The Greater Evil I : The Great Hunt (Chapter 8, 1/16)
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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Default The Greater Evil I : The Great Hunt (Chapter 8, 1/16)

    Well, I've been working on rewriting this for a while, so I figure I should start posting...I wrote this for the first time four years ago, rewrote it in 2001, and now am rewriting it again.

    It begins about two weeks after Pokémon : The Power of One (the second movie) which itself I consider happened shortly after the end of the second season (Charizard Chills).

    So, for the duration of the ride, please forget - if you can - that ANYTHING after Charizard Chills ever existed in this world. Ash did not win the Orange Island, still has pretty much his most famous lineup, May never began her pokémon journey (and her name in fact belong to another character of another family...) Giovanni never assigned Domino to finding Mewtwo, the Unown were never unleashed, and Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza (which I'm actually retrofitting in this story) have a much different role...

    Also, a note on ages - I never liked the notion of trainers starting at 10 on the one hand, and on the other hand, Ash has been on the road for a long while by then (much over a year as per the Earth badge epi), I'm adding 2 years to his age on each count, making him 14. Of course, this does not alter in any way the character himself : any differences between OI-Ash and Fic-Ash are just the result of me not having seen the OI episodes in forever and have nothing to do with this age change.

    Chapter 1 : Paths

    Blazing like a thousand fires, the sun rose above the sea of the Orange archipelago. In itself, that was not unusual, and the presence on the slopes of the massive Mt. Leman of swarms of pidgey in search of their sustenance was much the same. The laws of nature, which they had always obeyed, were clear : eat, or be eaten, and the pidgey knew it just as surely as did the bugs they preyed on.

    Needless to say, the bugs showed little interest in going down without a fight, and most of them had gone in hiding upon hearing the flutter of the pidgey's wing. Still, some of them would be lured in the open by the promise of a particularly appetizing blade of grass, deliberately not considering the risk.

    Most of the pidgey remained in forests clearing, far from any risk of being caught by wandering trainers. But for a few of them, the chieftain of the local clan included, the trail was simply too tempting. Trainers, for all that they could be a menace, also had a tendency to let crumbs of their lunches fall to the ground, and these crumbs made for a perfectly tasty snack when – as it was too often the case – the bugs became rare.

    Still, none of them were insane, and certainly not willing to take risks. They hoped that no humans would show up, but to the last one they knew better than to stay on the trail if any of the two-legged hunters showed up with the dreadful orbs they called pokéball, but which most pokémon simply thought of as cages.

    Which was why the appearance of two humans on the trail in the early morning was met with cries of dismay – and great flapping of wings. They should have known humans would known – humans had been coming and going in unusual numbers for the past few days – but of course they had hoped otherwise.

    The chieftain did have time to note as he took flight that these humans were definitely not like the other ones. They seemed younger, for one thing, and nowhere near as dangerous for another. After eight years leading the tribe, Sun-talons could pride himself of a keen sense of observation, and he knew a beast that would kill for pleasure when he saw one.

    The men who had been going up and down the mountain in the last few days were just such beasts. The two younglings were not.

    He barely had time to notice as he wheeled away the pokémon each of them carried, pokémon which he knew only by the names the pidgey gave them, Thunder-Eyes and Unhatched-Kin.

    To the humans, who had taken more time to devise names for the creatures they shared their world with, the two pokémon were known as a pikachu and a togepi.

    "I thought," Misty Waterflower insinuated, her lips curled, "that there were rare pokémon here?"

    She was angry. Of course, there was nothing new there, and some days it seemed to Ash Ketchum as if she had been in a state of perpetual anger since the day they had met – the day he had wrecked her bike. Of course, if you considered things that way, she probably even had some fair amount of justification for her anger.

    He shook his head, strands of black hair shifting under his official pokémon league hat.

    "That's what nurse Joy said!" he defended himself, raising a hand in pathetic defense. "She said…"

    "I know what she said," Misty hissed, making as if to say something more – then withdrawing into an offended silence.

    Things were definitely going downhill.

    The idea of a pokémon catching trip in the mountain had seemed natural enough, back at the pokémon center when nurse Joy had mentioned in passing that the island's mountain was renowned for its many varieties of rare pokémon.

    Even if he was presently taking a break from his quest to vanquish the gyms of the Orange archipelago (which Misty had argued for on the ground that they had all needed a break after the events at Shamuti), he couldn't really pass up that kind of occasion , could he? He was a pokémon trainer after all, and catching rare pokémon had to be second nature to a trainer.

    "Don't you enjoy the scenery?" he asked without much hope. He dimly remembered Misty mentioning once or twice how certain landscapes had awed her, but whether or not the mountain scenery would have that kind of effect on her, he couldn't possibly begin to guess. Misty was a girl, and girls were for the most part much stranger creatures than the average pokémon.

    "Don't change topic like that," she replied, her eyes never once turning to him. They remained on the trees, peering intently. Perhaps she did enjoy the scenery, and that was why she wouldn't answer his question. "The point is that we're wasting our vacation time hunting pidgey and caterpie," she shuddered at the last, "when we could be going to the beach instead!"

    Ash groaned. About the only positive thing about her accusations were that this time – for once – he felt fairly certain that she wouldn't be able to accuse him of getting them both lost again – a certitude that was due in great part to the fact that there was only one trail up the mountain, and that they had been following it so far.

    The trip had started badly, and it didn't go better as they made their way further up the forested slopes.

    Taking a deep breath, Ash made the best effort he could to ignore her. It didn't work all that well, but at least it allowed him to drown out her yells for a moment.

    And in that moment, the question came to him again, why did she insist always on traveling by his side? And why couldn't he, despite all her yelling, even think of going on with his journey if she left?

    The answer, he already knew. For all her laughter, for all her yells, she had been his friend longer than anyone else he could name. She knew him in ways no one except his mother did, had shared more of his last two years of life than anyone else. None of his other friend, not even Brock, had spent as much time by his side, and none were as close as she was. To say anyone but her was Ash's best friend would have been, he knew, a plain lie.

    "Aren't you tired?" she asked sometime later, having apparently grown herself tired of yelling about how bad an idea the trip up the mountain had been. "This looks like a good place for a break."

    He paused before answering. Now that she mentioned it, he was, in fact, beginning to feel a bit weary. "I guess we could use one," he conceded.

    "Good idea," she nodded, her eyes somewhat softer than they had been earlier. Then, a malicious flash crossed through them…"Can't have you too tired to walk later, can we?"

    Ash groaned. He didn't reply, though.

    Elsewhere, it was fear rather than anger which ruled.

    Even when they had still enjoyed success, Jessie and James had rarely received their orders directly from the master of Team Rocket – but it had still been a troubling experience. Now that they had fallen out of favor, to receive orders directly from him was far worse, the hint of blood and death in his eyes – a promise for failure – unmistakable.

    "The plan is proceeding as we thought," the Boss hissed from the shadow. "The target is on his way to you."

    A shiver went down James's spine. He couldn't deny that part of him had been so far hoping that it would all come apart before things came to him. But now…

    "Do we really need to go that far?" he half-whined. It wasn't the thing to say, not to the boss, but the orders he had been given were simply too much.

    "Do you perhaps have a better plan to put forward?" the Boss asked, his voice carrying only the slightest edge to it. The slightest edge, and enough to tell James he had spoken out of turn. He had heard Giovanni order traitors to their death in a calmer voice. "One that, perhaps, does not involve disguises or digging a trap?"

    At his side, James felt Jessie tensing. The remonstrance was, of course, deserved – their repeated failures of the last few years had made sure of that. But still…

    He shook his head. Try though he might – wish though he did – he could not begin to conjure up a better plan to remove Ash Ketchum from the way of Team Rocket. And he could certainly not think of a reason why the young trainer should not be taken out : he had foiled Team Rocket's plans too often in the past.

    "Shall I send for more qualified agents for this mission?" Giovanni questioned. His eyes blazed, and James knew that if better agents were sent in to handle the mission – if that ever happened – then his and Jessie's next mission would be to the bottom of Vermillion harbor, involving concrete shoes.

    "No sir," Jessie replied firmly. Her eyes met James's for the briefest of moment, and he knew she had understood the boss's words just as well as he.

    "Good," a thin smile crossed Giovanni's lips. "I shall expect reports of your success by tomorrow, then."

    "You'll have them!" Jessie saluted sharply.

    The screen almost went dark – then turned on again. Giovanni's eyes flashed darkly for a moment.

    "One last thing," he hissed. "Do whatever you will once you have them, but whatever you do, I will have the Ketchum kid alive. It is imperative you do not kill him. Is that clear enough?"

    For a fleeting moment, James wondered what sense it made not to permanently dispose of an enemy after they had gone to such great lengths to capture him. But the moment was only fleeting, and since he had been uneasy about the notion of killing the twerp from the very start, he did not ask for explanations.

