This is the third, and likely the darkest, of the three stories I'll be progressively writing. The other two are Something to Prove and Something to Prevent.
Currently Requiring Grading: Nothing
--Nothing to Lose: Chapter 1--
--Intent to Capture: ABRA, MAGIKARP--
--Difficulty Rating: HARD + EASIEST (23k to 35k characters)--
---June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 00:34---
Lokiel Terra stumbled and fell flat on his face as a tree root protruding from the dirt of the narrow forest trail snagged one of his worn-out runners. He dragged himself to his feet, wincing as his knees, which had impacted the ground first, flared with pain. He looked around nervously, but his surroundings were nearly pitch-black.
"Can't see a thing...!" he muttered to himself, a bit of hysteria creeping into his voice. Dark had already fallen above the treetops, and what little moonlight there was didn't filter through the leaves and branches. The trails crisscrossing amongst the thick underbrush were submerged in deep, lurking shadows that were somehow worse than pitch blackness. Lokiel stifled a whimper. He would never have admitted it to anyone, but he was afraid of the dark.
If there had been any light, an onlooker wouldn't have believed that this boy was the prodigal son of a wealthy, powerful member of the Trainers' Association. His thin, stylish black leather jacket, never meant for a frantic run through a forest, was in tatters; his black t-shirt was in better condition, but due to his fall a moment before, its front was now covered liberally with dirt stains, obscuring part of the silver-and-red emblem that marked Lokiel as his father's property. That, at least, was an improvement in Lokiel's mind, however small.
He dreaded returning home. His father was harsh at the best of times, but this debacle was beyond anything Lokiel had ever imagined.
Where did it all go wrong?? Lokiel thought to himself despairingly, holding his hands out blindly in front of him as he shuffled forward on the dark trail. His mind, though, was miles away from the black forest. Why did Father's stupid Garchomp go crazy like that?
Unbidden, a series of memories flashed through Lokiel's mind. He was back on the boardwalks of Route 32; the sun was shining down mercilessly, the wind was annoying him, getting in his eyes, and the world seemed determined to get in the way of his training of his new Gyarados...
~~~Ten Hours Earlier: June 1, Year 1505 MTA; 14:40~~~
The walkway, a boardwalk of light wood floating on the river near its west bank, creaked and groaned under Lokiel's feet, but he ignored it as, staring out into the river, he used one arm to shade his eyes from the annoyingly bright sun. Lokiel was tall for his thirteen years, with close-cropped, dyed-red hair. His clothing was the most comfortably fashionable stuff he could find, while still being suited to the weather-- a thin leather jacket that blocked the irritating wind, a black t-shirt with the red-and-silver dragon emblem his father always insisted he wear in some form or other, and a pair of nice, serviceable blue jeans.
At the moment, Lokiel's attention was fixed on his new Gyarados, which had been given to him by his father just a few days earlier. It was out in the center of the river, using a Whirlpool attack that sucked in, chewed up and spit out the wild Pokémon. This kind of training, Lokiel was told, would help Gyarados to create such a whirlpool even outside of the river. The boy smiled smugly, watching the giant swirl of water that showed the awesome power of his Pokémon.
Just then, his Gyarados, tiring already, started to move the Whirlpool back towards the boardwalk. Done already? Lokiel thought with a resigned sigh. Still, his private trainer had assured him that the Pokémon would gain more stamina with time and effort... Which was another reason Lokiel was eager to keep training the Gyarados. As it was, it was still young, and was smaller and weaker than the others of its kind he had seen experienced Trainers use.
Lokiel had spent a good bit of his childhood watching Trainers and learning as much as he could about Pokémon. He'd never gone to Pokémon School like other kids his age; instead, at an early age, his father had seen his growing interest in Pokémon and promptly hired a number of private instructors. Lokiel had soaked up everything they taught with avid attention. He had a plan: he'd become the strongest Trainer there was, and he'd do it with the best Pokémon in the world. He had his future group all planned out... And even better, a lot of the powerful Pokémon he wanted evolved from apparently useless and weak earlier forms: Pokémon like Magikarp and Feebas were easy to capture, even though they evolved into the impressive, grand Gyarados and Milotic. Lokiel grinned at the thought of using such Pokémon to defeat all challengers, and finally, one day, to become the Pokémon Master.
Lokiel was startled out of his daydream by a shout.
"Hey, you! Kid!" A random fisherman, who Lokiel hadn't noticed before, was striding towards him, a pompous look on his face. Lokiel raised one eyebrow with annoyance, crossing his arms over his chest.
"What is it?" he asked the balding, middle-aged man impatiently.
"Stop your Gyarados right now! Maybe no one's ever told you this, but it's cruel to attack wild Pokémon that don't come looking for a fight," the fisherman lectured, shaking his red fishing cap angrily at Lokiel.
Stop? As if, Lokiel thought. He was well within his rights as a Trainer to train his Pokémon wherever he wanted. What was their problem, anyway? If the man didn't like how the Gyarados was stirring up the river, he could go somewhere else to do his fishing. "I know what I'm doing," Lokiel told the man, waving a hand to dismiss him. Gyarados, its Whirlpool beginning to shrink, had nearly reached the edge of the boardwalk, and Lokiel wanted to get this over with so he could be on his way.
