RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—The Story of the Roses [Book One]

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  1. #1
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    Default RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—The Story of the Roses [Book One]

    RoseIII is the most prominent of all my fictions, I should say. Heck, Archy listed it in my mod description in the announcements forum! XD [Edit: Except I'm not a mod anymore, so it doesn't really matter.... T__T]

    ========================================================

    CONSUMMATA EST.


    ========================================================

    *clears throat* Ahem. I just wanted to do a bit of statistic-work.

    1. To my knowledge, RoseIII is the longest Pokéfiction in existance. It is one-hundred twenty-two chapters long, and spans eight books.

    2. Over the course of its creation, RoseIII suffered from at least four complete revisions. It took me four years to complete the novel.

    3. When I began writing RoseIII, I was under the impression that I was the first ever to write a hybrid fic. While I still hold that true in my mind, I no longer have pure assertion in that belief.

    4. The original copy was begun in early 2000, and even only contained Japanese names of the Gold-Silver Pokémon, gym leaders, and cities until its most recent revision. Because I wrote a great deal of RoseIII before Ruby-Sapphire was released, I isolated my Poké-dimension to contain only the Pokémon found in RGBY-GSC. There is one scene in which Ru-Sa's are suggested and described, but it is too vague to pull any viable substance from it.

    5. To my knowledge, RoseIII is the only Pokéfiction that has extensive symbolism, allegory, allusion, and other literary devices. I have made comprehensive analyses of said devices in my personal notes, but have yet to type them up in full. I'll get back to you when I do.

    6. To my knowledge, RoseIII is the only Pokéfiction that shows a range of Pokémon in archetypal form. While I know it is common to have the Espeon/Umbreon foil contained in a fiction, when I make this point, I'm talking about something a little... deeper. I'm talking Christ-figures, Lucifer, Draculya, Frankenstein's monster, and the like.

    7. RoseIII mutilates non-primary characters from the video games and anime, and creates a more pliable version of them. (Sabrina, Morty, Giovanni, and James, to name the most prominent of these.) Though my usage of these characters borders on being OCs, I still consider them property of their original creators, because, while their mannerisms are moderately different, they are still based off of those we know and love.

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    The book order goes like so (this will be posted in all the books' threads):
    The Right Hand of the Dragon:
    I: The Story of the Roses (1-17)
    II: The Antics of the Roses (18-34)
    III: Tokyo (35-48)
    IV: Ecruteak (49-80)

    Changing Hands:
    V: A Little Game of Life (1-10)

    The Left Hand of the Dragon:
    VI: 2436 (1-4)
    VII: The Cimmerian (5-14)
    VIII: The Bamboo Dragon (15-32)
    Last edited by Kurai; 27th December 2004 at 04:17 AM. Reason: Archaic's logic is so askew as not to allow more than 500+ characters in signatures, I must make a table of contents for my baby. ;_;

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  2. #2
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    Chapter One

    I sighed, nervous and yet excited, for my journey was to begin today. The Prof was actually allowing our venture from Heritage Lab.

    "Meilin, be careful. Don't let it get you down if anyone makes fun of you." She hugged me.

    "Prof, I'm not one to take badly to derision. It's when I see people are afraid of me that it hurts." She frowned, her ocean blue eyes losing that marvellous joyous sparkle that they often give off.

    "It'll be all right, sweetie. They just don't understand what you are."

    She was definitely right about that. I didn't even know what I was. All I knew was that I had been experimented upon, and that I now had a lot more in common with Pokémon. My ears were now long and webbed, my nose wet, my face a short muzzle, my eyes animalistic and slit-pupiled. My skin was scaly and a pale blue, my fingernails claw-like and sharp. I had a tail like a mermaid's, long and ridged. I was half Vaporeon.

    My rather short black hair was a little mussed by the light breeze that blew outside, my deep sapphire eyes glittering in the summer sun.

    I wore a lavender shirt, one with long, flared sleeves and a Mandarin collar, and a pair of dark ashen denim capris. A pair of black no-fingered gloves adorned my hands, slid up to my elbows as they were formal length. My sandals were tucked away in my pack, as I was barefoot.

    My Pokémon Michelle hung in the metallic red and white sphere at my waist, called a Pokéball. She was a Squirtle, her glittering chocolate eyes and skin blue as the skies. The Tiny Turtle type was a bit selfish and egotistic, and often cared only for herself. But she was loyal and a good friend.

    I gave my last goodbyes before leaving Heritage, diving into the cool stream that flowed outside. I ended up in the Viridian Forest that stood between Pewter and Viridian. Setting up camp was quite simple—all I needed was a fire and a nice soft plot of grass. I couldn't sleep on a bed—too soft for me.

    Sitting on a log beside the fire, frying a few fish up for a meager dinner, I began to fall into reminisce about the Enhancement.

    ~*~*~

    "You think this one'll be awake?" a voice whispered. It seemed so distant from me, yet so nearby. A glass barrier stood between the voice and me.

    Moving my body around was difficult, proving that I was in a jar of sorts, filled with some sort of viscous fluid. It tasted salty.

    "Prolly," another voice replied. This one was male. "Her vitals are a little higher than the others'."


    Yes, I'm awake, you jerks, I thought to myself. Now what're you going to do to me?

    I found a response in the form of a low hum. I heard a sound like water flowing, and I felt that there were IVs in me, because the flowing was entering my veins. I soon felt as if I were on fire, my body enveloped in great pain. I tried to scream out when I felt my spine jerk sharply, but to no avail, finding no sound produced.

    I opened my eyes for what seemed to be the first time in my life, finding my skin to be a pale, scaly blue, each webbed finger tipped with a sharp azure claw. In a rage I angrily lashed out at my confinement. From this I discovered my tail; it was quite powerful. The laboratory floors covered in the pale purple fluids that once had been contained in the watery imprisonment covering the floors, I dashed off down the halls on all fours.

    A few scientists were greatly frightened by my escape; the glass had been three inches thick. They stood there, staring down the hallway in incredulity and fear.

    I sniffed the air when I reached a hall intersection in order to decide which way I should run. Voices around me echoed of my escape as I scrambled down the halls at the sound of guards.

    I was not soon after surrounded, no escape this time. The guards let loose a volley of tranquilisers and I blacked out.


    ~*~*~

    Stirring from the forced nap, I found myself in a drab grey room by myself. A mirror hung on a wall and I got up from the old, worn couch upon which I had lain. When I looked at myself, I wished I hadn't. Tears formed in my animalistic eyes, but I blinked them angrily away. Turning from my reflection, I shattered the mirror with a strike of my tail, again laying down on the couch. I cried myself back to sleep.

    ~*~*~

    I later found there were fourteen others—from Ecruteak like myself. I knew a few of them already.

    Keiji, the youngest being only nine, was also the first they had experimented upon. He'd been half Eevee for three weeks before my 'Enhancement,' as Jarrell called what had been done to us.

    Jarrell was the Prof; at least that's what we called her. She'd taken us in as her own children of sorts. The Prof loved every one of us, and protected us. Nice lady, I tell you. Kind of strange, though....

    Keiji's brother Toshi and I never got along. The both of us are fifteen now; a year has passed since we were kidnapped. Toshi now donned a Raichu's looks, and they fit his electric personality perfectly.

    Rei's eleven, but he acts like he's five with the intelligence of a two-year-old. The Houndoom boy had a crush on me for the longest.

    Cori and I got along okay, I suppose. She's always been very popular, Ecruteak and Heritage. She's gotten used to being half Ampharos.

    The group's finest chef—Philo. The Umbreon guy always tried his best to be smooth and sexy, but it seemed to always come out in the language known as idiot.

    The eldest of the group at the age of seventeen, Ianna the Cleffa type tries to mother us, I suppose. Every one of the types likes her.


    ~*~*~

    I sighed, having finished off the meager meal of fish, then curled up by the fire and went to sleep.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Two

    I strode along in apprehension as I made my way through downtown Viridian City. I had long since come from the forest that shared a name with the neighboring settlement, a cloak concealing my inhuman characteristics. Eyes glared at me angrily and fearfully, parents pulling their children away from me as I walked by.

    I at last found myself standing before the Viridian City Gym—the building seemed cold and menacing. Fearful but determined, I made my way inside.

    The arena was pitch black minus a small array of candles. A man sat Indian-style in the centre of the battlefield, meditating.

    "Hello?" I called out meekly. The man's head picked up, the lights flashing on. He obviously used this special effect as a scare tactic. It evidently worked.

    "I—I want to battle for an Earth Badge," I stammered.

    The man stood up slowly, then walked over to me. He stood a good foot over me at about 6'7", his dusty orange hair in complete contrast with his piercing emerald eyes. "All right," he replied, his voice deep and frightening. "Randall," he greeted, offering a hand with a smile.

    I hesitantly accepted his salutation, taking his hand with mine. He stared at the handshake for a moment before the both of us pulled away.

    "I—I'm sorry," he apologised. "I shouldn't stare."

    "It's quite all right. You have due cause to."

    "It's still rather rude of me." I sighed, then uncovered my face. Randall blinked in disbelief. "Y—you're one of Jarrell's pets, aren't you?!" he exclaimed.

    I hung my head in dolor. "I suppose you could say that." Shaking the pain I looked to him again. "Randall, if a Gym Leader accepts all challenges, then you must accept mine as well." A moment of silence passed before his response resounded throughout the still, stuffy air.

    "If it's a challenge you want, then it's a challenge you shall get."

    ~*~*~

    A battle soon ensued, Randall taking a Pokéball in hand. He tossed it out upon the arena floor, the thing opening up, a form coming from the light which the Pokéball had created.

    Three heads poked their heads up out of the sandy turf, each of the noses round and shining bright red. A Dugtrio. They cried out their name as if a war cry when I sent out Michelle. She, too, called out to the mole trio.

    "Dug, start out with a Sand Attack, then come up from underneath with a Dig!"

    "Dug!" it exclaimed in assent, burrowing down into the loose ground, kicking up a cloud of dust that not even I could see through.

    'Michelle, be on guard! It's gonna come up from under you! Counter it with a Shell Attack!'

    'All right!' she called back to me.

    The mole came up from under Michelle as planned, but she was prepared and her shell took the initial shock of the Dig attack. She turned this force back on Dugtrio and the Pokémon cried out in pain.

    "Dug! Shake it off and hit that weakling with Fissure!" It complied, digging down deep into ground again, a huge chasm headed straight for Michelle.

    "Shell Attack and Hydro Pump!" She followed orders, the powerful blast of water striking the mole and rendering it unconscious. Randall ran to his Pokémon's side and stroked its head gently. The Gym Leader looked to me in contempt.

    "Meilin, take your Earth Badge and get out of my Gym." He tossed it to me and I caught it, surprised that he knew my real name, but, shaking the thought, I returned Michelle to her Pokéball and left, my face again hidden in the shadows of my hood. I walked out into the open air again and inspected my earnings, finding the lapel pin to be formed jade and emerald into the form of a feather.

    "Nice job, Shellie," I whispered as I entered the Viridian City Pokémon Centre.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Three

    ::Sean::

    I sat down at a table with the lunch I had just bought, pulling the strand of strawberry blond hair out of my face. I always had that strand in my face. Made me mad.

    A strange person walked into the Pokémon Centre, nervous from all the curious eyes watching him. He was soon found to be she as her quick stride whipped the hem of her cloak back, revealing effiminate legs. I freaked, seeing that the skin that covered them was blue, so blue that they couldn't have possibly been anything but naturally that colour. She met my glare, a pair of glittering supernatural-seeming deep blue eyes shimmering from within the darkness of her hood. With this I attempted to make it seem as though I weren't staring and she sighed, continuing on.

    The strange girl stood at the front desk. A nurse took her single Pokéball and checked it in after the girl showed her the laptop the girl produced from her pack. She obviously had no Pokédex in which to store her Pokémon Trainer's License, thus kept it in her computer. It perplexed me to see that she had enough money to have a quite expensive laptop and yet no Pokédex. The nurse had almost fainted at the sight of the girl's hands, which were blue like her legs, and sharp.

    Once the nurse had taken the Pokéball, the girl made her way to the cafeteria.

    Her cloak twitched from behind her as if something were there, then was still. Having gotten a salad, she sat down at a windowside table. She began munching hungrily, head hung.

    I hesitantly made myway over to her, picking my lunch up. I coughed intentionally to get her attention. The method worked, her cold glare again upon me.

    "What? You want to point fingers at me too?"

    I choked. "I—I was just wondering i—if I could sit with you..." I stammered. She went wide-eyed in surprise.

    "Um, not what I was expecting...." She sighed. "Sure. I needed someone to sit with anyway."

    An awkward silence passed.

    "So, um. Hm." I laughed nervously, finding her bemused gaze. "Uh... hey. What do they call you?"

    "Other than 'that freak?' Heh. Call me Kitsune."

    "Um, okay. Interesting name."