    Somewhere in the hotel lobby, someone coughed.

    Damien Blake half-turned toward the source of the noise before straightening. People coughing in the lobby were no business of his. Still, sometime, it was hard to suppress his natural curiosity.

    He turned back to the report in his hand, artfully disguised as a newspaper, and went back to reading. It had taken four years to find the target of his newest mission, and he didn't intend to let any of the intelligence gathered along the way go to waste.

    People went back and forth throughout the lobby, some just walking in circles, other moving swiftly from the main doors to the elevators or the other way. Thus, when a young woman came to sit on the chair next to his, it was a perfectly unremarkable thing.

    The only remarkable thing, really, was the tulip petal that fell out of her hand to land in front of his eyes, as black as any midnight sky.

    "You're late, Domino," he observed quietly, his eyes never once leaving the report.

    "The order was delayed," the young woman replied, her lips barely moving as she turned to face him. Carefully, Damien set the report down, and looked at her.

    If it had not been for her gaudy hairstyle, Damien would not have hesitated to call her beautiful. As it was, their blonde curl falling to her shoulder were simply too much, but it didn't stop her from being a rather pretty woman. Dark sunglasses covered her eyes, and for that Damien was thankful ; he has seen them before, and they were the eyes of a killer.

    "Whatever," he brushed the distinction away. Most of Team Rocket thrived on hierarchy, but once one made it to the Executive Force – Giovanni's personal agents – ranks was a thing quickly forgotten ; at best you could be first among equals. "I'm Damien Blake," he said.

    She smiled thinly. "Did you really think I didn't know that?" There was a mocking edge to her voice.

    Damien nodded. Of course, she would have known that from reading her mission orders, and even beyond that, his own reputation nothing to sneeze at, even if it was partly built on genetics rather than talent.

    She lowered her sunglasses, gazing at him intently. Somehow, her lavender eyes did not look as bad in person as they had on pictures.

    "They say you are Giovanni's son," she whispered. "Is it true?"

    He shrugged uncomfortably. "As far as I know," he replied. He didn't like the topic, and didn't think he would ever get used to it no matter how often it came up. "At least that's what he says."

    "You don't sound too sure." She raised an eyebrow. A thirst for information was one of the first requirement for Executives ; more often than not a secret was too good a weapon to pass up.

    "That's probably because I'm not," he pointed out. "He took me in and claimed to be my father after I ran away from home some years back. Actual evidence he is? He didn't show any."

    She nodded. "It sounds like an interesting story." There was a strange edge to her voice, one that made Damien feel distinctly uneasy. Why did it interest her that much?

    "Maybe, but it's a story for later," he decided. "We have more important business to take care of," he pointed at the mission report.

    "Right," she nodded. If she was disappointed, she didn't show it. "What are we supposed to go after?"

    He turned the pages of the fake newspaper until he found a picture, purportedly representing items for sales in a local antiquities shop.

    He pointed at one of them, a book with strange designs on the cover.

    "That's what we're going after."

    Noon was now long past, and to the west the sun was beginning to fade away beneath the waves. Overhead, no stars glinted ; clouds had risen steadily over the day, and it was obvious that before long it would be raining.

    And, unless they found some refuge for the night, that would mean being very wet by tomorrow morning, not something Misty was much in favor of. She did like water, but not water falling all over her while she was trying to sleep.

    "Ash…" she began, hesitating between merely asking if he had any idea or simply biting his head off over the very wet night they were about to spend.

    He frowned, his eyes turning just a little defensive. He often did that when she started talking to him. Privately, Misty had to admit she had given him plenty of good reason to feel wary whenever she started talking to him. She had plenty of justification for yelling at him, but even then…

    She tried not to sigh. "It's going to rain tonight," she said, as nicely as she could manage. "We should find some place to spend the night in.

    Ash looked surprised for a moment, then relieved. "You're right," he nodded quickly.

    A few nasty comments came to mind, but Misty bit them back. She had been traveling with Ash for two years already, and she knew very well that he was nowhere near as bad as most people would think from her yells and snide comments.

    Most of the time, though, she couldn't hold herself back no matter how hard she tried.

    "Do you have any idea?" she asked, ignoring the inner voice that wanted nothing more than to turn him to a crying wreck. It was no easy feat.

    He shook his head. Of course, he would have no idea. He never had any idea. He…

    She cut the line of thought before it got any further, instead reaching for her pack. There were better way to deal with the current problems than to complain at Ash. She had taken a glance or two at the large wall map back at the pokémon center, and she was almost sure there had been something…

    There! She remembered it now.

    "I think there's an abandoned summer camp somewhere nearby," she told Ash. "A bit to the south of the main trail, where it crosses another trail."

    She closed her eyes, trying to recall in greater detail the actual map. Yes, that had been it.

    "We haven't seen another trail," Ash pointed out, and for a moment Misty had to struggle to hold back her hand, now moving of its own accord to hit Ash.

    If she was going to try to be nice to him, why did he have to go out of his way to make it so difficult?

    "I know that Ash," she growled irritably, looking ahead. "Do you think I'm blind?" the last was almost yelled.

    It took them nearly an hour, and throughout it all Misty had to refrain herself any number of times from yelling at Ash too much. By the time an inky-black shroud had begun covering the sky however, they had found the old camp.

    A first glance at the old summer camp told her one thing : it was quite large. A second glance added a less than happy note : most of the old cabins were ruined, which meant they'd have to actually look for a habitable one out of the whole lot.

    "Are we supposed to sleep there?" Ash frowned, pointing at the ruined walls of one of the cabin.

    "Of course not!" Misty protested, her patience now wearing very thin. "There has to be a cabin that's in a better state than that one, though. We just have to find it."

    "But that's going to take hours…" Ash protested, then looked up at the rain clouds. Somewhere off toward the sea, thunder rumbled. "There's no other choice?" he asked lamely.

    Misty shook her head. "Let's split. We'll look faster that way."

    Ash headed off almost as soon as she told him to. Was he in that much of a hurry to be away from her?

    She shook her head, trying to focus on the matter at hand, not the conflicting emotion Ash brought out of her. They had to find a refuge for the night, and that meant, actually looking at the various cabins.

    Most of them were already in ruin, and few of those which still had their roof were suitable for spending a whole night in. There were some that had been flooded long ago, others that were covered in the shattered glass from their own broken windows, and yet more that reeked of wild animals. Then there were those which Misty didn't even dare approach, covered in spider webs so thick as to hide the walls altogether.

    Finally, she did find one which looked habitable enough from outside. It was smaller than most of the others, but at least the webs weren't too thick, the smell not too terrible, and the windows more or less intact.

    She reached for the light switch without even thinking. Even as she flicked it on, she realized her mistake : there was simply no way the electric system, let alone the individual lights, would have survived all the years of ruins.

    The second the light did come on, she knew there was something wrong. Her hand instinctively went to Staryu's pokéball, and she began looking around.

    She did not have the time to finish her turn. She did not have the time to call out Staryu, either, or even to see her aggressor.

    She did, however, have the time to let out a single scream before something struck the back of her head, sending her spinning into darkness.
    Last edited by Evil Figment; 16th January 2005 at 12:28 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  2. #2
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    You keep this up, it'll go to double the pages of the last time you posted it!

  3. #3
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    I'm already writing chapter 7 of this one, so I have SOME work already ready.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  4. #4


    Oh no! It's back again! And you've changed things. Which isn't at all fair! How can you change things? Now, I'm going to go look out the original TXT files I have for it and reminisce! and collectively wince, ;). Uh. Well! I like it! Even though I think the whole original first chapter of TGE (version 2? or something) covered this entire scene, plus others, and the whole events and everything... well, I like this pace more!

    But not the cliffhanger.

    Also, DINTE for this story, truly! *snickers*

    so sell your suit and tie and come and live with me
    leukemia schizophrenia polyethylene
    there is no significant risk to your health
    she used to be beautiful once as well

    plastic bag, middle class, polyethylene
    decaffeinate, unleaded, keep all surfaces clean
    if you don't believe this, sell your soul
    if you don't get into it, no one will

  5. #5
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    DINTE indeed.

    Although I think I'll make it a more graduated thing, so that you don't have a scene at the end of the book where three characters whom everyone thought was dead storm into the room weapons drawn (getting Misty to utter her famous comment about "Why couldn't dead people stay dead, for novelty'S sake")
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  6. #6
    Virus equals very yes Kinglerlord2's Avatar
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    Insane.... out of your damn mind. But... now I'm inspired to try again with my little darkish one... I can't decide if I need to hate you for this or not. Oh and don't worry, I'm not talking about One Will Fall... to rewrite that would take four years...
    Don't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Go down there and light the bloody thing yourself!


