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Written Story Spin-off Mature Mon The Dark We Carry: A Colosseum Storylocke

Thread Description
"We are known not by our light, but our darkness." Chapter 65 up [7/12]; *HIATUS until mid-Aug*

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
617
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #221
Glad to see this is back from hiatus! Pretty sure I commented on this back on Tapatalk, but I just want to say that I think you've done a great job with this. Your characters are wonderfully distinct and easy to get invested in and I can't wait to see how the assault on the Under plays out.
Glad to have you back! And characterization is something I worked hard on for this project :>

*Hacker voice* "This is pretty sick stuff, dude."

But nah, seriously, I love these two kiddos to bits already. Can't wait to see how the battle goes so we can (hopefully) get them out of here.
Thanks! Hopefully they can keep up their hacking escapades--on the surface!

Given everything going on in the world in recent times, I don't blame you! Stay safe, stay strong.
Thank you very much! I'm trying to take care of myself

It's good to see this back, even if it's immediately getting bonked by Real Life™. Take care of yourself first. We'll still be here to read and sometimes remember to Like or comment!

Curious to see how the inevitable encounter with Suicune goes down. I'm sure if I would ever sit down and play Colosseum I could have a guess. But then again, Colosseum Suicune isn't being possessed by most-likely-Yveltal. So, who really knows?
Yep, there's definitely some... let's call the, "deviations" from canon! *looks sidewise at Wes*




We are working hard using the network that R and her new friends provided. My team should crack in within a few hours or so.



I am aware that everyone’s focus is likely on that, but at the risk of sounding single-tracked, I would like to remind us of my proposal for independent, machine-driven purification. My assistant director has made great strides in putting together a theoretical framework for such a machine. We could purify en masse without having to rely on the Relics, and free up R to focus her attention on other projects as well.



My assistant director says to expect her proposal within a few days at most. I hope to share with you all what we can find.



K


---



Rui loitered in an alley a few blocks—or what passed as ‘blocks’ here in the Under—while drumming her fingers impatiently at her side. Luna crouched nearby, her patterns dimming low. The Dark-type was nearly as on edge as her trainer.



Krane had confirmed just a few minutes prior that they’d successfully breached the guard station’s network, and they’d worked out a time for him to trigger a false alarm on the other end of the cavern, giving Rui enough space to sneak out of the twins’ hidey-hole and position herself closer to Venus’s tower. As she’d crawled up the shaft, pulling aside the circular manhole cover, she’d glanced down and almost figured she’d seen Nett and Perr’s eyes gazing at her from the darkness below.



“We’ll leave soon,” Rui reassured them. “I promise, I won’t leave you behind.” Then she’d closed the gap.



Now it was just a waiting game.



“Has it been twenty minutes yet?” Luna hissed from Rui’s side. One of her ears twitched at nothing.



It felt like an hour had passed, but Rui checked her PokeNav. “No,” she muttered back. “Seventeen.”



Luna exhaled a wordless, impatient sigh that conveyed how Rui felt exactly.



Three more minutes passed like days, and then everything went crazy.



The enormous, miles-wide cavern suddenly blazed with light and sound. Claxons wailed as sirens set into recesses blared to light. The townsfolk of the Under milled about in confusion, their vacant-eyed expressions slowly tightening with a vague worry. Before long, the armored guards and their pokemon were trooping through the sprawling streets. Krane had set the alarms to indicate that there was a slew of powerful trainers who were arriving through a subterranean train that the cipher had set up on the outskirts of the cavern, a few miles from the central structure. Rui had no idea how long that would buy them; she had to hope it would be enough.



Every second mattered, but she hoped against hope that they had fallen completely for the bait and hadn’t left a few hanging around the tower. After the noise of the troops had receded, she counted out a single minute to give any stragglers time to follow before shoving her hands in her duster pockets and stealing towards the tower, Luna loping at her heels. She pushed through crowds of people thronging the street, going fast but not, she hoped, fast enough to attract attention, moving with a singular purpose. She caught a few sidelong glances, but nothing that lingered—the focus of the cavern-dwellers was on the lights and claxons still filling the hollow like a grand circus, and before long she was at the tower.



Thank Mew, it seemed abandoned.



Striding with purpose, praying that she looked like she knew what she was doing on the off chance someone was looking her way, fighting every urge to break into a sprint, Rui walked right into the front door, Luna at her heels. She didn’t release her breath until she was safely inside.



The light and wailing claxons from outside were distorted within the tower. The blaring alarms were muffled, making a muted droning whine that reverberated on itself ceaselessly and almost gnawed at Rui’s ears. The flashing lights only probed the interior through spaces like doorways and windows, leaving a darkened interior punctured by occasional streaks of strobing brightness. The overall effect was disruptive and discomforting.



Releasing the rest of her team, Rui shared a wordless look of resolve with them before ascending the tower. Luna lit the way, her rings flaring bright.



The climb stole the wind from her, and by the time she reached the upper floors—which was perched several stories above the sprawling warren—her lungs burned. The floor they landed on was a makeshift office for lackeys, with a few sparse desks and chairs scattered about in a semblance of order. Nobody was sitting at them; from the mess, it seemed the alarm had prompted a hasty evacuation.



On the far end of the broad room, which took up the expanse of the entire floor, was a stairwell leading up, and on it stood a woman whom Rui immediately pegged as Venus.



Venus was an extremely tall woman, and would have been without the heels she wore. Her hair was done up in a tight bun; she wore an immaculate lavender suit-skirt as well as a necklace and rings of turquoise. All of this should have indicated a firm and cunning mind.



Yet her face told a different story. It was like the faces of the rest of the people in the Under—distant, slightly vacant. It reminded Rui of historical photos she had seen of people who were in the thrall of opium.



Venus met Rui’s eye and that mouth smiled an all-too-vacant smile. “She said you were here,” Venus replied. “I wonder how she knew…”



With a flash she released three pokemon, all of them holding themselves with the surety of practiced battlers—a Delcatty, a Banette, and a Vileplume. These lacked the unfocusedness of their trainer; it seemed Rui’s suspicion that the blue was far harsher on humans was correct. Wordlessly, Venus turned and ghosted up the stairs.



Rui cursed. “Her office is up there—if she wipes her computer—!”



She moved to follow, but a snaking shadow from the Banette fended her off.



“We don’t have time to fight these pokemon!” she uttered in frustration.



Denri stepped up to the plate, his tail glowing crimson. Sparks played about it, dancing from his fists. “Leave those three to us,” he said. “You take Kata as a guard and slip up higher. We’ll follow as fast as we can.” He smirked. “‘Sides, I’ve got a secret weapon.” The others fell in, giving wordless approval to his plan.



Rui wanted to argue, afraid of leaving her pokemon alone—what if it was like the cavern under Pyrite again? What if it’s like Manny and Cap?—but forced herself to acquiesce. Denri and Striga sent off an intermingled spray of electricity and spectral energy, the blast making the enemy trio flinch. With Kata at her heels, Rui rushed in to meet the stairs, hoping he could protect her. The Delcatty tried pouncing on her as she passed, but the Hitmontop flung it back with ease. As she ascended the stairs, she heard the enemy pokemon marshaling themselves to follow, only for a voice—Striga’s—to cry out: “Get them! Keep ‘em pinned!”



Praying to herself that her four teammates could handle the fight, Rui chased Venus higher.



---



Reed had only a moment to ready himself before violence erupted.



Striga had floated past on Rui’s heels and was camped by the stairway, using light and shadows to ward off any of Venus’s pokemon from following. Luna and Denri had rushed in to hold them down, and Reed wasn’t far behind.



He cursed his luck. Their choice of battleground—a rickety tower of metal—meant his usual skills of summoning waves of water or quaking the earth were liabilities rather than strengths. If the tower fell, they’d all lose. He was forced to rely on brute strength instead.



Thankfully, he had it in abundance. The Declatty lunged at him, but he spun and smacked her with his thick trunk of a tail, knocking her aside. She rose with a snarl and unleashed an Ice-type move—the greatest strength of the Normal-type was always its versatility—but although he was partially earth-aligned, his innate water abilities let him weather it fine.



At the edge of the battle, the Vileplume took notice of how he was pinned down by the Delcatty’s move and sent a thick, ferocious vine his way. Reed panicked—any Grass-type move would be immensely dangerous to him—but Denri stepped in, grunting as the vine lashed and coiled around his forearm. Small crimson beads blossomed where the vine was digging into him, eliciting sympathy from Reed, but Denri sent a current up it to shock the Vileplume. Even though his opponent resisted electricity, Denri was one tough customer—and the Grass-type wailed as the sparks bit her. Striga took advantage of the Vileplume’s distraction to hit her with a spray of Psychic-type energy.



As the Delcatty paced a circle around him, a predator looking for a sign of weakness, Reed caught from the corner of his eye the sight of Luna hounding the Banette. The spirit was playing keepaway, using shadows and status moves to ward her off, but Luna was closing the gap, her maw bristling with Dark-type energy.



She was so sleek, so strong, so beautiful. His heart soared at the sight.



The Delcatty rushed him again and Reed raised his paws to slam her down, but she feinted under his blow and left a shallow, yet sharp-feeling and painful bite against his side. He hissed at the touch, forcing himself to focus—to use the pain to spur him onward.



His adversary lunged at him again, and this time he met her with a jet of water. The attack was weak, much weaker than the surflike waves he had been used to conjuring—of the team’s Water-types, Manny had been the one specializing in pinpoint precision strikes. But the jet was sufficient enough to keep her away from him. The cat snarled again, frustrated.



Luna had caught up with the Banette and was lunging at him; he roared as her fangs met his side, but retaliated with a lashing of spectral shadows that bound her and slammed her against the metal floor. As he limped away, the Vileplume—who had pinned down Denri and Striga with a flurry of petals which seemed to be doing little more than inconveniencing them—yelled at him: “They outnumber us, we need to change strategies. Disorient the weak link!”



Panic for Striga filled Reed’s heart, and he raced as fast as his heavy feet would carry him to help his friend—but the Banette, gathering shadows and dancing light to confuse and disorient, turned not to Striga but to Reed himself. He had a moment’s shock before the full weight of the Confuse Ray hit him.



He had faced status effects before, including confusion, but this was as raw a force as had ever befallen him. Immediately the world swam; he tottered uncertainly, vaguely groaning. A sudden migraine spiked in his head and he was desperate to see it gone—he lashed out indiscriminately with his paws and with jets of water. The voices of his enemies and his teammates blended together into a discordant wail that was swallowed and echoed and amplified by the still-droning, distorted claxon from outside. The sound grew and grew, encompassing all of him, and his heart began to race with fear and panic as his addled mind was convinced—convinced—that he was going… back.



Something struck his haunches, a sharp note of pain amidst the confusion, and he lashed out at whatever it was, but it was gone already. Turning to face it was a mistake, though, as a cream-colored blur emerged from the swimming blob of his vision to tackle him to the ground, pinning him. Enough shapes emerged that Reed could see that it was a Delcatty on top of him, her gaze merciless. He was pinned and helpless.



A Delcatty… a female Delcatty… feelings of helplessness…



With desperate panic, the small kernel of ego that remained coherent in his head realized what was about to happen and tried to stop it, but it was fruitless. Already desperate and confused and overwhelmed, Reed’s addled mind flooded him with bad memories.



The Delcatty had been as young as him, both of them new to this and hating it, and though he could see in her gaze that she recognized him as a fellow victim and not an aggressor, that didn’t make it any worse what he had to do. The lack of happiness on the females’ faces made it all worse, made it so easy to hate himself at nights.



“I’m sorry,” Reed said, trembling. The Delcatty pinning him unsheathed her claws and began savaging his arms and torso and face, and the myriad of cuts just reminded him of how much self-loathing he’d unloaded on himself over the years.



The part of him that remained deep inside told himself that this was different, this wasn’t her—this Delcatty was older, a lean and scarred battler, that she was hurting him and would kill him if he didn’t stop, he just had to throw her off, summon his water, fight back, do something, this was all in the past.



But the Banette’s Confuse Ray was too strong. He was swallowed by the memory now, and was weeping, not from the pain of the attacks. All he could do was repeat “I’m sorry” over and over and over as the pokemon pinning him slowly killed him.



A streak of gold and black barreled in, knocking off the Delcatty. She tumbled with a surprised cry and the shadow pounced, savaging her with teeth and claws.



Luna… my Luna…



The appearance of his mate helped Reed claw his way out of the haze, but it was slow going until another dark shape emerged from the watercolor world of his still-confused vision—Striga. “Look at me,” they said, their voice soothing, and the baubles around their neck flickered a relieving series of wintery colors and their voice murmured a low, wordless lullaby. Their attentions carried him out until his mind calmed, his migraine became a dull ache, and his senses relaxed. The confusion was past.



As Striga drifted sympathetically near him, Reed saw that the Banette was sprawled, unconscious, against the tower walls, and not too far away, Denri was duking it out with the Vileplume.



Denri rushed in, but the Grass-type, with a roar of victory, sent a spread of snaking vines nearly a dozen strong to seize him. Some of them sported wicked thorns, and Reed cried out in alarm—but then he saw Denri’s smirk.



“Secret weapon!” he exclaimed, and right before the vines closed in, he summoned a shimmering sphere of aquamarine energy that warded them off—a Protect attack.



After Miracle’s assault on Duking’s manor and their return back to Agate, Denri had decided to follow up on his idea to learn Protect to pair with Reed’s Earthquake. Rui hadn’t been mentally ready to teach him, so using Beluh as an intermediary, he’d approached Eagun instead—and the old grump had proven that even decades after his heyday, he was still world-class. In a matter of days, he’d helped Denri develop the technique, something Rui had noted with approval once she’d had her moment in the forest. Denri was still pretty unpracticed and could only pull it off once or twice a fight—but with the right application, it could be a real game-changer.



Like, for instance, right now.



The vines bounced harmlessly off his Protect, and the Vileplume could only gape. Denri dropped the shield and lunged at her, pinning her to the ground and then unleashing all of his electric might. Resistant or not, she couldn’t hold up to a continuous shocking from a pokemon of his power, and she soon slipped into unconsciousness.



Reed watched with approval, and he heard Luna’s steely voice behind him: “That’s all three of them, then.”



He turned to see her stalking towards them; the way the Delcatty was slumped behind her made him think that the cat was not so fortunate as her teammates. She would never rise again.



The cold look in Luna’s eyes was like that she had worn when she’d gone after her brother’s killer. Reed didn’t like to see it there. “Are you okay?” he asked softly.



She returned his gaze. “Are you?” she replied. It wasn’t the sort of question he could answer.



Further discussion was cut off by a cacophony of sounds from up above—the muffled noise of battle. They all exchanged looks, realizing at once what that meant—Kata and Rui were in danger—and then moving as one to ascend to the next level.



This room was as nice an office as you could fine in a place like the Under, the metal floor covered with foreign carpets and the window behind the massive oaken desk showcasing a spectacular view of the subterranean city and the cavern beyond. A web of tubes crawled from the ceiling, crisscrossing their way across the roof and down along the walls, bathing everything in the light of bright blue energy. A tiny staircase in the corner led even higher.