    "Tell you the truth, it's only a nickname." She took another bite from her salad, but said nothing more. The quiet drove my curiousity up the wall.

    "If it's just a nickname, then what's your real name?" She stopped eating. "What? You think it's a stupid name? I won't laugh at it."

    "It's not that I don't like my name, 'cuz I do... it's just that... I don't want anone to know what really happened to me. They think I'm dead, so maybe it's best they continue thinking like that." I went wide-eyed, feeling that I had prodded Kitsune's sniffling.

    "Kit, I didn't mean to make you upset. I just... I'm sorry." I sighed. "Just forget that we met today." With that, I got up with a clatter and left, walking at a hurried pace down the crowded streets. A hand upon my shoulder stopped me.

    "If I were always to let it get me down, I wouldn't be out here trying to get my Badges. You didn't prod me into crying. I was about to anyway." Her consolation made me smile.

    "So you'll tell me what your real name is?" She laughed, then shut up abruptly.

    "No."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    "Oh c'mon," the guy pleaded with me for what seemed to be the hundredth time. His line of inquiry suddenly changed at that point. "If you won't tell me, maybe you'd show me?"

    "Maybe in a minute," I sighed after a moment of thought. "I don't really feel that comfortable showing my face in public. Wait until we're in the woods." I figured that I could scare the guy off.

    "'We?' You mean that?"

    "You're already following me," I muttered, rolling my eyes. "Why not?"

    ~*~*~

    I sighed as we sat down around the campfire, night already having fallen.

    "You sure you want ot know what I really look like?" He nodded. "Whatever." I unclasped the pin at my throat and took the dark cloth in my hands, then slowly drew it back. My ears stuck out more than usual because of my apprehension, I just know it.

    "I—you're not human!" he stammered, his emeraly eyes boring deep into me.

    "How observant," I muttered. "I used to be, but—" I snorted. "I suppose I'm not supposed to be normal."

    "Whadda ya mean, 'used to?'" he nosed.

    "The Ecruteak Fifteen vanished a year ago because they were kidnapped and used for genetic experimentation." It took a minute for my statement to seep in.

    "YOU'RE ONE OF THE ECRUTEAK FIFTEEN?!!" he exclaimed, wide-eyed. I nodded meekly. "Wow.... Um, what sort of genetic experimentation?"

    "I'm half Vaporeon." I sighed, my tail twitching and the guy staring at it in incredulity. "I have some of Vaporeon's abilities, but I haven't mastered them quite yet."

    "That is SO cool!" he uttered, smiling. "Not only is the girl I'm traveling with cute and supposedly famous, but she's also in training to be a Water Master!"

    I blushed, then, deciding it best that we parted ways for the night, I melted. I soon found myself curled up behind the log upon which I had been sitting, cloak as a sheet.

    "So, what's your name?" I inquired, unmoving from my place. I must've startled him, because he jumped at the sound of my voice.

    "Sean."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Four

    We came up to Lavender about ten-thirty in search of the ghost Pokémon of the Tower. First things first, we visited the Pokémon Centre for a bite to eat and a rest.

    When we came in, there was a huge cluster of people around a table. We were curious and decided to check it out.

    "Hey! S—stoppit! Go away!! Leave me alone!" I saw electrical sparks fly and knew it was bad news.

    A few people scattered at seeing the claustrophobic Raichu boy ostentate his abilities, including Sean.

    "Tosh, cut it out," I chided, slapping my hand down on the table beside him. "They've just never seen an idiot with such... an electrical personality." He freaked, seeing my hand wasn't one that would belong to a human. He looked up into the darkness of my cowl in search of a face. He didn't find one.

    "Wh—who...?" I motioned towards my hand, and, once his gaze turned upon it, I melted my fingers from claw-tip to knuckle. He understood and made a face.

    "Don't come up on me like that!" he complained.

    "Well so—rry, Seshi," I muttered, amused with the nickname. I snorted as reformed my hand, letting the cloak again fall over it. "H—hey!" I growled, whirling around to find a little boy poking at my tail, which had twitched out from under my cloak. The crowd gasped, my hood having fallen to my shoulders. I broke a crooked smile, detesting their glares. "Look, we don't want to be the centre of attention, nor do we want to pick a fight. Can we just catch lunch in peace?" At this they were silent.

    ~*~*~

    "So who's this guy?" 'Seshi' asked me, munching on chips.

    "Sean Minori. He's cool."

    "There are more like this?" Sean uttered in disbelief, this finally seeping in. The two of us made faces.

    "Um, do strawberry blonds account for having a blond side?" the Raichu pondered. Sean growled at him.

    "It's auburn!" he defended. I coughed nervously after a moment of silence.

    "Er, I was planning on fighting Sabrina for a Soul Badge." They stared at me and a I grinned, laughing half-heartedly.

    "Are you nuts?!" Sesh exclaimed.

    "Actually, yes, yes I am." I snorted. "Tell me one reason why I shouldn't."

    "Kit, she's a Psi trainer," Sean began. "No one beats a Psi!"

    "'Kit?'" the Raichu pondered.

    "Kitsune. I didn't want him to know my real name."

    "So it's not a nickname, it's an alias," Sean muttered. "All right, fine. I don't need to know."

    A silence passed again.

    "So... where were we? Telling me why I can't battle Sabrina?"

    "M—" Sesh caught himself, then sneered my nickname, "'Kit,' she turns her defeated into dolls."

    "Y—yeah, but those trainers were human!" I laughed. "She'd have trouble with me!"

    "How egotistic," he muttered under his breath.

    "Lay off her, Seshi," Sean defended. We were again silent a moment.

    "Um, whassat mean anyway?"

    "'Sacred Death.'" He growled. "What? It's a compliment!"

    "How?"

    "Um... like... this!" I scrambled outside and ran as fast as I could, the two chasing me.

    ~*~*~

    I ended up running up the stairs of the Pokémon Tower, losing the two. Catching my breath, I noticed how dark it was. I whimpered, fingering in my pocket for my lighter.

    "Drat. I must've lost it in the chase." I suddenly felt someone nab a lock of my hair and yelped, clasping my hands down on my head and whirling around. I found no one and nothing. Fearful, I continued on.

    I heard light snickering behind me and I turned around to look, again, to find no one and nothing. I whimpered again.

    "Show yourself!" I complained.

    A light outline appeared before me and I freaked when it began to take form.

    "Dree!" it exclaimed playfully. I blinked, confused. "Dree dree!!"

    "Um... okay...." I arched an eyebrow at the ghost that floated before me. She looked to be a sort of pale lavender sheet with flowing tattered edges, tied as at the neck with a string of crimson beads. Her amber eyes glittered impishly. "What are you?"

    "Mehdree!" It was odd. I couldn't understand what the apparition spoke. I suppose that it was because I'd never encountered one of her kind before.

    'Can you understand Vaporeon?' She cocked her head at me, a little confused, then nodded slowly.

    "Mehdreev?" I took this to inquire of me what I was. I giggled.

    'I'm Kit.' I smiled at the umbra. 'You're a cutie.'

    We moved on after a moment, the Pokémon following me.

    'Mendree, do you know any attacks that would light our path? Maybe something Fire or Lightning based?' She nodded, and the beads of her necklace began to crackle, electrical sparks arcing to and from them. Thundershock. 'Thanks.' She cooed, floating ahead of me.

    The entire way back out, I felt as if someone were watching me.

    Sean and Seshi were sitting outside, waiting for me. They saw me come out and glared at me. Both were still upset with me.

    "What? I kind of got lost in there." I smirked. "You like my new pet?"

    "Um, what new pet?" Seshi pondered. Sean, too, was confused at my statement. I whirled around to find Mendree gone.

    'Aw Mendree! C'mon! They're not gonna hurtcha!'

    Sean stared at me, blank. "Er...."

    "What?"

    "How'd you learn to speak Vaporeon?"

    "Um, I'm half Vaporeon maybe?"

    "Ah." He yelped, grabbing his head and spinning around to look behind him.

    "Mendree!" I scolded. She cooed.

    "'Mendree?'" he echoed.

    "I dunno what she is, but she's a Ghost type. She followed my out here." I sighed. 'Mendree, please come out!'

    "Idea," Sesh remarked, digging in his bag. He pulled out a handful of Pokéchow, and, sticking a chunk in his mouth to munch on, he held his hand out. Sean made a face at his snack preference but said nothing.

    We soon heard snuffling and a few pieces of Pokéchow vanished, loud crunching following their disappearance. Mendree showed herself not soon after, sitting beside Sesh on the bench.

    "Dree!" she exclaimed, telling him that she liked the recipe.

    "Heh. Cute."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Five

    "Gimme one of those," I muttered, thinking it a little amusing that Sesh ate his own Pokémon food. He shrugged, tossing me a chunk. I smelled of it, then popped it in my mouth. It tasted kind of like graham crackers with peanut butter and some sort of fruit mixed in. "How long did it take for you to get that recipe? It's good!"

    He blushed. "I—I make my own. I just experimented with different stuff. If I find a Pokémon that doesn't like it, I alter the recipe a little."

    "You two think this stuff's so good, lemme have a piece," Sean muttered. He stuck a piece in his mouth and munched on it a minute before turning bright red in the face and painfully swallowing it. The two of us snickered.

    "You look like you swallowed a rock," I giggled.

    "I suppose humans don't like my recipe," Sesh snorted.

    ~*~*~

    "Kit, give it up!" Seshi complained.

    "Aw c'mon! Mendree's a Ghost type and Sabrina trains Psychics! Hello? Majour advantage?"

    "Sesh, let her go," Sean sided. "If she wants to be a Vaporeon doll, it's not for us to decide."

    "Whatever." He shrugged. "I guess I could look around down in the marketplace. I saw some good stuff yesterday."

    "I'd like to go check out the fields around this place for Pokémon. My team could use a little filling out."

    "All right then. Are we in agreement that we're meeting back here about two?" Sesh asked us. We nodded. "Four hours." The Raichu dashed off after a minute, leaving Sean and I to walk to Sabrina's.

    "Sean, could I use your 'dex real quick?" He shrugged and handed it over. I tossed Mendree's Pokéball out before me and I aimed the Pokédex at her, the thing whirring to life.

    "Misdreavus, the banshee Pokémon. This Pokémon is rather playful and likes to play tricks on unaware humans."

    "Dree?" she inquired, cocking her head at me. I pushed another button.

    "Specimen knows Psyshock, Shadowball, Thundershock, Thunder, Lick, and Bite techniques."

    "Cooool," I grinned, leaving the Pokédex with Sean as I walked off with Mendree, returning her to her Pokéball not long after and hanging her again at my waist, pulling my hood back over my head.

    ~*~*~

    I came upon the Lavender City Gym. The archil walls of the building seemed to be made of ice they shone so clear and bright in the summer sun. I shuddered, walking inside.

    The rhythmic thud of my sandals upon the cold amberite floor echoed throughout the torchlit halls. Silence scares me. It really does.

    I placed my hands upon the huge double doors, which led into the arena, fingering the handles. Slowly opening them, I stepped into darkness.

    "Hello?" I called out, my weak voice echoing in the huge room. "Sabrina?" Torches suddenly burst into flame all around me, illuminating the room. A woman sat before me in a large chair, eyeing me, bemused.

    Her long hair shone deep lavender in the torchlight, her carmine eyes piercing my rational thought. A smirk crept across her pallid face and she sighed, eyes closed.

    "Call me Sarina, Meilin," she greeted, smirk becoming smile. I freaked.

    "H—how'd you know my real name?!"

    "Not only do I have a full compliment of psychic ability," she replied, "but also ties into Heritage. I knew you would come here eventually." She suddenly vanished in a puff of light purple smoke, reappearing standing indifferently at her end of the arena. I blinked in disbelief. "Are you prepared for a battle?"

    This inquiry shook me from my daze and I took Mendree's Pokéball in hand, holding it before my hung head as I maximised it. "Yes, that I am."

    ~*~*~

    We had agreed to a two-on-two match, since I did indeed have two Pokémon on my team.

    Sarina tossed a Pokéball out upon the amberite floor of the battlefield, and, in a bright flash of light, an agile creature stood poised before me. It splayed shining emerald wings, crying its name in a mournful aria. The bird wore two crimson plumes off the back of its head, its coat of feathers emblazoned with many coloured patterns. Its long beak shone golden, its large, menacing black eyes glaring at me evilly.

    I decided to send out Michelle out first instead, because Xatu was a dual-type—Flying and Psychic. Michelle knew Bite—a Dark technique. I hoped Sarina wouldn't know that she was that advanced.

    The Xatu's eyes suddenly shot wide, glowing with a strange golden aura that both it and Sarina's shared. Both blinked the glow away after a moment, and Xatu began its attack.

    'Michelle, be on your guard! Withdraw!' She complied quickly, shrinking away into her shell. Xatu dove at her repeatedly, but to no avail. I smirked.

