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RPG The Great Rebellion

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[color=darkblue][size=1][center][b]Chapter 1: Dawn to Dusk[/b][/center]

The march had been hard. The troops had plodded over the hilly terrain of central Johto for the past few days. It would have been easier to use the Fly Catchers, the cage-like apparatuses used to haul supplies over long distance by the flying Pokémon of the squadron, but stealth was the primary objective of this part of the mission. Complete surprise was what they needed on their side at the moment.

It allowed for no opportunity for resistance.

Despite their need for secrecy, it was not a simple task to move the mass of troops covertly through the countryside without gaining some form of attention. Their Leader had suggested sticking to the forests of the area, using the natural cover to aid them along. Of course, it wasn't as if it was completely unknown to the group; Ilex Forest presented much of the same terrain. And besides, a bug is always at home in the sun-dappled world of the woodland.

They had already picked their way through most of the underbrush with scent as their only form of communication. The Beedrill and Heracross that provided constant sentry responded quickly to the commands and the troops would follow their lead. But the forest was thinning now and the march would soon have to continue in the open. Fortunately, they were close enough to their target and at an advantage of being downhill, so their advance would still continue on mostly under cover.

As the sun started to shine more strongly through the trees, the Beedrill suddenly landed and the Heracross stood smartly at attention; a halt had been called. The troops were a flurry of black as they fell into ranks, standing rigidly. Soon, the lone drone of a large Heracross filled the air as it started to hover near the front of the congregation. The bits of sunlight glinted off its polished black carapace as it silently scanned over the troops with a gaze that belied its nature. There was something about the beetle that made everyone in its path take pause. Perhaps it was its somewhat impressive stature or the fact that it was Bugsy's prized Pokémon; no one really knew which. But what made it the center of attention now was the young man perched on its back. His curly strawberry pink hair fluttered out from beneath his pith helmet, both colors contrasting sharply with his own uniform. His forest green eyes looked over his troops much in the way his Heracross did, the two of them sharing their own personal hive mind. After a long moment, he smiled pleasantly.

[b]"We've nearly arrived, everyone,"[/b] he said, his soft-spoken manner coming across plainly, yet making himself loud enough to be heard over the droning. [b]"Very shortly, once we crest the far hill, Ecruteak City will be in sight. That, as you all know, is what is believed to be the future central point of resistance against the new government."[/b]

He gazed over the troops again, noticing some members shifting and breathing slightly uneasily. Bugsy smiled again.

[b]"Some of you are nervous, since we'll be seeing actual combat. I can understand that. This is my first large-scale operation, too. But I know that others of you are nervous because of our city's former relationship with Ecruteak."[/b] He paused, a distant memory flashing across his eyes. He blinked and then continued. [b]"Well, times have changed. Friends become enemies. And our enemies must be dealt with swiftly. For the good of the nation."[/b]

The steely gaze that came over the boy's features at those words made everyone, human and Pokémon, stand a little straighter. Their leader was young, but his uncanny ability for strategy and the moments like these, where his stature belied his age, made him respected by not only the people that stood before him, but many of the other Leaders in the League.

Bugsy looked up toward the sky, taking note that twilight wouldn't be too far off. He nodded in approval to himself and looked back at the waiting mass.

[b]"For now, we will camp. You know procedure. Rest up. We march on Ecruteak at the break of dawn."[/b]

The Heracross lowered its master back to the ground, releasing the scent that was associated with dismissal. As the Pokémon made for the trees and the rest of the troops broke to find resting places for the evening, Bugsy walked to the edge of the forest, gazing toward the hill.

[b]"It's somewhat ironic I'd be fighting a ghost from the past, don't you think?"[/b] he asked absent-mindedly of the beetle that stood behind him. It gave him a little nudge with its horn, a sign of concern.

[b]"No, I'm not scared,"[/b] Bugsy responded as he rubbed the butterfly tip lightly. [b]"We chose our own paths, Morty and I. He chose the wrong one. And now he has to be punished for it. That's all it is."[/b]

The Heracross looked contemplative for a moment and then nodded before giving Bugsy a tap on the shoulder.

[b]"Oh, don't worry. I won't have any problems doing what I have to do."[/b][/color][/size]

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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"][SIZE="1"][COLOR="Navy"][b]"Samantha, please wait for me." [/b]

Terry sat down outside the remnants of Burned Tower, staring at a picture of his long time friend, Samantha. She was Terry's support system back in Olivine City. She made sure to keep Terry's ailing mother safe and hidden from the approaching League army. Terry remembers his mother telling him how much she adores Samantha.

"So when are you two going to hitched?" She would joke, much to both Samantha's and Terry's chagrin. It was about a year ago when Terry's mother fell ill with tuberculosis. The doctors gave her about another two to three years to live. Terry still remembers the day when he left his mother to help his long time friend, Morty, battle against the league.

~~~~~~~
[B]"Are you going now?"[/B] Terry's mother asked, lying down on her bed, where she had been confined to for the past few months. Her face, which was always filled with vigor and excitement, now looked pale and very tired. The disease had taken its toll on her. She raised her hand and stroked it across Terry's face tenderly, as if it was her last chance to fell the warmth of the son she had raised for 22 years. Terry took her hand in his and held it tenderly.

[B]"Yes, Mother. Morty needs me." [/B]

Samantha stood at the window, staring off into the distance. The sun was setting on the Olivine coastline. Hoothoots could be heard singing their night time song, as if to signify that the day was now ending. The orange-yellow hue of the sky was always beautiful. Samantha turned and saw Terry stand up and grab his napsack and Poke Balls.

[B]"Wait, Terry."[/B]

[B]"Hmm?"[/B]

Samantha rummaged through her pocket and produced a tiny picture. It was a photograph of her and Terry when they were both 10. They were at the Olivine Ligthouse, standing next to the coast with Magikarp and Fishing Poles in hand. The two of them had the biggest grins on their faces. Life was simpler back then. Now, it seemed like that way of life was over.
~~~~~

[B]"BWAAAA-HAAA" [/B]

Terry looked up, startled, to see his Haunter, Shades, smiling in front of him. Shades was actually Terry's first catch as a Trainer. He found Shades when he was a Ghastly scaring travelers on the Route between Ecruteak and Olivine City.

[B]"Oh hello, old friend. I was just thinking about our friends back home. Do you have anything to report?"[/B]

The Pokemon made a circle gesture with it's hands and circled its body. Then, Shades had a fearful look on his face. He had always been the jokester of Terry's group, and he never liked serious confrontations. Terry had always made sure when he was training Shades to remind him to have fun in battles. But now, there was no fun to be had. The League was approaching from all sides. Ecruteak City, once the resting place of the legendary Pokemon, now would become a blood-drenched battlefield, after so many years of peace.

[B]"Hmm, so they have us surrounded huh?"[/B]

Shades nodded and looked at his master with a concerned look in its eyes.

[B]"Don't worry, Shades. I won't let anything happen to you."[/B] Terry said as he smiled and looked at his faithful friend. The Haunter began to tear up and embraced his trainer. Terry struggled to free himself.

[B]"H-HEY LET ME GO, YOU BIG DOOFUS!" [/B]

[B]"SIR!"[/B]

Terry and shades turned to see a messenger standing in their midst.

[B]"What is it?"[/B]

[B]"Morty would like to speak with you immediately, sir."

"Ok, tell him I will be there shortly."[/B]

Terry looked back towards Shades and his face turned from a look of happiness to a blank slate, calm and collected.

[B]"Let's go what see what he wants."[/B]

Shades nodded in approval.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

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[FONT="Book Antiqua"][SIZE="1"]The cave was surprisingly luminous inside, partly because of the abundance of reflective icy surfaces but mostly due to the sparse artificial lighting the Blackthorn City council had commissioned a few years ago. There had initially been concerns about negative effects on the cave's wildlife, but Zubat were blind and most of the other creatures were able to cope. In fact, some Pokemon found the light to be nothing but advantageous. Some like the Sneasel that was stalking Cam.

The boy was aware of the creature, and in fact relieved to have found one so close to the Ice Path's entrance. Most of Blackthorn's citizens had heard about the small colony located deeper in the cave, but a single trainer taking on an entire clan of Sneasel was a fool's errand. Sneasel were known for somewhat underhanded battle tactics, and would not hesitate to attack a single target in unison. It was better this way. Less danger, and it would be easier to focus on weakening a single opponent.

The Sneasel charged, claws extended, preparing to tear Cam's flesh. Now was the time to act. The trainer released his first partner into the cave. The Sneasel hesitated for a moment, startled by the sudden flames, then began to run deeper into the cave, away from the strange human and his pet.

[B]"Oh no you don't, buddy. Not this time,"[/B] muttered Cam, [B]"Block him off, Ruby!"[/B]

The Quilava made a dash to cut off the fleeing Sneasel. Managing to get ahead of her master's prey, she cut it off, threw up a sudden burst of flame from the glands on her back and snarled loudly. The would-be escapist froze for a moment, fearful for its life.

[B]"Excellent! Now sic 'im, girl!"[/B]

Ruby threw her full body weight at the Sneasel. Her target was knocked backwards by the sudden tackle and stopped moving for a moment, clearly winded. Ruby glanced at her trainer and made a small nodding motion, indicating that the Sneasel was unlikely to struggle much longer.

[B]"Time to finish it, then,"[/B] remarked Cam, pulling out a Pokeball. He tossed the ball at the downed animal and crossed his fingers. A moment later, all signs of struggle inside the object had ceased. Cam approached the ball and picked it up carefully, making sure that the Sneasel had indeed submitted to his new home.

[B]"Jackpot."[/B]

[CENTER]...[/CENTER]

Cam was still admiring the newly-occupied Pokeball when he arrived at the Blackthorn City Pokemon Center. He entered the building and approached the counter. The receptionist appeared to be otherwise occupied, so he would have to wait a moment. Presently, the receptionist finished her Solitaire game and glanced upward.

[B]"Hello, Cam,"[/B] she said, [B]"Is it time for Ruby's annual check-up again?"[/B]

[B]Yeah, but can you check on this one, too?[/B] he asked, brandishing the Sneasel, [B]Ruby and I just caught it in the Ice Path. He was alone and acting strangely. I had to knock the wind out of him to catch him."[/B]

[B]"Sure,"[/B] replied the receptionist. Cam handed her the two balls and she started down the hall to present them to one of the medics. In the meantime, Cam took a seat.

The reception room of a Pokemon Center is always an interesting place, and Blackthorn's was no exception. Cam looked around the room, observing all the activity. An Ekans napping on the lap of its owner, a somewhat portly fellow who was holding an engaging conversation with the woman next to him. She herself was clutching her Snubbull tight, nervously glancing at the slumbering Ekans all the while. A pair of twin girls across the room were happily playing with their Growlithe, and the young boy sitting next to Cam seemed to be content stroking his Rattatta gently, as the pokemon itself made small, contented squeaking noises. As he stared at his last remaining Pokeball, Cam couldn't help but think how great it was that humans and pokemon could interact on so many levels. Still, most people her were familiar with Larvitar and what they evolve into, so this probably wan't the wisest time to let Atlas out of his Pokeball.

[B]"Cam Roland."[/B] stated the doctor who had entered the room.

Cam followed him into one of the checkup rooms, where he was handed his Pokeballs and a report.

[B]"They're both fine,"[/B] the doctor assured him, [B]"I'd recommend not going back to the Ice Path for anything, though. Clair just declared it off-limits to anyone she hasn't granted authorization to this morning."[/B]

[B]"Really?"[/B] asked Cam, startled. He had no idea that the tension between the League and the Rebellion had gotten so thick already.

[B]"It would seem so,"[/B] replied the doctor, [B]It's a path straight to Mahoghany, and we're not sure if Pryce has taken a side yet. Anyway, on to your Pokemon. Ruby is completely fine. Sneasel had some bruises, but I don't think Ruby inflicted them."[/B]

[B]"What did?"[/B]

[B]"Well, you said it was acting strangely in the cave, right? I think it was ostracized from its colony. It's not an uncommon occurrence in pack-oriented species when a younger member challenges the dominant male for authority."[/B]

[B]"So he made a bid for leader and lost?"[/B] Cam inquired.

[B]"Actually, it's a girl,"[/B]replied the puzzled doctor, [B]"A female Sneasel challenging the leader of the colony is remarkably uncommon. I guess you caught yourself a real rebel here."[/B]

Cam was surprised, but pleased at the revelation. [B]"So I guess you're pretty unique, huh?"[/B] he muttered, addressing the Sneasel's Pokeball, [B]"Perfect. I think I'll call you Vera."[/B]

With the check-up complete, Cam had only one errand left for the day.