It was also completely trashed. The fight that was underway had torn up carpets, smashed part of the desk into pieces, and broken the glass window, letting the droning wail of the claxon pierce in louder than ever. Somehow Venus’s computer had survived the chaos; Rui had taken it off of the desk and was huddled behind the oak structure. The flash stick was plugged in, so they could only hope Krane was working his magic.



Kata was fighting an enemy pokemon and losing. The Gligar was young and powerful, with razor claws and a wicked stinging tail. The Flying-type whirled through the air with incredible speed, dipping down to slash at Kata and then effortlessly rising before the Fighting-type had a chance to react. As Reed and the others reached Venus’s office, the Gligar’s ear twitched and he spun to hiss at them—Reed’s blood ran cold when he realized the young pokemon didn’t have any eyes. The area below his brows was a mesh of ceaseless scars.



“Be careful!” Kata yelled. “Venus released him before she FLED like a creeping coward! He’s a shadow—even MY magnificent might struggles against him!”



Before the pokemon could ready themselves, the Gligar rose high in the office, his wings flapping against the air. A sudden sandstorm whipped itself up, shredding the carpet even further and making Reed’s compatriots flinch back from its biting effect.



But Reed himself was unaffected. Grimly steeling himself, he rushed in, summoning water. He cast it at the Gligar, but although the enemy shadow was far too fast for him to duke it out against, his water still caused some of the sand to die.



With a grunt, the Gligar swept low, easily dodging under a ponderous swing from Reed to grapple him to the ground. Reed gasped as the pokemon’s stinger jabbed into him once—twice—thrice—and then the Gligar lifted up, narrowly dodging a lunge from Luna.



“He’s just so fast,” Reed said, rising with a grimace. The punctures from the sting hurt, but they thankfully weren’t deep—and it seemed this particular Gligar lacked poison to make his day even worse.



“We can get through this,” Luna growled back. “It could be way worse.”



And as if on cue, there was a sudden whirr—and the tower fell into darkness.



Fuck!” Rui screamed. There was the sound of her smacking the monitor. “They’ve cut the power. The computer died—we barely got anything!”



The tower wasn’t in complete darkness, however. It almost would have been better if it was. The office was a pool of shadow punctuated by the eerie blue glow of the tubes and the waxing and waning crimson from the alarms outside. The effect was disorienting, almost like something out of a horror move. None of the pokemon, not even Luna or Striga, knew how to fight in a battleground like this.



And then the onslaught started.



Striga’s voice was the first to gasp in fright—their baubles glowed in panic, illuminating their frightened face and the ghastly mask of the Gligar swiping his claw at them. As the light fell, Reed shot a jet at where the enemy had been, realizing too late that the Gligar had already darted away. There was the sound of Striga wailing as their companion’s attack struck them head-on and Reed winced in sympathy.



Denri came next, his voice rising in sharp dismay. Like Striga, his own bioluminescence showed the scene, the Gligar scrabbling on his back, stinger jabbing ceaselessly as Denri poured useless electricity in an attempt to dislodge his Ground-type foe. When the Gligar left, it was by coalescing the remnants of the sandstorm to bury Denri in sand and dust, taking him out of the fight.



They outnumbered the Gligar five to one, and it was still useless. Their opponent took to the lack of visibility like they were made for it. Reed thought to the Gligar’s scarred face. Our opponent, he realized, has always fought in a world of darkness.



His mind churned like cogs. Gligar were batlike, but unlike Zubat, they didn’t rely on echolocation. But if a pokemon were identified as a battler early on, if someone of sufficient creativity and sufficient cruelty robbed them of their eyes, could a potent pokemon be taught to rely on sound alone like their distant kin?



A Ground-type to manipulate the rocks and the earth around them, flight to patrol the vast hollow, a reliance on sound, not vision, to help it probe the dark recesses. The despair from losing his sight had been the cherry on top—a trip to the white chamber had imbued this creature with the might of shadows and the accompanying rage required to turn him into an attack dog. They’d tailor-made this creature as the ideal pet to serve whoever was given the Under.



He thought to the scars, and his paws tightened. Those monsters.



“I know what they did to you!” he shouted out. “They hurt us too!”



In response, the Gligar screamed out. The sound was incredibly close—mere seconds later Reed found himself bowled over. Rising with a grunt, he saw the flash as Rui recalled Denri. I hope he’s alright, he thought.



The Gligar spoke for the first time. “I know who you are!” he said. “You chase down the cipher and destroy any shadow pokemon you find!”



‘Destroy’? Was that what they were telling them? Reed supposed that if you only valued the shadow pokemon as living weapons, purification could be thought of as a form of destruction.



“It’s not like that!” Striga said, rising into the air. Their baubles glowed red as they searched for the enemy pokemon. “All of us here—well, almost all of us—used to be shadows. Our trainer rescued us!”



The Gligar zoomed out of the shadows and pinned Striga with a squeal. Luna pounced him and the two pokemon rolled across the floor, Luna trading bites for scratches and stings before the Ground-type escaped.



“Easy lies,” the Gligar accused. “I don’t believe you!”



“The lab smells so strongly of chemicals that you’ll never get used to it no matter how long you spend there,” Reed said. “You think the lights should hum but they don’t and that sets you on edge. And all the other pokemon you see—they’re sometimes angry, sometimes scared, sometimes numb, sometimes beaten down and sad, but they’re never happy.”



There was silence in the gloom. The Gligar could not be seen amidst the fragmented light coming from the tubes and outside, but he wasn’t attacking either.



“The white room is a place you feel,” Reed continued. “There’s what seems like a voice in there that takes root in you and eats at all your happiness, leaving behind only the negative. It’s oppressive, almost like the sun baking down on you in midday—but worse, so much worse. When they shut the door all you want is for them to take you out again.”



More silence.



“I was there,” Reed said. “We all were. I thought I’d never escape the lab, and when I did, I thought I’d never escape the darkness they put in me. But Rui rescued us. And we’re fighting to stop the cipher and save shadow pokemon—like you. Please.”



The sound of the Gligar sailing out of the darkness was smooth, like the wind stirring the surface of a brook. He alighted on the darkened monitor near Rui. “Are you going to hurt me, trainer?” he asked, his voice small. Arceus above, but he was young. Had he been human, he’d still have been a teenager.



“We live a dangerous life,” Rui said. “I won’t lie to you. Some of us have… died. But that seems like the life you’re already living, so why not live it with people and pokemon who want to see you get better?” Unfolding the Snag Machine from its pauldron on her shoulder, she proffered an Ultra Ball to him. Though he couldn’t see, the Gligar twitched his ear and turned his face to it for a few long seconds, trembling. Then—moving suddenly and with desperation, as if afraid someone would stop him—he jerked his head down to touch the ball. He was sucked inside, and it clicked without struggling or a fight—and seconds later, Rui released him. He shuffled embarrassedly from foot to foot.



“The Ampharos should be okay,” he said, his voice low.



“Don’t worry, kid,” Luna said, “we all started as enemies. We’ve roughed each other up pretty bad in our day.” Something in her voice shifted and Reed could hear the wry touch. “Right, Kata?



“I would never dare deign to suppose your own experiences,” Kata said, all bombast. “Though I didn’t ‘rough you up pretty bad’—had I done so, you would never have walked again after getting the business end of these incredible biceps!” There was the sound of him posing, shortly punctuated by Striga:



“Kata, you know none of us can see you flexing, right?”



He let an aggrieved, slightly defeated stutter of a sigh, and the group all laughed—and in the crimson light washing in from the outside, Reed could see a tentative smile start to creep up on the Gligar’s face.



But then suddenly his ear twitched and he swiveled his head to the stair leading up, his smile swapped for a look of pure panic. Reed followed his gaze—they all did—and they saw, standing there on the stairs…



His breath caught. Behind him, he heard Rui rise furiously. “You’re the one who killed Justy and set me up!” Her voice was ferocious. “Lovrina!



The woman on the stair smiled. Even for someone who was bad at reading humans, Reed knew that she looked wrong. She looked like a beautiful doll that had been left on hot asphalt and had its plastic distorted from the heat. Everything about her was off—the wicked tilt to her lips, the ashen pallor to her skin, and orange eyes that he now realized glowed slightly in the darkness.



“I knew you were here, little rat,” Lovrina said. “I could smell you.”



“I know what’s lurking in you,” Rui said. “The Devourer. You’re just willing to let such a thing live inside of you?”



Lovrina’s laugh was like arsenic. “There’s nothing wrong with playing host to a myth,” she said. “Perhaps you’d like to find out for yourself, hmmm?” Her eyes flickered playfully towards the tubes, the blue still coursing through them. “Of course, to play such a game, first you’d have to live that long.” She snapped her fingers—



And the tower rumbled.



The whole thing shook and the Gligar wore a look of naked panic. “No!” he cried in dismay. “She’s let loose the—”



He was cut off by another rumble, this one strong enough to set all the pokemon staggering. Reed barely kept his footing.



Lovrina didn’t seem to have minded at all. “I’ll be waiting by the Aurora Engine,” she said, “if you somehow make it through this.” And then she turned and was, like a ghost, gone up the stairs.



“What’s happening?” Rui asked, her voice high and panicked.



The Gligar swallowed. “Lovrina has shadows to guard the Engine that are really dangerous. I’ve never heard any one of them speak, or show even a hint of personality. They exist only to eat, sleep, and kill, and they’ll rip apart anything that isn’t Lovrina or someone under her protection. They’re even stronger than normal shadows!”



The description set a chill in Reed’s blood, and he exchanged a glance with Striga, who nodded slowly. “The Feral Ones,” they said.



“Lovrina has a few,” the Gligar continued, “but the strongest is—”



But no more description was needed; Reed and the others were about to find out about the strongest first-hand.



The tower shook again and then an enormous steel-clad appendage punctured the western wall, surging through the room and barely missing Kata before slamming through the other end.



Her face paling, Rui ordered Striga outside to check. The spirit phased through the wall and immediately came back in, their voice swift with anxiety: “Rui, it’s a Steelix, the biggest one I’ve ever seen! It’s got the whole upper end of the tower coiled up!”



The appendage, which Reed now recognized as a Steelix’s pointed tail, withdrew, and then, using the hole it made as an impromptu window, the Steel-type looked inside.



Its eye, glowing amber wreathed by inky black, was itself bigger than a manhole cover, and Reed’s heart sunk. How were they supposed to fight that?



There was a sound of metal scraping against itself, and the room darkened as the monster’s incredible trunk of a body wound its way past the window. The eye disappeared as the Steelix reared its head back and roared, the sound completely wordless and feral, drowning out the claxon to shake the entire room.



And then all hell broke loose.



Using the hole punctured by its tail as an entryway, the Steelix rammed its head through, tearing the entire wall asunder and setting the whole structure swaying. With a wordless cry, Kata leapt to the fore, meeting the monster’s head with a flurry of kicks and punches. Luna, darkness spilling from her fangs, wasn’t far behind.



“Reed, Striga!” Rui commanded. “Stay back if you can and support them with distance attacks!”



The two of them nodded, Reed summoning water to jet at the Steelix. At the edge of his vision, he saw Rui turn to address the Gligar. The little creature was shuddering in fear, his ears turning this way and that in a fruitless attempt to process all the noise—between the Steelix’s roars, the claxon, and the general mayhem of battle, Reed figured it a miracle that the Gligar hadn’t succumbed to overstimulation already.



“I want to help you,” Rui was telling him, “but to do that we need to live! We need you to help fight! Please!”



Still visibly frightened, the Gligar’s face morphed into resolve. “Alright,” he said. “Alright! They hurt me!” He roared and though Reed couldn’t see Aura, he could easily imagine the shadow storming around him. “So I’m gonna hurt them back!



With a bestial scream, the Gligar launched himself at the Steel-type, moving so swiftly that his stinger actually managed to puncture the Steelix’s outer armor. Reed watched with shock and appreciation before following up with a surge of water.



Their new party member’s ferocity was matched by the Steelix, and the lumbering beast swung its head to try to crush him. The Steelix was powerful but cumbersome, and the Gligar was able to escape easily enough. Luna, however, was knocked back by the blow.



“No!” Reed readied himself to rush in to help her, but a command from Rui held him back.



“She’ll be fine,” Rui said, and she was proven right when Luna rose. Still, Reed felt himself getting worked up. If only he could use his Ground-type moves…



An idea alit. “Kid!” he called out to the Gligar. “If you can summon more of that sand, I can manipulate it with my powers!”



The Gligar snarled in response, and he whipped up a small orb of sand around him. Reed reached out a tether of his energy and found the sand responded; he coalesced it into a feather of dirt which he sent pluming towards the Steelix’s face. It roared in response, and the tower shook—and then Reed was knocked aside as the creature’s tail stabbed through a wall again. He felt completely winded.



As Reed struggled to stand, Luna barked out instructions—“We need to hamper it somehow! The easiest target is the face, go for the—”



She trailed off, looking uncertain, but the Gligar took up the words, his voice a hateful rasp. “Go for the eyes?” he said, anger consuming every aspect of him. He was a shadow; not long ago, it had been Reed himself who’d been beholden to such ferocity. “Nobody knows better than me how effective that is. They took my eyes,” he said, “so I guess I can pay them back!”



Wreathing himself in more sand, he plunged at the Steelix, stinger first, and—



The attack landed and the Steel-type’s scream was unreal, a mix of agony and hate. It thrashed, the whole structure swaying as walls were ripped apart. It buckled its head down, one eye a nausea-inducing mess, and it opened its mouth, energy gathering inside.



“Watch out! Hyper Beam!” Rui called out fearfully, and Reed’s mind was flung back to their battle against the Tyranitar in Pyrite, how they’d nearly been decimated.



“Bring it down!” Luna ordered, and at her command Reed unleashed water and sand against the creature as Striga tried confusing it. The Gligar rushed in again, claws first this time, and Kata lunged forward, pummeling the Steelix with such swiftness and ferocity that any lesser pokemon would have fallen.



But Lovrina’s handpicked creature wouldn’t fall so easily. Reeling as it was from the combined onslaught of attacks, the one-eyed beast unleashed the beam.



The sound of the energy ripping through steel was unreal; it took out whole walls and Reed felt the floor they were standing on tremble.



“Hold strong!” Rui cried, but it was too late. The floor collapsed onto the lower one where they’d fought Venus’s pokemon (and he realized as the metal and debris crashed down that the Delcatty wasn’t the only one of her team unlikely to survive the day). As Reed stirred to his feet, barely capable of standing, the tower shook perilously, and the rampaging, feral Steelix punched more holes in the increasingly tenuous structure with its massive, spiked tail. It leered at them through another hole and they saw more energy gathering as it prepared another Hyper Beam.



Luna limped over to him; he glanced up to see Striga, the only one who’d been unaffected by the collapse, hovering worriedly around Rui, who was clinging desperately to rebar sticking out of the collapsed floor above. With one hand, their trainer managed to summon Kata’s ball and recall him; he was lying unconscious (but thankfully alive) amidst a heap of rubble. Her other hand seemed in danger of slipping, but the Gligar swooped in—she transferred his weight to him instead. Such a small pokemon was incapable of supporting a human fully, but he slowed her descent enough that she touched down without issue.



“It’s gonna bring down the tower!” Striga wailed.



