The wailing of the hotel's fire alarm pierced the pre-dawn misty seaside air. Nervous chatter broke out among the gathered refugees. Most of them were understandably skittish, considering the hell they had survived at Suzurin Stadium.
Cynthia failed to suppress a yawn as she rubbed her eyes. She silently prayed it was just a malfunction caused by the humid air of the sea; then she could go back to sleep and put the whole incident behind her. She leaned against a lamppost in attempt to stay standing; the chilly metal instantly snapped her back to reality.
Will and Lucian fought their way through the crowd to reach the Sinnoh champion. Both of them had somber expressions on their faces.
"So what do you plan to do after this?" Will asked in an attempt to break the tension that swirled around them like the sea fog.
"Well-" Cynthia's words were interrupted by the sound of breaking glass above her followed by panicked shouts as the crowd backed away from the hotel. Instinctively, she did the same. When everyone looked up, they saw shards of glass, gleaming in the sickly blue-green glow of mercury vapor street lamps, raining down on the courtyard of the hotel like drops of dagger-edged rain. A hole adorned the façade of the building, as if it had been struck by a cannonball. Luckily, no one was hit by the lethal rain. The nervous chatter increased in intensity; the already tense atmosphere became positively suffocating. Several agonizing seconds slowly ticked by as everyone tried to process what had happened. The seconds were broken by a sound akin to that of a giant wineglass shattering.
Cynthia's heart leapt into her throat at the noise. She suppressed the urge to bolt in the nearest direction as she did not want to precipitate a mass panic and stampede that could just as lethal as pokémon attack. Instead, she took a breath to slow the frantic beat of her heart and looked around to assess the situation. Unfortunately, the chatter of the crowd drowned out a distant whump akin to the sound of mortar fire.
Will and Lucian were seated on a curbstone and bench, respectively, as they tried to make sense of the whole situation. The other refugees were chatting amongst themselves in an attempt to break the nervousness that pervaded the harbor.
Without warning, Will made a pushing motion towards Lucian. Almost immediately, a deep blue burst of telekinetic force knocked Lucian off the bench and into the flower beds.
"Will! What-" Lucian's words and anger instantly died as a massive brown sphere slammed into the bench, reducing it to a pile of broken wood – right where Lucian had been moments before. The Sinnoh psychic gulped, picked himself up and brushed some wood chips off his pants. He mentally thanked Will; if it were not for his telekinetic push, he would have been splattered all over the sidewalk. Apparently, Will received the message and nodded his affirmation to Lucian, who was now walking off into another section of the crowd. The Johto psychic got up from his seat and examined the brown sphere; it lay inside a shallow crater filled with the remains of the bench. He recognized it as the distinctive signature of the attack Mud Shot. The sphere itself appeared to be unmarred from the impact – aside from some chips on its surface – unusual considering that Mud Shot, true to its name launched a blob of mud; the sphere in question more closely resembled a concrete cannonball. A crowd of curious onlookers gathered and peered into the crater.
Curious chatters filled the air as the crowd continued gaping. Will suddenly felt a prickling sensation all along his arms – the same sensation he felt just before the mud ball impacted the bench.
"Lucian!" he barked.
Lucian was resting his head on his knees as he sat on a curb. Will's shout caused him to shoot his head up – only to catch sight of a meter long shard of ice speeding towards his head. With an uttered swear, he closed his eyes and swiped at the air, as if he could knock the chunk of ice aside.
A seeming eternity later, the Sinnoh psychic opened his eyes and gasped; there beside him, lay two pieces of ice. He looked over himself for injuries: none. He turned towards the crowd who nervously stepped back from him.
"Everyone, I'm fine," he said. He scanned the crowd, betraying no sign of emotion even as his heart thundered in his chest; the crowd was on edge and doing the wrong thing could set off a deadly mass panic.
Little did the refugees know that Sunyshore – and all of Sinnoh – was about to be embroiled in a conflict the likes of which they have never seen.
On a beach near the hotel where Cynthia and the others were staying, a swarm of Kingler headed ashore. Like a single well-oiled machine, they marched towards the hotel, their heavy footsteps providing the drumbeat to their march on Sunyshore.
An unlucky early morning runner was the first to see this bizarre sight. But before he could do anything, he was set upon by two Kingler. His screams pierced the morning air as they swiftly dismembered and ate him.
The death of the runner immediately attracted the attention of the refugees. As Cynthia and her two friends pushed their way through the horrified crowd, they were treated to the sight of an army of Kingler marching ashore and bombarding the seafront buildings with a volley of hardened mud balls. The barrage tore through the sturdy wood structures as if they were no more substantial than tissue paper. The buildings that were remained standing were quickly torn apart with their heavy claws. Any survivors of the initial bombardment and collapsing buildings were quickly dealt with by some of the smaller Kingler with short bursts of explosive bubbles or with their razor sharp cutting claws.
As Cynthia watched in fascinated horror, she realized that these Kingler were not looking for food. They were demolishing the buildings and killing the inhabitants with the cold efficiency of an invading army.
Well, Sunyshore's screwed! She thought. Almost immediately she scolded herself. For fuck's sake, what are you talking about! Get a hold of yourself! You can't let everyone down! You need to keep calm and keep the crowd from panicking!
Cynthia sighed and looked at her feet. She prayed to Arceus that she would be able to maintain her rapidly thinning veneer of calmness.
A mile away from the hotel, a fleet of Cloyster were lined up in the water, their spiky shells barely visible under the gentle waves. The leader – a massive Cloyster with some of its spikes dulled by battle and time looked over the beachfront amusement park. A frown crossed the black pearl that was its face. Just an hour before, the Cloyster were randomly attacking whatever human-made object struck their fancy – usually beach umbrellas or benches, i.e. whatever was most convenient. But this Cloyster quickly took command of the situation; it realized that Ho-oh's mandate would be fulfilled much more quickly if they organized into a coherent group rather than the mob they had previously been. Finding this a more effective way to slake their thirst for violence and destruction, the Cloyster organized under their "fleet commander".