[I]Guess it's time to visit Clair.[/I][/SIZE][/FONT]

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[SIZE=1][B]“Closed,”[/B] Silver stepped back from the door to the Pewter city pokemon center.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Trainers were lining the benches outside, some had there sick pokemon in their arms. The league was known for taking a few pokemon center nurses to heal pokemon during there rigorous training methods, but a whole center was new. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Silver? Silver! It is you! I’m so glad I found you,”[/B] a red haired girl with a long blue scarf and a track suit was shouting quite loudly.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Err… calm down Tina,”[/B] she always gets so excited, [B]“whats going on. and try to keep your vocal patterns in the human hearing frequency range”[/B] [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Okay, so I was here last night trying to get my Charmander to evolve and I worked Toasty too hard! I was battling a wild Nidoran and I had toasty scratch him but it had poison point and it poisoned Toasty and now hes been sitting there and his tail! Oh his tail is so...”[/B] It was about that time when tears started flowing and her pitch, which had been elevating, finally resembled a dog whistle. It really was a sad sight. The Charmander was curled in a ball on the ground. His tail flame looked like that of a candle with too much wax. Tina's Oddish was fanning its leaves in attempt to raise the flame. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Toasty needs an antidote, and by now its going to need a potion.“[/B] [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“I know… but the markets have been closed down. That trainer that ran the store, Andy, he left with Flint.”[/B] Tina continued to sob.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Here, this is a full heal. Its my last one. It will cure the poison for sure.”[/B] the bottle was shiny and golden. Silver used to carry quite a few of these when he was going against top trainers, now he was using his last bottle on a kids little Charmander with a weak poison. Silver chuckled as he watched the girl spray it on the Charmander, thinking about how he could sell that one bottle and get at least five antidotes.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]“Thank you so much Silver, I’m really glad you came here.”[/B] He patted the little girl on the head and said goodbye. Helping Tina was one thing, a whole town full of sick pokemon was another. Silver ran to his humble house to dump his pack.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]If there was one thing Silver was the best at it was running. He could run for miles and miles without changing pace. Once he arrived he dumped its contents on his bed. After that it was time for another run. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]The Veridian Forest was home of many bugs , but there were also a small colony of Pikachus. When Silver arrived in the forest he released his own Pikachu. [B]“Alright pal, lets find some food!”[/B] with a happy [B]“Pika!”[/B] she ran on ahead. The bugs of the forest can live off tree sap but the Pikachus feed off of berries, sure enough, Pikachu took him to a nice thick bush of Citrus and Oran berries. Silver crammed as many as he could into the bag. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Silver began his run back to the pokemon center, his Pikachu easily keeping up behind him. What was this world coming to? What would have happened to Tina if something bad happened to her Charmander? You cant expect a girl of her age to handle that kind of thing. What happens to the kids of this world when they are too scared to leave there towns? These questions continued to pester him. The real question though was what he was going to do about it. The only thing that he knew for sure was that this world isn’t safe anymore.[/SIZE]

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[SIZE="1"][FONT="Microsoft Sans Serif"][COLOR="#862A51"][B][I]"Well, that didn't last very long..."[/I][/B]

Maya placed her Pokegear onto her small wooden table as she gathered up her other equipment. It felt like only yesterday that she started her long trek from Blackthorn City to Goldenrod City, and the various places along the way.

But, orders were orders, and being as fiercely loyal as she was, she prepared herself to return to her hometown. She had been stationed in Goldenrod for awhile, and despite the city's impressive size, her headquarters were nothing more than a small apartment with the basic essentials. Nevertheless, the city had grown on her a bit, and while she anticipated the trip back home, she was disappointed it had to be so soon.

Maya brushed a blonde lock of hair from her face as she made her way down the city streets. Most of the surroundings, despite being in the area for quite a while, were still a marvel to her. Skyscrapers towered over her, steadfast and looming, with the radio tower leading the way. The streets were always teeming with various cityfolk, some less friendly than others. And, of course, Pokemon dotted the landscape, whether they were helping construction, moving items into the department store, exercising in the ocean blue, or just playing with their trainers.

Upon seeing this, Maya eyed her belt of Pokeballs, and then surveyed cityscape. A grin spread across her face as she detached one of the containers and let it loose.


[B]"Alright, Gyarados! Come get some fresh air!"[/B] Maya shouted happily.

As the rather large blue serpent came out of its home and flew up into midair, both it and Maya seemed...somewhat oblivious to the calamity that seemed to ensue from the pedestrians. Though it wasn't so much calamity as it was dumbfounded citizens staring at the sight in front of them.

[B]"...should I not have done that?"[/B] Maya asked her companion. She was used to releasing her old friend in the Dragon's Den on a regular basis, though perhaps this was yet another lapse in judgment.

At any rate, Maya checked the watch on her gear. There was one person she had to find, and she considered using her companion to fetch him. But even she deemed that cruel as she ordered the beast to return, and watched as the passerby slowly resumed their normal routine.

[B]"You would think they'd be used to that...but whatever. Better go find that rich boy,"[/B] Maya said to herself as she headed towards his location.[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]

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[COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"][i]Misty, famous performer and gym leader of Cerulean city was currently on her hands and knees in the subterranean basement beneath the gym, checking on the hatchery ponds for the smallest of the water Pokemon. Her stage manager and fellow gym member, Saitsu, followed behind her with a clipboard under her right arm and her Dratini's head nestled against her left shoulder. Both Gym leader and trainer were painfully aware of their precarious position, and both were feeling understandably nervous about being pinned down by Saffron in the south and Vermillion just beyond. The daily tedious tasks of checking on aquarium tank water levels, and adjusting the filtration system for the bigger tanks that held the Mantines and the extremely passive and strangely friendly Gyrados that Misty had found on one of her retreats to the high mountains.

Dratini let out a small chirp, and Saitsu turned her head slightly to let the neonatal dragon curl her tail around Saitsu's shoulder. As part of her training, the young Dratini was constantly out of her Pokeball, curling like a snake around parts of Saitsu's body, or trailing after her when she wanted to move a little more. It wasn't precisely dignified, but the process worked very well, and the Dratini was already making progress, and growing friendlier and more affectionate all the while.

Saitsu was just checking the litmus strips to make sure the ph balance in the brackish tank were within acceptable levels when the intercom went off and the receptionist's voice came through.[/i]

"Misty, or Saitsu, whoever's down there, there's a representative from Flint up here. He wants to talk about the Caves. Should I send him down there?"

[i]Saitsu raised a questioning eyebrow at Misty, who shrugged and waved her hand at Saitsu almost dismissively before going back to fiddling with the Qwilfish and the Wooper tanks. With a shrug response of her own, Saitsu set down her clipboard and headed to the industrial strength elevators at the end of the hall. The installation had been irritating, but the tactical and practical advantages had been too great to pass up. In a time of crisis the elevator could support the weight of each of their largest Mantines plus their transportation tanks. It also could handle moving several groups of people at once, should they need to retreat into the basement's several offshoot tunnels.

Flicking a lock of shaggy blue hair out of her face, Saitsu hung her heavy work apron on a hook by the elevator doors on the ground level and straightened her top a little. One of Flint's men, she couldn't remember seeing him at any time looked over in her direction and took a step forward. Saitsu held up a hand to stop him and walked forward herself, passing him and bidding him to follow her up to Misty's main office. Once there she locked the door behind them and gestured at one of the several seats.[/i]

"Please sit. Would you care for a drink?"

"Not especially. I'm here to ask Misty if she can meet Flint down by the Caves. He's scouting them out and could use some inside information."

[i]Saitsu noticed that he didn't sit and seemed extremely apprehensive, despite the efforts he was making to steady his voice. He noticed that on the far wall was a very realistic looking portrait of Lorelei of the Elite Four. And on the opposite wall, a sketch of the Legendary Water Dog, Sicune. Saitsu's voice smoothly cut across his musings like a cool breeze on a hot day.[/i]

"Misty is busy and needs to remain here in the safety of her Gym. I will act in her interests as her representative."

"Very well. Please come with me."

"In a moment."

[i]He stood to go and Saitsu followed more slowly behind, making a quick call to the basement before she left the office.[/i]

"The caves, meeting with Flint."

"That should be fine, just be careful and don't let on how nervous we all are."

"Yes Misty. Of course."

[i]Saitsu hung up and stopped at the PC terminal in the corner, withdrawing her other three Pokemon. In the main hall she felt a tingling brush against the back of her neck that signaled danger, and her Dratini instinctively hissed a warning as a burst of venom struck the concrete wall behind her. Everything seemed to slow down and she saw the secretary diving for cover beneath her desk and the man who had claimed he represented Flint standing behind a slightly scrawny Gligar. Immediately, Saitsu flung one arm out to let Dratini spiral forward around it, opening her mouth to display several enormous fangs.[/i]

"Water Pulse please Dratini, just like in practice."

[i]Obliging her with the sort of speed that surprised even Saitsu, Dratini released several quick bursts of water that struck the Gligar full on and knocked it back into its trainer. Saitsu made a quick hand motion to Dratini, who immediately surged forward and wrapped several quick coils around the Gligar, constricting instantly. Saitsu ignored them for the moment and hauled up the fool who had attacked her.[/i]

"Talk. Now."

"Fuck you and your little whore of a Leader. You can't make me talk."

[i]Saitsu's left hand flashed out and slapped the boy once, twice. Then she slammed her foot against his chest and pinned him, the heel of her boot digging into his sternum. The sliding glass doors that opened onto the main street slid open automatically and a tall young man walked in.[/i]

"I'm Haru, here representing Flint. ...uh is this a bad time?"[/FONT][/COLOR]

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[COLOR=black]"Are you Ms. Alkalero?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Aesera looked the man over. He was angry, that much was certain. He didn't look too threatening, but he did seem angry enough to hit her. Or attempt to hit her, at least; he wouldn't like what would happen if he actually tried to.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I am," Aesera said. "And you are?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Roger Martin. Robert's father. Would you mind explaining why my son comes home spouting nonsense?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Well," Aesera said, "you'll have to tell me what 'nonsense' you're referring to. I'm afraid I don't know what he says at home."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Don't give me that attitude. You know exactly what I'm talking about."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"How could I?" Aesera replied innocently. She was, of course, faking; she knew exactly what had pissed Roger off. Not that she was about to tell him that.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Fine, play your damn games. I'll tell you exactly why I'm here. I'm here because you keep filling my son's head with this nonsense about compassion towards Pokemon."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I haven't done anything like that," Aesera told the man.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Bullshit. My son repeats your shit all the time. Are you saying he's making it up?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Aesera shook her head. "No, I never said aanything like that. I merely told you I haven't filled your son's head with nonsense."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Then where the hell does he get it from?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"You misunderstand me. I am not denying that I'm the sourse of the things your son says. I'm merely saying it's not 'nonsense'. And it's not."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Roger took a step towards her. "How the hell is it not? You're telling him to treat Pokemon as his equals. How the hell can you see nothing wrong with that?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Because there is nothing wrong with it," Aesera replied.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"[/COLOR][COLOR=black]Nothing wrong with it? The entire goddamned [I]idea [/I]is wrong!"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"And can you tell me why that is?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"[I]Why that- [/I]it's because it is wrong! Pokemon aren't our equals. What the hell are you doing filling my son's head with these goddamned lies? You're telling him he's no better than animals!"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]This was hardly the first time Aesera's gotten complaints from a parent about what she taught at the Trainer's School, but Roger was a good bit angrier than any of the previous ones. Aesera, however, wasn't about to put up with it. "Tell me something, Mr. Martin," she said. "Do you have any valid complaints, or are you going to keep distorting what I tell the students here through your own prejudice."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]That one gave Roger a pause. "I- you- what? Prejudice? What the hell are you talking about? What prejudice?[/COLOR][COLOR=black]"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"The prejudice you've been shouting at me this whole time," Aesera said. "You clear prejudice against Pokemon. I don't think you can deny having such prejudice."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"And just how the hell is that prejudice? Recognizing the truth is not prejudice."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"No, but refusal to see it can be. As can getting bent out of shape when someone challenges that prejudice."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I've had about enough of this," Roger said. "I'll make things simple for you: stop teaching my son this bullshit."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"And I'll make it simple for you: if you don't like what I say, don't send your son to me. Or just wait; I don't expect to be here much longer. The war will soon be upon us, and I've been recruited by Falkner. I expect to be employed in that regard fairly soon. So your son won't have me around for much longer, anyways. Now, if you have nothing more to say, would you please leave? Dealing with ignorant assholes makes me nauseous."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"You haven't heard the last of this." Roger turned and stomped out of the room.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Aesera sat down behind her desk and sighed. Roger was only the latest to take offense at what Aesera was teaching. That wouldn't matter any more, though. She'd actually misrepresented how much longer she would be as the Trainer's School; she was actually in the process of moving herself out. In fact, today was the day she finalized her departure.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Encountering Roger on her last day was unfortunate, but Aesera knew she wouldn't be leaving people like him behind. Her attitude would draw attention in service of the League, and could prove problematic. It'd start at lower levels, but eventually the higher-ups would get wind of it, and there could be problems when that happened. Hopefully, she'd have some successful assignments under her belt by then, preferably difficult ones. Nothing shielded one from unpleasant concequences like showing that one could be counted on to produce results.[/COLOR]


[COLOR=black]Laresa, a fellow teacher, was waiting for Aesera at the exit. "Hey, there," she said. "I saw Robert's dad heading out, and he was pissed. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Aesera chuckled. "Guy decided to chew my ass out. I don't think he realized who he was messing with."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Yeah, not a smart move on his part."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Like Aesera, today was Laresa's last day at the Trainer's School. She was leaving for different reasons, however. She wanted no part in the coming war, so she was getting the hell out of Violet City and into neutral territory.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"You're sure you want to stay here, Aesera?" Laresa asked. "The offer's still open if you want to come with me."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Thanks," Aesera said, "but no. I've made my choice."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Yeah. Just be careful."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I will," Aesera said. "See you."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Yeah. See you."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]The two of them passed through the exit and went their seperate ways.[/COLOR]

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[FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]So it was finally time to leave Goldenrod City. That was fine by Allan; it would mean his parents wouldn?t be able to keep dropping by in an attempt to persuade him from leaving the group who disagreed with the League.

