. “ Just remember what I told you. Trust is key.” Hopefully, if nothing else, he would remember that. I stood up and turned to go. “I guess this is goodbye. Oh… uhm.. you might want to cover that with a painting or something…” I pointed to the hole my fist had made.

He looked at me and raised his eyebrows, the first words of a question forming in his mouth before he thought better of it.

I could only shrug. Shaking my head slowly, I shrugged the backpack higher onto my shoulders. and strode out the door without a backwards glance. My demeanor may have been calm, but my inside where boiling, a chaotic mass of thoughts and emotions.

I pulled out my music player and put the earbuds in. I didn’t even want to listen to music: I just didn’t want anyone trying to talk to me. I stuck my hands deep into the pockets of my jeans and strode out of the Gym with a confidence I didn’t feel. My Ghost Pokemon slowly faded into view around me, a shield of bodies between me and the world. If only they could protect me from my doubts.

How could I destroy Raid without the League to back me up? I couldn’t… It just wasn’t possible. Taking down an entire criminal organization on my own? There’s just no way....

But I had to. There was no other way to go about it. Besides… This kind of thing has been done before. Something about Team Rocket’s efforts in the Johto region being foiled by one kid came to mind. Hm… Then it was possible, and if anyone could make it happen, it would be me.

I realized I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was going. I found myself at the edge of town, where the neatly paved roads gave way to the less traveled dirt paths that led through the forests. I was, quite literally, at the end of the road. I glanced over my shoulder at the city which lay behind me.

There was no turning back.

I took a deep breath and let it out, taking grasp of the stone that hung around my neck. I walked forward and gradually disappeared into the shade of the forest.

Chapter Two: Before the Fall

Darkness.

A sweet dream gone sour.

I couldn’t see anything save for the vague outline of… something in front of me

“...”

It was… speaking to me.

What was it saying? I called out, but found I had no voice.

Then suddenly I was in another place, another time. Painfully familiar, the shopping mall of Chartreuse sprawled before my eyes. I was walking towards it… Why towards it?

“Something wrong Dakota?” A voice, soft and melodic, asked me.
I looked to my right, and there she was, her brown hair flowing behind her in the wind. She had a worried look on her face. “Are you ok?”

Miciah! Panic rose in my throat. I had to warn her about the attack; she had to live. She had to! I tried to call out to her, but my voice refused to obey. I heard myself say something that I couldn’t understand.

“If you say so…” She smiled suddenly, taking my hand in hers and pulling me forward. “Come on, let’s have some fun!”She laughed, a beautiful sound.

She led me to one of the benches lining the walkways of the mall.
“Wait here” She commanded. “Its your birthday so I need to pick up a present for you” She smiled and disappeared.

I sat down. Somehow this body was mine, yet not mine. The same movements, the same feelings I had had then, were now pushing themselves over my current emotions. A wave of giddiness overthrew me as I waited for her.

She didn’t take long. I stood up to greet her. She grinned and threw her arms around my neck, tying something in place. I looked down. My necklace!

“They ran out of mega stone bracelets, but the owner knows my dad, so he threw something together for me. What do you think?”
I could feel myself smiling against my will. I took her hand, and we wandered the mall.

Once again, the scenery changed. I could feel heat emanating all around me, burning my skin. There were fires everywhere, and people screamed in pain. I panicked and ran to the exit. I made it outside into the midday sun. I doubled over, coughing the smoke out of my lungs.

Wait… Miciah! Where was Miciah! I looked around frantically. She had to be here.. she had to!

She was nowhere to be seen

She must still be inside… I had to get her out. I couldn’t lose her, not again.

I rushed through the panicked crowd of people and into the burning mall. The steel supports shook and groaned as the fire ate away at the building.

There she was! Trapped in a shop beneath a steel beam. I had to get her out! I couldn’t lose her. I dashed forward, calling her name.
Her eyes reflected the fire burning around us, full or terror and devoid of hope. She called out to me, told me to run, but I couldn’t lose her. I had to get the beam off of her! I grabbed it in a bear hug and lifted with all my strength. By some miracle, the structure began to groan, as inch by inch, I lifted the beam. Finally there was just barely enough room for her to move.

Then, just as soon as she was out from beneath it, the world went black.

There was a deafening crash, and piercing pain in my left shoulder.

The ceiling had collapsed.

I had lost her.

Darkness seemed to surround me, penetrating my very existence. Was this what it was like to be dead?

Vague shapes darted a writhed in the darkness, as if they too were in pain. Something, just at the edge of my vision, seemed to demand my attention, as though it were speaking to me in a foreign language. A cold sense of dread filled my heart, and terror wracked my nerves. Something dangerous, something evil was out there.

I jolted upright, finally awoken from my nightmare. My shirt was drenched with cold sweat, and my chest throbbed with intense pain. The forest around me appeared oblivious to my distress. Looking down, I saw my hands were shaking. Taking a deep breath, I clasped the necklace in both hand. Somehow this ritual of mine always sent a wave of calm washing through me.

I had been having that dream quite a lot lately, and it was beginning to take its toll. My appearance was disheveled, and my mind wandered aimlessly.

I gently massaged my shoulders, trying to ease the tension, but to no avail. I sighed deeply, took off my shirt, and peered down at the star shaped scar marring my chest. The scar and the dull, throbbing ache were constant reminders of the many things that I had lost.

The once pink scar had begun to take on a unhealthy gray hue. I stared for a moment, wondering what the cause might be. Unfortunately,I had no way of knowing, and at the moment it was not high on my list of concerns: I needed to finish a few things before I could start my day.

I curled my left hand into a fist, and held the arm out in front of me. Mechanically, my right hand reached into my pocket and pulled out a small woodsman’s knife. Unsheathing it, I held it just above the soft, vulnerable skin of my left wrist. Slowly, methodically, I applied pressure and drew the well-sharpened blade down across the flesh. Warm, red blood tricked down from the wound. There was still no pain. I repeated the process on my right wrist. Once again, warm, red blood trickled down my arm, but I could feel the pain this time. That was something at least...

I returned the knife to its sheath with a sigh, and pulled a fresh shirt carelessly over my head, grabbed two leather cuffs from my bag and wrapped them around my wrist. It would be better if people didn’t ask questions. They didn’t want to know the answer.

Morning rituals complete, I shouldered my backpack and started down the trail.. My entire body was stiff from sleeping on the cold dirt. I groaned softly : I would have to walk it off. I began to trudge down the path, pulling my Poke’Nav out of my pocket to check the time. It was 8:37. Good, if I kept my pace I could be in town by 9:30.

My team slowly faded in around me as was their habit. I smiled to myself. Camus, mischievous devil that he was, was chasing Phobia down the trail. I scratched the back of my head. Poor Phobia. She was arguably the most frightening and powerful pokemon on my team, and yet was afraid of everything. To make matters worse, she still didn’t fully trust me.

Beside me, Summit trudged along contentedly, taking in the sights and sounds of the forest. Summit had always been my jolly old giant, scary to look at, but kind at heart. Above me, Lurre zipped around happily, dodging tree trunks and ducking under branches as she cried aloud with childish delight. Lurre might be a ghost Pokemon, but she was certainly full of life.

Druaga floated not far ahead of me, surveying the path for any sign of danger. Ever cautious, my Aegislash was always the trailblazer, and shouldered the responsibility of choosing a safe path so that the others need not worry.

Then there was Akiiti, who never left my side. He had been with me almost as far back as I could remember, definitely longer than any of the others. Despite the species barrier, he and I had a lot more in common than I cared to admit. Despite our flaws, we managed to support one another and we soon became inseparable.

Finally, the city was in view. I checked the Pokenav again. 9:25. II was ahead of schedule, which was perfect since Warner would be pissed if I was late.

Warner, a well seasoned battler, and many years my senior, was a Professor in the same League that had just fired me. As much as I hated to admit it, I needed his advice. I had no idea what to do next to learn more about Team Raid and their plans. He was expecting me at 10:00 am sharp, and I would never hear the end of it if I was late.

As I entered the city streets, my faithful pokemon faded from view, preferring to avoid human contact. It took me a while to find Warner’s apartment, a shabby little building off of the main roads. I knocked on the door, checking the time one last time. 10:00 am exactly.

