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  1. #16
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 16

    Kuvai

    Ever since he had met Illauna, Kaiyou had been… a little nervous. He was a lot more jumpy than usual, and when I overheard Tai ask him about it, the Legendary told Tai that he was just making sure Gruzog wasn't going to try and hug him again. Though that may have been true to a point, I doubted that was the real cause.

    For some reason, Kaiyou was now leading us around instead of Shayla, and Illauna had become a "temporary" guest in our traveling party. When she had asked us if she could travel along with us, she told us that she wanted to get to Rayquaza so she could train him. At the mention of his name, I felt dizzy. Just the thought of meeting that giant dragon sent shivers down my spine.

    However, we weren't exactly traveling in the direction of the legendary dragon. In fact, we were going quite the opposite way. We had exited Mauville and were now heading north towards the mini-desert. Shoko didn't like this at all. Apparently, the charizard didn't like the thought of a huge, whirling mass of sand all around him.

    "Do we really have to go in there?" he asked for about the millionth time in the past few minutes. "I mean, there is a route around it. I can even fly around or over it…"

    Saji sighed and put a red claw on Shoko's shoulder. "Shoko, let me answer the questions you have now and for further notice. No, we don't really don't have to go in there. But we are. No, we aren't going to fly over and around it, and yes, you're going with us. And no, you're not getting out of it. Am I understood?"

    Shoko sighed and lowered his head to his stomach. "Yes…"

    Saji smiled. "Good. Now shut up. The sound of your complaining gives me a headache."

    I chuckled and looked ahead of us to see Kaiyou near to running. I blinked. Why was he in such a hurry?

    I ran up to him and trotted to keep up with him. "What's going on?" I asked. I saw we were near the desert. "Why are you going so fast?"

    Kaiyou kept on looking forward, towards the desert. "Someone's at the Tomb, I can feel it! My lock's been broken, they're working on the last one!"

    My heart nearly stopped. "There are people opening the Tomb?" I cried.

    Kaiyou nodded. "Screw this human form, I can't be this slow!" He then transformed as he ran, becoming the great golden and black dog that I knew him as. As soon as all four of his lithe legs were fully developed, he dashed into the desert, not even a second thought slowing him down.

    I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up, so I opened a portal to the door of the Tomb, which I remembered vividly from my dreams. I told everyone to follow and we reached the door of the Tomb to find Kaiyou hiding behind a rock in his human form again. Behind me, I could hear Shoko begin to whimper.

    I looked and saw the intruders working at the door. They were from Team Aqua -it was easy to tell from their blue bandannas and logos on their shirts. The man that looked like the leader was holding a book in one hand and configuring something on the door with the other. He was tall-looking, short-cropped brown hair, and a pale, chiseled face. He was crouching near the ground, tracing something onto the black door with his fingertips. The other people -there were about forty- were standing around holding up tarps and umbrellas to protect themselves against the sand and sun.

    Kaiyou growled -a strange sound coming from a human throat. "Bastards… What do they think they're doing?" He was about to get up when Shayla stopped him.

    "What are you going to do to them!" she asked in a harsh whisper. "You can't kill them -they may only be looking for treasure or something like that! You don't know that they're looking for the Tomb!" (Illauna had informed Shayla about Kaiyou's enigmatic past.) However, Illauna shook her head.

    "That man's holding the same book I read in the library…" she whispered. "That means he knows everything I do, about Kuvai, Kaiyou, everything." She looked down at Kaiyou. "They're probably looking for Kuvai to outdo Team Magma and what they achieved with you."

    Kaiyou growled again and leapt to his feet. He ran out to the group, to which they brought out their guns. The man holding the book stopped their fire, but they didn't lower their weapons. "Come to enjoy the show, sport?" the man asked, and Kaiyou nearly took the man's head off right then.

    "Are you insane?" Kaiyou cried. "Get out of here! This is dangerous ground -you don't know what's sleeping here! It mustn't-"

    "-be awoken, I know," the man said in a bored tone. "My, that dialouge sounds familiar. You wouldn't happen to be the clone of the Guardian of this Tomb, would you?"

    Kaiyou didn't answer the man. "Get out of here! You can't be here!"

    The man stood up and shook his head. "No, you can't be. The Guardian was killed many years ago, and said Guardian is a giant black dog." When he said this, he took a slight pause and then started out of it. "Dear, it is rather rude of me to not introduce myself. I am Archie, leader of the famous Team Aqua. Pleased to meet you."

    "I know who you are," Kaiyou snarled. "I don't care, though. You have to get out of here! He can't be awoken! Don't your pitiful eyes see the consequences of this action!"

    Archie's frown deepened into a scowl. "That's rather rude of you. Here, I am, trying to make the world a better place, and here you are, insulting my duty."

    Kaiyou grabbed the collar of the other man's shirt and lifted him up. I gasped -Kaiyou's black aura was coming up, and writhing around the two men. "Listen, human filth," Kaiyou spat, "I want you and your cronies out of here now. I don't care what your intentions are -the thing in there can't be awoken. Do you understand, you primitive Neanderthal?"

    Archie snarled back and then kicked Kaiyou in the solar plexus. I heard the Dark Legendary give a grunt and then he went down, with Archie pinning my lord to the ground. I was about to go and rip the man's throat out, but Shayla held me back by grabbing onto my scruff. "No, girl," she whispered. "You might get shot!"

    Hesitantly, I stood where I was and returned my attention to Kaiyou, who was still on the ground, recovering from the powerful kick. "Pah," Archie spat. "Pathetic. One kick made you go down. Though, I have to ask, what is your name? I want to know so that when my 'cronies', as you called them, kill you, I can correctly mark your tombstone."

    Kaiyou glared up at Archie. "Get out of here. You don't know what you're doing…" I saw Kaiyou's aura flare up again when Archie's leg muscles flexed in anticipation of a kick. "Don't make me kill you," Kaiyou whispered, and Archie laughed.

    "Kill me!" he exclaimed. "That's ludicrous! How could you even imply that you could stand and fight against me, especially since you went down so quickly?" He began to laugh again and then asked, "How do you think you are?"

    I saw Kaiyou's head go down, and then his aura engulfed him. And even as he transformed back into his original form, he spoke. "I am Kaiyou, Guardian of the Black Tomb. You insolent humans have gone far enough. If you value your lives, then leave this place. If you refuse, I will be forced to kill you all.) Kaiyou, now in his true form, growled and looked at the Team Aqua members, most of which were quivering in fear. He glared at Archie, who's eyes were plenty wide now, and bared his fangs. (Now, LEAVE.)

    Archie, snarled, and then cried, "Shoot him! Shoot the beast down!"

    The men were quick, but Kaiyou was quicker. He vanished into the Void, and then attacked randomly at the men. Since he went right back into the Void as soon as he attacked, the Aqua men couldn't fire at him. Eventually, Kaiyou began to take men into the Void with him, and apparently left them there.

    When all of his men were gone, Kaiyou stepped in front of Archie, and snarled again. (Leave. Or must I abandon you in the Void as well?)

    Archie didn't retreat. "That will not be necessary, Black Wolf. For you see, I have help." He then pointed to the sky, where many flying ships and jet fighters were waiting. Kaiyou flinched and then Archie smiled. "I don't think your Void goes into the sky, does it? Especially in the day time."

    Kaiyou lunged for Archie, but then a red laser blast caught him, and he flew into a nearby boulder. I felt a pain in my left shoulder, and then saw bright red blood oozing from the same place on Kaiyou. He got up, but didn't move. I heard Shoko, Saji and Amburna give roars behind me, and I saw them fly into the sky and begin to attack the aircraft. I turned my attention back to Archie, who was smiling.

    "They won't be able to penetrate the defenses of those ships," he said assuredly. "Then, they'll be shot out of the sky." I growled and then I heard Illauna talk behind me.

    "Raikou! Articuno!" Come out and help!" She then threw two ultra balls, and then, before me stood Raikou and Articuno. I nearly fainted right then. Illauna then pointed to the sky and then cried, "Bring down those ships!" Articuno flew into the air and then began to pelt the ships with ice beams and blizzards, and Raikou started to thunderbolt said ships. Archie was in shock for a minute, and then he snapped out of it.

    "That won't save you!" he cried. "Not even Lugia himself could bring down those ships! They're protected against pokemon special attacks!"

    Kaiyou shook his head. (You disgusting human! You really think Raikou and Articuno won't be able to penetrate your pitiful defenses? Pah! Pathetic!) The Dark Legendary then took another dive at Archie, but he was hit again by the red blast, and then skidded thirty feet towards me while on his side. The laser hit him on the side of the neck, and my own throbbed with his. I walked up to his giant form, and took a place in front of him. Archie laughed.

    "Ha! Some Guardian you are! It says here, in this book, that you were murdered by humans 3500 years ago! Well, apparently it will happen again today!" He then took out a handgun from his belt and then aimed at Kaiyou. "Farewell, Guardian of the Black Tomb!"

    I braced myself, but no shot came. I looked up and saw Tai holding onto Archie's now bloody hand with his teeth, growling and biting. I saw my opportunity, and then lunged forward myself. I bit onto the gun and took it from Archie. He screamed in frustration, and then punched Tai on the head. The jolteon yelped and then fell to the ground, and then Archie grabbed onto my scruff.

    "You little bitch," he snarled. I saw the blood on his right hand, the one Tai had bit, and I snarled. I let out a thunderbolt and then he fell backwards. He kicked me in my side, but I turned and then bit onto his shin. He let out a cry and then tried kicking me in the face, but I stopped that with another thunderbolt. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kaiyou stand and then look to the sky.

    (Ayako!) he cried, (Get out of there! Shoko -he's about to fall on you!)

    I looked up and saw a bloody red mass falling towards me, and I ran as fast as I could to escape it. When he landed, I turned and saw him half-lying on Archie. I stared in horror. He was bloody, mangled and unconscious. I heard Shayla cry the charizard's name, and she ran to him. I turned again to my right and saw Raikou get hit with the red beam, and then he was thrown to the boulders that surrounded us. After he landed on the sand, he didn't move.

    Tai screamed beside me, and I ran to him. He was bleeding a little on his head, but it wasn't much. He winced and then turned to me. "Raikou was hit, huh?" he asked, and I nodded. He growled and then looked above us. I did the same, and saw Amburna falling -she was in the same state as Shoko. Articuno and Saji were still in the air -Articuno was powerful and could withstand the hits, and Saji had a steel body, which protected him from the beams. Amburna landed beside Shoko and Shayla ran to her as well.

    I saw movement from Archie, who was still stuck underneath Shoko. He slithered out from underneath the downed charizard, and then he began to run towards the Tomb door, which was to my left. Tai and I headed him off, and then he brought out a taser. "Don't you dare," he threatened. "You haven't felt a shock like this before."

    Tai scoffed. "That's electricity, bub. I absorb any I come in contact with." The jolteon then grabbed a hold of Archie's hand again, and ripped with all his might. Human blood and skin flew everywhere, and the taser fell to the ground. I flew at the Aqua man myself, but a blast to my right threw off course, and I landed against the rock wall. I fell to the sand, and I struggled to get up. I now saw Kaiyou, Saji and Articuno lying on the ground near where Raikou fell, and Tai was about ten feet away, unconscious. Archie laughed triumphantly. "You pitiful beings! How do you even fathom the concept of defeating me and my mission? Pah. Pathetic." He then turned to the door, and began to trace again with his fingers. Kaiyou, not quite out, raised his bloody head.

    (Stop!) he wailed. (You can't! Kuvai will never obey you! He'll simply kill you and then move on to the cities! You can't…) Archie picked up his discarded gun, and then shot Kaiyou at the base of his neck, on the other side. I flinched against the pain.

    "Quiet, you mongrel," Archie spat. "I will do as I wish. You have failed, Guardian. Accept it." The Aqua man then completed his tracing, and then a great rumble began in the ground. I thought an earthquake was beginning, but the ground didn't split, and the door to the Tomb began to open. I looked to Kaiyou, and he began to cry in sorrow, telepathically and orally. It sounded so strange, yet morose and depressing. I looked back to the Tomb door, which revealed the stone lair of Buganti I had seen so many times in my dreams. In the middle lay a skeleton, giant and lizard-like. Archie stepped forward into the Tomb, and then the skeleton shuddered.

    It was like something out of a bad horror film. The off-white skeleton of Buganti began to rise, and then, simply collapsed to the floor. Archie, not really sure what was happening, took a tentative step towards Buganti's corpse. It shuddered again, and then a dark shadowy figure arose from it.

    I gasped.

    Kuvai…

    The dark shadow took a shape, and then I saw Kuvai clearly. The shadow had a reptilian profile. He was mostly grey with black stripes, and out of his head were two horns, also grey with black lightning bolt stripes. His arms were long and his paws ended with three finger claws and a thumb claw. His arms had three stripes and another stripe on his shoulder, which went down to a point on his chest. His long, black mane trailed down the length of his shadowy body, which faded into transparent nothingness. His face was decorated with three black stripes under his eyes, and a single stripe above. His throat was black, and his mouth was wide and snarling. He had lizard-like nostrils, and his eyes were the same red eyes that haunted Kaiyou and me. I stared in utter horror as Archie began to talk to Kuvai.

    "Ah, Kuvai, Lord of the Underground!" Archie exclaimed happily. "Here, at this moment, you will assist me in awakening the great pokemon, Kyogre! Then, the dream of Team Aqua will finally come into reality!"

    There was silence for a long time. Kuvai merely stared at Archie, and then, the shadow pokemon scoffed. "Moronic human. Do you really believe that I would stoop so low as to need assistance in destroying this pitiful planet? Bah. Get out of my way." Kuvai moved out of the Tomb, and then looked at our battlefield. He paused at Raikou and Articuno, but then stopped completely when his eyes fell upon Kaiyou's form. Kaiyou and Kuvai locked gazes, and then Kuvai smiled bitterly.

    "So, Kaiyou, you finally fell. By the human's hands, I see." Kaiyou flinched. "Well, you have a good seat, old friend. You'll be able to watch me kill these bastards with a good view."

    Kaiyou rose to his feet. (NEVER! Kuvai, you will not harm the innocent! I won't allow it! I'll DIE before I allow you to destroy this planet!) Half-limping, Kaiyou lunged at Kuvai with his teeth bared. Kuvai, looking bored, flung the wounded Dark Legendary back with what looked like a shadow ball. Kaiyou skidded back on his feet, still standing and growling. Kuvai scoffed.

    "Sent so far by a mere shadow ball, Kaiyou? You ARE wounded, aren't you?" Kaiyou's growling got louder. Kuvai's mouth formed a smirk. "Perhaps you should just stay out of the way so you don't die again?"

    Kaiyou took a staggering step forward. (Look at you, Kuvai! Can't you see what you've become? If your humans were to see you now… And Yasille, what about her? What do you think she would say if she-)

    Kaiyou was silenced temporarily from the huge attack Kuvai sent at him. The Dark Legendary made another indent in the stone wall, and then fell to the sand with an unnatural thump. I felt his pain throb through me, but I paid no heed to it as Kaiyou struggled to stand. He couldn't push himself like this!

    "Quiet, Kaiyou," Kuvai growled softly. "I would watch what I say. You're not well enough to take me on, Kaiyou. I advise you to stay out of this. You failed in your duty. Now shut up and stay out of this. The humans you mentioned betrayed me. They all deserve to die. And Yasille… She's probably dead by now. There's no need to linger on what's gone, Kaiyou. Like you shouldn't care about this planet. Once I destroy the human race, you can sit back and live in the Void."

    Kaiyou shook his head. (Never! You bastard -you're betraying Yasille! You swore to her that you would never hurt anyone- and now look at you! You're nothing but a coward! A fraud! A two-timing bastard that should go back into his lair and never see the light of day again!) Kaiyou lunged again, and then took hold of Kuvai's arm with his jaws. Kuvai, angry as hell, swung Kaiyou around and slammed him against the walls of the lair. Only after Kuvai bit into Kaiyou's neck did the Dark Legendary let go.

    With a powerful swing, Kuvai threw Kaiyou against the ceiling, the walls and then smashed him into the ground. I collapsed to the ground, completely numbed by the pain. I had never felt so much at one time in my life. Before I knew it, I was on my side, panting hard. I looked back to the scene, where Kaiyou was in his human form, lying face down on the stone floor. A pool of blood was rapidly forming around his side and head, and I feared the worst. Kuvai stared at him for a while, then smiled bitterly again.

    "Stubborn fool… He never did know when to quit…" He turned back to the forgotten Archie, who was near to pissing his pants. "And as for you, human filth, I will destroy you like I will this entire planet!" With a telepathic roar, he created a giant shadow ball and sent it straight at Archie, killing the human instantly.

    The Aqua ships then began to fire at Kuvai. However, the beams did nothing, and Kuvai roared in agitation. "Damn humans, AWAY WITH YOU!" He sent another powerful shadow ball at the ships, and, like a tinker toys,they blew apart utterly. Kuvai began to pulsulate somehow, and then, he was engulfed in black light.

    I saw movement behind him. I gasped and saw Kaiyou lift his bloody, marred head, and then his eyes grew wide. "NO! KUVAI, DON'T!"

    Apparently, Kuvai didn't listen. He began to grow and grow. The ones that were still alive and conscious watched in horror as Kuvai's body became slightly solid and snake-like. He must have been a mile high by the time he stopped growing. And then, when he was finished, he looked down at us, half-dead and broken, and smiled.

    "NOW, NOW, YOU PITIFUL CREATURES, YOU WILL TASTE YOUR DOOM!" With that, his massive, clawed hands formed a giant mass of shadow and power, and then flung it down at us. The last thing I remember is Kaiyou rushing out, and then taking the brunt of the attack. And then, Kuvai's fading words, "Kaiyou, you fool..."

  2. #17
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 17

    Sister

    I don't know how long I was out. I guess it had been about a day -one of the shorter time lapses for my team. I woke up on a white hospital bed with a Nurse Joy looking over me. I had bandages all over me -I guessed I had been hurt worse than I thought. After the nurse deemed me well enough to walk, I ventured out and searched the hospital for my comrades.

    While on my trek, I found out that this hospital was a joint one -it treated both pokemon and human patients. I was happy for that -then we wouldn't have to go back and forth between hospitals. The thought reminded me of Kaiyou, and I grew worried. Was he even alive after that final hit?

    "Xena!" a male voice called. I looked behind me and saw Tai grinning like an idiot. I was about to retort, but then I saw his badly-hidden limp and a large bandage on his side, which was stained a dark red. The retort disappeared and then Tai frowned.

    "What?" he asked, and then followed my stare to his bloody bandage. Then, he laughed. "Oh, that's nothing! I've had worse before -not much can bring me down!" He laughed again, and I snapped out of my stupor.

    "Unfortunately…" I muttered, and then I began walking again. Tai laughed and then limped to my side. I slowed my pace so that he could keep up. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him take a look at our surroundings.

    "This place sure is big…" he whispered. Then, his face grew worried. "I wonder if Shayla's okay… I don't know what I'd do if something happened to her. And I hope everyone else is all right -Shoko, Amburna and Kaiyou weren't looking too good before that big hit…" Then, his eyes got wide and he gasped. "Holy crap, Kaiyou! I remember him being really bloodied up…" He turned to me. "D'you think he's okay?" To this, I shrugged without comment and left it at that.

    Tai took the hint that I didn't want to discuss the idea that Kaiyou could be dead, and then remained silent for a while. We wandered around aimlessly, and then found Shayla, (playing video games, actually,) Illauna, Shoko (still unconscious, but stable,) Amburna, (alive and well,) and Saji, who was mad at the fact that he couldn't beat Kuvai into a bloody pulp like he wanted to. For a few minutes, Tai and I visited with Saji, but then, I became distracted. I smelt Kaiyou not too far away.

    I told Tai that I would be back in a while and then rushed out of the room to the room adjacent to Saji's -where Kaiyou's scent was coming from. I ran in, skidded on the tile floor, and then almost collapsed into tears.

    I had never seen anything be so beaten and yet, still be alive. He was in human form, though I could barely recognize him through all of the cuts, bruises and gashes. I saw the translucent tubes of life support sticking out of him, and a machine was acting like an air pump beside him, apparently helping him breathe, since his chest went up and down along with it. The machine had a long tube from its side to a mask, which was covering his mouth and nose. There was another machine behind him, beeping along with what I guessed was his heart. There was a metal stand beside the air pump with a bag of blood in it, and then a similar stand with a bag of water in it. His left eye was covered by a white bandage, and he had a brace on his right arm. I took a step closer, but then I was yanked back by a human hand.

    "You shouldn't be in here, little miss," said a feminine voice above me. I looked up at her and saw that she was a nurse -Kaiyou's, I assumed. "He's not fit for other people -or pokemon- to be visiting him. Sorry, girl, but you'll have to wait until he at least wakes up." She gently ushered me out of the room, and then closed the door as soon as I was out. I put a paw on the door, but I let it fall back to the floor. She wouldn't open it for me…

    I heard the pitter patter of small feet and I turned to see Tai standing behind me, a somber look on his face. "…Is he alive?" he asked. I guessed that he meant Kaiyou, and I nodded.

    He sighed in what seemed like relief. "Good. D'you know how long it'll take until he gets better?" I shook my head and then he frowned a little. He shuffled his feet, and then said, "Just now, Shayla called Professor Oak to check on Kazu and everyone else." I turned fully to him and then sat on the floor. He looked... distressed… "The Professor says that Kuvai's already completely destroyed Mossdeep… Shayla's uncle got out and is now living with everyone in Pallet… But the Professor said that Kuvai's moving to Lilycove, and then maybe to Fortree…" He looked up to see my reaction. "Just thought… I'd let you know…"

    My gaze fell to the floor. My family had no idea what kind of monster was about to head towards them… Surly, they'd feel it. Surly they'd be able to sense his power and lust for destruction, and they'd be able to get away… Maybe…

    I felt a poke in my side and looked up at Tai. He smiled in a reassuring way, and then said softly, "I'm sure they'll be all right. They're not stupid. They'll know, and then get away." I felt my face smile a little, and then Tai's rare, sweet smile turned into a goofy grin. "Hey, we better get back! Illauna and Shayla are fighting it out on Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I don't wanna miss it! Come on!"

    I watched as he limped and ran at the same time, occasionally slipping and knocking something over, and then I followed, trying to force the image of Kaiyou lying in that sterile hospital bed half-dead out of my mind.

    That night, I couldn't sleep. I was sleeping in the little pallet that the nurses made for me in my room, (which I was sharing with Amburna and Shayla), and even though it was really comfy, I couldn't sleep. I sighed and then decided to walk around a bit, to clear my head.

    Much later, I found myself at Kaiyou's door in the ICU. I saw that the door was slightly open, so I decided to let myself in. Once I did, however, I heard soft, beautiful, mournful singing from inside. Confused, I looked in carefully and saw a woman sitting at Kaiyou's bedside, crying and singing simultaneously. My mouth opened slightly, and I tried to understand the words she was singing. However, it was in a language I didn't understand.

    "Inji sei shadin

    Ini so lad uun

    honto teij lal mei…

    …iite

    "Hondo iej isa

    Iite lal mei

    Hano mej lal mei…

    Iite…"

    I had come out of the doorway and the only thing left holding it open was my left rear foot. I pulled it forward, but then the door closed and sent a shock through me and I yelped softly. I tried to hide from the woman's view, but, she gasped and turned to me suddenly, fear in her eyes. When she saw me, however, her tear-stained face relaxed into a sad smile.

    "Well, hello there," she called gently. "I thought you were a human nurse, but I guess not. It would be bad for one of them to find me here now -it's way too late for visiting hours…" she mused. "But, I can't seem to be able to visit him when it is visiting time, so I snuck in…" She sighed and let her head rest against the bed rail.

    I took a good look at her. I guessed her hair was a dirty-blonde from the light I had. Her complexion was pale, and her eyes were a bright, emerald green. She wore a green kimono decorated on the shoulders with little yellow flowers. She wore a dark blue cloth around her middle, and a light, blue kimono underneath the flowery one. She wore white obi and sandals, and I noticed she looked a bit younger than Kaiyou. And then, I took a whiff of her scent and paused. She smelled familiar…

    My musing was broken when she began to move again. She sat up on her knees and looked over at Kaiyou's broken body and then, I saw more tears welling up in her eyes. My brow furrowed. What was Kaiyou to this woman?

    "Oh Kaiyou," she whispered. "I… I'm so sorry… I… I should have done something… I tried to protect the Tomb, but… but each time I tried to stop the humans from undoing the locks, they… they held up your pelt… Your pelt… It was stained with blood -they never cleaned it… and… I… I couldn't stand to look at it and smell your dry blood and the scent of death all over it…" She reached down with her left hand and took Kaiyou's right. "I'm so sorry… But… how are you here? I saw… I saw them kill you all those years ago… How are you here now, lying in this bed struggling to survive? Ho-Oh couldn't possibly…"

    "It wasn't Ho-Oh," I found myself saying. She turned to me, surprised. I guessed she had forgotten I was even there. "Team Magma took his remains, and then cloned him, so that he could awaken Groudon…" The woman's face contorted into one of angry sadness.

    "Groudon and Kyogre would be much better than Anubo rampaging around the land," she spat. "He'll destroy everything -even move out of the Pokemon Regions and onto the other continents."

    "Wait," I said. Did she just say "Anubo"? "Kuvai… He's the one killing everything… Who are you talking about?"

    The woman blinked, and then said, "Kuvai wouldn't destroy anything… It's Anubo…" Her head went down and she receded into the folds of Kaiyou's blanket. "Kuvai wouldn't do this to Kaiyou… He wouldn't…"

    I growled. "Look lady," I snapped, "I saw it with my own eyes. Kuvai did most of this to Kaiyou. I saw him blast Kaiyou into unconsciousness. And then, he grew into this huge monster and then sent a huge ball of power to kill us all, and Kaiyou took the brunt of it." The woman stared at me, confused. "I saw it. I was there."

    The woman shook her head again. "No… that's not possible… Kuvai… he's not very big… You're talking about-"

    Suddenly, the door flew open and a plump nurse barged in and interrupted the woman at Kaiyou's bedside. "What are you doing in here!" she whispered harshly. "Get out of here! Get out!" She took me roughly by the scruff and tossed me in the hall, and then went back inside for the woman. I heard a gasp and then looked back in the room, where there was no woman to be found. She had completely disappeared.

    The following morning, I discussed the matter with Amburna and Tai. We were sitting in the courtyard under a sakura tree, completely alone. After I told them what happened with the woman, Amburna sat up a little to attract attention.

    "I do not know of this 'Anubo'…" the dragonair commented airily, "but this woman, you said you recognized her scent? Do you not recall her name?"

    I shook my head. "No, not at all. It's like it's on the tip of my tongue, but I can't say it. I know I've never seen her before, but I've smelled her scent before."

    Tai shook his head. "Scents in this hospital can mess with your head, Demi," he said solemnly. "You could have been mistaken, or just taking in Kaiyou's scent along with the woman's, and you got the two confused. It's easy to do that here, what with all of the stinking medicines and sterilizers. Why, I did it yesterday. I thought I was going to the cafeteria and I ended up out here, staring at a squirrel."

    Amburna rolled her eyes. "Tai, your nose doesn't count. It's far too sensitive for here, to be an example for Demi's nose. Hers isn't as good as yours." She shook her head again. "No, for Demi to notice another scent with the scents of Kaiyou, blood, medicine and sterilizers, it had to be strong, and coming from a different source. The woman's scent was her own, not Kaiyou's."

    I sighed. I thought that discussing it with the others might help me in figuring something out, but it was only making myself more confused. I stood up. "Sorry, but I want to go and check on Kaiyou. See ya." I turned to walk back to the white hospital, but Tai's voice made me pause.

    "Wait, won't they shoo you away?" he asked. "I mean, that's what happened the last two times, wasn't it?"

    I shrugged. "Maybe he woke up."

    I looked up at Kaiyou's closed door in agitation. Why didn't they have doggie doors on these things? I frowned and looked about me for any kind of tool that I could use to open the door without completely destroying it. The nurses would see me if I tried that. Seeing nothing that would be of great use, I turned back to the door and an idea sprung to my head.

    I could see the little metal piece that was keeping the door in its place and figured that if I angled my aerial ace attack correctly, I could slice the thing in two and then open the door without a quarrel. And, as a perk, the door would look unharmed.

    I grinned and then looked about me again, to make sure no one was watching. I angled my scythe towards the metal piece and then flung an aerial ace at it, and the metal piece was cut in half. Triumphantly, I stood on my hindquarters and pulled on the door with my forelegs and walked in. Fortunately, there was no nurse in the room with me, so I had Kaiyou all to myself. I walked to his bed and stood to see over the black, plastic railing.

    He looked better -his facial wounds had healed a bit, and he didn't look as pale as before. However, all of the tubes, wires and the mask were all still attached to him. I sighed and then leapt onto his bed and sat by his side. I looked to the head of his bed, where the beepy machine was sitting. I saw little mountains of green lines go up at every beep, and then went flat for a little while, then the mountains appeared again. It made no sense to me, so I dismissed it as human nonsense and then lay down. Sighing, I let myself drift into a half-sleep for a little while.

    I don't really know how long I dozed, but my eyes snapped open when I heard footsteps leading to the room. I leapt off of the bed and then went into the Void, but not too far so I could see what was happening. (Why it didn't occur to me to use the Void before is completely beside the point.) I saw the world through a black veil -like heavy tinting on a car window, or looking out through a light black cloth. It was muddled, but I saw two young, giggling nurses walk in with clipboards and charts. They looked at Kaiyou and began to talk.

    "He's cute," one said. She had distinctive black hair and wore glasses. "Do you know what happened to him?"

    The other, prematurely grey-haired, nodded her head. "Yeah, he was hit by the thing that's going around and destroying cities and stuff. Hear it's an actual pokemon."

    The first one scoffed and began to check the bags next to the air pump. "No way that thing's a pokemon. It's too big, too… evil. No pokemon's evil like that."

    The other shrugged and then took notes on her clipboard. "I greatly disagree with you, Karla. Any kind of pokemon can be evil, like any person can be evil. I would guess that an intelligent pokemon could actually conceive the concept of world domination and try to strive for it." She scribbled a bit at her chart, then looked to the black-haired nurse. "Any change?"

    The nurse, Karla, "Hmm"-ed, checked under the eye bandage, checked his arm cast, and then said, "His eye's healed. When he wakes up, he shouldn't have a problem seeing out of it." I sighed in relief, but then, the woman's tone of voice switched to more grave. "However, I think he's slipping into a coma. His neural chart is getting lower and lower… he's not quite there yet, but he's damn close." I gasped. A coma? Deities only know when someone's going to wake up from a coma! Even I knew that!

    The grey-haired woman fixed a look of worry on her young face. "Too bad… There's nothing we can do, huh?" To my dismay, the black-haired nurse shook her head slowly.

    "That's a shame, he really is cute," Karla commented, and then left the room with the grey-haired nurse following close behind. When they were gone, I tentatively stepped out of the protective Void and to Kaiyou's bedside. I took back my place at his side and then lay down with a heavy sigh.

    What was I going to do?

    I assumed that I had fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, moonlight streamed through the open windows, and darkness filled the room. I was still in the same place, on Kaiyou's left side lying on my belly with my head on my paws. I looked around me and spotted a clock that read "11:45 pm". I gulped. Shayla was probably worried sick about me…

    I was about to head back to my room when I heard footsteps outside the door, and coming closer. I gasped and leapt under Kaiyou's bed and entered the Void. I looked back and watched the door to see who came in.

