For lack of a better word, Dark Cave had been horrendous.
Axion, Scizor, and Magnezone lay among the scattered grass at the eastern exit of the underground void, drying off and enjoying the sunlight the warm afternoon sun was providing. Despite their preparations, the trio had underestimated the pitfalls and challenges they had been presented with. As seemed to be a new habit for him, Axion had lost his backpack. Only a grueling climb down a narrow crevasse had ensured that some small portion of the packed supplies had survived the journey. Mainly, the majority of food was gone. The blue rounded blobs Axion had caught a glimpse of had seen to that during his descent. However, there was no point in turning back now; he doubted they would even be able to retrace their steps. Thus, the party had obviously opted to continue on.
After another few moments of resting, Axion sat up to view their surroundings. Behind him lay the gaping maw of the cave entrance, still a haunting memory long after the nightmare had passed on. In the opposite direction, two paths lay before him. The southern route, accentuated by nothing more than some small scattered rock outcroppings, was a relatively flat path that would eventually lead to New Bark Town. Apparently, they had accidentally exited the cave in the wrong location; Axion had not expected such a level area. However, the path leading northeast was exactly as expected: A moderate uphill slope, with trees and grass unevenly spaced which would eventually lead to Blackthorn City at its peak.That was Axion’s planned destination, where the Dragon’s Den lay. He hoped that himself and his companions might be allowed to view the dragon master’s training, and learn useful strategies in the process. However, He had to get there.
Finally standing, Axion attempted to shake the last of the water off his pale skin and long, thin hair.Dry as possible for the moment , he looked over at his two Pokemon. Scizor, recently evolved from his greener form, had increased in height, now easily able to look down at his shorter trainer. Getting up from its previously prone position, Scizor stretched and returned his trainer’s gaze. “See-zor!” he yelled confidently , which Axion took to mean that his primary partner was ready to continue on their journey. Magnezone lazily rotated itself in the air, floating about as if by magic. With a few turns of the magnets on its side, it reoriented itself in the general direction of the other two and gave off a few minor sparks, seemingly of the same opinion as Scizor. Axion then gave acknowledgment to the pair of them. “Alright then, onward to Blackthorn City.” The trio began moving along the sloping path at a respectable pace, determined to reach their destination.
As the sun began to cloak itself behind the rocky hills surrounding them, Axion and his partners found a reasonably level patch of land to set up camp for the evening. The single nearby tree waved with the wind, as if the vibrant green deciduous was alive and attempting to shake itself free of the confining ground. The tent and small camp stove were assembled in quick succession, thereby allowing Axion a small amount of time to focus on each of his pokemon while dinner was cooking. He enjoyed this part of the day, it was far more relaxing than the constant drudgery of walking. He decided to start with Magnezone this evening. The newest member of the team, Magnezone was a very calm and quiet Pokemon. Axion checked that Magnezone’s three magnets were freely moving and devoid of loose magnetic particles or debris left by uncaring travelers, then spent a few moments with a brush, cleaning the dirt and dust from the robotic life form’s ovoid body. Freshly polished, Magnezone happily bobbed beside the fire. Next, Axion took a cleaning cloth to Scizor’s iron-like shell, removing the accumulated grime in the red pokemon’s crevices. Scizor was forced to kneel down at one point, its greater height now causing the cleaning process to be a challenge. The moment he finished, the evening's soup was rapidly bubbling, ready to be consumed. A warm bowl for Axion, some pokemon food pellets for Scizor, and a battery for Magnezone made for a pleasant dinner as the three ate in mutual silence.
When Axion broke camp the next morning, the cool morning air sent a shiver down his spine. The higher altitude meant that the weather was cooler than he had grown up in, close to the shore. His body was nearly devoid of fat, and he easily felt the minuscule damp breeze penetrating his sweater and draining his heat. Scizor and Magnezone were safely tucked away in their poke balls, oblivious to the chilly weather outside. Axion began trekking up the path in silent contemplation, and wondered why the area had been so quiet last night. Not a single pokemon had been seen by any of the three, or none that had caused enough attention to be concerned or even aware of. His thin fingers fished the pokedex from his pants pocket, allowing Axion to scan the data on Route 45. His gray eyes, always scanning for every bit of useful data, recorded a fair variety of pokemon that should have saturated the area. However, not a single Teddiursa had run by, chased by their larger bear-like parents; Diminutive elephantine roly-poly Phanpys were nowhere to be seen. It had been absolutely vacant, and such oddities were unnerving to Axion. He palmed one of his poke balls, exclaiming “Scizor, lets go!” The coruscating energy rapidly solidified into that of his clawed mantis pokemon. Without a further word they continued on, Axion slightly comforted by a familiar presence.
