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    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default convalescence+convergence {1}


    convalescence: (n) gradual return to health after illness, injury, or an operation
    convergence: (n) the coming together of several factors at a single point or event


    Chapter List

    00 - I Can

    Book 01 - Convalescence

    01 - Every Clap of Thunder
    02 - Endless Circles

    Last edited by Seizon Senryaku; 3rd September 2011 at 12:10 AM.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  2. #2
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Chapter Zero - I Can

    Chapter Zero
    I Can


    Tell me, who can save you?

    Who can bring you back from the brink of destruction, upon which you now teeter, helpless shadows of what you once were?

    Once, you were great. You were gods among men. You shook the earth, and fire gushed forth in great gouts. You had power, you had control.

    But now, you are mere remnants of the mighty possibility you once were. Yes, you were a possibility. A very good one, in fact. But who . . . who can make you into a certainty?

    Don't tell me you don't dream of returning to how you were – no, better still? Stronger? More potent? Do you not want to rise to prominence once more, more feared than you ever were before?

    Look at you now. You're a wreck. Your entire operation collapsed a year and a half ago, and all you have left is scraps.

    You claim it was voluntary. Do not delude yourself. You were forced into this shameful state of affairs. But this should make your shame no less great; this should not balm your wounded pride. The simple truth that you had no choice does not preclude the fact that you were humiliated and beaten. You cannot have forgotten this, surely?

    So tell me . . . who can save you?
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  3. #3
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Chapter One - Every Clap of Thunder

    Book 1
    convalescence


    Chapter One
    Every Clap of Thunder


    Steven Stone, Elite Four member and ex-Champion of the Hoenn League, sighed deeply, something it seemed he had been doing far too much of late. Outside, the rain lashed the windows furiously, as if in a desperate attempt to gain entry to his sparse Ever Grande flat. Even above the noise of the rain itself, he could hear a continuous, spattering torrent of water tumbling from an overflowing drainpipe just outside his window.

    Even as he peered out of the window to see if the rain was looking to clear up any time soon, a crash of thunder shook the glass in its housing, accompanied by a flash of lightning that made him blink. With a disgruntled snort, Steven fell back into his chair, running a hand through his silver hair as he did so.

    It was another one of those nights. Despite the fact that Kyogre and Groudon had both been dealt with a year and a half ago, some of the residual effects of their rampage lingered. The eastern cities of Hoenn, in particular, enjoyed – or rather, tolerated – continually fluctuating patterns of intense heat and heavy downpours. It wasn't anywhere near as severe as it had been during the great clash, but it happened often enough to be annoying.

    Steven sighed again, not having much better to do. A book lay face-down on the arm of his chair, but it had failed to hold his interest. The television, a gently pulsing rectangle of light in his otherwise darkened sitting room, was playing replays of Pokemon League battles from at least four years in the past. Steven knew them all off by heart, play for play – after all, he had been in some of them.

    He was tired, and yet he could only barely dally with the possibility of sleep before discarding it for the hundredth time that evening. Something prevented him from simply lying down and closing his eyes. He didn't know what it was, but he had the strangest feeling that he was meant to be waiting for someone.

    Another flash of lightning slashed through the room, harshly dyeing everything in a sharp chiaroscuro pattern for the briefest of intervals before surrendering its grip back to darkness, leaving only a rumble of thunder to signify it had been there.

    Steven Stone shivered and leaned over to flick on his electric heater.

    ***


    From somewhere within the Gym, an alarm blared. The slim, red-headed Gym Leader, who had been training in the arena with her Magcargo when the racket started, cursed and bolted for the door, returning her Pokemon as she went.

    “If this is another false alarm, I am gonna punch someone!” Flannery growled, sprinting down a corridor to the Gym's security booth. Inside, a dozen small, grainy screens were arranged in a grid pattern, each showing a different part of the Lavaridge Gym. All but one. A single screen sat almost unnoticed in the corner, showing a different scene altogether. This monitor displayed an image of what was usually a blank, featureless section of rocky mountainside. Tonight, however . . .

    The swiftly fading light made it difficult to make anything much out on the screen, but – yes – there was definitely something amiss. Squinting at it, Flannery could just discern a patch of inky, solid blackness, right in the middle of the camera. Who could have opened it? Whoever it was, she was sure they were up to no good. The only ones with access to the old Magma hideout were the police – who would have surely notified her if they were planning to go in – the disgraced, disbanded Team Magma, and Flannery herself.

