2nd December 2009, 12:21 AM
Religion is a club
So, here we are. The start of another fanfiction. If you enjoyed Final Challenge then I think you will probably like this one as well; it's got the same kind of atmosphere (or at least I hope it does, since that was what I was aiming for). As usual I start things off with a rather short chapter, but longer ones are to follow; I can assure you of that, having actually completed it before posting for once!
Well, enjoy, and as ever please review!
Chapter One: Invitation
It should have been simple, he thought with gritted teeth, the sweat pouring off his brow. This was never supposed to happen... so how have I ended up in this situation? He raised a hand to his brow, trying to wipe away the blood which threatened to slide into his eyes and obscure his vision, peering into the inky darkness as he did so. The thick smoke swirled around him and stung his wounds harshly. He coughed, feeling his knees shudder underneath him as his strength began to fail.
He ignored his weakening state, looking for a way, any way, to make it through. On the other side of the building he knew was Drew; possibly in the same condition, or even worse off as they both tried vainly to make their way through and save their friend. He coughed dryly, feeling his Adam’s apple bon against the irritated and raw skin of his parched throat, trying not to think of what would happen if one or both should fail. Trying to recall his courage he took a step forwards and his knees buckled under the strain, sending him crashing to the ground.
It should have been simple, he thought as he went spiralling into blackness. It should have been simple...
“Ash? Ash Ketchum?” a voice called cheerily. He started and looked around, distracted from his thoughts as the local Pokémon Centre’s Nurse Joy strode towards him.
“I, uh... yeah, that’s me,” he said, standing quickly from his perch on a corner bench.
“There’s a telephone call for you at the counter,” she said. “I can transfer it to one of the video booths if you like.”
“Oh. Um, sure, fine. Thanks,” he said, shakily his head a little stupidly. He followed her directions down a corridor and quickly found the booth she’d directed him to. He shook his head again, wondering vaguely why his head felt like it was buzzing with flies. He gave a quick glance back into the lobby, wondering when Brock and Dawn would return, before returning his attention to the video screen. A feeling of shock stole through his body and then a warm grin spread across his face.
“It’s good to see you, Ash,” Professor Oak smiled. A dozen questions ran through Ash’s mind, and he blurted out the first one he got a concrete hold of.
“How’d you know where I was?” he asked, and Professor Oak laughed.
“That was the easy part,” he said. “I called Brock’s PokéGear; you know, the one Kazunari’s father gave him. I asked if you were there, but he told me you were back at the Pokémon Centre.”
“Oh, I see.”
“But anyways, Ash, tell me: how are you? It’s been such a long time since we’ve spoken.”
“Well, to be honest, I’m feeling really nervous about this next badge,” Ash admitted.
“You mean Sunnyshore Gym’s Beacon Badge?” Oak asked, a frown creasing his face.
“Yeah,” Ash answered. “Paul was absolutely destroyed by him, and that’s made me wonder how I can beat him if Paul can’t. I’m not doubting my Pokémon or anything, it’s just making me think a lot harder about strategies than I normally would.”
“I see,” Oak said, his brow clearing. “Well, would you say that you could benefit from some additional training against a tough opponent before facing the Gym leader?”
“Definitely,” Ash said without hesitation. “Dawn and Brock are good sparring partners, but I know their styles too well.”
“Yes, something new and hard would be just what you need to give you that extra boost of confidence,” Oak said thoughtfully, and Ash was surprised to see him form a wide grin.
“It so happens that I have just the thing waiting for you right here, Ash,” Oak said, picking up a letter from his desk. “This arrived for you at your home earlier today. It had an official-looking seal on it, so your mother thought she should open it right away in case it was important.”
“What is it, Professor?” Ash asked, craning his neck forwards as he tried to read the print through the screen. Oak unfolded the letter, cleared his throat, and began to read.
“Dear Mr. Ketchum,
In light of your accomplishments in the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn Gym leagues, as well as your victories in the Orange Island Conference and the Kanto Battle Frontier, we are delighted to invite you to attend the opening of a prestigious new Battle Centre in the Johto region, the Trainer House. This facility is reserved only for trainers of the highest calibre. We feel that your record is more than sufficient for this competition and we would be honoured if you would attend the inaugural tournament, being held two weeks from the date of this letter.
If you are otherwise engaged then you may freely ignore any response. However if you would like to participate, we request that you return the pre-addressed card enclosed with this letter. The Trainer House is located on route 46, approximately halfway between New Bark Town and Blackthorn City.
“Who’s Cal?” was the first thing that Ash asked, and Oak frowned slightly.
“You know, I’m not entirely certain myself,” he responded slowly. “Cal is said to be a legendary trainer in Johto; far more powerful than the Elite Four, in fact. Of course, that could just be Professor Elm bragging about one of his old trainers, but all the rumours are agreed that he is very skilled. I’ve heard that he is particularly proficient with the trio of Meganium, Typhlosion, and Feraligatr.”
“Wow, that strong huh?” Ash murmured, thinking back to his battles alongside Cynthia and her Garchomp. He shuddered slightly, hardly able to believe that anyone could be stronger than her. “Well it’s a challenge, and I think I’d definitely be interested in it, but...”
“But,” Professor Oak prompted.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to get there,” Ash said. “It doesn’t matter if the letter was sent yesterday; Sinnoh is a long way from Johto, and-”
“Ash, you’re staying at the Hotel Grand Lake right now, right?” Oak interrupted.
“Uh... yeah, I think that’s what it’s called. We stayed here when we were in the Wallace Cup and thought it would be nice to stay here again on our way to Sunnyshore.”
“So why not just get a ferry from there?” Oak asked. “I know that when May left for Johto again, she took a boat to Lavender Town and then a blimp to Pallet since she wanted to leave her Venusaur here again. Then she just took another ferry to New Bark Town, since that’s where her next Contest was. It wouldn’t be too far of a walk from there.”
“How long would that take?” Ash asked, the fire of competition starting to kindle in his eyes. Oak scratched his chin, pondering.
“If you managed to get tomorrow’s boat out it shouldn’t take more than a week to reach New Bark Town,” he answered. “That gives you more than enough time to walk to the Trainer House.”
“Alright then, I’ll do it!” Ash said decisively, and Oak laughed.
‘I thought you might, Ash,” he said. “I’ll see you when you reach Pallet Town.”
“Bye, Professor,” Ash called as the screen went blank. He clenched his fist, a grin forming on his face as he thought about the challenge ahead.
“Cal, huh,” he whispered. “You’d better watch out for me, because I won’t stop until I win!”
3rd December 2009, 08:05 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Here we are with chapter two; this one is a little longer than the first, but the meat-and-bones of the story won't really start until Chapter 4. But that doesn't mean this chapter is unimportant! Please enjoy and, as ever, reviews are much appreciated!
Chapter Two: Kidnap
“So, you’re off to Johto, are you?” Brock asked, handing Pikachu back over to Ash.
“That’s right,” Ash nodded. “This Cal sounds really tough... I think it’ll be a great warm up before the Sunnyshore Gym, even if I lose.”
“It sounds like so much fun,” Dawn said, her eyes shining as she sat down on a plush couch. “I can’t wait to hear about all your battles!”
“Huh? You mean you’re not coming with me?” Ash asked, surprised.
“Oh Ash, you forgot about the Contest, didn’t you?” Dawn sighed.
“Uhh...” Ash droned, his mind buzzing for a moment before he remembered. “Oh yeah! The next one’s in a week! Guess I did forget,” he admitted, and Brock laughed.
“Don’t worry about it, Ash,” Dawn smiled. “I know how important this Trainer House is to you. It can’t be helped that they’re both at the same time.”
“Yeah, good luck with it, Ash,” Brock said.
“You’re staying too?” Ash asked in an injured tone, and Dawn looked slightly put out.
“I have to,” Brock chuckled. “Who else is going to carry all of Dawn’s bags?”
“Oh very funny,” Dawn pouted, and Ash laughed.
“I’ll keep you two updated on how it goes,” Ash promised them. “And if I forget...”
“...Which you will...” Dawn muttered.
“...then Pikachu will remind me,” Ash finished, ignoring her. “Right, Pikachu?”
“Pika pi!” Pikachu agreed, giving them the thumbs-up.
“When are you going?” Dawn asked him.
“Tomorrow,” Ash said, tickling Pikachu under his chin to a coo of delight. “Professor Oak booked the ferry and a blimp to Pallet for me and sent the tickets electronically. Nurse Joy printed them off for me; you know how bad I am with computers.”
“How bad is he with them?” Dawn whispered to Brock.
“He hasn’t met one that he didn’t manage to crash,” Brock whispered back.
“I heard that,” Ash said, and all three burst out laughing again.
“So how long will you be there for?” Dawn asked.
“Umm... Professor Oak said it would take me about a week to get to New Bark Town from here, and the competition doesn’t start for two weeks. Depending on how long it goes for... could be up to a month, I guess.”
“Will you have time to challenge Volkner before the League?” Brock asked. “If he’s as tough as Paul makes out, then you might need all the time you can get to challenge him before the League starts. You don’t want to wait another year, do you?”
“Oh yeah, easy,” Ash said with a cocky grin. “Cal will be just the warm-up I need before Volkner. If I can keep a match with him close, I know that nothing will keep me from winning the badge!”
“So what are you doing with your Pokémon? Using the ones you have or switching them out?” Dawn asked.
“I’ll take a mixture, I think,” Ash answered. “Pikachu, Gallade, and either Monferno or Staraptor, and maybe Sceptile, Snorlax, Bulbasaur, Tauros, or Kingler. I haven’t really decided yet. I’m still not really sure how it’s set up either; I might be able to switch my Pokémon out if I want to, so then it wouldn’t even matter.”
Dawn yawned and stretched, suddenly feeling tired. “I think I’m off to bed guys,” she said, standing up from the couch. “You might want to as well, Ash, depending on how early that ferry is.”
“Well it is pretty early,” he admitted, glancing at the departure time on the ticket. “I think I’ll join you after all. Are you coming to bed too, Brock?”
“I’ll be a few more minutes,” Brock answered. “I want to make sure that I’ve got all the supplies I need. Night Ash, night Dawn.”
“Night Brock,” they chorused in unison before traipsing off to their rooms. Ash was so excited by the prospect of challenging Cal he felt sure he would stay awake all night. When Brock entered the room ten minutes later, he was fast asleep.
“Nothing ever fazes him,” Brock chuckled as he turned off the lights.
Ash had a lot to reflect on during the boat ride to Lavender Town. He had awoken early – unusually so for him – and had a hasty breakfast before saying farewell to Brock and Dawn. It was not a long and tearful goodbye, for all three knew that they would be seeing each other again soon. Despite his early start he had only just made the ferry in time. Now that he was aboard he had nothing to do, so he undertook some thinking to occupy himself.
Most of this centered on deciding what Pokémon to take and use with him. He wanted a strong team, just in case he was not able to switch his Pokémon during the challenge; but which ones could he use? Pikachu was a natural choice, but that left five open slots for a whole hoard of Pokémon. After much pondering he was able to make a few more selections; Sceptile, for its incredible speed and powerful attacks, was one and Gallade, a relatively new capture that he was eager to try out, was another. He dithered for a while more before choosing Snorlax, for its incredible endurance, and Staraptor, for its raw power and amazing manoeuvrability.
That left him with one more slot, and he eventually decided to leave it blank for now. He felt that his current team was relatively well balanced, and if he needed to fit in a sixth slot he knew that there was one could always call. Pleased with his decisions he looked out of his cabin window and was surprised to see that the sun was already setting. Immediately upon realizing that his stomach gurgled, as if to remind him that he had missed both lunch and dinner. He was scarcely able to believe that his thoughts had kept him so occupied; it was unprecedented for him to miss two meals in a day, let alone two in a row! Resigning himself to a night mixed with fitful sleep and hunger, he crawled into bed.
He was snoring seconds later.
It was his stomach that awoke him the next morning. Lucky that it had too, as the ship was only an hour from docking at Lavender Town. He repacked his belongings hastily and gulped down some breakfast in the cafeteria. He’d only just swilled back the last of his juice when the PA system crackled on and the captain informed the passengers that they had arrived.
Grabbing his bag, Ash raced upstairs, Pikachu chasing after him, and looked in awe at the Lavender Town port as he descended to the docks. It had been years since he had last seen the area and it was almost unrecognizable to him now. It was more of a city than a town now! He supposed that the town becoming a major port for Kanto-Sinnoh trade had helped the expansion.
Although the boat ride had taken only a little over a day, it felt good to be back on land again, he decided. He loved the travelling and each of the regions he had visited, but he always got a special feeling when he returned to his home region of Kanto. Looking around for anything that help him to gain his bearings he caught sight of the top of the Pokémon and Radio Towers reaching over the trees at the far end of the city, standing like twin sentinels at the exit of the claustrophobic Rock Tunnel. He wasn’t quite sure where the blimp station was, but he knew it was somewhere along the harbour between the docks and Rock Tunnel, so he decided to wander up along the waterfront until he found it.
Pikachu was the one who had the bright idea of following a blimp to get there. While Ash looked around in every direction in complete puzzlement, the electric-type noticed one of the airships soaring overhead as it came in to land. Several pokes in the side of the head, a few cries of “Pikapi!” and even a weak Thundershock weren’t enough to get the trainer to look up, so eventually Pikachu gave up, leapt off his shoulder, and ran through the crowd as it followed the airship’s shadow. Naturally, Ash followed him.
They arrived in plenty of time to catch their blimp to Viridian City. Determined not to miss any more meals, Ash loaded up on sandwiches at the station’s little cafeteria while Pikachu kept a watchful eye over his belongings. They enjoyed their lunch and then watched a rerun of a Johto Pokémon Contest on the TV as they waited to be called for boarding. Ash was surprised to see appeals from both Drew and May as the first round progressed. Then he was surprised at his surprise; of course, they were both still in Johto competing for a berth in the Grand Festival. He considered calling May up and asking her if she wanted to meet him while he was there, but then quickly dismissed the possibility. He was going to a tiny portion of the region, and he was on a very tight schedule to get there on time. The odds of actually encountering her somewhere along that route would be near astronomical.
“Now boarding: BLX127 to Viridian City. Please present your passes as you board,” the attendant called. Ash jumped and, quickly grabbing his bag and Pikachu, joined the line-up. They were soon in the air and anticipating their arrival the next day. Ash was delighted to see that the same Contest was being rebroadcast during the flight, and he watched with interest as May and Drew battled their way to the finals. A Ledian – Roserade fight ensued, which the bug-type lost by only the slimmest of margins. Disappointment filled him at the loss, but the date flashing across the screen at the bottom reminded him that it had happened long before May even visited Sinnoh for the Wallace Cup.
He flicked through some more channels, but the only other programs on were some silly soap operas he had never really been interested in. Making himself comfortable in the chair he was soon fast asleep as the blimp soared on into the night.
May shivered slightly as she tried to build the fire higher. It was a cool night that threatened rain, and she was hoping for a little warmth before she retired for the night inside her waterproof tent. Unfortunately she had not been able to find much dry wood, and what she had found was already being consumed by the flames. A cruel breeze lashed against her skin, and she gave a sudden yelp at the cold sensation. The fire flickered brightly for a brief moment and then died entirely. May gave the burnt wood and grey ashes a look and then glanced at the damp sticks she had found on the forest floor. Sighing, she gave it up as a bad job and kicked some dirt over the few glowing embers that remained.