Now if it would only cool off, how was he to do anything when the air was so oppressive that he couldn?t breathe? [I]wait? it doesn?t get that hot here.[/I] With a start his eyes opened only to see nothing but fur.

?[B]Gah[/B]!? He exclaimed in surprise, brushing the bushy tail out of his face.

With a soft chattering noise, his Furret?s version of laughter, it nimbly scrambled off the bed. For a long moment it sat on its hind legs, poised in a position of attention as it watched Allan, making sure he was actually getting up.

?[B]I?m awake, I?m awake![/B]? Allan forced himself to sit up. ?[B]See?[/B]? A comment that just made his companion laugh at him some more before letting itself back into its Pokeball.

With a groan he got out of bed and wandered off to get dressed. It was better to get ready and go and find Maya, before either of his parents showed up. He had been wrong to think that moving out into an apartment would make a difference. Every chance they got, especially his mother, they would pester him about coming back home and dropping this [I]foolish[/I] notion of his.

?[B]Let?s see,[/B]? he glanced though his closet. ?[B]There?s no way I?ll be able to fit everything in a single bag. I should have left most of it at home.[/B]?

He opted for a second set of boots and several changes of clothing. There was just enough room to stuff the spare supplies he had for his Pokémon into the duffle bag. He could always pick up anything else he might need later on, if necessary.

?[B]Ready to head out?[/B]? He asked Tess, his Jolteon, as he called her forth. She looked to the door and gave off a small whine.

?[B]What?s wrong?[/B]? He turned at the sound of someone knocking at the door. ?[B]Oh, I see.[/B]? He sighed. ?[B]It?s them isn?t it[/B]?? Tess let off another little whine. ?[B]Lovely, I guess it was too much to hope I?d manage to leave without running into one of them.[/B]?

He picked up the small pouch that held the Pokeballs and fastened it around his waist before picking up the large duffle bag, the strap digging into his shoulder a bit. [I]Time to get this over with[/I], he thought as he answered the door.

A tall, dark haired man with streaks of gray at his temples was standing there, he glanced down at the bag Allan was carrying and frowned. ?[B]Don?t you think it?s time you gave up this charade?[/B]? Allan?s father asked him.

Allan closed the door. ?[B]It?s no charade Dad. I thought you understood that when you gave me that Dragonair. I?m not going to change my mind.[/B]?

?[B]Listen son, you?re not thinking clearly.[/B]? He attempted to persuade him, following along as Allan moved to take one of the elevators. ?[B]How do you expect to take care of yourself? You don?t even have a job and it goes without saying that I will not help you with this.[/B]?

Allan smiled sardonically, ?[B]I haven?t asked you for any you know.[/B]?

?[B]Allan, I?m serious. Where are you heading to?[/B]? He scowled as the doors to the elevator shut and the car began its decent to the first floor.

?[B]You honestly don?t expect me to answer that do you?[/B]? Allan?s eyebrow shot up. ?[B]The last thing I need is one of your business friends hounding me non-stop to give up and come back home.[/B]?

The elevator came to a halt, the doors opened and Allan stepped out. ?[B]Anyway, say hi to Mom if you don?t mind. I don?t know when I?ll be back.[/B]?

?[B]You?re making a mistake.[/B]?

Allan ignored the jab as he exited the building; he waited patiently for Tess and then practically bolted down the steps. Once he was sure his Dad was out of sight, he?d head for where Maya was staying. The sooner he got out of Goldenrod City, the better. [/COLOR][/FONT]

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[color=darkblue][size=1][b]"I'm Haru, here representing Flint. Uh...is this a bad time?"[/b]

Unfortunately for the young man, the Arbok that slid up behind him then was extremely skilled. Its hide glinted under the sunlight as it slid up and reared, clamping down on his neck from behind, its fangs digging deep into flesh and pumping venom into his system.

He dropped to the ground, shaking profusely in only a matter of moments. The Arbok moved on, sliding over the shuddering soon-to-be corpse as an afterthought as it moved toward its next target.

Saitsu didn't have time to reach for her belt before the Arbok struck again, its speed showing its years of diligent training. It tightened its coils around her body, pinning her arms to her sides, its eyes flashing and harboring something like a perverse amount of pleasure in what it was doing.

A tall slender young man came through the doorway, stepping cordially over the body that blocked the way. Brushing a strand of chestnut hair of his eyes, he only gave the bound woman a minor glance before continuing on into the foyer.

[b]"Edmund, haven't I told you it's inappropriate to play with your food?"[/b]

The Arbok looked up from flicking its tongue over Saitsu's neck to his master with a minor glare. Edmund never had been one for being chastised. So he liked the taste of fear coming off his victims. Was that a crime? But this one was being difficult. There wasn't anything coming off of this one but calm, controlled anger. Too common. Not fun at all.

[b]"Who are you?"[/b] Saitsu finally asked, not even paying attention to the serpent that was eyeing the veins in her neck with increasing pleasure.

The man casually sauntered back behind the desk and knelt, peeking about the corner to the frightened secretary underneath.

[b]"I do believe that's rather unimportant for one in your position."[/b]

As if on cue, the Arbok bit into her neck with a bit of fervor; it had to make the kill interesting somehow. It twisted and writhed as it clamped down, ripping tears into the skin. Even one of Saitsu's level of training couldn't help but scream in pain before the Arbok's powerful jaws clamped down hard enough to crush bones, silencing the sound abruptly.

The Dratini that had been wrapped around the Gligar finally gathered enough of its wits to try and charge the snake in a fit of rage. [i]Fine by me,[/i] thought Edmund.[i] I've always been partial to dragon.[/i]

[b]"Now then,"[/b] the young man said, offering a hand and a gentle smile to the young woman cowering and shaking in terror. [b]"Please don't be too terribly frightened. You're fine. Come, now."[/b]

The woman simply looked at him in astonishment and dumbstruck fear. This man had come in and killed someone she had worked with for years and he was trying to show her kindness? Not only that, his pet Arbok was torturing a creature half its size? What was he trying to pull?

The young man seemed a bit taken aback at her lack of acceptance of the gesture and withdrew his hand.

[b]"I suppose I can understand your sentiments, what with all that just happened. A lot to take in. Still, I assure you this was all a rather...large mistake"[/b] he said, trailing off to look at the two bodies, and rapidly disappearing torso of a Dratini going down Edmund's throat. [b]"Some of my people are rather excitable, you see, and have something to prove. Carl is one of those people. Isn't that right, Carl?"[/b]

The imposter stood with his back to the wall, watching with a slight look of horror as Edmund finished lunch. The young man frowned, shrugged slightly, and continued.

[b]"Believe you me, that is the case. Unfortunately, some people have had to die today and for that I'm terribly sorry. Please tell Ms. Waters and...Mr. Stone, it seems, that the offender will be dealt with in kind. If they would like to talk sometime in the future regarding anything that may prove useful in the seemingly inevitable fight, I am always open. I'll have a way of hearing about it, so no worries there."[/b]

He pre-offered a card, lettered with a simple uppercase R in blood-red font, from the breast pocket of his black trench, and when the secretary only continued to stare, he simply laid it in front of her, smiling pleasantly, even while the scream Carl gave out while Edmund moved to him only served to make the gesture disturbing.

[b]"Do be sure to pass the message along, Miss..."[/b] He stood and flipped the nameplate on the desk around. [b]"Ms. Simmons."[/b] He bent down again and gave a small wave. [b]"Again, my apologies."[/b] He stood and straightened his trench again, pulling at the cuffs. [b]"Come along, Edmund."[/b]

The serpent, who had managed to work the now limp and captured impostor through his coils and into a position where he could move followed after his master as he stepped over the corpse in the doorway and continued on down the hall and outside.

[b]"What a terrible day it's become, Edmund,"[/b] the man said, stepping to the black car that was pulling to a stop a few yards away.

[b][i]"Says you,"[/b][/i] thought the snake as he slithered in behind his master. [b][i]"I got a nice lunch out of this."[/b][/i][/color][/size]

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[SIZE="1"][COLOR="Indigo"]Kendra would have tried to convince her parents to leave Ecruteak if she could. But she knew them well enough to know better than to try. They were even more stubborn than she was and there was no way they?d run so easily from danger. One didn?t need the ability to fight in order to care for those who would end up hurt, or dead once the fighting started.

There was an eerie calm over the city as people rushed to prepare for what was coming. Kendra didn?t want to think about how that calm would be shattered soon enough. It almost seemed like any other night, only this time, Kendra had no time to sleep. As if sensing her uneasiness the dark green Sneasel following along, leaned into her right side when she walked into the store, clinging to her as if to reassure her.

She smiled slightly as she rested her hand on his head briefly before he let go. Out of all her companions, he had been with her the longest.

?[B]I really wish it hadn?t come to this.[/B]? She said softly as the doors closed behind her.

She had only taken a few steps when the door leading into the backroom, where the supplies for the store were kept, opened up to admit an older woman.

?[B]There you are.[/B]? Kendra?s mother exclaimed. ?[B]I was about to send someone after you.[/B]?

?[B]What did you need?[/B]?

Her mother handed her a small sheet of paper. It was a simple map of the town with several spots marked in red and then in blue.

?[B]We?ve already divided up the supplies for treating anyone who is injured. They were sent to their designated spots, and the list of who will be working at each one has been posted.[/B]? She explained as Kendra looked at the map.

"[B]The red spots will be for treating Pokemon and the blue for everyone else.[/B]"

"[B]In addition to our current centers I assume.[/B]" Kendra noticed that some of the marks were for businesses. She just hoped they wouldn't need them.

"[B]Right.[/B]"

Her mother motioned for her to follow as she headed back the direction she had just come. ?[B]Anyway there isn?t enough time to sleep, but there is enough to mix up some more potions and medicine.[/B]?

?[B]True.[/B]? Kendra agreed. She doubted she could fall asleep even if she tried. At least helping her mother would keep her busy. And at least it would be useful-busy.

She followed her into the store?s stillroom. It was dark, cool, and redolent with the odors of a dozen different herbs. Out of all of the workplaces in the store, it was Kendra?s favorite. Most of the stuff they sold was purchased elsewhere and already prepared for use. But some things her parents preferred to make themselves.

?[B]Why don?t you go and see what?s going on?[/B]? Her mother suggested after a while. ?[B]The sun will be coming up soon.[/B]?

?[B]What about you?[/B]?

?[B]I?ll be along as soon as I finish with this potion.[/B]?

?[B]Alright.[/B]?

?[B]Be careful.[/B]?

?[B]I will.[/B]? Kendra promised before turning to head back out. [/COLOR][/SIZE]

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[font=Calibri]A sudden jab to the ribs jolted Saul awake with a snork, his notepad and bag tumbling to the floor in an embarrassing ruckus. The warm, comfortable sensation that had slowly wrapped itself around him fled, and he sighed, bending over to scoop up the jumble of papers and notebooks that had for once been carefully organized and stuff them back into the rawhide sidebag. His field glasses he treated with more care, inspecting them on all sides to make certain nothing was chipped or broken.

Then he frowned at the Ninetales.

[i]â??Stationâ??s aheadâ??[/i] she told him, continuing to gaze out of the monorail-carâ??s window. Saul gave her a hard look.

Shaking off the last remnants of his nap, he turned to watch the scenery as well. Outside, the speeding landscape was rapidly changing from rolling grassland to the suburban sprawl of Saffronâ??s outskirts. He welcomed the view; a year and a half doing field research in Hoenn seemed to have flown by, and lately he had found himself yearning for the familiar sights of Kanto and his home near Viridian. He expected Ra was counting the hours until his arrival, though the Persian would never admit it.

[b]â??Happy to be home again?â?[/b] he asked his companion.

The large fox nodded. [i]â??The sooner the betterâ??[/i]

[b]â??Homesick too?â?[/b] Saul had thought to elicit a grin from her, but to his surprise she gave her head a grave shake.

[i]â??Something feels strangeâ??[/i]

Saul looked out the window again; the bullet train had just passed the city border.

[b]â??In Saffron?â?[/b] he pressed, curious. [b]â??Saffron always feels funky. I think itâ??s all those Psychics in the same area; messes with the brainwaves,â?[/b] he added, but the Ninetales shook her head again.

[i]â??Iâ??ve been feeling it ever since we arrived in Goldenrodâ??[/i] she told him. [i]â??The atmosphere is dark, and itâ??s distracting meâ??[/i] She paused. [i]â??Is that...?â??[/i]

[b]â??...yeah, I think it is,â?[/b] finished Saul. [b]â??Saffronâ??s under lockdown.â?[/b]

[center]- - - - - - - - - - - - - -[/center]

He was right. Saffron Station was crawling with the crimson and black uniforms of Sabrinaâ??s gymâ??though Saul thought they looked strangely militaristic, more than he rememberedâ??and the bullet-trainâ??s passengers were being funneled out of the station and into waiting lines for busses. A quick question to a nearby gym member revealed that the busses were headed out to the surrounding cities until civilian traffic ceased.

Saul had apologetically put the Ninetales back in her ball before disembarking. Yasha had offered token protest, but Saul had convinced her that movement would be far easier with only one person, and promised as soon as he felt clear enough to bring her back out. Now he was glad of his decision; as he stood in one of the many lines his professional instincts were all focused a way out. There was a story somewhere close, and he couldnâ??t go after it with someoneâ??s eyes constantly on him. He just needed a distraction, if only for a few seconds....