"I don't care if you know what you're doing!" The red-faced man ranted, splattering Lokiel's face with spit. "You're scaring away the fish, and that whirlpool is going to cause damage to the river's ecosystem!"
Lokiel rolled his eyes, resisting the urge to wipe his face. "Fuck off."
"Now, you listen here, kid, I'm going to give you till the count of--" There was a sudden roar from Lokiel's right, and the man quieted down immediately. The whirlpool, even more impressive from up close, had come to a stop right next to the boardwalk. Gyarados, leaving off its spinning of the whirlpool, was rising from the choppy waters, letting out the roar that had finally shut the man up. Lokiel spared a glance at his Pokémon's handiwork: disoriented-looking water-type Pokémon swirled around in the whirlpool, completely overpowered by Gyarados's strength. Lokiel didn't see any Feebas or Horsea in there, though, so he lost interest and returned his attention to the fisherman, who was, to Lokiel's amusement, stumbling backwards in astonishment, staring at the giant blue-and-tan dragon. Behind the man, a nosy kid, no older than nine or ten, was hurrying up to see what was going on. The kid was wearing a disgustingly bright orange shirt and-- oddly, for someone his age-- beige pants instead of shorts. Arriving on the scene, the little boy gaped open-mouthed at the Gyarados. Lokiel grinned at the kid's reaction, enjoying the sense of power it gave him to command such a powerful Pokémon.
Then, the fisherman surprised him by gathering his wits and stepping forward again. Lokiel's grin disappeared.
"Damned rookie Trainers." The man opened the fishing case he carried, and drew out a Poké ball. He tossed it into the water, and, with a flash of reddish light, the ball returned to his hand, leaving behind a fish with fragile-looking fins. Lokiel snorted under his breath. That thing, against his Gyarados? This would be no contest.
"Lumineon, the Neon Pokémon." Lokiel would never be unprepared enough to let a surprise make him jump, but the sudden voice directed his gaze immediately to the light blue, advanced-looking Pokégear that he hadn't noticed strapped to the arm of the little kid behind the fisherman. What kind of Pokégear is that? I haven't seen that brand before... Lokiel frowned slightly. Maybe it's new, in which case I'll have to ask the butler to find one for me.
"It can light up its tail fins, using them to attract prey. It is often called the Beautifly of the Sea." The Pokégear finished its narrative, drawing a smirk from Lokiel. So much for hidden talents: what was the thing going to do, light up at Gyarados? He made a subtle gesture, which he had taught the Gyarados to recognize as a command to submerge. It sank back into the water, ready to battle the weak-looking fish.
"Lumineon, clean up this trash for me, will you?" the man ordered his pathetic Pokémon with way too much confidence. "Use Water Pulse."
"Luuume!" The little fish quivered a bit... Probably shaking with fear, thought Lokiel with a superior grin... and then let out a shriek. Lokiel resisted the urge to cover his ears-- here on the surface, the sound was unpleasant, but underwater, it travelled in a visible shockwave that pounded into Gyarados. Lokiel frowned. Had he underestimated the fisherman's Pokémon?
He needn't have worried. Gyarados shrugged off the attack, then suddenly rose up from beneath the Lumineon, breaking through the river's surface and sending the pathetic fish flying helplessly into the air in a surge of water.
Lokiel grinned, and made another subtle hand signal. No mercy. Lightning-fast, Gyarados turned its head towards the fisherman's Pokémon, intense white light growing in its gaping mouth. The light grew brighter until, with a roaring noise like a waterfall mixed with the din of a train, an immense laser beam roared from his Gyarados's maw, completely surrounding Lumineon and holding it in place in midair. The fisherman raised the fish's Poké ball, trying to return the Lumineon to safety, but the sheer power of the Hyper Beam disrupted the ball's red ray. Lokiel smirked to himself. No mercy.
The sight was awe-inspiring. Gyarados's sheer power, even though it was tired after its training in the river, was amazing. The Hyper Beam continued, and the pathetic little fish trapped in the laser shrieked, this time without any trace of the power of its earlier Water Pulse attack. Then the sound cut off as the Lumineon fainted, and Lokiel's grin widened, his feeling of power growing. I command a Pokémon that defeats opponents in a single attack!
"Do something!" Suddenly, the little kid was next to Lokiel, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him back and forth. "It's over, call it off!"
As if. If you let an opponent off easy, he'll just come back to annoy you again. The fish can take it. It's a Pokémon, after all, even if it's a weak one. Now stop shaking me! Lokiel thought, irritated. He could have used throws from any of several martial arts he knew on the boy, but he settled for grabbing the nine-year-old's wrists and pushing the boy away. The brightly-clothed kid fell over, and Lokiel rolled his eyes. What, are you gonna' start crying?
Without warning, the little boy's Pokémon, which Lokiel hadn't noticed before, was standing between Lokiel and its Trainer. It was a small, blue-and-black humanoid Pokémon with floppy black ears and a puppy-like face. Lokiel didn't recognize what type of Pokémon it was, but something told him that it wasn't as weak as it looked. It was growling menacingly, and its posture was like a coiled spring, ready to lash out at any moment.