    "I suppose we can both keep secrets from each other," Sarina muttered, bemused with my means of communication with my Pokémon. I smirked at her from the darkness of my hood. "A dark opponent bothers me. I know very well what you are, so it doesn't make any difference to me, Meilin." I sighed and hesitantly tossed my cloak away. "Thank you."

    The battle resumed, Michelle managing to propel herself up in the air, chomping down on Xatu's wing. It cried out in pain, falling down to the hard ground, the crash rendering it KOed. Sarina painfully returned the Bird Pokémon and sighed.

    I smirked, patting Michelle on the head. She suddenly washed in a white glow and I stepped back to watch what was going on in fear and awe. She grew larger to stand at my waist, having previously stood just above my knee, sprouting winglike ears and a flowing feathery tail. Evolution into a Wartortle.

    "Tort!" she grinned. I giggled, patting her on the head again.

    "Congrats, but you won't have as much ease in defeating my other choice," she stated, tossing the Pokéball with relish. From the light the Pokéball produced came a creature like a fox, its large ears probably able to sense the slightest movement. It seemed to have a third eye between the given two that glittered like two onyx gems, the third like a ruby. The fox possessed two tails, its fur coat a pale lavender.

    "What is it?" I asked her, arching an eyebrow at it.

    "You're related to her, Kitsune," she smirked. "She's Eevee's Psychic evolution—Espeon."

    "Essss," she hissed.

    "If you switch, I switch," I muttered, fingering Mendree's Pokéball and returning Michelle to hers and tossing Mendree's. She floated before the kitsune, grinning stupidly at her. Sarina stared at her.

    "That's what was following you around...."

    "You were the one watching me?!" Sarina flustered at this.

    "I, uh, yes. I tend to keep an eye out on my Scy's sister. Jarrell sometimes has a little difficulty."

    "'Scy?'" I echoed.

    "Um, it's not important. We are in the middle of a battle, mind you."

    "All right. Mendree, use Shadowball!"

    "Dreev!" she growled, one of the beads from her necklace coming off the chain and growing with dark crackling energy. She shot it at the Espeon, who just barely dodged it. Mendree made another Shadowball and this time it struck the Psi fox head on. She skidded to strike the column hard.

    Espeon shook the blow and again stood, the ruby on its head crackling with energy. It shot a beam of rainbow-coloured energy at Mendree, the Psybeam striking the umbra dumb for a moment. It was long enough for the fox to get a Quick Attack in, pinning Mendree to the cold amberite. She squealed and vanished, reappearing behind me.

    "Mendree, get out there!" I scolded.

    'Fox mean!!'

    "So what? You can be meaner!" She smiled at this and resumed fighting Espeon.

    Her necklace began to crackle with energy, and she suddenly electrocuted the poor beast into submission, Espeon coughing a puff of smoke before collapsing. Mendree, too, fell to the ground in exhaustion, her form lost and the beads of her necklace clattering across the floor.

    Sarina sighed, walking up to me as she returned her Espeon to her Pokéball.

    "You defeated me, but I give you not only a Marsh Badge." She smiled, holding her hands out. A dozen different necklaces suddenly appeared, hanging from her fingers. "These are for you and your friends." She paused a moment. "There are people out for your blood. You could think of these as amulets of protection, I suppose. I wish that you may discover their hidden truth, and you're cautious."

    I suddenly found myself outside again, cloak around my shoulders, both Pokéballs at my waist and the dozen necklaces about my neck. I pulled them out from under my shirt and looked at them. Each pendant was a different colour gemstone in the shape of a rose, the Marsh Badge slid upon the silver necklace's chain. I grinned, sticking the eleven others in my pocket, pinning the pink heart Badge beside the Earth Badge in my collar and continued on.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Six

    I came back to where the three of us had decided to meet a little late, because I had been trying to figure out what Sarina had meant by 'discovering their inner truth.' It felt like it had been far too easy for me to defeat her.

    The two boys stared at me as I came up grinning.

    "H—how...?" Seshi uttered.

    "I told you," I beamed. "She's nice!"

    "I think she chickened out," Sean muttered. I made a face and unpinned my cloak to show him my shirt collar. When he saw the pink gem he almost fainted, I swear.

    "I don't think you battled Sabrina then!" Sesh grumbled. "There's no way that you could've gotten out alive otherwise!"

    "You're right about that. I battled Sarina." I sighed, sitting down on the bench and taking my necklace off to further inspect it.

    "She went shopping. How typical."

    "Ahem. Sarina gave these to me."

    I took it in my hands and closed my eyes, thinking hard about what she could have possibly meant, and I all of a suddenly felt tingly all over, like I was shivering from cold or something, then the sensation stopped. Perplexed, I looked to the pendant in my hands. The rosebud had bloomed.

    ~*~*~

    I freaked completely, confused.

    "Whassa matter, Kit?" Sesh inquired, looking at me with furrowed brow.

    "I—I don't know! I just—look. This thing just changed shape!" I held out the pendant to show them.

    "What're you talking about?"

    "It was a rosebud before! When I concentrated on it, it changed." I had an idea. "You try it," I pushed, pulling the necklaces out for him to choose one.

    "Kit, you've gone nuts," he grumbled, plucking the emerald necklace from my grasps.

    "There is no gone to it. I've been nuts!"

    "You know what I mean, so don't mess with terminology."

    He sighed, hanging his head in thought with the rosebud in clasped hands upon which his chin rested, his chin-length dirty blond hair hanging casually from his head. I saw that he had the same reaction that I had had when his eyes shot wide open, smirk twitching apprehensively. He looked to his hands, slowly opening them to reveal the emerald bud, too, had opened up its petals.

    "Kit, what've you gotten yourself into?" he uttered, pale.

    "Sean, you try it. Maybe it's just us."

    He shrugged, taking the rosebud that seemed to have a gemstone of Tiger's Blood. After a moment he shot a couple of quick glances at both of us, then to his clasped hand to reveal his had had the same fate as well.

    "Waitaminit... Sarina said something about 'truths within.' You don't suppose there's something more to these suckers, do you?"

    "You never know with a lady like that."

    ~*~*~

    "There's no telling what in the world these things did to us," Seshi complained as we walked along. The three of us had decided to go to Goldenrod.

    "There's only one way to find out," I replied. "Wait."

    "'Patience is a virtue' my foot," he grumbled as we made our way up to the marina.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Seshi::

    The three of us sighed, sitting down on the deck of the ferry. I kicked back on one of those deck chairs and tried to take a nap.

    I freaked, someone stepping on my tail. When I jerked up, I realised that it was a waiter with a plate full of horsd'oeuvres and the whole thing was going down. I put my hands up in the defensive manner and tried to back away, only to find everything suddenly suspended in midair. I blinked in disbelief, breaking a crooked smile.

    Did I do that? I thought to myself. I looked to Kit and Sean to find that everyone on the deck was motionless, as if frozen.

    I set the tray down on the beach chair and the waiter as well so he didn't take a spill, then sat between Sean and Kit. I concentrated hard, trying to get it to unfreeze like I had frozen them. After a minute, it worked and the two freaked out. The waiter screamed out, expecting to fall but didn't and looked around, confused.

    "I suppose patience is a virtue," I smirked.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Seven

    ::Kit::

    All Sean and I could do was stare at Seshi. He'd just appeared out of nowhere!

    "Wh—what'd you do?! And HOW?" I demanded of him.

    "My guess is that the necklace did it." He closed his eyes in concentration and suddenly vanished. I felt a tap on my shoulder and jumped, hearing snickering behind me.

    "STOP THAT!!" I complained, ears flush against my head.

    "What? I didn't do nothin'." I growled at him when he reappeared where he'd sat before.

    "How'd you do that?" Sean asked him.

    "It's kind of like being able to use my electrical ability, you know? I just have to figure out what the trigger is. Heh. I wanna try something else." Sesh held his hands out in front of him and he twitched once after a moment. He smirked. "Lookie." We looked around, a little confused, then freaked when we saw that no one was moving. Not one bit. "Cool, huh?"

    "What is it?" I pondered aloud, staring at the Pidgey that were aloft overhead without flying.

    "Time freezing," the Raichu grinned.

    "Wow..." Sean uttered.

    "I'm thinking that these necklaces each do something different," I muttered, falling into a moment of deep thought. After a minute, I sighed. "No telling." I couldn't stand it anymore and made a face at Sesh. "Would you knock it off? It's starting to freak me out seeing all these mannikins."

    "Heh. Mannikins. Good one." He sighed and everyone resumed what they were doing. "I wanna know what you guys can do."

    "The curiousity is mutual. How'd you figure out what your trigger was?"

    "You know that guy that screamed right after I popped over here the first time? He stepped on the flat of my tail." He made a face, caressing the sore thing.

    "Poor Ratboy," I mocked playfully. "It's not like it hasn't happened before."

    A frisbee suddenly zipped through the air straight at me and I yelped, bracing for it to hit me. I opened an eye after a minute, then the other when I realised that I was now sitting behind Sean and Seshi. I broke a crooked smile, seeing the frisbee hit Sesh head on. He keeled backwards, Sean trying to catch him by the arm. He got a sort of brain freeze-like look on his face after a moment, then a slight look of pain. Sesh grabbed his arm back after a moment, looking at him in disgust.

    "What the heck are you doing?!" he demanded, horrified and seemingly out of breath, not to mention still in shock and pain from being stricken by the plastic weaponry. Sean stared at his hands to find his fingers begin to arc with electricity. He looked up to Sesh again, a look of bewildered embarrassment on his face as he laughed half-heartedly.

    "I dunno...." They noticed I was gone and went wide-eyed.

    "Psst." They turned around and stared at me.

    "Um... how'd you do that?" Sean asked, trying to get the attention off him.

    "I think I teleported. What'd you do to him?"

    "He drained me, that's what," the Raichu grumbled.

    "I didn't mean to!" he defended.

    "So you absorb abilities," I muttered. "Great. Don't touch me."

    "I—I don't think that it's like that," Sean remarked, holding his hand out and looking at it in thought. Electricity again arced across his palm. "It's more like I took his electricity."

    "Damn straight you drained me!" Sesh exclaimed, upset.

    "Calm down, Thunderbutt," I muttered.

    "Don't call me that," he growled, gritting his teeth, ears flat against his head. He tried to electrocute me, but only to get a little bit of static to course over him. The Raichu slumped down into the deck chair, grumbling. I snickered.

    "Look, I'm sorry," Sean apologised, trying not to laugh, and trying to hide a smile. He offered his hand out to Seshi. The Raichu looked it over a moment, then poked at one of his fingers with his tail, his face showing indifference but hiding curiousity. An arc of electricity bounced between his tail and Sean's hand and Sesh jumped, not expecting it. Sean, too, began snickering. "The irony. A Raichu electrocuted."

    "Shaddap," he grumbled, poking Sean's finger again.

    "Grouchy," he smirked, putting his hands up defensively. Sesh lashed out at him, binding Sean's wrists together with his tail. The Raichu got right up in his face.

    "Don't make fun of me," he growled, baring his fangs at him, staring him down. Sean laughed half-heartedly. "It's bad enough you drained me," he sighed angrily, vehemently letting loose of Sean and turning away from the both of us.

    "Aw Sesh," I began, placing a hand on his shoulder in consolation. "You know very well he didn't mean to."

    "I said I was sorry," Sean seconded.

    "Whatever. I'll be back before we reach Goldenrod." With that, Seshi vanished.

    "Great," I muttered.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Eight

    Seshi came back right before we reached Goldenrod, just as he'd said.

    I got a michievious smirk on my face and grabbed the both of them, focusing my thoughts on my ability.

    "Oh no, Kit!" Seshi complained, wide-eyed in terror. "Nonono!" My smirk became a grin, our forms wasting away into nothingness.

    We reappeared on land not a second later.

    "Awesome," I uttered, out of breath.

    We heard someone scream at the sight of us having appeared out of nowhere and we turned to find a brunette staring at us, paralysed with fear.

    "N—Nat...?" Sean began, breaking a nervous smile.

    "Sean...? Where'd you come from? A—and how?"

    "Um, long story," I butted in. "An introuction, perhaps Sean?" He snapped out of his daze.

    "Nastume Giammalva, guys," he smiled. "Nat, this is Kit and Seshi." She arched an eyebrow at us.

    "Um, weird friends," she muttered, bemused slightly.

    "Right. Weirdos." I snorted. "Nope. Nuts, maybe, but not weirdos."

    ~*~*~

    The four of us grabbed lunch and sat down at a picnic table in the park.

    "I think those are great costumes. Really lifelike," Nat remarked. Sesh and I choked on our lunches, wide-eyed. After a moment we both cracked up. "What?"

    "You think we're in costume!" I cackled.

    "Um, Nat?" Sean began. "They're the Ecruteak Fifteen." She freaked.

    "Sean!" Sesh complained.

    "If she's part of the group now, it's best she know," I sighed. "The Ecruteak Fifteen are all half Pokémon."