I heard his footsteps before he opened the door. At the last moment, I realized how I must have looked after traveling through the woods for several days without access to running water. I sighed: it was too late to do anything about it. Warner opened the door, his blue eyes glaring at me from beneath his thick, graying eyebrows. Warner’s apartment may not have been much to look at, poorly kept and old as dirt, but the man himself was always impeccably dressed.

“You’re late” he growled, beckoning me inside and completely ignoring my appearance. That’s what I liked about Warner. He never judged a book by its cover. In fact, when I showed up to my test for Ghost Leader, I looked more like a gangster than an applicant, but he never even seemed to notice.

“No I’m not! It’s 10:00 am exactly.” I protested, smiling in spite of myself.
The older man merely shook his head. “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unacceptable.” he admonished me. The phrase had a well rehearsed feel to it, almost like a personal mantra. It was probably something he picked up during his days in the military.

He led me through a narrow hallway into a small living room, which was mostly unadorned except for the coat of arms hanging above the fireplace. He motioned for me to sit down in one of the old wooden chairs that sat around a water stained coffee table. He made himself busy, lighting a fire in the hearth, and readying a pot to boil for tea or coffee.

“So, before you get to ask any questions, I have a few of my own I’d like you to answer.” Typical Warner, straight-forward, and unable to take ‘no’ for an answer.

“Alright” I replied cautiously, curious to see what he might ask me.
“What got you kicked out of the league?” He asked, back turned to me, feigning casual curiosity.

“I didn’t take my job, or Eve seriously.” I replied mechanically, awaiting another ‘respect your elders and betters’ speech with dread.

“No, not what they told you they fired you for” He chided. “The real reason.”

“I… I don’t know.” I replied, taken aback by his response.

“Think about it for a moment. What did you do in the days leading up to your being laid off?” Having set the pot of water to boil, he pulled out a chair opposite me, and sat down, resting his elbows on his knees. He held his hands clasped just in front of his chin. He leaned forward, watching me with those keen eyes of his.

“I… requested permission to pursue Team Raid.”

“And that’s why you’re here today, is it not? You need help finding the next step in your quest to destroy them” I nodded. “Then you’re a fool.”

“What?!” I asked surprised and offended at the same instant.

“Do you really think you can take down Team Raid on your own?”

“Well I don’t have much choice do I? The League refused to help me, and someone has to take down Team Raid.” I could feel my voice rising and struggled to keep in control of my emotion.

“Who said that someone had to be you? Who said you’re even capable of taking them on?” He looked at me critically. “Believe me son, you wouldn’t be the first to try.”

There was a pain in his eyes that warned me against asking what he meant, so I merely waited in silence, for a moment, debating what to say next.

“Don’t you think it’s strange though? That the League ignores the threat Raid poses?” I asked, hoping to support my conviction.

“It worries me as well.” He admitted. “I fear that the League is afraid of Raid, and with good reason. Despite numerous past attempts, no one has ever managed to prevent one of Team Raid’s attacks. According to what little we do know, Raid has a vast supply of resources, members, and pokemon. Knowing this, do you still intend to take them on by yourself?”

Memories of Miciah returned unbidden to my mind. I nodded gravely, “Yes.”

The old veteran sighed. “So I can’t stop you then.” I shook my head. “Then at least allow me to raise your odds.” He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his shirt pocket, and handed it to me.

He looked me dead in the eyes as I took it from him. I held his gaze.

For the first time today, he smiled. “I always knew you’d be a stubborn one.” The smile faded. “That paper holds the contact information for one of my underground informants.” He winked at me. “I like to keep eyes and ears on everything going on in this town of mine. He’ll be expecting you tonight at 8, beneath the Redwood Bridge. He should be able to tell you more than I can about Raid and they’re plans. Who knows, you might be able to figure out their next target.” There was a sparkle in his eye as he said this.

“Warner… I can’t thank you enough for this.” I stood up, shaking his hand, and turned to go.

“Won’t you stay for some coffee?” He asked politely.

I shook my head.

“Then I have one last piece of advice for you Dakota.”

“Yeah?” I flinched reflexively, expecting a long speech about how I should address my superiors as “sir” or “Ma’am”, but once again, Warner ignored my folly.

“There are two things you must always remember. Firstly, never overestimate your own abilities. I’ve seen what you can do on the battle field. You truly are talented. However! You must not allow that go to your head. There is always someone better, someone just like you, who has more experience, and can read your next move before you even decide to make it.” He spoke gravely, shaking his head slightly.

He stood up and began to pace the floor, hands clasped behind his back. He weighed each word, as though one wrong word could cause the message of his voice to be lost.

“Secondly, you must realize that you cannot do this alone. Nothing great in this world was ever created by one man. Every famous symphony requires a composer as well as an orchestra. Every monument needs an architect as well as a crew of masons.” He paused. “I wish you the best of luck my friend” He turned his back to me, stooping over the table to prepare his tea.

I paused for a moment, taken aback, and shook my head as I turned to go.

My mind churned over what he had just said as I walked back onto the city streets. What did he mean, overestimate myself? I knew my limitations better than anyone else, didn’t I? Why couldn’t I do this on my own? Who would help me? Who could help me? I frowned. Did he just not believe I was capable? I shook my head and resolved to prove him wrong.

Shoving my hands deep into my pocket, I thought about what Warner had told me. Something about it seemed… off, almost as though he were holding something back. I thought about that for a moment. Had I been wrong to trust the old man? I figured only time would tell.

Unsure what else to do, I looked at the contact information Warner had given me. It listed the man’s occupation, “Private Investigator”, and an email address, but no name, which was quite strange. I was genuinely surprised Warner would trust someone who wouldn’t even share their name

Several hours later, I found myself beneath the Redwood Bridge, watching the light rain fall gently down onto the dry earth. It was 8:10, and Warner’s contact was late. I sat down with my back against the arch of the bridge. Akiiti faded into view beside me, and I smiled. Even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, his presence was enough to say everything.

“You’re not very observant are you?” I jumped, and Akiiti vanished in surprise.

I turned in astonishment. Sitting there beside me, staring out into the rain, was a man in a trenchcoat, a bandanna pulled up over his face and baseball cap pulled down over his eyes. His voice was oddly muffled by the bandanna, but he spoke clearly and didn’t waste words.

“You’re here because you want to know more about Raid. Normally my information comes with a heavy price, but I’ll make an exception this time. I want Raid gone as much as you do.”

“Thanks, but somehow I doubt that.” I replied, finally finding my voice.

“You aren’t the only one who lost someone on April 13th” he said simply. There was no malice in his voice, yet the statement cut me like a knife. It was selfish of me to assume I was the only one in pain.

“Here’s what I know,” He continued matter-of-factly. “Raid has been recruiting ex-Cypher scientists and kidnapping lead researchers in the field of Mega-Evolution. I don’t know for sure what they’re planning, but I can take a guess.”

“Are they trying to create a Shadow Mega Evolution?” I asked. It felt like he was leading me on, prompting me to ask that exact question. I felt like a child compared to the man sitting beside me.

“Maybe you aren’t hopeless after all. Another thing, Raid isn’t perfectly consistent in timing their attacks. Sometimes they go silent for months, others they’ll conduct a series of raids daily for a week. What we do know, is that there hasn’t been an attack in almost 3 months. Its about time for another one, I’d say. Probably something big.”

I nodded, deep in thought.

“That’s all I can tell you for now. Get into contact with me when you know need more.” He stood up and began to walk away.

“Wait! I have a few questions for you… that is if you don’t mind?” I was unsure what to think of this man. He was clearly intelligent but I wasn’t sure if I could trust his information

“Of course I mind.” He stated simply. “Ask away.”

I paused, confused. “What’s your name?”

“I prefer not to compromise my identity by sharing it with people I don’t know that I can trust.”

“How can I earn your trust then? And for that matter, how can I trust you?” I pressed him.

The man’s eyes sparkled. “Now you’re asking the right questions” He paused for a moment. “The way to earn my trust is to prove your intellect. I have no doubt of your character, but I do worry that you may compromise me by way of some foolish mistake. As to your second question… Warner is the best judge of character I have ever met. I’d advise you to trust who he trusts and distrust those he distrusts.”

He had a point. Warner may seem old and rough around the edges, but beneath the gruff exterior was a man who could see your soul through your eyes alone.

