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Thread: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 68

  1. #181
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 55

    This is a review of the prologue & the first blog, as requested on the Review Game.

    For the prologue, I thought it was a great hook, with whatever Gideon had been working on very much the ultimate plot point in the story. I found it great that it wasn't capitalised on as much as one would expect, but wasn't neglected either. As expected from you, great description throughout; it doesn't pander to the readers, and that is a difficult thing to master. Some word confusion is scattered, but it's not enough to take you out of the story.

    My only other complaint is John and Arthur. They will probably be important characters later on in the story, but they haven't done anything memorable, and unlike Gideon, they seem to have been pushed to the back of the story. But as I said before; the prologue was great the way it was, so giving them attention would probably detract from the prologue, and removes the compact feel that, in my opinion, all prologues should have.

    Moving to the first blog is almost like reading a different story. By its nature, blogs are different from fiction, but I like the healthy mix you got here, especially because of Alaska's deconstructive views. I love stories that aim to parody or lampshade a genre, and seeing it be implemented as a personality trait for the main character is a refreshing way of doing it. However, what I feel this blog does really well is give us a sense of how naive Alaska is, which is often neglected in journey stories. As any starting character, she has a lot to learn, and I'm glad that came across in the first blog.

    Very few mistakes are scattered around the chapter, but like the prologue, they're don't detract from the story. I'm quite interested now, and I will continue to the first chapter and beyond when I have the time!

  2. #182
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 55

    Thanks for the feedback, very much appreciated :) I have a habit of introducing characters and accidentally making them see more worthwhile then they are: John and Arthur do appear again (one of them does, at least), but they were meant mostly to just set up the scene for this one/give some exposition as to what happened. If I had thought through their role properly I probably would have given them a more prominent role, now that you bring it up - something I will definitely keep an eye on for later.

    The rest was largely complimentary, so thank you for that, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series should you keep going :) I hope Alaska and this semi parody of journey fics continues to feel refreshing for you as you venture with her!

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 55

    It has been another long break, but I can promise that there will be a minimum of another two chapters before the end of the month to make up for the break and help us move along to a big Saffron arc where a few plotlines are going to come together. I hope you enjoy a further look inside Sandy's mind!



    Chapter Fifty Six: Something Fishy This Way Comes

    "If I lose all my stuff, I am kicking you in the face."

    Sandy heard Alaska's warning and knew it was being directed towards Mitchell, even though she knew he was not who her friend was really angry with. I am sorry Alaska, but I need to do this, Sandy thought as she positioned herself on the muddy island, wishing they both had the courage to say what they truly felt…

    "If you kick me in the face, I will tell my mum, and she will tell your mum, and then you'll be sorry!" Mitchell retorted, beginning to act perkier now that his battle was over and someone else was facing Barney.

    "We are all the way on the other side of Kanto; I could kick you in the face a million times and they wouldn't find out for months," Alaska replied with a devilish smile that made Mitchell shiver, and Sandy could tell she was enjoying tormenting the small child. The blonde haired girl smiled, glad Alaska was making jokes once more and that she was beginning to revert to her old self. Something had happened after she had freed Darwin and fled off into the storm, and while Alaska remained cagey on the subject and said it was just an 'epiphany', Sandy knew it had been beneficial for her friend.

    "Are we actually going to battle or stand around and stare at the sea?" Barney croaked from his side of the field. Sandy pushed all thoughts of Alaska out of her mind and got into battle mode; she had to focus on beating the fisherman and saving their belongings. She had a strategy in mind, and it was going to be risky, Sandy was certain it would pay off in the end… it had to.

    "I'm ready – let's get started!" She called out, her two PokeBalls in hand, and Barney flashed his disgusting, black toothed smile at her.

    "Very well then, my pretty – Seaking, Poliwag, let's go!" The two Apricorn Balls spiralled forwards, and they opened with less flash like modern balls, white energy pouring out and forming on the field. Sandy knew what both Pokemon looked like and there were no surprises with Poliwag: it was small and blue with a spiralled pattern on its chest, with no arms and tiny legs so it would resemble a beach ball if it did have a long, slim white tail protruding from its back. Seaking, who formed alongside, was a larger version of Goldeen with a longer horn, bigger tail fin, and same colour scheme as its pre-evolution asides from darker red splotches. However, while Sandy knew Seaking were considerably bigger than Goldeen, this one was huge; it looked as though it weighed more than her, Alaska and Mitchell put together, and was roughly the same size as Onix's head. Sandy gulped, thinking of the size and weight of her own Pokemon, and wondered if her Rock Snake may be a better choice…

    No, think of type advantages! She told herself, quickly shaking away the foolish idea. I need a chance at winning this, and Onix cant' me that. I have to win this, for Alaska, for Mitchell, for myself…

    "Bellsprout and Pichu, I choose you!" Sandy yelled, and she threw her two PokeBalls forwards. Her two Pokemon quickly formed, with Bellsprout healed from her earlier battle, while Pichu's small stature was emphasized as he stood on a muddy patch, looking around in confusion as if he had just woken up.

    "A Grass and an Electric type, smart move," Barney stated with a slight grunt, and Sandy could see he was already put off at his disadvantage. However, he did not know Bellsprout had minimal battle experience, or that this was the first time Pichu was battling competitively. Sandy had tried training him, and with some success he had fought and damaged Butterfree, but the Tiny Mouse Pokemon was still far from mastering the few moves he did know. He was still young and temperamental, and Sandy was not sure how he would react fighting proper opponents. However, he did have a super effective move on his hands, and it could make all the difference in this battle.

    "Sandy, are you mad?" Alaska hissed, and Sandy turned to find her friend standing right next to her, smiling so everything looked fine but her teeth were clenched and her eyes burned with rage. "I thought you would have at least sent Butterfree out, she is your most experienced Pokemon! Hell, even Onix could do better than Pichu in this situation –"

    "You have to trust me on this!" Sandy replied, smiling as well but was struggling to hide her own shock; how could Alaska say something like that, after everything they had been through together? Did she still not trust Sandy after all this time?

    "How can when you make decisions like this?" Alaska whispered. "Do you remember what is at stake here? This is not a situation you can afford to take risks in! God, you should have let me fight!" Sandy was shocked, and for a second she let her sadness show. However, she remembered the wicked mind she was facing and quickly straightened her expression, but the words still cut deep.

    "Alaska, I have always trusted your battle calls! I have never once criticized you; not for sending Pidgeotto out against Surge, not for relying on burning down Alexis' gym to secure a win, not even when we faced Gideon! I would have been well within my rights to call you out, but I never did, so you owe me the same damn courtesy!" And Sandy turned away before the tears started flowing, though she briefly caught Alaska's startled expression. She never liked confronting people, it always made her feel terrible, but Sandy almost felt good about saying that… though that made her feel bad…

    "Are we battling or what?" Barney snapped. "I have other things to do today, y'know!"

    "Oh really? I am sure that a decrepit old coot living on the edge of the world really has a busy day ahead!" Sandy snapped, letting her anger and confusion slip out, but she gasped and clasped her hands to her mouth as soon as she heard what she said. Barney's jaw dropped, Mitchell 'ooohed' from the sidelines, and even Bellsprout turned around, her eyes wider than normal.

    "Oh, you little bitch!" Barney hissed. "I will make you pay for that one! I am starting this battle, I am sick of waiting – Seaking, ready Skull Bash, and Poliwag use DoubleSlap on Bellsprout!" Sandy was worried; she had known the battle would be difficult, but after insulting her opponent, any chance Barney would easy on her was gone. The massive Seaking shifted his weight so his horn was pointing straight forwards, and it began to glow white, pulsating energy that began to encircle his body.

    I must focus, I can't let this get in the way, she told herself. We can win this, no matter what he throws our way!

    "Bellsprout use Magical Leaf on Seaking! Pichu, begin with Quick Attack on Poliwag!" Sandy commanded, and she felt reassured as soon as her Pokemon began to move. Pichu still looked a bit absent, but he seemed aware he was in a battle now and gazed around before spotting Poliwag, and he quickly got into gear.

    "CHU!" He cried, a high pitched squeal that nearly made Sandy 'awww', and the Electric type sprinted towards Poliwag. He slammed into the spherical Pokemon with enough force to knock her over, but she rolled back onto her feet and Poliwag looked more bothered about getting muddy than the fact she was attacked.

    "BellBellBell!" Bellsprout called as her leaves began to flicker different colours, and she spun her body around, multiple leaves shooting off and rocketing towards Seaking. The Water type winced and emitted a low groan as the attack hit, but it did not seem to do as much damage as Sandy would have liked.

    "POLIIII!" Poliwag shouted, and she leapt forwards. She began to spin as Bellsprout landed, and her tail came around, smacking the Flower Pokemon across the face. Bellsprout stumbled over, but the swirling Pokemon managed two more hits before landing on her feet. Sandy was stunned to see how disorientated Bellsprout now was, the Grass type's thin body wobbling as she tried to recover from the brutal slapping.

    "One attack and it's already getting weak!" Barney sneered with a malicious smile, and Sandy angrily glared back at him, refusing to let herself get bullied.

    "You can do this Bellsprout! Just stand your ground and focus!" She called. Bellsprout stopped moving and managed a no before turning back around, and she pushed her stick like legs into the ground to ensure her balance.

    "That won't save her from my Pokemon! Skull Bash on Bellsprout, and Poliwag use Mud Shot on Pichu!" Barney ordered, and Sandy resisted the urge to curse, taken aback by Poliwag's super effective move; things were definitely intense now.

    "Alright Pichu, you use Slam on Poliwag, and Bellsprout use Vine Whip on Seaking!" She cried. Her Pokemon readied themselves to attack but their opponents were already in action. Seaking suddenly shot forwards without order; the white energy that had surrounded him was used to propel himself forwards, and Sandy watched as the Goldfish Pokemon moved like a great white and red rocket heading for Bellsprout.

    "KIIIIIING!" Seaking boomed as he approached. Bellsprout looked stunned and extend her arms out, trying to use Vine Whip as defensively rather than offensively, but it was no use; Seaking slammed into her, and Sandy gasped as her Grass type was sent careering through the mud, splattering it everywhere, and the force of the attack sent her rolling for metres, nearly over the edge, Seaking sliding right after her.

    "WAAAAG!" Sandy turned back and witnessed as Poliwag whacked her tail onto the field, and suddenly a column of mud was flying forwards. An oblivious Pichu was still running forwards to attack, and the attack hit him head on, covering him in mud and blasting him backwards.

    "Two Pokemon easily brought down!" Barney yelled, and he began to cackle, clearly enjoying his easy victory. Sandy was beginning to get nervous; her Pokemon were easily being overpowered, her type advantage going out the window against stronger attacks and a field that could be used against them.

    There has to be something I can do… Sandy thought. I have been studying for this journey for years; I have to have learnt something that I can use here!

    "Now Seaking, use Poison Jab while you have that thing trapped! Poliwag, DoubleSlap on Pichu!" Barney ordered. Sandy turned to Bellsprout and Seaking, unable to see the Flower Pokemon beneath all the mud, but she could see the purple glow of Seaking's horn as he readied to strike. She could see how close the two were, and an idea finally formed in her mind.

    "Fire a Sleep Powder into his face!" Sandy commanded. "Pichu, use Quick Attack and then cling onto Poliwag's head!" Pichu quickly, almost magically, burst out from the mud and collided directly into a nearby Poliwag. Sandy was delighted by the ease of that attack, but there was a much trickier battle occurring behind her.

    "Get away from there Seaking!" Barney yelled, and Sandy smiled to herself as that was exactly what she wanted; Bellsprout was a sitting flower trapped beneath Seaking like that, so she had hoped the threat of sleep would get the Water type to move.

    "Sprout!" Bellsprout cried as she fired the particles, but Seaking used his fins to slide backwards, the field so muddy it was more liquid than solid.

    "Get out of there!" Sandy yelled, and Bellsprout pushed herself up, her body completely coat in mud. Seaking was ready to strike, his horn now a similar shade to Sandy's dress, but Sandy had seen how effective the mud had been for him. "Slide forwards!" She ordered, and before Seaking could move, Bellsprout ran and dived into the mud; her light body slid across the surface, and she used her leaves as flippers to propel herself across. She was low to the ground now, and though Seaking chased after, there was no way his horn could get low enough to hit Bellsprout.

    Grinning, Sandy turned to find Pichu clinging onto Poliwag's head and refusing to let go, even though the Tadpole Pokemon was desperately trying to fling him off. She could not use DoubleSlap without risking injuring herself, and Pichu went through the turn unscathed. Barney looked irritated, and Sandy could have skipped in delight; the battle was starting to go her way, and she had a chance to actually win this.

    "Neat tricks, but that's all those were; silly little moves you won't pull off again!" The old man warned. "Waterfall on Bellsprout and Mud Shot on Pichu!"

    "Pichu use Slam on Poliwag and Bellsprout use Magical Leaf on Seaking!" Sandy called. Bellsprout jumped back to her feet and turned around to face her opponent, but Seaking was clearly as into the battle as his trainer, and he quickly slammed his fins, now glowing a bright shade of blue, onto the muddy field. A column of water suddenly erupted underneath Bellsprout and she fired at least three metres into the air.

    "BEEELLLLL!" She cried, and Sandy watched in horror as Bellsprout was bounced around by the attack, unable to escape from the never ending column.

    "ChuChu!" Pichu cried to her left, and Sandy turned as Pichu sprung up from Poliwag's head, rising up nearly a metre, before crashing down on top of the Water type. The Tiny Mouse Pokemon laughed in delight at Poliwag's jiggling body, but his smile turned to fright as Poliwag finally threw him off with her tail.

    "WAAAG!" She cried, forcing him to the ground, and she unleashed the Mud Shot directly onto the baby Pokemon. Pichu wailed as he was sent soaring backwards in a shower of wet earth, splattering Sandy and Seaking as he went by.

    "Pichu!" Sandy cried as he crashed to the ground, completely buried by the mud. She wanted to go and comfort him, but Seaking moved into her path, smiling as maliciously as Barney did. There was a soft thud from behind, and Sandy turned back to find the Waterfall had disappeared; while Bellsprout had been cleaned of the mud, she now lay unmoving on the field, her eyes barely open.

    No… this can't be… Sandy thought, and she felt on the verge of tears as she looked between her two Pokemon, both looking so fallen and defeated. She was foolish to have gotten her hopes up the last turn, there was still a long way to go until she could win this, but Sandy could not help but wonder if she had been foolish all along…

    You can't train Pokemon; this is a fact, Alex, one you need to grow up and accept! Do you really think you can protect yourself with a Metapod? You'll get that thing killed and then yourself, and I won't be able to come and rescue you! Do you really want to die in the middle of a route, where the chances are higher something will find you and eat you before the police can get to you? You walk out that door and you are kissing your life goodbye Alex…

    "Can you stop daydreaming like some ditzy tart and focus on our battle?!" Barney snapped. Sandy barely paid attention to him as her father's words swirled across her mind. She had never listened to him before, having always thought he was just overreacting, but this battle could very well prove him right; what would happen if she did get defeated here? How could she live without her supplies, without food or shelter or clean clothing? If Sandy lost, she would simply prove him right at the same time as confirming her death sentence.

    I will just have to prove him wrong then, she thought defiantly. I have not survived terrorists and killer robots to let myself get beaten by some crusty, unstable old fisherman! If I take one Pokemon down first, then it could be easier…

    "I am not waiting any longer! Seaking use Waterfall again, I liked that way the flower danced, and Poliwag finish that Pichu off with another Mud Shot!"

    "Bellsprout use Magical Leaf and Pichu use Volt Tackle, both on Poliwag!" Sandy ordered. Barney's face dropped in surprise, and Sandy managed to perk up, but she would not declare this a victory until Poliwag had fainted. Seaking unleashed the Waterfall again, remaining backwards possibly to avoid any attacks, and Bellsprout was fired back into the air. She began to bounce around again and Sandy was worried she would not survive, but was relieved when she saw something glow, and seconds later a barrage of leaves soared down from the Waterfall, smacking Poliwag right in her spiral and sending her skidding through the grass and mud.

    Now came the difficult part. Sandy turned around to face Pichu, and found the little yellow Pokemon had gotten back to his feet, though he was wobbling slightly, struggling to remain upright. Sandy knew that using Volt Tackle would likely knock him out as well, and that was a huge gamble to take, but so was using Pichu in the first place. Half the time when Butterfree had attacked him in training, Pichu had either burst into tears or gotten into a mood and refused to carry on. He was starting to look pouty, but Magical Leaf had not been enough to take Poliwag out and Volt Tackle was necessary.

    "You can do this Pichu!" She called out, and her Pokemon looked up at her. "You have the advantage, you have the strength to make it work, but you just need to access that power and show us what you can do!" Sandy put on such an encouraging smile that it made her face hurt, and she could only hope Pichu would respond.

    "Do it now Poliwag before he moves!" Barney ordered, and Sandy briefly turned away, watching as Poliwag started to run forwards and bring the attack to Pichu. She was nervous Pichu was not going to act, but when she looked back, it seemed the Electric type was not going to stand around and get attacked.

    "Pi Pi Pi!" He yelled, and he ran forwards with steely determination Sandy had not seen from him before. Pichu began to glow yellow as he sprinted past Seaking, sparks flying from his body, and his natural light only got stronger the closer he got to Poliwag. Sandy beamed as Poliwag came to a stop, her eyes widening in fear, but there was no stopping it now: electricity burst from Pichu and shrouded his entire body, and it now looked like a bolt of electricity was rocketing across the field.

    "PICHUPICHUPICHUPICHUPICHUPICHU!" Pichu yelled, and he ran straight into Poliwag. There was a yellow flash that nearly blinded Sandy, and the water on the field sparked as an electrical current skimmed across the surface. The force of the attack sent mud flying, and Barney cried out as he was hit in the face, not even noticing as Poliwag soared out from the cloud and splatted down right behind him. Sandy was delighted at the effects of the attack, but as smoke surrounded Pichu, there was no way of telling if either Pokemon had fainted…

    "Oh right, we don't have a referee," Alaska said suddenly from the sidelines after a few moments of nothing happening. "I guess that will have to be me…" she said, smiling awkwardly, and the black haired trainer skidded through the mud towards Poliwag. "Oh yep, this thing is a dead as the blue rock it looks like," she announced. Sandy internally squealed, but did not want to seem too happy just yet as Alaska walked past Barney, purposefully bumping into him as she headed for Pichu. The smoke had finally cleared, but Sandy still could not tell…

    "And, I am sorry to say, Pichu has fainted as well – only Bellsprout and Seaking remain," Alaska called. Barney made a sort of annoyed grunting noise, but Sandy felt crestfallen; Pichu had sacrificed himself to take Poliwag down, losing in his first significant battle.

    "Great job Pichu, thank you for all you did," Sandy whispered as she withdrew her youngest Pokemon, feeling terrible for putting him in that position. She could not let herself dwell on this though, as she had to focus even more now that only Bellsprout remained to fight off the massive Seaking. She turned to see Bellsprout was doubled over, breathing deeply as she tried to stand back up. Meanwhile, Seaking seemed unfazed by it all, creepily watching Sandy with its yellow and black eyes.

    Bellsprout can pull this off, I just know she can, Sandy told herself, but she found it difficult to feel great when Bellsprout appeared so weary. Alaska smiled, albeit stiffly, as she left the field and Sandy knew she would be worried about the battles overcome, and she felt a strong pang of regret. My Pokemon were not ready for this… they are not nearly as experienced as Alaska's…

    "One down, only one left!" Barney yelled out, quickly ignoring the demise of his Poliwag as it was clear Seaking had an advantage here. "Let's see how well long Bellsprout can last against my mighty Seaking! Poison Jab!"

    "Hold him off with Vine Whip!" Sandy yelled. "Keep your distance!" Bellsprout straightened up, stretching her arms to get herself ready, and Sandy smiled; she had a loyal soul in Butterfree and a rough powerhouse in Onix, but Bellsprout was the one that showed determination even when everything turned to custard. Even if they lost the fight, Sandy was proud that her Pokemon had such characteristics… if only she had displayed them herself.

    "Seaking Seak!" Seaking called, and he slid forwards with his horn shining purple. The muddy grass easily parted for his hefty frame, and Seaking positioned himself so his horn was like a violet javelin, ready to tear into Bellsprout.

    "Bell!" Bellsprout exclaimed, a touch of courage in her weakened, tired voice, and she sent her arms forwards. As Seaking approached, Bellsprout brought one vine crashing down on his head, hitting him in the right eye. Sandy was surprised to see Seaking slip, nearly going off balance, but he continued forwards, forcing Bellsprout to bring her other arm down on his left eye. She was taking Sandy's order and trying to put some space between herself and Seaking by pushing on Seaking's face with her vines, but there was less than twenty centimetres between the two, and Bellsprout was not strong enough to slow Seaking down.

    "BEEELLLLL!" She yelled, suddenly slipping, and Seaking took the opportunity to shoot forwards. Sandy winced as his horn skimmed across Bellsprout's middle, and the Flower Pokemon was sent rolling backwards while Seaking came to a smooth stop.

    "Excellent work!" Barney shouted, before turning to face his audience with a toothless smile. "Not long now until everyone you own belongs to me! That Bellsprout probably won't last another attack, wouldn't you agree?" Sandy didn't want to look at her friends, but she was riddled with guilt and could not help herself; Mitchell looked both shocked and sad at the same time, while Alaska was trying to ignore it all by staring at her shoes.

    You know that I am doing this all wrong, don't you? Sandy thought, feeling teary as she gazed at her friend. You would have used Paige and Frances, ordered Twister and Solarbeam and we'd already be on done… my god, I know how to battle with your Pokemon better than my own! Sandy kicked out at the nearest mud clot and wanted to scream in rage. She was furious with everyone; Mitchell for starting this, Barney for being a disgusting creep, those Cerulean gunmen for making them flee to this route, with Gideon, with the reality stars, the robots, even Alaska – would Sandy feel the need to prove herself if her friend did not hog all the spotlight, and would she be losing if her Pokemon had not received the same attention as Alaska's?

    But mostly, Sandy was annoyed with herself. All her life she had submitted to other people, letting herself get bullied and teased at school, then letting her father control her life, and now she had let herself become a sidekick rather than friend to Alaska. If anyone was to blame for the fact Bellsprout was close to fainting, Sandy knew it all boiled back to her, and that had to change before she lost everything

    "We can end this Seaking! Use Skull Bash!" Barney yelled. "After that, Bellsprout will be history, and we will have a big ol' bag of goodies to last us through the summer!" Both trainer and Pokemon smiled and Seaking readied himself to attack, building up the necessary energy to propel himself forwards. Sandy was infuriated by these wizened loony's arrogant confidence, with the fact he was willing to risk two more attacks before hitting Bellsprout, but it was clear that Skull Bash would be all Bellsprout needed to go down – but she would not go down without a fight.

    "Listen to me Bellsprout!" Sandy yelled, and her weary Grass type looked up. "We have been together since CeruleanCity, but this is our toughest fight yet! I know this looks impossible and that Seaking has the advantage… but trust me when I say that you can do this! I believe in you Bellsprout, and I know you are not the type of Pokemon to fall at your first big challenge! You are too strong and too good for that, and if you put your heart into this, we can win this! Now use Magical Leaf and show Barney what a Bellsprout is made of!"

    "Bellsprout Bell!" Bellsprout yelled a tad hoarsely, but her pink lips curved into the biggest smile Sandy had ever seen, and she beamed with relief as the Flower Pokemon unleashed her barrage of glowing leaves. Seaking winced as they exploded against his body, and it became obvious that while he was strong, he was not as powerful as Barney would like them to think; super effective moves still had a chance to turn this around.

    "Finish this Seaking!" Barney bellowed, looking a touch nervous. Sandy had to think of a way to end this and guarantee Bellsprout won. She begrudgingly thought back to Alaska's battles that she had watched from the sidelines, and remembered her friend's knack for spontaneous, unconventional moves…

    "Use Vine Whip and slam both into his right side!" Sandy yelled, taking a huge gamble. At that moment, Seaking took off, his horn a blinding white as his built up energy propelling him forwards. Bellsprout looked more confident now even though she was struggling to stand, and she extended her arms and readied, waiting for Seaking to come closer. If this got mistimed, Bellsprout would be hit and Sandy would lose everything, but she was confident in her Pokemon… she would not, could not, let that happen…

    "BEEEEEELLLL!" Bellsprout yelled, and she swung out with her vines when Seaking was only a few metres away. The Goldfish Pokemon yelled as they smashed into him, and the force was enough to send him spinning around on the slippery surface. His horn still glowed, but Seaking quickly turned into a rotating red and white blur.

    "JUMP ON HIM!" Sandy yelled, and Bellsprout flung herself onto his tail as he spun towards her, latching on with her nimble body. Barney looked taken aback, and Seaking tried to throw Bellsprout off, but the spinning was making him unbalanced and the Grass type was holding on with every ounce of energy she had left.

    "NOW BELLSPROUT, USE YOUR VINES AND THROW HIM!" Sandy screamed, getting a bit hysterical but she couldn't care less: her risky plan was working, and they were winning, it was actually happening!

    "SPROUT!" Bellsprout yelled, and she slid off his body and wrapped her arms around his tail, ramming her legs into the mud and forcing Seaking to a stop. Then, with every last bit of energy, Bellsprout swung her body, pulling Seaking through the mud, and then flung him across the field.

    "YES BELLSPROUT, YES! YOU DID IT BELL, YOU DID – Oh shit…" Sandy's delight evaporated instantly as she realised where Bellsprout had flung Seaking. Barney's jaw dropped, but they could only watch as Seaking bounced across the surface of the field before flying right through the closest corner of Barney's shack. The rotten wood easily gave way, and Seaking's massive frame took out a very large chunk as he rolled inside. Sandy watched in horror as the building creaked loudly, and suddenly the two walls hit caved in, bringing the roof down with them with more of a squelch than a crash.

    Silence fell across the field, all except for the wind and the crashing of the waves against their island. No one was quite sure what to say, and Sandy was struggling with a cross between complete shock and amazement at what she had just pulled off. I won, I won a battle! I may have just pulled an Alaska, but I still won! We're safe, he can't take our bags now, and – wait, why is Bellsprout glowing? Sandy looked down at Bellsprout as the Flower Pokemon began to emit white light. She was confused, but then she remembered seeing the same thing happening twice to her before: once when a Caterpie had clung itself it to her window, and again when a Metapod's shell had cracked open on her dining room table…

    "Bellsprout!" Sandy exclaimed in joy for the last time, and she watched as her Pokemon fully shone: her stick-like body began to shrink while her head grew, doubling, nearly tripling in size. A stick began to emerge from the back of her head, while the leaves transferred up on either side of her face…

    It was a brief evolution, but when the light disappeared, Sandy was ecstatic: there, in the middle of a disgustingly muddy field, was a bright yellow and green Weepinbell, essentially a large version of Bellsprout's head, staring up with tiredness in her eyes.

    "Oh Weepinbell, congratulations!" Sandy yelled, and she finally let herself cry as she rushed to greet her latest Pokemon. She scooped her up and wiped the mud off with her dress, not caring that she got dirty herself, and pulled her into a hug. "You were amazing out there; you so deserved this to happen! Thank you for being so amazing!"

    "Weep," Weepinbell mumbled in acknowledgement, and Sandy held her close, wishing that she could be alone to celebrate this victory.

    "You bitch!" Someone snapped, and Sandy's happiness shattered. She looked up to see Barney was still standing on his side, but was now looking at her with pure rage etched on his wizened face. Another Apricorn Ball was in his hands, and Sandy had a feeling that it did not contain Seaking. "You've destroyed my house! I built that thing myself, it has stood on this spot for DECADES! How dare you, you little whore! You are going to pay for this!" He roared, and he raised his arm.

    "Don't you dare!" Alaska yelled, and she appeared before Sandy, her own PokeBalls in hand. Sandy did not want her to start another fight, as it would only lead to more damage and weaken their Pokemon further. However, Barney just winked and turned around; he threw the ball into the churning waves, and there was a brief flash of white from underneath the surface.

    "What's going on?" Mitchell asked from the sidelines. Sandy was unsure, but it was clear the fisherman did not want to battle. Suddenly, something large and blue broke through the water, rising up into the sky. Sandy had seen plenty swimming past, but this was the first time she had seen a Gyarados up close since Damien's, and this one looked much nastier: its body was horrible scarred, big red wounds cut deep into its skin, one eye half shut from a bruise, and several teeth were missing. That only made it look even angrier, and Sandy held Weepinbell close as fear filled her, the great, ugly, angry Gyarados staring viciously down at them all.

    "This is my oldest and most loyal Pokemon," Barney explained with a sadistic smile. "I don't use him for these petty battles anymore; I save his strength for capturing bigger rewards then you lot. However, I also use him to teach those that have wronged me a lesson; these scars are a mark of all those fisherman who tried fighting him off as he tore through their ships and sent them to the bottom of the ocean! Now, it is time you brats get what you deserve! SURF!"

    "Our bags!" Alaska gasped, and as Gyarados roared and lifted his tail, she sprinted forwards and grabbed hers and Sandy's from the mud. Sandy was shaken, unsure what was about to happen, but she did not want to be separated from her friend. She rushed towards Alaska with Weepinbell pressed against her chest, but the attack was already coming; Gyarados slammed his tail against the water while his wicked eyes glowed blue, and it picked up one of the waves. Instead of crashing into the concrete path, it was whipped up, quadrupling in size, and was sent careering towards them.

    Sandy watched in horror as the giant wave soared across the island, coming straight for them. Barney began to laugh as the wall of water slammed into Alaska and Mitchell, and Sandy yelled as it came towards her. She turned tried to run, but the Surf crashed into her, hitting her with the force of a speeding truck, and she toppled to the ground. Weepinbell yelled out as Sandy smashed into the mud, but she was only on the ground for a second before the roaring wave picked her up, sending her spinning around

    Sandy gasped for breath as she was pulled beneath the water, the weight of the attack crushing her chest. She tried to find something to grab onto, but the wave was moving too quickly, and instead Sandy could only shut her eyes as they were pushed off the island, away from the path, and sent straight into open waters

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 56

    Chapter Fifty Seven: Washed Up

    It had never occurred to Sandy just how necessary oxygen was to her existence, but now that it was running out, she knew that if she survived, she would treasure every breathe.