    Her heart skipped a beat as she made a quick decision. Slinging on a jacket, Flannery ensured she had her Poke Balls and cellphone – with the local authorities on speed dial – before setting off at a jog. She turned the lights off and locked the Gym door behind her, and then hastily made her way out of Lavaridge Town. The few residents who were still out and about at seven o'clock on a Wednesday night greeted her genially, but unlike normal, she didn't stop to chat.

    Just out of town, she deviated from the road and made a beeline for the base of Mt. Chimney, the massive red peak that thrust upwards from the ground just to the northeast of the town. It was beginning to get dark as she approached the jagged pass that scored a line down the side of the mountain, and she stumbled a few times as she clambered over ledges and loose boulders.

    Thankfully, the old Magma hideout was situated just a little way up, and Flannery managed to reach it without injuring herself, for which she was extremely grateful. As soon as it came into view, it became apparent that the door was sealed once more, a large, reddish-brown boulder covering the entrance as it had done for the last year and a half. Flannery frowned. Had her eyes simply been playing tricks on her?

    No. She had to check, even if it was just on the off-chance that there was actually something going on inside. With a regretful exhalation – she would have much rather been back in the Gym, training with her Fire-types – she reached into an inside pocket of her jacket and brought out a large badge in the shape of a stylised red M, waving it vaguely in front of the boulder. Aware of how silly she must look as she searched for the hidden sensor that would scan the badge, Flannery reflexively glanced around to make sure nobody was watching before remembering that she was, in fact, on the side of a mountain after dark.

    For after dark it now truly was. The top edge of the golden sun had sunk below the horizon, leaving only a handful of clouds with orange-stained underbellies to prove it had been there at all.

    With a shuddering, grinding noise that made Flannery jump, the boulder split in two, a cleverly concealed mechanism slowly pulling the two halves apart. Swallowing heavily and wishing she had brought a torch, she stepped forward into the dark aperture that yawned in front of her.

    Almost immediately, the darkness became absolute. Flannery fumbled around for a few seconds before remembering that as a Trainer of Fire-types, she had access to a natural light source. “Ponyta,” she whispered, gently tapping one of the red-and-white spheres attached to her belt. With a soft whinny, the equine Pokemon appeared at her side, its flaming mane filling the tunnel with a flickering orange light.

    Ponyta nickered worriedly at the dark, rocky tunnel. Flannery gave her a reassuring rub on the side of her neck before starting up the passageway.

    They walked in silence for a few minutes, Ponyta's diamond-hard hooves clacking on the rock floor. Before long, though, Flannery saw another light source up ahead. Brow furrowing anxiously, she returned Ponyta to its Poke Ball and crept forwards, peering cautiously around the corner to see where the light was coming from.

    ***


    As another roll of thunder tumbled across the sky in the distance, a harsh buzzing noise emitted from the panel next to Steven's door. Jerked out of his bored stupor, Steven crossed to the door and thumbed the intercom button. “Hello?”

    “Steven Stone.” The voice was familiar – deep and gruff, with an echo of the salty sea behind it. “I need to talk to you.”

    “Who is this?” Steven asked, praying it wasn't who he thought it was.

    “It's Archie, Stone. Archie Jackson. Now let me in, you bastard. It's pissing down out here.”

    Damn it. Steven closed his eyes for a brief moment, letting his head rest on the cool metal panel. “Surely a little water wouldn't bother a man of the ocean like yourself?”

    “Very funny, Stone. I'm here because there's something you need to know. Now, do you want to hear it, or am I gonna have to go find someone else to tell?”

    Steven sighed and pressed the button that would allow Archie in the front door of the apartment building. “Fine. Fifth floor.” The intercom fell silent.

    Pinching the bridge of his nose, Steven unlocked his door and let it swing open before crossing the room and dropping back into his chair. Archie Jackson was the last person he wanted to talk to right now. The former leader of the notorious Team Aqua had had quite a run of criminal activity in the past, but after the Sootopolis Crisis, he had taken to flying under the radar, so to speak. Of course, his career of racketeering, smuggling, theft and – needless to say – his involvement with the Crisis had threatened to put him behind bars for a long time, but a number of factors had contributed to change that. Archie had not resisted arrest and pleaded guilty unprompted. On top of that, Steven's own testimony on the man's behalf and following good behaviour had had his sentence reduced to fourteen months, a hefty fine and several hundred hours of community service.