Entering her tent she zipped it closed securely and then changed hurriedly, longing for her soft yellow pyjamas and the warmth of her sleeping bag. She lay down and tossed for a few moments before realizing that she had placed her tent and sleeping bag directly on top of some rather uncomfortable gravel. Sighing again, she got up, dragged her sleeping bag to the other side of the tent and tried to drift off to sleep.
Perhaps it was her tired mind running wild, but she thought she heard some rustling in the nearby bushes and then the snap of a twig. Dismissing it as the wind picking up again, she simply turned over and made herself comfortable. A loud CHUNK and the sound of something metallic scraping across the ground outside of her tent quickly brought her back to awareness. She sat up with a jolt, her heart pounding as she tried to determine what it may have been; whatever it was, it certainly hadn’t been caused by the wind.
“H-Hello?” she called tentatively, and there was no response save for the sound of her tent slowly being unzipped. Automatically she reached for her Pokéballs, and she was horrified to realize that she didn’t have them. She had left them in her bag, which was on the other side of the tent; right by the entrance. A most curious scent began to waft inside, one that made her feel both relaxed and drowsy. She had practiced with her Venusaur often enough to realize that one component of the smell was Sweet Scent, but it wasn’t until she saw the faint blue powder that she realized the other was Sleep Powder.
Desperately trying to throw off the effects of the powders, she gave a yell and threw herself across the tent, trying to reach her bag and the Pokéballs it held securely inside.
She didn’t make it.
She was halfway across the tent when a medium-sized man with a blur of greyness where his head should have been burst in, his fist swinging. She felt the pain as it smashed into her cheek; she felt a brief sensation of flying as stars danced in her eyes; she felt a warm breath on her cheek as he knelt to examine her; and then she felt nothing.
Last edited by Every Breaking Wave; 6th December 2009 at 04:52 PM.
5th December 2009, 12:24 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
The last of the filler chapters before the real plot begins. Enjoy.
Chapter Three: The Second Letter
“Hello,” Ash called, opening the door and peering into the dark interior. He sighed and closed the door, wondering where everyone could be. The blimp had arrived at Viridian City almost an hour ahead of schedule; it was so early that the sun was only just beginning to rise. Ash had bought a quick breakfast for Pikachu and himself at a nearby diner before setting out on Route 1, figuring that they would be back in Pallet Town by sunset.
Well, that was certainly true. It was only 5 o’clock when they arrived, and he had decided to stop in at Professor Oak’s lab first before making his way home. But curiously, neither Professor Oak nor Tracey were anywhere to be seen. He’d looked in most of the rooms, and the fields were devoid of humans every time he looked at them through a window.
“Where can they be?” he wondered aloud. “Do you think they’ve gone to Mom’s house, Pikachu?”
“Pika chu,” the electric-type replied from his shoulder. Ash shrugged and decided to head on home, just in case they were there.
“Ash! We didn’t expect you back so soon!” Oak exclaimed.
“My blimp arrived pretty early,” Ash said, pushing past him into the house as a delectable scent entered his nostrils. “Mmm, something smells good. Dinner?”
“Ash, honey! It’s so good to see you again!” Delia smiled, rushing forwards with a plate heaped full of food for him.
“Hello again, Ash,” Tracey called from the table.
“Mime!” Mr. Mime agreed.
“Good to see you all too,” Ash grinned in return, plonking himself down next to the Watcher. “So how come you’re all over here?”
“Delia was very excited to hear you’d be dropping by so much sooner than usual,” Oak smiled, reseating himself on Ash’s other side. “She, ah, worked herself into a bit of a tizzy cooking all sorts of foods in preparation, so she invited us over for dinner.”
“Oh, I’m just happy to have my Ash back, even if it is just for a day,” Delia said, giving him a big hug for behind and causing him to choke on his food.
“By the way, Ash, you have another letter,” Oak said, passing it over to him casually. “Looks like it’s a response from Cal.” Ash dropped his fork and eagerly unfolded the letter, his eyes racing from side-to-side as he read it.
“Dear Mr. Ketchum,
We are delighted that have decided to accept our invitation to compete in the Trainer House. This follow-up letter is to inform you of the competition procedures, as well as the potential prizes that you may receive.
Though you have qualified for the event, in order to face the Trainer House Champion you will first have to undergo several challenges. The specific details of these will be revealed to you just prior to your undertaking them. This procedure is to test your ability to react to unknown and difficult situations. You may carry up to six Pokémon with you, but you may not switch them out for any Pokémon you keep in reserve during this sequence. If you complete the challenge you will then be able to face CAL in a three-on-three Pokémon battle. Should you be victorious, your prize will be what you desire above all else.
The competition begins one week from the date of this letter. We look forward to seeing you there and anticipate a difficult challenge.
“An interesting looking challenge,” Oak commented after Ash read it aloud for their benefit. “I wonder what you’ll have to do before you get to face Cal.”
“I dunno; I guess I understand why they wouldn’t tell me, but I’d have liked to have known,” Ash said, scanning the letter again.
“It’s a curious prize that they’re offering,” Delia mused. “How did they describe it? ‘What you desire above all else’? I wonder what that could be.”
“I guess it would be a bit difficult to give me a League Championship Cup without winning one,” Ash grinned.
“Or maybe you just don’t know what it is that you desire more than anything,” Oak teased him. Ash missed the joke.
“You mean it could be the title of Pokémon Master?” he asked thoughtfully. “I guess that could work, seeing how powerful Cal is supposed to be.”
“It says it starts a week after the letter was sent; what day is that?” Delia asked.
“Looks like the letter was sent yesterday,” Ash answered, giving it a quick check. “So today meant that there were six days left, and when I leave tomorrow it will be five days. How long does the ferry take to get to New Bark Town again?”
“You’ll be there the day after you leave,” Oak answered, scratching his head. “That gives you, um, four days to walk there. You’ll probably be there a couple of days early.”
“Well that’s good,” he sighed. “I was worried about missing it.”
“So Ash, what Pokémon do you plan on using?” Tracey asked.
“Well, I thought about it really hard and decided on Pikachu, Sceptile, Gallade, Snorlax, and Staraptor,” he announced.
“Who’s your sixth going to be?” Oak questioned.
“Well, I was thinking about maybe using-” Ash began.
“Ooo, dessert!” Delia interrupted, leaping up from her chair as the timer on the oven rang. “I hope you’ve all left some room for cake!”
Delia was surprised the next morning to come down the stairs and find Ash already awake and on the phone.
“You can? That’s great, I’ll look forward to it!” he smiled. “Thanks so much! Bye!” He hung up, turned, and started at the sight of his mother looking at him curiously.
“Who was that, Ash?” she asked, descending the last few stairs and making her way over to the oven.
“Oh, just an old friend,” he said. “I was hoping to meet them while in Johto, so I decided to get in touch with them and arrange something.”
“Well, you must be pleased to have so many friends from all over the globe, Ash,” she beamed. “It makes it so much easier when you’re travelling! Toast or Bacon?”
“What?” he asked.
“Would you like Toast or Bacon for breakfast?” she asked.
“Both, of course!” he laughed, and Delia shook her head knowingly as she began to cook.
After breakfast and a shower, Ash was more than ready to leave. He gave his mother a quick hug goodbye and then ran up to Oak’s lab to make his Pokémon team changes. Monferno, Buizel, Gliscor, and Grotle looked a little disappointed at being left behind, but Sceptile, Snorlax, and Staraptor were more than delighted to be with their trainer again.
Despite having woken up early, by the time the team change had been made he was forced to hurry to reach the Pallet Town docks in time. He was halfway there and gasping for breath when it occurred to him that he didn’t need to run at all. A smile lit his face as he stood there, panting heavily.
“G-Gallade, come on out!” he managed to say.
“Er?” the Pokémon asked quizzically.
“We’re not going to make the ferry, Gallade,” Ash explained. “Can you do me a favour?”
“Great!” he smiled. “Will you teleport us to the docks?”
“Erlade,” the Pokémon nodded, holding out one of its long, blade-like limbs. Ash grabbed hold and the Pokémon closed its eyes, concentrating. A soft yellow glow covered them both and they disappeared. When Ash opened his eyes he saw that they were standing just outside the ferry entranceway, with a few attendants looking at him curiously.
“Thanks so much, Gallade,” he said, recalling the honourable Pokémon with a grateful smile. “Thanks to you, we made it in time!”
“Eh, excuse me, sir,” one of the attendants said hesitantly. “Could I, uh, see your ticket please?”
“Here you go,” Ash said, holding it out to her.
“Thank you,” she said, ripping off the stub and depositing it in a small bag. “Welcome aboard and enjoy your trip!”
“Thanks,” Ash said, walking past her onto the ferry. Back to Johto, he thought with a grin. I can’t wait to see them again!
6th December 2009, 04:51 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Alright, time for a good chapter I think. As promised, here is where the action really kicks off. Enjoy and, as ever, all reviews are very much welcomed!
Chapter Four: The Challenge Begins
Ash was incredibly glad that he had brought Gallade with him for the competition. He had known from the moment Professor Oak began reading the first letter that it would be extremely difficult for him to get to the Trainer House within those two weeks. He had caught some lucky breaks along the way with his various modes of transportation arriving earlier than expected, but the trek from New Bark Town docks to the Trainer House could have still made him too late for the competition.
Enter Gallade. The psychic-type had undertaken a series of reconnoitring teleportation sweeps in tandem with Staraptor. It was a simple but effective strategy. Gallade would touch Staraptor’s flank with his arm and then teleport to a random location along the route. The flying-type would flap above the trees and do a quick search, looking for any building that could be the Trainer House. If a possible location was found it would go to investigate and report back the details to Gallade. If it was the Trainer House Gallade would follow Staraptor back so that the location was ingrained in its memory and then teleport back for Ash. If it was just a random building they would teleport a few miles further north and begin anew.
They had found it inside of a day.
Delighted, Ash hugged his tired but pleased Pokémon and groomed them both carefully; a trick he had finally managed to pick up from Brock. After a big celebratory dinner Ash gave all of his Pokémon to the New Bark Town Pokémon Centre’s Nurse Joy for a check-up and rest. Tomorrow, he knew, would be the day that they stood outside the Trainer House. But what to do for the rest of today?
In New Bark Town there was only one thing he could do.
“Well Ash, I’m not really sure what I can tell you,” Professor Elm frowned. “I knew Cal of course; I gave him his first Pokémon, a Chikorita, years ago.”
“Knew?” Ash asked, catching the past tense.
“Cal has become something of a legend within this region,” Elm answered. “Of course, he was always a talented trainer; as I recall, he won the Silver Conference in his first attempt, and not many trainers can say that. From there he challenged the Elite Four, but he lost badly to the then Champion, Lance. After that loss he vowed to become stronger and disappeared into the deepest reaches of the Mount Silver foothills, some of the most hostile terrain on this planet. He hasn’t been seen since.
“Oh, some trainers will occasionally venture out of the area and claim to have seen and battled him, there’s no doubt about that. But whether it’s true or not...” He shrugged. “If what the legends say about him are true then he will certainly be one of the strongest trainers on the planet, possibly even rivalling the Sinnoh Champion, Cynthia.” Ash stared at the invitation in his hand.
“Well, he challenged me to battle him at this place called the Trainer House,” he said, and Elm’s interest was piqued.
“It certainly sounds like something the Cal I knew would do,” he said. “He was never satisfied with his own strength; that’s why he went off to train in the wilderness around Mount Silver. If he’s challenged you then you must be a hell of a trainer now. I wish you the best of luck, and give Cal my regards when you see him.”
“I will,” Ash promised as the Professor turned back to his research, “and thanks.”
The dawn of a new day broke and Ash stood outside the Trainer House, Gallade having just transported him there. As he recalled the psychic-type with a smile of thanks, he and Pikachu looked up in awe at the massive building which stretched out in front of them. The outer walls had been delicately carved from high-grain sandstone and rose over fifteen feet high. But he could not see anything of the building itself save for a few feet poking over the top of the walls; and judging from the size of the bricks in that, it was a considerable distance back from the gate. The roof, made of a fine crimson tiling, perfectly complemented the sandstone. A large black banner fluttering in the breeze stood at the topmost point of the building, a green leaf, red flame, and blue tail printed atop a large yellow C.
“The Trainer House? It’s more of a Trainer Castle,” he murmured.
“Pika,” Pikachu agreed.
“Yes, and it’s dangerous inside,” a voice said from the shadows behind him. Ash and Pikachu both jumped as they turned to face the source. They were surprised to see a familiar face stepping out of the woods, one that they both remembered well from their travels through Hoenn.
“Drew! What are you doing here?” Ash asked. The Coordinator flicked his green hair out of his eyes and stepped to the side. They were surprised to see a tall shape they knew all too well moving out from the shadows behind him, clutching a bright yellow bag in one hand and a green bag and bandana in the other.
“Blayyze,” the Pokémon murmured, gently laying them on the ground at Ash’s feet.
“Wait, isn’t that May’s Blaziken? And... those are her bags, aren’t they? And her bandana! Drew, what’s going on? Tell me!” The last few words came out in a shout. Drew stared past him to the walls of the Trainer House.
“I was walking in the forest this morning when I found her tent,” he said tonelessly. “At first I thought she was busy picking berries or something in the forest, so I decided to wait for her. I got this really uneasy feeling after a few minutes and I started walking around her campsite. That was when I noticed that there was this really long furrow in the dirt in front of her tent, as if something had ploughed it up. I looked up and saw that her tent flap was open. I looked inside and the place was trashed. Her clothes were folded on the floor, but everything else had been completely thrown out of place.
“Then I found her bags and Pokéballs by the entrance, and I knew something was wrong. It was obvious she’d been kidnapped. I found Blaziken’s Pokéball and let it out. The Pokémon knew something had happened, but it didn’t know what. I grabbed her bags and the rest of her Pokéballs, but I had to leave the rest behind. Somehow Blaziken was able to pick up May’s scent, and I followed it. The trail led us here. We decided to wait in the forest and see what happened. Nothing did until you just popped out of thin air with your Gallade and Pikachu a few minutes ago. Now tell me, Ash; why are you here?”
“I got an invitation from this guy named Cal to compete in a competition at the Trainer House, which is this place,” Ash said, showing Drew his letter. “I came all the way from Sinnoh to get here and... wait, you think May is inside?”
“Either that or she was teleported somewhere just like you were,” Drew replied. “I’ve heard of this Cal; the Coordinators here are full of his tales. I don’t know if such a great trainer as him is directly involved in this, but May is definitely somewhere inside of there.”
“Then we have to unkidnap her,” Ash decided. Drew blinked.
“Unkidnap her? Unkidnap isn’t even a word!” But he was talking to air; Ash had already left the shadows and was making his way over to the front gates. Drew cursed and swept May’s Pokéballs and her bandana into his pockets, deciding it would be wiser to leave her bags behind. He hastened after Ash, with Blaziken also close behind, and reached the trainer as he depressed a button on the sandstone wall just beneath a speaker.
“What are you doing?” Drew hissed.
“Don’t worry, I have a plan,” Ash muttered back. And it was true, after a fashion. He was still eager to battle the Trainer House, but he couldn’t imagine a trainer as esteemed as Cal being involved in anything like kidnap. So his idea was to use his invitation to get inside and tell Cal what had happened to their friend, and then ask him to help them find her.
