Leaking Darkness by ChainReaction01
Target Pokemon: Gligar (Medium), Klink (Medium), Swablu (Hard), Smeargle (Hard)
Target Length: 60k – 1000k
Actual Length: Just shy of 74k.
PokeCity was a prosperous country, made up of hundreds of Pokemon, all living in shining white buildings clustered around a hill. Flower gardens and winding rivulets were interspersed between the houses, creating an idyllic place to live. The Pokemon spent their days farming food, or practicing their fighting skills to repel the occasional bandit raids. Once, most of the Pokemon had lived in a run-down old fort up north, but the bandits had become too strong for them to repel. The entire community had travelled south, picking up others on their way, and together they had built this paradise on a single hill in the middle of a grassy plain, beside the only lake for miles around.
On the very top of the hill sat a beautifully carved pagoda, a structure that was little more than a roof held up by curving columns. The pagoda was surrounded by rosebushes, which had the unintended effect of shielding it from the view of the rest of the city. This open structure was referred to as the Council Room, and it was where the ruling Council made all the decisions that affected PokeCity. Inside the Council Room were sixteen wooden circular chairs that were padded with soft red cushions. Most but not all of the chairs were filled with Pokemon – some of the Council Members were away attending to various different pieces of business. In the chair closest to the southern entrance sat a humanoid Pokemon, green and white in colour, with a red crest in the middle of his chest. He rolled his shoulders and looked across each of the individuals present. All of these Pokemon, he would trust with his life. Especially the purple cat on the seat to his left.
“Gallade, pay attention,” Espeon hissed, her forked tail swaying angrily. “The meeting is almost over.”
Gallade sighed and crossed his legs before leaning back in his chair. All available Council members had been summoned to the Council Room to discuss Bulbasaur’s master plan. Bulbasaur was the leader of the Council, and therefore the entirety of PokeCity. Not many expected the small green Pokemon who was sitting quietly on his seat to be the wisest and strongest of all Pokemon. Everyone who knew him knew that he could easily have evolved many years ago, but that he chose the weaker form so as to not appear intimidating. For years he had been tirelessly attempting to unite the entire Pokemon world underneath a single Council. Recently, a community to the far south on the remote Pokemon Island had expressed an interest in joining the Pokemon Council. A small group of delegates including Bulbasaur, Gallade and Espeon had gone to the island for talks, and everyone had come away with smiles.
“So basically, the meeting went well?” Vulpix asked. Her six tails were arranged in a perfect fan around her. She bounced gently on the soft pillow of her chair, and it was clear to all the Council Members that it was hard for her to even ask this simple question because of her shy nature. She was the newest Council Member, and hadn’t attended the conference.
“I think it’s safe to say that,” Ditto said. The amorphous blob wobbled gently as she looked around at all of the Council Members. Ditto was a Senior Council Member, one of six, and she was famously hard to please. The fact that she looked upon the conference as a success spoke volumes.
“Yes, indeed it is,” Squirtle confirmed. Squirtle’s chair was raised slightly higher than all of the other chairs, except Bulbasaur’s. The small blue turtle was Bulbasaur’s right-hand Pokemon, and she had stayed behind in PokeCity instead of attending the conference.
“It shouldn’t be long now until we have established an embassy on Pokemon Island, and from there we can work on moving to Marill Land,” Bulbasaur said. His voice was surprisingly deep for such a small Pokemon, and Gallade found himself in awe each time the Grass-type spoke.
“Give me two days, and I’ll have the embassy up and running,” Pidgeot said loudly. His claws flexed, digging into the pillow on his chair. Pidgeot was easily one of the more powerful members of the Council, and it was thanks to him that PokeCity enjoyed its current reign of peace. He fought off the wild tribes and worked hard to keep everyone happy. He was the leader of the Old Guard, a group of strong and powerful Pokemon that had assisted the emigration from the old fort to PokeCity.
“Well, is that everything?” Gallade asked. Along with Pidgeot, Squirtle and a couple others, Gallade was a Senior Council Member, although he was new to the position. “Can we all head off now?”
Bulbasaur cleared his throat. “One last thing. We all know the Cityans can be… enthusiastic. Let’s keep these tidings private for now, at least until the embassy is set up.”
All of the Council members shifted slightly before nodding in unison. Just like that, the meeting was over. Pidgeot stretched his wings and flew off, banking over the table – the ceiling was high enough to allow plenty of room for flight. Everyone else got off their chairs, either slowly or quickly. Gallade exploded off of his chair, landing lightly on his wide green feet. Espeon looked at him and sighed before dismounting her own chair much more gracefully. The pink jewel on her forehead winked up at Gallade as she stretched in her usual cat-like manner.
“Ready to go, Gallade?” Espeon asked him. Her forked tail swayed from side to side, showing impatience.
“Actually, I’m gunna go meet with a friend, I’ll see ya at home,” the warrior replied. He and Espeon had grown up together and it seemed only natural for them to live together, even if Gallade never cleaned up after himself and Espeon continually refused to play the games that Gallade liked.
“Alright, well don’t be too late. It’s your turn to cook dinner,” Espeon informed the Fighting-type. She yawned once and bounded out of the pagoda, heading down into the city. Gallade watched her go before stretching his legs and taking a different route. Instead of following the path, Gallade wound through the flower garden that surrounded the Staff Room, taking care not to step on any prickles. When he finally got free of the garden, the familiar sight of the sunlight sparkling off the lake greeted him.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” a voice asked Gallade.
“Yeah, it is,” he replied, and he turned to see a large blue crab-like Pokemon sitting on the grass, also watching the sunset. Metagross’ legs were folded underneath him, making him look a bit like an alien spaceship. Gallade sat down on the grass next to him, and together the both of them watched the sun dip towards the horizon.
“So, what did the Council talk about today?” Metagross asked.
“You know I can’t say anything about that,” Gallade chided his friend.
“Yeah, I know,” Metagross grumbled. “Anything I need to be worried about?”
“Nah, everything is going really well. PokeCity is about to get bigger and better than ever before. Besides, you know that if there was something serious going on I’d let you know. Us Psychic-types gotta stick together.”
“Well, what about Slowbro? He’s on the Council, and he doesn’t hang with us.”
Gallade snorted. “Slowbro doesn’t count. He’s barely Psychic-typed anyway, and he spends all of his time with Pidgeot.”
“Fair enough,” Metagross laughed. He groaned and then got onto his legs. “It’s getting late. I better head off. Besides, didn’t I hear that it’s your turn to cook dinner?”
“Ugh, yeah. I hope Espeon likes eggs on toast, cos that’s what I’m making.” Gallade laughed.
Metagross snorted and walked off heavily, heading down the hill. Gallade laid onto his back and crossed his legs, enjoying the feel of the grass on his back as he stared up into the sky. Life was good. He’d been a nomadic Ralts living off the land until his path had crossed the group’s when they were fleeing from the fort. Ever since then he’d been training, gathering strength and knowledge, and earning his way up the ranks. Life here was good. Perfect, in fact. It was hard to imagine anything ever going wrong here.
“Gallade! Gallade, wake up!” a shout broke through Gallade’s sleep. He raised his head sleepily off his pillow as Espeon opened the door with a push of her head. As there was almost no crime in PokeCity, doors didn’t have latches.
“Ugh, what is it?” the Fighting-type asked groggily.
“Can’t you hear that?” she yelled, jumping up onto his bed.
Gallade shook his head, and he realised that a voice was yelling from somewhere outside the house. “What’s going on?” he asked Espeon.
“I don’t know, he started yelling a few minutes ago but he didn’t stop. I can’t hear what he’s talking about, but it sounds pretty severe. We need to get going!”
“Yeah, let’s move,” Gallade replied.
The pair of Pokemon burst out of the room, and then out of the house. The shouts and yells were a bit clearer now, although Gallade couldn’t make out any words besides “power” and “moving” and “secrets”. Those three words repeated over and over, and they got closer as Gallade and Espeon got closer to the source.
“It sounds like it’s coming from the Forum!” Espeon called out.
Gallade nodded. The Forum was on the very centre of the northern slope of the hill, and it was where most of the Pokemon gathered to communicate and share produce. It was a wide open street with small side-areas where Pokemon could do business.