  7. #7
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    The good thing about rewriting Tee Gee Hee is that for the most place the plot is already in place. I mean, sure I change parts of it, but I have my framework mostly set. I know where the characters are coming from and where they're going, all I have to do is to develop ideas, old and new, along the way.

    Writing a new fic would require cooking up all those plot twists, and that's the part I hate .

    Which isn't to say that there won't be major changes to certain elements here. Including the Nine, who will have to deal with a VERY reluctant new member - a member they're even more reluctant to accept (and whom certain readers will be surprised to see in this role. Toge, keep silent :-P) *grins evilly*.
    Last edited by Evil Figment; 29th November 2004 at 10:32 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  8. #8
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Here's another chapter.

    Chapter 2 : Departures

    Port Valencia wasn't a large harbor by any stretch of the imagination. Compared to the international seaports such as Vermillion and Olivine, it was barely a scratch on the map, unnoticed by all except a handful of regular vacationers who would come to the island summer after summer, in search of tropical relaxation and adventure.

    Most of the inhabitants of Valencia Island liked it that way. Theirs was a quiet island, and mostly everyone knew everyone else.

    Right now, though, Brock Slate definitely wished he had a Vermillion-sized seaport around him. There was a certain degree of anonymity in major crowds – it was harder to avoid attention. Here, in Port Valencia, everyone would know within an hour that he was waiting for the continental liner heading for Pallet Town.

    And if everyone knew, it followed to reason that they would be able to tell her if she ever asked.

    It was really quite irrational, Brock knew. He might not agree with what he had seen in Ivy’s laboratory, but still there was a difference between disagreeing on ethics and getting down to murder. As long as he didn’t try to go against her, Ivy had no reason to do anything to him.

    He shouldn’t have waited this long before leaving, though, part of him chastised as he stood in line at the ticket booth. There were five others ahead of him, and the clerk at the counter seemed dreadfully inept at his job.

    He had no reason to hurry, he reminded himself forcibly once more. Whatever horrors he had seen in the basement of Philena Ivy’s laboratory, they were trapped, and would not be coming after him, anymore than their creator would.

    But still, things would have been much better if he had left earlier, before finding out about the secret projects slowly being perfected by his boss. Maybe if he had left with and Misty all those months ago it would have been better, maybe...

    Somehow, though, he had decided to stay, and had even managed to blind himself to all the signs. The food that vanished from the laboratory’s store, he had blamed on stray wild pokémon. The high-end computers Philena bought every other month, he had not even paid attention to.

    But then, over the last month dead pokémon bodies had begun showing up all over the island, victims of nameless savagery, their bodies covered in dark wounds. Even that he had put aside, blaming it on some predators, perfectly normal is savage pokémon.

    Then there had been the first murder. The body, if what had been left could still be termed a body, had been found torn apart at the bottom of a cliff, and it had been the body of one of Brock’s coworkers at the laboratory.

    He had started wondering, then. Simply put, not a single one of the deaths had occurred outside the fenced area around Ivy’s laboratory. The only logical conclusion was that the source of the murders itself was somewhere on the property.

    “Can I help you?" the clerk told him, as Brock finally realized that he was now in front of the line.

    "A ticket for Pallet Town," he asked, glancing about. He had turned over every stone of the property, ready to fight the murderous creature, but hadn’t found the slightest trace of it. What he had found was a tunnel dug under the fence, and oozing traces heading away from the property.

    "That'll be fifteen dollars," the clerk nodded, holding out his hand.

    Brock nodded, his mind elsewhere as he drew out the money from his wallet. He had never even considered searching all over the island – that would have been beyond reason. What he had considered was the simple fact that the traces left behind matched no known pokémon.

    At that point he had begun thinking of the massive computers, the needlessly large food bills, and the one locked basement room he had no access too.

    Breaking into the room had been easy enough. Remembering what he had seen there was one of the hardest things Brock could think of doing. The things he had seen there, the world had no names for. Altered creatures, some still showing traces of their original breed, others modified so far that there was no way left to even guess at what their parents had been. One of the cages had been torn open, and oozing traces drew away from it toward a window.

    He should have gone to the police, then. Gene-splicing was not legal by any stretch of the imagination, even if – as the professor apparently did – it was done for knowledge and nothing else. But had he gone to them, he had no doubt that Ivy would have destroyed all her works, all evidence of any wrongdoings. Not only would that leave too many pokémon dead for Brock’s peace of mind, but it would also have left her word against his, and for all that he had been a gym leader, Brock knew just how little his word would have been worth against a world-famous scientist.

    "The ship's at the end of pier three," the clerk nodded, oblivious to Brock's distress.

    There was nothing he could do against her, in the end. But there was also no way he could go on working for her. That left only one way open for him, which led back home.

    The ship sailed away mere hours later.

    Sighing in frustration, Ash kicked an unoffending rock.

    The cabins of the camps were definitely not suitable to spend even an hour in, let alone the night. He wouldn't even have dreamed of quartering poison-type pokémon in most of the cabins, even those that had a definite love of living in sludge.


    Someone screamed, a piercing, definitely female, and most certainly familiar scream.

    "Misty?" Ash shouted, thoughts of finding a cabin and the ilk suddenly gone from his mind. Maybe it was nothing to worry about, just a caterpie creeping behind her or something just as innocent.

    But maybe it was something more. `Not all pokémon were harmless, he had long since realized. And beyond that, there were those who had reasons enough to want to harm Misty or him, Team Rocket first and foremost. He had not heard anything from Jessie or James since they had let go of Lugia back at Shamuti, and though they had helped him back then, he knew better than to expect anything but further attempts at capturing Pikachu from them.

    For a moment, Ash closed his eyes, trying to think things through. Whether the scream was due to a bug or to Team Rocket, finding Misty had to be the priority now. That, he in turn realized, would not be possible in darkness. He needed light, and he knew of only one possible way to get it.

    Still, even if it was the only way of lighting his way he could think of, Ash did hesitate as he reached down to the pokéball at his belt. He had made peace with the pokémon some weeks back, just before reaching Shamuti, but that peace was new, tenuous, and it could hardly erase the memory of too many flames too close to his head.

    “Charizard!” he finally ordered, “I chose you!”

    The pokémon sprang out of his ball in a burst of flame, but none of them came anywhere close to Ash. Still, the young trainer peered carefully at the pokémon, searching for any traces of the scorn and hatred that had once been there.

    He found none. Charizard’s eyes reflected the trust, the respect and the love he could remember back from when the pokémon had been a little charmander, barely knee-high.

    “Charizard,” he breathed a sigh of relief, “I need some light to find Misty,”

    The dragon nodded in acknowledgement, raising its tail high, and pouring energy into it. The fire there blazed bright, and for a moment Ash even had to close his eyes to shield them from the intense light.

    The dragon apparently realized that, and dimmed his flame just a bit, enough for Ash to see quite clearly what he was doing without blinding him.

    “Pikachu, get ready to fight,” he warned quietly. If Team Rocket was there, better to get ready for a battle

    The pokémon nodded, acknowledging the order with a single determined “Pika!” He stepped forward, ahead of Ash.

    Finding Misty’s trace was easy enough. She hadn’t been trying to stay hidden, and the many doors she had opened were still left open, just as the mud still carried traces of her feet here and there.

    The traces led him to the exact same cabin Misty has visited last, and there, for all that he had been called dense in the past, his mind realized just as quickly as Misty’s had that there was no way the lights could be on.

    “Pikachu, there’s something wrong here...”

    Most Rocket agents didn’t particularly like hiking, or camping out in the wilds. They’d much rather perform as much of their missions as they could in the comfort of civilization, sleeping in warm hotel beds, eating in fanciful restaurants and so forth.

    Only a handful of Rocket agents were willing to spend mission time outside, under the cover of the vast forests of Kanto and Johto, and, judging with the ease with which she settled down by the campfire, Domino must be one of them.

    Damien chuckled as he watched her reclining against the tree.

    “Something funny?” she challenged sharply, her eyes blazing.

    “Just a thought,” the red-hair grinned back, slipping his hands in the pockets of his jeans jacket. “I think you’re about the only rocket agent I know who doesn’t look at trees like they are a form of poison.”

    She laughed, a hard laugh. “I can guess the funny part. It wouldn’t have to do with Jessie and James, would it?”

    Damien did not answer, merely chuckling again. Domino glared at him, but the faint traces of a smile hinted that perhaps she was not as displeased as she showed.

    Then, perhaps because thinking about Jessie and James had reminded him of everything he had always despised about Team Rocket, or maybe from simple curiosity, Damien turned toward her.

    “Why did you join Team Rocket, Domino?”

    She looked at him, and for the briefest of moment he thought she was about to attack him. Then she sighed. “You did tell me your story, didn’t you?”

    He nodded, his eyes glinting for a brief moment. Few people even had gotten even so much as two words out of him regarding his meeting with Giovanni, and she had learned much more than that. Now, he thought, she owed him as much.