Lokiel took an involuntary step back, then cursed his own weakness. Never show doubt. Never show uncertainty. Lokiel's father, whenever he could spare time to personally oversee his son's lessons, was constantly drumming these all-important instructions into Lokiel, and if he had been there, he would have had a few choice words for his son. Lokiel turned the look of uncertainty on his face into a sneer. It's illegal to attack another Trainer with your Pokémon. The kid wouldn't dare.
Staring into the tiny little fighting-type's eyes with newfound confidence, he almost missed the flash of motion from the boardwalk behind the kid he'd knocked down. The kid had another Pokémon; Lokiel recognized it as a Weavile even though it lacked the usual crown-like red crest on its head, since the three featherlike tails, long sharp claws, and jet-black fur were unmistakable. A formidable Pokémon, from what Lokiel had heard. Too good for a little kid like this! He thought scornfully.
The Weavile, however, didn't seem to agree. Shooting Lokiel a look that said it shared its Trainer's opinion of his Gyarados showing off its power, the ice-type suddenly leaped from the edge of the boardwalk, a powerful jump that sent it flying straight at Gyarados's head. It drew back one clawed hand, and the air around the spiky fist shimmered with water vapour that suddenly coalesced into a block of solid ice. The Weavile slammed its ice-covered claw into the side of Gyarados's head.
The draconic water-type's head snapped sideways, the ice shattering from the sheer power of the Weavile's Ice Punch. A visible, freezing wind blew across Gyarados's face, making it recoil and cut off the Hyper Beam. The thoroughly defeated fish, released from the attack that had been transfixing it in midair, fell into the water, still unconscious, and its Trainer returned its to its Poké ball.
Lokiel didn't care about the man and his weak Pokémon any more, though. His gaze was fixed on the Weavile, which had grabbed on to his Gyarados's head and was scratching wildly at its face, trying to get at its eyes. Lokiel was signaling for his Pokémon to dive underwater, but it was evidently too dazed to notice his hand signals, even though he was making them fairly obvious. The blue-and-tan water dragon roared with pain as the Weavile's razor-sharp claws managed to reach past the armored blue crest on its forehead and score a hit on its face. Evidently, the tired and injured Gyarados wasn't going to win this battle.
"Useless," Lokiel muttered. "Needs more training." He should have expected this, at any rate; he'd only been training Gyarados for a few days, and he himself was evidence that a Trainer's skill wasn't always proportional to his age. It was his own fault for underestimating the kid; looking more carefully, he could now see the signs that he should have paid more attention to: the younger boy's stuffed-full blue backpack, which probably held Trainer supplies; the state-of-the-art Pokégear strapped to the kid's hand; the flyaway brown hair that looked like it hadn't been combed in days... They all hinted that this was a boy who'd been on his journey as a Trainer for some time now.
Obviously that little kid, even if he's a wuss, has a head start on me. I'll keep training, and beat him next time. For now, though, I'll admit defeat. Lokiel lifted the Ultra ball he'd received the Gyarados in, the black-and-yellow design glinting in the sunlight. A beam of red light shot out of the high-quality capsule, striking the draconic Pokémon and turning it into more red light before returning it to its place inside. His opponent's Weavile, suddenly left hanging in midair, dropped into the water, then surfaced, chattering angrily at Lokiel as it swam back towards the boardwalk.
His defeat acknowledged, though not fully accepted, Lokiel turned and started walking away, heading south towards the Pokémon Center at the base of Mt. Union.
The man with the Lumineon, though, seemed unwilling to leave it at that. Red-faced, he hurried after Lokiel and grabbed him by one shoulder, jerking him around roughly. "Hey, kid! You can't just walk away from something like this! This will be reported to the Trainers' Association, I tell you! Give me your name, now, or it'll go worse for you."
If there was one thing Lokiel hated, it was a sore loser. At least he knew when he'd been beaten, and he'd taken it better than this purple-faced fisherman. He gave the man a cold glare, putting his finger on the release button of the second Poké ball that was concealed in his pocket. "What a sore loser. Get your hands off me." Still hiding the Poké ball, he lifted it halfway out of his pocket and pressed the button, directing the capsule at the boardwalk between the obnoxious man and himself.
There was a flash of red light, and a huge, dark purple dragon with a red, leathery chest and white ivory spikes on its wings and legs appeared, sending the belligerent fisherman flying as it arrived in the same place the man had been standing. The dragon was a Garchomp, his father's pride and joy.
"Father lent me this Pokémon for backup while I train my Gyarados. Get in my way and I'll bury you." Lokiel promised confidently. There was no way this idiot could handle Garchomp-- it was out of his league, and the same went for that nosy little kid. "Oh, and by the way, my name is Lokiel Terra. Don't wear it out, asshole."
"This is madness!" shouted the fisherman, scrambling to his feet. His face was turning completely purple, and Lokiel stifled the urge to yawn insolently as the man ranted at him. "I don't think much of a father who would give such an irresponsible brat his strong Pokémon, much less let him loose on the world like--"
Lokiel finally gave in to the temptation, cutting the sore loser off with an exaggerated yawn. "Boring, boring. You people are all the same. Garchomp, bury these idiots with Sand Tomb and we'll ditch them while they're digging themselves out."