    At the sight of her, I gasped. It was the woman from the night before! I sniffed her again to make sure I didn't get the scent wrong. It was the same as the night before, but now it was mingled with her own blood. I watched in anxiety as she slowly made her way to Kaiyou's bedside and knelt down.

    "Kaiyou…" she whispered while simultaneously wiping the bangs from his face. "Kaiyou, come on, wake up. Please… I need for you to wake up… Anubo… he's just destroyed Fortree City. I tried to stop him, but… but I couldn't. Even with my power, he's far too powerful for me alone." She waited for some kind of movement from the Dark Legendary, but he did nothing but breathe. Her face formed an expression of mourning, and tears welled up in her emerald eyes. She let her head fall to Kaiyou's chest, and then muttered, "Brother, open your eyes." My mind clicked and I gasped. "Please, brother," she wailed, "open your eyes!"

    Yasille! my mind cried. It must be her! I almost jumped out of the Void right then when I heard more footsteps from the hallway. I saw Yasille turn towards the door, fear written all over her face and scent, and I jumped out of the Void and took her hand gently in my jaws. She looked back at me in surprise, but let me take her into the safe darkness.

    The nurse, who had probably heard Yasille crying for Kaiyou to wake up, opened the door with ferocity. But when she saw no one in the room other than Kaiyou, she frowned and then walked back out. I waited until her footsteps had disappeared, and then I leapt back into the real world with Yasille clinging to the scruff of my neck.

    When we were out of the Void, Yasille collapsed behind me, panting hard. I turned to her in surprise. No one had acted like that after they went into the Void. And I expected her to be a Dark, like her brother. She looked up to me with a pale face, but a grateful pale face.

    "Thank you, absol," she said in between heavy breaths. "If not for you, they would have caught me. Though, I'd rather not repeat the little adventure. You could say I'm… allergic… to the Void…" As I tried to figure out what that meant, Yasille stood and placed a small, fragile-looking hand on her brother's forehead.

    "I feel his presence fading…" she said sadly. "Perhaps he won't awaken until after Anubo has completely destroyed the Hoenn region…" I looked up at her in confusion.

    "You've called him Anubo before," I said, and she looked down at me. "What are you talking about? The thing rampaging around Hoenn… IS Kuvai, isn't? He responded to 'Kuvai' at the Tomb…"

    Yasille blinked and then said, "Because he was Kuvai then. Now he's Anubo."

    I blinked in utter confusion. "What?" I asked, and then Yasille giggled at my stupidity.

    "I'm sorry, young darkling, but I'm not very good at explaining things. When my brother awakens, he can tell you much better than I can." With that, she smiled and then transformed into her true form, and then smiled down on me.

    -I now know that I can leave my brother to you, absol- she said. -I won't have to worry about him. Please, inform my brother that I am still alive. He will be able to contact me, and then we can all work to bring Anubo down.- She then lifted her elegant cream and black head, and then said softly, -Now, young absol, you might want to go back to your trainer. She's worried.- At my hesitation, she smiled back down on me. -Do not worry for my brother. My premonition tells me he will awaken soon -when you visit him next, he will wake up.-

    I looked up at her in surprise -just a few moments ago, she was crying her eyes out to try and wake him up. Perhaps she just had a vision or something? However, she told me nothing more, and then nodded at me. I nodded back to her, and then she disappeared into the light of the glare on the window. I blinked. How did she get into the Void in no shadow? I shook my head and then left Kaiyou's room, feeling confused a little distraught. I had no more energy for trying to figure her out just yet.

    The next time that I made it to Kaiyou's room without being sidetracked or pulled away was four days after I last saw Yasille. I hadn't seen her since that night, but I really didn't expect to either. I went through the Void to Kaiyou's room, which was thankfully empty, and stepped onto the cold tile floor. At the sound of my footsteps, I saw Kaiyou's unbandaged head turn towards me, and then, smiled at me with his battered face. "Well, hello girl. Haven't seen you in a while."

    My face broke out in a smile and I leapt up onto his bed and licked his face like my life was on the line. He laughed and then gently pushed me back, to which I obliged. He wiped his face with his arm and then said, "Man, girl. How long was I out to get a reception like that?"

    I shrugged and made a conscious effort to stop my tail from wagging. "I don't know… About a week, I guess." At this, Kaiyou's eyebrow went up. "The nurses were worried that you were going into a coma for a while."

    He chuckled lightly. "Well, I'm all right now." He looked around the room and then, when his gaze settled on the air pump machine, (now off) asked of me, "Where am I?"

    "You're in a hospital in Mauville," I replied. "Everyone's had to recover here, from Kuvai's blast." Then, Yasille popped into my head. "Which reminds me," I said loftily, "Yasille wanted me to tell you she's alive. She said that if I told you, then you could come up with a way to defeat Kuvai."

    At the sound of his sister's name, Kaiyou's head snapped from the air pump machine to me. "Yasille?" he asked softly, and, when I nodded, he sighed heavily and let his head roll up. "Oh, I had hoped she was still alive…" he muttered. "Without her… Anubo…"

    My brow furrowed. There was that name again. "She kept on talking about this 'Anubo' guy. Who the hell is he? I thought the guy we were battling was Kuvai!"

    Kaiyou looked back to me, a knowing smile on his face. I hated that smile. "Not now, girl. Later, when I'm not so tired, and when I'm back on my feet." He sighed happily. "Oh, how I have longed to see my sister…"

    I put a paw on his good arm. "But Kaiyou," I pleaded, "please tell me now. You're not going to torture me like you did with the information about Kuvai, are you?" All I got was a mischievous smile and a request that I get out and let him rest.

    I sighed angrily and then stomped out of room. I then regretted ever saying that his closed lips tortured me. Now, I would never know about Anubo…

  3. #18
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 18

    Anubo

    It was the day after Kaiyou had woken up, and we were out of the stinking hospital, traveling to Sootopolis. Kaiyou had spoken with Yasille telepathically, and we were to meet her there.

    "So the Yasille you saw in that first dream is the one we're going to meet at Sootopolis?" Tai asked me as we were flying over the sea. I was on Shoko, sitting with Tai, Shayla was on Amburna with Kaiyou behind her, Saji was flying slightly below them, and Illauna was above us, riding on Articuno. She didn't have any of her pokemon out, besides the ice bird. In reply to Tai's question, I nodded.

    "Yup," I said. "It's the same person. I think she knows how to defeat Anubo."

    Tai sighed. "I hope so."

    I cocked my eyebrow. "What's this? Tai, the great warrior, afraid?"

    Tai scowled at me. "Shut up. You should be too, what with this huge evil thing rampaging around. Why are you so cheerful?"

    I shrugged. It was probably because all of my teammates had recovered so well and so fast. And Kaiyou was back to his old self again. I heard Shoko grunt from beneath us.

    "I heard he's already destroyed everything up to Rustburo," the charizard grunted. "There are a lot of refugees fleeing to Johto -maybe we should too, while we still have the chance."

    Tai growled. "You mean run away? That's crap! Shoko, even if we did, he'd come into the region we were at eventually."

    Shoko shook his orange head. "I also heard that Goldenrod is about to mount an attack on him. They're gathering all of the military strength in the whole Johto region and placing it all in Goldenrod. Even the other countries are helping out -a pidgy told me that there were Americans, Germans, Spanish and Japanese in there, and that there were a lot more to come."

    I shook my head. "Even with all of this military power, I doubt that it'll hurt Anubo very much…"

    Tai scoffed. "Demi, have you not seen an action movie in your entire life?" At my blank stare, he continued. "I know the run-down. Americans have nukes. Nukes can blow anything into smithereens. Including Anubo."

    I frowned. "I don't know. I hope you're right, Tai." The thought that Anubo could be defeated so easily… I didn't think it was very possible. No, my intuition was telling me that the battle against Anubo would consist of more than a few Americans and their "nukes".

    0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

    We had come to a small diner in Sootopolis City, with Kaiyou in his human form and the rest of my comrades out of their poke balls. Illauna kept her tyranitar, Gruzog, out to ensure our privacy. Shayla and Illauna sat down on one side of a red, cushioned booth and Kaiyou sat on the other. He leaned back and put his arms up on the top of the booth in a casual manner. Illauna leaned forward on the glossy wooden table and spoke softly.

    "Is there any way to stop him?" she asked in a whisper, looking at Kaiyou, who had turned away and was looking out the window to his right. When he heard the question, he turned to her and cocked his eyebrow.

    "Stop?" he asked, apparently not knowing who Illauna was talking about. Shayla sighed and crossed her arms.

    "Who do you think?" Shayla said in a harsh whisper. "Anubo! How do you stop him? How do you defeat him!"

    Kaiyou stared at her, and then burst out laughing. The few people in the diner with us began to look at the Dark Legendary, but then Illauna's tyranitar growled at them, to which they happily went back to what they were doing before. After Kaiyou had stopped laughing, he wiped his eyes -apparently, he had laughed so hard, he cried.

    Tai didn't like this. "How could he laugh about Anubo?" he asked in my ear. I gave a slight shrug -I thought Anubo wasn't a laughing matter, but apparently…

    Kaiyou looked at Illauna like she was insane. "Defeat Anubo?" he asked incredulously. "Ha! Naïve human, do you really think there is a way to defeat a leviathan like that?" He leaned back on his seat and looked back out the window. "No… There isn't a way. At least not one that can be used in this age anyway." He looked back at Shayla and Illauna and narrowed his eyes. "You might as well just give up and find some underground haven until he blows his anger out. Once his strength is spent, then he will return to his Kuvai form and return to the Black Tomb."

    Shayla pounded her fists on the table. "That's crap! You're his GUARDIAN! You HAVE to know a way to stop him!"

    Kaiyou glared at my trainer. "I am the Guardian of the Black Tomb. Not of Kuvai himself. I'm just supposed to make sure this doesn't happen."

    "Fine job you did there," Tai muttered, and the Dark Legendary turned his icy gaze upon the jolteon beside me. Tai whimpered and jumped behind Shoko. The charizard merely rolled his eyes.

    Kaiyou returned his gaze back to the trainers. "Besides, Anubo's rampage won't last too long…" Then, his face became worried. "Unless…"

    Shayla's eyebrow went up. " 'Unless…?' Unless what? Don't tell me this situation could get worse."

    Kaiyou sighed. "Well… Anubo… It's a complicated thing… What Anubo really is, is a formless demon that possesses others in order to survive. Anubo got a hold of Kuvai when… Kuvai first came into being. The thing is unstoppable, especially since he has Kuvai's powers to wield at his whim." Kaiyou picked up the menu in front of him began to read. The two trainers exchanged glances and looked back at Kaiyou.

    "…What are you doing?" Shayla asked. The Dark Legendary made a glance at my trainer from over the top of his menu and looked back down.

    Instead of answering her with words, he raised his hand and the waitress, though reluctant to come near because of Illauna's tyranitar, walked to Kaiyou. "D-Do you need anything, S-Sir?" she stuttered, but Kaiyou didn't pay heed to her fright.

    "Yes, I need a Pecha and Wiki Berry pie, please," he said, handing the waitress some money.

    "D-Do you want a whole p-pie or just a s-slice…?" the waitress asked.

    "Just a slice," Kaiyou answered and patted his belly. "Gotta watch my carb intake -I'm trying to watch my figure."

    The waitress gave a nervous laugh, took his money and then walked briskly away, keeping her distance from the tyranitar.

    For a moment, I wondered where he had gotten that money, but my thought was distracted by the shout that Shayla gave after the waitress left.

    "YOU'RE ORDERING PIE?" Shayla demanded as she stood up out of her seat. I myself flinched away from her -I had never heard that kind of tone out of her before.

    However, Kaiyou wasn't intimidated. He stared at her with a kind of blank stare, and said, "Well, yes. I'm hungry. All of that stinking hospital crap made my stomach want real food for once."

    Shayla plopped back into her seat. She let her head fall onto the table with a thud and moaned after the collision. Illauna didn't pay attention to this and tried to talk to Kaiyou again.

    "Look. Every pokemon has its weakness. Mewtwo and Lugia… They're psychic and can be taken down with a dark or ghost or bug type attack." Kaiyou raised an eyebrow. "Even you can be taken down with an army of fighting-types… This Anubo guy has to have some kind of weakness."

    Kaiyou smiled bitterly. "You would think that wouldn't you? You humans… You just don't know when to give up. Anubo has no type. His attacks have no type. Therefore, he has no weakness, and no strength against any other pokemon. He has pure, cataclysmic power and size on his side. And he's a shadow… so guns and any kind of artillery won't work."

    Shayla moaned in irritation and allowed her voice to grow. "Why can't you think of a way to stop him! He's destroying all of Hoenn! And pretty soon he'll move on to Johto and then finally Kanto! We have to stop him NOW!"

    Kaiyou glared, and then gave a small frown. "No."

    Shayla roared with anger, and then leaped over the table and wrapped her hands around Kaiyou's neck. "YOU KNOW A WAY, DON'T YOU?" She shook him a few times, and shouted the same question over and over again. I looked behind me and saw the whole diner staring at us with open mouths and wide eyes. Gruzog growled and roared, and the spectators returned to their previous activities.

    Finally, Kaiyou slapped Shayla away and pushed her back into her seat. He rubbed his neck for a moment, and, with a steely, determined glare focused on my trainer, he said, "I do. But it's not like it could be of any use here, in this era."

    Illauna looked at Kaiyou patiently. "You've said that before. What do you mean by that?"

    The Dark Legendary frowned. "It's not going to do you any good, human, to know."

    Shayla scowled. "Stop beating around the friggen' bush. Tell us what it is."

    Kaiyou leaned back in his chair and scowled at my trainer. "No. I won't. I'm telling you -it won't do you any good and it'll be a waste of time and air."

    Shayla's face grew dark. "Who was the one who saved you from those wounds you got after getting the blue orb?"

    Kaiyou's face darkened, and his lip drew up in a very wolfish manner. "I never asked you to do it. I could have healed by myself. I didn't want your help."

    But Shayla wasn't daunted. "But you accepted it. And, at this moment, you are still in my possession."

    "You know," Kaiyou said loftily -quite a change from the ominous tone he had just a second ago, "Threatening me isn't going to get you anywhere. I could kill you in an instant -I'm not scared of you, human. Oh, of course you could sick your own pokemon upon me, but I could just disappear into the Void, safe from Anubo, and you would never see me again."

    Illauna sighed. "Please, Kaiyou… Why won't you tell us? It wouldn't hurt to know, would it?"

    The Dark Legendary scoffed. "Of course it would. Because you'd think it would be possible. And then you would go on this pointless wild goose chase and drag me with you. No. I'm not going to tell you."

    There was a moment of tense silence where no one dared to move. The waitress, having overcome her fear of Gruzog, brought Kaiyou his piece of Wiki and Pecha berry pie. He took a piece off and tossed it to me, to which I hungrily gobbled up. They were, after all, my two favorite berries. Tai whimpered about him being hungry too.

    Shayla threw herself against the back of her seat, and turned to Illauna. "He's not going to tell us. He's too damn stubborn." I saw Illauna look at Kaiyou, who was hungrily devouring his piece of pie, and sighed.

    "Maybe you're right," Illauna said sadly. "But maybe he's right, too. Maybe there isn't a possible way to stop Anubo. After all… he should know of all people."

    Kaiyou paused in his eating.

    Shayla looked at the other trainer like she was insane. "Are you crazy?" she half-shouted, "He can't be telling the truth! There's always a way to defeat anything, no matter how impossible it may seem! At least there's a way to do it!"

    Illauna shrugged. "I don't know, Shayla. I'm sure he doesn't like Anubo rampaging around as much as you and I, but… but I have to go by what he says. He knows more about Anubo and Kuvai than we do."

    Shayla nodded. "Yeah… he does have infinite knowledge about the subject… And he's so powerful and glamorous…"

    Kaiyou lifted his head. "Flattery won't work either."

    Shayla pouted and cursed. Illauna sighed and then looked at Kaiyou in the eye. "Please, Kaiyou. I know that you don't want to get dragged into this and go on 'a wild goose chase' as you proclaim, but…" Illauna's face became determined, and her back straightened. "But this is your responsibility as the Guardian of the Black Tomb. If something goes wrong there, then it's your responsibility to fix it. We're willing to help you clean up your mess. Will you accept it or not?"

    Kaiyou watched her for a moment, and, after a few seconds, sighed deeply and leaned back in his seat again. "I know I'm going to regret this, but… but I recall something from a long time ago -when I was still in my original life. I remember something -a legend- about the presence of a pure-hearted trainer accompanied by a pure-hearted pokemon, about how it would stop Anubo somehow. It's corny as hell, I know, but that's the way. The ONLY way. Unless you count running away to Europe or something." Kaiyou looked out the window. "There. I've told you. Now, do with it what you want."

    Shayla seemed surprised. "That's it? That's all we have to do?" She began to get out of her seat when the Dark Legendary pulled her back down.

    Kaiyou scoffed. "You ARE naïve! Have you ANY idea how HARD it is to find something remotely pure-hearted! A rock would have more chance of being pure-hearted than a pokemon! Or a trainer for that manner!" He crossed his legs under the table. "I told you, in this day and age, there isn't any hope of finding either one."

    Shayla sighed. "So pessimistic. Someone has to pure-hearted. A whole species can't be all one thing, like evil or good. Someone has to-"

    "Shut up," Kaiyou interrupted. "I don't want to hear any of your rational crap. But, see, you're proving my point. I knew you would want to go looking for a pure-hearted trainer and likewise pokemon. Friggen' wild goose chase. Well, you know what? I don't want to be a part of it. I don't like Anubo tearing up the landscape and killing innocents, but I don't want to be dragged into some pointless journey that will exhaust supplies and raise useless hopes." He got up to leave, but, for some reason, I jumped in front of his pathway.

    He looked at me for a moment, and then smiled a bit. I don't know why he did, but then he scooted back into his seat. Shayla and Illauna looked at him strangely.

    "I thought you didn't want to be a part of this," Shayla said in a condescending tone, to which Kaiyou glared.

    "I don't. But your absol seems to think that this could work." He then looked at me, but… I was confused. I didn't have any hope for this plan. I just… I didn't really know why I jumped out in front him. I just did…

    Shayla crossed her arms. "So, what about any of our pokemon?" she asked. He looked at her, and the inclined eyebrow rose. "Could any of our pokemon be pure-hearted?"

    Kaiyou laughed. "Are you serious? Let's see, shall we? First off, your jolteon is gluttonous and harbors feelings of jealousy -no winner there." Tai pouted from behind Shoko. "Your dragonair is vain, your charizard is bloodthirsty in battle, your espeon is selfish, your scizor wants everything to burn, and your absol has feelings of revenge and hatred bottled up inside her…" He leaned back in his booth and put his hands behind his head. "No, none of the pokemon present will do."

    Shayla cocked her own eyebrow. "Well? What about you?"

    Kaiyou seemed surprised by this question, but then his shock settled into the smirk he usually wore. "Me? I'm cynical and pessimistic."

    Tai scoffed. "Never would have guessed…"

    The Dark Legendary didn't seem to hear Tai's remark and kept talking. "I think I know of a pokemon… but I doubt we could find a trainer before Anubo lays waste to this pitiful planet…" He looked out the window and then smiled. "Ah, she's here."

    0o0oo0o0o0o0o0o00

    We walked out of the diner and saw Yasille in her human form, staring out to the ocean in Sootopolis. I guess she heard us coming because she turned and looked us over. She was so beautiful in the sunlight -her golden hair seemed to shine and glow on its own in the day. She saw Kaiyou and her face broke out into a wide smile. "Brother…"

    I looked back to Kaiyou, who had the most wonderful smile on his face. He stepped forward and held his arms out to his sister. "Little brat," he said softly.

    Yasille squeaked in delight, and then ran at full speed to tackle her brother. She plowed into him and then wrapped her arms securely around the Dark Legendary's neck. She then began to mutter delightfully into his shoulder. I heard him chuckle and then he pulled her off and then ruffled her golden hair.

    "How are you, sister?" he asked a little anxiously. She looked up at him and then smiled.

    "Ame na horo!" she shouted. "I missed you for so long! How are you…" I looked at her face, which was full of confusion. Kaiyou looked down and then cocked his head.

    "What?" he asked, and then Yasille's face became pale.

    "You… Why do you smell like an ultra ball?" She looked up at her brother. "Kaiyou, have you been…"

    He smiled and waved the matter off with his hand. "It's all right, Yasille. Don't worry about it. We have much larger threats to deal with."

    At first, Yasille seemed confused for a moment, but then her beautiful face broke out into another smile. "Oh, I'm so happy… I was mortified when they killed you… But now, after so long, you're here and… and…" She let her head fall back to her brother's wide shoulder and began sobbing happily into his shirt. Behind me, I heard Tai say softly, "Aww… It's… It's so heartwarming…" I looked and saw him sniffling. Saji stared down at him like the idiot Tai was. "I think going to cry…"

    Saji hit the jolteon on the head. "Pull yourself together, man…"

    I chuckled lightly and then, I felt a wave, much like a storm gives off before it hits. However, this was no storm. I shuddered at the feeling it gave off. It was a cold, harsh, foreboding feeling. I looked to the sky and saw a figure slip over the sun through the hole in the mountain. Apparently, Kaiyou and Yasille felt it as well, because they sprang to their feet and looked to the sky in fear.

    "We have to get out!" Kaiyou shouted. "We'll be trapped here! He's got the only route out blocked!"

    "What?" Shayla cried. "You mean Anubo's-"

    Shayla didn't finish her sentence because right then, a shadow ball collided with the ground near our feet and exploded. I was thrown off my feet and into the interior of the mountain. I felt dizzy at first, but then I staggered back to my feet to see Anubo's grinning face through the hole in the mountain.

    "Ah, Kaiyou!" he roared. "You did survive! Amazing. Simply amazing. You know, you remind me of a cockroach- you never seem to just die."

    he roared.
    I looked to my left to see Kaiyou, still in human form, standing defiantly before Anubo, a furious expression sketched on his face.

    "Damn you, Anubo!" he shouted over the screams of the citizens. "I'll never rest until I rid Kuvai of you! Parasite! Leech! DEMON! LEAVE HIM!"

    Kaiyou's form morphed into his true form, and then he lunged at the giant Anubo. The shadow demon growled and then sent a shadow ball at the advancing Dark Legendary. The two connected, and then Kaiyou was thrown back to the ground, but he landed easily on his feet.

    Anubo snarled. "What I do with Kuvai is my own business, not yours, dog! Now, let's see if you will die properly!" And then, in his massive black paws, he formed another huge ball of raw energy, and then flung it down upon us.

  4. #19
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 19

    Prophecy Fulfilled

    I watched with some fascinated horror as the ball of power grew, and then was thrown down on us. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact, but none came. Slowly, I opened my eyes to see Yasille standing in front of her brother, glowing brightly. It seemed that she had dispelled his attack somehow.

    Anubo, you fiend!- she roared in anger, -Let Kuvai's mind be his own! Lest you want my power to purify your disgusting black heart!-

    Anubo's laugh resounded in ear and mind. "You are as stupid as your brother. You've tried to defeat me once, what makes this time any different? You may be the pure-hearted pokemon, she-wolf, but where is the trainer? Besides, I'll kill you all before you get the chance to even search for a trainer!" Then, he lunged down through the hole and collided into the ocean, creating a tidal wave that engulfed half the city.

    Water came at us in a huge wall of blue, and before I could think, water had swallowed me as well. I felt myself being tossed and turned by the current, and by the time I regained my wits, I had no idea which way air was. I knew I couldn't open my eyes in sea-water, so I didn't attempt it. My brain began to panic. My lungs began to burn. My throat suddenly felt pushed on, like someone was trying to choke me. My heart pounded in my chest. I needed air!

    All right, Ayako, I told myself. Calm down. Remember what Mom told you when you were little… I then saw my mother in my head looking at me. It was the very first time I had swam in the lake near our burrow, and she was telling me what to do. "…and if you don't know which way is up, then let yourself float. Once you can feel which way the water is carrying you, swim in that direction. The water will never fail you… Ayako, are you listening to me?"

    I smiled inside. I let my body go limp, and then I let the water slosh me around. Then, I began to feel the pressure lighten and I swam frantically in the direction buoyancy was pulling me, and finally, I found air.

    I took a huge gulp of air and looked about me. Anubo was now inside the mountain, and Kaiyou was using thunders against the great shadow. Yasille was standing on a building, shooting out bright beams of light at Anubo. I looked for the others and found them scattered, the closest of which were Tai and Saji. Some part of me sighed in relief, and I paddled over to them to their spot on a ceiling of a flooded building.

    "Are you guys okay?" I asked breathlessly. Tai turned to me, his wet fur flinging water everywhere, and smiled.

    "Yeah, we were the ones worried about you," he replied in what seemed like relief. "When we saw you just floating up to the top like that… We were really scared." I saw Saji in the corner of my eye shake his head and point to Tai, mouthing the words "it was him". I began to snicker, and Tai, out of confusion turned his head to the scizor, who was caught in the act of mouthing. Tai was about to say something to the scizor when Kaiyou was flung into the wall behind us.

    The pain knocked the wind out of me and I crumpled to the tiled ceiling top. I looked behind me for Kaiyou's black form, but when I saw nothing, I began to worry. Then, I felt a poke in my shoulder. Saji pointed to the top of the mountain and then said, "That Kaiyou guy is acting like he's possessed…"

    I looked at Anubo's face and saw Kaiyou running about it, (I supposed he used the Void to get there…) slashing and biting at whatever flesh he came in contact with. Yasille kept firing the beams of light into Anubo's head, missing Kaiyou by mere inches from my point of view. Then, it seemed Anubo had enough.

    "Damn dogs!" he shouted in rage. "I WILL DESTROY YOU!" At that moment, his colossal, clawed black paw raked across the wall of the mountain, causing rocks to fall down upon us. I looked up in horror and then dove into the water to try and escape the falling boulders.

    I stayed near the side of the building to try and avoid the slabs of granite stone plummeting towards me. I only hoped Tai and Saji could have gotten away from them too. Once I thought the rocks stopped falling, I resurfaced and then faced a horrible spectacle.

    Tai and Saji hadn't been as lucky as I had when the rocks came down. Both were half-buried beneath stone and cement, and I knew Icould only carry one to where Shayla and Illauna were staying. Only one could be helped. It was then that Eclipse's enigmatic words made sense.

    "I must tell you…" he began softly, "…that if you continue on this path, it will lead you to more pain than ever."

    Since he was to my left side, I turned to face him, completely astounded and appalled of what I had just heard. "What?" I asked of him, and he turned to open a different portal.

    "The path that you are on now," he repeated, as if that would clarify everything. "There are two fates of which I cannot see… It is too clouded. Too uncertain. There are too many variables that could change… but one thing I am certain. There is one line that ends abruptly. One life that will cease to exist -and it will be someone close to you." He stared at me. "I believe you already know this, don't you?"

    I took in a shuddering breath. The choice was before me. The scizor or the jolteon?

    My eyes darted to each frantically. I couldn't just pick one… but if I didn't act fast, they would both die from being smothered. I felt my heart quicken in panic, and my feet hopped in indecision. I had to act fast, but how could I choose? How could I choose for one of them to live and the other not?

    Saji's strained voice brought me out of my frantic reverie. "Demi," he said in a harsh whisper, "Just get these rocks off of us. Use your ice beam to freeze, then cut them with slash…"

    I nodded hurriedly, and then did as he had told me. They were now free, and I loaded the now unconscious and battered Tai onto mylong back. I reached with my teeth and grasped Saji's arm, but he took it back from me.

    "No," he said, "I'm fine. You get Tai to Shayla. I'll be all right." He then got to his claws and knees, and staggered to his feet. I looked at him worriedly. Bright blood was slowly leaking out of puncture holes in his steel body.

    "Are you sure?" I asked.

    He nodded and pointed to the other side of the mountain, where Shayla was. "Now go -Tai can't last forever like this." I nodded. I didn't have to take a look at the jolteon to know how badly injured he was. I could smell the blood. With one last nod of our heads, we parted ways. As soon as I went into the Void, Anubo had completely demolished the building Saji, Tai and I had been standing on. I looked back through the veil of black to see if Saji survived, but I didn't see him. There was nothing there. Oh lord, I thought, Did he just... However, Tai's weak moans brought me out of my reverie and I ran.

    I ran through the Void like my life was on the line. Through the black veil of the Void, I saw what was happening. Kaiyou looked pretty bad, but he was still tearing away at Anubo. Raikou, Articuno, Segalla, Gruzog, Moltres and Entei were out as well, fighting with all their might. Yasille was still pelting Anubo with multiple beams of bright light, which actually seemed to be doing some damage. I finally saw Shayla's outline and jumped out. She was startled to see me, but then she saw Tai's crumpled form and took his gently into her arms.

    "My God…" she said in a horrified, quaking voice. "It's all right, Tai, I've got you." She pulled out a max potion to keep Tai from dying and sprayed it on him. He flinched, but then relaxed in her hold. She looked at me and asked, "Are you hurt, girl?"

    I shook my head and she stood up. I looked about me and saw Amburna and Shoko nearby, not looking too hot themselves. Illauna was clutching her side, one of Shayla's jackets against a wound. I looked back up at Anubo, who had just knocked Kaiyou into the water with a wide sweep of his huge arm. I felt the dull pain and then watched in horror as the Dark Legendary struggled to crawl to the top of a flooded building. For a while, he laid there, motionless.

    Yasille was enraged. Her beams became bigger, stronger, brighter. Anubo merely snarled down at her and hit her with his massive paw, effectively shutting her up for the moment. He took a look around and then began to laugh.

    "How wonderful!" he proclaimed. "The two greatest threats of mine are now down and out. This shall be my greatest victory." He turned to Yasille, who was struggling to get up. Two of her legs seemed to be broken.

    "Ah, Yasille," Anubo said condescendingly. "How far you have fallen. I guess ever since the original murder of your brother, you have partially gone insane. You used to have such tremendous power, that of which I actually used to fear. But now look at you. Weak, trembling, barely holding on to your life. Your powers of the Light Element do you no good in this battle." He then took a long, deep breath, as if relieved. "You know, Buganti was so set on being your mate, it was disgusting. And now, I can finally crush him with your death." He held up his gargantuan, clawed paw and then smiled. "Good bye, Child of Light!"

    I watched in horror as he brought down his paw with a force that I was sure nothing could survive. However, at the last possible moment, the attack was diverted into the mountain wall. I blinked in utter confusion. Why, after that dramatic monologue, would he do such a thing? I looked to his face, which was angry and contorted. He began to roar and growl and scream in an unknown, ancient language I didn't understand. His eyes flashed red, then white, then black. All of us slowly backed away, unsure of what else to do.

    Then, I saw a small thing begin to protrude from Anubo's forehead. I heard Shoko's soft voice whisper, "Eww… he's growing a pimple…"

    Amburna whacked him on the back with her tail. "Even if he was, it wouldn't cause him this much pain…"

    I was about to retort myself when the growing thing popped off, and then fell into the water. Anubo seemed distraught for a moment, but my attention was diverted when Kaiyou dived into the water after the thing.