Luna glanced wearily up at her trainer. “The fight’s all gone from us,” she said. “None of us can hold on much longer…”



Rui’s voice was clipped and focused. “Striga, phase through the wall and tell me if you see people clustered around the tower. If it collapses, will they get hurt?”



They poked their head out. “I can’t see anyone nearby,” they said. “Most people are running as far as they can.”



“Even with the blue addling their heads, it seems they have some self-preservation.” Rui sounded… relieved? “They probably bolted as soon as Lovrina unleashed her Feral One. Okay.” She rubbed her hands together. “Striga, Luna, I’m going to recall you as well.”



Luna looked alarmed. “But…!”



“Reed,” Rui said, “get ready for Earthquake.”



Panic flooded him. “But that’ll bring down the whole structure!”



“Right.” Rui exhaled through her nose. “But if it’s coming down anyway, it might as well be on our terms, when it’s not expecting it.” She turned her attention to the Gligar. “Can you use Earthquake?”



“Never been trained to,” he responded, “but I can follow the Quagsire’s lead easily enough.”



“It’ll have to do.”



“But even if the tower comes down,” Luna protested, “you and Reed and the kid’ll still die for sure!”



Rui smiled down at her. “Not quite. We have… a secret weapon.”



With a flash, she released Denri.



The Ampharos seemed weary and disoriented, but still cogent.



“What’s going on?” he asked, taking in the whole scene. He started at seeing the pokemon that had nearly brought him down hanging near Rui; the Gligar shrugged sheepishly when he realized Denri’s attention was on him.



“Don’t need you to—” Rui began, only to be brought to her knees with a yelp as the Steelix squeezed tighter, making the whole tower shake. The light in its maw was almost down gathering; soon it would release another devastating Hyper Beam.



“Don’t need you to fight,” she repeated. “Just get ready to protect me and those two as soon as you can.”



Denri swallowed, but looked determined. “It’s gonna be a tight fit, boss.”



“I’ll live. Hopefully. Here goes.” She withdrew Striga and the still-worried-looking Luna, then nodded at Reed. “Now!”



He slammed his paws, summoning an Earthquake attack; the Ground-type energy made the structure groan, surging through it to strike at the coiling Steelix. As their enemy roared, he saw Denri summon a smaller Protect to shield himself. The quake was strong enough that he could hear collapses in the floors below.



A few seconds later, following Reed’s lead, the Gligar also slammed into the floor. His attack was sloppy and imperfect—perhaps half Reed’s power at best. But it was enough. The second quake was too much for the damaged tower to hold, and with the scream of ripping metal, the entire thing collapsed.



“Close in!” Rui yelled, and Reed and the Gligar jumped as close as they could as Denri summoned a bubble of Protect energy. The orb encasing them was tight, too tight—Denri could feel himself being squashed against the Gligar and Denri himself, and he could only imagine how uncomfortable it was for the gangly Rui. But it shielded them from the collapse. As they plummeted earthward amidst falling rubble and shears of metal, Reed clinically noted that the Protect muffled the sounds from outside; the claxon, the Steelix’s shocked roars, and the avalanching thunder of the collapse itself all blended together in the same roar. They hurtled downwards, spinning over each other like they had been tossed into a washing machine, until suddenly the muffled roar had ceased and they were no longer falling.



Denri had done it.



The aquamarine shield fell as Denri slipped into true unconsciousness, and Reed felt not far behind. He noted the distant form of the massive Steelix slumped amidst the rubble; he watched it, afraid it would twitch to life, but there was no movement, and he felt increasingly certain it would never move again.



The Feral Ones weren’t like normal shadows. They were beyond saving. Yet, in the end, he still pitied the creature.



There was a flash of light as Rui recalled Denri, and then the young Gligar. Reed turned to gaze up as his trainer, who looked weary but triumphant.



Triumphant? he wondered. We barely accomplished anything. We couldn’t have been connected to Venus’s computer long enough for Krane to get much. But maybe bringing down the tower, provoking Lovrina to reveal herself, destroying a powerful enemy, and saving that young Gligar had been victory enough. He had to hope so.



“I can…” he began, but his words slurred. Rui shook her head.



“I don’t need watching,” she said. “I can make it back to the twins on my own. You rest up tight.”



As she recalled him and he slipped unconscious, he hoped she was right.


---


Sorry about this chapter being a whole week late... this one was really tough to write for whatever reason (real life didn't help), and truth be told I'm still not satisfied with it; but perfect is the enemy of good, after all, and I've decided to publish and move on with the story.

If you know your Colosseum, then you know that a certain legendary dog is missing from Venus's lineup. I split her battle across multiple chapters to better fit the narrative; the shadow Gligar here (which was a legit catch, and which went on my team--name will come in future chapters!) was snagged from a trainer you fight shortly after her. I'll hold off on giving gameplay notes on the fight until Suicune himself is dealt with in-story.
 

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
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Writer
Team Delta
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208
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Jun 30, 2019
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1,008
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Gatto Region
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She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
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Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
Ooh, a new team member! Poor Gligar, physically and mentally savaged.

This chapter had me on the edge of my seat. Feral Steelix was a truly terrifying foe, and Reed having to face his past traumas in the heat of battle was truly impactful.
 
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Magicforbeginners

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2001
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Adamant
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he/him
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Draws, writes, lives. Poorly, but always improving.
Fantastic as always, those battle scenes in the darkness work so well to push the feelings of panic and helplessness. I like the new team member, he's very interesting so far and his interactions with the rest of the team are shaping up nicely.
Interesting that the Delcatty singled out Reed as the weak link. I really hope it's not foreshadowing his death, but this story has stomped on my heart (in a good way) so many times I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps she noticed how he was distracted by Luna and realized he'd be the easiest target even if he wasn't the "weakest" physically? He does spend a lot of time mooning at Luna, which is very cute but not the best idea in the middle of a fight for your life. I like all the focus Reed's been getting lately, he's quickly becoming one of my favorites on Rui's team.
 
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cyndakip

there goes my luck
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they/she
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Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I loved this chapter! It was really exciting and suspenseful, with a good dose of heartbreaking, too...

And a new teammate! I love the Gligar already and I'm super interested to see more of him.
 
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Xita

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Team Omega
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Good to hear you came back from hiatus victorious! (And it kinda worked out for me too since I wasn’t as behind as I thought!) It was great to see Rui recover from the loss and her past demons, that was a nice turn of events from seeing Shadow Pokemon go through theirs. I especially liked one of the recent chapters that was basically Meanwhile at the League of Evil. Which made me realize Rui has made so many enemies over her journey lol, crazy how she’s still kicking after all that time and even surviving a run-in with a tower-destroying Steelix.
 
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Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
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Jun 24, 2019
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304
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she/her
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It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Aw, I’m glad you included the Grid kids! I do think they were one of the more memorable parts of Colosseum (although that could be because when I first played the game I couldn’t find Nett for the life of me for some reason and was stuck at that part for quite some time). Phew, that fight with the Steelix was so crazy to visualize! Great chapter, and I can’t wait to hear more about the new teammate!

P.S. My family just adopted a new dog, and the name she came with is Luna <3
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
617
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
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They/Them
Pokémon Type
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Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #227
Ooh, a new team member! Poor Gligar, physically and mentally savaged.

This chapter had me on the edge of my seat. Feral Steelix was a truly terrifying foe, and Reed having to face his past traumas in the heat of battle was truly impactful.
Thanks! I'm glad you like the Gligar--and feel for him, too. He's had it pretty rough! I'm excited to get to him as a character. And I'm happy the fight landed as well!

Fantastic as always, those battle scenes in the darkness work so well to push the feelings of panic and helplessness. I like the new team member, he's very interesting so far and his interactions with the rest of the team are shaping up nicely.
Interesting that the Delcatty singled out Reed as the weak link. I really hope it's not foreshadowing his death, but this story has stomped on my heart (in a good way) so many times I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps she noticed how he was distracted by Luna and realized he'd be the easiest target even if he wasn't the "weakest" physically? He does spend a lot of time mooning at Luna, which is very cute but not the best idea in the middle of a fight for your life. I like all the focus Reed's been getting lately, he's quickly becoming one of my favorites on Rui's team.

Good catch on the "weak link" part! Striga is undoubtedly the weakest member of the team in a straight-up fight, bit the Delcatty noticed that he was the most emotionally fragile member, which would make it easy for Confuse Ray to exploit, especially coming from a foe as tough as that Banette. And I'm so glad--a lot of people have mentioned they love Reed, and he seems to be evolving into a real darkhorse favorite!

I loved this chapter! It was really exciting and suspenseful, with a good dose of heartbreaking, too...

And a new teammate! I love the Gligar already and I'm super interested to see more of him.
Thank you! I'm just happy to finally be past it, haha :'p

Good to hear you came back from hiatus victorious! (And it kinda worked out for me too since I wasn’t as behind as I thought!) It was great to see Rui recover from the loss and her past demons, that was a nice turn of events from seeing Shadow Pokemon go through theirs. I especially liked one of the recent chapters that was basically Meanwhile at the League of Evil. Which made me realize Rui has made so many enemies over her journey lol, crazy how she’s still kicking after all that time and even surviving a run-in with a tower-destroying Steelix.
Good to see you back! And the League of Evil... fun! That chapter was a blast for me to write; I had a fun time getting into the head of all of these villains. Rui sure has an array of baddies lined up against her!

Aw, I’m glad you included the Grid kids! I do think they were one of the more memorable parts of Colosseum (although that could be because when I first played the game I couldn’t find Nett for the life of me for some reason and was stuck at that part for quite some time). Phew, that fight with the Steelix was so crazy to visualize! Great chapter, and I can’t wait to hear more about the new teammate!

P.S. My family just adopted a new dog, and the name she came with is Luna <3
OH, YOU TOO? When I first played Colosseum as a wee kid, I was stuck for over an hour finding those kids in the Under! That (and their bufed-up role in XD) is probably why I included them, even if Eagun took over as the real leader of the Grid in this continuity

And omgggggggggggggggggg puppy... I love her already........

So! I wasn't planning on having another extra so soon, but it's Pride Month--and Father's Day is right around the corner! TDWC is pretty big on the queer representation anyway, but I decided to zero in on a character who we don't know that much about.

By the way, this will be cross-posted to the official Nuzforums pride month thread, so check it out there as well--and swing by the other entries in the thread if you haven't already! There's been a great creative outpouring.




“Dad! Dad!”



Blinking awake, Clasm yawned, having fallen asleep in a patch of sun-warmed grass outside his trainer’s house. Rising and stretching, the aging Combusken split into a smile as his son, Topaz, raced up to him.



“What is it?” he asked.



The Pikachu stopped short, holding out a small clover with four leaves. “I know it’s a couple days early, but… happy Father’s Day, Dad!”



Clasm took in the clover between two delicate claw-tips. The clover was vivid, green, healthy, and—oh!



“My goodness,” the Combusken said with unfeigned enthusiasm, “it’s got four leaves! Thank you! You know,” he continued, setting aside the gift, “a clover like this was how I fell in love with your other father…”



“I know, Dad!” Topaz’s put-upon exasperation didn’t hide his smile; he loved hearing the story, and his eyes glimmered with the expectation to hear it again.



Settling back in the field of grass, Clasm stretched again, his son settling in a few breaths away from him. “We were young,” he said. “I thought I was pretty strong—still do, matter of fact, but when I met Electrum, he just trounced me. Not even a chance.” He shook his head. “Nowadays, I’m well aware that there are other pokemon out there tougher than I am—but back then, it stung my pride pretty sharp. I was just an upstart Torchic; to think I was ever so green…”



He glanced sideways at his son. “You’re the spitting image of him, you know; you’re maybe a little smaller, a little sleeker, but you have the same eyes and the same fire in every step. While our trainers chatted, I skulked around the garden, and then I saw him approaching. I thought he was coming to rub it in, but then he just held out something…”



Glancing to the side, the four-leafed clover still resting on the rock, he was buoyed back on memory: the surprise he’d felt at the gesture followed by the embarrassment at how he’d been such a sore loser as the powerful Pikachu looked at him with an apologetic smile, his heart-tipped tail swaying in the dappled light. It was almost like Electrum was right in front of him again… how could something seem to have happened so very long ago while also feeling like it was only yesterday?



Stars above, when had he gotten so old?



“We made up then and there, and grew to be good friends,” Clasm continued. By now, he wasn’t sure who he was telling the story for anymore, his son or himself. “As our trainers continued to see each other, we did too, and eventually friendship became something more.” He sighed. “When Eagun took your other dad on those Championship journeys, I always dreaded the worst… he always came back, but after losing teammates in Alola and Hoenn, his emptiness… it was so hard to see him that way.” Clasm remembered the sadness, the way Electrum had wept—claiming that as team leader, their losses were his responsibility. It was something that had haunted him for a while.



“But he got better,” Clasm said.



“You helped him,” Topaz put in.



Laughing, Clasm reached over and tussled his son’s fur. “He helped himself. He was strong—way stronger than I could ever be. He would have worked through sooner or later. I was just a shoulder to lean on.”



“Mm.” Topaz leaned back, his eyes searching the sky. Clasm knew what he was doing—Electrum had passed not long after Topaz’s hatching, and the young Pikachu didn’t have any memories of his father. Stories like these were his main way of connecting to him.



“He’d be real proud of you, you know,” Clasm said. “You work hard to protect the village and the Relic, and you’re a natural leader, just like he was. When you mature a bit, all the village pokemon will look to you for guidance.”



“Yeah, but!” Topaz rolled over on his stomach, his cheeks sparking with frustration. “Every one of Rui’s team is stronger than me. Even Tama can throw down at my level, and he stopped being a battler a while ago! If I’m his son, why aren’t I as strong as him?”



“I’m afraid,” Clasm said with mock gravity, “that battle-wise, you took after your other father. Alas, you are only great, rather than literally the best battling pokemon of your generation.”



Topaz stuck his tongue out at him, but it was good-natured, and Clasm chuckled. “If it helps,” he continued, “even if you inherited my somewhat-lesser battle prowess, you also picked up my irresistible charm.”



“And your humility.” The two of them laughed, but then the delight on Topaz’s face faded, just a little. “You know, when people came for the service for Woodwind’s old trainer, one person had some out-of-town pokemon… we struck up a conversation and he was enthusiastic about learning who I was the kid of, but then he insisted that since Dad had the egg, he couldn’t have been, well, my dad.”



Clasm fought a growl from his throat. Right now the important thing was to help his son. “Well, there are some small-minded people and pokemon who—”



“Oh, I know,” Topaz said, cutting him off. “Don’t worry, I told him off then and there. He didn’t back down and almost seemed like he wanted a fight… then I asked him if he was sure, given my pedigree.” Topaz smirked. “He clammed up after that.” The smirk faded, and he glanced up, studying the clouds. “Dad was the strongest pokemon of the strongest trainer of their generation. He was one of the best battlers of all time! So why do some pokemon focus on silly small stuff instead of everything incredible he did? Can’t they just respect what he called himself?”



“What they think doesn’t matter,” Clasm said. He and his mate had both had difficulties in that regard before, but Electrum had been more than happy to pulverize anyone who doubted his identity, so little came of it. “Sometimes pokemon who are willing to listen might change their opinions, but even if they don’t, what’s most important is to focus on what you can you do, rather than the minds you can’t change.”