    She was being pushed uncontrollably by the powerful Surf, trapped beneath gallons of water and flying forwards faster than she knew possible. Her body was getting abused, the water slamming her into the concrete path and against the rocks, making it feel like all her bones had broken. Sandy was trying her best to hold her breathe, but she would not be able too for much longer; her throat was closing up and her head was throbbing from the lack of oxygen and the effect of being spun around.

    I have to protect Weepinbell, I must! Sandy told herself, and she kept her arms firmly wrapped around her Grass type despite all that was happening; there was a chance they would both drown in this monstrous Surf, but Sandy would not let her weakened Weepinbell get injured any further and lessen her chances of getting away.

    However, with every second that passed, it seemed less and less likely they would get out of this. Sandy's eyes were tightly shut against the water, but a different sort of darkness was settling in on her, like a blanket wrapping around her brain. The lack of oxygen was killing her, but if she opened her mouth Sandy would only swallow water and drown sooner. She wanted to try and break free, but the Surf was too strong, and Sandy was getting weaker and weaker as the Surf carried her out to sea. When she had been shot, Sandy's body had simply gone into shock and she had only felt numb. Now, she had gained multiple injuries within seconds and was running out of oxygen, so Sandy could feel the pain as her life began to slip away.

    She had always heard that your live flashed before your eyes when you died, but having already nearly died once, Sandy now knew that in your last moments you could not help but think back on the people and events that had shaped your world. As the water crushed her the life out of her, Sandy let her mind drift off so she would not have to think of this suffocating pain; she thought of her childhood, care-free and full of joy, she thought of her parents when they had both been happy and smiled willingly. Sandy remembered the day she had last seen her mother, then the day she had last seen her father smile. She managed a grin as she reflected on the day a Caterpie had appeared on her window sill, and then the morning she took it as a Butterfree away on a grand adventure. She remembered meeting Alaska, battling the robots, her mind switch with Butterfree, the attack on Vermilion, getting drunk, getting shot, watching Alaska burn down the Celadon gym… as her brain screamed for the oxygen it desperately needed, one final thought crossed Sandy's mind; after wanting it for so long, had her journey been worth it?

    Suddenly, Sandy came to a stop, and for a moment she wondered if she had died, her mind and soul leaving the force of the Surf. She began to rise, feeling the water pushing her upwards, and Sandy opened her eyes to see a harsh light above her. Is this it… after everything I have been through, am I going to die thanks to a sadistic fisherman?

    However, Sandy gathered speed, and she finally broke through the ocean surface into glorious sunlight. Blind and gagging for breathe, Sandy screamed as she flew forwards and slammed onto something solid, more grazes to join the rest of her wounds, and she coughed uncontrollably as a freezing cold engulfed her body. She vomited up more water than she had expected, and Sandy placed Weepinbell aside as she struggled to catch her breath. Other people were gagging on either side of her, and Sandy was reassured to know that Alaska and Mitchell had made it out alive.

    "Of all… the bastards… we're fought… that guy… is completely… utterly… crazy!" Alaska yelled in between deep breathes. "Who… sends people… to drown… in the middle of the ocean!"

    "He has lived… in that house… for years… it would make sense… if he was… a bit lonely… and… a bit… mad," Sandy suggested breathlessly as she looked towards Alaska. She was relieved that they had both survived, but Sandy was taken aback by the glare Alaska was shooting her, and it only made her remember the realisations she had come to during her battle.

    "That guy is crazy, there is no excuse for that," Alaska replied angrily, and she stumbled to her feet, water dripping endlessly from her sodden clothes. "At least we have covered a lot of ground," she snarled sarcastically, and Sandy glanced up to see the little island with the ruined shack was far off in the distance, probably an hour's plus walk away. She had barely registered that they had been pushed so far or so fast, and it was a miracle they had managed to survive hitting the rocks or being underwater for so long. However, Sandy was not unscathed, and she began to examine her wounds; her dress was ruined, torn in a dozen places, her arms and legs had shallow but long cuts from the rocks and her chest felt so bruised that it was hurting to breathe. For the moment, she was not in too much pain, but Sandy was certain that would come later. But at least I am alive!

    "H-h-how did we even s-survive?" A quiet voice mumbled to her left, and Sandy turned to find Mitchell huddled on the ground, shivering furiously, his eyes wide with fear.

    Of course, he was not as use to life threatening experiences as we are, Sandy thought pitifully, and she looked around for their bags, spotting them a metre away. Sandy quickly opened them, but was dismayed to find they had all soaked through, everything inside completely saturated.

    "Sorry Mitchell, but there is nothing dry for us to change into," Sandy said apologetically.

    "Oh great, I g-g-get to freeze to death rather than dr-dr-drown!" Mitchell whined, and he threw his sodden shirt off without any shame or embarrassment around two older girls and lay on the path, letting the sun dry his pasty body.

    "I think we may have been saved by that thing," Alaska said suddenly, and Sandy turned back to the ocean, the never ending canvas of blue suddenly calm as if three people nearly drowning had worn out the water. She was surprised to see something large and purple bobbing on the ocean's surface before them, and Sandy would have thought it a large, crusty rock if it wasn't for the smooth spike formations on the top and a sharper, grey one poking through the centre.

    "Cloy," the rock thing mumbled, and it split open down the middle, revealing a perfectly round, purple-black head in amongst an inner grey shell, wearing an almost sinister smile across its nearly featureless face.

    "It's a Cloyster!" Sandy exclaimed, and the Water type nodded in agreement. "It must have seen us in trouble and decided to save us! It could have used its own Surf to counter-act Gyarados'! Thank you Cloyster!" She cried, and extended a hand to shake before registering that Cloyster was still in the water and had no hands to shake either. Sandy caught Alaska rolling her eyes as she walked forwards and leaned over the edge.

    "Thanks for, y'know, saving us all… that was pretty cool of you," she said, and the Cloyster nodded. "Is there any way we can repay you? We don't have much food, unless you want some brownies… or you could eat these lovely ruined clothes, they are nice and… fabricy…"

    "CLOY!" Cloyster yelled while still looking at Alaska and smiling maliciously and Sandy thought it was going to attack. However, the water next it to rippled, and something shell shaped bobbed up to the surface. It was tiny and a richer shade of purple, with similar yet smaller spike-like mark on its back. This Pokemon opened down the middle as well but its shell lifted upwards, revealing a black face that stared out at them with wide, worried white eyes, with a long pink tongue that seemed almost as big as the rest of its body.

    "That's a Shellder, yes?" Alaska asked, and a received a confirming nod from Sandy. "Did Shellder help us as well or something?"

    "Cloyster! Cloy Cloy Cloy, Cloyster Cloy, Ster Ster Cloyster Cloy Cloy," Cloyster explained, and it then nudged Shellder forwards. Shellder appeared terrified, and it glanced frightfully back at Cloyster, whose smile softened as it nodded at the Pokemon, and Sandy gasped as she noticed the connection.

    "I think Cloyster must be Shellder's parent, and it wants one of us to take Shellder with us," she explained. "I have heard of this happening before; while some Pokemon despise humans, others see their friends being captured and strive to follow after them. Cloyster must want a better life for its child," she explained, and smiled as Cloyster nodded once again, her frozen body feeling warm by the real life case of parental emotions in the Pokemon world. Shellder looked very nervous and uncertain, but Alaska bent down and leaned towards the ocean and scooped the Bivalve Pokemon up.

    "Don't worry, I will give you a good home," she whispered, pulling Shellder in close and smiling affectionately. Sandy could see Shellder looked more relaxed now, but it still tried to turn back towards its parent. Alaska noticed and held Shellder out, and Cloyster moved closer. The Water-Ice type was no longer smiling, instead looking close to tears, and it nuzzled against the outstretched Shellder and whispered something.

    "Shellder Shell Shell!" Shellder replied in a high pitch squeak, and Cloyster nodded one final time before turning emotionally away and beginning to descend beneath the waves.

    I wonder what it would have been like if I had had a proper goodbye with either of my parents, Sandy thought as the tip of Cloyster's grey spikes disappeared forever. It had been so long since she had seen her father and even longer since seeing her mother and Sandy had no idea when she would see either again. She felt a tear forming, but she refused to cry over either of them, and she reached out and grabbed onto Weepinbell for comfort; the Flycatcher Pokemon looked deflated, undamaged by the Surf but still weary and beaten from her battle, and she would not last much longer.

    "I am so proud of you! You deserve a nice, long rest!" Sandy said, and Weepinbell gave a weary nod before she dispersed into red energy and was sucked inside her Great Ball. Sandy hoped they still had some Potions left to get her back up to strength, but as she looked up to ask Alaska, she was surprised to see she now had a Great Ball in one hand whilst still holding onto the Shellder in the other.

    "Why do you get to keep it?" Mitchell said indignantly from behind Sandy, his shiver beginning to disappear as he warmed up.

    "Why not? Finder's keepers and I need a new Pokemon to replace Darwin," Alaska replied as if it was obvious. Sandy had been thinking along the same lines, as Alaska needed more than three Pokemon should she hope to win her remaining gym battles, but it was still irritating that she was acting without asking them first…

    "That's rude Alaska! What if I wanted the Shellder or Sandy wanted it?" Mitchell snapped. "Don't be a bully!"

    "Oh grow up Mitchell, this isn't the playground anymore!" Alaska growled back. "This is the real world, where you just have to accept the shit that comes your way rather than whinging about it! Be glad that missing out on a Pokemon is the worst thing to happen to you, rather than being shot at or nearly killed in tunnel collapses! Besides, based on what happened back there, you need to focus on training your own Pokemon rather than adding more sub-standard ones to your team!"

    "Alaska!" Sandy gasped, looking back at a stunned Mitchell before turning back to her, shocked by her harsh words.

    "What?" Alaska groaned. "He is being annoying! And he should not have battled Barney if he wasn't ready, and then we wouldn't have had to fight him!"

    "Actually, I was the one that fought him, not you!" Sandy retorted.

    "Yeah, and look how well that turned out!" Alaska said, and Sandy felt as if she had been slapped. She was not sure what to say to this, and it was clear Alaska was unware how hurtful her words were. Sandy was tempted to just sit down and ignore it and let Alaska win once more, but then all the angry thoughts she had had during her battle rushed back to her, and before Sandy knew it, she was turning back to face her friend.

    "Well soooo-rry then Alaska! It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I apologise if my winning and nearly killing my Pokemon was not up to your usual standard! Would you have preferred if Barney's shack had exploded, or maybe I could have used Onix to make a sinkhole in the middle of the island? If I ever had the chance to train my Pokemon than I probably could have done a better job, and maybe cut off the water supply to rest of Kanto while I was at it; would that be a win in your books?!" Alaska and Shellder both looked stunned, Mitchell gasped and even Sandy was surprised she voiced her feelings in this way. She was breathing deeply, the icy chill of her damp clothes feeling worse from her guilt, but she could not back down; it was now or never, and she had only just begun.

    "What has gotten into you?" Alaska said after a few moments of shocked silence. "Where is any of this coming from?"

    "The sidelines, Alaska! That's where I have been stuck for so long, just a spectator in this mad little adventure of yours!" Sandy yelled. "I am not a key player in any of this; I am just your lackey that is there to help out whenever you need me! I am there so your Pokemon can train with mine, I am there to help you plan strategies, I am there to dissect the events of the day when you feel like it, but half the time I have no clue what you're thinking! Gideon and all your blog readers probably know more about your intimate thoughts than I do! And frankly Alaska, I am sick of it!"

    "So what are you saying, you want to battle Gideon for me now, do you?" Alaska hissed. "Do you want us to wrap up nice and tight in our sleeping bags and discuss robots and terrorist attacks in between painting our nails and doing each other's hair? This isn't some fun, girly little adventure anymore Sandy; there are bigger things at stake!"

    "And I want to help you!" Sandy yelled. "I am your friend, I have been since the day I caught Onix, and I will be as long as you actually let me get involved in this, like you promised me after Diglett Cave!"

    "You need to accept there are some things I can't tell you Sandy!" Alaska snapped. "Some things are just too big for you to understand! Half of what is going on I don't even understand!"

    "Then you can tell me those things! Maybe I might understand them, I am not as big of an idiot as you seem to think I am!"

    "Well, frankly Sandy, I only met you because you fell from a tree and landed on top of me, what am I suppose to think!" Alaska yelled, but then she paused, eyes bulging as she heard what she said. "Sandy, I didn't mean –" She began, but the damage was done, a verbal knife rammed right into Sandy's heart that brought back a million horrible memories from her childhood.

    "Oh no Alaska, you've said what you really think, you can't take it back now!" Sandy shouted back, her voice shaking slightly as tears formed in her eyes; she could not believe Alaska had just said that… her only friend in the world thought she was an idiot…

    "Sandy, I don't want to argue anymore! Can you just drop this and we can go back to the way things were?" Alaska said pleadingly, but that was the last thing Sandy wanted to hear, and she could not help but screech like some possessed beast.

    "NO! I am not going back to just being your simple sidekick that's getting dragged alone on this crazy, messed up roller coaster of a life you have! I don't want to remain on the sidelines, keeping quiet as I watch you stuff our lives up, biting my tongue least I offend you and get abused like I am right now! You may think this is a friendship Alaska, but for weeks it has been more like boss and employee! I bet you don't even know the first thing about me!"

    "Hey, you can be just as cagey as me when it comes to your life!" Alaska snapped. "You act like I have all the secrets, but I know that you have not told me why you are really on this journey in the first place!"

    "That's because you never properly asked! You're my friend, you should made me feel more supported if you expected me to tell you about the fact I had to run a –" Sandy froze at that, as this was not something she wanted to reveal in the middle of a shouting match. Alaska was staring at her in complete shock, and Sandy wondered if she had gone too far. Her rage had been silently building up for a while now that it was bound to come out eventually, but Sandy was instantly regretting the way she had gone about this.

    "Ummm… ladies… we have some guests," Mitchell mumbled, and Sandy and Alaska both turned towards him. Standing behind a shaking, awkward looking Mitchell was a small crowd of people, staring intently at the two girls. The majority of them were burly men carrying massive video cameras, oversized bags, fluffy microphones on sticks called booms and various other technological devices, their expressions ranging from stunned to uncertainty. However, standing amongst them were three teenagers that did not belong with them, two boys and a girl, and it took a second for an angry, confused Sandy to recognise these faces she had not seen for weeks.

    "Oh hell no," Alaska hissed, and Chloe Carmichael tipped back her head and laughed.

    "Oh hell yes!" She purred viciously. "Now, if you two have stopped your little screaming bitch fest, can we pick up were we left off last time?" And before Alaska or Sandy could react, Chloe sprinted forwards, a manic look on her face and PokeBalls clutched in her talon-like nails, screaming as she jumped towards Alaska…



    They were always going to come back eventually! Only two chapters left for this arc before probably the biggest and one of the most important interludes yet! Also, as I think I have gained some more readers lately, does anyone want to be tagged when a new chapter arises?

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 57

    It has been a month, I am aware, so apologises! I forced myself to wrap this up soI can move on myself and get started on the rest of my backlog that is now months behind. Hope you enjoy, this arc ends next chapter.


    Chapter Fifty Eight: A Dose of Reality

    "CHLOE, NO!" A voice said firmly from behind the manic blonde, and Damian lunged forwards, grabbing onto his co-star just as she sent the PokeBalls flying. Chloe spun around and slapped him hard across the face, the sound echoing across the otherwise silent boardwalk, but Sandy was more focussed on the PokeBalls hurtling through the air towards them; the red and white capsules burst open, and Sandy leapt backwards as four Pokemon began to form around her and Alaska.

    "Ivy, Ivysaur Ivy!" A green Pokemon snarled the second it had formed, four thick vines extending out from beneath a blossoming pink flower bud on its back. That's Bulbasaur's evolved form Ivysaur, Sandy thought fearfully, and she glanced around at the other Pokemon advancing for them. There's her Spearow and Clefairy, they should have evolved by now, it has been so long… and is that a Vulpix? She asked herself, looking down at a red furred Pokemon with curled locks over its dark eyes. A Fire type, the Fox Pokemon, evolves into Ninetales, capable of shooting flames at us…

    "Shellder Shell!" A quiet voice emitted, and Sandy turned, having completely forgotten about the Shellder nestling in Alaska's arms. The Water type pushed itself out of Alaska's arms and landed in front of the opposing Pokemon, displaying a sudden eagerness for battle Sandy had not expected.

    "Saur Ivy!" Ivysaur growled. Sandy had never seen one in real life before and could not help analysing it; it largely resembled a bigger Bulbasaur, but the Pokemon had an angrier face and the green bud on its back had changed, opening up into four leaves with a pink bud in the very middle.

    "Vul Vul Vulpix!" Vulpix called from her left, an adorable Pokemon that could almost pass for a pampered pet with its curled maroon tails and soft paws, but Sandy cried out as the Fire type arced its back and unleashed a jet of amber flames.

    "SHELL!" Shellder cried before stretching its mouth open wide; a rapid stream of bubbles came flying out, hitting Vulpix's attack and causing it to diminish into steam. As vapours began to shroud the Pokemon, Shellder turned towards her other opponents and began firing out a rainbow coloured beam that shone in the light.

    "SPEAROOOOOW!" Spearow squawked as it received the brunt of the Aurora Beam, and a slightly frozen sheen covered her body. Ivysaur grumbled and it lashed out with his four vines, and Sandy flinched as one headed right towards her…

    "That's enough!" Damian suddenly shouted, and Sandy opened her eyes. Before her suddenly stood Damian's Charmeleon; the red Fire type was taller and more muscular than Ivysaur, the flame on the tip of his tail burning bold and bright. The Flame Pokemon was staring menacingly down at his comrade, and reluctantly Ivysaur retracted his vines, stepping backwards and signalling for his team mates to follow his lead.

    "For god's sake, can't we meet once without trying to maim and kill each other?" Damian yelled exasperatedly as he stood neutrally between the two sides, Chloe's Pokemon shuffling past him. Sandy could breathe calmly now, but she was unnerved at how easily she had been frightened. Can I really be blamed? I can't even walk down the street without getting shot…

    "You can't blame me for any of this Damian!" Chloe shrieked, struggling against Lachlan's grip as he tried to hold her back. "It was those bitches that did all the damage last time! Look at my nose, look at my stitches!" She hissed.

    "Stitches?" Sandy whispered confoundedly to Alaska, and the black haired girl turned with a slight smirk on her face.

    "You really were off your face, weren't you?" Alaska sniggered. Sandy was perplexed by this, but she thought back to the evening at the bar, remembering the overly alcoholic drink she had taken, and the pieces she could hazily remember rushed back to her, creating an incomplete, unattractive puzzle of events: the reality stars entering, the insults, the cat fight, for some reason Sandy remembered sending Onix out, and then Chloe had been about to seriously injure Alaska, and Sandy had a blurred, alcohol-blinded memory of raising an empty glass above her head…

    "OH MY GOSH!" She shrieked. "CHLOE, I AM SO SORRY, I DIDN'T MEAN TO HURT YOU, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, I ONLY JUST REMEMBERED, DO YOU NEED ME TO PAY FOR YOUR HOSPITAL BILLS, I COULD IF –"

    "Oh please, she had one tiny stitch that was only in for about three days, one of these guys put it in," Lachlan replied, gesturing to the burly camera operators behind him, and he smirked even as Chloe gave him her evil eyes. However, the blonde seemed to have been calmed now, and she stopped fighting against her co-star, instead simply glaring across at Alaska.

    "What are you whores even doing here anyway?" She snarled. "We thought you were going to Saffron, that's what you said on your blog!"

    "Maybe I lied," Alaska replied with acid. "There are a few nasty, manipulative little cows out there pathetically following my every move in quite a creepy way, and some of them I really didn't want to deal with." Chloe made a sort of grumbling noise, and her Ivysaur looking ready to advance again, but Alaska ignored them as she scooped up Shellder. Sandy had noticed that her friend had not really reacted to the sudden appearance of the reality stars as quickly or as viciously as she had in the past, and she could not help but wonder why.

    "Whatever the reason why we're all here, I am sure we can get along… for once," Damian said with a forced smile. "Do we really need to destroy this walkway or create a tsunami over some silly squabble?" He added jokingly, though based on the look Chloe was wearing, Sandy wouldn't be surprised if she did end up having to flee from another metre high wave.

    "Oh please, you can't stop these two; they've hated each other for years!" Another voice suddenly chimed in, and Sandy felt instantly guilty as she realised it was Mitchell, the young trainer being completely forgotten. The ten year old leapt to his feet, his wet shirt hanging over his shoulder, dripping down his pale back. All eyes were suddenly on him, but Mitchell stared around unfazed and unashamed at everyone before walking towards over to his bag.

    "As much as I wouldn't mind the protection, I also don't want to get nearly killed again," Mitchell explained to no one in particular. "I always seem to nearly get killed when I'm near Alaska, and considering how much she and Chloe hate each other, I think there is a high chance that will happen," he added with an almost cheerful smile as he turned to Sandy and Alaska. "Nice seeing you two again, but I'm off," he finished simply, and turned and walked towards the camera operators, his sodden bag bouncing against his back. They all parted to let him pass, and Sandy smirked, impressed by Mitchell's spirit as the men merged back into their group and the ten year old disappeared from their lives once more.

    "We need to get back to filming," one of the cameramen, a thin, blonde haired man, said as he gazed down at his watch. "We have a schedule to stick to, so if we can –"

    "Stuff the schedule, I'm done!" Chloe hissed, and she broke free of Lachlan's hold and marched back the way they had come, forcing the crew to part again for her and her team.

    "Chloe, we have to!" The thin cameraman wailed and he raced after. The other crew members had clearly lost interest in their cause and followed after, leaving only Sandy, Alaska, Damian, Lachlan, Shellder and Charmeleon behind.

    "Sooooo…. what way are you going?" Damian asked with a touch of awkwardness.

    "The same way you are, apparently," she replied, cutting in before Alaska decided they would face Barney again just to avoid Chloe. Sandy turned and smiled at her to get her to agree, and Alaska reluctantly nodded, her face showing little excitement.

    Let her be angry, even though she has no right to be, Sandy thought as she grabbed her own bag and marched off without another word. She is always angry with someone, so let glare at me and glare at Chloe and then we will just move on and she will forget all about our argument, that's how it always goes! It had been a struggle enough voicing her feelings this time, and Sandy did not think she could do it again. She wanted to work out their issues, and she was certain they could have ended it now if the reality stars had not re-entered their lives.

    "Hey there," someone said, and Sandy nearly jumped as she turned, half expecting it to be some new threat. However, she was relieved, albeit a bit surprised, to see it was just Lachlan, smiling pleasantly as he jogged to keep up with her.

    "Hello," Sandy replied with a forced smile, realising she had sped off in her rage and slowed down. She tried to remember if she had ever spoken to the boy with the red-brown hair before, but Sandy quickly realised that she had never actually spoken to any of the stars on her own, simply watching in the background as Alaska tried to prove herself, get revenge, be catty for the sake of cattiness, whatever was fuelling her motivations that time around. Surely they must have some personality

    "We haven't been properly introduced, have we? Even though we battled," Lachlan said, smiling awkwardly. "I'm Lachlan Lynch, but you can call me Lachy," he continued as he stretched out a hand.

    "Sandy," Sandy replied, reluctantly shaking back.

    "So, how was the water?" Lachlan asked, smirking slightly, and Sandy raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Your clothes… they're really damp," Lachlan explained. "Let me guess, you tried fishing and got pulled in by a Gyarados?" He chuckled.

    "Close actually; a fisherman tried to kill us by getting his Gyarados to force us into the water," Sandy replied with hefty bitterness.

    "Oh… sorry," Lachlan replied sheepishly. Sandy turned and saw how awkward he now looked, and she sighed before coming to a stop.

    "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound so rude, it has just been a long day," she replied, smiling wearily. Lachlan nodded before glancing awkwardly backwards; Sandy copying him and spotting Alaska and Damian walking slowly behind them.

    "We all heard your argument… unintentionally, of course," Lachlan explained. "I am guessing your friendship is getting a few cracks, eh?"

    "You could put it that way," Sandy answered coldly, though she did not want to keep going over things when she could not actually talk to Alaska. Instead, she focussed on the route ahead; the walkway was finally nearing its end, moving closer to the tree-covered banks to their right and Sandy could see it turned a corner up ahead, leading back towards solid land – hopefully with no fishermen.

    "How is the show going?" She asked, hoping for something to distract her from her own issues. The lanky boy shrugged with a look of bored indifference across his face.

    "Same old, same old I guess," he mumbled in response. "We travel, eat and sleep, and then we film the stuff for the competition. Every second day we shoot a challenge where we have to complete some task to win bonus prizes, and then every other day we have training exercises and battle each other to get more points. We have been doing the same thing for the past few weeks or months, however long this has been, I've stopped keeping track."

    "How come?" Sandy asked. She had only caught a few minutes of Indigo Dreams while staying at the Athlew Mansion, an episode based around Cerulean City, but it had seemed like a lively and entertaining show, the type of thing she'd watch if she was still at home and had no idea what had gone on behind the scene.

    "I dunno, it's just not quite what I expected when I signed up to do this," Lachlan replied with a bored shrug. "They focus more on Chloe and Damian then they do on me, I am sort of just along for the ride."

    I know the feeling, Sandy thought bitterly, but she was not going to make this about her. "What about all the training experience you get, and the fact you get to be on a journey towards the Pokemon League?" Lachlan turned and raised his eyebrows at her, smirking as they trumped along the concrete and neared the bend.

    "Please, this thing is so rigged you'd think we were trapeze artists," he scoffed. "They don't keep track of the scores, Amanda basically just hands them out to which ever one of us she feels like giving them to, more often then not Chloe, and they edit the show to back up her decisions. They never show any of the stuff that involves Alaska, like that giant Beedrill or when she showed up at Mt Moon, they make us re-film the challenges and there ends up being different winners. It's as if they don't even care about us, they just want ratings or something…" His cheerful yet sarcastic tone faded as Lachlan finished his story, and he sounded rather deflated and dejected by the time he stopped talking. Sandy could understand his emotions; it must be crushing to sign up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this only to find out it is nothing as you expected it to be.

    Though I guess the same has happened to me, she thought grumpily. The two walked in silence around the corner, and Sandy was relieved to find they had reached the end of the walkway. The past few days wandering almost aimlessly down the miles of walkway had been frustrating and depressing, and she could only hope the rest of their journey to Fuchsia would spice things up.

    Her first step back onto dry land did not hold any exciting promises: Sandy and Lachlan stepped onto a long and nearly empty field, enclosed on the right and up ahead by trees untouched by human hands. There were some fences dotted around for reasons Sandy was not sure, though she could easily tell from the number of tents, collapsible tables and heavy black boxes that Indigo Dreams had set up here for the day.

    "We've only been here a few hours," Lachlan said. "We were filming a training exercise when we ran into you guys, and we're doing a challenge with the fences tomorrow. Not quite sure what we are going to do now Chloe's stormed off, Amanda will have to reschedule." Sandy looked, wondering if Mitchell was still near, but the ten year old boy had taken off in a hurry and was nowhere in sight. She did notice the camera crew a few metres away, all of them delicately placing their expensive equipment in piles by one tent before roughly collapsing into folding seats alongside a table loaded with fruit, doughnuts and sandwiches. The show was clearly settled here for a few days, and Sandy was reassured by that; it would give her and Alaska more time to place some distance between them all, more of a chance to be alone and sort everything out…

    "So, are you two going to carry on to Fuchsia?" Lachlan asked as if he had been reading her mind. Sandy was going to say 'yes', but she paused, listening out for Alaska's distant footsteps behind them. They had travelled all this way, had all their training battles, nearly died at Barney's hands all so they could make it to Fuchsia and face Janine. Sandy was willing to stick to this goal, but it was all up to Alaska at this point; she had voiced her feelings, she had made herself very clear how she felt, and now Alaska had to decide how to respond. Only then would Sandy know if she was carrying onwards with her partner, or retreating home, finally admitting that her father had been right all along…
    "I really have no idea Lachy, not a single clue," Sandy mumbled finally, unable to hide the depression in her voice, and she felt a cold chill running through her body.

    "Well, you want some food?" Lachlan asked uneasily. "We always have enough to feed an army!" Sandy was not sure about taking food from the reality show, but now that the thought had been put out there, she realized that she indeed felt a bit peckish, and she felt wrong rejecting Lachlan when he was being so kind.

    "Why not!" She replied, smiling broadly, and Lachlan led her towards the table. The camera men and sound operators glanced briefly at them before returning to their plates, and Sandy wondered how weird it must be travelling around the region with these burly men following you, recording your every move. She could only imagine the strangeness of having a camera crew follow her and Alaska, documenting every explosion, every mistake, every weird thing that happened…

    "WHAT?!" Someone suddenly shrieked from within the largest tent, and Sandy froze, her hand hovering just about a plate of chocolate covered doughnuts. Everyone turned to the mass of black fabric as the flaps were sent flying open, and out stomped Amanda Anderson, followed closely behind by Chloe and the thin cameraman. The thin, well-kept producer was impeccably dressed as always, wearing a charcoal coloured pencil skirt and matching blazer, her long hair done up in a tight bun with a stick to keep it in place. However, Sandy could not help but notice that all this effort went to waste with the furious look plastered across her face; Amanda looked as murderous as Chloe had a short time ago, her features horribly twisted as she leered at everyone, looking for the people that had ruined her day.

    "DON'T TOUCH THAT!" Amanda shrieked as soon as her beady eyes spotted Sandy, and the blonde leapt backwards as if electrocuted, nearly knocking the plate over in the process. The producer stalked towards her, high heels squelching in the mud as she moved, and Sandy gulped, glancing nervously at a stunned Lachlan.

    "What do you think you are doing here? I do not want you or your psycho friend anywhere near this production, not after what you did to a third of our talent!" Amanda hissed, her tight skin being stretched almost beyond its capacity by the furious flexing of her mouth. Sandy usually would have buckled under someone as frightening and threatening as this, and perhaps even a few days ago she would have apologised and fled for the hills. However, Sandy looked into that furious, twisted face glaring down at her, and she could not help but notice vague similarities between the woman looming over her and the friend only a few metres away; dark hair, pale skin, nearly identical in height, even their names had only a few consonants difference. Sandy could feel her rage from earlier risen up, and she straightened her back as she glared back at the producer.