    A little moment later, Kaiyou resurfaced with what looked like a human adult halfway in his mouth. Shayla took the man gently, and then laid him out on the slightly wet roof. He was pale, and had a slightly gaunt face. He had matted, messy black hair that went down a little past his shoulders, and looked about as old as Kaiyou did in human form. His clothes -a T-shirt, jacket, and jeans- were all black. I had never seen him before, and yet, I knew this man. I knew him from the three, distinct horizontal black marks on both of his cheeks. Red eyes flashed in my mind. "Kuvai…?" I whispered.

    I heard Kaiyou panting heavily beside me. (That's right, girl. That's him, not possessed by Anubo. Like this, he's actually agreeable... at times.)

    I turned to him. "I thought Kuvai was a ghost." I reached and poked said person with my paw, feeling warm mass as I did. "This guy certainly isn't. He has a pulse. He has body heat. The only thing he's missing is a scent… And he's human."

    Kaiyou shrugged with his beaten wolf shoulders. (I don't really know how he does it. Don't know, don't particularly care. He's a shadow -he can do what he wants.)

    I cocked my eyebrow. "Even solidify and defy the laws of nature and physics?"

    Kaiyou gave me a glare. (Who told you about those?)

    "Pardon to interrupt," I heard, "But I'm not done with your pathetic little band. In fact, I'm going to kill you all right here and now! Actually, I may even possess some of you for some amusement…" I turned and saw Anubo rising from the rubble of some other demolished building. His glare turned into a smile that sent shivers down my spine. At first, I thought he was looking at me, but then I realized he was staring at Kaiyou. "Yes, you will do nicely. I remember the first time I experienced your power. You have had to have gotten stronger since then…"

    Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Yasille struggle to her feet. -You will keep your disgusting mind away from all of us!- she shouted defiantly in our heads. She then leapt from her rooftop to ours and took a protective stance in front of Kuvai and Kaiyou, even though she was badly wounded herself. This act of dignity seemed hilarious to Anubo.

    "You ARE delusional!" he cried. "Do you really think, with me as your opponent, that you have the slightest possibility of winning this fight? Have you even seen your wounds? Or your brother's, for that matter?"

    She snarled, but didn't say anything. I gulped. I wanted to do something, but I knew that if I tried to interfere, then I would end up like Tai… or Saji. I looked up helplessly at Anubo, and then a sense of dread filled me. Was this how I was to die?

    I then felt a cold hand on my rump and turned to see Kuvai looking at me with a piercing stare. It was rather unnerving… I didn't know what he was. He had no scent, other than a lingering stench of death. He was like a big thing of nothing, and he was staring at me with drilling, red eyes. I stared back, and then, to my relief, he looked at Yasille in front of him.

    "Yasille," he said softly, "Create a shield around us. I think I know how to get us out of this mess…"

    Anubo laughed and said something about our efforts being futile, but I didn't listen. It was really getting old fast, and I was more interested in what Kuvai wanted. He got up and then took a look around him. His eyes paused on Illauna, who I could tell wasn't doing so hot. Her pokemon now surrounded her in a protective circle. He then looked at Kaiyou and asked, "Who's she?"

    Kaiyou shrugged. (Local trainer. Trains Legendaries, as you can see. She doesn't keep them forever, just releases them back into the wild.)

    Kuvai blinked and then chuckled. "And she was here the whole time…"

    I saw Kaiyou's mind turning this sentence over. (What do you mean? You're speaking in riddles again.)

    Kuvai shook his damp head and chuckled softly at the Dark Legendary's expense. "Kaiyou, how can you be so blind? That's the trainer we need, right over there."

    Kaiyou blinked, then looked to Illauna. (Her?) he asked in a slightly shocked tone. (Really? Huh. Well, what do you know. Makes me feel a little sheepish.)

    Shayla was more than a little mad. "WHAT! You're telling me that all of this-" she made a sweep with her arm to the decimated city before us, "could have been prevented! You're kidding! You have GOT to be kidding!"

    Kaiyou glared at her. (Don't get your panties in a twist. We couldn't have known. Besides, it's better now than later. Sister!)

    Yasille, who had been defending us against Anubo's attacks for the past few minutes, looked over her shoulder. I could tell she was strained. -What is it?-

    Kaiyou gently picked Illauna up in his jaws and then threw the trainer at his sister. (Catch!) he yelled.

    Illauna landed on Yasille's cream-colored back with a thud. She, Yasille, turned to the trainer on her back, and then, began to glow. I stepped back a couple of feet from the growing light the two were emitting. I began to pant. I found my legs shaking from stress. For some reason, this light hurt me.

    Kaiyou brushed against me and stood between me and the light. This helped a little. (I know, girl,) he said reassuringly. (Just plow through it. It'll be over in a minute.)

    What's happening? Why does it hurt me?- I asked of him silently. I closed my eyes against the light -it was beginning to blind me.(It hurts you and I because we are Darklings. My sister is the last of the Light Element. Her power harms us, ours harms her. Light can overpower Dark, and Dark can overpower Light. They are interchangeable. Because of this, we Darklings cannot survive in the Space, the opposite of the Void. Instead of the center of shadow, it is the center of light. Do you understand?)

    Which was why she couldn't handle the Void…I thought to myself. I relaxed myself and then strained to hear anything that was going on -since I couldn't see it.

    Anubo was afraid -I could tell that much from his scent. Fear, anxiety, distress… he smelled like a cornered rattata. "NO! Impossible! You- you can't!"

    I then heard this high-pitched shriek -from whom, I don't really know. It sounded like a harpy should sound. Then, a crack, a slice, and then an explosion echoed throughout the mountain. I felt a strong wind rush past me, nearly blowing me off my feet. When I almost toppled over, Kaiyou's foreleg braced me. (You can open your eyes now, Ayako.) he said quietly.

    I opened them, and then saw this mass of shadow and darkness swirling in the ocean. It reeked of corpse. Yasille and the now healed Illauna stood triumphantly on a flooded building rooftop, overlooking their felled prey. In the background of my mind, I heard a chant, too inaudible to understand, but loud enough to where I couldn't ignore it. I looked up at the Dark Legendary to see his face void of emotion. When I cleared my throat, he shook his head, as if breaking out of a trance, and then beamed down at me. The chant disappeared.

    (Well girl, how do you feel?) he asked jovially. (You just witnessed the death of the biggest pain in the ass I have ever known. More of one than myself.)

    Behind Kaiyou, I saw Kuvai turn toward us and scoff. "No one's more of a pain than you, Kaiyou, no matter how much you wish for it."

    He laughed, relieved and weary at the same time, and began to transform into his human form. (Now now, Kuvai, no need to get mean. Besides, I was the one who saved your ass when you fell into the water half-dead, and what thanks do I get? News that I am a pain in the ass." He shook his now human head. "Your gratitude just overwhelms me."

    Yasille and Illauna had now joined in the group, and we began to laugh. I don't really know why, but we all just started laughing. Whether it was because Illauna had been the trainer we needed all along and our stupidity obliviated us, or Kaiyou and Kuvai were now hitting each other with wit and banter (to which Kuvai was horribly losing), or the fact that Shoko was cowering in a corner because he had seen something that looked like a corpse (but was actually a mangled teddy bear) I don't know. Particularly, I didn't really care. But the moment of mirth and laughter got my mind off of the red eyes, blinding light, and Saji's mangled corpse for just a little bit.

    ….

    Illauna, Kaiyou, Yasille and Kuvai had left for Mount Silver in Johto by the time we found Saji. Amburna had found him, crushed beneath the building that had collapsed after I had jumped into the Void. When she told us, she said that she didn't want to bring him up. There were too many pieces to retrieve.

    Even though I hadn't known him very long, I was sad. He seemed courageous, somewhat noble… not that bad of a guy. I hated when the world was rid of one person like that -a decent creature. He didn't deserve to die. Not in the least. But he did. And that kind of injustice boils my blood.

    Yet, beside the truly grieving, I couldn't be angry. I just couldn't. When I thought I could spit out a few passionate words, I would see one of my team members, staring at the blue water to where they think Saji could be, crying silently. Shayla didn't lift her head for at least an hour. Tai lay as close as he could and stared at his paws. Shoko let out little mutters in the fire lizard language, probably in some type of prayer to Entei, Moltres or Ho-Oh. Amburna got pretty flowers and the went underwater to put them beside the passed scizor.

    I didn't really know what to do. I never have functioned well in the midst of the mourning, and I usually left until things cleared up a bit. But this time, it seemed I would grieve along with them.

    When the sun had gone down and everything was quiet, Shayla stood up shakily, and said in a quivering voice, "We can't sit here forever. I'll miss Saji. I truly will. But we're going to have to move on one way or another. Let's get out of here. We need a place to sleep. We've had a hard day. Saji'll understand."

    We all nodded. Shayla, with a quivering intake of breath, climbed on Shoko's sagging shoulders and called us back into our pokeballs.


  5. #20
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 20

    Moving On

    After we had all recouped from the battle with Anubo, and Saji's death, we made our way to Dewford, the last surviving city after Anubo's rampage. There, many gym leaders opened up makeshift gyms for themselves so they could carry on with business. Shayla also told us that it was the last place with a working pokemon center, so it would have to make do.

    Unfortunately, more than half of the trainer population thought the same way Shayla did, and when we got to the tiny little island, there wasn't much room anywhere to rest. Nurse Joy did her part, but she couldn't give us any space in the center. We would have to fend for ourselves.

    While in the pokemon center, however, Shayla did get Kazu (she didn't want to replace Saji quite yet) back into the team, bumping our number up to five, to which I was eternally grateful for. I didn't know how much I missed him until I saw his smiling purple face again. Of course, that same smiling face turned melancholy when we told him about Saji. The cynical part of my brain sighed and muttered, Great. One more sad face to ruin my mood.

    In any case, Shayla said she was tired and we needed to find a camping spot so we could go against Wallace, the last gym leader on the list before the Hoenn League. I was surprised she wanted to go after that man so quickly after having one of her pokemon die, but I figured it was a way to take her mind off of Saji. After all, in all the battles I've seen her in, she always went into this other zone. So I dismissed it as a part of her grieving process and followed her to a cave, where she pulled out a blue nylon tent and began to set it up.

    "All right everyone," she said in a determined tone, "We're going to be sleeping here for a while, at least until we defeat Wallace and stock up supplies, which will probably take a while since everyone before us has already cleaned the poke mart to its foundations. The pokemon here aren't that difficult to deal with, but just in case, be on your guard. I don't have very many potions, so please don't do anything stupid." With this, she looked pointedly at Tai. "Now, it's getting kinda late, so I'll go ahead and start supper up. You all can go exploring, just don't start any battles, all right?" She looked at me with a steely glare, to which I smiled meekly back at, and then began to retreat into the cave.

    Kazu and Tai joined me, leaving the dragons with Shayla. The charizard always helped out with supper, whether Shayla wanted him to or not. Kazu told me he had helped her with meals since he was a little charmander, and he intended to keep the tradition going.

    The cave itself wasn't all that bad -I could see well enough in it. The few sableye and geodude that graced us with their presence scattered away before we could even get within firing range. Tai took this as cowardice and began to yell at the startled pokemon, making them retreat even further into the darkness.

    We found another camp at a corner of the cave. The tent was a ragged, green thing, with holes littered about the skin. There was a small fire within, giving it a homey, comforting look. We ventured near and saw that the trainer had to be experienced. The trainer himself was about 19 with missheveled, tawny brown hair that was short-cropped and soft-looking. He had striking features -high cheek bones, tanned face, and built muscles in the arm and torso. He lay asleep on his duffel bag with a houndoom, sandslash, milotic, ampharos, arbok and flygon encircling him protectively. The six highly trained pokemon looked at us warily as we approached, but Kazu managed to lower their guards.

    "It's all right, friends," Kazu spoke cheerfully. "We don't mean any harm to you or your trainer. We're just kind of bored and are exploring. How long have you been here, in this cave? Where do you hail from?"

    The houndoom laughed, a raucous, guttural sound. "Well, aren't we the curious one? You MUST be bored to be pelting us with all of these questions. Well, to satisfy your curiosity, we've been living here for about a week, since we first heard of that huge, evil pokemon rampaging around Hoenn. Our trainer, Isaac, didn't want any of us to get hurt, so we came here. He hoped that the remoteness of this island would keep the monster away. We hail, originally, from many different places. I myself am from the Orre region. Our trainer is from Blackthorn City."

    Kazu nodded. "Well, the monster's dead now. I guess you can leave. We're here to restock, since this is the last place standing."

    The sandslash's eyes widened. "You're kidding! You mean the monster wiped out all of Hoenn except for this little town? What about the League?"

    Kazu shrugged. "As far as major cities go, yes, this is the last one. I don't really know about the League."

    Tai smirked. "So I take it you guys are planning to go to the League?"

    The flygon smiled. "Hell yeah! We're gonna go and win the thing! Isaac keeps on telling us about it -his big brother went before him and told him what it was like. The brilliant lights, the crowd cheering for you the entire time, oh, I can't wait to go!" He was grinning and clenching his little clawed hands into fists. I smiled myself. This flygon really loved to battle. I could probably get along with him rather easily.

    However, the arbok shook her head. "It's going to take us a while, though. With the Hoenn region being in the state like you said, it isn't going to be easy to travel anymore. It's just better to stay here and wait until things calm down a bit before moving on to the League. It doesn't start up for a few months anyhow."

    The flygon frowned at her. "But that's so droll!"

    Kazu laughed. "Well, we're all waiting for the League to start up. So how long have you been together, as a team?"

    We talked for a long time, with that team. They were really nice. And even when their trainer, Isaac, woke up, he offered us food from their table. We thanked them but refused -much to Tai's dismay. We then left them, going back to our own camp to eat.

    ….

    Night was a long time for me. I couldn't sleep again. Probably due to the fact that I don't do well in caves. I got up from my pallet and went to the mouth of the cave to stargaze. I sighed for some unknown reason and wondered if my family was still okay. If Kaiyou and the others were doing all right. If Saji was happy being free among the stars I was looking at. If my former trainer had died of his wounds Kaiyou had given him like he should. The thought made me smile sadistically. Then, I heard a noise behind me.

    I looked to see the houndoom from earlier, walking up to me. I cocked my eyebrow and asked, "May I ask you why you're out here?"

    He smiled as he sat next to me. "Same reason as you, probably."

    I returned the smile. "Couldn't sleep?"

    He turned his amiable gaze to the stars. "Like an insomniac."

    I laughed softly, enjoying his company. He wasn't that bad of a guy, to put it bluntly. I wasn't surprised by the fact that he couldn't sleep, though. Houndoom tend to be light sleepers and a cave full of interesting, curious pokemon isn't a good mix with said fire dog.

    "Did you lose someone to that monster?" he asked softly, then turned to me with a solemn expression on his face. "Not to be rude or anything, but…"

    I nodded solemnly. "We did. A scizor. I didn't know him very well since I'm… kind of new to the team, but…" I saw my vision get blurry. "…but he was still a good friend." I turned away from him and tried to get the image of Saji's corpse out of my mind and asked, "Why do you ask? How did you know?"

    Out of the corner of my eye, the houndoom's expression turned to sympathetic. "Your expression. My whole team's wearing it. We lost one too. That's actually why Isaac moved us here. He's not the smartest human, so he didn't think that we could get hurt. But when it went through Fortree, it killed Fenris, the manetric that was with us. I didn't want to say it because the wound's still fresh." I looked at him and saw his own eyes begin to shine with moisture. "He was a good friend of mine. We knew each other since we were pups."

    I laughed bitterly. "I often wonder why I let myself get captured. Why did I let that damn ultra ball hit me at that moment? Why didn't I just get out of the way? Was it because I was weak? Because I had no will?" I shook my head. "I really wish… sometimes… that I hadn't let myself be captured… otherwise, I wouldn't have to go through this. Life has really gone downhill since I was captured."

    The houndoom laughed in agreement. "But it makes us stronger."

    I half-glared at him. "So says the average trainer."

    He laughed again. "So says the average dumb-ass."

    We talked for a long time. I found that his name was Loki, after a pagan god some humans worshipped. He had been owned twice before, once abandoned as a pup since his original trainer found she didn't want him anymore, and the second trainer had tied anchors to his horns and left him in the sea to drown after the houndoom disobeyed an order. Isaac had found him on the beach and Loki stuck with him ever since.

    It was nice to talk to another darkling, since I was now deprived of Kaiyou's presence. But he didn't really count since I felt I couldn't talk freely with him. Even with his casualness around us, he was still a Legendary. There are rules of conduct with Legendaries that must be obeyed, no matter how friendly and easygoing they may be.

    We kept talking until the stars began to disappear with the approach of dawn. However, when he asked me my name, and I told it to him, he stared at me strangely and the conversation paused for a moment.

    "What?" I asked. The sudden change in his expression startled me.

    "Ayako…" he said slowly. "You said that was your name?"

    I nodded slowly. I really wasn't liking the way that this conversation was going. "Yes… Why do you ask?" I asked softly.

    "I recall battling a pokemon -a mightyena to be precise- saying something about an absol named Ayako. Isaac wanted to capture him, but he was really stubborn. He said that he wanted to find you. Do you know a mightyena?"

    I was a little scared now. Why did Hicha want to find me? And why was he a wild pokemon now? "Why?" I asked, not really sure I wanted to know the answer.

    He shrugged. "He said we wanted to find you and make you his mate, I guess. I don't really know. He was a little vague on the details. But what I do know is that he wants you to be his mate and 'take you back to where you belong'." He looked at me. "Is that… a bad thing?"

    I was startled and a little mortified. Why was Hicha so obsessed with me? Why me? Why wouldn't he leave me alone? At my silence, Loki poked me in my side. "Are you all right?" he asked.

    I nodded absently and he sat back on his haunches. "Yeah, yes, I'm fine," I replied distractedly. My mind was frantically going in circles. Hicha never talked about him wanting me to be his mate! WHAT THE HELL?

    Loki turned and looked over my head to the innards of the cave, where Isaac was calling for him. He stood up and then gave me a little nudge with his snout on my cheek, a friendly gesture for four-legged pokemon. "Nice talking to you, Ayako. Don't let sadness get the best of you -you're too strong of a girl to let things like that get you down. Maybe we'll see each other in the League."

    I nodded again and then let my distressed mind resume in its raging reverie. Last I saw him, Hicha wanted me dead. How could he have such a change of heart? Did that ninetails, Koka, do too good of a job?

    I felt a small paw in my back and turned to see Kazu's smiling face behind me. "Breakfast's ready. I assume you didn't sleep?"

    I shook my head slowly and let out a yawn that I didn't know was there. "No… but I did get to talk with the houndoom we met yesterday. He was nice." Hicha was forced out of my head as I talked to Kazu.

    Said espeon chuckled. "That's good. Tai was beginning to worry about you. He said something about 'Xena getting kidnapped' or stuff to that extent. But nevermind that, you must be hungry. Let's go and eat -Shayla's letting us have some of her syrup."

    I followed the espeon to the tent, where inside, Shayla was desperately trying to keep Tai from eating everyone else's share of syrup. She then put him in his poke ball, to which we were all relieved. The syrup tasted wonderful on my food, mixed in with the berries and spices she always gave me with my meal.

    After we had finished and Tai was let back out of his ball, Shayla said we were going to fight Wallace, and we needed to be at full strength. It was here that I started to feel my sleepless night when we started to make our way to him.

    Wallace's makeshift gym was actually located on a little spit of land half a mile out to sea, so we got to swim there. When we reached his little island, I saw a little shelter behind a rock that probably served as his home. He himself was sitting on a lawn chair under an umbrella with sunglasses and a fishing hat on. When he noticed us climbing out of the water, he began to laugh. "I assume that you want to battle?" he asked of Shayla, who didn't look too intimidating with her clothes and hair sopping wet.

    She stood to her full height, all of which is about 5'6", and then put up her fists as if she herself were going into battle. "You bet, mister, so get all that crap out of the way and battle us!"

    He smiled and then took the sunglasses off, which revealed striking blue eyes. "Very well," he replied in a low, intimidating voice. "I hope you know what you're getting into."

    Shayla's own brown eyes sparked with battle lust. "I wish the same for you."

    He smiled and then sent out his first pokemon, which happened to be a luvdisc. Shayla called Tai out and he went happily, saying he couldn't wait to fry it and serve it with chips. The heart-shaped fish didn't know what hit it when Tai's thunderbolt came down.

    Wallace frowned. I guessed he hadn't counted on his first pokemon being felled in one hit. He brought out another ball from his waist and threw it into the air. In mid-arch, it exploded and revealed a whiscash. Tai backed away slowly. If he wasn't careful, he could be in serious trouble. Shayla called him back and sent Amburna in, telling the dragonair to use ice beam.

    The whiscash survived. Amburna, now at a loss, fell victim to the thing's earthquake. Fortunately, she survived it and then used a surf attack against the ground/water type. It wasn't so lucky, and then fainted at the dragonair's hands.

    Wallace was getting a little nervous now. I figured the other three pokemon he possessed would all become victims to Tai, but he didn't give up. I had to hand it to the human, not giving up in the face of hopeless odds. (One of the few redeeming qualities of the human race.) The next pokemon he sent out was a sealeo. Amburna gasped and then floated back a bit. Ice and dragons don't mix.

    "Amburna, come back!" Shayla cried. She looked down at the jolteon beside her and said, "All right Tai, it's your turn again."

    Tai gave a little "Woo!" and jumped back into the battle. Unfortunately, the sealeo used "sheer cold" and wiped Tai out in one move. The poor jolteon dropped to the ground with a sick thud after the ice blast hit him. Shayla was furious.

    "Oh, you want to play that way, huh?" she asked with gritted teeth as she picked the downed jolteon off of the arena ground. "Fine. Let's. Demi, get in there!"

    I snarled and then jumped into the ring, staring at the sealeo with angry eyes. I wasn't about to let this giant tub of lard get past me. "Demi!" I heard behind me, "Use thunderbolt! Faint the bastard!"

    Gladly, I ran to the seal and dug my claws into the rubbery flesh, electrocuting it as I did so. The sealeo howled in pain, and then fell limp under my paws. I gracefully jumped off and back to my spot in the arena.

    My next opponent was seaking. Not too difficult. One thunderbolt knocked it out. It was then that I saw defeat brew in Wallace's eyes. He knew he was done. But then, as I saw him stare at his last pokemon hidden in the depths of the poke ball, a glint of hope glimmered in those sky blue eyes of his. He looked to Shayla, then me, and then sent out the anchor to his team.

    It was a milotic. And even though it was a guy, he was beautiful. He looked down at me with those beautiful crimson eyes and then swished his red and blue scaled tail about him. Shayla's voice snapped me out of my thoughts and I shot a thunderbolt at him.

    He howled in pain, but then he came back and, at Wallace's command, used a water pulse attack. And then, at that moment, for some strange reason, the world went crazy.

    I was really dizzy and confused. I didn't know which way the milotic was. "Demi!" I heard from some direction, "Demi, snap out of it! He's to your right! Use thunderbolt on him!"

    I swerved my swimming head to the right, but I didn't see anything. All I saw were images of the world around me being jumbled up and going everywhere, as if I had spun around for a long time. I couldn't get a straight view of anything. Where was the milotic?

    I found out where he was when he rammed his body into mine with a body slam attack. I was thrown into a boulder -which bore my imprint- and fell to the sandy ground. I opened my eyes and saw the same dizzy, confusing world around me. I struggled to stand, but my balance was off. I fell to the sand again.

    The milotic scoffed. "Dear me, are you confused?" I frantically tried to pinpoint his location from the sound of his voice (since my vision wasn't really helping), but he kept moving. He was smarter than that to let his opponent have an opening. "Here, let me help you straighten up."

    "Milotic!" I heard Wallace's now confident voice cry. "body slam again!"

    The milotic hit me against the boulder again, squishing me against it. I figured that some bones had to have been broken right then, (or at least bruised) and when I tried to get up, my legs wouldn't obey me. I fell to the sand again. My mind clicked. I was paralyzed!

    I heard Wallace's laughter. "You really had me worried, absol. I thought my milotic would be done in by your electric attacks, which I admit I didn't really expect. But now, with you laid to waste like this, I don't have a doubt that I will win. Ta ta!" he sang. "Milotic, body slam!"

    Suddenly, the world cleared and I could make sense of everything again. With unwavering determination and pure frustration on my side, I rushed forth myself, charging with sparks flying around my running form. We clashed, and I sent the milotic flying into another boulder, where he fell and didn't get back up.

    Wallace was flabbergasted as the milotic returned to his poke ball. "You beat me…" he whispered as if he couldn't believe it. Then his shock turned into a smile and he went over to Shayla and held his hand out for her to shake. "What a wonderful battle. I will remember it for many years to come. Now, what you've been waiting for…" He opened the blue vest he was wearing and pulled out a metal pin in the shape of a triangle with a little triangle cut out of it. "Take it," he said proudly. "It's yours."

    Shayla took it from his hands and then danced around in the sand crying, "We did it!" and "That one's for you, Saji!" Eventually, we all joined in on her rejoicing and danced around on the sand with her, happy as can be.

    She looked down at us and then cried, "Next stop: Hoenn League!"

    I smiled and then cried for joy myself. I was looking forward to the Hoenn League, a wonderful competition I had heard so much about. I wanted to battle stronger pokemon and prove that they were all pushovers. I was happy we were going.

    So why was I filled with such dread?


  6. #21
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 21

    Victory Road

    I found that the road to the Hoenn League was long, arduous, and very boring.

    We had to travel by sea, first of all. And seeing as how the non-flyers didn't want to swim the whole way there, we were placed back into our poke balls until further notice. Every now and then, a dumb trainer who didn't know any better would challenge us and then we would have to pummel them, but other than that, there was no action or amusement to be had.

    We would stop on meal breaks, of course. And even then, we were all bored out of our minds. Even Tai couldn't find anything better to do than stare at the water and begin laughing whenever a ripple appeared. Although, I found amusement when I pushed Tai into the water, but that is beside the point.

    A few days after we had set out to sea, we reached a small pokemon center after scaling a waterfall. We rested there and then found that we were now at the entrance to something called "Victory Road", the final test of the trainers and their pokemon before they reach the Hoenn League. Tai told me that every League had one, and they were always really annoying. I soon found that he was absolutely right.

    ….

    It was very dark inside of Victory Road since it was a huge cave. We walked in and gazed in awe of the high ceiling and stalactites pointing down at us. Shayla turned to Shoko, who nodded and then made his tail flame burn even brighter so we could see better.

    The cave itself was rocky, with no clear-cut path we could somewhat follow. I saw footprints on the ground and smelled human scents, but none of them followed in the same way. Some went to the left, some went to the right, and some went straight. I frowned. The trainers before us must have been as lost as we were. I heard Shayla take a deep sigh as she turned to us. "All right, Kazu," she said softly. "Lead the way."

    I saw Kazu give a little nod and he stepped forward, looking about the cave. His eyes brightened with a light purplish hue, and he looked to the right. "That way," he said as his eyes dimmed to their natural color. "We go to the right."

    Shayla nodded and let Kazu take the lead of the group. I guessed his telekinetic powers allowed him to see the path we needed to get out of there.

    I don't really recall how long we walked around in that dark cave. Every so often, we would find a discarded item lying around, or a ladder. The ladders helped us along the way since they were some kind of marker for the nonexistent path. It was still rather dull, since the only pokemon we really saw were lairon and hariyama. Boring. Although, things did pick up when Tai fell into a hole.

    "Gah!" he cried as he disappeared from all of our sights. At first, I thought he had found another ladder hole, but this one was plain. I looked into the mouth of the hole and saw Tai's little yellow form, looking back up at me helplessly.

    "Get me out of here!" he called to us. Shayla turned to Kazu.

    "Kazu, get him out of there," she said quickly. "I have a bad feeling about this." The espeon nodded and then his eyes shone a brilliant purple color. I looked down and saw the same color surround Tai. Then, he was slowly lifted off the ground.

    Shoko scoffed. "Why didn't you just go AROUND the hole, Tai? Or maybe you were too busy thinking about food to notice it?"

    When Tai's feet reached the rocky ground, he snarled at the charizard. "It wasn't there before then! I just stepped on it and then the floor collapsed! It's not my fault!"

    "Quiet you two," Shayla spoke in an annoyed tone. "I don't want to hear it. Shoko, don't give Tai a hard time. Tai, be more careful and you won't get ridiculed. Understand?" The two quarreling pokemon glared at each other and then began to walk again.

    It wasn't long when another mystery hole snagged another one of our team. Kazu, who had been walking a few meters ahead of the team, found another hole when he was about to change direction. It looked like he caught himself halfway, but I didn't see since I fell into a hole with Amburna.

    I fell head-first into it, and it didn't feel all that great when the ground broke my fall. Amburna landed on top of me and then looked around. "Where are all of these holes coming from?" she asked no one in particular. I got to my feet and tried to estimate how far away we were from the mouth of the hole. I guessed about ten or fifteen feet. Amburna turned to me and said, "Get on my back. We'll get out of here."

    I nodded and clung onto her long, lithe dragon body as she began to levitate and make her way to the lip of the hole. Right when we were about to get out, a net came down over the mouth. "What the heck?" I said and then saw figures walking around above us, putting nets over what I guessed to be more holes. I heard Tai shouting, and then realized that the others were trapped in holes as well. Amburna and I looked at each other, worried over who was trying to capture us.

    "I love the fact that Victory Road had so many trainers with such wonderful pokemon," I heard a lofty feminine voice coo. "Look at this espeon. He's just gorgeous."

    "You bastards stay away from my pokemon!" I heard Shayla's angry voice shout. A man's rough, scratchy voice began to laugh at Shayla's threat.

    "Quiet, bitch," he growled. "You're not what we want. You're pokemon are ours now, so give it up."

    Shayla's voice growled and then cried, "Kazu, psychic! Shoko, slam! Everyone, get out of your holes! Kick these bastards' asses! Don't let them get you!"

    I smiled and then used ice beam on the net, and then Amburna used a slam against the frozen ropes. It broke easily at the power of her tail. There was a man standing above our hole, and when we broke out, he was caught off guard. I jumped off Amburna and rammed myself into him, knocking him down. I wasn't about to go without a fight.

    The woman's voice sounded again. "Get them, dammit! Don't just stand there, tranq them!"

    I whirled around at the sound of the woman's voice. I saw her -a tall, blonde-headed woman in her mid thirties. She was pretty on human standards. She wore a long, oriental dress with an eastern-style dragon making its way around her. She wore a similar necklace. She saw me and then aimed a gun at me. I saw her pull the trigger, which released a tranq. I followed my instinct and leapt to the right, making the tranq hit one of her own. She growled and followed my movements with her gun. "Stand still, you little bitch!" she cried in frustration. I ran around her in a zigzag path, making her gun almost useless. She cursed at kept firing at me, but kept missing.

    I didn't know what had happened to the others. All I could hear was my own feet pounding into the loose ground, her cursing, and heavy footsteps around me. I didn't hear Shayla shouting, or Tai's battle-talk. Had they been caught?

    I could now see more people firing at me as I raced past them. I was starting to get tired. How long had I been running? I then saw a way out of the cul-de-sac I was stuck in and ran all out towards it, not looking back. I heard Shayla's faint voice crying, "Get out, girl! Go! Get help!"

    I ran and ran with the men on my tail. I heard the little ticks of the tranqs as they hit the rock wall beside me, or where my foot had just been a second ago. I ran over boulders, down little man-made stairs, and past other trainers in the maze. Then, something caught my gaze. Daylight!