When Gallade and Espeon turned onto the main street, they could both see that a crowd of Pokemon was present , gathered around a raised stone in the middle of the road. On top of the stone block was a small purple flying-scorpion Pokemon. It was orating loudly to the crowd, spreading its arms wide, stretching its blue wings as it did so. Gallade and Espeon ran forwards, but they were intercepted by a large red Pokemon.
“Charizard, what’s the situation here?” Gallade asked.
The lizard Pokemon was batting his wings quickly, as if he was irritated. Charizard was also a Council Member, but unlike Gallade, he was not a Senior. He took the cigar out of his mouth and blew a stream of smoke into the air. “You know almost as much as I do,” he admitted. “I heard the yelling so I flew over here to find Gligar ranting like that on the pillar over there. I tried to get him to shut up, but he wouldn’t listen, and now there’s a crowd.”
“But what is he actually yelling about?”
Gligar suddenly fell quiet and turned around slowly, giving all three Council Members a dramatic look. “Look, they have come!” he screeched. “Those who keep the secrets have come to silence me!”
“We only want to keep the peace,” Charizard yelled back over his shoulder. “You’re the one who’s running around squealing like a howler monkey.”
“Why don’t you tell all the nice people here about the moving plans?” Gligar screamed, spittle flying from his mouth. “Tell them about how we’re expanding to Pokemon Island!”
A slight murmur ran through the crowd, but they didn’t move. This seemed to incense Gligar more, and he started waving his arms around wildly, causing his wings to flap around flaccidly.
“Aren’t we also looking to move to Marril Land?” the Pokemon continued.
This time, the crowd collectively gasped. Sure, there had been rumours about a move to Pokemon Island, but no one had ever considered extending the arm of friendship to Marill Land.
“Everyone, calm down,” Charizard said as he moved forwards and raised his arms in a pacifying gesture. “We can’t confirm or deny any private Council business, but we promise we will let you know as soon as we have something.” He then turned and shot a glare at Gligar. “I’d be very interested in learning who told you that.”
“I don’t see why I have to tell you,” Gligar spat. “You’re a youngling, one of the wanderers who just happened to stumble onto our group. It’s the Old Guard everyone has to thank for our prosperity, not you!”
Charizard rolled his eyes and took another puff from his cigar. “We’re not getting into this discussion again. Just keep it down, because people are trying to sleep here.”
“I’m not hurting anybody,” the fly-scorpion jeered. “There aren’t any rules against telling the truth loudly in public.”
“No, it’s just common sense to keep quiet at night-time,” Gallade yelled back. He stepped forwards to be alongside Charizard before continuing. “Just because something isn’t an explicit rule doesn’t mean you can do it, no questions asked!”
“I can do whatever I want, and you can’t stop me,” Gligar said dangerously.
“Alright, that’s enough,” Charizard said, stepping closer to the large stone Gligar was standing on. “Gligar, I’d like you to keep it down.”
“Don’t come near me, youngling!” Gligar yelled. He swiped one of his claws through the air, and spray of black energy suddenly smashed into Charizard. The large Pokemon fell over onto his back, and Gallade jumped forwards. Gligar started cackling madly, and he raised his arms towards the sky. Whirling black energy surrounded him, making it look like he was inside a tornado.
“This is the power of secrets, the power that lays hidden on Pokemon Island!” Gligar continued excitedly. “In truth, everyone wants this power. Everyone wants to know. Well, here and now, I shall demonstrate to you the power of keeping secrets!”
Gligar pointed his claw towards Gallade, and the black winds blasted towards him. Gallade jumped to the side as his psychic abilities and ingrained warrior senses fired up. The black wind smashed into the Forum pavement, knocking up the pristine white stones. Gligar started laughing again, and he pointed both claws towards Gallade. The black wind turned towards the Fighting-type and moved towards him in a pincer movement. At the last second, Gallade rolled forwards, and the black wind crashed into itself. Gallade ran towards the stone Gligar was in and struck it with a lightning-fast punch. The stone shattered into a hundred pieces, but Gligar didn’t fall down. Instead, it started floating around, still wreathed in the black wind and chuckling loudly.
“Arceus-damned Flying-types,” Gallade muttered underneath his breath. He looked over his shoulder, and saw that the crowd had backed way up. Charizard was moving slowly, and Espeon’s hackles were raised.
“Gligar shouldn’t be able to use that kind of attack,” she called out. “I don’t think it’s anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Yeah, neither have I,” Gallade replied. “Charizard? You still with me?”
“I’ll be there in a second,” the large red dragon groaned. He spat out his cigar and rolled onto his four legs.
Gallade yelled a raw battle-cry and wreathed his hand in the power of pure cold. Icicles surrounded his wrist, and they spread across his hand and forearm until he was wielding a club of ice, one which was attaching to him. Gligar was half-Flying, half-Ground, so one good strike with an Ice-type attack would bring him down. The warrior Pokemon launched himself into the air, preparing to strike hard with the Ice Punch. Gligar’s laughing became insane shrieking, a noise which grated its way through his head. When he moved to strike Gligar with the attack, the wind intercepted it. The ice was instantly sheared off of Gallade’s arm, falling to the ground in chunks. The wind then smashed into Gallade’s chest, knocking him backwards. Thankfully, he saw this coming, and he landed on his feet. As soon as he did, he felt Charizard barrel past him and roar, breathing fire towards Gligar. Gligar’s laugh became a shriek, and the black wind tightened around him, warding off the fire.
“That’s not going to work,” Gallade called out. “Distract him for a minute!”
Charizard nodded and began to blow a continual stream of fire at the writhing black ball. Gallade inched around the ball, making his way to a pile of rocks which had been created by his earlier punch. Gallade picked up one that was slightly bigger than his fight, and he threw it towards Gligar. The rock bounced off the wind shield and exploded on contact with the ground. Gallade picked up a bigger one and threw it as well; this time the rock sunk in a third of the way before being repelled.
Finally seeing a way in, Gallade picked up the largest rock fragment with both of his hands. He ran towards Gligar, building up momentum, and then heaved the artificial boulder up at the cackling Flying-type. This time, the rock made it through. There was a sharp shriek, and the speed of the wind increased, becoming almost frenzied. Charizard cut the stream of fire, waiting to see what would happen. Gligar turned around and screamed with rage, sending all of the wind blasting towards Gallade.
“Now!” Gallade yelled.
Charizard understood, and he launched a huge fireball from his throat towards the Gligar. Gallade rolled to the side and began forming the icicles once more. The look in Gligar’s eyes was almost frenzied as he turned back to Charizard, directing the wind to intercept the flames. That was when Gallade made his move. He kicked off against the ground, flying through the air, his right hand covered in ice. Luckily, all of the strange energy was being used to keep Charizard’s fire at bay, so Gallade’s Ice Punch connected. Gligar gasped as he was picked neatly out of the air. Gallade grasped the scorpion Pokemon by both of his claws, and the ice spread across his body. It took no more than three seconds for the small Pokemon to be encased entirely in ice, excepting his head. The black winds slowly died down and faded from existence, taking Charizard’s Fire Blast with it.
Gallade sighed, holding Gligar by an icicle that had formed over his spine. “Thanks for the help,” he said to Charizard.
“Any time,” the Fire-type replied. “What’s the plan now?”
“Firstly, I’m going to take him to the prison and file a report. Then, I’m going back to bed.”
Seven hours later, Gallade found himself standing outside the jail. It was the least-polished building in the entire city, mainly because it was rarely used. Occasionally a Pokemon would need to be scared straight, and sometimes pranks went bad, but actual criminals were an oddity in PokeCity. If someone broke the rules, the Council would vote on their fate. Usually, they were exiled. The last person to be exiled was Doduo. He’d tried to sneak back a couple times, and the last time he had been warned that a third attempt would result in the use of lethal force.
Gallade entered the jail, being sure to close the wooden door behind him. Slowbro was sitting in a chair, and the two exchanged a nod of greeting. Gligar was sitting in a chair in the left-most cell, with the ice still surrounding him. No doubt Slowbro was maintaining the ice.
“Gligar, feel like a talk?” Gallade asked him.
The flying scorpion Pokemon rolled his eyes. That simple action alone spoke volumes. “We might as well.”
“What was that power? And how did you obtain it?” Gallade’s fingers beat out a staccato tune on the jail bars.