The fleet commander surfaced and pivoted, looking at the gathered Cloyster. It then turned to the sacrilegious structure on the beach. A smile crossed its face.
Suddenly, as if reading their commander's mind, the first group of Cloyster surfaced and launched a volley of meter long spikes, each made from steel-hard ice. Like a fleet of missile submarines, the Cloyster would launch their deadly payload and then sink beneath the waves where they could reload without worry of retaliation.
The fleet commander watched with pleasure as the ice javelins tore gaping holes in the wood and corrugated metal roofs of the buildings. Amusement park rides were perforated by the javelins and rendered useless. Its smile widened as the distant hiss of escaping gas from a pierced gas line was heard. It aimed at a pylon carrying power to the amusement park and launched its lethal projectile – a shaft of ice with a crescent shaped cutting head. The blade of ice cleanly sliced through the top of the aluminum pole. The creak of metal sliding on metal and the snap-crackle of electrified wires breaking rang through the morning air as the top of the pole dragged the live wires down to the ground.
Almost instantly, there was a loud explosion as the leaking gas ignited. The explosion soon engulfed the amusement park in roaring orange flames. A massive column of fire pinpointed the exact location of the perforated pipe.
The lead Cloyster smirked; Ho-oh would be pleased at its handiwork.
Back at the hotel, the refugees collectively flinched as the explosion tore through the air. Nervous chatter echoed through the now clearing fog.
Sirens wailed as the fire department raced to the ruined amusement park to control the raging conflagration. A nearby scream caused everyone to turn.
There, mere meters away from a screaming citizen was what could loosely be called a "body". Organs, bone and flesh were smeared over a substantial section of the concrete sidewalk. A nearby streetlight and newspaper box were painted with a fine misting of blood and particles of flesh. A piece of the decedent's brain had somehow ended up pasted against a STOP sign.
Cynthia pushed through the crowd to see what was going on and to try and keep the crowd calm – at least until the police arrived. Why haven't they arrived yet? She thought.
She immediately regretted the decision to approach the scene as the metallic stench of blood coupled with the malodor of fecal matter assaulted her nostrils with the fury of an enraged Primeape. The stench coupled with the horrific scene dropped her to her knees as she repeatedly dry-heaved.
Suddenly, another nearby explosion tore through the air. The Sinnoh champion grunted as her body was slammed into a concrete planter, knocking all the wind out of her. She got up to her feet and looked around; where there were several other refugees now only lay an assorted mess of body parts. Her heart sank as she saw a bubble lazily drifting towards two men who were chatting. The bubble held within it a roiling cloud of bluish gas.
Cynthia took a breath, wincing as it sent a shockwave of pain rippling through her bruised back. "Move!" she shouted.
The first man turned towards the shout, only to see a bubble of explosive gas mere feet away from him. Thinking quickly, he shoved his conversation partner away from the bubble and dove behind a concrete planter as the bubble detonated.
Cynthia was far away enough that the shockwave didn't seriously hurt her but it was still enough to wind her. As she looked up, she saw many more explosive bubbles floating above high above her – their graceful appearance a sharp contrast to their lethality.
She shook her head and steeled herself. Waiting for the police could get them all killed. "Everyone!" she shouted loudly from atop a concrete planter. Amazingly, her voice was so powerful she could be heard over the chattering crowd.
All eyes turned on her. She flinched as over a hundred pairs of eyes pierced her. "Everyone! I need to you to evacuate this area in an orderly fashion!"
At first, it seemed her speech worked; the refugees were quickly, but calmly filing down the street to get away from the dangerous situation. But it quickly fell apart when one of the bubbles bumped against another. Time seemed to stand still as the two bubbles burst, releasing their payload of volatile gas.
Before Cynthia could say anything, the wisps of gas instantly reacted with the air. The shockwave from that first tiny blast ruptured the other nearby bubbles, causing them to release their explosive payload.
In milliseconds, the mass of bubbles detonated, each individual explosion merging into a steady roar. While the refugees were mostly unhurt – but winded – by the shockwave, the hotel was not so lucky. The explosions had blown out almost every window in the hotel. Broken glass tinkled as it rained down on the sidewalk.
But the destruction was nothing compared to the pandemonium that broke out next. The orderly evacuation immediately fell to pieces as the refugees immediately bolted down each and every available street, not caring if others were pushed down, trampled or crushed.
Cynthia tried to maintain her balance as the panicked crowd ran by her planter; a slip and she could be trampled under the feet of the panicked crowd. Her desperate pleas for the crowd to remain calm went unheard. From her vantage point, she could see the Kingler marching ashore and heading towards the hotel. She could see several of the Kingler with their claws raised and white glow emanating from the gap. Seconds later, the white glow formed into a cannonball of concrete-hard mud aimed at a pillar supporting the decorative roof over the entranceway to the hotel. With a bass thud, the projectile struck home. The cracking groan of failing concrete echoed through the air as the pillar gave way.
Several more bass thuds indicated the impact of more projectiles. She looked around; Will, Lucian, herself and a few refugees who were unlucky enough to be trampled were the only ones present. Luckily, the Kingler were too busy dismantling the hotel to pay attention to them.
Cynthia got down from the planter and went up to a man clutching his ankle. She carefully helped the man to his feet, slinging one of his arms over her shoulder and letting him use her to support himself.
"Thanks," the man said, wincing with every step he took.
Will and Lucian were using their telekinetic powers to help support a rather corpulent woman.