    I ran with even more determination towards it, when something pointy and sharp hit my left flank. I stumbled and fell, skidding about twenty feet afterwards. I looked and saw a little red feather sticking out of my leg. Oh shit, a tranq!

    I pulled it out with my teeth and kept running. I had noticed the men chasing me were having trouble getting over a boulder and I took the chance. If I got out into the public, there was a possibility that they would stop and I could get help. I ran out into the open, where thankfully, were people loitering around, and I dashed to the nearest trainer and pulled on his shirt to get attention.

    "Sol!" I cried. "Ab sol sol ab!" I pulled on his shirt as he looked down at me in confusion. "Sol!"

    "Crazy absol," he muttered and brushed me off. I looked up at him hopelessly, and then tried to get to another trainer before the bad men got out to me.

    I glanced frantically around to see if there were any amiable trainers that would help me. I saw a black-haired girl giving a massage to her crobat and tried to run to her, but my back legs simply collapsed. I felt tired. My mind was becoming fuzzy. No -the tranq's starting to come into effect!

    I half-dragged myself around the lot, trying to get to the girl with the crobat. Then, I heard a voice on the air.

    "Ayako?" I heard behind me. I turned to see Loki, staring at me in worry. "Ayako, is that you?"

    I nodded when my front legs became too weak to support my weight. I collapsed onto the concrete, which gave the houndoom a start. "Wha- what's wrong? Are you okay?"

    He was about to try and get me onto his back when the gruff voices of the men chasing me stopped him. "Hey! The absol!" I saw them out of the corner of my eye, and I began to growl.

    "Whatever you do," I said shakily, "don't let those guys get me. You hear me? They're not my trainers!"

    I saw Loki nod and he took a defensive stance in front of me, growling. I tried to stand, but I was too weak; too tired. My eyelids were so heavy. I was just so tired…

    So, as Loki fought for me, I let the tranquilizer take me and fell into unconsciousness.

  7. #22
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 22

    Rescue

    I opened my eyes to see Isaac's face, along with Nurse Joy's, staring down at me in worry. I saw that I was in a white room -probably the ER in a Pokemon Center- and that I was lying on my side on a white, futon-like bed. When I began to look around the room, Nurse Joy smiled.

    "She'll be all right, Isaac. It was probably a tranquilizer -she'll just feel woozy for a few minutes. After that, she'll be okay."

    Isaac looked to the nurse and smiled. "Thank you, Nurse Joy."

    The nurse left, and I sat up on my futon-bed. Isaac's hand stroked my white fur gently and said, "Man, girl, you had me worried. When those thugs tried to take you, I didn't really know what to do. You should thank Loki here for finding you when he did -otherwise, those weird goons would have you right now."

    I blinked my eyes and turned to my right, where said houndoom was sitting, smiling up at me. I shook my head in an attempt to clear my foggy head. Alas, it failed. "Where am I?" I asked. Loki took the pleasure in answering me.

    "You are in the Pokemon Center of the Hoenn League Headquarters -Evergrand City. Where's your trainer and the rest of your team? I didn't see them come out."

    My head cleared as my memory came back to me. Flashes of images and sounds rushed past me, like a whirlwind of thought. The woman with the guns in the Oriental dress, the holes, Victory Road… I gasped in realization. The team! my mind cried in terror. There's no telling where they are now! I began to get up, but my legs were still too weak to support my weight. I cursed as I fell back onto the white futon.

    Loki cocked his head. "What's wrong?" he asked.

    I tried to get back up again, but the attempt caused me to fall off the bed and onto the floor. I landed on my side and grunted against the dull pain. This was frustrating. "My team! They're still in there!" I cried. I felt a warm human hand on my shoulder.

    "Stay calm, girl," he said soothingly. "Just wait and your body will get better. Just be patient."

    I snarled in my growing frustration. I couldn't wait! My recovering body could kiss my furry proverbial ass -I needed to find the others! I staggered back to my feet and began to totter over to the door when a giant wave of power -Nature's power- flowed through me. Ignoring Loki and Isaac's cries for me to stop, I ran outside and flinched. The giant storm I had sensed in route 120 was finally here, and it was a whopper.

    The wind was overwhelming and completely deafening. I could barely stand against it. I saw hail beating around me, and the sky was a strange, deep, dark green. Isaac came beside me, and cursed.

    "The storm's too strong, girl!" he shouted over the wind. "It's dangerous out here! We need to get back inside!"

    However, I wasn't paying attention to his little complaints. The storm wasn't too strong. He was too weak. I was calculating how much energy I would have to use in getting back to the exit of Victory Road when he tried to pull me back inside. In spite of that, I didn't budge. I looked to the sky just in time to see lighting snake its way across the clouds. My mind set, I chose to set out then.

    I ran as fast as I could while trying to avoid the hail. It was huge -the size of a baseball. I heard Isaac's now tiny voice carry on the wind. "Wa… f…n… clou… D… wa… fun…l…" I shook it out. Whatever he was trying to say, he could tell me once I got back. I could see my target clearly, even through the raining hail. The entrance wasn't fifty yards from me. Then, another chill ran through me. I looked up to find the clouds begin to swirl threateningly above me.

    Then, Isaac's broken message was clear -funnel clouds. I cursed and ran even faster with the impending tornado at my heels. I was so close!

    I rushed into the cave exhausted and alone. I looked back outside and saw the pokemon center through the haze of the hail. But not Isaac. I sighed and trotted forward to try and find any trace of my team.

    …..

    Time passed without my realization. I made my way through the maze of caverns and rocks aimlessly -meandering without conviction. I had found no scents, heard no noises -nothing that pointed me in the direction of my team and trainer. I began to get worried. What if the gang of humans had abandoned Victory Road? What if they went somewhere else entirely?

    With this new thought in mind, I heaved a heavy sigh and plopped down onto the rocky terrain. I had gotten myself completely lost, and maybe now I wouldn't be able to find my way back. I turned behind me to try and decipher a trail, but it was useless. I was too tired and frustrated to keep looking.

    Then, a sound. A tiny pebble, dislodged from its larger mate from above me. I looked up to see a small hole, something I had never noticed before. I narrowed my gaze. What was up there?

    I stood on my hindquarters in order to get a better scent of the thing. It was human. I sniffed again and my heart nearly leapt in joy. That was Shayla's scent!

    Now that my hope had been restored, I tried to find a way up to newfound hole. However, to my dismay, I was surrounded by high walls without many footholds. I snarled at the situation. It seemed Fate was laughing at me, though I really didn't appreciate his sense of humor. I looked around the dark cave for any kind of stool or stepping stone, but the only one I found was three yards away from the hole. And I couldn't push that.

    I gritted my teeth and looked at the wall in front of me. I stood up on my hindlegs to try and grab some kind of foothold on the wall face, but I didn't find anything useful. I decided to try and propel myself with something and then grab onto the natural sidewalk when I got up to it. I braced myself and then aimed a full-powered thunderbolt at the ground.

    Instantly, I flew up and then, quickly passing the entrance, rammed into the ceiling. Numb pain rushed through me and I was hardly aware that I was falling -right until the ground broke my fall.

    "OOF!" After a moment, I couldn't seem to be able to move, or even notice my surroundings. It wasn't after a few seconds that after I regained a bit of my bearings, I heard laughter behind me.

    I turned to see a mostly white and peach blob behind me, since my vision wasn't back on yet. The blob began to come closer. "Oh, wow girl, that was pretty funny. Is this what you do in your spare time -find new ways to run yourself into walls?"

    As he spoke, I tried to recognize the voice. It sounded stupidly familiar. And his scent… I blinked repeatedly as that familiar, soothing, warm feeling washed over me as he approached. It couldn't be…

    Kaiyou crouched down on his legs and cocked his head at me. Now that my vision had cleared, I could see that he was poorly stifling a smile. His eyebrow cocked and he said, "What are you doing in this drab excuse for a challenge? I assumed you and Shayla and the others had already gotten out."

    I shook my head and cleared what little distance was between us happily. It felt so wonderful to be back with him again. I really didn't know why he was there in the beginning, but the fact that he was, was enough for me. I put my head into his chest and began purring, to which he laughed softly.

    "I see you missed me. But seriously, where are the others?"

    I sat upright and then looked to the small opening in the wall. "Up there," I answered. "We were ambushed by these morons when we first came, and I was the only one that got out of the cave. I… I'm pretty sure that the others are up there." I tossed my head in the direction of the entrance and turned back to my Lord. He seemed to think things over and then got up.

    "That does explain why you made yourself into a white cannon ball…" he began, and, had I human cheeks, I would have blushed. He leaned onto one leg and put his hand to his chin in thought. "You would have made it if you hadn't made it so powerful."

    "So…" I started tentatively, "should I try it again?"

    He shook his head. "Heavens, no. I'm surprised no one came out here looking because of the ruckus you made the first time." Again, I felt as if I would have blushed. "No, we need to try a different tactic." Then, as if he had been foolish all along, he turned to me, a question in his gold eyes. "Ayako, why didn't you use the Void?"

    My eyes widened as I tried to find some excuse -er- reason why I hadn't. When I stood there, mouth open, for about a minute, Kaiyou began to softly laugh and he crouched down again. "I thought not. You don't seem to comfortable using it."

    I was stunned, and I furrowed my brow as if offended. "Yes I am! I just… haven't been able to use it as long as you."

    Kaiyou's smirk grew into a knowing smile, complete with quirked eyebrow. "Really? Well then, you should have no problem jumping in there and looking for Shayla and the others through the veil of the Void." He stood and then crossed his arms, knowing smile still on, and waited.

    I felt a sinking feeling. How could I have been so stupid to not think of the stupid Void? I felt frustrated as I stepped into the shadow of the rock and entered the deep, endless Void. I sighed and then began to walk through the vast, comforting darkness while staring through the veil, that tiny glimmer of life I could see within the safety of the Void. Of course, I thought myself alone until Kaiyou brushed his leg against my side.

    I looked to him and said, "I… thought I was going to do this alone. What…"

    Kaiyou looked down at me -at this point I could only see his head because of the glowing golden stripes and crimson eyes- and I almost saw a smile in that darkened, wolfish face of his. (Let you attempt this thing all by yourself? Surely not. I'd be a very bad Lord of my Element indeed if I let you go by your lonesome. Besides, I wish to discuss something with Shayla.) He paused, as if hesitating. (And the jolteon. But nevermind that now, dear girl, we have to save them.) So with that he made his way to where I was staring out of the veil, where his face was now illuminated a bit more by the dim light.

    He sniffed a bit -which was strange, seeing how I couldn't smell anything at all- and then went a bit further down and then, I saw his tail begin to wag. (Here they are! My, they were kidnapped, weren't they?) I trotted up to where he was and looked through the veil and saw all of my teammates in cages. Shayla herself looked unconscious, sitting in a chair with all of her limbs tied down to it. Her head was lolled to the front, so I couldn't see her face. Shoko and Amburna also seemed to be unconscious. When I took a look at the eevee brothers, however, Tai was quite active. He was pacing feverently around his cage, and seemed to be guarding a sleeping Kazu. I almost stepped out of the Void when Kaiyou put his leg in front of me.

    (Where are you going?) he asked me simply, and I looked up to him with a frown.

    "Where else? To save them!" was my answer.

    The Dark Legendary "tsk"ed in my head and shook his own slowly from side to side. (If you just barged in there, they'd capture you, and then where would you be? If I may, I would like to… distract the pathetic morons for a bit, so you all may escape. Is that all right with you?)

    I blinked and then looked hard into my Lord's canine face. He was definitely up to something. "What are you going to do?" I said slowly and full of suspicion.

    He shrugged with his canine shoulders -it looked awkward to do- and looked away, as if playing the innocent. (Oh, nothing. Just something to lead them away from you and the others while you escape.) He then looked down at me and smiled, showing off his many sharp, pearly white fangs. (Get ready now. Only the two eevee will be able to walk -the espeon will have to levitate everyone else while you go. And…) He looked back to the room, where there were now three thugs that I recognized. He reared up on his hind legs and then said a little too happily, (Here I go!)

    He ran out of the Void and straight into one of the thugs -which sent that particular one flying into the wall, where he impaled it- and began to laugh in everyone's heads. Then, he gingerly picked up a sparkling, diamond necklace that had been lying on something of a nightstand. (Ha ha ha… Morons! Try and catch me -if you can get out of the wall! HA HA HA!)

    He then ran out of the room, the two remaining thugs hot on his heels. I shook my head and listened to his telepathic laughter as he led the thugs on the chase. He's having too much fun with this…

    I stepped out of the Void slowly, making sure that the remaining thug was really out. Since his head was in the rock wall, I assumed so and then began to work my way to the eevee brothers' cage. Tai was rather confused.

    "Why did Kaiyou just burst through the wall?" he asked softly, as if he didn't think he believed the sight. "I mean… why is he here?"

    I melted the lock with my flamethrower and pulled the door open with my teeth. "He hasn't said why, and I don't really feel like trying to press him for information. That has proved difficult in the past." Tai looked at me funny, but I didn't pay attention to it. I looked past the jolteon to Kazu, who was snoring softly. "Please tell me he's only sleeping."

    Tai looked at him and then nudged the purple figure softly with his hind leg. "Come on Kazu," he said softly. "Come on."

    Kazu lifted his head and yawned, taking in everything as if the situation were normal. He got up on his feet and began to walk, but ran into the bars and fell down. I stifled a laugh while Tai pushed Kazu in the right direction out of the cage.

    "He's been like this ever since we got up here," explained Tai as Kazu went walking around the room, bumping into things as he went. "They've had him on constant tranquilizers, so he's…" The jolteon paused, as if he couldn't find the right word.

    "Stoned?" I offered and Tai nodded.

    Kazu then ran into the table, and then said promptly, "Oh, excuse me, old lady… I need some radishes…" He bowed slightly to the table and then walked off again, muttering about how radish soup sounded good for the picnic. Tai sighed deeply and then turned back to me.

    "Well, how do we get everyone out? Shoko, Amburna and Shayla are out -the three heaviest people here." He tipped his head towards Kazu, who was introducing himself as "Mrs. Cookie" to a chair. "Surely that Kaiyou guy wouldn't expect Kazu to… levitate them, not in his state."

    I looked back to the inebriated espeon and replied, "I don't think Kaiyou thought he would be like this…" I looked around helplessly. What to do? There wasn't anyway Tai and I could transport three very large bodies all the way out of Victory road -even if I used the Void. I sat down, trying to ponder, when I saw Kaiyou's human head poke through the doorway.

    "My, my, you're slow," he said in a disappointed voice. "You know what a hurry we're in. The thugs can only be deaf to my loud, echoing voice for so long." I looked up at him and pointed a claw at Kazu, who was now talking to Shayla -convinced that she was the magical lamppost that led to the Land of the Elves.

    "There is no way he'd be able to levitate three people into the Void like that." I said sternly. Tai nodded, but Kaiyou didn't pay attention to him.

    Kaiyou's eyebrow raised at Kazu, who was now shouting at the top of his lungs that he had to get into the Land of the Elves because of the mushrooms that grew there (he needed them for his soup). The Dark Legendary tried to stifle a laugh, but this made Tai a bit angry.

    "Hey! I'd like to see you drugged out of your mind and then let's see how sensible you are!" he shouted, somehow offended that Kaiyou was laughing at his brother at a time like this. Though, I had to admit -it was rather funny.

    Kaiyou looked down at him, that same knowing smile on his face. "Oh, I know what I'd do. But that isn't for now." He looked back out of the doorway, probably looking for the thugs, and then shouted, "GOD, YOU'RE SO SLOW! I'M UP HERE, YOU PANSIES! NO, NOT THE ZUBAT!" He leaned back inside and his smile got wider.

    "Just tell him to juggle Shoko, Amburna and Shayla. Right now, I've got to go again." Just as he was about to leave, Tai caught the hem of Kaiyou's jeans with his mouth.

    "Juggle?" Tai cried, outraged, through his teeth. "Juggle!"

    Kaiyou nodded, leaned down and popped Tai on the muzzle so the jolteon would let go. "Yes, juggle. Tell him the lamppost will stop being so hard-assed when he juggles the three to the pokemon center." At Tai's incredulous look, he smiled. "Don't worry, it'll work. Now, I have to go." He then jumped down off of the ledge, and waited for the thugs to get in view.

    "Hey, you moronic buckets of ostrich slime!" he called. "Why don't you put a compass up your ass -maybe it'll give you a sense of direction!" With that, he turned and ran the other way, angry thugs hot on his heels. I chuckled a bit and then turned back to Kazu, who was now sobbing, muttering softly that he wouldn't get his mushrooms. Tai rolled his eyes.

    "Well…" he began uncertainly, "I guess I'll try that Kaiyou's plan. We don't have anything else."

    I nodded and then sat where I was and watched. Tai walked up to his brother, hesitated, and said, "I know how you can get to the Land of the Elves."

    Kazu's head perked up, watery eyes now hopeful. "Really?" he asked, and Tai nodded.

    "Yup. You have to levi -er, juggle- three things all the way to…" he turned to me for help.

    "To the Place of Rest," I offered, and Tai nodded.

    "Yeah, yeah! 'The Place of Rest'. Then, the magical… lamppost… will grant you entry to the Land of the Elves. What do you say?"

    Kazu smiled happily and then nodded. "Yes! I would love to do as you say, oh talking shrubbery!"

    Tai's face fell, and became stale. "Right," he muttered and then pointed to Shayla, Amburna, and Shoko. "Lev -er, juggle- these three things. Demi," he turned to me and I nodded, and then went to the wall where I opened up the Void for them.

    Kazu opened the cages for Amburna and Shoko, then brought them out, along with Shayla. He broke the chains that were tightly wrapped around her, and then she began to float along with the dragons. Tai led the altered Kazu into the Void, and I followed.

    Once inside, Kazu began to comment on the darkness. I made my way to the front, where I saw Tai begin to shake. I smiled.

    "Scared, Tai?" I asked, mocking him. He knew it and glared, but then jumped out of the way of a growing bulk of shadow. I wasn't really worried. I knew what it was -just a discharge of darkness within the Void. Tai scurried to my side and I poked my paw on the side of the Void. I opened a portal to the pokemon center -in which Tai immediately leapt into- and Kazu thanked me and went through himself, taking the dragons and Shayla with him. I looked around the Void and called out to Kaiyou as best I could.

    'Kaiyou!' I cried in my mind, 'Kaiyou, are you okay? Are you coming with us?'

    I waited for a bit, and after a moment, I got my answer.

    He sounded giddy. (Ha ha, all in time, dear Ayako. I have to return to my companions first, lest they worry.)

    'Companions?' I asked, confused. 'Who…'

    (Oh, come now, Ayako! You should know by now!) And then he muttered, almost to himself, (Why would a grown man wear a pink thong?)

    I wasn't sure I wanted to ask, but I did anyway. 'What in the world…?'

    He laughed lightly in my head. (Oh, nothing. Don't worry, Ayako, I'll convince my companions to meet you at the pokemon center in Evergrand. I won't be there immediately… I'll… be a bit late.)

    Skepticism was dripping in my words. 'Why, exactly?'

    He laughed in my head again. (Now, now, no need to be suspicious. Just get to the pokemon center, and my companions will meet you there in a few minutes. Now where is that marker I found…?)

    Knowing full well that I wouldn't get anything else from him, I sighed heavily and turned to the portal in front of me. I figured that I would find out who his companions were and what he was up to when I went to the pokemon center. Shaking my head at my rather silly Lord, I jumped into the swirling black portal into the pokemon center, bracing myself for a bit of insanity.

  8. #23
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 23

    Acceptance

    By the time I got out of the Void, amazingly, Shayla, the dragons and Kazu were back to their normal selves. Kazu was embarrassed beyond reason that he had acted like that -thinking he could get to the Land of the Elves and whatnot. But he could have sworn that the shrubbery he was talking to said he could get there…

    Anyway, not a few minutes after that, the door to the pokemon center (we were in the lobby) opened to reveal three figures, who I recognized as Illauna, Kuvai and Yasille, who were very, very soaked by the rain. Illauna removed her black sunglasses (how she was wearing them in a dark, stormy day as this, I don't know) and took a look around the center. When she saw Shayla and the rest of us, her stoic face turned into a slight smile.

    "I should have known," she muttered. Kuvai seemed to notice us, but kept distant. Yasille, however, was completely delighted to see us again.

    "Oh how wonderful!" she exclaimed as she trotted over to Shayla. "I was wondering what my brother meant when he said there was a surprise waiting for us at the pokemon center -I didn't think it would be you!" She hugged Shayla -who was a bit surprised- but then she drew back.

    "Oh dear -I completely forgot I was soaked…" Yasille moaned to herself. "Now there's a wet spot on your shirt…"

    Shayla shrugged. "It's okay. I don't mind."

    However, Yasille was already on the way on getting a towel, and Shayla's comment went unheard. Illauna sat down on a wooden bench beside a teenage boy (who soon abandoned his seat due to Illauna's unwavering stare) and crossed her legs. "So, Shayla," she began casually, "I assume you're gonna take the Hoenn League?"

    Shayla nodded and clenched her fists. "Oh yeah! This is going to be my third one, and I won't settle for anything less than number one!"

    Kuvai scoffed over in his corner, where he was leaning against the wall. "All of the trainers here are thinking the exact same thing, you know."

    Shayla narrowed her gaze and replied confidently, "Yeah? Well they all suck. My team can't be beat!"

    Kuvai's reply was a non-committal "hmm" and he crossed his arms. "If you say so."

    There was something of a tense silence before Yasille reentered the now empty lobby (Illauna's stares at everyone made them retreat to other places) with an armful of towels. When she reached Shayla, she dumped them onto my trainer's lap.

    Yasille wiped the back of her hand on her forehead. "Whew! All right, I think that should be enough to get your shirt dry -I'm sorry that I couldn't bring more."

    Shayla stared at the mountain of paper towels that could have very well been the population of a forest. "Um… no, this is enough… Thank you…"

    Yasille sat down on the wooden bench beside Illauna, a dumb but happy expression on her face. Illauna didn't pay too much heed as Yasille tried to dry her hair out on the tile floor, and then got up.

    "The Hoenn League isn't as hard as Kanto…" she began as if teaching, "…but it's not as wimpy as Johto. It's a nice happy medium." She turned to Shayla and asked, "You've been to them, right? What were your rankings?"

    Shayla's confident smirk didn't waver. "In Kanto, I placed third. I won the Johto League. I think I'll be able to handle Hoenn just fine."

    As Illauna was about to reply, Kaiyou burst through the door and quickly shut it, panting hard. We looked at him for a time, and then Kuvai finally broke the silence.

    "…Do we want to know?" he asked, and Kaiyou merely smiled mysteriously back at him.

    "Turn on the TV and you'll find out soon enough."

    Kuvai frowned. "You didn't harass the news helicopter again, did you?"

    Kaiyou looked up at the ceiling innocently. "No… Nothing like that." He then reached over to the small television Nurse Joy had on her counter and said, "Besides, that helicopter should have known not to mess with a guy and a remote airplane." As I pondered on all of the things he could have possibly done given the circumstances, he shouted triumphantly, "Yes! I found it! Listen, listen!"

    We all turned to the TV and listened intently to what the blonde reporter woman had to say.

    "This is Miya Sheen for channel 9 news. We have just received a tip on long-time pokemon thieves known by the alias 'Team Carnage'. We went in with the police, but what they found in the tunnels of Victory Road -in which I am in right now- was completely different than what they expected."

    The camera turned to show the three goons I had seen hanging upside down by their feet, with random articles of clothing missing. One was missing his shirt (on his bare, blubbery pale chest was a large smiley face -the nipples were the eyes and a large, crooked, drawn smile was the mouth) and another was missing his pants, revealing white legs and… I couldn't believe it. A pink thong. The other was missing his shoes and his socks were now sock puppets, complete with fuzzy pink troll hair, dotted eyes and happy (yet creepy) smiles.

    I turned to the now sopping wet Kaiyou and said, "So that's what you meant."

    Kaiyou merely put his finger to his smiling lips and looked back at the TV. The woman was talking again.

    "These crooks had taken a trainer's pokemon and the trainer herself when some unknown good passerby noticed and bailed the captives. And, heroically, the passerby took on all three goons by his or herself. And, of course, after winning the struggle, completely humiliated the goons. Oh, oh this is great." She turned back to the goons where the one with sock puppets for socks was trying to get out, consequently moving his feet. It looked like the puppets were talking. She laughed and began to say something more, but Kuvai turned the TV of and looked at Kaiyou.

    "One would think I'd be surprised… but now…"

    Kaiyou merely gave a smile back at the undead humanoid. "Oh, pish posh. You should have known that I wouldn't let them get away unscathed. Besides, they deserved it -and what's else, they made me look like a hero." He stood even taller, hands on hips, chin up -a very hero-like position. Then, in a low, bellowing voice, he commanded, "Evil beware, lest you be humiliated beyond your capacity to think!"

    Kuvai merely shook his head and sat where Illauna had been -beside Yasille. He ran his pale hand through his wet hair and crossed his legs. "Kaiyou, you never cease to amaze."

    Kaiyou, not owning a single ounce of humility at that moment, let his vanity take hold. "I know," he replied as he took a seat on the other side of the room. Then, I heard some intelligible murmurs from Kuvai and Yasille (to each other, mind you) and then, they left the room and went outside. I cocked my head and looked to my Lord, who had a strange expression.

    "Where are they going?" I asked, and Kaiyou looked back to me, and the strange, unidentifiable expression formed a small smile.

    "Out," he replied simply. Of course, that didn't satisfy my curiosity at all, so I made a move to follow them. That was when my Lord threw a magazine at my head.

    "Don't follow them," he chided lightly. "That's rude."

    I made a small frown as I shook the magazine from its status of being stuck on my head. "Then tell me where they're going."

    Kaiyou rolled his eyes. From exasperation or merely putting on a show, I didn't know. "They're going to have some alone time. Let them have some peace."

    I narrowed my gaze. "You make it sound like they're an item."

    He shrugged. "They are."

    For a moment, I was struck dumb. An undead… thing… and a living, breathing pokemon? It wasn't right. I was about to say something about it, but Kaiyou cut me off.

    "I know what you're going to say," he began in an almost irritated voice. "I know. I know very well. Even I have something of a problem with it…" A shadow entered his gold eyes. "But they're both happy. That's all that matters. Besides…" He repositioned himself so he could cross his legs. "…Yasille and I still see him as he once was -Buganti. Not what you saw before you. He knows he has my blessing. So leave them alone -they haven't had a chance of peace since we left Sootopolis."

    I frowned a bit. If Kaiyou was all right with it, then I should be as well. I knew I didn't know Kuvai as well as my Lord and his sister did, so I was in no position to make any kind of opinion or judgment. Before I could think any further on the matter, I felt Kaiyou's cold, wet hand on my fur.

    "You must be tired," he said softly. "The rest have gone to bed -we should too." I looked around the now empty lobby and saw that they had already gone to bed. I wondered when, when Kaiyou made his way to a room and I followed. The room was empty. He removed his shirt and covered himself with a blanket and lay down on an empty bed. I went beside him and looked at his face, where a slightly troubled expression brewed.

    "These little rooms are too small to accommodate my true form," he sighed reluctantly. "I guess I'll have to sleep like this. Are you going to stay in here, girl?"

    I looked at him and shrugged. "I had might as well."

    He frowned slightly. "You seem so enthusiastic."

    I merely smiled in response and jumped up on the bed with him. He let me get under the covers, and I snuggled up next to him as the warm, soothing feeling washed over me again. I sighed in content. He wrapped his arm around my middle and scratched the place behind my scythe as he murmured a sleepy goodnight to me. However, I wanted to ask him something that I had been wondering about.

    "Kaiyou," I began softly, "would it be okay… if… I came with you? You know, with you and Yasille and-"

    "No," was his muffled reply.

    My mouth agape, I turned and shifted in order to look at him. His face was stern. "Why not?" I asked incredulously.

    "You're not supposed to," he replied simply again. I was suddenly irritated by his bluntness. The tranquillity that had inhabited my soul was now gone.

    "What do you mean, 'I'm not supposed to'?" I asked again, this time sarcastically. His face began to become irritated as well. He sat up and I had to back away a little from him. His wet hair began to drip on me.

    "Exactly what I said. You're not supposed to. The Pattern says you're not supposed to."

    My jaw dropped. This stupid Pattern thing again! "Screw the Pattern!" I almost shouted. "I want to come with you!"

    He sighed and then lay back down on his white pillow. "Go to sleep. If you can't even interpret the Pattern on your own, then there's no way you would survive a training session with me." As my anger broiled, he shifted and closed his eyes. "And keep your voice down. People are trying to sleep."

    I got up on all fours. "Tell me what this stupid Pattern thing says -tell me why I can't go with you!"

    He didn't even open an eye. "I already told you."

    "That's not the Pattern's reason, that's yours!"

    "Then that should be enough of a reason for you."

    I snarled. "Why should I settle for a shitty reason like that!"

    This time, his eye did open and he glared. "Because I am your Lord and you do what I say. Or have you forgotten this?"

    Again, I was struck dumb. In all his casualness, I forgot my respect. He sat up and ran a hand through his matted, damp ebony hair. "Look," he started wearily, "I'm tired. I really am. And I don't want to wake anyone up. We can continue this in the morning, if you really wish. And no, I'm not going to tell you what the Pattern says. You can't know. Besides, someone has already told you what the Pattern has in store for you. One of our own, to be precise."

    I blinked. "Eclipse?" I asked and he shrugged.

    "It doesn't matter who did it, just that you know. And it'll happen soon. Very soon. In a matter of weeks or even days soon." My heart sank. But… Saji… Did that mean that another one of my teammates was going to die…? Then, a pang in my chest.

    Wait… what if it's Kaiyou Eclipse was talking about? I asked myself. The thought of Kaiyou dead, butchered… I was scared. I then felt his cool hand on my head and he smiled.

    "It's not me, girl," he murmured softly. "Know this. I'll be all right… but I don't know about your other teammates. Don't ask me which one. I can't tell you, even if I wanted to." He leaned back onto his pillow and pulled me with him. "Now shut up and go to sleep. I'm tired, and you're the only thing standing in the way of me catching pneumonia."

    I complied and lay down as I welcomed the tranquillity again. Maybe it was Kaiyou's tiredness or my own, or both, sleepiness hit me like a hammer and I found myself drifting off into a dreamless sleep.

    …..

    The next morning, everyone was refreshed and somewhat happy. I say that because I can never tell when Illauna and Kuvai are happy. Kaiyou didn't seem to be as radiantly happy that morning as he usually was. It unnerved me a little, but then Tai's obsession with pancakes distracted me.

    The morning went on into day and we, being Kaiyou's group, Shayla and the rest of the team, went out into the city to scrounge about. Shayla was very excited since the Hoenn League, much to our disbelief, started the next day. We were in the registration office (which was right next to the pokemon center) as we waited for the chance to register.

    Tai moaned as he rolled on the cold tile floor. "I'm so bored…" He placed a yellow paw on my elbow and groaned, "Ayako, you have to help me get free of this boredom!"

    I, who was simply sitting on my haunches on the floor, shrugged his desperate paw off of me. "Tai, why don't you count the number of times that you have annoyed me over the time we've known each other? Of course, you'd have to count this time too."