“It’s the power of secrecy. I suppose you would probably call it evil. That’s not true, though. They say that knowledge is power? Well, when knowledge is granted to only a few its strength is not diluted, and those who know that can manipulate it.”
“Who taught you to do so?” Gallade inquired, watching Gligar closely.
“Omastar,” the Ground-type replied casually. “Yeah, he’s cool. He told me that you’ve been quite impatient at the meetings lately.”
Gallade frowned. Omastar was a Senior Council Member as well, hailing back to the old days of the fort as well. However, he had gone travelling, and hadn’t returned for the migration, so he technically wasn’t a part of the Old Guard. If someone was to have arcane knowledge, Omastar would be a good suspect.
“Did he tell you anything in particular about the meetings?”
“Yeah, he informed me that Bulbasaur told all you Council Members to keep the Pokemon Island expansion a secret at your meeting last night,” Gligar replied smugly.
Gallade cast his mind back to the meeting. Something didn’t seem right about Gligar’s statement. It took Gallade less than a minute to figure out what it was.
“Omastar wasn’t at the meeting yesterday,” Gallade said, looking Gligar right in the eyes. “His shell was giving him some trouble, so he decided not to come.”
Gligar blinked once before cursing under his breath. He broke eye contact and looked away.
“Tell me who taught you this, Gligar,” Gallade said quietly.
Gligar didn’t even move.
“Look, despite being a Flying-type, I don’t have anything against you. You’re actually a pretty funny guy most of the time,” Gallade admitted. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if you get exiled for this.”
Gligar frowned and looked up at the Council Member. “But why? I haven’t done anything wrong. I was just defending myself in the Market, and it’s not like I was endangering anyone’s lives.”
“You started a conflict with a group of Council Members, which wasn’t a good start, and right now you’re not cooperating with me,” Gallade reasoned. “If you come clean and tell me who gave you this knowledge, I promise I will try my best to keep you from being exiled. You gotta help me, though; your pranks haven’t exactly left you with the best of reputations.”
“What pranks?” Gligar asked incredulously.
“I don’t honestly know,” Gallade admitted. “I haven’t been on the Council for very long. But according to the records, this isn’t even close to the first time you’ve been in trouble. Now, are you going to help me or not?”
Gligar’s eyes fell to the ground, and he sighed. “I don’t know who told me,” he said quietly.
“You don’t know?”
“Yeah, I don’t know.”
“Then how did you get the information?” Gallade yelled, slamming his hands against the bars. The noise must have startled Gligar, because the Ground-type looked upwards.
“Someone whispered it into my ear when I was laying in bed last night,” Gligar whispered. “He said his name was Klink, but I couldn’t seem him in my room at all.”
“You expect me to believe that some mysterious person that I’ve never heard of before gave you Council-only secrets?” Gallade asked incredulously.
“It’s the truth,” Gligar said simply. He looked right at Gallade, and the warrior Pokemon looked away. The Fighting-type was bad at reading expressions, so he couldn’t be sure, but it looked like Gligar might have been telling the truth. Gallade drummed his fingers on the bars a couple more times before turning abruptly. He nodded once more to Slowbro, who nodded back, and then he left the Jail, heading for the Council Room.
“Thank you for your report, Gallade,” Bulbasaur said solemnly. “Charizard has told me much the same about the initial fight. This is bad news; not only has our integrity been compromised, but Gligar has broken the rules. We’ll need to punish him.”
“Whoa, I think that’s going a little far,” Pidgeot remarked. “Gligar hasn’t broken any laid-out rules.”
“No, just lack of common sense,” Charizard retorted. He puffed a huge cloud of cigar-smoke out of the Council Room to emphasise his point.
“Not to mention he attacked some Council Members and refused to cooperate,” Espeon added angrily. “Nobody does that unless they’re hiding something.”
“I’d like to add that I checked all of PokeCity, and there is no Klink here,” Gallade said, shooting Espeon a look of warning. “So in addition to everything, Gligar lied. That is definitely worthy of punishment.”
“Hmm, that’s different then,” Pidgeot said slowly, relaxing back into his chair. His chair was the only one that had been specially changed – a hole had been carved at the back of the seat for his tail to stick through.
“Well, if there’s nothing else, we’ll adjourn today’s meeting,” Bulbasaur said. All the members nodded to each other, and they started to leave. Pidgeot and Charizard wasted no time in flying off in almost opposite directions. Espeon and Gallade slipped down off their seats and made for the southern exit.
“What do you make of all this?” the warrior asked the cat as they made for home.
“It’s not impossible that Gligar was hiding in the flower bushes and overheard us,” she said, “but I’m pretty sure I would have sensed them. To me it seems much more likely that one of the Council Members leaked information to Gligar.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
“Not at all, I just said it was the more likely option. You’re sure about Klink being a lie?”
“Definitely. I searched the entirety of PokeCity, both physically and mentally. No Klink.”
“It’d be easier if we could just read people’s minds,” Espeon sighed.
“Yeah, but we swore we wouldn’t. Besides, I wouldn’t want anyone poking around in my mind,”
Espeon snorted. “I don’t need to read your mind to know everything in there is either consumable or a roleplaying game of some sort.”
Gallade huffed and looked away from Espeon, who started laughing.
Lightning cracked in the distance, and Gallade rolled around in his bed. He started mumbling, and kicking his sheets off of him. Slowly, the rumble of thunder started to drift further away, and Gallade’s sleep became restful again. It was not to stay that way though – the Fighting-type was suddenly jolted awake. Instantly, his mind whirred into action, and he realised that he could not move his arms or his legs. He looked down at his ankles, and he saw that they were bound to the bed-frame by writhing black energy, similar to the black winds Gligar had controlled. A quick glance confirmed that the same substance was binding his arms to either side.
“Gallade, dude, it's such a shame I went through all of this just so you could think I do not exist,” a voice said. It was strangely metallic, and seemed to ring in Gallade’s ears long after the mystery speaker fell quiet. Gallade thrashed against the bonds, but couldn’t break free. He started panting heavily and looked up towards the ceiling. An indistinct shape was hovering over the bed, watching Gallade’s every move. It was roughly ovaloid, but with regular rectangular protusions, and it was slowly rotating without making a noise.
“I checked! I checked the entire city!” Gallade yelled up at the dark blob. “You weren’t there! How can you even exist?”
The presence didn’t respond. It started drifting towards the open window, and Gallade was forced to watch in agony as the blob disappeared into the dark of the night. Gallade’s restraints suddenly vanished, and Espeon burst through the door.
“Gallade, are you okay?” she asked urgently. She jumped up onto the bed and rubbed her back against Gallade’s side, clearly worried.
“Someone was in here,” the warrior said urgently as he stood up. He burst out of the house, looking around for the ghostly figure, but it wasn’t anywhere in sight. Surprisingly, Charizard was. He was out on the street, looking around just like Gallade was. In fact, lots of others were. Lucario was sniffing at a garbage can, and Swablu was fluttering around her coop’s roof.
“What is everyone doing out here in the middle of the night?” Gallade asked himself.
“Gallade, come back!” Espeon called as she bounded out of the house. She started twining around her friend’s leg and mewling worriedly. “What on Earth is going on?”
“Gallade,” Charizard yelled. “I got something to tell you! Some strange Pokemon calling itself Klink just burst into my room and gave me some random information about the old fort. I thought you said Klink wasn’t real!”
“I was also given some information,” Lucario said, looking up from his rubbish bin.
“Me too,” Swablu shrieked excitedly. “Klink came and told me about your meeting and the expansion to Pokemon Island!”
Gallade cut her off quickly with a wave of his hand. Swablu was usually quite loud and a bit of a gossip so leaking sensitive information to her was a smart move on Klink’s behalf. Her soft white wings and small stature meant she was excellent at eavesdropping. They’d have to make sure to watch Swablu closely – while she truly loved PokeCity and would do anything to defend it, she was the kind of person who may choose to learn to manipulate the strange energy that seemed to come with the secrets.
“Alright, everyone who was confronted by this Klink person come and talk to me so I can get your statements,” Gallade called out. Espeon and Charizard helped organise the crowd into a line, and Gallade started committing everyone’s reports to memory.
“So what do we do now?” Espeon asked.
The question hung in the air, bringing a sense of weight to the Council Room. No one said a word. In fact, the entire room was silent except for the occasional creak of chairs and the ruffling of Pidgeot’s feathers.