    “It’s not much of a story,” she shrugged finally. “I did all kinds of law-breaking when I was twelve. The police got me, and they were going to send me to a reform school, but your father sent one of his lawyer to get me out of there – and recruit me for Team Rocket,”

    Damien nodded. He had heard tales about the Kanto reform schools, and it was in no ways a place he wanted to see. That Domino would be grateful enough to join Team Rocket with no questions once they had saved her from that place made sense enough.

    “You?” she asked suddenly. “What did you do before your father recruited you?”

    Damien shrugged. “Lots of odd jobs. I begged in the streets for a while. I got involved in a few house theft around New Bark – had to get out after I stole a cyndaquil at the Elm's Lab, though." He patted the pokéball at his belt.

    “I can imagine,” Domino laughed. “They don’t kid around with people stealing starters from the laboratories.”

    “No, they don’t” Damien agreed, shaking his head. “They had all of the Violet canine department after me for a while. I got out, though and all the fighting got Cyndaquil some solid experience. I started doing mercenary work after that.”

    "As Silver?" both of Domino's eyebrows shot up.

    "Yeah," he sighed. "That, and Black. I used both names back when I did mercenary work – people didn't bother to ask questions about that kind of names. That was about when I met Giovanni – Whitney had hired me to clear something in the radio tower basement. Giovanni was there too, and he convinced me otherwise."

    "I'd imagine not too many people would have hired you after you switched side like that," Domino pointed out. "Sounds a lot like the stories of mostly everyone in the team – growing up as kids, going into criminal or mercenary work as teens, and then getting a personal visit by Rocket staff to hire you."

    "Yeah, it does," Damien nodded. "I think that's part of the point – I don't think Giovanni wants to trouble himself with corrupting people. He just picks those who are already headed hell's way, and hire them."

    "To any extent," Domino shook her head, becoming all business once again. "I'm still in the dark about why exactly that book is worth the efforts we're putting in acquiring it."

    Damien sighed. He knew exactly what she would think of the explanation at first glance – it would be to a few words exactly what he had said when he had first heard of the idea.

    "It's supposed to be a book of prophecies," he admitted.

    It was, he later reflected, a good thing they had not been in a hotel room just then.

    Had they been, management would almost certainly have thrown them out.

    Whatever Misty had done inside the lighted cabin, she was no longer there. Ash shook his head, trying to think clearly. There were no traces in the mud outside of her leaving the cabin, so she must still be somewhere inside.

    Except, of course, that she obviously wasn’t.

    Stupid as some people had called him, Ash could put two and two together, and lights that went on when they shouldn’t, people who weren’t where they should be and who moved without leaving traces drew a clear enough picture.

    “Pikachu, I think there are ghosts around...” he whispered, trying to think clearly. He had seen ghosts, and faced them before, and he could clearly remember the lessons he had learned from those battles.

    The best way to deal with the illusions the ghosts would try to use against him would be psychic pokémon. He was sure he had done that before, and it had worked...Or was that the other way around, ghosts being especially good at resisting the assaults of psychic pokémon?

    Ash frowned. Normally, he should remember which of the two it was, but the problem was, he clearly remembered being told both as if they were equally true. He stood there, frozen in indecision, for a long moment.

    “Pikapi!” his pokémon called out before he had the time to decide what he needed exactly. Ash turned back to look at his electric rodent, who seemed to be looking at something on the ground. Shrugging helplessly, Ash went to look, hoping the ghosts would see fit to leave him alone for a while longer.

    There was nothing to be seen where pikachu was, of course – just the standard mud, with the traces of Misty going in, and some odd trench leading out.

    Ash frowned. The trench did look familiar, in size if in no other ways. He had seen something that would leave this kind of traces before, but where?

    Besides him, Pikachu pulled at his own cheek, elongating them grotesquely, making them look like some sort of hood about his head, before sticking his tongue out.

    Ash looked at the yellow pokémon annoyingly, before returning to examining the strange trench-like mark. The way it went on perfectly, looking for all the world like the body of some gigantic snake...

    “Arbok!” he shouted. Pikachu nodded, and Ash finally realized what the little pokémon had been trying to say. “If Arbok’s here, that means Team Rocket’s here.” And if they were here, the chances that they had nothing to do were somewhere along the line of zero.

    He stormed off following the trail. Misty was somewhere nearby, and she was in danger. Team Rocket was behind it, and he would take them off, as usual. When was the last time they had caused him any actual trouble?

    The light around Ash dimmed as Charizard took to the sky, but before Ash could ask him what he was doing, the great dragon had locked his claws about Ash’s shoulders, lifting him in the sky, and incidentally stretching a few muscles painfully.

    “Charizard! Stop that!” he yelled, and the pokémon set him down, before lowering himself to allow Ash to climb. “Thanks,” the young man noted as the pokémon took flight once again.

    From up in the sky, the trail was easy enough to follow, linear, leading straight to an old fire pit by the lake. It also led straight to Jessie and James, waiting nonchalantly by the pole at the middle of it. A fissure ran at their feet, leading straight into the earth.

    There was no way for Ash to hide the fact that he was coming. James saw him almost as soon as Ash spotted them both, and a cunning smile flashed on his lips. Charizard slowly landed some feet away from them.

    "So good of you to join us all," Jessie smiled. "Incidentally, prepare for trouble."

    "And make it…" James seemed to hesitate, looking around.

    Ash frowned. That was entirely new. Instinctively, his eyes followed James's – only to find things he definitely wished he hadn't seen. Virtually every last cabin around the clearing held a rocket grunt or two in it, and all of them were harmed. More to the point, each of them had a ground pokémon or two along.

    "No time for da motto!" a high-pitched voice purred. That, of course, was Meowth – Ash didn't even turn toward the source of the noise.

    "I suppose so," James pouted. "Still…"

    "That's enough James!" Jessie growled. Ash, however, paid no more than passing attention to them. There was no doubt that they had Misty somewhere, perhaps with some of the grunts, and if he could only find her all they'd have to do was to get out of there.

    Jessie looked at him cunningly. "If you're looking for your girlfriend, I'd say you should look down."

    "She's not…" Ash began, but the rest of the words froze on the tip of his tongue. He had found Misty, and he had a very good idea what the whole thing was about now.

    She was at the bottom of the fissure, with ropes tightly holding her there.

    Jessie lowered her arm once, and dust fell from the fissure's edge, burying Misty's feet. She held up her arm again, and the dust stopped falling. Ash didn't dare turn to verify, but he knew perfectly well that the dust fall had been the work of the pokémon all around him.

    He also didn't need any picture to realize what would happen if Jessie lowered her arm again.

    "Surrender now," Jessie smiled viciously. James stepped up besides her, his smile that of a man who finally tasted victory after years of defeat. He did not complete the motto.

    He didn't need to, really. They all knew preparing to fight was not an option this time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  9. #9
    Virus equals very yes Kinglerlord2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Brisbane, Australia


    "They were all harmed." Cut the 'h', I think they're meant to be 'armed'.

    This is different from what I remember... again... it's still excellent too. Need to watch for those typos though. The Brock part... is that completely new or is my brain just not functioning correctly and I've just forgotten that part?
    Don't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Go down there and light the bloody thing yourself!


  10. #10
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    As I said - this is a rewrite. I'm taking the story on new spins, so neither of the older version should be held as an Asbolutely Truthful Guide of What Shall Happen

    That said, now that someone has replied here (and you're right about the mistake)...Time to use up that 2500th post of mine.

    Chapter 3 : Ultimatum

    The first thing Misty became aware of as she woke up was that something was gripping her arm.

    "Hmmm, Togepi, leave me alone…" she said sleepily. The last thing she could remember was something striking the back of her head, and while she had no idea how she had gotten herself in the dirt – she had been inside, hadn't she? – she knew she remembered right at least about the blow; her head still hurt.

    She tried to move, to shake off the gripping.

    Her muscles apparently had other ideas. No matter how much she pulled and twisted, she remained stuck. That was when she realized the coarse feeling about her arm had nothing to do with her beloved togepi, and everything to do with tight, constricting ropes.

    "I hate being tied up…" she muttered, looking about to try to find some clue as to what exactly was going on. She could probably put a name on the people behind the blow she had received to her head now, but she'd like to get a better idea of their plans. All she could see though where rough, uneven walls surrounding her.

    She frowned. There was something besides the ropes about her feet.

    "You. Bastards." Someone growled outside – someone she knew well. That had been Ash's voice.

    "I'd calm down if I were you." That was Jessie. "Else…"

    Something fell down from the top of the walls surrounding Misty – fell down, and buried her legs in.

    Now she knew what it was besides the rope about her feet. She also knew what Team Rocket was up to, and there was only one thing she could do about it. Desperately, she began thrashing around, trying to get rid of the rope before enough dust and pebbles fell on her to bury her alive.