“Yes? Can I help you?” a female voice spoke suddenly from the speaker, interrupting his thoughts.
“Err... yes,” he said. “My name is Ash Ketchum; I was sent an invitation to compete in the Trainer House. I know I’m a few days early, but I didn’t want to risk missing the deadline.”
“And the other?”
“Oh, he’s just my friend who came to cheer me on,” Ash said, giving the speaker his most dazzling smile. There was silence for a few moments and then the gates began to creak open.
“Please enter,” the voice said. “Stay on the path and enter the building directly in front of you immediately. You will be given further instructions there. Please recall your Pokémon now.” Ash looked at Drew and nodded, and the Coordinator recalled May’s reluctant Pokémon. “The Pikachu too,” the voice said.
“Um, I’m sorry but... Pikachu doesn’t like Pokéballs,” Ash said. “Is it okay if he just rides on my shoulder instead?”
“Enter,” the voice said after a few moments more. Ash gave a sigh of relief and led the way inside, Drew close on his tail. The grounds were certainly impressive. Wide stretched of cool grass lay along the stone walkways that led from the gate to the main building in front of them, and several other smaller buildings dotted around the lawn. Far off to the right was a large pond, and an orchard stretched out in front of them and to the left.
Ash had been right about the size of the building; it was huge. It towered above them, and it took several minutes just to reach its base. An ornate wooden door stood before them; Ash grasped the handle, gave a quick look to Drew who nodded, pulled the door open, and they went inside. Ash couldn’t help but but gasp at what he saw. If he had thought the grounds outside were amazing, the inside was just spectacular.
Two ornate staircases made of some sort of jewel curved upwards to a balcony some ten or fifteen feet up. Massive stain-glass windows had been placed in the walls above their heads, and the sunlight sparkled through them in such a way that the floor and stairs were covered by shimmering patterns of multi-coloured light. Exotic looking black disks that nonetheless seemed familiar hung on the walls throughout the room.
“I see you like my Trainer House?” a voice called, and they craned their heads upwards to see a man walking out of a door on the left of the balcony. He carefully shut the door behind him and smiled down at them before slowly making his way down the stairs.
“Cal?” Ash asked, and the man’s smile widened. Ash was surprised at his appearance; the man looked very much like himself, though he was several years older and his clothes were cut in entirely different style, all topped off by a garish black cloak.
“You are here much earlier than I expected, but luckily everything has been set up,” the man said. “You can commence at once if you like.”
“We don’t have the time right now,” Drew broke in brusquely. “Cal, one of our friends has been kidnapped. The trail led us right to this place. Somebody may have brought her in here. We need to find her; can you hold off your challenge with Ash and help us?”
“No,” Cal said softly, and Ash, Drew, and Pikachu all began to get a tingling sensation in the base of their necks as the hair began to rise; all of them knew that something was wrong.
“I am tired of paltry challenges,” the trainer continued, stopping in front of them. “People want to battle me and then they lose in a single hit. I expect the people I face to be competent, and so I devised a series of challenges to weed out the truly weak, with a greater incentive than mere victory.”
“Cal; what have you done?” Ash demanded. Cal took a remote from his pocket and pointed it at the wall. A section of sandstone just above the balcony slid back, revealing a large TV screen behind it. Ash let out a gasp of horror and Drew shouted angrily at what he saw.
It was May, dressed in her old Hoenn clothes. The Coordinator was tied up at the waist, her hands behind her back as she swung helplessly from the ceiling. A defiant look was on her face, but fear shone from her eyes. The camera panned down from the girl and they realized she was suspended above nothingness; two platforms of stone reached from the walls to either side of her, but beneath her body there was only emptiness.
“I must say, it was a lot of fun getting her out of her pyjamas and into those old clothes,” Cal said with a sadistic smile, drawing a bundle of yellow pyjamas out from beneath his cloak and throwing them on the floor. “She’s certainly grown a lot, if you know what I mean.”
“You... you pervert!” Drew spluttered, his face turning red as he looked at the garments.
“Cal, where is she?” Ash yelled, shaking with rage, and the Trainer House Champion pointed up with a single finger. Dread clutched their stomachs as they looked up and saw, just barely visible above them, a tiny dot of red slowly drifting from side-to-side.
“You’ve seen how high this building is; that’s a long way to fall,” Cal grinned.
“Staraptor, I choose you! Get up there and save May!” Ash yelled, throwing his Pokéball.
“Flygon, go and help it!” Drew ordered. Both Pokémon materialized and shot upwards. Instantly the opening above was closed with a thick layer of the sandstone, and they both had to swerve to avoid crashing into it.
“Break it with Close Combat!” Ash shouted. Staraptor screeched, moved in close towards it, and then crashed to the ground, looking dazed. “What?” Ash gasped.
A Salamence hung in the air, seemingly having appeared from nowhere.
“I wouldn’t bother trying to break through that,” Cal said calmly. “There’s now a layer of stone in place on each and every floor. You’d have to break through twenty of them to reach your friend. And even then I’d just cut her loose. That’s a long way to fall through Staraptor sized holes. She might not make it.”
“Why are you doing this?” Drew whispered.
“Do you remember what I said in your letter, Ash?” Cal asked. “‘Should you be victorious, your prize will be what you desire above all else.’ I’d say that this is a pretty strong incentive.” He backed away from the trainers. “You have ninteen floors to get through; May is on the twentieth. The only way to save your friend is to win every challenge in your way and then defeat me in a Pokémon Battle on the top floor. Of course, even there you will have to be careful since your Coordinator friend will be just one of the obstacles in the battlefield. If you win the challenges and defeat me, you get your friend back unharmed and can leave. If you lose...” he shrugged, beginning to back away from the two.
“Well like I said before, it’s a long way to fall. Only then will the floors open again. There are video screens in each room, so you can check on your friend as you progress if you like; though I doubt you’ll have much chance to do that. You start from the balcony; you can take either the left path or the right, I don’t care which. They are equally as challenging. Good luck.” He darted through a door at the base of the staircase and slammed it shut. Ash and Drew charged towards it, but no matter how much they struggled, the door refused to be opened.
“It’s no use,” Drew growled. “I guess we’ll have to go through with this sick challenge after all.”
“We?” Ash echoed, stepping back from the door.
“I’m not sitting around down here while you risk your neck trying to save my friend,” Drew replied. “We’ve both got flying Pokémon; maybe we should leave one of them behind to catch her in case she falls.”
“What about the Salamence?” Ash asked, and they both looked up. To their surprise, the Pokémon had vanished. “Where did it go?” he asked in bewilderment.
“It’s funny... it’s almost as if it appeared through one of those black disks in the wall,” Drew muttered. “One of them glowed blue and suddenly the Salamence was there and knocking your Staraptor down.” Ash looked at one of them more closely and groaned.
“I really hope those aren’t what I think they are,” he moaned. “Still, I think we’d better take Staraptor and Flygon with us; we need them with us more than we do down here.” Drew rustled in his pocket and drew out May’s six Pokéballs, handing three of them to Ash.
“If we are going to do this challenge, we might as well use whatever we can,” the Coordinator explained.
“Good thinking,” Ash nodded, throwing his three up into the air and revealing Blaziken, Glaceon, and Beautifly, who spun around in the air and promptly landed on top of Ash’s head. Drew followed his lead and found himself with Venusaur, Ledian, and Munchlax.
“Listen up; I know you’re all wondering where May is,” Ash began. “She’s been kidnapped by this guy I was supposed to battle, Cal. I know we’re not your usual trainers, but we need you to work with us so that we can save May. If we lose, then Cal is going to kill her. We need your help so that we can give May the best chance possible. Will you help us?” The Pokémon all chorused in the affirmative. Blaziken, Glaceon, and Beautifly knew Ash well and would never have any problems in working with him. Venusaur, Ledian, and Munchlax were not quite as close to Drew as the other three were to Ash, but they all knew him from the various Contests they had competed together and they adored their trainer. If May needed their help, they would do whatever they could.
Ash recalled Staraptor, Blaziken and Glaceon with thanks, although Beautifly remained perched on his head. He noticed May’s bandana on the ground, having been accidentally pulled out of Drew’s pocket with May’s Pokéballs, and picked it up. He glanced at it a moment and then, dislodging Beautifly, he picked it up and tossed his cap to the ground, winding the green bandana around his head in its place.
“Are you ready?’ he asked Drew as the Coordinator also recalled his three borrowed Pokémon and Flygon.
“We’d better be,” Drew replied, beginning to move up the right-hand staircase. Ash followed him, Pikachu still on his shoulder and Beautifly once again on his head. “Which way do you think we should go?” Drew asked when they reached the balcony.
“I’ll go left; you go right,” Ash responded, and Drew jerked in surprise.
“You mean you want to split up?” he asked.
“I don’t trust anything that Cal says anymore,” Ash said, his eyes hard. “How can we be sure that one of the ways won’t be a dead-end? It’ll be best if we split up so we can maximize our chances of reaching May.”
“Okay then, Ash,” Drew said, hesitantly holding out his hand. “Good luck, and... do your best to save May, won’t you?”
“You know it,” Ash nodded, taking Drew’s hand and shaking it once. Both trainers took a deep breath and headed off to their respective doors, steeling themselves for the long and arduous journey that lay ahead.
“Oh, and Drew?” Ash called back. “If you see any more of those black discs on your way, destroy them.”
“Why? What are they?” Drew asked.
But the trainer had already gone.
7th December 2009, 04:38 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Chapter Five: Ascent: Part One
Once the door had closed behind him, the area was plunged into darkness. Without being asked Pikachu began to spark his cheeks, giving off enough of a glow to reveal a staircase directly in front of them. Though the stairs themselves seemed surprisingly badly made, there was luckily a sturdy-looking handrail running alongside.
“Pikachu, stop it,” Ash said suddenly.
“Pika?” Pikachu asked in surprise.
“Using your electricity like that will really drain your power after a while,” he explained. “We may need it later. I’ll be fine with the handrail; trust me.” Pikachu reluctantly reined back the electricity, and the stairway was instantly plunged into darkness again. Ash gingerly took a step forwards, grabbing the handrail as he rested his weight on the first step. It creaked ominously.
No good, Ash realized. I can’t go up there if I can’t see where I’m going; it doesn’t help that the stairs seem like they curve a bit, and who knows if the handrail goes all the way up? What I need is a way to see... He sighed and was about to ask Pikachu to light the area up for him again when another idea came to mind.
“Glaceon, I choose you!” he shouted, spinning the Pokéball forward. Glaceon appeared, her teeth bared as she prepared for the fight, but was surprised to see that they were in a dark staircase. She turned to Ash for his instructions and was surprised to see a satisfied smile on his face. “I thought so,” he grinned, pointing at the ice-type. “Glaceon, your fur gives off its own light. It’s perfect for seeing in this kind of place. Will you lead the way up the stairs so we can see? We’ll be right behind you.”
Glaceon looked at her lithe body in surprise; she couldn’t see anything unusual about it. But Ash was right; Glaceon as a species had long since adapted to living in the darkness of the far north where blizzards were commonplace. Her large blue eyes were able to see in the dimmest light, and her fur coat gave off its own bioluminescence, helpful in finding food in the polar winter and for identifying other Glaceon during the thickest of snowstorms. It was not much, but it was enough of a light for Ash, Pikachu, and the perched Beautifly to see their way up the stairs a few feet at a time.
Though Glaceon was still puzzled about this, she acquiesced to Ash’s request and slowly began to climb the stairs, making sure to stick as close to Ash’s legs as she could in case the stairs collapsed and she was sent hurtling out into space. It was also reassuring to have him, Pikachu, and Beautifly that close to her as she led the way up. They would be able to intervene that much quicker in case an enemy sprang out of nowhere to attack her. Though she had been in her Pokéball, Glaceon had still been able to hear most of Cal’s speech. She was well aware that challenges had been imposed and, like Ash, didn’t trust his words. For all they knew one of those challenges could take place on these rickety old stairs.
The ice-type bared her teeth. Nobody would play a dangerous game like this with her and get away with it.
On the staircase opposite Drew was having an easier time than Ash. Though he felt very unsteady climbing up the old wooden slats, they were slightly steadier than those bearing the weight of Glaceon, Ash, Pikachu, and Beautifly; though of course, he wasn’t to know that. He also had a source of light in the form of a narrow window set some ways above his head. Though it wasn’t much, it was enough for him to place one foot ahead of the other as he toiled nervously upwards. Then, the stairs ended abruptly at a hefty wooden door. Licking his lips nervously, he bent closer to read the dusty text engraved on the door.
“The Splash Room,” he murmured, a puzzled frown creasing his brow. “Okay... I wonder what that is.” Gripping Roserade’s Pokéball nervously, he entered.
“The Electric Room,” Ash read, and Beautifly shifted on his head nervously. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “I’m going to open the door and hide behind it. If I’m right, then we’re going to have a lot of trouble with whatever is in that room. They’ll probably attack as soon as the door is opened, so we’ll wait until the attack stops and they come to investigate. Glaceon, I want you to use Blizzard on the entire room. Pikachu, you use Thunderbolt and hold them off from attacking Glaceon. Beautifly, you stay on my head; I think you’ll be safer up there than you will be flying around as a target. Okay?”
“Grah,” Glaceon hissed, her ears slicked back.
“Pika,” Pikachu agreed, his eyes narrowed and cheeks sparking. Beautifly merely nodded from her perch, accidentally tickling Ash’s chin with her proboscis.
“Good; if we’re lucky we’ll get through this room with no problem at all,” Ash murmured. “Ready? One... Two... Three!” He grabbed the door handle and yanked it back, pressing himself flat against the wall as it opened. Glaceon entwined herself around his legs and Pikachu prepared to leap down. Instantly a fierce bolt of electricity sparked through the open doorway, the force of it raising Ash’s hair up on end. The amount of power in the attack was far more than he had expected.
“He’s improved the system,” he hissed through clenched teeth as the attack petered out. The second it had done so, Glaceon moved into action, poking her head around the doorframe and letting loose a powerful Blizzard attack. Pikachu leapt into action at her side, unleashing a sizzling Thunderbolt that was able to momentarily hold off any retaliatory move. Confused by the sudden appearance of two Pokémon, the enemy within was unsure which to attack. That hesitation was all that was needed for Pikachu to successfully force it back while Glaceon concentrated on coating the room with her attack. She continued it until she was out of breath and ducked behind the door again, Pikachu after her in a flash. They waited, but there was no movement from within.
Ash cautiously twisted his head around the door, and the breath caught in his throat as he saw the room. A massive Zapdos lay encased in ice on the floor, its eyes unmoving. Gingerly they moved inside and began to slowly slide their way across. Glaceon’s attack had not only caught the Zapdos, it had encased to floor, the walls, and even the ceiling in several inches of thick ice and snow. Ash knelt as a flash of black caught his eye on the floor. He gritted his teeth as he recognized the object, only partially covered in ice.
“I was right...” he muttered, getting back to his feet. “Pikachu! Thunderbolt it!”
“Pikaa chuu!” Pikachu roared, sending a powerful attack into the object. It sparked briefly and then exploded. Lightning flashed from several other spots on the floor and walls, and Ash knew that Pikachu’s electricity had caused a chain reaction.
“Get down!” he shouted, knocking Glaceon and Pikachu flat as he dragged a surprised Beautifly from his head and held it under his body.
The ice exploded.