    For a moment, he stared at me and then he started whining again. I rolled my eyes and then, a golduck, who was standing in front of us, turned back.

    "Could you get him to shut up?" he asked, perturbed. Tai didn't seem to notice, but I had to answer anyway. Besides, the fact that he asked so tactlessly annoyed me a little.

    "Sorry, but I don't own a remote to him," I answered in the same tone as the golduck did.

    The golduck snarled a little and said, "Hey, you had better show some respect. I am one of the pokemon that one the Johto championship two years ago.

    Shoko, who was behind me, growled. "Well, that's quite an accomplishment since we're the Johto champions from last year, and I specifically remember kicking your sorry ass."

    The golduck looked up and his eyes widened. "You…! The charizard!"

    Shoko's battle smirk grew. "That's right. Now you had better leave my friends alone or else we'll make a repeat of that battle."

    The golduck then lunged at Shoko, claws out, eyes glowing. Shoko was caught by surprise, but that didn't do much help for the golduck. Shoko caught the golduck, and using the water duck's momentum, slammed him into the wall behind us. The busy room came to a complete halt, and I saw Shayla smack her hand over her eyes in exasperation.

    "Shoko!" she reprimanded. The charizard looked back at her and then pointed at the golduck with his claws.

    "He started it!"

    Shayla went to the trainer (who was trying to pry the golduck out of the wall) and apologized, but the other trainer would have none of it. Kaiyou, who had been standing beside me, sighed.

    "Can't take you guys anywhere, can we?"

    I shrugged and replied, "That jerk had it coming to him."

    Kaiyou looked down at me with a bemused and slightly disappointed stare, but I didn't pay too much heed to it. I knew he thought it was funny. The golduck's trainer began to speak forcefully to Shayla, and her apologetic attitude switched to defensive.

    Amburna sighed. "I suppose that makes another enemy."

    Shayla's argument broke through our own conversations. "My charizard is NOT under-trained! Your golduck ran at him first! He was acting on instinct and reaction! It's your golduck that needs more training!"

    The nurse Joy and the main register person came up to the two quarreling trainers. "What's all this?" the register person said.

    The other trainer spoke first. "Her charizard flung my golduck into the wall!"

    Before the two authorities had any time to comment, Shayla retorted angrily, "Yeah, because your golduck attacked my charizard!"

    The nurse got in between them. "Stop this!" When the two trainers merely glared at the other, the nurse continued. "Now, I am not going to press charges, and you may still register, but I will not allow this kind of behavior. The pokemon involved -the golduck and charizard in question- may not be used. Am I understood?"

    A look of shock came onto the trainers' faces, but then they settled into resolve. "Yes ma'am," they muttered together.

    The nurse nodded her head tersely and then Shoko seemed to deflate. "Man…" he said to himself. "This sucks. I wanted to be in the League."

    Shayla patted his shoulder. "It's okay. I'll enter you into a bunch of other things, okay? We'll train in between the matches." This seemed to cheer the charizard up a bit, but I began to get worried. Shayla was now out two pokemon. Then, I saw movement to my side and I looked to my left and saw Kaiyou taking Shayla aside for a moment. He began to whisper a little and then she seemed a little shocked, but then, her face lit up. Kaiyou shrugged as she asked him something and then she nearly skipped back to the counter to register.

    Kaiyou came back to my side with an air of content. "What did you just do?" I asked cautiously.

    The knowing smile made its presence known and he replied enigmatically, "Just giving her a little push in the right direction." At my slightly distrustful face, he replied, "Oh, it's not anything bad. Don't worry."

    Another hour went by and we were all registered. I saw the registration form, and it looked very professional.

    Trainer's name: Shayla Kyerson

    Have you participated in the Hoenn League before? No.

    Have you participated in a Pokemon League before? Yes.

    If so, will your official League badge and picture work again? Yes.

    Pokemon entered: Jolteon (Tai), Absol (Demi), Dragonair (Amburna), Espeon (Kazu), Aggron (Kiya), Kaiyou

    I stared at the last name and then looked up to my Lord in astonishment. "You're participating!"

    He smirked. "I haven't battled a trainer in years. I would love to crush some weaklings while I'm here. Besides, I want to see how Illauna's training has helped me." Still completely shocked by his news, I merely followed the now very excited Shayla out of the registration office and back to our room.



    That night came and went in the blink of an eye. Shayla and even Illauna were getting us ready for the next day with some last-minute training and boosters. We were walking around the plaza before our first match, meandering aimlessly. We had many, many hours to kill before our first match, and Shayla decided to get away from battling for a while, to which we all agreed.

    Our new team member was Kiya, an aggron a little below our own levels, but she would catch up quickly. To my surprise, she was very shy and gentle, and when she battled, became a juggernaut. She was a very adept fighter, and her marvelous fighting skills made up for her somewhat low level.

    We were all walking out in the open, like usual, when a familiar scent greeted me. I turned to my left and saw a very familiar umbreon sitting near an evolution stone booth beside a boy in his late teens. I trotted up to the umbreon, and, sure enough, it was Eclipse. I was about to say hello when he spoke.

    "I wondered how long it would take you to notice me," he said airily. He turned and looked at me amiably, and then bowed. "Hello again, Miss Ayako. It's been sometime, hasn't it?"

    I nodded. "About your premonition… It was right…" I said uncertainly. Many of my team members still hadn't gotten over Saji's death, and I didn't want to say it too loud, lest they hear me. Eclipse looked at me, and then cocked his head.

    "Oh yes, I remember now," he said nostalgically. "When Kaiyou was about to awaken. But, I'm afraid to say… the prophecy hasn't been fulfilled yet, Ayako."

    I blinked. But… Saji… and Tai… "What… What do you mean? Tai's and Saji's lives were in danger, and-"

    "I know of what you speak," he said softly, "but that's not to what I was earlier referring to. You see, the lines that were in question still exist. I'm afraid to say that another will die, very soon, it seems. In fact, if you follow your nose, you're going to run into the other line. You mentioned the other line before."

    …WHAT?

    "Hey, Eclipse," the trainer said smoothly. "Come on, boy, we need to go." Eclipse looked up to his trainer, and then back to me. He bowed and then said, "See you, Miss Ayako." And with that, he left.

    I stood there, stunned and appalled. So another of my teammates was going to die? Another! Ugh… I let my hindquarters buckle and I plopped onto the concrete. My nerves couldn't take much more of this…

    I felt a poke in my back and I turned to see Shoko standing over me. "Hey, come on girl, we're going to another part of town. If you sit there in a daze, you'll get left behind." I nodded and followed him back to the main group. Tai had something in his mouth that smelled distinctly like meat, and Amburna was wearing a beautiful blue pendant around her neck. It suited her wonderfully.

    I sighed and walked alongside Kiya for a while. She was glancing around the plaza excitedly, as if she had never been to a pokemon battling competition before. I hadn't either, but I guess she loved the excitement of battle more than I did.

    "Oh, I love this!" she cried happily. "I can't wait until our match starts- I hope I go against a fire type so I can mop the floor with his ass! No fire type can withstand my earthquake."

    I cocked an eyebrow. "Unless it's a flying type, right?" She thought about that for a bit, and then nodded meekly.

    "I suppose so…" She turned to me, smiling. "Have you ever been to a League before?"

    When I shook my head, her jaw dropped. "Really?" she asked. "I've been to the Johto one -it was really easy. Tai kept on telling me Indigo Plateau was so much harder than the Johto League, it wasn't even funny."

    I wasn't surprised by that. Johto was more… beginner friendly than Hoenn and Kanto. Kanto especially, since for the first gym, a trainer's pokemon had to be at least at level 10 and the gym was rock type. I looked back over to the aggron to see that she was still rambling on how great it was to battle in a League.

    I didn't really pay attention to her because I wasn't in the mood to listen to a battling fool. I was going to save myself for the League -I had a feeling I would be used a lot.

    I kept on walking until I ran into Shayla's leg. After I shook my head, I looked up at her to find out what the matter was. She looked distressed.

    "Shoko, fly up and see if you can find him. The rest of you -split up and search the plaza. We'll meet back here in an hour." She looked around the plaza again and then muttered angrily to herself, "Dammit, Kaiyou's run off again too! Where is he when I need him!" And with that, she ran off to my right.

    Before he ran off, I stopped Kazu. "What's going on? Who's missing?"

    Kazu looked at me, his face pale. "Tai. He's missing! We were just walking along, and then he disappeared without telling anyone where he went!" He then ran off to my left, and I stood there, not really knowing what to do.

    Then, Eclipse's words rang in my head. If you follow your nose, you'll find the other line. I decided to just search for Tai's scent and find him that way. I retraced my steps and then found his scent, and then followed it for what seemed like a mile. When I looked up, I found myself in a dark alleyway, where I found nothing but trash cans and dumpsters. I looked around confused, but then I heard Tai's voice scream in pain. I immediately smelled his blood, and then followed that.

    I jumped over the fence and went around a corner, and then saw Tai's back, and a figure in the dark, attacking him. I ran forward, and saw that the flesh on the jolteon's brow had been cut, making blood flow into his eyes. He couldn't see.

    I saw the figure about to attack him again, and I lunged forward and bit into that flesh, but then my senses went haywire. I knew this person…

    Hicha yelped in surprise and pain and then grabbed the scruff of my neck and threw me off. I landed on my feet -his bite didn't hurt that much- and then cried, "The hell do you think you're doing, Hicha!"

    The mightyena took a step back from Tai and me, and then said, "Ayako! Thank goodness! You're all right!"

    My jaw dropped. First, he was my best friend. Then he was under the delusion that it had been my fault for him getting captured, so he hated me, and now he was happy to see me? I was confused…

    Tai was too, apparently. "What? Hicha? That retarded mightyena that blamed you for getting him captured?"

    "Yeah. That's him." I scooted back a little in order to come in contact with the jolteon, then I gave him a little thunderbolt. Since his ability was "volt absorb" he transferred my energy into his own power source. He sighed in relief behind me. In front of me, Hicha growled.

    "Ayako, why are you still hanging around that damn jolteon?" he demanded of me. "You're free now -we can both go back to the forest!"

    My eyebrow cocked. "What are you talking about? I'm not free -I'm still owned! And why are you so happy to see me when the last time we met you were so determined to kill me!"

    Hicha blinked. "I… Back on the ferry, I was so angry that I had let myself get caught, I guess I blamed it on you. Koka told me that she had talked to you, and what she told me set me straight." He took a pause, and then I mentally thanked the ninetails. He looked back up at me, determination set on his face. "I've… I've run away from my trainer, and I've come looking for you. I figured you'd be with the place with the most powerful pokemon around… so I came here." He took a step forward, and I took a step back. "Ayako, do what I did -leave your team and then come back to the forest! We can go back to the way it was before he and his trainer stepped into our lives."

    I blinked and then looked behind me to Tai, who was trying to get up. From what I could tell, the bleeding had stopped and he could now see out of one eye. The other was tightly closed. I remembered Saji's words to me that one day when we were traveling to Fortree- If you ever have a chance to get out, take it. Breathe the air like you were supposed to- free. Do this and make up for my own cowardice.

    Before I could even think about the subject, Tai growled from behind me. "No way, asshole! She's not stupid enough to fall for your crap! You selfish bastard, leave her alone!" He lunged forward, and then they began to fight again. Now that he could somewhat see, Tai was landing more hits than when I first saw the two fighting. My heart clenched. Which one should I help?

    Even though Tai could now see, Hicha was doing his best to exploit Tai's huge blind spot on the jolteon's left side. I stood there in a daze and watched as time and time again, Hicha avoided Tai's attacks and struck with his own.

    I really didn't know what to do. If I helped one, the other would feel betrayed. What could I do…?

    Then, Hicha came up from under Tai and clamped onto the jolteon's neck, closing the windpipe. My eyes widened. He was going to kill Tai! I was frozen to my spot as I watched Tai struggle against the powerful mightyena. The jolteon sent wave after wave of thunders and thunderbolts, but Hicha held on. After a few moments, Tai couldn't make more movement that a twitch here and there. It was then when Hicha began to speak to me through his clamped jaws.

    "Ayako," he began, "with this damn jolteon gone, we can be free! Don't you understand? We can roam around the forest again and do what we want! With this jolteon out of the way, everything can go back to the way it was. Don't you want that?"

    I half-listened to what he said. After all, I had heard it all before. I couldn't tear my eyes away from Tai as he struggled vainly against Hicha. The jolteon could barely muster enough electricity for a thundershock… I heard his slowing heartbeat and how it was fading fast. My own heart clenched again. I couldn't let him die.

    "Let him go!" I shouted at the mightyena. "For God's sake, let him go! He's dying!"

    Hicha's eyes narrowed. "I see now. You only want to stay because of this jolteon, huh? Well then, he really does have to go!" I saw his jaws get tighter around Tai's neck, and then little streams of blood began to trickle down the jolteon's yellow fur. Tai winced, and then another trail of bright red blood began to ooze from the side of his mouth.

    Something snapped. I found myself running forward, and then I lunged at Hicha, teeth bared, claws out. I bit onto Hicha's head, and clamped down as hard as I could. Out of surprise, Hicha let go of Tai, and the jolteon crumpled limply to the concrete.

    I built up a flamethrower in my mouth and then let it out onto the soft black and grey fur of the mightyena in my grasp. He yelped and then ran to the other side of the alleyway, whimpering in pain. He looked up to me -the eye that had been near to my mouth had been melted shut, and the flesh was now burnt and seared. No fur remained at that spot. Hicha growled, and then attacked me.

    I was ready. He ran at me, and I pelted him with an ice beam attack, where I had just now burnt him. He crashed into the other side of the alleyway, got up and charged at me again.

    I don't know how long we battled. I just know that by the time Hicha collapsed from exhaustion the first time, Shoko and Kazu had found us. I looked over to the three about ten feet away; Tai was unconscious but alive, Kazu was standing over him, looking at me in horror, and Shoko was slightly in front of the two brothers, watching us warily. A sound in front of me diverted my attention to Hicha, who was struggling to get up. I waited for him to stand, and then braced myself for his extreemspeed attack.

    It didn't hurt much, and when he was returning to his side of the alley, I followed him and then attacked him with a flamethrower and thunderbolt at the same time. He crashed into the side of the alley again, and collapsed to the ground.

    "Give up, Hicha," I said. "You're too badly hurt to keep this up. I want to stay with my team. They're good to me. They're my friends, as much as you are mine. If you keep on trying to attack them or myself, I'll have to keep on battling you." I saw him glare up at me with his good eye. "I don't want to… But if I must, I must." I looked down at him with pity. "I'm sorry Hicha… but I can't return to that forest. I've grown too attached to the pokemon and people around me. Please… just go back on your own."

    Hicha's glare didn't wither. "I knew it…" he said in disgust. "You LIKE being a servant -a slave! Well, then I guess I came all this way for nothing -the absol I knew had died long ago! You impostor- YOU'LL DIE!"

    He charged at me again, his teeth bared and drool coming out of his mouth. I glared. So he was the life Eclipse told me about.

    I rushed forward myself, and tilted my head slightly so that when we collided, Hicha would run into my scythe. We hit, and my scythe slashed through part of the mightyena's neck. We turned back to each other, and I saw the damage I had done. There was a pool of blood around Hicha, and I saw the gash my scythe had made. Still, even with his wounds, he charged at me again, and I did the same.

    Again, I don't remember how long we battled. Hicha had eventually hurt my scythe, and I was forced to stop using it because of the pain. He had ripped open a spot in my side, put a gash over one of my eyes, and opened a wound on my left flank. God knows how much damage I put on him. By the time that we were covered in all of our wounds, I had decided to end it. I rushed forward at him while he was trying to recover from a slash attack of mine, and I bit onto his throat like he had done earlier with Tai.

    Hicha seemed surprised that I had done it, and then he began to claw at my vulnerable underbelly. It hurt, but I held on. With each new gash he created, my jaws clamped harder and harder. I could feel his frantic pulse begin to wane and his body began to fail as I held onto his neck. For the few minutes it took for Hicha to slowly die, I felt numb. I couldn't feel his attacks anymore, and my mind was completely blank.

    Then, I smelled death on his body, and felt no more pulse. I looked down at his face, and his slightly opened eyes were glazed and rolled into the back of his head. I had killed him. I killed him…

    In realization of my deed, I let him go and took a step back. I looked at myself and saw my and his blood all over my body, and then, my vision blurred. I don't know why, maybe it was from tears or from lack of blood, but my vision blurred and my body collapsed to the ground. I heard a pitter patter of small paws on concrete to my left and I turned to see a light purple blob -Kazu.

    "Demi…" he said in horror. "Demi… What… How… Why…?"

    I stared up at him for a while as I tried to adjust my vision. When I gave up on my eyes, I let my head loll to the side and placed it on my bloody forelegs. "He was… killing him… I couldn't…"

    I heard heavy footsteps in the same direction where Shoko and Tai were, and I heard Shayla cry, "DEMI!" loudly. I didn't really know why until I looked down and saw all of the blood around me, and not all of it was Hicha's. I felt sleep creep into my system, and I decided then that it was a good time to take a nap.

  9. #24
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 24

    Recollections

    I was in the wonderfully shaded, covered trail that was my home. It was a sunny spring day. Masquerain and beautifly fluttered about. I watched in amazement as they flew -how could they fly so effortlessly? I turned to my mother, who was busy gathering berries for the upcoming storm. "Mama," I began in my soft little voice, "how do they fly?"

    She looked at me with the wisdom that all parents have and said, "The gods made them that way."

    I cocked my head. "But… we don't have any."

    She shook her head slightly. "But that doesn't mean that there aren't any in the first place."

    For the moment, my childish curiosity was sated. I looked back to the field and then, a marill who was simply passing by, saw me out of the corner of his eye. My face brightened and I stood on my frail, weak legs. "Hello! Are you saving up food for the storm?"

    He looked to the sky, which held no clouds, and then snarled at me. "What storm? There's not a cloud in the sky!"

    I smiled and said proudly, "Mama says there's going to be one soon. In a few days. She's always right."

    The marill snarled and then threw a rock at my head with his tail. It hit, and then I began to whimper as he retorted, "Bastard Darkling! How dare you go and spout out nonsense like that! Godless garbage, stop brewing trouble!" He was about to throw another rock, but Mama got in front of me.

    "She meant nothing by it," Mama warned. The marill hesitated, since he was now facing a full-grown absol instead of a pup, and then went on about his business. When he left, Mama turned back to me and began to lick my supple head.

    I sniffled at the stinging her tongue made. "Why did he say all those things?" I looked up at Mama. "Why did he hit me?"

    She looked at me for a long time, then replied, "He… didn't want to listen to you, baby."

    Angered, I demanded, "But why? I was telling the truth!"

    Mama purred against my head to calm me down. "I know, baby, but he doesn't. He doesn't trust us. Now come on, we need to get berries…"

    I wasn't satisfied by this. "Why won't he trust us? Did we do something wrong?"

    She sighed deeply and then began to walk back to her bush. "It's because we don't have a god to pray to. One of our own element. Because of that, other pokemon believe that we are a hated race by the gods."

    I looked around for a moment. "Are we?"

    She shook her head. "No."

    "Then why don't we have a god?" I asked abruptly.

    She hesitated, then said, "Because the humans killed him. Now go on and gather berries…"

    Shocked and angered, I cried, "Why did they kill him!"

    My mother turned back to me, a sad smile on her face. "Because he was a Darkling…"



    Pain. That's all there was for too long of a time. It was unbearable. What had happened?

    Then, flashes of a battle with a mightyena… Hicha… I had killed him… My heart stuttered in realization. How could I do such a thing? How could I have killed the only friend I had in that lonely forest? How…?

    My limbs ached and throbbed. My mind scattered from memory to memory and then back to the horrible pain. Hicha was my best friend… my best friend…

    His blood made itself known in my mouth. I almost vomited at the taste of the old, bitter, coppery taste of his dead blood in my mouth. I had to get it out. I coughed -the air racked through my tired lungs and body. More pain for me to enjoy.

    I wanted to die. I really did. How could I live with myself for killing my best friend -the only friend I had in the forest? How could I stand to bear the weight of his life on my shoulders? I wasn't made for that kind of burden…

    Then, a small amount of relief entered my body and soul. I felt something take away the pain -and replace it with peace. Who…?

    I opened my eyes to see Kaiyou's worried face and Kuvai, standing on the opposite side of my Lord. The undead being was glowing ever so slightly, and he was chanting something softly. Kaiyou's face relaxed at my open eye.

    "Thank goodness you're awake," he said softly. "When I felt all of that pain, I worried it was you. I tried to help, but I couldn't get close. So Kuvai began to heal you -that's what he's doing now. You're healthy enough to the point where I can stand to be around you." Then, he paused. "The mightyena… who was he?"

    My mind exploded into pain again. Guilt ripped my heart apart. "I…" I started quietly. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to identify him. "I…"

    A look of calm realization dawned in his golden eyes, and he placed a comforting hand on my fur. "It's okay," he whispered, "you don't have to tell me." Then, he turned to Kuvai. "How is she?"

    I saw Kuvai open his eyes slightly. "Pretty banged up. Unfortunately, her body can't withstand my full power, even to heal, so I have to do this slowly. It'll take some time." He closed his eyes again and said, "but nothing to worry about."

    Kaiyou sighed and stood up. His hand was still on my fur when he began to leave. "I'm going to check on Tai and Shayla. I'll be back in a moment."

    Both my eyes widened. TAI! "Is he okay?" I almost shouted. "Is he alive?"

    I suppose Kaiyou was startled by my outburst, but the shock didn't stay for long. "He's fine. He's already been healed -I'm just going to make sure none of them are in shock. I'll be back in a moment." He looked at Kuvai, nodded slightly, then left.

    For the moment, I was alone with Kuvai. It was more than a little unsettling, but had I not been in shock myself, I would have probably tried to create conversation. However, he generated it for me.

    "That mightyena did a number on you," he said without caution. "Were you holding back as you were fighting him?"

    Angered by his bluntness, I retorted, "What do you care? It's my business."

    Kuvai opened his eyes -both were deep, crimson red. He smirked. "Really?"

    I glared. "Yes, it is."

    His eyebrows went up and he closed his eyes again. "Kaiyou's been very worried. Especially since it hurt him too much to come in contact with you. Yasille wanted to help, but her mere aura might have made you die and that made him even more distressed. And when he's distressed, Yasille gets even more worried. And when she's worried, so am I." He paused and opened his eyes again. "So, since you made my friends and I so worried about you, I'd say that it is my business. And the fact that I'm healing you right now."

    I grimaced. I didn't want to talk to him all that much. The fact that he kept on cornering me in the conversation was more than a little irritating. "He… I…" I paused, and then said softly, "His name was Hicha. He was… a friend…"

    I looked back up to his face, which held no expression, and continued in answering his ever-so-tactful question. "I killed him didn't I? I'd say I didn't go easy on him." For some reason, saying what I did seemed to make it real, make it hurt even worse. Kuvai didn't pay any heed to this.

    "Why did you kill him?" he asked, and I glared back up at him.

    "Why are you asking these questions?" I almost shouted. "I don't want to talk about it!"

    He half-glared. "Why are you trying to avoid the answers? You know them. I know them. Why can't you accept them? Trying to deny the past is going to hinder your growth, and pretty soon, you're old, weak and stupid. Accept your deed and move on. Otherwise, the person you did that for isn't going to be around anymore."

    "Can't I have any time to grieve?" I retorted angrily. That wound is too fresh -I can't move on right now… I looked down at the white bed sheets under me and sank into my pillow. "I can't…"

    I heard Kuvai sigh heavily. "Just make sure you don't grieve too long…"

    For a long time, niether of us said anything, and the next person to break the silence was Kaiyou when he returned. I looked up at my Lord to see Tai at his heel. Tai was limping badly and was bandaged around his eye and throat. The battered jolteon looked up at me and said, "You're worse off than I am, aren't you?"

    Kuvai answered. "She's taking me longer to heal than you, if that's what you mean." Tai's face fell, and I felt compelled to lift it back up.

    I scoffed and said, "I'm fine, Tai," I said cockily. "I'll be back on my feet in no time." I looked back at the jolteon for a moment, to see his reaction, and was a little surprised. He wore only a small smile, but in his eyes were sorrow and pity. Were those for me?

    Kaiyou looked at Kuvai and said, "Hey, Yasille's calling you." Kuvai looked up at him, curious, and cocked his head. At this, my Lord continued. Kaiyou stretched out his arms and said, "Yeah, you might want to get to her. She says that she wants to find out what happens when she pushes the big button on the blender." My Lord looked at Kuvai again and said, "She says she has her hand inside."

    Kuvai's eyes widened to ludicrous proportions, and he ran out of the room, screaming, "Yasille! Don't push the button!" Kaiyou chuckled as he watched his friend dash out, and then turned to Tai and myself. He winked, then left the room, leaving us alone.

    Tai struggled to get onto my bed with me, but he made it eventually. I took a better look at him -he was utterly exhausted. The sparkle in his chocolate brown eyes was gone. He sat there in front of me for a long time, as if trying to find something to say. Since he was having trouble, I started the conversation.

    "Um…" I began softly, "…You were hurt pretty badly. Are you… okay?"

    He looked at me and smiled -genuinely- and replied as soft as I, "Yeah. My leg hurts…" I winced at the hoarseness of his voice, "and my throat… but I'm okay." He watched me carefully as he added, "But I'm really concerned about…" he had trouble saying this, "about you…"

    I cocked my head and he shuffled his front paws. His ears drooped a little and suddenly, he found his paws fascinating. "I mean," he added quickly, "I… well, I mean, you were hurt pretty… pretty badly… and… well…"

    A small smile came to my own face. When he wasn't being a jackass, he could be really cute… A little red flag spurred in my mind and I shook the thought out. Not the time to think like that… I took a deep breath and interrupted Tai from making his incoherent explanation.

    "I know what you're trying to say, Tai," I began, "but really, you don't have to worry." I mustered up all my courage and smiled. "I'm fine."

    He glared and looked at me in suspicion. "…No, you're not."

    Shocked by his accusation, I looked back at him in surprise. "What are you talking about? I'm… I'm fine."

    For a moment, he looked hurt. "Why are you lying to me? I can see and smell that you're not okay. Why can't you admit it?"

    As I searched for another answer to that question, I stumbled over sentences and felt the inside of my snout grow pressured and hot. "Because… you don't…" I mumbled softly. And even as I searched and searched for another answer than the truth, that truth kept on growing and growing inside of my mind. Before I knew it, my vision was blurry and hot tears dropped onto my paws.

    I cried like a small child would. I just sat there, in front of Tai, bawling. He didn't make a move to stop me, or poke fun at me -he just sat there and watched. My head was down for the whole time, but after a while, I felt his cheek up against mine and he whispered, "It's going to be okay. You'll see."

    Despite his kind words, I continued to cry and cry. Somehow, I felt that I was letting out more than my grief, but some kind of burden I had been keeping. I don't know what that burden was, whether it be Hicha's death, the fact that I got captured, guilt for Saji's death, or anything else, but I felt it lift as I cried. And the fact that Tai was there with me made the feeling that much greater.

    Tai scooted to my side and began to gently nuzzle my cheek again. He placed his paw on mine and whispered, "It 's okay, Ayako. I'll take care of you."

  10. #25
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 25

    Opening Ceremony

    After my little… moment… with Tai, we slowly made our way to the lobby, where Kaiyou, Illauna, and Shayla were sitting on various furniture. My Lord was simply eating cereal (Captain Crunch if I wasn't mistaken) and watching TV impassively, Illauna was reading a crusty book on Rayquaza, and Shayla was bouncing her leg up and down nervously. She kept making jerky glances to her watch and some sheet of paper in her hand. She saw us and then rushed to her feet.

    "Oh, thank God!" she exclaimed happily. "I was hoping you two would be okay. The Grand Opening Festival is in an hour!"

    The fact that we were at the Hoenn League dawned in my head. In the midst of Hicha's death and… Tai… I had forgotten about the competition completely. The jolteon to my left bounced up and down.

    Shayla smiled softly at his enthusiasm, leaned down and said, "Sorry, boy. I'm happy you're excited, but I don't want you battling this one. Kazu, Amburna and Kaiyou can handle this match." Tai stopped bouncing and began to whimper pitifully. I rolled my eyes and made my way to my Lord, who was sitting on the couch. When I sat down near his leg, he scratched the place under my scythe.

    Shayla stood up and said firmly, "You're not battling! You took a hard beating yesterday -I'm not going to let you push yourself!"

    Tai groaned. "But these guys are pushovers! Shmucks! I can take them with one leg!" To prove his point, he began shaking a hind leg, but then fell over from bad balance.

    Shayla shook her head again and Tai sulked to the corner where Illauna was. Apparently, he didn't notice whom he was sitting by and then looked up, saw the mighty trainer staring at him from behind her opaque sunglasses, then shrank off. If he had had a long enough tail, it would have been between his legs.

    I shook my head and leaned happily against Kaiyou's legs. It was good to have Tai normal again. I opened my eyes at the memory of the moment with Tai that had just happened. Did he really mean what he said? I looked to the jolteon, who was now grooming his front left leg, and let my eyes scrutinize the yellow dog. He seemed honest enough. But did I want to take the offer?

    I sighed and then let my head plop back to my Lord's leg. His hand came down and began to scratch my neck absently.

    "Something wrong?" he asked softly; I could barely hear him. I looked up at him and saw him reading a book titled Candide, (he finished his cereal) then lowered my gaze again.

    "…No…" I replied simply. I heard a soft chuckle, then a turn of a paper page.

    "Your face says otherwise," he said knowingly. I looked back up to him, a coy smile on his pale face. A chuckle went through his chest again and he looked up at the beginning of a new page. His eyes went down to mine, and he patted my white head. "Do you want to talk about it?"

    I jerked my head out of his hand. For some reason, his content attitude irritated me. "There's nothing to talk about," I muttered. He was a little surprised by my answer, but the smile returned to his face soon enough.

    "All right," he said as his golden gaze returned to the page. "If that suits you."

    I got to my sore feet and walked out of the pokemon center to see a fading dusk. The stadium in which the competition was being held was illuminated by brilliant lights, bathing the structure in a pure, white light. I looked to my left and saw Kuvai and Yasille sitting quietly -but comfortably- beside each other. Yasille's happy gaze was straight in front of her, but Kuvai seemed to realize that I was there, and looked at me quizzically. I flinched and then took my eyes to my paws.

    I heard a ruffle of shoes on concrete, then Kuvai's void of scent come closer. Oh, crap…I realized, He's coming to me! Before I could find a way to escape the encounter, he sat beside me and said, "How are you?"

    I gulped and turned to him slowly. I did NOT want to have this conversation. "Fine…" I replied shakily. His dark eyebrow inclined, and he "hmmed". He stared at me for a minute, which seemed hours, and then leaned back on his hands.

    "You don't need to be so scared of me; I don't bite," he stated. I knew that he meant me well, but the fact that he was undead made me nervous, and no amount of reassurance could convince me otherwise. I gave a little nervous laugh at his comment, and tried to shuffle further away from him on my butt.

    He sighed, and then said, "Are you at least feeling better? I know that you won't be battling in the first match, but you aren't sore?" I shook my head and tried to further scoot away from him when suddenly, Yasille sat down on the other side of me. She smiled amiably and said, "So, it doesn't hurt when I'm around you?"