The Sinnoh champion looked at the two psychics. Should she stay and wait for the police or flee? One look at the Kingler and she made her choice. Flee.
Will pointed down a street that would eventually lead out of the city. He had reasoned that the northern and interior parts of the city would be safe from the invading Kingler – at least long enough for them to evacuate.
Cynthia nodded and the group headed down the road. I hope we can find the police or someone who can help us. She thought.
Unfortunately, the combined assault of the Kingler and Cloyster had caused damage, injuries and deaths all along the coast of Sunyshore. Try as they might, the Sunyshore Police Department and Sunyshore Fire and Rescue could only do so much.
As Cynthia and her group made the journey through the streets of Sunyshore, they were treated to a cacophony of sirens and the bass rumble of buildings collapsing. A sound akin to artillery fire periodically echoed through the city – the sound of Kingler launching their hard-packed mud cannonballs.
"Look!" Will shouted as he pointed down the road. Everyone turned in the direction he was pointing at. Sure enough, a set of flashing blue and red lights sped towards them.
Cynthia used her free hand to flag down the speeding police cruiser. The Officer Jenny inside rolled down the window. "Get in!" she barked.
Needing no further prompting, Will, Lucian, Cynthia and the people they had rescued all crammed themselves inside the cruiser.
Officer Jenny immediately shut the door and peeled off with lights and sirens going at full bore.
"Ow! Will you get your elbow out of my jaw!" the corpulent woman shouted.
"Get your knee out of my hip first!" the man replied.
"Can…you just shut up!" Lucian grunted. He was uncomfortably crushed between the fat woman and the car door.
Officer Jenny paid no heed to their complaints. She watched the road in front of her; to her horror, there was a traffic jam in front of her. Luckily, the hospital was nearby. She pulled up on the sidewalk and opened the doors. Lucian tumbled out, giving a sigh of relief as he did so.
Cynthia helped the injured man back to his feet while Officer Jenny and Will helped the fat woman.
Lucian looked at the hospital's entrance. There were at least four ambulances present with another one pulling up to the entrance. At least four times as many paramedics rushing patients into the emergency room were seen.
The group then walked to the hospital entrance where they helped the man and woman they had saved into some waiting chairs.
"Thank you," the man said.
"Thanks," the woman said as she picked up a well worn copy of Trainers' Monthly and started reading.
"You're both welcome," Cynthia replied.
Lucian and Will went to a cooler and got some cups of water. Cynthia sat down on an empty seat and leaned back with a sigh. Her stomach growled; it reminded her of the fact that she hadn't eaten or drank anything for over eight hours.
Will handed Cynthia a cup of water and a granola bar from a vending machine. She wasted no time in devouring the bar and gulping down the water.
Will looked around. "So is this the new shelter or what?"
Lucian also looked around. He noticed that a surprising amount of the people in the waiting room appeared to be unhurt and some were lying on blankets on the floor, napping on the couches and chairs or simply chatting. Of course, there was also the conspicuous absence of pokémon. A few police officers were around to keep order. "It would appear so."
"So do we stay here?"
Lucian scratched his head. "I would like to say 'yes' but I have a feeling that we will need to evacuate the city eventually."
Will yawned. "Look, I don't know about you but I could use a rest." He then sat on a nearby couch, leaned his head back and was soon fast asleep.
A creeping sense of fatigue reminded Cynthia of the fact that she was also in need of sleep. She sat down on chair, put her feet on the table and soon drifted off to sleep.
Lucian sighed. Try as he may, his psychic abilities could only delay the inevitable onslaught of sleep. He soon fell face first into the newspaper he was reading, snoring lightly as he did so.
"Sir! Wake up!" Will snorted as he felt someone shaking him. He rubbed his eyes. "Huh?"
"You must leave immediately!" the voice said.
When his vision returned, he saw an Officer Jenny grabbing his shoulders. "What's going on?" he asked with a yawn.
As he looked around he saw several other people grabbing their belongings and filing out the door. Just outside, he could the refugees boarding cars, trucks and almost every other vehicle imaginable.
The Johto psychic immediately leapt to his feet and scrambled out the door. There, he stood in line with Cynthia and Lucian. A group of refugees before him boarded a transit bus. Cynthia looked away from the bus as soon as she saw what was on the side – an advertisement for the tournament at Suzurin Stadium. She didn't want to be reminded of Flint's gruesome death. As the woman in front of Cynthia boarded, the bus closed its doors and pulled away. She sighed and leaned against a newspaper box.
Will telekinetically levitated some discarded soda cans and juggled them. He looked down the road every so often.
Several minutes later, the low rumble of a diesel engine gained his attention. A flatbed truck with wooden rails surrounding the bed pulled up. Three Officer Jennies came with the truck. One of them sat with the driver while two were in the bed.
Cynthia, Will and Lucian were the first to board. The trio sat down in the dusty bed and leaned against the wooden rails, not caring about what it would do to their clothing.
"Finally, we can put this whole mess behind us," Will said with a sigh.
Cynthia shook her head as the last refugees from the hospital boarded the truck and an Officer Jenny shut the tailgate. "We need to find out what's causing this," the Sinnoh champion countered.
Lucian nodded. "I agree but we must allow ourselves and our pokémon to recuperate first." As he spoke the truck lurched forward.
"Will, what do you think?" Cynthia asked. No response. The Johto psychic had fallen asleep – again.
"So where do you want me to take everyone?" the truck driver asked. Despite the air conditioning in the vehicle's cab, a bead of sweat had formed on his forehead. The roads that he drove down were eerily deserted. Puddles of water lay amid small craters. Skyscrapers adorned with gaping holes loomed all around them and pieces of concrete and glass littered the road and sidewalks. A pall of concrete dust hung in the air like a mockery of the sea fog.