The hefty and sharp shards flew in all directions as each of the other little black spheres in the room burst apart. Under Ash’s body, Glaceon, Pikachu, and Beautifly were shielded from the worst of it, but several sharp spears glanced off of Ash’s body. He gritted his teeth, willing himself to last the few seconds that were left, and then the ricocheting stopped. Cautiously he raised his head, and the three Pokémon crawled out from beneath his torso. The first thing they noticed was that while the giant ice block remained, the Zapdos within it had vanished. Ash stared at it a moment and then nodded in some silent acknowledgement to himself, his eyes hard.
“Good work Pikachu, Glaceon,” he said. “With any luck we’ll be able to do that each time. If we attack the system instead of the Pokémon we’ll have a much better shot at getting through this. But next time I think we’ll wait until we’re by the exit before trying to overload the system.” He strode across to the far side of the room and wrenched open the door to reveal another dark and rickety staircase beyond. With Beautifly once again perched on his head and Pikachu and Glaceon at his side, he moved on to the next floor.
Drew found himself standing on the edge of a shallow pool that stretched its way across the room to the door opposite. It couldn’t have been more than three feet deep, but it didn’t need to be because of the many red objects just visible swimming below the surface. He leaned forwards carefully, trying to make out what they were with limited success. Then one broke the surface near the centre of the pool and he almost laughed in relief. Magikarp! The pool was filled with Magikarp! He smiled and jumped in, beginning to wade his way across. He didn’t know what Ash had been so worried about.
Then one leaped up in front of him, twisted, and slapped him hard on the mouth with its tail before falling back into the water. Dazed, he staggered back a few steps and was cracked on the back of the skull by another Magikarp’s tail. Off-balance, he moved forwards another few inches and was smashed from under the chin by another Magikarp’s leap, sending his head snapping back. Bleeding from the mouth he shuffled left a few steps and was slammed on the cheek by a fourth Magikarp, sending him back to the right. With stars swirling in his eyes he reached for a Pokéball at random, but another shot to the back of the head sent him face-first into the water sending the Pokéball out of his grip and across the bottom of the pool. As he vainly tried to stay conscious, the Magikarp closed in.
Ash’s strategy of attacking the system instead of the Pokémon was paying off, though it was becoming more difficult each time. In the room on the second floor he found a trio of angry Bellsprout, which Glaceon and Beautifly were able to hold off with Ice Beam and Silver Wind respectively. While they kept the Bellsprout busy, Pikachu attacked one of the black discs with another ferocious Thunderbolt, again overloading the system. When the four of them poked their heads around the door after the explosions had stopped, the three grass-types had vanished. They hurriedly crossed the room and moved up yet another floor.
This time, though, the system seemed to anticipate their strategy. When Ash yanked the door open and they hid behind it, the attack from within was continuous, keeping them pinned down. The clicking of paw nails across the floor revealed that the attacker, whatever it was, was also moving up to the door, forcing them to either confront it directly or stay pinned down for an overly long time. Only by crouching and directing the release of Blaziken through the crack between door and floor were they able to spring out and attack. While Blaziken wrestled fiercely with a ferocious looking Ursaring – helped by Glaceon and Beautifly aiming their attacks at the normal-type’s back in distraction – Pikachu once again overloaded the system with a Thunderbolt, causing the black objects to explode and the Ursaring to vanish in a stream of glowing number.
Ash wiped his brow and recalled Blaziken with a word of thanks. Glaceon, Beautifly, and Pikachu were all panting from their efforts, and he began to grow worried. They had gotten through only three of the nineteen floors that Cal had promised them; Ash didn’t know just how much electricity was required to overload the system, but judging by Pikachu’s tiredness it was a considerable amount.
“Mirage Pokémon,” he spat. “If only Dr. Yung’s research had died along with his lab. I don’t know why Cal decided to install one, but...”
“I installed it so that I could be sure the people who made it through to challenge me were the best of the best,” a voice said calmly. Ash, Pikachu, Glaceon, and Beautifly all spun in its direction but they nothing save for the TV screen in this particular room. The blank image flickered and then suddenly Cal’s face appeared, a cool smile on his face.
“Cal!” Ash shouted, the rage bursting through his body.
“It’s quite a clever strategy you’re using,” Cal said conversationally. “But of course, you’ve battled it before. You know that no matter how many times you defeat one of the Pokémon inside a room – as unlikely as that is, given their unparalleled strength – they will just keep coming back because of the Mirage system. Getting your Pokémon to destroy the system so that doesn’t happen... genius. Now that’s a word that I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know is one I would have never attributed with you, Ash.”
The trainer from Pallet disregarded the insult against his intelligence, clenching a fist so tightly that his nails broke through the skin.
“Where is she, Cal,” he gritted. “You said that I’d be able to see her on the screen as I moved up; where is she? Show her to me now!” The last word came out as a roar. Cal’s grin merely widened.
“Very well, Ash; if that’s what you want,” he said, manipulating a few keys below the camera’s angle. The image changed and now the trainer was looking on his friend as she hung precariously from the rafters above, a large empty space that faded into darkness directly below her. She was swinging slightly as she hung, seemingly trying to gain enough momentum in the hopes that the rope would snap under the stress at the moment she was above one of the platforms.
“A useless strategy of course,” Cal said carelessly. “The rope is made of a special polymer I created. The weight of a teenage girl will never be enough to even begin to make it fray. Don’t worry; your friend is safe for now. It’s your other friend that you need to worry about.” The image shifted again, and now Ash was looking at Drew as he lay face down in the water, a horde of Magikarp swarming over his body as they tried to force him deeper and drown him.
“Drew!” Ash shouted in horror.
“He can’t even get past his first room; the one that is filled with the weakest of the Mirage Pokémon I might add,” Cal said, his image replacing that of the helpless Coordinator. By all appearances he was enjoying the situation immensely. “How he expects to get through the others if he can’t beat the easiest of my challenges... Well, I suppose if he dies it won’t be a problem, will it?”
‘You... you sadistic psychopath,” Ash breathed, his whole body trembling with rage. Cal inclined his head slightly, the smile never leaving his face. If anything, he seemed to take Ash’s words as a compliment.
“It will be more difficult from here, Ash,” he said. “The system is learning as you progress. It knows your methods and is beginning to anticipate what you will do. You’ve done well to get this far, but your strategy won’t work anymore. Thanks for trying, though. It’s been fun.”
“I’m not going to give up,” Ash whispered. “Maybe it will get harder, but we’re not even trying yet. Your mirage system can be beaten, Cal, and we’ll be the ones to do it!” The twisted trainer opened his mouth to reply, but Ash had heard and seen enough. A light jolt from Pikachu was all that was needed to destroy the screen and he stood there for several minutes afterwards, trying to get his emotions back under control.
He knelt down by Glaceon, who was staring straight ahead with the hardest gaze imaginable. Her whole body quivered with a rage greater even than Ash’s, and it took a few minutes more before she even realized that he was there.
“We’ll get her, Glaceon,” he said softly. “I’ll stake my own life on it.” He stood as Beautifly landed on his head again, examining the fingernail marks and dried blood on his hand. He wiped his hand on his jacket dismissively. May’s bug Pokémon was just as anxious as Glaceon about the state of their trainer, but while the ice-type burned with a fiery resolve, Beautifly’s actions were a lot more nervous. Pikachu managed to calm her down after a short discussion with her from Ash’s shoulder, and they continued up to the fourth floor.
“So, the Mirage System knows our strategy now, does it?” he growled as they ascended the rickety stairs, rolling a Pokéball through the fingers of his right hand. “Well then, it’s time to use a different strategy! Gallade, I choose you!”
The Magikarp were succeeding very well in their plan to drown Drew, but they made one costly error. When they pushed his body deeper into the water, they pressed it onto his dropped Pokéball. It sprung open and Flygon emerged with a roar, breaking the water ferociously as it jumped into the air, its trainer lying across its back and the Magikarp sliding off its sides into the water below. Flygon swooped down and thrust Drew unceremoniously through the door before returning its attention to the pool. One swift Hyper Beam and the Magikarp were blasted from the water, along with Flygon’s Pokéball. Flygon snagged the Pokéball and turned sharply, smashing several Magikarp into the wall with its tail as it did so. Giving a derogatory snort towards the pathetic creatures, it joined Drew in the narrow space behind the door, slapping his chest with its tail to bring out the water in his lungs. Drew jolted into wakefulness, gasping painfully as he greedily sucked at the air.
“Flygon... is that... you?” he managed to ask, and the dragon-type gave a purr of acknowledgement. “Thank you...” he said. “I should... have thought of that... earlier... Next time I’ll just... fly on you.” He recalled the Pokémon and lay resting against the stairs for a few moments, waiting until he felt a bit more recovered.
“Right,” he growled, finally getting back to his feet. “I’ll show this Cal what it really means to go up against Drew of LaRousse City!”
8th December 2009, 09:35 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Chapter Six: Ascent: Part Two
Drew opened the door to the second floor and looked around cautiously. It appeared to be a grassy field, but no Pokémon were visible in it. He doubted that was the case though; he’d already been deceived once by the pool, and he would not be so idiotic again. He turned back and lightly tugged at one of the rotten pieces of wood that served as the part of the rickety staircase. It came away easily in his hand, and he almost fell into the room in his astonishment.
With the condition of the wood this close to his eye, he felt suddenly sick at the idea of what would have happened had it failed to support his weight. Truth be told, he was amazed that it hadn’t actually given way as he climbed. The wood was black with age, dry as tinder and thoroughly rotten. It snapped easily against his knee, and he swallowed nervously.
Holding one piece in each hand, he turned and tossed them into the room at opposite angles. No sooner had they hit grass than massive yellow fanged heads rose above it, vines shooting out from the still obscured bodies and crushing the wood into dust easily. The heads popped back under the grass and all was still again, though Drew knew that they were waiting only for something else to touch the grass before they attacked again. He would never make it across on foot, he knew, which left only one option open to him.
“Flygon, come on out again; but don’t land!” he ordered, and the massive dragon-type appeared once again. As he had hoped, the hidden Victreebell, unaware that an opponent was above them, remained beneath the grass. “Okay, Flygon, this is going to be tricky,” he said, flicking a strand of green hair from his eyes. “Neither of us can touch the grass; if we do that, we’re dead. I’m going to jump into the air and I need you to catch me in your arms. Fly me across the room and I’ll get that door open. Once I’ve got it open I need you to drop me in the staircase and then I’ll recall you. Don’t let any part of your body, not even the end of your tail, touch the ground, okay?”
“Gon!” Flygon nodded, turning in preparedness. Drew steeled himself and leapt, trusting himself to his Pokémon. The faithful dragon-type caught him easily and immediately began to speed across the room, coming to a halt right in front of the door. It was a stretch for Drew to reach the handle, given the length of Flygon’s body and the position of its arms on its torso, but he eventually managed to wrap his fingertips around the handle and wrench it open.
But there was one thing he had overlooked.
In order to stay in position, Flygon had to hover at a very low distance from the ground. Though it strived to keep its legs and tails from touching the ground, the steady hum of its wing beats, though by no means particularly strong, was enough to move the grass. As Drew jumped inside the stairwell, several long vines shot out from the plant-life and wrapped around the startled Flygon, dragging it down. Drew turned with the Pokéball in his hand and froze in horror at the sight of his brave Pokémon being wrestled under the grass to where the voracious mouths of the hungry Victreebell waited. For a moment he could not move, but then his reason kicked back into gear. He pressed the centre button of the Pokéball with a snarl, and, illuminated by the familiar red light, Flygon was converted back into energy and sucked to safety. Instantly the struggling vines vanished back beneath the grass, waiting for their next victim.
Drew wiped the sweat from his forehead, looking at the Pokéball in his hand nervously. Twice now he had made a mistake; he would not do so a third time. With a heart pumping with fear, he turned and ascended the rotten staircase to the third level.
When Ash opened the door to the fourth floor, no attack came bursting out at them. Listening hard he realized that a Pokémon stood on either side of the empty opening, waiting for him to take just one step inside. He grinned; they had learned his strategy after all, so it was time to adapt and bring forth a new one. He nodded to Gallade and the psychic-type closed his eyes and vanished. From within the room there came the sound of breaking glass and then a ferocious sizzle, followed by the now familiar explosions.
Ash, Pikachu, Glaceon, and Beautifly all peered into the room. Gallade stood at the far end by the door, the tip of one of his blade-like arms still glowing a slight yellow from the ThunderPunch he had used to break through the disc and overload the system. None of them had any idea what Pokémon had been inside of the room, but Gallade had moved so quickly that he doubted the Mirage System had even realized there was an enemy within; after all, it could only detect, record, and learn from what it saw through the eyes of the Pokémon it created, and if they were looking at the doorframe they would never be able to detect Gallade materializing behind them.
They crossed the room safely and raced up the stairs to the fifth floor. The staircase nearly collapsed under them this time, and Ash realized that Gallade’s weight was one Pokémon to many for the rickety old wood to handle. He reluctantly recalled the Pokémon and waited until they were outside the next room before sending him out again. Again the strategy worked perfectly, and then again on the sixth floor. Ash felt his heart leap; not only was Gallade’s Teleport saving them time, but both Pikachu and Glaceon were recovering some of their spent energy thanks to the break in attacks.
By the seventh floor, the Mirage System had obviously realized that something was going wrong. When Gallade teleported in this time there was no sound of breaking glass or the sizzle of electricity; instead there came a yell of pain and a loud crash as something fell to the floor. Ash burst into the room and saw two Scizor standing back to back at the centre of the room. One was watching the door he had just entered through, and the other had just fired off a Bullet Punch which had knocked the surprised Gallade onto his back.
“Staraptor, I choose you!” Ash shouted, sending the flying-type out in a burst of light. “Staraptor, use Aerial Ace! Glaceon, Iron Tail! Pikachu, Thunderbolt! Beautifly, use Silver Wind on the other Scizor!” Staraptor shot forwards, the air streaming visibly around its body as it shot forwards; the Scizor facing them met the charge with a ferocious X-Scissor that sent Staraptor reeling backwards.
Ash’s hope worked perfectly; distracted by Staraptor’s head-on attack, the Scizor was outflanked by both Pikachu and Glaceon and was hit first by a paralyzing Thunderbolt and then a powerful Iron Tail that drove it to its knees, stunned. Beautifly’s Silver Wind shot over its head and slammed into the back of the second Scizor; though it did no damage, it was enough to grab its attention away from Gallade. Seizing its chance, the psychic-type jabbed its arm back and slammed through the glass with a ThunderPunch. Both Scizor flickered and faded in a stream of numerals as the system overloaded for the seventh time that day.
Ash rushed over to a slightly groggy Staraptor. The flying-type shook its head dazedly, but was fortunately okay; the Aerial Ace and the type resistance had nullified any direct damage from the X-Scissor. Ash recalled it with a grateful thanks and looked around nervously at the Pokémon gathered around him. Pikachu, Glaceon, Gallade, Beautifly, and Staraptor; it had taken these five just to hold off two Mirage Pokémon and destroy the system in that room. The Mirage Pokémon were just as strong and dangerous as he remembered, and the system itself was learning his strategies quickly. He knew that for the eighth floor a new tactic would be required.
Drew was on the ninth floor, having ascended the last few levels with ease. Realizing the flaw in his plan of riding Flygon over the danger, he had come up with a simple but effective strategy. Calling out Roserade, he would kick open the door and stuff his fingers in his ears while the grass-type soothed the Pokémon inside to sleep with GrassWhistle. It was a simple matter of picking his way through the sleeping Mirage Monsters as silently as possible from there, and the Mirage System had not yet devised a way to counter his Roserade’s attack.