“We need to address the claims made by Gligar and decide our actions from there,” Bulbasaur said.
“Not to mention what we intend to do with Gligar,” Gallade added.
Everyone started murmuring, and Bulbasaur had to stamp on the arm of his chair to get everyone to fall silent again.
“Gallade, you’re sure that this Klink was not present in PokeCity when you checked around?” the little green Pokemon asked.
“Yes, I’m sure,” the Fighting-type replied firmly. “However, it’s entirely possible that someone is using the dark energy of knowledge to cloak themselves in this Klink persona. I wouldn’t have been able to detect that.”
“Well, then Gligar has to be innocent,” Pidgeot interjected.
“Not so,” Gallade countered. “The way I see it, there are three possibilities. Gligar spied on us and found the knowledge, and is using his powers to send this Klink around to everyone, muddying the waters.”
“Highly unlikely,” Slowbro said. “I’ve kept him encased in ice since you brought him to me. Even now, he’s still in complete stasis, and I doubt he could send a spectre to you from all the way in his jail cell, immobilised as he is.”
“Agreed, which leaves only two options. Gligar was working with one of us Council Members, trying to attain power, or one of us is actually Klink.”
“Either way, one of the Council Members is a traitor,” Ditto murmured.
“Well then, how are we to find out who?” Slowbro asked.
“I propose we exile Gligar,” Gallade spoke up. “Either he’s a part of these goings-on, or he’s an innocent bystander and the real traitor may feel obliged to save him.”
“Whoa, that’s a bit harsh,” Pidgeot said. “You’d sacrifice an innocent bystander to catch this supposed traitor?”
“Yes, I would,” Gallade said firmly. “If he was a productive member of our community, he would have come and informed us of the knowledge, instead of causing a ruckus in the Forum. Furthermore, I very much doubt that the traitor would choose to leak to Gligar at random – he’s much too erratic. No, if information was leaked to Gligar secretly then this person would have to be close to him.”
“I’m going on record as saying that exiling Gligar is a really bad idea,” Pidgeot announced, folding his wings.
“I don’t know that there’s any other option,” Squirtle said quietly.
“Yes, I think it’s agreed,” Bulbasaur murmured quietly. “There’s no option. This isn’t Gligar’s first prank, and if we don’t do something he might use the power of knowledge again.”
“What pranks has he pulled?” Gallade asked curiously.
No one replied. Finally, Ditto spoke up. “Suffice it to say, it was bad enough to be on his record permanently,” she said. “In any case, this is nowhere near his first offence, and it’s time for him to leave PokeCity.”
One by one, the Council Members all nodded.
“I’ll tell him,” Gallade said gravely. “I’m the one who promised to intercede on his behalf.”
“Well if that’s all, let’s end this meeting,” Bulbasaur suggested. “Everyone should continue on their own investigations, and if anyone finds anything suspicious please send me a message.”
“…They’re banishing me?” Gligar asked in disbelief.
“If it’s worth anything, I’m sorry,” Gallade muttered, and he truly was. “The Council decided that we could try and use the story of your banning to guilt the traitor into coming forwards.”
“That’s messed up,” Gligar replied in a shocked tone of voice. “The end justifies the means?”
“Yes, in this case.”
“Why does it even matter?” Gligar asked suddenly. “Why shouldn’t the whole community share the power of knowledge?”
“I can’t answer that,” Gallade said quietly. “I haven’t figured it out yet. But I’m sure there is a reason, otherwise Bulbasaur wouldn’t have set up the Council.”
Gligar snorted. “So basically, you’re exiling me in the hopes that the leaker comes forward? That’s not very fair. Besides, the leaker still won’t announce himself.”
“I know.” Gallade sighed. “Still, it’s not just this – the whole attack, and your history, and the way you started spreading secrets. It’s all added up.”
The jail fell quiet, and after a couple minutes Gallade rose to his feet and sighed once more. “Well, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry,” he said. “I wish it hadn’t come to this. I hope you fare well, and if the leaker corroborates your story, you’ll be welcomed back.”
Gligar laughed feebly. “Goodbye, Gallade.”
Gallade left the jail and kicked at some small stones in the street. None of it felt right. They weren’t any closer to finding the traitor, and they’d just banished a potentially innocent denizen of PokeCity. The warrior resolved to speak privately with Bulbasaur as soon as possible. He turned around, intending to head for home, when an explosion ripped through the air. Gallade scanned the sky, his eyes wide with shock. It didn’t take him long to spot a trail of smoke rising into the sky, coming from one of the residential districts. Gallade started sprinting towards the smoke trail, moving in long strides. As he got closer, he saw two red dragons circling around the emanation point.
“Charizard, what’s going on?” Gallade yelled into the air.
One of them turned and looked at the comparatively small Fighting-type. “Don’t worry, the other one is Ditto,” he explained, yelling over the explosions. “Klink is here – he’s been wrecking up the district that all the wanderers live in.”
“Have we managed to pin him down yet?”
“Not yet, although we’ve kept him from fleeing so far.”
Gallade jumped into the air, and landed on a house’s rooftop. He jumped from rooftop to rooftop as Charizard returned to the aerial battle, breathing streams of fire into the smoke, which seemed to recoil from the infernos. Several more detonations sent walls and even whole houses flying into the air, and Gallade was awed by Klink’s raw power. Truly the power of knowledge was a great asset indeed.
The smoke started taking on the form of a large, many-winged dragon. It started to writhe through the air, snapping its indistinct jaws at Charizard and Ditto. Gallade didn’t have any problem telling which one was the real Charizard – all he had to do was look for the cigar. At the very tail of the serpent, a small blue disk broke out of the smoke and started glowing bright white. Gallade started heading towards it, and as he did so he witnessed a small stream of fire flash upwards and wrap around the disk. The disk broke free of the flames and started firing silver blasts of energy towards the ground.
Acting quickly, Gallade pointed his right arm towards the disk and supported it with his left arm. He reached for the energy inside of him, and grabbed hold of the part that felt the quickest. This quickness he pushed into his right arm, and it discharged from his palm in the form of a lightning bolt. The bolt travelled through the air in the blink of an eye and missed the disk by a bare centimetre. Gallade continued firing the Thunderbolts, attempting to distract Klink from whatever it was firing at. Fortunately, the gambit worked – Klink turned his attention to the incoming warrior Pokemon, and started firing the energy beams at him. Gallade groped for his inner-most power and threw it forwards, teleporting him directly underneath the attacking Pokemon. To his surprise, the source of the flames was Vulpix.
“What are you doing here, Vulpix?” Gallade asked in shock. From his experience, Vulpix was a shy Pokemon, one who definitely did not belong on the front lines of a battle.
“Klink blew up the house right next to mine,” she replied. “Besides, I’m just as qualified to be here as you are.”
“Probably more so,” Gallade grinned. It was no great secret that Vulpix was incredibly intelligent, whereas Gallade was a bit lacking in the smarts department.
Vulpix smiled back at Gallade before breathing another burst of fire upwards. The flames struck an incoming silver energy beam and caused a mid-air explosion, which in turn sent a shockwave in all directions. Vulpix was sent flying, but Gallade managed to stand his ground. He threw another lightning bolt up towards Klink, and this one flew very close. Gallade thought he heard a snarl, and he began charging his strongest attack. The strobing energy beams seemed to faulter, and Klink rose high into the sky. There was a thunderous detonation, and a sea of black energy exploded outwards from the disc-shaped Pokemon. The energy moved outwards until it covered the entirety of PokeCity. Everything was still.
Then, it began to rain. Not water, but blackness. Gallade’s mouth dropped open as the power of knowledge poured down onto everything. Black drops sprinkled onto his skin and faded moments later. Gallade didn’t feel any different, but he didn’t think he would – as a Council Member, he already had access to the knowledge. He just chose not to pervert it.
Klink started laughing, a high-pitched metallic ring of sardonic amusement that reverberated inside Gallade’s head. “Now, let’s see what your precious community does with their newfound power,” the Pokemon said. It chuckled once more before spinning off towards the lake. Charizard and Ditto chased after it – the smoke serpent had dissipated – but Gallade knew that Klink wouldn’t be caught that easily.