That, Lokiel now realized, was when things began to go seriously wrong...
~~~Ten Hours Later: June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 01:10~~~
Trudging through the pitch-black forest, Lokiel clenched his fist in frustration. It had all gone so wrong, so quickly. Garchomp had ignored him completely, and started trying to kill the fisherman, followed by an attempt at the kid's life when he and his Pokémon tried to stop it. And Lokiel had been powerless to do anything. He hadn't wanted to hurt anyone, just teach the obnoxious Trainer a lesson with a harmless Sand Tomb.
Lokiel didn't think he'd ever forget the feeling of wild terror he'd felt when, to show its contempt for his commands to stop, the massive purple dragon had turned and roared at him, its mouth open wide and showing its deadly jaws full of huge sharp teeth. He'd been knocked over by the sheer force of the roar, and had just sat there, dazed, while the kid's Pokémon did desperate battle with the murderous Garchomp. He'd finally come to and tried to return the rampaging dragon to the Master ball that was one of his father's most prized possessions, but Garchomp had simply knocked him from the boardwalk with a scornful swipe of its tail. It had taken the intervention of a wild Pokémon, one of the ones Gyarados had brought there with its Whirlpool attack, to defeat the dragon. Lokiel, ashamed, had returned his father's Garchomp to its Master ball and fled.
What had he been thinking? Time and time again his instructors had told him that a Poké ball was not a foolproof way of controlling a Pokémon. It had to respect its Trainer before it would listen to commands. Lokiel had never dreamed that his father's Garchomp would be so unruly, but in retrospect, he remembered his father telling him, in his usual strict and formal manner, to use Garchomp only in an emergency.
Lokiel's thoughts were cut off suddenly as he tripped and fell for the second time in half an hour, this time hitting the ground hard face-first and earning a nasty gash across his cheekbone from something sharp, a tree branch or something that hung about a foot off the ground on his left. Suddenly on the verge of tears, Lokiel slumped face-down in the forest soil and clenched his fists, fighting the urge to cry, refusing to let this latest humiliation defeat him.
"Aaabra," said a voice from very close by and a bit above his head, startling a gasp out of Lokiel. The voice was gravelly but high pitched, and, beyond any doubt, belonged to a Pokémon.
An Abra. Lokiel rolled onto his back and sat up slowly. He knew all about this Pokémon; it was one of the ones he wanted to capture someday. He knew it could read minds... which meant it was probably reading his, right now. And he had a sneaking suspicion that he had just cut his cheek on one of its sharp, chitinous limbs.
"Abra." A glowing, bluish light suddenly appeared hovering a short distance in front of Lokiel, faintly illuminating the surrounding underbrush along with his dirt-smeared face and showing him that he was right: A yellow-and-brown humanoid Pokémon, about a foot shorter than Lokiel now that he was sitting up, was staring back at him through tiny, slit-like eyes. There was a tiny smear of blood on one of the small spikes on its shoulders, showing where Lokiel had fallen. The Abra's long yellow tail swished lazily back and forth as the Pokémon watched him watching it. Then, suddenly, Lokiel felt an odd sensation, like a repetitive, itchy tugging feeling in his head where he couldn't scratch it. Then, unbidden, a picture of his destination-- home-- flashed into his mind. It was gone before he could do more than blink startledly, but that seemed to be enough for Abra, who he guessed was the reason for the sudden mental image. About to get annoyed with the Pokémon; what right does it have to be poking around in my head, anyhow? he suddenly noticed the purplish glow of psychic energy gathering around the Abra's three-fingered hands.
Afraid that he'd angered it, and that it was about to attack him, Lokiel raised his own hands defensively, but before he could do anything, the dim circle of light cast by the blue ball of energy disappeared. Lokiel, suddenly left in darkness again, curled into a ball and whimpered, his fear of the dark returning in a rush. Then, light swept over him. He opened his eyes a crack, then sat up with astonishment.
Home. Illuminated by the glow from the windows, the mansion was a sight to behold at night. The light spilling from the large windows made the red bricks a welcome spot of colour amidst the darkness. The roof, three stories up, had a gentle slope and appeared to be made of old-fashioned shingles, but underneath, Lokiel knew, was state-of-the-art rain-proof plating. The whole house was a work of art, and the interior was a refreshing mixture of old and new; wood paneling in the corridors and antique, near-mint-condition furniture in the living room, but the kitchen was a marvel of stainless steel and beautiful marble tiling. Thinking about it, Lokiel stopped wondering why he'd decided to come back here instead of going to the Pokémon Center: home was beautiful.
He just hoped Father wasn't there at the moment.
He looked around for the Abra, but it wasn't there. Then Lokiel realized what had happened: the Pokémon had teleported him home.
"Thank you!" He called out into the forest behind him. When he was very young, before Mother had died, she had always reminded him of one thing: Always say 'Please' and 'Thank you.'
Then Father had taught him that he should never be weak enough to ask for help, and never needy enough to accept it. 'Expect nothing from the world, because it won't help you if you don't help yourself,' was one of Father's unbreakable rules. So 'Please' and 'Thank you' went mostly unused.