Off to his left, a boy in a line slowly merging with his own was happily bouncing a painted ball. Saul noticed a couple of guards surreptitiously keeping pace with the child, every now and again eyeing his toy with what Saul thought to be distaste and annoyance. As the lines converged, Saul also watched him, shifting his weight lazily from one side to another, moving around as if impatient the closer the child came.

When he was within reaching distance, he turned around to view the back of the line, stepping ever so slightly across the way. The ball struck the edge of his shoe and shot backwards between the lines; with a shriek the child gave chase, his mother and the guards immediately darting after him, and Saul melted into the gawkers breaking line order and slipped out, ducking into an alley between buildings.

He didnâ??t turn around until he got to the end of the alley, where he risked a furtive glance over his shoulder for any signs of pursuit, then quickly navigated a series of back roads and crossings to get closer to the Saffron Gym, which he suspected was now some sort of central command place. The town had been almost completely evacuated, so his movements were unimpededâ??although he missed the natural cover pedestrians provided.

The sound of a motor pulled him up short, and he ducked back into shadows as a large, ungainly garbage truck trundled past. Saul waited a moment, then stepped out again to take stock of his location.

He had emerged near the back corner of the gym, and from the looks of it his instinct had been right. The fighting dojo had apparently been evacuated and was currently in use as a makeshift garage, and uniformed messengers hurried back and forth between the Gym and Silph Tower. Saul was about to risk a closer look when an object tapped against his foot.

To his surprise, the item was a dingy, scuffed pokéball that appeared to be occupied. An imperceptible layer of grunge coated itâ??which Saul noticed after picking it upâ??and he groaned in disgust, wiping it off on the side of his trousers. But the presence of the item confused him. There were no markings on the ball to indicate a childâ??s pet, nor did it seem to match any trainer numbers he had stored in his dex. He cast about to see where it might have rolled from.

Nothing immediately caught his eye nearby, but as he looked farther away his eyes drifted over another garbage truck behind the old fighting dojo. A flash of color caught his eye, and he looked back in time to see the last of the dumpsterâ??s contents sliding into the truckâ??s holdâ??and pokéballs showering out amid the refuse. Saul stared at the ball in his hand.

[b]â??What on earth...?â?[/b][/font] Edited by Allamorph

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[color=darkblue][size=1]The old man sighed as he ran a tanned, somewhat age-worn and calloused hand through his silver-streaked hair, looking at the long-collapsed entrance to the caves just outside of Cerulean City. Things were never convenient when you needed them to be, he thought. True, the entrance to the caves had been sealed for some time, due to a cave-in, but that wasn't what bothered him. It was how he was still going to make use of the caves now that weighed heavy on his mind.

The ragtag group of misfits that had gathered to fight against the League were at a huge disadvantage. They were small in number, supplies and forces at present: a relative tri-fecta of bad news. Still, they had decided to make a stand and they couldn't just play possum now. The League wouldn't allow a bold display of insurrection to just go lazily by. They would come after them; it was only a matter of time. And if the League wanted to run them over, Flint and Morty agreed that they weren't just going to let them play steamroller.

The Cerulean Cave presented them a small advantage: a place for a home base that would be easy to defend and provide the space to hold troops, supplies and ample space for whatever else they needed to do. There was the issue of the native Pokémon, but those were easily handled with barricades and other blocking measures. What they needed now was a place where they could plan out their moves before the League came crashing down on all of them and this was one of the few places that they could do that.

If they could get in.

[b]"Sir,"[/b] said a young man, running up huffing as if he had run a marathon. Flint recognized him as one of the ones he had sent to help a surveyor with scouting the area, but he hadn't seen him for hours. Noticing that he was streaked with sweat and grime, Flint couldn't help but raise an eyebrow.

[b]"What's going on, son? Where have you been?"

"Mt. Moon, sir."[/b] Flint blinked.

[b]"Mt. Moon? Why the blazes were you out that far?"

"Because I asked him to come along with me."[/b]

Flint turned at the voice, watching the young woman it belonged to walk up, swiping a pair of thick goggles off her head and stuffing them into the satchel she held in front of her. A Magmar stayed a pace behind her, doing a kind of shuffling walk to keep up with her strides.

[b]"And why is that, Ms. Marsters?"

"Because you made mention of Mt. Moon previously, Mr. Stone,"[/b] Valencia replied, stopping a respectful distance from him and shifting her satchel back to her hip. [b]"I figured there would be no problem with checking out all our options, here."[/b]

Flint took a moment to study the young woman. He wasn't what he expected to show up when he petitioned the Fletcher Company to come along with him to Cerulean and help with the surveying. She was moderately leggy, tanned and had a nice young face. Not what you would expect to see when you ask for someone that knew how to blow something up. Not only that, but when she was placed on a job, she seemed to like to take things into her own hands and make full use of the people around her—a trait that Flint wasn't so sure he liked.

[b]"I don't want my people going out so far in times like these. At least, not without informing me."

"Look,"[/b] the woman said with a small pointed look, running a hand through her hair which only served to make the wild look of the back of her hair look even more so. [b]"With all due respect, you asked me to come and try to find a way to get you in this cave. I'm doing that. You mentioned the mountain, so I went to check it out. I want to look at all sides of something when I do my job. I'm sorry I didn't get permission first, but I figured a couple things: One, that the only threat in there would be the local Pokémon and two, if there would be anyone in there that would considered an enemy, they'd have to come from this direction, since you've got the routes from Pewter covered. So yes, I kind of skirted you a bit, but you want this done, don't you?"[/b]

Flint blinked twice, sighed as he ran hand through his hair in kind (which made Valencia's mouth quirk the tiniest bit) and looked at the woman with a slight edge.

[b]"What did you find, Marsters."

"It's possible to get into the caves by going through the walls of the eastern tunnels. I scouted them and I've found a few places where the walls are thin enough to be broken through in a decent amount of time. It's also possible to cover the tracks afterward."[/b]

Flint thought for a minute. If it were possible to get into the caves and still have a hidden entrance, that would buy them all the more time before the League could figure out where they had taken up residence.

[b]"How long would it take to get through?"

"Working carefully to cover up afterward? Day and a half. Maybe two."

"And to cover up?"

"Four, five hours. There's also the need of separate escape routes..."

"We can worry about those once we get inside and start setting things up."

"So I take it that means you want to go ahead with this?"

"It does."

"All right. I'll send for a second crew."[/b]

As the woman turned and walked away, her Magmar not far behind, Flint turned back to look at the entrance of the cave. The plan he was going by now would provide decent shelter and enough peace of mind for everyone to gather their wits and prepare more diligently. Once it was done, though, was when the real issues would begin. He would have to gather enough troops from both Kanto and Johto together to make the base effective and yet leave enough to defend what the group already had, which, while small, was scattered enough to make things difficult.

Flint sighed and ran a hand through his hair, absently thinking about how it was probably going to get a lot more grey before this was all over.[/color][/size]

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[COLOR=Green][SIZE=1][I]"-and in conclusion, I stongly suggest not dealing with BallCo. in the immediate future. I have enclosed a copy of their spreadsheets for you to examine, and I hope you will consider my report.
-F. Ethridge, Oberon Co. accounting and relations."[/I]

[B]"Phew, that's done."[/B] Freya leaned back in her chair as she sent off her report. It had been a long day, but then again, every day was long when she was on the road. In a couple days, she'd be back home in Mahogany Town. There wouldn't be any less work, but at least she'd be able to sleep in her own bed. That was always a plus.

[B][I]"Ee!"[/I][/B]

[B]"Oh, Emmi."[/B] She smiled as her Eevee jumped up onto her lap. [B]"I'm finally done with that report, so now we can do whatever we want."[/B] She ruffled the small pokemon's fur, and it let out a delighted whine. Freya leaned back, staring at the ceiling of her hotel room, trying to force back a yawn. She scratched behind Emmi's ear, and the Eevee squeaked happily. Freya slowly moved her hand down, massaging the small creature until she was scratching under her chin. Emmi adjusted herself a bit, and then settled down, wagging her large fluffy tail. Freya stopped scratching, and the little pokemon yawned.

[B]"...Or, maybe we could just get some sleep. We've got another long day ahead of us, but at least we'll be heading back to Mahogany. Now, should we stop in New Bark, or skip it and head straight for Blackthorn? I guess we could go back through Ecruteak, but then we'd have to go through Violet, and that's League territory. I'd like to avoid that as much as we can. Azalea was bad enough."[/B]

Emmi tilted her head, looked at the right wall of the small inn room, and sat down.

[B]"Okay, New Bark it is. Let's get some rest. But first, let's let everybody stretch out a little and get cozy."[/B] Freya got out her small collection of pokeballs, each emblazoned with a different design indicating what pokemon was in it. Working at a specialty pokeball company certainly had its perks. Within an hour, a Nidorina, Misdreavus, and Growlithe were curled up on the floor, and the partially filled bathtub had a Chinchou getting comfortable in it. Freya had crawled into the bed, Emmi curled up at her feet. The woman surveyed the room one last time, her hand resting on the bedside lamp. Even if it was only for a little bit, it was nice to see that even at a time like this, with a life like hers, there were still moments where everything was peaceful.

She turned off the lamp, and pulled the blankets close. It would be another short night, they always were, but she was determined to make the best of it.


The next morning, Freya checked her pokegear for messages as she packed her few belongings. There was a single message, a reply from Morty regarding her plan to head home.

Her eyes widened, and she turned to Emmi, who yawned at her.

[B]"Well, girl, it looks like there's been a change of plans. We can't go home, not right now, at least. I hate to say this, but... I think our best option right now is lay low in Violet City."[/B]

It was definitely going to be a long day.[/SIZE][/COLOR]

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[SIZE="1"]The warm crisp sunlight crept slowly over the horizon as Ayden Van Belle slept somewhere in the forest on the outskirts of Ecruteak City. It was a chill night and the warmth the sun brought with it was a perfect indication of a great day to come.

Ayden possessed a modest tent that somehow, throughout his many years researching in the field and housing six very active pokémon, managed to stay in one piece. Cable, his ampharos slept lazily to his left, a series of wires running from his tail to the space heater at the other end of the tent.

The group of pokémon and their trainer woke, stretched, and ate breakfast before hiking back to the excavation site about 50 meters away. Ayden didn't want to take the chance of possibly ruining any artifacts nearby that may be on the surface. He had been in the field for nearly a week trying to find any remains from legendary pokémon. So far, there was no luck, but he was positive he was searching in the right spot; everything from the amount of animal bones on the surface, to the curious growth patterns of the local flora told him that a very powerful pokémon once resided there. It was only a matter of perseverance.

After cleaning up, it was back into the daily routine. Clover the ledian surveyed the area for any possible sites and any indication of surface artifacts. Emery the sandshrew helped Ayden dig. Cable provided electricity for any of the tools needed for excavation. Gael the girafarig was the heavy lifter, moving any boulders or trees that may impede the search. Dooley the golduck provided water for the others as well as wet-screening techniques. And Nebula the umbreon hunted for food to be cooked later that day. She was also the most skilled in battle of all Ayden's pokémon and protected them from Ecruteak's wildlife.

Ayden marveled at just how far his pokémon had come as a team. He loved working with them even more than the work itself and before he knew it, it was almost time for lunch. Nebula indicated this by nudging her catch expectantly at Ayden, hoping that he would give the word for them to eat. But it was at this time that he finally uncovered something important.

Pokémon paleontology is a guessing game. When it comes to excavation, it's difficult to judge how old artifacts are or even how far down they may be simply because ground type pokémon disturb the land on a regular basis. Sometimes the strata are reversed. Other times, they've been disrupted so much that the artifacts are either destroyed or so deeply buried that most paleontologists never find them. But Ayden knew his dedication would pay off.

It was the beginning of a fossilized pokémon. If Ayden had to make an educated guess, he would say it was the foot of an extinct pokémon. He didn't recognize the bones from any modern animals and just when he was going to give the command to broaden the excavation, he saw the look in Emery's eyes. He was obviously tired and hungry, as were the rest of his team. Reluctantly, he climbed out of the hole and began preparing lunch from the food that Nebula caught.

It was times like these that Ayden hated the League. Their impending presence on science and research meant that many people were out of jobs. Not only that, but the league put restrictions on what areas of the land could be excavated. They only allowed trusted researchers to dig in restricted areas, and even then, they were accompanied by a League official and never allowed to publish or study their findings. Of course, the researchers are payed handsomely while the League credited the discovery to their name and garnered even more support from the public. And the amount of bullshit a paleontologist like Ayden had to go through just to receive a permit nowadays wasn't worth it. That's why he and his pokémon were digging alone and illegally. None of his regular crew would come with him, making the process a lot slower.

When all seven of them had finished their meal, Ayden stood up and jumped back into the pit, excited to see how much of this ancient pokémon they could uncover. But just then, Nebula let out a low growl.

[B]"What's wrong, Neb?"[/B] he asked.

She nodded her head in the direction of the densely covered forest. Even at this time of day, there were certain parts of the forest that were too covered to receive large amounts of sunlight. But Nebula was adapted to the dark and Ayden didn't doubt that there was something or someone there.

Ayden knew that Ecruteak was a dangerous place to be, but that was even more reason for him to excavate. A large-scale battle would be tremendously harsh on the land and make it even harder for him to find anything.

He acted quickly: returning his large pokémon (Gael, Cable, and Dooley) to their pokéballs and ushered the other three to join him in the whole.