    "Wow...." She stared at my slowly twitching tail in awe. I rolled my eyes in annoyed disgust.

    "Stop staring at me."

    ~*~*~

    I groaned, again finding myself someplace I hadn't been.

    "I hate this," I complained, slumping down on the grassy ground upon which I sat. Nat jumped at the sound of my voice and whirled around to stare at me again. "What'd I say about staring?"

    "H—how...?"

    "Sabrina. Long story."

    I went wide-eyed when I saw the 'mannikin scene' again take place, then began snickering when I saw Sesh sit beside her.

    "You think she'll freak?" he smirked. I snorted, shaking my head in amusement. "I'll take that as a yes."

    He suppressed the urge to laugh hysterically, tapping Nat on the shoulder as time resumed, the poor girl jumping out of her skin. She let out a short scream, seeing no one was sitting behind her. The Raichu now sat beside Sean, now making it look like no one had done anything.

    "Whassa matter?" Sesh inquired, looking a bit confused.

    Nat tried to think of all possible explanations for what had done it, trying to shake it after only supernatural answers came to mind. The worried look upon her face was priceless. "I—I... nothing, I guess...." She looked to me to find me sitting right where I'd been, innocent as ever. I hid a smile as best I could when I saw Sesh now laying down on the picnic table on his side, waiting for her to turn around again as he contently munched on his sub. She let out a short scream when she did, jumping back away from him.

    "H—how'd you do that?"

    "I just did," he muttered indifferently.

    "Sesh, leave her alone," Sean grumbled. "She didn't do anything."

    "Neither did I," he muttered, absorbed quietly in his sandwich.

    "You want me to drain you again?" he growled.

    At this Sesh became animate, and angry at that. "You wouldn't dare," he hissed, wide-eyed, eyes narrowed in a hateful gaze.

    "I zapped you before, didn't I?"

    "You zapped him?!" Nat turned pale, having witnessed the neophyte lightning bug course in electrical static.

    "Bearer of Necklaces, you have honours."

    ~*~*~

    After a rather longwinded explanation as to how I'd obtained the necklaces, and also an abridged version of the Ecruteak Fifteen story, our newbie decided that she wanted to join the group on a deeper level.

    "We've obviously got nine left," I informed, holding the trinkets out for her to choose.

    "What do they each do?" Nat inquired, eyeing each of them.

    "That's the one catch. No clue." She gulped at this, now even moreso on edge. "Hey, don't worry. Worst I can think of that'd happen is what happened to Sean." I snickered at his annoyance.

    "I suppose the white one," Nat decided at last, taking the pearl rosebud from my grasps. "How does it work?"

    "You just concentrate on it. It'll bloom."

    Nat sighed, calmed as she took the pendant in clasped hands, then closed her eyes and rested her chin upon them. After a moment, her back-length hair began to wash a sort of ice blue, slowly but completely replacing the once brunette tones. She soon opened her eyes again, revealing that they too had fallen to the same fate as her hair, now glittering crystal blue. Her skin was now almost white.

    She realised the three of us were staring at her and pulled out her compact mirror to see why in the world we were gawking. Not soon after she caught a glimpse of herself, the thing encased itself in ice. The four of us broke crooked smiles, Nat letting out a yelp in fear.

    "Wh—what'd you do to me?!" she shrieked.

    "Snow Queen," Sean uttered. She whimpered, shooting him an upset glare. "Sorry...." After a moment she calmed down.

    "Um, you want some gloves, Nat?" I offered, taking out my other pair—the ones that still had the fingers in them. She gladly accepted them from me.

    "Thanks, Kit," she replied quietly, trying to slip them on without freezing them too. She wasn't successful with this and gave up, whimpering again.

    "Try to concentrate on not freezing them. Maybe that'd help."

    She sighed, holding them in her hands, feeling rather helpless but also rather determined not to do such. They defrosted after a minute and she sighed again, this time in relief, as she tried them on. A perfect fit.

    "I suppose the ability suits me," she remarked, a little amused. "I *do* train Ice types."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Nine

    The four of us sat there in the park still, contemplating on what to do.

    "I want to go up to Ecruteak," I complained, a long silence following my remark. Seshi stared at me, aghast. "What? We're, like, a half day's walk from there. I want to see how my parents and Jackie are."

    "Meilin, you're living in a dream!" he exclaimed. "You think that they'll be accepting to us NOW?!"

    I sighed in dolor, looking to my scaly webbed hands, taking my gloves off and caressing the backs of them. I felt the sting of tears in my eyes and blinked them away.

    "I suppose you're right," I replied solemnly, head still hung, tail motionless in the grass. "It would only hurt them more to know what really happened to us."

    I reached for my drink, only to find it come to me instead. I grew wide-eyed, all pain from the conversation washing out of me. The three stared at me as I sipped on the Cherry Coke.

    "Um, it does kind of make sense in a way. If I can move myself, why not other things?"

    ~*~*~

    We got to walking down into the Ilex Valley, just to the west of the Ilex Forest, making our way into the already dark wood by nightfall. The sounds of night made Nat on edge and she hugged onto Sean all the tighter.

    "It's too dark in here..." she complained, looking up in the trees warily. She yelped when a Noctowl hooted at her.

    "Ugh." Sesh rolled his eyes, his form coursing with electricity. "Anyone for a Flash?"

    "Nice, Thunderbutt," I muttered. "You lose track of some of that electricity and it hits me, you're dead meat."

    He snorted. "Like I don't have my abilities under control." He cut it off after a minute, growling, ears flat against his head. "All right, if you don't want me to light our path, you do it, Kaimen."

    Sean snickered, taking over for Sesh, the Raichu lagging back as we continued on.

    "I didn't know you knew any Japanese," I whispered to him, a little bemused by him having called Sean a sponge.

    "Eh. I suppose it's a pretty language. Besides, I like to be able to call people names they have no clue what they mean."

    ~*~*~

    We soon came upon a house, a rather small dwelling. It was about ten by that time.

    "What say we go give Ianna a little visit?" Sesh inquired, smirking.

    "Ianna has a house?" I pondered aloud.

    "Yeah. You remember that Prof offered each of us a little money to get going? She used hers to buy this house here. I already put mine away for savings."

    "Toshi is such a perfect name for you, pack rat," I muttered, making my way up to the door.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ianna::

    I sighed, relaxed, as I sat in the chair on the back porch overlooking the lake with a cup of green tea. My shoulder-length dusty brown hair whisped lightly in the small breeze.

    My calm state only lasted a few minutes as I heard a knock at the front door. Cori and Trey were already asleep, so I'd have to answer it. Just a tad annoyed, I made my way inside. Opening the door, I found Meilin and Toshi, and two humans.

    I'm not human, by the way. I have features one would deem belong to a Cleffa—the long catlike chocolate ears, the pair of strange fairy-like wings, the cute curly tail... and the abilities. I learned how Clefairy take moonlight into their wings—I have mild levitation, and a more recent one that I've been quite unable to control one that may call telepathy. It's rather annoying at times, I suppose.

    "Um, hi," I greeted, a little confused. "What're you guys doing out here?"

    "We were in the neighborhood and decided to stop by," Toshi replied.

    "You do know what time it is, right?"

    "Sorry."

    I sighed, a little annoyed. "Come on in."

    ~*~*~

    We sat in the living room of my small house to chat a little. I offered them some green tea, and the girl with almost an electric blue hair accepted.

    Meilin always managed to have the weirdest friends, I thought to myself. "Might I say that it's an extreme fashion statement to dye your hair that colour," I began, trying to spark a little bit of a conversation. She laughed half-heartedly. "I don't think I know your name."

    "Call me Nat," she replied, sipping cautiously on the tea I'd given her.

    "You don't have to worry about it being too hot. I brewed it about thirty minutes ago."

    "I'm not worried about it being too hot," she uttered. This statement perplexed me, but I soon found what she meant by it. Nat yelped and made a face, upset. She handed the cup to the guy sitting next to her and stood up. "Ianna, I'm sorry. I can't stand this anymore." With that, she went out on the balcony.

    Perplexed, I inquired, "What happened?"

    Meilin sighed. "Sean, show her the tea." I freaked when he turned the thing upside-down and nothing came out. "She didn't dye her hair." She sighed, melancholy. "I'll go talk to her." She then got up and walked outside.

    "Um what happened to the tea?" I began.

    "See for yourself," the guy replied, handing me the cup. I yelped, finding it to be ice cold. Looking to the drink, I found it to be frozen solid. "Iced tea, I suppose."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    Walking outside, I found her sitting in the wicker chair, crying. "Nat...?"

    "What?" she sniffled, looking up to me. I bit my tongue to keep from laughing—her tears were frozen in the corners of her eyes.

    "It'll be okay. You just have to be careful."

    "I was being careful!" she whined, upset.

    "Oh, Nat...." I sighed, patting her on the shoulder, sitting on the arm of the chair. "Sean STILL can't touch anything electrical without draining it," I told her, trying to make her feel less alone. "And I don't quite have a handle on my teleportation yet."

    Nat looked to me after a moment, then smiled a little. "Thanks." She snickered a little. "Wonder if Ianna has any thicker gloves...."

    ~*~*~

    We walked inside to find it completely quiet save breathing.

    "Whassa matter with you guys?" I muttered, sitting back down on the couch next to Sesh. "Miss us that much?"

    "You think maybe that she should know?" Nat began.

    "Know what?" she pondered.

    "Um, hehe." I concentrated on the cup and Sean yelped, unable to keep grasps on it any longer as it came to my hands. Ianna stared at me.

    "H—how...? I—I thought you had Water-related abilities!"

    Sesh snickered, freezing behind her.

    She realised he was gone and yelped. "Wh—where'd he go?!"

    He tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped, wide-eyed as she turned to find him sitting on the other couch, grinning ear to ear. Ianna fainted.

    "Great, Mousy," I grumbled, picking Ianna up with my Kinesis and setting her down on the couch upon which I had previously sat, then sitting down on the arm. "Now we've gotta explain."

    ~*~*~

    Once we'd told Ianna how in the world we could do what we'd done, she was dumbfounded. "If each of you has an ability, what can you do?" she asked Sean. He laughed a moment.

    "Electricity," he replied, eyeing the lamp on the end table beside him. He snapped and it turned out. Ianna broke a crooked smile.

    "Hehe...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Ten

    Ianna let us stay the night—she had an extra bedroom for any unexpected guests. Nat and Sean took the beds in there and Sesh and I got the couches.

    When I woke up, it was still early and I decided to just lay there. It was quiet.

    "Hm?" I heard milling after a minute, and footsteps upon the carpet. Someone leaned over the back of the couch, curious, and the two of us stared at each other. He began stammering, unable to move from his place.

    "Argh. Trey, leave her alone," Ianna began, coming into the living room. He at once became animate and shifted glances between her and me. "Meet Meilin."

    "I'd rather go by Kit," I complained, sitting up and leaning on the back of the couch.

    "The Meilin?" he uttered.

    "And I'm *the* Toshi," I heard Sesh interject from behind me, unamused. "Tane, I thought you weren't one for humans."

    "He's Cori's friend," Ianna explained. "'Tane?'" she uttered.

    "You like grass-types, so why not?"

    "Heh." I smirked. "Perfect if you ask me."

    "Could someone tell me what the heck is going on?" Trey exclaimed.

    "They came after you two went to sleep," Tane replied, looking to the two of us on the couches, confused by our nickname for her. "If you're going to call me that, at least tell me what it means."

    "Seed."

    She smiled a little. "You and your ancient languages, 'Kit.'"

    ~*~*~

    About ten, the seven of us ate breakfast in the living room, since the dining room table sat only the three of them. Tane made oatmeal.

    "So Cori, how'd you end up out here?" Sesh began.

    "When I met Trey in Cinnabar, I found that the both of us were Watchers. Ever since then, we've traveled together in search for rare Pokémon to sketch. We came to Ilex to look for the Pokémon of the Shrine." The Ampharos girl blushed a sort of tangerine. "He's such a better artist than I am." She and Trey exchanged the blush.

    "Matt, you're better with the detail. I'm just good with the shading."

    "'Matt?'" I echoed.

    "Madison," she replied, poking at her oatmeal with her spoon. "There was a Professor Madison that studied down in Cinnabar as a Watcher. I took the name for my own."

    "Who says you can't make your own name?" Sesh uttered. He shook it after a minute. "Tane, you got any orange marmalade?" She shook her head. "Kit?"

    I sighed in annoyance, then grumbled about it a little. "I don't *really* have any, but I suppose I could try something new." I grabbed my bag and dragged it up in my lap, concentrating on its contents. I smirked when I noticed using my Kinesis like that had actually demonstrated spontaneous generation, pulling the small jar out. "Here you go, Mousy."

    "I'm not brown," he complained, happily taking the condiment from me, putting some in his oatmeal.

