“You’re not one of those people,” said Phoenix, as he walked up to Gellert. The girl was still cowering in her corner, frozen in fear. “You, unlike that Infernape over there, were entirely willing to go on this rampage.”* * *
“Wh-wh-what do you mean?” stammered the girl.
“I mean,” said Phoenix, showing the girl his unharmed left hand, “that I’m not about to do to you what I did to that guard.” He pointed at the Infernape again.
“You... turned him into a Pokémon?” said the girl.
“A cosplayer, but yes,” said Phoenix.
The girl started shrieking now. “Please don’t kill me! Do whatever you want, but don’t kill me!”
“Give him one good reason why,” said Ken, walking up to the girl.
“Or else...” said the girl, suddenly calming down again, “...that guard to your left won’t be nice.”
Gellert swung his head over to the left, causing the guard who had tried to sneak up on them to fly back into the wall. But then, the girl kicked Gellert in the shins, knocking him forward. Phoenix caught on, and immediately grabbed the girl, pushing her into a wall. “Nice try,” he said, as Gellert stood back up again.
“You’re really going to do it,” said the girl. “You’re really going to kill me.”
“No,” said Phoenix, motioning to Gellert to pull out a Pokeball from his belt. “We’re just going to send you on a little trip.”
Gellert threw open the Pokeball, revealing Hephaesto. Phoenix then let go of the girl, who immediately threw a punch at his face that was just as quickly blocked by Phoenix. Gellert came back in, and grabbed the girl in the same hold as he had grabbed the guard, causing the girl to yelp in fright. “Ready?” he asked Hephaesto.
“Ready,” replied Hephaesto. The three of them disappeared, leaving Rachel, Ken, and Phoenix, as well as the guard who was lying on the ground in the far end of the hallway.
“Okay...” said Rachel, looking confused.
“Let’s just keep walking,” said Phoenix. “Those two will deal with the girl as well as possible.”
Gellert, Hephaesto, and the girl appeared in a clearing. Gellert let go of the girl, who quickly started running away. She was stopped, running on the spot, and then tripping herself, falling onto the ground. She looked up at the two, faces dimmed in the glow of the moon. Hold on a second. It was daylight just an hour ago! Where had they taken her?
“It seems,” said Hephaesto, “that you were entirely willing to go on the rampage because you were turned evil by something.”
“So what?” said the girl, leaning on her hands. “I’m not about to change that!”
“Are you sure?” said Gellert. His eyes glowed, and suddenly, the wind started blowing gently.
The girl felt the wind. It was chilly and painful, cool and refreshing—what?
The wind suddenly felt chilly and painful again, as the girl struggled to crawl towards Gellert and Hephaesto.
“Now, this next part might be a bit freaky,” said Gellert, as he walked up to the girl. The girl, now too scared to speak, just whimpered in a cold sweat. The girl saw Gellert’s bladelike hands reach toward her head, and they just kept reaching, reaching, reaching... wait. Those arms were reaching way too far to still be outside of her head! But... where were they? Oh no, don’t tell me... She screamed, and suddenly woke up.
* * *
She was in a room now. It was a wooden room, with mahogany walls and bookshelf or two. A cuckoo clock ticked on the wall to her left. She then realized that she was lying on something. She got up, and looked down. It was a psychiatrist’s chair.
“So... Maria,” said a seemingly familiar voice. Maria started, and looked up to find a Gallade with glasses. “Now, now,” said the Gallade. “Face forward. Lie down.”
“How do you know my name?” asked Maria, as she faced forward and lay down, much to her own surprise.
“I read your mind,” said the Gallade. “Now, just calm yourself down, and tell me all about what happened to you when you were in school.”
Maria felt a lump dissolve in her chest that she didn’t even know was there. She felt a giant wave of relaxation now, as she lay down in the chair and started talking her thoughts.
* * *
As they kept walking down, they noticed that there were no more guards, or grunts popping out to attack them. “This just makes it scarier...” said Rachel, whimpering in fright. “At least when there are people around, you know that they’re there and that you have to fight them.”
They made it all the way to the staircase leading to the 23rd basement floor without a single guard jumping out at them. “Nobody there,” said Phoenix. “I wonder if they g—”
A door slammed open, followed by four grunts coming out at once. Phoenix whipped out the sticks he had gotten from the guards.
“You guys go down,” said Phoenix. “I’ll handle this.”
* * *
As Rachel and Ken ran past Phoenix, the guards all ganged up on him. “If we can take one down, the rest’ll be a piece of cake,” said the first guard.
Phoenix curled his fingers in a “bring it on” motion.
The guards all came upon Phoenix at the same time, brandishing their own sticks. The second guard swung down first, although about five centimetres too far to the front. Phoenix jumped back, and rebounded forward, holding out the sticks in front of him and ramming the second guard to the ground. As Phoenix was moving forward, one of the guards managed to swing a stick down and hit him in the back, knocking him to the ground. They started beating him, when suddenly, a light started glowing.
The ground shook, as Phoenix started to change form. “Look out!” said one guard, as they started running away.
The glow faded, revealing a Ho-oh in place of Phoenix. The Ho-oh flew in the cramped hallway, swooping at the guards. He hit one guard, knocking the guard into another one. He clawed up a third one, and spat fire at the fourth and last one. When on the ground again, his form changed back. “Well, that was close.”
* * *
As Rachel and Ken were running down the stairs, the doors opened and guards chased them. Suddenly, the ground started rumbling. “Hey, did you feel that?” said Ken.
“Yeah, but the guards are still gaining on us,” said Rachel. “We need to keep going down.”
