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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 28 up 10/16

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
Funny how quickly shadow pokemon put aside past enmities. There was the unspoken knowledge between all of them: we know. We know how it is. Sometimes you go feral. He wasn’t proud of it—but it happened. They acted savage towards each other and then forgave one another. If they didn’t, who would?

But on the flip-side, a team of shadow pokemon, united together, were almost unstoppable.
I hadn't considered that, but if you recognize a kindred spirit, then that has power. Hey, Luna, you can learn from this. :x

Denri makes a good point. Could the awkward, energetic Rui of private life survive public life? Does Rui want to be that person who was victimized?

I love the scene with Revy. Revy survived, unlike Wes but instead of seeking out a new direction in life, she dwells on what she has lost. She's a dark mirror for Rui in that way. What if, instead of vowing to make the world better for shadow Pokemon, she fixated on getting revenge on Folly and Trudly?

And Argyle is surprisingly good in a crisis. I wonder how Luna feels about that revelation...

As for Vulcana... Her barbs are on-point, but so are Denri's observations...
Ein: "Oh no!"

I didn't expect Vulcana to leave! I worry what she will do on her own...

I love sad near-death dream sequences! T-T

Aw, Luna! <3

Disembodied voice=legendary spotted? But which legendaries are in Orre..? Celebi, is that you?
Word about the ambush and her brush with death had gotten out. No longer was she the invincible hero. Miror B’s hesitancy to fight her directly was no longer seen as a badge of cowardice. Now the narrative was spun a different way: he had lulled her into a false sense of security to take her down, like a circling Swellow swooping down on a Sentret from above. She was a rookie, not a hero, and Duking was a fool for supporting her. When she’d had the run of the streets it had been an interesting sideshow, but now it was time to go back to the way things were.
Yikes. Rui survived, but she lost a lot in the process. Like Revy.

Miror B using his club to make Rui have to face him on his terms, the social arena, is really clever!

Oof. Miror B not allowing Pokemon in his club seems so against the spirit of Pokemon. But Cipher, corrupting Pokemon, is kind of the antithesis of the spirit of Pokemon itself, isn't it?

Miror B is a creature all of his own regardless of what universe he's in. I'm so happy we're finally meeting your version of him! Threatening disco is now best disco.
 
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Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Oh, man your Miror B is SPOT ON. Perfect amounts of funky and threatening. The finger guns when she is about to walk out the door was probably my favorite part.

Also, late comment on the last update- I love the conversation between Vulcana and Rui. Poor Vulcy has such bad cyclic thoughts. I hope she snaps out of it soon.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #43

I hadn't considered that, but if you recognize a kindred spirit, then that has power. Hey, Luna, you can learn from this. :x

Denri makes a good point. Could the awkward, energetic Rui of private life survive public life? Does Rui want to be that person who was victimized?

I love the scene with Revy. Revy survived, unlike Wes but instead of seeking out a new direction in life, she dwells on what she has lost. She's a dark mirror for Rui in that way. What if, instead of vowing to make the world better for shadow Pokemon, she fixated on getting revenge on Folly and Trudly?

And Argyle is surprisingly good in a crisis. I wonder how Luna feels about that revelation...

As for Vulcana... Her barbs are on-point, but so are Denri's observations...
Ein: "Oh no!"

I didn't expect Vulcana to leave! I worry what she will do on her own...

I love sad near-death dream sequences! T-T

Aw, Luna! <3

Disembodied voice=legendary spotted? But which legendaries are in Orre..? Celebi, is that you?
Yikes. Rui survived, but she lost a lot in the process. Like Revy.

Miror B using his club to make Rui have to face him on his terms, the social arena, is really clever!

Oof. Miror B not allowing Pokemon in his club seems so against the spirit of Pokemon. But Cipher, corrupting Pokemon, is kind of the antithesis of the spirit of Pokemon itself, isn't it?

Miror B is a creature all of his own regardless of what universe he's in. I'm so happy we're finally meeting your version of him! Threatening disco is now best disco.
Aaaaaa I love your reactions so much! So many interesting theories... and I'm glad you like the club scene and Miror B himself hehe


Oh, man your Miror B is SPOT ON. Perfect amounts of funky and threatening. The finger guns when she is about to walk out the door was probably my favorite part.

Also, late comment on the last update- I love the conversation between Vulcana and Rui. Poor Vulcy has such bad cyclic thoughts. I hope she snaps out of it soon.
YES I love writing for that disco man. And Vulcana is... such an interesting and ultimately sad character. Cyclic is a good way to describe her thought pattern.

Rain comes even to the desert, and when it does, it thunders. When water touches the sands it does so from great grey curtains that smother the sky, the air oppressive with the smell of humidity and ozone, and the sound of faraway cracks and gusting winds seems like the pealing of dark and distant bells.



Desert rains are not like normal rains. They are soul-changing experiences, life-altering events that inevitably drive some indoors to shelter from the offensive while other, more constrained souls, emerge triumphant in the water, basking in the cleansing shower that comes only but a few times a year.



Rui blinked against the water blitzing her face, scowling. Her entire body was soaked through, the driving winds of the storm chilling her to her soul. The gales beat her duster around her legs, making it whip out behind her like she was a cowboy from an old movie.



The man she was battling with had his face half-covered with his arm, and his cocky smirk had given way to a frustrated grimace.



“Give it up, Cail!” Rui shouted, having to strain her voice to be heard over the weather. Miror B’s tournament was a mere week away and she had finally tracked down someone with an invitation.



Cail, a self-described “rogue,” had blown in from near Gateon up north. He was twentysomething, with a lean build and a sneering face and neon green hair. A street battler and hired gun of some repute, he hoped to make a name for himself under the watchful (and recruiting) eye of the man who seemed poised to become Orre’s new King of Crime. Miror B had indulged him with an invite to the tournament.



How fearsome his reputation was. How mighty his battling skills were said to be. And yet, once she had cornered him at the top of an old warehouse near Pyrite’s edge, how quickly his team had fallen. A Machoke lay splayed against the roof wall, panting, and his other pokemon, a Kirlia, had already been dispatched. Both pokemon had been taken care of by Cap, though the Machoke had landed a blow strong enough that the Espeon was recuperating in his ball. Denri was out now, his tail glowing a fierce red and electricity sparking from his hands in a small reflection of the lightning that rampaged in the sky above.



The two pokemon were all Cail had. Orre was Orre—very few could afford numbers.



“You’re done,” Rui said. “The battle is finished, Cail. Give me the token to enter the tournament.”



The street ground his teeth together, looking full-on murderous. “They told me about you,” he said. “Told me to watch out for you.”



She folded her arms. “I’m not going to repeat myself again.” In solidarity with her, Denri allowed a series of large sparks to shoot off of his tail bauble. He tensed up and a single, sharp stream of shadow energy knifed off of him.



“Easy,” Rui said, her voice low. All the shadow pokemon had seen improvements, but there was always the risk of resurgence. Denri’s stance didn’t weaken, and she feared that her voice had been swallowed by the storm.



“Maybe I took certain steps to avoid falling afoul of you,” Cail taunted. His face and tone of voice belied his words—he was in a corner and showed it in every way. “Maybe I invested in something like this!”



