(Taking place in a Pokemon-only world, this is a creative take at Pokemon. Be advised - this may involve significantly more serious themes than those shown in-games or anime/manga, although it's still pretty much suitable for the Teen rating)
At that time of the day, the sun was roasting the arid lands mercilessly. The temperature of the desert during daytime was enough to repel any life other than the Pokemon of the rock and fire types. Nobody wanted to cross this desert, and those who did want to cross, they did it with Megaera Express. It was a newly designed vehicle of fast travel that resembled the trains of the 19th century, only it worked much differently.
Two Pokemon that weren't aboard the Megaera Express had crossed the desert, following the railroad to the north. Once they were half across the dead lands, they settled behind a rock spire of a mountain that shot upwards from the ground like the end of a spade. Its shadow was the most welcome thing, besides water, in that desert. Sitting in the shadow of that big hunk of rock, the travelers stayed quiet, waiting and waiting, occasionally checking the portable clocks that were tied on their wrists. One of them was a Monferno in a black fireproof cloak with a hood and white lining all the way down its ends. A belt with a compass and a red sash were fastened on his thin waist. His tail was cut off, the cloak covering his back entirely. He seemed like the Pokemon who had lots of energy to spare, as he was going through the vivid age of youth. His arrogant grin lit his entire face up.
The one besides him was a Scrafty, evidently older than his partner, though their minds were at the same age. He had a permanent sly expression stuck on his face; one didn't need to look at his species to tell he was a thief. Like his partner, he was wearing a black cloak with a hood and trousers that crawled around him every time he started walking. The red sash fastened on his waist concealed a belt with multiple sheaths full of daggers. He was turning his head to the south every two minutes, peering nervously at the railroad, where they had come from. These two Pokemon expected the Megaera Express would be coming shortly, its destination Alamagna. But it wouldn't be going any further. Massive rocks were blocking the railroad, precisely put to be visible from a distance, so the train could stop in time. No wondering whose doing that was.
"Yo, Graves," the Scrafty called in a shaky voice, after he peered behind the rock the last time. "I think the train's coming."
The Monferno named Graves stayed sat down, with his lazy gaze fixed forward to his yonder. He was holding his empty belly and had the most bored of expressions. "It's just your imagination, dude."
"No, no, Megaera's really coming!"
Graves was forced to stand up. "You'd better be right! I'm gonna claw your eyeballs off if you made me get up for nothing," he yelled and they both chuckled. As the Monferno peered at the desert of the south, he saw the massive cloud of sand that many feet were shooting up, and in the middle, a shadow the size of the train. It was truly Megaera.
"At long fucking last! Man, Steve, I'm tellin' you, I was startin' to sweat," he exclaimed and bolted down the hill, where they had placed the rocks that blocked the railways. His partner followed after him and stood beside him, grabbing the lining of his cloak and putting one foot on a rock. He thought he looked cool in that stance.
"You, sweat? No way!" he said with doubt. He was right to doubt his friend's sayings, as he was a Monferno. A fire type, who didn't sweat. They both put their hoods on, which engulfed their faces in darkness; they were low enough to block the sun that was hitting them directly.
"Focus, our royal cargo is comin’." He chuckled at the thought.
The shadow on the cloud became bigger as it neared them, until the train itself was visible. Megaera was a wooden train with many wagons, but instead of steam, it was moving with the incredible power of Pokemon themselves – the reins of multiple Dodrios were tied on the lead wagon, more than fifty of them, and they were able to drag the whole train with them at an awesome speed. As the train approached, the two outlaws could see see the driver: a Hypno who was using his psychic powers to grasp all the reins of the Dodrios. When the driver took notice of them, the whole train started slowing down as he pulled the reins back.
Graves had a wicked grin on his face, looking at Megaera with a nerve that was still unmatched in the desert. The Scrafty next to him laughed when he saw the expression of the Hypno as Megaera stopped completely. Many heads appeared from the sides of the train, looking outside the windows.
"Move those rocks outt’ the way! What is the meaning of this?!" the Hypno shouted.