* * *
Phoenix looked at what he had done – the guards had bloody gashes where the Ho-oh’s claws had raked on their skin, and one of them had a burn mark where the supposedly sacred fire had hit. He thought about how people thought that Ho-oh was pure and untarnished, and that he only appeared to people whose hearts were of the same condition. How wrong they are.
He looked to the left, and to the right, in case any more guards were coming along. None were, so he ran down the stairs in pursuit of Rachel and Ken.
* * *
“Are we almost there yet?” asked Rachel. They had gone down at least seven flights of stairs, and Rachel was starting to get tired of climbing. The guards were still after them.
“Well, didn’t the Infernape guy say that it was on the twenty-third floor down?” said Ken. “Speaking of that, where is he anyway?”
“Right here,” he said, making them both turn around suddenly.
“Don’t scare me like that, Suig—I mean, Infernape guy,” said Rachel.
They kept trudging down, and heard the guards. They started running, when Ken decided that he would take his Skarmory down. “Telia!” he said, calling her out. “Fly me down.”
“You too, Oiseau,” said Rachel, as she brought out her Swellow. They climbed on, and the birds flew the two down with ease. The Infernape-guard followed, leaping off the middle of each flight of stairs to land on the middle of the next.
As they reached the 23rd floor, another group of guards opened the door here, and began sending out Pokémon to attack Rachel, Ken, and the Infernape-guard.
* * *
“The machine is this way,” said the Infernape-guard, pointing them through the hallways. At this point, they kept coming across guards and grunts, and along with their Pokémon, they were sending blow after blow and slowly making their way toward the central machine.
They finally made it to the door. Even then, there were about seven guards waiting here, all with Manectric and Torkoal.
As soon as they stepped in, the Manectric began firing thunderbolts wildly. As Rachel and Ken ran forward, they avoided all the bolts, and Rachel threw a Pokeball at one of the Manectric, releasing her Sentret. “Curl up into a ball!” she called out to the Sentret.
“Defense curl!” said the Sentret, as it curled up, and started rolling forward like a supercharged bowling ball. She knocked into two Manectric and a Torkoal, sending them careening into the walls of this room. She reached the end of the wall and bounced back, stopping at Rachel’s feet. “You’re getting really good at that,” said Rachel.
“I do practise, you know,” said the Sentret.
* * *
They continued fighting the guards in this area, Rachel’s Sentret knocking into them like a bowling ball into pins. One group of ten guards even formed a triangle, and the Sentret knocked into the front one, causing all ten to fall to the ground. “Strike!” she said as the last one fell down.
By now, Phoenix had caught up, and was standing right next to the entrance, watching the spectacle of Rachel’s Sentret.
All the guards were now gone, and only one person was left standing besides Rachel, Ken, and Phoenix. She was standing next to a very large column in the middle of the room, on a raised platform.
“You’re that Alice girl!” said Rachel, recognizing her from the Cerulean museum.
“Damn, I’ve been discovered! Well, girl,” said Alice, “You’re not making it back out of here alive a second time.”
She threw out two Pokeballs, bringing out her Kingdra and her Flareon. Rachel and Ken brought out Suigun and Denchu respectively.
“Denchu, do a Thundershock on that Kingdra!” commanded Ken. His Pikachu was more than happy to oblige.
“Piii...ka chuuuuuuu!” The thunderbolts hit the Kingdra, but the Kingdra stood its ground. “Let’s do a Quick Attack instead!” said Ken. Denchu shot toward the Flareon this time, but the Flareon dodged it, landing on the Kingdra and crushing it. “What are you doing?” cried Alice to her Flareon, as the Kingdra fired water out of its mouth out of instinct.
“Suigun, use Hydro Pump!” said Rachel to Suigun.
“Counter with your own Hydro Pump!” called Alice to her Kingdra.
They both let out Hydro Pumps, and the two enormous jets of water collided. As they kept flowing, they sprayed water around everywhere. “Denchu!” said Ken. “Thunderbolt!”
Phoenix’s eyes widened. “No! Ken! What are you—” The lightning came out, and shocked everybody in the room in the vicinity. Phoenix was not one of them, thankfully, but everybody else fell on the ground.
They lay there, and Phoenix watched as another woman came down from the very large column.
“Diabla!” said Phoenix.
“Why,” said Diabla, “if it isn’t Phoenix! I haven’t seen you in years!” she exclaimed.
“What are you planning to do with the Templar?” asked Phoenix.
“Why, is it not obvious?” said Diabla. “I plan to use it to coerce governments all over the world to let women rule!”
“And... exactly how will it do that?” asked Phoenix, stalling for time as he reached into his belt and brought out three Pokeballs.
Diabla caught on, and pulled out three of her own Pokeballs. “That’s for you to find out,” she said, as out came a Staraptor, a Heracross, and a Rampardos.
“They’re... all female...” said Phoenix, looking at them. The Pokeballs were still in his hand, but Diabla wasted no time. “Staraptor!” she called to her Staraptor. “Before he has the chance! Attack him!”
The Staraptor swooped on Phoenix, knocking his arm out of the way and sending the Pokeball flying out his hand. It bounced on the ground, and stayed there. Both Phoenix and Diabla looked intently at it. It opened, and out came Phoenix’s Mawile.
The Staraptor needed no cue – it swooped down instantly toward the Mawile, diving at breakneck speed. Phoenix quickly paired up with his Mawile, and the Mawile turned its mouth forward and let out a Flash Cannon.
As this battle continued, Rachel got up, and looked. “Hey!” she said, recognizing Diabla’s face. “You’re that woman who gave me the key to room 321!”