    "I am sorry Ms Anderson, but I do believe this is a public place and the only route going in this direction. You may manage this shoddy production, but you are not in control of who can and cannot walk through a public field!" She snapped, startling the producer. "I will gladly not touch your food if she wish, but considering I do not have much of my own left, I am sure the media would be very interested to know why a poor, starving trainer was denied a meal by your show!" In the background Chloe looked like she had been slapped, and Lachlan bulged his eyes in surprise, but Sandy took her greatest pleasure in watching Amanda's twisted face sink, her features straightening out, yet her eyes widen, her mouth fell slightly ajar, exposing unnaturally white teeth that clashed with her jet black hair. Sandy hated being spiteful towards other people, but she could remember the incident with the Clefairy at Mt Moon, the way the bitch before her had acted, it was greatly pleasing to be able to get some form of revenge against her.

    "Very well then," Amanda said after a few tense moments, glancing awkwardly at the crew, who were struggling to stifle their laughter. "Have however much you want, but I want you and your friend gone by five."

    "Don't worry, we will be," Alaska called, and Sandy glanced around as her travelling partner approached the table, giving Amanda a broad smile as she picked up a plate. "Hello Mandy, how's the show going?"

    "Fine thank you, it has been a pleasant few weeks since we last saw you, we actually managed to film some content without something blowing up," Amanda replied icily.

    "Well Mandy, we all know what the general public is like; gotta give them something new in order to tune in, am I right?" Alaska smirked as she piled as much food as she could onto her tiny plate. Amanda's eyes narrowed briefly, but she managed to get herself under control before turning away, whipping a phone out of her pocket and marching for the tent.

    "Richard, meet me in here in five, we will arrange something new to film," she barked at the skinny cameraman before going inside and disappearing from view. The second she was gone Chloe wheeled towards Alaska, angrily snatching a plate.

    "You should be afraid Alaska, very afraid!" The blonde hissed. "My Pokemon are getting stronger by the day, and when I get the opportunity to battle you, you will definitely be sorry!"

    "I'm shaking in my boots," Alaska replied sarcastically.

    "I wouldn't be surprised, those look far too poor to provide much warmth," Chloe snapped, and she began gathering food, not giving Alaska the chance for a final word. The black haired teenager simply smirked and glanced back at Damian, who smiled and laughed in a handsome manner.

    Why are these two suddenly so buddy? Sandy thought with a touch of bitterness. I haven't seen her smile at me like that. One stroll down the boulevard means you've got a new bestie? Well two can play at this game!

    "Over there looks comfortable," Sandy said to Lachlan, and she quickly walked towards a small boulder with a relatively smooth surface, her plate loaded with doughnuts, fruit and bread rolls. Lachlan followed and they sat down against the carved piece of rock, facing away from the tents and looking out at the ocean. The sea seemed bigger here, a never ending stretch of blue heading to the horizon. Sandy's clothes were still wet and she felt a chill run through her body as she imagined where she may have ended up her had Cloyster not come to the rescue.

    "So after Fuchsia, do you think you will go back up to Saffron or head over to Viridian?" Lachlan asked, spraying chocolaty crumbs everywhere as he spoke.

    "You forgot about Cinnabar," Sandy said, only half paying attention as she thought about the ocean, Alaska and Amanda al at once.

    "Phwhat?" Lachlan mumbled, his mouth too fill of food to make proper sound. Sandy looked at him, his cheeks puffed out, crammed fill of chocolate and bread, and she laughed. It felt so good to let such a joyful noise escape her lips, something so much happier and freer than what she had felt recently. Lachlan raised an eyebrow in puzzlement, which only made him look funnier and reduced Sandy to further fits of laughter, nearly choking on her food as her stomach heaved.

    "Are you alright?" Lachlan asked cautiously once he had swallowed, by which time Sandy had managed to control herself.

    "I'm sorry… I have not had much to laugh about lately," she replied, blushing slightly but still giggling. She expected Lachlan to be weirded out, but instead he sighed and nodded.

    "I know the feeling," he said in a soft voice. "I thought this show would be fun when we began, but we seriously have not done anything that exciting; just battling and sleeping, that's it! I'd like to be friends with Damian, but it feels really uncomfortable when people are recording every conversation you have, or they try and get you to discuss certain topics and say certain things, just to make everything more exciting." He turned to Sandy, his eyes swimming with water, and the blonde was completely taken aback.

    "I wish I had never even auditioned for this show, I had no idea why I was even chosen!" Lachlan whispered, all sense of joking joy completely disappearing. "My mum suggested I do it, she thought it might be a fun experience, something I would remember for years to come. I've wanted to go on a journey for years, but it never seemed feasible money-wise until this opportunity arose. When they hired me I was over the moon, but it became quite apparent from the start we'd have very little freedom, that every movement would be monitored, that everything we did would be watched, processed and changed. I really hate this whole thing at times Sandy, I really do!"

    "Oh Lachlan, I'm so sorry!" Sandy said, feeling partly obliged to say so but was taken aback by his frank admission. Lachlan turned to her, his body shaking slightly, and Sandy felt almost afraid.

    "They have literally cut Alaska out of everything! No assigns of her, no signs of you, nothing! I swear to you Sandy, something is going on with this. I know she stuffs things up, but the way Amanda acts whenever you guys leave, whispering into her phone, shouting at everyone – it's as if you guys are ruining some great big plan of theirs!" Lachlan paused, looking back at everything for a second, before placing his plate on the ground and walked towards the edge of the land. A tense silence fell between them, the distant sounds of the crew creeping over. Sandy had no idea what to say; to his theory, to his feelings, it was too much to process.

    A loud laugh sounded from behind, and Sandy glanced back to see Alaska cackling at some joke of Damian's. She watched her for a moment, waiting and wondering, and finally Alaska looked her way, the laughter fading from her face almost instantly. For a second the two exchanged a long glare, but Lachlan suddenly reappeared, sighing as he flopped back down, forcing Sandy to look away. The animosity was still there, the anger and the rage, yet as Sandy looked at the once joyful boy slouching on the rock beside her, slowing stuffing his face with the broken remnants of a jam filled doughnut, she could only wonder if she really had it worst.

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 58

    Chapter Fifty Eight: The Tale of Sandy Samson

    After the day Sandy had had, night could not come quick enough.

    The last few hours flew past faster than anything else that week, and Sandy savoured the time she spent simply laying on the cool grass, letting the sea breeze wash over her as the clouds soared above her. She watched the sky as it turned from baby blue to bright pink, fading into a rich purple before settling upon inky blackness, pale clouds replaced with dazzling stars that flickered as she watched. It was so simple and so peaceful, a proper break away from all the robots, the shootings, the explosions, the drama; Sandy felt like she was on cloud nine, sitting with Lachlan, eating cold pasta stolen from the catering, laughing about Chloe and Amanda. She almost forgot that Alaska was only a few metres away, talking to Damian whilst their Pokemon played amongst the grass. Occasionally, Sandy turned towards her friend, wondering what she and Damian were discussing in their hushed voices, but these looks only lasted a few seconds before Sandy decided she didn't want to know, not until Alaska was ready to finish their discussion…

    As day slipped into night, the sun melting away into the ocean, it became clear Amanda had arranged some new activity as she began ordering the workers to arrange a series of ramps and obstacles around the field. Sandy watched as portable spotlights were turned on, illuminating them all with a harsh cream glow, and Chloe reappeared from her tent, Ivysaur and Vulpix already at her side as she prepared for the task ahead.

    "I'd better head off," Sandy said, her peaceful day ending just like that. Even though she did not care what Amanda thought, Sandy was not keen on lingering around longer than necessary and facing the producer's wrath.

    "That is a shame, they were only just starting to bond," Lachlan said dejectedly, and the trainers glanced at their Pokemon; Sandy had sent out Butterfree, Pichu and her newly evolved Weepinbell to play with Lachlan's Wartortle, Geodude and Growlithe. The … Pokemon was having the most fun, chasing the others around as they played some sort of Tag game. It was the sort of fun Sandy's Pokemon had not had for a few weeks now, as they only saw Alaska's Pokemon when it came time to battle.

    Sandy got up and called her Pokemon over, giving them a chance to stay goodbye before they were withdrawn. Lachlan stood with her, and for a moment they stood awkwardly in silence, not sure what to say. After his tearful admission earlier the two had kept to tamer topics like battle strategies and favourite things, and Sandy had enjoyed chatting to someone new for the first time in months. She was dreading meeting up with Alaska once again, and she was tempted to stay with Lachlan and chat for the rest of the night, but there was no way that could happen with Amanda Anderson hovering about nearby.

    "I'd better get ready," Lachlan said, breaking the tension but sounding uncomfortable in doing so.

    "Yeah…," Sandy replied, equally as awkward. Butterfree appeared beside her, Pichu on her back and Weepinbell grasped between her blue hands. "Hey guys, make some new friends?" She asked, and there was a chorus of happy cries from the trio before her. "We will have to play with these guys again some time!" She added, smiling slyly at Lachlan before grabbing her PokeBalls.

    "So there's going to be a next time, eh?" Lachlan asked in a teasing voice, and Sandy simply smirked as her three Pokemon dispersed into energy.

    "Well, I'd like there to be a next time," she replied, grinning. "It has been nice talking to another person without there being a homicidal maniac in the background to deal with, and I think we'd all enjoy doing it again. "

    "I'd like that too," Lachlan said, his joking smile softening. The two looked at each other for a moment, not sure what else to say, but their tension was broken for them; Growlithe rushed forwards and jumped into Lachlan's arms, nearly bowling him over, and at the same time the lanky cameraman called out for the brown haired boy to join them.

    "You'd better go," Sandy said, her heart wrenching at losing this connection, knowing she may never get this opportunity again. "Bye," she finished, and turned away before her emotions got the better of her. She heard Lachlan call out his own farewell, his own voice soft and mournful, but Sandy forced herself to keep moving forwards.

    It was not until she had left Lachlan behind that Sandy realised how much of the field the show had taken up, nor how many crew members there were. She could feel the grass rubbing against her knees as she walked through the stretch of green, yet the strangest feeling was that of all these eyes upon her. Sandy saw the crew pause in their actions to glimpse at her, over a dozen of them turning and following her. Chloe's Ivysaur snarled at her presence, attracting his trainer's attention, who gave Sandy an equally ugly look. Damian was the only sympathetic face in this crowd, offering Sandy a soft smile as he tended to Charmeleon, but he quickly looked away without properly greeting her. There was the swish of fabric amongst all this, and Sandy could not help but turn to face Amanda one final time. The producer stood beside her tent, her face so stony it rivalled Geodude's, phone clutched to her ear once more. Sandy mockingly smiled, but Amanda's mouth moved only to offer two words to the mobile, and Sandy almost shivered as she read those glossy, ruby red lips; it's done.

    She quickly left the obstacle course behind, but as she walked down the empty route, Sandy still felt unsettled. Darkness enclosed her as she left the spotlights comforting glow, creeping up and engulfing her from all sides. She could hear the distant turning of turbines from a wind farm down the coastline, a sound that in this silent, unmoving night was almost threatening. Trees swayed as nocturnal Pokemon rose from between trunks and branches to begin their nightly journeys, and Sandy nervously eyed the forest rows, standing like sentinels looming above her, watching, judging.

    She soon found that Alaska had already set up the tent; the triangle of black fabric was starting to bear the marks of a long journey, with several holes and cuts appearing, a slight dip on the right side from a broken support bar and plenty of mud caking the bottoms, but it was the closest thing Sandy had to a home right now, even if she did not want to step inside right now.

    I left my old home to get away from someone I didn't want to be, and now I am in the exact same situation on the opposite side of Kanto. Only this time there's nowhere else to hide… Sandy stared at the flaps fluttering in the night wind blowing in from the sea, wondering what version of Alaska she would find in there; the happy, joking Alaska she had known at the start, the worried, silent Alaska that kept things to herself, or the angry, unpredictable Alaska that had to prove herself to the world? Sandy looked at the ocean, the waves crashing into the land like liquid coal, and she was tempted to leap back in and see how far she'd get this time, but she knew that would not solve her problems – for better or for worse, it was time to face Alaska.

    Silence greeted Sandy as she stepped inside. The tent had just enough room for both of them and their bags but little head room, forcing Sandy to drop to her knees and crawl towards her half. Alaska was setting up her sleeping bag, her back turned and no sign of recognition that her friend had entered.

    "Everything is still damp," she said suddenly, her voice half its normal volume and Sandy paused in the process of getting her own sleeping bag. "My laptop and that blasted gun managed to survive, but all my clothes are saturated."

    "Mine too," Sandy replied softly, her voice cracking slightly. She began to arrange her own area, unfurling the soggy sleeping bag and realising too late that it would be too difficult to actually sleep in. It squelched as she moved it, and Alaska turned briefly.

    "I could send Paige out, she could use Heat Wave to dry all our stuff," she suggested, and even reached for her PokeBall. Sandy went to respond but she paused, her hands resting on the damp, squishy surface of the sleeping bag. Alaska's words stirred up a year old memory in the back of her mind, and Sandy shut her eyes as it came back to her; she was standing in her back yard, feet planted firmly on the hard ground, eyes watching intently as a Metapod tried and failed to fire String Shot at a tree five metres away. It had been dusk, the sky the colour of a ripe peach, the evening call of gathering Pidgey echoing all around her.

    "You've been out here for an hour and that thing still hasn't gotten a direct hit!"

    "She's trying Dad; just give her have a chance."

    "For god's sake Sandy – you whinge and moan about wanting to be a trainer, but you can't even teach a Metapod to use its only attack!"

    "Sandy, are you alright?"

    "You realise you will kill that Pokemon if you try to use it in battle, don't you?!"

    "No Dad, I swear I can train her! Metapod, use Str –"

    "Don't bloody bother, you pathetic green shit! This little idiot is never going to get you anywhere in life. It is a bloody miracle you made it this far without dying, but you can look forward to spending the rest of your life as some immobile, inactive invalid!"

    "Daddy, you are making her cry!"

    "Sandy?"

    "It's crying, is it? Well let's see how much it cries when it can't even protect itself!" Sandy screamed at that point as her father stepped towards Metapod, his foot raised about her glossy green skin, ready to bring his foot down…

    "POD POD!" Metapod yelled, and String Shot was fired directly into Jack Samson's face. He stumbled backwards and tripped over a rotting deck chair, and Sandy sprinted forwards and scooped up her Pokemon. Without another thought, she ran for the trees, sending a trio of Spearow soaring into the clouds as she fled into the safety of the forest.

    "It's okay Metapod, he won't hurt you, he won't hurt you, he won't hurt you…," Sandy whispered repeatedly, believing her words for a second, but there was an angry shout from behind, and Sandy shed a silent tear slid, unable to avoid her fate for much longer…

    "Sandy, what's going –"

    "If I want to dry my sleeping bag, I will find a way myself," Sandy whispered in response, her hands angrily clutching the purple fabric of her sleeping bag, threatening to tear it in half. She could hear Alaska awkwardly shuffling on her sleeping bag, unable to react to this, and Sandy could almost laugh. "Wow… for once, you don't actually have a response!" She said, struggling not to collapse into hysterics. She turned to face her friend, and for the first time in hours Sandy found herself staring Alaska straight in the eyes; there was a mix of confusion and anger in her beady black pupils, an awkward expression that covered her whole face. Sandy savoured knocking her down a peg, but at the same time she regretted the fact they were in this situation, their friendship being backed into a corner with only two possible solutions to get out of it…

    "Sandy, what's brought this anger on?" Alaska asked after a minute. "I'm really confused; everything seemed fine this morning! What's changed since then to make you get so angry with me?" Sandy glared at her, stunned by her friend's ignorance, and for a second she wanted to shout, unleash her built up rage and let Alaska have it. However, Sandy could see the confusion on her friend's face, and she knew getting angry was not going to solve this. She sighed and leaned back against the tent, feeling a cool breeze seeping in through a hole. Sandy had no idea where to begin or how to word any of this, but she had been letting her story build up for months now, hiding beneath the surface, waiting for her to get the courage to tell Alaska the details. She had wanted the right moment to say all this, and there was no better time than now.

    "When I was a little girl, my mum left us – me and my dad, that is," Sandy began, choosing to look at the swishing tent flap, unable to face her friend yet. She sensed Alaska tensing up for a moment, but than felt the tug of the tent as the black haired girl leaned back, waiting and listening. "Isabella was her name; she named me after her grandmother. I only have memories of her being happy; she was tall, blonde, a smile permanently on her face. Nearly everything I remember about her is at our local park, where we always went for little adventures through the trees, by the boulders…

    "According to my dad, she fell out of love of him and instead with some work colleague. I can't even remember what her job was meant to be, or if she even worked – I wouldn't be surprised if my father stretched the truth in order to back up his story. Either way, one day she was there and the next she wasn't. My last memory of her is going to the local park for what was the final time; we had ice cream by this little pond and watched as a gaggle of Swanna bobbed on the surface. I remember they were so beautiful, just like my mother…

    "After she left, it was just me and my dad. He was a miner at Victory Road, keeping the path clear for all the trainers coming through. He had longer hours, so I was on my own a lot after school, and when he got home he would have to cook and clean and do all the jobs mum use to do. He insisted on doing these things on his own so his family and friends wouldn't interfere, but even at a young age I knew he couldn't cope with it all. It was not a pleasant environment to live in, so that's why I began my bubbly, beaming persona. I pretended everything in the world was perfect and happy so I did not have to think about the pain my dad was going through." Sandy paused for a moment, needing to catch her breath, her throat going dry. She felt Alaska shuffle, sensed she was about to say something, and Sandy forced herself to carry on, even though she felt like crying.

    "After a while, my dad began to lose it a bit; his salary got cut, so he drank more to get over his pain. Sometimes he would stay out for the whole night, I have no idea where but we're both grown up enough to take a guess. He became abusive at times… whenever the subject came up of me going on a journey, he would scoff and say I wasn't ready and never would be. Last year, I found a Caterpie on my windowsill, I think trying to get to this flower I kept on my bedside table. My dad let me keep it, but it only made me want to go travelling more, and made him keep telling me I would never be ready…

    "In the end… I ran away… I just took off, and I haven't been back sense. I haven't written or spoken to him for two months, he could have drunk himself to death after and I wouldn't know. When Metapod evolved into Butterfree, I knew I could not stay there any longer. I had to leave… I just had to…

    "Half the time I don't know why I am travelling any more. I left so I could finally go on my own journey, so I could train my Pokemon and experience the world. I never signed up to take part in gym battles though my father never would have let me, so by the time I reached Viridian Forest I was beginning to realise there was not a lot of point in carrying on. I decided I would climb the tallest tree I could find and look across at the world before I trudged back home. I will tell you Alaska, before you are done with all this, you need to look across this glorious region of ours; I saw everything from Pewter in the north to Pallet in the south, I saw as far west as Cerulean and I gazed at the skyscrapers of Saffron in the distance. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen, and I thought retreating back home and admitting defeat would have been worth it, just because I managed to see that view.

    "Then, when I went to climb down, the branch snapped beneath my feet, and I fell from the tree and into this amazing journey. After I met you, after battling Chloe and Lachlan and that very first robot, I knew I wanted to keep travelling. I realised then that there was more to this world than I knew, and that if I stopped in that forest I would not know what was really out there. Even though I nearly died, I never would have experienced the thrill of battling that robot if I hadn't run away, and I could not let myself miss out on another opportunity like that. So I made carried on, knowing everything would be worth it if I could see some more amazing sights like that. Then I met you again, I caught my second Pokemon, and I was determined that this journey would be amazing.

    "But… but now Alaska… I feel like I am your sidekick, being dragged along with you and simply witnessing your amazing journey. I have seen some amazing things – watching you battle is simply breath taking – but I have nearly been killed more times than I can count. I would have died in the middle of a road in Lavender Town if there hadn't been some bloody ghost there to save me. Alaska… when I lay there, the darkness closing in as my body shut down, I thought 'what is the point of this? Why was I standing there when the gun was fired?' Dying might have been worthwhile if I had done something to stop Gideon and the robots, but I haven't been allowed to help you Alaska, that's the problem! I left home so I could experience the world, but how am I supposed to enjoy any of this when it feels like I am still living with my father and being treated like I cannot do anything, sacrificing myself for a cause you won't let me help you with!"

    Finally Sandy stopped talking, unable to carry on. She wanted something to soothe her throat, but first she had to look at Alaska, unable to put it off any longer. However, her friend did not meet her eyes; Alaska was staring down at the sodden floor of their tent, still and silent, letting the weight of these words wash over her. Sandy had nothing more to say for now, and she waited, waited for her friend to say something, to defend, to argue, to blame, to admit, Sandy had no idea how she would react. She simply waited and wondered, feeling as though a weight had been lifted from her shoulders, but part of lingered as she waited for Alaska's reaction.

    "Do you think I enjoy not telling you things?" She said finally, and Sandy was stunned to find emotion in her voice she had never heard before. "I made a promise to you after Diglett Cave, and I want to keep that promise, but… but since then… you got shot the day after I made that promise Sandy," Alaska spat out, choking up as she spoke. "I want to tell you everything, you deserve to know, but I am scared Sandy… scared that the more and more we get involved in this, the higher the chance that something bad will happen to us… to you. I am the one that started this; I am the one that confronted Gideon at the museum! You never signed up for this, we were both just looking for a friend to travel with, but instead of giving you companionship I've endangered your life more times than I ever could have imagined. That is why I have tried to keep everything from you; to protect you…

    "We are in a situation so completely insane I barely understand five percent of what is going on! Half the time I feel like I am trapped in a bizarre video game, with someone using me as some avatar for their own life. None of this feels real; meeting all these famous people, being targeted by robots and gun wielding mad men, encountering ghosts, running from explosions. I have no idea how I am ever suppose to come back from this… The other day, when Nitelite dropped us and that Snorlax began to wake up, I thought for certain it was going to kill us. I have never felt that way about Pokemon before. Sure, I have been frightened by some, but I always wanted to face them head on and show them what's what. But now… everything seems to want to kill us, and it is changing me more than I probably realise. For the past few days I have been trying not to think about all the crap in our lives, because I want this over Sandy, I want to end this more than anything."

    "So that's why you've been battling so much?" Sandy asked, unable to keep quiet as she needed answers.

    "Yes… You saw what happened with Alexis, I wouldn't have won that rematch if I hadn't burnt her bloody gym down in order to do so. You are right, I really need to stop relying on the fireworks to make myself heard," Alaska added, smirking for the first time since Sandy had entered the tent, and the blonde could not help but laugh a little. "I made a decision during the storm, I decided I want to focus on my gym battles and I want to get stronger, to defeat them and to defeat Gideon, but I cannot rely on tricks to do that anymore. I am so sorry if I have ignored you and your Pokemon, there is no excuse for using you all as training dummies. I got carried away but I swear to cut back now. Besides, now that I have Shelley, I can probably train on my –"

    "Shelley?" Sandy interrupted.

    "Oh yeah; the Shellder, I named her Shelley," Alaska explained. Sandy raised an eyebrow, a smirk creeping onto her face, and then she began to laugh. "What is wrong with Shelley?" Alaska asked, scoffing indignantly but smirking herself.

    "Shellder… Shelley… not terribly imaginative on your part," Sandy replied, beginning to laugh.

    "Rude Alexandra Samson, very rude!" Alaska tutted, but she was chuckling herself. "It's been a long week; I believe I'm allowed a lull day creativity wise!" Sandy continued to snigger, and Alaska descended into laughter herself. It lasted for over a minute, and by the time Sandy stopped she had fallen to her side, feeling the grass poking her beneath the tent's surface. She looked at Alaska and sighed as the last of the laughter died.

    "We've had a long two months, you deserve as much time as you want," Sandy said dejectedly, and Alaska murmured in agreement. They paused for a moment, and while Sandy felt lighter, the air was not fully clear yet.

    "I am so sorry for everything you've been through Sandy," Alaska said a minute later. "I have been a complete bitch, don't deny it, and I have made this whole journey about my fight with Gideon. I've wanted to protect you from everything, even bloody Barney this morning, but part of me has always known I was handling this wrong; if you want to help than you can and I will tell you everything, I shouldn't decide how you live your life." Sandy paused for a moment, letting this soak in, and then she looked at her and beamed.

    "I may regret this the next time some killer Jigglypuff comes after us, but I want to help Alaska. You may have started this war with Gideon, but I am involved now and I am going to make sure we defeat that greasy bastard even if it kills us!" Sandy boomed with a smile so wide it made her muscles hurt.

    "In this till the bitter end then, eh?" Alaska said, grinning herself. "That's what you get for wanting to be my friend."

    "Well, it all seemed like a good idea at the time," Sandy replied, and Alaska snorted with laughter. A bang suddenly echoed throughout the night, and the two paused and gazed through the flaps; the latest challenge of Indigo Dreams was about to begin, and Amanda's shrill voice echoed as she organised her troops into order.

    "Uptight bitch," Alaska hissed. "Good on you for sticking up to her before, I was quite proud of you!" Sandy beamed and blushed with pride, amazed to think the two had managed to reach this point in only a few hours.

    "Lachy was talking about her before, seems to think the fact they cut us out of the show means Amanda is hiding something," she explained, and Alaska leaned back and pondered this.

    "Potentially, I could be disrupting some larger plan of theirs… either that or she loses a botox appointment every time the ratings slide," she replied, smirking. "Before we get into her though, I owe you the truth on a few matters…"

    And for the rest of the night, Alaska spoke and Sandy lay there and listened. She had to admit Alaska was right about it being difficult to comprehend all these things; fortune tellers with mysterious cards, the shadowed man appearing on the rooftop, Latios' prophecy, Sandy's head hurt trying to digest it all. They soon moved onto subjects they could discuss; who was behind the robots, why was Red following them, what did Gideon need the spell book for and why had he attacked Vermilion? For the first time Sandy felt she could properly share her thoughts, and the two friends debated and discussed long into the night, even while Alaska updated her blog. By the time they had exhausted themselves of all topics, Sandy found her bag was dry enough and they crawled under their covers.

    Sandy lay awake for a little while longer, listening to the wind outside and the distant bangs from the obstacle course. She knew things were not going to be perfect straight away, and there was always a chance Alaska could hide something, but tonight had gone better than Sandy could have ever expected. She shut her eyes and thought back to that last day in the park, watching in awe as a Swanna took flight and soared above her head, Isabella Samson holding her up so her little arms could try and touch its glowing white wings. That had always been a happy memory for Sandy, one she liked to retreat to when her optimism failed to protect her. However, Sandy was pleased to know that after tonight she would have a new memory set right in this very tent to look back to when the world got too dark.

    She and Alaska weren't just allies again; they were friends, and Sandy couldn't be happier.



    This arc is finally over! I am relieved simply as I started it so long ago! Blog/interlude coming next, and then our story kicks back into gear. I hope you enjoyed this voyage into Sandy's mind and did not mind the heft of dialogue above; next time we return to Alaska's thoughts

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    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 59

    Blog Eleven: The Paths Untaken

    Hello once more, my vivacious internet dearies. How's this whore we call life treating you all? Devilishly, I hope – no one likes an angelic whore now do they?

    It is a tad difficult to describe how my own life has been these past few days. Obviously, anyone following the news will probably have gathered that I was involved in that incident at the casino, though I am pleased to say that was probably the only significantly life threatening situation I got into this week! I've been explosion-sober for a few days, so go me!

    Essentially, my life this past week has been made up of walking – walking and thinking, two of the dullest activities on the planet, but I think I have deserved a dull week, don't you? I would recommend this to anyone out there who finds their life is usually full of exploding robots and nuclear arms wielding mad men: head to the very west of Kanto and just spend a week strolling down that concrete path, let your mind wander and simply relax. It will do you the world of good.

    It's just been me and Sandy for the most part, and I couldn't be happier about that. It was nice to interact with some other humans whilst in Celadon, but me and other people don't really click, so going back to just the two of us having a nice little wander down this coastal path was rather refreshing. Mostly it's been quiet, and this route is so much more relaxing than anywhere else I have been lately, and it gave me a lot of time to think just with myself. I did dwell on some of those bastard questions that I have not yet managed to shake, like why our beloved champion has sent his legendary pets after me, or who exactly my shadowy stalker is, but largely I thought about simpler, non-earth shattering things.

    I thought about my family who I have not seen or spoken to for months now (I did give them the link to this blog, so they either are following my every move like every other bloody person in this region, or my mother had a heart attack the second she saw the words giant robot Beedrill together in the same sentence. Considering my dear mother can't open the internet without assistance, I think I may be safe.) I am almost enviously wondering about my sibling's school life – to be honest, I would rather have to do mathematics at the moment than get shot at again. You may hate denominators, but they are pretty easy compared to fighting deranged weirdos. I pondered on the current state of ViridianCity and how that is going, I thought about all the shows I haven't watched, all the big news stories I have missed, the fact life is chugging on without me while I am living in my own little world with only Sandy, my Pokemon and assassins for company.

    Ultimately, the biggest thing I think about is what my life would be like if I had not gone on this journey. Sometimes I just wonder how worthwhile this has really been, and how normal things may have been if I had stayed in Viridian, gone to school, raised Paige in my backyard and taken the non-trainer lifestyle like the rest of my school. Would Paige have evolved by now? Would my school grades have improved? Would I have somehow met Sandy in less life threatening circumstances? Would I be setting myself up for some boring desk job for the rest of my days? And what about Gideon and the giant robots? Would all those plans have been carried out if I had not been there to get involved? Maybe some of them would have never happened or maybe they could have been worse, who knows? That seems to be the curse of living a life like this, never being able to know what would have happened to you or anyone else if you had never gotten involved.

    I got a new Pokemon today, a little Shellder who I have simply dubbed Shelley (Sandy told me it wasn't very imaginative, but I like it, what do y'all think? Feel free to abuse me in the comments if you want). Her mother, a Cloyster, saved our lives and wanted us to take her daughter with us as a thank you, to give her the life and experiences I guess the Cloyster never experienced herself. I can only imagine what was going through the Pokemon's mind, but I feel she was having similar thoughts to me: wondering what path her life may have taken if some trainer had captured her all those years ago. I guess these are things we must live with after the events of our life have unfolded; what if I had chosen to do that instead, what if I had did this, what if I hadn't done that. I only remembered afterwards how my own mother had been supportive of my decision to go on a journey, and it makes me wonder how both our lives would be different had she gone travelling as a child– though I try not to dwell on that too much, as I know I never would have been born…

    I should probably keep you up to date on the other things that happened to me this week, considering that's what a blog is for; as I said above, Sandy and I nearly died again, but compared to everything else this latest freak Barney registered about a 3 on the Maniac-Scale (patent pending), and we met Mitchell and the reality stars again, but we all walked away unscathed. Normally these things may have made things a bit more interesting, but I really couldn't care less about them. My thoughts were all that mattered to me this week, everything else just got in the way of me realising a few things I probably should have considered a while ago. I had a long talk with Sandy – well, I say talk, we largely argued at first. When we finally talked like sane human beings and I heard what my friend had to say and what she had been keeping from me, I knew that there was one thing that I would change if I could go back. I just wish all of my decisions could be this easy.