Axion and Scizor eventually began to see an increase in the density of trees trees on the slope. They varied in height, from saplings no taller than Axion's knee to some which could match a house in elevation. The two welcomed the change of scenery. Axion hoped that the increased coverage would stop the relentless sun from burning him to a crisp like yesterday. The red patches on his neck and arms gave evidence of yesterdays battle. Without provocation, an explosion ripped through the area to the left of the main road. Before either of them knew, the partners were rapidly proceeding in the exact same direction as the initial detonation. They instantly left the path without noticing, pushing through the underbrush unhindered and undeterred. Axion’s fingers became scratched from forcing the innumerable branches away. Finally, the site of the explosion appeared before them: Below an enormous tree lay a singular gray Pineco. The small crater around it smelled freshly made by the burning, and the pokemon itself appeared as if coated in dust, and having recently fainted. Pulling out his pokedex, Axion scanned the sentient pine cone. He perused the details, discovering their tendency to explode when dropped on the ground or attacked. “But why are they just randomly dropping now?” he uttered as he looked around, his body tense.
As he pondered the situation, he heard a large noise from behind him, traveling rapidly towards his exact position. “Scizor, prep for attack!” With superhuman speed, the bug pokemon placed itself between Axion and the unknown threat. Prepared for a vicious X-Scissor, the steel-type watched intently as a male human emerged from the underbrush. “Wait!” the rotund being yelled, “I’m not a pokemon!” Out of breath and leaning over, the large hiker looked like he hadn't put forth so much effort in a long time. “I heard the explosion, and thought someone might be in trouble. Are you two okay?” He looked pointedly at Axion and Scizor.
“Both of us are unharmed, but before you arrived I was trying to figure out why this Pineco appear to be spontaneously dropping and exploding.”
Finally catching his breath, the man propped himself upright. “So that is what was causing the explosion. I was just taking a nap over there when I was quite rudely awakened.” By Axion’s estimation, the mountain tourist likely did quite a fair amount of napping, as evidenced by the shape of the man. Continuing on, he stated “I’m Michael by the way.” He raised a thick, dirty hand toward Axion.
Axion shook the offered hand, Michael’s hand almost enveloping his in its size. “I’m Axion, and this is obviously Scizor. We were heading towards Blackthorn City when we heard it.” He spared a momentary look at the poor pokemon, small bits of bark remaining stuck to its worm-like form despite the explosion. “I would assume you have been around this mountain longer than we have, do you know anything about this?”
Michael shook his head. “Only rumors, and not very good ones at that. I might have heard a similar sound yesterday, but around here sounds are so deceiving. They bounce around the rocks and get distorted.” The man’s gravelly bass voice contrasted with Axion’s modulated alto.
Before the two could continue the conversation, a shadow fell over the ground and quickly flew into the enormous tree beside them. As they looked toward it, a large glint of silver flew out of the tree. “A Skarmory! ” Axion exclaimed, looking closer. A shape looking conspicuously like a Pineco was in its claws, valiantly struggling to escape. Trying to grab for Magnezone’s poke ball, the Skarmory veered West, quickly flying out of range. “Damn, too slow,” he muttered.
Michael walked up closer to the tree, rubbing his hands through the thick, bushy beard that dominated his entire face. After a moment of observation he looked up into its hidden branches. “Its no wonder Skarmory are attacking this tree, look up there.” Axion gazed in the direction of the hiker's outstretched finger, attempting to pierce the dark recesses, and was surprised to see a large number of Pineco hiding among the dense branches & sharp pine needles. He nodded in understanding. “The Skarmory must be trying to feed on these Pineco, but it occasionally drops one and they explode in shock. We must have rescued this one purely by being here. I feel sorry for them.” Pulling a revive crystal out of his pack, he walked over to the grounded Pineco, very carefully inching his way the last few feet. His voice was kept very calm and comforting as he attempted to touch the pine cone-enveloped pokemon. “I'm here to help you, don't be afraid.” Eventually he got close enough to touch the revive against the Pineco’s protective outer shell of bark. Instantly the yellow octahedron glowed brightly, then dissolved into Pineco as the bark-covered worm pokemon regained its energy. Taking a moment to realize it had been revived, it managed to balance itself on the lowest tip of protective shell. “Feeling better?” he asked as the smallish Pineco looked inquisitively at the soft featured being that had suddenly come to its aid. Peering then at the fuzzy human snorlax and Scizor close by, the pokemon cautiously rolled back towards the tree its companions inhabited. A thread, shot from the pokemon’s almost hidden mouth, allowed it to re-ascend and attach itself to the hiding place among the tree boughs.