[B]Okay guys,[/B] he said quietly, [B]"Emery, start digging. See if you can get a closer look at whoever it is up there and make sure you avoid the fossil."[/B]The small sandshrew nodded and began working. Within 30 seconds, Ayden could no longer see his hind feet.

Then he turned to Clover.[B]"You're the fastest and no one will think you have an owner. I need you to try and pack up the equipment as quickly and quietly as possible. Then, you need to fly to Ecruteak and try to get help."[/B]

Ayden knew Clover was the most unsure of herself. While she was full of power, her confidence was usually so low that she preferred to give up. He could see the fear in Clover's eyes at the thought of leaving her friends, but she did.

[B]"Nebula,"[/B] he said, addressing the black pokémon still standing guard, [B]"Have they seen us?"[/B]

She shook her head once, indicating that they were unaware of their movements as of now.

[B]"Good. Let's keep it that way. Why don't you make it a bit darker."[/B]

Nebula's red eyes glowed with the active use of her power and suddenly, the sun's light seemed to be dimming. It wasn't enough to completely hide the pair, but their enemy would have to be really close to see them.

[B]"Good girl."[/B] He said, patting the umbreon's head, [B]"Now, it's just a waiting game."[/B][/SIZE]

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[SIZE=1]?[B]Open[/B]? in bold large font on the door of the pewter city pokemon center.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Silver hoped it would stay that way. It was busy inside as to be expected? healing berries can only go so far after all.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]So you?re the one who helped out when the center was closed[/B]?? said a pink haired nurse skeptically. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]He caught a glimpse of the girl before she leaped at him faster than a speeding Dodrio,?[B]Yep! This is my best pal Silver[/B]!? The Pikachu that was on Silvers pant leg scurried up to were Tina had bound herself and took a seat on her head. With a smile she let go and they fell to the floor, Tina removed him from her now static-frayed hair and began scratching him behind the ears.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Silver is it? Odd name. So, what brings you here then Silver[/B]?? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Well? I had quite a few extra berries still after I had distributed some to the sick pokemon, and my Polytoad found my stockpile[/B]? Silver handed over the pokeball to the nurse and she took it to one of the rooms.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Hey Silver[/B]?? Tina was starring at him with the those puppy dog eyes? he knew something was coming. ?[B]My Mom said she was really busy today, and I would really like it if someone would come to the gym with me[/B].? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]You know? I cant always just spend time with you. When Flint gets back I don?t even know if I am going to be staying in town[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Hey, I was just asking if you could do this one tiny little thing for me, pleeeeeese[/B]?? now her eyes somehow got bigger somehow? and to top It off Pikachu was mimicking the expression.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?([B]Sigh)[/B]? Silver pushed his hat down to hide a smile. ?[B]This one time? okay[/B]?? this time she tackled him to the ground. [/SIZE]
[center][SIZE=1]_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _[/SIZE][/center]
[SIZE=1] [/SIZE]
[SIZE=1]Gyms always brought back good memories for Silver. He always thought of gyms as a gateway to a young trainers dreams. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]So you are going to want to stick with your Oddish and your Horsea, your Pidgy and Charmander wont work well at all against these rock pokemon and rock attacks will hurt them worse than the others[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]I know already! I?m not completely usless you know[/B]!?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]I guess I will see just how good you are[/B].? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]You sure will! That badge is as good as mine[/B]!? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]She always gets so excited ? ?[B]Just remember, you don?t have to win to be a good trainer. Sometimes losing teaches you more[/B].? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Hahaha[/B]!? one of the trainers approached the two, ?[B]If that?s the case you must have learned everything there is to know Silver[/B]!? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Whats he talking about[/B]?? Tina asked him. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Silver just smiled, ?[B]Lets just say I lost my fair share of matches[/B].? Now isn?t the time to get bent out of shape, he thought to himself, if Tina sees me have any weakness, she might end up like me, and that would be the last thing I?d want.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Tina signed up for the gym match. They were all set to go when the snide trainer walked out of the room with a bolder badge. ?[B]Well? this is my sixth badge, but I suppose anyone can get eight of these if you can[/B].? He walked away laughing.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]What a jerk! Do you know him[/B]??[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]No, not directly, but he looks a lot like one of the people I used to travel with. Maybe one of their kids[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Whoever he is? he is one giant jerk-face[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Watch your mouth Tina? you might offend someone? Now focus on your match[/B].? They walked to the small clay stadium. There was the traditional poke ball shaped crest in the middle, the League insignia however was omitted. The gym no longer belonged to the league, but now all the badges really only count as merits to a trainer. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Tina, I am Hector[/B].? the giant man reached about four feet down to shake Tina?s hand, ?[B]this is your first badge attempt am I correct[/B].? It was phrased like a question, but he did not tone it this way. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Umm ye[/B]??[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]You will face five trainers. After every two trainers you may use potions to heal your pokemon, but you may not leave this room[/B] "[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Embarrassed she pulled out her pack off . ?[B]umm sir I mi[/B]?? she turned slightly red and looked at Silver, who gave her a quick thumbs up. He had slipped five potions a paralyze heal and a couple berries in her bag without her even noticing.?[B]never mind sir[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Yes? well you may think because I am not Flint I will be easier. This is NOT the case. I shal be just as challenging of an opponent, if not tougher. Flint tends to go easier on first time trainers than I caan-err.-Do[/B]?? he smiled, wiped a bit of sweat off his bald head. ?[B]Do your best. Let the matches begin[/B]!?[/SIZE]
[center][SIZE=1]_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _[/SIZE][/center]


[SIZE=1]Tina battled much better than Silver could have guessed. Though the first two trainers were beaten fairly easily mostly because of type advantage she did show excellent controll over her pokemon. Most trainers at her level have pokemon that find it necessary to turn around and acknowledge any order instead of just doing it. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?Third trainer, Jay.?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Aqui! I choose you[/B]!? Tina?s Horsea popped out of its ball in a flash of red light. It stood on the ground on its tail. It obviously wasn?t going anywhere with this kind of terrain, but it looked quite at home before, shooting water blasts from a stationary position. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Geodude! Go[/B]!? Jay seemed a bit shaky, but that doesn?t mean he cant train a good Geodude.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Alright Aqui. Use bubble[/B]!? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Umm[/B]?? the bubbles hit the Geodude, which stunned him a bit, slowing him down. ?rock throw Geodude!? the pokemon picked a rock up from its back from what it looked like, then threw it directly towards the stationary Horsea. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Water gun[/B]!? the rock was hit in mid air and shot right back at the Geodude. Cracking its face significantly.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=1]Its ridged arms fell to the ground. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Geodude return! Sudowoodo[/B][/SIZE][SIZE=1][B] I choose you[/B]!? the tree like pokemon dropped from its poke ball. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Oh no! a grass type! What am I gonna do? Maybe Toasty[/B]?"[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Silver shouted from the stands, ?[B]stay strong Tina[/B]!?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Aqui? Do you think you can handle this one[/B]?? the horse gave an uncertain nod.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Sudowoodo, rock throw[/B]!?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Alright, like we practiced before[/B]!? the Horsea gave a tremendous bounce. It was using the curled up tail it has as a spring for land movement. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Uhh.. rock slide Sudowoodo[/B]!? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]higher Aqui[/B]!? the horse jumped high up in the air and landed directly behind the tree like pokemon.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=1]?[B]let ?em have it[/B]!? a point blank water gun to the Sudowoodo knocked it out in one hit.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Aww! How did you know it wasn?t a grass type! Return Sudowoodow[/B].? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Um, I didn?t.. I just figured I could keep getting away from your attacks[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Hectors voice sounded off like a drill instructors, ?[B]Fourth opponent. Kim[/B]!? she was not a girly girl by any means? her clothes were dirty, her hair un-brushed. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]"[B]I only have one pokemon Tina. But it will be the toughest one so far, ONIX[/B]? she roared like a lion ?[B]I CHOOSE YOU[/B]!? [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1][B]?Sprouts! I choose you[/B]!? The tiny patch of grass stared strait up at the giant rock snake. the size diffirence was astounding.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]ONIX, GLARE[/B]!? The eyes of the Onix pulsated, morphing into those of a snakes. The Oddish was no longer just intimidated. It was now paralyzed with fear.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Sprouts! Use bullet seed[/B]!? it turned its head slightly but it could do nothing.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]ONIX BIND[/B]!? the rock snake traped te tiny grass patch in its clutches. Slowly pressing harder.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Stun Spore[/B]!? a cloud of pollen emitted from the encased Oddish, the effects were immediate. The Onix now shared the same symptoms as the Oddish. ?[B]okay now absorb[/B]!? the Oddish was now draining energy from the colossal beast. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]ONIX CRUSH IT! BIND[/B]!? The two were locked together, but each time the onix put pressure on the Oddish its energy would be depleted and the Oddish revitalized, until it finally released it. ?[B]ONIX? return. I gotta hand it to yah kid, you got talent[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Hector left his seat. ?[B]Alright. You may now face me for a bolder badge. Prepare your pokemon[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]After Tina fully restored her pokemon with Silvers items, she stepped on to the arena.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Sprouts I choose you[/B]!? the Oddish smiled happily, cured of all ailments.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Shuckles I choose you[/B]!? a yellow creature in a red rock shell emerged. This could be trouble, since bug types are strong against grass.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Use absorb Sprouts[/B]!? the brilliant flickering power that Onix gave was no where to be seen. Very little energy came back at all.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Toxic Shuckles[/B]! The creature withdrew its limbs into its red meteor rock shell. From the leg arm and head holes purple toxic liquid spewed into a large puddle. Unable to evade the Oddish was stricken with poison. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Sprouts, bullet seed[/B]!? the sick Oddish spat out a stream of seeds, but they did almost nothing to the pokemon. After the attack effects of the poison began to take its toll. The Oddish was out of breath. Tina knew she could only try to improve the odds for the next pokemon. ?[B]Stun spore[/B]!? The Oddish fanned its leaves , releasing the devastating pollen.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Shuckles, safeguard[/B]!? the yellow creature begain to softly glow. The pollen that was emmited fell harmlessly to the ground. It was at this time the Oddish had had enough and fell on its face.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Return sprouts. Aqui! I choose you[/B]!? the seahorse emerged from the ball, resting on its tail.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Toxic Shuckles[/B].? The pokemon released the purple liquid once again.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Water gun on that sludge[/B]!? The seahorse pokemon sprayed the poison with its nozzle mouth. The water pushed the ooze back at the rock creature, whom remained unaffected by it.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Rock tomb Shucles[/B]? the ground around the Horsea formed two large rocks protruding from the ground, they were rapidly closing in on it?s prey.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Aqua jet Aqui[/B]!? the seahorse launched itself like a rocket directly towards the opposing pokemon, slamming into it like a wave crashing against the shore. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Shuckles, withdraw[/B]!? the pokemon retreated inside its shell.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Now Aqui! Water gun one of the holes[/B]!" With pinpoint precision the pokemon shot a stream of water right into the Shuckles shell, launching it into a wall where it collapsed . Silver couldn?t help but cheer this time.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Return Schucles. Kabuto, GO[/B]!? an ancient looking dome shaped rock . ?[B]I bought this pokemon as a fossil from a man claiming he found it at Mt. Moon. A friend of Flint in cinnabar island revived it for me. Now Kabuto, Dig[/B]!? the scarab like creature tore into the gym turf leaving a small tunnel behind. Both Tina and her Horsea looked for any sign of movement but before they could do anything the Kabuto emerged directly beneath the seahorse smacking it with its rock shell upon resurfacing. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Quick Aqui! Hit it with water gun before it digs again[/B]!? the Horsea flipped its body in mid air to line up a shot with the fast moving Kabuto. The shot launched it away from the hole, but didn?t seem to affect much more than its trajectory. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Kabuto is both rock and water type. Young lady. Now, use mud shot Kabuto![/B]? the mixture of dirt and water slammed into the seahorse and after being covered in mud the Horse found itself unable to move as it used to. ?[B]Scratch Kabuto[/B].? The scarab creature launched itself into the air, revealing sharp yellow legs. One of its front legs struck the Horsea dead on, knocking it unconscious. Now the only two pokemon Tina had left were a fling/normal and a fire type, none of them able to hurt rock with any efficiency. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Beaky! Show that guy what your made of[/B]!? Hector couldn?t hold back a smile, ?[B]sand attack[/B]!?[/SIZE]
[SIZE=1]The smile on his face quickly changed a s his pokemon was blinking profusely trying to clear its vision. ?keep going Beaky? even more sand was blown directly at its face making matters worse. Silver sure never taught her that one.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Rock slide Kabuto[/B]!? a stream of pebbles nearly knocked Silver off the stands it was so off course.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Beaky, use quick attack! Keep moving so it cant hit you[/B]!? The bird flew with grace and speed, evading every attack that could easily have put it out of commission in one shot. The Pidgy slammed into the Kabuto for about three minutes before it finally gave in. exhausted the Pidgy hung low in the air.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]You have done very well to get this far young lady, but this is the end of the road. Graveler! I choose you[/B]! ? the four armed bolder was about as big as Hector himself. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Sand attack Beaky[/B]!? once more it flapped it s wings to pick up sand, then launched itt at the giant rock.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Cover your eyes and use rock throw[/B]!? the two small hands extended upwards to shield it?s vision, while at the same time the other two launched a big rock strait at the Pidgy while it was still flicking up sand. The collision knocked the bird out of the air.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Return Beaky. Good job[/B]? Tina looked at her last poke ball. It all came down to this. ?[B]Toasty! I choose you[/B]!? the Charmander emerged from the poke bal. its flame tale burning very bright.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Rollout Graveler[/B]!? the bolder hugged itself tight with its arms and slowly began rolling towards the Charmander. It bumped it but weakly, barely knocking the fire-lizard off balance.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Ember Toasty[/B]!? The Charmander spat out a small burst of flames at the spinning rock but it kept on moving in its u-turn motion, now picking up speed. The rolling Graveler once again bumped the Charmander, this time flipping him around., however the little guy stepped right back up and sprayed another futile burst of flames. Now the stone creature was really picking up speed, the Charmander was struck again hurling him down the arena.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]NO! TOASTY[/B]!? the Charmander heard Tina?s voice. Her distress gave him the power to get back on his feet. Nothing was going to make his friend sad. Fire surrounded the creature.. Power was rushing into it at such an extreme rate he began to glow. The Graveler, came for another pass, rushing at its foe with great speed. The light faded away revealing a Charmeleon. Hs eyes burned with passion as its enemy sped towards him. Its arms, previously small and weak now looked muscular and fit. He darted at the rock monster. And slashed it. The claws transformed from an opaque white to a metallic silver. Chunks of rock particles flew off. As well as one of the Graveler?s arms. The now deformed stone veered off out of controll into a wall, where it lay motionless.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Return Graveler. I must say. I am quite impressed? and don?t worry about that arm, they grow back stronger[/B].? his smile was very kind for a man of his size.. ?congratulations Tina, the boulder Badge is now yours.?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]still awestruck from the matches ending, Tina walked up to her new Charmeleon. ?[B]You are so cool Toasty[/B]!? she gave the creature a big hug, which it now could return. She then went up to Hector and obtained her badge. In excitement she grabbed the arms of the Charmeleon and began bouncing in circles in a odd dance. They both seemed to enjoy it though.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]Hector approached silver at the bench. ?[B]You should be quite proud of your daughter Silver[/B].? he gave him a punch on the arm. ?[B]not everyone can win a match by evolving in md battle, that?s for sure[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Common Hector? you know she?s not my kid. She?s more like an apprentice of mine? hopefully she can improve on my technique[/B]? they both laughed at this. It was almost like old times again, times when you didn?t have to worry about war from the people you used to admire? Almost?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Well if you spend any more time with her mother you might be! You cant deny there is something between you two[/B]?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Oh I can deny it alright, I just wont to you., but most of what we share is affection for that girl[/B].?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]At the very least you have been good for her, And if she keeps getting your pointers she well become quite the trainer[/B].? Tina and Toasty came running up to them.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]We should totally go celebrate Silver[/B]!? she still couldn?t help but bounce around.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Why? This was no surprise for me, I knew you could do it all along[/B]!? She sat on Silvers knee and threw her arms around him. ?[B]But I guess we can go to that restaurant you like, with the mini arcade[/B].? she didn?t stay on his lap for long, she had already sprung up and resumed bouncing off walls.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=1]?[B]Awesome! Chansey-cheeses is the greatest[/B]!?[/SIZE]