Still, Lokiel thought as he turned and headed for the mansion's imposing double doors, It can't hurt to be polite.
---June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 01:18---
"Ah, young Master Terra! We had wondered whether you would return today." The speaker was the mansion's butler, a man immaculately dressed in the classic black suit and white shirt of his profession. He wore his usual, completely bland expression, the one that always put Lokiel on edge. "You seem to have injured yourself," he observed with a slight tinge of stiff disapproval in his voice, waving a white-gloved hand to indicate the gash across Lokiel's cheek. "We should have that looked at immediately," he continued, in a way that was somehow condescending, but in an impossible-to-define way that would just make Lokiel sound petulant if he objected.
Lokiel squirmed. He'd never liked the butler— the man was always so smug— but he didn't want attention drawn to his arrival. He had come home the day before, which had been his second night since receiving Gyarados, after having spent his first night as a Trainer away from home at the Pokémon Center. Deciding that he should leave the comforts of home behind, he had intended to set out on his Pokémon journey for good today. Still, something had come up, and he'd come back. And as long as he was here...
"Yeah, I'm back. Could I get a band-aid and something to eat? I'm starving." It was true: he had been trying to get through the trees west of Route 32, where the forest separated the mansion's grounds from that Route, since early that afternoon. He hadn't eaten since breakfast, so he was hungry.
"Certainly, Young Master..." Was that a glint of something like malevolence in the man's eye? Lokiel's suspicions were all but confirmed when the butler went on to say, "When you are done with those, your father would like to have a word with you."
Lokiel cringed. Maybe his father didn't know about his mistake yet. He followed the butler into the entrance hall, where he was asked to have a seat on one of the ornate chairs dotting the room.
The hall was an immense, square room that rose to twice the height of the mansion's first floor; it took up two stories at the front of the house. There were two doors that led into different parts of the ground floor, flanking the grand staircase. The staircase was an impressive, curving affair that culminated in a landing, where two more doors directly above their ground-floor counterparts gave access to the mansion's second floor. The staircase, and the entirety of the room's floor, were covered with plush red carpeting. The ceiling was supported by vaulted wooden arches that extended from halfway up the walls, and a massive, ornate metal-and-crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling's center, its electric lights reflecting off the crystal and illuminating the entire room with patterns that slowly shifted as the chandelier swayed and turned. Lokiel, staring with unfocused eyes at the patterns, let himself relax just a bit.
The butler came back with a band-aid and a warm, damp facecloth, and, ignoring Lokiel's efforts to do it himself, wiped the boy's face thoroughly before applying the small bandage to his cheek. Lokiel grumbled slightly, then fell silent as the man handed him a slice of buttered toast and reminded him, "Your father will speak with you now."
---June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 01:30---
Lokiel's father didn't meet with people in his office-- that room was off-limits to even his most trusted servants. Instead, as was custom when guests were received in the mansion, the butler lead Lokiel to the Meeting Room, a featureless, dimly lit, rectangular room with grey stone walls and a low ceiling made of crisscrossing wooden slats. Its floor was a deep brown wood, varnished to a spotless shine and completely devoid of furniture.
His father was standing at the other end of the room, twenty feet distant, his back to the door and to his son. As usual, he was wearing his grey business suit, and Lokiel was willing to bet that, if his father turned around, he would see the ubiquitous grey tie and white shirt, the colors matching his washed-out-looking grey eyes. His father was always clean-shaven, but his impeccably neat black hair and thick eyebrows always seemed a stark contrast to the grey of his eyes and clothes.
Lokiel strode towards him, but stopped halfway there-- Father never let anyone get closer to him than that unless they were invited to do so.
"Welcome back, my son."
"I'm glad to be back, Father." This exchange was more a ritual than actual words of welcome. Lokiel got the feeling his father only did it because it was traditional.
"Did something happen today that you would like to tell me about?"
Shit. He knows. Lokiel knew he was in for it, but the next words to come out of his mouth surprised him.
"Your stupid Garchomp went crazy and started attacking people, that's what happened." As soon as the words left his mouth, Lokiel knew they were a mistake. Still, it was useless to try to take them back-- the word sorry meant nothing to Father.
"How interesting. I wonder, though... why it would do that? Could you perhaps enlighten me?" Lokiel's father's voice was calm, but was tinged with bitter disappointment.
Lokiel didn't answer. My big mouth has done enough damage already. If Father isn't mad yet, I'm not going to push him.
Lokiel's father had always been distant, and often harsh, but Lokiel had only once seen him truly angry. When he was a young boy, Lokiel had been playing in the entrance hall, and had accidentally knocked a large painting off the wall where it had been hanging at the top of the grand staircase. The painting had tumbled down the entire flight of stairs. It was a self-portrait painted by Lokiel's mother before she died. When his father came to find the source of the almighty clattering noise, and found the portrait completely ruined, Lokiel had been afraid he would explode with rage.
Instead, he had calmly walked up to Lokiel, stared at the boy for a moment with cold fury, and then backhanded his son across the face, the force of the blow sending Lokiel flying halfway across the immense room. He had spent several days in bed being nursed back to health by the servants, because he couldn't be taken to the hospital without raising questions.