Axion, now dusting off his knees, looked toward Michael. “If you’re willing to help, I'm think it would be good to try and scare off that Skarmory. The poor Pineco here won’t last much longer against it, I’m not a personal fan of pokemon like Skarmory preying on the defenseless. So I would appreciate any help you and your pokemon might be able to provide. And it never hurts to have a travelling companion, even if just for a short period of time.”
Michael gave a toothy smile, his beard’s contortions giving all the answer Axion really needed. “Seems like something worth doing, and worth doing well. I’m in with you for the long haul, however long it takes to scare off that crazy avian menace.” With that, the hiker struck a pose, looking ready to take on the world. With brown eyes sparkling in the sun, he tread forward confidently “ Onward, to the West! Let us take out the dark demon of the sky, and save bug-types everywhere!” With a small chuckle, Axion shook his head. Patting Scizor on the back momentarily, he looked in the direction Skarmory had last flown. Both of them were merely assuming Skarmory lived in that direction. However, neither of them had any better leads to go on, so it was at least a start for their quest. “ Onward to the West it is,” Axion replied.
Skarmory returned to its nest, quite pleased at its latest acquisition. The bug had finally stopped its endless attempts to escape, which was fine for the steel-coated bird. Pushing through the thick rose bushes that blanketed the door to its home, it found itself in a small, dry cave; the brambles doubled both as a protective screen from the elements, and as a defensive barrier against opponents. The outer floor of the flier’s domicile was littered with bones and tree bark, remains of what had once been a large number of previous meals. The Pineco, which Skarmory now set down in the middle of the floor, had few options left to it at this point. It summoned up the last vestiges of energy that remained within itself. A blue glow surrounded it, as the power flowing into one point of its body instantly released in a single brilliant explosion.
When the dust and powdered debris finally settled to the freshly cracked floor of the cavern, the Skarmory looked at its now-fainted meal. Pineco had blasted the majority of its protective bark away, with the last few splinters making Skarmory’s dinner looking more like a cylindrical porcupine than the insect it was. The bird pokemon, its silvery razor sharp wings now coated in a heavy layer of dust, cautiously looked over its prey before picking off a few of the more dangerous looking wood fragments with its long thin beak. Its freshly unconscious dinner now laying open before it, Skarmory began replenishing the energy it would need for another bout with the resistant bark-covered bagworms.
Axion rolled himself over the last of the waist-high ridges, pausing a moment to catch his breath. His legs burned from the exertions required to climb virtual mountains. It had taken three hours to traverse this ridge-covered area, but now Michael and Axion had a great view of the surrounding country. Below, the trees and rocky valleys spread in narrow paths, enclosed by the high mountain range. They almost appeared to be the veins of the earth, all life flowing through these channels among the protective shell of mountainous skin. It truly gave Axion a realistic perspective of how insignificant one person could be in the grand scheme of things. But in contrast, how one singular event,something as simple as a spark would destroy everything in no time at all. Michael, now appearing beside Axion, rolled his bulk onto the ground, heaved and swallowed some large breaths before speaking. “It looks like the rest of the area is fairly level, with only an occasional mountain peak rising up. If Skarmory roosts somewhere around here, we should be able to find it, or see it the second it leaves its nest.”
Axion nodded, and pointed towards the ominous black clouds gathering in the East. “The sooner we find it the better. I’d rather not be on top of this ridge when that storm gets here.” Almost on cue, distant lightning sparked from the black curtain crawling ever slowly in their direction. He quickly looked towards one of the distant peaks, before pulling out the pokedex for more information on their elusive prey. The mechanical feminine voice instantly came back with detailed information. “Skarmory, the Armor Bird Pokémon. Skarmory's body is covered with a steel-like armor, and can fly at speeds of over 100 mph. Because Skarmory nests in briers and is constantly scratched by thorns, its wings become razor sharp. It slashes foes with its wings that possess sword-like cutting edges.” As the entry was finishing, Axion was already pulling Scizor and Magnezone out from their poke ball confinement. “Okay, we are looking for bramble bushes" he said. " The larger the better, our target Skarmory will likely be there. So if you find it, make sure to send up a signal, or return here as quickly as possible.” In unison, the pair disappeared down two game trails, rapidly fading into the distance. Michael was doing the same with his pokemon, the entirety of the Geodude evolutionary line. Geodude floated there, listening intently, while Graveler’s four arms twitched with anticipation. Golem stood by, looking quite indifferent, yet nodding at his trainer’s orders, nearly identical to the ones Axion had given his pokemon. “We need to find it fast. Climb up some of the smaller peaks, see if you cannot get a better view. Scizor and Magnezone already have the lower areas covered, so take advantage of your climbing prowess. Go!” The pokemon rolled, ran, and floated off towards different peaks nearby. Michael then turned to Axion. “I figure we’ll stay here, get a better vantage point in case we see it first." Axion merely nodded before finding a comfy location in which to observe the awe-inspiring view that was spread before him. Michael, not finding a nearby rock large enough to accommodate his bulky frame, grabbed a log felled by some camper long ago. His muscles bulged beneath flannel clothing as the log finally came to rest in a more convenient position. Axion was surprised at the strength, given the previous lack of fitness.