    "What'd you mean you didn't have any?" 'Matt' inquired, confused. "It's right there!"

    "Long story. Maybe after breakfast." I snickered. "Hm... now where's that cinnamon...."

    ~*~*~

    We all went outside about noon, the four of us ready for some more fun. I'd long since told Mattie and Trey our story, and all three of them were anticipating their inductions.

    I set the eight charms out on the small glass table, sitting in the wicker chair. The three looked at them inquiringly, then Mattie chose the ruby, Trey the topaz, Tane the amethyst. Mattie decided to go first.

    She leaned upon the balcony rail, holding the pendant in cupped hands. She fell into deep concentration, and soon her previously chesnut hair began to whip lightly, turning vermilion at the ends. Soon after, the bulb on the end of her tail combusted. We all broke crooked smiles at this.

    "Um, Mattie?" I began, pointing to her tail. She freaked, running in circles. I suppressed my laughter as long as possible before cracking up. Nat placed a finger on the end of Mattie's tail and the flame fizzled out.

    "Thanks," Mattie uttered to her, blushing in embarrassment.

    "My guess is that she's now literally a pyro," Tane muttered, levitating up to sit atop the guardrail. Nat arched an eyebrow at this, but said nothing, for she'd already begun the rite.

    Tane's eyes shot open in surprise after a minute, only for her to vanish in a puff of smoke.

    "Tane...?" I inquired, wide-eyed and feeling out where she'd been.

    "What?" a voice replied from above.

    "Oh my God... she spontaneously combusted!" Sesh exclaimed. She laughed her head off. We looked up to find her sitting on the ledge of the roof. She grinned, waving at us.

    "Where's Trey?" Mattie pondered, looking around for him. He sat on the rail, head hung, a smirk upon his face. The topaz pendant now strung upon a black cord, it hung off his hand.

    "Somethin' wrong?" I muttered, eyebrow arched at him. He looked up at me, smirk becoming a crooked grin. His previously black hair now shone a sort of sapphire, his eyes glittering impishly the same colour.

    The wind picked up all of a sudden, the strands of hair that weren't pulled back into his low ponytail whisping in the breeze. "Nope, nothing at all."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Eleven

    The six of us were about to set off from the peninsula of Dren, just east of New Bark Town. If you're wondering why there're only six of us, it's because Tane decided it best to stay there with her house. It kind of put a bit of a damper on our group, but a nice place to fall back on lest we be in the area again with no place to go.

    "We need a name," Sean remarked as we sailed along on Nat's Lapras.

    "Who?" Nat replied, a little put off.

    "Us, those with abilities from these lovely trinkets!" He smiled his suave grin and she made a face at it.

    "I personally think it's a good idea," I sided, swimming along at a nice speed beside Lapras (though it was a task all in itself to keep up with the beast. If one thing was for certain it's that Nat kept the Nessie in shape!). "Besides, it'd give the induction a sort of ring to it."

    "How 'bout the 'Roses?'" Mattie offered.

    I grinned. "I like it."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Seshi::

    We soon found ourselves on the sunny beaches of the Seafoam Isles, and all of us agreed that it was time that we all took a nice break.

    Once we'd changed into beach clothers, most of us decided to play some volleyball. Kit, of course, merely wanted to swim. I smirked, watching the Vaporeon trek out into the waves. Sitting atop the old lifeguard perch, I watched her. After a while, I lost track of her and sighed, waiting to see her come up again.

    She broke surface closer to shore, throwing her chin-length black hair back, water flicking from it up into the air to glitter like diamond dust. The sort of mermaidesque agility she had, the glow of ecstasy she gave off, the way her wet bikini fit her form.... I could do nothing but stare at her standing in the gentle white capped waves. Kit noticed I was staring after a moment and looked to me, then smirked, shaking her head. She suddenly burst into water and we didn't see any more of her until a few hours later. Bright red, I relinquished from my perch and walked down the beach in search of something to drink.

    I came back with a round of sodas for everyone and Mattie and Nat retired out on the beach to sun themselves.

    "Hey Sesh, where's Kit?" Sean inquired, sipping on his drink. I blushed.

    "She's out there somewhere," I replied. "Dunno. She Acid Armoured a while back."

    "Huh?"

    "Vaporeon melt by use of the attack Acid Armour. It dissolves the hydrogen bonding of their cellular structure."

    "Heh. You sure know a lot about Vaporeon," he hinted, grinning. I clenched my teeth, my ears ringing with annoyance.

    "I'm a Watcher and a Breeder, Sean. I've studied this sort of stuff for years."

    "Touchy!" he uttered, bemused.

    "Ah shaddap."

    "Heh. I'd bet he's got a lot of sketches of the group in his books," Trey interjected, on the brink of snickering.

    "It's perfectly logical that I would," I defended. "I mean, some of us have very rare other halves. Lookit Mattie for instance. Ampharos are hard to come by. Juliette's half Flareon; Eeveelutions are definitely rare. And Janina—she's half Jinx!"

    "You do know that you just mentioned all girls, dontcha?"

    "I don't think that a Rattata type qualifies as having a rare side," I muttered. "Nathaniel's a moron anyway."

    "You think we could maybe take a look at your books? I'll letcha have mine," Trey offered. I made a face, walking off to get my bag. We traded at dinner.

    "The Raichu's pretty good," he remarked, flipping through some of my more recent sketches. Looking at Trey's made me a little jealous; he was better than me.

    "Yeah," Kit smirked. "Hey Sesh, where's that drawing you were doing of me today?" Everyone stopped eating and looked at me. I turned bright red.

    "Wh—what drawing?" I laughed apprehensively.

    "I know you were drawing me. You were watching me from up there on that lifeguard chair. Oh c'mon, Sesh! I wanna see!"

    "Uh... um, hehe.... Maybe later." Nat and Mattie started snickering at me, resuming eating their chicken sandwiches. "What? A Watcher can't sketch half Pokémon too? Mattie, you're a Watcher. Can we see your work?" She choked.

    "I—I don't have anything new with me," she replied nervously. "I left my good sketchbook back at Tane's."

    "I'd go get it," Kit offered, grinning, teleporting to the other side of her. "You do know that I could."

    "N—no, that's okay." With that, she got up and sat on the beach down further ways to finish her sandwich.

    "She doesn't like people to see her stuff," Trey explained. "She's better than both Sesh and I, though. She just doesn't like the attention like that."

    ~*~*~

    In the morning, we decided to explore the twin island of the Seafoam pair, and got there by Lapras in about half an hour. This one, however, seemed completely deserted.

    "You think we should stick around here for a while?" Nat thought aloud. "I mean, our food reserves are extremely low, and it doesn't look like we could find a fast food place."

    "I'm sure that I could dig something up," I remarked, seeing woods inland.

    "Oh joy. Improvisational cooking," she muttered.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    Sitting down on the beach, the five of us weren't exactly eager to find what Sesh'd cooked up. He'd been stirring the pot for hours.

    "What is this stuff?" I asked, a little disgusted at the greenish brown colour of the stuff. I smelled of the stuff and changed my mind as to it being nasty.

    "It's soup." Sesh sat down with a cup of his own concoction and took a bite. "It's got wild potatoes, onions and carrots in it. I also added in some of my chicken jerky. Not exactly jerky anymore."

    I cautiously took a bite myself, finding it to be delicious. "Sesh, where'd you hide Philo?" He blushed.

    "He actually taught me a lot at Heritage," he replied, digging in his bag for a bottle of water. "See? This is Mikan Springs water."

    "Isn't that stuff imported to Johto and Kanto?" Sean asked. "With all the shipping taxes put on it, how can you afford that stuff?"

    "I've been traveling. Bought six or seven bottles while I was down there on Moro. And Lavender—it's famous for its spices. I stocked up while we were there. Philo taught me that when traveling, you buy at the source."

    "Well then," I remarked. "I suppose an old rat can learn new tricks."

    ~*~*~

    We sat back and relaxed on the beach after lunch, watching flocks of Delibird fly over the Azuri Sea. A girl suddenly appeared on the waves, surfing. We all went wide-eyed with surprise, not expecting anyone to be out here.

    The girl came to shore about half a mile down the beach from us. She caught sight of us and decided to come over, staking her board in the sand. As she walked up, we found her to be about fourteen or fifteen, her chin-length hair a light chestnut, most of it pulled into two short pigtails just behind her ears, her eyes glittering emerald in the sunlight. She wore a button-down shirt open but tied at the waist, and a pair of short denim cutoffs, her dark purple bikini showing through the wet white shirt.

    "Hi! I'm Sakura. You must be friends of Philo's."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twelve

    "Um, hi," I replied, a little confused. "You know Philo?"

    "We're an item." Sakura paused a moment. "Why don't you guys come back to our place? We've got a beach house about ten minutes from here." She seemed friendly enough.

    We followed Sakura up the beach, then up into the woods a while. A thatch and bamboo house was built right on the cliff off the West side of the island, a beautiful view.

    "Um, Philo and you are living out here? Alone?" Sesh uttered. I smacked him with my Kinesis and he recoiled, landing in the sand. "Ow...."

    "Uhh, might I ask what the heck?" She stared at him, confused.

    "He's a weirdo," I explained. "Don't mind him."

    "I'M a weirdo?! You just—" Smack! With that, I dusted my hands off and he shut up.

    "You know? You guys can just, y'know, sit back inside," Sakura offered, a little freaked. "I'll just... go get a shower."

    Once she'd gone inside, I remarked, "Wow. Philo finally got a girl to go out with him that actually brags about it."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Sakura::

    "Philo, you've got some weird friends," I muttered, walking inside and stuffing my surfboard in the corner of the dining room.

    "Huh?" The guy poked his head out of the kitchen and gave me a confused look. "What're you talking about?"

    "Some of your friends just came up on the island. A Vaporeon, a Raichu, an Ampharos, and two guys and a girl."
    "Weird.... Thanks for warning me. I suppose dinner'll take a little longer to prepare then."

    ~*~*~

    Philo's a cutie, despite the fact he's half Umbreon. The messy ear-length blond hair looks good on him. I can stare into his golden eyes of his for hours....

    He explained the Ecruteak Fifteen thing to me and I feel so sorry for him, I swear. He's too sweet to have something like that done to him.

    ~*~*~

    I changed into dry clothes and sighed, sitting there on my bed, staring at myself in the mirror. "Kuri, why did you have to invite those weirdos to your house?" I muttered aside.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    We walked inside to find the place unexpectedly well-furnished. It seemed that the bamboo was only an exterior look.

    I poked my head in the kitchen to find Philo dicing tomatoes. Arching an eyebrow at him, I smirked.

    "Long time no see, Yakumi-chan," I greeted. He jumped, not noticing I was there and after a minute he let out a pained breath, clasping his right hand.

    "Meilin," he returned, unamused. "If you'll excuse me, I'll be heading to the bathroom to see if we have any iodine left."

    "Sorry," I apologised, watching him walk off. When he came back, I asked him, "What're you cooking this time, O Mighty Chef?"

    "Har har har," he smiled. "Chili okay with you guys?"

    "Heh. I'd eat what you served if it had broccoli in it." He blushed, at least from what I could tell.

    "It'll be a while. Once I get all the stuff into the pot I guess you could introduce me to those three humans you brought with you," he hinted, bemused, cleaning his knife with a dish towel.

    "Sure. I suppose it's for the best."

    ~*~*~

    We sat down in the living room, the eight of us.

    "Sooo..." Philo began. "Introductions?"

    "Philo, this is—"

    "I'm Nat," she interrupted, smirking at him.

    "Claws in, Nat. He's spoken for." She blushed a sort of blue, wide-eyed. We all laughed at her. "Anyway, as I was saying, Nat, Sean, and Trey. The Roses."

    "Huh?" I smirked, but said nothing. He looked at me, confused, for a minute, then smelled something in the kitchen and got up. "Argh. I hate it when I burn food."

    ~*~*~

    We ate dinner a little earlier than expected, sitting out in the back, watching the sunset. After a while, the eight of us retired and got up in the morning to the wondrous smell of Philo's donuts.

    "Nothin' beats Philo's donuts," Sesh remarked, grinning as he grabbed a few. Taking a bite, he made a face. "Needs marmalade. Jelly donut...." He froze in the kitchen and stood in the fridge door for a minute before finding the jar on the door. Sitting down, the seven of us stared at him, incredulous. Of course, for most of us it was because he had the audacity to use his ability for something as trivial as getting up to go in the kitchen.

    "H—h—h—h...." Sakura's face began to twitch in fear. Philo was wide-eyed, his glare unmoving.

    "Idiot!" I almost smacked him like before, only he froze out of the way, taking his donuts with him with a snicker. I growled.

    "What? You wanted some too?" He tossed it to me. "Here, I can't get it open anyway. I'm sure you could." He giggled and plopped down with his pastries.

    "H—how'd you do that?!" Philo uttered at last. I smacked Sesh, and this time I didn't miss. He recoiled, but resumed munching happily on the sweets.