    "It's really quite simple, twerp," Jessie started again somewhere above Misty. "You call back all your pokémon and hand them in just now, or she dies."

    "You…" Ash's voice screamed, and Misty wished she could see him. Her bonds were not giving her even the slightest slack, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that the only way she would be saved would depend on his choice.

    The problem was, Misty really couldn't begin to guess what choice that would be. Ash had not hesitated to put his own life on the line in the past to save his pokémon, or even wild ones. Wouldn't he try the same with her, gambling that he could take out the Rockets before she was buried alive?

    Try though she might, the only answer Misty could think of to that question was that she just didn't know.

    "Well twerp? What's it going to be?" Jessie questioned again, and some more dust fell on top of Misty, trapping most of her legs now. Her eyes darted left and right for some way out that didn't involve trusting Ash to make the right choice, and once again, she rebelled against her bonds, but to no avail.

    "Charizard, Pikachu…" Ash began, and Misty's heart froze. He would order them to attack, send them to fight, and most likely sacrifice her along the way. Misty twisted and wriggled, enough so that she felt like she had become a living snake, but this time, the ropes about her wrists did loosen. She did have a chance!

    "Yes, twerp?" James' voice rose, and the world seemed to freeze, waiting for Ash to answer.

    Ash hesitated for one long, agonizing moment, his heart torn apart. He couldn't abandon his pokémon, and he couldn't abandon Misty either. Then there was the simple question, what would happen if he surrendered? He didn't think the Rockets would let them out.

    But still, fighting would mean condemning Misty to death…

    No, he corrected himself. It would mean condemning Misty to an agonizing, painful death.

    And, no matter how much he loved his pokémon, he simply couldn't do that.

    "…return," he completed the order, activating Charizard's pokéball again, and then doing the same for Pikachu's one, something he had almost never done. Both pokémon accepted the order, letting themselves fade into crimson energy that soon was absorbed into the pokéballs.

    Ash bit his lips. He knew exactly how much Pikachu hated being there, but what other choices had there been?

    "I see you've decided not to be a hero," Jessie laughed.

    "Shut up," he shook his head, tears flying from his eyes. "Just shut up." She probably wouldn't listen, but there was nothing else he could do. One by one, he unhooked his pokéballs from his belt and sent them rolling toward the two Rockets.

    "Thank you," James sounded almost sincere – almost. There was a smirk on his lips as he bent to pick up the first few ball.

    As he tossed each of the balls in turn, Ash tried to silently remember the pokémon within. Snorlax went first, then Lapras. Squirtle and Bulbasaur came next, tossed together. Charizard, he tossed next to last – second to pikachu, it was the pokémon he wanted the least to let go off.

    Last of all, he took the one pokéball that had been empty nearly all the time since the day he had gotten it, and let it roll. Even as he did that, he wondered if perhaps he shouldn't try to attack and then plunge in the pit alongside with Misty, rather than simply abandon all his friends one by one, turning them in to slavery.

    But he knew he could not do that. Maybe if it had not involved Misty dying, he'd have considered it, but a desperate, suicidal act of defiance was out of the question if it would carry her to her grave, too.

    Even as the last pokéball rolled forward, one of the rocket grunts stepped out of the nearest cabin. A sandslash walked right by his side, and he seemed particularly wary. In his hands, he held hand and leg cuffs – the kind they used for taking prisoners to trial – and Ash knew exactly whom these were for.

    He didn't try to resist, even going as far as to hold his hands out for the man to trap them. He had given up his pokémon, his dreams, his friends, and after that giving up his own freedom seemed like such a small, unimportant step…

    Jessie and James said nothing; they simply smirked. Ash barely even saw it, tears rising again to cloud his vision.

    He made no move to resist, either, as the grunt shoved him forward, pushing him toward an old jeep parked in the shadow of one of the cabins.

    "A book of prophecies?" Domino hissed, her eyes blazing in fury. "We're going after a book of prophecies?"

    She had stopped screaming a few minutes ago, and had spent most of them looking away from Damien, breathing heavily.

    "I thought that was what I had said," he shook his head. There were reasons to go after that book, and whether she liked it or not, Domino was going to get involved.

    "Are you telling me Team Rocket is supposed to put any store in that tired nonsense?" she growled. Apparently, she did have strong opinions on the matter. "I'll grant you there's not much difference between a psychic network and organized crime, but still!"

    "We've picked up some serious rumors from academic sources," he stressed the last. Rumors from psychics and the ilk wouldn't leave much of an impression. "Bits and pieces of the book found their way to universities all over the place, and invariably they could be fitted point to point to recent events, or events that happened shortly after the pieces of parchment surfaced."

    "Modern fabrications," Domino dismissed the whole thing.

    "I said parchment, Domino. And they were able to date virtually all of these scraps – they were all written centuries ago."

    "Then they must have been vague enough to mean anything," she tried, but Damien could see her slowly giving way.

    He did not reply. Instead, he rummaged through his pack for the artfully disguised mission orders he had kept there. He handed her one of the newspapers page, pointing at the text in one of the ads.

    She read it out loud.

    "'When winter white dawns in summer bright,
    Three shall battle but four shall take flight.
    For a man of desires who knows no reason.
    In seeking to gain all shall loose destruction.'"

    She frowned for a moment. "It is sort of specific, isn't it?" She grudgingly admitted. "And it does fit that whole Shamuti mess from two weeks ago. At least the first two lines do, anyway. I don't know about the last two."

    "Lawrence Gelarden, the collector, was around Shamuti when everything else happened," he explained. It hadn't made the news – Gelarden most certainly had the money to keep it quiet – but there was a world of difference keeping something from the general public and keeping it from Team Rocket. "His airship was destroyed during the whole thing, even."

    She nodded, turning once again to look at the four lines. "All right. If that's the kind of stuff we can find in the book we're looking for, I'll concede it's worth looking into."

    Damien nodded. He hadn't expected her to immediately admit the book was what it claimed to be; for her to admit that it was worth looking into was good enough.

    Domino laid down on her side of the campfire, letting her head comes to rest against her backpack.

    "Goodnight," Damien shook his head, wondering how exactly she had managed to go from utter anger to sleep in such a short time. "By the way," he spoke on impulse, "You're cute when you're angry."

    She did not reply, but he did clearly hear her snort – more or less the reaction he had expected. Smirking, he went to sleep too.

    The one glance Jessie shared with James as some of the grunts took Ash and Misty away conveyed many words. She said nothing, but she could see the disbelief and pride in James' eyes, and knew they were mirrored in her own.

    Slowly, hesitantly, she reached down to pick the last pokéball Ash had tossed their way. It sat in her hand for a long moment, round, perfect, the most obvious sign of their long-awaited triumph. Inside it, the one pokémon they had spent the last two years pursuing waited to be sent away, to become one of Giovanni's prized possessions.

    "We won," James breathed, expressing in two words all that they wanted to say. It felt exhilarating, wonderful, thrilling, impossible. It felt just like a long-awaited Christmas morning that had finally come, or a much-delayed promise finally fulfilled.

    The ball in Jessie's hand wobbled some, and she firmed her grip about it.

    "What do you think the boss will order us to do now?" James asked her.

    Jessie shook her head. "I don't know. I figure he'll have the twerp's pikachu put to work powering up his whole palace, and then he'll invite us to live there, and we'll be able to show Cassidy who's the real best Team Rocket, and…"

    Her dreams, nice as they were, were quickly interrupted by more insistent wobbling from the pokéball she held. Jessie shrugged; pokémon just didn't come out of their pokéball that well, did they?

    "We'll have our own palace…" James added his own daydreams.

    "We…" she was about to begin adding her notions as to what beautiful life they would be living now to the list, but the ball suddenly fell out of her hand. Without wasting a second, she knelt to collect it…

    …and barely had the time to shy away as the pokéball flew to a thousand shard, its many parts scattering about as the twerp's pikachu came out of it, lightning blazing about him.

    "What the…" James began, wincing as a few shards lodged themselves in his flesh. Stopping a moment to think, he reached for his pokéball. Jessie did the same – there was no way she would let her future palace life run away from her like that.

    The rat didn't wait for their permission to act. The blazing energy poured forth, striking each of James, Meowth and herself in turn, and they all staggered back, giving pikachu just enough room to maneuver its way into storming out toward the forest.

    They pursued the pikachu, of course, and for a time it seemed as if they would win the race, overtaking the little pokémon at the edge of a sharp cliff. He had nowhere left to run, and no places to hide in. They had it…

    "Look pikachu, you know you've lost…" Meowth began, making his words sound reasonable – sound, because Meowth knew as well as she or James did that there was nothing reasonable in asking the pokémon to surrender his freedom for good.

    The pokémon looked about, his eyes finally rising upward. Somewhere in the distance, a pokémon’s shrill cry rose.