With a flash, he released a third pokemon.



“A Furret?” Rui scoffed. “Not exactly the most threatening—”



Lightning flashed above, and the Furret snarled, and streams of darkness rose off of him like steam from vents. Shadow pokemon.



Rui tensed. “Be careful, Denri,” she warned, “that pokemon is like you.” But looking close, it wasn’t like Denri at all. The Furret was extremely cold-eyed and nothing within it looked friendly or even sapient. It was worse than Tama and Argyle had been before she’d Snagged them. It looked feral, barely more than an animal.



Denri and the Furret eyed each other warily. The Furret snarled again and Denri responded in kind, more dark streamers going off of him. Rui cursed inwardly. Not only had Argyle been acting aggressive earlier, bad enough that he’d ignored her orders and she’d needed to recall him, but today was a bad day for another pokemon as well? “Denri,” she said, “remember, you can’t—”



“She’s distracted! Do it!”



At Cail’s command, the Furret dutifully shot off like a bullet. Denri roared and sent lightning arcing overhead. The Furret squirmed underneath it and—



And past Denri.



He was aimed right at her.



Oh, gods. Not again.



Flashbacks to the Nidoran in the alley reached her. The pokemon was coming straight for her.



She was going to die. She was going to die like Wes in the morning.



Screaming, she scrambled back, tripping over her own feet. Her bag went flying, many of the poke balls scattering across the roof. Two tumbled over the side. The Furret was almost at her. He was—



Denri’s paw clamped around the creature’s tail and with a roar, the Ampharos swung it overhead and smashed it against the rooftop. “Don’t hurt my trainer!” he roared, and then swung again. The darkness off of him began spiking more and more. The creature still struggled, so he shocked it into unconsciousness.



Cail recalled the Furret, but before he could banter further, Denri screamed and shot a blast of lightning at him. Yelping, Cail threw himself aside, barely avoiding getting fried.



“Denri!” Rui cried in alarm. “Denri, no! Don’t attack him!” He didn’t listen. “Denri, stop!



“Don’t—don’t—don’t!” Denri howled and shot lightning into the sky, making the storm go crazy. The shadows were spiking off of him now, and weren’t stopping.



The darkness had taken him.



Rui cursed, fumbling for the poke balls. They’d all scattered and she didn’t know which one was Denri’s! After failing to recall him with one, she threw it, commanding the inhabitant. “Stop him! Stop Denri!”



Light flashed, and Argyle emerged.



Argyle, who aggressive and would not listen.



“Oh no,” Rui breathed. Argyle’s eyes were cold and pitiless—‘the beast,’ he called it. Being swallowed by ‘the beast.’



“Argyle,” she breathed. “Argyle, don’t…”



But then Denri screamed, shadows spiking, and Argyle’s own shadows stabbed up into the sky, and he released a wave of psychic energy that knocked everything back and sent his own poke ball falling off the building.



Shit!” Rui cried, looking down. There were three down there and three up top. Denri was advancing on the cringing Cail, and Argyle circled in the sky like a plane looking for a target to bomb.



The wind drove rain at them like needles, and lightning forked the air—sending an otherworldly pallor of light their faces.



None of the three poke balls she had left was Denri’s, but she released the pokemon inside: Striga, Tama, and Reed.



“Denri and Argyle have given in!” she said. “I don’t have their poke balls, stop them!” She turned to Striga. “The poke balls fell down there—get them for me, please!”



The little ghost’s eyes shone with fear. “I—I’ll try!” They zipped away.



Tama and Reed stood stalwartly next to each other, exchanged a deep and silent glance, and then marched into the fray.



“This isn’t you,” Reed said, his voice low and flat. Denri turned and glared murder around him, the shadows licking him like flames. And this was only what she saw on the surface; Rui didn’t know if she dared look at the Ampharos through Aura.



“They hurt,” Denri growled. “They hurt, they hurt, I want to hurt!” Thunder pealed, rain drove, and with a bestial scream, he released his pent-up energy.



Lightning soared out of him and played across the storm, the roof, the water. The entire battlefield was a cacophony of electricity. A crackling sensation hit Rui and she grit her teeth; across the other side she heard Cail suffer through the same thing. But they were at the fringe—the pokemon got the worst of it.



Argyle screeched and tumbled from the sky, and Tama was forced back a few paces, groaning. Only Reed bore the onslaught uncomplaining. But Argyle, his feathers soaked and his body still shaking from the aftereffects of the electricity, was on him, wings buffeting and talons raking. His crest glowed with psychic energy and the air around him became illusory.



As Argyle and Reed grappled, Denri prepared a second attack. Tama crashed into him. Denri rose, his forehead gem glowing as he leered hatred at the Makuhita.



Tama was unmoved. “This is not you,” he said quietly, clenching and unclenching his fists. “We are better than this.”



“Talk, talk, talk,” Denri said with viciousness. He threw an electricity-laden punch that smashed Tama in his shoulder. “I want a fight!



Tama caught his second punch, twisting it back with swiftness that made Denri gasp and grimace. “Fighting is no end,” Tama growled, and then, shifting his weight, swung the Ampharos overhead in an arc. “Only means. The bad kind of means.”



In response, the still-prone Denri slammed his arm down into the puddle Tama stood in and filled it with electricity. It lit the roof and Tama wailed in sudden pain.



“Tama!” Rui cried, her voice nearly swallowed by the storm. “Denri, stop!



But he wouldn’t. The shadows had him now, were swirling around him. It was like an infestation only she could see. And under their guidance, he held his arms up and the metallic scent of ozone, so strong you could almost taste it, congealed even sharper in the air.



Panic gripped her. The storm. Lightning bolts. Denri was making himself an impromptu lightning rod. If lightning struck, everyone except for him and possibly Reed would be killed!



“Reed, he’s trying to call down a bolt! Stop him!



Although Argyle was still on him, cawing and pecking and scratching, Reed managed to shoot mud at Denri, which knocked him over and disrupted his concentration.



Perhaps five seconds later, the lightning struck.



Had Denri not been interrupted, it would have been curtains for them. As it stood, the bolt he’d attracted hit the nearby building on its lightning-rod instead. The bright flash and close, instantaneous, booming thunderclap was as if someone dropped a bomb. The crashing sound was like nothing more than having a cannon fired right next to her ear, and the sheer force of it all knocked everyone, humans and pokemon, into a sprawl.



Her senses dizzy, Rui struggled. Her vision came back first, though it was watery. Her hearing was far-off and strangely whiny, like an old-fashioned TV with bad reception. Through the haze, she saw Reed hurl Argyle off of him finally, saw him swing his tail at Argyle, saw the bird counter with a wall of psychic energy, saw Tama stagger into Argyle from behind, grappling at him. Behind them all, Denri rose, both gems glowing a deep crimson red against the grey storm clouds.



Reed shot more mud at him and Denri swung wide to avoid it, both pokemon’s movements almost drunken after the disorienting thunderclap. Denri’s electricity released again, skipping across the water and making both Tama and Argyle cringe with pain. The peripheral effects made Rui curl up on herself, the sensation like being pricked across her body. Cail seemed to have fallen unconscious.