“Are you okay, Vulpix?” Gallade called out.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied. She was limping slightly, favouring her front left paw, but she looked okay.
“Good to hear,” the warrior Pokemon replied. “I need you to stay here in case any other Council Members rock up.”
“Where are you going?” the small fox asked.
“I need to see Bulbasaur.”
Once again, all of the near-by Council Members were at the Council Room, overlooking the sunset. This was the first time in years that the Council had met twice in one day.
“We have a very serious problem,” Bulbasaur said quietly. “The power of knowledge has been leaked to the public.”
“Yeah, and who knows what they’ll do with it,” Pidgeot added.
“If there’s one positive side to this, it’s that the power will be weakened by being spread,” Squirtle pointed out.
“Yes, but we don’t want twenty Klinks running around,” Espeon replied. “One of them is bad enough.”
“What are we going to do about catching Klink?” Gallade asked. “There has to be some sort of plan.”
“I was just getting to that,” Bulbasaur said. “Some of you have already come to me with ideas and suspicions, but I’m afraid I’m having trouble dealing with all of it in addition to coordinating with Pokemon Island. I have decided to appoint two Investigation Leads. I want all of you to investigate on your own, but to send all information you find to the leads.”
“Who will they be?” Slowbro asked.
“Ideally, they’d be two Pokemon outside of the system, ones that I trust, but I could only find one,” Bulbasaur admitted. “Come in, Smeargle.”
A small bipedal Pokemon entered the Room and sat on an empty seat, on Bulbasaur’s left. She looked kind of like a dog or a cow with a long tail. The end of this tail was moist with a thick green liquid. Smeargle smiled gently at everyone before settling back into the chair, which dwarfed her. Squirtle and Slowbro smiled at her, but most of the rest of the Council looked confused.
“Smeargle here is an ex-Council Member,” Bulbasaur explained. “She was on the Council back at the fort, but she retired shortly before we moved. I sent her a letter, and she’s agreed to come and help us out.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you all,” Smeargle said, and she was quiet, like Bulbasaur. “I hope to get to know each of you.”
“But then who will be the second lead?” Slowbro asked.
“I vote Charizard,” Gallade responded immediately. “Out of everyone here, I trust him the most. He doesn’t have a duplicitous bone is his body. If he was pissed off with the way we do things, he’d burn the Council Room down, not play at guerrilla warfare like the leaker is.”
Charizard grinned at Gallade. “I’m honoured, Gallade, but perhaps it should be a Senior Council Member instead of me.”
“No, as a non-Senior you haven’t been taught the power of secrets, so we can be confident you’re not the leaker,” Bulbasaur said slowly. “I approve of this. Anyone against it?”
The Council was silent. Bulbasaur nodded and stomped his foot on the frame of his chair. “Very well, this meeting is adjourned. Everyone, I expect you to do your best to dig up information, and send it all to Smeargle or Charizard.”
“So, you trust Charizard more than me?” Espeon asked Gallade in a pretend-offended tone as all the Council Members began to leave.
“Oh, don’t drop that on me,” Gallade replied wearily. “You know it would have been suspicious if I’d put you up to it. Besides you, Charizard is the only one I really trust.”
“Wow, the mighty Gallade trusting a Flying-type,” the small cat said in a mocking tone, “never would have believed that when I woke up this morning.”
“Oh, shut up,” Gallade grumbled. He looked around and saw Metagross hover over.
“Anything interesting happen?” the large crab asked Gallade and Espeon.
“You know we can’t say anything,” Espeon replied sternly.
“Well, apparently one of you guys disagrees,” Metagross said quietly. “I’ll see you guys around.”
Metagross levitated off in the direction of the Forum, and as he went Gallade thought he saw a spark of black energy dance around the Psychic-type’s metallic skin. He’d been friends with Metagross for ages, though, and there was no way he could be the leaker. He wasn’t even on the Council.
“Must be tired, I think I’m seeing things,” Gallade muttered.
“Did you say something?” Espeon asked, looking over her shoulder. She’d bounded ahead to smell a flower sprouting on the side of the path.
“Nah, nothing. Let’s hurry home, it’s your turn to cook.”
The next week was one of the worst in Gallade’s life. Klink struck daily, attacking every corner of PokeCity. Gallade barely had time to perform any investigations with all the fighting he had to do. To make it worse, there were rumours that the general populace had begun to experiment with their newfound powers. Thankfully, no one did so in public, so the only fights were with Klink. With one exception. Towards the end of the week, Gallade noticed a yellow Pokemon he’d never seen before overlooking the battles with Klink. Initially, he thought it was just a curious bystander, but after asking around he couldn’t chase them down. In fact, no one he asked even knew of a yellow mouse-like Pokemon living in PokeCity.
On the Saturday, Gallade found himself fighting Klink alongside Slowbro, Espeon, and Ditto in the farming district. The mysterious Pokemon had managed to blow up half of the pumpkin patch before the Council responded. Klink had summoned a spectral dragon made up of purple energy, and laughed while Gallade and Slowbro had tried to fight it off. Well, It had until Ditto copied that dragon’s form, and the Purple Dragon Heavyweight Championship Match began.
Gallade was quick to retaliate by firing psychic blasts at Klink. Slowbro and Espeon switched targets as well, and now the disc-shaped pain in Gallade’s ass had to deal with several multicoloured energy bolts. Somewhat surprisingly, its black energy shield was starting to fade when some electric blasts started striking Klink’s barrier as well. Gallade looked over and saw the small yellow Pokemon one hundred metres away, Thundershocking the Klink for all it was worth.
“Hey, that’s a Pikachu!” Slowbro exclaimed. “I haven’t seen one of them since the last one left a few years ago.”
The Pikachu seemed intent on bringing Klink down, and Gallade was happy for the assistance. At least, until the Thundershocks became coated in the black power of knowledge. Gallade watched in horror as the same blackness that coated Klink began to surround the Pikachu.
“It’s another leaker!” Slowbro cried out.
“Go get him, Gallade,” Espeon yelled, “we can hold Klink off!”
Gallade nodded and started running towards Pikachu. He dodged an errant fiery breath by the purple dragon and tore towards the small mouse. Pikachu noticed the incoming warrior Pokemon and stopped firing the Thundershocks. It turned and ran, leaving black energy in a streak behind it. Gallade sighed and reached for his inner energy, sending the power to his legs. Sure enough, he began to run faster, and it wasn’t long before he was matching Pikachu’s speed output.
The small yellow mouse burst into the housing district, dodging underneath people’s feet and zigzagging around obstacles. Gallade swore and jumped high, landing on the roof of a house. He jumped from house to house, making sure not to lose sight of the Pikachu’s swirling black energy cloud. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like the chase was going to end any time soon, until Gallade spied some scaffolding crossing the street. He threw a psychic blast towards the wooden frame, which promptly collapsed and blocked off the street. Pikachu promptly crashed into the pile of wood, and came to a complete stop.
Gallade jumped down and grabbed the mouse, surrounding it with telekinetic energy so it couldn’t escape. He stammered a quick apology to the nearby pedestrians, most of whom were irate. Thankfully, no one had been hurt.
Gallade retreated onto a nearby desolate rooftop before dropping Pikachu onto the asphalt and fixing it with a unflinching stare.
“Speak,” he said.
A whimper emanated from the small Pokemon. Its yellow skin started to turn black and flake off. The flakes revealed white fluffy wings wrapped around a circular blue body.
“Swablu?” Gallade asked weakly. “What in the hell are you doing?”
“I’m so sorry,” she started crying. “We just wanted to help you out so badly.”
“We?” the warrior asked in disbelief. He crossed his hands in an X shape and the paralytic binding on Swablu faded.
“Yeah…” Swablu said weakly. “I couldn’t make a disguise all by myself, so Metagross helped me.”
Gallade groaned. “Okay, was anyone else in on this?”
“No,” Swablu replied quietly. “Everyone else refuses to have anything to do with the power of knowledge.”
Gallade breathed a sigh of relief and sat down cross-legged. “Alright, this is what we’re going to do,” he said finally. “You and Metagross are going to stop digging around and using this power. I don’t want to see any of my friends hurt, and that includes you two.”
“Okay,” Swablu chirped, looking up at the humanoid’s face. “I’ll go let Metagross know.”