    "Grrr... how to kill two birds with one stone.... I know. I'll show you by *opening* Sesh's stupid marmalade." I smirked an evil grin, tossing it up in the air a few times. He noticed the tone of voice I'd used and froze up completely, right in the middle of biting into a fresh donut. He turned to stare at me fearfully, wide-eyed and trying to seem innocent.

    "Kit, no! Nononono!" he pleaded, all he could do stare at the airborne jar.

    "Stay put, idiot." I tossed it one last time, only this time it floated over above Sesh's head. He whimpered as I twirled the lid off with my Kinesis and flicked it away, then flipped the jar, covering him in marmalade. "Hmm... my new recipe: 'Ham of a Seshi in Orange Sauce.'" The four offered up thoughtful applause, then, after a minute, laughed their heads off at him with me.

    He simmered for a minute, whimpering, then realised he had a donut in his hand. He licked his lips, taking a bite, then laughed. "I suppose I did get my jelly donut.”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirteen

    “H—how’d you do that?” Philo uttered, staring at me.

    I smirked, digging in my pocket. “Philo, Sakura, the Roses offer you induction.” I held my hand out with the remaining five pendants in it.

    “Y—this is black magick, isn’t it?” he worried, eyeing the rosebuds in my grasp.

    “We don’t know. Sabrina gave them to me.” He went wide-eyed at my response. “Philo, it’s not evil. We don’t hurt people—we just have fun with them.” He looked to Sesh, whom was grinning ear to ear, munching happily on his donut. “See?” I arched an eyebrow at him. “You like pastries too much, Sesh.” He stuck his tongue out at me. I sighed and looked back to the two. “So?”

    Philo looked to the trinkets in my hand again. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt anything....” He plucked the onyx bud from my hand and looked at it in the sunlight. “If it’s a pendant, why doesn’t it have a chain?” he pondered aloud.

    “They were all on one chain,” I replied. “Sakura?” I began, looking to the girl beside me.

    “I guess....” She sighed. “I mean, you guys can do that kind of stuff, can’t you? I think it would be awesome to have abilities like that!” She smiled, eyeing the sapphire rose. She soon took it from me and I stuck the rest in the nested pocket in my right pocket.

    “All you have to do to them is concentrate on them,” I led, eagerly awaiting their inductions.

    ~*~*~

    Sakura went first, and, after understanding what had happened to Nat and Mattie, decided it best to incense hers outside. She stood out on the beach, head hung in concentration, the rosebud cupped in her hands. A wave appeared just off the shoreline and Sakura didn’t budge an inch, just standing there, continuing to focus her thoughts. Philo’s face washed over in worry, eyes wide and tail swishing nervously. He didn’t understand that this was merely a part of the result; we did.

    The wave grew to be more than a story tall and it crashed into the shoreline, Sakura vanishing as the water parted with the beach. Philo couldn’t stand it anymore and ran out to where she had stood. He looked down to the wet sand and bent down, picking her pendant up. The Umbreon whimpered.

    “Where is she?!” he cried, glaring at us.

    “Philo, don’t freak!” We gagged; her voice had come out of nowhere.

    Invisibility...? I wondered.

    “Wh—where are you?!” he called out, looking around.

    “Um, right in front of you.” He choked when the pool of water before him suddenly came to life, swirling up into a feminine form. My mouth dropped wide open as the watery form became Sakura. “This is definitely sure to be interesting.”

    “Yeah....” Philo broke a worried smile, not looking forward to his incense.

    “Philo, it doesn’t hurt,” Sakura confided. “It’s kind of cool even.”

    Philo sighed. “If you really want me to do this, fine.” He hung his head, taking the sable gem in hand, vehemently letting out a breath as he closed his eyes in concentration. Not a moment after he’d done so the seven of us felt the beach shake.

    “Not good,” I uttered, staring on in awe and fear, knowing exactly what was going on.

    Philo exclaimed in surprise, widening his stance as he realised the ground was moving. The sand beneath him suddenly shot up and he stood a good fifteen feet above us upon the huge pillar of sand. He looked down to us, face twitching in fright.

    “Pretty slick if I do say so myself,” Sesh muttered aside, bemused by his reaction.

    The Umbreon decided to return the sand to the way it had been and sighed, closing his eyes, his expression retaining the crooked smile. Again the earth began its tremours, the pillar sinking back to the sandy depths from which it came. Once Philo stood on level ground again, he let out a pained breath and collapsed, exhausted. Sakura rushed to kneel beside him, worried. She looked up to us.

    “Will he be okay?” she asked quietly.

    “He’s just tired; let him rest,” I replied, smiling a little. I was glad he’d found someone like her.

    ~*~*~

    Philo walked into the living room a few hours later, still worn out. I’d used my teleportation and Kinesis to move him to his room.

    He stumbled a little and stood, hand on wall for balance. Poor Philo, I thought to myself.

    “Feeling any better?” Sakura asked.

    “H—how’d I get inside?” he uttered, disoriented.

    I laughed nervously. “Thank me,” I replied. “Sorry. We just didn’t like the idea of you unconscious out there.”

    “Th—then it wasn’t a dream,” he stammered, all of a sudden upset again.

    “Too bad, huh?” Sakura smiled, getting up to help him over to a chair.

    “Uh, yeah.” He made a face. “If you guys are staying on account of me, I’ll be fine.”

    “You’re sure?” Mattie asked, a little worried.

    “Go on if you’ve got to. I’m just worn out. I’ll be just fine.”

    I sighed. “Sakura, take good care of him.” She nodded in assent. Looking to the others, letting them know what I was going to do, then sighed, hanging my head as I crossed my arms before me and snapped, the five of us vanishing into thin air.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fourteen

    The six of us found ourselves teleported to Saffron. I let out a long sigh, exhausted, then collapsed.

    When I came to I saw the others had moved me to the Pokémon Centre, where they’d gotten rooms for the night. I sighed and curled back up on the cot and went back to sleep.

    In the morning we ate breakfast in silence.

    “Kit, did you *mean* to use up all your strength to get us this far?” Sesh asked, breaking the silence. “You didn’t have to get us this far from where we were.” I put my spoon down and sighed.

    “I thought I’d done a good thing. This place is sure to have some sort of amusement for us.”

    I appreciate it,” Sesh offered, his voice sounding extremely strange—like it had echoed. He went wide-eyed and put his hand up to his throat, confused. Telepathy...? All five of us stared at him. “What? Maybe it’s a part of my abilities. I mean, Kit. You’ve got two or three from yours.”

    “I suppose these abilities are only going to get stronger and grow in number as we go,” I remarked, poking at my oatmeal. “I didn’t even think I could teleport this far.”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Sesh::

    The six of us split up for the day, meandering about town to meet later. I made my usual trip down to the market.

    I looked around in various stalls, but nothing seemed to suit my fancy, all of it a waste of money. Then something caught my eye—an herb and spice shop. I went inside to look around a little. I noticed that Kit had followed me, but said nothing, smirking to myself.

    “Anybody in here?” I called out, hearing someone in the back room.

    “Do y—” The girl stared at me, freaked. She looked about nineteen, with chin-length brunette hair and icy emerald eyes. “D—do you need any help?”

    “Uh, yeah,” I replied, a little on edge from her uneasiness. “Do you have any Ilex charcoal in stock?” She was shaken from her fearful daze by this question and at once walked over to the far wall and grabbed a few ebony sticks from the top shelf, bringing four back to me.

    “We just got some in today.” She looked at me funny. “What do you need the Fire-type boost for?”

    “I’ve got a Cyndaquil,” I smiled. “I don’t suppose you’d help me get a few more things? I need some ingredients for making some Pokémon food.”

    She smiled almost to the point of laughing. “We’ve got a few mixes of food behind the counter if you’d like some of that.”

    “I prefer to make my own. My Pokémon like it better that way.” Her smile vanished for a moment and she looked at me strangely.

    "You're a Breeder, aren't you?" she asked.

    "Breeder and Watcher," I said. "Seshi," I introduced, holding out my hand to the girl. She stared at it for a minute before laughing. "What?"

    "You really like Raichu, don't you?"

    I was dumbfounded. "Y—you think this is a costume?" I uttered. At this she shut up and stared again.

    "Wh—what do you mean by that?" she trailed.

    "I'm half Raichu," I muttered, a little upset.

    "Wow...." She shook it and smiled. "How may I help you, Seshi? I'm Shaorei."

    I sighed, happy that I hadn't scared her to death. "Well, I'll tell you what. I'll give you four Silver Leaf shoots for three sticks of Ginka Root and a handful of Gold berries."

    "Shoots?" Shaorei echoed. "I've never come across whole Silver Leaf plants before!"

    I grinned. "Then we've got a trade?"

    ~*~*~

    I walked out of Shaorei's shop, my pack a little heavier than before, but my spirits raised. She hadn't feared me once she knew what I was.

    "Kit, c'mon," I called. "I'll show you what I got for you." I heard her choke at my acknowledgement and snickered.

    "H—how'd you know I was there?!" she complained.

    "The real question's why you followed me." At this she flustered and I laughed, walking off.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    The six of us joined up again at the Pokémon Centre and Sesh boasted about his prizes of the day.

    "And Ginka Root—it's sweet, kinda like marshmallow. Grass and Poison types get a nice attack boost from it; to other types of Pokémon it's just a sweet treat." He had covered the table, laying out all his new stuff. "I'd be perfectly willing to share, guys." He dug in his pocket for a minute. "Heh. I gave the girl an ounce of Stardust for this little collection of items here." The Raichu emptied out a small pouch, a variety of small jewelry spilling out onto the cloth on the table. "There's a Spell Tag here, and I thought that Mendree might take a liking to the trinket," he offered, holding out a small amulet-like charm for me. I blushed, taking it from him to examine it."

    "A Spell Tag?" I echoed, running my fingers over the ancient-looking writing on the charm's silver face.

    "It increases Ghost-type attack power." I tapped Mendree's Pokéball and the ghost Pokémon came out in a flash of light. She cooed, relieved to be out again.

    "Hey girl, lookit what Sesh got you?" I held it out for her to look at it. She sniffed it and smiled.

    "Dree!"

    "Hehe." I clipped it into her necklace and it hung there like a pendant. "It looks good on you, Mendree." I petted her a moment, then put her back in her Pokéball. "Thanks."

    Sesh smiled a little. "'Snothing. The entire thing only cost me that ounce of Stardust."

    "Only? Sesh, an ounce of Stardust is worth about a thousand pieces!"

    "I know. I've got a pound in my pack," he whispered. The five of us choked and he snickered. "Tane gave it to me when we were there."

    "No wonder you've got so much!" I exclaimed.

    "Yeah. Being a Cleffa has definitely got to be nice," Trey muttered, bemused. "The moonlight they store in their wings eventually becomes Stardust if they don't use it for a while."

    "She also gave me some Moondust if any of you guys need some."

    "What's it do?" Mattie inquired.

    "While Stardust is merely a rare substance, Moondust, also quite rare, gives Psychic Pokémon an attack boost."

    "Vaude might like that," Nat remarked, fingering one of the two Pokéballs at her waist. She released its captive, in a form of light a small baby-like creature came to form. It had blonde hair that fell down past its shoulders, and wore a sort of grape-coloured skirt. Its humanoid eyes glittered pewter with juvenile happiness.

    "Ruuu!" it smiled, eyes wide with curiousity as to what was up on the table. The Pokémon jumped up in Nat's lap and looked at all the things laid out. "Churu?"

    "Vaude, you want some Moondust?" Nat asked the baby. It cocked its head at her.

    "Chuu?"

    "It'll help your Psychic abilities be stronger," she explained. At this the Pokémon smiled, happy. "You sure, Sesh?"

    "I know how strong Smoochums' Psychic attacks can be;" he replied, "the Moondust should help it be more accurate." The Raichu grinned at the baby Pokémon. "Raii."

    "Ru smoochum?" she uttered in response, confused.

    "Sesh, knock it off," Nat complained. "You're scaring her."

    "Sorry. She's just cute." He handed Nat a small vial of fine silvry crystals I took to be Moondust. "Here. You just let her eat some of it. Don't let her eat it all at once; I've heard it can give them a brain freeze."

    ~*~*~

    By the time we'd left Saffron everyone had gotten something for their Pokémon. Sesh and I trailed behind the others as we continued on up Route 5.

    "That Spell tag wasn't what I got you, Kit," he grinned, digging out the pouch in his pocket again. He pulled out a tiny glass vial. Its contents seemed to glow cerulean in the evening light. "I thought that you might like this."

    "Wh—what is it?" I asked, holding it in my hands.

    "Mystic Water," he grinned. "You like your Vaporeon side so much.... I thought maybe you'd like a bit of an ability boost."

    I blushed. "Y—you didn't have to," I smiled.