Reed was unaffected and moved at him, and Denri caught him with a roar, the two pokemon pressing their weight against each other like sumo wrestlers.



“Don’t do anything you regret,” Reed rumbled, and Denri only screamed a warcry in response, the rage consuming him.



For the other two, Argyle d recovered first and was beating Tama with his talons and beak, the latter cringing beneath the Flying-type attacks.



“Tama,” Rui whispered. “Tama!” She was powerless to interfere. Any of the shadow pokemon—even an errant blow from Tama or Reed—could wipe her out. “Tama, please, no!”



And then Striga was there, two poke balls levitating. “Here!” they cried, looking with horror as their friends savaged each other. “I—I dropped the other one cause of the thunderclap! I’ll come right back!” They dove again.



Cursing, Rui realized one of the poke balls—a chipped, battered old thing—was Cap’s. She didn’t dare send him out into this melee, tired as he was. She tried the other one and Argyle was sucked back in a vortex of light.



Tama slowly staggered to his feet and plodded towards Denri and Reed.



“Tama, you’re hurt, that’s enough!” Rui said, fishing for his poke ball.



“Friends,” he muttered, his voice almost a slur. “Help them… not fall.” He wove around Denri to the Electric-type’s tail and grabbed it with both hands. The Ampharos whipped around, eyes shocked. “Sorry,” Tama said, and then with a grunt, swung the Ampharos in a spiral by his tail, smashing him into the rooftop. As Denri struggled, the shadows still needling around him, Reed strode up, turned around, and smashed his giant tail into Denri’s chest.



That ended the fight. Denri lay there, groaning, and the shadows slowly ebbed away. As Striga brought Rui the second ball and she readied it, Denri turned his head and she caught his face.



Shock, at what he’d done. Shame. Regret. The Denri she knew was finally back.



He swallowed and said nothing as she recalled him. With a grunt, she rose and recalled Tama, who swayed on his feet. Supported by Reed, she was carried over to the still-fainted Cail. She pulled the shadow Furret’s poke ball off of him, as well as a small embossed ring with the words “Red & White” engraved on the outside.



Her heart was racing from seeing her pokemon that way. She wanted to scream. To fight. To do anything.



No. If she was anything, she was… tired. Just tired. “I’ll tell the cops about him when we get home,” she muttered wearily. As she put the token away, she took a long look at Denri and Argyle’s poke balls. “Let’s… let’s just go.”



---

That evening, Luna stood across from Reed, who was now covered in bruises and bandages. “Thank you,” she said. “Really. Tama and Striga participated too, but if it wasn’t for you…”



Reed grunted, a sound that was neither affirmation nor rejection. He was good at that.



Luna sighed and laid on her stomach, crossing her front paws and resting her chin on them. “We’ve had shadows go berserk on patrol before—Striga, Tama, even you—but never two at once.” Yellow light filled the room—she was shining brighter than she’d meant to in her worry. She dimmed her patterns.



“It was never a big deal before,” Reed grumbled. “We could always rely on Vulcana to keep them in check…”



Luna exhaled. Despite how much she’d hated Vulcana, the Quagsire was right. She’d kept the other shadows in line no problem and had never succumbed until the day she killed that Rattata.



And even then, Vulcana hadn’t become bestial so much as… cold. Even colder than normal.



“You’re right, Reed,” she said, her voice soft. “Even in the rain, even two on one… Vulcana probably could have stopped it immediately.”



“We made it work,” he said softly.



She smiled at him. “You did a good job. Thanks.”



The praise seemed to make the Quagsire shrink, rather than grow. “I didn’t do anything,” he muttered, looking away. “Just… did what I’m told.”



Ears twitching, Luna looked at him. “Reed, are you okay?”



He breathed, and when he spoke, his voice was flat—a little too flat. “I don’t like hurting pokemon. I don’t like doing bad things to them.”



“What happened with Denri isn’t your fault,” she replied. He still looked preoccupied. “You’re not talking about Denri,” she said softly. “Are you.”



He turned away.



She came closer to him. “Do you want to talk about it?”



A long note of silence. “No.”



“Okay. I’ll respect that.”



He didn’t respond, or turn to face her again, but she read relief in his shoulders. “Luna, you’re a good leader.”



“Pfeh. I wasn’t even there today,” she said, somewhat bitterly.



“Not your fault Rui didn’t bring you.” And, Luna had to admit, it had been a good judgment call on the girl’s part. They’d gone in knowing little of Cail except that a Machoke was his ace. If you were going to leave a pokemon behind, why not make it the Dark-type?



“I know.”



“Luna, I…” There was a heavy sigh from Reed. “All I’m good for is following orders, and… and making others…”



Miserable, she finished for him. “That’s not true.” She brushed up against him, a gesture of comfort, and he flinched so sharply that she wondered if she hadn’t bothered one of his wounds.



“Please don’t do that,” he said, his voice hoarse. “I…”



“I’m sorry,” Luna said. “I won’t ever.” Silence from him. “Reed?”



“…please, just… I need… alone.”



“Okay,” she said, her voice soft. She padded out of the room, but before she left, she turned one last time.



“You’re a good pokemon, Reed,” she said. “I mean it.”



He did not respond, and did not turn. But from the way his shoulders shook, she thought he was weeping.

---

:') :') :') :')

Shadow pokemon are shadow pokemon are shadow pokemon. Never forget.

Cail is a real character from Colosseum (as are Ferma and Reath from last chapter) and he indeed has a shadow Furret, who was named "Tumble."
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #44


Since so many wanted details, here are some of the ways we break pokemon to make them shadows.



In many cases, the old favorites get the job done. Physical pain is a big motivator, as is sleep deprivation and hunger. Harming (or killing) a trainer is usually enough to do the job, especially if we let the pokemon think they have a chance of surviving, but given that many of our pokemon are Snagged, this is not often an option. (Probably a good thing: even in Orre, it would be hard to simply write away the sudden disappearance of several hundred people.)



In other cases, a more creative punishment is required. We’ve used Electric-types as batteries, forced pokemon to breed, allowed Grass-types to be partially eaten, coerced mates to fight each other. On one memorable occasion, we lowered a Steel-type into the incinerator. After nursing it back to health (a rather lengthy process; several weeks were needed) we did it again. You’d be astounded at the ways you can put them through the wringer.



There are many ways, but the end result is the same: we bring them to their lowest point, and drag them to the White Room.

Shadow Pokemon Lab
—Chief Ein



---

Duking’s daughters played with the pokemon. Rui watched from down the hall as the two girls frolicked and gamboled with Tama and Luna and many other pokemon. They were doing so much for the poor pokemon—all of them looked happier for being around. Even the pokemon she barely used—Vein the Slugma, Garden the Skiploom, and now Tumble the Furret—were seeing marked improvements from being near the girls.

Maybe there was hope after all.



The girls should have been in bed—or have been getting ready for it—but Duking was an indulgent parent and let them stay up well after dark. The girls’s infectious energy brought life to all the pokemon, and there wasn’t a hint of shadow to be seen.