The look in his father's grey, empty-looking eyes hadn't been that of simple anger. There hadn't been just the promise of physical violence there, but a kind of cruel finality, as if he had unequivocally judged the object of his gaze as worthless. Lokiel just wanted to avoid ever having that cold, merciless regard turned on him ever again.
"Lokiel, I asked you a question."
"Yes, Father." It looked like he was going to have to answer. "I... I messed up. I didn't need to use the Garchomp. It knew I was just showing off, and..." He stomped hard on the urge to cry: his father would be appalled if he showed weakness now. "...and it decided I needed to learn a lesson."
"That is correct." His father's voice held no approval whatsoever, just the same bitter disappointment. "Garchomp behaves as an extension of my will. It saw that your reason for resorting to its use was no more than an act of hubris, pride that arose from a control you believed you had over power that did not belong to you."
Lokiel knew his father was right. And he hated that. What do you want me to do?? He wanted to shout. It's over and done with, and I can't undo it, and I understand my mistake! So why...? Despite his best efforts, tears of frustration began to roll down his cheeks, and the knot of anger in his stomach suddenly unraveled, leaving a hopeless, cold feeling in its place. I'm weak. he thought hollowly. Father's right. I don't deserve to be a Trainer.
His father, uncaring or unaware of his son's shameful tears, continued. "Imagine my surprise, Lokiel, when a member of the illustrious Jenny family arrived on my doorstep with a very intriguing tale. A fisherman, who seized you by the shoulders, was your reason for disobeying my direct order. Did I not instruct you to avoid releasing my prized Garchomp unless you were in an emergency which your own abilities were not sufficient to handle? Did I not ensure that you know how to defend yourself? Did the martial arts instructors teach you nothing?? Explain yourself, boy!!" Lokiel's father's voice rose to a shout, and he turned to regard his son angrily. His smoky grey eyes blazed with fury, and his fists were clenched at his sides. Lokiel had never seen such an intense expression on his father's face, but for some reason, he found this far less intimidating than the empty look of cold fury he had feared.
The boy took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to steady his voice. "You... you always told me, I should... should overpower my opponents utterly. Frighten them so that they'll never... never get in my w-way again..." He hiccupped, and fell silent before he could damage his father's opinion of him any further.
"There is nothing wrong with intimidating your opponents, to ensure that they leave respecting you. Your failing, again, is your foolish trust in your ability to control a power that was never yours. You are weak, and I now think that you will never grow stronger."
No! Lokiel wanted to shout. I'll become stronger, I promise! But his inability to muster the courage to say it, and the tears running down his cheeks, gave the lie to the words before they were even spoken. He slumped, realizing that his dream of becoming the Pokémon Master was impossible. He was too weak, too prideful, and there was no way Father would let him own a Pokémon after this.
Lokiel's father turned away once more, regaining his composure. "There is no excuse for your baseless pride or for your weakness. I had hoped you would have some explanation for your actions, but I see that you have no answer but to cry and hang your head in shame. The world does not forgive mistakes. I have half a mind to turn you over to the police."
Lokiel didn't respond. Even his useless tears had stopped, a kind of numbness taking the place of his frustration. Nothing he said would matter in any case, now that Father was deciding on his punishment.
"However," his father continued, "It would be a disaster if the police force had reason to investigate our family any more closely than your foolish mistake has caused them to. I have methods by which to pull strings in the Trainers' Association, to ensure that the police will drop any ongoing investigation. You will be confined to your room for the duration of two weeks, following which you will be sent to study business in Celadon Academy."
"You will return my Pokémon to me, along with the Gyarados I purchased for you."
Lokiel reached into his pocket and withdrew the two Poké balls. They sat there in his palm, the size of grapes in their portable state: one purple and pink, the other black and yellow. Inside each one lay immense power. Lokiel thought back to the sight of his Gyarados, a Hyper Beam roaring from its mouth, effortlessly defeating the fisherman's Pokémon. Was his dream of becoming a great Trainer really over? Could he really give that up?
"...No." Lokiel closed his fist around the Poké balls, new determination suddenly surging through him. "Father, I can't give up on my dream. I can get stronger, and I can learn from my mistakes. I promise you, I will become a great Trainer, a man you can be proud of! I won't let you down again...! I won't..." His voice trailed off.
His father had turned around again, a look of pure contempt on his clean-shaven face. In his eyes was that look of cold judgment that Lokiel so feared. "You worthless, snivelling boy." he said, slowly and awfully. "You had your chance, and you've shown me that you are unworthy of the power that Pokémon grant their masters. You will never be a great Trainer, and I refuse to have the name of the Terra family tarnished by a pathetic weakling."
"Father..." Lokiel pleaded, hating the way the tears were returning to his eyes. "I..."
"Silence." His father's voice dripped with contempt. "If you believe that you're strong enough to be a Trainer, then prove it. Defend yourself!"