After the first hour had snaked its way into nothingness, Axion was starting to become concerned. Nobody had come back yet, and neither Michael nor himself had managed to locate any brambles within visible range. The storm was also getting closer, a literal metaphor for danger on the horizon. Just as Axion had begun pacing impatiently, his short legs having finally stopped hurting, Magnezone appeared over a rise, magnets spinning excitedly. Axion rushed to him. "Were you able to find Skarmory's nest Magnezone?" The robotic pokemon eagerly nodded an affirmative while Michael joined them. "Alright then, lets send out a signal to recall everyone else." As he finished the sentence, Magnezone began generating electricity by rotating its magnets in sync. Lightning immediately split a spot not three feet from the assembled trio, bringing the smell of ozone and heat. Axion and Michael had both jumped due to the proximity of the bolt. Minutes later, all the pokemon had returned; Scizor glided up on a convenient air current, and the rock types rolled in from their respective search areas. Axion and Michael both recalled their pokemon, save Magnezone, then Axion ordered the magnet to "take us where you found the nest."
Looking up, Axion shielded his light eyes from the sun and gave Skarmory credit on the ideal roosting location. The mountain's vertical rock face stood directly in front of them, an impenetrable wall. Thirty feet up, a small ledge jutted out, overgrown with massive rose bushes. If one looked close enough, scratches could be seen along the very edge, as if a pokemon often gripped the rock precipice before launching itself in flight. In addition, certain flower-covered vines were organized to create the smallest of openings for entry and egress. If they had not specifically sought such details out, it could have easily been overlooked as one of natures random oddities; here it made the nest blatantly obvious.
Him and his travelling companion studied the situation in silence for a minute or two. Finally, Michael offered up his thoughts in a near whisper. "What if we just used magnitude, creating a rock slide and collapsing the cave entrance? It could potentially prevent that pesky pigeon from plucking further Pineco from the pines." The hiker seemed awfully pleased of his alliterated plan, smiling with coffee-stained teeth exposed as he finished his sentence.
Axion offered a strong negative facial reaction in response, his thin pursed lips cracking from the dry air. "Closing off the entrance right now would be akin to murder; as much as I don't like Skarmory feeding off defenseless Pineco, I prefer that to outright killing it. I was trying to come with something a tad more elegant. Maybe scaring it away would be enough."
Michael's smile had disappeared. Apparently, the full ramifications of his plan had not fully materialized until now. "I see what you mean. But how do we scare something like that away? I have not seen too many predators around here lately that would be considered a major threat to a Skarmory."
"If either of us had something a bit larger, it would be easy" Axion noted. "However, we don't necessarily need to own a predator if we can make one..."
After much foraging and digging around in their backpacks, the two had somehow managed to gather enough supplies for completion of Axion’s crazy plan. Before them stood a terrible, yet vaguely Ursaring-shaped pokemon. "Sci!” Scizor mewled uncomfortably beneath the rope and sticks. “I know its not exactly mobile or plush Scizor, but its just for a few minutes” Axion told him. He looked at the makeshift bear pokemon and stifled the laugh at their Frankenstein creation. For the final touch, he put his pokedex into Scizor’s one claw. “Once you are up there, just squeeze. The pokedex should play a fierce Ursaring roar. If that doesn't scare Skarmory off the mountain, we will be forced back to square one.” As Axion stepped back, Golem stepped forward towards Scizor. Michael was standing next to him. “ Alright Golem, lets get this show on the road. Aim right for the cave entrance, get Scizor as close as possible. He doesn't seem to have much mobility in that.” As if in response to Michael’s comment, Scizor gave about two inches of shuffling, proving the point valid. The living boulder cautiously picked up the nervous Scizurang and carefully took aim. In a flash, the massive arms launched the false predator towards the hidden nest. For a moment, the entire living contraption seemed doomed to failure, the launch making the entire charade shake violently around its living center. Awkwardly landing among the roses, Scizor regained its balance and found solid ground to stand on. Initiating the plan, Scizor carefully squeezed his claw, activating the pokedex’s Ursaring recording. A vicious roar echoed through the valley, and more importantly into the cavern.