A buzzing of a hall telephone (who still had a landline these days? Only Duking…) interrupted the girls. The younger of the two, Meg, wandered over to the receiver and cradled it. Frowning, she nodded once and uttered “uh-huh” before turning to Rui. “‘S for you!” she called.



Who would call her at Duking’s and not use her PokeNav number? Her grandfather, probably. Was he finally trying to reach out to her?



Pressing the receiver against her ear, she asked “hello?”



“Hey, cool cat,” came Miror B’s smooth voice from the other line. “Let’s gab for a minute, what you say?”



A chill settled on Rui. She had the sudden urge to hang up. “I’d rather not,” she replied coolly. “I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment.”



“Aw, stella, we both know you lying. You was watching them kids play with those critters a good several minutes. Hell, you even got mismatched socks on!”



She glanced down. Her feet were indeed shoeless—and she wore one pink sock on her right foot and a green one on her left.



Licking her lips, she tried to hide the tremor from her voice. “Wh-what do you want.”



Laughter. “Like I say: just to talk.”



“We’re talking now.”



Something in her voice had alerted the pokemon. They had stopped playing and were looking at her with concern—all except Cap, who was dozing, curled against a bureau further down the hall.



More laughter. “Aw, girlie, I know that, but I need to see peeps I talk at, dig? So why not come on out here and chat?”



She glanced to the side. A few windows were open—the darkness outside was impenetrable. Was he lurking out there…?

“I think I’m comfortable in here, thanks,” she replied, before continuing on more forcefully. “And you mentioned you wouldn’t touch me until the tournament.”



He made a tch-ing sound over the line. “True, true. This what it like to be outsmarted? Stings, stella, stings. I can’t hurt you now, guess I better tell my gunman looking in your window to put his bullet in the head of that sleeping Espeon—or them girls.” A short but pregnant pause. “Unless you wanna come out here.”



She tried to swallow but her mouth was too dry. “I—I’ll talk.”



“Way to be, cool cat. Leave them pokemon behind, and your PokeNav too.” Before the words were even out there was a flurry of fierce knocks at the door at the end of the hall. The girls turned their heads to it, frowning, and the pokemon seemed ill at ease.



“I’ve… I-I’ve got it,” Rui stammered, hurriedly throwing on her duster (sans Snag Machine) and a pair of boots. The knocks continued hammering.



“Rui?” Argyle asked timidly. “Are you… okay?”



She looked at him and then looked away, still haunted by his feral descent the other day. That had been a nightmare atop the building. He’d come back to normal and expressed regret, but…



“I’ll be fine,” she muttered. Striding down the hall, she opened the door.



Everyone except for her tensed at the sight of Miror B. He was dressed differently today, wearing an open-chested purple jacket with no shirt (at night? part of her had to admire him) with slim pants of a matching color. His dark shoes were platforms, and his cats-eye shades had been ditched for visor-like mirrored ones. A yellow scarf draped loosely around his neck, and the same outrageous hairdo as before, completed the ensemble.



Scanning the hall, Miror B saluted the pokemon with a lazy wave. “Hey, cool crew,” he said affably. “I’mma just borrow your girl for a bit, aight?”



“Rui, what’s going on?” Luna asked.



“I’ll be okay,” she replied quietly, desperately hoping it was true.



Denri strode up to her. “Let me come with you at least. I can protect you!”



Rui looked at his earnest face. He’d been more than just contrite after the incident in the thunderstorm—he’d been positively haunted. Now he looked at her and she saw in his eyes the desperate need to be forgiven, to be trusted, to know that he hadn’t destroyed everything with that one bad day.



And Rui could use Miror B’s ultimatum as an excuse all she wanted. The truth was, after that night with Argyle and Denri on the roof, she was wary of her pokemon—all of them. She didn’t trust herself around them, not even the siblings.



She turned away and felt Denri’s hurt betrayal boring into her back. “Stay here,” she said firmly. “All of you. That is an order from your trainer.” And she followed Miror B into the night.



He wandered, his scarf flapping in the cool night breeze. Rui dug her hands into her duster pockets and marveled that he displayed no reaction to the wind that must have been playing on his exposed, hairless, pale chest.

Wordlessly, he led her into Pyrite’s streets, all dark and deserted. The shadows swallowed them soon enough. The darkness was not typical of the town; even in Pyrite, even in the reaches away from the clubs and nightlife areas, there should have been some streetlights on, or neon signs. But then, she figured, it wouldn’t have been difficult for a man like him to buy off part of the power company to create his own personal blackout.



“What do you want with me,” Rui asked after several minutes of silent walking.



He laughed, the sound high and pleasant. “Aw, girlie, just a talk—for now.” He meandered over to a street bench and sat down, patting the space next to him. Rui folded her arms and stayed standing.


“Suit youself,” he said amicably. “Now girl, I hear you stole youself a ticket to my tourney. What digs?”



“I want to participate.”



“Gahaha! I suppose you do.” He folded one leg over the other. “You know, I repeat what I say: you got you some spunk. You tryna fight back even now, even after all that, and that’s something I dig.” He nodded. “So I’mma make you an offer. Sign up with me.”



Rui’s eyes flickered from side to side. Was there someone out there in the darkness? All the lights were gone, so it was almost impossible to be sure. Even Miror B himself was barely more than a shadow.



“You already made me that offer.”



The shadow shook its head, the poke ball afro swinging from side to side. “Naw, girl. Before, they was the ones what wanted you to join. I ain’t talking about them now. Sign up with me.



Silence held through the darkened streets. “What?” she finally asked.



Miror B stood. “I been thinking,” he said. “I be doing most of the hard work, and what do I get but mean words and more orders. Naw. Total bogus.”



Despite that fact that he held her dead to rights, Rui couldn’t stop herself from shaking with anger. “Why would I join you?” she said, trembling. “You employ people like—like those pricks who kidnapped me!”



“You want ‘em? You can have ‘em,” he said instantly.



“I—wha?”



A low chuckle came from the afro-headed shadow. “Aw, stella, what do I care ‘bout them? They nobodies. They treat you bad, you can do whatever you want with ‘em. Make ‘em suffer. Give ‘em to your pokemon. Put ‘em in cement!”



Involuntarily backing away, Rui stared at him. “That’s—you’re—”



“You think you wouldn’t like it?” he said in a quiet voice. “Naw, cool cat. It helps. It feels good. My brother did bad shit to me all my life, and when he left to work in Gateon, I almost wanted to sing. Then one day he comes back, and he spends all night… tormenting me. My friends and me, we decide enough is enough, and we stuff him in a sack and drop the squirming thing down an old mine shaft.” He came close enough that she could see his eyes glittering behind his shades. “Felt good, Rui Matsuhara. Empowering. And me and my friends, well, with a body under our belt, extortion and theft just be child’s play.”



He lifted his shades from his eyes and stared up at the stars. With the lights gone, more of them could be seen than usual. “But why aim low?” he whispered. “The chief shadow pokemon maker, he got him a sidekick—pink-haired girl. Real smart. She be like you and me, always underestimated. She got this idea to make shadow pokemon even stronger than other shadows, and what can’t revert back to normal even a little bit. Fix ‘em so bad they color changes and even normal peeps can see ‘em for what they is.” He looked at her, setting his shades back. “Your powers could help me and her make ‘em. And we’d destroy my bosses from the inside out.”