Lokiel didn't see his father throw the Ultra ball, but the yellow-and-black orb struck the floor with a muffled thud, springing open to release, in a flash of red light, a Pokémon. The light blue creature, its head adorned by two dark blue crests similar to the one that formed its tail, was roughly humanoid in shape, but bulkier than any human. Its elbows and knees had tough, protective orange patches of scales on them. The Pokémon was a Swampert, and from what Lokiel could see, it was a large specimen even for its species. Still, a calm, critical voice at the back of his mind said, It's smaller than Gyarados.
"Swampert, Hydro Pump," said Lokiel's father, adding, almost as an afterthought, "Nonlethal force."
Lokiel scrambled to throw his Gyarados's Ultra ball at the ground. He could have used the Garchomp, but he knew for a fact that the creature would just join his father in attacking him. The Ultra ball struck the floor and burst open, flying back to Lokiel's hand and leaving Gyarados coiled on the varnished wood floor, looking well-rested and powerful after its ten-hour nap.
Lokiel knew that that could change at any moment.
His father's Swampert leaned back, its body swelling with water. Lokiel hurried to form the hand-signals he had invented and painstakingly taught to his Pokémon, his subtle gestures instructing Gyarados:
In their training, Protect had never had a target, but Gyarados understood immediately. As Swampert released a torrent of water that was, somehow, easily twice the size of its own body, Gyarados rushed to coil itself loosely around Lokiel, closing him off entirely from the world. Its light-blue hide began to glow with a pearly light, and Lokiel could feel the vibrations of the onrushing water sloughing harmlessly off the toughened scales.
"That's a loyal Pokémon you've got there," sneered Lokiel's father. "I doubt you taught it to fear you in a mere three days. What did you do, read it bedtime stories?"
Lokiel blinked, then realized why his father thought that. He didn't see my hand signals. Lokiel wasn't sure why, but that surprised him. I suppose I'm a bit too used to thinking of Father as omniscient. He doesn't know about this technique, though. Maybe I could still win this!
Gyarados, the glow fading from its scales, nudged him with its head, still coiled around him and awaiting instructions. Lokiel obliged:
Move: Aqua Tail
The blue-and-tan dragon uncoiled and, bunching together like a snake about to strike, launched itself at its smaller opponent. It spat a globe of water into the air in front of it, and at the last minute, it spun in a circle, whipping its fin-tipped tail around in a powerful lashing movement. The tail smashed the orb of water, which exploded outwards to coat the back half of Gyarados's body, and continued on to strike at Swampert...
...Who wasn't there. The large Pokémon, moving with a grace and speed that belied its bulk, stepped aside effortlessly. As the startled Gyarados whipped past it, it slammed one fist into the dragon's side with immense force. Gyarados was sent flying sideways across the room, smashing into the unforgiving stone wall.
Gyarados slid down the wall to lie in a heap on the floor. The prideful dragon wasn't down for the count, though: it wouldn't give up so easily, even if it was outmatched. Gyarados coiled itself up again, snakelike, and roared a challenge. Swampert crossed its arms and gave an insolent tilt of the head, daring the dragon to try something.
Lokiel realized that Gyarados's regular attacks would do little damage to the Swampert, who had been toughened by long years of training under Father's harsh aegis. But he had an attack in mind that, even for a stronger opponent, was hard to avoid if used correctly... and harder to block.
Move: Dragon Rage
Completely without warning, Gyarados spewed a torrent of purple flames from its mouth. Swampert, taken by surprise, crossed its arms defensively in front of its face, coating them in a protective layer of water. The flames of the Dragon Rage attack, though, had no fear of wetness. They burned at the Swampert's arms, drawing a howl of pain from the burly water-type.
"You've got a smart Pokémon, there. If only its Trainer were strong enough to be worthy of it! Just keep watching it do your job for you, boy!" Lokiel's father taunted.
Then, something happened which astonished both Lokiel and his father. With a roar, Gyarados, enraged even further by the slight to the Trainer it had begun to respect and even trust, turned its Dragon Rage attack on the subject of its ire. Lokiel's father stumbled backwards and fell over, narrowly managing to avoid being roasted alive by the purple flames.
Lokiel was astounded, but immensely gratified by his Pokémon's support. He smiled weakly. Thanks, Gyarados.
Father was not nearly as amused. He rose to his feet as the stream of purple flames from Gyarados's mouth petered out. "Enough." His voice was completely devoid of anger, instead holding a now-familiar icy coldness that sent a shiver through Lokiel. "Swampert, we are finished playing around. Crush them."
Lokiel wasn't going to take this lying down, though. His Gyarados was willing to keep going, so he would be proving his father right if he gave up now. His hands, still held at his sides, went through the motions of yet another subtle series of signals.
Gyarados sprang forward, preparing to sink its six-inch-long fangs into its smaller foe. Swampert, however, stood its ground. Instead of dodging aside or blocking the attack, it simply reached forward and grabbed the onrushing dragon by the face, locking the fingers of one hand around the crown-like blue crest on Gyarados's forehead. Blue limbs bulging with muscle, Swampert wrenched the larger Pokémon's head sideways, and, switching its grip to seize the back of Gyarados's head, it slammed the dragon's face into the wall. Once... twice...
"Gyarados, Thrash attack!" Lokiel shouted desperately, aware that there was no way Gyarados could see a hand signal in its current situation.