“Yeah. And he could do some great stuff, couldn’t he?”



“He sure could.”



The two of them leaned back in the grass, the wind stirring fur and feathers as they gazed skywards. From the corner of his eye, Clasm noticed Topaz reach one hand up towards the clouds. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad,” he said, his voice soft. “I hope I’m doing you proud.”



“You are,” Clasm told him, his voice equally soft, knowing the pride Electrum felt for their kid could never be in doubt. “You are.”


---


Happy pride month to everyone out there, and remember: it doesn't cost you anything to respect what anyone says they are!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,083
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
How did Revy go??? You know, my initial thought is to distrust Sherles, but I think the scarier option—that The Grid's security has Brotherhood plants—is more likely. ._.

Back in Rui land, the lack of Cipher guards is a boon. But Rui's beaten back Cipher guards before. This Blue is far more insidious.

Thankfully, they emerged a few minutes later. “Rui, it’s just a pair of kids!”
Striga, I don't trust that's anyone's just in The Under! (That being said, pair???)

“Nett’s always been good with computers,” the twin who had pelted her with stuff had told her. “Back in the orphanage, he was tinkering all the time. ‘S where he got his nickname from. Me, I’m no good with that stuff—but my powers are much better than his.”



“Keep telling yourself that, Perr,” Nett had said without malice.
Oh wait, names! I recognize those names! :0 I did a little digging, and wow, are they different in Pokemon XD! They really struck big in the timeskip! The success of their canon counterparts has nothing to do with them here, though. I don't want to get too attached... :ohdear:

Rui had expected Nett’s hacking to be intense, daredevil, like the movies—but it was surprisingly sedate and boring to watch.
Hooray for realism!
Rui needs to find the computer room!

[/QUOTE]
“They outnumber us, we need to change strategies. Disorient the weak link!”



Panic for Striga filled Reed’s heart, and he raced as fast as his heavy feet would carry him to help his friend—but the Banette, gathering shadows and dancing light to confuse and disorient, turned not to Striga but to Reed himself. He had a moment’s shock before the full weight of the Confuse Ray hit him.


May Rui never know how close Reed was to dying. That would only traumatize her more. If not for Luna... *shudders*

Rui and the gang are freaking out about a Gligar. Thank goodness they don't have to deal with a Gliscor! They're tanky bois.


The Gligar spoke for the first time. “I know who you are!” he said. “You chase down the cipher and destroy any shadow pokemon you find!”


Lovrina:


Protect for MVP!

Rui:
 
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Magicforbeginners

Generally Incompetent
Pokédex No.
2001
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
27
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Draws, writes, lives. Poorly, but always improving.
The Extra was cute. Love me some father-son bonding. (would there be a chance for an Electrum/Topaz flashback in the future? The more Electrum you give, the more I want).

That is all.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
617
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #230
How did Revy go??? You know, my initial thought is to distrust Sherles, but I think the scarier option—that The Grid's security has Brotherhood plants—is more likely. ._.

Back in Rui land, the lack of Cipher guards is a boon. But Rui's beaten back Cipher guards before. This Blue is far more insidious.


Striga, I don't trust that's anyone's just in The Under! (That being said, pair???)


Oh wait, names! I recognize those names! :0 I did a little digging, and wow, are they different in Pokemon XD! They really struck big in the timeskip! The success of their canon counterparts has nothing to do with them here, though. I don't want to get too attached... :ohdear:


Hooray for realism!


May Rui never know how close Reed was to dying. That would only traumatize her more. If not for Luna... *shudders*

Rui and the gang are freaking out about a Gligar. Thank goodness they don't have to deal with a Gliscor! They're tanky bois.





Lovrina:


Protect for MVP!

Rui:
[/QUOTE]

Revy escaped a few chapters earlier in the "villain episode"! And you using that Vector line... as someone who played Shadow the Hedgehog fresh when it first came out, I kinda have faux PTSD from those quotes. OW THE EDGE xD

The Extra was cute. Love me some father-son bonding. (would there be a chance for an Electrum/Topaz flashback in the future? The more Electrum you give, the more I want).

That is all.
Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it! Sadly there probably won't be a flashback between Topaz and Electrum--Electrum passed when Topaz was barely hatched, so they never really had any bonding time ;;w;;



Dawn was breaking over Pyrite Town. Citrine light spilled over the horizon, washing over stones which looked almost purple in the shadows to reveal their true hue under the sun: redder than the titanic wood of faraway trees, redder than the blush of a girl clasping the hand of her lover.



Epee loved the color of those stones.



From his perch atop Duking’s manor, the little Yanma’s wings buzzed pleasantly. Some lurid tales blamed the color on the Aueriteks, claiming that their warmongering had made the region run red. For Epee, the crimson of these stones was unlike the red of spilled blood. It was like a new blossom, promising renewal and rebirth.



Something that was slowly coming back to the region a little bit as a time.



Epee had not had an especially happy life. He was a younger generation of shadow, one who had been born to captive mothers in the cipher’s labs. Like many of his generation, he’d internalized the shame of his conception. He had never left the laboratory until after the process was complete and his heart had been sealed. Until that point, his life had been endless combat drills, seeing his siblings and fresh captives abused and mistreated. As they were forced through grueling regimens, a number of pokemon had died from how hard they’d been pushed.



Epee had lived, but he’d been broken from it, broken thoroughly. The cipher wanted vicious killing machines from shadow pokemon, but there were outliers from time to time. The Hitmontop that Rui kept with her was one—his shadows had not spurred him to violence so much as unconstrained bombast. Epee had been another.



When he’d emerged from the White Room, despair had been his bread and butter.



He’d been kicked from cipher operative to cipher operative, failing every time and working his way ever down the ladder. Soon he wasn’t trusted to any of the high-ranking operatives, and was content to languish in the back of the teams of some of Miror B’s lesser thugs.



The tournament had changed that. Miror B had given him to Kurza, misleading the volatile criminal into thinking that he was being given a powerhouse, when Epee was, in fact, less powerful than any member of his already-mediocre team. The idea had been to provoke Kurza into killing him in frustration—and for Rui to throw everything aside to save him.



And she had done just that.



Leaving his perch atop Duking’s manor, Epee drifted slowly down to earth. Rui had saved him—in more ways than one. She’d Snagged him from Kurza; she’d purified him of his darkness.



But more than that, she’d given him a home.



The home was not with her, ironically enough. Despite having Snagged dozens of shadows, Rui kept fewer than ten with her even at the best of times. Though she was technically Epee’s new trainer, and had been for months, he’d spent a few hours with her at most.



No, his real home was here in this manor with these girls.



He drifted in through a window and immediately smiled at the sight of Marcia, the older of Duking’s daughters, playing with Garden. The Skiploom was squat on the floor, humming to themself as Marcia “braided” a crown of cast-off petals to put atop their head. Although Garden already had plenty of petals of their own, they seemed content to let Marcia continue playing with them. Epee wasn’t surprised to see her up at such an hour; she was always an early riser.



Settling down a few paces away, Epee buzzed their wings joyously and Marcia turned her attention to him. “You’re here! Epee!” Giggling, she pulled out another, smaller crown and set it on his head. “I made this for you!”



Shifting good-naturedly underneath the presence of the floral crown, Epee turned his attention to Garden. “These all yours?” he asked.



They shrugged in response. “Been shedding a bunch with the seasonal change. Guess Marcia’s been collecting them all.”



When she was done, Duking’s daughter hugged Garden and then, cogent of his frailty, gave Epee a much softer embrace before running off to play a different game.



Watching her run with a glow in his heart, Epee never knew any pokemon could be so happy.



“Drift with me?” Garden asked, their voice melodic. “We should talk.”



They floated outside and Epee followed, uncertain as what to expect. “What’s the matter?” he asked.



Garden was quiet for a moment. “I’ve been overhearing Duking and Sherles talking,” they said. “It sounds like our trainer is in a big fight in someplace called the ‘under.’ Duking says that there’s a professor guy that was talking with Rui, and he lost connection with her a bit after she went into their main base. Nobody knows if she’s alive.”



They fell quiet, their flower wilting slightly despite the lushness of the sun above them. Epee understood their worry. It was hard not to feel upset.



“She’ll be okay,” he told them. “She’s an incredible battler.”



“Well, that makes one of us.” Garden’s voice was uncharacteristically bitter. They turned to Epee, their eyes big. “She’s done so much for us, Epee, but we just sit here with Duking and don’t do anything to help! Even when Miracle attacked the manor, it was her real team who did most of the heavy lifting. We were lucky to fend off one enemy each! I just… I feel like I should be doing something!” As sometimes happened with Garden, their powers ran away from them when their emotions flared; this time, it manifested as a circle of small sprigs and sprouts suddenly shooting up from the soil of Duking’s yard.



They turned away, embarrassed. Despite the fact that Garden was one of the most powerful of the former shadows at Duking’s estate, they often berated themself for this lack of control.



“I know how you feel,” Epee said, his voice warm. His wings buzzed and he flew up to perch atop a brick wall. He wobbled a bit as he climbed; the abuse he’d sustained from Kurza had damaged one of his wings, and sometimes ascents were difficult for him. He’d never be a fast flier. “Rui gave aside her chance to beat Miror B to save me. And even though she took him down later, it cost another of her teammates. All for me? Was I worth this?”



“I think you are.” Garden drifted up to perch alongside him on the wall. Together they surveyed the world outside Duking’s estate. Pyrite gleamed in the morning, all sheet metal and worn glass. It was a dingy, dusty, dirty city. And it was Epee’s home.



“Yeah. And I have to imagine she did too.” Epee shifted, his tiny feet grasping small cracks in the brick. “I felt guilty for a long time, but then I realized… we’re what she’s fighting for. And it’s okay to leave the fighting to her and to the teammates that can handle it.



“But I—”



“—can’t hold a candle in battle to Denri,” Epee said gently. Garden huffed but didn’t correct him. “Or Luna. Or Reed. Or Kata or even Striga. You’re a good battler, Garden, but the journey they’re on doesn’t need ‘good’ battlers. It needs the best.



Grumbling, the Skiploom kicked at a small brick pebble, casting it down into the lane below. “Miracle’s attack just made it all feel so real. While we’re here just enjoying the sun, Rui and her team are out there putting their lives on the line. What good are we doing?”



Rather than answer verbally, Epee cast his eyes up to the floral crown Marcia had placed on Garden’s head. “You make her happy,” he said softly. “We all do. Not everyone has to be on the front lines. You know the old legends about the region? The ones about the spirit in the sand that sucks up life and happiness?”



“Yeah,” Garden responded. “Orre used to be green until that demon started eating everything. It drank the rivers and dried out the fields and forests. Pokemon, too. That’s why most pokemon here are imported from other regions, or descended from ones who were.”



“Yeah. But the stories say that it eats happiness, too. That Orre is a cursed land, doomed to be cursed and wicked and run by evil men attracted by the spirit.” Looking at the region’s history, it seemed believable. The Aueriteks, the colonists, the crime lords… those in power in this region had never been benevolent.



Garden was looking at Epee, wondering where he was going with this, and the Yanma smiled and continued further: “But the joy Rui brought us by rescuing and purifying us, and the joy we bring to Marcia and Tiffy and even to each other, that’s not going anywhere. So maybe in our own way, we’re spitting in that demon’s eye.”



The Skiploom wore a good-natured smile, but they still rolled their eyes. “Demons aren’t real, Epee.”



The Yanma reflected back to Kurza’s brutal beatings, to Miror B’s calculated cruelty, to the willingness he’d seen pokemon—not just shadows—display as they maimed each other, or worse, on the battlefield. He wasn’t sure of that.



But Garden seemed appreciative of his little pep talk, and when their companion Rosewood (a female Sudowoodo rescued from the cavern beneath the Red & White) wandered out, Garden drifted down to settle on her head. They were blushing coyly as they showed off Marcia’s crown, and Epee smiled at the way the two of them laughed at each other. The rest of the estate pokemon had a pool going on how long it would take until they started going steady.



As Rosewood and Garden wandered off, Epee drifted aimlessly around the yard. His damaged wing was unable to let him fly in a straight line, and he meandered back and forth in the air like a nymph just learning to fly for the first time. For a while after being Snagged, he’d been embarrassed over his disability, seeing it as an eternal mark of his pained past. But over time, he’d learned to let it slide. It was just something he lived with, and it’s not as though he had ever wanted to be much of a battler. For a pokemon who had been bred and raised from birth to be a perfect fighting machine, he was now nothing more than a quiet, unassuming companion pokemon—and from a certain point of view, living this life seemed like his own way of striking back against his former oppressors.



As the morning light continued to wash over the red stones of Pyrite, Epee smiled, happy that he had been saved, content with the life he lived, and certain that Rui would escape whatever scrape Duking was fretting over. Maybe that monster in the old stories was real after all. But if so, Epee didn’t know if it was as almighty as the stories said. After all, those old tales were just that—old. Things of the past. And the thing about the past was that usually, the future had it beat every time.

---


A small chapter that I've been meaning to get to for a while! One of my favorite things about writing Dear Diary was getting little insights from the crew back at Juniper's lab, and this is sort of this run's version of that.
 
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d'angelo russell

tomorrow ain't promised to no-one
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it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
a lot’s happened since I last dropped in it seems.

the under was a place that stuck with me when I played colosseum and it’s interesting how you’ve channelled it here; definitely a lot more malevolent than in canon, like xd phenac city was cranked up to 11 and then buried beneath the desert resort or something. that its chapters segue from the vague, haunting of the blue to full-on survival horror shouldn’t surprise me (this is a dee story after all, god forbid it doesn’t make us squirm at some point), but it does because of how fast it happens. that said the fight scenes are still good and the way you sequence them and consistently find new angles to push or new situations to construct is really fun. honestly the last few chapters have been so heavy on content that I kinda struggle to pick out anything in particular to fixate on without feeling like I’m giving everything else short shrift (this is praise btw, from someone who can waste several thousand words saying and doing nothing I’m definitely impressed with how you manage to compress so much into so little).

anyways I’m glad that they survived the steelix and the confusion-based annoying hell that is the venus fight (or did reed fall victim and you shunted his in-story death down the line to taunt us?) which leaves only suicune itself. considering everything that this arc has broached and covered I’m honestly interested to see how this ends, although I imagine rui recruiting a full-on legendary will probably be a big help going forwards (unless you messed up the snag there for whatever reason :pikuh:). should be fun either way though.
 
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Spectacles

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It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Epee is so lovely (and what an adorable name for a Yanma, I love it). It is nice to have a little reminder of all the beautiful souls Rui is fighting for and to see their outside perspective on all the craziness that's going on.
 