    My little adventure this week began with being flown away from a gunfight in the arms of a Dragonite, and it has ended in a tent in the middle of nowhere, listening to the world moving on outside this triangle of fabric. This has ended so peacefully that I have to think back to that dark floor beneath the ground, surrounded by men with guns, fallen limousines and broken rubble around me. As I type this I am looking back and wondering where I would have ended up if I had not been flown away to safety, and thinking what happened to those I left behind.

    I have done enough soul searching for one day; it is time for a rest. This blog is probably rather vague and makes little sense, but I had to get these thoughts out there and say what has been bothering me. This journey has affected me in more ways than anyone reading this could possibly ever imagine, and these changes are going to stick with me for years to come (if I survive my way through this all, that is). The other week I was forced to make a decision on the future of my travels, and while I am now set firmly on this path to train for now and die another day, as Shelley and her mother will tell you, wonders of what could have been are a part of our daily thoughts – I just have the misfortune of mine being on a much larger scale.

    Until next time - here's hoping your what ifs do not keep you awake at night,

    Alaska




    Been so long since I did one of these, yet when I began writing it things went faster than probably anything else this year. Not quite as humorous as the others, but I figured that this was something Alaska needed to say. Next up, the first interlude in who knows how many months!

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Blog 11

    Just a warning, this chapter contains spoilers for Kris vs Gold, so avoid the first paragraph if you are reading that story. Sorry for another delay, on holiday now, hope things will come along faster


    Interlude Eleven: Six Degrees of Madness

    "Well, I guess that's me done for the night. I might as well head off if we have nothing else to discuss."

    "Mmmhhhhmm."

    "Girl, are you even paying attention? What are you still doing out there anyway, it's getting late."

    "What, it is? I had no idea! I could have sworn dark meant it was morning! But you are the expert on these things; I shall have to take your word for it."

    "Well, I am here only to serve you, my Champion," Karen replied with a broad grin, unfazed by the younger girl's sarcasm. She strutted out of the dining room, her black boots clunking on the wooden floor, and stepped out once more onto the balcony. Kris Soul did not seem to notice, too focussed on staring across The Champion's Park, currently hidden within the darkness of the night, tiny pinpricks of golden light penetrating the gloom.

    "Can you even remember what I came here to talk about?" Karen asked, leaning against the railing, feeling tired and light headed from her several glasses of wine, but she felt a need to check on things before leaving. It took Kris several moments to respond, her attention not wavering from the darkness beneath her. "Kris?"

    "We discussed the Open Day that's happening in three weeks, and you reminded me that I am to have an exhibition battle with all four of you so I should really start training again, as you also reminded me that it has been six months since I last battled someone, and a further nine months since I last checked into my proper facilities," Kris responded quickly, tilting her head and smiling back at Karen for a moment before returning to her night view.

    "Very good," Karen replied. "For a second I thought you had completely disengaged your mind for the duration of the night."

    "I am the bloody Champion, my job description is essentially battling and paying attention to what I am told," Kris said coldly, and she raised a glass tumbler to her lips, taking an over-long slug of Hoenn wine. Karen remained silent, staring down at the folders clasped in her aging hands, allowing Kris to drink in peace. She recalled a discussion she had had the other day with her fellow Elite Four members, their concerns suddenly rushing back to her; she had thought them silly, not worthy of much note, but after tonight, Karen had quickly realised the warning signs about Kris had been right in front of her for months, that she had simply been ignoring them.

    "I really should go before it gets any later," the Dark trainer said after several tense moments of silence. Kris gave no response, her attention drifting back to the nothingness below her. Karen turned to leave, but she before she could stop herself, words came trickling from her mouth. "However, I feel that you need some advice before I leave."

    "Isn't that what you're here for?" Kris snapped. Karen rolled her eyes, unable to bite her tongue any longer, and she turned back to her Champion.

    "Kris, we are all worried about you," she said, though she almost spat the words out, her calm, cool demeanour evaporating in a second as the concerns she had harboured for months burst through. "You have not been right for a while now; months, if not years. I cannot pretend that I know what is happening inside that head of yours, but all I know is that you are far too young to have gone through the things you've been through, but also far too young to become a bitter little bitch that treats everyone around her like dirt. I want to see the passionate young woman that first defeated me four years ago, not her ghost that seems to be here by force rather than choice. You have three weeks to get things together before the Open Day, otherwise the entire region will know and that will make everything worse, and I am sure more media attention is the last thing you want. You are the bloody Champion, so it is time you bloody act like it."

    With that, Karen set off, marching through the living room, leaving Kris alone on the balcony. She felt that she may have been too harsh rather helpful, and probably a bit rash, but as Karen descended the staircase, she simply hoped that her words would have some effect.

    Kris sat there, listening to Karen disappear. She retrieved her glass from the table, still processing the words of the woman who, currently, was probably her only friend in the world.

    The bloody Champion, here by force, not choice, she thought bitterly, and downed the last of her wine. She felt a slight rush to the head, but whatever was in this that should make her feel better wasn't working; Kris felt as down as she had for the past two years.

    "The passionate girl… passion… you were the one that told me to fight with passion, and look where that got me!" The teenager muttered to herself, hearing her front door slam shut, catching a slight shadow gliding across footpath before it disappeared into the night. "Passion… this is no place for passion…"

    It had been four years since Kris had won the title of Champion, though it had taken two battles before she was finally allowed to claim that honour. She had fought her eternal rival Ethan Hartley, a battle that had nearly killed several of the Pokemon and had ended with him being arrested, his drug cheating ways finally being exposed. Kris had thought she had finally triumphed, but Gold was able to get one last thing over her: Lance, the previous Champion, the glorious, the powerful, the popular, demanded a battle, as it became clearer that he had only lost to Gold due to his cheating.

    For the second time in only a few months, Kris was forced to battle on a truly Champion level. Afterwards, she had been told the battle was 'beautifully epic', 'a masterpiece', and 'the greatest battle Johto had ever seen.' To Kris, it had simply been two of the most gruelling, exhausting and painful hours of her life. Her Pokemon push themselves to the limits, but Lance's Pokemon were powerful, years of experience making them nearly unbeatable. It had taken Latios to finally secure the win, nearly killing herself to bring Lance's Salamance, Hydregion and his oldest and strongest Dragonite down.

    And when a Pokemon you have a Psychic link is being destroyed, you feel every ounce of their pain.

    It had been a cruel battle, one Lance had insisted go ahead despite the death of Kris' mother only a month prior. Now he had fled to Kanto and his original Elite Four, spreading ill-will about Kris across the regions and forcing her to keep battling long after Dragonite had crashed back to earth.

    For four years now, Kris had called herself Champion, but she had done little to earn the name. Her biggest achievement had been headlining the rebuild of Champion's Stadium, after Dragonite and Latios destroyed half of it with an Outrage-Mist Ball collision, and renaming the entire area Champion's Park. Since then, Kris had only fought in ten battles as Champion, two of which had been from the bi-annual Johto League tournament. She had seen the horrors of Team Galactic's plans atop Mount Coronet, images that still haunted her nightmares, but most of Kris' life these past years had been regulated within the four walls of her house, alone…

    No friends, no family, no point… Kris thought grimly. She had no reason to return to New Bark Town anymore, not when her childhood home was now occupied by other people; nor could she bear seeing her aunts and grandmother in Ecruteak, and suffer their thinly veiled concern that was more uncomfortable than helpful, or watch as death began to catch up to the great Hanoko. And it was rather difficult to see the love of your life when he worked for the family of the man whose legacy you crushed.

    You have every right to be worried Karen, in fact, I would be upset if you weren't, Kris thought with a sigh. I sacrificed everything for my journey, a journey that nearly destroyed me, and only to lose everything that I gained. Sometimes, Kris wondered what life would be like had she not become Champion; it wouldn't have saved her mother, but Kris liked to imagine what she might be doing, where she would be living, who she could be living with: these thoughts dogged her more than she would like, as attached to her as her own dark hair. Kris had once spoken of it to Red about it at a function, and he had smiled sadly at her and whispered 'That is the curse of the Champion; you get everything you had ever dreamed for to only wonder how better your life would have been if you hadn't.'

    Reassuring words as always, Kris thought. She looked at her empty tumbler and sighed, her head starting to feel heavy and sleepy, the darkness losing its appeal. Karen was right on one thing; if Kris didn't start training again, things were not going to go well for her come the open day. It would be interesting to see how the public treated her, considering people still referred to Lance as 'The People's Champion' – the one the public wanted, the one they had wanted to win.

    Kris forced herself out of the chair, wobbling slightly, and stepped back into her house. She enjoyed watching the nothingness of night, letting her imagination float away and the darkness of her thoughts disappear. The recent events across the border in Kanto had not helped her mood; more death and destruction, with a young girl in the very heart of it all. Kris wanted to help and bring an end to it, but the Indigo League had insisted they could handle it; even they didn't want a bar of her.

    Suddenly, Kris stumbled, white spots dancing before her eyes; one second she was upright, staying at her pale brown walls, trying not to stay bitter, and the next she was doubled over, and knew it was not the wine. The glass smashed against the wooden floor, the sound barely registering, but Kris felt the pain as her knees fell onto the tiny shards. She winced from this, but she was more distracted by the fact her head seemed to be splitting in two, as if someone had come and taken an axe to it. Memories suddenly rushed through her mind; her father leaving on his Skarmory, receiving Chikorita, battling Gold in the Goldenrod Underground, the explosion outside the theatre in Ecruteak, meeting Leaf on a rainy beach, her and Spike at her Christmas, the day of her mother's funeral…

    "What… the… hell…," Kris puffed, clutching a bleeding hand to her head, trying to block out the pain that was consuming her. She blinked rapidly, trying to get rid of the spots, but saw something much stranger instead; blue light illuminated her entire house, filling every square inch in a dazzling glow that Kris would have appreciated were her head not being split in two, a glow that seemed oddly familiar.

    Krystal Soul, I have searched for you for many days. A deep, beautiful yet frightening voice whispered inside her head, and Kris screamed in pain. I cause you no harm, I am simply scanning your memories to see if it is truly you. This process would have gone sooner, but I fear that I am in sudden need of your help.

    A familiar sound echoed above Kris' screams, and she managed to open her eyes for a moment to see a silhouette hover across the room, eyes glowing pink as it moved towards the source of the voice.

    Brother!

    Hello sister… it… it has been a long time

    BROTHER!


    Kris was certain her brain was being torn apart. Unable to take it anymore, she turned, trying to find the source so she could possibly stop it. Instead, she saw Latias reaching out, facing a Pokemon that seemed to be her twin. The two reached out, their hands coming together, and Kris screamed as her mind burst, images of an exploding city swelling inside her mental vision, and suddenly everything was white.

    ***

    "I am here for one reason only boy, and that's because they forgot to take Casimer's good scotch with them when they packed up his crap. I don't give a damn about your problems: they are far too big for anyone to handle, even me, and you should be able to fix them on your own by now."

    "As always, it is a pleasure to be in your company Vivian," Red replied with a false smile, bringing the aforementioned alcohol and several glasses over on a tray. His brunette guest laughed, her trademark cackle echoing inside the confined living room.

    "I'm always a pleasure darling, you know that!" Vivian purred. She was wearing a tight, lime green dress that looked horribly uncomfortable, and her feet were resting on the table, encased in black leather boots, looking far more dressed up than Red's casual t-shirt and old pants. Red smiled half heartedly, collapsing wearily into the chair opposite. It had not been easy arranging this meeting with the illustrious Vivian Winters, bitchy talk show therapist who could reduce anybody to tears within seconds, and Red had been tempted to not bother, but he was in desperate need of advice, and Vivian could be the only one to give it.

    Things were not well in Kanto; the attack on the casino had made it clear that Gideon was not the only one out to cause harm and destruction. Red had nearly lost a gym leader and several supporters in the attack, who barely escaped unharmed; he had flown over as soon as he heard the news, but it had been too late for Red to help and or to catch the criminals. The entire region was getting worried, and the Champion needed help if he was going to stop things, and in this hour of need, he had no choice but to turn to his eldest, cattiest advisor.

    "So, tell me boy," Vivian said with her trademark smirk, as she poured herself a glass of the rich, mahogany liquid, "how is your battle against this latest megalomaniac going?"

    "Not very well, I am afraid," Red replied with a sigh. Vivian did not respond, simply raising her eyebrows and taking a long draught of her drink, and Red rolled his eyes at her control of the conversation. "As far as we can tell, there are at least two different groups targeting our region at the moment; Gideon is responsible for the attacks in Pewter, Vermilion and Lavender, while we believe a bigger group is behind the casino, but is also planning something far more significant. I have no idea where Gideon is nor do we have confirmation on our other assailants, but if we do not stop them than I am sure they will rival Team Rocket's actions five years ago in levels of violence and destruction. Yet the only person capable of stopping them seems to be is a thirteen year old girl who has no idea just how much of a role she could have in this, and I have no idea what I am supposed to do to save her or save Kanto!" Red barely scratched the surface of the situation, but Vivian was not one for details. The therapist nodded, finishing half of her scotch in one long gulp, and Red waited impatiently for her advice.

    "A thirteen year old…," she said at last, "fighting a force much greater than herself – my, my, that sounds so very familiar, doesn't it?" Red tensed up at this, his fingers digging into the arms of his chairs, trying to avoid Vivian's triumphant smirk.

    "This isn't about me, this is about Kan –" he began, but Vivian interrupted.

    "You want to protect the girl because you know what will happen to her if you don't, as they are grooming her for glory the same way they groomed you," she purred. "The Indigo League is the oldest and proudest league in the world, and the one that is most image obsessed. They are well aware that these people are probably going to target you for what you did to Team Rocket, and Miss Avocado has gotten herself involved, so she is the prime person to take your place and become the first female Champion of Kanto and make up for the disappointment of Krystal Soul."

    "How is any of this relevant?" Red asked, beginning to regret inviting her over. "I need advice on how to stop Gideon and save Kanto, not a bloody therapy session!"

    "Oh Red, everything is relevant to you when you're Champion!" Vivian laughed, refilling her drink already. She paused, swigging back the scotch, shuddering slightly as it slid down her throat, and then looked back at Red, her face turning serious. "You want advice on how to handle this, well, here is what I have to say: you watched your best friend die in a hole in the very depths of Kanto, unable to do anything as Team Rocket got one final thing over you long after you though you had defeated them. None of this would have happened had you not been pruned like a show Ponyta into becoming Champion, so now that you see the same happening to Alaska, you want to save her in order to avenge your friend and finally vanquish Giovanni's failed attempt at glory once and for all. If you want to save Kanto, accept that as a fact and stop letting your guilt over Blue's death hold you back; now if I am wrong, I will donate my entire fortune to charity."

    Red was taken back by the calmness in her voice despite the power in her words, and for a second he was left dumbstruck. He wanted to argue, Vivian always brought that out in people, but for once he was speechless, collapsing back into his own thoughts; was she right, was that really what he was thinking? Red had wanted to protect Alaska since he had learnt about her, knowing deep down there was no other course of action, but had his concern sprung from four year old guilt?

    No, this isn't about him, this is not about Blue! Red told himself determinedly, but another side of his mind, the side he sometimes imagined Lapras had control over, hissed back but of course it is, it has always been about Blue, you have not stopped thinking about him since that bloody cave…

    "You really should donate that money anyway," Red muttered finally, lunging towards the scotch, and Vivian laughed, though it was less bitchy this time. She waited until Red had filled a glass, downed it and refilled before talking once more.

    "I may have a botox-riddled, thin lipped, unfazed ice queen persona for the cameras, but there are some things that get under my skin, asides from silicon," Vivian said glumly, looking at Red over the top of her famous red glasses. "I have been following this girl's blog, and I must say I am not impressed with how she has been treated, left alone to fight in another bloody war."

    "I let things get out of my control," Red sighed. "The League told me they would handle things, and that I was too stay out of it and not risk my own life. I wish I had never listened to them; I sent Zapdos and Suicune to protect her, it was the only thing I could do at the time, but I have to do something else. I don't care about my own life at the moment, not when Alaska and her friend are risking their lives to save our region!"

    "And the lives of everyone they meet," Vivian purred icily. "I presume you were spurred into calling me by the casino attack?" Red nodded his head in dismay, remembering the jagged crater in the road, smoke rising from deep below the ground as the magnificent fountain emptied itself into one of his old battlefields.

    "Too many people that are close to me were nearly killed that day," he explained. "What happened to Vermilion and Chrono Island was terrible, and we still don't know why Gideon acted the way he did. But… but these other people, we have no chance of stopping them, and they are starting to get personal. What if they go after my mother next, or Professor Oak, or Murdoch or… or… or Leaf…," he finished weakly, well aware of how selfish and pathetic he sounded, but for once Vivian did not comment.

    "This is a war, Edward, we are both aware of that – not as bad as five years ago, or what happened in the other regions since then, but it has already claimed too many lives and caused too much destruction. The League may want to protect you, but a general can't win his war miles from the fight, and you can't save us all from the side of a mountain. You are the Champion; it's your job to fight, and its time you did." Red nodded along to her words, a slight smile creeping across his face. The idea had been inside his head for weeks now, but now that Vivian in all her catty wisdom had confirmed it, there was clearly no other choice.

    "I'm taking this with me," the therapist said, snatching the bottle of scotch with purple manicured fingers and slipping it into her handbag as she heaved it up from the floor. Red stood up with her, pleased that he had called her now, a hundred ideas quickly coming to mind. However, Vivian was not moving, remaining where she stood; face sinking, eyes suddenly full of pity.

    "You know nothing is said in this region that doesn't reach me eventually, I have heard the rumours," she said as sympathetically as she could. "You know who these other people are, and they are coming for you, aren't they?" A lump formed in Red's throat, a chill creeping through his spine. The League refused to accept the truth, were ignoring the grainy security footage, ignoring the whispers and rumours that had dogged the Champion for months. Even Professor Oak was sceptical, assuring him that if the reality show really was an ex-Team Rocket front, he would know. But Red knew the truth, had sent Leaf away for her own safety, waiting for his killers to come to his doorstep.

    "Yes, yes they are," he replied, trying to sound confident but his voice cracked slightly, the fear and intensity suddenly getting to him. Vivian sighed and lunged into her bag, pulling out a ruby cigarette holder and lighting its cigarette. Tense silence filled the air as she took a long puff, blowing the smoke out like a steam engine, letting it float up to the roof before talking again.

    "Six years ago, in this very room, I warned Casimer – back when this all began, when Giovanni changed our world forever, I warned him to be careful, that Kanto would need her Champion. He smiled at me, but he was too confident for his own good. Will you make up for his mistakes Red; you Champions are all douches anyway, but will you try and not get yourself killed?" Red laughed, a chuckle bursting from his lips before he could stop it, and he let it carry on, the sound swelling inside the room. Vivian raised an eyebrow, her lips sucking on the holder, but Red simply kept on laughing, trying to find the situation funny, but it was ultimately fear fuelling this joy.

    "Of course I will be careful, but what's the point?" He said finally, breathless with his own insane laughter. "You said it before; I've already been replaced, haven't I?"

    ***

    Sleep refused to come to Leaf Oak.

    The eighteen year old turned to her alarm, aggressively slamming a button so she could see the time. Luminous red numbers suddenly appeared, the flash blinding in the dark, but Leaf was able to keep her eyes open long enough to see the figures: 2:37 AM

    "Shit," she hissed to herself, and angrily shoved the clock backwards, the numbers fading and the room retreating back to darkness. Four hours I've been awake! FOUR! Leaf reminded herself. She was tempted to scream in frustration, to throw her sheets around and vent all this rage, but all she could do was sigh.

    It had been this way ever since she had arrived in Fuchsia City. While Leaf spent her days in bliss, exploring the city with Janine and training with her fellow gym leader, her nights were an absolute terror. She had not had a proper night's sleep since leaving Champion's House, and there had been some nights where she had not slept at all, simply laying on the mattress and waiting for morning to come and the nightmare to end. Leaf had reached the point where it was making her unwell, and she knew she needed to get help, but the Viridian native knew she had plenty of reasons for being restless.

    The last few months, after three years of calm, of rebuilding their world, of finally finding a sense of normality in life, Gideon had turned everything upside down. Leaf had been horrified by the scientist's action, and she had wanted to find a way to help, but Red had refused. He had insisted she quietly close the gym, disappear away from the cameras and become obscure. Leaf knew it was his way of protecting her, but Red had no idea what his decision was putting his girlfriend through.

    I have heard the rumours, everyone bloody well has! Leaf thought bitterly. She remembered when she had arrived in Fuchsia, and Janine had thrown her arms around her in greeting; the embrace had been uncomfortable, as if she had just hugged a widow, and the look in Janine's eyes had been pitiful. Leaf was not going to let Red Lowe die, not after all they had been through together, but she could do nothing from the other side of Kanto, rarely speaking to him, forced to get updates from her cousin, the news or, worst of all, Alaska's blog.

    Poor girl…, Leaf thought wearily. She could remember what it was like, forced into battle against a powerful enemy with only few allies; watching as towns and cities were destroyed, struggling to protect yourself let alone anyone else, winning at the last moment long enough to get away, but only for the battle to catch up eventually. But at least when Leaf had fought for her life every day for several months, there had been Red and Blue, she had had her Pokemon, and Janine, and Daisy, and Mark and Murdoch and Madame… but Alaska had no one, only Sandy and less than ten Pokemon between them. Leaf had seen a new blog post before going to bed, and she had been concerned by the talks of tension between them. There had been times when her little trio had fallen out, and it was at those times that they had been weakest. Leaf hoped Alaska would be strong again soon, and hoped someone would go in and help her out of this mess before something worse happened…

    A white flash illuminated the room. Leaf leapt up in her bed, trying to shield her eyes from the sudden blinding flash. For a second, she thought she was hallucinating, that her mass tiredness had finally gotten to her, but than a voice sounded from within the glow.

    "Sorry babe, did I disturb your beauty sleep?" It cackled. Leaf stopped shielding her eyes, her arm flopping to her side, and she irritably turned towards the light.

    "What the hell do you want Charlotte?" She moaned. The glow disappeared, and the ghost appeared clearly before her, a wicked smile stretching across her transparent face. It had been over a year now, possibly even two, since Leaf had last lain eyes on her, and her life had been all the more pleasant for it.

    "Don't worry your pretty little head, I am only here for a moment," Charlotte replied, her grin only getting wider. "I am still a bit sore after I ran into Gideon the other week, so I can't stay long even though we haven't caught up in foreveeeeeer!" The ghost giggled to herself, but Leaf remained stony faced, refusing to let Charlotte get under her skin. Silence fell as she stared defiantly at the ghost, who was waiting for some kind of response, but it quickly faltered and she tutted.

    "Fine then, be a stubborn cow!" Charlotte huffed. "You need to call Sabrina and warn her to be on her guard tomorrow."

    "Sabrina?" Leaf repeated in shock; the Psychic trainer was rarely seen outside of her gym, and Leaf had not spoken to her properly for at least a year. "Why do I need to warn her? And hang on, why can't you just teleport over there and tell her yourself!"

    "I just told you that I'm still weak, rude little non-listener!" Charlotte huffed. "Her gym has too many protective forces around it for my liking, and I really can't be bothered with them right now. So, can you just call her as soon as you wake up tomorrow?" Leaf was tempted to think of some witty response and get one over the frustrating ghost, but she was taken aback by the tired look in those long dead eyes, and her own weariness left her in no mood to fight.

    "Yes, fine, whatever!" The brunette groaned. "As long as you bloody well piss off, I need to get some sleep!" Charlotte clapped her hands in delight, somehow managing to make noise despite the fact they weren't solid. Leaf rolled her eyes and fell back onto her pillow, hoping it was over now, but there was no flash signalling Charlotte's departure, and she turned back to face her.

    "Thank you Leaf, I do appreciate this," the ghost said once her audience had returned to her. "In return of your generous gratitude, I shall give you a warning; the thing you have longed hoped to occur will happen soon, as will the long you have dreaded for longer. And you are going to meet the lovely Alaska soon enough, so I would suggest you start thinking up some advice to pass on."

    "What are you talking about?" Leaf snapped her mind suddenly awake once more. "What have I been dreading? Is this to do with Red?"

    "You'll never get to sleep with your head so full of questions," Charlotte replied with a smirk, and she floated forwards, her right hand outstretched.

    "No Charlotte, answer me, what are you on about?" Leaf shouted. "Answer me, for fucks sake! ANSWER ME!" But Charlotte's hand brushed against her forehead, and suddenly Leaf was falling backwards, asleep before her head had even hit the pillow, her fears evaporating for tonight at least.

    ***

    Here we go again…

    In the shadow of the Magnet Train Terminus, hidden away from the other passengers that had disembarked the Late Night Express with him five minutes prior, a man watched Saffron City sleep. He watched the train travellers leaving in twos and threes, talking in hushed tones so as not to wake the massive city before them, but their voices were filled with excitement about the journey and what lay ahead for them.

    I wonder how many of them will be alive next week, the man thought grimly. He instantly was annoyed at himself for the macabre thought, but he really couldn't help himself; three years of peace and civility, three years of small jobs busting low scale crime rings and Pokemon poaching, three years of built up calmness about to be shattered, and all because of one girl.

    The middle aged man reached into a pocket of his tatty old trench coat, retrieving the lone cigarette he kept for times like this. It would not look terribly suspicious, an old man smoking in the shadows, and he was doubtful anyone was watching him just yet. The crowds had dispersed now, heading for cheap motels or homes of friends, and the man was left alone, turning his attention towards the heart of the city several blocks down. There lay the cities famous skyscrapers, some of the tallest buildings in Kanto, steely symbols of big business that dwarfed the rest of the city, which was a hard feat considering nothing here was smaller than three storeys.

    However, the tallest of them was the Silph Company Building, a god amongst giants; one hundred plus storeys, appearing to be made entirely out of purple glass, it was so tall that lights on the roof turned on at night to warn airplanes and night Pokemon of the beast before them. Silph Co. was the biggest company in all of Kanto and Johto, and that building housed everything from the science and development team from which the company had born to the new initiatives like book publishing and television production.

    The man smirked at the red lights so far above, twinkling like a beacon that was drawing everything towards it. Well, you've brought me here, now what do you want to do with me? He had no idea what would happen tomorrow when he stepped into that building, but all he knew was that this had turned into something that Trevor, his protégée, had been unable to handle alone. Tomorrow, the day would either end with the growing resurgence of a criminal organisation brought down, or with him lying dead on some executive's office, wiped off the face of the earth.

    Here goes nothing, Looker thought bitterly. He took one long, last puff of the cigarette, letting the smoke swirl inside his throat one final time, before throwing the disintegrating stick aside. Looker snuffed it out with a single crunch of his heel, and then the spy walked away into the night, ready to see what tomorrow had in store for him.

    ***

    The burnt black floors beneath the Celadon Casino creaked under Gideon's feet.

    It had been years since the scientist had last been here, in the final days of Giovanni's war against the world, and Gideon was dismayed to see how it fallen into disrepair; he could still remember the day when this glorious building had been destroyed, and since being acquisitioned by the Athlew family, it had remained a broken shell of what had once been the greatest facility in Kanto.

    When he had seen the news, the scientist had not wanted to return to his old base, unsure of what security there would be and the deciphering of Charlotte's book taking up most of his time. Eventually, nostalgia and curiosity had overpowered him, and Gideon knew he had to see what it had become.

    As he walked, his feet stirred up ash and dust, rising up to greet him like an old friend. Gideon was frowned at the layer of filth, a grim reminder of what the base had been reduced to. They would have repaired it, had they won the war, but after the final battle, Gideon had only had time to save his own skin rather than rescue a dilapidated building.

    He paused and looked around, trying to remember what had been where, searching through his memory for the colour scheme and layout, but he could only see was what it had become; burnt, broken, the blackened façade dented by bullet casings and rubble from the road above, scattered with the burnt out remains of several limousines.

    "What happened to you?" Gideon sighed, staring into the darkness that surrounded him. He could remember it had once been bustling, the hub of everything he and Giovanni had tried to achieve five years ago, the place where the plans had been made, their army had been trained, and their experiments had been concocted. It had been massive, it had been glorious… and now it had become this, the skeleton in the Athlew's closet on their path to unnecessary riches.

    Gideon tensed up as he remembered all the things he had achieved here, and everything he would have – if it hadn't been for them. His nostalgic feelings evaporated at once, anger quickly taking over; those miserable little children had brought this place down in one night, all those years of effort going up in a literal cloud of smoke, ruining years of planning and research. Gideon had thought it would be over, that the two survivors would be tied down with their responsibilities, yet here it was happening again; Alaska Acevedo bringing her hero act right through his old workplace.

    "YOU BITCH, YOU WILL NOT REPEAT WHAT THEY DID, YOU WILL NOT BRING ME DOWN!" Gideon screamed, and he bent down and grabbed a piece of rubble and threw it at the nearest limo, forcing the scorched door off its hinges. "If only you would break so easily!" He hissed, and he fidgeted furiously with his watch. Gideon stared around at his broken paradise one final time, imagining what it would have become of this place had they won, if his own marble monument would be towering above him right now instead of a filthy casino, before the power of the teleportation field took over.

    He had failed five years ago, he had let himself get defeated by children, but Gideon was not going to let that happen again; Alaska would die before he was ruined again.

    ***

    "Wartortle, use Water Gun!"

    "Confusion Kadabra – no, to your right!"

    "Hurry up Vulpix, Energy Ball, knock them out!"

    Amanda watched the challenge unfold with dismay. This doesn't make any bloody sense, she thought irritably, but it had been the best they could come up with in a short space of time. The producer watched as her three stars, standing in a triangle around a wide area, commanded their blind-folded Pokemon to try and defeat the others, all the while navigating ramps and obstacles that had been left behind from previous challenges. It was a silly game, and Amanda could tell the crew were all as bored as she was, one of the boom operators even appearing asleep.