Until the tenth floor.
He kicked open the door and waited as Roserade sent the opponent to sleep. Then, with the attack finished, he stepped inside the room and found himself confronting a very large, very angry, and very awake Exploud.
“Roserade return and Venusaur come out!” he shouted, throwing himself sideways as the normal-type took a fierce swipe at him; the attack missed by a hairsbreadth, and now Venusaur was on the Exploud’s other side. As it turned to face the new foe, the Pokémon found itself suddenly tied in place by Venusaur’s Vine Whip. It stuck its head in close to the grass-type’s face and roared angrily. Then it collapsed to the ground in slumber, Venusaur’s Sleep Powder having taken effect.
“Nice work, Venusaur,” Drew said, recalling the Pokémon before wiping the sweat from his brow. He was just over half of the way up now, but it hadn’t been an easy battle to get to this point. And he knew it would only get harder.
“Guys, please forgive me; I’ve been an idiot,” Ash said.
“Grah?” Glaceon asked in surprise.
“Er!” Gallade disagreed.
“Pikapi!” Pikachu added.
“No, I have,” Ash said, shaking his head. “Gallade, I’ve been getting you to use Teleport across the room to break the system. What I should have done is get you to Teleport us to the top floor so we could save May without all of this hassle!”
“Eh... Lade, erlade!” Gallade spluttered, surprised that the idea hadn’t come to him either.
“Oh, it’s a nice idea but I’m afraid it would be quite pointless in trying,” Cal butted in. Ash turned slowly to the room’s television screen, his face suffused with hatred as he glared upon the sadistic man.
“And why’s that?” he gritted.
“The system has learned about your Gallade’s Teleport,” Cal said simply. “It has compensated for your strategy by altering the composition of every single brick that lies between you and me.” Ash blinked.
“Teleport is a psychic technique. My Mirage System has compensated by infusing every brick in the rooms ahead with the quality that makes dark-types such as Umbreon immune to psychic attacks. Your Teleport won’t be able to penetrate it.”
“Wait, you mean that the Mirage System controls the rooms as well as the Pokémon inside of them?” Ash yelped, and Cal gave a spooky smile.
“Everything is a mirage,” he said mysteriously.
“Where is May, Cal?” Ash said. “Show me how she is!”
“Oh, very well,” Cal sighed, changing the image. Now May was visible on the screen, but she seemed less defiant than before. She hung limply in her ropes, and tear marks were visible down her cheeks. “As you can see, she’s plainly given up the fight,” Cal said. “She knows there is no hope, you see.”
“And Drew?” Ash growled, his fists clenched tightly again.
“Oh, he’s doing quite well as it turns out,” Cal said, sounding almost disappointed as the video shifted back onto his face. “He’s recovered from his setbacks and is actually higher up than you are now. I believe he’s on the eleventh floor as we speak. Oh wait...” and he checked some monitor off camera. “Make that the twelfth floor,” he said. “You’re really lagging, Ash; you’d better hurry up if you want to save May because I can guarantee that Drew won’t get there.”
“Pikachu?” Ash said, nodding towards the electric-type. The connection was severed immediately as a Thunderbolt ripped the screen in half.
“Good; onto the next floor then,” Ash said. “And I’ve got a brand new plan for it. Beautifly, I’m gonna need you and Pikachu for this. Are you ready?”
“Beautifly,” the bug-type nodded.
“Great, then let’s do this,” he smiled. “Gallade, return; thanks for all of your hard work. Glaceon, when we get to that next room you’d better close your eyes tightly.”
“Gron?” Glaceon asked, and Ash smiled grimly.
“No, we’re not fighting the system this time,” he said. “We’re going to run right through it!”
11th December 2009, 01:32 AM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
So, how's everyone enjoying the story so far? Is it going too quickly? Too slowly? Lots of action here again as we begin to head into the climax; enjoy!
Chapter Seven: Explosion
Ash burst into the room, Glaceon in his arms and Pikachu and Beautifly right behind. He didn’t slow down, he didn’t call out an attack, he simply charged forwards past the surprised Mirage Rhydon, threw back his head and yelled “NOW!”
Pikachu leapt into the air and sent out a weak bolt of electricity. But it wasn’t the strength of the attack that mattered, it was the brightness. Beautifly manoeuvred behind the beam and began to glow with a dazzling light; Morning Sun. Ash and Glaceon closed their eyes tightly as they ran, but the Rhydon were not so lucky. The flash from the Morning Sun blinded them, the brilliance of the light dazzling their retinas and stunning their minds. As the dangerous rock-types began to topple harmlessly to the floor, Ash and Glaceon had already reached the door that would lead on to the next level. One more well-aimed Thunderbolt from Pikachu and yet more of the Mirage System was taken down, the Rhydon fizzling out of existence.
“Great,” he said when Beautifly and Pikachu had joined them in the stairs, the bug-type settling on his head again. “We’re almost half-way there guys; I know it hasn’t been easy so far, but if we keep this up and stay one step ahead of the Mirage System, we should make it okay.” Glaceon squirmed out of his arms and began to lead the way up the dark stairwell. She waited expectantly at the door to the ninth floor, but was surprised when Ash motioned her to the side.
“I think it’s time to confuse them,” he grinned. “If the System has been keeping track of our strategies, it knows that we use them two or three times in a row before changing them. Sooner or later it will realize our plan and predict what we will do the second time around. I think it’s time to shake things up and go back to our first plan. Sound okay?”
“Grah,” Glaceon nodded, her eyes gleaming with excitement; she had loathed being carried around since her evolution. Pikachu nodded his approval as well and Ash grasped the door handle in readiness.
“Three... Two... One... Go!” he shouted, wrenching the door open. Straight away Glaceon fired off a slew of Ice Beams in random directions while Pikachu aimed for one of the black discs. The Mirage Tyranitar inside had vanished in a stream of data before it was able to get off even one attack. The group ran across the now empty room, each giving the monitor only the briefest of glances to reassure themselves that May was still unharmed.
“This time, let’s do the Morning Sun charge again,” Ash said as they toiled up the stairs. “If we keep changing our plan, they won’t know how to react.” He picked up a reluctant Glaceon again in one arm and grabbed the door handle in the other. “Ready... NOW!” he shouted, wrenching the door open and running in.
Glaceon gave a yowl of pain and Ash fell back heavily, cracking his head against the stone floor. He let out an involuntary gasp, his vision swimming as he felt numbly for the back of his skull. A feeling of sickness washed through his stomach as his fingers encountered the sticky blood oozing from the cut he had sustained. Glaceon was pawing at her nose, which was luckily not bleeding but felt distinctly squashed.
“Pikapi! Pikapi!” Pikachu shouted, forgetting the Thunderbolt and running to his trainer’s side in concern.
“Forget me, get the Pokémon!” Ash yelled, batting him away. Pikachu looked around; there were no Pokémon in sight. The room was empty.
Ash gingerly climbed to his feet and felt around cautiously. His hands encountered a solid object in the air, but there was nothing visible. A simple feel to the right and back to the door confirmed his worst suspicions.
“It’s a Mr. Mime’s Barrier,” he said, flashing back to his mother’s Mimey in Pallet Town. “I’m guessing that this is some sort of invisible maze we have to get through. Glaceon; we need to see the walls. Can you use Ice Beam in a general direction?”
“Grah!” Glaceon nodded, turning to the left and firing off the attack. The attack flew five feet and rebounded, forcing Ash to dive to the ground to avoid being hit by the attack. Glaceon looked at him in chagrin.
“My fault,” Ash panted, climbing to his feet again. “I should have remembered that a Mr. Mime’s Barrier reflects attacks like that. He closed his eyes with a wince, trying to shut out the incessant throb in his head. Sickness swirled through him again as he leaned against one of the Barriers. He did not feel too well at that moment.
Pikachu had left his trainer’s side and was beginning to sniff around the edges of the Barrier; he moved past all three sides but there was no opening to be found. “Chah,” he sighed; it looked like they were finally stuck.
“No,” Ash said, opening his eyes and watching Beautifly hover above them. “There is a way out of this. We can’t go forward, we can’t go to the sides, and we definitely can’t go back. The only way to go is up.”
“Pi?” Pikachu asked in surprise.
“Yeah; look at Beautifly,” Ash said, his eyes still trained on the bug-type. “I don’t know how high up the wall goes, but I’m pretty sure she’s hovering right above it! Staraptor, I choose you!”
“Star?” Staraptor asked, landing on the floor and looking at Ash with a quizzical look.
“We’re trapped here by a Mr. Mime’s Barrier,” Ash explained. “We can’t move anywhere, but I think you’ll be able to fly over it. Take Pikachu with you and destroy the Mirage System. But please; fly slowly just in case.”
“Star,” Staraptor nodded, beckoning Pikachu over. With the electric-type safely on its back, the Pokémon took off, winging its way along the ceiling at a much reduced speed. Ash closed his eyes again, leaning more of his weight against the wall. This was ridiculous, he shouldn’t be feeling so weak and tired; it was only a little cut on the back of his head...
The breaking of glass interrupted his reverie and the slight sizzle of electricity confirmed that the job had been done. He took two steps forward, cracked his head against the Barrier and grasped his forehead with a hiss of pain.
“I don’t get it,” he muttered, squinting at the seemingly empty air with an aggrieved eye. “The Barrier should have been taken down with the Mirage System, unless...” A chuckle above his head diverted his attention, and he growled angrily at what he saw; lying ten feet above him in mid-air was the Pokémon itself.
“A real Mr. Mime,” he said. “Looks like Cal wasn’t quite as confident in his system as he made out. Okay then! A real Pokémon won’t be much of a challenge after what we’ve been through today. Gallade, I choose you! Get up there and use Brick Break!” The Mr. Mime continued to smile calmly down at them as Gallade leapt into the air, one blade glowing white. The smile turned into a look of panic as the attack swept through the Barrier as if it was nothing, shattering it into pieces and sending the Mr. Mime plummeting earthwards. It landed headfirst with a groan and collapsed. Ash looked at it with a mixture of anger and pity, but there was no time to help the injured Pokémon. Gallade moved forwards to the door, the blades scything through the Barriers in their path easily.
“I should have thought of this before,” Ash grunted when they reached the opposite side of the room and were reunited with Pikachu and Staraptor. He looked back at the Mr. Mime thoughtfully. There was nothing to prevent it from chasing after them once it recovered, and he’d rather not have to worry about what was behind them as well as what was in front.
“Gallade, use Reflect,” he said, beckoning all of the Pokémon into the stairway with him. “I don’t want that Mr. Mime following us and slowing us down.”
“Er,” Gallade nodded, closing its eyes and concentrating. A small golden blob appeared in front of the Pokémon’s face and quickly expanded so that it covered the entire doorway.
“Good job, Gallade,” he said. “Now return. You too, Staraptor. Okay guys, back to the first strategy; I don’t want to hurt my head again.” He swayed slightly as he said this, and all three Pokémon looked at him in concern.
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured them, grabbing the doorway for support even as he said it. “It’s just a little bump.” The Pokémon didn’t look convinced but they took him at his word and began the ascent to the next level, Glaceon in the lead.
Drew was in trouble. Now on the thirteenth floor he had begun to feel a bit more confident at reaching May. But to compensate for his strategy the Mirage System had provided the worst kind of counter imaginable. Once again the room was covered in water, but this time ice floes also sailed around. Three Lapras patrolled in a circular pattern, each one singing continuously as they set up a Safeguard to shield themselves from both GrassWhistle and Sleep Powder. He couldn’t fly across because they’d shoot Flygon down with Ice Beam. He couldn’t swim across because they’d drown him.
He was stuck.
Mentally he ran down the Pokémon he had on him: Roserade, Flygon, Masquerain, Absol, Butterfree, as well as May’s Ledian, Munchlax, and Venusaur. He realized that he likely had just one chance to get across that room, but it would be risky.
“Okay, Munchlax, give me something useful,” he said, calling out the gluttonous normal-type. “Use Metronome.”
“Munch,” Munchlax nodded before closing its eyes and beginning to waggle its fingers back and forth with a monotonous call of “Munch-lax-munch-lax-munch-lax-munch-lax-munch...” Drew gingerly placed his hand on the Pokémon’s shoulder and waited. Munchlax’s eyes opened with a gleaming yellow glow and then the Pokémon shot across the water at a speed too fast to follow, dragging the hapless Drew behind him. They smashed into the door and broke through into the stairwell, with the Lapras not even realizing they had gone past. Munchlax had been lucky and given Drew exactly what he needed: ExtremeSpeed.
Unbeknownst to Ash, Drew, and even Cal, a stranger had entered the grounds of the Trainer House. Ash had arranged to meet him there for his challenge, but the trainer was nowhere in sight. The stranger began to feel worried; where was he? Could something have happened? He did one more quick search of the grounds, and of the forest immediately outside, but Ash was nowhere in sight.
A large explosion caught his attention and he twisted his head in time to see a monstrous fireball erupt from the side of the building three-quarters of the way up. His eyes narrowed as the roiling fireball floated upwards and consumed itself. If trouble was about then Ash couldn’t be far from the source. He flexed his muscles eagerly, searching for a quick entry point. It looked as if it was time for him to enter the fray.
It should have been simple, Ash thought with gritted teeth, the sweat pouring off his brow. This was never supposed to happen... so how have I ended up in this situation? He raised a hand to his brow, trying to wipe away the blood which threatened to slide into his eyes and obscure his vision, peering into the inky darkness as he did so. The thick smoke swirled around him and stung his wounds harshly. He coughed, feeling his knees shudder underneath him as his strength began to fail.
“Pikachu!” he shouted desperately, his voice echoing emptily. “Glaceon! Beautifly! Sceptile! Can any of you hear me? Are any of you there?” He coughed raucously again, his body shuddering with pain and fatigue.
They had made it through the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth floors with relatively little difficulty. The Morning Sun technique worked just as well without him and Glaceon in the way, so they had taken advantage of the Mirage System’s inability to predict his change in strategies for those next few levels. On the fourteenth floor they had reverted to the blind charge, with Sceptile leaping past the Bagon inside with ease, destroying every one of the black discs with Bullet Seed. And then, just when the hope was rising again in his chest, disaster had come.
Electrode on the fifteenth floor. Dozens of them. There were far too many for Glaceon, Pikachu, and Sceptile to hold off even if they worked together. It had been a desperate struggle as the three tried their best while Beautifly frantically tried to break the discs on the walls. For one brief moment it had looked like it was working; and then an Electrode had exploded.
When one went off they all did. The whole room had looked like it was lit by gigantic Christmas lights. The force of the one massive explosion ripped a hole in the wall behind them and destroyed the system within the room; the ceiling bowed upwards, and parts of the floor had collapsed. Pikachu, leaping in front to shield the rest of them, had borne the brunt of the blast. Blinded by the smoke and thrown back from the blast, Ash had not seen or felt Beautfly, clinging desperately to his head, get swept off May’s bandana and knock into Glaceon, sending them both flying through the hole in the wall and out into the open air where they plummeted to the ground. Sceptile, on the other side of the room, had vanished entirely.