    Still, there would have been a riot if the public knew that one of the most notorious criminals in the history of Hoenn walked free, so Archie had adopted a voluntary policy of silence, remaining quietly at home whenever he was not doing his community service in various anonymous, unobtrusive manners. It was rare for him to risk being seen, so Steven figured there had to be some powerful motivation for this visit.

    Given the choice, though, Steven would not have picked Archie Jackson as the man to break the monotony he had found himself in.

    Heavy footsteps in the corridor alerted him to the arrival of his guest, who shortly stepped through the door, dripping rainwater all over the floor.

    “Evenin', Stone,” he said gruffly, shedding his heavy jacket and dropping it on a hook beside the door. Underneath, he was wearing a suit, the formality of which took Steven by surprise. He was also clean-shaven, clearly having shed his trademark beard in order to avoid being recognised, and his dark hair was neatly cropped. Only the slightly damp blue tie would have given a stranger the slightest indication that he was looking at the erstwhile leader of Team Aqua.

    “Archie Jackson,” Steven said. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

    Archie glanced around the room before shuffling conspiratorially closer to Steven. “You sure nobody can hear us?” he asked in a low voice.

    Steven frowned, alarm bells ringing in his head. Something was definitely strange. “Quite sure,” he said, standing up and closing the curtains. “Sit down, please. We won't be overheard here.”

    Archie sank into the blue couch that lay along the wall facing the window, enveloping his face in a large, strong hand. “Good,” he said, his voice a little muffled. “This is serious, Stone.”

    “Get on with it,” Steven said calmly, taking a deep breath to regain his composure.

    Leaning forward, Archie looked Steven straight in the eyes. “Right. Today, I had a visitor.”

    “She knew who you were?”

    “Yup. 'You are Archie Jackson, leader of Team Aqua,' was the first thing she said when I answered the door. That was just about enough for me to kick her off my doorstep, but she seemed . . . different. For one thing, the way she was dressed. Bloody hell.”

    “This person was dressed . . . strangely?” Steven enquired, frowning as he made a mental note.

    “Yeah. Bloody crazy bitch, I swear. She had this shiny red mask thing on that covered half her face, which was pretty screwed up to begin with. But she was wearing this strange outfit . . . green camo patterns, kinda like army fatigues. Wasn't army uniform, though. Too neat and formal-lookin'. Still . . . say, you got anything to drink? I'm dry as a beach.”

    Steven nodded and crossed to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of brandy. He poured Archie a glass, and then, on further consideration, got out another glass and poured himself a half measure.

    “Cheers,” Archie said appreciatively, downing most of his glass in one go. “Ahh . . . much better. So, where was I?”

    “Woman on your doorstep, knew you were Archie of Aqua, red mask, camouflage clothes,” Steven recapped.

    “Right. Army colours. But it was fuckin' weird, I tell you. So here's this weirdo on my doorstep in her weird green suit and mask, and she asks if she can come in and talk to me. I was a bit suspicious, of course, but I was curious too. I mean, she looked like a whack job, but she kinda looked like she was all business.”

    “So what did she say to you?” Steven pressed, anxious to get to the actual matter at hand.

    “She said 'You can call me DC. I want to help you and Team Aqua return to their former glory,' and gave me this funny smile. I tell you, it was creepy. I don't scare easy, but she freaked me out.”

    Steven frowned. “She wanted . . . to help Team Aqua . . . operate again? She wanted you to go back into organised crime?”

    “That's about the length of it, yeah. She said a whole bunch of stuff, and some of it made a scary amount of sense, but that's pretty much what it boils down to. She gave me this spiel about how we were 'unjustly robbed of a magnificent opportunity' at the Sootopolis Crisis back there, and how 'the once-feared name of Team Aqua was destroyed, raped, spat on and left in the dust.' She had a funny way with words, that one. I almost got to agreeing with her for a few minutes, but then I came to my senses and kicked her out.”

    “Did she make any protest at that?”

    “Not at all. That's the weird part. After she was so keen to get in, she left pretty damn quickly. I guess she'd said her bit. She just told me that if I wanted to reconsider her offer, I should just go through Matt. You remember Matt, right? My old number two from back in the Aqua days.”

    “Nasty piece of work, that one,” Steven said lightly. “Still evading arrest. Do you know where he could be found?”