“One last question for you then. How do you know so much about me?”

He looked over his shoulder and I thought I could hear a hint of humor in his voice. “I wouldn’t make a very good informant if I couldn’t do a little research now would I?” He continued on, for a moment, then paused again. He stared straight ahead.

“I’m sure you think you’re clever, but believe me, Raid is smarter. You don’t stand a chance. Not on your own.” He continued on, not stopping to speak to me again. In a moment he had disappeared into the rain and mist.

Now didn’t that sound familiar. I sat beneath the bridge for a moment just thinking. There was something about that man that gave me an intense desire to know more about him. What was his story? Honestly it wasn’t that important: I had bigger fish to fry at the moment.

So. Raid was trying to create Shadow Mega’s… They have the scientists, they have the resources… what more could they need that they don’t have yet?

Camus faded into view next to me, still wearing the same demonic grin he always did. I scratched his chin affectionately. The mischevious ghost purred softly and closed its eyes with pleasure. I found myself smiling. Once again my hand wandered to my necklace.

Wait… That was it!

Megastones.

They needed Megastones, and lots of them. Where could they find them? My blood began to pump in excitement, and my mind raced.

I pulled out my Pokenav and looked over the region map. It had to be here somewhere....There! The Sienna City Devon Corps Megastone warehouse would be chock full of megastones, and if what the investigator said was right, Raid was likely to make that their next target.
They’d be making their move soon, and I had to be one step ahead of them.

I stood up, grinning almost as demonically as Camus did. Warner and his investigator friend might not think I could I could defeat Raid. But I knew. I knew I could.

Raid didn’t stand a chance.

Hello everyone,
first off, I'd like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my fanfiction as it stands so far. As I am new to writing, and to this forum, I'd love to hear what you all have to say about my story, and would be extremely grateful for ANY feedback you can give me. I hope you like what you see so far, and I hope to add to that soon.
-Best Wishes,
zamuil
Reply

#2
Firstly, welcome to the forum! Feel free to make a welcome thread if you want. =) And if you like writing there's also the magazine section.

I can't quite buy that you're new to writing, because it seems to be of a pretty good standard to me. =p It seems decently thought out as well, in that you've given the protagonist a clear motive and backstory, and also using a different sort (ghost type Gym Leader is pretty cool). The characters are well constructed and described as well.

I also have an interest in the Shadow Pokemon sideplot involved. I guessed that this may be the case with the Garchomp, and am interested to see what comes of it. (Side note, it's Cipher rather than Cypher).

On the down side, I didn't see what the wrist-slitting really offered to the story. You did well enough to showcase the character's angst and motivation with the dream/flashback, so him pricking his wrists seemed over the top and needless, especially for him to do it to see if he felt any pain. =/

There's some typos here and there and the missing full stop, misplaced comma, etc. Often you capitalise the first word after dialogue when you shouldn't. Couple quick examples:
Quote:“Sir?” The voice insisted.
The should be 'the'. The dialogue and what follows forms a whole sentence while 'The voice insisted.' isn't a complete sentence by itself. Similarly:
Quote:“Electivire! GO!” The boy shouted.
'The boy shouted.' does work as a sentence on its own, but here it's clear it's part of the same sentence as the dialogue (it's telling us who said it, and how). Hence you'd change it to '"Electivire! GO!" the boy shouted.'. Only capitalise the word following dialogue if it actually starts a new sentence (e.g. '"Electivire! Go!" Electivire fell asleep.') or if it is a proper noun.
Quote:“Thanks, but somehow I doubt that.” I replied, finally finding my voice.
Here the full stop after 'that' should be a comma. While you can use !, ?, etc at the end of dialogue even if the sentence doesn't end there (e.g. with '"Go!" the boy shouted.'), you can't do the same with full stops. Because English is dumb sometimes. :V

Anyway, overall I enjoyed what you posted so far. Good luck with the rest of the fic, and I hope you stick around!
[Image: suisdbsf.png]
By TwilightBlade of PC. =D
Reply

#3
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, and for the compliment. This isn't the first fanfiction I've started, but it will be the first that I've shared, and certainly the first that I will finish. I do have the plot already outlined, and it continues to evolve and expand as I write.

I apologize that the wrist cutting scene seemed pointless, but there was a point to it, at least I intended it to have one. Someone commented on my first chapter that I needed to be careful not to make Dakota too strong, or too perfect. This scene is actually intended to highlight the fact that something isn't... quite right with Dakota, even if he is an exceptional battler. He cuts his wrist to see if he feels pain, but also to see, in a sense, if he's still alive. My English teacher would say that the scars might represent the harm he's doing to himself by distancing himself from others and hiding his scars, both emotional and physical.

I am extremely sorry for the grammatical mistakes, and I will strive to correct them in future chapters, but its rather difficult to notice them after you've read your own writing for the 3rd or 4th time. (not trying to make excuses I swear)

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story, and to post a reply. I sincerely appreciate it. I hope future chapters will continue to intrigue and entertain.
Reply

#4
(19th Jul 2015, 06:50 PM)zamuil Wrote: Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, and for the compliment. This isn't the first fanfiction I've started, but it will be the first that I've shared, and certainly the first that I will finish. I do have the plot already outlined, and it continues to evolve and expand as I write.
No worries! Good to hear you have the plot outlined already as well, that's a good thing to have (speaking from experience =p).
Quote:I apologize that the wrist cutting scene seemed pointless, but there was a point to it, at least I intended it to have one. Someone commented on my first chapter that I needed to be careful not to make Dakota too strong, or too perfect. This scene is actually intended to highlight the fact that something isn't... quite right with Dakota, even if he is an exceptional battler. He cuts his wrist to see if he feels pain, but also to see, in a sense, if he's still alive. My English teacher would say that the scars might represent the harm he's doing to himself by distancing himself from others and hiding his scars, both emotional and physical.
I see. While it's a valid piece of advice to avoid having your character be too perfect, I feel that he's flawed enough without that scene. He already lost his job, starts off by having slept on the floor and having some (understandable) anger issues, isn't keen to take the advice on board that he can't take on Raid alone, and so forth.
Quote:I am extremely sorry for the grammatical mistakes, and I will strive to correct them in future chapters, but its rather difficult to notice them after you've read your own writing for the 3rd or 4th time. (not trying to make excuses I swear)
I (and likely most other people) have that same problem, haha! I make a lot of typos myself. If you haven't already, I suggest after finishing a draft to leave the story alone for a few days before proofreading, as it can give your mind a break from looking a story and so you can look at it with 'fresh eyes'. Seems to help for myself.
[Image: suisdbsf.png]
By TwilightBlade of PC. =D
Reply

#5
I'll be sure to keep that in mind, although I may be a tad eager to get material out there and hear what people think. Honestly, I wasn't planning on posting the seconmd chapter until next week. For the record though, I don't intend to allow Dakota's character to be static: I aim to have him change and develope himself throughout the story.
Reply

#6
Chapter 3: Raid

I had hoped that foiling Team Raid’s plans would be more… exciting.

When I arrived in Sienna, I scoped out a 3 block radius around the Devon Corps Megastone Warehouse. Nothing too exciting, just a few office buildings. One of them, directly across the street provided an excellent view of the warehouse. I climbed all the way to the top of the building for the best vantage point, and sat down to wait for Raid’s attack.

And I waited. And waited. For hours, and hours, and hours. A full day passed before anything happened. I wound up spending the night on top of the building,

The wind cut straight to my bone, and I shivered fiercely. At one point I started counting the number of red, or blue, or black cars that passed by. I lost count. Eventually I couldn’t take the boredom any longer. I might as well wait for Raid inside the warehouse anyways. I shouldered my bag and headed down the fire escape.

I went down slowly, stretching my tense muscles, and began cracking my knuckles.

Crack....

Crack...

Crack...

BOOM!

A loud explosion knocked me back against the railing of the fire escape. Shoot! Of course, the one time I wasn’t watching the warehouse was when something finally happened! I raced down the last of the steps, leaping down the stairwell like a madman. In all fairness I probably was one. In no time at all, my team had faded into view around me, dependable as always. With a thud, my feet landed on the pavement on the street and I hit the ground running. Ahead of me, I could see what had caused the explosion.