Rui thought about the shadow pokemon back home—and about Cap, and Luna, and Pompom; all the innocent pokemon that Miror B and his ilk saw as nothing more than potential weapons. “I hate shadow pokemon,” she growled. “Why would I ever—”



“This again?” he said, raising his voice. For the first time since she’d met him, he seemed truly exasperated. “Damn, stella, you sure do like to pretend they creatures like us, don’t you?”



“They are like us!” she shouted back. “They’re smart, they have—have hopes and feelings and pains! I can talk to them!” Her voice echoed over the eerily empty streets. She was probably intelligible blocks away.



Animals ain’t people,” he said, stepping so close she could hear the breeze rustle the frayed ends on his scarf. “Sure, we appreciate ‘em—hell, I got a soft spot for my Ludicolo! But special property, favored property, still just property. And if hurting your property helps you step up in the world…”



Rui’s fists were balled at her sides. “I will not,” she replied fiercely. “Ever.



Miror B breathed in through his nose, and then out again. He pulled off his shades and stared down at her. In the darkness, the whites of his eyes were like the petals of a pale rose.



“No,” he said softly. “You won’t.” He put the glasses back on, his composure returned. “Shame, stella. Real shame.” He stepped back a pace, and then another, and then another. “Don’t know what plans you got for the tourney, but it can’t be good for me. Could have the gunman shoot you right here, but… naw. Seems more fitting this way, given how much you idolize them creatures.”



A flash of light as he released one of his Ludicolo. “Break her legs,” Miror B ordered, “and then kill her.”



The Ludicolo nodded and advanced on her.



She backed away. Oh Arceus. No. This was it.



“Please,” she pleaded to the pokemon. “I can help you. I can. You don’t have to do this.”



The Ludicolo was not a shadow pokemon—merely a loyal enforcer. He got closer, water balling around his fists, almost ephemeral in the night.



“You can talk with ‘em, right stella?” Miror B’s voice crawled from behind it. “Then make it stop if you care about ‘em so much.”



“Please,” she begged, the Ludicolo raising a fist to shoot the water at her knee. She flashed back to the pokemon at Duking’s. She should have taken up Denri on his offer. How stupid of her, to hold what happened in the storm against him. He was better than his worst day. He cared about her. All of them did. She’d spurned their help so arrogantly…!



With a grunt the Ludicolo blasted water at her, and Vulcana burst from a nearby alley like a star, ringing herself so suddenly in fire that the light almost seared Rui’s eyes. The fire met the water and evaporated it into a plume of steam which made both the Ludicolo and his trainer stagger back.



“V-Vulcana?” Rui said, staring down at the Quilava. “I thought you…”



At a command from Miror B, the Ludicolo shot another jet of water at Vulcana. She warded it off.



“Leave!” Vulcana barked.



“But—”



“I’ll follow, but you need to leave now! Go down the alleyway!”



Spinning, Rui bolted down it, Vulcana hot on her heels. The Fire-type spread flames after her; not enough to lick the buildings alight, but enough so that Miror B was slowed. He’d released two more Ludicolo, now, and the three of them were hosing down the flames.



“I couldn’t leave,” Vulcana panted as they ran. “I wanted to, but… I knew you would get into trouble…”



Well. That was one way of putting it. “Thank you,” Rui replied back.



The alley emerged into a small lot separated from the street by a chain-link fence. The top was barbed wire and unclimbable, so Vulcana set about melting a hole. By the time a good-sized passage had been made, Miror B had caught up.



“I’ve got you,” Vulanca said, crossing to shield Rui from the Ludicolo. “Because… you’re my trainer. Right?”



Rui smiled at her. “Yeah.” She retreated until her back was to the fence. “I am, Vulcana.”



A heavy and relieved smile crossed the Quilava’s features, and was soon followed by the same towering self-confidence she usually wore. “This joker can’t handle me, Water-types or no. I’m the strongest there is.”



“You’re our ace, Vulcana,” Rui said. “Welcome back.”



Miror B was scowling at the creature before him, her lithe body aflame. “I heard that thing ran off,” he said.



Rui couldn’t help but smirk. “Wasn’t permanent. Give it up, Miror B. Even with your Ludicolo, you know Vulcana’s reputation. She’s more powerful than my whole team combined. There’s no way you could beat her in a pokemon battle.”



“Know what?” he said. “You absolutely right.” He pulled out a flip-lighter, ignited it, raised it over his head, and pointed at Vulcana with his other hand.



Rui frowned. What was—



The gunshot smashed through the quiet air like a runaway train, and almost immediately after, Vulcana’s body sagged to the side as her eyes widened and she gasped aloud. Crimson splashed over the dirt. Vulcana’s legs quivered and she collapsed, groaning. “Master,” she said, her voice no longer the proud timbre it was but low and pained and straining. “Mas… ter… please…” Her eyes were glossy and beginning to unfocus.



Miror B’s face, lit a dull orange by the burning embers on Vulcana’s back, looked like a gargoyle. His Ludicolo slowly fanned out. There was a sound above—Rui looked up to see a gunman silhouetted against the stars atop a nearby roof, rechambering his rifle. Suddenly, with a wheeze, Vulcana shakily stood, her eyes refoucising. With a cry that was not so much ferocious as it was ragged, Vulcana sent a plume of fire that knocked the gunman back, swatting at himself and screeching as his clothes caught alight.



“She’s wounded, kill her!” Miror B snarled. The Ludicolo lunged at Vulcana as one.



Another terrible burst of flame sent them back, and behind the display Vulcana panted heavily. “Th-the fence. Go through,” she rasped. “Please, Rui!”



“B-but you’re hurt!”



Swaying on her feet, dripping blood from the gunshot wound, Vulcana snarled at her three opponents. “You think something… as minor as… this will stop me? Never…” She coughed, the sound pained. “Never!



And as Vulcana summoned more fire, Rui turned and wormed through the hole, ignoring how the jagged edges of the chain link fence gnawed at her duster and poked her skin. Finally through, she bolted for Duking’s. She only looked back once, but the battle raged too fiercely for her to see what was happening—there was only a great inferno punctuated by enormous blasts of steam.



Her lungs burned and her legs quivered as she got to Duking’s, but she managed to beg him to send the police to save Vulcana. With the others surrounding her, she waited desperately for them to bring back her Quilava.



Finally, the police called Duking, who nodded and nodded but said nothing. Holding Cap in her lap, the other pokemon all close around her, Rui waited for his words.



The lot and nearby fence were scorched almost beyond recognition. There was no sign of Miror B. No sign of his Ludicolo.



And no sign of Vulcana.



“That means she lived,” Rui said, firmly, quickly, ignoring the pained and pitying look in Duking’s eyes. “There would have been a—a corpse. She escaped and she’s coming here. It’ll take her a while cause she was hurt but, but she’ll come! She has to!”