He ignored his weakening state, looking for a way, any way, to make it through. On the other side of the building he knew was Drew; possibly in the same condition, or even worse off as they both tried vainly to make their way through and save their friend. He coughed dryly again, feeling his Adam’s apple bob against the irritated and raw skin of his parched throat, trying not to think of what would happen if one or both should fail. Trying to recall his courage he took a step forwards and his knees buckled under the strain, sending him crashing to the ground.
It should have been simple, he thought as he went spiralling into blackness. It was supposed to be a friendly challenge to test my strength; not this struggle to save a friend’s life. It should have been simple. It should have been simple...
He did not feel the two strong arms that gently fastened around his torso and lifted him from the inferno.
12th December 2009, 02:06 AM
Re: Peril (T)
A story of Ash vs. Cal (whoever he is) in the mansion. The speech and talk before Ash actually gets into Cal's mansion is questionable in how it aids to any tension, because dialouge is useful in tension. If information does not add tension and is simply the needed route to somewhere, how the cake tasted or something, then it might as well just be in description or deleted.
There's then the lack of description, although better than some others, I still wonder if the weather was described and if it aided the mood of the story. The description would improve the darkness or whatever the mood is in your story with the effort and time. But note it does not need much in high tension, high focus, or otherwise high pace. As in high tension you would show the things that cause tension the rotten wood did well at that, darkness too, and maybe enough was done about the rooms. High focus is like how you see an explosion and nothing else, and high pace is like being chased.
Overall I think you did fine for this story, perhaps sad that no one else has reviewed yet (that I've seen). I look forward to reading to the end of this story and keep going Matkin.
13th December 2009, 01:26 AM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Thanks very much for the review, Akiyama. This story has already been completed and posted on Fanfiction.net for some time so it's a bit late to change it now, but I'll definitely be keeping all of that in mind for any future work.
Chapter Eight: Race Against Time
Drew was desperate to reach the next level. For a reason he did not know, the staircase had given a violent shudder as he made his way to the fifteenth level. The rotten wood had begun to collapse from the vibrations, and his ascent became a dangerous race to see what would happen first; Drew reaching the door, or the stairs collapsing beneath him.
He made it. Barely. The staircase collapsed so thoroughly that he was saved only by a desperate lunge for the door’s handle. He was left hanging out over the darkness, struggling to lift the lever and push the door open with his weight, but to no avail. He was trapped, unable to go forwards or back; unable to do anything but hang on in desperation and fight off the realization that he would eventually have to let go and fall.
When Sceptile saw the Electrode light up, he knew that he had only one option. There was no chance of him being able to reach Ash and the other Pokémon in time to shield them from the blast, and he was surrounded by more of the electric-types than his companions. If he wanted to survive and avoid being consumed by the resultant flames that always accompanied a group explosion, he had to take cover.
A quick glance proved that the only sanctuary was the stairwell to the sixteenth level. With his heart tearing into shreds at the decision, Sceptile burst through the door and began ascending the rickety stairs. That they would collapse under his weight was not of any concern to the grass-type; he was the ruler of the jungle, and was designed to scoot along wood in far worse condition than this.
Even so, it was a close call. Some of the force from the exploding Electrode was directed into the stairwell and from there followed the path of least resistance: up. Sceptile ripped through the door with a Leaf Blade and threw himself to the side as the shockwave and flames passed overhead. He climbed shakily to his feet once the blast had finished and looked around the room.
The floor had risen and buckled from the blast below, and in some places it had even collapsed and fallen. There were no intact discs that he could see; this room had contained very few of them of them, and it looked as if the blast from the stairwell had taken care of those. He took one step forward and the unsteady floor disintegrated beneath his feet. Sceptile hung in mid-air almost comically for a moment before he fell back into the fifteenth floor. He landed awkwardly and quickly looked up as a rumbling noise reached his ears; the floor directly above his head was also collapsing.
Instinctively he rolled to the side, trying to avoid being crushed by the debris. He rolled into a narrow depression and huddled as tightly as he could, closing his eyes so no grit or slivers of stone would penetrate. When the sound of falling sandstone finally ended Sceptile stood and gave his surroundings a quick check. He was back in the stairwell, and trapped there by the looks of things. There was no chance of breaking through the unsteady debris; despite his considerable strength, he was more likely to crush himself than wriggle his way to freedom.
He craned his neck upwards, realizing that the only chance of escape was to make his way back up to the next floor and then try to drop back through the hole and find Ash. But would the unstable rock floor support his weight? He could easily bring the rest of it down this time, and if that happened there would be no saving Ash, Pikachu, Glaceon, or Beautifly. There was no other choice though. He crouched down, coiling the muscles in his legs as he prepared to spring upwards, when a faint cry caught his senses.
Listening hard he realized that it was coming from the other side of the stairwell’s wall. His curiosity aroused, he decided to investigate; Ash could have gotten lost looking for him and then become stuck in the next room. Sceptile gave the wall a quick feel and realized the Electrode’s explosion had weakened it considerably; some bricks had crumbled into gravel, and most of the rest were loose. It would be easy enough to break through, he reasoned. Taking a deep breath, the grass-type concentrated and twin blades of glowing green illuminated the darkness.
Drew was surprised by the cacophony of screeching that ensued within the room. Up until now it had been quiet inside. Just as quickly as it had begun the noise ceased, but what sounded like several minor explosions followed for a few more seconds. Drew shivered as he gripped the handle tightly; the sudden change was slightly eerie. Then, to his greatest surprise, the door swung open and he was dragged inside. He looked up into the reptilian red-rimmed yellow eyes of Sceptile and let go of the handle with a yell of fright, sending out Roserade and May’s Venusaur in preparation.
“Attack!” he shouted.
“Tile, tile!” Sceptile protested, realizing Drew’s assumption. Roserade glowed green as it prepared to fire off an attack, but May’s Venusaur, blocked its path.
“Rade,” Roserade hissed.
“Saur,” Venusaur replied, shaking her head slowly as she looked Roserade in the eyes. Slowly the glow vanished, and Venusaur walked up to stand at Sceptile’s side.
“What are you doing?” Drew yelled, while Sceptile gave her a grateful look. Venusaur pondered for a moment, trying to figure out how to best get her message across. Extending her Vine Whip she pointed first to the broken black discs in the wall. Drew looked at them in confusion before flashing back to what Ash had said just before they separated: “If you see any more of those black discs on your way, destroy them.” Could it be that those discs controlled Cal's Pokémon?
He looked back at Venusaur in time to see her eject a minute amount of the blue Sleep Powder onto the floor. Using her Vine Whip, she quickly split it into shapes and began jabbing insistently between them and the Sceptile. It hit him like a Thunderbolt; Venusaur had spelled Ash's name in the powder! This Sceptile must be Ash’s! He sighed and relaxed before looking at the Pokémon who had saved him.
“I’m sorry Sceptile, I thought you were one of those other Pokémon that keep attacking us,” he said.
“Tile,” Sceptile nodded.
“How come you’re here anyways? Where’s Ash?” he asked, and the grass-type slowly lowered his head. “Oh,” Drew said softly, “I see. I’m sorry Sceptile.” He sighed again and then looked up; he knew that May could not be far from them now. “I guess it’s up to me,” he said softly.
It was the cool breeze on his face that eventually brought Ash back to his senses. He winced as his body shifted position slightly; every inch of him felt bruised and broken, and he was incredibly stiff. Blearily he tried to open his eyes, and he experienced a momentary surge of panic when he realized that he couldn’t. Then something cool and slightly rough began to scrape around his left eyelid and he waited, frozen, for it to go away. It stopped and he heard a soft padding as it moved around his head and began to work at the right.
Unable to handle the agony of nervousness that ran through him he tried again to open an eye and was surprised that this time it did so. He took a quick glance out the corner and let out a silent sigh of relief; it was Glaceon, using her tongue to lick away the blood that had run down from his forehead and crusted his eyes shut. He waited a moment, and when her soothing touch had vanished he cracked open the other eye and reached out to stroke her in thanks. She pushed into him, welcoming the comfort, but her expression seemed slightly nervous. It was only then that Ash realized he was lying on the grass at the foot of the Trainer House. They were back where they had started.
Tears of frustration began forming in his eyes, but they were quickly interrupted by the heavy footfalls approaching them from behind. Flashing back to the events of the last several hours he instinctively jerked himself into a sitting position, biting back a hiss as the pain wracked his body. He managed to turn his head enough to see the one walking up to them and the tension left his body in a wave of relief.
“Charizard,” he said softly, “did you get me away from the explosion?” The fire-type nodded, and he felt renewed tears, this time of gratitude and relief. “Thank you,” he said. “I knew you were the right choice for my sixth Pokémon. I’m glad I called Liza about you so far in advance from home; you got here just in time. We’d all have been lost without you.” A thought struck him then as he looked around at Charizard and Glaceon, and a horrible feeling rose up in his stomach.
“Where’s Pikachu?” he asked. “Beautifly and Sceptile; they aren’t here either, are they?” He saw Glaceon close her eyes in sadness and knew the worst. “What... what happened?” he asked softly, and the two Pokémon looked at each other helplessly. How could they possibly explain to Ash that the explosion had driven Beautifly and Glaceon through the wall, that Charizard had flown up just in time to catch the falling ice-type while a scorched Beautifly was caught and driven away by the wind, that Sceptile had disappeared among the falling rubble and that Pikachu, leaping up to shield his trainer, had been consumed by the flames?
Ash could not speak their language, but he knew that their three missing friends had been lost in the worst of circumstances. Beautifly... Sceptile... Pikachu... all three of them were gone. This time he could not hold back. This time he let the tears pour freely as he hugged Glaceon closely to his body and Charizard watched on helplessly. He let them flow until his grief was spent, and the only emotion he had left in his body was rage at the man who had kidnapped May, who had taken from them the closest of friends, who had driven them to this edge.
“Right,” he said, ignoring the hideous pain as he climbed to his feet. “There’s nothing we can do for Pikachu, Sceptile, or Beautifly now. They all know our goal; if they survived the explosion, they’ll keep going up. That’s where they know we’ll meet them. We can’t help them now, but there is somebody we can help, and this time we won’t be fighting our way through the Mirage System to get there.” He turned to Charizard.
“Think you can fly us to the top?” he asked, and the fire-type roared in the affirmative, flexing his wings in his eagerness for action. “Good; let’s go then,” he said. A flash of green caught his eye as he took a step forward and he paused, looking at the object. May’s bandana was singed, but it had somehow evaded the wind and floated down to land by their feet. He picked it gently from the floor and retied it tightly around his head; he would not lose it again.
Then, with a quick jump, he was on Charizard’s back, and Glaceon followed suit. He held onto the nervous ice-type firmly as Charizard’s mighty wings spread out and beat heavily at the ground. They roared into the air and streaked upwards, fire in all of their eyes. Cal had messed with them long enough. His petty parlour tricks were over with; now it would be a matter of pure strength, Ash’s three Pokémon against Cal’s in the battle for May’s life.
He would regret the game he had played.
Charizard’s fast flight brought them to the top level, the twentieth floor, in a matter of moments. The Pokémon craned his head back at Ash and the trainer nodded in ascent, his face a grim slash of determination and cold fury. Charizard faced the wall, reared back and fired off a Dragon Rage that easily destroyed the bricks and mortar in their path. They followed suit almost instantly, bursting through the dust and debris to land in front of a very shocked and white-faced Cal.
“It can’t be!” he gasped, rising from his desk and moving around the side onto the platform.
“It is,” Ash growled. “Cal, it's time you finished playing with me; this game is officially at an end."
Beautifly was badly injured. The wind had carried her some distance on her torn wings, and every flap to regain height and distance brought on unbelievable agony. She persevered nonetheless, finally making it to the roof of the Trainer House where she sat in the shade of a rough-looking wooden shack, protected there from the wind while she regained her breath and energy. She waited a few minutes and then bravely launched herself back into the air, fighting her way down to the still smoking opening in the wall.
On the fifteenth floor a small pile of rubble began to shift, and a yellow tail poked out into the air. It was quickly followed by a body and then finally a head. Pikachu looked around for Ash, wincing in pain at the burn that covered his flank. His eye caught the large hole in the wall just in time to see a familiar orange shape fly past as it made its way upwards. The electric-type relaxed instantly, knowing that Ash was in the safest care he could possibly be in at the moment. Now all he had to do was join him.
He wriggled the last of his body from the gravel and began exploring the room, looking for any possible path upwards. Most of the ceiling had caved in and the stairs were completely covered, but in one corner of the room the chunks of sandstone had landed in such a way that it might just be possible for a creature as small and light as a Pikachu to make their way up.
“Fly... Beautifly,” a small voice whispered, and Pikachu turned his head to see an injured and exhausted Beautifly land awkwardly at the edge of the room. She looked at him with sorrowful eyes. “Fly?” she asked.
“Pika, pikapi chu,” Pikachu answered, pointing upwards to indicate where Ash and Glaceon had gone.
“Pika,” Pikachu answered, indicating the rough ramp upwards. Beautifly nodded and wearily rose into the air again, following the electric-type as he led her up to their trainers.
13th December 2009, 02:59 AM
Re: Peril (T)
It is a very intense story that you have woven for us. Reminds me of Dead Space a bit. But only a bit.
16th January 2010, 05:52 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
Graargh, sorry everyone. My computer got a virus and I had no internet access for the second half of December. By the time I'd gotten it back I'd completely forgotten about updating this on here. But I guess it's better late than never, right? Sorry all.
Chapter Nine: The Final Confrontation
“Ash!” May shouted, renewed hope kindling a blaze of light in her eyes.
“May, hold on!” Ash yelled back, leaping off Charizard and, ignoring the pain, beginning to make his way along the platform towards her, Glaceon close behind. There was a triple blaze of bright silver light and Ash was forced to jerk his hands up to cover his eyes, shielding himself from the intensity. When it faded and he was able to squint in the Coordinator’s direction again, he found the way blocked by three tall and dangerous-looking Pokémon; with a yowl that sent fear shivering down his neck, a massive ring of fire lit up around the neck of a navy and cream coloured behemoth.
“Typhlosion,” Ash muttered, eyeing it warily before turning his attention to the fire-type’s companions: a green heavy-set sauropod-like creature with a large pink flowery frill around the base of its neck, and a terrifying blue crocodylian which stood almost two feet taller than the others. Several red crests sprouted from its head and back, and the numerous sharp teeth glinted dully in the light of the Typhlosion’s flame.
“Meganium... and Feraligatr,” he breathed, taking an involuntary step backwards.
“You didn’t forget the rules of our little competition, did you Ash?” Cal asked, recovering from his initial surprise. “I was watching on an outside monitor; you don’t get to have a Pokémon suddenly show up and use that in addition to the six you brought with you.”
“Charizard was my sixth Pokémon all along; he’s been training in the Charicific Valley for a few years and just took a little while to show up. You forced us to start this ‘competition’ early; it’s not my fault that Charizard wasn’t here yet.”
“Well be that as it may, you don’t get to free your friend until you’ve faced and beaten me. And if you don’t...” Cal shrugged and drew a line across his throat, grinning manically.
“Why are you doing this?” Ash shouted, balling his hands into fists. “What have May or I ever done to you?” Cal’s face instantly hardened.
“More than you’d ever realize,” he snarled. “As for why I’m doing this... let’s say it’s to add a little flavour to this game. Yes, I think that sounds right. You see, I know that you won’t be trying your hardest unless something that you really value is at stake. I think the girl you love ought to be an incentive.”