The tiny bird flew off towards the lake, and Gallade sighed. This was a tricky situation he was in. He didn’t want Swablu or Metagross to get into trouble, but at the same time he couldn’t lie to anyone. The only thing he knew for certain was that he had to tell someone, so he headed for the Council Room, hoping that Charizard would be there. He wasn’t, but surprisingly, Slowbro was.
“Have any problems after I left?” the Fighting-type asked.
“Nah, it ran off not long after,” Slowbro replied.
There was silence as Gallade dropped into his chair and put his legs up on the table, something he wouldn’t dream of doing if Bulbasaur was present.
“It was Swablu, wasn’t it?” Slowbro asked suddenly.
Gallade looked at the large pink Pokemon in shock before sighing. “How did you know?” he asked.
“Just a theory.” Slowbro took a moment to yawn before continuing. “Don’t worry, her secret is safe with me. She’s not evil, just enthusiastic.”
“Yeah, I agree. I actually came here to report it to Charizard.”
“Oh, he’s over on the north side, helping out with the aqueduct that got blown up a couple days ago.”
“Might as well wander over there then,” Gallade said as he got to his feet.
“I know we’re not that close,” Slowbro murmured, “but I hope you know that my heart is in the right place. I’m going to catch the leaker no matter what.”
Gallade stopped and looked Slowbro over. His body was relaxed and there wasn’t any sign of deceit in his face, although it would have been hard to tell if there was. He was rather dopey-looking, with his eyes wide apart and his mouth partly open. Gallade simply nodded to the Psychic-type and left, heading towards the northern aqueduct. The problem was that Slowbro was actually a pretty good candidate for being the leaker. He was a Senior Council Member, so he knew about the power of secrets, and he was usually quiet and rather inscrutable. He was even a member of the Old Guard, so who knew what powerful techniques he had discovered across his many years?
Thoughts whirled around inside the warrior’s head as he walked. He didn’t register anything – not the warm sun on his, or the hard cobblestone path under his feet, or the slight fluttering sound of feathers. Before he knew it he was at the aqueduct. It carried water from the lake to the northern and western parts of the city. Sure enough, Charizard was there, lifting heavy pieces of stone up onto the aqueduct for others to chisel into place. The quiet tremble in his wings told Gallade that he’d been working hard for a while now.
“Hey, Charizard, I need to speak with you,” the Fighting-type yelled up at the dragon.
The dragon breathed a burst of fire into the air, probably in irritation. “I’m a little too busy to talk right now,” he called back, struggling against a stone easily twice his size. “Smeargle is in the Forum, go speak to her.”
“Aww, the Forum? I walked all the way over here from the Council Room,” Gallade whined.
“Now, Gallade!” Charizard breathed another gout of flame into the air. “Aww dammit, you made me crisp my cigar.”
Smeargle wasn’t easy to find, but Gallade finally located her inside a small tea shop. She was rather delicately drinking a yellow liquid that had a rather pungent aroma.
“Smeargle, I need to speak with you,” Gallade said.
“Of course, young one, sit down,” Smeargle replied. Gallade lowered himself into the chair opposite her. Unfortunately, this tea shop catered to small-size Pokemon, so he looked a little bit ridiculous sitting in something that looked to him like a child’s chair.
“So, how can I help you?” the small Pokemon asked, taking another sip of her tea. Gallade winced, wondering just how she could drink anything that smelt that bad.
“Uh, I have some information I need to give to you,” the warrior replied in a formal tone of voice. He didn’t know how to act around Smeargle, and when he wasn’t sure of something he simply acted formal. It usually worked out.
Not this time, though. Smeargle smiled gently at the Fighting-type. “Come now, child, there’s no reason to be so serious. What have you learned?”
A bit of the tension seeped out of the warrior. “Today, we found another user of the power of knowledge,” Gallade said quietly, looking around to make sure that no one was listening in. “Swablu took on the form of a Pikachu with Metagross’ help, and she tried to help us battle Klink.”
“Hmm, I’ve already met both of them and I don’t believe they mean any lasting harm,” Smeargle said in a thoughtful tone of voice.
“Yeah, I agree. I’m sure they just wanted to help out without getting into trouble for doing so.”
“Well, thank you for bringing this to my attention.” Smeargle smiled once again up at the warrior. “Can I interest you in some Magik-grade tea?”
“No thanks, that stuff always takes me ages to get through,” Gallade replied, waving his hand in dismissal.
Suddenly, there was a crash outside. Gallade turned his head curiously, but decided to ignore it. Two seconds later, there was an explosion, and the screaming began. Gallade dashed outside, knocking over tables and sending chairs flying in his haste. When he got outside, his jaw dropped. The small yellow form of Pikachu was blasting holes in the surrounding buildings with black-coated electricity bolts.
“What the hell are you doing?” Gallade yelled.
The Pikachu turned and looked at Gallade. An evil grin plastered its face, but the grin seemed static somehow, like it couldn’t change its expression if it tried. Pikachu whipped its tail towards Gallade, and a yellow Thunderbolt blasted towards the shocked Fighting-type. Gallade started moving his hands to block it, but instinctively he knew he wouldn’t be fast enough.
A blob of green liquid arced over Gallade’s head and made contact with the tip of the lightning bolt a mere second before it struck the Fighting-type. The goo exploded, splattering Gallade completely, but the Thunderbolt was nowhere to be found. The goo must have absorbed the electricity. Gallade looked over his shoulder to see Smeargle behind him, standing in the tea shop’s entryway. She was holding her tail, and it was dripping green liquid onto the ground.
“Keep its attention for a minute!” Smeargle called. She started waving her tail through the air, and the green slime started flowing more freely. However, it wasn’t falling to the ground any more – wherever the tip of her tail went, gravity-defiant sludge remained.
Gallade looked back to see Pikachu charging a Thunderbolt. The warrior put his hands out in front of himself, and a blue rectangular screen appeared in front of his palms. Pikachu fired Thunderbolt, but it was deflected up into the sky by Gallade’s Light Screen. More Thunderbolts followed the first, forcing Gallade onto his knee. Thankfully, just when the Light Screen was about to break, there was a blue flash of light and Pikachu was knocked over. To Gallade’s surprise, Slowbro thudded into his field of view. His spiky tail was glowing blue, and hiss normally dopey features were close-knit in concentration.
“Let’s finish this,” he said.
Gallade nodded and dissipated the shield. He ran towards Pikachu, red energy gathering around his hands and feet. Slowbro launched more psychic blasts towards the yellow mouse, hoping to distract it, but a black sphere surrounded Pikachu, deflecting the blasts. It rose up into the air, and Pikachu started laughing in a deep, booming voice.
“If any citizens of PokeCity wish to learn how to use their new powers,” it spoke, “I advise you contact Swablu.”
Gallade’s stomach dropped into a pit. On the positive side, he was now sure that this Pikachu was an impostor, and not Swablu on a power trip. However, Swablu was now in a lot of trouble. Still, if the original Pikachu had been a combined effort by Swablu and Metagross, how come this fake didn’t know that?
Gallade pushed the thoughts aside and concentrated on the battle. The red energy surged around his limbs, and he jumped up towards the black orb. The pavestones shattered underneath his feet. Gallade felt Slowbro pushing him faster with his telekinetic powers. The red energy gathered at Gallade’s right fist, and it ignited, bursting into flame. The warrior pushed his fist forwards, throwing all of his weight and speed behind the punch. Pikachu’s black sphere shattered into tiny pieces, but the yellow mouse was ready. It fired a huge blast of blue electricity towards Gallade. Gallade curled up into a ball and activated his Protect technique. A silver-white veil covered him body completely, and while the blue sparks crawled all over him he didn’t feel anything at all.
The white-covered warrior blasted past Pikachu, flying high into the air. Pikachu’s fatal mistake was that it watched Gallade spin upwards. A follow-up blast from Slowbro sent Pikachu after Gallade. The Electric-type squealed as Gallade uncurled and folded his hands together. A flame the size of Gallade’s head crackled to life, and with a single movement the Fighting-type brought the improvised club down onto Pikachu’s head.
There was a thunderous detonation as Pikachu broke the sound barrier on its way down into the ground. When it actually made contact huge pieces of stone were flung into the air as a crater was formed. Gallade grinned and placed his hand onto his forehead, Teleporting down next to Slowbro. A slight smoke-trail began to wind out of the trailer, which was easily big enough for Charizard to live in.