"Follow the route out of the city. If you see any pokémon blocking the path, back up and find alternate route. Failing that, ram them. Do not under any circumstances stop this vehicle!" the Officer Jenny ordered. Her sidearm – a black 9 mm semiautomatic pistol was in her hand. The window was rolled down in case she needed to shoot at any hostile pokémon.
The driver grunted as his truck ran over a pothole. He gasped as he saw a Kingler about fifty feet away blocking the road. Its claw was open and cradling a brilliant white orb in preparation to launch a rock-hard ball of mud.
Suddenly, the bang-bang-bang of gunfire rang throughout the cab as the Officer Jenny in the cab and her companions in the bed opened fire. The driver flinched as a piece of hot brass bounced off his cheek. Pieces of asphalt sprayed up as the majority of the bullets slammed into the ground around it. The few bullets that struck their mark were unable to penetrate the Kingler's hard shell but the fusillade forced it back into an alleyway. In that brief time span, the truck was soon out of sight.
Cynthia's heart thudded in her chest. Gunfire – let alone at this close range – was something totally new to her. Nevertheless, she took a breath and continued scanning the road.
By some miracle, Will was still seemingly asleep. Lucian rolled his eyes as he telekinetically flicked a spent shell casing overboard.
"Whoa! Do that again!" a green haired boy said.
Lucian smiled and pointed to a shell casing near Cynthia's foot. The brass tube was surrounded in a light green aura as if lifted off the ground. He then gently levitated it over to the boy, much to his astonishment. A quick flick of his wrist sent the casing spiraling through the air and into a trash can they had passed.
"Wow! You're amazing! I wish I could do that!"
Lucian shrugged – as if tossing a shell casing into a trash can from the back of a speeding truck was no great accomplishment. "Sorry, you have to be born with telekinetic powers."
The boy sighed in defeat and sat back down.
"How far are we?" the truck driver yelled over the ringing in his ears from the previous gunfire.
"Just a few more-" the Officer Jenny's word's died on her lips as a trio of Kingler blocked their path, emitting the deadly explosive bubbles. Several bubbles gently floated towards them.
The driver swore loudly as he slammed on the brakes – but stopping a fifteen ton vehicle was no easy task. To make matters worse, some of the bubbles had stuck to the road, forming an explosive foam that could be detonated by something as simple as a footfall.
The driver heard a faint pop as the truck continued forward under its own momentum. It was the last thing he heard as a massive explosion underneath the truck's cab instantly killed him and the Officer Jenny. To make matters worse, more explosive bubbles were drifting towards the truck. The two Officer Jennies in the bed, owing to their position, were decapitated by a piece of shrapnel that had shot up from the cab. The refugees huddled in the corner, avoiding the two headless corpses that tumbled back into the bed. Without a driver, the badly damaged vehicle continued to barrel towards the roadblock.
Cynthia stared as the Kingler continued blowing bubbles that drifted towards them. As she saw the buildings and street signs passing by her, she realized that the truck was still moving rather fast. She faced a sadistic choice: leap from the back of the speeding truck, possibly break several bones and then get ripped apart by the Kingler or wait until the truck rams through the roadblock of Kingler, get rushed by them and then get ripped apart. She made her choice. Kicking open the truck's tailgate, she crouched down and leapt from the back of the truck, rolling to disperse the impact. She grimaced as she stood up and checked herself for injuries. Nothing major except for some road rash on her hands along with a sore shoulder.
Lucian and Will followed but they didn't bother rolling; instead, they combined their telekinetic powers and leapt, gently floating to the ground surrounded by the auras – light green and cobalt blue, respectively – of their psychic powers.
The three trainers then ran for their lives down the nearest alleyway. Cynthia looked back at the ruined vehicle and the refugees. The vehicle had completely stopped and the Kingler were swarming it, their claws clicking in the anticipation of the hunt. A young girl, her leg injured from when she had jumped from the vehicle, whimpered as a Kingler approached her. The Sinnoh champion turned away and continued running. Though she was spared the brutal sight, the tearing crunch-squish of a razored claw tearing through flesh and bone and subsequent ear piercing screams of agony were indelibly burned into her brain. She fought the bile rising in her throat as she ran for her life.
Inside a dirty alleyway, Cynthia, Will, Lucian and two other refugees they had met along the way were leaning against a wall trying to catch their breath. Out of some forty plus refugees, only those five had survived the assault on the truck followed by a harrowing run through streets laced with patches of explosive foam.
"So where are we?" Cynthia asked. She wrinkled her nose; the smell of blood was not an easy one to remove.
One of the other survivors, a brawny man in blue jeans and a flannel shirt, looked around. "The shitty part of Sunyshore."
"Define 'shitty side'," Will replied acidly as he kicked a glass bottle aside.
"The side where the seaport is."
Everyone's jaw dropped as realization sunk in. While the seaport had a road that led out of the city and straight to Sunyshore Tower, it was also a dangerous spot where drug deals, prostitution and other unsavory activities took place. It wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine that the criminals were still there – despite the presence of Cloyster and Kingler.
"Are there any other alternatives?" a woman wearing a tattered dress said. Judging from the pale gold color of the fabric underneath the blood and dirt, it apparently was quite elegant, hinting that this woman might have been a coordinator.
"Not unless we head back the way we came and face Kingler," the burly man said.
The woman sighed. "All right" – she gulped – "let's do this."
The group turned to find a chained up gate in front of them. The gate itself was pocked with rust and scrawls of graffiti adorned the rusty surface. A rusty padlock and an equally decrepit chain secured the gate. "So where does this lead?" the woman asked.
"Warehouse 151. It hasn't been used for years," the burly man said.