“We’re just friends!” Ash protested. “We’ve never even had a conversation about something like that!”
“Not yet, you mean,” Cal responded. “I know the two of you better than you think, Ash Ketchum. It is inevitable; and now, here at the top of the Trainer House, you will realize it too.” Ash dropped his hands to his sides. There was a moment of quiet in which the only sound that could be heard was Glaceon’s growling. Ash dropped to his knees and placed a calming hand on her back; tiny pinpricks of pain spiked across his hand at the contact and he realized that her fur had risen and frozen into layers of sharp spikes in her anger. He looked back at Cal.
“What do you want?” he asked helplessly, a pleading note in his voice.
“What do I want?” Cal repeated. “Nothing less than complete and utter revenge. You took everything away from me; everything! And I want you to feel that same pain when you lose to me; the pain of having the one thing you desire above all else taken away from you and destroyed. To watch the pride of your life crumble into nothingness before your very eyes! To feel that complete and utter despair as you realize that you have lost this deadly game, before you lose your own life too!
“You were foolish enough to accept my challenge and face me here today, Ash. Today you will battle me and you will lose. The rope holding May in place will be severed and the thread of her life along with it. And then you too will die, because without her there is no reason for you to keep on living. That is what I want; and I will watch it happen!”
The anger that Ash had felt was gone. He drew himself erect and looked Cal in the eye calmly. Now, at last, he understood the reasoning behind this mad game.
“Why don’t you drop the façade?” he asked. “Only one person could have built the kind of challenge we were forced to get through. I’ve never even met the legendary Cal, so there is no way that he could possibly be out for revenge against me. No, the person who wants revenge is the same person who built this Mirage System! Drop the act and face me in person. There’s no point in hiding it anymore, Dr. Yung. I’m here now, and ready to fight.”
The visage of Cal scowled and was quickly peeled away in a stream of blue numerals. Reaching into his pocket, the turquoise-haired man drew out a pair of elliptical spectacles and placed them on his head. He took a breath and smiled at Ash.
“Satisfied?” he asked.
“No!” Ash replied. “What have you done with Cal? Did you kill him? Or was he a legend all along?”
“Oh, Cal is a legend all right,” Dr. Yung replied. “But I certainly didn’t kill him; if I had, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you here today.”
“Huh?” Ash said, confused, and the mad scientist grinned.
“Cal and I are one and the same,” he told the trainer. “If you had ever bothered to ask Oak or that idiot Elm you would have realized that. You know me only as Dr. Yung, but my full name and title is Dr. Cal Yung.”
“What?” Ash breathed, stunned. “You mean you really are Cal?”
“Of course,” Dr. Yung nodded.
“But... but I don’t understand. You were a League Champion! Why would you throw all of that away and focus on something like the Mirage System when you could have kept training and become a Master? And...” a new thought occurred to him. “How did you even survive when your castle collapsed?”
“My past is my own,” Yung spat. “I was a Champion, to be sure. I won the Silver Conference easily. But the weak Pokémon I commanded failed me when I faced the Elite Four. I went off to train in the shadow of Mount Silver, so that when I challenged the Elite Four again I would be victorious!” A faraway look entered his eyes. “I went into the most hostile and wild terrain on the planet, and I struggled through it. But then one day, when I was close to finishing my training, I was surprised by a herd of Tyranitar.
“It was a fight for survival; I had all six of my Pokémon out to defend me. But despite all of our training they failed miserably. The Tyranitar beat them all and attacked me. When they had finished taking out their rage on my body I was left to die alone on the rocky wasteland. I didn’t expect to live out the night, but somehow I survived. I knew then that no matter how much I trained, my Pokémon would always be weak, that there would always be another plateau for them to climb. It was at that moment, as I lay brutally beaten in that hostile and unfriendly word, that I devised the Mirage System.
“Imagine Pokémon that could never be beaten! Pokémon that could face any foe and still come out victorious in battle! That was my goal, and I achieved it! After I nursed myself back to health I forever cast off the guise of Cal and became the brilliant Dr. Yung, star pupil of the Pokémon Academy where I could use their resources for my own ends! But they expelled me, calling my research cruel and immoral. So I took what funds I had left from my League Championship and used it further my research on my own terms, and I succeeded. But then, as I was on the verge of making the system perfect with the creation of the ultimate Mirage Mewtwo, you destroyed it! Everything I had worked to achieve, lost!
“I re-entered the crumbling and blazing inferno that was once my research centre; it didn’t matter if I died; my work was my life, and if that was destroyed I had no further purpose in living. But I managed to retrieve the plans and data I had gathered, and as the castle collapsed around me I made my way down to the subterranean depths and escaped through a pipe into the lake; the very same one you and your friends used to get in, I believe. The far side of the lake was unguarded so I made my way over there and escaped back to my home in Johto, my only thought to achieve revenge on the ones who had destroyed my life! And as you can see,” he said, indicating the room and his dangling hostage, “I have succeeded.
“You and May are only the first pieces in my grand plan. I sent the invitation to you and when you responded, I kidnapped May.” He sighed theatrically. “Imagine falling for the same trick twice. I never would have thought anybody could be that stupid. Once I have disposed of the two of you I will move on to the others. I plan on visiting Oak in his laboratory; as May can attest, my Mirage System is now portable, and so once I have him cornered in a room the Mirage Pokémon of my choice will destroy him. After him I’ll track down Misty, Brock, and then finally little Max.”
“And what about Drew?” Ash growled. Yung shrugged.
“Collateral damage,” he replied. “If he hadn’t decided to join you he’d never have been at risk.” Ash swallowed and took a brave step forwards.
“You’re assuming too much, Dr. Yung,” he warned. “I’ve beaten the Mirage System on fifteen other floors; you know how easily I can destroy it. It will only take me a few seconds to destroy it here and then your three Pokémon will vanish, leaving me and my Pokémon against you with none.”
“Did you not see the silver light when you ran forward?” Dr. Yung asked. “Have you not looked around the room and realized that there are no discs embedded in the wall, ceiling, or floor? You face no Mirage Pokémon here, Ash. These are genuine; my starter Meganium and my first two captures, Typhlosion and Feraligatr. Though you cheated my challenge by skipping the last few floors, I suppose that I have no choice but to battle you now with the Pokémon that almost defeated the Elite Four.” He grinned. “Are you ready?”
Ash swallowed nervously but looked past the three strong and dangerous Pokémon to the girl hanging behind them. Her eyes were wide with fear as she gazed at him, and he knew that he had no other choice. He had to face Dr. Yung’s Final Challenge and win; losing this would mean losing May forever. He would use that knowledge as a stimulant just as Dr. Yung wanted, and he would that added strength and determination to throw that arrogance into his face. He believed in his Pokémon, and they believed in him. He had come for this, and he would not back down or lose now.
“Charizard, you’re up!” he shouted, and the fire-type started forward eagerly. “Snorlax and Blaziken, I choose you!”
“Power over tactics? That won’t get you anywhere,” Yung grinned. “Feraligatr, you’re up against Charizard! Meganium vs. Snorlax and Typhlosion against Blaziken! Get them! Get them now!”
“Get ready to counter!” Ash shouted as the three charged in. “They’re coming in for close-range attacks! Counter!”
It was mayhem. With all six Pokémon battling at the same time, there was no way for either Ash or Dr. Yung to call out any attack or counter commands. All they could do was jump back and watch as the carnage unfolded; for good measure, Ash also sent out Staraptor and Gallade to wait by his side with a disappointed Glaceon; he didn’t trust Dr. Yung at all, and if the battle seemed to be going the wrong way or he had an opening to rescue May while he was distracted, he wouldn’t hesitate to send them in to the fray.
Feraligatr and Charizard raced in at high speed and collided, each straining to push the other back. Their claws interlocked as they pushed against each other fiercely; Feraligatr’s more densely muscled body began to gain the upper hand as it slowly forced Charizard back. The fire-type formed a powerful orange sphere of Dragon Rage in his mouth and launched the attack. The Feraligatr quickly reared its head back and the attack soared harmlessly past. Drawing back its head with speed, it gave Charizard a stunning crack on the top of his head with its bony jaw, and the fire-type stumbled backwards dazedly, with the Feraligatr quickly pressing its advantage.
Blaziken held the Typhlosion at arm’s length as it furiously tried to bite the Hoenn starter’s shoulders. Both Pokémon drew back their heads and launched powerful Flamethrowers at each other. The two collided at a close distance and both were sent reeling backwards from the resulting explosion. Snorlax was having difficulty with Meganium’s Vine Whip; the grass-type had immobilized him with the attack and was now using all of its strength to swing the enormously heavy normal-type around the room.
The strain proved too much for the Pokémon; the vines snapped right as Snorlax launched a powerful Hyper Beam attack in retaliation. The result was Snorlax propelled backwards at a much faster pace as the Hyper Beam shot past the Meganium’s neck and smashed into the unwary Typhlosion as it picked itself off the floor. Snorlax careened into the Feraligatr’s side and the considerable weight sent the water-type flying, giving Charizard the advantage as it raced back in. Trying to make up for its mistake the Meganium sent a barrage of Razor Leafs at Snorlax, but the normal-type’s bulk absorbed the attack effortlessly. Ash pumped his fist as Snorlax raced in to the grass-type once more, his fist glowing white as he surprised the Pokémon with a super-effective Ice Punch that sent it flying. They had a chance!
“You’ve got no chance at all!” Dr Yung shouted, sounding quite demented.
He was right.
The Meganium was frozen in place and out of the battle, but as Charizard neared the Feraligatr it spun with a rapidity that belied its size and landed a ferocious Aqua Tail that brought Charizard to his knees. At the same time the Typhlosion leapt through the smoke and delivered a sizzling Flamethrower that took Snorlax by complete surprise. The normal-type lumbered backwards, clawing at the smoke that stung his eyes, and tripped, cracking his head on the floor and putting him out of the fight.
“Charizard, don’t give in!” Ash shouted. “Hit it with a barrage of DragonBreaths! Blaziken, get that Typhlosion now with Sky Uppercut!”
“Pikapi!” Pikachu shouted, bursting through the door behind them with Beautifly close behind, the bug-type having opened it with her String Shot.
“Pikachu! And Beautifly! You’re both alright!” Ash gasped, swinging around in delight.
“Pikapi!” Pikachu shrieked, pointing back to the battle as the injured and swooning Beautifly landed once again on Ash’s head. He spun around in time to see Feraligatr counter the DragonBreath with a powerful Hydro Pump as Typhlosion blocked the Sky Uppercut and delivered a kick that tripped Blaziken onto its back.
“Don’t give in Charizard! You can do this, I know you can!” Ash shouted desperately. “I believe in you!”
“Your Charizard’s attack doesn’t have a chance against my Feraligatr!” Yung yelled. “No chance, you have no chance!” But Ash’s words had lit a fire in Charizard’s heart. Digging deep down into his reserves, the fire-type gave the DragonBreath every ounce of power that he had. The two attacks strained against each other slightly for a few more seconds and then Charizard’s attack cut through the Hydro Pump and blasted into the Feraligatr’s open mouth. The water-type’s eyes widened as it swallowed the DragonBreath and smoke puffed from its mouth. It took a vengeful step forwards, groaned, and collapsed.
Charizard climbed back onto his feet and gave a roar, blasting a torrent of flame skywards. Typhlosion smashed into his stomach with a Flame Wheel and Charizard’s eyes widened. He clutched at his belly and fell, leaving Typhlosion triumphant.
“Blaziken, get in there with Blaze Kick!” Ash shouted, hoping to catch the Pokémon by surprise as it celebrated its victory. Blaziken jumped up and ran forward, its feet shrouded in flames as it leapt at the Typhlosion’s unprotected back. The fire-type spun and grabbed Blaziken by the foot, halting the attack.
“Impossible!” Ash gasped as the Typhlosion gave a wicked grin. Drawing back its arms the Typhlosion jumped into the air and threw Blaziken into the ground. The Pokémon gave a roar of pain, which was compounded by Typhlosion’s full weight landing on its stomach. Blaziken gave one last twitch and was still. Ash looked on with disbelieving eyes as Yung recalled his three Pokémon and walked up to May, reaching into his pocket and drawing out a short knife in his right hand. He had lost.
“Well it was a good effort, Ash,” he said cheerfully as he reached the Coordinator’s side. Her eyes were wide and fearful as she looked from Ash to the blade. Yung pointed the weapon at the trainer. “I must admit, it was closer than I expected. I didn’t think you’d take down one of my Pokémon, let alone two! But you lost, and you know what the penalty for that is. Hmm... should I cut her throat, or cut the rope and let her fall? I really can’t decide... Say Ash, do you have any last words that you’d like to say to May before she dies?”
Ash glanced at the opening beneath May’s feet and steeled himself; he’d jumped shorter distances than that before. He could make it. Probably. He looked up nervously, his palms wet with tension, and his heart leaped.
“Well? Do you have anything to say to her?” Yung asked impatiently.
“Yes, I do,” Ash said, looking past them both to the platform on the far side of the room. “Sceptile! Leaf Blade!”
Yung spun around and saw Sceptile in mid-leap with the leaves on its arms extended and glowing green as it prepared to strike, Drew, Roserade, Venusaur, and all of the other Pokémon standing motionless behind him. The mad scientist reflexively threw himself to the side, his arms flailing as he tried to avoid the attack. A terrible scream ripped from Ash’s throat as May hung in mid-air for the briefest of moments, her rope severed by Yung’s frantic leap.
A small smile crossed her face as she felt the tension in the rope vanish and gravity finally begin to take control of her body once more. She had time for one last look in Ash’s eyes before they vanished forever from view behind the sandstone edge.
“It’s okay; I understand” she said softly. And then she was gone.
Ash’s frantic leap missed the trailing ends of the rope by inches. Sceptile, unable to change direction in mid-air, was helpless to intervene as the Leaf Blade swished harmlessly through the air. Beautifly frantically shot a series of String Shots from her mouth but they all missed. Dr. Yung landed on the very edge of the opening, his feet scrabbling furiously for purchase as he tried to regain his balance. He looked up at Drew with a grin on his face. It was the last thing he saw.
Glaceon had run forwards with Ash the moment she had seen the rope cut. There was no sorrow or forgiveness in her heart; only a cold, hard, desire for revenge against the man who had murdered her trainer. She leapt as he landed and swung an Iron Tail with as much force as she could muster, intent only on disabling him so that he could cause no more harm. The attack went awry, cracking into the side of his head and spinning it around 180 degrees. A horrified and pained expression crossed Dr. Yung’s face as he realized what had happened.
And then he too vanished into the abyss below, the murderer forever stopped from his evil plans as he joined his final victim in the fall to earth.
Ash collapsed to his knees, unable to believe what had just happened. They had been so close! The tears poured from his eyes as he gazed at the severed rope still hanging from the ceiling. If only Yung hadn’t swung his arms so manically when he jumped... May would still be alive. He staggered up and moved forward to look over the edge of the opening, but Drew dragged him back.
“No Ash, you can’t,” the trainer vaguely heard him say. “She’s gone... you can’t look at her from up here.” Ash collapsed again, his body shaking convulsively. Tears dropped onto his head from above as Beautifly joined him in his grief, and then Glaceon and Pikachu crept up to his side too. Drew could only stand and watch, a mixture of sadness and pity in his heart. He had lost a friend and rival, but Ash had lost something much more. He pounded a fist into his hand angrily; if only he had gotten there sooner while Dr. Yung was distracted by the battle! He could have held her in place with Venusaur’s Vine Whip while Roserade severed the rope with Magical Leaf. Then she would have been safe.