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Dee

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A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
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a lot’s happened since I last dropped in it seems.

the under was a place that stuck with me when I played colosseum and it’s interesting how you’ve channelled it here; definitely a lot more malevolent than in canon, like xd phenac city was cranked up to 11 and then buried beneath the desert resort or something. that its chapters segue from the vague, haunting of the blue to full-on survival horror shouldn’t surprise me (this is a dee story after all, god forbid it doesn’t make us squirm at some point), but it does because of how fast it happens. that said the fight scenes are still good and the way you sequence them and consistently find new angles to push or new situations to construct is really fun. honestly the last few chapters have been so heavy on content that I kinda struggle to pick out anything in particular to fixate on without feeling like I’m giving everything else short shrift (this is praise btw, from someone who can waste several thousand words saying and doing nothing I’m definitely impressed with how you manage to compress so much into so little).

anyways I’m glad that they survived the steelix and the confusion-based annoying hell that is the venus fight (or did reed fall victim and you shunted his in-story death down the line to taunt us?) which leaves only suicune itself. considering everything that this arc has broached and covered I’m honestly interested to see how this ends, although I imagine rui recruiting a full-on legendary will probably be a big help going forwards (unless you messed up the snag there for whatever reason :pikuh:). should be fun either way though.
Thank you for the praise! I'm kinda surprised about me compressing "so much into so little" since I personally feel that I tend to lose myself in my own wordiness... XD But I'm glad you think that I'm doing well! As for in-story deaths being shunted around... I ain't telling :3c


Epee is so lovely (and what an adorable name for a Yanma, I love it). It is nice to have a little reminder of all the beautiful souls Rui is fighting for and to see their outside perspective on all the craziness that's going on.
I'm glad you like it! I felt it was important to remind ourselves why, specifically, the individual shadows are worth fighting for, and why saving Epee was the right call to make.



Down in Nett and Perr’s hideaway, the hum of stolen lights flickering from hijacked power dominated everything. Rui had figured that, given a day or two, she’d get used to it. She was wrong. It was like some sort of pest constantly buzzing around her, making her grumble and wince—constantly distracting.



It had been about a day and a half since their battle with the Steelix in Venus’s tower—a day and a half in which all the Under had gone into high alert. Thankfully, in the panicked aftermath of the tower’s collapse, she’d managed to slip back to the boys’ hideout undetected. But they all felt worried. The search wasn’t abating, and they were bound to get found sooner or later.



That’s why, when the sound of the manhole cover scaping open reverberated down the tunnel, everyone tensed. They held for a breath—Rui hoped that it wasn’t a danger. Kata had been stationed at the entryway, and they’d doubtless hear him raise a ruckus if these were proper intruders. But it was impossible to know for certain.



Thankfully, they had nothing to worry about. Two shadows stalked into the room—Striga first, followed closely by Luna. They’d chanced a surfaceside raid after the team realized they needed medicine and food. Both pokemon were carrying plastic trashbags hastily stuffed with items.



“Good work,” Rui praised as her pokemon set the bags down. Striga beamed, and Luna shot a tired smile her way before crinkling her brow.



“You should rest, boss,” she said.



Rui had to fight off a groan. Luna was right—since the tower had come down, she’d had maybe six hours of sleep total, all snatched in two- or three-hour bites.



“Yeah,” Rui said, rubbing sleep from her eyes. “Probably.” Despite it, she still reached into the bag to pull out canned coffee, popping the tab while cogent of Luna’s disapproving gaze.



Nett and Perr raided the bag too, scooping out some fruit and bread and not so much eating it as downright inhaling it. The pokemon followed suit, splitting berries and energy bars amongst themselves, with Striga levitating a handful of berries and drifting into the dark tunnel to help supply Kata.



“Can I have some?” came a new voice from the wall.



Rui glanced sidewise. The speaker was their new Gligar, the one she’d Snagged from Venus. He was slumped against the wall. Rui swallowed, trying not to look at the mass of scars where eyes would normally be.



“Of course, Javelin,” she said, picking up a berry and walking over. Javelin—she’d run the name by him after their escape. He’d liked the comparison—a swift, piercing weapon soaring through the air.



Though he was blind, he knew where she was approaching from, and plucked the berry from her hands almost delicately with his pincers. He dug in.



Reed was loitering a few paces away—enough to give Javelin some space, but still able to jump in if need be. A few hours after returning to the twins’ hideout, Denri had been short with the newcomer. Tensions had been high after the tower’s collapse, and it wasn’t the ideal time for everyone to get to know each other, especially Javelin had almost killed him prior to his Snagging. It had been a poor choice on Denri’s part, snapping at Javelin—but no excuse for what came after.



Javelin had responded to the cross words by lunging at him, hissing with anger and attempting to attack. The rest of the team had pulled him off and Rui, keenly aware of his storming shadow aura, had parked him in his poke ball for a few hours to cool off. After she’d released him, he was no longer wild, but he was still sulking and had to be talked into giving a half-hearted apology to Denri. Since then, the friction between the two of them was thick enough to carpet a floor with, and Reed, the only one of the team with a type advantage, had kept himself close by, just in case Javelin acted up again.



Rui shook her head. She’d spent so long with a purified team that she’d almost forgotten how volatile shadows could be. Javelin was a powerful combatant and would be a worthwhile addition to the team—but she and the others would have to get used to having a shadow on the team again until he was ready for purification.



For now, though, he was content to stock up on nutrients just like the rest. After they were finished, Rui picked through the last bag. It was stuffed with spray-type medicines: Full Restores, Potions, the like.



“Those weren’t easy to get,” Luna noted as Rui sorted through them. “Striga had to run interference outside of a shop, using their baubles to make a light show outside while I snuck in to get them.”



“Even then, the shopkeeper had a Pidove in the rafters we didn’t notice,” Striga added. “It almost raised the alarm.”



“Took care of it,” Luna said. “That bird’ll be down with a nice goose egg for a couple hours at least.”



“Thanks for the hard work, you two,” Rui said, and meant it. “This medicine is what everyone needed to get through this.” Indeed, as she walked about, dispensing the medicine, she saw each one of her team perk up visibly. Pokemon—they really were marvelous creatures, able to endure so much and bounce back so quickly. The medicine they’d stolen was no proper stand-in for treatment at a Center, but it would hold them for a bit, especially with more rest. They were ready to fight back against tough opponents if need be.



Rui.” Luna cut in again, her voice sharp. “This medicine will help up out, but what about you? We need our trainer to be in fighting form.”



Rui groaned. Luna wasn’t wrong. “I can rest… later—”



“What if enemies attacked us right now?” Reed took the opposite tack of his mate—conciliatory, rather than confrontational. “Do you really have the energy to climb a ladder and dart through the tunnels?”



Rui grumbled. He had a point, but what about the caffeine surging through her veins? What about the stress of worrying about her team? Arceus’s anger, but what about that damn incessant humming from those lights?



“Fine,” she said, curling up on an air mattress the twins had pulled out for her. “I’ll give it a shot, but I’m in no mood to sleep now, guys.”



She was out within three minutes.



---



When she woke, that obnoxious humming was there—but there was another sound layered on it. Voices. Her team were conversing with each other. Even Javelin was making tentative forays into conversation, laughing at some joke that Striga told him. She missed the setup, but the punchline was something to the effect of “one shell of a time!” Javelin groaned, but was still smiling. Nearby, Kata was conversing with Reed and Luna in what he probably thought was a low whisper, meaning that people could only hear him from two dozen feet away rather than five. Denri, it seemed, had spelled him as the lookout.



Rising with a stretch and a yawn, she asked how long it had been.



Her answer came not from the pokemon, but from Perr. “Couple hours,” he said. “By the way, my bro’s still had no luck getting hooked back in to their server.”



Nearby, Nett was hunched over a laptop that looked to have come from the last decade, smacking it with a curse. The artificial light was making his face glow. “After the tower fell, their whole network went on high alert—I had to disconnect to avoid getting traced. Since then, there’s a new firewall—the same level of security that was keeping me out of the tower, but applied to the whole network. Learned their lesson.” He turned to grimace at her. “Any time I think I found a weakness, tracing starts. I’ve always managed to disconnect and evade, but if I keep it up, I’ll really be pushing our luck.”



Folding her arms, Rui shook her head at it all. This was a real pickle. Without a connection, she had no way of contacting the Grid to know if Krane got what he needed from Venus’s servers, or even to let them know she was still alive. She could only imagine how it had seemed from their end, Krane’s connection suddenly getting served right after Rui had wandered into the lion’s den.



PFAH!” Kata boomed, making everyone jump. “Such frivolity! Computers, connections—who needs them? We’re refreshed and raring and rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrready to RUMBLE! Now that Rui’s ready, why aren’t we making the enemy weep at our glory as we force our way free?”



“The enforcers and their pokemon are the same obstacle they were when we were trying to get into the tower,” Luna chided him. “Even with Javelin, fighting the whole Under is an act of last resort.”



“And that’s not all.” The voice was Javelin’s, small and unassuming; he continued as everyone turned to him. “The Steelix was the strongest of those… what did you call ‘em? ‘Feral Ones’? But there’s still a crew of others Lovrina’s got waiting in the wings, protecting the Engine. Each about as strong as me, and brainlessly violent, like drones. If they back up the dozens of goon pokemon, we’re sunk.”



“What’s this Engine?” Striga asked.



He turned his face to them. “The presence in the Under,” he said, “the one that makes people into thralls. I’ve never… observed it myself,” and Rui thought she saw him twitch as if to turn away so they couldn’t see his face, “but I hear it’s blue.”



“He’s right, Rui,” Luna interjected. “The tower came down, but the blue’s been flooding the cavern—less of it, since most of the tubes ran through the tower, but still enough to be felt. Looks like whatever’s making it survived the tower’s destruction.”



“It’s not in the tower,” Javelin. “They ran most of the tubes through there as a decoy—and probably to bring my old trainer under its spell immediately. Lovrina has not been kind to her.”



“I could tell,” Rui replied, thinking of how empty Venus had seemed even compared to the others in the Under. Javelin nodded, a gesture of understanding. “But if the Engine’s not in the tower, where is it?”



“High in the cavern ceiling,” began Javelin, “is a huge warren of catwalks and tunnels. They all eventually lead to a big cave hollowed through the roof. That’s where the Aurora Engine is. That place… I’ve only ever been a few times, and I never wanted to go back.”



“What is the Engine?” Rui pressed. “And the blue?”



Javelin swallowed before speaking. “The Aurora Engine is like… it’s like a giant machine that uses a pokemon as a battery, and disperses its power throughout the cavern.”



Luna’s voice left her in a hateful hiss. “They use pokemon as batteries? Those—!”



But Javelin shook his head. “Not pokemon. A pokemon, singular. It’s…” He trailed off, hesitating.



Kata glanced at him, folding his arms. “Holding out on us?” he asked. “Did we trust you in ERROR?



Rui turned to rebuke him—the last thing she needed was another fight—but Javelin’s voice, when he cut in, wasn’t angry, but almost desperate. “I just hardly believe it myself! The pokemon inside, it’s—it’s the god of the north wind! Suicune!”



That set a chill through the whole room, and everything clicked into place.



Suicune.



Rui had known that the cipher possessed two of the three legendary beasts. It had never even crossed her mind that Entei might have lied to her about that. But somehow, the fact that she’d never faced either of them yet had made her think that perhaps she’d never have to worry about that. That the problem of the cipher would be solved without having to contend with Suicune or Raikou.



But it seemed her pipe dream was getting revealed for exactly what it was.



“It makes sense,” she muttered. “We know they have them already, and this power… its color… even the name Aurora Engine. Dammit.”



Silence reigned for a moment before Javelin piped up: “So you, uh, believe me? That I encountered a god?”



Reed chuckled ruefully. “Kid, when we get out of all this, remind me to tell you about the couple of weeks we spent playing pals with Entei.”



“You WHAT?” Javelin squeaked.



“Needless to say,” Kata said, sidling up to them, “we believe you ENTIRELY! This story of yours—it’s worthwhile to the extreme! Thank you for sharing it!”



Javelin chuffed. “So I’m not in error, huh?”



Kata rubbed the back of his head embarrassedly. “I… apologize. The downside to perfection is I sometimes get caught up in my own spectacularity!



“Only sometimes, huh.” Javelin said it with a flat voice, but there was a smile to their mouth, and the pokemon all laughed—Kata joining in and patting the Gligar on the back. The newcomer seemed happy.



“Lovrina and Venus must be by the Engine,” Rui mused. “She wouldn’t have unleashed that feral Steelix if she didn’t have a safe spot to retreat to. Once it was out, the tower was coming down one way or another.”



“The top floor connects with the warrens leading to the Engine,” Javelin supplied. “Some of the catwalks might have been lost, but the overall complex is probably still standing. Plus, someone’s got to be coordinating the search for us.”



“That’s where Lovrina and Venus are,” Rui said. “It’s got to be.”



Perhaps picking up on the undertone in her trainer’s voice, Luna turned to face her. “You’re not thinking of going after them?” she said. “We have enough on our plate as is!”



“I dunno, Luna,” Striga said, their baubles sparking with low energy. “Suicune? That changes things. If the cipher unplugs it from that machine, a shadow demigod would be hell to fight! They could spring us on it at anytime!”



“Indeed!” Kata cut in. “And let’s not forget they have the third beast as well! What if they sent them both after us? Why, even my studly perfection would have at least MODERATE difficulty fighting Suicune and Raikou at the same time!”



“Our main job should be to escape,” Reed argued. “We got what we came for. The financial data should be enough to help the Grid strike against the cipher!”



Rui wasn’t so sure. The state of the Under—a town of brainless thralls, powered by a caged god—seemed different than the cipher’s usual modus operandi. Making shadows was supposed to be a step for their real ambitions—power, wealth, influence. But the Aurora Engine was more end than it was means. And Lovrina was behind it all.



Lovrina… Rui shuddered, thinking back to the gala where Justy had died, to the tiny hint of pallid blackness peeking out from under her sleeves. Justy’s demise had been Lovrina’s doing, but Es Cade—one of the cipher’s apparent movers and shakers—had seemed shocked, even distressed at it. She was going rogue. The financial data, assuming that Krane was even able to get it, would be of use against political schemers like Es Cade. But would it help against someone whose eyes glowed amber, who could kill with a touch, who even Celebi seemed to regard with worry?



Was Lovrina the real threat after all?



“We didn’t know about the Engine when we set this mission,” Rui argued. “It’s a tremendous danger. Imagine if Lovrina managed to unleash the blue in a town as populated as Pyrite or Phenac. Besides,” she said, shrugging, “we’re all Caterpie in a web anyway. If we’re gonna wriggle free, we may as well try striking where it hurts.”



“I… I think we should do it.” All eyes turned to Javelin. The young Gligar was trembling—but he still spoke bravely. “I overheard Lovrina talking about it once. Whatever was done to the shadows was done to Suicune as well. She called it a… a harmless song of ruin. The song of ruin corrupted Suicune’s power, and that corrupted power is the blue. But… if you all used to be shadows and were uncorrupted, couldn’t that happen with Suicune too? Like you’re gonna do with me?”



It was an impressive thought. “Suicune will be a ferocious enemy,” Rui said. “But an incredible ally, if we can manage that.” She thought back to how untouchable they had felt when Entei had been with them. “He might even help against his siblings, if we ever have to deal with Raikou—or Entei again, for that matter.”



“And!” Javelin said. “And, if Suicune’s a shadow, then… then he’s gotta be miserable! Like me!” He stood firm as if daring the others to challenge them. “Like you all used to be! Doesn’t he deserve a chance to go back to normal? Like—like any of us?”



There was silence in the room for a moment—and then Striga drifted down close to Javelin. “Well said.” Their voice was soft and proud, and Javelin seemed to blush at the praise. “We’re all a little scared of Suicune’s power, but aren’t we fighting to save all shadow pokemon?”