    Dismayed that my escape route was now blocked, I shook my head. I did feel a little tingling, but it tickled more than hurt. She bounced in her seat and exclaimed something happily in the Light language, and I saw Kuvai's arm reach over my head to Yasille's shoulder to calm her down. She pouted a little at the fact that she couldn't celebrate properly, but then a small squirrel caught her attention and she followed it with her eyes happily. She really was an absent-minded person…

    Kuvai nudged me in the side and said, "Pay no mind to her. She does that -zones off. You get used to it eventually…" I looked back to the Light wolf and saw her sway from side to side, humming a foreign lullaby to herself. When she noticed that all other eyes were on her, she smiled again and patted me on the head, then went back to her daydreaming. Kuvai sighed and then stood up, about to leave.

    "I hope…" he began uncertainly, "…that you do well in your competition." He nodded to Yasille, who stood up as well and patted me on the head again. They went around the corner of the pokemon center together, and I couldn't help but heave a sigh of relief. Being around the ghost was too much for my nerves.

    ….

    The stadium -which was actually a dome- was full of people, (Kuvai, Yasille and Illauna included) as we waited in the air lock with the other trainers. There were about 500, of which I saw ages range from eleven to fifty. The trainers were allowed two pokemon on either side of them to march out with them in the opening ceremonies, and Shayla had chosen Tai and me.

    The jolteon was more than excited. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that he could have catapulted himself into space from all of the energy he had. Shayla did nothing to try and calm him down, as most of the younger, newer trainers were attempting to do. She merely looked down at him with some annoyance, but then shook it off as the jolteon pulled off a back flip.

    Since I was on the other side of the overexcited electric dog, I had to lean in order to see his face. I did so, and then said in a hushed, annoyed tone, "Will you stop that? Try and preserve SOME dignity."

    He stopped just long enough to ask me, "Don't tell me you're lacking so much emotion that you don't feel excited. I know you want to try it. Act crazy for once!" He then began to run around, chasing his tail. I simply growled my annoyance; if he didn't stop when the ceremony started, he would become roadkill on the highway. I was about to ask Shayla to calm him down, but she had left to talk to a trainer a ways away. I pouted; it seemed I would have to handle Tai on my own.

    "I see someone's excited," a smooth, masculine voice said from behind. I turned to see an absol, my age, eyeing Tai and me. He nodded towards the jolteon, who had stopped dead in his tracks, and said, "This your first time?"

    The jolteon suddenly took a practiced, regal stance -which made him look much older- and said defensively, "No, my third. And you?"

    I was a little startled by his sudden change in demeanor and wished that the other absol was around all of the time to keep the yellow dog in line. The male absol simply shrugged off the jolteon's answer and then turned back to me. "You are a lovely lady…" He stepped towards me and began sniffing. "With an equally lovely scent to match." He looked up at me to see my reaction, which was a flattered laugh.

    Although I liked this absol -since he had such a wonderful head on his shoulders- Tai did not approve. I could hear growling coming from him, and when I looked at him, he looked as if he was about to launch a pin missile attack at the absol. The other absol simply smirked, then turned back to me, completely ignoring the jolteon.

    "What is your name?" he asked smoothly, cocking his head as he did so. Before answering, I debated on which name -my real name or my nickname? I decided and replied with a pleasant smile, "Ayako. My name is Ayako." A louder growl came from Tai's direction, but I paid no heed to it.

    He leaned back, pleased. "Beautiful. I should have expected as much. My name is Arden, but my trainer calls me Phantom." He studied me again and said, "You look as if this is one of many competitions you've been to. Are you a veteran?"

    I smiled and shook my head. This absol, Arden, is amazing! I thought excitedly. Smart, strong and so… darn… good-looking… woo! I shrugged my shoulders playfully and said, "No… actually, this is my first time…"

    He seemed genuinely shocked at my answer. "I would never have guessed," he said with a twinge of awe. "You hold yourself with utmost respect and strength, something that comes from years of training. I would not want to be your opponent on the battlefield."

    My smile grew wider. "Nor I you." His own smile -a charismatic, witty grin- grew and was about to reply, but then a myriad of brass instruments sounded from inside the dome, and his expression sobered a bit. He looked back to me and said, "It seems our time has been cut short. I hope to see you again, Miss Ayako." He nodded, which I returned happily, and he walked away to his trainer, who happened to be the person Shayla was talking to.

    I sighed happily and situated myself on the concrete, reflecting on Arden, when a hard object ran into my side. It turned out to be a sour Tai, who was glaring at the direction that Arden went. I cocked an eyebrow and asked, "What's wrong with you?"

    He turned back to me, his chocolate eyes hiding fits of emotions. I could tell he wanted to say something, but he sighed, looked at his paws, then replied softly, "Nothing." He turned and went back to his spot for the ceremony. I was now quite worried; what had gotten his panties in a twist? Then, recent events with Arden and how the jolteon had kept growling came to my mind and my worry disappeared. He was just jealous.

    How could he be jealous? I raged in my mind, Arden is one of my own kind; it's nice to be able to do talk to one once in a while. If he had met a female jolteon, I'm sure he would all over her… And why do I care? I can do what I want. Why should I worry if Tai approves or disapproves? I snorted my temporary malcontent for the jolteon and stared fiercely ahead at the airlock doors, wishing for something to tear my teeth into. Shayla returned to her post, and then, the airlock doors began to open.

    The first thing that greeted me was a wall of rushing air, then the overwhelming sound of cheers from thousands of people. The brass began to play again and we started forward towards the center of the empty concrete field. We were near the front of the procession, so I could see a trio of men ahead of us, already shaking the first of the trainers' hands. I wonder who they are?

    When they came to Shayla, one of the men, a young, brunette man, shook her hand very enthusiastically. "I hope you do really well, Miss Kyerson. Represent the Kanto region and win the contest!" She thanked him happily, then moved onto the other two men, who merely nodded their heads amiably to her. We then walked to the other side of the field and stood, waiting for something to happen. I looked down the field to see the rest of the procession: a gargantuan line of trainers with their various pokemon, some rare, some strong, some both. I looked to the crowds to see if I could find our little troupe, but among the plethora of bodies, faces were indistinguishable.

    After all the trainers had shaken hands with the three men, an announcer's voice boomed, "There you are, folks, your Hoenn League's 45th Annual Competition's contestants!" The roar grew to an almost ear-deafening volume. "Let's begin the festivities!" Another roar from the crowd, and then the three men formed a small arc in front of the line of trainers, each with a microphone in their hands.

    The one that had cheered Shayla on spoke first. "I am the president of the Kanto Pokemon League, and I wish to thank Mr. Karron for such a wonderful stage for this competition, not only for those trainers from my home region, but for all trainers. I wish all trainers and their hard-working pokemon the best of luck!" The crowd cheered, and suddenly his personal encouragement made sense. What would that say about Kanto -or Hoenn for that matter- if a Kanto trainer won the Hoenn League? I looked at the man, a coy smile playing my face. Didn't it always come down to politics?

    The second man, the Johto head, said his own thanks and hopes, (which sounded much like the Kanto head) and then the Hoenn head spoke. He was an older, bald-headed man. He had a good build for a human, and a worn, weary look in his blue eyes. He raised his free hand and said, "Thank you all for coming here! Without you fans, we wouldn't have such a phenomenal battlefield for this wonderful competition." Another roar. "Let us now show our support for these fine trainers who have battled their way through eight, vigorous badges, fought through stormy winds, blazing hot suns, cold, dark nights, and days without the comforts of home all to reach this field!" A louder clamor sounded and the crowd stood, creating a strange wave of human bodies.

    "Now, before we begin the competition," he said to calm the crowd down, "let us remember that the trainers who do not win are not losers. The people out on this field have been through trails that make them all winners in life." The throng of people cheered again, and my sarcastic self almost had me laughing. I had to bite my tongue to keep it in. Could you get any cornier? I looked to Shayla, who was doing the same thing.

    We were then dismissed, and we filtered out of the four exits of the dome into separate lobbies. There, Nurse Joy's were stationed with the sorting machines and the results of the drawings were shown. We looked for Shayla's picture, which was paired with a middle-aged man, around the middle. We were the 75th battlers. Ugh.

    Tai groaned. "We have to wait THAT LONG to kick this guy's butt? The battle'll be tomorrow!" I looked to Shayla for her reaction, which was a simple shrug and sigh.

    "Then we'll have to wait. At least we're not last. Or first." Nonetheless, the jolteon was quite put out. We then left the dome for a large, purple-roofed building. The letters "H-M" were on the side, and beside it, I saw a simple white sign, "Trainer Housing". Confused, I looked up to Shayla, who had the look that this was merely routine. We weren't going to stay in the pokemon center? I relayed my question to Tai, who hesitated in answering.

    "Yeah, trainers for large competitions like these get to stay in prepared apartments that the League provides. The Heads like to have all of the trainers in one place, and it's a sign of gratitude; the Heads wouldn't be getting all of this money without us, so it's polite to return the favor."

    I nodded -it made sense. I looked back to Tai to talk to him about the horribly corny "winners in life" bit, but he had a somber expression on his face; I lost my train of thought upon seeing it. What's with him?

    We walked into the apartment building to see an already huge gathering of trainers watching a large screen TV, which displayed a pokemon battle underway. Shayla ignored them and went to the elevator, a furnished, maroon pocket of space, and pressed the 14 button. Silently we ascended, and I looked to Shayla to see if she was mad or not. Surely she would want to talk to us. But her face was weary, exhausted. The elevator chimed, and we found our way to our room, room 1492.

    The door came open with a little card Shayla held, and we entered. Shayla let everyone out of their balls, and Kaiyou quickly turned to his human form before his colossal form broke something in the small suite. He sat on the sofa, leaned back, and asked, "So I assume we're not battling tonight?" At Shayla's slow shake, he replied softly, "Thank God."

    My trainer yawned and said, "I'm getting that bed over there-" she pointed to one bed in a small, separate room, "Kaiyou, you can take the other-" she pointed to another bedroom adjacent to hers, "and the rest can sleep wherever you want. Goodnight, I'm going to bed." She tottered over to her room and shut the door with a soft click. Kaiyou stretched, stood, then scratched the small of his back. He looked to me and asked, "Are you gonna sleep in here or with me?"

    I trotted towards his room and he muttered, "With me, then," and followed. I was personally not tired; I was quite excited actually. So when Kaiyou flopped onto the bed face down, I asked, "Why are you tired? You didn't do anything." He shrugged and rolled over.

    "I don't know," he replied with a yawn, "I just want some sleep. I guess Illauna's endless training sessions are starting to catch up with me. In any case, I'm tired." I cocked my head and hopped onto the bed with him.

    "What do you do in those 'training sessions?'" I asked, "Are they really that hard?"

    He laughed and then sat upright, staring at the pale gray wall. "Yeah, they're pretty brutal. And they were separated by too little sleep. But I don't want to go into details right now…" He patted my head absently as he removed his shoes, socks, and shirt. He threw them carelessly to the floor and snuggled under the warm, quilted covers on his bed. "'Night, girl."

    "Goodnight," I replied, pawing out a place for me to sleep. I ended up against the lump that was my Lord's middle, and prepared myself for the battle that would occur the next day.

  11. #26
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 26

    The First Match

    The dim, muffled morning rays were what awakened me the next morning. I blinked slowly, looking around the room and letting my brain process where we were. I remembered that we were now at the Hoenn League, waiting for our first match. I glanced down at my Lord, who was still sound asleep, and shook my head to clear my hazy thoughts. I looked back to Kaiyou; should I wake him? His soft breathing and peaceful expression made me reconsider the thought; he had said something the night before about Illauna's training sessions. I could only imagine what the Legendary trainer had put him through. So, leaving my Lord asleep on the bed, I made my way to the living room.

    I found that I was the first one up. Kiya, Amburna, Tai, and Kazu were curled up one way or another on their respective pieces of furniture or carpet. I began to make my way back to my room when I heard a yawn, then Kazu's telepathic voice saying, 'Hello, Ayako. I didn't think you would be up this early.'

    I turned and smiled. I guessed why he was using telepathy; he didn't want to wake anyone with our conversations. Trying not to embarrass myself in front of the espeon, I tried very hard to control the volume of my own mental voice. (I wasn't tired last night. I didn't need much sleep.)

    The espeon cocked his head. 'Not even with the wounds you had? I admit, they were minor since Kuvai healed you, but shouldn't you be tired from your excursions?'

    I shrugged and replied, (Not really. I guess he really did a good job healing me.)

    He nodded and seemed lost for a small moment. I was about to ask what the matter was, but he beat me. 'Ayako, do you mind… if we… talk?'

    Confused, I answered, (We're talking now.)

    He shifted uncomfortably on his small purple feet. 'I mean, in private.'

    I tried to keep the laugh out of my mental voice. (Kazu, we ARE talking in private. No one else can hear this.)

    'You know what I mean,' Kazu responded irritably. I nodded and then went into the Void, Kazu on my heels. I quickly led us to the roof of our inn, and then settled myself on the cold shingles.

    "So what do you want to talk about so privately?" I asked as he sat down to my left. He stiffened a bit, and then took a deep breath to relax him. It didn't really work, but he asked all the same.

    "Ayako," he began softly, "Do you… well… I… uh…" I cocked my head as he stumbled over his words. I didn't try to pry them out of him though; he seemed to have enough trouble on his own. "I heard from Tai that you met another absol last night."

    A little startled by the subject, it took me a bit of time to answer. "Yes, I did. His name was Arden. Nice guy."

    At my comment, he grimaced a little bit, and then said, "Tai didn't wanting me doing this. He… didn't want me saying anything to you at all, but I think you should know." He looked towards the rising sun, which was ascending in it glorious rainbow of reds, oranges and yellow before us, and sighed deeply. "He… doesn't like Arden."

    I burst out laughing. Kazu was startled by my reaction; I suppose he expected me to be angry or something. But I just found it too hilarious to keep in. "Of course Tai doesn't like him!" I said while wiping tears from my eyes via my paw. "Tai doesn't like any Dark! He told me himself! Sure, it was… a long while ago when he said it -it was when Kaiyou first awakened- but I remember it. It was the reason he hated me at first."

    Kazu's face fell to uncertainty. "No… he never hated you. Thought you were annoying at first, yes, but never HATED you. Not like Eclipse, but that's different." He looked me straight in the eyes, his lavender orbs piercing mine like knives. "Just… for his sake, stay away from Arden."

    Now I was mad. I stood on all fours and towered over the small espeon, exposing my white fangs in a feral snarl. Though the small espeon was surprised, he wasn't scared. "Why should I? Arden's my own race! He's nice! I like him! What if he were to become a good friend of mine, or hell, let's stretch reality for a moment, my mate? Why should I surrender my social life for a gluttonous jolteon who can't seem to be serious for five minutes?"

    Kazu sighed and stared at me like I had attacked him. "That's exactly my point…"

    My butt fell back to the cold shingles. I was completely stunned. Had he just said what I thought he said? "What… What?"

    His shoulders sagged and his expression became pleading. "Oh, Ayako, don't you see? Tai, well, he… he… he's in l-"

    (GOOD MORNING, GIRL! I see you!)

    I whirled around at the mental voice, trying to find my Lord. I found him on the ground, in his true form, tail wagging and tongue flapping against his chin as he panted. He looked ludicrous. I searched for any trainer who would want to catch him, but when I saw none, I turned my attention back to my Lord. (Why are you here?)

    He trotted up to the building more to see us better. He said response as if it were completely obvious. (Why, to train.)

    I looked to Kazu, hoping he would provide some insight, but alas, he merely shrugged his shoulders. I turned back to my Lord, who was saying a telepathic hello to an old couple walking their growlithe. They ran away. (How rude,) he admonished.

    I sighed and asked, (What do you mean, 'train?' How are you going to train me? And why?)

    His canine smile widened. (You seemed so interested in Illauna's training she put me through, I thought I'd give you a little sample. And not only will it warm you up for the second match that's sure to come, it'll keep you in shape since you aren't battling today.)

    I frowned slightly. I figured that I was going to get my rear handed to me, but I hadn't had a chance to actually battle against my Lord, and it was intriguing to see how my strength compared to his. "I'll be down," I said after a moment. I turned back to Kazu, and asked, "Can we continue this after the first match?"

    He nodded grimly and I took him back to the hotel room and then went outside to my Lord. He was sitting patiently on the lawn, still in his true form. When he noticed me, his ears perked. (Are you ready?) I nodded and then he said with a smirk, (See if you can catch me.) Then, he leaped into the Void.

    I scrambled in after him, only to see his fading gold stripes in the distance. I pumped my legs to try and catch up with him, but he seemed to know where I was and kept the same distance between us. I ran into the wall of the Void and sprang up where I thought he was, but then saw that he was exactly where I had been earlier. (Nice trick,) he began, (but not good enough. You'll have to try harder.)

    I frowned. "How am I supposed to catch you in here? You anticipate my every move, not to mention you're just faster than me." In the silence that followed, my panting was the only sound.

    But then, his canine smile grew again. (Well, you'll have to figure that out for yourself. Imagine you face a pokemon both faster and cleverer than you. What do you do to defeat him?) I rolled my eyes; this was impossible!

    "I roll over and die," I answered sarcastically. My Lord thought it was funny and laughed, his canine throat rumbling a strange cough.

    (Interesting choice, but no,) he replied. He walked calmly to me and picked me up by the scruff of my neck. (I see we have a lot of work to do.) I didn't struggle against him, just sighed.

    "And what kind of work are we going to do?" I asked without much enthusiasm.

    (Oh… this and that.)



    I jumped off of the cliff face and rocketed into his side, earning a grunt of pain from my Lord. I felt it too, so I staggered when I landed. However, he caught me off guard when he snapped his jaws onto my back leg, then threw me into the face I had just jumped off of. I slid to the ground, panting to the point where my throat dried. I got up to the sound of my Lord's comments.

    (That was good,) he said as he stood to his full height. We had been training for hours now, planning strategies, executing tricky attacks, and on my part, getting my butt handed to me. My Lord caught or counter-attacked every attack I had brought to him, giving it back to me with double the force. I knew he was strong, but not like this! Had I really been battling with him and not just sparring, I would have died a thousand times. (But,) he continued in between pants, (you left yourself wide open for a counter-attack, like I just showed you, or a sidestep. You would have crashed right into the ground, breaking all your teeth out.) He then took a defensive stance -which meant I was to attack first- and added, (Now try to hit me again.)

    I nodded and launched myself at him again with an aerial ace attack. He sparked, and before I knew it, his thunder blasted me thirty feet away from him. I skidded and rolled another ten feet, then pushed myself back up. It looked like that wasn't going to work. I looked around for some kind of thing to use against him, but all I saw were bushes, trees and cliffs. Then, an idea struck me.

    I readied myself again and then flew at him with another aerial ace. He seemed confused by this, but he shrugged it off. When I was close enough, he released another thunder, but I deflected it with my thunderbolt. His defense wide open, I sliced my scythe into his foreleg and landed behind him, staggering from the pain I felt. His leg went limp, but as soon as I was celebrating my infliction on him, he slammed me into the wall with a powerful swipe of his tail and a light thunder for good measure.

    I had my eyes closed, so when I heard my Lord's human voice, I started. "Very good," he said, panting, "I didn't expect that." I looked up and saw him looking absently at the wound I had caused; his bright crimson blood slowly seeped into his white shirt and trailed lethargically down his half-bare arm. I gasped. I didn't mean to draw blood!

    I hopped onto my sore feet and tried to sputter an apology, but he wouldn't hear of it. "I knew what could happen," he stated soothingly. "It's not your fault. I should have kept my guard better." He sat down on a rock and pulled out a small bag filled with potions and the like. I stared blankly at it for a moment. Where had that come from?

    At my blank stare, he said, "I told Illauna what I wanted to do today and she lent me some. Last night, while you were asleep, I went and brought this bag here for today." He began spraying on his arm, which confused me.

    "I thought pokemon medicines didn't work on humans?" He flinched, but I assumed it was from the potion, not my question. He shook his head and began to spray me with the super potion bottle.

    "Technically, I'm not ENTIRELY human. Oh sure, I look, smell, sound and probably taste like a human, but the symbol on my forehead keeps me slightly pokemon." He sprayed a few more times, then put the bottle away in the bag. "I'm pokemon enough to be healed like this, but not enough to the point if some moron throws a ball at me, I'll go in. Does that make sense?"

    I nodded slowly; it really didn't but I didn't want to delve into impossible sciences. He smiled at my understanding and looked at a small watch that he had pulled out of the bag. "We'd better get back now; I bet Shayla's starting to pace. Our match's coming up." He stood, then frowned as he picked at the bloody splotch on his sleeve. "This a problem… I'll look conspicuous…"

    I shrugged. "Spit on it, then run it under some water, it'll come out." He looked at me with a quirked eyebrow, and I felt I had to explain myself. "Well… Shayla was reading this Marthy Stewy… magazine and I picked it up."

    He rolled his eyes as he transformed into his true form. "You have a strange selective memory.) He led us into the Void and back to the hotel, where through the veil, I could see hundreds of trainers lined up, talking, calming themselves and watching a TV with the current match. Shayla was easy to spot because she wasn't doing any of these; she was pacing quickly while staring at a watch.

    Kaiyou and I stepped out of the Void amongst the throng of trainers in front of our own trainer. I was surprised that Kaiyou wanted to reveal himself, but he stepped out into the open before I could say anything. The conversations of the trainers stopped abruptly as he and I stepped out of the protective Void. He surveyed the trainers and then glanced down to Shayla, who wasn't captivated in an awe-struck silence like the other trainers. "Took you long enough," she muttered sternly. Kaiyou merely shrugged his canine shoulders.

    She strode through the plethora of bodies to the dome, to which Kaiyou followed us through vanishing in and out of the Void where the facilities were too small to accommodate him. Shayla checked in and then we strode out onto the field. Our opponent was already in his cage-like stand, picking at his fingernails. Shayla, with great dignity, took her spot as the crowd cheered. Over the roar of the crowd, the man we were facing cried, "I'm gonna flatten you with my power, girlie!"

    Since I was not participating, I could stand right beside my trainer and watch. The man sent out a very powerful-looking alakazam out, and I looked up to Shayla's face. She wore a menacing grin, and then called out for my Lord. "Kaiyou! Come out!"

    My Lord slowly emerged from the Void from the now heightened podium Shayla and I stood upon. Once he was out completely, the announcer began to narrate the battle. "And Cheston sends out his faithful alakazam! But Shayla… what pokemon does she have? I've never seen one like that before!"

    Cheston wasted no time. "Alakazam!" he cried, "psychic!"

    Kaiyou sat down and began to scratch an itch as the attack hit him, then absorbed into him. The crowd gasped, and then the announcer cried, "It's a Dark type! Psychic attacks are no use here! It seems that Cheston has lost precious time with that attack!"

    My Lord charged forward, his mouth open for a crunch attack. He grabbed the alakazam with his jaws, then sent the psychic pokemon flying into his trainer's podium. "Alakazam!" Cheston cried. The pokemon was already fainted, and he disappeared into the red light of his poke ball. The crowd went insane.

    "And Shayla Kyreson has taken out one of his pokemon in ONE HIT! Folks, I have NEVER seen the likes of this pokemon! What is it to make it so powerful? And Shayla isn't even commanding it!"

    As to prove the announcer's point, Shayla leaned back on the white railing and pulled out a little Garfield comic. Kaiyou was having a field day.

    (Don't people train pokemon to a caliber that doesn't make me feel like I'm slaughtering these guys? It seems Illauna and Shayla are the only trainers competent enough to properly train.)

    Cheston then threw out his next pokemon, a hitmonlee. Kaiyou sneered at the fighting-type, and sparks came flying around his fur. The judge took down his flags and a new match began.

    The hitmonlee charged at my Lord with a high jump kick, but Kaiyou simply knocked him out of the way with a slap of his tail. The hitmonlee was pummeled into the concrete, leaving a dent. But he was not out. He rose, then charged with a mega kick. "Can this hitmonlee withstand the incredible power of this strange new pokemon?" the announcer asked rhetorically. No… I replied bluntly in my mind.

    My Lord rolled with the direction of the kick into the Void. For the moment that he had disappeared, the crowd gasped and then went silent. The hitmonlee, now at a loss for what to do, quickly glanced at his surroundings like a paranoid bird. "Where did it go?" the announcer asked.

    The question was answered as Kaiyou jumped out of the Void right under the hitmonlee. The fighting pokemon was now in my Lord's jaws, suffering under his cruel fangs. With a quick movement of his head, the hitmonlee flew out of my Lord's mouth and back into the concrete, where it lay still.

    "Hitmonlee is unable to battle!" the judge cried, "The new pokemon is the winner!"

    The crowd was insane now; they rose to their feet and cheered to a deafening volume. Shayla merely turned a page and continued reading her Garfield. "AMAZING!" the announcer cried, "This new pokemon seems to be unbeatable! Will Cheston be able to overcome this pokemon with his last?"

    Kaiyou then howled a haunting note, making the crowd silence momentarily. Then they erupted into an even louder roar, which made my Lord chuckle happily. (They like what see,) he snickered in my mental ear.

    I merely shook my head; my Lord was giddy. His tail swung from side to side as he wagged it cheerfully and Cheston sent out Kaiyou's next and final victim. It was a blastoise, sturdy, powerful. Of course, he wasn't strong enough to withstand my Lord's power. Kaiyou snarled, then let his own thunder envelop him in a strange, yellow and gold aura. It sparked dangerously around him, creating an electric shield. He let a feral howl out of his throat, then unleashed it upon the poor blastoise, who could do naught but watch. The electricity hit the water tortoise; then the blastoise fell and did not attempt to get back up. Kaiyou righted his posture as the judge proclaimed Kaiyou and Shayla -who was still reading Garfield- the winners.

    "Amazing!" the announcer proclaimed as we left the podium, "Simply amazing! What kind of pokemon is Shayla wielding to have that specimen on her team? I feel sorry for the next trainer to cross her!" We strode away -my Lord in the Veil beside us- from the field and into the lobby. Some trainers stepped back from us; others drew close to us and bombarded Shayla with question after question.

    "Where'd you get it?"

    "Can I have it?"

    "I'll trade you ANYTHING for it!"

    "I'll give you whatever you want -money, pokemon, ANYTHING!"

    Shayla paid no heed to these questions as we slowly made our way to our hotel room. "We won't know who we face next until the prelims are done. We'll chill out at the hotel room until we're called, assuming we get there before then." The last part came out in a gritted frown, and it made me chuckle. I hopped into the Void and joined my Lord.

    "That was a nice display you had," I began smugly. "Were we merely showing off power?"

    Kaiyou shrugged his canine shoulders. (Depends on how you look at it. One COULD say that I was showing off -which is simply preposterous- or that I was battling. I didn't want to take any chances with hitting a pokemon with too little strength; that would let them get a counter-attack in.) I frowned.

    "Not likely," I replied sarcastically. He hit me lightly with his great black paw and scoffed. I sighed and then trotted onward. Arden then entered my mind, and I swooned happily at the thought of conversing with him again. Kaiyou noticed and asked, (…What are you thinking about to have THAT expression on your face?)

    I corrected my expression to one of contempt. "Nothing. Why do you ask?"

    He laughed. (Is my Ayako daydreaming? Oooh, what about?)

    "Nothing!" I cried again, this time a little desperate. Wrong move.

    (It HAS to be something -something IMPORTANT- to receive a denial like that. Let's see… I doubt it's of anyone I know…) I sighed heavily as he went on, trying to guess. (You have a boyfriend, don't you?)

    "I do not!" I cried indignantly.

    (You do now,) he replied with a snicker. (My sister was like that when she first fell in love. I know the drill. So who is it? The jolteon?)

    I stopped dead in my tracks. Why would he think of Tai? Why not Kazu? I glared up at him, and replied, "NO! It's not him! I would have to have a complete mental breakdown before I even… bleh," I concluded, not able to finish my sentence. But what confused me the most was that it was not disgust that I felt for the jolteon deep inside, though it was what I conveyed. What was that little flutter in my stomach called?

    Kaiyou was silent for a little bit, then, (Don't be too sure, Ayako. However, if that's what you want, fine. It's not the jolteon.)

    "No, it's not," I replied sternly.

    (So who is it?) I sighed again, feeling my stubbornness fade. Maybe I should just tell him…

    "A… Another absol. His name's Arden. I met him in the air lock at the beginning of the opening ceremony."

    I saw my Lord's eyebrow cock. (Air lock… that's romantic.)

    I hit him with my clawed paw. "I never said it was!" I exclaimed. "He's nice, and he's smart, and…"

    As I told my Lord what had transpired between Arden and I, he listened silently, merely nodding and interjecting little "yes's" and "no's" whenever I asked him something. At the end, he said softly, (Ayako, you've only met him once. Don't get too carried away in your fantasies. They may misguide you.)

    I looked up at him, confused. "What do you mean?" But instead of elaborating, he merely shrugged and then leaped out of the Void to our suite. Jumping out after him, I stood in the den, still baffled as I watched him transformed. What did he have against Arden? I frowned and then plopped down onto the couch, not bothering to follow the now human Kaiyou into his room. What did he know about Arden? He didn't meet him. He wasn't there when we met.

    I sighed and drifted off to sleep, frustrated at my Lord's narrow mind. Kaiyou didn't know anything… didn't… know anything…

  12. #27
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 27

    Disobedience

    I awoke in the suit's living room to the poke of a small paw in my side. From a small glance to the clock, I saw that it was 5:45 pm. I looked up and saw Tai, who was wearing a sour face. "He's here to see you," he stated softly. I blinked for a moment and tried to figure out whom he meant.

    "What are you talking about?" I asked sleepily, to which he growled in annoyance.

    "That Armpit dude." At my blank stare, he growled again. "That absol you met in the airlock before the opening ceremony!"

    "You mean Arden?" I replied, to which he nodded irritably. I jumped happily to my feet. "Where is he?" Tai nodded his head unenthusiastically to the door, to which I began to trot over. He stopped me by biting gently onto my tail.

    "I don't like him," he said softly after he let my webbed tail go. "He smells funny. You shouldn't go out alone with him."

    I rolled my eyes. "Don't make your inferiority complex his problem," I replied scathingly. "You don't like any Dark. You didn't like Kaiyou when you first met him."

    He growled. "That's different! He was acting like an ass and he looked like an umbreon! Now he's okay, but that's not the point!" He took a deep breath and then continued in a hushed voice, "This Garden dude is big trouble, Xena. And it's not my 'inferiority problem' or whatever. Kazu and Amburna agree with me."

    I glared. "How dare you bring the rest of them into this!" I turned completely around and pushed my face within inches of his. He shrank back a bit, but I didn't care. "This is none of their concern! What happens between me and him is OUR business. In fact, I don't recall asking for your narrow-minded opinion about him, so why don't you just piss off?" His chocolate brown eyes flinched and faltered a bit. I knew I had hurt him, but the pent-up rage grew and I had to hurt him more. "And while you're at it, learn to remember people's name's for Godssake! It's NOT that complicated a name!"

    He stared at me for a moment, then turned for Shayla's room. "Fine! Go! You don't seem to need any common sense, so go ahead!See if I care!" He retreated into his trainer's room, and then I noticed Kaiyou leaning against his doorframe, a disapproving grimace etched into his pale face.