    "I know. I just wanted to. Besides, I like seeing types using their abilities. It's different from watching a Pokémon. The motions are more fluid, like there's more meaning to it than mere defence or offence. It's emotion for us." He smiled and let a thread of static arc from his cheeks. It seemed different somehow than the other times I'd seen him just suddenly static. He noticed my arched eyebrow and snickered. "Shaorei gave me some Light Balls. They're like batteries," he laughed.

    "You're awful, Toshi," I muttered, slipping the vial in my pocket.

    "So what? I can't be selfish and buy myself something once in a while? It *is* my money, after all."

    "I just think it's odd for you to drain batteries for a light snack." He made a face at my bad pun and I laughed. He growled after a minute and began sparking, upset. "Hey, it was a joke!" I defended, backing off. He stopped and I sighed.

    "I don't like people laughing at me," he muttered.

    "Kiss and make up you two," Nat scolded, grinning ear to ear as she looked back to the two of us. I arched an eyebrow at him and he snickered, taking her remark literally, freezing them and kissing me. The four of them laughed at me as we walked on, and I made a face, confused. Nat tossed me her compact and I looked at my face then growled. He'd frozen me and coloured on my face. I growled, tearing after him as he laughed his head off at me.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifteen

    ::Rei::—about a week prior

    My glare shifted rapidly as I ran through the street, the man chasing me not too far behind. I wasn't looking where I was going as I rounded the corner and ran into someone. I hadn't knocked him over, despite how fast I'd been running.

    I looked up to his face; he was quite tall, about 6'4", and he looked strong. He had fairly short black hair that shone a certain lavender, sort of icy raspberry eyes, and a long, vertical scar that ran from the left side of his jawline to the right side of his hairline. He wore a black leather jacket that hung down past his knees and a sort of bemused smirk.

    "What's your hurry, kid?" he muttered, dragging me around the corner.

    "Lemme go!" I demanded, trying to wriggle out of his grasps. I couldn't.

    "Now tell me. What's a hybrid running from?" he grinned, getting me to walk with him. I hesitantly followed; this guy scared me and I most definitely didn't want to cross him.

    "H—hybrid?" I stammered.

    "Don't play with me, kid," he muttered, stooping down to meet my eye-level. His once blood red eyes became gold literally in the blink of an eye. I freaked and decided to get to running again.

    I went to run back the way I'd come only to remember the guy that had been chasing me. I froze up again, then decided it best to just Faint out of there. Once I'd gotten past the guy I started running as fast as I could to get away; the one that'd been chasing me had probably gotten all that much closer to being on my tail.

    I again wasn't watching where I was going and ran into someone. As I looked up I turned pale.

    "B—b—b—b—b—b—but— th—that's not possible!!"

    It was the guy again.

    He grinned. "If you can just disappear like that, I can too. Now I know you're trying to get away from somebody. I'll help you out if you'll just calm down."

    "Wh—whadda ya mean?" I uttered, confused as I followed him.

    He looked down over his shoulder to me and I gagged, seeing his eyes were now not only golden but they now were catlike and demonic.

    "Heh. You're afraid of somebody a's like you?"

    "Y—you're not like me!" I squeaked.

    "I'm not, am I? C'mere."

    He dragged me into an alley and sighed, holding his hand out as he again knelt down to my eye level.

    "Look."

    The skin on his hand began to look like a black Ekans's, then like a black Totodile's, his fingers tapering to be sharp, formidable claws. He saw the fear on my face and smirked, flexing his fingers as they returned to the way that they'd been.

    "Kid, don't go telling me I'm not something. I just might go and prove ya wrong."

    "B—but how can you hide it?" I asked, wide-eyed in awe.

    "You're simply a Houndoom hybrid, arencha?" I nodded, a little confused. "Figures. Anyone with viscissitude wouldn't be out in the open like you. Just concentrate on being human."

    I shrugged, thinking it best to just trust the guy after all he'd said and done. Closing my eyes, I focused my thoughts on what I could remember of being human; it had been far too long. I felt my body tingle all over, almost exactly as it had when I'd awakened that day I found I was half Houndoom, and no longer felt the swish of my tail behind me. My nose itched and I went to scratch it, only to find it not a wet one. I opened my eyes and freaked, stammering but completely speechless as I found my hands were now human, then felt my head to find my ears, too, had lost their Houndoom characteristics. I stared at the guy in disbelief.

    He returned the glare, a little surprised. "The rumours were true...." He shook the thought and offered up a handshake. I happily took it, starting to smile. "Rei," he introduced, almost laughing. I did, smiling.

    "Rei," I returned, scratching the back of my head nervously. "I have no idea how to thank you for this."

    "No need." He smiled. "It *will* get to be a bit confusing if we both go by the same name, won't it? How about you call me Nayama?"

    "Leo, then, for me."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::—back to where we were...

    We found ourselves setting up camp for the night just East of Cerulean City. The embers of the fire still smouldering, the six of us fell asleep.

    I was the first up as usual, and I folded my cloak up and chunked it back in my bag. I felt the bottle in my pocket and remembered the night before, digging it out and looking at it. "The Mystic Water," I whispered, sneaking away from the others to use it.

    I sighed, nervous, as I uncorked the tiny vial, Acid Armouring my hand, pouring the container's contents into it. As I returned my hand to its solid form I felt an icy sensation wash over me, the Mystic Water now in my veins. I sighed in delight, melting again. This time it felt different; not like dissolving into, but actually becoming water. My form shimmered metallic now when I Acid Armoured. I wondered what it would be like to be able to use other Vaporeon abilities at that point.

    ~*~*~

    I came back to the others after a while to find them all up.

    "Where've you been?" Sean inquired, bemused.

    I ignored his question. "Are we about ready to move on?" I asked.

    "I suppose."

    We got to walking along Route 9. I saw a whip of fur hanging off one of the overhead branches and looked up, arching an eyebrow in curiousity. A long furry brown tail hung itself off the tree branch, and it belonged to Takeru. That little kid was asleep up in the tree.

    By that time, my interest had gained the others' attention. I held my hand up over my shoulder and generated a small sphere of water in my hand, then chunked it up in the tree with my Kinesis, hitting Tak right on the head with it. He shot awake, rather annoyed at being wet. His ears flattened against his head, he looked down to us.

    "What'd you do that for?" the Eevee type muttered, upset, shaking off.

    "You looked so peaceful up there. I just had to wake you up," I grinned. "What're you doing up there anyway?"

    Tak jumped out of the tree and landed gracefully, standing again. "What'd it look like? I was trying to catch a nice nap."

    "But why up in the tree?" Sesh rubbed in.

    "*Most* people dun mess with me if I'm up in a tree," he grumbled.

    ~*~*~

    Tak was pretty knowledgeable in the area and decided to show us to the next town—Sunnytown. It was a pretty small city compared to most I'd ever been to; it didn't even have a Pokémon Centre or a Gym.

    "So, what're you guys doing around here?" he began as we sat down to a nice lunch.

    "Travelling a little, I suppose," Sesh replied.

    I sighed, looking to the Raichu. He knew the look in my eye and froze everyone but him and me. "Do you want him to know, Sesh?"

    "Of course I want him to know. I was just trying to find a good time to tell him." He made a face. "I want to give him the necklace though." I shrugged, digging them out of my pocket, then gave the three to him. "Just leave it to me, Kit." He unfroze everyone and looked to his little brother. "T.K."

    "Wh—huh?" He'd confused him. "H—how'd you do that?"

    "Do what?" He froze to the other side of him, then tapped him on the shoulder. Tak freaked when he wasn't behind him when he turned to see. Sesh sat back down in front of him, snickering.

    "S—stop it!!" Tak complained, frightened out of his mind.

    "Stop what?"

    "Meilin, make him stop!!" I smacked him with my Kinesis and he stopped, giggling. Tak stared at me, confused. "H—how'd you do that?!"

    "Sesh, you wanted to do it, go ahead," I muttered.

    The Raichu held the pendants out for him and he went wide-eyed in awe. "You can have one, Tacky. They gave us these abilities." The Eevee touched the gold one as if it were covered in precious gems. "Go ahead. If you like that one, take it."

    "What does it do?" he uttered.

    "Well, let's see," he hinted. Sesh must've said something to him telepathically because he freaked a little a moment later, then took the rosebud in his hands and focused on it; he wouldn't have known to do it.

    Slowly each of our jaws dropped as we stared at Tak—he gradually lost all of his human features and shrank down to be an Eevee, now holding his opened rose pendant between his paws. When he looked up to us he soon donned the incredulous expression upon his face as well.

    "Whaaa...?" he whined in complaint and confusion.

    "Uh, where'd he go? I know that this isn't Tacky."

    "That is the most awesome thing I've seen these things do yet," Sean uttered in awe.

    "Tak, concentrate like you did on the necklace the first time, only think about being yourself again," I offered, the kid kinda freaking me out; if he could be an Eevee, then he could probably be other things.... I shuddered at the thought.

    The Eevee looked to me and shrugged, closing his eyes and letting out a sigh. He slowly became Tak again, but he retained the Eevee's looks in more entirety. This power over his form scared me; I don't know why it did, it just did.

    He grinned. "I feel accepted now."

    "Tacky, you *are* one of us," Seshi corrected, pinching the tips of the poor kid's ears. He let go when he saw his tail flick angrily; his eyes were narrowed in incense.

    Tak turned to glare at his older brother, ears flat against his head, and the Raichu broke a crooked smile, afraid of him.

    "T—Tak, y—y—you know it's just a n—nickname!!" he began, inching back away from him.

    Tak saw he was clearly frightened by him and his ears pricked in comprehension. He tumbled backwards as he laughed his head off in pure amusement, turning Eevee as he rolled in the grass, giggling.

    Sesh looked at him with a look of worry upon his face. "We're all nuts," he muttered, arching an eyebrow.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixteen

    The now seven of us continued on in downtown Sunny, getting occasional strange glares. Tak reacted to this by making it perfectly normal to be staring at him—he made a Ditto face. This gained us even more stares, that is, until I got fed up with it and smacked him with my Kinesis. He recoiled, giggling as he fixed the comical dent it had made in his head and I smacked my forehead.

    "Y'know, you're a Ditz," Sesh muttered, poking him in the cheek. Again, it made a dent.

    "Thanks," he replied, smiling happily, thoroughly amused with himself.

    After a while, we came to a shop that caught Sesh's eye. He dragged the six of us in with him, looking at all the stuff in the counters.

    "Looky, Ratboy fascinated with shinies," I played, watching him in bemusement that his eyes glittered with awe in seeing evolution stones.

    "D—keep those things away from me," Tak worried, backing off once he saw the rocks. "I like bein' an Eevee!"

    "I thought you hated it," I rubbed in.

    "Over the past three weeks I've gotten to like it a lot," he replied, now upset and seriously wanting to leave.

    "Could I help you?" a young girl about our age asked, walking in from a back room. Her hair was a fiery red, pulled into pigtails, and she wore a red crop top and frayed cutoffs. She was chewing gum, but not bubble gum—she didn't blow bubbles with it.

    "I—uh, do you have a Sun Stone?" Sesh stammered, surprised she wasn't afraid of him.

    "Sure do," she replied, digging one out of the counter. The emerald-like rock had glittering golden flecks in it, and it seemed to put Tak less on edge seeing that his brother was buying a stone that wouldn't affect him. "We've got them for 2,500 pieces."

    "You're kidding me! Just 2,500?"

    "My uncle and I dig them ourselves." She smiled. "Of course, for a friend I could make it 2,200...."

    "Huh?"

    "You strike me as one to know an Asuka. Am I correct in assuming as much?"

    "A—Asuka?" he stammered. All of us were surprised that this girl knew him. "Y—yeah, we know him...."

    "Asuka, get in here," she muttered into the back room. The kid shuffled in, seeming quite tired.

    Asuka is the Jolteon type of the Ecruteak Fifteen; he's about thirteen, a dark brunet, with matching brown eyes, and he tends to not like to be forced to do things. Ironically, he seemed to be the shop's apprentice.

    "Guys!" he uttered, surprised to see us too.

    "Er, suppose I haven't properly introduced myself," the girl began, leading the seven of us upstairs with Asuka. "I'm Sarah."

    ~*~*~

    "So you live here with your uncle?" Mattie asked.

    "Mmhmm," Sarah nodded. "I tend the shop when he's out on trips."

    "Where is he now?"

    "He's out on a Pokémon run, I believe," she thought. "Yeah, he is."

    The absent-minded girl, I see, I muttered to myself. I heard Sesh snort and looked over to him. The amused Raichu had heard me. I gave him a dirty look and he suddenly had all the grin wash from him and returned to listening to the conversation.

    "I think Leo went with him..." Sarah continued to think.

    "Leo?" I echoed.

    We heard someone freak in the hallway and the nine of us turned to look to find Rei standing in the doorway. Human.

    A crooked smile was pasted upon his pale face, his messy brown hair in his face, but not hiding his wide sapphire eyes. "Eep."