    “Well . . . I haven't seen hide nor hair of him for over a year now, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say the old hideout on that beach near Lilycove. I mean, he'd have to be pretty thick to actually hide out there – the cops know about it, of course – but I imagine he'd have checked in there once or twice, at least. Who knows, he might even have set up shop there anyway. Not the most buoyant ship in the fleet, that guy.”

    “I see. Well, this DC person must have assumed you'd be able to find him, at least. Still, I don't know how seriously we should take this threat. Evidently we've got a radical out there with some big ideas, but Aqua's not going to get up again without you. You know that, and so do I. I don't see any cause for concern at this stage, personally.”

    “I don't think you get it, Stone,” Archie said with a sharp laugh. “It's not me you should be worried about. Failing me, there's somebody else I'd go to if I were DC. Somebody who's been missing since the Crisis; somebody who wasn't quite so keen to be assimilated back into society. Someone who would be far happier to listen to her than me.”

    Steven sucked in a breath. The possibility hadn't even occurred to him. Now that Archie had brought it up, however, it seemed almost certain. He glanced across at Archie, who sat with one eyebrow cocked superiorly. Both men spoke at the same time.

    “Maxie Redwood.”

    ***


    “Maxie Redwood,” Flannery said accusingly, stepping out from the darkness of the passageway into the light.

    The red-haired man who had been bent over a crate some metres away when she entered spun, shock registering on his face as he saw the Gym Leader. He had once again donned a Team Magma uniform, an outfit practically unseen in Hoenn for over a year. “You! What-” he snarled.

    “There's a warrant out for your arrest, punk,” Flannery grinned, tapping another of the Poke Balls on her belt to release a different Pokemon. Much more confident than the timid Ponyta, her Arcanine roared boldly and stretched his lithe, leonine body, powerful muscles rippling beneath his black and orange pelt.

    A brief flicker of uncertainty flitted across Maxie's face, quickly chased away by a familiar determined grin. “And you're going to be the one to bring me in?” he challenged.

    “Damn right I am,” Flannery said, trying her best to hide how rattled she was. Maxie was a dangerous opponent and a known criminal. She would have to be on her guard in case he tried any tricks. “What are you doing here, anyway?” she asked, in an effort to distract herself as much as him.

    The small cavern they stood in had clearly once been a natural cavern, but the laborious efforts of Team Magma's grunts had widened and flattened it out into a workable headquarters, just like they had with the rest of the network. The crates behind Maxie were closed, but she made a mental note to find out what was in them. They had unofficial-looking, handwritten mail slips duct-taped to the tops of them, and she itched to know their destinations.

    “It's none of your business, little girl,” Maxie said tauntingly. “Just arranging a few little packages for delivery.”

    Without taking her eyes off Maxie, Flannery reached into her pocket and brought out her cellphone. She felt her way to the speed dial button and pressed it, holding the phone up to her ear to hear the dial tone. It barely rang for a second before being picked up.

    “This is PC Marx. What is your emergency?”

    “Will, this is Flannery.” She still made sure to keep her eyes fixed on Maxie, who in turn was eyeing the growling Arcanine warily. “I'm at the old Magma Hideout. Didn't you get the alert down at the station?”

    “We did, but everything looked normal on the monitor, so we figured it was a malfunction. We planned to send an officer down in the morning just to make sure . . . Why? Is there something up there after all?”

    The police must have only looked at the monitor after the door was closed, she realised. “Jackpot. I have one Maxie Redwood in my custody,” she told the officer with a hint of pride.

    “Maxie Redwood? The Maxie Redwood? Are you sure you're not making some mistake?” Wilhelm Marx sounded as if his excitement was about to break the roof of the police station. Then again, she considered, that was about normal for the young, impressionable policeman.

    “Yes, Will. Now please, for Mew's sake, send someone down here. Preferably several someones. I'm not sure if he has backup around or not,” said Flannery, the possibility only just occurring to her.

    “Roger that, General Flannery,” Will grumbled, clearly irked at being ordered around by a civilian. “Do you need me to stay on the line and provide emotional support until the officers get there?”

    “I- what?”

    “New policy,” he mumbled. “We have to ask when someone makes an emergency callout.”

    Flannery bit her lip to prevent herself from laughing out loud at Will's obvious discomfort. “I think I'll be fine, Will. Now hang up and dispatch.”

    “Yes, ma'am,” he said resignedly, and the line went dead. Flannery flicked her phone closed and slipped it back into her pocket.