    "That was rather rude of you," he stated softly. I growled at him. What was it with everyone and Arden? He wasn't a bad guy! And why was I getting punished for merely talking with him?

    I glared. "It was rude of him to simply assume Arden's a bad guy from the five minutes he listened to us!" Kaiyou cocked an eyebrow.

    "And it's stupid of you to simply assume he's a good guy from the five minutes you talked to him." Since I couldn't come up with an appropriate reply, he continued. "Tai's just trying to look out for you. His nose IS better than yours is, so you need to listen to him. And just because Arden's an absol does not mean he won't try to hurt you. You don't know his motives."

    "And niether do you! Why aren't you putting faith into him? He's a Dark! One of our own!"

    His gaze narrowed and I could feel anger and irritation seeping from him. "Now every Darkling is a good pokemon, Ayako. You should know that by now. You, me and a few others are rarities of the Dark race; most Darks are loners, cold, and sometimes even malicious. He could be using you for all you know."

    I put a foot forward. "And for all you know, he could just want to be my friend!"

    His shoulders sagged and his upper lip drew up in a slight snarl. His hand reached up to his brow, and he began rubbing. My Lord took in some deep breaths for a moment, then glared back at me. "Fine. Go ahead. I could just tell you not to go, but you seem so damn certain. So go. Disregard your Lord and your comrade." He then pointed a finger at me accusingly. "But I warned you. And when you're in trouble, don't call to me for help." He then turned and slammed the door to his room.

    Suddenly, a feeling, a presence, fell away from my mind. The emptiness that was now inside me almost made me collapse. It hurt, but then it didn't hurt at all. It was strange, like a knife in my chest, but when I looked down, there was nothing. Then as I looked around for the source of the pain, I realized that I was alone. Utterly. Usually, I could feel my Lord's presence, but there was nothing. (My Lord?) I asked.

    Nothing.

    I snarled and then turned back to the door and opened it with my paw. There sat Arden, looking up at the ceiling. When he noticed me, he smiled slowly and asked tentatively, "…So your teammates don't approve of me, huh?"

    I frowned and replied, "Don't mind them. They don't know what they're talking about." I started for the stairs, him following at my side. I was about to ask him why he didn't seem to feel Kaiyou's presence, but he began the conversation first.

    "So who are your comrades?" he asked politely. "I would love to know who works with such a beautiful lady."

    I giggled. How could a wonderful person be bad? "Well," I began as I chuckled, "there's Amburna, a dragonair. I know she's way beyond the level that she can evolve, but she doesn't seem to want to. But even though she hasn't evolved, she's really strong. I saw her take down the two pokemon at the Mossdeep gym with one surf."

    His brow went up. "Amazing. Your trainer must be very talented."

    I nodded. "She is. Then there's Kiya, an aggron. I haven't really seen her battle because she was only recently transferred to us. The one that had her spot… well…" I tried to put Saji's death into the right words. "He… he died…"

    Arden stopped in his tracks, shock and sorrow in his crimson eyes. "I'm so sorry… Were you two… close?"

    I nodded my head slightly. "I knew him. He was a good friend and a good fighter. He died in Sootopolis… battling…" I didn't want to say Anubo's name, "…that pokemon that was rampaging around -you heard of it didn't you?"

    He nodded. "You… you battled him?"

    I shrugged my shoulders. "Yeah, a bit. But the ones who battled the most were Kaiyou and Yasille."

    At this, his mouth opened in shock. "You… you mean Kaiyou, the Dark Legendary? You know him personally?"

    I smiled. "Yup. He's even on our team right now. He promised Shayla -that's my trainer- that he would help her out in the League because of Saji -that's the scizor that… died." Arden then began walking again, and I told him about Kazu and Tai. But he didn't really seem too interested in them and kept asking about Kaiyou. Of course, I figured that would happen. When you live your life thinking your don't have a god to pray to, it's an amazing epiphany in the realization that you do.

    I told him everything I knew about Kaiyou, leaving Kuvai and the details about Yasille out, as we made our way to the bottom of the stairs. He was very intrigued about him, but of course, who wouldn't be? I told him of training with our Lord, and how Kaiyou had won our first match with ease.

    We exited the hotel and made our way to the small pond that was a little out to the east of the hotel. The moon sparkled over the blue pond, and the first stars, which were slowly being lit one by one, watched over us. Out over the crags of Victory Road, I could see the faint lights of Mossdeep and Sootopolis. I sighed at the beauty of it all.

    "So Ayako," Arden began after a calm silence, "this Kaiyou… I saw his match earlier. How did he disappear like that? After the hitmonlee tried to kick him, he simply vanished."

    My smile grew into a mischievous grin. "Why, he used the Void. Have you never gone into it?" I took his blank stare for a no. "It's really easy," I assured as I went to a shadowed tree. He followed me uncertainly. "All you have to do is want to go into the Void, jump into a shadow, and then you're there!"

    He looked at the tree uneasily, then back to me. "Are you sure I can do it?"

    I scoffed and said, "A newborn houndour could do it, given proper instruction. Any Dark can go into it; it's our gift and our sanctuary." I then demonstrated by walking calmly into the tree's shadow, then turned and came halfway back out. Arden was completely overwhelmed. He stood there; mouth agape and I began laughing. This must have been how Eclipse felt when he taught me. "Come on, it's not going to hurt you."

    He came slowly towards me, and I retreated entirely into the Void. Through the veil, I could see him pause, then he jumped in beside me. His feet faltered, probably because he expected to crash into the tree, and he glanced around. When his eyes found me, he said, "This… this is your Void?"

    I nodded. "Yup. You can do all sorts of things here. You can go anywhere you want. In a battle, you can come up right under your opponent and take him completely by surprise!" He smiled and began running around in the swirling purple and black space.

    "Amazing! Simply amazing! I knew there was something special about you, Ayako, and I found one of the things that makes you so unique." He came back to me and nuzzled my cheek. "What else is there you can teach me? I feel so ignorant now that I've seen this wonderful place."

    I smiled and returned his nuzzle, which took him a little by surprise. "Well… why don't we spar? You should learn to use the Void correctly before you go into battle."

    His toothy grin spread across his white and black face. "I would love nothing more."



    We battled in the field that Kaiyou and I had used until first light warmed the clouded sky. Arden was awkward at using the Void at first, sometimes appearing thirty feet away from me when he was supposed to be right beside me. But he eventually grew better and we began to battle in and out of the Void. After we were tired, we went back to the hotel, bidding farewell at the third floor of the stairwell. He thanked me many times for acquainting him to the Void, and wanted me to introduce him to Kaiyou, but I told him that would have to wait. I didn't want to think of the meeting between them just yet.

    I used the Void again to get into our suite to see Tai, Kazu, Kaiyou -in his human form- and the others eating breakfast. The jolteon glared at me coldly, while Kazu glanced worriedly at his brother. Kaiyou didn't look at me at all and continued eating his cereal. I flinched at the lack of a greeting from my Lord, but then Shayla came over to me with my bowl of food. "You shouldn't run off like that, girl," she admonished softly. "I was worried."

    I muttered a "sorry" and began to eat. Shayla grabbed her purse, which had been hidden away in her backpack, and announced, "I have to go down to the lobby and see when our battle is. I'll be back in a little while." The rest of my comrades said a collective goodbye, and when the door shut, Tai looked up from his now finished bowl of food.

    "So what did you do last night -or should I say this morning- that lasted so long?" the jolteon asked, his voice dripping with venom. I looked up from my own bowl, glaring at him. What was his problem?

    "What do you care? I told you last night: what goes on between him and me is OUR business. So why don't you take your nose out of it?"

    Kazu glanced between the two of us, fear plain on his face. I almost felt sorry for him, but my sympathy was overruled by my anger. Tai stepped over his bowl towards me. "Because you're my teammate, and what stupid, irrational stunts you pull affect us all! We have a match today, Ayako! Are you even strong enough to fight?"

    I shrugged my shoulders. "Most of the pokemon here are weaklings; you've said so yourself! And besides, Kaiyou's here. He can take my place."

    Kaiyou glared down at me, and for a moment, I was scared of him. "Don't you drag me into this," he warned softly. He then turned back to his cereal and began reading the Candide book again. I recoiled a step; his cold reply physically hurt. Tai turned back to me again and said, "He's different, Xena. He's not one of Shayla's permanent pokemon. He comes and goes as he pleases. What if he decided to leave today and all we had for a Dark pokemon was you? What could we do then? You let us down, absol."

    Though it did sting that he used my species name, something he hadn't done since we first met, I wasn't daunted. He was jealous. Just jealous. I was about to reply when Kazu jumped in between us.

    "Would you two stop?" he almost yelled. "I hate it when teammates fight! Especially when it involves my brother and one of my best friends! Please, would you two talk like civilized pokemon and try to work this out?"

    I snarled. "If he CAN talk like a civilized pokemon." Tai snapped at me over his brother's shoulder. Kazu held him back with a psychic, and me with his forked tail. Amburna slithered to me and wrapped loosely around my legs and middle. Though she was relaxed now, I knew that if I tried to get away, her gentle hold would become suffocating.

    "This is what I'm talking about!" Kazu shouted. "You're acting like children! Tai, Ayako, I agree with both of you. She had no right to go out like that without permission, especially with a battle today. But she also has the right to be friends with whomever she wants. So how are we going to settle this?"

    Tai growled under his younger brother's hold. "Let me go, Kazu. THEN we'll be able to settle things."

    Amburna squeezed a little harder when I tried to get out. "Fighting will do nothing except wear you out," she said in an almost motherly tone, "and that's not something we need right now. Shayla needs all of us to be healthy and fit. After today, then you settle your petty squabbles. But NOT NOW."

    Kazu nodded and turned to his older brother. "Tai, please be reasonable. Settle down and think this through."

    I scoffed from my position in Amburna's coil. "That's a lark. Him, thinking?"

    Tai snarled again as sparks began to dance around his psychic bubble. "I do it more than you if you go out to rendezvous with some two-faced bastard." I snapped at him and Amburna's hold on me tightened. He was cocky now; he had a button to push.

    "I really thought you were better than that, absol." The last word was saturated with disdain. "But I guess you're just like the other Darks I've met; save for your Lord. You're all two-timing, back-stabbing bastards! Why don't you go back to that damn Void of yours and stay there? It would help us all out!"

    I struggled to get out of my captor's hold again, but the dragonair wouldn't relent. "How DARE you! Back-stabber? How in Hell am I a back-stabber? What wrong have I done, save for seeing Arden? You should know what you're accusing before your mouth spews it, jolteon."

    He was about to reply, but his anger suddenly left him. His shoulders sagged and Kazu's psychic vanished. Momentarily, I was worried. What had happened to him? "I just…" His voice was fragile, a mere whisper. "I just wanted…"

    Then, for the first time since the fight had started, Kaiyou stirred. He stood stoically and placed a placating hand on Tai's spiky head. For some reason, jealousy for the electric dog swelled within me. Why did my Lord go to him? Tai wasn't even our element! He was in the wrong! I was the victim! How could my Lord side with the gluttonous jerk? Kaiyou picked up Tai, and then, in an almost silent murmur, he stated, "Now you know how he feels." My Lord then went into his room, Tai in his arms, and shut the door.

    Amburna let me go as soon as Tai was out of sight. I didn't stir from my spot on the floor; I was too shocked to move. Kazu slowly came up to me and asked, "Are you okay?"

    I turned my eyes to his, and felt terrible. I had just put him in a horrible position, one that he wasn't made to handle. I sighed and plopped down onto my butt. "I don't know," I muttered. The absence of Tai's happiness and Kaiyou's mere presence put my mental state into shambles. I couldn't think straight. I became annoyed at the tinniest little things. Was Arden's friendship worth this? Was my pride worth it?

    Amburna, in all her wisdom, seemed to know what my mind had come to. "You should tell the other absol what you've decided. Then, you can apologize to Tai and Kaiyou."

    Pride overtook my logic. "Apologize? But-"

    She wormed her way in front of my face and said sternly, "Ayako, listen. You WILL apologize. You have hurt them more than you know. Tai especially. And if you do not know why, then you truly are a simpleton. For all of us, please, just end it. Sacrifice a little to save the unity of this team."

    I sighed. She was right. For whatever reason, Arden had torn Tai and I apart, I had to mend it. Though it would be hard; I wasn't one to give up so easily. From Amburna's sturdy stare, I made my way to the door, about to find the room where he lived. I needed to find Arden.

  13. #28
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 28

    Motives Revealed

    I knew what I had to do though it pained me to do it. The problem was how was I going to break it to him?

    Arden wasn't a bad guy… He had to understand the reasons I would give him. He had to understand that I couldn't sacrifice my team for just him… I sighed and looked over my shoulder to Amburna, who was staring at me firmly. I frowned and replied to her glare, "All right, all right. I'm going…"

    As I was about to enter the Void via the couch, the door swung open to reveal a panting Shayla, who was clutching her chest with her hand. "We gotta go," she said in between breaths. "We're… second. The first match is… almost over."

    As I stood there blankly, she ran to Kaiyou's room, where a complacent Dark Lord and somber Tai emerged. "Come on, guys!" she yelled while pulling Kaiyou by his pale, human arm, "We have to get to the stadium in like…" she checked her watch, "…five minutes! Let's go!"

    I frowned, turned to the wall and then opened up the Void. "We could go this way," I said softly. Shayla looked at the open, swirling black portal, then shrugged and ran in. The rest of the team followed, and I went in after Tai. I closed up the portal when we were all in the Void.

    Kaiyou, now back into his true form, led the way. Shayla was hopping impatiently as she tried convincing Kaiyou to move faster, but nothing would persuade him. He meandered to a spot in the wall of the Void and then poked it with his paw, which created a swirling whirlpool of indigoes and black. Shayla ran into it without hesitation, while the rest of us calmly went through.

    We emerged into a crowd in one of the lobbies. Shayla was trying to get us to the field, but couldn't get past the solid wall of trainers inquiring her of Kaiyou. Irritated, she turned to my Lord and demanded tersely, "Well, aren't you going to help? We have to get there in three minutes or we forfeit!

    Kaiyou seemed to contemplate her rather rude request and then replied by picking her up with his teeth by her jacket. She hung like a small kit in the mouth of her parent, dangling from her jacket limply. Kaiyou bounded over the trainers and onto the field.

    We dashed between the trainers' legs and got to the field, where Shayla was now frowning at her blue jacket, which had two new holes in it. My Lord was no where in sight. She returned all of us to our poke balls, save for Tai and myself, and we boarded the podium as it ascended into the air. The other trainer was already on her own podium, an indifferent tropius hovering in the air above her. Her blue eyes glared at Shayla, but my trainer didn't flinch at the glare.

    The announcer began to trumpet on the PA. "Hello, and welcome to the second match of the second round! Here, the blonde, blue-eyed trainer hailing from Goldenrod, Bianca! She has her own tropius out, one of her pokemon we'll be seeing in battle this match, folks! And in this corner, the Third Place winner of Kanto, the Champion of Johto, please welcome, Shayla Kyreson!" The crowd roared and Shayla nodded slightly to her fans. "Maybe we'll get to see that mysterious new pokemon we saw last round, folks! I wonder if Bianca has a pokemon mighty enough to conquer it!" Another roar from the crowd, and then, "Let the match begin!"

    Bianca didn't hesitate in her pokemon. The poke ball flew into the air and released a golem. Shayla was about to reach down to me to send me out, but Tai barked at her. She glanced at him, and whispered, "Tai, you want to fight a GOLEM?" Tai's response was jumping out into the grassy field.

    "Tai!" Shayla cried as the jolteon took his stance in front of the golem. Said golem laughed and began to flex his muscles. Tai didn't seem deterred at the display at all; he just stood there.

    "Tai, what are you doing?" I shouted. The only answer I got from him was a glare over his shoulder. I sat back on my haunches. Shayla couldn't switch him out until he fainted. I turned back to Shayla, who had a grim frown on her face. She leaned back onto the railing and turned to me.

    "Nothing we can do now, girl. Let's just hope that the golem doesn't know earthquake." I sighed and turned back to the field as well.

    (Kaiyou?) I asked, hoping he was over his anger. Even though I couldn't feel his presence, I knew he was watching the match from the Void. (My Lord, what's wrong with Tai? Why did he do that?) I listened for an answer, but I didn't get one. I went to my haunches. He was still mad…

    Bianca pointed to Tai and screamed, "Rocket! Earthquake!"

    Oh, shit…

    The golem crouched onto the ground and then flew into the air, propelled by his tremendous legs. He came down, and the earth split under the force of his attack. But Tai wasn't on the ground to be hit by the attack.

    The jolteon, right as the golem came onto the ground, catapulted himself into the air with the aid of a quick attack. Before the golem realized where Tai was, the jolteon had latched onto the ground/rock type's face with a mighty bite attack. The golem screamed and tried to slash at Tai, but he was already out of the way. He ran circles around the hulking mass of rock, biting and kicking anything he could before the golem tried to attack. A few minutes of this, the golem simply sat down on the field, exhausted from trying to keep up with my teammate.

    Tai slid in front of the golem, stern in face and body. The golem, tired and dizzy, collapsed to the ground, giving the round up. The judge held up the flag symbolizing us, and shouted, "Golem is unable to battle! Jolteon is the winner!"

    Tai's chest puffed out as he stood valiantly on the field as Bianca withdrew her pokemon. The crowd erupted into cheers and screams as the announcer proclaimed, "AMAZING! This trainer's just full of surprises! A jolteon just beat a golem without a scratch on him! This is simply AMAZING!"

    Bianca was looking a little nervous now. She weighed two poke balls in her hands, one of the tropius beside her. That golem was probably her only chance to beat Tai. She finally made her choice and sent it out to the field. A flash of red, and then a salamence, an intimidating, powerful blue dragon took his place on the field. Tai took a small step backwards at the sight of the blue dragon. At that time, the judge proclaimed, "Round two: salamence versus jolteon! Begin!"

    Tai's thunder attack was blindingly fast, striking the dragon before he knew what hit him. Tai followed up the electric attack with an extreemspeed attack, and landed on the ground with a skid. The air was full of dust, so we waited to see if the salamence had been done in by Tai's consecutive attacks. Our answer was a stream of flame from the cloud of dust.

    Tai's reflexes helped him escape the full brunt of the attack, but his hindquarters were singed. He yelped, but resumed his position on the field. He didn't get much time to rest, however. The salamence blew flamethrower after flamethrower at the jolteon, not always missing. I could see the fatigue in Tai's movements: his dodges were sluggish, he limped, his direction changes were almost nonexistent, and by the time the entire field was burning with the dragon's flamethrowers, Tai collapsed, exhausted, onto the charred field.

    "TAI!" I screamed. I looked to Shayla, who was bending over the rail, trying to get the marred jolteon back to his feet. The salamence was in the air, preparing for an air attack. Red tongues of flame spouted from his mouth, and he began to plummet towards the limp jolteon below. "TAI!" I screamed again. He didn't move.

    The salamence was gaining momentum and was almost to Tai, about to release his flamethrower. Suddenly, Tai's eyes opened, and a great flash of electricity enveloped him. The salamence had no time to bank out of the way, and Tai's thunder hit right on target. The power of the electric affront launched the dragon to the stands, where he hit the fiberglass shield to protect the fans. The dragon fell limply to the ground. Tai did the same.

    The judge's flags went down. "Both pokemon are unable to battle! Choose your next pokemon!" The crowd went insane; cheers and screams echoed in my ears. The announcer was just as enthusiastic. "That jolteon sure put up a fight! Even after winning an exhausting battle against a GOLEM, he put down the salamence as well! With a sacrificing move, that jolteon smote his foe upon the field! Oh, fans, this is a fantastic match! What will the next round be like?" Shayla patted me on the scythe as Tai returned to his poke ball.

    "Your turn, girl," she said simply. I nodded and jumped out onto the field, ready for the tropius. Said tropius lethargically made its way to the field, landing with a heavy thud on the grass. "Third and final round: tropius versus absol! Begin!" The judge's flags went down, and my ice beam flew from my mouth, hitting the tropius right in the chest. He was thrown into his trainer's podium, but was not yet out. He flew into the air and began to glow.

    "Demi!" Shayla called from behind me, "He's about to use solarbeam! Get your ass out of there!" I glared at the glowing tropius and looked for some kind of shadow. I had to get into the Void! I found a suitable shadow and leapt into it right as the solarbeam hit the ground I was just standing on.

    I ran through the Void and came back onto the field using the tropius's own shadow, releasing another ice beam as I did. The tropius roared and let himself fall, trying to use a body slam on me. I simply ducked back into the Void before his weight could smother me.

    I stood in the Void, panting, waiting for the right moment to spring back into battle. The tropius was down, but still not out. I cursed my luck; I got the one tropius with good special defense. Right when I was about to go back into the battle, I felt something behind me. I turned to see my Lord, sitting on his ebony haunches, staring at me expectantly. My legs faltered under his stare; I felt forced to say something, anything.

    "I… I'm sorry…"

    His head lifted, but his gaze did not. (…You have a battle to finish.) He said nothing more, and my hopes of him forgiving me were battered.

    "I really am! I'm sorry!" I shouted at the great black and golden wolf in front of me. "Please, forgive me!" At his silence, I began to snarl. "SAY SOMETHING!"

    He did nothing for a moment. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally lowered his muzzle to my side. I thought he was going to say something, but he just pushed me out of the Void and back into the battle. The troipus, having used morning sun on himself, was back into fighting form and ready to go. He charged at me, mouth open, flat feet out in front of him. I dodged to the side and he ran straight into Shayla's podium. I fired an ice beam at him, and he finally plopped onto the ground, unconscious.

    The judge raised our flag and proclaimed, "Tropius is unable to battle! Victory goes to Shayla and her absol!" As the grass/flying type was called back into his poke ball, the announcer cried, "And the absol wins! With using the same disappearing trick as the mysterious Dark pokemon, the absol triumphs over the tropius! Wonderful! This trainer, Miss Kyerson, may just be the next Hoenn Champion, fans! What an upset! What fantastic battles!"

    Shayla stepped off her now ground-level podium and headed for the air lock. She seemed upset with herself, and I figured it was with Tai. He knew better than to jump into battle like that! Especially against a golem, of all pokemon! I frowned as well. What a hypocrite! my mind screamed. How DARE he say all of those things he said to me and then go and pull a stunt like that! Stupid, stupid jolteon!

    Suddenly, without warning, Kaiyou voice came into my head. (It was to prove a point, Ayako. Think of it as… a metaphor for your situation.)

    My scowl deepened. (I didn't think he knew what a metaphor was.)

    A snarl rumbled in my mind, and then, (Would you stop that?)

    (Stop what?)

    (Belittling him like that! It does more damage than good. And it's very annoying.)

    I sent him a snarl of my own. (But it's the truth!)

    At that moment, an unseen force battered my mind: a mental attack from my Lord. (NEVER say that. It's those kind of words and thoughts that piss me off. How do you know what he knows when you automatically assume without asking? You say he's ignorant, stupid, incompetent, yes? Then you are the same for assuming he is. Simple, arrogant girl!) I stopped in my tracks at one of the ticket booths outside the dome. Without regard to the onlookers, I entered the Void to see my Lord pacing back and forth a few yards from me. His fur was bristled, his tail straight out behind him. I gulped. He was NOT a happy Dark Legendary.

    (Why are you so mad at me?) I asked softly, and I felt his irritation and frustration build. His head snapped to me and a lip came up ever so slightly.

    (Do you REALLY need me to answer that?) His tone was tired, weary, and disappointed. (If you had been listening to the conversation for the past five minutes, you'd know. Or do you assume that you don't need to listen to me either?)

    I backed away from him a few steps. (I… No, of course not… My Lord… I thought you should know that I'm going to tell Arden that I'm not going to be seeing him because you all don't like him.) Kaiyou paused in his pacing and stared at me expectantly. (What I said to Tai… it was wrong…)

    His crimson eyes narrowed. (Is that your reasoning or Amburna's? Because judging from the little coy remark you just said, I'd think the latter. Are you really sorry or are you trying to simply placate us?)

    I flinched. Damn, he was tough! (Well… I…)

    A pause of silence, then Kaiyou scoffed and began to pace again. (I thought so.)

    "At least I'm making an effort to make it right!" I shouted. "I hate this! You being mad at me, Tai being mad, Kazu caught in a bad position between Tai and me… I hate it! And I want to make it all right again, even if Arden has to go away! Though, I still don't understand why you won't give him a chance, I'm willing to give him up for the team!"

    Kaiyou turned and pushed his face towards me, stopping mere inches from my own. (You don't understand? Because you disregarded and deserted your team and me for him. Because I have seen him before, and he smelled like trouble. Because after he left you in the stairwell, he kept muttering something about a plan being able to work. He's a devilish, slinking, skulking snake in the grass and I'll be DAMNED before I let you fraternize with a treacherous bastard like that. You understand me?)

    By the time he was finished, I was sitting on my haunches, leaning away from the black muzzle of my Lord. I nodded and he backed away ever so slightly. I looked up at him as his head leveled out a margin above the base of his neck. "Why didn't you tell me before? All of this could have been avoided…"

    (No it wouldn't,) he interrupted tersely. (You would have paid as much attention to my counsel as you did before. Or better yet, lack thereof. You wouldn't have believed me.) He began to pace again for a while, growling softly as he did. I didn't try to pry the conversation out of him, so I merely waited as he fought what inner demons he possessed. He stopped in his pacing, then added softly, (So you're going to say goodbye to him?)

    I nodded slowly. "Yeah… I am."

    He nodded his grand head as well. A low rumble came from deep within his throat and he replied in a whisper, (Then go. Shayla will want us back soon.) I bowed and made my way through the Void to the third flight of stairs in the hotel. I sniffed around, caught Arden's scent, and followed it down the corridor.

    What was I going to say to him? Sorry, I can't be with you because my teammates hate you… No… That was a bit too blunt. I scowled. How was there an easy way to put it? Was there even an easy way in the first place? No… a part of my mind replied bluntly. There never is.

    The scent stopped at the room 344, and I saw nothing special: a plain white door, like our own, and a golden plate in the middle of said door with the room's number on it. I scratched on the door and waited, but no answer. I was about to leave when Arden emerged from the Void beside me. "Ah, Miss Ayako! I was hoping I'd see you today! How are you?"

    I shrugged. "All right… Look, Arden, I need to talk to you."

    "And I you," he said quickly. "My trainer and I found something unbelievable! Please, you have to see it!" He began to run back into the Void, but I grabbed his tail by my teeth.

    "Arden, you and I need to talk! Please!" He didn't hear me -or just didn't listen- and pulled away from me. I lost my hold on his tail and fell backwards onto my butt, somewhat irritated. "Arden!"

    His head poked out from the Void and he said, "Miss Ayako, I promise I'll talk with you about whatever you want, but please! You HAVE to see this!" He disappeared again, and I sighed. What else could I do but go see whatever amazing doodad he had found? Sullenly, I trudged into the Void and followed Arden to wherever he was taking me.

    I emerged to a wide space -grand in size and elegance to be a gym- and saw nothing but purple tile. "Arden?" I called, but there was nothing to reply except the echo of my own voice. "Arden, where are you?"

    Then, in the corner of my eye, I saw a blur of white. I followed it with my eyes and saw Arden at the foot of a trainer. My tail began to slowly wag. "Okay, Arden, what's this fantastic thing you wanted to show me? And it had better be good." I came about three feet of him and sat down, waiting for whatever magnificent thing it was he wanted to show me. He grinned and then looked up to his trainer. The middle-aged man nodded and then walked calmly to a metal box with wires everywhere.

    "That's it over there," Arden commented smoothly, quite different from the excited tone he had before. "Go look."

    I narrowed my eyes. I had a bad feeling about this. Nonetheless, I walked cautiously to the metal box. The trainer held open the lid for me to see in it: it was just a bunch of unlit fluorescent lights rigged to the top, sides and bottom of the box. It was a pretty big box, about the size of a trunk or so. I could probably fit in it… Then, an idea struck me. Wait a minute…

    My eyes darted to the trainer, where on the inside collar of his shirt I saw a small red "R" etched into the cloth. My eyes widened and breath caught in my throat. Any competent pokemon knew what that "R" meant!

    The trainer must have caught on to what I was thinking and then tried to push me into the box. I threw him back with a thunderbolt, then tried to get back into the Void, but Arden blocked me. "You figured it out, eh?" he commented smoothly as he began to circle me.

    I snarled, furious at his betrayal. "How DARE you! You just wanted me for your damn cult, huh?"

    He scoffed. "You think too small. My trainer and I were sent on this mission to recover a certain Dark Legendary and his current trainer, the Legendary Pokemon Trainer, Illauna! Giovanni's been trying to recruit her for years, but she keeps slipping out of his grasp. And then we heard of two more new pokemon traveling with her: some Ghost/Dark type and a once-thought-extinct Light pokemon. Giovanni wants them for his plan, and you're bait."

  14. #29
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 29

    Fury

    Arden smirked as his boss's plan sunk in to my mind. They wanted me for bait to get Illauna, Yasille, Kuvai and Kaiyou? But they thought that Illauna was Kaiyou's trainer? I scoffed. "Why would Illauna come? She's not my Lord's trainer. No one is."

    Arden's face fell a fraction. "What are you saying, that the information that Illauna was training him on Mount Silver was wrong? We have seven witnesses."

    I glared. "She might have been, but she doesn't own him."

    He laughed and then said, "Well, the only person who can OWN a Legendary is Giovanni. He even created one."

    It was my turn to smirk. "Yeah, a fine job he did controlling it too."

    Arden growled. "Quiet. Giovanni may have underestimated Mewtwo, but not anymore. Once we get Illauna's enlistment, Mewtwo will be easy to recapture, even with that band of clones at his side. Your Dark Lord will prove most useful then."

    I lunged at him, but he ducked into the Void before my claws could grab him. He reappeared behind me and chuckled. "You have quite a temper, Miss Ayako." I turned towards him and we began to circle. "However, I do thank you for teaching me of the Void. It makes our missions so much easier, and Giovanni is all the happier for it. He's actually trying to create a permanent portal in this very gym so that anyone at any time can access the Void."

    I snarled. "How DARE you misuse it like that! That's the home for all Dark pokemon, and you want to use it as an escape route for your thievery? You don't deserve to be an absol, much less a Dark if you betray your species and race like that! You're nothing but a traitorous cockroach who deserves to rot in a cage for the rest of your damn life!"

    Arden growled back at me. "I'm only giving back what I was given! This Kaiyou, your Lord, how good of a Lord is he? Does he answer prayers like the other Lords do? If so, where was he when my parents were poached? Where was he when my brother and I were separated by a tauros stampede? Where was he for all Darks who have prayed unanswered prayers? Tell me, Miss Ayako! How good of a Lord has he been to us?"

    I snarled back. "He was killed a long time ago by humans, and only recently was he brought back to life by Team Magma! How can you blame all these things on him when he wasn't there? I'm sorry that happened to you, but you can't pin it on Kaiyou!"

    "Shut up!" Arden cried. "You don't know anything!" He charged towards me, but I avoided it by side-stepping to the left. He stumbled, then whirled around back towards me. I was about to charge at him again, when Arden's trainer picked me up and threw me into the trunk not too far away. I landed on the grated bottom and before I could escape, the trunk top was shut and the fluorescent lights went on. I shut my eyes against the blinding light. I understood the lights now. They were supposed to eliminate any shadow so I couldn't escape.

    I was trapped.