    We have to keep going though, just a few more minutes, it should be done by then, Amanda thought. She was feeling uneasy, her eyes continuing to flicker in the direction of the tent she knew was just further down the grassy road. The team would be there any minute now, and as long as Amanda kept everyone distracted, things would finally go to plan.

    Silly little bitches, they didn't expect a thing, Amanda thought, her lips curling into a smile. It had been a shock when she had seen Alaska and Sandy back in her domain once more, acting so rude and defiant towards her as if she was just some lowly peasant they could simply walk all over. It had been infuriating, being treated that way again after so long, by someone as wretched as Alaska Acevedo…

    Amanda was stressed to her limits these days, struggling to keep this front of a show going as well as keeping up with Buzz and his ever changing plans. The attack on the casino had been a catastrophe, and Amanda had been angry when she learnt how Buzz had stupidly risked his life for something as pointless and ostentatious as that. It was damaging their cause rather than helping, and it had done nothing to make Amanda calmer about the weeks to come.

    However, after Alaska and Sandy had finished tearing her down before her own crew, a crew that barely looked up to her as it was, Amanda had had an idea; there was no way the two little whores would be able to get very far away from their site that day. Amanda had never been able to act on them before, not when there had been witnesses, not when her stars had been about (though it was not as if the boys liked her anyway). But now, the darkness provided the perfect opportunity to act, and Amanda had been almost gleeful when she had realized Alaska had walked right into a trap. Buzz had been on a phone within minutes, and a team had been organized a quarter of an hour later. Buzz's words had been kind and gentle for once instead of loud and hurtful. Amanda had almost cried, both in joy and relief, as she drank from the secret bottle of vodka she carried around in her suitcase, there for times like these.

    She could feel the effects now, her vision slightly blurry, her stance not as steady as it should be. Amanda hoped no one noticed, but she also knew it could allow for a fine distraction should one be needed. She got bored of watching Wartortle spraying water several metres off target and glanced back in at tent; sea breeze struck her face, cool and tender, and Amanda greedily watched the night, hoping for some sign that her job had been done, but beyond their portable lights it was simply darkness.

    As if the universe had heard her, her phone buzzed loudly, shrill enough to catch everyone's attention. Amanda smiled awkwardly and turned away, slipping the device out and quickly searching for the message. She eagerly hoped it would be news that they were moving in now, asking that no one's attention turned away from the game. She came across the text, from a blocked number, and opened:

    We have caught a Pidgey and a Caterpie – B

    They did it… they've finally done it… Amanda thought, eyes bulging, a strange rush of emotions coursing through her body; surprise, excitement, horror, happy, sad, it was almost orgasmic. She put her phone away and turned back around, barely noticing as Kadabra hit Vulpix, sending her flying up a ramp. Her attention was solely on the distant darkness, where some team had already swooped in, grabbed the girls and left without a single soul noticing… without even her knowing…

    "YES!" Damian yelled exuberantly, the sound cutting through the night, and Amanda turned to see Wartortle and Vulpix flopped on top of each other, the competition finally finished. The crew muttered sounds of relief, and the production assistant dished out the next orders. Amanda forced a smile, pretending that the game had gone well as her mind drifting back to her vodka and how thirsty she suddenly was for it. She knew she should be happy, she knew she should be pleased, but Amanda could not ignore the strange, empty pit swelling inside her chest.

    They did it, they caught them… without me…


    As I forgot to in my last chapter, I would like to thank everyone who voted for the story, Alaska, Sandy and Paige in the recent Awards. I really appreciate the feedback and here's hoping it turns into a positive result!

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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Interlude 11

    Chapter Sixty: Waking Up to a Brand New Death

    Several months ago, if Alaska had woken up to find herself not in the tent she had fallen asleep in, but instead gagged and bound to a chair in an unfamiliar room, she would have been rather startled. However, after a journey that had involved at least three different exploding robotic Pokemon, jumping from the top floor of a museum, having her brain swapped with a Pidgeotto, suffering massive head trauma, meeting a ghost and getting tsunami-ed by an insane fishermen, Alaska simply looked across at Sandy, hands tied with wire, mouth taped shut, eyes wide and frightful, and thought Wow, I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner.

    That was not to mean she was not frightened. Alaska was deeply unsettled by the fact she had fallen asleep in her tent on Route 13 and had managed to be kidnapped and transported without waking, and apparently without anyone noticing and stopping their kidnappers. She had no clue where she was, how had kidnapped them or what was going to happen, but she did knew she could not let her fear get the better of her. Whoever was behind this latest setback would simply win if Alaska's courage failed, and even though she was doubtful how this situation would go, she had to remain confident.

    With little else to do but wait for someone to arrive, Alaska let her eyes wander around the room; it was plain and boring, with colourless white walls decorated dully with diplomas and photos, a typical businessman's desk to her right, two leather couches either side of a tacky Persian skin rug on her left, and a sole pot plant resting in one corner, the only other sign of life so far. Floor to ceiling windows beside the couches let in glorious, early morning sunshine, a giving a sparkly view of multiple skyscrapers and towers; Alaska wondered if this meant they were in Saffron, though there was always the chance they were in Castelia or Goldenrod: there was no telling what day it was, how long they had been unconscious and far they had travelled.

    Alaska and Sandy had been placed opposite each other, like a distorted mirror that was able to tell Alaska several things about herself: Sandy was still wearing the clothes she had fallen asleep in, and she appeared visibly uninjured, so things had not been a struggle it seemed. Alaska was trusted she was the same and was mildly reassured, but she was shaken by Sandy's terrified expression. Only the previous night (or so she hoped), the two had sorted a lot of their issues out; Alaska had been shocked by Sandy's story of her life before travelling, but she had been pleased that her friend was confident enough to share that information with her, as well as voice the tensions that had been lying between them. It seemed made this situation almost ironic, Alaska thought, having told Sandy she wanted to protect her but only to simply sleep through a kidnapping. .

    I am not going to let her die. I don't care what happens to me, but Sandy is not dying for me! Alaska told herself determinedly, and she tried to smile at her friend, but the tape across her mouth prevented that and she had to resort to make her eyes look as kindly as possible. Sandy did not look very comforted, but before Alaska could think of a better way to calm her, a door behind them creaked open.

    "… and I won't be taking any calls for the next hour or two, I have a lot of paper work to catch up on!" A smug, loud, very male voice uttered. There was a mumbled reply from whoever he was talking to, and the voice laughed loudly. "Well, you tell Frank that next time he offers a round of drinks!" The receptionist or whatever laughed back, and the man continued to laugh even after he had closed and locked the door; however, all genuine humour quickly disappeared, and a shiver went down Alaska's spine as the maniacal laughter echoed within the tiny room as she realised she had heard it before.

    The man stepped into her line of vision, and Alaska was able to clearly see the person who had attacked the casino for the first time. He was not a tall man, but was mildly intimidating in other ways; buff and bronzed like a contestant in a Lt. Surge look alike competition, but with the gelled black hair and pinstriped three piece suit Alaska had only see in movie stars from the fifties. The man smiled at her, a malicious grin that bared his white teeth, and his blue eyes dazzled as they stared greedily down at her, a look like a hungry Liepard. Alaska had no idea who this man was or why he had brought them here, but he seemed more like the type of person who thought they were richer than they really were, not to lead gunmen on an attack underneath a casino. His appearance did make Alaska curious though; why exactly was this seemingly run of the mill businessman coming after her, and what role did he play in the wider scheme of things?

    "Well, well, well…" the man said once he had stopped laughing. He looked at Alaska and sighed dramatically. "After all this time Alaska; after all your attempts to stop my plans from succeeding, after all the suffering and chaos you have caused, we finally meet!" He boomed. "Though, at times, I feel like I do know you, Miss Acevedo. I have read your blog religiously and I have studied your words and mannerisms quite well, and I have heard detailed reports about what the things you have done; the Pewter Museum, Mt Moon, Lavender Town, the Power Plant… such an expansive CV for a girl so young!" He smirked at her, and Alaska would have kicked him, well aware of a perfect target right between his legs, had her legs not been tied to the chair.

    "Would you two ladies care for a drink?" The man asked, gesturing towards his desk and a pitcher of water. "Raise your hands if you want one… No? Nobody's thirsty? Oh well, more for me then," he said with a smile, and he poured himself a tall glass which he noisily and slowly gulped down before refilling. Alaska looked at Sandy and rolled her eyes as dramatically as possible, and her friend could not but unleash an involuntary snort. The black haired man turned towards them, fire suddenly burning in his eyes, and he let the glass fall back onto his desk, not noticing as it rolled over the side.

    "Something funny, ladies?" He asked quietly, his eyes rapidly darting between them both. Alaska crafted her face to appear steadfast and unmoved, and Sandy attempted the same determined air, but her confidence wavered as the man strutted towards her. "Would you care to share what it was that made you laugh?" He hissed quietly. "I really would like to know. Alaska always seems to say funny things; I was hoping she would say something clever while we were having this little meeting. She has done this one very hilarious thing of costing me over twenty MILLION dollars by ruining nearly every single one of my plans! Now tell me: WHAT MADE YOU LAUGH?" He roared, and he lashed out before Sandy could have answered, striking her across the cheek. He hit with enough force to make the chair tilt, and a huge red mark formed on the visible parts of her face. Alaska yelled into her tape, and she tried to stand only to collapse backwards, her legs unable to move. The man turned away from Sandy, his face red, but a smile was coming back onto his features now.

    "Ah... I seem to have found a soft spot," he purred. He reached out and grabbed Sandy's face, giving it a little squeeze that made her whimper. "It seems you have failed in this particular area, Alaska. The first rule of taking on an empire bigger than you could ever imagine is never create any relationships – it simply provides more targets for your enemies, and will only hurt more when we finally succeed." The man smiled viciously, the sun making his eyes glitter and his pearl like teeth shine, but he appeared more insane than attractive. Alaska put as much anger and contempt into her stare as she could muster, but it did not faze her enemy; he looked down at Sandy and made a sound of disgust, and let go of her lips with a shove before walking away. The blonde watched him go, her eyes burning behind the tears that streaked down her cheeks, and Alaska was furious; partly for what this monster was doing to her friend, but mostly because she could do nothing, forced to be an angry but helpless observer. Though it pained her to admit it, this man was right: Alaska could do nothing without her withering words or her Pokemon to fight her battles for her. He had stripped her of all her power, and there was nothing she could do.

    "Now, I am sure you are both wondering why I brought you here," the man said, spinning around and popping himself on his desk. A remote appeared in his hand, and Alaska wondered what it would do; torture them, open the window and send them flying out, call for a new jug of water? "I have wanted to meet you two for a while now, ever since you first interrupted things back in Viridian Forest. These plans have been in the works for quite a few years now – indeed, the general idea has been around longer than I have been involved in it, really; I have simply adopted the ideas of my former boss. Anyway, regardless of the history, this was supposed to be the time this grand plan came into effect. It was meant to run smoothly and be close to completion by now, but you two have ruined everything and have cost me a lot, both financially and very, very personally. If you have not yet worked it out, I tried to stop you last week at the casino, a plan I had hoped would serve as a relaunch of this master scheme, yet, once again, you went and ruined things! But, thankfully, I am now finally going to put an end to that!"

    The man eyed them both, his smile sadistic while his eyes were hateful, and pressed the remote's only button. Alaska and Sandy turned as the floor whirred, and the Persian rug had slid aside, revealing a rectangular pit in the floor. Most of its contents were hidden from their current position, but Alaska could clearly see a large screen that was rising up on a metal arm. The man walked between the girls and towards the pit, swiping a finger across the screen before reaching inside.

    "I have been following your every move ever since you first interrupted things in Vermilion," he told them, watching them while his ferreted about in the pit. "I have managed to capture nearly every single one of your more spectacular moments since then. Anything you'd like to watch again before you die? I have footage from Pewter Museum, I have security cameras from Vermilion and the Power Plant, I have you and Chloe fighting in the bar – I even have a traffic camera that caught the moment you sent Alexis' Meganium crashing through the back wall!" The man laughed as he got back to his feet, a dagger clutched firmly in his hands. Alaska eyed the blade cautiously; it was long, at least several inches, with a jagged blade that shone silver, though she was sure it would be stained red with her blood within minutes.

    "I know! How about I show you something you haven't seen!" The man announced as if the idea had only just come to him. He pressed several buttons on the screen, which was perfectly positioned so Alaska and Sandy could both clearly see it, and a fuzzy security image appeared. It did not seem to show anything of interest, only an empty room with a table in the centre, but when Alaska focussed, she was able to make out two familiar bags on the wooden surface.

    "Ah, worked it out, have you?" The man chuckled, watching her now terrified eyes. "Your possessions are locked away within the very depths of this building, and have currently gone undisturbed. However, when I make one little call, the entire room will be sprayed with oil and set alight, where it will burn for several minutes before we pour concrete on top of everything. You will watch and see if the flames destroy your PokeBalls, and then we will see them get forever entombed. I will give you several moments to let grief consume you, and then I will cut Sandy into tiny pieces before your eyes Alaska, which I will do so across a long period of time in order to let your pain and suffering build up and up before you cannot take it anymore. Then I will destroy you in ways you cannot possibly begin to imagine, and once I have done that in within, perhaps, a fortnight's time, I will give you the sweet release of death. Are we all fine with that?"

    Alaska's mind went blank. She felt sick, and wondered if she could make herself throw up, and die choking on her own vomit before he got to her first. It would be a vile way to go, but Alaska would prefer a disgusting death than being tortured and brutalized by this maniac (besides, it would be an almost rock star death, if you looked at the positives.) She looked at the fake businessman before her, a man that was prepared to kill them in his own workplace with a receptionist outside the door. What plans had she interrupted in order to make this man wish such a horrific death upon them? Surely defeating a few robots, as she now figured he was their creator or controller, was not worth dying in such a manner?

    "Good, it seem you both understand," the man boomed, and he pressed a button on the side of the screen. "Once I have connected with my people downstairs, things will begin straight away!" He flashed another smile (Alaska could not help but wonder how his face was not getting tired), and glanced eagerly between them as if wondering who would be more distressed. Alaska looked across at her friend and could see Sandy was trying to stay tough, but her eyes were swimming with tears as they stared upon the screen that would soon show the death of their Pokemon.

    Sandy and Butterfree have been together for so long, Alaska remembered. What sort of psychopath would make someone watch the death of their oldest friend in the world? It's just like if I had to watch Paige die… which I am about to see as well…shit…but she cannot die, not like this, not after all this time! Whoever this dickhead is, he is not going to win, we are not dying without fighting back first!

    "MHHRRMRRRHHMM!" Alaska yelled into the tape, screaming so loudly inside her head but barely making a sound through the adhesive. She leaned the chair forwards as much as possible and then fell backwards, the sound ringing out inside the room. The man paused in his plotting and turned towards her, eyebrows furrowing at the disturbance. Alaska ignored the glare and watched him with huge eyes, refusing to look away even though every inch of his boy made her sick with rage. The man watched as she screamed and banged for over two minutes, and then his face softened, laughter once again filling the room.

    "Ah, but of course, of course! The great Alaska Acevedo must have her last words before this begins," the man boomed, laughing joyfully. He strutted towards her, chest puffed out slightly, and loomed over her as he approached. Alaska caught a whiff of aftershave that nearly made her gag, but she kept on yelling, refusing to stop until she definitely got her way. "Very well then, Alaska," the man hissed through his smile, "I have always wanted to hear some of your famous insults, let's see what you come up with for me." He grabbed the corner of the tape, pinching her face as he did so, and slowly peeled it off. Alaska stopped yelling, her throat already getting sore, and stared up at her mysterious captor, trying not to grin now that she had a slim shot at victory.

    "Has anyone ever told you what pretty eyes you have?" She said, and flashed her own wide smile. The man laughed briefly, but his face was lacking any trace of humour, and Alaska soldiered on before he could speak. "So, just out of curiosity, what exactly is your grand plan? I mean, if we are going to die, I don't see why –"

    "Nice try, but I am not falling into that spy film trope," the man retorted quickly. "I am not going to tell you everything I have planned, convinced I have won, only for you to miraculous survive and use my own words to defeat me!"

    "Ah, so you think I am going to get away then?" Alaska asked, and the man's smile disappeared, taken aback by the question. He looked uneasy for a moment, his calmness and control disappearing, but he quickly tightened the grip on his dagger and pointed it towards her neck. "I will take that as a no then. How about your name then, can I at least know that?"

    "Why not, it's not my real name anyway – they call me Buzz," the businessman replied with a confident smirk, but Alaska could not help but snort at the letdown; she had been hoping for something more threatening, like Doctor Death, the Lord of Nightmares, hell, even Mittens would have been more of a surprise!

    "Like the sound Beedrill's make?" She giggled. "Look at that Sandy, we've come full circle!" Alaska leaned around her intimidator as she yelled, winking at her friend and beaming. Buzz did not fake laughter this time, but instead lashed out, smashing his right hand into the side of Alaska's head before grabbing her by the jaw, pulling her face towards his own. Alaska winced as she felt pain in her neck, and wondered if he was going to snap it. However, he simply stared at her with cold rage, an anger that seemed to be casting a shadow across the room.

    "You make think you are the greatest person that has ever left a shit hole like Viridian and set out on a journey, but you are WRONG!" Buzz snapped. "At the end of the day, when we dispose of what remains of your body, you will be remembered as just another little girl who had dreams of defeating Red and being Champion, only to fail miserably like the hundreds that came before you. If you had not stuck your nose in where it did not belong, this world would be a better place and you would have lived a slightly longer, safer life. I so desperately want you dead, but I want you to see the fates you have bestowed upon your Pokemon and your only human friend, and then you can die with a heavy conscience as you see the true consequences of your actions!"

    "MHHRMMRRRHHHM! MHHHRRRRM!" Sandy began to yell from behind him, but Alaska did not pay any attention, staring back into Buzz's malicious eyes, ignoring the muscular hand crushing and misshaping her face; if she was going down, she was not going to go down silently.

    "People will notice if I disappear. The cast of Indigo Dreams will wonder, my family will wonder, the gym leaders and all the elite and powerful of Kanto will wonder. You cannot kill us and get away with it; eventually, you will be found out and caught by people that are far more powerful than you could ever dream of being. I do not know what you are planning, but thanks to me, I am pretty sure you will never succeed." Genuine humour appeared on Buzz's face this time, a wide smirk unveiling his too white teeth.

    "I am sure you sleep well at night thinking such a childish thought, but trust me when I say there is nothing anyone in Kanto will be able to do to stop me, not when they don't know who I really am or what I am truly planning," he replied icily.

    "EHMMRRSKA! EHMMMRRSKA!"

    "Team Rocket thought they were pretty great, and look where they ended up – crushed twice by children exactly like me," Alaska hissed in reply. "They were just glorified loonies that tricked the idiots of Kanto into thinking they were powerful, and you are just a tanned wannabe loser who thinks he will be the next Giovanni."

    "EHHMMRSKAAA!"

    "When I am done, Giovanni will be a distant memory!" Buzz snapped, shaking with rage. "I will succeed where he failed, I will bring Team Rocket back from the ashes, I will lead the world into a new millennium with Rocket as the rightful dominant power, and within a year no one will ever think that a stupid little Viridian WHORE was ever a threat against the likes of me!"

    "So you're former Rocket, are you?" Alaska asked simply, and Buzz froze, the grip of her face instantly slacking.

    "EHHHMMMMMRRRSKAAAAA!"

    "WHAT IS IT?!" Buzz roared, turning around with his hands raised, but he quickly became still. Alaska wondered what was wrong, but it did not take long to realise that the room had gotten a lot darker since they had first arrived. The lights were still on, but a strange gloom now filled every inch of the office. Buzz looked nervously between Alaska and Sandy, struck dumb by the sudden change, but Alaska could see Sandy staring pointedly at the window. She looked curiously to her left, and Buzz caught her gaze and turned to face the glass, his mouth forming a perfect 'O' as he did so.

    Alaska had only ever seen Zapdos once before, but then it had been flying above Vermilion in the midst of a violent terrorist attack. Now there was only a few metres and a piece of glass separating her from the legendary, and she could see every part of the creature in detail; the Electric type was a brilliant shade of yellow with black feathers beneath its wings, staring around the room with large, judgemental eyes resting either side of its javelin like beak. The Pokemon was so large that it was able to block all sunlight from getting it, but now that it had become the centre of attention, Zapdos began to glow, a lemon-like light spreading from the centre of its body that lit up the room. Sparks began to fly, and Zapdos pushed itself backwards, a shrill cry loud enough to sound through the glass.

    "Wh… wh… what is this?" Buzz cried, stumbling backwards, the dagger falling to the floor. Alaska tore her eyes away from the magnificent bird, catching a stunned but joyful look in Sandy's eyes, and faced her captor.

    "Some people might call this a legendary encounter, others might call it impossible, but I think you and I would refer to this as a miraculous survival," she said with a sweet smile on her face. Buzz turned to her, fear fading from his face and being replaced with pure rage, and he let out a scream like a tribal warrior, launching himself forwards with murder in his eyes.

    It was at that point that the window shattered, and the entire room exploded within a burst of golden light.

  10. #190
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 60

    Merry late Christmas to all my readers! Thanks for sticking with the fic this year, even though it has been rather slow on the update front, but hopefully things can move along soon! I hope you enjoy this Christmas treat.

    Chapter Sixty One: Shock in the City

    It was lunchtime on what was meant to be an ordinary day for the people of Saffron City. As many of those working in the heart of the city were business people, this was the time when the street was lined with men in smart suits and women in sensible heels, evacuating their respective office buildings and suddenly crowding the sidewalks as they rushed to the nearest, and usually cheapest, eatery within the vicinity of their workplace. It was a methodical and repetitive experience, a daily ritual that all office workers of Saffron went through: work till noon, eat and shop for an hour, return to the office, work till five, leave work, walk or drive home, arrive home, eat dinner, watch television, sleep and prepare for the next day. No one ever expected anything grand to happen when they went to work, and the highlight of their rushed lunch hour was usually a new soup of the day at the local café or bumping into a friend as you tried to make your way down dirty, litter strewn concrete catwalks. It was fair to say that the life of a Saffron City office worker was not an exciting one, one that the workers begrudgingly accepted, and they went on with their days simply hoping for it to be over.

    So the appearance of Zapdos was definitely an improvement.

    Workers stopped eating, they halted conversations and their heads turned to the skies as a massive shadow was cast across the street. Jaws dropped, eyes bulged, phones were whipped out to record this monumental occasion; a legendary Pokemon, one belonging to their Champion, had flown into their city and was hovering above them. The workers turned to each other, to colleagues and friends and strangers, they exchanged excitement, they debated why Zapdos was here and was hovering before Silph Co. They all knew this could be a moment to recount for years to come, something to tell their wives, husbands, children, families!

    Everything changed when Zapdos attacked. At first, people were further impressed by the sudden display of electricity as the flying Pokemon turned bright yellow and unleashed a fearsome bolt. It took a few moments before people realised that there was now a gaping hole in the side of the tallest building in Saffron, and that many of the windows were now cracked and broken.

    Within a minute of Zapdos' appearance, people had gone from bored to excited and now frightened; workers on the street abandoned conversations, they abandoned food and shopping bags, they simply fled as glass rained down upon them all. Screams turned from thrilled to frightened, and even people sitting comfortably inside became scared as they watched metre high shards of glass bombard the street. Food carts were obliterated, trees and rubbish bins annihilated cars and buses torn apart. Most manage to escape, but some were not as luck, yelling as shards cut their faces and necks, larger pieces getting them in the arms and legs. Victims collapsed to the street and people rushed to their rescue, but at the same time trying to protect themselves as glass rained down on them all. Those that remained indoors wearily watched Zapdos, who was now shrouded in smoke, and wondered why it had attacked, what was going on inside Silph right now, and many wished that their day had just remained boring.

    ***

    Alaska woke up against the back wall of Buzz's office, unaware of the chaos below her, more concerned of the nightmare she was still trapped within in.

    Zapdos had blown apart the office. The force of the electricity had shattered the window, firing glass into the enclosed space and tearing it apart; the couches were torn to shreds, there were deep groves in the wall, and Buzz's desk was shattered and marked with shards. The explosion from the Thunder had set the pot plant on fire, whilst cracking the wall and separating the metal Persian rug from the pit it protected. All the photos and degrees had fallen from the wall, and smoke floated around the room, a grey veil that Alaska struggled to see through.

    At least I'm not dead, she thought wearily, and quickly checked her body to make sure flying glass had not impaled her. It took her several moments to realise that her hands were free, and Alaska looked excitedly around, finding that the chair had broken apart. It seemed the Thunder had thrown her across the room and into the wall, with the force of the collision breaking her chair apart. Her back and legs felt bruised and her head throbbed, but Alaska was simply relieved she had not yet been shot, and hell, she had had a headache since the moment she left Viridian – this was hardly going to slow her down.

    "Sandy, Sandy where are you?" She hissed into the smog. There was no sign of either her friend or Buzz, and Alaska simply hoped that Buzz had been knocked out and she would get a chance to find Sandy before their captor awoke. A growling noise echoed throughout the room, and in the distance, Alaska could hear a whining siren, either coming from the streets below or on the other side of the wall. The door was to her left, and Alaska was tempted to make for it and get some help, but after all her experiences these past few weeks, she doubted Buzz would have begun torturing them without having someone outside to stop him getting interrupted.

    Hell, there is probably a robot guard dog, Alaska thought bitterly. She freed herself from the remnants of the shattered chair, flexing and massaging her hands and legs for a few moments, but it was clear that she had not found freedom just yet. There was no still no sign of either friend or foe, and not willing to abandon Sandy to risk finding help, Alaska abandoned any idea of leaving the office right now and instead set out to arm herself and find her friend.

    Alaska went to stand, but she knew that would expose to Buzz should he be conscious; instead, she sunk down to hands and knees, and, mindful of the shattered glass across the floor, crawled around the desk and into the open part of the office.

    Now that Alaska concentrated, she was certain the alarm was coming from within the building, whining in the background of her latest nightmare. She tried to ignore it as she crunched over broken glass, doing her best not to cut herself, but the siren was on her mind now and Alaska found herself wondering what was going on in the rest of the building; where people fleeing from the rampaging Legendary, or was it a an alarm alerting Buzz's henchmen to the attack and sending them to their battle stations? It did strike Alaska as strange that no one else had come into the office; where was Buzz's back up? She thought surely someone else would be aware of his plan to torture and murder two girls in this office space, but not even his receptionist he come to check on him.

    It was confusing, but Alaska forced herself to focus on the task at hand. The smoke was getting thicker as the fires continued to burn, Alaska noticing for the first time that the couches were both burning as well; orange and yellow light flickered in the heart of the room, flames growing as more of the leather was consumed. Alaska didn't find the extra threat helpful, but the light did highlight the pit in between the two, loaded with things she had been unable to spot before. She glanced around, making sure Buzz was not stirring, and she crawled rapidly forwards, barely registering as slammed her hand down a shard, slicing her palm open.

    Alaska made it to the pit, but before she looked inside something else caught her attention; the 'whoosh' sound of flapping wings, a similar noise to what Paige sometimes made but much grander, sounded nearby, along with a deep, crackling groan that came from the back of someone's throat. Zapdos, Alaska thought, and she stared fearfully through the smog, seeing only the briefest hint of yellow; what if the bird was to attack again, would she survive a second blast of Thunder?

    Just what I need; to be killed by something that is meant to protect me, Alaska mentally groaned, and she hurried along with her investigation of the pit. The screen had been blasted off its arm and now lay sparking alongside, its image now blank. Alaska had hoped to find out the fate of her Pokemon, but instead she fought back her fear and peered through what had survived; it was mostly uninteresting, a stack of discs in one corner, an array of multi coloured key cards in the other, but several hand guns and what looked like grenades made things more dangerous. She saw a metal sign to one side, half of which was melted and burnt black, and grabbed it to examine; only the letters AND were unmarked, but as Buzz had kept it, Alaska decided to pocket it, figuring it might be worth deciphering later. Satisfied, she glanced around but the only other thing of note was several rolled up blueprints placed to one side.

    So, you didn't want to tell me your grand plan in case I survived? Alaska thought with a smirk, grabbing the top most one. Well, maybe you shouldn't leave evidence lying around then! She smiled to herself, despite the fact she was between two burning couches and had the pleasant stench of smoke creeping into her nostrils, and she unfurled the blueprint across the pit. The flickering light and grey smoke cast annoying shadows across the paper, so all Alaska could make out was the layout of a large, oval shaped floor building, which was crawling with official labels and scrawled, handwritten footnotes.

    Is this a stadium? She thought, trying to furl down all sides and searching for a name, but it appeared to have been crossed out with black ink. This definitely looks like a stadium… could it be… not Champion's Stadium? Are they… are they going after Red?

    "HOUNDOOM, WEEZING, CROBAT, GO!" Someone roared behind her, and Alaska jumped and turned; Buzz stood on the other side of the couch to her right, briefly being illuminated by three red flashes. The businessman looked demented, his face blackened by ash but his eyes shining white against the dark backdrop. His fine suit was in tatters on his muscular frame, and Alaska could see a piece of glass embedded in his left arm, but Buzz did not seem to care as he began to walk around the couch. Stunned, Alaska looked at the blueprints in her hands and, without thinking, tore the paper in two and threw it onto the couch. She then dived into the pit and managed to get one hand on a gun and the other on the remaining blueprints, but before she could turn around she was grabbed by the back of her neck, and Alaska gasped for breath as thick, hairy fingers began to squeeze her throat.

    "YOU BITCH!" Buzz screamed as he heaved her upwards. "YOU HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING!" Alaska could see dots in her vision now, but she still tried to bring the gun around, her finger poised on the trigger. Buzz seemed to notice and grabbed onto it, and while Alaska held tight he was too strong and easily pulled it free. However, she was not going down without a fight, or at least without harming his cause further; Alaska threw the remaining blue prints onto the burning sofa, not knowing what was on them and now never being able too, but it was worth being ignorant to stop the madman

    "NOOO!" Buzz roared, and he threw her forwards; Alaska gasped for breathe before landing on the other side of the pit, rolling over glass that attacked her skin before stopping just short of the edge. She was beginning to feel sick, her lungs desperate for air but the oxygen around her was being stifled by the ever thickening smoke. Wheezing, she could see Buzz trying to save his blueprints, but Alaska knew his attempts were fruitless and managed a smile.