"And how do you know that?"
"Worked as a longshoreman for two and half decades." He then flexed his arms, showing off muscles that would make a Machamp proud.
"Save the flexing for later!" Will snapped. "And see if you can break through this gate!"
The longshoreman glared at him. "Who the fuck made you the leader!"
The two glared at each other – daring one another to throw the first punch. Or at least until Lucian stepped between the two.
"Stop! Both of you! Fighting amongst ourselves will only lead to casualties!" Lucian scolded. Now… Erm, sorry, didn't get your name."
"Andre," the big man said, flicking a lock of black hair from his eyes.
"Yes, Andre, how far is the seaport from city limits?
Andre chuckled. "We're at the city limits. Just go down the road in front to get to Sunyshore Tower."
"Okay, now are there any other ways to the seaport?"
"Not without going back out and facing Kingler."
Lucian sighed as he looked at the gate. He rapped it with a knuckle, the gate giving off a distinct metallic thunk as he did so. The psychic sighed; the gate was heavy gauge steel, there was no possible way through it without pokémon or tools. He looked up, the dirty corrugated metal walls of the nearby buildings were too slick to climb and coils of nasty looking concertina wire covered the top of the gate. "There's no way through or over; we'll need to go around."
Everyone's hair stood on end as they heard the heavy, thudding footsteps of a Kingler approaching.
Luckily, there were a few dumpsters in the alleyway. The five immediately squeezed themselves behind the dumpsters and held their breath – praying that their racing hearts didn't give them away.
A seeming eternity later, the Kingler – its malevolent stalked eyes detecting nothing of importance – passed over the alley.
"Damn, that was close," Andre muttered, wiping sweat off his forehead as he stuck his head out from behind the dumpster and looked around. "It's clear."
The rest of the group emerged from their hiding places.
"Too close," Cynthia said. She peered over her shoulder as if expecting the Kingler to magically reappear.
"But the gate!" the woman said.
Andre looked around for something he could either pry or smash the lock with. He then spied a piece of rebar near a dumpster full of construction debris. He seized the heavy shaft of steel and stuck it between the lock's body and its hasp. He flexed his hands and took a deep breath before he bore down on the improvised crowbar with all his weight.
Twenty seconds later, face red and arms sore, Andre stepped back. "For a rusty piece of shit that thing's still holding strong." He then flexed his hands and did a few stretches before he placed his giant hands on the piece of rebar.
"How about we push together?" Lucian suggested.
Andre shrugged. "Why not?"
Lucian, Cynthia, Will and the woman all grabbed whatever part of the rebar was free. On Andre's count of "three", they all bore down on the piece of rebar.
Despite their efforts and the groaning of strained metal, the lock still held strong.
"Just… a little more!" Andre grunted as he pushed every muscle in his body to the limit. His arms felt like they had been scorched by a Houndoom but he persisted.
Suddenly, with an earsplitting crack, the hasp broke off and catapulted itself through the air, narrowly missing Cynthia's head – much to her consternation.
The former longshoreman tossed the piece of rebar aside, grabbed the rusty chain and threw it aside. "This way!" he said, pushing the gate open.
Wasting no time, the others hurried through.
Andre slammed the gate behind him shut and shoved a piece of metal into the latch, hoping to keep it from opening. He looked around Warehouse 151. The area itself was rather decrepit and sinister looking, despite the bright late-afternoon sun. Despite the fact that no ships had docked in this particular area for over a decade, the stench of diesel fuel still hung in the air. The bollards in the berths were rusted beyond usefulness or just plain missing. Weeds and other hardy plants grew through cracks in the dirty concrete. Rusted metal barrels, their contents unknown, were stacked up against a warehouse with shattered windows.
"So which way?" the woman said.
Andre looked around. He spotted a gate – this one much larger than the one they had just went through – at the front of the dockyard, about a 150 feet away. Like the gate before, it was also capped with coils of concertina wire. "That's the entrance to the road."
Cynthia wasted no time in sprinting to the aforementioned gate. The others quickly followed. She quickly looked over the gate. Unlike the previous one, this one rolled on steel wheels set in grooves cut into the concrete. She pushed her shoulder onto the right side of the gate. "Come on!" Will, Lucian and the woman immediately rushed to Cynthia's aid and began pushing.
Andre shook his head. "Don't bother; it's too heavy to move by hand."
"So how do we get out!" Will snapped.
"These gates are moved by an electric winch pulling on a cable. A manual crank can be used in case of a power failure. But" – Andre picked up a rusted cable with its ends frayed – "the cables are broken."
"We'll have to try," Will said as he pushed against the gate as alongside everyone else. Andre joined them a second after. The rusty wheels groaned in protest as they ground against the concrete.
Almost a minute of pushing later, the exhausted group stepped back and looked at the gate; it hadn't moved an inch.
Cynthia shook her head; she was going to have to resort to drastic measures. She dug in her pocket and pulled out a poké ball that held Lucario. She looked at everyone around her. There was no telling what state Lucario was in. He could be conscious and battle ready. He could be unconscious. Or worst of all, he could be conscious and ready to carry out the mandate of the mysterious voice.
As she debated, she heard the distant thunder of Kingler footsteps getting closer. It was brave the gauntlet of Kingler now running through Sunyshore – and most certainly die in the process. Or gamble: one-third death-by-Lucario, one-third delayed-death-by-Kingler or one-third-survival. Faced with those odds, Cynthia made her choice.
"Everyone else, get ready to run," she said threw her poké ball at the ground. As the ball opened in a flash of white light, everyone's muscles tensed in preparation to run for their lives.
Cynthia took a deep breath and braced herself. "Lucario, br-" he words died on her lips as she saw what came out of the poké ball. It was Lucario, still and completely unmoving. She recalled him with a sigh. She debated trying one of her other pokémon but decided not to press her luck.