“Rui…”



“She’ll come,” she repeated resolutely. “We’re not that far. She’ll be here by dawn.” She stood, Cap hopping off her lap. “I’ll wait for her. We all will. She’ll come.” They all gathered around her, Tama and Reed and Argyle and Denri and Striga and Luna and Cap. Past grievances were forgotten. She’d apologized for mistrusting them; in the face of this new crisis, none of them could afford to focus on the past.



This wasn’t going to be like Wes, Rui thought. Not like Pompom. Not like her mom. Vulcana was coming. She wasn’t lost. She’d make it. She had to make it!



And she and the pokemon made their way to Duking’s front step to wait for Vulcana and the coming dawn.



But only they only saw the latter.

---


Vulcana.

She was my first death. In fact, she died rather swiftly... almost immediately on entering Pyrite, in fact. In-game, she was killed by Argyle with a crit Shadow Rush while I was trying to Snag him.

I didn't want to have one teammate kill another (and you can't just not catch potential teammates in Colosseum because they're so hard to come by) and also wanted to have time to experiment with her character, so I delayed the event in question. I know that some were wondering if her abandonment of Rui was indicative of a death, but no. This is.

I wanted to play with the idea of the strongest character dying first; I also wanted to create a genuinely unlikable character and see if readers would still feel bad when she died. Time will tell if I succeeded.

I know I have a reputation for Hating Happiness, but this was actually pretty tough to write.


 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
Animals in our world get more on-edge during storms, so it makes sense that Pokemon would too, Shadow Pokemon, especially, since their instincts are something that has been honed through the process.
Argyle, who aggressive and would not listen.
Just wanna say that you're missing a "was." I know I hate it when something like that slips through the cracks, so I figure I should cast a light on it, so it gets zapped! Perhaps not by Denri, though. We don't want the whole sentence to get shocked.
For the other two, Argyle d recovered first
"Had"?
Yikes. Note to self: There is art to battling in the rain. It's not with lightning rods. At least not without a ground type on hand!

Poor Reed. For his sake, I hope a Pokemon who, well, not enjoys, but has a better stomach for fighting joins the team. Maybe Reed can one day be an ambassador for shadow Pokemon! They were hurt but not broken. As for Luna, I appreciate how she recognizes that healing is a fickle thing, down a circuitous road.
I know how the shadow Pokemon can be saved! :o Send out an army of affectionate children! cipher is quaking

Night is no obstacle for Miror B.! His funkiness is a force of nature that swallows the cold! Miror B. misjudged Rui's motivations, although his beat wasn't off terribly long ago but he did provide some valuable information. Cipher isn't as unified as it seems. Pink-haired girl, huh? *looks at list of Orre characters*

Rui's denial hurts! *Miror B voice* "Them stages of grief, they get you good." As for your experiment... Is a character still unlikeable if they go out a hero? In real life, the answer is far more simple, but there is a certain romanticization that we, as readers, apply to characters, regardless of who they are, I think. *shrugs* A debate worth having.
 
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Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Phew. Chapter 15 was so emotionally charged!! I feel so sad for Argyle and Denri and Reed… I’m dying for them to get to Agate so they can put all this behind them!!

Aaand shit. That Ein file. I don’t like thinking about that poor Steel type…

Aww Vulcana…. I was hoping she would come back, but I was hoping it would be for good. That’s really cool that you put so much effort into a character who you didn’t even have that long in-game. And it’s only fitting that they never see her body; Vulcana would never want anyone to see her that way.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #47
Animals in our world get more on-edge during storms, so it makes sense that Pokemon would too, Shadow Pokemon, especially, since their instincts are something that has been honed through the process.
Just wanna say that you're missing a "was." I know I hate it when something like that slips through the cracks, so I figure I should cast a light on it, so it gets zapped! Perhaps not by Denri, though. We don't want the whole sentence to get shocked.

"Had"?
Yikes. Note to self: There is art to battling in the rain. It's not with lightning rods. At least not without a ground type on hand!

Poor Reed. For his sake, I hope a Pokemon who, well, not enjoys, but has a better stomach for fighting joins the team. Maybe Reed can one day be an ambassador for shadow Pokemon! They were hurt but not broken. As for Luna, I appreciate how she recognizes that healing is a fickle thing, down a circuitous road.
I know how the shadow Pokemon can be saved! :o Send out an army of affectionate children! cipher is quaking

Night is no obstacle for Miror B.! His funkiness is a force of nature that swallows the cold! Miror B. misjudged Rui's motivations, although his beat wasn't off terribly long ago but he did provide some valuable information. Cipher isn't as unified as it seems. Pink-haired girl, huh? *looks at list of Orre characters*

Rui's denial hurts! *Miror B voice* "Them stages of grief, they get you good." As for your experiment... Is a character still unlikeable if they go out a hero? In real life, the answer is far more simple, but there is a certain romanticization that we, as readers, apply to characters, regardless of who they are, I think. *shrugs* A debate worth having.
Thanks for the help >>;

And yes, Miror B's funkiness is a power unto itself. As he himself would say, "He a cool cat, so the cool night air don't bother him none"

Did you figure out who the pink-haired individual is?

And yeah... poor Rui, to lose her first teammate this way :'(


Phew. Chapter 15 was so emotionally charged!! I feel so sad for Argyle and Denri and Reed… I’m dying for them to get to Agate so they can put all this behind them!!

Aaand shit. That Ein file. I don’t like thinking about that poor Steel type…

Aww Vulcana…. I was hoping she would come back, but I was hoping it would be for good. That’s really cool that you put so much effort into a character who you didn’t even have that long in-game. And it’s only fitting that they never see her body; Vulcana would never want anyone to see her that way.
Thanks! Yeah, the purification arc is coming, worry not.

And yeah, Ein is a Bad Person and if nothing else, the Ein Files should indicate that.

And yes, Vulcana came back just in time for... well... :'(

It was a hard time to be a superhero.



Part of being a hero was to be there for everyone. You had to be strong when others weren’t. But the past few days, Cap (awesome though he was) still found it difficult to smile.



He hadn’t known Vulcana that well. Unlike Tama and Denri, she hadn’t accepted any overtures of friendship from the coolest pokemon around; and her relationship with Luna was, if anything, even worse. Heck, when she’d ran away, Cap had been certain they’d never see her again.



Well, he wasn’t wrong. They wouldn’t ever see her again. Only Rui had, and even then, there had been nothing to find.



Trotting through the dirt outside of the mayor’s residence, he kicked at a small pebble with his forepaw. It wasn’t fair! They’d all been working so hard, and had been trying to save the shadow pokemon, and then one of their own…



Angrily, he kicked the pebble harder, then, dissatisfied with how far it flew, he picked it up with his awesomeness and slammed it against the wall.



Ugh. This whole thing was stupid!



Rounding the corner, he almost stumbled into Argyle. Almost. Superheroes didn’t make mistakes, and Cap was naturally no exception.



The Noctowl was looking down, so Cap put on his brave mask for him. “What are you up to?” he asked.



Argyle sighed. “Oh, you know. Just… thinking.”



“You feeling mopey?”



“Yeah…”



Any more protestations were cut off when Cap lightly cuffed him.