Maniacal laughter cracked through the air, and two black spheres rose up out of the pit. Gallade and Slowbro launched blue waves of psychic energy towards the orbs, but they had no effect. The orbs suddenly lunged forward and absorbed the two Psychic-types completely. Gallade thrashed around inside the orb, but it was like trying to swim in mud. He couldn’t see, and the only thing he could hear was Pikachu’s deep laughter.
“Not to worry, boys,” a calm voice cut across the laughter. The orb suddenly burst, releasing Gallade and a load of black sludge onto the ground. Gallade coughed and looked over at Slowbro in time to see him released in the same manner. A humanoid Pokemon was standing in front of both of them. It was half again as high as Gallade and encased in green armour. On its left hand was a shield, and in its right it grasped a long, curving sword.
The warrior looked back at Gallade, and Gallade was shocked to see Smeargle’s face smiling down at him. “It’s my turn from here,” she said.
She knocked down the visor of her helmet and blasted into the pit, kicking up stones into the air as she moved. As soon as she disappeared into the pit, the laughter stopped. A split second later, Pikachu was sent spiralling up into the air. Smeargle jumped up after it, slashing at the Pokemon mercilessly with her sword. Gallade could only look on in awe – Smeargle was fighting at speeds he couldn’t have been able to.
Pikachu started firing black-coated lightning bolts at Smeargle, but she deflected them easily with her shield. Her green sword danced like a flickering flame, but it didn’t seem to leave any physical marks on Pikachu. Instead, each time the blade passed through the mouse, it moved a little slower. Finally, the mouse cried out in rage, and it started emitting a bright white light. Smeargle grabbed a hold of the mouse and flung it high into the sky. Pikachu squealed as it spun, and a couple of seconds later it detonated high over the sky. The explosion was long and loud, and Gallade knew if it had happened on the ground a good quarter of the city would have been destroyed.
Smeargle landed on the ground next to Gallade, and her armour and weaponry dissolved into green mush. “Are you alright?” she asked him.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Gallade said breathlessly. “That was incredible! Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“Oh, I’ve picked up a few tricks across my many years,” she replied coyly. “You should run along now. I’m sure Espeon is worried about you.”
“Yeah, I might do that.”
When Gallade arrived home, he was surprised to see Swablu talking to Espeon. The little bird was perched on the arm of the chair Espeon was curled up in.
“Swablu? How long have you been here?” the Fighting-type asked her.
“The last hour or so,” she replied, sounding confused.
“And you’ve been here the whole time?” Gallade turned to look at Espeon.
“Yes.” She nodded.
Gallade sighed in relief. They now had definite proof that the Pikachu that attacked the Forum couldn’t have been Swablu. He flopped down into the chair opposite the two of them and rubbed his forehead tiredly.
“Is everything alright?” Swablu inquired.
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Gallade said, but he shot Espeon a meaningful look. She gave him a tiny nod in reply, but didn’t say anything.
“So, what are you doing here, Swablu?” Gallade asked.
“I heard a fascinating rumour and I was passing it on to Espeon since she’s on the Council,” Swablu said in her high-pitched voice.
“What is it?”
“I’ve heard Pokemon all over say that the leaker is one of the Old Guard,” Swablu whispered conspiratorially. “They’re supposedly not happy that the balance of power has shifted away from them. They used to have complete control over the government, but now that you and Espeon and Charizard are in it, they’ve lost their sway.”
“We’ll be sure to let Bulbasaur know,” Espeon said. “Thank you, Swablu.”
“Any time!” she chirped, fluttering out through an open window. Gallade stood up and latched it shut behind her.
“I just had to fight off another leaker,” he said quietly to Espeon.
The purple cat narrowed her eyes and looked the warrior Pokemon over. Gallade could tell that she was looking for injuries; thankfully he didn’t have any bad ones. “A new leaker?” she finally asked. “Who was it?”
“I don’t know, it was someone trying to get Swablu incriminated,” he said as he sat back down. Espeon jumped up onto his lap and rubbed her face against his worriedly. “And yeah, I’m fine. Smeargle was there, and she was a real fighting force.”
“Wow, she must have been powerful for you to notice,” Espeon teased.
“You realise it has to be Pidgeot or Slowbro, right? There’s no other Senior Council Members in the Old Guard.”
“No. It’s definitely Pidgeot, because I know it’s not Slowbro. He helped me fight off the leaker today, and besides, I’ve seen hardly anything of Pidgeot since this whole business began. It’s almost like he’s been hiding.”
The two of them sat quietly together, watching the sun set through the window. The orange colours played with the blue in a completely cloud-less sky.
“It’s quiet,” Espeon murmured.
“Yeah. It’s the calm before the storm.”
The next day Gallade found himself walking up to the Council Room quietly alongside Espeon. He knew that this Council Meeting would probably be the most eventful one in his entire life. He’d spent the entire night thinking it over, and the more time he spent the more he was sure it had to be Pidgeot. None of the other Senior Council Members had the potential to do all these things except Pidgeot, so by elimination, it had to be him. Espeon had agreed with Gallade, and so now the two of them were preparing to confront him at the meeting.
The meeting opened as normal, except only half of the Council was there. The only ones present were Gallade, Espeon, Charizard, Bulbasaur, Slowbro, Vulpix, Smeargle and Pidgeot.
“I guess we’d better start the meeting,” Slowbro said.
“Very well. Is there anything new to report?” Bulbasaur asked.
“Yes.” Gallade stood up. His knees were shaking slightly – he was about to accuse one of the most powerful Pokemon ever of being a traitor. “I think that Pidgeot is the leaker.”
The Council went silent.
“How dare you accuse me?” Pidgeot exploded. “I don’t want you to slander my good name over something I haven’t done!”
“How about you submit your mind to be read?” Gallade challenged.
“That’s an invasion of privacy!”
“If we don’t read minds, we’re never going to find out who the leaker is. Do you want him to get away clean?”
Pidgeot was fuming. “Well I’m not going to have my mind read by you,” he objected. “How do we know you’re not the leaker?”
“Very well, by Smeargle then. She’s an impartial observer. You can do it, right?” Gallade asked, looking over at the small dog-like Pokemon, who simply nodded.
Pidgeot appeared to have calmed down. “Fine, but you first.”
Gallade nodded. Smeargle walked over to Gallade and drew a symbol on the back of his head with the green paint. No one moved. A few seconds later, Smeargle sighed in relief.
“It is not him.”
“Slowbro next,” Pidgeot insisted.
Smeargle drew the same symbol on the back of Slowbro’s head, and seconds later declared he was clean. Not a single sound could be heard as Smeargle moved over to Pidgeot. She drew the symbol, and closed her eyes.
“Pidgeot is blocking her,” Espeon murmured.
“Trust me, I’m good with mental warfare. Pidgeot is blocking her access to his mind. We need to join powers with Slowbro to help Smeargle break through.”
Gallade nodded, and he closed his eyes. He could feel Smeargle’s green energy surrounding Pidgeot’s blue, and he reached out with his own purple energy. Espeon’s pink and Slowbro’s red flowed amongst each other and into the green, pushing against the blue shield. It began to shake and faulter, until finally it cracked open. And immediately, something felt wrong.
Gallade opened his eyes and saw a black energy field expanding from Pidgeot’s mouth. Smeargle wasn’t fast enough – the black energy struck her and sent her flying into one of the columns. There was a devastating crack sound as she made contact, and she collapsed onto the ground.
Pidgeot waved at Bulbasaur with one of his wings, and black energy lashed forwards to tie the small green Pokemon down to his chair. The energy moved like a pair of snakes, trying to constrict the Bulbasaur. It took them a bare second to hide Bulbasaur from sight.
“What are you doing, Pidgeot?” Vulpix cried out.
“You have no right to pry into my mind!” he yelled as he made a chopping motion with his other wing. A blast of air pressure crashed into Vulpix, sending her flying into the roof and knocking her out cold. Pidgeot then shot another blast of dark energy towards the ceiling, blowing it into dust. He flew out of it with Charizard hot on his tail. Gallade gave a quick look at the mass of writhing black energy on Bulbasaur’s chair but decided there wasn’t much he could do. He jumped up through the hole, with Espeon and Slowbro right behind him.