"All right, any other… Uh, is something the matter?" she asked as she gazed upon the face of Andre.
Andre scowled as he stomped up to her. Cynthia was fairly tall – standing at about 5'9" but the former longshoreman had several inches on her. "What the fuck was that about?" the man growled.
"We needed someway to get through the gate and since we couldn't push it, I was planning to have my pokémon break through it."
Andre gestured to the plume of smoke in the distance. A low rumble akin to distant artillery sounded constantly. "Look what the Kingler and Cloyster did! Do you think any of your pokémon won't do the same?"
Cynthia sighed. "The Kingler are approaching. If we turn around, we'll get killed by them but-"
A javelin of steel-hard ice narrowly missed her foot. She turned her eyes towards the berths. There, bobbed a fleet of Cloyster, leering from the waves. Andre blanched, forgetting about the argument he had with Cynthia.
The former coordinator glanced around the decrepit docks. She laid her eyes on a building with several grimy windows. "There!" she shouted. "We can hide until they go away!"
"We can't do that! The Kingler will find us!" Lucian shouted.
Will leapt to the side, dodging an ice javelin. "Got any better ideas?"
Cynthia ducked one of the lethal projectiles. "We better hurry before those Cloyster are done playing with us and decide to go all out."
That did it; the group sprinted for the building the coordinator pointed. When they arrived, they ducked into the side against the wall that delineated the boundary of the dockyard from the rest of the city.
Cynthia, heart racing, peeked out from behind the corner. The Cloyster had gotten bored and were busy wrecking the rest of the dockyard. She released the breath she had unconsciously been holding for the past few seconds.
"Now we have to get in here," Andre said, holding up a heavy padlock and chain wrapped around the door's handle, securing it to a rather heavy looking steel post sunk into the concrete. Unlike the lock they had previously broken, this one was covered in a gleaming anti-corrosion coat of chrome.
"Great, now we have to find another warehouse." The woman sighed and looked at the wall.
Lucian peered out from the alleyway. Kingler were patrolling the dockyard and looking for prey. "No good," he said pulling himself back into the alleyway. "There's Kingler everywhere. If we go out, we're dead."
"You've got psychic powers! Do something!"
Lucian looked at the lock with a scowl. "You expect me to break that with my mind?"
Will smiled; he was always up for a challenge. He narrowed his eyes and stared at the padlock and chain. His face reddened and sweat began to bead on his forehead as he concentrated. White hot tendrils of his psionic force flowed through his body and into his target. The padlock and chain were wreathed in his blue psychic aura as he concentrated.
"Will, you can't-" Cynthia was cut off with an earsplitting snap-crack akin to a gunshot. Something sharp grazed her cheek, causing her to wince. She rubbed the spot and found her hand had some blood on it. She wiped off the blood on her pants and looked at post and the door. Her mouth dropped open in shock; the padlock and chain – or its remnants – lay on the ground.
Everyone present stared at the Johto psychic who leaning against the post and rubbing his temples and forehead as if he was nursing a migraine.
"Will! Are you unwell?" Lucian asked, rushing over to his fellow psychic.
Will took his hands off his head. "Just got a bit of a headache from exerting myself so much."
Lucian nodded. "When we get the opportunity, you should really take a nap. Maybe meditate as well."
Andre stared at Will with his mouth open. He knew that human psychics existed but most of them displayed relatively weak telekinetic and telepathic powers – and he believed that was the extent of human psionic abilities. And yet, right in front of him, an ordinary human shattered a padlock and chain with nothing more than his mind – it was a feat once thought possible only by psychic pokémon. "But how?" he asked.
"Long story, Andre," Lucian said. "But to sum it up, Will and I somehow got a boost in our psychic abilities. We think it's from whatever's making the pokémon so violent."
The burly man's eyes widened as he stepped back from the two. He looked around for an escape route.
"Relax," Cynthia said. "Those two are in complete control of their psychic powers." She then turned to Will. "Honestly, Will, that was quite impressive. How did you know you could do that?"
Will shrugged. "I dunno; I'm just finding more uses for my psychic powers as I go along."
The woman with them cleared her throat. "The warehouse?"
Andre needed no more prompting to push the door open. He quickly ushered everyone in and shut the door behind him.
The warehouse itself was quite dim, the only light coming from the dirty windows on the side. Crates of unknown goods covered the oily floor and were stacked two high. The scent of grease, diesel fuel and rust hung in the dusty air.
Cynthia looked around. All she could see were dusty metal crates. "We can't hide in here forever."
Andre scanned the warehouse for something to help them get out of the dockyard. Will, Lucian and the former coordinator were looking through the crates for anything of use.
Lucian coughed as he opened a crate, sending a puff of dust into his face. "Nothing."
Will dug through an opened crate filled with excelsior and pulled out a plain wooden box. He opened the box and found what appeared to be six large bonbons wrapped in blue paper. His eyes widened as he realized what it was: rare candy, a powerful – and illegal pokémon stimulant. He placed the box aside and dug out another box – this one also filled with rare candy.
The Johto psychic nervously looked around. "We better get out of here. I think we stumbled upon a drug stash or something."
Suddenly, as they spoke, they heard the sound of the side door opening. Everyone's heart leapt into their throats.
Andre looked around the warehouse. His eyes widened as he saw their ticket out of the warehouse – a large front end loader. He ran over to the vehicle and leapt into the cab. A quick check of the control panel confirmed that everything was in order. Luckily, the key was located on a small hook someone had installed in the cab. The longshoreman stuck the key in the ignition and turned it. The engine coughed for a bit and then turned over with a low growl.
"Everyone! Get on!" Andre shouted.