"Heist, ever heard of it?" Graves asked bluntly; he loved announcing his robberies in such a way, and he had done it many times in the past. Though this wasn’t exactly a robbery. The Hypno started laughing, slapping his hand on his knee.
"Please! You two pups can't rob a grocery store!"
Meanwhile, the two thieves had walked past the tamed Dodrios that were occasionally letting out shrieks, wondering why they had stopped before their destination. They were wild Pokemon, not capable of speech. As they neared the Hypno on top of the first wagon, the psychic Pokemon raised a warning hand.
"One more step and I'll fry your brains."
"One more word and you die," Graves said in the same, bored tone, as he kept walking to the lead wagon. The Hypno started laughing again, but his laughter was abruptly cut; a dark figure was standing behind him, hugging him. Big black claws emerged from the driver's belly and hot blood dripped down it. He looked at them aghast, acknowledging his death before he was thrown out of the wagon, on the hot sand of the desert. Some of the passengers had started screaming, some even jumped out of the windows. The Hypno didn't even have the chance to look at the Zangoose in a cloak identical to Graves' and Steve's, with a hood concealing his face.
"Williams!" Steve shouted, "right on time, eh?"
The reins that bound the Dodrios had fallen on the ground after the Hypno's powers had faded, but the birds stayed where they were, thinking they were still imprisoned. Graves didn't greet their mate; instead, he picked up four reins and led their Dodrios away from the herd, tying them to the wagon tightly. Then, he shot a tongue of flames to the other Dodrios. They quickly scattered, screeching, sensing the danger. Soon, many of them had disappeared in the horizon. The four remaining ones were still tied in front of the wagon.
"Make haste," Williams the Zangoose ordered Graves, who smirked in annoyance. He stared back at him. The Zangoose had deep, lifeless black eyes, spiky facial fur and perky ears; a thunder-like scar ran down his left eye. His abrupt, unsmiling demeanor often scared people, but not Graves and his gang. Sometimes he forgot who was the boss, but Graves forgave him for that. Williams was several years older than both him and Steven, and he was definitely the most mature of them.
"I'm just freeing the poor Pokemon," Graves replied, "we claim to be free folk, don’t we? They don't deserve this life."
"How about speeding up their liberation, ‘cause we’ll soon drown in terrified passengers? Have you taken leave of your wits, Graves?”
"Chill, Willy," said the Scrafty as he jumped on the Hypno’s platform.
"Yeah man, they're in good hands, don'tcha think?" Graves followed them inside the first wagon through the door. It was empty of passengers, as it only carried papers - the Post, no doubt. Letters and stuff, all useless to them. “How’s our Princess?”
"My sister is sick of waiting,” Williams replied.
"I’m sure she’ll be happy to see me," Graves said with a smile drunken with the remembrance of the beauty, the fourth member of their gang. She, along with her brother, had boarded the Megaera Express, Williams in disguise.
They passed through the papers of the first wagon quickly, then walked to the next, which was full of frightened passengers. Graves raised his hands in the air.
"Calm down, nobody's gonna get hurt. We ain't here to steal from you," he shouted and walked past them along with the others. He did that to every wagon he passed through. Some Pokemon attacked them, but Steven put them out of commission with his bare hands by hitting their pressure points. At the door of the very last wagon of the train, which was empty, an exceptionally beautiful young Weavile was standing, a red sash identical to theirs fastened around her thin waist. Graves' face was brightened with a cocky grin the moment he saw her.
"Lookin' beautiful, Princess Diana," he said, grabbing her cold hand and bringing it inside his dark hood in order to land a hot kiss on it. He noticed she was flattered by the blush that crept up her cheeks momentarily, but she hid it quickly.
"Knock it off, Graves," she exclaimed, wrenching her hand away from his. "We're doing business here.”
"Right," the Monferno said and got serious out of a sudden. All this time he had ignored William's black stare that condemned him from having a little fun with his sister, but now he would grant him the favor of staying away.