“And besides!” Kata boomed. “At least this time, unlike Mt. Battle, we’ll go in knowing we’re picking a fight with the deific!”



Javelin glanced at him, his mouth agape. “…you guys are gonna have to bring me up to speed on all this.”



Finding Luna’s eyes, Rui exchanged a wordless glance with the team leader. It held for a moment before Luna nodded in acquiescence. The others had convinced her. Nearby, Reed sighed in frustration—but he didn’t say anything, apparently aware of the folly of trying to stick to his guns.



“We’ll rest and plan tonight,” Rui said, “and head to Engine tomorrow morning. Javelin can lead the way.”



They spent the next few hours in heavy discussion—Rui brought Nett and Perr up to speed as Striga and Kata took turns telling Javelin a mostly-accurate version of their journey up until this point (though Kata’s recollection included an inordinate amount of speechifying and kickflips, sometimes at once.) Javelin reminded the team that there were still Feral Ones existing for the sole purpose of guarding the Engine. “So besides Suicune,” he said, “we’re gonna have to deal with them, too.”



“Oh,” Luna had said in a completely flat voice. “Joy.”



But they didn’t get the full night’s rest they were hoping for. A little after four hours had passed from their discussion, a familiar sound sheared through the tunnel, filling them all with dread:



The manhole cover being dragged open.



There was a second where they all breathed in dread—and then Denri’s voice, tinged with alarm, reverberated down the passageway, immediately followed by a shocking flash of lightning as he unleashed electricity.



Unfamiliar voices came after.



Denri burst into the room, looking wild. “They found us, Rui! I could see a bunch of trainers—they all looked like the guards from the tower!”



Cursing under her breath, Rui readied herself to take a stand. Besides the manhole cover, the only way out was a vent too big for an adult.



“Nett, Perr, you need to get out,” she said. “There’s gonna be some serious violence here in a second.”



Perr nodded and made immediately for the vent, but Nett looked with desperate eyes at his array of screens and laptops. “But I… this is our…”



“Your home is up on the surface,” Rui said. “I’m going to keep my promise and get you out, but I can’t do that if you get caught in the crossfire. These people are dangerous.



“C’mon, Nett,” Perr said, wrapping a comforting arm around his brother. “We have to go.



Breathing quickly, only a step or two from hyperventilating, Nett met Rui’s eyes. “Don’t wreck my machines,” he pleaded desperately. “They’re all I have!



Rui thought how impossible such a request was. Why, a single attack from Denri alone could have fried everything in here.



“I promise,” she said, saying what was necessary to get him to leave, hoping he would forgive her afterward.



Sniffling, Nett allowed his brother to boost him into the vent. As Nett crawled away, Perr glanced over his shoulder. “Don’t forget about us,” he said. “Please.” And then he was gone as well.



More sounds coming from further down the tunnel, people and pokemon. Her team lined up, fists curled, fangs bared.



“You guys ready?” she said.



His tail sparking with anticipation, Denri glanced over his shoulder at her, wearing a combative grin. “Please. These clowns won’t know what hit ‘em.”


---


Finally, after pride month and side characters, we return to our main plot thread! May I introduce you to the newest member of the team--Javelin the Gligar! Like I said in the comments to part 61, he was a legit catch from one of the trainers you fight immediately after Venus. Was excited to use one after a Gliscor ended up being the MVP of a psuedo-Groundlocke I did back in 2018!
 
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Magicforbeginners

Generally Incompetent
Pokédex No.
2001
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
27
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Adamant
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he/him
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Dark, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Draws, writes, lives. Poorly, but always improving.
It's good to see the team have a little downtime. Javelin's only been around for two chapters and he's already great (Kata, of course, is the greatest). And may I say I love how distinct all your characters are? Something I see a lot in Nuzlockes with talking pokemon is that the characters tend to blend together. Writing for a 6+ team (considering deaths/replacement) with the Trainer and and important side/rival characters makes it hard for everyone to have a lot of individuality, but The Dark We Carry knocks it out of the park. Even the minor side characters like Epee and Garden are pretty distinct characters, and of course the main crew all has a ton of individuality in their character (including the dead). It's one of my favorite parts about this story, and I am excited to see how the Under all goes down.
 
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cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
337
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I loved the little glimpse of life at Duking’s! Epee and Garden and all the others are so sweet and absolutely worth fighting for. I hope we get to see more of them in the future!

And the next chapter! So much great stuff going on there, too. Javelin is such a great addition to the team.

Nearby, Kata was conversing with Reed and Luna in what he probably thought was a low whisper, meaning that people could only hear him from two dozen feet away rather than five.
Javelin chuffed. “So I’m not in error, huh?”

Kata rubbed the back of his head embarrassedly. “I… apologize. The downside to perfection is I sometimes get caught up in my own spectacularity!

“Only sometimes, huh.” Javelin said it with a flat voice, but there was a smile to their mouth, and the pokemon all laughed—Kata joining in and patting the Gligar on the back. The newcomer seemed happy.
“Indeed!” Kata cut in. “And let’s not forget they have the third beast as well! What if they sent them both after us? Why, even my studly perfection would have at least MODERATE difficulty fighting Suicune and Raikou at the same time!”
They spent the next few hours in heavy discussion—Rui brought Nett and Perr up to speed as Striga and Kata took turns telling Javelin a mostly-accurate version of their journey up until this point (though Kata’s recollection included an inordinate amount of speechifying and kickflips, sometimes at once.)
...But not as great as Kata, of course. Gosh, I love Kata.

As for Suicune, I didn't really stop to think about the possibility that he might end up on their side! That would certainly be interesting, although I'm not counting on things working out that way, at least not without consequence... I also hadn't really stopped to think about Raikou, but now I'm wondering that if they've got Suicune hooked up to this Aurora Engine, what exactly is going on with Raikou? I'm a little afraid to find out. guess I spent so much time on all that Entei theorizing that I forgot to think about the other two And I'm sure this is all building up to an eventual big confrontation between the three siblings, which I'm also very concerned about. And excited for. So many conflicting emotions!

Also, that cliffhanger! Gah! Anxiously awaiting the next chapter.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
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Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
617
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
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  • #236
It's good to see the team have a little downtime. Javelin's only been around for two chapters and he's already great (Kata, of course, is the greatest). And may I say I love how distinct all your characters are? Something I see a lot in Nuzlockes with talking pokemon is that the characters tend to blend together. Writing for a 6+ team (considering deaths/replacement) with the Trainer and and important side/rival characters makes it hard for everyone to have a lot of individuality, but The Dark We Carry knocks it out of the park. Even the minor side characters like Epee and Garden are pretty distinct characters, and of course the main crew all has a ton of individuality in their character (including the dead). It's one of my favorite parts about this story, and I am excited to see how the Under all goes down.
Thanks! That's very high praise! I work hard to try to make the team feel distinct, so I'm glad it comes across well ^^


I loved the little glimpse of life at Duking’s! Epee and Garden and all the others are so sweet and absolutely worth fighting for. I hope we get to see more of them in the future!

And the next chapter! So much great stuff going on there, too. Javelin is such a great addition to the team.

...But not as great as Kata, of course. Gosh, I love Kata.

As for Suicune, I didn't really stop to think about the possibility that he might end up on their side! That would certainly be interesting, although I'm not counting on things working out that way, at least not without consequence... I also hadn't really stopped to think about Raikou, but now I'm wondering that if they've got Suicune hooked up to this Aurora Engine, what exactly is going on with Raikou? I'm a little afraid to find out. guess I spent so much time on all that Entei theorizing that I forgot to think about the other two And I'm sure this is all building up to an eventual big confrontation between the three siblings, which I'm also very concerned about. And excited for. So many conflicting emotions!

Also, that cliffhanger! Gah! Anxiously awaiting the next chapter.
I'm so glad you like Kata, since I love him too. He's so much fun to write! And as for theories on the legendary beasts... who can say? :3c





Finalmente, algunas buenas noticias. Though I know we’re all worried about R, we mustn’t forget that the Under is only one avenue of the cipher’s power, sí? Es Cade is still angling for the Championship.



But the loss of Justy was big, and the smearing of his second pick—and excellent digging from D and E, muy bien hecho—bigger still. The campaña stepped up our game.



And I’m pleased to say that, contra todo pronóstico, we managed to somehow scrape a victory.



D is the mayor of Pyrite. E of Agate. At the risk of sounding muy altanero, allow me to introduce myself. You are speaking to the newly-elected mayor of Phenac City.



X



---



Krane stepped out into the dry morning air. Pokemon HQ Lab was situated in the northwesternmost corner of the region, about halfway between Agate Village and Gateon on the coast. This was the only slice of Orre to enjoy greenery, courtesy of both the moist air blowing in from the sea and the small rivers and streams trickling down from the mountains. But it was only a relative verdance. The trees surrounding the lab were ponderosa pines and hardy mesquites—robust plants which could survive dry spells, if needed, and whose moisture needs were lesser of those than their more flamboyant kin. Though this was indisputably one of the greener parts of Orre, a traveler from a place such as Kalos, Hoenn, or Alola would have found this little more than the desert putting on airs.



Krane breathed in tight, holding the smells in his lungs for a moment. Let the foreigners keep their rainforests and forest-sprawled mountains. For him, the dry nobility of these plants was home. They were emblematic of Orre itself, and its people as well—resilient, tough, almost impossible to get rid of. The Aueriteks had tried first—then the Unovan colonists. It didn’t matter. The severity of the landscape was a harsher yoke than anything human hands could craft, and it had sculpted the Orresian character into something that always overcame.



The cipher talked big and acted bigger, but they were just another domino waiting to fall. Krane was sure of it.



“I thought I’d find you out here.”



Krane’s vice-director, Lily, fell in beside him. She was a tall woman (though in Krane’s defense, to a person as diminutive as him everyone looked a bit tall) in her mid-thirties who kept her sandy brown hair in a no-nonsense bun and always wore an immaculate lavender coatdress.



“Just enjoying the breeze,” Krane said. “I’m sure you heard about Phenac’s new mayor.”



Lily nodded, a light smile touching her face. “We’ve needed some good news.”



If that wasn’t the truth. Rui’s entire sojourn into the Under had been to give him and his team access to the cipher’s financial information, but they’d been connected for a few minutes at most before the connection had been severed. What little data they’d pilfered was incomplete, borderline useless; and what’s worse, days had passed without anyone hearing from Rui.



“We’ll have to roll as we roll,” Krane said, sighing. He was trying to stay positive, him and the rest of the Grid—but every day that passed without hearing about her made it seem more and more unlikely that she was coming back.



Ignoring the emotional damage—Eagun in particular had grown withdrawn and reserved since they’d stopped hearing from her—the reality was that the Grid could play politics all they wanted; without a trainer of Rui’s caliber to handle the cipher’s thugs and battlers, there was no way they could do any more than temporarily stymie the cipher’s ascendance. Eagun couldn’t fill the void; he was well past his prime, and almost his entire original team had passed on.



“I actually came out here for a particular reason,” Lily said, reaching back to brush a strand of hair over her ear. “We’re almost ready for the trial run of the Purify Chamber, but we’d like you to look over it first as a precaution.”



Krane laughed. “Lily, that’s your brainchild—yours and your husband’s! If you say it’s ready, then I believe you!”



She smiled but pressed on. “Still, extra eyes won’t hurt. Even a small mistake could upset everything.”



He nodded in acquiescence. “Very well. I’ll go there now.” Turning his back on the trees he loved so much, he strode past the lab’s enormous sliding doors.



A young boy just under ten with an uncontrollable shock of fiery red hair ran up to Lily. “Mom! Mom! Jovi’s up!”



Krane glanced at his vice-director in sympathy. She and her husband worked enormously hard, but their toddler was getting to be quite the handful, and almost always needed attention.



“Already?” Lily didn’t have to bury her head in her hands; Krane heard it in her voice. “Alright. Professor, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes. Okay Michael, let’s go check on your sister—and maybe your father can watch after you while I’m showing the professor my research.”



“No worries,” Krane called after her. “Take your time.”



As he meandered his way through the Lab, he felt pride. Though Orre was considered a two-bit region next to titans like Kanto, Unova, or Galar, his team was doing great work, making discoveries and conducting surveys that were getting international attention. His old mentor, Oak, had sent a congratulatory note a few months back. Striding down the hall past potted plants, busy scientists, and ambling pokemon, he thought about the future of the Orre region.



Es Cade was a schemer only interested in personal ambition, but his goal of a singular Champion to unite Orre was, in Krane’s opinion, sound. They were too disunified, with no central authority and only the threat of foreign involvement capable of making them band together. That left it easy for malcontents like the cipher to grow in strength and power. With a proper Champion—not Es Cade, but someone with the region’s best interests at heart—Orre could finally take its place at the world table.



Krane had heard that long ago, before he had even been born, Eagun had been offered a Championship back when his star was ascendant. If only he’d taken it…



But. There were always second chances.



Of course, most of his lab’s activity of late hadn’t been directed at research papers or studies. It had been on a single, extremely clandestine project. And now, taking an unassuming elevator to the sub-basement and swiping his way through increasing levels of security, it was finally time to test it.



Lily’s creation. Machine-driven purification to help purify shadows en masse.



Swiping his card through the last door—only four people in the entire facility had clearance to go in here alone: Krane, Lily, her husband, and the Lab’s chief of security—he stepped inside and stopped.



Someone was in the chamber.



The woman there could easily have been taken as an executive for some high-powered conglomerate across the sea. She had to have been at least seven feet even without her jet-black heels, and her clothes were impeccable—a smokey grey suit-skirt with a maroon blouse underneath. Her hair was like antique burnished copper, spilling voluminously past her shoulders. She wore no makeup, yet her face was almost agelessly beautiful—but harsh, too, so very harsh. Her features reminded Krane of Rui—as if she was from Kanto, but with other touches in her blood.



Krane was good at reading people, always had been, and the moment he saw this woman, every alarm bell in his head began blaring. She was extremely dangerous and wouldn’t hesitate to do violence—that was apparent in the way she held herself, the way she examined the room. She was hovering uncomfortably near the machine.



“Who are you?” he demanded. Fear only made his voice squeak a little bit. “How did you get in here?”



The woman didn’t even turn to regard him. Instead, she continued studying the Purify Chamber. “Such ingenuity,” she mused, almost to herself. “I never would have thought technology could be used to chase out the shadow.”



Swallowing, Krane reached over to a wall-mounted console to dial up security—but he needn’t have bothered. The moment he moved, the woman sighed and then the console glowed with heat before melting, of its own accord, into slag. Behind him, he heard heat searing the door shut as well.



He was good and trapped.



“The brilliance of humanity never ceases to amaze me.” The woman still hadn’t turned to look at him, but he could read an almost dichotomous mix of admiration and contempt in her voice and posture. “I never even knew your name until yesterday, Krane, and yet you’re a bigger threat than the Kantonian could have ever hoped to be.”



The room felt hot in a way that couldn’t just be explained by Krane’s rising sense of panic. Behind him, on the other side of the broken door, he heard the beep of a card reader being swiped—and then the muffled shout as Lily pounded on the door.



“Get out of here!” Krane yelled, hoping his voice carried through. “Get security!”