Suddenly, something whizzed past the cab. He turned his head and saw two men crouched near the side entrance. Both of them had pistols out and were shooting at him. One of the bullets narrowly missed his head. Andre crouched down and mashed the pedal. Unfortunately, this sent the vehicle shooting backwards into a shelf, which teetered dangerously. The two gunmen tried to get out of the way but it was too late; with the creak of strained metal, the shelf collapsed, crushing the two under tons of merchandise.
The woman squeezed herself into the cab beside Andre. Lucian, Will and Cynthia chose to ride on the rear of the vehicle just above the engine compartment. The three grabbed loops of metal to serve as handholds.
Andre quickly put the front end loader into gear and accelerated towards the warehouse door. "Brace for impact!" he shouted as he lowered the machine's bucket to serve as an impromptu battering ram.
With a mighty crash, the speeding vehicle smashed into the thin metal door, completely ripping it off its mountings and tossing it aside.
Andre gasped as he laid eyes upon the scene. Kingler were swarming all over the docks and dismantling everything they could reach. Pieces of scrap metal littered the weedy ground as the shriek of tearing metal rang through the late afternoon air. As he maneuvered the heavy vehicle; he became acutely aware of the dozens of stalked eyes boring into him.
"Punch it!" the woman screamed.
Andre, ears ringing from the shout, quickly set the heavy vehicle in motion. The Kingler quickly scrambled out of the way; those that didn't were crushed under the twenty ton vehicle as it thundered towards the gate.
He swore as a mud cannonball narrowly missed the cab. His heart thundered in his chest as he watched the gate approaching. Would he make it through the gate?
The longshoreman pushed the accelerator to the floor, causing the vehicle's powerful turbodiesel to roar in protest. Black smoke belched from the exhaust pipe as the heavy vehicle picked up speed. One hundred feet.
Cynthia coughed as the black smoke surrounded her and the other riders. She used her free hand to fan the smoke away from her. She gulped as she saw the gate rapidly approaching. Sixty feet.
Most of the Kingler had wisely stayed away from the vehicle thundering down the dockyard. Those who didn't soon became little more than bloody tire tracks under the massive wheels of the front end loader. Hardpacked mud balls streaked through the air as the Kingler launched volley after volley of the lethal projectiles. While these fist-sized projectiles were far smaller than the projectiles they used to demolish buildings, they were no less dangerous.
One of the mud balls impacted the side of the engine compartment sending a spray of dust into Cynthia's face and making her ears ring with the clong of the impact. Luckily, the mud balls – despite leaving a dent about the size of her head upon impact – lacked the power to penetrate the vehicle's heavy steel frame. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about the vehicle's cab.
Lucian said nothing as he watched the hail of mud balls coming at them from the rear and sides. Luckily, for the Sinnoh psychic – and everyone on the vehicle – the Kingler had terrible aim as they were not used to attacking anything smaller than a building, so most of their shots flew wide or merely grazed them. The shots that did land direct hits struck either the steel bucket or the vehicle's frame, doing little more than making everyone's ears ring with the impact. The few projectiles that threatened to strike the cab or engine compartment were quickly deflected by Will and Lucian.
Soon, the Kingler gave up and resumed demolishing the dockyard; their work set to the soundtrack of crumbling concrete and tearing metal. Unfortunately, the Cloyster turned their attention to the steel behemoth trundling down the concrete road. The pokémon bobbed in the waves as they launched volleys of ice and shell javelins.
Cynthia's heart leapt into her throat as she saw the deadly hail of projectiles. She squeezed herself against the cab in an attempt to make herself a smaller target. A spear of shell landed between her legs. Keeping a firm grip on her handhold, she kicked the projectile off the engine compartment.
Luckily, most of the projectiles missed as the vehicle continued on its path. Unfortunately, the Cloyster had anticipated this and launched a second volley.
Lucian whipped his head around to see meter long spike of shell flying on a flat trajectory – and aimed at Will, who was looking skyward and deflecting the projectiles that rained down on them. Time seemed to slow as the javelin closed the distance. Almost as if there was someone else controlling his body, he pointed at the spike. The lethal projectile was wreathed in the light green of his psychic aura as it slowed to a stop mere inches from Will's midsection.
The Sinnoh psychic looked at the spike, frozen in motion. He briefly debated flinging the spike at one of the many Kingler but he wasn't sure if he could deal with taking a life. He sighed as he tossed the spike into the water; he'd eventually have to kill. Deflecting projectiles could only work for so long.
Cynthia took a slow, deep breath as she tried to keep from hyperventilating. Several times, during their crazy ride, the spikes of ice or shell had narrowly missed her. A stinging sensation from where one of the spikes had sliced through her shirt and into her left arm reminded her that she was incredibly lucky. The next projectile that the two psychics missed could be the fatal one that pierces her heart or head. She looked at the gate, now looming only twenty feet away.
Despite the fact that the cab was air conditioned, sweat poured down Andre's face. The woman squeezed in the cab with him seemed equally as uncomfortable. All Andre could hear was the frantic tattoo of his heart as he watched the gate like a Staraptor.
The gate was rapidly approaching and the loader was already at maximum speed.
"Come on, let's hope this works," the longshoreman muttered. He adjusted the bucket to better smash through the gate.
Then it happened. Andre slid forward with a grunt as the heavy vehicle collided with the gate – and came to a stop with its bucket in an enormous dent in the center of the steel wall. Renee thrust her hands out to try and keep from slamming into the windshield as she was suddenly shot forward by the sudden deceleration. She yelped as her hands collided with the windshield, sending a jolt of pain up her arms.
Andre got back into the seat, threw the vehicle into reverse and rammed the gate again. He swore as the gate held firm. Again and again, he backed up and rammed the gate.