Sceptile hunkered miserably in a corner of the room, blaming himself for what had happened. If he’d been a bit closer he could have taken Yung out before he turned. If he’d jumped at a slightly different angle Yung could have moved in a different direction and he could have saved the Coordinator. Blaziken clapped a hand on Sceptile’s shoulder, sadness and understanding in its eyes. It knew that Sceptile had done the best that he could, and it did not blame him for what had happened.
Glaceon’s heart was torn. She was devastated in more ways than one. All of the anger she had been containing in her heart had vanished the moment she struck Yung’s head with her Iron Tail and realized that she had killed him. Sickness was all that she felt now, and she nuzzled into Ash’s side as much as she could, desperate for some contact, for some forgiveness for her act.
Slowly Drew turned, recalling all of his Pokémon save Flygon and placing May’s Pokéballs on the floor next to Ash. Slowly, he began to move away with his dragon-type to the edge of the hole.
“Drew, wait,” Ash said hoarsely, and the Coordinator turned.
“Think you have room for one more on Flygon’s back? There isn’t enough room for two Pokémon to go down and the only other way down is back the way we came; my Pokémon are too tired to fight off any more of those Mirage monsters.” Drew nodded silently and Ash recalled Snorlax, Charizard, Gallade, Staraptor, and Sceptile.
Placing them automatically on his belt, he reached for May’s Pokéballs and recalled Venusaur, Ledian, Munchlax, and Blaziken. Glaceon dodged the red light, refusing to be recalled, and Ash relented, picking her up in his arms instead and carrying her over to Flygon. Pikachu jumped up to join them as Beautifly gripped the charred bandana on his head more securely and Drew hopped on in front. Flygon let out a low fluting cry and dropped over the side, spreading its wings to slow their descent. They glided down in silence, and when they finally reached the antechamber where all of the madness had begun, Flygon flapped hard and landed several feet to the side.
Ash slid off the Pokémon and walked silently over to May’s broken body. She was beautiful even in death, her smooth skin even paler than normal. Her eyes were closed and a small smile was on her face. She had died a terrible and undeserving death, but she had died with the knowledge that her love for Ash was returned in full. He looked upon her, his eyes swimming with tears, and hugged her as tightly as he could, trying to put all the things he had never said, all the emotions he had never realized until it was too late, into that one action.
She had deserved better than this.
Drew recalled Flygon and looked on at the body of the evil Dr. Yung in disgust. His eyes were still open, his face still frozen in that final expression of horror. Glaceon shrank back, the empty depths of his soulless stare seeming to glare at her accusingly. Drew bent to the floor and picked up a small black controller with several grey buttons on it. He pressed one experimentally and the shape of a Bonsly began to appear in the room, the black discs in the wall glowing. He hastily pressed another and the image faded away.
“Mirage System,” he spat. “So this is what he was using to control it; to attack us.” He dropped the controller to the floor and effortlessly crushed it under his foot.
The red sandstone blocks vanished before their eyes, leaving them standing inside of a rickety burnt structure. Drew looked through the now open walls in surprise, noticing that the trim and tidy lawn was now heavily overgrown and that the surrounding wall lay in pieces along the ground. Switching his attention to the inside he saw that the staircases that led upwards were now truly lit up with the sun for the first time. The Trainer House had gone; they were standing inside nothing more than an ancient and crumbling ruin.
Ash stared at the place where May’s body had vanished, a thin black disc spinning in her place on the floor, a fragment of rope still attached to it. But Dr. Yung’s body was still there. Equally as surprised as Drew, he gazed around the ruin’s structure trying to understand what had happened. A conversation with Cal flashed back into mind.
“Wait, you mean that the Mirage System controls the rooms as well as the Pokémon inside of them?” Ash yelped, and Cal gave a spooky smile.
“Everything is a mirage,” he said mysteriously.
“Of course!” Ash yelled, jumping to his feet.
“What?” Drew asked startled, spinning around. “Hey... where’s May?”
“It never was May!” Ash said excitedly, gesturing at the black disc on the floor. “It was the Mirage System all along! Don’t you see, the System was what created the Trainer House out of this burnt ruin! All of that sandstone, all of the fancy televisions, and the pits that held the Pokémon; everything we saw except the staircases was a mirage all along!”
“And May?” Drew asked slowly, beginning to cotton on.
“It never was May; she was a projection of the Mirage System too! When you crushed the controller the system died, and because she was a part of it she vanished as well!”
“But what about her things and Pokéballs I found in the woods?” Drew asked. “They definitely weren’t created by Mirages.”
“No, which means Dr. Yung really did kidnap her...” Ash mused. “So she must still be around here somewhere!”
“But why would he do that?” Drew asked. “Why would he go through all of that trouble to create a Mirage version of her?”
“If we succeeded then we’d make our way down, and at the bottom she’d vanish which would mean we had to do it all over again,” Ash replied. “And if we failed he’d get the satisfaction of seeing us face our worst nightmare before he killed us. He’s sadistic; it’s what he does. Did.”
“Okay, so then... where do you think May might be?” Drew asked, looking around.
“I don’t know,” Ash said slowly, “but we’ll find her soon. We have too. Where is the one place he’d think we wouldn’t look?” They gazed at each other and then simultaneously looked up. Though the building had been consumed by the age-old tragedy, many portions of the roof remained. High above them, at the very top of the Trainer House, they could see through a gap that a rough wooden shack was nailed precariously to one of the remaining sections.
“That’s got to be it! We’ve still got a chance!” Ash said, laughing through tears of relief. “Charizard! Gallade! I choose you!”
17th January 2010, 12:53 PM
Religion is a club
Re: Peril (T)
And we finish not with a band, but a whisper. Cheers to everyone who read!
Chapter Ten: Rescue
Charizard, breathing very heavily, materialized on the ground in front of them. His brow was wrinkled with perspiration and Ash knew that he was still very weary from his battles with the Feraligatr and Typhlosion.
“Charizard, I know you’re really tired,” Ash said, laying a hand on his flank. “But we really need your help right now. I need you to fly me up to the roof; the May we saw fall wasn’t real, it was another illusion created by the Mirage System. We think she may be in that shack on the roof; can you fly me up there so I can get her out, and will you be able to fly us both back down?” Charizard craned his neck upwards and gauged the distance, squinting. He contemplated a moment, flapped his wings experimentally, and then roared in affirmation.
“Thank you,” Ash smiled, climbing carefully onto the fire-type’s back. “Gallade, I want you to teleport to the top and make sure that the roof is safe for us to walk on; you’re pretty light, so it should hold you. Okay?”
“Er!” Gallade nodded, saluting quickly with a nod before vanishing from sight.
“Thank you,” Ash said softly to the thin air. “Charizard, are you ready?”
“Eh, Ash... What about me?” Drew asked. “Do you want me to come up with you on Flygon?”
“No,” Ash said, shaking his head. “It’s hard to tell from here, but that roof looks pretty unstable. Charizard definitely won’t be able to land on it, and the wing beats might even break apart what’s left up there. Having Flygon up there too would only increase that risk.”
“So what should I do?” the Coordinator asked, sounding slightly frustrated.
“Catch us if we fall through the roof,” Ash said simply. Drew nodded wordlessly, reaching automatically for Flygon’s Pokéball as Charizard took off with Ash and two extra passengers; Beautifly, who hadn’t left his head, and Glaceon, whose eyes had lit up with hope when she heard that May was still alive and who had leapt up the moment Charizard spread his wings. There wasn’t the slightest chance that she would miss being there for her trainer when she was freed; Charizard would just have to deal with her modest weight. Pikachu was left mournfully watching them from below; he hadn’t been as quick as Glaceon, and his injured body wasn’t quite up to those kinds of leaps at the moment.
Charizard climbed his way up grimly; it was harder to carry Ash than he had thought, and the combined weight of Glaceon and Beautifly was as much as he anticipated May to be. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to carry them all down, though if Beautifly flew it would certainly alleviate things. Another more pressing problem soon presented itself however.
Though the roof was dotted with holes a Pokémon could fly through none of them was big enough for Charizard, and breaking through one could bring the rest of the roof down; and the shack along with it. After a moment’s thought, Ash instructed the fire-type to hover beneath the opening closest to the rickety wooden building, as close to the fragile beams and tiles as he dared.
“Gallade!” Ash shouted, and the psychic-type appeared above them almost instantly. “Can you help us up?” Ash requested, and he nodded. Holding out a blade, he braced himself and pulled first Ash and Beautifly and then Glaceon onto the roof. It was incredibly windy up there and the unstable surface beneath their feet groaned with the slightest movement, threatening to break underneath them. Despite the danger, Ash nodded to the shack directly in front of them, and the shiny new padlock on the front that seemed oddly out of place up there in that world of desolation.
“Think you break through that?” he asked, and Gallade nodded, his blades elongating and turning violet with Psycho Cut. Concentrating hard, Gallade did not even need to take a step forward to sever the lock; it was a technique he had trained very hard with Ash to accomplish, elongating his blades to a length of several feet. It was something he had learned to catch his opponents off-guard in battle, and it was useful for this moment too. He simply flicked his wrist slightly and the lock went skittering harmlessly along the rooftop before dropping through a hole to the ground below.
Ash took several nervous steps forwards to the now unlocked door, testing the roof thoroughly before placing his full weight down on the tiles. Taking a deep breath, he finally made it to the door and opened it cautiously.
There she was, still in her pyjamas, tied up cruelly and gagged. Her eyes wide and fearful as she gazed into the sudden light, her eyes trying frantically to adjust so she could see who it was. They widened in shock, and a blaze of warmth shot forth as she recognized his figure, the relieved smile on his voice, his movement as he rushed to her side and ripped the gag away.
May gasped at the sudden sensation and licked her lips, trying to soothe the places where the tight cloth had cut into her skin. Then she smiled.
“I knew that you’d come for me. I knew that you’d figure it out,” she said softly.
“I almost didn’t,” Ash said, moving behind her and beginning to work quickly on the knots that held her arms and legs in place. “Drew crushed Dr. Yung’s controller and put an end to the Mirage System. If he hadn’t we’d still be thinking you were dead.” May let out a moan of pain as the ropes were pulled away and Ash began rubbing her arms and legs quickly with his palms. It took several moments for the blood to start flowing through the constricted arteries, and it was an incredibly unpleasant sensation.
“Come on, let’s get you out of here,” Ash said, pulling her to her feet. She stood unsteadily trying to keep her balance with difficulty. “Can you walk?” he asked in concern.
“I think so,” she nodded, taking a step forward and wincing. “It’ll take me a few seconds. How did you get up here?”
“I flew up on Charizard,” he said casually. “Beautifly and Glaceon came up with me and I got Gallade to break through the lock. They’re waiting outside.”
“Ash...” she said softly, a hidden smile crinkling her eyes. He helped her move unsteadily towards the door, and both of her Pokémon rushed up in their eagerness to be reunited with her, tears flowing from both of their eyes. She dropped down to their level and embraced with equal affection
“If it wasn’t for these two we’d have never made it,” Ash said, watching them hug each other tightly. “They both helped destroy the Mirage System on each floor, and...”
“Ash, I know,” May interrupted, parting from her Pokémon gently and rising back to her feet. “When the System was still running Yung left a screen on in that room. He wanted me to watch you try and make your way up. I think he expected you to fail and wanted to see you beaten. Just his way of torturing me,” she added bitterly. Ash took her hand and gently led her along the roof to the opening where Charizard hovered, patiently waiting for them.
“Gallade, can you take Glaceon and Beautifly down?” Ash asked. “I don’t know if Charizard will be able to manage them too.” Gallade nodded and vanished, taking Beautifly and a very indignant-looking Glaceon with him. “Easy,” Ash advised, helping May to lower herself through the opening and onto Charizard’s back before dropping on behind her. He gripped Charizard securely with his knees as the fire-type made a slow descent and held tightly onto May in front of him; there was no chance that he was going to let go of her and chance her falling after all that had happened. They drifted quietly for a moment before he ventured to break the silence.
“How much of it did you see?” he asked.
“Everything,” May replied simply. “When those Electrode exploded and the camera blacked out... I thought for sure that you were gone. And then when you broke through the wall on Charizard it was as if the sun was shining again; I knew then that no matter what happened you’d find a way to rescue me.”
“For a moment there I wasn’t so sure,” Ash said, smiling awkwardly although of course she could not see it.
“Ash,” she began after a moment more when they were almost halfway down; “I heard everything too.” His grip on both her and Charizard suddenly faded.
“What do you mean?” he asked, almost too quickly.
“I mean that I heard you and Dr. Yung talking about why he captured me.” Ash’s breathing almost stopped at those words, and he barely felt it when May’s cool hand moved slowly up and gripped his own, squeezing tightly.
“Oh... well... I... uh, that is to say...”
“It’s okay,” she said softly. “You don’t have to say anything. I feel and know it too. Just don’t say anything about it to Drew, okay? He’ll be really disappointed.”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Ash found himself saying, his mind barely working in its surprise.
Charizard landed and let out a slight groan of relief as May and Ash both slid from his back. May rushed over to join the rest of her fawning Pokémon and Ash recalled the fire-type with the biggest smile of gratitude he could muster. He turned to the stoic and solemn Gallade and recalled him too before returning his attention back to the Coordinator and her rival.
“So, you’re safe then,” Drew said in an offhand manner and May smiled.
“Yes, all thanks to you,” she said with a quick grin. “What, no rose this time?”
“The Mirage Magikarp ate them all,” Drew grumbled. May laughed. He raised his arm in farewell to them both and recalled Flygon before turning and walking out of the building, leaving them alone.
“See you at the Grand Festival, Drew!” she shouted after him. “I’ll beat you again for sure!” Giving no other indication that he had heard her save for a flick of his hair, the Coordinator continued on his way through the overgrown garden and passed beyond the wall to vanish into the forest. May shook her head with a knowing smile on her face before turning back to Ash.
“Alright Ash, hand it over,” she said, placing her hands on her hips haughtily.
“Huh? Hand what over?” he asked in surprise.
“My bandana,” she said, clicking her fingers. “Come on, hurry up!” It took Ash a few seconds to remember that he was still wearing her bandana in place of his hat; that he had worn it since beginning the challenge.
“Oh, sorry!” he said, fumbling with the knot. Beautifly suddenly swooped out of the room and flew quickly towards the wall. She returned a few seconds later and dropped something onto May’s head before turning and landing on Ash’s. Pikachu scampered across the room and climbed up onto her shoulder to complete the picture. The two trainers stared at each other a moment and then burst out laughing; Ash wearing May’s bandana and Beautifly, and May wearing Ash’s hat and Pikachu.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Ash said, holding his hand out to the Coordinator. “I know a great ramen restaurant in New Bark Town; why don’t we head on over there and celebrate?”
“Okay,” May agreed, recalling all of her Pokémon save Glaceon and Beautifly before taking his hand happily. “What shall we celebrate? Life? Love? Freedom?”
“Each other,” Ash said simply, leading them from the dank ruins of the past into the sunlit world of the future.
5th March 2012, 04:16 AM
Once named, twice shy
Re: Peril (T)
This was really gripping, I had to read it all in one go. And it's the most refreshing thing to read an advanceshipping fic where Drew isn't demonized - let alone treated as an ally. Kudos!