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[FONT="Franklin Gothic Medium"][SIZE="1"][COLOR="Navy"]Ecruteak Gym. It was once a place of friendly competition and camaraderie. Morty always kept the facility in tip-top shape. But now, the facility was more reminscient of a military base than a Gym. As Terry walked in, he saw two soldiers sparring on the battlefield that was once used to test fledgling trainers trying to challenge the Pokemon League. Terry remembered his own battle against Morty.

It was one of Terry's toughest fights. He had always admired Morty's battling style. So cool and collected. There wasn't any wasted movement in his battling. Every move had be calculated well in advance. But Terry had slipped by with a win and earned the Fog Badge. Terry stood at the edge of the battlefield and watched the two trainers spar and became lost in the action. Sandslash versus Skarmory.

[B]"SKREEEE!!!!" [/B]The Skarmory bellowed as it dove in, claws extended.

[B]"Go Skarmory, use Steel Wing!!"[/B]

The Pokemon's wings began to glow with a white light. Skarmory struck the mouse Pokemon on the chest and sent it flying across the floor.
[B]
"Quick Sandlash! Use Defense Curl and bounce off the wall!"[/B] Almost instictively, the Pokemon obeyed and curled into a ball of spines. As it reboudned off of the wall, it began to spin in a clockwise manner.Sandlash vaulted into Skarmory, who had been cirlcing the field after striking his prey.

Terry stood almost in a trance. Long ago, Pokemon had just battled for sport and nothing more. Everything was so friendly. But those days were over. Terry looked at both trainers and tried to come to grips with the fact that they may be dead after the impending invasion. They were both so young, couldn't be a day over 18. Terry's heart sank. Why did it have to be this way? What was wrong with the status quo?

Terry was brought back into reality by a hand placed upon his shoulder.

[B]"Brings back old memories, huh?" [/B]
Terry glanced over his shoulder to see Morty smiling in front of him. Morty and Terry became friends after Terry won the Johto Pokemon League championship and challenged the Elite Four. Morty had petitioned for Terry to become a Gym Leader in the Hoenn region, but Terry had turned it down. He didn't see a need to be stuck in a Gym when his talents could be used elsewhere. But Morty had taught Terry everything he knew about high level battling. It was no suprise when Morty saught him out when the League assumed control. Terry would do anything for his friend and mentor.

[B]"Yes. Sypus is still hurting from that Shadow Ball he took from your Gengar,"[/B] Terry quipped jokingly.

[B]"Sypus was barely a Quilava back then. But now he is very strong." [/B]

[B]"We were so green back then. I could barely throw a pokeball."[/B]

[B]"Not true. You always were a step above the average trainer. You just needed some guidance and a push in the right direction."[/B]
Terry and Morty sat down in Morty's office. The desk was littered with small figurines and a map of the Johto region. The League forces, marked by red figures were advancing towards Ecruteak City.

[B]"So, what did you need me for, sir?"

"Skip the formalities, Terry. You and I are equals, as are all people in the resistance. That is what we are fighting for. Equality."

"As you may know, we are sitting ducks. The League is advancing from all sides, and the rumor is that Bugsy is leading the assault. The troops have already marched through Olivine City and are currently occupying the city."[/B]
Terry's heart sank.

[B]"Do not worry. I sent some of my finest soldiers to get your mother and Samantha out of the city. They will be arriving in Ecruteak shortly. They can stay with the other refugees."[/B]
Morty stood and peered out the window into the distance. The sun was setting behind Tin Tower, which made it shimmer with a yellow light.

[B]"We must not let Ecruteak fall, Terry. We must stand tall, like Tin Tower. This is our last stand."

"Of course. You can count on me, old friend."

"Your mission will be to defend the southern entrance to the City, where the League has concentrated the Majority of their forces. They will try to weaken us from there and then use their flanking positions to take out what ever is left. You shall not let this come to pass. Bugsy probalby thinks this is easy. But we will show the League our resolve."[/B]
Terry nodded in agreement. Morty's Gengar then walked through the wall and presented Morty with a small note. He peered over it with dissatisfaction.

[B]"I see."[/B] Morty said glumly.[B]"Well it seems like we have less time to prepare than we thought. Thank you, Gengar."[/B]

[B]"Bwahhhhaaaaaa" [/B]The Pokemon said as he slipped back through the wall.

Terry looked at his old friend, who still was gazing into the horizon.

[B]"Do you think that we will ever find peace again, Terry?"

"That is why we fight, Morty."

"Yes, of course."

"Well, I'd better get my squad ready for the invasion. I will see you after the dust settles, my friend." [/B]

Terry and Morty clasped hands together and smiled.

[B]"May Ho-Oh protect you."

"And you as well."[/B]

Terry exited the gym and headed towards the Kimono Dance Theater, where his squad frequented as patrons.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

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[COLOR="Red"][FONT="Times New Roman"][I]I swear...does he EVER plan on waking up? [/I]

Venusaur turned around slowly and looked at a nearby tree. There, on a low branch, lay his partner, Haru, fast asleep.

Venusaur slowly made his way over to the tree. [I]I am NOT doing his job again today,[/I] he thought as he extended two thick vines from the plant on it's back towards Haru. At first, he gently poked the boy, but to no avail- Haru continued snoring despite all the prodding. Venusaur sighed. [I]Have it your way, then...[/I] he thought. He then began to beat Haru with the vines, each one coming down with a swift CRACK, as if they were whips. It only took one blow to awaken Haru, but the vine's kept coming afterwards.

"OW, OW, OW! H-hey, Venusaur, cut it out- STOP IT, DAMMIT!"

Venusaur let out what was supposed to be a chuckle from the back of it's throat, sounding more like a cough as Haru jumped down from the tree. Haru wiped the blood from the cut that had appeared on his right cheek, glaring at his partner. "Think that was funny, do you? Well, just you wait, I'll-"

"Uh...Mr. Corbel?"

Haru turned around as he heard someone call his name. He saw a man that looked to be not much older than Haru, if not the same age, a somewhat confused look on his face. Haru dismissed the expression, thinking that he must be a new recruit- Haru was completely unaware that the man had just witnessed Venusaur's 'wake-up call' for Haru.

"Uh...Haru, please," Haru said with a shudder, "Mr. Corbel just doesn't sit well with me, formality or not."

"R-right...anyway, I have orders for you from Flint. They've found a few places in the wall of Mt. Moon that can be broken through to make openings into the caves. You are to join and aid the second crew in creating these openings. That is all"

Haru nodded as the man turned and walked away. "I wonder what was up with him...he seemed a bit...freaked out."

[I]It's not every day you see a Pokémon beat their Trainers to get them to wake up,[/I] Venusaur thought. Haru frowned as a grin grew across Venusaur's face. "Yeah, just keep laughing. One of these days, I'll get you back for that."

[I]Yeah, right...besides, I wouldn't have to do that if you weren't sleeping on the job.[/I] Venusaur thought.

"Anyway...we better get moving. Let's go Venusaur."

Venusaur nodded and followed his Trainer as he began to walk towards Mt. Moon.[/FONT][/COLOR]

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"...and when I tell you to do something, you damn well better do it!"

Aesera paused at the entrance to the Violet City Gym and looked towards the sound of the angry voice. A man was standing off to the side, shouting angrily at an Arcanine, a male from the looks of it. [I]Guy must have lost a training match, [/I]Aesera thought. [I]And he's clearly not happy about it.[/I]

"I don't care what you think," the man was shouting. "You acted without any instruction. That's why we lost, you piece of shit. You do what I tell you to, and only what I tell you to. Is that understood?"

Arcanine growled at the man, then jerked back with a whimper as the man's foot landed in his face. "I'm in charge here, not you! I don't want any damn protests, or objections, or anything! I'm the boss here!"

The man didn't notice Aesera's approach until she tapped him on the sholder. He spun around to face her. "What d'you want?"

"Well, I couldn't help but overhear your, well, outburst, and I thought I'd advise you to cut the anger down a bit. I don't think Arcanine there likes that kind of treatment."

"Yeah? And just who are you, anyways?"

"New recruit."

"New recruit, huh? Well, then, let me give you a free piece of advice, girl: stay the hell out of my business."

"Probably a good piece of advice," Aesera said, "but I don't think so. I saw the way you're treating Arcanine, and I don't think he likes it."

"Ha! Like they even have feelings. They're just dumb beasts."

"Kind of like you, then?"

"Kind of- okay, [I]girl[/I], I've heard enough out of you." He stepped up right in front of her and glared threateningly. "I think you should shut up now."

Aesera didn't even flinch. She stared straight into the man's blue eyes. "What, you think I'm afraid of you?" She laughed. "You don't scare me. But I'm not in the mood for a fight." She stepped away from the man. "I just wanted to say that I thought you should be nicer to your Pokemon."

"You sound like one of them 'protesters'. Maybe I oughta turn you in for sympathizing with the enemy."

"Amazing," Aesera said. "I was starting to think you were too dumn to use four-syllable words." The man stepped forward, but Aesera just laughed. "You don't really want to start a fight, do you? When I've never even uttered a single threat? Because I wouldn't think you'd like the consequences for starting a fight. I don't think the guys in charge take kindly to that sort of thing."

The man stepped back. "You better hope I never see you again, girl," the man said as he recalled his Arcanine to its ball. "Because if I do, you're mine."

"I'd love to see you try," Aesera said. "Well, I've got to go report in. 'Bye." She left the man behind and entered the gym.

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[SIZE="1"][COLOR="Indigo"]It didn?t take Kendra long to get to the one spot on her map that had a little star next to it. She felt it was safe to assume that directions as well as specific assignments were being given out at that location. The constant hustle of people hurrying into the large business building and back out again only confirmed her guess.

Those who went in, like her, were empty handed. Depending on which table they went too, after checking a list of names taped to the wall just inside the door, they either left laden with supplies or with a cloth bearing the Red Cross symbol for medical personnel attached to the back of their shirt or both.

?[B]Let?s see,[/B]? Kendra ran her finger along the list, looking for her name. Then to the right, underneath her name as she read what was written there.

?[B]Section three.[/B]? She mused out loud before turning around and weaving her way through the others in the large room, dodging Pokémon and people alike. She made for the table that had a large paper sign with the words ?section three? taped on the wall behind it.