    "DOOOOM!" An angry roar sounded next to her, and Alaska suddenly scrambled backwards, turning to find a large Houndoom next to her. She had never seen one up close before, but the Pokemon had a reputation for being fearsome and violent; briefly, Alaska remembered how a girl at her school had been badly bitten by one and required extensive surgery. It was the most random memory to have in a situation like this, but it was all Alaska knew of Houndoom, and she slid across the floor to away from it.

    However, Houndoom was not attacking her, and Alaska's attention turned to see what t was firing flame at; she looked around just as Zapdos soared past, screaming at the top of its voice, sparks flying from its body like yellow streamers. It was an angry but majestic beast, and Alaska would be forever grateful to the Pokemon for saving her, well aware its appearance was no coincidence. In hot pursuit of her saviour was a Weezing and a Crobat, two poisonous Pokemon spewing attacks left right and center; Zapdos fought back with powerful bursts of electricity, firing bolts across the skyline and shattering windows with each blast. Alaska could feel the heat of the attacks from here, could sense the electricity that filled the air; she wanted to sit and watch the fight all day, knowing it would be a truly epic battle to witness, and for a brief moment she forgot where she was, her mind drifting off as she remembered why she had left home, to see clashes like this…

    "WHORE!" Buzz yelled, pulling Alaska back into reality, and she turned just as his meaty hands slammed into her, winding her with a single strike before heaving her by the shoulders and throwing her against the wall. He stared directly into her eyes, his face more enraged and deranged up close; Buzz held her tight, pressing his large body against and keeping her pinned against the wall. "I SPENT YEARS COLLECTING THOSE BLUEPRINTS, I HAD TO PAY PEOPLE, I HAD TO KILL PEOPLE, I HAD TO DO THINGS YOU WOULDN'T EVEN DREAM OF! AND IT TAKES YOU A MINUTE TO RUIN THEM JUST LIKE YOU HAVE RUINED EVERYTHING ELSE!"

    "In my defence," Alaska wheezed, struggling to breathe as Buzz's massive body slowly squeezed the air out of her, "I wouldn't have been able to set them on fire if it wasn't for Zapdos, so really you should blame –"

    "SHUT UP!" Buzz screamed, and he slapped her hard across the face before banging her head against the wall. Alaska could only see stars now, her head spinning and stinging and ringing. She tried to draw breathe but only got smoke, and coughed as Buzz continued to crush her. "I no longer have the pleasure of time or secrecy on my hands to properly ruin you, but there is still one particular way in which I can destroy you, one that will stay between you and me. And when I am finished, I will throw your useless body from my office as a message for Red so he knows what happens when people try to stop me! But…, of course, you really shouldn't blame me; I wouldn't be able to do so if Zapdos hadn't shattered the window." Buzz began to laugh manically, sadistically, evilly, right into her ear. Alaska was choking on smoke and her head felt cleaved in two, and her delirium was not helped by the blood pouring out of her body. She tried to break free, but she felt weak, unresponsive, phasing in and out of conscious; one second she could feel Buzz squeezing her shoulders, the next sounds of Zapdos screeching and sparking became crackling background noise.

    "Relax Alaska, there is no point fighting anymore," Buzz hissed, and his massive hands moved away from her shoulders and slid down her sides; Alaska shivered in repulsion, but found there was nothing else she could do…

    "Oh no you don't!" someone suddenly shouted. Alaska half opened her eyes, and for a moment she could see Sandy's shining blonde hair in the distance; but then Buzz was roaring in her ear, and Alaska cried out as she fell to the side, landing in a heap on carpet. Her head was spinning, but she saw Buzz collapse to his knees, his face red as he grappled at something that appeared to be jammed in a leg, but when he rolled onto his side Alaska could see it was really stuck in between.

    "Come on Alaska, we need to go, now!" Sandy exclaimed, but Alaska did not have the energy to move or respond. She felt herself raise though, a softer arm around her middle, and soon Alaska was being half dragged towards the door, trying to make sense of what was going on as smoke turned the room grey.

    "Did you… did you stab him in the balls?" Alaska asked.

    "Well, I woke up and saw Buzz harassing you and I wanted to help but the only thing near me was the broken pieces of my chair. So I just figured a pointy bit of wood in the testicles was the least he deserved," Sandy replied, and she looked at Alaska and smiled. "It did seem like a good idea at the time." Alaska managed a laugh, but she still felt dizzy and barely registered as Sandy helped her through the office door and towards a cluttered desk. She was deposited onto a cushioned office chair, and Alaska sat there clueless for a what felt like minutes until Sandy forced it a polystyrene cup into her hands

    "Drink up; I am going to need you focussed!" She said, and Alaska greedily downed the water in one long gulp. It was a few minutes before she could do anything else, but now that she sitting down and breathing clean air, Alaska could settle and refocus, letting her battered body rest for a moment, and began to think logically about the situation at hand.

    "We have no idea who or what else is out there, so we are going to need weapons. Back in that pit Buzz had –" she began, but paused, stunned to see Sandy had a handgun tucking out of her pocket.

    "Grabbed some after I stabbed him," Sandy said, smiling as she caught Alaska's eye. "I got a few grenades as well; they might just come in handy! Now, we need to get you back to reality and find out where the hell we are!" Alaska smiled into her empty cup, pleased to see that, despite their current situation, Sandy was still riding high on their earlier conversation. She suddenly realised that the siren had gotten louder, and she looked up to find a speaker in the ceiling right above her. Alaska went to comment on how irritating it was, but with a sudden jolt something else dawned on her.

    "Where is his back up?" Alaska asked cautiously, recalling her theories about the alarm. "He must have had someone looking out for him, don't tell me they scampered the second that began to sound!"

    "I have no idea, I can't see anyone around," Sandy said. "But to be honest, this doesn't seem like the lair for a criminal organisation. It just looks like… an office," she finished meekly. Puzzled, Alaska spun around in her chair, her head throbbing less now, and she was able to digest the scene before her; the floor was mostly open planned, cubicles spread out in the middle with printers, photocopiers, decorative pot plants and art work and water coolers scattered about. There were several closed off offices, but the doors were open and there were no sounds or signs of anyone else being there. Upturned chairs and dropped papers made it seem as though everyone had scampered the second they heard the alarms, and not a single person had stayed behind to check on Buzz. However, as far as Alaska could see, she had to agree wit Sandy; it did simply look like a random office. No machine guns lining the cupboards, no henchmen preparing to kill them, not even a pentagram painted in blood. It was simply an office.

    "Maybe he was acting alone after all," Sandy whispered, staring towards Buzz's office as smoke began to seep through the open doorway, "but why bring us here of all places? We seriously need to get out of here and find some help!" She said determinedly. Alaska nodded, and she carefully rose to her feet, placing her hands on the desk to steady herself. She began to turn to Sandy when something suddenly caught her eye; pausing, Alaska grabbed an envelope lying by the keyboard, staring at the two words she had recognised, and her jaw dropped as she read what else was there.

    "Come on Alaska, we need to move before anyone else shows up!" Sandy wailed as smoke began to fill the floor. "Buzz won't stay down forever, and we don't have any idea where we are, so –"

    "We're in Saffron City," Alaska hissed, turning and passing the envelope across. "Level 87 of the Silph Company Building, to be precise – the television production department." Sandy was confused, and she stared at the envelope and the letter inside, her face quickly filling with shock while Alaska stood silently, struggling to stifle her own surprise.

    "Buzz Bolton, executive producer for… Indigo Dreams?!" She whispered, and Alaska gave a curt nod. For a moment the two simply stared at each other, alone in the massive, empty floor, the siren screaming all around, neither sure quite what to do now.

    ***

    Buzz crawled across to the pit. He was weak, he was in pain, but he was burning with rage and nothing would stop him now. He could feel warm, wet blood around his thighs, and Buzz recoiled at the thought of the injury Sandy had imparted on him – but then, it only made him want to kill them more.

    Ignoring his Pokemon as they continued to rage against Zapdos, Buzz reached his pit, nestled between the two burning couches, and he pressed a button near the sparking remains of the hydraulic arm. There was a whirr and a groan, and the rectangular box slid aside, revealing a narrow passageway under the floor.

    He had known it would be a risk to bring Alaska here; his workplace, the disguise that he had built up for the past five years, one that was so good and he played so convincingly that sometimes Buzz thought television was the place for him. There had been other options; disused warehouses, abandoned houses, dark forests, islands in the middle of the ocean, dozens of perfect locations for committing murder. However, the one thing those places didn't have was technology, and Buzz knew that was where he could win.

    The Silph Company Building was the most state of the art, advanced tower in Saffron, most likely Kanto and potentially the world. After an attack by Team Rocket, one which Buzz had been apart of, Mr Silph had rebuilt his families legacy with security in mind. Part of that had been the ability to shut down every floor, elevator and stair well with the push of one button, and secret passageways and rooms had been built so people could hide should they require it.

    Buzz knew every inch of these passageways, and knew of some that very few other people did. He had been building a criminal empire inside these glass infused walls for five years now, and that was the one true advantage he had over Alaska Acevedo. If they had been out in the open, Alaska had the opportunity of running away, something she was quite capable of. But here, there was no place to run and there was nowhere to hide.

    "The bitch is loose on my floor," Buzz growled into his a radio he clasped firmly in his hands, trying his best to disguise the high pitched tone he had now had. "She is unarmed and she is injured; find her, find her and kill her, and bring me back her corpse: I want to see the great Alaska Acevedo silenced forever." Buzz threw the radio aside and silently slid through the escape chute, trying to forget his pain and thinking instead of the great pleasure he would feel when he finally saw Alaska's cold, lifeless, unmoving body. Smiling, Buzz disappeared into the darkness, leaving his office to burn.



    So there we go; ending the year with a threat for the new year, and Alaska and Sandy finally learn some more information. You will have to tune in next year to see what the revelations about the reality show and the robots will do to their cause, and hopefully I will have the Saffron Arc done by February. Until then, Happy New Year!

  11. #191
    Your mind is a world AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 61

    Sorry I never respond to this, I read every chapter when it comes out I swear. I keep meaning to say something, then I don't. But now I am. First off, here's my super late post awards review that you probably already saw:



    And now the recent stuff:

    Everything changed when Zapdos attacked.
    oh you

    So, Sandy was kind of my favorite. She was all chill and relatable and all that. THEN SHE GOES AND NEUTERS BUZZ HOLY SHIT SANDY WHAT THE HELL THAT CAME OUT OF NOWHERE. I love her so much.

    There are a couple ways that the story could go from here. Either things are about to get real or they're about to get REALLY real. Either way, shit is about to hit the fan and I am totally okay with that. You've done a phenomenal job over the past five or six chapters and I can't wait for more.

  12. #192
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 61

    @AetherX: Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated :) Things will get more interesting from here on in as we are building up more and more towards the final, so expect to see the repurcussions of that chapter affecting all the characters


    I will say now that there is perhaps a tad more swearing and violence then normal, so be warned.



    Chapter Sixty Two: Science behind the Madness

    "Do you want to know how I know this place is rich?"

    "How?"

    "This stairwell is fancier than my entire fucking house," Alaska replied with acid. She stared with contempt at the smooth, unmarked white walls that enclosed her and Sandy, the shining metal railings that had been polished so they sparkled as brightly as silver, the stairs that had been painted different colours to signal the many different departments.

    "This stairwell has more colours than all of Viridian!" She added with an indignant snort. "Who exactly is Mr Silph showing off to? 'Ooooh, look at me, I can afford to paint my staircase five different colours, and I piss gold and shit bronze in my flying emerald outhouse!"

    "I'm sure if you had the money for that dream house of yours, you would probably use more than one colour of paint for your stairs," Sandy replied with a smirk. She paused as she reached another landing, a heavy grey door barring them from moving onto the next floor. Sandy fiddled with the door handle, but it refused to budge. "Another one locked."

    "If I had some money, I would not waste it on paint," Alaska continued as they moved down the next flight. "I would just buy a ton of jewels and craft my entire house out of rubies and sapphires, and maybe a few emeralds as well."

    "That would be subtle of you," Sandy laughed. "What would be next, diamond encrusted door handles? A pearl infused bathtub?"

    "Something like that," Alaska replied with a wink, and the two laughed as they strolled down the next flight, their laughs echoing inside the empty stairwell. The two had quickly decided that they could not risk staying in the Television Department, not with their Pokemon stolen and a killer on their tail. Once they found the lifts inoperative though, they had resided to climbing down from the eighty-seventh floor and finding somewhere else to recuperate or someone to help them. So far, they had climbed down about ten flights, but they had still not yet found an open door, and were both beginning to wonder if they would have to climb down the remaining seventy-seven flights to reach the bottom.

    "This one's locked as well," Sandy sighed as they passed another one. "If we end up getting trapped in here, I am going to blame you! You insisted we come down here!"

    "Would you have preferred we stayed in Buzz's office, either choking to death or having our throats torn out by Houndoom?" Alaska snapped icily, and with those words their humour disappeared, both their faces sinking. It had been nice to joke for a few minutes, but Alaska knew there was no point pretending anymore; they were trapped and alone in one of the most prominent buildings in Kanto, their Pokemon and possessions stolen and in danger, and all the while one of the biggest shocks they had received so far was hanging over them, a dark cloud that they were struggling to process.

    "Sorry, I shouldn't have snapped," Alaska sighed. "It's just learning about Buzz and the reality show, it's quite a shock, you know?"

    "Do you… do you think they knew?" Sandy whispered her voice suddenly soft and sad. "Lachy and Damian, do you think they know who their producer really is? I know we aren't really friends with them or anything, but after all the times we've met them… after yesterday… I couldn't bare to think they have been plotting against us this whole time!"

    "What?! No, of course not! They can't have," Alaska replied, trying to sound sincere, but she was not sure what to believe anymore. The revelation that the man who had just tried to kill them was also responsible for Indigo Dreams was strange, confusing and ultimately unsettling, and Alaska's mind was reeling as she tried to process all this information. Everything Buzz had said about them interrupting his plans made more sense now, but Alaska was not sure what role Indigo Dreams had to play in the bald man's grand plan; somehow, the robots, Buzz and the reality show were all interwoven and building up to something big, potentially happening at Champion's Stadium. Alaska knew they would have to warn someone about this, such as Daisy or the Athlews, but in to do that she needed to get out of this building and find her Pokemon before Buzz caught up with them once more.

    "Damnit, another one locked!" Sandy hissed, cutting through Alaska's thoughts, and she turned to find her friend banging against yet another unmoving door. "What's the bet we make it all the way to the bottom and none of these damn doors are going to be open!" Sandy snapped, and she angrily kicked out; the lightweight however simply bounced off the solid surface, nearly falling down the stairs before Alaska grabbed hold of her.

    "Come on now, keep it together!" Alaska scolded, though she tried to keep a smile on. "You are always the calm one that's supposed to stop me from injuring myself! What's wrong with you today?" Sandy sighed as she steadied herself, and she looked at Alaska with wide, mournful eyes that were red around the edges.

    "This is all just so infuriating!" She groaned. "After last night, I thought we had finally managed to get a grasp of this stupid situation; we were both in a good place, and I was hoping we could spend a few more days staying away from everything. But it's less than twenty four hours later and everything has changed already and I can't wrap my head around it! How are we supposed to have any control over this situation when we have no idea who to trust or who we are even fighting?" Alaska knew if the situation had been reversed, Sandy would be offering her something comforting right about now, but Alaska could not think of anything when she felt exactly the same way.

    "We will find out what everything means eventually," she said, "if we survive, that is. Meeting Buzz could actually fill in some pieces of the puzzles; Gideon can't have built the robots if one of them nearly killed him, and Trevor and all those elites have always implied there was something else going on here. This is all one big puzzle, and every psychopath and every murder and every ghost and every stuck up rich women with cobwebs in her pants is just another piece we have to slot in."

    "That is perhaps one of the most disturbing mental imagines you have ever given me," Sandy said wearily. "I'd almost laugh if I didn't think the last thing we'll ever see is a multi coloured staircase." She looked down at the painted concrete beneath her feet and furrowed her brow. "Your right, Mr Silph is a douche – what sort of pretentious dickhead paints their fucking staircase?"

    "Why Miss Samson, I do believe you just said a swear!" Alaska gasped, and she melodramatically faked fainting. Sandy finally cracked a smile, and the two friends began to laugh once more. They could have kept it up for minutes, however, a sudden crash sounded nearby, and the two seized up, looking frantically around for the source.

    "Down there!" Sandy hissed, and she pointed at a door two flights down, a crack of yellow light seeping through an open gap. The two girls exchanged looks before sprinting down the stairs, pulling out their stolen guns as they did so. Their footsteps echoed inside the deep stairwell, and Alaska felt dizzy as they took three steps at a time and raced around corners, but neither of them was going to lose this opportunity. Muffled voices came from behind the door as they got closer, but by the time Alaska and Sandy they reached it there was not a single sound coming from behind.

    "Maybe they heard us," Sandy whispered, her voice barely audible. "They could be arming themselves!" She added frightfully

    "Maybe they are, but we for once, we're armed too," Alaska replied, smiling confidently at her friend, and she kicked the door open and stepped inside.

    This floor seemed like it belonged to a completely different building to the offices below; rows and rows of benches filled the area, laden with everything from computers and stacks of folders to test tubes, microscopes and strange machinery varying in heavy machinery at the end of each row. Everything was bright and white, giving off an sterilized feeling, and the fluorescent lights shone off every surface. The lifts and doors were the same as above, but there were no rows of offices like the production floor, and there were no windows, simply more walls trapping them in. It seemed deserted, and Alaska stared tensely around, wondering if the voices had been imagined. However, something glinting caught her eye, and Alaska looked down at the tiled floor and saw a large piece of glass a metre from her feet, looking out of place amongst the order.

    "There are still people here," she whispered, and she held her gun tighter, quickly gazing around the rest of the floor; there was a boardroom near the stairwell, but Sandy was already looking inside, so Alaska briskly marched down the rows, looking for anything shifty. There were definitely odd things here, with beakers holding strange liquids, pieces of what appeared to be flesh pinned to rectangles of glass and several jars that smelt like death, but as far as Alaska could see there was no one around.

    "I can't see anyone," she called out. "I think we are in some sort of research lab, there is all this creepy and nerdy crap around, and this place just seems synthetic."

    "No one's in the boardroom either," Sandy yelled back. "I can't see where else they would be though, unless they escaped into the lifts before we got here."

    "The lifts aren't working, remember – I'm pretty sure the entire building has gone into lock down," Alaska replied. She sighed and turned around, trying to find somewhere that people could be.

    Suddenly, two figures leapt out from nowhere, white coats flickering as they landed centimetres in front of her. Alaska quickly raised her gun, but before she could fire, a screaming Sandy unleashed a hail of bullets upon them; there were several loud gunshots that mixed in with her hysterical cries, but after a few seconds the gun simply clicked uselessly, though it took a few more moments for Sandy to realise and halt what she was doing.

    "Are you quite done?" Alaska hissed, and Sandy nodded fearfully, tossing her now useless weapon aside, her bullets having hit no one. Eyes rolling, Alaska turned back to face the two figures, and saw they both had thin metal rods in their hands, presumably meant to be weapons, but Sandy's gunfire had stopped them in their tracks. Alaska smirked and raised her gun, but she was startled when the figure to her left looked towards her, and distant recognition signalled in her head.

    "Alaska Acevedo!" The man gasped. He was lean and lanky with a thin face and pointed rat like features and Alaska was finally able to click who he was.

    "Mr Melton!" She said in equal shock, lowering her gun as he lowered the rod, and she felt a strange mixture of surprise and relief. "Sandy, this is Mitchell's dad Alistair. I forgot you worked at Silph Co.!"

    "Well, I had heard you had left on your journey, but I never expected us to cross paths in such a manner!" Alistair Melton said, his face practically glowing now with relief. "What on earth are you doing here though, and why have you not evacuated the building?"

    "Why haven't you?"

    "We were right in the middle of an experiment when the sirens went off and we had to stay behind to finish," Mr Melton explained. "We had just finished when Samuel heard laughter in the stairwell and thought we were under attack!" Samuel, who was much younger with messy black hair and a round, freckly face, blushed at this, but Alaska did not give him a second glance.

    "That was just us thankfully," she replied, though her mind was suddenly spinning; she was aware she would have to lie about why they were here, otherwise, trusting they got out alive, Mr Melton would tell her parents all about how she had been kidnapped and nearly tortured, and that was the last thing Alaska wanted. "We were just seeing someone we know from Indigo Dreams in the production offices, and then Zapdos suddenly attacked and Sandy and I were knocked out. When we came to, the entire floor was empty, the lifts weren't working and we had no choice but to head down the stairwell. This is the first open floor we've come across."

    "I'm not surprised; the old building was attacked and destroyed several years ago, and with all these attacks in Sevii and Vermilion recently I suspect everyone thought things were happening again and couldn't wait to get out," Mr Melton explained grimly. "The entire building shuts down after a few minutes and all doors get locked from the stairwell. The Scientific Research and Development doors lock from the inside too, so we would have been trapped in here if we hadn't propped the door open." Alaska looked back, wondering if they had shut it on their way in, but thankfully there was still a thin gap allowing them to escape.

    "How we are going to get out of here then?" Sandy piped up as she joined the quartet. "If the entire building is shut down, how will we get through the entrance?"

    "The building will only remained locked as long as Zapdos, if what you said is true, is a threat; once they remove it things will be fine," Mr Melton explained calmly. "Doesn't our Champion possess him? I'm not sure; I don't follow gossip that much, or Pokemon news really! I only ever care about Pokemon when we're studying them," he added, gesturing with his head the way he had come. Alaska and Sandy both turned and for the first time saw a corridor leading to the other side of the floor, though it was unsurprising they had not yet seen it; there was only a thin gap of the tiled floor that was not filled by massive white boxes the exact colour of the walls.

    "Do you want to take a look?" Alistair asked, seeing the curiosity on their faces, and he led the way between the boxes. It felt claustrophobic, stepping away from the harsh whiteness and into the enclosed corridor, but what was more startling for Alaska was the fact they were not boxes but cages; about a dozen different species, including several Rattata, a Beedrill and a muscular Poliwhirl, were housed within the five metal walls, with a sheet of glass separating them from the outside world.

    "Can they breathe?" Alaska asked, staring incredulously at the confined Pokemon.

    "Yes, and before you ask, they are perfectly happy in there," Alistair said, with the tone of someone who was judged on this matter frequently. "They have been loaned to us by their trainers, and they get returned after we are done with them. The cages have panels that are similar to those inside a PokeBall, recreating the Pokemon's natural habitat, so they do not feel out of place."

    "What exactly are you using them for?" Sandy asked.

    "Various things; these Zubats, for example, we are testing a special type of repel that only works on them," Mr Melton explained, pointing to a smaller box in which a trio of Zubats were flapping about. "And we were recently donated an Eevee by the Athlew family to look into its evolutionary make-up." Sandy's jaw dropped, her eyes bulged, and she looked excitedly at Alaska before rushing over and pressing her face against the cage, making sickening cooing sounds. Mr Melton seemed taken aback, and it took Alaska a few moments in her frazzled mind to make sense of it.

    "Oh yeah – we stayed at their house for a while, and Sandy bonded with the Eevee cubs," she explained.

    "Well, in that case then, why don't you say hello properly!" Mr Melton cried, and he pressed a button on the cage; the glass slid open, and Sandy squealed as the small furry Eevee leapt into her arms. Alaska smiled broadly, pleased to see Sandy happy after their troubling revelations. She wanted to relax too, but Alaska couldn't when she had no idea what was going on around them; the windowless walls gave no view of Zapdos outside, she didn't know if Buzz was coming after them (though she smirked to herself at the fact he wouldn't exactly be coming at anything for a while…) or if he had sent henchmen, Houndoom or even robots to hunt them down, and the thought of remaining in the one open floor in the whole building was not reassuring..

    "Is there anyway of contacting the ground floor and explaining our situation?" She asked, briefly noticing Samuel's eyes bulge as if in horror but ignored him.

    "We have working phones, but if there is a crisis I doubt they will be manned," Alistair replied, walking back over while Sandy played with Eevee. "Trust me Alaska, things will be sorted soon enough! We have some free time to ourselves, you should be relaxing, not fretting – it's not like anyone's coming to kill you!"

    "You don't follow my blog, do you?" Alaska replied with a smirk

    "I am not much of a blogger," her old neighbour replied with a chuckle. "We have some time spare until you and Sandy can go, so why don't you tell me a bit about your adventures? You left around the same time as Mitchell, have you seen him at all?"

    "We've crossed paths a few times," Alaska said with a careless shrug, "but we don't really stay with him for that long, something always happens that forces us apart again. I am sure he would have told you about all those," she added. However, she received no response, and Alaska looked across to see Mr Melton's face had sunk.

    "Actually, no… no, I haven't heard much from him… it has been a few months now since we last spoke, if I am too be honest…," Alistair replied, his voice going high and slightly squeaky. Eevee gave a delighted squeal from behind, and the scientist turned to face them. "Umm, actually, on second thoughts Alaska, we will discuss that later," he said, and quickly walked into the corridor and began rapidly explaining the experiments to Sandy. Alaska was taken aback by her neighbour's rash change of topic, and she stared at his back in wonderment; was there something going on with Mitchell or his family she was unaware of? She looked away, not sure quite what to make of that situation, and found that she alone in the lab with Samuel; the assistant was yet to say anything, but he was looking at Alaska was a strange mixture of embarrassment and seriousness. Alaska was unnerved by the bizarre watchful look, and stared absently around for a conversation to distract them.

    "What are the rest used for?" She asked drolly, raising her eyebrows at Samuel. For a moment, he remained as red faced as a school boy, but then his awkward frown stretched into a wide smirk. Cautious, Alaska took a step backwards, a sudden but familiar feeling that something was about to go wrong seeping through her body.

    "We were asked to work with them; to study them, to watch how they move, how they act, how they react to friends and foes," he replied, his voice slow and cold. A bang sounded distantly in the background, and Alaska fearfully looked around but saw nothing. Samuel took a step closer, and Alaska tensed, staring defiantly back at him even though she now felt sick, aware of what this was. "And do you want to know what we use that information for?" He asked quietly.

    "No, why don't you enlighten me?" Alaska asked forcibly, looking at the others for help, but Mr Melton and Sandy were distracted by the excitable Eevee. Samuel suddenly lunged and grabbed onto Alaska's right arm with sweaty palms, and he leaned up right next to her ear, his foul breathe warm against her skin, making her spine shudder.

    "We build robots," he hissed. Alaska's froze, a million emotions rushing through her head, and her eyes turned to the cages; there was a Beedrill sleeping at the bottom, a Golem housed in the largest one near the back, two Electrodes were sparking only a few metres away. Samuel began to laugh, and Sandy and Alistair turned curiously as shouts echoed from somewhere nearby. Alaska could not process the fact she had walked right into a trap, but anger quickly replaced her shock, and she turned bitterly to face the freckled foe before her, her heart beating cold rage throughout her body.

    "Oh fuck you," she hissed and brought her gun around; Samuel stopped laughing as the handle hit him in the nose, blood spurting out both nostrils as he stumbled towards a desk. He hit the floor with a thud and Alaska felt brief satisfaction, but there was no time for joy. "SANDY, WE NEED TO GO!"

    "What is going on, why did you just attack my assistant?!" Alistair gasped, watching Alaska in horror, but Sandy pushed past, the Eevee cradled in her arms and fear spread over her face. Alaska ignored the question and she began frantically considering their options, but it quickly became clear they had none; scarce weapons, no Pokemon, and there was nowhere to run in a completely sealed building. This was the most trapped Alaska had ever been, and she tensed up as Sandy looked pleadingly at her, unable to think of a way to escape her enemies when they had control over her surroundings.

    There was the sound of a door slamming, and Sandy and Alistair both gasped. Slowly, fearfully, Alaska turned around, well aware all hope was draining away.

    A crowd of men stood before them.

    A dozen muscular men stood at the other end of the floor in front of the boardroom, huge black machine guns resting against their meaty chests. They all wore similar snarls and sadistic smirks, combinations of scars, shaved heads, stubbly jaws and black and khaki coloured clothing to add to their intimidation. Alaska stared across them, wondering how they had gotten in when the door appeared untouched. She looked at the gun in her hand and knew it would do little. She stared at the two people on her side, but fear and shock had made them freeze as well. They were vastly outnumbered and had nowhere to go, trapped in the middle of the floor.

    Essentially, they were screwed.

    "So, I take it you men aren't here to learn about the wonders of science?" Alaska asked casually. Some of the men chuckled deeply, others grunted, but one stepped forwards, his face mostly hidden by greasy black hair and a matching bushy beard, and raised his weapon upwards.

    "To be honest with you sweetheart, the only science I give two shits about is how my machine gun here works," he said with a gravely snarl. "Want to take a closer look?" The henchmen laughed louder at that, and before Alaska could respond a metal rod appeared around her neck, and she was suddenly pulled back against Samuel, the rusty iron wedged hard against her throat. She tried to speak, but Alaska found herself unable to breathe for the second time today. Samuel grabbed the gun from her hand and threw it aside, and the bearded man stepped forwards, cackling.

    "Girl, you have no idea how many people want you dead, and we are just the ones to make their wishes come true!" He sneered, to the laughter of his cronies, and he pointed his machine gun directly at her head. "They all have different requests, but let's give you an option. So tell me dear, how do you want to die; head or heart?" Alaska could not help but stare fearfully at the big black weapon as the man edged ever closer, the barrel suddenly seeming so wide as if it would obliterate her with one bullet; she fought against the rod against her throat, Samuel breathing creepily against her neck, but she was rapidly losing her strength and was close to passing out. Was this really going to be it…

    "Excuse me," Sandy suddenly called out, stepping forwards with her hands around her back, and the bearded man stopped, turning quizzically towards the blonde. "I just wanted to check; do you men work for a Mister Buzz Bolton?"

    "Yes, I think that's his name," the man responded with a shrug.

    "Good, good; and are you here to kill me and my friend?"

    "Um… are you blind dear? Obviously!" He sneered back.

    "Oh no, of course not, I just wanted to make sure before I did this," Sandy said, and she whipped the gun around and fired; the man gasped as a bullet slammed into his chest, blood quickly pouring out of the wound and down his shirt. His weapon fell to the floor, and he stared, along with Alaska and the other gunmen, in shock at Sandy.

    "You shot me… they didn't tell us you'd have guns…" he mumbled, before collapsing against a table and knocking over a row of beakers.