"My dear husband-to-be is locked up," the Princess said in a wicked tone. Graves was sure she would rather be rid of her husband-to-be as soon as possible. “Don’t worry about my guard,” she looked up to Graves innocently, “I killed them all.”
The Monferno let out a gust of laughter and pinched her cheek. “You’re the bomb!”
"Aw man, this should be fun," Steve exclaimed, staring at the door behind the Weavile impatiently.
"You heard her, this is serious," the Zangoose yelled at his face. Graves walked besides Princess Diana and her brother, knocking open the wooden door with a kick that blew it off its hinges. This wagon was completely covered in red cushion and leather, along with golden furniture. The drawers were calling to him. ‘Graves, help us, the gold we carry is so heavy,’ he clutched, quietly promising to free them of that burden once they were done and over. Bodies of multiple Pokemon with white capes lay on the floor, staining the carpet with blood. The Protectors of the Princess, taken by surprise by the Princess herself.
Somewhere to the back of the wagon, a desperate cry sounded. Behind the sofa, precisely, if Graves’s ears could be trusted. He knew what he would find behind the sofa. A little lordling, a craven who was to marry the precious Princess of Hesperia; one day, that coward would rule Hesperia, if he got to marry Diana. But of course, Graves and his gang couldn’t abide that. Especially Princess Diana.
"Hey, Damian," Graves exclaimed in a cheerful tone as he walked through the wagon, "where are your Protectors? Did Diana free this train of them all?"
Diana giggled and looked down on the stained carpet. She truly had lived up to her reputation - Princess or not, she was still a vicious little thing. Damian, meanwhile, didn't answer; Graves leaned over the handle of the sofa, to find a small Lopunny cowering behind. He grabbed him from the throat and raised him up, so their eyes were at the same height.
"No!" he choked, "let me go, you maniac!"
Graves started laughing, but his eyes flashed with fury. His temperature was rising, his pulsating energy infused into the rodent through his hand. "Handsome little lordling… you pissed us off, you know," he whispered, gritting his teeth. Their faces were so close, Graves could smell the perfume of mint the aristocrat was using; it made great contrast with his own foul breath.
"Now, tell me... where is it?"
His whole gang had bundled up behind him, staring at lord Damian with disgust, even Princess Diana who was to marry him when they arrived at Alamagna.
"Wh-what?!" he stuttered, gasping for air. Williams brought his hand down in a vicious back hand slap that almost dislocated the Lopunny’s jaw; his mouth was bloodied and his teeth a mess. Graves had always warned his friend about being violent when questioning, but it was no use; the Zangoose was exceptionally strong and didn’t have a firm sense of his own power. Their captive whimpered and spat blood. The Zangoose crouched next to Graves to stare threateningly into the Lopunny with his black, lifeless eyes, the way he always did; he looked effectively scary, then.
"You’re thinking us fools, aren’t you?" Williams yelled in his face. "Where is it?!"
"The darkstar?" Graves added, as to get things going. His mind recalled the image of the dark gems called darkstars, the crystals with the awesome powers they were after. Not many knew of their existence, but those who did hunted them down like crazed animals.
"I'm afraid it just left," said the lordling said, mustering his courage to give them a crooked, bloodied smile.
"Graves!" Steve shouted and the Monferno turned to see the Scrafty pointing outside the window. A stream of sand was shot in the air by a Dodrio and its rider, soon to vanish from sight. Graves knew they wouldn’t catch him now. Fury took over him.
"You will die," he said behind his teeth, "knowing that the deed was done by the Hashashin."
Damian’s eyes opened wide to see him putting on the insignia of the Hashashin in the middle of his red sash. The Pokemon around him did the same, even Princess Diana, who tucked the insignia on her shoulder like a medal. The revelation struck the councilor hard. Hesperians knew Graves and his gang as nothing but pesky thieves and outlaws that robbed banks and trains. Nobody would expect them to belong to the Hashashin. And Princess Diana... the beloved daughter of Rosa, was amongst the Hashashin. And that one besides her? The Zangoose, he looked much like Angelo Imperatore... of course. The lost Prince. Prince Angelo II. The Hashashin are taking the Princess, just like they took the Prince years ago.