?[B]Perhaps you should go back inside your ball for a bit, to alleviate the confusion.[/B]? She gave her Sneasel an encouraging smile as they joined the line of people waiting to talk to the two women manning the table.

She could tell he wasn?t too happy at the thought, but understood just the same. A moment later she secured the now occupied ball in its spot on her belt. That taken care of, Kendra patiently waited in the line as it moved forward until finally, someone was free to talk to her.

?[B]Name?[/B]? The harried woman behind the table asked without bothering to glance up.

?[B]Kendra Johnston.[/B]? She waited as the woman checked the list she had and then turned around and reached into a box on the floor behind her.

?[B]Right, you?ve been assigned to the Pokémon center on Second Street. You familiar with it?[/B]?

?[B]Yes.[/B]?

?[B]Good.[/B]? She stood up, a cloth in hand. ?[B]Turn around please.[/B]? The woman ordered as she walked around the table. A moment later she was fastening the cloth on Kendra?s shirt. She turned around when the woman was done.

?[B]Dr. Matheson or one of his assistants will tell you what to do once you get there.[/B]? The woman offered a tiny smile. ?[B]Good luck and be careful.[/B]?

?[B]Thank you.[/B]? She nodded. ?[B]You too.[/B]?

Once she was back outside she called her Sneasel back out. He would stay inside his ball if needed, but the rest of the time, doing so made him a bit ill tempered. Kendra didn?t mind, she felt better with him around anyway.

The sun was already starting to rise as she hurried to where she had been directed to go. Her parents were probably at their assigned locations already. As she turned the last corner and approached the two-story medical center, an odd sound from the south of the city started to reach her ears. Kendra had an idea of what it was and hurried inside the medical center. [/COLOR][/SIZE]

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[FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"][COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Allen was poring over the schedule for when the next bullet train for Blackthorn City was scheduled to leave as he slowly walked through Goldenrod. Trusting in Tess’s sense of direction he paid little attention to his surroundings. They had been to Maya’s before and it was unlikely that Tess would ever get lost.

“[B]Even if we found her in the next five minutes, we’d never get down there in time. We’ll have to catch the next one.[/B]” He sighed. “[B]I should have gotten up earlier. Knowing my luck, Dad or Mom will think to check there.[/B]”

He tucked the schedule back into his pocket. “[B]I wonder if she’s already had breakfast,[/B]” Allan asked Tess. “[B]We could always wait in one of the cafés near the station until the very last minute.[/B]”

“[B]I already ate.[/B]” A voice just in front of him said.

Startled, Allan looked up. Maya was standing on the sidewalk, just over ten feet away. Her eyebrow shot up as she looked at him.

“[B]Oh, uh…[/B]” He faltered, unsure what to say. "[B]Good morning Maya[/B]." He finally managed.

She nodded in response. “[B]I assume you got the order to report to Blackthorn City?[/B]”

“[B]Yes.[/B]”

Maya glanced at the duffle bag he was carrying. “[B]You have everything you need?[/B]”

Allan nodded.

“[B]Let’s get going then.[/B]” She turned to head back in the same direction she had just come from. Relieved to finally be heading out he walked alongside Maya. They hadn’t gone more than half a block when she suddenly turned and headed into a fairly empty parking lot.

“[B]Uh…[/B]” Allan stopped; Maya did as well and turned back around to face him. “[B]Isn’t the train station in that direction?[/B]” He gestured to the left.

“[B]I wasn’t planning on taking the train.[/B]” She gave him a curious look. “[B]Why would I waste money on a train ticket?[/B]”

“[B]You’re planning on walking?[/B]” Allan’s eyebrows shot up.

Maya looked like she was holding back laughter as she reached for her belt and retrieved one of her balls. “[B]Of course not.[/B]" She grinned as she called one of her companions forth. "[B]Time for some fresh air Gyarados![/B]”

Startled, Allan took a step back as the huge blue serpent came out of its home and then hovered in midair to the side of Maya. At nearly twenty five feet long and easily six hundred pounds, if not more, the great serpent was both intimidating and impressive.

[I]Wait… she doesn’t mean…[/I]

“[B]You ready to head back home?[/B]” Maya was talking to her Pokémon. “[B]We have a guest with us this time. You don’t mind do you?[/B]”

Allan had no idea what the sounds it was making in return meant, but Maya seemed to take it as a yes. She made sure her stuff was securely fastened and then nimbly climbed up on the back of the Gyarados.

“[B]What are you waiting for?[/B]” She frowned slightly at Allan who was still standing there. “[B]It’s alright, carrying two people is easy. You’ll want to get your companion to ride in their ball though.[/B]”

“[B]Uh… right.[/B]” Allan looked at the massive serpent again and then back to Maya. [I]Lovely, she really is serious about this.[/I]

“[B]You’re not afraid of heights are you?[/B]” Maya asked when he continued to hesitate.

Allan flushed slightly. “[B]No.[/B]” He shot back stiffly. At least he didn’t think he was. He went to fetch the ball from his pouch. “[B]I hope you don’t mind Tess.[/B]”

She nuzzled his hand to indicate that she didn’t before returning to her ball. Allan secured it in his pouch and then fixed the duffle bag strap so it was across his chest with the bag resting against his back.

Then at Maya’s guidance, he scrambled on back of the large serpent. Once Maya was satisfied that he was situated, with a grin and a warning to hang on, she gave the word for the creature to take off. [/COLOR][/FONT]

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[SIZE="1"][FONT="Microsoft Sans Serif"][COLOR="#862A51"]As the serpent flew above the cities and towns of Johto, Maya examined them as they passed below. They seemed so insignificant from such a great distance, no matter that they all were bustling with citizens and Pokemon alike. As they reached closer to their destination, Maya looked behind her to check on her companion.

[b]"You going to be alright there, kid?"[/b], she asked, Allan trying to avoid looking below.

[b]"F-first of all, I'm not a 'kid'...secondly, yeah. I'm fine. This is just a little...different, is all,[/b] he said with a nervous smile.

[b]"Well, try not to upchuck. We'll be there shortly."[/b]

[b]"...I'll do my best."[/b]

Before they knew it, they had arrived at their destination: Blackthorn City. As they landed, Maya pet her Gyarados as a reward for its job well done, and ordered it to return to its home within its Pokeball. As she put the capsule away, she turned to her companion.

[b]"We're to meet Miss Clair ASAP. Don't dawdle, don't sight-see, don't chat it up with local ladies. We're going straight to her location. Understand?"[/b]

Allan sighed. [b]"Yes, ma'am..."[/b]

The two began their trek to the Blackthorn Gym. And while Maya kept a swift pace, she couldn't help but let her mind wander as she observed her surroundings. It seemed like only yesterday that she had left the small, quiet mountain town for the bustling Goldenrod. And even then, the town itself was something she barely explored at all, as she had spent most of her days in the Dragons Den (save for some endurance tests at the Ice Path). As much as she desired to stay and observe the townsfolk and the surroundings, she had a job to do.

[b]"So, Maya...if I may ask, what made you want to come here, of all places? I mean, to each their own, but this seems like a really...um..."[/b] Allan tried to ask, fumbling around with his words.

[b]"Random? I wanted to come here to train. Simple as that."[/b] Maya answered.

[b]"But why here? Why such a secluded ar--"[/b]

[b]"I'm not going to play the twenty questions activity with you. Now hush, we're almost to the gym."[/b]

[b][i]"T-Twenty questions activity...? It's called 'game'..."[/b][/i] Allan though to himself, puzzled at her literal choice of words. But he had no time to ponder much longer, as they arrived at their destination at last.[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE]

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[color=darkblue][size=1][b]"Where are we on the fortifications?"

"We still have about three days of work ahead of us, ma'am."

"I want it done in half the time. And done right."

"Understood, ma'am."[/b]

The sharp glance Claire sent up at the aide told him he was dismissed. As he sprinted off, Claire went back to her map of the immediate area, marking spots around the perimeter of Blackthorn where there would need to be more coverage. It wasn't hard to turn the city into a relative fortress, though this was thanks in large part to the mountains that surrounded it. Still, with the enemy they were fighting, Claire didn't want to take any chances. She wanted the defenses in place as soon as possible. They were at an advantage of sorts, but complacency breeds weakness, or so the saying goes.

The air around Claire took on a subtle coolness, making her glance to the serpentine dragon coiled majestically beside her. She followed its gaze as it caught her attention, noticing Maya coming toward the Gym with a new face in tow, though it looked considerably pallid, for some reason. She raised an eyebrow as she considered the boy. He seemed more curious than the average recruit, which wasn't necessarily something that brightened Claire's day. Still, Maya had returned with someone and that was a blessing, though a minor one, in more ways than one.

[b]"Report,"[/b] she said to the young woman, though her gaze remained evenly on the boy behind her.

[b]"Yes, ma'am. The recruiting mission was...slightly successful."

"Who is this?"[/b] The boy shifted on his feet a little, the intense gaze Claire was setting on him obviously making him more than a little nervous.

[b]"Allan Shepherd,"[/b] he piped up suddenly, thinking she was finally speaking directly to him. The slight glare she gave him told him he was wrong.

[b]"What battle experience do you have?"

"I've done some training and battling,"[/b] he responded with a shrug.

Claire looked the boy up and down slowly, coming to realize the type she was dealing with. She gave a short sigh and shifted her weight to her right leg. [b]"So you're not a complete blank slate. I suppose I'll look at that as a blessing. You're to fall in with the south regiment for drills and duty. I don't want to hear about any whining or you can carry yourself back to where you come from."[/b]

[b]"I'll pull my weight."

"See that you do,"[/b] Claire said, turning on her heel to go back to her map. But she stopped short, glancing back over her shoulder at the boy. [B]"What sort of Pokémon do you even have on you?"[/B]

[b]"I have one of those,"[/b] he said, pointing to the Dragonair that had been eyeing him with a casual coolness the entire time. It canted its head at the proclamation and its owner did the same.

[b]"You have a dragon? Let me see it."[/b]

The boy took a Pokéball from its belt as both Claire and her own dragon came forward. Soon, Allen's own Dragonair sat face-to-face with the both of them, taking only a second to notice the new surroundings before focusing on the pair.

Claire took a seemingly casual look over it, noting the gleam of its fine scales, the point of its horn and the finish of the jewel just below its slight maw. All of them pointed toward the signs of a well-kept pet; not a seasoned battler. Claire sighed.

Her Dragonair, though, slid closer to it, its own jewel beginning to shine with an opaque light. A light hum, like that of a fine tuning fork filled the air as it swayed slightly looking intently at the other dragon. It responded in kind, its own jewel shining brighter and ringing with a slightly higher pitch. Allan only looked on at the spectacle, obviously unsure of what to make of it.

[b]"They're talking,"[/b] Claire responded. [b]"She's probably asking him about his life. And you."

"...It won't get much, then. I haven't had mine for that long. It was a present."

"That much is obvious. But Dragonairs are a very perceptive species. They don't need that long being in your presence to see what you're about."[/b]

The two dragons went on conversing for a few moments before finally going silent, Claire's moving to circle the boy. Then it stood straight and tall, bumping its muzzle against Allan's forehead hard enough to make him take a step backward.

[b]"Did... Did it just kiss me?"[/b] he asked, looking at the dragon in disbelief as it half-slithered, half-glided back to its space beside Claire's worktable and coiled itself up for a sun nap.

[b]"Something like that,"[/b] Claire said with a smirk, turning back to the table with a dismissive wave. [b]"I think she's telling you to watch your step until you get the hang of things." [/b]

Another aide came running up then, skidding to a stop with a short salute.

[b]"News, ma'am."[/b]

[b]"All right,"[/b] Claire replied with a nod, then looked to Maya as she went to follow him. [b]"Make sure he gets where he needs to be."[/b][/color][/size]

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[FONT=Calibri][align=justify]From the top of the rise west of Ecruteak, the road a stone’s throw to his right, the young leader of Azalea knelt, one knee drawn to his chest, and surveyed the movements in and around the town below. Behind him, a makeshift command center had been constructed in the shelter of the forest. The muted clamor of orders and communication from the encircling forces drifted across the ground to him, but he remained pensive and silent.

He did not relish the battle that was to come. If there had been another way to make Morty see reason without bloodshed, he would gladly have taken it. But the League would not survive with poison in her veins; it was this conviction that had driven Bugsy to march from the opposite end of the continent, and the same conviction would see him through the fight.

[B]“Sir, our front line is reporting in. They have engaged several of Ecruteak’s scouts.”[/B]

Bugsy flinched; he hadn’t heard his subordinate’s footsteps on the grass. He raised his eyes from the town and thought for a moment.

[B]“They saw us coming,”[/B] he mused, wondering when Morty had been compelled to take such precautions. The opportunity for total surprised was lost now, and he sighed. [B]“Tell Joshua to engage and press forward,”[/B] he told the man. [B]“Use whatever force he deems necessary.”[/B]

[B]“Yes, sir.”[/B] The man saluted and returned to the outpost.

Bugsy remained where he was, still observing the town.

[B]“They’ve had too much time to prepare,”[/B] he told the air. [B]“We can’t let them get dug in.”[/B] He patted the Heracross beside him. [B]“Signal the attack.”[/B]

The insect dipped its head in acknowledgment. Lowering itself, it lifted its wing-covers; its wings began to whirr, and a loud screeing sound rose from its hindquarters.