    "Yeah, well Alaska and I are hard ass mother fuckers now!" Sandy hissed with the level of sassiness Alaska had only previously seen in hairdressers and angry housewives, and she pointed the gun at the other men. "Samson and Acevedo at your service, and we aren't being messed around with ANYMORE! So you can go back and tell Mr Bolton that we say heeey, and if he thinks he's messing with us than he has another thing coming!" Her voice boomed inside the confined space, and even though she was rapidly losing oxygen Alaska still managed to feel proud. The remaining gunmen exchanged quizzical looks with each other for a few moments, then another one, this time a bald man with black stubble, stepped forwards.

    "You are aware we still outnumber you, we have bigger guns than you and we still control the building and have possession of your Pokemon?" He said, his voice slightly higher than his dying colleague. Sandy paused, mulling this over, her eyes moving between the handgun grasped in her hands and their opponents twelve or so machine guns that were about quadruple the size.

    "Oh right…," she said, realisation washing over her. "Umm… that's a tad awkward, isn't it? So your not going to leave then, are you?" The bald man shook his head as he lifted his weapon up. "Ah, thought so… well then… all I can really say is DUCK!" And Sandy turned towards Alaska; the black haired girl tilted her head automatically as the gun went off, and Samuel cried out. Machine gun fire began to sound throughout the floor, glass shattering and equipment exploding, but Alaska miraculously was not hit; Samuel was still standing but the bullet had startled him, his grip on the rod slacking, and Alaska used the opportunity to grab on and pull it off her throat, taking a sharp intake of air before lashing out at the table in front. Her feet pushed off it and she and Samuel went crashing to the floor, avoiding a hail of bullets as the gunmen turned their attention towards her, the ammunition instead hammering into the walls.

    "EEEEEEVEEEE!" Sandy's friend shouted, and Alaska briefly saw a purple-black ball soar through the air but her attention was focussed on Samuel. She rammed an arm into his stomach just below his ribcage, and the traitor assistant yelled out, his hands flying from the rod. Alaska seized it and spun around, smashing it across his head repeatedly until Samuel's eyes fell shut, a long red graze now across his forehead. Relieved, Alaska threw the rod aside, well aware it would be pointless against machine guns, and turned back to the battle.

    "SANDY, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?" She shouted.

    "I'M FINE!" Sandy yelled back, quickly followed by three gunshots as she took aim at the gunmen. Alaska saw her friend and Mr Melton were hiding between the cages, the Eevee a few feet out firing attacks at the gunmen, and she realised she was very much exposed right now. Staring around, Alaska looked at the nearest table and saw it was not attached to the ground.

    "IS THIS EQUIPMENT EXPENSIVE?" She yelled at Alistair.

    "EXTREMELY!" He roared back, his voice shaking with fright.

    "Oh well, I've broken worse," Alaska mumbled and she leapt up and grabbed the end of the table; with a mighty heave that made her arms and back groan, she tipped it onto its side, computers, beakers and microscopes smashing to the ground. Alaska rolled up against it as bullets instantly smashed into the surface, making significant dents but the table thankfully held.

    "Sandy, use the grenades!" Alaska shouted. Sandy nodded over at her and pulled a pin from one of the small grey capsules. She lobbed it over towards the slowly advancing gun men, and Alaska peered around, waiting for the explosion; however, instead of fire and heat, a thin jet of grey smoke was unleashed from the top, spraying the nearest man in the face but doing little else.

    "A smoke bomb… great, the one time I actually need to blow something up and it's a dud!" Alaska hissed. She could see that no one had fallen yet, and Buzz's gunmen were systematically emptying their weapons, half aiming for the table around her and the other aiming at the small gap between the cages. The only thing saving them were the crowded tables, the heavy equipment and computers taking the brunt of the bullet barrage, and the multiple rows were forcing the men to move slowly as they navigated their way forwards, perhaps weary of getting too close in case Alaska had any other weapons up her sleeve. Unfortunately, there was very little she could do; for once, Alaska had nothing she could whip out and use to defend herself or fight back, nothing that would stop herself getting shot in the head at least. She simply leaned back against the table and stared across at Sandy, whose gun was coming up blank, and a frightened Mr Melton, trying to think of some miracle solution.

    I never would have thought I'd die alongside one of my neighbours, Alaska pondered as she watched stared across at the father of her of the biggest nuisances in her life. Alistair Melton was leaning against a cage, his entire body visibly shaking, eyes shut tight as if it would end the nightmare. It struck Alaska as almost full circle, coming all the way from their joint homes in Viridian, only to find death looming over them in the exact same location. The question of his reluctance to properly discuss Mitchell still struck Alaska as odd, and she looked at Mr Melton, wondering what secrets there were hidden in that head of his, and why he had not fled to the other half of the floor, as if he could somehow help them leaning against the cages.

    Actually… Alaska thought, a thought rushing through her head. She stared back out at the incoming swarm of men, and saw that the smoke bomb was spewing a grey vapour across them, quickly engulfing the gunmen as they tried to get through the tables. Alaska smiled; it would provide enough cover to allow her a chance to reach Sandy, but they would need a distraction. Thankfully, despite her earlier thoughts, Alaska could see now they were not totally unarmed.

    "MR MELTON, THE CAGES – OPEN THE CAGES!" She roared. Alistair looked up fearfully at the sound of his name, but then he saw Alaska and her words clicked into place. Alistair Melton jumped to his feet, his fear quickly melting away, and he ran past all the cages, slamming his palm against the buttons. Sandy jumped aside as the glass doors disappeared, and suddenly nearly two dozen Pokemon were racing out and heading for the gunmen; Alaska had learnt enough from her travels to know the sounds of battle would activate the Pokemon's natural instincts to protect their territory. The gunfire ceased and was replaced by screams replaced, roars and growls quickly filling the room instead. Alaska seized the opportunity and sprinted forwards, only briefly staring at the chaotic scene before her; smoke now filled the floor, hiding everyone in sight, but in the few seconds she watched Alaska saw Beedrill, Zubat and Poliwhirl came in and out of the vapour, each duelling a different gun toting henchmen.

    "It worked!" Sandy squealed excitedly when Alaska reached them.

    "No thanks to you," she said with a beam at Mr Melton, and the lanky man smiled youthfully back. "I'll make sure to tell Mitchell next time we see him about how his father may have just saved our life!" Alistair continued to beam and opened his mouth to talk, but it appeared Alaska had spoken to soon; an angry roar sounded from behind, and they turned just as the bald man lunged out from the smoke, a shard of glass clutched in his hands. Sandy screamed and Alaska pushed her out of the way, and the henchmen missed and collided into Mr Melton.

    "Run!" He bellowed frantically, quickly grabbing onto the gunmen's arm. Alaska was taken aback, and for a moment she stayed, trying to find a way to help her neighbour. But Alaska was unarmed and her throat still hurt from where the rod had dug in; she merely nodded at Mr Melton and turned, hoping against all odds he survived, and with nowhere else to run, she and Sandy sprinted into the smoke.

    There was something acrylic about the way it smelt; Alaska gagged and held her shirt up to her nose, and Sandy did the same, though she had more of a struggle as the Eevee was bundled up in her arms again. The two run up past the lifts, automatically heading for the stairwell and a chance of getting away before any gunmen noticed them. It was hard to see through the smoke, with anything more than a few feet away disappearing from sight; they could only hear the cries of the gunmen and the shouts of the sparring Pokemon, with the occasional smash of glass or metal clang of equipment falling. There seemed to be no gunfire though, and Alaska moved quickly, desperate to escape.

    "Alaska Acevedo?" Someone cried, and instinctively Alaska turned; a man emerged out from the smoke, but it was clear he was no gunman; he was thin, the grey in his hair exemplified by the smoke, and was dressed in a long, tattered brown coat. He stared at Alaska with both glumness and franticness, and she paused, not sure how to react.

    "Ummm, yes, why?" Alaska replied cautiously, her eyes flickering to the door but her curiosity was overpowering her need to survive.

    "Thank god I've found you – you need to come with me right now!" The man said, reaching out for her arm, but Alaska stepped backwards, looking at him in revolt. Suddenly, like a dam bursting, all her anger and confusion came spilling out at this stranger, unable to hold it back any longer.

    "Listen here buddy, I don't know who you are or what you are doing here, but if you know who I am, you are aware that I have great cause for being a teensy bit untrustworthy when it comes to meeting mysterious strangers, especially when it happens in the middle of an ambush by the henchmen of someone who was prepared to viciously murder me for interrupting his reality show. So unleash you have some damn good evidence to prove you're on my side, I will gladly kick you all the way back to whatever backwater ditch you emerged from!" Alaska finished, her chest heaving, the entire battle besides her going ignored. The strange man looked puzzled for a moment, but then his face spread into a smirk.

    "You remind me of several young ladies I dealt with in Sinnoh," he said with a strange smile. "If you must know my name, it is Looker as far as you're concerned, but the most important thing to know is that if you want to live, you are going to need to trust me, starting from now," he continued, and before Alaska could say anything else, he shoved her sideways towards the lifts. There was a chance Alaska wouldn't have minded this, but there was just one problem.

    The doors were open, but there was no lift waiting.

  13. #193
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 62

    Chapter Sixty Three: Parental Consideration Advised

    I wish my days stopped ending up like this, Alaska thought bitterly as she plummeted seventy floors towards her doom. Plummeting warm

    It was freezing inside the elevator shaft, made no better by what rapidly falling from an extreme height did your body; Alaska was battered by cold air that was forced into her eyes and ears, a wind-like noise deafening her in the silent lift shaft. She was forced to shut her eyes against the generated breeze, but it was so dark that there was little to see anyway. She could, however, feel the closeness of the walls she was falling between, her outstretched fingers brushing against cool stone and icy metal. Alaska could barely control her body though, the shock stunning her, the speed stopping her from acting, leaving her falling like a puppet cut from its strings, tumbling and twirling through the air, unable to prepare for what comes once you start falling…

    However, for once, Alaska had a tiny glimmer of hope; the mysterious Looker knew who she was and wanted her to trust her, so she had a feeling he had a reason for shoving her into an empty lift shaft and, as a result, was not going to let her die. So instead of focussing on the shock or the landing, Alaska shut her eyes and disappeared inside her head; things seemed to slow down, her mind drifting away from the tingling sensation of falling, and Alaska thought back on all that had happened in the past twenty four hours. She had nearly been killed by a wave around this time yesterday: Alaska knew a normal person would be concerned by this, but she could not help but see the funny side, surviving a certain hell one day only to find herself in another the next...

    Thanks to the unsettling information she had learned today, Alaska could see several pieces of her bizarre puzzle falling into place. She know knew the faces of her enemies, namely Gideon, a madman scientist she was connected to only by chance, and Buzz, the man seemingly behind the robots who was purposefully targeting her, though the specifics for why were lost on her. One of her prior encounters with the show must have done more damage on the meticulously planned ratings event than she realised, but Alaska could not place her finger on what.

    Nor could she quite work out what role Indigo Dreams itself had in things, though she knew must be some level of awareness there. It occurred to her now that they had been captured yesterday after setting up camp in close proximity to the reality show, the first time they had done so, and that Amanda had been very frustrated by their appearance. Sandy had mentioned an unease about the thin lipped, tight arsed woman, but Alaska did not want to leap to any presumptions about anyone else on the show yet, not when she had no way of knowing how much the really stars knew about their boss…

    Alaska remembered what she had told Sandy twenty minutes ago, and she hoped that it was true, but knew these doubts about the stars would linger, burrowing their way into the back of her head until they got the chance to prove them either true or false. She could not be certain, not after weeks of unsettling surprises at every turn, but Alaska hoped the stars (even Chloe) would prove to be innocent. She had spent much of yesterday afternoon talking to Damian; it had been nothing of importance, merely discussing their journeys and their Pokemon, however it was not the type of conversation Alaska wanted to be marred by a revelation of his betrayal…

    Alaska opened her eyes, unable to bear dwelling on it any longer, and was stunned that she could just make out the bottom of the shaft, a solider mass of darkness than the shadows she had fallen through. She tensed up, wondering now whether she would face blinding, deadly pain, or a miraculous survival, but then what would the rest of her day spell? Briefly, as the concrete prepared to greet her, the many mysteries that still dogged her rushed through her mind; the attack on Vermilion, Suicune and Zapdos, Gideon and the fossils, what purpose the robots served, the prophecy; somehow, all these things and many others were connected, and Alaska hoped she survived, merely to see what this puzzle looked like once it was completed. Yet the ground was coming ever closer, tripling in size every second, and there seemed to be nothing waiting to stop her…

    Suddenly, almost as quickly as it begun, Alaska stopped.

    She blinked rapidly, and was horrified to find her nose a centimetre above concrete. Alaska looked around frantically, wondering what was holding her up and if there was still a chance of falling; but instead of going forwards, she rose up, tilting backwards until she was upright, and then was placed softly on her feet.

    "Well… alright then," Alaska muttered, rather taken aback by her sudden survival. She glanced about the lift shaft, trying to find what had saved her, but a sudden screaming distracted her; Alaska looked up and could see a familiar head of blonde hair falling through the darkness; Sandy was not quite as relaxed about the whole experience as Alaska had been, and her screams were loud enough to rouse everyone in Saffron. Alaska stepped cautiously backwards, not wanting to get crushed once again by a falling Sandy, and tensed up, waiting for the saviour to make itself known…

    About a second before Sandy hit concrete, a pair of pink eyes flashed in the shadows, and she stopped instantly. Her screams carried on though as Sandy wiggled frantically about, eyes shut and hands clasped tightly around a rather unimpressed Eevee.

    "Shut up Sandy, you're not going to die just yet," Alaska snapped, grabbing her friend by the collar and hauling her upwards. Sandy fell quickly silent and looked around, shaken and dazed by the experience, but Alaska left her behind and stepped over wires and metal poles, heading towards the source of the pink eyes a few metres away.

    "I know there is a Pokemon here, so you might as well show yourself," she called, trying to sound friendly. There was a moment's pause, and suddenly dazzling white light illuminated the shaft; a tall, humanoid Pokemon stood proudly before her, long, sword like green arms held respectfully at its side as it gazed down at her. Red triangles came through its front and back, and Alaska got the impression that this was a creature born for fighting, not for hiding in lift shafts.

    She opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly the creature's eyes flashed pink again, and Alaska turned as Looker and Mr Melton landed gracefully on the concrete, the latter looking rather shaken up, unsteadily collapsing against the wall. Alaska could now see they stood on a square of concrete, surrounded by three solid walls, a number of wiring and piping and metal frames separating them from the other lift shafts.

    "I see you have discovered my Gallade," Looker said calmly, as if falling down lift shafts was nothing of concern. "He is very useful in situations like these – excellent Psychic precision, you usually find Gallade are better fighters than thinkers, but mine is both."

    "That's wonderful," Alaska said icily, quickly forgetting her awe at Gallade and wheeling around to face the stranger. "Now, would you mind explaining who the fuck you are and why you threw me down here?" Looker's face sank and turned sour, and he reached into a pocket and retrieved a golden badge, which he held up for all to see.

    "I am a Senior Investigator working for the International Police, codename Looker," he explained. "I arrived here to investigate reports into connections between the television department and recent events in Kanto. My brief was to hack into the network and look for any information to prove these connections, which can only be done from within the building, but I was interrupted when Zapdos attacked and the system began to shut down. I was about to leave and investigate why Zapdos was here but I had just gained access to the security cameras on Level 87 and discovered you were here." Looker paused, and a slight smile spread across his face. "I have heard a lot about you, Alaska Acevedo, and I must say it is truly a pleasure to finally encounter you."

    "International Police – so you must know Trevor and Daisy?" Alaska asked.

    "Indeed, and I was told that if I ever encountered you to say both are well and hope to meet you again soon," Looker replied. Alaska nodded, but was silently elated at the fact both were safe; she was now sure how they would have survived either circumstance, but it was a relief to know neither had died trying to save her.

    "Once I learnt you were in the building and possibly in danger," Looker continued, "I realised I would need to rescue you before leaving the building. I was held up accessing floor plans and the remaining security cameras before the system crashed, otherwise I could have gotten to you before you reached the precautionary trap it seems Mr Bolton set for you." At this, Alaska could not help but glance at Mr Melton; her old neighbour still looked flustered by his freefall experience, but at the mention of the chaos that had consumed his workplace, his face seemed to darken slightly, a mixture of what Alaska perceived to be both anger and shame.

    "Well yes, thank you for saving us, but how exactly is being in a lift shaft going to help us escape?" Sandy asked incredulously. "And Buzz still has our Pokemon and our bags locked away somewhere in the building!" Looker turned to her, his face falling into a frown, and Alaska had to say that the man seemed quite moody.

    "Ever since the old building was destroyed and this one was built," he continued, turning slowly away from Sandy, "there have been many rumours about Mr Silph having a number of safety rooms built in case Silph Co. was ever attacked again. It seems that these rumours are true, as the floor plans reveal an expansive basement area, and the security cameras show a variety of used and disused spaces down here. I believe at least some of these safety rooms have been utilized by Mr Bolton for whatever his plans may be, and if we go there now, we should be able to find your Pokemon, and perhaps learn more about what is being planned.

    "There is a reason why I choose to tell you all this at the bottom of this rank lift shaft. You see, the lifts are designed to reach these secret floors – specifically, the lift that normally travels up and down this shaft, but is currently stuck on Level 93. All you do is type in the code or swipe your key card, and the wall right behind you opens and the elevators slide through." Alaska, Sandy and Mr Melton all turned to look at the wall behind them, but it simply looked as dull and dirty as the rest.

    "Do you have the code?" Alaska asked.

    "No, but I am a master hacker and I brought something with us with the necessary tools– Mr Melton, your swipe pass please." Alistair looked startled by this request, but before he could move a thin piece of white plastic flew out from a pocket, glowing pink, and Alaska watched as Gallade directed it towards his trainer. "All I have to do now is make the system accept Mr Melton's key card as being one of those that has the code, and then we are through!" Looker concluded, pulling a sleek tablet device from one pocket. He quickly typed in the details from Mr Melton's card and then loudly tapped away for another minute. Silence fell, and Alaska briefly glanced upwards, wondering if any gunmen had survived the Pokemon attack, and what they were doing now…

    "And there we go," Looker said after several minutes, dramatically tapping the last button, and everyone looked at the wall; there was a groan of gears, pins and locks being removed from their safe little homes.Alaska watched in amazement as a section of stone slid backwards about three feet before disappearing into the wall to their left.

    A long tunnel was revealed, one that reminded Alaska of an old fashioned mine shaft from her dads old movies; the walls were of the same concrete blocks at the lift shaft, but the only lighting were narrow fluorescent tubes set every few metres, and the stone floor was covered in a thick film of dust separated only by metal tracks, presumably for the elevator.

    "Oh joy," Alaska murmured sarcastically. "A dark, gloomy, dust filled tunnel – there must be fun times waiting for us at the end of this!" She glanced at Looker and raised an eyebrow, but the spy did not seem to share her humour.

    "Now you listen to me; I want to go in there even less than you do," he snapped. "I have had more than my fair share of dealings with criminals over the years, and I was hoping that Trevor and Daisy could handle this investigation on their own. However, their involvement with you has compromised their abilities to be incognito and forced me to return to the field! Now, if you want to get out of this building alive then you will stop the jokes, listen to my orders and go down the damn tunnel without complaint!" His voice echoed so it seemed like dozens of angry people were shouting at Alaska. She stared defiantly back at the spy, but she knew after a few moments he was not going to be worn down, at least not as easily as the others; instead, Alaska nodded to show she understood, and at the same time wondered what exactly had made this man so bitter.

    "Good; now follow me," Looker snapped before stepping inside the tunnel. Sandy with Eevee quickly followed behind, seemingly frightened into action by her telling off; Alaska gestured at Mr Melton, and her former neighbour reluctantly climbed in after, leaving her and Gallade to bring up the rear.

    "Looks like you're going to be my guard of honour!" She said, turning to Gallade and smiling, but the Pokemon did not seer to hear and walked past her, and Alaska rolled her eyes as she stepped into the tunnel. "Does no one have a sense of humour these days? You'd think we were all about to be killed!"

    The walk through the tunnel was dull and silent, no one talking as they marched across the carpet of dust. There was no sound, only their softened footsteps and their breathing, amplified by the tightness of the walls. Gallade continued to glow, but the light only extended as far as Mr Melton; he and Alaska were bathed in the pearly shine that turned the walls white, while Sandy and Looker were barely visible in the darkness ahead. Alaska realised she had never been alone with her neighbour before, but currently a tension lay between them, one he may not notice, but Alaska could not ignore what she had learnt back in his lab.

    "I bet you didn't think your day would turn out like this," she whispered, unable to bear the silence anymore. "You wake up, you go to work, do your job, go home; wash, rinse and repeat. Something like this must have never happened before."

    "No… no it hasn't," Alistair said quietly back, his voice hushed and shaking. There was a pause, and then: "and you, Alaska? Did you think your day would turn out this way?"

    "I hoped it wouldn't, but I am not surprised it had. Usually though I get to wake up and do something first before the shit catches up to me. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me Mr Melton, and, trusting I survive today, it won't be the last – not until I stop everyone behind this massive mess. And, unfortunately, you currently count in that equation," Alaska finished with a touch of coldness. Alistair Melton stopped abruptly in his tracks, his feet kicking up a small cloud of dust. He turned and faced Alaska, and in Gallade's glow his face was thrown into great detail; it was older and more lined than Alaska remembered; his hair was greyer than before, and his eyes looked red and tired, the purple sheen of his lids shining grimly in the unfortunate spotlight.

    "I hope you do not hold me accountable for those robots," he whispered, staring deeply and pointedly at Alaska. "I was never told what they were to be used for. My department performs experiments on Pokemon for the purposes of serving the company, testing various products and equipment to determine what will go on sale. We have done some robotics work in the past, creating realistic test dummies to replicate rare Pokemon, and a year ago Buzz Bolton asked us to build a variety for his new show. We were contractually obliged to, as we were to hire Samuel as an assistant and liaison to the department. I… none of us did… we never thought there was anything suspicious with them…"

    "Even though they were rigged with explosives?" Alaska asked pointedly, and Alistair's dull face changed into an expression of complete shock.

    "Explosives? What? I have never handled explosives before in my life!" He said, mouth hanging open in horror. "We simply examined the Pokemon they requested and created designs before delivering our plans to Level 87. The Mechanics Department actually constructed the machines. I never made any plans for any explosives or weaponry, we were just told they needed robotic Pokemon – they must have altered our plans later on." The two had not moved for a couple of minutes now, and Alaska could no longer see any sign of Sandy or Looker, and the muffled sounds of their footsteps had disappeared. However, she felt as though any movement would disturb , any disruption to the stillness and silence they had shrouded themselves in, a cloak of doubt and blame that lingered between the two. It felt strange to Alaska to be confronting her old neighbour like this; or indeed that a man she had lived next door to could be so intrinsically linked to her, to have played such a mighty hand, whether he was aware of it or not, in her life these past few months. What a strange thing to discover, after having dealt with men and women that were famous throughout Kanto and around the world, to have encountered murderers and spies and aristocrats and assassins all involved in this interlinked, interwoven conspiracy, and yet Alistair Melton was too involved…

    "I… I have to ask…" Mr Melton suddenly spluttered, and Alaska snapped out of her thoughts and looked back at him. "Mitchell… you said you've encountered him a few times… when you have been attacked by… by my robots… has he ever been with you?"

    "Yes," Alaska replied curtly, seeing no point in lying. Mr Melton nodded stiffly, and Alaska could see his had tensed up; she could only imagine the images her answer had conjured up, the terrible pain that must come with unknowingly putting your own child in such danger. "Now I have to ask – earlier, when I brought him up, you seemed very reluctant to talk about Mitchell. Why is that? Is there something going on at your home?" Alistair did not say anything, and for several moments Alaska wondered if he had actually heard her, his face showing no sign of recognition, his eyes nearly lifeless as the scientist disappeared beneath his own fears.

    "It is a difficult thing to do, to let your child leave home on a journey," Alistair said after several moment, though his voice was so low Alaska strained to hear him. "You are letting your child choose a very limited and particular life path for themselves, and after everything that has happened, with Team Rocket and Galactic and all those people, Wendy and I were uncertain about letting him go. But… but we thought it would be safe… there had been no incidents, no attacks or anything, we thought it was a harmless time… Mitchell so wanted to go, and who we were to deny him of this choice, especially when you were going, the only other person he had really been close to." Alaska was taken aback; she was sure Mr Melton did not intend them this way, but it seemed a lot like she was being blamed for Mitchell's journey, as if she had forced him into it; had Mitchell really looked up to her that much?

    "Once a child leaves, it is difficult to stay in contact, even with all those devices they have these days," Alistair continued. "And… and… and when things go wrong… when you hear that they have been explosions and terror attacks… when you can't find out whether your child was involved or not…" He paused here, his voice having become high and hysterical but still quiet, and Alaska saw a new side to him she had never seen before – one she had never seen in any adult. Mr Melton was shaking, his body jittering so violently she felt concerned, and tears poured down his cheeks as his face contorted into something of pure anguish; mouth ajar, throat contorted, only a pained gurgling making it through. Alaska thought it would be inappropriate to interrupt, and instead she stood silently, watching and waiting, thinking…

    It was a minute before Mr Melton regained himself; he reached up with his hand inside his coat and dabbed his eyes. When it came down, his face was blank again, and his eyes refocused as if he had just woken up. He looked down at Alaska for the first time in several minutes, and she could see concern and sadness behind his glasses, the last of his tears still hanging around his eyelids.

    "I didn't want to discuss Mitchell before because it can be too painful at times," Alistair said, his voice louder but still sombre, still pained. "We receive occasional letters and the odd phone call, but asides from that we try not to think on him. That may sound cruel, but it is the only thing for a parent to do when their child disappears off into the wilderness – the only thing you can do when cities are being bombed and entire islands are being annihilated. Otherwise I would never be able to do those things you said before; I couldn't go to work, I would never be able to sleep, I would be up all night sick with worry, imagining Mitchell lying dead in the middle of some unknown field on the other side of Kanto. You have to detach yourselves from your children; you have to make yourself believe they are somewhere happy, calm and safe where they cannot possibly be hurt, and you get along with your daily life telling yourself that is the case and not letting anything tell you differently. And now I must contend with the guilt of knowing my son could have been harmed by something I was forced to create, and it is time I go and find out why that nearly happened."

    Alistair turned away the second he had finished speaking, perhaps unable to look at Alaska any longer, not with the revelations of his involvement in Buzz's plans standing between them. He quickly marched away into the darkness, moving with such determination that his feet disappeared beneath a haze of dust. Alaska was left alone with Gallade, and she was interested to see the Psychic Fighter had paused, his wide, intense eyes following after her old neighbour; was it trying to read his mind, to make sense of the discussion between the humans in front of him? Alaska had wondered at times throughout her journey what her Pokemon made of all of this; did Paige, Frances and Nadia understand the mystery and danger their trainer was embroiled in, or were they simply her soldiers, fighting her war for her?

    At that thought, Gallade turned and looked intensely at her. She was taken aback by the glare, and she stood frozen as Gallade looked at her up and down, his glowing body entirely focussed on her. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the Blade Pokemon turned and walked away. Alaska waited for a few seconds, wondering what that had been, and realised suddenly her heart was beating rapidly. She paused, waiting for it to calm down, and then followed after a few seconds later. Everyone else seemed much further ahead now, but Alaska walked slowly, putting aside Gallade and thinking about Mr Melton, suddenly feeling as if she was carrying a large burden with her.

    Was this the same thought process her parents were going through? Were William and Robin Acevedo sitting at home right now, watching television or preparing a meal, telling themselves Alaska was fine, telling themselves that she could not possibly be involved with any of the chaos that was currently plaguing Kanto? Alaska wondered when she had last spoken to her parents or tried to make contact – in Celadon, hadn't she called from the PokemonCenter? It had only been a short time ago, but in the whirlwind nightmare she was trapped in everything was a blur. Had Alaska ever talked to her parents about the things she had seen, the people she had met, the horrors she had faced? Did they know she had nearly been killed by a number of robots, or that she blown up a generator purely to make a point? Had she even told them about her badges – that was why she had left home, after all; to prove that she and Paige could conquer the league alone. Here she was, four steps into that master plan; was that what her parents thought, that she was merely training and battling, fighting for glory instead of fighting for her life?

    The real question was though; how would they feel if they knew the truth? Did they deserve the right to know what she had been through? They would surely demand it of her if they had suspicions, but how would they react, how would they cope? Alaska thought of Mr Melton's reaction a few minutes ago, she thought of Sandy's father, alone in their house with no idea where his daughter was; did he even care, was he looking at the news and worrying for his missing daughter?

    There was a grunt, and Alaska stopped, startled; her feet had carried her towards the others without her realising, and she now found Looker, Sandy and Mr Melton standing before her, a solid wall bringing them all to a halt. She felt her face may give away her troubled thoughts, and quickly settled it into an expression of impatience and tiredness that she felt they may expect. She looked between her fellows; Sandy looked weary and nervous, clutching Eevee tightly to her chest; Looker's face was serious but gave away his tiredness, perhaps his lack of desire to be here and his unwillingness to carry on; Alistair almost looked expressionless, but he could not hide the fear that shone through in his eyes, his mind clearly still dwelling on the possible fate of his son.

    "Now that we are all here," Looker said coldly, his eyes flickering between Alaska and Alistair before turning back to the wall, "I believe this is designed to part only when it senses a lift coming," he explained in hushed tones, examining what appeared to be solid stone. "However, I believe Gallade should be able to open this."

    "Gal," Gallade said shortly, and he silently stepped between them, casting the quartet directly in light before raising his arms against the door; suddenly, the light disappeared, and Alaska felt as though she had been swallowed, darkness instantly surrounding her. The tunnels bulbs did little, and Alaska suddenly felt alone, lost, trapped, the fact she was inside a confined space heading to confront potential murders dawning on her for perhaps the first time. She raised her arms, feeling around in the darkness, and felt immense relief as her left hand grabbed onto another person, and they held her hand in response; she was not sure if it was Sandy or Alistair, but it was reassuring to know she was not alone.

    "The second the door opens, we need to make a break for it," Looker whispered. "I cannot promise what is waiting for us there, but the way I left things in the lab, hopefully they will not suspect we are coming. Gallade and I will attack, you three stay behind and we will find your bags before doing anything else. Are we all clear?"