    A determined look crossed Pikachu’s feature, and he took one step toward the cliff.

    Meowth, Jessie and James advanced toward him as one.

    Nothing could have prepared Jessie for what came next, as, in one graceful motion, Pikachu leapt from the cliff and into the empty air below.

    When Misty woke up again, the first thing that surprised her was that she was no longer lying on the ground. There was something soft under here, very much like a mattress, and unless she was completely out of her mind she was almost certain there were sheet over her, keeping her warm.

    The second thing she noticed, as surprising as the first, was that she was no longer restrained. She took a moment to stretch, enjoying her recovered freedom, and wondered for a handful a second if maybe the whole nightmare had been just that: a nightmare.

    That last notion was quickly taken from her. If nothing else, the sound of Ash's sobs was evidence enough that things were not going well.

    Warily, she set her foot down on the ground. Whatever it was she was being wary of – she herself wasn't sure – it wasn't there, and the floor was as normal as it could ever be.

    She looked around. She was in what appeared to be a bedroom – one much nicer than any of those she could remember from past pokémon center or even her own home – and if not for the lack of windows, she'd have almost be willing to believe this was a hotel room. Of course, if they were still prisoners of Team Rocket the lack of windows only made sense.

    There were two doors from her room. The first she tried led to what appeared to be a fully functional – and very clean – bathroom; the second one took her to what appeared to be a living room, one which went even as far as to have what looked like a fully functional television set.

    Ash was there, on one of the couches, curled up in a fetal position.

    "Ash…" she whispered, trying to find words. She consciously avoided looking through her own things, trying to find the pokéball that she knew would no longer be there. Most of all, she pushed any thought of Togepi away from her mind. She didn't want to collapse now.

    He looked back over his shoulder, toward her, and Misty cringed. His eyes were swollen, red, and full of tears. And it was all her fault. She could have been more careful, should have been in fact, but she had allowed herself to be caught, and Ash had paid the price of her mistake.

    "I…" she tried to get the words of an apology out. The part of her that usually wanted nothing more than to tear Ash apart was gone, perhaps too shaken by what had just happened. Now there was only the part that genuinely cared. "I'm sorry," she bit her lips. "It's my fault."

    Ash shook his head slowly, still sobbing. "Not your fault," he whispered, "It's not…"

    Misty sighed, trying to think of something to say, but words failed her.
    Last edited by Evil Figment; 5th December 2004 at 02:32 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  11. #11
    Virus equals very yes Kinglerlord2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Brisbane, Australia


    That one seemed shorter than the other two... probably wasn't but it seemed like it. A few mistakes in there again but the story is excellent as usual and moves at a good pace.
    Don't wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Go down there and light the bloody thing yourself!


  12. #12


    You bastard. Argh. Cliffhangers are totally evil.

    so sell your suit and tie and come and live with me
    leukemia schizophrenia polyethylene
    there is no significant risk to your health
    she used to be beautiful once as well

    plastic bag, middle class, polyethylene
    decaffeinate, unleaded, keep all surfaces clean
    if you don't believe this, sell your soul
    if you don't get into it, no one will

  13. #13
    Dooooooope! deja0entendu's Avatar
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    Montebello (Los Angeles), California
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    wow that last chapter wants to bring me to tears
    but my male pride doesn't let me

    but wow it's a good story

  14. #14
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Thanks for reading

    AN : I tried, I really tried, but Meowth will be using standard english spelling. I can't mangle the actual spelling of words to reflect that accent.

    Chapter 4 : Crossroads in Twilight

    “What,” James swallowed hard, “do we do, now?”

    It didn’t seem possible. Only minutes ago they had won everything, and even the pikachu they had so long pursued had been in their hands. But now, the same pikachu was plummeting to his death below, and what dreams Jessie and him had dared to entertain seemed just as far away as they always had been.

    “I...” Jessie shook her head. “I don’t know.”

    James sighed. For a moment, there, he had almost hoped he could free himself from his life as rocket, to go back to the freedom he had been seeking when he had fled from home all these years ago.

    But now that one glimpse of freedom was gone, and his entire like looked at him, a downward slope of crime that would take him every time to a new level, worse than any before. It would go on and on, until the day of his death.

    “James...” Jessie began, her legs shaking under her. “I...I don’t feel so well...”

    He barely had the time to catch her as she collapsed, her face pale. He helped her sit down, sat down besides her.

    This wasn’t the life he had wanted.

    “Meowth,” he called out to the pokémon, which had been near only moment ago. He came out of the underbrush, and though he did his best to hide it, there were still streak of tears on his cheek.

    “What do you want?” the pokémon questioned, his eyes furious. He, James realized, probably didn’t want either Jessie or him to see him so shaken. But there was no shame in feeling that shaken about what had just happened. They all felt that way, didn’t they?

    “I...” he hesitated. What he was about to say would cause no end of trouble for Jessie and him both, but it was the only thing he could say. Even if it meant his life, everything he had just done was too much. “I think I’m going to leave the team, Meowth,” he finally admitted. Besides him, Jessie nodded. At least she agreed with him.

    “What?” the feline shrieked. “You can't do that!”

    James looked at his furry friend shrewdly. He knew exactly what Meowth was thinking about, dreams of being the Team’s “top cat” and the like.

    “Maybe you like telling people you’ll bury their friends alive if they don’t do what you say. I don’t.” James shook his head.

    “It’s too much,” Jessie agreed with a sigh. “It’s the kind of things Butch and Cassidy would do. It’s not us.”

    “It worked!” Meowth protested, but his voice had a tremor in it, enough to tell James he was wavering.

    “Wasn’t worth it, though,” James sighed. “What do you think, Jessie?”

    “I’m with you,” she nodded slowly. “It’s time we part way with Team Rocket.”

    “But...” Meowth protested again, his eyes slowly filling up. “Yeah...I’m with you” He finally gave in. “Top cat be damned. The boss got wrong in the head.”

    James nodded, slowly looking around. “The sooner we leave, the better for us. They won’t know where we’ve gone. They’ll think we’re still...” he couldn’t finish the sentence; he couldn’t bring up Pikachu now.

    “Right.” Jessie agreed, also looking around. “Do any of you have anything they absolutely can’t spare back at the camp?”

    They all hesitated. Each of them had something left behind at the camp, James was sure. His bottle caps collection was there, and the only picture of Jessie's mother she had ever showed him was there as well.

    “Nothing I can’t live without...” he finally told them. Jessie, in turn, nodded, but a tear ran down her cheek...

    They looked at each other for a long time, thinking about the past they’d be leaving behind.

    “We should go now,” Jessie pointed out. “Before they start looking for us.”

    James nodded.

    Contrary to popular belief, pidgeys and other similar pokémon are migratory. The great clans flew far and wide, day and night, in search of greener pasture to live out their life in, and often they would leave their range, hoping to find another as autumns and springs came and went.

    Leman Island as Jessie and James raced toward the cliff, in close pursuit to Pikachu.

    To most of the pokémon in the tribe, the events below did not matter. Pidgeottos had no interest in the doing of land-dwelling creatures, as long as they didn’t meddle with the Kingdom of the Clouds, the domain of all flying pokémon, which humans called sky.

    But one pair of eyes never once left the scene, keeping close trace of every last movement of both the electric pokémon and the pursuing villains. They searched for another figure, someone else who should be there, but wasn’t.

    When the pikachu came to the edge of the cliff, the pidgeot gave a sharp cry – and the pikachu heard it, turning back to look toward her. The small pokémon nodded.

    With another cry, she instructed the other pokémon of the tribe to continue on their way without her. She didn’t need to say much for that message to come across, only a single cry, then she was veering off, pulling back her wings to dive.

    Pikachu, far below, also dove, jumping off the edge of the cliff.

    The wind rushed to meet pidgeot as she veered slightly, adjusting her flight path ever so much, her eyes never leaving the falling pikachu. She readied herself, knowing how little of a margin she would have left by the time she caught pikachu, if indeed she did that.

    The ground came ever closer. Her sharp eyes could already catch sight of the separate strands of grass far below, and she knew she only had seconds to spar. Soon, too soon, she’d have to pull out of her dive, or she would be too low, and there’d be no pulling out before she struck the ground.

    The seconds went by, each carrying her several feet further down, until at last she could try no more. Pikachu was just there, and it was only a matter of reaching out, but...

    She veered up, pulling out of the dive. Desperately, she grabbed with her legs, trying one last time to catch pikachu...

    They sank in something soft and cozy – yellow fur - and gripped the flesh below.

    With a shrill cry of triumph, the pidgeot flew off.

    Midnight was now long since past, and the moon had risen only to vanish again beneath the dark shape of the continent to the north. To Brock’s left, the silent form of the Cinnabar island volcano loomed, an eerie red glow sometime illuminating the sky from it. There had been something in the news about an evacuation of Cinnabar going on, but he had not paid it much attention.