All around the city, other pokémon began to join in, and soon the valley’s air throbbed with the stifling sound. Bugsy glanced quickly between points he’d memorised through countless hours spent over maps, and was rewarded with motion: the circle of his troops was starting to close.

[CENTER]- - - - - - - - - - - - - -[/CENTER]
[I]–We have a visitor–[/I]

Saul drew his eyes away from the welcome sights of the Viridian plains and looked forward to where his Scyther, sent ahead to give Ra the heads-up, was racing back up the road to meet him, clearly enjoying the open space again.

Saul lowered an eyebrow. [B]“Chit said that?”[/B]

[I]–No, I was talking to the rodents–[/I] Yasha shot back. [I] –Chit said Ra wanted him to tell you–[/I]

[B]“Funny,”[/B] said Saul, [B]“I didn’t hear anything.”[/B]

[I]–Of course you didn’t. Your ears are terrible–[/I]

Saul rolled his eyes. [B]“Did Ra say anything else?”[/B] he asked the Scyther, who had just arrived. The Pokémon nodded and made a low chittering sound.

[I]–He says she’s from Blackthorn, and she seems to have something important to tell you–[/I]

[B]“Hunh,” [/B]said Saul. [B]“Well let’s pick up the pace a little, see if we can keep her from waiting too long.”[/B]

[CENTER]- - - - - - - - - - - - - -[/CENTER]
Falkner leaned against the front wall of the gym’s conference room, staring impatiently at the table before him while the last of his team leaders assembled, his fingers tapping against his arm. He waited until the door to the room was shut and his people were settled before speaking.

[B]“I’ve just received word that Azalea Gym has laid siege to Ecruteak,”[/B] he said flatly.

There was a collective murmur. One of the leaders on the front row made as if to speak, and Falkner nodded her on.

[B]“Azalea is south of us, though. Wouldn’t they have had to come right past us?”[/B]

[B]“I would have thought so,”[/B] Falkner answered. [B] “But apparently Bugsy took his force around the other side of the National Park after passing Goldenrod City, and stayed under the cover of the forest until he reached Ecruteak.[/B]

[B]“But that’s not the main problem.”[/B] Falkner lifted himself off of the wall and leaned on the table. [B]“The problem is that the credit for the first action taken by the League is going to a seventeen year old [I]boy!![/I]”[/B] The table shuddered at the impact of his fist.

[B]“So do we help him, sir?”[/B]

Falkner glared at the speaker. [B] “That runt can dig his own grave,”[/B] he said scornfully. [B] “He’ll have to spread himself thin to surround Ecruteak; he might weaken it, but he can’t hope to conquer it.[/B]

[B]“No, we let him handle his decision himself. We go after Blackthorn.”[/B]

The Leader withdrew a map from a drawer under the table and spread it across the surface, and he beckoned for some of his subordinates to join him.

[B]“As of now we can only come at Claire from the sky,”[/B] he told them,[B] “which gives us no advantage and her an easy defense, since Mahogany is barricading itself against everyone.”[/B]

[B]“What about coming over the Ice Caves?”[/B] someone asked.

[B]“Good idea, but it still leaves her with a wall at her back, even if we attacked from all sides—and there’s still nowhere to coordinate from. The best way to get to her is to go through Mahogany first. That’s where we’ll base ourselves when we get rid of her.[/B]

[B]“Prepare assault teams and stand by for orders.”[/B]

The leaders dispersed obediently, the clamor of voices rising as they discussed the situation with each other. As they left, Falkner caught sight of one in particular he’d been meaning to talk to and motioned her over.

[B]“I’ve been getting some disconcerting reports about you,”[/B] he said after Aesera had joined him. [B] “Most of them label you a malcontent, and say that you’re going around trying to stir up trouble with your tongue.”[/B]

[B]“I’m just speaking up for my beliefs, sir,”[/B] she said calmly.

[B]“Mmm,”[/B] he said. [B]“Well if I were you I’d try a bit harder to keep it down.”[/B]

[B]“I’ll try, sir, but don’t expect me to sit idly by and–”[/B]

[B]“I expect just that,”[/B] he interrupted. [B]“This isn’t about what you want to do or think you can do, Aesera. This is a direct order.”[/B]

[B]“But–”[/B]

[B]“Keep a lid on it. Dismissed.”[/B]

The woman opened her mouth as if to speak, snapped it shut, mumbled a flustered [B]“yes sir”[/B] and made a hasty exit. Falkner sighed and stared at the ceiling.
[/align][/FONT]

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[COLOR=black]That was not something Aesera had expected. Sure, she'd known she'd draw Falkner's attention eventually, but she'd only had the one incident, which was a purely verbal exchange. Yes, she'd delt with her fair share of angry parents during her time at the Trainer's School, but those were purely a matter of the Trainer's School.[/COLOR]

[I][COLOR=black]That guy obviously reported me, [/COLOR][/I][COLOR=black]Aesera thought. [I]Probably called it 'harassment' or something like that. Would've had to exaggerate my actions even to qualify it as that, though. And Falkner spoke as though there were multiple reports, too. I guess the guy must have had some friends make similar reports. Hm.[/I][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Falkner had told Aesera to keep her beliefs to herself, but she wasn't going to. The League had need of people like her, people who viewed Pokemon as equals and treated them with compassion. The League's brand of government was a much better choice than anything its opponents could be expected to come up with, but not if it included the oppression of intelligent life. If there were voices for the notion that Pokemon were tools, but no voices for treating them as equals, such oppressive treatment would no doubt become the norm. Aesera intended to be one of those needed voices, and she wasn't going to stop, no matter who told her to. [I]Still, I should probably try to avoid any... confrontations for a little while. Find a less... disruptive way to make my point.[/I][/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Hey, there. You're Aesera, right?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]The voice snapped Aesera out of her thoughts. She looked over the good-looking man who had approached her. [I]Not bad. [/I]"Yes," she said. "I am."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I'm Brandon. Brandon Merke. Call me Brand."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Brand extended his hand, and Aesera shook it. "Aesera Alkalero. Nice to meet you, Brand."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Likewise." Brand released Aesera's hand.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Given how busy everyone is preparing to move out," Aesera said, "I'm going to assume you're not just making idle conversation."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Brand chuckled. "Right you are. We've been paired up, Aesera."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I see," Aesera said. "This standard?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Well, many of us do have partners. Working in pairs is generally a lot better than working solo, I think. It's not any kind of standard policy, and most of the time it's not even official. It seems to just happen naturally. It's most common among roommates. There are official pairings sometimes, though. This is one of those."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Do you know why?" Aesera asked.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Well," Brand said, "even though you just reported in, I understand you've already made an impression. Officially, it's so I can help you adjust to being a member of this force, but I think Falkner wants someone to keep an eye on you."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Ah."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"What did you do, anyways?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I saw a guy abusing his Arcanine and told him off. That guy, actually." She indicated to Brand the man, whom she'd just spotted. He gave her a brief glare, but quickly returned his attention to whatever task he currently had.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Ah, yes," Brand said. "Mathis. Yeah, I'm not surprised to hear that about him. He's... less than kind to his Pokemon. And he doesn't take kindly to being told this. How nasty did it get?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Not very, although he may very well have tried to hit me had I not pointed out that, myself having not even made a minorly threatening comment, he'd have started a fight without provocation, am I'm certain the repercussions for such a thing are... less than pleasant. He backed down after that. I didn't think it'd come up again in anything more than personal relations with him, but Falkner just told me to cut it out."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"When there wasn't even a threat?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I think the guy-Mathis, you said? I think he made a stink and... exaggerated my role in the encounter. I'm guessing he had some friends of his make similar complaints."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Brand nodded thoughtfully. "I see. Yeah, that somuds like something he'd do. Still, even if it was just the one minor incident, you might want to think twice about starting up another."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Yes," Aesera agreed, "but that doesn't mean I'm just going to ignore that kind of thing."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I know how you feel. I'm rather unfond of Mathis' attitude myself. It's just wrong to treat Pokemon the way he does. They're not here for us to abuse. They need to be treated properly; any tool does. Tools break if they're improperly kept. Fortunately, I think a majority of us realize that."[/COLOR]
[I][/I]
[I][COLOR=black]And here I was starting to think he shared my view, [/COLOR][/I][COLOR=black]Aesera thought. [I]Guess not. Hell of a lot better than that Mathis guy, though. [/I]"I... see."[/COLOR]

"[COLOR=black]Hey!" a man called to them. "Stop standing around! We've got work to do!"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Guess we should get busy," Aesera said."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]Brand nodded. "Yeah. We're preparing assault teams. We need to pack supplies and join with the rest of our team. Come on."[/COLOR]


[COLOR=black]"Tell me something, Brand," Aesera said as the two of them loaded supplies into their packs. "Was Falkner's... behavior earlier typical of him?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"I don't know," Brand said. "I didn't just come in today like you did, but I'm a recruit like you. One of the first ones, yes, but I still haven't spent much time around Falkner. He always has stuff to do, and we didn't exactly have a lot of down time ourselves. Preparing for war takes a lot of work, you know."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Well, it seems the war's started now."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Yeah. Anyways, Falkner's outburst today is the only one I know of, but there are enough rumors that there almost has to be some truth to some of them, and I hear that he does have his share of outbursts. Some people say he's got something of a vindictive streak, too. I don't know if that's true or not, but you might want to try to avoid pissing him off, just in case." Brand zipped his pack shut. "Well, I'm good to go."[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"Me too," Aesera said as she finished with her own pack. "Now what?"[/COLOR]

[COLOR=black]"We join with the rest of our assault team. Come on, let's go."[/COLOR]

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[SIZE="1"]Clark and Sylvia Roland were the proud operators of a Pokemon breeding center. The business was good enough to keep food on the table and supplement a few of the family's hobbies, as well, and all things considered it was a very comfortable lifestyle. The main Roland living quarters were located in the apartment above the main breeding facility. Cam had spent the last seven years of his life in this environment and had become familiar with several different species of Pokemon. As such, he came to regard Pokemon in general as constant companions and very good friends.

Cam reflected on all of this as he pondered the best way to enter the upstairs flat and retrieve his Dratini without alerting his parents to his presence. The back entrance seemed like the best choice. He circled around to the back and slid his key card through the slot beside the door, then cautiously pulled the door open to step inside.

[B]?Hey, Cam!?[/B]

The sudden voice caused Cam to nearly jump out of his skin. [B]?Geez, Rachel! You scared me.?[/B]

[B]?Sorry about that,?[/B] responded the part-timer, [B]?did you want me to get your dad??[/B]

[B]?Uh, no thanks, I'll just-?[/B]

[B]?Nonsense! Business is slow today anyway,?[/B] Rachel chimed in cheerily. ?Mr. Roland!? she exclaimed, turning in the direction of the hallway, [B]?Cam's home!?[/B]

[B]?So I heard, Rachel,?[/B] called back Clark as he emerged from his office and approached the two. [B]?Why don't you go man the front desk in case any customers show up??[/B]

Rachel nodded enthusiastically, then strode briskly off to comply with the request. As Cam watched her leave, it occurred to him how incredibly unhelpful her help was at times.

[B]?You know, you really ought to fire her,?[/B] he quipped as soon as he was sure she was out of earshot.

[B]?On the contrary, Cam, I think she deserves a raise for this one,?[/B] returned Clark. [B]?Why didn't you tell us you were joining the Gym??[/B]

[B]?I have no idea what you mean,?[/B] muttered Cam nervously.

[B]?You have an extra ball on your belt. You said you'd catch another Pokemon when you joined the Gym.?[/B]

[B]?What are you talking about? There's three. Did you forget Atlas??[/B]

[B]?No, I don't think I'll ever forget your Larvitar,?[/B] said Clark, [B]?I think you're forgetting Albi.?[/B]

[B]?Albi's with me, Dad.?[/B]

Clark shook his head. [B]?Cam, I'm not stupid. I live in this building and I know for a fact that Albi is upstairs as we speak, probably curled up in my recliner. What's in the ball??[/B]

Cam sighed, then slowly removed the ball from his belt and opened it.

[B]?Her name's Vera,? Cam said. ?Claire sent me to catch a Sneasel, and here she is.?[/B]

[B]?I don't think you quite grasp the concept of that type of errand, son,?[/B] Clark sighed.

[B]?I don't care, dad. I'm going back to the Gym and I'm taking Albi with me.?[/B]

Clark studied his son for a moment, then chuckled to himself a bit. [B]?You're your old man's son, alright. I guess you'd better get going, then.?[/B]

Cam blinked. [B]?Really??[/B]

[B]?I'd forbid you, but quite honestly I'd probably be more disappointed in you if you didn't defy me in that case. Now get Albi and get going. I'll talk to your mother.?[/B]

[CENTER]---[/CENTER]

Cam ran with all haste back to the Blackthorn Gym. So fast, in fact, that he failed to notice the figure heading equally quickly in the other direction. The two collided, causing both to stumble backwards.

[B]?OW! What the- oh, Roland. Who else would it be??[/B]

[B]?Oh, hi Claire,?[/B] replied Cam, reaching for his belt to release Vera, [B]?Perfect timing, I've got something to show you.?[/B]

Claire glanced at the Sneasel. [B]?Oh my- I was trying to get rid of you, Roland,?[/B] she sighed, her voice dripping with exasperation.

[B]?Wait, you mean-?[/B] started Cal indignantly.

[B]?No time,?[/B] interrupted Claire, [B]?I'm in a rush and you're in my way. Now keep up or get lost.?[/B][/SIZE]

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