    “So,” she said, with all the smugness and bravado she could muster, “got any little friends around?”

    “Depends what you mean by that,” Maxie said archly. Moving faster than she could have thought possible, he plucked a Poke Ball from his belt and threw it on the ground, where it burst open in a shower of red light, releasing his Camerupt, a Pokemon that had become almost as infamous as Maxie himself since the fall of Team Magma.

    Flannery grimaced uncomfortably. She was at a disadvantage, and she knew it. While her Arcanine was strong, Camerupt was a far more experienced battler. Maxie had to be at least forty, and all evidence pointed to the likelihood that he and Camerupt had been battling together for at least twenty years.

    “You think you can beat me?” he asked. “Well, normally I'd just shoot you, but I really don't want to damage any of my cargo.”

    “And a Pokemon battle won't?” she said, cocking an eyebrow. “I call bullshit.”

    Maxie growled angrily. “Fine. Think what you like. But there's no way you can defeat my Camerupt either way. You're at a type disadvantage, and besides, look around you. What do you see? Rock, that's what. Stone and earth. I'll snuff your fire out, girl. You and your Pokemon will be buried down here!”

    Flannery clenched her teeth. Maxie was serious. There had to be something she could do to ensure her victory, short of retreating, which would give Maxie the chance to escape. Then it hit her. In short order, she let her fingers dance along her belt, pressing the release switches on each of her remaining four Poke Balls. Arcanine was joined by Ponyta, Magcargo, Torkoal, and Houndour, all of which stared down Camerupt menacingly.

    Maxie's eyes widened. “I-interesting,” he said, his confidence apparently shaken. “I wouldn't have thought it would occur to a Gym Leader to deviate from official League rules . . .”

    “There are no rules when it comes to you, Maxie,” Flannery said, her own security boosted by the wall of formidable Fire-types between her and the miniature moving mountain that was Camerupt.

    Maxie's expression soured even further. “Fine!” he spat, tossing down two more Poke Balls. A black and grey canine bared its sharp fangs ar her, accompanied by an incensed-looking purple Pokemon that fluttered swiftly around the ceiling of the cavern on sharp, bladelike wings. “Crobat!” Maxie barked. “Get her!”

    Flannery's eyes widened as the Poison-type dived straight for her with a speed she wouldn't have thought possible. She didn't have time to move or react, but just as she closed her eyes and began to flinch away from he incoming attack, a gout of fire rumbled across in front of her. She felt the heat wash past her face, just barely avoiding singeing her fringe. Crobat swerved out of the way at the last second, evading the Flamethrower attack, but also losing its target.

    Houndour barked helpfully, wagging its stubby tail. “Thanks, boy,” she breathed. That was a close one. “Attack the Trainer directly, will you?” she demanded irritably. “Scum.”

    Maxie shrugged carelessly. “You said it yourself, bitch. No rules.”

    Flannery bit her lip. Fighting to retain control of her anger, she took a deep breath. She felt sweat break out on her forehead as her gaze flickered between Maxie and his three Pokemon, all of which held their positions – for now. She wasn't going to let them spring another surprise on her. Still, although she had numerical advantage, there was no way she could successfully command all five of her Pokemon at once in the heat of battle. She would just have to try her luck.

    “Fine,” she ground out. “No rules. But I'm taking you back with me, even if I have to drag your smoking corpse down the mountain!”

    ***


    “Shit,” Steven muttered, sitting back in his chair and rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. “If DC goes to Maxie next-”

    “Or if she went to him first,” Archie put in unhelpfully.

    “-then of course he'd go along with it! Why didn't I see that? He's been skulking around in the shadows ever since the Crisis. Of course he'd jump at the chance to reestablish Magma!”

    “Now you see why I came to you?” Archie grunted, knocking back the rest of his brandy.

    “Actually, no,” Steven said, taking his hands away from his eyes to glance over at the bulky man. “Why not just take this straight to the police? They're the ones you need to tell. I may be an Elite, but I'm still technically a civilian. I can't actually undertake an investigation. All I can do is just take what you've told me to the police.”

    “I don't trust them,” Archie said quietly. “You're a good sort, Stone. You spoke up for me after the Crisis, never mind what it might do to your reputation. The cops seemed far to eager to throw me behind bars for the rest of my life. And besides . . . I think DC's got contacts in the police. I don't want them to know I told anyone.”