Skarmory was napping, full and content after its recent Pineco feast. The cave was spotlessly clean again, its lone inhabitant having been forced to carefully push all the remains back to the front of the cavern after its meal’s extremely rude explosion earlier. It had taken a fair amount of time polishing its pristine steel feathers, feeling a great sense of pride once they were reflecting the small cave it called home. Nestled within the small bed it had made from brambles and rose petals, it was having dreams of its next great hunt. As it swooped in for the final grab, its razor sharp wings prepped for the strike, a rather loud roar reverberated through the cavern and ripped Skarmory from the climax of its wonderful dream. It took a moment to fully awaken before Skarmory understood what the sound was, and its mind instantly switched into attack mode. Needle talons extended, wings spread, and teeth gnashed. It was ready to defend its home to the death. The silhouette of an Ursaring shone through the bushes, creating a fearsome picture for most. For Skarmory, its comfortable nest was all it currently cared about. The metallic avian’s beak glowed a bright white, and Skarmory charged directly forwards, towards its foe and a potential death in defense of its home.
As Scizor was thrown towards the small ledge, Axion alternated his attention between the ongoing events above and the weather slowly creeping up behind them. His ponytail was being blown about by the increasing winds,the rest of his hair in check only due to his hat, and the air was becoming more moist, bringing with it the smell of potential rain. At least the cool air felt good against his sun damaged skin. Before he had time to return his attention to the pokedex’s imitation roar, he saw Scizor’s disguise literally disintegrate around the bug pokemon; less than seconds later, the pokemon was uncontrollably falling to the earth below. Skarmory had not even shown itself, and already their plan had failed. Axion rushed to the now grounded pokemon, hastily pulling aside the fragmented remains of their Ursaring costume and freeing Scizor for a more thorough examination. Nothing appeared overly damaged, however the central torso area had been hit fairly hard by what Axion assumed was a drill peck from Skarmory. He pulled out a super potion and sprayed it on the wound, Scizor’s face curled into one of stinging pain as he did. “You’ll be fine buddy, you tried your hardest.” Pulling something from behind his back, the light from Scizor’s poke ball recalled it to a secure safe location, and removed it from further harm.
Axion sighed, twirling his ponytail as he did in times of stress. Leaning over, he picked up what used to be his pokedex from where Scizor’s claw had been moments before. The pieces that were still intact hung together by only a single blue wire. Obviously, the sudden attack had made Scizor flinch, and thus shattered the hardy information device. Much of the plastic housing had been cracked off, and circuits were bent or missing, likely thrown in the airborne moments of the fall. He would have to travel to New Bark town in the near future and get a replacement from Professor Elm. But for the moment, he would have to do without. He pocketed the computer’s remains, then looked towards the burly hiker nearby. “So that idea didn't quite go as planned, and we are one pokemon short. Did you have any other ideas?”
Appearing as if in deep thought, Michael's head surveyed the area. As he focused on a nearby tree, Axion looked in the same direction. The tree’s bark, after a moment or two, took on a strange shape in Axion’s vision, slowly clarifying itself. Axion rubbed his chin as the idea finally took shape, feeling a beard beginning to come in. His hygiene habits while traveling sometimes left much to be desired. He began laughing at himself for not seeing the ingenuity of the idea sooner. Michael, appearing confused now, inquired “What's all the laughing for?”
“Oh nothing,: Axion replied. “its just that, if we can’t scare it out, we just lure it out with its favorite meal. Or at least, something resembling its favorite meal. Just follow me, and you’ll see in a few minutes.” Without further explanation, he began pulling pieces of bark from the tree’s hardy trunk. The longer fingernails he had grown during the trip helped to peel away the thin strips. Still not understanding what was going on, his partner began replicating the actions. After a knee high pile had developed between the two Axion and Michael ceased their collecting, the hiker scratching his short black hair with a perplexed look all the while. Axion began sorting the bark bits, explaining as he did so. “We couldn't scare the Skarmory off, and now we know that it is too strong for us to succeed in that department. But if we can lure it out of its protective cave, maybe then you can collapse the cave itself while I distract it and keep it out of your way.” The now sorted piles sat in front of Axion, both looking like terribly made decorative Christmas trees. Two pieces of salvaged rope were threaded through holes punched in the bark scraps. When the project was complete, both Axion and Michael held up Pineco lookalikes. At close inspection the forgery was obvious, but Axion’s intention was to lure, not completely fool the bird. The two makeshift Pineco were hung in the nearby pine tree, and Axion hid behind it. He palmed Magnezone’s poke ball, readying for the attack. Michael, with Golem quietly next to him, lay against the cliff face below Skarmory’s cave. With a nod to the two hiding underneath, Axion gave a faint imitation “Pineco,” hoping that it would carry to the cave as the light began dimming, and the wind increased slightly in intensity through the area.