“You should have told her to flee,” the woman mused. “Though in a way, it’s her fault I’m here.”



“Who are you,” Krane hissed. “Are you with the cipher?”



The woman’s laugh was rich and melodic, like a song of the earth. “Hardly. As I said, you have your assistant to thank for me being here. I’m sure you know she’s taken on some… what do you call them? Interns? You worked hard to keep this project from the low-level hires in your lab, but documents get left around, and voices can carry in an empty cafeteria. A curious enough soul could piece together what this facility’s secret project was, and one of them did just that. Your director… she didn’t look that hard into where her interns came from, did she?”



The woman finally turned to face him, and Krane almost felt his soul leave his body. The cut of the woman’s blouse showed off a small bit of skin. Underneath her collarbone was a circular bullet scar. Above, set in her harsh face, her eyes blazed like—like volcanoes.



“Oh god,” he whimpered.



“One of her newest recruits,” the woman said, almost conversationally, “originates from the village at the base of the mountain you call Battle. She’s a member of the Dakim Clan.”



She raised her hand casually, and a huge plume of fire erupted behind her, spiraling and swallowing the Purify Chamber.



The machine exploded.



The force knocked Krane onto his back and dented the doors behind him. As he rose, panic rafting through every nerve ending, he saw that the woman—who had to have been standing point-blank to the explosion—looked completely unruffled. Even her clothes didn’t look singed.



Turning and hurling his body against the doors, Krane tried to escape. From the corner of his eye, he saw the woman almost smirk. She raised her hand, pointing not at him but at a mass of wires and cables that fed from the now-ruined machine into the ceiling. Fire plumed from her hand, taking that too.



The cables exploded as well. The force knocked the door free and shoved Krane out into the hall. Behind, he heard the ceiling collapse.



Well aware that the elevators would be unreliable with fire raging through the facility, he staggered to his feet and into the stairwell. Behind him, he heard flames licking at the walls and could imagine the wiring inside curling and melting. A series of explosions—smaller than those which had consumed the Purify Chamber, but still noteworthy—rocked the floor as the woman continued her assault.



Maybe it was panic, or perhaps he was still woozy from being thrown by the blast—but either way, he found it hard to climb. His vision swam—he grit his teeth, sagging against the guardrails as he slowly pulled his way upwards. A facility-wide alarm rang out; it seemed Lily had managed to alert everyone.



As he climbed, Krane’s mind still reeled from shock. It wasn’t that he had doubted Rui’s story of what she’d encountered on the mountain, but that was far different from suddenly being forced to confront it face to face.



Above him, a door slammed open and the chief of security—an iron-jawed woman, an ex-soldier from Unova—rushed in, flanked by her pokemon. She was one of the few trainers Krane knew who carried a full team of six. “Sir!” she shouted, rushing to Krane’s side. “What happened?”



“Intruder,” he managed to force out. “Incredibly dangerous.”



Before he could say any more, the lowermost door blasted off its hinges and the woman strode in, ducking slightly to bend her way through the doorframe. Firelight flickered from the burning sub-basement behind her; the air around her shimmered, a corona of pure heat.



The woman glanced up and locked eyes with the security chief, whose pokemon bristled. Grimacing, the Unovan woman unslung an assault rifle from her back and pointed it at the intruder. “Don’t m—”



She didn’t get a chance to finish. On seeing the weapon pointed at her, the newcomer’s eyes narrowed, and her hand twitched reflexively (and even in his haze, Krane could read in her that she was thinking of that scar on her chest) before suddenly, the stairwell billowed with smoke and a bloom of heat.



One moment the woman was on the bottommost floor, and the next she was just there, looming next to the shocked security chief. One hand reached out and grasped the assault rifle, which instantly reddened from heat. The head of security dropped her gun with a gasp, her hands scalded from the metal of the quickly-melting weapon; a split second later, the red-haired woman reached out, grasped her about the neck, lifted her with one hand, and pitched her over the side.



The security chief fell down the stairwell with a frightened scream that abruptly stopped with the sound of a quiet whumpf. Her team looked on in shock before they threw themselves at the intruder. She warded off a psychic attack from a Duosion with a lazy wave and then summoned fire in each palm, an almost bored look on her face. One font of flame swept out, driving back the security pokemon, while the other punched through a locked door to sweep into the hallways of the first basement. Gasps and screams of fear rose from within as more fire started to eat through the facility.



Turning, certain the security pokemon would barely slow her down, Krane crawled higher and higher, aware that by now almost the entire lower stairwell was aflame. Walls, doors—fire was everywhere, and the rising smoke was as much a danger as the heat, threatening to choke him out. Covering his face with the sleeve of his labcoat, he finally made it to the ground floor.



When he staggered out, it was to a scene of panic. What few security officers they had were trying to shepherd people outside; pokemon were wailing, and the lights flickered for a few moments before they inevitably failed entirely. Only the warning sirens, hooked to a distant backup generator, kept blaring.



Amidst the chaos, Lily noticed him and ran up, her face chalk white. “What’s happening?” She asked, helping to support him as he limped away from the stairwell. Fire started licking out of it, slowly eating the walls. The air was beginning to haze with smoke. “The Purify Chamber—our research—”



The fire cut her off, picking up in a roar and spiraling in a way that no natural blaze could do. Stepping out of the stairwell, still looking completely untouched and cradled by the spinning flame, was the woman from below. Her gaze swept the main atrium of the lab with contempt.



And then, suddenly, she changed.



Her form shimmered like rippling water—no, Krane realized, like waves of heat rising from a wildfire. Amidst the wavering sight, the form of the woman melted away and a new one emerged. Tall, quadrupedal, with fur the color the woman’s hair had been, a leonine face bedecked with a fanged mask and that same circular scar on her breast.



“It can’t be,” Lily whispered in fear. “Entei.”



YOU’RE JUST LIKE HER. The voice was proud, fierce, and dangerous, like the rumbling of an active volcano. ARE YOU SO WILLING TO KEEP YOUR GODS AWAY? DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR RADIANCE WOULD BENEFIT US ALL?



She stamped one foot and a flood of fire swept from her, eating at walls, desks, computers, everything—the HQ Lab was nothing more than a giant pile of kindling for her.



All my research, Krane thought with despair. Our equipment, our files—every scrap of information related to the Purify Chamber. It had been too sensitive a project to risk sending data anywhere else. Entei was setting them back to square one—no, worse than that. Even at square one they’d had the benefit of a lab stocked with equipment and ready minds.



By the time she was done, they wouldn’t have anything.



One of the security pokemon, a Nidoking, bellowed at her from the side of the room and shot a flurry of barbs at her. Fire swept to meet him without Entei even turning her head, instantly scorching the spikes into nothingness. It kept going and rolled over the Nidoking, who had barely a second to cry out before he was gone, naught but a pile of ash.



WE ARE SO CLOSE TO THEIR RETURN. Entei’s voice was like a growl, but one which had been building over a course of centuries—underlaced with a dual mélange of despair and vindication. IF YOU UPHOLD THE PACT, YOU MUST BE ELIMINATED. THE SACRIFICE IS WORTH IT.



She leapt up onto a smoldering second-floor balcony and stomped into the upper offices, leaving fire in her wake.



The atrium’s ceiling was ablaze, now, and burning tiles and timbers were beginning to smash earthward.



“We have to escape,” Krane grunted. Lily stood transfixed, staring at where Entei had been with open-mouthed horror. “Before the place comes down.”



“But my children—! Their bedrooms are on the second floor!”



“You left them with your husband?” Krane said. She nodded. “He will have gotten them out by now. I’m sure of it.”



A small splash of color returned to Lily’s face, and she nodded.



As the two of them stumbled outside, Krane heard a whimpering sound from the bushes near the entrance. Glancing to the side, he saw a small girl, barely a toddler, huddled under there and crying.



Lily followed his gaze and gasped. “Jovi!” Picking up her daughter, she held her close as they moved farther.



A crowd of distraught people and pokemon, easily dozens strong, was gathered outside, looking at the HQ Lab in dismay. The building was wholly ablaze now, smoke billowing from the upper windows and fire slicing its way up to the highest reachings of the buildings. Krane’s mouth felt clammy. About three-quarters of the staff had made it outside—did that mean the remainder were trapped inside the building with a rampaging demigod?



“What is that thing?” Lily whispered to him. “Is it truly…?”



“Yes,” Krane replied. “We kicked the hornet’s nest on this one. She’ll stop at nothing to preserve her plan until—until the beast slumbering under the region awakes.”



Mom!



Young Michael raced up to them, his face dirty and tear-stained.



“I’m here,” Lily said, forcing her voice to be soothing as she knelt for him to lean against her. She still held Jovi tight. “You’re all right.” But after a moment, her face fell into a frown. Krane realized it right at the same moment.



“Michael,” he asked, forcing his voice to be as calm as possible, “where’s your father?”



The red-haired boy stared at Jovi, then at his mother. “He took me and Jovi outside, but then when we got to the group, he realized she was missing! He went inside to look for her!”



Lily’s face went chalk white. “No,” she whispered, turning to look back at the blazing building. Part of the side wall had crumbled, and flames were feathering out. “No!”



Setting down Jovi for her brother to watch, she made as if to head back to the lab, but Krane caught her arm.



“It’s a deathtrap in there!” he warned.



That’s where my husband is! Don’t—”



She was cut off by an immense groan. The ground shook—a rumble of fear rolled through the crowd—and then, people and pokemon yelling in fear and distress as it happened, the entire building collapsed inward, a huge plume of fire and smoke and cinders billowing skywards. The sound was deafening, like being near an airplane turbine.



Wails cut through the crowd as people realized that friends, coworkers, pokemon were trapped inside during the collapse—but nothing would haunt Krane so much as Lily, who sagged to her knees, a wordless cry of anguish ripping out of her mouth like the scream of a wounded animal. Only a few paces behind, Michael hugged his little sister tight, his eyes wide and unblinking as his young mind slowly processed that he would never see his dad again. Somewhere in the crowd, a small Eevee had emerged and was standing protectively near him.



Krane half-collapsed sideways, caught by one of the custodial staff. It had happened so quick. Less than half an hour ago he’d been enjoying the breeze and celebrating Ximena’s ascent to the mayoralty. And now—now—



KRANE.



He started at the sound, but nobody nearby reacted—not the custodian, not Lily, not Michael, not the boy’s Eevee. These words were for him and him alone.



Turning his gaze back to the still-blazing ruins of the lab, the professor thought that within the flames and smoke, he could just make out a form—titanic, proud, watching, staring directly at him.



I COULD ANNIHILATE EVERY ONE OF YOU. IT WOULD BE THE SAFE THING TO DO. A pause. BUT YOUR MACHINE IS SLAG. YOUR RESEARCH IS ASH. YOU ARE NO LONGER THREATS. FOR THAT REASON, I HAVE CHOSEN TO BE MERCIFUL.



The shape within the smoke turned as if to leave, but Krane still felt the presence intruding on his mind. BUT KNOW THIS, HUMAN. IF YOU PURSUE SUCH AVENUES AGAIN, I WILL NOT STOP WITH THE BUILDING OR THE MACHINES. AND THE DESTRUCTION THAT UNFOLDS WILL BE ON YOUR SHOULDERS.



And then, like the sudden quiet after an eruption, she was just gone—nowhere to be found.



As the day progressed and people put in calls to Gateon for aid and rescue, Krane’s normally-fruitful mind was paralyzed. A storm of emotions threatened to swallow him—regret, fear, despair, panic, shame. But amidst the tumult, his mind kept coming back to one thing, one crystal-clear thing:



This was what she called mercy.


---


Sorry about the late update! I promised myself I'd write it yesterday, and then before I knew it it was 10:15pm at night and I hadn't even opened Word.

As for this chapter, well... :')
 
Last edited:

Trollkitten

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Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
This was what she called mercy.
Entei, you deserve what you're almost inevitably going to get.

I liked the appearances of Michael and Jovi, although the death of their father was tragic. It's a pity the purification machine and the lab were completely destroyed. Entei is a dangerous beast, and I'm wondering just how she'll eventually get taken down... Hopefully Rui will have the help of Entei's brothers in that regard.
 

Magicforbeginners

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Draws, writes, lives. Poorly, but always improving.
Ooh, is this sequel protagonist backstory I see? Can't say I'd mind a sequel to TDWC at all, but it's a great way to pull some more cameos from the main game regardless (and Michael actually gets a strong backstory, which is neat).

Entei. Wow. The most terrifying thing about her is that she completely believes she's the hero-ends justify the means. I hope her brothers will be able to knock some sense into her. Failing that, knock her out. Seeing this drives home how much Rui+crew need a god on their side. The only reason they haven't lost is because Entei doesn't feel like killing them......yet. Sure, the humans are threats, but they're threats that feel manageable. Entei's the opposite.
 
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Plain Yogurt

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Yeesh I blink and 4 chapters whiz by. I had to laugh at "all hell broke loose" back in the tower. As if hell isn't routinely busting out of its cage in this story every chance it gets. Case in POINT with this last chapter. Oh hey. We're back at the lab after a cliffhanger on Rui's end. A calm before the storm? Nope. Sorry naughty children it's frying time.

Your fights are impeccable as ever. I feel every physical and mental (that bit with Reed was MEAN, darn you) hit every time. And it's good to see a new sixth member! Javelin's a (rightfully) moody little scamp, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) getting to know him better.

Lovely work!
 
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Dee

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A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #240
Entei, you deserve what you're almost inevitably going to get.

I liked the appearances of Michael and Jovi, although the death of their father was tragic. It's a pity the purification machine and the lab were completely destroyed. Entei is a dangerous beast, and I'm wondering just how she'll eventually get taken down... Hopefully Rui will have the help of Entei's brothers in that regard.
Thank you! I had fun incorporating sequel characters into the fic (as should be obvious with Lovrina, haha) and doing a new take on Michael's backstory was... something I immediately felt a bit devious about :'D


Ooh, is this sequel protagonist backstory I see? Can't say I'd mind a sequel to TDWC at all, but it's a great way to pull some more cameos from the main game regardless (and Michael actually gets a strong backstory, which is neat).

Entei. Wow. The most terrifying thing about her is that she completely believes she's the hero-ends justify the means. I hope her brothers will be able to knock some sense into her. Failing that, knock her out. Seeing this drives home how much Rui+crew need a god on their side. The only reason they haven't lost is because Entei doesn't feel like killing them......yet. Sure, the humans are threats, but they're threats that feel manageable. Entei's the opposite.
So regarding sequels--TDWC is the second in a planned trilogy of storylockes all set in the same 'verse! (Dear Diary is the first.) While TDWC is relatively divorced from DD aside from a few worldbuiding notes and extras, the third will build off of both DD and TDWC. As for what game it'll cover... that's a secret! ;3

And as for Entei, yes. She completely thinks she's in the right here. From her perspective, this is no different than what she did back against the Aueriteks--unleashing her fires against their war machines and driving their priests from their temples. Deaths occurred then, too, and Ho-oh didn't chastise her for it. In her own way, she probably thinks they don't mind this, either, especially given that showing of 'mercy' at the end.


Yeesh I blink and 4 chapters whiz by. I had to laugh at "all hell broke loose" back in the tower. As if hell isn't routinely busting out of its cage in this story every chance it gets. Case in POINT with this last chapter. Oh hey. We're back at the lab after a cliffhanger on Rui's end. A calm before the storm? Nope. Sorry naughty children it's frying time.