    “What gave you that impression?” Steven asked curiously.

    “For one thing, she turned up exactly halfway between two times the cops were due to check up on me. You know, I'm on this kinda half home-detention thing. Cops check round twice a day. She turns up, bang, halfway between the two so she doesn't get picked up. For another, she knew exactly who I was and where I lived. Only the cops would have that sort of info. Nobody who lives in this area could recognise me, unless maybe if they talked to me, and even then they'd have to have been watching them news reports pretty closely. Call it a hunch, but I got the weirdest feeling she had someone inside.”

    Steven pondered this for a minute. It was highly unlikely that this DC person had anybody inside the police force, but then again, it was far from impossible. The Hoenn police force, while hardly corrupt, was certainly not the most efficient or organised institution in the world. It wouldn't have been hard at all to infiltrate and make a few files disappear for a couple of minutes. “I take your point,” he said slowly. “If she really is as much of a threat as you seem to think she is, we don't want her to know we're onto her. But all the same, I can't do much to help you. All I can do is use my contacts to keep a weather eye out for Team Magma activity. If I see the slightest hint that they're up to something, I'll jump on it. For now, though, I can't treat your warning as any more than just that.”

    “That's fine,” Archie shrugged. “I don't particularly care what goes down from now on, but I just thought you should get a heads-up. As long as I'm not involved, I'm happy with it. Nothing else I can do for you?”

    “Actually, if I could get you to write a transcript of as much of what this woman said to you as you can remember, and then send that to me, I'd be much obliged.”

    “If you think it'd help,” Archie nodded, standing and retrieving his still-dripping jacket from its hook behind the door.

    “I do,” Steven agreed. “On the off-chance that we are dealing with a serious threat here, every word counts. You're going, then?”

    “Yeah,” Archie said, already halfway out the door. “No reason to stick around any longer than I have to. Good luck, Steven. It was risky just coming out here to see you tonight.”

    “I appreciate it,” Steven said absently as the door closed, leaving nothing but a puddle of rainwater, an empty glass, and a puzzling brainteaser to remind Steven that Archie had even been there.

    ***


    Flannery ducked as a blast of flame scorched the air above her head. She wasn't sure which Pokemon it had come from, but there was no time to find out. Improvising on the go, she made a concerted effort to rally her troops – for, she realised, that might as well be what they were. She was a commander on the field of battle. While normally there was just a Trainer and one, maybe two Pokemon, she now found herself trying to coordinate five at once.

    “Torkoal, Magcargo, hold on in the middle there! Arcanine, Ponyta, try and get around the sides! Houndour, cover the back with some Flamethrower attacks!” To their credit, her Pokemon adapted to the situation as well as she could have hoped they would. Without needing to be directed into specific techniques – something for which she was endlessly grateful – her battalion of Fire-types spread out as she had ordered. While the cavern was low – the Magma grunts clearly had not thought a high, arching ceiling a necessary architectural feature – there was a surprising amount of room to maneouvre.

    Her two sturdiest Pokemon, Magcargo and Torkoal, remained directly in front of her. Magcargo breathed a small gout of flame which spread and solidified into an orange-tinted barrier that covered the area directly in front of it, while Torkoal braced its legs against the ground and steadied its shell, waiting for further orders. Arcanine and Ponyta, swift as the wind, but far more deadly, swept forwards on both sides, pinning Maxie and his Pokemon against their stack of crates.

    Arcanine roared and leapt for Mightyena's throat, its fangs gushing flames, while Ponyta loosed a blast of fire at the still-fluttering Crobat.

    “Evade!” Maxie hissed. Both of his Pokemon dove out of the way, but before either Arcanine or Ponyta could react, a double stream of fire blasted across the air from the mouths of Houndour and Torkoal, collecting both of Maxie's Pokemon as they hung in midair and smashing them against the wall behind Maxie, scorching and blistering.

    “Bitch!” Maxie swore and directed his charred Crobat towards Flannery's Arcanine. “Get it! Kill it! Poison it, something!” Wings whirring at impossible speed, the purple Pokemon shot towards Arcanine faster than Flannery's eyes could follow.

    “Move!” she shouted desperately. She knew how much damage a well-trained Crobat could inflict, and was in no mood to see one of her prized Pokemon on the receiving end of such an attack. Arcanine leapt, an orange blur to match the purple one, but Flannery could not tell whether it would be able to evade the attack.