    I kicked and struggled against the top of the trunk, but since I couldn't open my eyes -because of the horribly bright lights- I couldn't really tell which way was up. (Help!) I cried out to my teammates. (HELP!)

    No answer.

    (Kaiyou! Help me! I'm trapped!)

    Nothing.

    "How do you like your little cage, Miss Ayako?" Arden's muffled voice called from the other side of my prison. "I suppose I could let you have a little air hole…" I heard a small scraping sound and tentatively, I opened my eyes. Though the light was still there, I could see a small hole in front of me. I pressed my left eye to it and could see my surroundings without the blinding lights. Arden stood in front of me, smirking. "Better?"

    I was about to hit that damn grin with a thunderbolt, but he would probably close the eyehole, so I repressed the urge with some difficulty. I glared at the traitorous absol in front of me. "When my Lord comes, I hope he tears you in two."

    Arden scoffed. "IF he comes." He walked away from me and to his trainer, who gave the absol a meat treat. After a few moments of silence, I heard a door open and shut from the high platform beyond my vision. I gulped as my stomach began to churn. Wasn't that chair on that platform… Giovanni's…?

    His booming voice echoed throughout the gym. "Ah, Karson and his absol, you have very well. This is the absol that has been in contact with the new Legendaries, yes?"

    The trainer, Karson, nodded in reply. "Yes, sir!" he stated as his body stiffened to attention. "That is the absol, there in that trunk!" Instinctively, I growled as Karson gestured to me. "It seems the lighting system worked."

    I heard Giovanni chuckle. "Good, we wouldn't want our bait escaping. Our prizes and new trainer should be arriving any minute. Karson, make sure that this room is filled with soldiers. I would hate to have our guests and new help feel unwelcome." Another deep-throated laugh, and then the sound of him sitting down. Karson saluted Giovanni, and ran off to a dark corridor, then disappeared. Arden lay down on the cold cement.

    "Having fun in there?" he asked coolly.

    I glared. "I'll have fun when I watch Kaiyou rip you and this whole gym apart."

    He scoffed and put his head on his paws. Despite his indifferent answer to my threat, I could smell a twinge of fear in his scent. It was my turn to smirk. Looks like the little rat's getting scared, my mind declared.

    Suddenly, a different Rocket Grunt burst into the room, sweat and fear dripping from his body. "Sir! Sir, they're here!" We tried to fend them off but… but…"

    Anger filled Giovanni's voice. "Incompetent! They're only pokemon; catch them!"

    The grunt was about to reply when the thirty-foot gym doors swung open violently to reveal ten silhouettes against the bright light of the afternoon sun. I instantly recognized my Lord, in his true form, his fur bristled and mouth snarling angrily. Beside him was Kuvai, in his pale human form, strangely calm and collected. Behind Kuvai were Yasille, also in her human form, who looked a bit frightened, and Shayla. Illauna was in front of Kuvai by a bit, and behind them were Gruzog, Kazu, Amburna, Shoko, and Tai. My Lord slowly walked into the gym with Kuvai close to his side. Kaiyou's anger flooded out my own emotions and for a second, the hate almost suffocated me. However, it retracted slowly and I could breathe once more.

    "My Lord!" I called. I looked to him, but he didn't turn to me. Instead, he turned his grand ebony head towards Arden, whose eyes were as big as saucers and was cowering like a small pup, and his snarl grew. (YOU…)

    Kuvai placed a calm, pale hand on Kaiyou's canine foreleg. "Mind your anger, Kaiyou."

    Giovanni, from what I could tell, stood from his throne and bellowed, "Good to see you all! I have been expecting you! Now, Illauna, in return for the safe return of this absol, I wish that you would enlist into Team Rocket. You would automatically rise to the rank of Top Administrator under my command! You and your… intriguing new pokemon would be forever known to all people! You-"

    "Shut the hell up," Illauna said tersely. "You know that I'd rather die than join you and your pitiful organization. Just give us the absol and I promise that you won't die."

    Giovanni's angry silence penetrated the room, and then, "I'm sorry to hear that. However, I can't leave you to roam around in opposition to our noble cause!" He snapped his fingers and hundreds of Team Rocket trainers flooded into the already crowded room. I saw Kuvai give them all a glare of contempt before Giovanni began to speak again. "Now, my servants! Catch them!"

    In a flash of lavender, crimson, and black, all of the poke balls, filled and empty, stopped in midair and were flung back to the arm that threw them. Kazu, Kuvai and Kaiyou were all glowing from the mystical power of their psychic attacks. Kazu ran towards one flank of Rockets, Amburna, Shayla, Tai and Shoko with him. Yasille transformed into her true form and attacked another rear flank, Illauna and Gruzog charged the upper left flank, and my Lord and Kuvai remained in the same place. Kaiyou's fur gave a shudder, and then electricity bounced off of him. I thought it would hit Kuvai, but strangely enough, the blue electricity avoided him.

    The thunder built and was released into the bottom part of Giovanni's platform, which crumpled and collapsed. Unfortunately, Giovanni escaped the collapse, and, panting, ran from the scene. I was about to try my luck with the trunk, but a yellow face startled me.

    "You okay in there?" Tai asked over the raging sound of battle.

    "Yeah, I guess so," was my weak reply. I didn't really want to face the jolteon right now…

    I heard a few clicks, scratches and quiet curses as he fumbled with the lock. Eventually, he succeeded and threw the lid open, which caused the fluorescent lights to flicker and die. I jumped out and blinked rapidly to try and adjust my eyes. As I shook myself, I glanced around the already destroyed battlefield. Everyone on our side was winning with ease, and the Rockets were retreating. I glanced to my Lord, still with Kuvai beside him, who was slowly walking to Arden. The absol didn't dare move as Kaiyou approached. The fear and horror was reeking from him, and as I began to walk closer, Tai stopped me.

    "What's he going to do?" he asked softly. "Kaiyou, I mean."

    I shrugged. "I don't know. I haven't really seen him like this before…"

    I turned back to the traitor and watched as my Lord snarled down at him. I heard Kuvai say something inaudible to my ears, and for a moment, Kaiyou's fur went back down a fraction. Still, I could tell that Kaiyou wanted to tear Arden apart. With great effort, he returned to his human form. His shoulders were stiff and his fists were clenched, but still, he refrained from doing anything to Arden.

    I trotted a bit closer to them and heard Kuvai say, "You do realize, you do anything to him, you feel it as well." Kaiyou didn't answer him; he just stared down at the mutinous absol at his feet. Without warning, my Lord picked Arden up by the scruff of the neck and hurled the betrayer into the adjacent wall, which was about twelve feet away. Arden hit it so hard that he made a dent in the concrete and fell limply to the floor. The sound of the impact echoed throughout the now deserted gym, and I turned back to Kaiyou, expecting him to be hurting from the pain.

    If he was in pain, he didn't show it. He was glaring ferociously at Arden's form, whom was now trying to get back up, and turned to walk towards the door. His golden eyes stopped on me for but a moment, then turned back to the door. I sighed regretfully at his receding back. He was still angry…?

    Kuvai's footsteps neared me, and when he stopped in front of me, he whispered, "He's not mad at you. Not anymore, at least." I allowed a half smile to lighten my face, when Tai stepped forward.

    "Why did you stay beside him that whole time? You could have gone and defeated some Rockets or something." Kuvai glanced down at the jolteon -who flinched- and replied, "Because if I hadn't, Kaiyou would have killed that absol, an action I know he would later regret. I was merely making sure he didn't do anything too stupid. Though, he will be feeling that throw he inflicted sometime soon." The undead creature sauntered to Yasille, who was apologizing to an unconscious Rocket for attacking him. Tai walked past me towards the doors and stated flatly, "We should go. Shayla's gonna want to see you."

    I blinked, then trudged after him. I felt terrible. He must have been so mad at me… This entire mess was completely my fault. If only I hadn't been so stubborn… I looked to the cracked concrete floor in shame. If only I hadn't been so stupid…

    At that moment, Tai kicked me in the head. As I was about to tear him a new one, he stated somewhat cockily, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You look really stupid when you do."

    I studied his face, which held something resembling a smirk, and I deemed it suitable to reply, "'Stupid?' What do you mean by that?"

    His face grew coy and light. It was good to see that stupid smirk on him again. "You're face gets all droopy and you walk funny." At that moment, he contorted his face into an exaggerated frown: brow down, and eyes towards the ceiling. I chuckled. He looked like a Neanderthal. Then he began to walk around, dragging one foot at a time, and cried, "Oh, boo hoo! I'm so sad! Oh, waa waa!"

    I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and threw him off of his feet playfully. "Jerk!" I cried, "Now I really WILL go and cry!" I pretended to bawl, and then he tackled me. I pushed him off with my back paws and the war was on.

    "Children," Amburna called from the doorway, "Please, we've all had a trying day. We need to get back to Evergrand so we won't be late for the next match."

    Tai and I -who were tangled together at the moment- pouted and resumed our trek to the door. As I was about to reach it, I heard the echo of a stone falling to the ground. I turned to see Arden trying to stand in the little pile of pebbles he had created. He looked up at me, a strange, unidentifiable expression on his black face. I paused, and Tai paused beside me.

    I could tell the jolteon was nervous; in my perrifial vision, I could see his chocolate eyes darting frantically from me to the other absol. But I didn't mind. He didn't have anything to be frantic about. I turned from the door and made my way back to Arden when Tai jumped in my way.

    "What do you think you're doing?" Tai half-shouted. "He's-"

    "I know," I replied whilst effectively cutting him off in the process. "I just… want to ask him something before we go." At Tai's unsure look, I sighed and gave him a small nuzzle on the cheek. "You have nothing to worry about."

    The jolteon now in stunned silence, I closed the gap between Arden and me. The other absol glared up at me, but I didn't care. "You deserve it, you know," I said. "You betrayed not only me, but your Lord, and therefore, your entire race." I let a little air in my words so to let my statement sink in. "However, I… want you to do something for me. Well, for all of us."

    Arden's gaze narrowed again. "And what is that?"

    I pushed my face centimeters from his. "Never use the Void again. If I ever see your bloody carcass in there one more time, I will hunt you down like the damn bastard you are and finish what Kaiyou couldn't do. He may feel your pain, but I sure as hell don't. And destroy whatever pitiful attempts Giovanni's got for that 'permanent portal' you told me about. Got me?"

    Arden's eyes studied my face for a moment, and surprisingly, it fell into a defeated, mellow grin. "It seems I crossed the wrong absol."

    Tai's distant voice cried, "Damn straight!" I turned to glare at him, but Arden began to speak again. "Yes, Miss Ayako, I will comply. I… I will try and redeem myself." He looked back up at me with that charismatic smirk I had once fallen for, but it held no effect now. I wanted to see that grin on only one pokemon, and it sure as hell wasn't him. I backed away, my face full of contempt.

    "See that you do," I muttered. I turned and headed back towards the door and Tai. As I passed the jolteon, I said happily, "We can go now."

    He grinned and trotted along beside me, giving Arden raspberries when he thought I wasn't looking. We reached the threshold and hopped into the portal that would lead us back to Evergrand and the Hoenn League. And as Tai and I passed through the Void, I couldn't help but giggle as he tried to be calm when he was near to pissing all over himself from fear. It was good to be home.

  15. #30
    Game Completionist LightArrows.exe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Freedom Price

    Chapter 30

    An Almost Confession

    "AND MISS KYRESON WINS AGAIN! This is her fourth win, folks! There's only two more: the semi-finals and the finals! And with her arsenal of powerful pokemon, there's no doubt in my mind that she'll make it! What wonderful battles!"

    Tai strode around the battlefield triumphantly. His last opponent, a flygon, lay unconscious beside the gloating jolteon. Tai had won by using a series of bite and extremespeed attacks whilst trying to avoid the many earthquakes the flygon had released. Though a couple did manage to hit the jolteon, Tai somehow managed to win. I had been watching the battle from the podium with Shayla, just in case that Tai needed rescuing. As we, being Tai, Shayla and I, made our way to the lobby, Illauna, human Kuvai, Kaiyou and Yasille joined us, Yasille's and Kaiyou's faces beaming with pride. Kuvai, on the other hand, didn't really show any expression.

    It had been a week since the whole Arden ordeal, and everything and everyone were back to the way they used to be. Kazu was happy, Kaiyou was happy, Tai was stupid, Amburna seemed happy, Yasille liked to smell the flowers, Illauna glared at everyone and Kuvai was enigmatic and creepy as always. Kiya, the aggron, had a bit of trouble in the last battle, so she was back in Pallet town, and Shoko replaced her. Though he couldn't be used in a League battle, he could still be in the team.

    Yasille took Shayla's hand with both of hers and nearly took off my trainer's arm from what could be called shaking it up and down enthusiastically. "Wow, that battle was MAGNIFICENT!" she cried as she continued to vigorously yank Shayla's arm up and down. "I never thought a jolteon could battle that way!" As Tai's pride bubble began to inflate, she paused and turned to said jolteon. "Wait… so I should be congratulating you…" Shayla took the slight pause in Yasille's ever wavering attention span to reclaim her sore arm.

    I waved off the sentence with my paw. "Don't. His psyche's already as big as this room. It doesn't need further encouragement."

    Tai gave me a stale look. "If she wants to give congratulations to me, then she should. There's nothing wrong with that."

    I cocked an eyebrow and then scooted a foot away from Tai. "Fine then, just let me make room for your ego."

    "Now, now, kids, let's be nice," Kaiyou said as he held up his hands in front of him trying to placate us, "This isn't a place for bickering."

    Kuvai half-glared at my Lord and replied, "You, of all people, couldn't have just said that. That sentence just made you the biggest hypocrite known to this world." Kaiyou glared at the undead creature, but didn't respond. Kuvai let a sarcastic smirk dawn onto his pale face. "What, no comeback?"

    My trainer put a sore hand between the two. "Now come on, guys, enough of that. The next round doesn't start until tomorrow for sure, so we have the rest of the day to ourselves. What do we want to do?"

    Tai bounced up and down and cried, "Let's go eat! I'm starving!"

    I hit him on the back of the head with my paw. "You're always starving."

    My Lord snapped his fingers as an idea came to him. "Why don't we-"

    Before Kaiyou could finish his sentence, Kuvai clamped a pale hand over my Lord's mouth. "Before you share this idea with us," the undead creature began slowly, "think it over. Would we deem it appropriate? Better yet, is it breaking any laws?"

    Kaiyou pushed his friend's hand away from his mouth. "Kuvai, please. Why would any of my ideas involve breaking stupid laws that are obsolete in the first place?" Kuvai's answer was a stale glare. "Besides, like I said, those laws that I may have 'broken' in the past were all ridiculous. They were begging to be disobeyed."

    Kuvai's glare didn't waver. "You wrote 'Buganti hearts Yasille' in bright red paint on my cave."

    At first, Kaiyou began to protest, but a light of recognition alighted in his eyes. "Oh yeah…" He began to laugh and Kuvai promptly slapped my Lord upside the head. "Ow!"

    Shayla sighed. "I guess we should just head back to the hotel room, then. If no one can think of a way to kill time until the next battle results are in."

    "No, listen!" Kaiyou said as he grabbed my trainer's arm. "I really do have an idea!" Then, he turned his head towards Kuvai and added with a bit of sarcasm in his voice, "and NO, it isn't breaking any laws." He paused for a bit. "I think."

    "Well, what is it?" Shayla asked.

    Kaiyou's smile grew even larger. "There's a carnival in Pallet right now, and I think we should go. We could travel through the Void and be back here in time for supper. Plus, small town carnivals are always really fun; Yasille and I used to sneak into them when we were younger."

    Shayla smacked her forehead. "Of course! The annual Fall Harvest festival! I completely forgot about it!"

    At this, my Lord cocked his head and let his hand fall from Shayla's arm. "…You… know what I'm talking about?"

    Shayla grinned and began to laugh. "Of course; I grew up in Pallet! Let's go, let's go!" She ran out of the lobby and into the streets, leaving the rest of us to eat her dust. Kuvai sighed, defeated, and ran a pale hand through his matted black hair.

    "Well, I guess a carnival could be entertaining. Lead on, Kaiyou." My Lord nodded in return and ran after my trainer, transforming into his true form as he did. Tai and I followed, then Illauna, and behind her were Yasille and Kuvai, the both of them transforming into their pokemon forms as well. Without a care as to who saw us, Kaiyou opened a portal and we all rushed inside and out into Pallet Town's busy square.

    I took a look around me; the trees were friendly and turning with their fall colors, the sea crashed against the beach happily, the sun warmed the grass and sky gently… I sucked in a breath of fresh, clean country air. I could really like this place. Tai bumped against my side. "Come on, Xena!" he shouted happily. "The party's over there!"

    He ran off in the direction of the middle of the town, where various game booths were placed, carousel rides spun around and a large, blinking Ferris wheel lethargically rotated. I ran after him and caught up with the others. Shayla had let everyone out and were out meandering among the many game booths, one of which Shoko and Amburna were playing a game of bulls-eye. Unfortunately for the game's vendor, he didn't prepare the little structure for the might of Shoko's flamethrower. A few yards ahead of me, Tai ran up to Kazu and tackled him, earning a grunt from the espeon.

    "Hey, Kazu," I heard Tai ask as I came closer to the two. "Wanna go see Mom?"

    Kazu's eyes sparkled. "Oh, yeah! You think she's in her usual place?"

    Tai let a smirk grow. "Of course. Come on, let's go and get her!" Tai got off of Kazu and they began to dash towards the outskirts of the town when Tai saw me in the corner of his eye. "You wanna come, Xena? I'm sure she'd like to meet you. She's really nice!"

    I nodded slowly and trotted after them. They made their way to a large hill overlooking the town and its festivities, where a few scattered trees and thick bushes dotted the slopes. In the distance behind the hill was a medium-sized house with white walls, pale red roof and a large oak in the front- a friendly, welcoming home, though it was the only one located behind the hill. I assumed that said house belonged to Shayla and her family, since the Eevee brothers' mother seemed to haunt the lone hilltop.

    We crouched behind a throng of trees behind a vaporeon. From what I could see of her, her back fringe was scathed and her head fin had cuts and gashes in it. Her tail had a massive tear marring its otherwise beautiful color, which probably limited her swimming skills. We were to her southwest, so whenever she turned her head, I could see a little of her face: weary and alone. She looked so sad…

    Tai nudged me and asked in a soft whisper, "That's our mom. What do you think?"

    Hesitating for a moment, I tried to put it as nicely as I could. "She looks… sad…"

    Kazu's face fell a bit. "She's always been like that ever since Dad died. But maybe our little visit will cheer her up." He looked to his older brother and when their eyes met, they nodded simultaneously. Confused, I merely sat back on my haunches and watched. What were they going to do?

    As if by silent countdown, the two rushed out at the same time from behind the trees and pounced on the elderly vaporeon, earning a yelp of surprise from her. I almost ran out to help her, but I heard low, feminine laughter after a moment. I stayed in the shadows, nervous, and watched as sons and mother were reunited.

    She stood slowly as the two brothers licked her face. "Oh, boys! When did… Why are you here? I thought you were all in Evergrand…" She turned to Tai and licked him, and said proudly, "You beat that flygon magnificently, son. I was worried, but you did pull through…" She then turned to Kazu and licked his face and asked, "Who are those new pokemon? I've never met the absol, much less seen the big black one before."

    Tai beamed at his mother. "Well, the absol's right over there, Mom." He nodded in my direction, to which I flinched, and his mother's expression softened. "Her name's…" he paused for a moment, "well, she has lots of names, but I call her Xena because she's a Warrior Princess and she kicks lots of people's butts. Everyone else calls her 'Demi' or 'Ayako'."

    His mother cocked her head slightly and called, "Well, don't be shy. I don't bite."

    Tai leaned over to Kazu's ear and snickered, "Yeah, when she's asleep, maybe." The two laughed a little more and their mother promptly slapped them with her scarred tail.

    I smiled and slowly walked to the old vaporeon, nervous under her motherly, scrutinizing gaze. When I was only about a foot away, she cleared the rest of the distance. "Well, Miss Ayako," she began softly, "I hope my boy hasn't irritated you too much. He seems to have that effect on pokemon." Tai gave a little indignant snort, but his mother -nor I, for that matter- paid attention to it.

    "No, actually," I replied. "He's not that bad once you know where to hit him."

    She chuckled softly as Tai's fur began to turn into spikes. "I'm standing right here, you know…" he growled out. His mother waved off his warning with her paw.

    "Yes, we're aware, Honey…" She looked me over a couple of times and then smiled. "Yes, very good. You will do nicely."

    After a few moments of me blinking awkwardly, I cleared my throat and asked, "Um… I'll… do nicely for what…?" But she didn't answer; only smiled. She stood slowly from her sitting position and went back to the peak of the hilltop.

    "Now, what are you all doing back here?" she asked as she gazed over the festivities below. "Weren't you in Evergrand just now?"

    Tai smiled as he walked up to his mother and gently knocked her with his shoulder. "Cool, isn't it? We came here through this thing called the 'Void'. It's really creepy the first few times when you go in there, but after that, all of the funky purpley black things aren't that bad."

    His mother looked him over as if he were clinically insane. "What are you talking about?"

    Kazu took a step forward. "It's the center of Darkness, where all the shadows link together. It's… a little hard to explain, but Dark pokemon can access it from any shadow and transport themselves to any other shadow that they wish. That's how we got here so fast."

    Their mother's eyes widened and turned to me. "And you can access it too?"

    "Um…" I stuttered, "Yeah, I can." Her cerulean eyes smiled at me; apparently, my ability to enter the Void pleased her. Any Dark could do it, why was it so special in her eyes?

    Tai bounced beside his mother. "You're damn straight she can!" At his cursing, his mother smacked him hard on the back of the head. After yelping, he cried indignantly, "What was that for?"

    The jolteon sank back on his haunches as his mother growled and snarled. "Don't you use that language around me! You may be a Pokemon League Champion, but you are still my son and you will NOT use that foul, vulgar language around your mother! You understand me?" At her son's immediate and very enthusiastic nodding, she slowly lay back down. "My own son, cursing like a sailor's pokemon…"

    Tai shook off the pain and jumped excitedly. "Hey Mom! You know that big black pokemon you were asking about?" At this, she turned her head, intrigued. "He's really the Dark Legendary."

    His mother's eyes widened in shock, but to my own surprise, in fear as well. "…What…?"

    However, being the oblivious jolteon that he was, Tai didn't notice the twinge of fear in his mother's turquoise eyes. "Yeah! I thought he was a douche bag at first, but he turned out to be all right." He paused for a moment as he looked up to the dusk sky in thought. "It IS kind of a bad thing that he looks so much like an umbreon… but oh well." He then looked at his mother, who was shaking violently. "Mom?" he asked softly.

    I took a step forward. "What's wrong?"

    The Eevee brothers' mother shook her head and backed away from her sons and me a few feet. "I…" she began, her voice a quivering whisper, "I'm… all right… I just… need some water." She looked at all of us, a silent apology in her eyes, and trotted towards the house in the distance behind us. Kazu turned towards me, as confused as Tai and I were.

    "I'm sorry, Ayako…" he began slowly, "I… really don't know what that was about. Let me go and try to calm her down." I nodded and the espeon ran after the now fading blue vaporeon. Tai turned to me, embarrassment written all over his yellow face.

    "I'm… sorry…" he stated, his eyes looking now at the ever-interesting ground.

    I turned my head back to Kazu's fading form. "What's wrong with her?"

    Tai clawed the lush green grass, subdued. "She… heard about what had happened to Kazu… and knew it was because of Kaiyou. She didn't take it too well." He looked back up to me, his chocolate brown eyes full of sorrow. Had the situation not been so serious, I would have laughed since the expression was so out of character. "Sorry…"

    I tried to smile. "What are you sorry for? She has good reason to be scared of him, especially since she doesn't know him." Tai cocked his head, the sorrow almost completely gone and replaced with confusion.

    "But…"

    I walked towards his mother's spot on the hilltop. "Don't worry about it, Tai," I stated calmly. "It's okay. I'm used to it by now."

    As I turned back to Tai, his face fell again, this time his ears drooped as well. "But you shouldn't have to be…" he replied, his voice so soft I could barely hear it. "You shouldn't have to be used to it…"

    As I stared at him, I had never found him -or any other pokemon for that matter- as… to put it bluntly… adorable. His head was hung, his big, yellow Dumbo ears were drooping to his sides, and his big, brown, puppy dog eyes were off to the side, afraid to make contact with my own. He looked like one of the abandoned puppies one sees on TV commercials. I sighed as I made my way back to him.

    "It's not your fault, Tai," I consoled as I nudged my head into his. "It's not like you treat me like that. And besides, your mom has a very good-"

    "NO!" Tai barked. I took a couple of steps away, shocked. "NO! He's your LORD! Aren't you mad that pokemon look down upon your god when they revere all the other ones, even though they may not worship them?" He began to pace, while I could only stand there in a stunned stupor. What had gotten into him? "Everyone reveres Lugia and, and Mew!" he continued. "Even though the pokemon might not be a Psychic, they would still bow if they ran into them! Or, or, if Suicune or Entei, or Raquayza came! The regular pokemon might not be the same type as the god, but they would still pay respect! But not to yours! Pokemon, outside of the Darks, don't revere him, they fear and hate him!"

    I reached out with my paw to try and calm him down. "Tai…"

    "I've even done it!" he cried, his fury blocking all other trains of thought. "I've looked down on Darklings, and I did when I first met you! I did it with Kaiyou and that stupid Easter Egg umbreon-"

    "Eclipse," I corrected.

    "WHATEVER!" he screamed as he turned to face me. "It doesn't matter what the hell his stupid name is, the fact remains that I still hate him for what he is! An Umbreon! A Dark! I'm as prejudiced as all the other assholes out there, and I only just now realized it when Mom got so bloody scared by the mere mention of Kaiyou's name!" He sighed and plopped down on the grass facing the carnival below. "Have I always been this oblivious…?"

    I couldn't help but feel a little bad for him, but I was still confused as to how he was so worked up. I saw no problem in his mother being scared of Kaiyou; he did -albeit accidentally- almost kill one of her sons. I bore no grudge against her, or Tai for that matter. But was that because I was already jaded against it? Heaving a weary sigh myself, I sat next to him on the lush grass.

    "Tai…" I began slowly, "You've always been oblivious."

    He glared at me from the corner of his eyes. "You know, surprisingly enough, that doesn't help me."

    I chuckled. "I know, but let me finish. You're oblivious because, for one thing, you're a guy. That's just a part of you. Secondly, I know that… well…" I sighed as I tried to put it into the right words. Usually, it wasn't that difficult, but with Tai, it was a bit more challenging. "You just… don't pay attention to detail. And that's fine."

    Tai sighed and dropped his head down on his paws. "I'm an asshole."

    I nudged his side with my snout. "Not as often as you think you are."

    "Thanks," he replied as he glared back at me. "You've been real uplifting."

    Frowning, I hit him lightly with my black paw. "I still don't understand where this came from. So you're mom's scared of Kaiyou. Big freaking whoop. He DID almost kill Kazu, or did you forget about that?" He glared down at the festivities below. "I don't hold a grudge against her, and neither should you. What's wrong with you, all of a sudden?"

    He heaved a sigh, and then muttered something incoherent under his breath. Before I could ask him to repeat that at an audible volume, he sat up and sighed again. "I… don't know… It's just that… It… ticked me off when she did that…"

    I cocked my head. There was seriously something wrong with this jolteon. "Why?"

    "I don't know!" he barked. He stood back up and began to pace again. "I… I just don't know! Ever since that Arson absol-"

    "Arden," I interjected automatically.

    "-Arden absol screwed you over, I've just been… really irritable when it comes to you." He paused as I tried to mentally interpret what he had just said. "I mean… The way he just completely threw you to Team Rocket… and I wasn't there…" his voice softened at that, "…It just made me so mad! I just… can't stand it whenever someone treats you badly…"

    My head cocked a little more to the side. Since when was he protective of me?

    "And since I can't figure out why I get so pissed off, it pisses me off even more! And then, I get even pissier and pissier, and it's just this giant, evil death cycle of pissiness!" He collapsed, defeated, back onto the lush green grass. "I've talked to Kazu about it, but it didn't really help. He didn't say anything to help me figure out what the hell is wrong." A pause, and then he added, "Well, he mentioned one possibility… but… I don't think it's possible."

    I looked at him for a moment, trying to figure out what he was trying to tell me. He didn't have the gift of gab, in fact, his communication skills sucked. Kazu's apparent solution had tipped Tai off of the edge of his mental balance, which meant it was probably right. But why wouldn't he tell me what it was? Was it really that bad? I slowly went to his side and asked softly, "Well? What was it? What did Kazu suggest?"

    He took in a deep, long breath to ready himself. "He thinks… I think… that I'm… in lo-"

    "HEY, GUYS!" Shoko roared overhead, "HOW'S IT GOIN'!"

    As I looked up Tai's fur began to bristle and spike threateningly. "Do you mind, Ass-face!" the jolteon cried as Shoko began to land a yard away. "Or do you not understand the concept of 'privacy'?"

    The charizard giggled happily as he swayed dangerously on his hindquarters. "Aww, are you two having a little moment?" He hicked and giggled again, and then almost fell over. I trotted over to him, curious as to what the hell was wrong with him.

    "Shoko…?" I asked tentatively, "Why are you… like this?"

    Tai narrowed his gaze into a glare. "You're drunk, aren't you?"

    I turned back to the charizard in surprise. "What?" I asked, incredulous. "But how?"

    "Pff!" Shoko replied, "Nonsense! I -hic- I'm n-not DRUNK! I just found this barrel full of funny tasting water… I was really thirsty, and the game vendor told me that I couldn't drink out of the ponyta trough… and I found the barrel…" Tai and I exchanged glances. "At first I really didn't -hic- like it, but then, I was -hic- I was just like, 'This stuff is great!' and I started flying -hic- around and a pidgeotto was very rude to me, and then I saw you guys and I was -hic- like, 'HEY GUYS! HOW'S IT GOIN'?' And you were very rude -hic- Tai, and then-"

    "All right, Shoko, we get it…" Tai grumbled. "Now, were there any markings on this barrel or 'water'?"

    Shoko paused as he thought on this. "Yeah… -hic- There was this name on it… -hic- Somethin' like 'Jackie Daniel' or… or somethin'… I -hic- didn't really think it meant anythin', so I -hic- drank it." Suddenly, his eyes got wide and his head darted around. "I hope -hic- that a human named Jackie Daniel doesn't -hic- exist, because it might be his water! Hic!"

    Sighing, I sat on the grass beneath me. Shoko had drunk an entire barrel full of Jack Daniels beer? Wonderful. Tai came to the inebriated charizard's side and said, "Fortunately for you, he's dead. I think. Now why don't you go and pass out in the back yard? Come on, I'll lead you there and make sure you don't fall on your ass or something. Mom can sober you up real nice."

    As Tai led Shoko away, the charizard protested, "But… but I'm not drunk! Hic!"

    I sighed as I watched the two staggered into the distance towards the house. What was Tai about to tell me? I shrugged off the thought and trotted back to the carnival. Whatever it was, he could tell me after Shoko wasn't a stinking drunk anymore. Besides, I thought, It couldn't have been that important. This is Tai; he's probably just upset about some random pokemon I locked eyes with or something. I snickered at the thought. No, it couldn't be that important at all.

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