Three people, all dressed in plain black clothing and a mask in the shape of a human skull stood in front of the gaping hole they had just blown into the side of the warehouse. One had a black mask, one had a deep red, and the last had an earth colored mask. I didn’t skip a beat, but ran headlong towards them. It was time to get some work done.
When I was about halfway across the street, the one in the center, the red mask, turned around and yelled in surprise, reaching for a pokeball at their waist. They were too late: I tackled them to the ground. By then chaos had erupted, the pedestrians that had once been staring at the gaping hole in the warehouse, were now running and screaming. My team had not been far behind me and was, by now, engaging the other two Raid members. The red mask struggled beneath me. Surprisingly, I was stronger and managed to turn them onto their back, wrench their arms behind them and handcuff them.

“Summit!” I called. The spectral giant was soon beside me. “Take ‘em away and don’t let ‘em get away, alright?”

Summit grunted in reply, hoisting the Raid member over his shoulder and dashing down the street towards the woods. One down, two to go. I turned round to find my remaining pokemon facing 12 Pokemon at once. I swallowed hard. This was going to be quite unpleasant.. Lurre, and Phobia floated close together, watching each other’s backs and throwing out attacks. Akiiti and Druaga stood between them and the opposing teams. Camus waited behind them, watching for an opprotunity to strike.

I sized up their teams quickly. This was not going to end well. Both Raid members had summoned their full teams. A Nidoking roared in anger and prepared to charge, while its partners, a Drapion and a Scolipede followed its lead. An agile Gengar floated above them, ready to wreak havoc. Beside the man in the black mask waited a menacing Venusaur, which displayed no impatience for the coming battle, only a calm and terrible eagerness resided in its eyes. Further back from the main group, a loan Toxicroak waited uncertainly. It fidgeted nervously, obviously not relishing the idea of a fight.

Beside the Raid member with the earth colored mask, a Garchomp stood like a sentinel surveying the battlegrounds. A Mamoswine and Hippowdon waited on either side of him, growling with menace and bloodlust. In front, a Sandslash and an Excadrill waited impatiently, stamping the ground with eagerness. Above them, a Gliscor flew lazily, ready, but not eager to help.

Team Raid really did have incredible resources. Gliscor and Mamoswine were quite hard to come by, yet for some reason both teams were all shared one major type. The Black mask had an all poison type team, and the earth mask had an all ground type team. Strange… Luckily for me, the ground pokemon wouldn’t be able to use their most powerful attack, Earthquake, for fear of damaging their allies.

I couldn’t waste any more time thinking about it: both Raid members were beginning to activate their Mega Bracelets. With a cry, the Venusaur and Garchomp began to transform. A light flashed, then faded, seeming to distort the air itself. Why was that familiar… And that Garchomp… It had a scar across its left eye.

Shoot, this wasn’t good. My team couldn’t handle both trainers at once… I had to even the playing field somehow. The Earth Mask’s Hippowdon roared and shook, activating its Sand Stream ability, and causing a sand storm encompassing several blocks. This was not good for me at all.

Pokemon like Excadrill and Sandslash are well adapted to deserts and areas with frequent sandstorms, allowing them to move quickly during them. My team couldn’t keep pace. Unless…

“Lurre, Phobia!” The pokemon turned to face me. “Get out of here and find Summit. You guard the captive.” They hesitated. “Now!” I cried. I could tell by their expressions they didn’t understand. “I’ll be fine, I know what I’m doing!”

Even though they weren’t reassured, Lurre trusted me, and Phobia followed her.
“Cutting your losses kid?” Earth Mask taunted. He had a gravely voice, full of self confidence, which I would soon shatter.

“Not quite.” I smiled. “I just wanted a little challenge.”

Both of the members laughed. “You don’t stand a chance kiddo.” Black mask sneered at me.

He called me “kiddo”. Heh. He’d pay soon enough. “Prove it then.” I shot back.

“With pleasure! Excadrill use Iron Head!”

“Drapion hit em with Night Slash!”

Perfect. Despite the fact that we were by no means battling under the standard rules, such as those in my old Gym, my opponents were still thinking by them, meaning they would only issue one order at a time. I could do better than that.

“Akiiti!, Trick room!” I roared the command. Trick room was the perfect counter to high speed offensive threats such as those I was facing. Trick room twisted the very dimensions of reality, temporarily anyways. The fast became slow, and the slow became fast. It was simple really.

I savored the realization dawning in my opponents’ eyes. I loved the simple things in life.

Akiita responded swiftly, closing its eyes and concentrating hard. It wasn’t long before I could see its effects. Every pokemon we faced was faster than my remaining three, and now, as a result of trick room, they were slower. Now, they would be vulnerable. Now was the time to get my Pokemon moving.

“Akiiti, Camus, burn everything with Will-o-wisp! Druaga, block incoming attacks with King’s Shield!” Druaga took his place directly in front of the attacking pokemon, its ephemeral shield absorbing attacks. Camus and Akiiti darted around the battlefield, avoiding attacks and burning the opposing pokemon, responding perfectly to my warnings and commands.

It wasn’t long before all twelve opposing pokemon were burned. It was time to take the offensive. To start with, I needed to get rid of that Gliscor and the Gengar.

“Akiita and Camus, target that Gliscor, do as much damage as you can, Druaga, hit Gengar with Iron head!” With a conjoined battle cry, my Pokemon attacked, unleashing their fury on their opponents. Gliscor and Gengar both crashed to the ground under a flurry of attacks, fainted.. With a flash of red, both pokemon returned to their Pokeballs. Check, but not checkmate. Not yet anyways

Unfortunately Trick room didn’t last forever. Soon the effects wore off, and my pokemon were slow again.

“Now its our turn!” Earth mask shouted, eager to exact his revenge. “Hit em will all you’ve got boys!” His team responded gladly, unleashing a wave of attacks against my team, bashing against them like the waves on the shore, slowly but surely eating away at their strength..

I grimaced. This was the worst part of myplan, being forced to watch my Pokemon helplessly take hits while I waited for the last piece to fall into place. Somewhere behind me I could feel the ground shaking. Soon…

But for now I needed to stall for time. “Akiiti! Trick room again!”

“Not so fast!” Black mask cried. “Drapion, hit it with Ice Fang!”

Earth masked joined in “Excadrill, Iron head, Garchomp, hit it with Rock slide!”

No… no, no, NO!

All three attacks landed on Akiiti simultaneously, and the poor creature flinched with each impact, unable to use its move. Akiiti was visibly weakened, its movements even more sluggish than usual. Druaga and Camus were no better. All three of them were prepared to hold their ground until the end, but I couldn’t allow them to take any more damage.

I could feel the vibrations in the earth steadily growing closer.

“All three of you, return!” I cast their Pokeballs into the air. They looked back at me, surprise and concern in their eyes as they vanished in a flash of red. I hated to use their balls, but it was the only option I had to keep them safe. I caught the red and white spheres as they fell back to earth. “You did your job, and far more” I whispered to them, hoping they could hear me. I seated the pokeballs on my belt and turned to face Team Raid.

“Giving up already kiddo? You were doing so well too” Black Mask taunted me again.

“Surrender your Pokemon and walk away peacefully and we’ll let this slide.” Earth mask sneered at me.

I took a deep breath, and clenched my fists at my side. No one called me ‘kiddo’. I began walking calmly towards them, slowly, inexorably closing the distance. “Funny, I was just about to say the same thing.” I just needed a few more seconds.

“Stop trying to look brave, its not good for your health.” Earth mask growled. “Let me show you what I mean. Garchomp, Dragon Claw.”

My eyes widened in surprise, Pokemon didn’t attack people.

Unless they were shadow Pokemon.

Shoot. Too late, I realized my mistake. The dragon charged forward, an evil look in its one good eye. Somehow I could tell it was going to enjoy this. I held my arms in front of my to shield my face as the creature’s claws made contact. The impact sent me flying backwards down the street.

I heard a snap and realized my left arm was broken badly. At least it was the left. I struggled to stand, leaning against the wall to my right. I tried to smile, but grimaced in pain.

“You know. If I hadn’t burned your Pokemon. That probably would’ve killed me.”

“That was the idea.” Earth mask said, his voice dangerously low and threatening.

Why was I surprised by that? I knew Raid killed people…I had been there when they had.