These were the last thoughts of lord Damian, before the Monferno fried him alive with his breath. Graves smashed him against the wooden floor, breaking it and throwing his burning body on the rails below the wagon. He spat on the burning and screaming Pokemon below him, before turning away.
"Princess Diana," he uttered in a serious manner that always made his peers silent, "are you ready to be one of us?”
The beautiful Weavile nodded readily. Graves had waited for this moment a long time. He offered his hand to the lady and she grabbed it tightly, as if she wanted to break his hand. They locked eyes with each other, an intense gaze. The Princess first noted that his eyes were deep sparkling green, despite his species. His eyes were the only thing he inherited that he felt proud about.
“Pledge to us, now… by doing that, you give your life for our sacred cause.”
She nodded, already knowing what would follow.
“Do you swear… to protect your brothers and sisters and their secret identity? To protect the Brotherhood from all those who mean to harm it?”
“Do you swear… to heed our Master with unquestioned obedience, and carry out his orders with no second thought, and never hinder us in any way?”
“Do you swear… to guard the ancient secret of the darkstars, and to kill those aware of it, but don’t belong to our Brotherhood?”
Graves gave her his half smile, noticing her beautiful ruby eyes. They looked each other in a tension that had nothing to do with the vows she had just said. "By joining the Hashashin, you join our gang as well,” he muttered finally, overwhelmed by her looks for just a moment. “What will your nickname be?"
"My nickname? …"
"Your nickname, sweetcheeks. Remember? We named your brother William." When the Master stole him from the clutches of Queen Rosa, the Zangoose wanted to rid of his name Angelo so badly, that in his haste, he accepted the first name their Master called him. He was no more than five years old then.
"My name... I always liked 'Bonnie'."
Graves let out a laugh, approving. "Bonnie it is!" Bonnie. Sounds catchy.
"Welcome to the gang!" Steve shouted and patted the Weavile’s slender shoulder vigorously. He didn't seem much like a thief at all now; rather, he looked like a cheerful, harmless child.
"Ugh, thank Arceus I don't have to go to Alamagna," the Weavile said. Graves laughed again, thinking of her having to cope with all the aristocrats of Stygia that had would be gathering in her wedding, and the party afterwards. Nope, these guys didn't know how to party.
"Gang," Williams said, gesturing his head towards the door that led to the other wagons of the train. "Let's get going. If we are not giving chase to the gem, we ought to get back to Nevermore."
"Right," Graves said with a smile brimming with the charm of his ancestor. The fury from before had melted, like the little lord’s life. He didn’t give a handful of coins for some crystal they had to chase and protect. The vows you had to say as an Hashashin were still just vows that Graves didn’t take seriously. Now, he was only glad Diana had joined them. Or rather, Bonnie. "Our Dodrios await, mates."
Graves headed first towards the exit of the wagon, but he stopped next to the drawers and opened one. He and his mates grabbed handful of jewels; everyone, except Steve. The Scrafty had taken the food cart that supplied the royal cabin and filled it with gold and jewels. Graves didn't scold him, as he knew what would happen next.
"Put your insignias away," Graves ordered them and they all heeded his command. Supportive or not, the people didn't need to know they were Hashashin. Once Steve had put the insignia of the Hashashin away, he bolted outside the cabin, pushing the food cart. Soon, the passengers let out cheers of joy and Steve returned with a fool’s grin on his face; the gang's number two rule was, help the people. Steve would always share their loot with them, or destroy debt papers when they robbed banks. The number one rule of theirs was, never steal or hurt innocents. As a thieving gang, they were only targeting the rich and corrupted, and as Hashashin, they killed those aware of their dark secret.
The Pokemon on the train greeted them with cheers, right until they hopped on their Dodrios and faded to the distance, where the darkstar had gone off to. Then, the Pokemon realized that with no Dodrios and driver, the Megaera Express was stuck in the middle of the desert. But, like Graves would say afterwards, that was a small price to pay for the liberation of the Dodrios and the safe retrieval of the Princess. He could care less about some crystal that got away.