“Wh—hey! What’s going on?”



Cap sprang back, wiggling his rump like he was about to pounce. “My Uncle Orange always taught me that if you and a friend ever felt upset, a little play-fight could lift your spirits!” Reflecting on his uncle, Cap beamed with inner warmth. He had always been there for them when they were young, and no matter what Luna said, they wouldn’t have gotten by without him.



Argyle shook his head ruefully. “C’mon, I saw you fight Denri. I don’t stand a chance against you.”



“Cool!” Cap said, launching a bolt of concentrated coolness at him. Argyle squawked and just managed to zip out of the way.



“What are you doing!”



Cap grinned. “Just figured I’d get a free win under my belt!”



That seemed to sting the bird. Argyle flapped into the air, looking huffy. “It—it won’t be free!



His grin widening, Cap thrashed his tail from side to side, the two tips flicking through the air. “Prove it, then!”



He launched more awesomeness at Argyle, but the bird countered with an array of psychic power. (Cap thought about calling it cool power, but decided that anything that didn’t come from him was suspect.) The twin energies played against each other, and amidst the flash, Argyle swept in, his talons low. Cap barely managed to skip back and cuff the bird again before sending him rolling with a punchy shot of badassitude.



Awkwardly waving a wing, Argyle squawked, “I yield, I yield!” Cap trotted over as he got up. “Yeah, yeah,” Argyle continued good-naturedly, “you’re still pretty tough, Cap.” His brow narrowed. “But you know… a Noctowl who knew what they were doing could be a real problem for you. Or a Xatu or Murkrow, or—well, any bird who isn’t afraid of psychic power.”



“Yeah?” Cap said with a degree of healthy skepticism.



“Yeah,” Argyle said. “Between your agility and powers, you’re more than a match for almost any ground-based adversary, but flying enemies are more agile and better able to dodge your powers. And if they had powers of their own… I mostly use mine for defense, but if one managed to return fire and swoop in while you were reeling…” He held out his talons, wicked and curved. “Bam. Right in the throat. Espeon aren’t known for their fortitude, Cap.”



Sure, sure. It was nice of Argyle to offer help, but it would take a real A-lister of a villain to challenge this hero.



…and yet…



Hadn’t Vulcana always seemed so invincible? But it had been an unseen attack from above that had left her vulnerable.



“Tell you what,” Cap said after a quiet moment’s introspection. “Every good hero needs a sidekick. If Vulcana hadn’t—”



He swallowed, suddenly unable to talk. Huh? What was happening? He tried swallowing again but his throat was too tight.



“I-if she hadn’t… been there alone…” he said, wiping his eyes with his front paw, “then maybe… she…”



“…yeah,” Argyle said. He draped a comforting wing around Cap, who wanted to curse—wasn’t he the hero who was supposed to be comforting Argyle?



“…t-thanks,” he said, and hiccupped. “Y-you’re a good sidekick, Argyle.”



He couldn’t see Argyle smiling, but could imagine it. “Glad to be. Now come on, captain. Let’s head inside.”



And the two pokemon wandered in.



---



Even to a ghost, death was an enigma.



Striga drifted ambiently through the estate, keeping to themselves. Oh, they liked the others, and enjoyed spending time with them—within reason. Truth be told, the more outgoing members like Cap and Denri, and even the more introspective ones like Tama and Reed, could be tiring.



But then, they were simply of a different age than Striga.



Flashes of their old life hit them like bursts of magic, at first hazy and indistinct before suddenly blossoming into crystal-clear images of dances under the sun, flutenotes wafting on the wind, and the dry, desolate beauty of the Orresian desert—though of course during their life as a human, there had been no nation of “Orre”, only a land where people lived and loved.



Even in those far-off days, they had not known, truly, what lay beyond the veil. Oh, the shamans made pronouncements and claimed to read things in the stars, but even while training to be holy, the person-who-would-become-Striga had harbored private reservations; uncertainties that any mortal could ever probe the world beyond. And even after their death at the hands of Aueriteks and their wardogs and spears, and their reincorporation into a small and quiet spirit that drifted the sands for centuries at a time, watching the world change around them, the question remained unanswerable.



And yet, Vulcana…



“I hope you find peace,” Striga murmured, “wherever you might be.” They considered offering a snippet of prayer they remembered from their days, but rejected it. Vulcana would never have understood that far-off, dead language which had morphed into modern Orresian. It was best to honor her as she would have understood.



“May your soul finally rest. May it dance in the gentle dark behind the stars. May it dance forever.”



The emotion gripped their heart, and they felt the stirring of something ugly within them—the shadows were rising.



They shook themselves, trying desperately to avoid having the negativity overtake them. It was becoming rarer and rarer, the more time they spent around Rui and the other pokemon, but no matter how it dimmed, it seemed impossible to extinguish. Would they be shadow forever? Could it never be undone?



The small droplet of despair threatened to become a flood, so they rose—up and up, through ceilings and floors. They didn’t enjoy becoming totally insubstantial (it left a prickling sensation which only intensified when they passed through solid objects) but before long they broke above Duking’s roof into the vermillion desert sun. Giving themselves a corporeal form again, Striga bathed in the light, letting the happiness slowly melt away the bad feelings.



It had been like this when the person they’d once been had died. They remembered seeing the sun. Despite the pain the Aueriteks had given then, they had smiled at the warmth. Afterwards, as they were metamorphosing into a Ghost-type, their spirit had observed deific beasts from the east come to scourge the Aueriteks. How magnificent they had been.



At her best, Vulcana had reminded Striga of those creatures. “Be well, wherever you might be,” Striga whispered. And then, because it seemed right, they broke their own rule and spoke a fragment of that ancient prayer. “Utinam felicitatem adprehendet vos. Saltat tuus spiritus.



And they hung there, feeling the idle tug of their poke ball, and wondered if Vulcana also felt the sun.



---



Tama felt sad.



He felt.



The sensation of it all was… both novel and yet familiar, like meeting, suddenly, a friend from your childhood.



He had felt before, of course. Back before being Snagged and given to the wicked men and sent to the pale place with its badness, he remembered moments of laughter, of intense joy; he remembered crying when taken from his trainer, a mix of fear and sorrow.



Yet all that seemed as it had happened to another. For so long, he had operated with only two feelings: a lifeless, mute cogence, and pure, unbridled, lava-hot anger.



But slowly, slowly, with the help of Cap and Rui and all those others, he was feeling again.



On top of the loss of a teammate, that alone made him want to weep.



So why don’t you? a little part of him asked.



Can I? he replied, a mix of childlike apprehension and awe.



There was no answer. He would have to find out for himself.



He thought of Vulcana again. How she had, frankly, kicked his ass the first time they had met. How she had been so aloof. So prickly and proud. Of all the shadow pokemon, Vulcana had been the only one who hadn’t seemed to want to return to how she had been. Was she too in love with the power that being a shadow gave her? Did she not care? Or was it that unlike the rest of them, it had manifested differently?



How old she had seemed, sometimes. It was hard to tell, because she was in her middle form, but she seemed to carry such weight to her experiences.