    "Yes," the other three replied, though Alaska noted she was not the only one who sounded unenthusiastic, who sounded concerned about what was about to happen.

    "Gallade, are you ready?" Looker said from somewhere in front, and Gallade must have nodded as there was no response from him, merely the loud groaning of metal pistons and gears being twisted against their will. "Alright, let's do this… on the count of three… one… two… THREE!"

    The door slid open with a thud, and light poured inside the tunnel; Looker leapt out first, a handgun raised, and Alaska followed, dragging Sandy with her, their hands still entwined. Then went Mr Melton, and finally Gallade stepped out with his arms raised like a shield. Alaska's head was still spinning from her conversation, making it hard to take in any details of the room they'd stepped into; the ceiling was high, a large amount of empty space above them, while the walls and floors were still stone. For a moment, Alaska thought it was empty, only able to hear her own, constant thoughts…

    Then there was a groaning, the sound of something heavy being lifted; their eyes all turned towards the wall to their right, which was suddenly and slowly rising upwards. Looker cried out and turned, but the door behind them had already shut. Men burst out from hidden doors, heavy black machine guns clasped in their hands; the group froze, hands raised, but Alaska's attention remained was on the rising wall, which was now halfway open, and what stood behind.

    Shock silenced her. Alaska stared straight through the gathering gunmen, her attention fixated on what awaited them on the other side of the wall. The only thing she registered was Sandy's grip on her hand intensifying, and Alaska could feel that her friend was as terrified by the sight as she was.

    Laughter, great booming laughter echoed inside the stone square. A voice in the back of her head told Alaska it was Buzz, but she did not know until he began to speak, yet even his words could not pull her attention away.

    "To think after all the trouble I went to you almost got away again!" He hissed from afar. "But you are not getting away this time; I have caught you, and I am finally going to see you dead! However, I thought you deserved one last little treat before you suffer the worst pain you will ever feel. This will be the last image you ever see; it is time you saw what you are really up against, Miss Acevedo, so you can die knowing you will not have to suffer the horror I am about to unleash on Kanto."

    And a horror it was. Alaska felt like surrendering there and then; there was no way of beating him now. She had scarcely escaped the Beedrill, the Golem had been too close a call, and the Electrode had nearly claimed her life, and none of them she had managed to defeat herself. But standing on the other side of the wall, rows and rows of robots were waiting, possibly hundreds of glistening, metallic monstrosities, insults to nearly every species of Pokemon, but unstoppable, murderous machines, an entire army under Buzz's command.

    An army Alaska knew she could not beat; this truly was defeat.



    The end may jar with Alaska and Alistair's chat, but I felt it would have been a poor way to start the next chapter to have a big reveal right at the start, so it had to close this way. Hope you enjoyed it though and the next chapter will be BIG!
    Last edited by AceTrainer14; 25th October 2014 at 06:32 PM.

  14. #194
    .______. Elysia's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 63

    Super-late post awards review; sorry. I assume that you, too, also read my assorted comments in various threads, but I'll repost here and then have an ending dealio.

    Forewarning, I tried my best, but I ended up skipping around chapters thirty through fifty in the name of finishing on time. Did read required interludes/chapters as well as first thirty and last ten chapters. Apologies if I grossly misinterpreted anything that happened in the meantime.

    How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps

    Plot: (8.5/10) It's a nice kick to the original Kanto line, and I can clearly see that everything's all integrated with the rest of the 'verse and thought ahead in whatever terms Ace has made/this is a roundabout way of saying that you planned ahead, which is nice. I particularly enjoyed how this was a fic whose main premise was super-special trainers going on a super-special journey, none of whom were the main characters. When things got real, things got real. T'was an entertaining read.

    Setting: (8/10) It's Kanto. With some changes. I liked the detail that you gave to the elements of Kanto that we wouldn't see in Game/Animeverse, and you had enough different from normal canon to keep this fresh.

    Characters: (7/10) I have mixed feelings here. On one hand, I know without doubt what kinds of characters you were trying to pull off; on the other, I think your characters feel flat at times--this girl is sarcastic, this girl is somewhat timid, this guy is ambiguously evil, this guy is a dick. Your characters feel like cariacatures instead of people--even Alaska, at some points, and it felt a little unrealistic at some points.

    Furthermore, your villains were kind of hit-and-miss. I enjoyed reading about Gideon, but Buzz/Amanda felt a little too evil mcevilface for my taste. Their motivations for disliking/hating/trying to murder the protagonist are kind of thin, and they could definitely use some more addressing. Amanda in particular feels like a brand of psychopath (except it's unacknowledged/not quite explained fully enough for me to call this intentional) with a single-minded drive to a goal that doesn't even seem clear in the first place. Chloe is pretty much just grade-A whiny ass. It's almost like they're there just to prove how awesome the main cast is, and that's not exactly the vibe you want.

    Style: (9/10) Whelp, you certainly do have a dramatic flair of approaching things, and that really suited the whole drama-TV-show-and-then-more approach that you started taking. The interludes were nice, and the blogs did help establish Alaska some more, so kudos there.

    Technical: (6/10) I noticed that a lot of these chapters haven't been edited since they were published--so, like, two-three years ago. You had some trouble early on with dialogue tags that seemed resolved in the more recent chapters, and there are consistent typos (ie there/they're/their, then/than) and some random oddities in sentence structure that threw me off a tad. Like, a lot, actually.

    Overall: 75/100
    I am torn here, largely because I did not have the opportunity to read the entire thing and could've easily missed, like, massive character changes or something that happened in the parts that I did not read (noted before judging in this post). If you feel like there's an additional awesome chapter or something, I'm willing to skip there and reconsider.

    This was an excellent story. It was entertaining, humorous, and action-packed, and it ranks among one of the better journeyfics that I've read.

    That being said, what bugged me a lot were the characters. Alaska was pulled off well, and Sandy ended up getting surprising amounts of depth, but your side-characters suffered greatly. Your villains felt fairly cartoon-y in the scheme of things, and yet their actions (ie blowing up Kanto, attempted murder of teenagers) were far from that, and there was a lot of moral dissonance that I think needed more attention.

    Still, an excellent story, ad quite enjoyable. As I've said a couple times before, my critiques are fairly harsh apparently (D:), and I think this story was extremely well-done.

    Sandy Samson

    Depth (8/10): I was initially nervous about how things were going to turn out: Sandy seemed like token timid girl, but she really did develop a lot more alongside Alaska. The later chapters in particular show how much she's changed since then, so kudos.

    Originality (7/10): I mentioned it a bit earlier, but token timid girl. You had more than enough to make it less of a thing, and I liked how you had those realism aspects with the dress and the gigantic but immature Onix and such.

    Contribution (8/10): Eh, Alaska is clearly the main character here, but Sandy does an excellent job of holding her own. The fact that she has character development is impressive in itself, and she grows into quite the badass by the end of things.

    Entertainment Value (8/10): I didn't find her humor to be side-cracking, but she certainly filled her role just fine. I like how she's a ditz who's clearly portrayed as a ditz and yet gets her own moments of awesomeness.

    Overall: 82/100

    She doesn't quite get the focus that Alaska does, but she can hold her own in how things go. She certainly grows up a ton, and her development didn't feel forced. You manged to have sufficient depth without forcing the focus onto her, which is something I don't see often in side characters.

    Buzz Bolton (Eight Easy Steps)

    Depth (7/10):
    ...sigh.
    I didn't get a lot of depth from what I was reading of him, and I get the feeling that that's mostly because I didn't get to read the chapters where he comes to shine. Like, I really, really think I'm missing those, and that makes me feel a little uncomfortable about grading the rest of this, so I'm really sorry.

    That being said, he's fairly flat in what I've read so far, and he sort of just cackles around like a cartoon villain instead of doing much in the way of realism. I'm sorry.

    Originality (8/10): Maniac ex-grunt who runs a television network and has a penchant for mudering teenagers for teh lulz? Can't say I've seen that one before, heh.

    Contribution (8/10): Again, from what I've read, especially in the later chapters, he plays big roles. I assume he and Gideon end up being the final villains given the dearth of Amanda in the later chapters, but I can't quite say and I'm terribly sorry for not being able to finish this.

    Entertainment Value (7/10): I've mentioned this a couple of times before, but he feels kind of flat as it stands--almost as if his villainy is there to make Alaska look super-mcspecialface for stopping him or something. His reactions and intent to murder the main character don't really feel like they were followed through all the way, and he's a bit hammy and dramatic at some parts, but he's pretty entertaining for a villain as it goes.

    Overall: 75/100

    I just realized how much I missed having adult antagonists in stories. Buzz pulls it off really well and functions as a threat, and I can't really say too much negative about his personality until I read the middle chapters (see note in journeyfic thread). As it stands, he's quite entertaining. Also, robots.


    Overall, I think your biggest problem here (as well as your greatest asset, so good luck with that one) might be your length. The later chapters are much more polished than the early ones--your characters have tons more depth and development in the most recent arc compared to the early one, and there's just so much more exciting stuff going on in the latest arcs. Obviously, you can't hit the ground running and you've got to deal with some baseline exposition and stuff, but there's a palpable quality difference in the early and late stuff, especially after reading a good portion of the fic in one or two sittings for the awards.

    I think one of the main things I could see was the differences in style--your writing is much more dynamic in the most recent chapters, and there's a lot less of the clunky constructions that seemed prevalent in your early writing. Also, the typos tended to thin out once we hit chapter thirty or so, and you mastered dialogue tags around that time as well, but it was still distracting to read the early stuff with grammatical errors and all when, clearly, you know how to English now.

    I'd honestly see this as a testament to your improvement, though. I'm not sure how often you revisit your earlier chapters (from the edit tags, at least, I can perhaps say that it isn't often?) but the improvement between those and the most recent ones is quite amazing. On the down side, new readers do have to slog through some of your more outdated writing to get to the juicy stuff, which isn't exactly good--most worrying to me in the beginning was your characterization, where every character seemed to represent an archetype (the sarcastic teenager, the timid chick, the meglomaniac evil scientist, the bitch) and didn't have much other depth. Although almost all of your characters ended up getting tons more depth as you continued writing, it took them a bit too long to show their deeper personalities--something I'd attribute more to your older style of writing than to the lack of length/time focused on them.

    On the whole, though, this was one of the more complete and entertaining journeyfics that I've read so far. Excellent job.

  15. #195
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: How to Conquer Kanto in Eight Easy Steps - Chapter 63

    @Elysia; Thank you for the feedback, much appreciated. I have recently begun looking over the prologue and nitpicking it, as there is some stuff that is embarassing to read three/four years on :P I hope to rewrite some stuff, but I guess I do want to try and get more of the story done too as I have been writing this for years now and I would have liked to be nearer to the end by now :/ I have quite a slow burner style where I prefer building up to things, and I do think it has let things down with early characterizations but I plan to rectify that in later chapters rather than going back and making the characters more even when Alaska seeming to be better than them is meant to add more to her cockiness than be detrimental to them, but hopefully I can rectify that as well. But thanks again for the feedback, I shall do my best to use it :)

    New chapter!


    Chapter Sixty Four: The Fun Times at the End of the Tunnel



    "I must say, I thought for a few minutes there that I may have lost. I cannot tell you how relieved I am things have gone back to plan – I would hate to think what may have happened if you had gotten away."

    Alaska tried her best to ignore the words, knowing that Buzz was attempting to goad her on, but she could not ignore them, not when they echoed inside the cavernous safe rooms, not when his metallic army surrounded her on all sides.

    Alaska felt powerless as they were led in single file between past robots. They were the last thing she wanted to see, yet she could not look away; one row contained Electrode like what had attacked her in the tunnel, the next had Raichu, large and imposing, their shine hidden by realistic fur. Then there were a trio of Sandslash, their iron claws and spikes resembling daggers, while the Graveler standing behind seemed to have been crafted with actual rocks. There were so many Alaska could not take them all in, but Buzz seemed to have prepared a wide range; Lickitung and Vulpix, Kadabra and Growlithe, a Gyarados that filled an entire row, even the Kanto starter Pokemon were there, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle robots standing neatly in line, like small children waiting for their teacher.

    This is sick, Alaska thought, finally looking away and staring forcibly into Mr Melton's head bobbing in front of her. Testing Pokemon, tricking people into creating weapons, letting them loose. This bastard is planning something, and I want to know what it is…

    But, what will I be able to do to stop it? A second voice hissed, and Alaska resisted the urge to scream in rage and desperation. This was the problem she could not shake; how the hell was she meant to defeat these robots? None of her Pokemon had the abilities to tear about metal; if Alaska and her team could actually make it out alive, how would they ever be able to defeat Buzz and this indestructible army?

    And there was the other big problem; escape. Alaska peered around Mr Melton and saw they were being led through a doorway, while behind them the wall was coming back down, cutting them off from the tunnel that had been their only hope. They were being shut in, and if they wanted to get out, a few walls and two armies stood in their way.

    Alaska reluctantly followed Mr Melton through the doorway, but was stunned to recognize the room they entered; it was what Buzz had shown them eighty floors up. She wanted to make a break for it and run towards her bag, which still lay on a lone table besides Sandy's, but Alaska could see the gunmen were filing in with them, their weapons poised and ready to shoot if she even stepped out of line. With a stifled sigh, Alaska merely glanced at Sandy, whose eyes had widened fearfully at the sight of her purple bag, and her grip on the frightened Eevee seemed to have tightened.

    A black-clad henchman gestured with his gun at the wall, and Alaska, Sandy, Looker, Alistair and Gallade stepped backwards towards the cold brick; the second their backs were against the stone, about two dozen guns were raised and pointed at their chests. A trio of Houndoom had been sent out, their razor-like teeth bared, knees bent ready to pounce, had been sent out, and they stood like sadistic guard dogs before them. Alaska tried to avoid them, but she could feel their hot breathe wafting over her, and she had a feeling they were not just there for Gallade.

    For a few moments, silence filled the square room, a tense quiet that pressed down against Alaska. Trying not to imagine the metallic army in the other room, she glanced at her fellow prisoners; to her left, Looker at the end wore a face as though bored with proceedings, but his eyes were darting tensely around the room; Mr Melton was twitchy and screamed of having nerves, his eyes flickering about more frantically, rubbing his hands against each other; Sandy was to her right, and Alaska was pleased to see that while her eyes were as round as saucers and fearful, Sandy stood tall and proud, seemingly ready to fight, holding her rescued Eevee tightly.

    However, Alaska was becoming more drawn to the fourth member of their team; Gallade had not tried to fight back, had not shown any fear of their situation, and currently was staring blankly forward, not even watching the prowling Houndoom. Some may view it as stupidity, but Alaska could tell that Gallade was focussed, perhaps psychically scanning the room. She looked at Eevee for comparison, and saw that the furry Normal type seemed uncomfortable and uneasy, disdainfully watching the Houndoom and armed men before them, and became even more curious; how strong must a Pokemon be to willingly enter a room where it could potentially die, simply on the command of their trainer. Alaska's eyes finally fell on her bag lying several metres away, and her mind turned to her Pokemon, how they could soon be dead without even realising it, without getting a chance to fight back…

    The silence was broken suddenly by a squeaking noise; Alaska looked at the doorway a few feet from Looker as Buzz entered the room, the producer sitting calmly in a wheelchair and being pushed by one of the henchmen. Alaska watched as her latest foe paused in the middle of his men and wheeled around; Buzz smirked at them, hands resting calmly in his lap, now dressed in a long dark robe that did little to hide a bulge around his middle.

    "Would you like a Meowth to stroke while you're sitting there?" Looker said drolly, and Buzz laughed highly in response, but his eyes did not the sound, instead watching the spy with anger.

    "No thank you, Agent Looker, I am perfectly comfortable – and I must say, it is a pleasure to finally be able to meet you. I have heard much about your work in Sinnoh, and I was wondering if we'd ever cross paths."

    "By the end of today, you'll wish you hadn't," Looker replied coolly.

    "We'll see," Buzz retorted quietly, and it was now that Alaska finally clicked what had changed about him; his voice had lost its cold deepness that had shuddered through her body back in his office. It was higher now, not as pitched as Mitchell's but more as though he had sucked a bit of helium. Alaska struggled not to laugh, but she did manage to just catch Sandy's eye, and the two exchanged the briefest of smiles.

    "Now, I am sure our male guests are wondering why I have brought you here," Buzz began, smiling softly at Looker and Mr Melton. "I am sure Alaska and Sandy recognise what is on the table, but for the spy and the scientist, those bags belong to the young girls next to you. They have not been messed with since being brought here; everything that was in them last night is still in there, including all of their PokeBalls.

    "Next to you, you will see a computer," he continued, and gestured lazily towards a table besides them. Alaska had been too focussed on the guards before to realise it, but now she turned and took it in; it was several years old, with a chunky monitor besides a number of wires and a hefty hard drive piled on the desk. "Mr Silph built these safety rooms with a number of defensive measures in order to fully protect his employees from future attacks by people like me. That computer is to communicate with the outside world and between rooms, but it also controls this room's anti-terrorism systems. As I briefly mentioned earlier Alaska, there are pipes in the walls and ceiling, pipes that can, for example, spray oil across every surface or that can fill the room with concrete – two very gruesome, uncomfortable ways to die, I am sure, but you will all experience for yourselves soon enough." Alaska kept her face calm and defiant, and stared boldly back at Buzz as the wounded businessman grinned maliciously at her, but her heart was beating faster and faster, their impending death closer than ever before.

    "However, before you all die," Buzz said, turning away from Alaska, "I want you to tell me Looker, what drew your attention to my plans? I am curious as I have been ever so careful with covering my tracks." His smile widened so much that Buzz now resembled some manic clown, and his eyes bore deeply into Looker. The spy did not look fazed by the bizarre look and did not respond for several moments, looking back at Buzz as if they were having a staring contest.

    "The International Police have been watching you for several months now," Looker replied eventually. "Your name change and new hair colour did fool us for some time, but our face recognition software was able to match your features with some of the only footage we managed to retrieve from ChronoIsland. However, despite our best practices, you have indeed been protected behind the security measures of Mr Silph, one reason I presume why you came here to work. If it was not for Alaska here and all her blogs about, you may have gotten away with it, but other agents read between the lines of her posts and saw connections between the events she described and the man behind the reality show."

    "Ah, I see, I see, so you came here today to find some actual evidence to use against me then?" Buzz asked, and Looker casually nodded. "Excellent, looks like Silph's paranoia has paid off; it has forced my enemies to enter my territory in order to gain information, and they cannot even make it out alive. But now, if you have done your research properly, surely you would have had to tell the League what you know? Why have Red's legendary pets not come knocking before?" Alaska turned to watch Looker as Buzz's words washed over him; for the first time, the spy looked uncomfortable, the confidence he wore wavering, his face sinking.

    "That information is not for me to disclose; this is not my mission, I have merely adopted it," he replied, his voice quieter, but it seemed to be what Buzz wanted; he tipped back his head and roared with laughter; it was loud and cruel inside the confined space, and there was escaping the triumphant cackle as it echoed incessantly.

    "Of course, the Indigo League will deny any attacks against them until their stadiums lie in ruins around them," Buzz boomed, his smile wide and vicious. "What old fools they are, ignoring signs when they are right in front of them. If they had only taken more notice, they would not soon have the deaths of two thirteen year old girls resting on their consciences." Buzz stopped laughing and turned to face Alaska once again, the humour lingering on his face. Alaska was confused by their exchange, wondering what both had meant and tried casting her mind back but failing to come up with anything; however, she now felt annoyed, having thought for a few minutes that this puzzle had begun to make sense, only to see that it merely got bigger with each piece she found.

    "Now, my lovely dears, things are back to how they should be," Buzz purred as he greedily eyed Alaska and Sandy. "You nearly escaped from me, you nearly outsmarted me, and you managed to wound me, but all you have done is make me angrier and cleared my mind. I thought torturing you would be fun, that it would make up for all the time, money and pain you have cost me, all the embarrassment I have faced thanks to you both, but I see now that you two are like a virus; you have to be killed quickly before you can spread and get worse. So now you and your Pokemon can die together, all of you getting buried slowly within fast setting concrete, and I will watch as you endure a nice painful death, one that will give you time to reflect on all your actions.'

    Buzz flashed another wide grin and clicked his fingers; the henchmen that wheeled him in walked briskly towards the computer keeping his eyes forward, not even looking at the people he was about to kill. Alaska angrily watched him strut across the room, but she became distracted; out of the corner of her eye, she saw Mr Melton suddenly looked more focussed, his tense, nervous demeanour disappearing, his hands clenched in fists by his side. Alaska could see her neighbour was not looking at Buzz or the gunmen, but was instead staring at the computer, his eyes wide and serious. Alaska watched him until Alistair finally noticed and glanced down at her, his face a mixture of fear and anxiousness, but her old neighbour looked back at the computer, then back to her, and slowly, he winked.

    "Before you kill us, I want to know," Alaska yelled, turning quickly away as her mind began plotting; Buzz looked at her with vivid curiosity, and he raised a hand, making the grunt pause next to the computer. "I have to know; what is the deal with the robots and the reality show? What do they have to do with each other and me?" Buzz smiled wickedly, a grin that lingered for several seconds, and Alaska slowly reached out and grabbed Sandy's left hand, at the same time looking back at Gallade, projecting her thoughts out to the universe; was the blank faced Pokemon able to hear her?

    "I suppose there are some things I can tell you, though I am not telling you everything," Buzz purred. "Ever since you interrupted the first challenge back in ViridianForest, you have thrown a spanner into my plans, and every time you appear, every time you stuff up a show or anger my contestants, I have had more reason to wish you dead. The robots have a role to play in this, but I sent two of our more defunct ones after you; when both failed to kill you, I became more desperate, and set up multiple traps. I had a footbridge in Diglett Tunnel damaged, and I hired a gunman to kill you should you make it to the Rock Tunnel; all those places were dark and confusing, and your deaths there would have meant weeks before anyone found your corpses."

    "When you unexpectedly appeared at the Power Plant, I had the local barman paid off to poison your drinks should you enter his establishment. Unfortunately, you and Chloe fought before you could take a sip, though your friend would have died had she not been shot and bled out the next day. It was a foolish plan, but it just shows how desperate I have been to kill you; my hatred has made me sloppy."

    "That doesn't really answer my question though," Alaska replied, though she did shelf away the information in the back of her mind, several minor details falling into place. "What purpose do the robots serve, and why are you hiding behind a reality show?"

    "Did you get the picture out there?" Buzz snapped, his anger shining through as he gestured at the door. "They are my army, creatures I have created to defy anyone that stands in my way, and –"

    "There was a Beedrill at ViridianForest," Sandy interrupted, and Alaska took the chance to watch the henchmen; their guns were still raised, but each one was looking between their boss and the two girls, none even looking at Looker and Alistair at the end.

    "The robots had a role to play in the show, before you botched that up," Buzz hissed. "None of this would have ever happened had you not gone down into the Beedrill Nest; we may have never met, Miss Acevedo, and the robots could have filled their original purpose."

    "So this all comes back to the reality show then?" Alaska asked, almost forgetting her mission at the possibility of answers. Buzz paused for a moment, his lips curling back into a smile, and all of the gunmen now watched for his reaction.

    "My dear, have you not worked it out yet? Everything comes back to Indigo Dreams."

    "NOW!" Looker yelled, and Alistair shoved Alaska forwards as he ran towards the computer. The gunmen were taken aback by the sudden change, and Alaska used her momentum to sprint forwards, pulling Sandy with her, and she had nearly reached Buzz before the shooting began; gunfire echoed within the small room, and Alaska felt several bullets skim past her, but nothing hit and she reached Buzz without injury. Her enemy's eyes widened as Alaska approached him, and Buzz fumbled clumsily at his side for a gun. Alaska smirked and pushed Sandy towards the table before jumping, lunging forwards and landing on Buzz; the chair tipped backwards, and the two fell to the floor, but Alaska managed to fling the gun away before he could use it.

    "CROTCH SHOT!" She yelled, and drove her right knee into his groin. Buzz screamed in pain, and Alaska laughed coldly. She left him to wallow and quickly crawled towards the table. Sandy was hiding underneath for protection, sheltering Eevee from the attacks, but she had grabbed both of their bags and passed over Alaska's battered black backpack.

    "What the hell is going on?" She wailed, shaking slightly as she stared out at the battle, and Alaska turned and watched; Looker had gotten hold of a machine gun and was firing sniper-like at the henchmen, taking them out one at a time while he protected Alistair at the computer; meanwhile, Gallade had his arms raised and his eyes flashed pink, but two of the Houndoom were jumping at him, engulfing him in Dark attacks and holding him back from helping.

    "Alistair is doing something with the computer," Alaska explained as she rummaged through her bag for her PokeBalls, feeling relaxed now that it was back in her possession. "I am not sure what though, but I guess he will try to get us – wait a second," Alaska paused, her hands freezing around the brownies as a thought occurred to her.

    "What, what is it?" Sandy cried, eyes widening in fear.

    "There were only two Houndoom attacking Gallade," Alaska replied quietly, fear descending through her body. She quickly turned around but did not have to look far to find the missing Pokemon; a great big Houndoom stood right in front of her, smoke rising from its nostrils. It was standing so closely Alaska could count individual furs on its face, and could feel the heat rising in its throat…

    "HOOOOOOOO-DOOOOOOOOM!" The Dark Pokemon roared, and Alaska barely had time to pull out the brownie tray before flames were unleashed. The rock hard desert deflected most of the fire, but Alaska winced as her fingers were singed, and the heat was burning her skin as the Flamethrower was forced towards the table. By the time the attack stopped the table was in flames, and Alaska frantically leapt out from under it and reached desperately inside her bag for a PokeBall. However, Sandy suddenly yelled, a sound so shrill and painful that Alaska's heart nearly skipped a beat; she turned and found Houndoom had targeted her friend as she escaped the burning furniture. Sandy was pinned beneath the creature and could only scream as razor sharp fangs slashed at her arms, while Eevee lay in a heap beside her.

    "GET OFF HER!" Alaska yelled, and without thought she sprinted forwards, leaving her back behind and raising the tray high above her head. Houndoom turned at her cry, but was not expecting the attack; Alaska beat it across the head with the tray, and the Dark type whimpered as she wildly struck it with the brownies. With a furious glare, the Houndoom turned and sprinted away, heading off to find easier targets.

    "Are you alright?" Alaska breathlessly asked Sandy, who still lay cowering on the ground, her eyes painfully wide. Her dress was splattered with blood, the lilac fabric turning a rich purple as red seeped through, and Alaska bent down to look.

    "That wasn't a very nice way to treat a Pokemon, was it?" A deep voice growled. Alaska froze half bent over her friend, the unfamiliar voice making her spine shiver. She turned cautiously around, but only saw the stranger's black clothes before something large appeared in her face; suddenly, unimaginable pain spread throughout her head, and Alaska tried to scream as she toppled over backwards. Stars appeared in her eyes, and the entire room split in two and swayed around her. She heard Sandy scream and an angry yell, but Alaska could only focus on her face as the taste of blood appeared in her mouth; slowly, she raised her hands and felt the lower part of her jaw, but winced at her own touch. She realised fearfully that someone had just kicked her in the face, and they had managed to shatter her jaw in the process.

    "Someone should have done that to you a long time ago," the loud, cruel voice hissed, and Alaska cried out as something suddenly pressed down on her stomach, forcing the air out of her body. A face appeared above her, and it was one of the ugliest things Alaska had ever seen; it was covered in huge, hideous burns, making the man bald and turning his skin red. Only one eye appeared to be open, and his mouth looked more like an unhealed wound than lips. It was the thing of nightmares, and Alaska knew that this was her attacker, one of Buzz's henchmen sent to kill her.

    "You have given my boss a lot of grief," he growled, his entire body now pressing down on Alaska's ribs, and he raised a hand. "Now you need to be stopped." His fist came down so quickly it was a blur; Alaska could only whimper as her head shuddered, feeling as if a brick had just fallen on her nose. Blood spurted out of both nostrils, but before it could even register her pain the man grabbed her by the collar and heaved her up before throwing her against the wall. Alaska cried out and slumped to the floor, her entire body shaking now, blood pouring down her face and neck while her vision turned completely fuzzy, the entire room swaying before her; Alaska could see five Sandy's a few metres away, her friend staining the floor red as she crawled towards her bag.

    "I have lost count of the amount of people I have killed," the hideous man boomed, though his voice now sounded as though he was at the bottom of a well. Alaska turned towards him, unable to hold back groans of pain, and a wide grin distorted even further by her blurred vision swam into view. "You are not the first women I have killed, you are not the youngest and the sad thing for you is that killing you will mean nothing to me. This is the dying thought I leave all my victims with; no matter what you achieve in life, no matter what you did do, planned to do or could have done, eventually, everyone dies; yours is perhaps sooner than you expected."

    Alaska felt nothing except pain as the tall man grabbed her by the head, crushing her ears and tearing hairs out as he lifted her into the air. She could not look at him even if she wanted to, her vision had blurred so much that all she could see were colours, a weight pressing down against her brain. Darkness was already closing in, and as the scared man began to squeeze her head, disjointed thoughts flew across Alaska's ailing mind; she would never see Paige, Frances, Nadia or Shelley ever again, she would never see her family, she would never laugh with Sandy; she would never learn why Buzz or Gideon were terrorizing Kanto, she would never learn the mysteries of the reality show, she would never have to face the robots in open battle…

    Maybe that is a good thing…

    The pressure on her head suddenly lifted, and Alaska cried out as she fell suddenly to the ground, landing painfully on her leg before collapsing onto her back. Her scarred assailant was no longer there; instead a green and white creature stood shining next to her, a towering saviour glowing so brightly it hurt her eyes.

    "Gah-lah-da," Alaska groaned through the blood filling her mouth. Gallade stared down at her, and his wide, empty eyes suddenly seemed so clear, so solid in her distorted vision. The two gazed at each other for a moment, and Alaska got the feeling again of being judged, analyzed, examined by the Psychic type; then, a blue light lit up the room, forcing Alaska to blink, and when she opened her eyes Gallade was gone, replaced by something huge and grey, a massive, writhing statue. Alaska shut her eyes as the beast roared, but she did not have the strength to open them again. As distant cries of her name fading away to nothing, Alaska resigned herself to accept the darkness, knowing full well what Gallade would have seen had he entered her mind, knowing that she should feel guilty for giving up so easily, for accepting this fate so readily. But really, Alaska thought, her pain disappearing, the pressure on her brain lifting, what is the point in fighting this any longer… I am never going to finish this puzzle…

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