After the fifth attempt, Will rapped on the window and mouthed the words, "What the fuck's taking so long?"
Andre ignored him and set the vehicle in motion again. He gritted his teeth as he fiddled with the levers on the dashboard, adjusting the bucket to better ram the gate. As the front end loader rumbled forward, there was only a mild shudder that momentarily unbalanced everyone. The longshoreman whooped as the gate gave way after the repeated ramming. Unfortunately, the gate was now stuck on the vehicle's shovel, which made it impossible to see. He continued manipulating the controls to try and shake off the heavy gate.
"Great," Will said as he clung onto his handhold. "We're out of the dockyard but now Andre's crazy driving is gonna kill us!"
Cynthia looked behind her. Aside from the now open entrance to the dockyard, she could see cars that Andre had accidentally wrecked, knocked over streetlights, crushed newspaper boxes and a destroyed fire hydrant spewing a geyser of water into the air.
A loud crunch rang through the vehicle's cab as Andre flattened another car in his attempt to both drive the vehicle and remove the gate stuck to its shovel.
"Andre! You're gonna get us killed!" the woman shouted.
"Renee, shut up and let me drive!" Andre yelled as he struggled with the wheel.
Renee, the coordinator, snorted in contempt as Andre's elbow dug into her side.
Andre repeatedly pushed one of the levers up and down, causing the shovel to mirror its movements. After several minutes of driving (and a few wrecked street signs later), he managed to shake off the troublesome piece of metal, which was then promptly run over. He then pressed the accelerator to the floor causing the engine to shriek in protest.
Andre focused on driving now that the door was unstuck from the shovel. A smile graced his lips as he mentally congratulated himself for helping ferry four people to safety. Suddenly, he was interrupted from his thoughts by a loud knock coming from behind his cab. He turned around and saw Will pointing into the distance behind him. Andre took the hint and peered into the distance. All he saw were the squat dingy buildings that were the characteristic of the industrial section of Sunyshore – and a column of red heading out from the warehouse. He let loose a rather remarkable array of profanities as he realized what that red column was. Kingler. A horde of Kingler numbering into the hundreds.
He immediately snapped his head back and stared down the road, which looked like it did during any other normal day – save for the utter lack of pedestrians and traffic. Papers and other trash blew along the empty street.
Heart pounding, he mashed the accelerator and willed the lumbering vehicle to go faster. All he got was an angry roar from the big diesel.
Cynthia could only stare into the distance in shock. She had expected the Kingler to retreat once they had left their territory. Instead, the Kingler had followed them for at least four miles. There was no mistaking their intent; they weren't merely content to drive humans from Sunyshore, which they now claimed as their territory. They were out to kill them.
She carefully looked over the cab. There, in the distance was Sunyshore Tower, beckoning them into its safe haven. She allowed herself a smile; it looks like they'll pull through and survive the hell that was the past day.
After a trek of thirty heart-pounding minutes, the group approached the encampment that had been set up around Sunyshore Tower. Thanks to Volkner and the supplies from the tower itself, several lights and tents had been set up for the refugees. Several people could be seen milling about the area as if at an open air festival. Nevertheless, a suffocating pall of tension and fear hung in the air.
As they came within sight, they noticed that all of the vehicles that the refugees arrived in had been arranged into a makeshift wall. As soon as they entered the encampment, they were approached by four Officer Jennies.
Andre, Lucian, Will, Cynthia and Renee disembarked the vehicle with their hands up.
"Relax, you're not in trouble," the first Officer Jenny said.
The tension seemed to fade as the quintet put their hands down.
Once she got a look at the quartet, Renee shook her head to ensure she wasn't seeing things. They four Officer Jennies were dressed like no other Officer Jennies they had ever seen. For starters, their uniform was not a blue blouse, a police officer's cap and black dress shoes; instead, they wore woodland camo patterned BDUs, black helmets and heavy beige combat boots. Their equipment was far from normal as well: a twelve gauge pump shotgun – most Jennies could go their entire careers without having to equip, let alone fire a gun. A ballistic vest along with a belt holding a poké ball, a shell pouch, radio and a holstered 9 mm semi automatic pistol completed ensemble.
In fact, the only thing that hinted at the quartet being Officer Jennies was their green hair and the starburst emblem on their helmet and associated patch on their right shoulder (the starburst being the identifier for Sunyshore Jennies).
Cynthia shuddered as she laid eyes on the four armed officers. Most Officer Jennies carried a baton, pepper spray, radio and handcuffs. At most they carried a 9 mm pistol. For them to carry such heavy firepower meant that things had gotten way, way out of hand.
"Where is the nearest bed?" Will asked with a yawn.
The quartet of officers led the group deeper into the encampment. There, on a grassy field surrounded by portable floodlights were a multitude of tents. Armed Officer Jennies like the ones who escorted the group here patrolled the area. Some refugees walked around, soaking in the cool night air. Owing to the dearth of garbage cans, litter was scattered all over the meadow. An enormous line of people snaked into Sunyshore Tower to wash up or use the bathrooms.
Another line snaked into a large open air tent with grills and tables scattered around and under it.
Will and Lucian immediately snagged an empty tent and entered. Cynthia followed the two.
To describe the tent as bare would be an understatement. The only pieces of furniture present were three cots in a row. Harsh white light came from an LED lantern hung from a rope attached to one of the tent poles.
Cynthia sniffed the air and wrinkled her nose in disgust. She sighed and got in the leftmost cot and lay down. The rough fabric was a far cry from a decent bed but it was leagues above the hard steel that she had been forced to sit on for the past half-hour. Lacking a blanket and pillow, she simply lay down and closed her eyes. The adrenaline fueled nervousness and energy melted away as she slid into the embrace of sleep.