A cold, familiar rage boiled deep within me, and the scar tissue on my left shoulder seemed to writhe and crawl.

“You know what else?,” I began, cheerfully. “The best thing about burns is that they deal damage over time. Before you know it, you’re pokemon are just about ready to collapse.” As I spoke, I could see that I had timed it perfectly. Their teams were just beginning to lose energy: they had been on the field for too long after being burned. I smiled, taking a kind of sick pleasure in watching my plan fall into place, and their hopes of victory crumble, despite their numerical advantage.

“They still have enough strength left to end you.” Earth mask shouted at me. I could see the Garchomp and the Venusaur approach me slowly, full of rage and spite, and unbidden by their trainers. These Shadow-Mega’s were a pain to deal with.

Checkmate. “They won’t have strength left for long.” With a gravely roar, Summit leapt the remaining distance and landed, sending shockwaves through the earth. I had to time this perfectly. “Summit, hit them with an Earthquake!”

I braced myself for the attack. I needed to be off the ground for as long as possible after the impact. Summit raised his arms high above his head, fists clenched, and brought them down with destructive force. His fists made contact with the ground, leaving two huge craters beneath them. At the last second, I leapt onto Summit’s back, holding on for dear life with my functional arm. The remaining 10 pokemon took heavy damage and fainted, weakened as they were by their burns. Earth and Black mask fell hard onto their backs. Debris and dust fell heavily, as the quakes weakened.

Falling from Summit’s back, I walked towards them, cradling my broken arm. Earth Mask was half covered in debris, knocked unconscious by a fallen brick or something. His partner though, was still awake. He groaned, turning himself over to his stomach. The way he was kneeling looked almost like a prayer. I don’t know if he believed in a god, but I certainly believed in judgement.

Growling with fury, I kicked his side, sending him sprawling once more. I knelt down, one knee pushing down on his sternum. I grabbed the collar of his shirt, leaving my left arm dangling uselessly, and yanked upwards, glaring angrily down at him. He was terrified. I could see it in his eyes. I could sense his fear, like a drug, blinding my reason. I shoved him back down, drawing my woodsman’s knife and holding it above my head.

“Let me ask you something, kiddo,” I spit the word out with contempt. “Were you there, April 13th, at the Chartreuse attack?”

The man swallowed hard.

“Answer me!” I roared, still holding the knife high above him.

He looked wildly about, as if hoping for rescue.

“No one can save you.” I whispered, my words laced with poison. “Tell me the truth, and I’ll make it a quick one.”

“Y-yes… I was there.” The man’s voice shook.

“Why did you target the mall?” I could feel nothing but rage and the desire to exact my vengeance on those who stole what I held dear. To do that, I needed answers, and if I didn’t get them… Well, it wouldn’t be pretty.

“I don’t know, I swear! They never told me anything!”

“Who is ‘they’?” I persisted. I needed to find the ones responsible. Simply removing a grunt wouldn’t be enough.

“I don’t know! I don’t know!” The man was sobbing uncontrollably.

What a scumbag. Something buried deep inside of me seemed to rise up and speak to me. I’d be doing the world a favor if I killed him. The scar tissue on my left shoulder seemed to writhe and crawl as though it were alive and trying to escape.

I raised the knife high over my head. I could see the panic in his eyes. He screamed.

I brought the knife down hard.

At the last moment I stopped, the tip of the blade drawing a drop of blood from his forehead. We were both breathing heavily. The voice inside me roared in protest, all but demanding I end him.

I sheathed the knife. I couldn’t kill someone! My rage had vanished. I was the good guy… right? I could feel the scar seem to pulse, radiating a unsettling heat across my skin.

His eyes watched my face closely, and he began to laugh outrageously. ”Having doubts already? What, aren’t you gonna kill me?” Another fit of laughter. “You don’t have it in you kiddo.”

There it was again. My rage returned to me for an instant. “No one calls me kiddo.” My right fist caught him in the nose, knocking his head against the pavement. He went out like a light. That was going to hurt in the morning. I looked down at my hand. It was covered in blood and I wasn’t sure if it was his or mine.

I stood up, dazed and shaking from the weight of what I had almost done. Summit knelt down beside me, looking me dead in the eyes.

“I… I don’t know what came over me.” I struggled to find the words to explain. He only nodded, and pointed down the road, opposite the way he had come. Flashing blue and red lights were heading our way. The police. They sure took their sweet time getting here.

I didn’t want to be around when they finally arrived. I looked back at the unconscious bodies of the two Raid members. I only needed one to get the answers I needed.

Taking a deep breath, I started to run towards camp, where Lurre and Phobia would be guarding the prisoner. Summit jogged leisurely besides me, but it wasn’t long before I was breathing hard, exhausted as I was from the earlier encounter.

It felt like an eternity before we reached the cover of the forest. I turned to look back at the city. Luckily, we hadn’t been pursued. I glanced up at Summit, who was looking down at me with concern. It was strange, seeing such an imposing Pokemon have such a caring look on its face.

I laughed. “I’m fine Summit, really.” We both knew I was lying. My arm was badly broken. Doubtlessly, I had other injuries, but adrenaline was still pumping through my veins, smothering the pain. I would need to get a proper cast for it, but for now I’d just have to make a sling once we got back to camp.

It was another 10 minutes walk to get to the camp. It wasn’t much really, just a small cave hidden in the cleft of a hill, the mouth of which faced away from the main path, so most people would never even realize it existed. It was the perfect fortress of solitude, cold, dark and hidden.

I shrugged my backpack off, careful to move my left arm as little as possible. Pulling out an old t-shirt, I tore it and tied a makeshift sling and slipped my arm into it. I guess being numb was a just as much a blessing as a curse.

My hands had been shaking ever since my… argument with the Raid member. Taking a long, deep breath, I grasped the Mega Stone hanging around my neck, feeling its calming influence over my body.

“You left Red Mask in the cave, right?” I asked Summit. He grunted in reply and sat down, back against the hill, and closed his eyes. He slowly faded from view as he fell asleep. I shook my head and smiled, he must be exhausted. Peeking around the corner into the cave, I saw Phobia and Lurre floating around Red mask, watching them closely.

“Lurre, Phobia. Good work, you’re free to go. I can handle it from here.” Lurre cried happily as she heard my voice, overjoyed to see that I was safe. Phobia only turned round and vanished in surprise. Red Mask froze when I spoke. Scared much? Good.

I gently scratched Lurre’s chin, and sighed. One of these days I’d earn Phobia’s trust. “Good work girl” I whispered to Lurre. “Go get some rest.” The Pokemon dashed off into the woods, searching for Phobia. Or don’t get some rest.

I took two steps into the cave, and turned round, releasing my remaining three pokemon. “Druaga, Camus, Akiiti. You were amazing, take your time to recover and get your energy back.” Druaga and Camus turned to go, tired but satisfied. Akiiti waited behind, looking at the prisoner behind me with malice.

“What’s wrong Akiiti? Don’t tell me you hate them already?” I laughed. “You haven’t even met ‘em yet.” Red mask hadn’t moved since I entered the cave. Strange… no escape attempts?
I knelt down next to them, determined to get answers. “So tell me something Red. Why’d you attack the Devon Corps Warehouse? What did you, what did Team Raid need?” Red flinched as I said “Team Raid” but provided no answer. “You want to know what I think? I think you needed megastones for your research.” No reply. This was going to be tedious. “What research? I’m glad you asked. Your research into Shadow Pokemon, and more specifically Shadow Mega’s.”

This time Red turned round and shouted “How do you know all this?!”

I paused. A woman’s voice, and a familiar one. My eyes narrowed and I reached for her mask. She jerked away, falling painfully backwards onto her hands. I knelt beside her a tore the mask off.

“Eve… Oh that’s right… You prefer to be called ‘Professor’” I spat the word with disgust.

She snorted. “I had hoped I’d seen the last of you.” Her hazel eyes glared at me with an unmasked malice I never thought possible

I ignored her comment: my mind was racing. Eve, one of the highest ranking members of the League, was a member of Team Raid? Was she the only one? I remembered Warner’s warnings. Had he been trying to steer me away because he was in on it, or because he knew what was going on? The more I thought about it the more it made sense that Eve was in Raid: she had been the one who had tried to keep me from going after them. But... she didn’t have the authority to make that choice alone. That meant at least one of the Elite Four, or perhaps the Champion himself was in on it.