Your fights are impeccable as ever. I feel every physical and mental (that bit with Reed was MEAN, darn you) hit every time. And it's good to see a new sixth member! Javelin's a (rightfully) moody little scamp, and I'm looking forward to (hopefully) getting to know him better.

Lovely work!
I have to say, I was tickled pink by every part of your first paragraph. You hit the nail on its head so well! I truly am a cruel and capricious writer.

I'm glad you like the fights and the team, and hope I won't continue to disappoint

First, something to say before the chapter--I am going on a month long hiatus from now until mid-August. I didn't want to have to do this literally the chapter before the arc 3 climax, but there's just a lot going on irl for me to believably keep my update schedule if I want to write quality fic. Hope you all can understand, and look forward to the newest chapter in a month's time! ^^



I’m not so sure about this, E.



Miracle’s assault on my manor—R suddenly disappearing underground—Revy’s escape, which can’t bold well for T and the other Brotherhood expatriates—and that’s ignoring the latest news. You heard about what happened to K’s lab? Torched, all of it—and if what they say about the culprit is true, I don’t know how to handle it. Could K be correct? Has the demigod shown herself once more? Are we supposed to fight her and the cipher both?



X’s surprise ascendance as Phenac is a victory, I won’t say that it isn’t. But the deck the deck is stacked so thoroughly against us, it’s hard to see that as mattering.



D



---



Striga unleashed their power as a prismatic spray, the attack spiraling out to knock one adversary into another. They barely had time to celebrate—two more rushed at them.



The moment one foe falls, there’s two more taking their place! they thought ruefully. The enemies aren’t all that powerful compared to us, but there’s just so many!



The group had fought their way out of the twins’ hideout and were rampaging their way across the Under, following Javelin’s lead to a covert path at the cavern’s edge which he said wound its way up to the high hollow where Lovrina and the Aurora Engine were waiting. Around them, the glass tubes with the blue still pulsed, a neonesque reminder of what they’d find at the top. Most of the Under had been plunged into darkness after the fall of the central tower, so the blue was all that remained. It washed their struggles in an eerie, sapphire azure glow.



Striga fought and fought, determined to escape. They would see the surface again—the sparse and noble sands where their people had once eked out a living. They would fight to save other pokemon like them.



Most of all, they would see Topaz’s waiting smile again.



A Sandshrew spun out of the darkness, soil cascading off of it. They met it with a show of spectral shadows. Immediately after the Sandshrew fell, a Houndour leapt right behind it, embers and dark power trailing from its maw. It was lunging right for them.



But the canine never got the chance. Javelin plowed into it, smacking it sideways with a fierce pincer swipe and then knocking it unconscious with a spray of earth.



“Thanks,” Striga said, relieved. Javelin… the new kid had only just joined up, and already he’d carved out a solid niche on the team. Striga was glad they’d picked him up.



“No problem,” he replied. “It’s good to help my… my teammate.” He stumbled over the last word as if it was new to him—and perhaps it was. Bred from captive shadows and raised from birth to be the attack dog for whoever ruled the Under, perhaps this was his first true experience fighting alongside other pokemon not because he was ordered to, but because he wanted to.



Behind him, the darkness in the cavern suddenly flared. It was Luna, her patterns shining bright against the gloom, disorienting nearby opponents and making them cringe back with a wail; she followed up with a billowing cloud of Toxic and then leapt in, swift and fierce like a raging river, lunging at disoriented opponents, fangs bared. Despite the fact that she was, like Striga themself, primarily a support and defensive pokemon, she’d managed to bring down five opponents in only a handful of seconds.



“…wow,” Javelin said, his voice awed. He couldn’t have seen the illumination which had started Luna’s whole gambit, but he was clever enough to piece it all together. “She’s… wow.”



Oh dear. Striga could see a blush starting to color those young cheeks.



“Don’t,” they said gently. Javelin turned to frown at them.



“Why not?” he challenged.



“She’s taken,” Striga said apologetically.



He almost visibly deflated. “…oh.” He looked like a child who had just been told that Candy Appreciation Day had just been cancelled. “Is it—the Ampharos?”



“Reed, actually. The Quagsire.”



Somehow, that seemed to make him feel better. “Well, alright then. I won’t cause any problems.” He glided off to keep a Sentret from bum-rushing Rui.



As he departed, Striga had to shake their head. Oh, the follies of youth.



Being the most childlike immortal in all Orre only made them feel a little hypocritical.



---



They’d moved their way across the sprawling city and were nearing the edge. Only a last line of outposts now rested between them and the passage which the newcomer insisted would take them.



A cipher trainer was holed up in one of the buildings with his pokemon. Rui had ordered Kata to jump in and clear it out.



She probably meant him to go through the window, but then, she should have specified.



He smashed wholescale through the wall of makeshift bricks, dust and rubble spraying everywhere in the interior. A stunned array of trainers and pokemon stared openmouthed at him.



“BEHOLD!” he exclaimed, flexing for all to see. Behind him, he could just about hear his sister-in-law facepalming. Well, let Luna be a stick-in-the-mud. Sometimes you just had to seize the moment. “Such raw and impeccable muscles.” He kissed his bicep. “Such a fabulous FORM! Truly, your fortunes have as much hope as this wall here. So I say to you: yield!



Rather than submit to his entirely-reasonable demands, one pokemon clinging to the ceiling—a Pachirisu—dropped, attempting to sneak attack him.



Pfah! Useless!



“UNSPORTSMANLIKE!” Kata bellowed. In one fluid motion, he snatched the squirrel out of the air by its tail, swinging it down into the floor, before kicking a piece of rubble the size of a baseball across the room to lay out a Krabby in one blow. The other adversaries sprang into action, but Kata met their advance by hopping onto his headpoint, spinning like a whirlwind and lashing out with a series of punishing kicks.



“Scoundrels!” he bellowed. “You almost don’t deserve to fall at the hands of my magnificent musculature. Being beaten by such a prime specimen is a privilege that you do not deserve!” Or rather, he tried to bellow it. But since he was upside down and spinning at high speeds, it came out more like “Scb—dzflln—bbppt—nszrvn!”



Still, as they fell one by one to his kicks, he suspected they got the gist.



As he finished, more enemies rushed in from the other side of the building—but rather than face them all head on, Kata allowed himself to retreat, a knowing smile on his face. Sometimes, it paid to throw your friends a bone.



As he retreated, his enemies huddled out of the hole he’d punched in their wall—and right into the waiting crossfire of Javelin and Reed. The two Ground-types instantly churned the ground to mud, trapping and sinking their enemies inside, and then went in, laying them out one by one with stinger jabs and claw swipes and smacks from heavy paws. As it all unfolded, Striga slipped into the building, lulling the enemy trainers into a hypnotic slumber.



Righting himself from his headpoint, Kata grinned, folding his arms. “Well done,” he chuckled. “A job well done indeed!” Then, he swaggered into the building.



Behind him, he heard Javelin mutter to Reed: “Weren’t we going to string them out the door? Did he have to knock down almost the whole wall?”



Kata didn’t have to look back to know that Reed was shrugging apologetically. “Kid, there’s what you have to do—and then there’s what Luna calls the ‘Kata Factor.’ It’s where you go as extra as you possibly can, just for the sake of it.”



Shaking his head, Kata chuckled. So they still didn’t understand? Well, perhaps they never would. Ah well… it wasn’t worth fussing over.



He’d just have to lead by example!



---



The moment he stepped into the winding upward tunnel, Denri knew they had the right place. Tubes of the blue snaked downward along the walls, spiderwebbing the stone and washing the whole thing in an eerie glow. A lonely staircase of metal, punctuated by intermittent, rickety-looking landings, crawled upwards.



He clenched his fists. If all proved correct, then waiting at the top was a corrupted demigod.



Dimming his tail—Rui had sent him in first in case they’d needed light, but it looked like it wasn’t necessary with the blue—he opened his mouth to confirm that he was still okay with taking point, only for the new kid to rudely shoulder past him.



I’ll take us up,” he said pointedly.



Denri tried not to feel angry, and only partially succeeded. Javelin was still young—he was still a shadow—and yes, Denri had impolitely snarked at him the other day down there when they were in Nett and Perr’s hideout. But the kid’s vendetta against him would only cause problems in the long run.



But jockeying for point would only cause unnecessary friction and slow them down. He fell back, grumbling under his breath, to guard Rui.



His trainer shot him a sympathetic smile before she called out to Javelin: “There’s a way to reach the surface from the chamber with the Aurora Engine?” she asked.



“Yeah,” came the reply. “Two, in fact.”



“Good. Reed, collapse the tunnel behind us. Suicune and his Feral One guards will be problem enough—no need to deal with interlopers.”



Reed nodded, hanging near the back and using his Ground-type powers to cause the earth and stones to pile up behind them. Any chasers who hadn’t already been dealt with would have a hell of a time trying to catch up now.



The climb was arduous and pebbled with small but intense bursts of violence. Though Reed was stopping any pursuers, there were still guard pokemon in the tunnels themselves—Ariados skittering out of crevices to launch at them, screeching, or Litwick suddenly filling the gloom with spectral flame. Always they were dealt with, and none of them were really threats on their own—but it still left Denri feeling uneasy. Every bit of stamina expended here was a little less they’d have for the battle against the god of the north wind, where they’d need all the help they could get.



“Enough small fry!” Javelin growled after another adversary, a Zubat, dodged him and vanished upwards into the gloaming darkness. “Let’s just get this done—I want to feel the sun! I want to be free for the first time in my life!” Roaring, he chased it upwards.



—a Flying-type teammate, lured deeper into a cavern by a weak, fleeing enemy—



Recollecting the moment he watched Manny die, Denri almost sputtered with horror. “Kid! Kid, wait!” he screamed, climbing after Javelin as fast as he could.



A few flights up, the Gligar was advancing on the Zubat, preparing to knock him out with one swipe. But he never got the chance—lightning swept the landing, taking Javelin from behind (though of course his type let him shrug it off) and knocking the Zubat cold at almost the barest touch.



Javelin whirled on Denri, snarling. Denri didn’t need Aura vision to imagine the hateful clouds of black and red swirling off of him. He looked ready to murder. “You attacked me!” he accused. “I’m on your side now, but I guess you never forgave—”



A trio of forms dropping onto the stairwell cut him off. Two Dewpider and a Mudkip who had been laying in wait in a small ledge above, training their Water-type attacks directly on Javelin.



Denri heard the kid do that small, almost inaudible clicking-hiss he did when he wanted to get a better ‘look’ at something—and then the kid’s posture shifted as he realized the trap he had almost walked into. “I—wh-wha—”



“You’re right. I’m on your side now,” Denri echoed. He felt wearier than he was, felt older than he was. He’d almost had a repeat of Manny’s death right in front of him, almost lost a teammate before he’d even really gotten to know him. If he’d been even a second or two late…



He stepped forward and laid a hand on Javelin’s shoulder. The kid tensed, as if afraid he’d be hit—but Denri just left it there comfortingly, and Javelin slowly relaxed. “Look. I was short with you, and I’m sorry. That was a bad foot to start off on. But we don’t have time to be fighting or doubting each other, okay?”



A moment’s silence held—and then Javelin glanced up at Denri, looking distraught. “I—I—yeah,” he said, his voice sounding small.



“Hey, I was a shadow too,” Denri told him. “I get it. Angry at the world, wanting to just fight all the time. That can be useful if you channel it. But you can’t let it build walls between you and someone you fight alongside. We don’t gotta be friends if you don’t want, but let’s at least not bite each other’s backs.”



The rest of the party finally caught up with them. Some of them appeared to be struggling from the ascent; Reed in particular looked like he was about to pass out.



Javelin turned his face up to Denri, and Denri saw behind those scarred sockets just a small, scared young pokemon. “I wanna be friends… if you want to,” Javelin said.



Smiling, Denri lightly socked the kid in a show of affection. “I’d like that, Javelin.”



---



The girl was close. Lovrina could just about taste it.



The Engine pulsed behind her, pushing out the blue—the corrupted power she used to keep the Under marching to her beat, each and every person there. Its cold radiance was at best a pale imitation of the song that swam through Lovrina’s heart, that harmless song of ruin that would soon lay Orre, and then the world, to such spellbinding, beautiful calamity. But even if it was a wan echo, it was still strong enough.



Except for Matsuhara. The girl had somehow awoken to command Aura with such ferocity that she could withstand even the blue’s presence—or so the girl thought. After all, that array of tubes took something great and dispersed it widely, watering it down. Even a smidgen of corrupted divinity was enough to subsume the average person, and if Matsuhara had managed to overcome that little trickle, well, all Lovrina had to do was expose her to the full flood.



Smiling to herself, Lovrina strode over to the Engine and began twisting knobs and turning dials. Slowly, the machine’s whirrs shifted, and the blue began to fade away. Within the cradle of the Engine, the cocoon there began to pulse with power. The creature inside would be stirring soon.



A gasp met her ears. Venus. “The blue!” She sounded desperate. “Where are you taking it?”



“We need Suicune at full power if he is to deal with that intruder.”



The sound of wringing hands. “But it—you’re bringing it back, right?”



“Mmmm.” Lovrina smiled and hummed and refused to commit to anything. The truth of it was that with the Devourer’s slumber growing thinner by the day, Lovrina had little time to spare for her playtime in the Under any more. The city itself was almost a lost cause; the loss of the tower had deprived it of much of its usefulness. Perhaps having a dark deity close at hand would better serve her in the coming days.



But that was for the future.



“You’ll only get in the way,” Lovrina told Venus without bothering to turn her head. Before her, the Engine hummed and glowed, and a discordant noise bayed from within. Suicune, in a state of torpor with his essence spread across the cavern, was starting to reawaken. “You and your cargo should head to the surface.”



“Yes… yes. We’ll go.”



As Venus turned to leave, a delightfully devilish thought slid into Lovrina’s mind. “Hold,” she purred. Whipping out a notebook, she scribbled a hasty set of instructions on the sheet there. Ripping the page out, she pushed it at Lovrina.



“As soon as you get out, head for the lab. The new one,” she said. “Not the one above the ruins. Skrub is there. Give him these instructions.”



Venus glanced down at the paper with confusion. “What is it?”



Lovrina reached a hand up to play with a strand of her bubblegum-pink hair. “He failed a job for me some time ago,” she said. “Recent events suggest that now might be the time to try a second time. Now leave! Matsuhara is almost here and I can’t have you underfoot.”



As Venus scurried away, Lovrina leaned back with satisfaction. The blue had entirely retreated back into the Engine, now. With the fall of the tower and the accompanying loss of electrical power, that would have put the cavern below in almost total darkness.



“Poor things,” she giggled, continuing to curl the strand of hair about her finger.



As the beast within the Engine continued stirring to life, Lovrina sensed—not heard, not felt, but sensed—the Feral Ones stalking in the caverns around her. Creatures that had been almost wholly given to the same darkness which she now played host to, she could sense them in close proximity, and even exercise control over them to a degree.



Three Feral Ones and a rising deity? She nearly purred.



Oh, this was going to be fun.

---

The big showdown is about to begin!
 

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