    Some faint distance ahead, a nest of city lights rose out from the inky darkness of the sea, and Brock sighed. That must be Pallet Town, which meant the journey would soon be over.

    He was more than happy with that. The long hours on the sea had banished most of the memories he still had of what he had seen on Valencia Island, but he still couldn’t wait to be back on the continent. He wasn’t one to get seasick, but he was a rock trainer, and he would always feel much more at ease where he could feel the solid earth beneath his feet than elsewhere.

    Someone came up on the deck, walking up to stand besides him at the ship’s rail. Brock glanced at the young man shortly, paying him little attention before turning back to watch the sea...then turning to watch the young man again.

    He knew him.

    “Brock?” the young man asked, nearly dropping the camera he held in hand.

    “Hey, Todd!” he grinned, forgetting there and then the worries that had brought him to leave Valencia in the first place. “It’s been a while.”

    The young photographer nodded. “I’ve been busy,” he admitted. “Professor Oak hired me to help him out with a project he had, and it’s been keeping me busy for the better part of a year. What about you?” he then asked. “Still traveling with Ash?”

    Brock shook his head, suddenly wary. There were things he definitely didn’t want to bring up here. “No, I left him to help out at the Valencia laboratory, with professor Ivy,” that much was safe to mention.

    “Ah,” Todd shrugged. “I haven’t heard much about her. Did you hear from Ash recently?”

    “Last I heard from him,” Brock replied, “He was in the middle of big troubles once again.”

    “Shamuti?” Todd laughed.

    Brock nodded. “What else? As far as I’ve heard from professor Ivy, he was in the middle of saving the world or something like that. Typical Ash, really.” The last came with a half-laugh, one that was perhaps a bit bitter. It wasn't that Brock envied Ash's adventure, not really. His family had been enough responsibility already; he didn't want to think about how much would be involved in saving the world. Only…

    "That bad?" Todd frowned. "I mean, I guess he does tend to be a bit of the hero guy, but…"

    Brock shrugged faintly. "That's just it really. Anyway, what was that project of Oak?"

    Todd looked at him for a moment, and his eyes half-closed. He bit his lips.

    "I'm not sure I should tell you," he admitted finally. "Even if you're a gym leader, you're still a trainer, and Oak made it clear he didn't want any of what went on to become common knowledge with trainers."

    Brock whistled. Samuel Oak, as far as Brock knew, certainly wasn't one to turn against trainers.

    "I think he was afraid it'd get to Team Rocket, mostly. Heaven know what they'd do if they found out…"

    One of his hands had darted to a pocket at his belt, drawing a few pictures out. He passed them to Brock, who turned slightly to look at them in what faint light there was on the deck.

    The first few were not too surprising, except perhaps for the sheer number of wild pokémon on each. Then there was one, shards of an egg lying on a valley floor. Shards of an egg, and above it, already taking its first flight, a great bird with wings of flame. Then another, a bird wreathed in crackling energy, and a third, a bird with wings of pure crystal.

    Brock had seen the birds before; heard about them more than he had ever wished not two weeks ago.

    "Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. And freshly hatched all three. Todd, where did you go?"

    The boy sighed. "Pokémon Island," he admitted. "You've probably heard of it."

    Brock nodded; of course he had. Who hadn't heard of the largest trainers-free reserve, lying on a small island east of the Orange archipelago? "I thought there were only common species there?"

    "That's what Oak doesn't want coming out," Todd frowned. "You'll keep that to yourself, won't you?"

    Brock nodded, and all the while the ship went on its way in the night's quite silence.

    The world flowed and ebbed, time passing by. Life rose and fell, and with each fall more new life came. The world, a swirling mass of mists, changed.

    From the south, a fire spread. Screams filled the air, the smell of smoke surrounding her. Eyes came to rest on her, eternal, soulless eyes.

    And her own opened.

    "Haunter?" she called out, trying to shake away the last traces of the nightmare. It wasn't the first time the fire consuming the world came to her in the last few weeks, but it had never been quite so vivid. As for the eyes, they had not been part of the dream at all; they belonged to the ghost pokémon now floating to her side.

    There was something different about Haunter tonight, she noticed. The ghost pokémon, usually composed, seemed almost frantic now.

    She barely needed to open her mind to understand. The Pokémon had not always been hers. Once, a lifetime ago, it had come to her, along with a young trainer by the name of Ash Ketchum. What had come to pass between the trainer and the Haunter beforehand, she did not know.

    What she did know was that there was a link between the two of them. It was tenuous, barely there at all most of the time, but now and then, the connection would become painfully clear, and Haunter would come to her, its mind filled with dark images. It had done it before, once two weeks ago and once a year ago. Both times, she had been able to tap into the tenuous link to understand what Ash faced.

    With a sigh, she opened her mind to the powerful psychic link she had forged with the ghost pokémon over the past year and a half. Through it, she could seize a hold of the far weaker one between haunter and Ash, and follow it to observe Ash himself.

    What she saw, she saw through mists. The link she was turning to her own use was tenuous in the best of times, and it could reveal her little of the world. She saw Ash clearly; some of his surroundings in a haze, and the rest was covered in white mists.

    What she saw, his crying form limp in a locked room, was disquieting enough. What she heard – Team Rocket gloating over their victory, over how they had taken away all his pokémon, leaving him helpless to fight back and trapped in a small room – was worst.

    She reached out through the link, intending to tap to the utmost in her power to teleport there then back out with Ash and any of his friends captured along with him. She owed him that much, she decided; he had, after all, saved her from becoming a monster once, if only inadvertently.

    At the far end of the room, the shadows stirred. For a moment, looking straight there, she was almost certain she saw a black head framed in white furs, a sinister scythe above its head as a horn. Then, somehow, her connection to Ash vanished, and she was back in her own room.

    "A dark-type," she realized with a shallow breath. There was no other explanation.

    But what had the dark type been doing in her vision of Ash?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  15. #15
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Dec 2002
    Lurking in dark corners
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    Chapter 5 : Binding Fate

    With a weary sigh, Duplica fell down on her bed, the layer of dust over the room reminding her all too painfully of why she hated returning to her home now.

    Most of the time, she was on the road, traveling from one performance to the next with Ditto. Whenever she went back home, the house looked for all the world as if no one had been there in centuries. The windows, covered in wild rose, the grass, turned yellow, the trees, growing haphazardly – all were too easy to see, too easy to worry about.

    The mansion was much more of a house than she needed. She'd have sold it a long time ago, if not for her parents. The memories she had of them, such as they were, where all tied to this place. To sell it, to let go of them...she could not bring herself to do either.

    Even if she loathed the mansion.

    Ditto did not seem to particularly care for her present mood. It turned about, is shape blurring in one smooth motion. A weak smile floated on Duplica's lips, unbidden memories rising. Her pokémon had become so much more talented, so very much more, from the day she had met Ash...

    The pokémon always tried to cheer her up, of course. Theirs was a bond of love, without need for pokéball; it had been as far back as she could remember. The ball, she did have, but it rested unused on a shelve while she was at home, and on the road it was in the depths of her backpack.

    "Pikapi!" the little amoeba – the yellow mouse that had once been an amoeba – screamed. "Pika!" it stuck its tongue out at her.

    She would, should have laughed. But here, even that pleasure was denied her. She couldn't bring herself to do it, not anymore.

    Something struck her. What it was, she couldn't begin to tell; there seemed to be no one but Ditto and her nearby. A second glance only confirmed that.

    The pain, barely noticeable at first, grew swiftly. Moments, barely even a second, passed, and already she felt like something was tearing her apart, rising from waist to chest in a single line, her body neatly divided by the fire.

    "Ditto?" she moaned as the pain faded away, too slowly.

    The pokémon looked at her, its dark eyes fixating on her face...and the pain, one moment dimmed, grew again, rising even higher. She had never been stabbed, but as far as she could imagine, this was what it must feel like.

    "Pi?" the pokémon looked at her curiously. It wasn't, she realized, the one responsible for this. But if not her, then who, what?

    "So...alone..." she thought she heard a voice crying out, echoing faintly as if some unimaginable distance.

    The room about her grew blurry. Her solid bed almost seemed to swallow her, the roof turning into inky darkness...then to something else.

    "So...alone..." she heard the voice again. Something, four legged, pale white fur over dark skin, passed before her eyes in a flickering moment. For that moment, that briefest of moment, Duplica could have sworn there had been a scythe over the creature's head. But that had been nonsense; pokémon – and that was what the beast must have been – didn't have any need for scythes, did they?

    But the creature, scythe or no, did not come back. Instead, what came before her eyes was a room she had never seen. It wasn't big, but it was well furnished at least. Yet, the room's only occupant did not seem to care much for the furniture.