“So, let me guess. You’re not the only league member in on team Raid.” She pulled a stone face, attempting to hide anything she could. “I’ say… you probably have the E4 and the Champion in on this too. Certainly another professor, probably Isaac, and a number of Gym leaders, including the poison leader.” I bluffed, using what little I did know to piece together what might be the truth.

“How… how do you know all this?” Jackpot. Obviously she had never played poker. Furthermore, that meant my assumptions was right, I was going to have to go against the very people I had asked to help me. This was why I trusted Pokemon, not people.

I didn’t answer her at first; I was still processing information. Then something latched onto my mind and refused to let go.

“What was the purpose of the April 13th attack two years ago?” I asked, keeping my voice low in an attempt to conceal my rage. My right hand curled into a fist, and shook violently.

Her gaze fell on my quivering fist, still covered in blood.

“Is… is that blood?” Her voice quavered. “What did you do to Isaac and Jordan?”

Did she think I had killed them? Good... I could bluff.

“I did what I had to do.” I said with a smile, tapping the knife sheath that was protruding from my pocket. She shivered. Apparently not everyone in Raid was cold-blooded and ruthless. Some of them were just tough on the outside, put enough pressure on them and they’d crack.

“Now,” I began, doing my best to take advantage of her fear, “tell me what I need to know and we won’t have any problems.”

Unfortunately, she had managed to regain her composure. “I don’t know anything.”

“Doubtful.”

She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if you believe me. It’s true. Besides, it’s not as though you can stop us on your own.”

“Here we go again”, I growled to myself.

“What was that? Speak clearly now, it’s not fitting for someone in your position to mumble.” Her voice was laced with venom. “Oh, that’s right, you have no position. You’re a no one.”

“You aren’t in much of a position to talk. You’re being held captive by someone who has quite the grudge against you.” I sat down, leaning back against the wall of the cave and smiled sarcastically. “Don’t you think it’s safer to be nice to the man with the knife?”

“A thinly veiled threat won’t frighten me. Raid has methods of killing a person for more… excruciating than that butter knife of yours.”

Nothing I said was working. I decided to try a different angle.

“It almost sounds like you don’t trust your team.”

She snorted. “Oh I trust them alright. I trust that they are more than willing and far more than capable of killing me if I give you any information.” She was a cold certainty in her voice that worried me.

“You sound awfully sure that they’ll be able to find you here.”

“Of course they can… He can do anything he sets his mind to.”

He? She must mean the leader of Raid. If my assumptions were correct, and the Elite Four and Champion were leading Raid, then she probably meant the Champion himself, Hunter . I had heard the rumors. He was charming, but wasn’t afraid to put his foot down. Some people said that he was only a member of the League for a month before he was promoted to Elite Four, and it only took a month to get from there to the Championship. A daunting opponent to be sure, but I was up to the challenge.

“What makes you think I can’t do the same?” I was tired of people underestimating me. “Pride comes before the fall you know.”

“Funny, I was about to the same thing.” A knowing smile drew itself across her lips.

“Oh yea?” I smiled dangerously, standing up, and allowing myself to tower over her.

“The correct response is ‘Yes Ma’am.” Something clattered against the floor beside her. Smoke began to fill the confines of the cave. She began to laugh, and I could’ve sworn I heard her say “I told you so”.

I cursed silently, coughing in the smoke as I ran out of the cave and into the surrounding woods. They had found her. Even worse, they had found me. Panic welled up inside of me. I had to get away. My team still wasn’t recovered, and for that matter neither was I. With a jolt of sudden terror, I realized I was utterly helpless.

Warner, the Investigator, even Eve; they had all been right. I couldn’t do this. My eyes watered, and it wasn’t just because of the smoke. What was I supposed to do? I was hopeless: I didn’t stand a chance.

So I did the only thing I could: I ran until my legs gave out.

When I could run no more, I found myself at the edge of a clearing, with my back against a tall oak. I was breathing hard, disturbing the silence of the forest around me. My heart pounded and my mind raced, plans for revenge forgotten.

They had found me, and they could do it again. I needed to get someplace they couldn’t attack me.

Should I try the town? They wouldn’t attack me in public… would they? I groaned, the idea of crowded areas being safer than being by myself bothered me. It was worth a shot though, and I honestly didn’t have many other options left. With a start, I realized I still needed someone to set and cast my broken arm. I untied the sling for a moment to look at my arm. I wished I hadn’t. My entire arm had swollen considerably, and the flesh had turned a deep purple color. Even more disturbing was the scar. The once-pink flesh was now darker than the depths of the cave.

I hoped Nurse Joy knew how to treat humans as well as she did Pokemon.

I reset the sling, and took a look at my PokeNav, pulling up the Town Map. Turned out, I was closer to Gainsboro than Sienna. My mind wandered for a moment. Gainsboro… Why was that name so familiar? I sighed. There were so many things I just couldn’t remember, that the few things I did remember, even the ones that only visited me in my nightmares, suddenly became cherished possessions.

Having caught my breath, I stood up, and cringed. I had left my backpack at the cave. I slid back down the tree and facepalmed hard.

“I’m an idiot…” I made a careless mistake and it cost me everything I owned. Luckily, that wasn’t much.

As I berated myself, I felt Summit’s familiar footsteps shake the ground beneath me.

“Hey buddy.” I tried to sound happy. I failed.

Summit knelt next to me and let out a low rumble, holding one hand outstretched. I turned to look at what he was holding.

My backpack!

I looked up at his face, feeling like a child. “You went back for it?”

Summit nodded and a wide smile spread across his face..

I smiled in spite of myself. “Thanks bro.” I stood up and gave Summit a fistbump. Together, we began down the trail to Gainsboro. It wasn’t long before Camus, Lurre, and Druaga joined us, crowding around me, and voicing their delight at seeing me safe and sound.

I couldn’t give up, not yet. My team still believed in me.

There was hope yet.
Reply

#7
Chapter 4: Fugitive

It was evening before I reached Gainsboro. The sun had just begun to set, painting vivid colors across the canvas of the sky. It was a beautiful sight to be sure, but the city itself was what took my breath away.

Monumental skyscrapers reached up with their iron hands to touch the sky, while thousands of people, Pokemon, and vehicles bustled beneath them, oblivious to the beauty just above their heads.

As much as I usually hated crowds and being around strangers in general, I found the city environment wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. It all felt strangely familiar .I found myself smiling.

Focus. I wasn’t here to have fun, I needed to get my arm looked at.

I glanced down at the makeshift sling. The fabric was stained with dirt and sweat, but it was still holding together fairly well. That was good.
I was walking down the side of one of the major streets and struggling to make my way against the crowd, when I heard sirens approaching from behind me. Reflexively, I darted into a nearby alley and pressed myself against a shadowed wall.

Before long, the siren passed. I let out a breath. What was I doing? Its not like I had done anything wrong: I was just minding my own bussiness. I peered out into the street, cautious still.

“Alleys aren’t the classiest place to hide from the police. I’m just saying”

I spun round and came face to face with a middle aged man, who leaned carefree against the alley wall. Various tattoos covered his muscular arms, and a long, jagged scar stretched across his left cheek. He winked at me. Noticing my sling, he added “Seems like you’ve gotten yourself into something you shouldn’t have.”

“Yeah you could say that.” I shrugged. He sounded friendly enough, despite his appearance. “Any chance you could help me find a Center or some place where I can get this looked at? I figure the sooner I get a cast on it, the sooner it heals.”

“Yeah, I know a place. Its a bit of a walk to get there though.” he glanced over his shoulder. “Not the friendliest territory either. Gangs and the like. Not my gang either I’m afraid.”

“I can handle it.” I said, casually cracking my neck. “Can you?”

He held my gaze for a moment, then nodded. “You remind me of someone I used to know…” He held out a calloused hand. “I’m Brian by the way.”

I shook his hand. “Dakota.”

“I knew I remembered you!” he exclaimed, clapping a hand down on my shoulder and grinning from ear to ear. “You used to be a Bandit!”