    Ponyta, however, had not been idle. Recovering from the sudden movement of its intended victim, it turned its flames on Crobat, a second blast of fire clipping Maxie's Pokemon and sending it spinning off course.

    Unfortunately, Camerupt had not been snoozing either. “Blast them!” Maxie screamed, throwing himself backwards. In reply, Camerupt roared thunderously, fire exploding from its mouth and nose, as well as – far more worrying to Flannery – the twin volcanic craters on its back.

    Fire, all-consuming, ravaging fire, mushroomed up from the centre of the room, sucking up a large quantity of oxygen and almost blinding Flannery with its beautiful, terrible light. Panicking, Flannery instinctively threw her arms in front of her face as the fire approached, but just as the inferno was about to hit the mouth of the passageway where she stood, Magcargo thrummed mightily and upped its fire output. The gentle trickle of fire that had been feeding from its mouth into the protective screen in front of it intensified, becoming a torrent of white-hot lava that blasted forward in a wide arc, crashing through Camerupt's wall of fire and rolling across the enormous, blunt-nosed Pokemon like a wave.

    Camerupt roared again, this time in pain and confusion as it shook itself free of the rapidly cooling lava. Capitalising on its distraction, Torkoal and Houndour took the opportunity to blast it with powerful flames as well. Although Camerupt had some natural resistance to Fire-type moves, it was noticeably weakened by the onslaught.

    Maxie's face twisted in rage. “Mightyena!” he snarled. “Get in there!” When no response was forthcoming, he glanced around in confusion. Largely unaffected by Camerupt's scorching flames, Arcanine had pinned Mightyena to the wall with one powerful paw. The black and grey Pokemon struggled feebly, teeth bared in a ferocious grimace, eyes blazing red with defiance, but it was held firmly. Arcanine roared proudly.

    “Good work,” Flannery congratulated him. With Mightyena out of the picture, she definitely had the advantage.“Now we just need to-”

    “Enough of this!” Maxie roared, slashing his hand angrily through the air. “Camerupt, tear it all down! Earth Power!”

    Camerupt bellowed its rage and pain, the sound shaking the entire cavern. The vibrations, however, carried on after Camerupt fell silent, growing stronger and stronger. Chunks of rock started clattering to the floor, dislodged from the ceiling and walls by the fearsome shaking. Camerupt grunted and snorted, stamping its feet as it stood proudly amid the rockfall. Large cracks began to appear in the floor, the rumbling noise still growing ever louder.

    “Damn it, damn it, damn it all!” Flannery muttered, dancing backwards as the ground in front of her split in two, a hot red glow emanating from the chasm. The passageway was now shaking violently, making it hard to keep her balance. Her Pokemon looked around in alarm, but held their ground, waiting for orders.

    Flannery ground her teeth as she watched Maxie recall his Crobat and Mightyena, edging out of the room through a different exit to the one in which she stood. Could she chase him? Arcanine could probably catch him, she thought, but at what cost? It seemed Maxie was intent on bringing the whole hideout down, or even the whole mountain if he had to. If any of her Pokemon were caught in the devastating shifting of rock and earth, she would never forgive herself. “Return!” she called, thumbing the buttons on each of the Poke Balls attached to her belt.

    At least now I have only myself to worry about, she thought grimly as she eyed Camerupt warily. The crazy juddering of the cavern made it hard to think. Despite her instincts screaming at her to run, she hesitated in the doorway. Was there some way to find out what Maxie's 'cargo' had been? It was surely something important, and likely highly illegal.

    The police would have to deal with it after they dug the wreckage out, she decided as Maxie's Camerupt took a threatening step forward. It was almost impossible by now to see anything through the tangle of crumbling rocks and clods of earth that poured down from the ceiling. Most of the artificial lights that Maxie had been employing were no longer functioning, probably having been smashed by falling debris.

    Swearing loudly, Flannery turned and fled down the passage as it, too, began to collapse. The floor tilted slightly as she ran through the darkness, bouncing off rocky walls and scraping her knees and elbows. She stumbled and almost fell as something hard hit her on the shoulder.

    Ahead, she saw moonlight, pure and weak, defining the jagged entrance of the hideout. The glimpse lasted only a split second, however, as one of the multitude of rocks cascading around her struck her on the head. Pain flashed through her head, followed by a crushing blackness.
    Last edited by Seizon Senryaku; 12th August 2011 at 06:32 PM.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

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