The draconic Pokémon, still fighting Swampert's iron grip, began to thrash even more wildly, but to no avail: Swampert kept hold, and used the momentum from Gyarados's wild struggles to smash its face against the wall even harder, this time eliciting a sickening cracking noise as part of Gyarados's blue crest snapped off. The dragon went limp, unconscious, but Swampert continued to smash it against the wall, over and over.
A red beam struck Gyarados's inanimate form, reducing the fainted dragon to an indistinct shape of red light, which disappeared into the Poké ball in Lokiel's hand.
"Have you learned your lesson, Lokiel?" asked his father coldly. "You will return your Pokémon to me, now, and submit to the future I have chosen for you. You owe me everything, and you will do as I say."
Lokiel stood with his head down for several seconds, staring at the floor. Then he looked up at his father, his eyes burning with rage. "You're no more than a self-important bully. I owe you nothing."
His father's face spasmed with anger, but he quickly regained his composure. "Have it your way. Swampert, Hydro Pump... Nonlethal force."
A wall of high-pressure water slammed Lokiel against the wall, pinning him there, unable to move or breathe. The water pressed against his chest, threatening to break ribs, and he was forced to screw his eyes shut or risk having them gouged out by the strength of the torrent.
Then, all of a sudden, it cut off. Lokiel, coughing up water that he had inadvertently swallowed, blinked droplets out of his eyes and saw why.
A familiar-looking Abra was perched on Swampert's neck, three sharp fingers of one hand holding on to the back of its head. The Swampert was frozen in place, unable to move as waves of point-blank psychic energy rushed through its head, scrambling all the signals it was trying to send to its limbs. A few seconds passed, then it suddenly collapsed in a heap, its arms and legs thrashing wildly.
As it fell, Abra disappeared in a flash of purple light, and reappeared sitting next to Lokiel. Dumbfounded, he stared at the little yellow Pokémon that had just singlehandedly taken down his father's Swampert. Ignoring his stupefied look, Abra reached one arm out and grabbed his leg. In a disorienting whirl of colour, the room, and his father's enraged look of disbelief, disappeared.
---June 2, Year 1505 MTA; 01:51---
The spinning colours quickly resolved into a uniform blackness, but Lokiel knew where he was: he could smell the distinct odour of plant life and forest loam. That could only mean that he was back in the forest.
"Abra?" There was no answer. The little psychic-type was gone, apparently leaving him to his own devices now that its act of mercy was complete. Lokiel took one step, then fell to one knee, coughing up a little more water that had found its way into his lungs. He was thoroughly confused, and more than a little frightened. On the one hand, he was glad to have been rescued from his father's clutches. But on the other hand...
What was there now, for him? He had no home, that was certain; he could never go back. He had no possessions beyond his runners, his tattered leather jacket, and his mud-smeared jeans and t-shirt. If he had a future, then it would be one that he built from scratch. He was completely alone, except for...
Lokiel reached into his pocket and withdrew the two Poké balls. One contained a Garchomp that he could never let out, but the other...
I have no one... except for Gyarados. Lokiel stared at the Ultra ball, its yellow 'U' marking faintly visible as his eyes adjusted to the gloom. Can I still do it, then? Can I still become a great Trainer? He wouldn't have any money, unless he earned it for himself, and he wouldn't have anyone to help him if something went wrong... But he didn't need those things, and he didn't want them.
Lokiel no longer cared what his father thought, but now he felt he had to prove it to himself: he could become strong, and he could do it on his own. He closed his fist around the Ultra ball resolutely, then returned it to his pocket. The first thing to do was to find a Pokémon Center, and get Gyarados healed up. Then, he could choose where to go next. Anywhere was fine, anywhere at all...
After all, he had nothing to lose.
Required Characters: 23,000 to 35,000
Used Characters (Story only, not intro/disclaimers/this report): 46,333
Result: Overkill. As usual.
Comments and Disclaimers:
*In this continuity, Great balls and Ultra balls aren't just a few times more expensive than Poké balls; they're exponentially more costly, to the point where only the wealthiest can afford to use Ultra balls when a Poké ball would suffice. Master balls retain their status as practically one-of-a-kind: Only one is made every year, and to own one is the height of prestige.
*The reason Lokiel took so long to get from Route 32 through the forest is that he pretty much got lost as soon as it grew dark out. He was heading in the right general direction the whole time, but he was weaving back and forth, following the trails, and generally going a lot more slowly to avoid taking more than a couple falls.
*Also, this entire continuity operates under the assumption that the games... condense things significantly, as is only logical (a game composed of so much waiting it takes months or years to play through instead of days or weeks isn't all that appealing!) As such, distances are broadened, Pokémon Center stays are lengthened in proportion to how hard the injuries are to treat, and while healing items like Potions still do what they're supposed to, they're less effective depending on how exhausted a Pokémon is, since they use the Pokémon's own stamina/lifeforce to close wounds and such, meaning that they can't be 'spammed.' All this, in addition to the fact that Routes, despite being fairly well-travelled, are still not as wide-open and free of significant obstacles as in the games... means that travel isn't nearly as easy or quick.