Skarmory’s rest was again broken, but this time it was different. The rude awakening of before was replaced with something far more faint, almost a whisper from outside. Its miniscule ears strained to fully hear, and it strode closer to the entrance, receiving a far better dose of sound. From the more convenient vantage point, Skarmory heard something quite pleasing, and the noise was akin to “Pineco.” Pinpointing the voice’s direction, Skarmory carefully leaped through the protective vines, aiming itself for a quick snack after lunch. Swooping down, its clear approach to the target was interrupted by the sound of falling rocks, which came from behind. In mid flight, Skarmory changed its angle of attack to instead shoot straight up, rotating in a spiral until it had a clear view of the disturbance. High above the ground, it hovered and helplessly watched as rocks fell from the high peak, trampling the rose bushes that acted as its front door, and the larger boulders tore the small ledge clean from the cliff face. All hopes of a quiet comfy meal had quickly vanished; the happy pleasure turned to seething rage at the destruction of its home. Eyes glowed from yellow to red as the emotions churned inside, becoming visible as Skarmory’s small spiky teeth emerged from its beak.
Axion saw the rustle in the bushes, and waited in anticipation of Skarmory launching straight for the fake pokemon and his position. His expectations were rewarded when the armored bird did exactly as the plan had required. Watching it intently dive toward his position, Axion switched his attention as Golem immediately began pounding its stony hands into the mountainside. As if perfectly timed, the boulders fell upon the area, completely destroying the Skarmory’s nest beyond a doubt. Skarmory changed its flight path to watch, and Axion threw Magnezones poke ball, yelling “Magnezone’ lets go! Send a thundershock towards Skarmory!” The coalescing energy reconstituted the magnet pokemon directly below Skarmory, once completed its body quickly released an electrical bolt, aimed towards the offending avian. A steep dive timed perfectly allowed Skarmory to dodge, as well as offer its own counter: a devastating air slash, which made a direct hit on Magnezone. Both trainer and pokemon were forced back as the wave of air pushed against them with tremendous power.
Before either could fully recover, Skarmory was on top of Magnezone, offering a full-force fury attack to take advantage of the momentary distraction. Its sharp beak created multiple dents in the magnet pokemon’s armor. “Magnezone, use spark to get it off you!” The ball of energy quickly appeared, and Skarmory retreated, creating a difficult moving target that easily dodged the wayward spark attack. In retaliation, a piercing screech echoed along the ridge, Skarmory’s metal sound deafening all assembled. The sound slowly died off, but a peal of lightning and thunder lit up the now fully darkened sky around Skarmory, causing Axion’s already deaf ears to merely reverberate silently. Skarmory, now outmatched purely by the weather, dove down the cliff. Axion and Michael were close behind, almost rolling down the hill in their pursuit of shelter or Skarmory, whichever conveniently came first.
As Axion saw Skarmory come to a halt above them, he noticed where they had arrived. The gigantic conifer stood before them, the home of Skarmory’s favorite immobile prey. The storm was now creating deafening wind, spraying small dust and debris not anchored to the ground in the faces of the two humans. Fighting the miniature stings, Axion turned towards Skarmory and ordered Magnezone “Lock-On, followed by Zap cannon! Don’t let it get away this time!” Magnezone’s body rotated in miniature increments, its 3 eyes triangulating the flying pokemon. When it came to bear, a great outburst of solid electricity bolted at Skarmory. Despite the bird’s valiant attempts to avoid the onslaught of energy, the full force of the connecting blow sent it farther up into the air. Finally out of energy, Magnezone ended the attack. It was floating far closer to the ground than before. Skarmory had somehow managed to stay aloft, though the pain on its face was enough to give Axion confidence.