“I think you got the wrong guy.” I hated to dash his hopes like that. I just needed to change the subject. “ I used to be a Gym Leader, but that doesn’t make me a thief.” From what I had seen, most gangs didn’t think highly of the League

He chuckled, removing his hand from my shoulder and scratched the back of his head bashfully. “Not what I meant kid. The Bandits are my gang. “ He shook his head, all traces of the smile that he had worn only seconds ago vanished entirely. “There aren’t many of us left though. Ever since the Raiders came in, it’s been tough picking. We mostly find work as bounty hunters these days.”

“That’s rough…” an alarm went off in my head. “Wait… you said the Raiders… any connection with Team Raid?”

“No, no. Different people. Raid is in a whole nother league.” His words were more true than he realized. Raid was the League. “If you listen to the rumors though, the Raiders work for Team Raid.” As he spoke, he motioned for me to follow him, and we began to walk down the crowded sidewalk.

“Huh.” I said, encouraging him to continue.

“Yeah the Raiders are a nasty piece of work though. Individually, they aren’t big or tough, and neither are their pokemon, but there are tons of Raiders. Its tough for honest folks like us Bandits to compete with that.”

I struggled not to laugh. How could you describe a gang that called itself ‘The Bandits’ as honest folk?

Brian didn’t seem to notice me, and continued speaking. I was glad for that, since I didn’t have much to say. Besides if the Raiders really were connected to Team Raid, I was keen to hear every detail.


“Watch yourself now. We’re getting close to Raider territory.”
“Actually Brian, you’re in it now.” Three tattooed teens stepped out in front of us. “I thought we told you Bandits to get out of town.” the speaker looked me up and down. “And now you’re even recruiting cripples? That’s low man.”

The teens were each around a year older than me. One had ear gauges, and another had black eyeliner, giving him a dark, brooding look. The speaker had no such articles, but was the biggest of them. I still stood a few inches over him but, he was easily stronger than me.

“This ain’t your territory Switch.” Brian scoffed, addressing the speaker. “Your territory ends the next block down.” Brian wasn’t any taller than Switch, but he was heavily muscled, and dwarfed the teen.

Switch nodded to his compatriots, and they began to circle us like a pack of Mightyena.

“It’s our territory now, and unless you want to get hurt worse.,” he glanced at me “you’ll turn around and walk away.”

Anger welled up inside me, but I put on a stone face. Now was a great time for some acting.

“Oh this?” I asked, shrugging my left shoulder. “This isn’t anything too bad. Just broke it when I punched some punk’s face in. You shoulda seen the look on his face.” I doubled over, laughing obnoxiously till I ran out of breath. I stood up and wiped an imaginary tear from my eye, before becoming serious once more. “What was left of it anyways.”

Switch looked at me, eyebrow raised. “You’re kidding me. Ain’t no way you could hit someone that hard.”

I smiled inwardly. This guy would believe anything I said with a straight face.

“Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it. It happened.” I grinned, mimicking Camus’ own demonic smile. “Lucky for you, I still have one good arm.” I stared him dead in the eye and crept slowly towards him.

Switch took a step back, hand reflexivley reaching into his pocket. He probably had a knife. Better stop him before he tries to pull it on me.

“Now, I’ll give you two options here, Switch. Get off our turf, or I knock you out.”

Switch’s eyes grew wide for a moment, and he lost the power of speech. The Raider with eyeliner spit on the ground and walked forward, whispering something in Switch’s ear. Switch began to smile cruelly.

‘Hang on a sec here kiddo.” There it was, that word again. I clenched my fist reflexively.

“This is our turf. Now I’m gonna give you two options. Either you get out of here in a hurry or…” he pulled a switchblade out of his jacket. “we HM01 you. Get it?”

“Oh, I get it alright. You picked the knock out.” I walked up to him, staring him down. The scar began twitching beneath my flesh, like some parasite inside me struggling to reach the surface. I shot my right arm forward, my fist connecting painfully with his jaw. He staggered back and fell.

Switch sat there dazed for a moment, then just leaned back, and lay on the ground.

The two remaining Raiders looked at each other and pulled out switchblades of their own.

I braced myself for an attack, but Brian stepped between us.

“Those aren’t knives, those are toothpicks.” he unsheathed his own blade dramatically. The long steel blade glimmered cruelly in the streetlight. “Now this, this is a knife.”

“Besides. It looks like your friend is gonna need someone to carry him home.” I interjected, hoping to avoid spilling blood.

Switch had just begun to sit up, and still looked dazed. With one hand, he gingerly felt his busted lip. He pulled it away from his face and peered at it strangely for a moment. Once he saw the blood dripping down his fingers, he fainted, falling back to the concrete once more.

“Bloody useless” Eyeliner growled under his breath, grabbing Switch underneath his shoulders. Gauges grabbed his feet and they carried Switch away.

“We’ll get you for this!” Gauges shouted over his shoulder.
Brian turned to me, grinning from ear to ear. “Just like old times, eh Dakota?”

“Old times?” I asked him. What was he on about?

“So, you weren’t kidding. You really don’t remember.” he shook his head sadly. “I think you have more to worry about than a broken arm.”

We stood in silence for a moment.

“I know.” I muttered under my breath.

“Huh?” he asked, leaning in to listen.

“I said I know. There are a whole lot of things wrong with me Brian, and you’re only just scratching the surface.” I struggled to keep my voice from shaking. “For right now though, I’d like to tackle the one I can actually deal with.”I took a deep breath to steady myself. No need to get so worked up “Now, which way to the Center.”

Brian looked at me for a moment, then nodded.

“Follow me.”

We walked through the crowded streets in terse silence. My mind began to wander. Why was it that may scar always seemed to act up when I got into a confrontation? I doubted even Warner’s Private Investigator to help me find the answer to that one.

We walked for several minutes without saying a word, and despite the late hour, the concrete itself emanated heat,causing us both to sweat profusely. What I wouldn’t give for a cold glass of water.

Then, something to our left caught my eye.

In the window of an electronics store, a flat-screen television was displaying a news channel. Nothing unusual to be sure, but the story being covered was.

“Aye Brian, let’s head inside for a bit.” Brian cocked an eyebrow at me. “I could use the AC, and besides, I want to hear this story.”

Brian shrugged and followed me inside.

The store clerked glanced up at us from behind the counter and looked away nervously. She probably wasn’t used to having two gangsters in the store. Brian walked up to the woman, and leaned on the counter, and began to chat with the clerk, as if this were nothing unusual. I wondered if he was trying to get her number or trying to distract her, hoping I would pocket something valuable he could sell later. With Brian, I could see it going either way.

I walked over to one of the TV displays and smirked. I had been waiting for this story all day. I wondered what they would use for the headline. “Mysterious Ghost Trainers Foils Team Raid” sounded pretty good to me.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the headline.

“Earlier this morning, the Devon Corps Warehouse in Sienna was attacked by rogue Gym Leader Dakota. The League has issued a region-wide warning for this individual. He is armed and extremely dangerous.” My heart sank as the screen flashed to display a video feed from a nearby security camera. It showed me on top of Black Mask, knife raised. Only, to anyone who didn’t know the truth, it looked like I was assaulting a police officer. This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be happening.

It was.

In the reflexion of one of the screens, I could see Brian walk up behind me. “The League is offering a large reward for anyone who can capture this public threat alive, and bring him in for questioning.”

“What have you gotten yourself into Dakota?”

My head began to swim and I felt nauseous. Brian’s voice was the last thing I heard before I panicked and sprinted out the door.

Blood roared in my ears, and the world seemed to move in slow motion as I sprinted through the crowd.

Adrenaline pumped through my system as I raced through the crowd.

Some primal instinct inside of me began to dictate my actions, and I sprinted down streets, turning on a whim. I began to lose track of time as I ran, oblivious to the world around me. I was vaguely aware of the sound of sirens from somewhere behind me, and my heart began to beat even faster.

I made another reflexive turn, and the edge of the city came into view. Once I broke into the cover of the woods I could make clean my escape.
If only it had been that easy.

Without warning, a police car pulled out of a side street and blocked my path. The door opened, and a police officer came out, drawing a semi-automatic pistol and pointing it at me.

I could see him shouting at me, but I couldn’t hear a word he was saying.
Without breaking stride I covered the remaining distance between us, and grabbed the barrel of the gun as I jammed my knee hard into his thigh, hitting a pressure point. The officer collapsed, releasing his hold on the firearm. I slid over the hood of the car and tumbled off, struggling to regain my feet. As I turned, I aimed the pistol mechanically and fired two shots, one into either wheel on my side of the car.