    He was on the one bed in the middle of the room, curled in a ball. His eyes, dry, were nonetheless red and swollen – he may not be crying now, but he had been crying. His black hair fell to his shoulders in a tangle, his hand clenched into fist so tightly that she could see scratch marks on his palm when he opened one.

    She knew him, had met him before. Then, he had helped her.

    Unless she was entirely off, now, it was his turn to need help. And, willingly or not, he had called her to repay her debt.

    She opened her eyes again, her mind thinking only of Ash. The pain was fully gone now, but a single look at her back revealed a line there, looking for all the world like a scar – a scar she had never seen until then, a scare she knew had never been hers.

    A chill ran down her spine.

    Night had long since fallen, but in the streets of Viridian, that had never mattered much. People went on about their business without a care, and in the central park of the city, there would often be pokémon battles well into the night.

    One such battle, beginning at sunset and lasting hours as the two trainers slowly let their pokémon hammer away at each other's, attracted quite a crowd. The two trainers were young, not even fifteen either of them, but there was no doubting they were both talented. But even with all the talent in the world, their pokémon had, one by one, given up, and they were both down to their last call now.

    One of the trainers, a spike-haired young man with a woolen brown cloak on his shoulders, took a worried glance at his opponent.

    The opponent, Richie Leonhart by his name, didn't mind the glance. Most likely, he was wondering why type advantage had not won him a quick fight yet. But no, that probably wasn't that; Richie's vaporeon had been thoroughly defeated by the young man's arcanine, too.

    "All right Nidoking," Richie's opponent frowned. "Give it another shake!"

    Richie smiled, not bothering to answer. Sparky would have picked up on the order too, and would know perfectly well what it meant – and how to deal with it.

    The Nidoking didn't question the order; it slammed both fists into the ground, and for a moment the world shook, and earth rose and fell all across the battlefield, but the attack came too late. Already, before the fists had even struck the earth, Sparky had jumped up, not away from his enemy or the attack, but toward the center of it, using the massive ground pokémon as a springboard to jump higher, staying airborne until the last aftershock had died down.

    "Right Sparky!" Richie yelled while his pokémon was still far above. "Iron tail!" he commanded. Teaching Sparky that attack hadn't been easy, but it was, Richie felt, well worth it.

    His opponent's eyes widened for the briefest of moments, and he opened his mouth as if to shout some order, but Sparky's descent was too swift. A deep gash appeared across the Nidoking's cheek, a yellow blur landed at the pokémon feet. The crowd shrieked in delight, but the Nidoking's eyes narrowed…

    "Sparky! Get away!" Richie commanded, mere seconds before the massive tail of the poison pokémon slashed through the air. Sand and dust rose, formed in a billowing cloud, obscuring the battlefield from all eyes for a moment.

    The silence of the crowd lasted only as long as it took for the stand to fall back down. When it did, the awed cries rose again; both pokémon were still up, glaring at each other from across the battlefield.

    "Nidoking, charge that pokémon!" Richie's opponent yelled, exasperation rising in his voice. Richie forced down his own feelings along those lines; he had to remain clear-headed for the battle.

    The giant did not hesitate, stomping across the arena toward Sparky. Richie frowned, trying to come up with a plan, any plan…

    "Sparky," he hesitated. The idea he was about to use was crazy even for him. "Thunderbolt the field ahead of that nidoking!"

    The crowd hissed surprised murmur; Richie's opponent looked at him as though he had admitted to having escaped from an asylum.

    The night tore open, brilliant spears of light flashing down to strike the ground, the enormous heat of the electric blast spreading into the sand…

    The crowd's yells and shouts died down when the last echoes of the thunder vanished. The battlefield had been entirely sand up until then, but now, some of it – right ahead of the nidoking – looked a glossy black in the midnight sky…

    Not a single one of them understood, of course, not until Nidoking set foot on what had once been sand. As the pokémon lost its balance, sliding its way to the ground, they began to murmur.

    "He used the thunderbolts to heat the sand until it turned to glass!" he heard someone whisper in amazement. His opponent's jaw was wide.

    "Sparky, give it another Iron tail," he ordered. But his pokémon did not answer, and the nidoking did not rise again. For a moment, the two of them looked at each other, their eyes fierce, then the nidoking's eyes rolled back, and a mere second later, Sparky collapsed.

    "Well, that was a though fight," Richie grinned, recalling his pokémon – then cried out. Something had just taken a hold of his wrists, tightening about them. Pain, brutal and intense, flared up in his arms. The world for a moment didn't exist anymore, only the pain in his wrists did.

    He felt as if he was dying. He wished he were, if that would only put an end to the pain. A scream almost came out, only for a new wave of agonizing pain to freeze his tongue. The only scream to rise in the night sky where those of the crowd, now scarred.

    "What are..." he began, forcing himself to say the words, every syllable a victory. He stopped after the second words, his vision focusing for a moment on the other trainer. Whatever was going on, he had nothing to do with him. His hands clutched at his own chest, his eyes pulled back in a hideous mask of pain.

    Whatever was going on, it was the work of someone else.

    Then the other trainer was no longer there. A blur of silver, a glimmer of black, and the world because a room, far away, both bedroom and cage. And there, caged as he should never be, crying for all he was worth was Ash. Richie's friend said nothing, did nothing. He had no need to, not with the dreadful sense that rose from the very image itself. Ash needed help, needed it more deeply than he had ever needed anything in his life.

    The vision, slowly, drew back into nothingness.

    "D...did you see that too?" the other trainer asked. His teeth were chattering, his hands still over his heart, though he seemed to be in no more pain.

    Richie nodded, though he said nothing, not bringing himself to trust his mouth. His eyes went to his wrists, to the pale marks he could see there, to the pale marks he could have sworn had never been there.

    "Do you know him?"

    Again, Richie nodded. "He's..." his voice wavered. "He's Ash Ketchum. I fought him at the Indigo League. We were friends..."

    The other nodded, and it was plain that, like Richie, he was still struggling for breath.

    "We were rivals," he finally explained. "He need us now, you know."

    Richie nodded. "He does. I'm Richie Leonhart, by the way."

    "Gary Oak," the other trainer introduced himself.

    It hadn't even been a full day yet. It felt much more than that. And, much as they had tried to think one up, there just was no way out.

    "I wonder how long they'll keep us here…" Misty's voice shook, her usual strong exterior giving way. Perhaps at another time, in another place, Ash would have said something about that; she picked on his own weaknesses often enough. As it was, it barely even registered on his mind.

    What did register on his mind was an endless succession of images. There was no particular logic to them; the only thing they had in common – and even Ash could understand that – was that they were all of his stolen pokémon.

    Where were they now? Team Rocket must have taken them away already, to some laboratory where they'd be tortured, experimented on…maybe they'd even be brainwashed into serving Team Rocket. And if he met them again, what would they think of him then? Would they even recognize him? If they did, would they see their trainer, or just the boy who had given them up to Team Rocket?

    He sank in one of the couch, pulling his knees tightly to his chest. If only he could escape, take the fight back to the Rockets now that Misty was safe. But he couldn't, could he?

    They were on the top floor of a hotel fifteen floor high, and their room had obviously been rebuilt to hold them in, with steel bars on the windows and a reinforced door. Just outside the door, assuming he could even get out, there almost certainly were Rocket guards, if not armed at the very least with their own deadly pokémon.

    And of course, Ash had no pokémon of his own. Had Pikachu or Charizard been with them, or Snorlax, or any of the others, escape would have been an option. But fighting on his own, without the help of his pokémon, against people who had shown themselves ready to kill…

    For the first time, perhaps, since he had met Pikachu, Ash felt weak, powerless. The world went on ahead without him, and there just wasn't a thing to be done about it.

    Misty sat down besides him. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying; she had been doing a lot of it since their arrival. Then again, so had he. Even now he felt soft teardrops only begging to form in his eyes; only what willpower he had left prevented them from doing so.

    "We're going to get out, aren't we?" he whispered feebly. He couldn't see how, but he knew they had to. The other option, to stay in the hotel until the day they died, just didn't bear thinking about.

    Misty bit her lips, but didn't answer, instead wrapping an arm about his shoulders. Awkwardly, he turned to face her – only for her to begin crying on his shoulders. Ash's resolve wavered; a tear trickled down his left cheek.

    "What…what if we don't ever get out, Ash?" her voice trembled. "I…"

    She didn't go further. Her face hardened, her eyes closed, then a moan of pain. The moan increased to a shriek, and she reached toward her eyes with both hand, clawing away at something that just wasn't there.

    "Misty? What's the matter?" Ash shouted, watching in stunned horror. Things were bad enough now, but if Misty was going crazy as well…

    "I…" she tried to speak, but her voice trailed off. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, she calmed down, resting on the floor. "I felt almost like someone was tearing my eyes out."

    Ash shivered, and glanced around. What could be going on now?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu' out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

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