    ~*~*~

    "H—how the hell...?" I uttered, staring at him in absolute disbelief.

    He laughed nervously. "I, er, uhh... hehe. I met this guy, and he, um, showed me how to, uh, use my DNA like this."

    "Leo, what's that supposed to mean?" Sarah began, fearful of the answer.

    He sighed, regaining his Houndoom features. By the time he looked to the poor girl again she'd fainted, and all of us were about to.

    "B—but you're a type!" I complained in denial. "There's no way!"

    "You know we were spliced, right? Well... using the DNA like this makes it like you can mix and match—like clothes kinda."

    "That's just twisted," Nat muttered, staring at him in awe. He stared back.

    "What's with the humans?" he began as he sat down, not averting his gaze from her ice blue hair. The glare made her on edge.

    "Uh, they're friends," I replied, nervous.

    "WILL YOU STOP STARING AT ME?!!" Nat exploded. He stopped and laughed half-heartedly.

    "Didn't you, like, dye your hair to get attention?" he justified, not getting anywhere. She freaked and whimpered, falling back to cuddle on Sean's shoulder.

    "Er, Rei was it?" Sean began. "Nat has a sort of... I dunno, but it's not her fault." He winced after a minute and pulled away from her. "Gah. Please try not to cry on my shoulder, Nat."

    "Um, okay...." 'Leo' arched an eyebrow at his bluntness.

    "Look, kid, I'm about fed up with your attitude towards me. I know very well that Houndoom are half Fire-type." She took her glass of lemonade with bare hand and it froze frighteningly quickly, Leo now staring at the glass more than he was staring at her. "Now will ya leave me be?" she muttered, slipping her glove back on.

    "S—s—sure...."

    "Hey Leo, why'd you run up here?" A guy poked his head in the door to freak at the sight of us. "Wh—what've I told you about leaving the shop unattended, As—" He cut off, staring at Leo in fright. The Houndoom sighed.

    "Max, I'm sorry I didn't tell you," he apologised, "I... just, I feel like an outcast this way."

    "I don't know what to say...." He saw Sarah out cold on the arm of the couch and at once rushed into the room, worried. "What happened?"

    "She fainted when she saw the real me," he explained, laughing nervously. "She's fine, Max."

    Sarah came to and looked around in a daze. "I... what happened?" She saw Leo and almost fainted again. "Why didn't you ever tell me...?"

    "Sarah, I like you. I thought you'd think that I was some sort of... monster if I told you."

    "I—I don't think you're a monster... just not human." She smiled. "I don't care that you aren't human, Leo, just that you didn't tell me. I like you too."

    "I'm sorry for it," he began, hanging his head, then realised that she'd admitted to liking him and hugged her. This came as a surprise to her, but she soon hugged back.

    "Beauty and the Beast," Nat snickered. We heard a crackle and Nat yelp, and we all looked to find her hair full of static and frazzled.

    "Hehe... I guess annoyance is a trigger too." Sean laughed nervously, cringing from her as she smacked him silly.

    "It's bad enough that my hair is like this, and you have to go and electrocute me?!! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get my hair to look right?!" She continued rambling despite the rest of us sweatdropping as she kept hitting him, Max and Sarah rather lost.

    Sarah choked, seeing the lemon-ice on the coffee table, and looked to Sean, then to Nat, then fainted again.

    "Great," Leo muttered. "Just great."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Seventeen

    "D—did she say 'electrocute?'" Max uttered.

    "What he said..." Leo seconded.

    Sean sighed. "You see...." He closed his eyes as he hung his head a little in concentration, holding his hands before him, electricity staticcing between his fingers. Once the current ceased, he looked up to the three again. "All ten of us are like this."

    "Ten?" he inquired, confused.

    "Ianna, Philo and his girlfriend didn't want to travel with us," I explained.

    "Philo got a girlfriend?" Leo thought aloud in disbelief, wide-eyed. "Geez."

    "There're two necklaces left, right?" Sean began, hinting that he believed that the pair would make good additions to the group.

    I grumbled a minute. "Yeah, I guess." I noticed the pair's confusion and made a face. "'Bearer of Necklaces' is also 'Bearer of Explanations,' isn't she?"

    ~*~*~

    Max had made his way downstairs, freaked beyond belief by my tale, and, well, us. Asuka just sat there, absolutely intrigued by it.

    "So," I began, offering up the final two necklaces to the pair. Sarah took the pinkish one, Leo the diamond one.

    The Houndoom went first, grinning excitedly as he sat there. After a minute of focusing upon the diamond charm within his hands, his eyes shot open in surprise and he looked as if he'd lost his breath, vanishing. One by one, each of us began to grow seriously afraid, hearing him slowly cackle, yet he wasn't even there.

    "Boo," he whispered in my ear. I freaked and melted, finding myself under the couch moments later. Melting again to get out, I made a face as I reformed, sitting on the coffee table—he was sitting on the couch where I'd been. He noticed my annoyed glare and laughed again.

    "How exactly did you do that?" I growled.

    "Like this," he replied, grinning, vanishing again. I jumped when I felt a cold hand placed upon my shoulder. I whirled around to smack Leo broadside with my tail, only to find it go right through him. I broke a crooked smile as I landed on the floor, staring up at him. He obviously had not tried to do that, because he was in the same fit of shock as I was, staring at himself in fear. All of us began to stare at him in fright, able to see right through him. "Uh...."

    "L—Leo...?" Sarah uttered, worried. He saw the look on her face and sighed, concentrating again. He became solid again; with this he fell to the floor, exhausted. Asuka jumped back from where he sat, perching on the back of the armchair, Leo crumpled before him. Sarah rushed to kneel beside him, upset, and he looked up to her.

    "I'll be all right, Sarah, I'm just worn out," he smiled weakly.

    "It's not uncommon," I interjected. "Philo can cause earthquakes, and he was out all day."

    "Remind me... not to get him mad then," he joked. He sat up, propped up backwards by his hands, and sighed. "That's not too much different from using Enhancement abilities," he remarked.

    "No, no it's not," Sesh agreed, looking to him with a slight smirk on his face.

    Leo arched an eyebrow at him, a bit confused, then dismissed it, looking to Sarah again. "What about you?"

    "Huh?" She looked to the carnation-coloured trinket still in her hand. "You want me to?"

    "It's up to you, Sarah."

    She accepted the iniciation, taking the rosebud in clasped hands and focusing her thoughts upon it, and soon began to float off the floor. She freaked when she hit her head and looked down to us, upset and worried. She lost her concentration and fell flat on her face on the floor, and the twelve of us sweatdropped.

    "Uh, Sarah?" Leo began, breaking a crooked smile as she sat up, face bright red. "You okay?"

    "I—I'm fine," she replied, embarrassed.

    "Sarah, if you're embarrassed about losing your concentration, don't be," Mattie remarked. "When I unlocked my necklace, Nat had to put my tail out because I'd caught myself on fire...." She laughed half-heartedly, and Sarah giggled.

    "Thank you, I needed that."

    The next thing we knew we were in Lavender again - all twelve of us. Tane, Philo and Sakura looked to us in confusion, as did we them. Then we realised in front of what building we all stood.

    "Lavender City Gym," I uttered, afraid.

    ~*~*~

    "Um, mind telling us what's going on?" Tane muttered, confused and upset.

    "I—I don't know.... Last thing I remember is Sarah using her necklace—" I choked, wide-eyed. "The dozen Roses...."

    "Okay.... Kit, you've gone nuts," Sesh began.

    "I'm not any more nuts than I was!" I exclaimed. "I think that Sarina did this because all twelve necklaces have an owner now. We need to go talk to her."

    "Oh no, nonono.... We're not going in there!" Sesh worried, ears flat against his head.

    I made a face. "Sesh, she's not mean."

    "Maybe not to you...."

    "Ah shaddap and come on," I grumbled, dragging him by the arm into the glass gym. The rest of them followed, fearful of what lay in store for them.

    ~*~*~

    We walked inside, myself being the one at the head of the group, leading them down the cold, torchlit halls. Our footsteps echoed throughout the icy marble-seeming walls, ceiling and floor, adding a sort of frightening air to the already tense scene.

    We came upon the arena doors, having found the place deserted; I was the only one who touched them. With a last chilling air, the twelve of us stepped into the darkness.

    "Sarina?" I called out, a bit afraid myself from the pitch-black room. Suddenly every torch in the arena combusted in the blink of an eye, and we squinted because of the lightning-fast change in light.

    The strange woman sat there in that fabled armchair of hers, up on what seemed to be a stage. She seemed to be meditating.

    Her head suddenly picked up and she looked to us. "Now then. You should know that I had you brought here for a reason."

    "Y—you're going to tell us about the necklaces, right?" I began.

    Sarina smiled a little, something none of the others expected. "I thought that the Ecruteak Fifteen were intelligent children." She chuckled a moment. "But anyway. These necklaces." She stood, then jumped down off the stage to stand before us.

    "Th—they're magick, aren't they?" Philo uttered meekly, trying not to annerve her.

    At this she laughed. "Magick? Oh my, no. These... these are splicing necklaces."

    "Splicing necklaces...?!" I choked. "Like... DNA??!"

    "I should have told you sooner, but I felt that you'd be all right with it, seeing as, well, you know." She looked a little regretful that she hadn't told us what the little trinkets truly were.

    "If these are splicing necklaces, then they had to have gotten the DNA from somewhere, right?"

    "Catching on," she remarked again, making it seem as though she were surprised that we were smarter than Mankey or something. "Each of these necklaces holds the complete genome of one Pokémon."

    "What sort of Pokémon can't touch anything without turning it into ice?!" Nat exclaimed, rather upset by all of this.

    "I sort of figured that you were the one that got the pearl one," she replied. "My dear, your necklace lended you all the traits of a Suicune."

    "A... what?"

    "Suicune is the legendary dog of ice," Sarina continued. This shut Nat up. "There are three other legendary necklaces among the dozen—the emerald, the sapphire, and the corinthian, being Celebi, Dragonair, and Mew respectively."

    I turned to find Sesh holding his necklace in his hands in absolute awe of it all. "Celebi?" he echoed.

    "You have a Pokédex, I assume. I believe there is an entry on the little martian."

    He dug in his pocket a moment, then flipped it open and punched in the name.

    "Celebi, the Martian Pokémon. Little is known about this mythical creature, as any time a human catches sight of it it darts way before any clear view of it can be seen. Most believe it to merely be hallucination. Evidence states otherwise, as many of the places where Celebi is said to have been sighted have been in a sudden burst of bloom not soon after."

    The Pokédex peeped a second time and he showed it to me, as he saw that I was watching him. A picture, a rendition rather, was on the screen—a green alien-seeeming creature, with huge sapphire eyes and what seemed to be vines swathing its head like hair, twisted back, up away from its head.

    "Dragonair..." Trey echoed in awe, a strange smile upon his face as he held his necklace in his hands, eyeing it happily.

    "Sarina, if these are legendary Pokémon, then how did you get a hold of their DNA?"

    The woman froze at Seshi's inquiry. "I—I've got connections," she flustered. "Genetics is... it's a pasttime for me."

    "A pasttime? How could it be a pasttime if scientists all over the world still struggle with the human genome? And how do we know that what you did to us won't hurt us in the future?" Sesh was really starting to make her worry, and it made all of us on edge, not just her.

    "M—my dear Toshi, please don't. Not now. I assure you that these necklaces will not harm you in any way, just... be careful as to how you use them." She paused, seeing his sudden surprise at his real name being used. "I was forced to take part in the Enhancement. It's how I know the fifteen of you on such a level." Sarina smiled a little. "I would come in and visit you all on occasion even.... Jarrell never let me get too near to you, though. She... was afraid that you all might hurt me by accident or somesuch; she never really explained it to me."

    "Sesh, I thought that you were afraid of her," I muttered, a tad bemused at his sudden vehemence towards her actions.

    "I—" He shut up and Sarina giggled, a bit embarrassed that he had feared her.

    The distraction of my poking at the Raichu brought Tak to have a bit of fun of his own. He'd snuck up behind Sarina and turned himself into her. It made the eleven of us stare at him.

    This sudden interest in what was behind her brought Sarina to turn to look at him. She choked.

    "Hi Sarina, I'm Sarina," he greeted cheerfully, using her voice in perfection and smiling happily. She said nothing for a moment, then flat out cracked up; we sweatdropped at what he'd just done.

    "Um, T.K.?" Sesh began, bright red and face showing signs of beginning to twitch. "Could you, um, not do that?"

    He laughed a minute, then sighed and turned back. "Sorry."

    "The aureate traits complement your personality well, Takeru," she remarked, still laughing a little. At this he grinned, his face becoming that idiotic Ditto face he'd done in Sunnytown, and Sarina giggled again.

    "You're a Ditz," Sesh muttered, hanging his head in utter chagrin.

    "Ditz." He turned it over in his mind a moment. "I like it."

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

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