The rain chose this moment to begin its travel down to the earth, the already violent wind now becoming a torrential outburst of water, almost a curtain that limited vision to a matter of feet. Axion lost sight of Michael, but had other matters to worry about. Skarmory was visible only when lightning struck the mountainside, the flashes illuminating all but the black outline that was their razor-like flying opponent. In the downpour, Axion was unable to see even his Magnezone, only six feet away. Trying to yell out an attack to it in his cracking voice, a concussion wave blew him under the tree, and Magnezone was thrown beside him, knocked out. In horror, Axion realized what Skarmory had done. In its quest for what he could only assume had become open and total revenge on its enemies, Skarmory had plucked a Pineco from the tree and dropped it, creating an impromptu bomb. And from the looks of things, it had been super effective on poor Magnezone. Loudly swearing despite the storm drowning out his words, Axion recalled Magnezone to its poke ball.
With a worried look on his face, Axion palmed Scizor’s poke ball. Despite his inhibitions about doing this, he hoped his best friend would understand the necessity of such actions. Pressing the activation button on the ball, he called out Scizor. “Magnezone couldn’t quite finish him off, its up to you now!” He was virtually forcing his head against the insect, aquiline nose distorting in its proximity to the red shell, in an attempt to get enough sound across to Scizor. A muffled noise and a nod allowed him some sense of accomplishment for that minor feat. “Use iron defense then, and watch out for falling Pineco!” With mild bewilderment at that statement, Scizor raised his defenses, then confidently strode out from beneath the protective canopy of the tree. Its armored carapace was already slick from the rain, and shone spectacularly when the lightning appeared. Axion had given the pokemon free reign this time; none of his attacks would have been heard among the cacophony of raging water and wind surrounding them anyway. He saw Scizor begin one his more complex moves. Two pairs of twin insect wings sprouted from its back, and Scizor began beating them violently. The pokemon’s clawed feet attempted to find solid purchase on the muddy ground as its body was buffeted by wind coming from all directions. The wings slowly picked up speed, battling the elements every step of the way. As the oscillations ramped up to their peak, Skarmory appeared like a deadly phantom directly above. Scizor released the localized wind storm at that instant, the deadly blades of air blasting the winged sentient weapon out of its dive and forcing a retreat. However, the crosswinds in the air had apparently weakened the power, meaning Skarmory had taken little damage, and was still able to fly and fight.
This time, Scizor readied something else. Its head darted around, watching for its opponent to come near. However, Scizor failed to notice the low flying shadow coming from behind it. In a flash, needle-sharp claws honed to perfection gripped the pokemon’s shoulders, and Scizor was instantly lifted into the air. Its concentration and thus attack wasted, Scizor desperately swung at Skarmory, attempting nothing more than to get free of the avian’s vice-like grip. One lucky attack hit the left leg, and Skarmory recoiled it in surprise and pain, as a red pincer rapidly came up to grasp the remaining near-black leg. Scizor began swinging itself about while gripping the single leg left available to it, arbitrarily shifting its weight about in an attempt to ground the flier. Instead, Skarmory was allowed a prime shot at Scizor. It radically changed its flight path, silver and red wings yawing, and Scizor found itself approaching a tree trunk far too rapidly to adequately react. The top of the coniferous pine connected with an imperceptible thunk, and Scizor fell to the ground, the final blow only softened due to the smaller impacts from the tree’s branches.
The bug pokemon stumbled as it regained its footing, slipping on the moist ground and tired from its injuries. Bravely, it stood tall and proud midst the torrential downpour beating upon it, defying the winds buffeting in every direction, and ignoring the almost constant peal of deafening thunder and lightning around it. “Scizor Scizor!” he repeatedly screamed at the storm and Skarmory, as if to declare that it would not give up despite the odds.
Axion watched in awe at Scizor’s defiance. He was proud of his pokemon, and wished he could be of more help. However, the metallic bug pokemon could gain no assistance from its master currently. Its attention was focused purely on the angry Skarmory circling it. As Scizor prepared another move, the wind changed direction, giving Skarmory the edge it wanted. The tailwind empowered sped Skarmory through the pouring rain, an arrow aimed with Scizor as the bulls-eye. Scizor leaped aside at the last second, narrowly avoiding the inevitable knockout the move would have caused. Skarmory gave a piercing screech, and returned to its former altitude. Scizor picked itself out of the mud, the slime coating the right half of its crimson carapace. Before it could collect itself for an attack, Skarmory was upon him, Slashing away with knife sharp claws in an attempt to down Scizor for good. Scizor battled brilliantly, countering with slashes of its own from its pincers.