A running battle had already developed between Pidgeot and Charizard. Charizard was ever-so-slightly faster than Pidgeot, so he’d dart in front of the large bird and breathe fire to repel it. Pidgeot would blast the fire away with dark energy and turn around, trying to escape again. Espeon started firing blue psychic blasts up into the sky, and Gallade started launching Thunderbolts. Fire and lightning and pure energy criss-crossed the bright blue morning sky as Pidgeot dodged and evaded every single attack thrown at him.
“I’m not the damn leaker!” he yelled furiously.
“Then who is?” Gallade screamed back. “And why are you fighting us?”
Pidgeot didn’t reply. If anything, he started fighting harder. His use of the power of knowledge became less defensive and more offensive as he started strobing the ground with black beams of devastating power. One nearly clipped Espeon, and in fact it would have if not for a timely intervention by one of Slowbro’s defensive shields. Gallade dropped down onto the ground and threw huge rocks up at Pidgeot, but the bird was too agile and the rocks too slow-moving.
Eventually, Pidgeot started to tire. Part of his tail was singed by a blast of fire from Charizard, and a lucky shot from Slowbro blew a chunk of his feathers off. Pidgeot screamed, a primal scream of rage that struck a chord with everyone who heard it. Blackness started seeping out from underneath his feathers, covering him completely. He screeched at Slowbro, and a laser-fast cone of darkness smashed into the Psychic-type. Slowbro struggled onto his feet, but a follow-up attack knocked him out cold.
“Gallade, I need you and Charizard to hold Pidgeot off for a little while, I have an idea,” Espeon said urgently.
Gallade nodded. He yelled his war-cry and jumped into the air, catching Pidgeot by the tail. The black energy that coated him burned at Gallade’s skin like acid. Gallade grunted in pain and ignited his fist, attempting to set Pidgeot’s tail on fire. The large bird shook him off easily – fortunately, Charizard dived down and caught the warrior in his arms.
“If I’ve been trying to set fire to him for this long, what chance did you think you had?” the dragon asked reproachfully.
“Alright, fine, just throw me at him.”
Charizard flew high over Pidgeot and dropped Gallade right onto the Flying-type’s neck. The black energy began to eat away at Gallade’s skin again, but this time he was ready to act. Sparks erupted around both of his fists and he began hammering away at Pidgeot’s neck. The bird squawked with pain and started corkscrewing, but Gallade held on for dear life. He continued to strike with his electrified fists, but the acidic burning was getting too much to bear. Gallade got off one last punch before dismounting and landing on the Council Room’s roof next to Espeon. Charizard streaked after Pidgeot, breathing fire once again.
“Are you ready yet?” Gallade asked Espeon, looking at his charred hands. “I don’t think I have another one of those in me.”
“One minute,” she replied through clenched teeth. Her red forehead jewel was shining brightly and pulsing with energy. Gallade watched as the pulsing became faster until finally Espeon was ready. She opened her eyes wide, and they weren’t her normal shade of purple. They were completely white, iris and all. Pink energy expanded outwards, covering her in the same way black energy covered Pidgeot. The pink energy continued to grow though, not stopping until the Espeon shape it took on was almost as big as the hill that the Council Room sat on. Gallade could hear the real Espeon hiss from inside the huge Psychic beast, but the expanded version’s hiss sounded more like the roar of a god. It was times like this that Gallade regretted giving up his psychic abilities in exchange for physical might.
The huge Espeon batted at Pidgeot with its paw, knocking the bird out of its flight path. It hissed again and struck out with its other paw, crushing Pidgeot into the ground. It then stood up and wriggled its rump before pouncing on the bird and grabbing him in its mouth. Espeon shook the black-covered bird like a dead rat. Pidgeot screeched and started firing beams of energy at random, but they all bounced off of the huge cat’s hide. Finally, a black orb expanded around Pidgeot, causing Espeon to let go of the bird and spit him out. Unfortunately, the black orb expanded too fast, and it became stuck in the energy beast’s mouth. Espeon pawed at it, trying to release it, but it was no good. She stumbled backwards, her hind legs smashing through the Council Room. The table and chairs went flying into the air, including the one that Bulbasaur was tied into. Everything slowed down as Gallade watched the blackness-encased chair arc through the air.
Suddenly, Gallade knew what to do. “Espeon, pass it to me!” Gallade yelled.
The huge proto-Espeon exploded into streams of pink light which flowed down towards Gallade. They wrapped around his arms and flowed up into his blades, expanding them far beyond their natural length. With all his might, Gallade swung his arms upwards, performing his most quintessential move: Psycho Cut. The twin pink slices curled up into crescents and spun around each other as they blasted towards Bulbasaur’s chair. Pidgeot burst free of his black bubble and sped towards them, but he wasn’t fast enough. The Psycho Cuts slashed the writhing black streamers, and they squealed as they fell towards the ground.
Instantly, Bulbasaur burst out of the chair. He levitated up into the sky opposite Pidgeot, growing as he did so. His bulb burst open and revealed a beautiful pink-and-red flower. Bulbasaur just kept on growing until he was easily six times as big as Pidgeot, and yet he floated effortlessly in the air.
“Pidgeot, that is ENOUGH!” he boomed. “Despite all you have done for PokeCity, this is unforgivable. Leave, or I will force you to.”
“I’m not the leaker!” he roared back.
“Be that as it may, there is no excuse for attacking your fellow Council Members, especially with the power of knowledge,” Bulbasaur intoned. “Now, be gone from this place.”
Wordlessly, Pidgeot turned and flapped away, all traces of dark energy fading as he did so. Gallade watched with baited breath for a counterattack, but it never came.
“Is everyone all right?” a metallic voice asked, and Gallade saw Metagross come running up the hill. Gallade sighed ruefully – trust Metagross to always be close to the action.
“We’re fine,” another voice said, and Gallade turned to see Smeargle walking out of the rubble of the Council Room, supported by Vulpix.
Bulbasaur sighed and started to shrink. His flower curled back into its bulb and he touched down gently. “I’m sure the public has lots of questions,” he said sadly. “Gallade, would you go and speak to them, please?”
“Sure, I’d be glad to,” Gallade replied. “Hopefully the leaking is at an end.”
“So is there any truth to the rumour that Pidgeot was the leaker?” one of the Pokemon in the crowd yelled out.
“We cannot confirm or deny anything that happened regarding the leaks just yet,” Gallade replied. “As for Pidgeot, he is retiring of his own accord.”
“Has the Council learned any lessons or made any choices about the way PokeCity is governed?” another asked. “If all knowledge was shared between everyone, the power of knowledge would be negligible.”
“That’s true, but if this series of events has taught us anything, it’s that power corrupts,” Gallade responded. “For the sake of PokeCity’s continued safety, we need to limit the amount of people who are exposed to power to only those who have proven themselves up to the challenge. One thing I would like to say is that the entire PokeCity community was incredibly mature during these trying times, and I thank you. The entire Council thanks you. And now we can finally continue with our plans. On to Pokemon Island!”
“Pokemon Island!” the crowd roared. Gallade saw Swablu and Metagross both in crowd, chanting happily, and he grinned at them. Everything was right once more.
“So, was Pidgeot the leaker?” Treecko asked the wizened old storyteller.
The storyteller’s wrinkled green arm shook slightly as he leaned forwards. He grinned, and there was a sparkle in his eye that belied his age.
“Well, as soon as Pidgeot left the leaks stopped, but we never found any proof that he actually was the leaker,” the old Pokemon replied, “so it’s possible that his exiling just scared the leaker into submission.”
“What happened next?” Poliwag squeaked.
“You all know that.” The storyteller smiled. “The influence of the Council spread to Pokemon Island, and then to Marill Land, the cliffs of Dialga, and Vileplume Jungle soon after. It wasn’t long until the entirety of our world was combined under the Council, and we’ve enjoyed the longest era of peace in recorded history – over ninety years.”
“But what happened to Pidgeot?” Treecko asked, sounding frustrated.
Gallade’s smiled dipped for just a second before returning. “I personally never saw him again, but I knew of others who did. They claimed that he appeared to them at the height of their power and challenged them to a test of strength. In my time, he lurked on the edges of the world, the ultimate obstacle for a fighter to surpass. Who knows? Maybe he’s still out there, and if you train hard, perhaps one day you may get to battle him too.”