That ought to keep them from following me for a while.

Then I began to run once more, tossing the gun underneath the car and fleeing into the relative safety of the woods. I kept on running until I could no longer feel my feet, and could no longer see the city over my shoulder.
Then I collapsed against a tree, breathing hard.

What had that been?

It had felt like the dream. I was in my body, but not truly in control of it.

Brian was right. I had way more wrong with me than just a broken arm.
A broken arm that still hadn’t received professional attention. Worse than that, I couldn’t hide from Raid in the city. That narrowed my options greatly.

When I had recovered my breath, I stood up and brushed myself off. I had to get moving again. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was starting to get dark, and I needed to find a place to spend the night.
Shrugging my backpack higher up on my shoulders, I wandered further into the shadow of the forest. I’d keep walking for a while, and then set up camp for the night.

I walked for about half an hour before something at the edge of my site caught my attention. The warm glow of a fire called out to me, and I realized I had been shivering. I increased my pace. A friendly campfire seemed like the perfect place to make camp, provided the other campers were willing to have me. I stopped for a moment. Could I trust them though? There was a bounty out for my arrest, and this could be a trap for all I knew.

With a groan of frustration, I turned away from the glow of the fire, so tantalizingly close, and returned to the path, only to come face to face with a well muscled man in his early twenties and a grinning Darmanitan. He yawned and cracked his knuckles.

“I was sure you’d fall for it too.” he smiled, nothing more than a slight twitch of the lips, and patted the head of his Darmanitan. “I mean, who doesn’t love fire?”

“So it was a trap. Guess I was right then.” alarm bells were firing off in my mind. I needed to get out of here, and I needed to do it fast. Chances were he wasn’t the only one after me.

“Well… Not exactly.” the man shrugged, “Mostly I just wanted a chance to hear why you did it Dakota.”

“Did what?” How did he know my name? Was he like Brian, or had he just heard it on the news?

“Well, I mean. First off, you actually followed my advice and changed your ways. You joined the League and everything, and then you go rogue and attack Devon Corps. Why?”

Why were there so many people in Gainsboro who knew me, but I didn’t know them?

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know who you are, and I joined the League for personal reasons. Besides, you wouldn’t believe the truth about the whole Devon Corps incident.” I looked him dead in the eyes, a challenge.

“You’re telling me that you don’t remember me, Kyle your life-long rival? Not even the many, many times I tried to arrest you?” he raised an eyebrow and smiled, shaking his head slightly. “Not buying it.”

I shrugged. “Unfortunately that’s all I’m selling. I’m not going to tell you something that ain’t true.”

He stared at me for a moment then sighed.

“Tell you what. Battle me. If you win, I’ll believe you.” His hand gravitated towards the Pokeballs on his belt.

Was he serious?

“Why do I care if you believe me?” I asked, “What’s stopping me from just walking away? Especially at this time of night, it’s too dark to see clearly, not a good time for a battle. ”

“Well the we could battle, or I could just arrest you right now.” the man flashed a League Gym badge. “I can fix the lighting problem though.” he nodded to his Darmanitan.

The Pokemon smiled and tapped its fist against a nearby sapling, letting loose a spark of fire which soon turned into a blaze.

“Are you insane! This area hasn’t had rain for weeks, do you want to start a wildfire?” Who on earth thought it was a good idea to make a pyromaniac a Gym Leader?

Kyle looked surprised, and then sad. He frowned slightly and looked at his Darmanitan.

“Would you put it out please?” he asked.

The poor creature’s mouth opened wide, and its eyes darted to and fro in panic. It paced back and forth through the clearing for a moment, paused, confused.

How could a Pokemon be so proficient in starting fires without knowing how to put them out?

The Darmanitan shook its head angrily and came back to the tree. It grabbed the trunk, which was about as thick as my calf, firmly in both hands and wrenched it out of the ground, and hefted it above its head.
It was my turn to be surprised. I couldn’t help but stare at the creature as it walked off. In a little while, the Darmanitan was almost out of sight, and only the glow above its head was visible. I heard a loud splash, and the glow vanished.

Tossing the entire tree into a river was one way to put it out.

“Look, I got places to be,” I lied. “Can’t you just let me go on my way?

“Then we’ll make it a quick battle. Three on three sound fair?”

Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed two Pokeballs off his waist and tossed them into the air. The customary flash of light faded, replaced by two Fire Pokemon.

A Ninetales stood glaring at me, tails whipping through the air. Next to it, an Infernape sat, back turned to me. The Pokemon scratched its head, confused, then looked over its shoulder and turned itself around. The Ninetales glanced over and shook its head.

I thought for a moment.

“Akiiti, Lurre, Summit. I could use a little help over here.” My team faded into view behind me. I nodded to Kyle “Ready when you are.”

“Infernape, take the lead.” The over-eager Pokemon jumped to its feet and dashed forward, tripping on a stone. It managed to turn the trip into a roll, and used its momentum to get back on its feet.

Kyle and his Pokemon were a bit… strange, but they were certainly skilled. Even if they weren’t, I still needed to keep my guard up, after all this was a Gym Leader.

“Lurre, do your best.” the ghost moved forward onto the battlefield, its normal happy-go-lucky demeanor replaced by a cold seriousness. I looked my opponent in the eye and nodded.

“Let’s get this battle started.”

“Infernape use Flare Blitz!” the man shouted throwing his fist forward at an imaginary opponent. The Infernape rushed forward, surrounding itself in an aura of flame

“ Lurre, Shadow Ball!” Lurre glared angrily at its opponent, gather a mass of spectral energy in front of it before launching it forward.

The Shadow Ball hit first, catching the Infernape mid stride, but the opposing Pokemon charged on ahead without skipping a beat. At the last moment, Lurre dodged to the side. As the Infernape passed, the fires surrounding it were suddenly sucked towards the Ghost Pokemon, brightening its own flames.

“Flash Fire, absorbs Fire-type attacks, and uses them to strengthen its own. Seriously though, why on earth would you use a Fire Type attack against a Pokemon that’s part Fire Type?”

“Focus on the battle Dakota! Infernape, Stone Edge!”

“Lurre, you have to hit him first! Shadow Ball!” Stone edge was a Rock type attack, super-effective against Fire, and with a Pokemon as frail as a Chandelure, we couldn’t afford to let it make contact.

Lurre was to quick for the Infernape, launching another Shadow Ball at its opponent before it could even prepare its attack. The Fire Pokemon staggered back and collapsed, unconscious.

My opponent said nothing, merely returned his fainted Pokemon to its ball and motioned his Darmanitan forward.

Darmanitan were generally strong, fast physical attackers, their natural strength and abilities making them dangerous on the battlefield. My experience in the League told me that this one likely held a Choice Scarf just like my Lurre, making it all the more dangerous. I wouldn’t be able to outspeed it, so I just had to be able to take some damage.

“Akiiti, take over from here!” The bulky Pokemon lumbered forward, but something about its movements seemed sluggish… more than usual.

Shoot.

Akitti still hadn’t recovered from our earlier battle!

It was too late now.

“Darmanitan, Flare Blitz!” the creature rushed forward, gathering enough flames about itself to blind me for a moment.

When that moment was over, Akiiti lay unconscious on the ground in front of me.

No way.

Akiiti had never failed before…

With a guilty start, I realized that Akiiti hadn’t failed. Once again, it was my shortcomings that caused so much harm. I walked slowly forward, still amazed that my most dependable Pokemon had been knocked out.
I knelt beside him, tears threatening to pour out my eyes. This was the straw that broke the Camerupt’s back.

“I’m sorry” I whispered softly, returning the injured creature to its ball.
I stood up and faced my opponent, disgust replacing sorrow.

“I forfiet. This battle is pointless, I don’t know why I agreed to it in the first place. I don’t care whether or not you believe me, I’m not letting another one of my Pokemon faint.” I turned to go.

“Wait… I don’t understand. You still have the advantage in the battle. Your Golurk is a ground type, which destroys fire teams, and your Lurre absorbs my fire attacks. Why are you leaving?”

“Its not worth letting my Pokemon get hurt.”

Kyle didn't say a word as I walked away, and I was soon alone with the forest once more.
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