The fighters broke apart and stood staring at each other, sizing the opponent up for the killing blow. Both predators seemed equally dangerous. Scizor’s claws gleamed, ready to crush Skarmory, while its wings were out, prepared to slice Scizor to ribbons. Skarmory attacked low as Scizor aimed high. While the claw went wide, the wings hit solidly on a leg, and Scizor fell on its back in pain from the cuts Skarmory’s razor wings had left.Skarmory regally stood tall despite the howling wind and looked down at the defeated pokemon. The rain, wind and lightning painting a picture of doom as Scizor looked helplessly at its opponent. For an instant everything stopped, the universe freezing in that eternal moment; then time returned, and Skarmory’s Night slash brought darkness to both what little light shone through the dense rain clouds and Scizor’s chances of winning. Axion felt pain as he watched through the liquid curtain falling from the sky as Scizor’s eyes closed, Skarmory’s blow having knocked it out and thus ending the battle. Axion quickly recalled Scizor, unintentionally revealing his position to the enraged Skarmory.
Skarmory then turned its head in the direction of its last known enemy, Axion. The bird’s clawed feet dug deep trenches in the soaked mud as it took large confident strides purposefully towards the pale trainer. Its red eyes had anger, hatred, and other violent emotions mirrored in them, glowing brightly with the power of its fury. No compassion for the human existed in the rage shown on its face, beak in what could only amount to a bird’s hateful snarl. It finally appeared under the pine tree, shaking itself free of the water droplets splayed across its body. Axion’s back was to the tree, and Skarmory appeared content to have him trapped there. It made no aggressive action at first, merely stared into the eyes of the last nest destroyer. As suddenly as it had stood there, it now began to aim pecks at Axion. the first few missed, getting ever closer. Axion found it hard to dodge, his drenched clothes a hindrance weighing him down despite his reflexes. The wet hair in his face also made sight difficult. Skarmory was teasing him, playing a game before the death blow could be struck. As the final, powerful peck launched towards his face, Axion closed his eyes and accepted his fate.
When the attack never came, Axion stared in awe in front of him. He was quite surprised to find a Pineco in front of him, using protect. The pine cone pokemon looked as though it had recently lost much of its grayish-blue bark covering, not having ample time to repair itself before the storm. Axion realized that this was the same Pineco he had saved earlier, it seemed to now be repaying the favor. As Skarmory angrily slashed and bit at the barrier, Pineco gave Axion a small nod as it released. Pineco’s rage had transferred from trainer to pokemon as a devastating air slash from the crimson wings now blasted Pineco against Axion. The shattered bark remnants still desperately sticking to the pokemon's skin poked multiple tiny holes in his jacket, but it was of little concern to him currently. While appearing severely damaged again, the Pineco gave a small shake before placing itself back in front of the weakened trainer, and began glowing. Its injured body launched at Skarmory as it offered payback, a full strength attack directly at the offending bird. As its legs struggled in the mud, it stumbled backward from the unexpected onslaught, and Axion did the only thing he could think of. He pulled the first ball his fingers found from his backpack, throwing it with violent force at Skarmory. The fast ball snapped against the hollow reflective armored feathers, and Skarmory was sucked into the small sphere. The ball jumbled along the muddy ground, the pokemon making a valiant attempt to release itself. Finally, the violent shaking motions stopped, and Axion sat dumbstruck as he realized that he had apparently captured a powerful pokemon.
Eventually the rain died down, and Axion saw a small tent in the distance. Michael was emerging from it, shaking off the last remnants of water, boots and hat removed to now be hung in a tree to dry. the mountainous slopes had undergone a drastic mutation, the rain washing out shallow rivers as it slowly meandered to the bottom. Axion had not moved since his capture, the ball sitting where it had landed, caked with mud and nearly imperceptible. Finally getting up and stretching, he walked over and picked it up, wiping away the majority of the grime before attaching it to his belt. Michael walked over, saying nothing about the poke ball. “Has Skarmory been dealt with, then?”
Axion shook his head in an affirmative, dried mud on his face cracking and falling off from the soft cheeks. “It won't be bothering these Pineco anymore.” Turning away for a moment, he knelt down next to the worm pokemon that had saved his life. “I cannot thank you enough for what you did Pineco, so is there anything I can do for you to return the favor?” Without warning, Pineco jumped against Axion, falling comfortably into its arms. The weight of Pineco surprised Axion. “I think he likes you Axion” Michael suggested. “Maybe he wants to go with you.”
“Would you like that Pineco? Travel around with me, see the world, and become friends?” The pokemon eagerly hopped up and down, its leftover bark wiggling strangely. Before something sudden and explosive happened, Axion put the Pineco down and grabbed another poke ball. “poke ball, go!” The Pineco leaped into the path of the green and yellow nest ball, and the energy sucked it into itself.