She’d been stuck, as Tama himself was. He was certain. Denri and Argyle and Reed had been fortunate enough to have been made shadows on their evolution, but Tama hadn’t evolved—and now he couldn’t. He could feel the energy, twisting like a knot. He was supposed to evolve, to become a Hariyama. He was strong enough. But so long as he was a shadow pokemon it would not happen. His greatest hope was that someday the last of the shadows would fade, and he could finally evolve. He deserved to be a Hariyama, just as poor Vulcana deserved to be a strong and beautiful Typhlosion—



Ah. There it was.



He buried his face in his hands and sobbed and sobbed. He was sad, sad that his friend (for he had considered her a friend in his way, even if she hadn’t reciprocated) had died. He was happy that he was no longer flat and dead; that he could feel emotions once again. He was ashamed that he felt happiness at this time, and apologetic towards Vulcana’s spirit.



The emotions were like a whirlwind, sweeping him who-knows-where, and all he could do was sit and cry.



A gentle hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Denri looking down at him with concern. “Are you… okay?”



Tama nodded and went back to crying. “This is… Vulcana’s last gift,” he managed to get out.



Through the tears he saw Denri slowly nod. “I get it.” The Ampharos sat down, keeping a comforting arm around him. “You were… pretty bad for a while there.” Denri grimaced. “Not that I was any better back on that rooftop.”



Tama shook his head. “We all… have moments…”



Denri sighed. It was true, of course, but he’d still taken it hard. Tama knew he’d forgive himself sooner or later, though.



After Tama’s tears were shed, he rubbed at his eyes. “You gonna be okay?” Denri asked.



“Yeah. I hope…” Tama sniffed. “Hope I can stay this way. Feel like me again. Not… go flat.”



Denri’s tail burned a pleasing soft red. “Hey. You’re among friends.”



Tama hiccupped and smiled.



---



The rapid, insistent knock on Rui’s door could only have been Duking. She wanted to scowl and turn away, or get up and walk out, or—or—



Or—



But no. All that would have taken far too much energy. So she did as she always did and lay there on her small bed, doing nothing.



The raps became firmer and even more insistent. There was a pause and the door opened—just a crack.



“Rui?” came Duking’s strong voice from outside. “Are you there?”



She ignored him.



He gave her a few seconds to respond. “I’m coming in, Rui.” He waited a few more seconds—enough time for her to protest, should she want it—and then the door creaked open.



Though it was the height of the afternoon, her room was dark, the curtains drawn heavily over the window. With a tsking noise, the mayor strode over and threw them aside, letting the fierce sunlight spear though the room. She groaned and shielded her eyes against the light.



“Go away, Duking.”

“We need to talk, Rui.” He pulled over a chair and set it a few paces away from her bed. The chair wasn’t small, but it looked small under his large, bodybuilder’s physique. “The tournament is the day after tomorrow.”



“Meh.”



“We need you to participate.”

“Pfeh.”



His mouth thinned. “Dammit, Rui, I’m as sorry as anyone about your Quilava, but letting Miror B do what he wants to the citizens of this town won’t bring her back!”



“Go,” she whispered, “away.”



How could he understand? It wasn’t just Vulcana. Vulcana was only the latest—there was Wes before her, and then Pompom, and then her mother, and her father before that, a parade of loss stretching across time and crossing the continents to follow wherever she went.



And besides, none of the others—not even Wes—had given their lives to save her.



She pushed herself up on her elbows to stare at Duking. It wasn’t just her, either. The pokemon were also in low spirits. Just this morning, she had passed Luna and Reed quietly mourning together, standing close, very close, though not touching. (Reed had issues with that, it seemed.) Neither the Umbreon and the Quagsire had noticed her, so encompassed were they with grief.



“Forget about the tournament,” Rui said, her voice monotone. “For Mew’s sake, Duking, give me time to mourn. I won’t be like this forever. There will be other times we can take the fight to Miror B.”



“And I’m sure the pokemon suffering under him during those extra few days or weeks will appreciate that their misery wasn’t worth fighting for.”



She shot out of her bed, gritting her teeth. “Don’t,” she snarled. “Don’t.



Duking exhaled gruffly. “Anger, eh? Good. At least it’s not just moroseness.”



“You think I haven’t felt anger these past few days? One of my pokemon was murdered!”



“Then take that anger!” Duking said, his voice firm. “It’s good nourishment. And besides, here’s another reason why it has to be soon… one I think you’ll enjoy. You hurt him.”



She blinked. “What do you mean,” she said.



“He’s been hiding it well, but Sherles’s men have found out—Miror B? The night he called you out, he went in for treatment at a burn ward. His pokemon had it even worse.” He folded his arms. “Three Ludicolo—not officially registered to any trainer—were rushed to emergency treatment at a pokemon hospital. All had sustained severe Fire-type damage, and one didn’t make it.



“Rui… he brought down Vulcana, but she made him pay for it. Why do you think he hasn’t made a move against you? He’s too busy recovering. This is her parting gift to you. His body is weak, his team decimated—he’s never been more vulnerable than he is right now.”



As much as she wanted to sink back into her gloom, the wheels in her head started to turn. “To cancel the tournament would be a sign of weakness,” Rui said, realization dawning. “He tried to assassinate me personally and not only failed, he was almost killed. No matter how he tries to keep it under wraps, word will have gotten out in the underworld.” She paced back and forth across her room, the cogs of her mind spinning away. “If I show up to the tournament, win it, and call him out in front of everyone…”



“He’s done,” Duking said. “Forget about humiliating him or weakening him. With his team still shattered from Vulcana’s last stand, if you call him out, he can’t stop you short having his goons dogpile your team. But he’s already established ‘honor amongst thieves’ type rules about the tournament: no acting against a competitor, no stealing from anyone part of the tournament, et cetera.”



“If he sends his men after me,” Rui said, “he’d be breaking his own rules—showing he can’t be trusted and branding himself a coward. Any halfway ambitious underling would stage a coup to take advantage of his weakness—”



“—and in the chaotic infighting, Sherles and the police force finally make inroads and bring the gang down for good,” Duking finished. “Either way, Miror B’s done. He’s done. This is our chance, Rui.”



She hugged herself. “That’s assuming I can win.”



Duking chuckled. “My girl… your team is one of the most fantastic I’ve ever seen, shadows or no.”



“And what if his men are ordered to dogpile me?”



He thumbed his nose. “We’ll have one of Sherles’s men planted in the stands with a Psychic-type. You’ll be teleported out of there before anything happens. We’re also giving you a bulletproof vest—just in case.”



She nodded. Good safeguards, though there was still risk.



But what was life without risk?



“I’ll…” she began, and sighed. Arceus above, but the loss still gnawed at her.



But this was the final bit of help Vulcana had to offer her. And Miror B… the man who dealt in shadows… who employed creeps like Trudly and Folly, who held Pyrite in a chokehold, who had tried to murder her…



His final hour was at hand.



“I’ll do it.”


---


More of a breather chapter (er, so to speak) between the big events. Next time, the tournament begins. Can Rui hold her own against the criminal underworld?
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Aw, I love these chapters with lots of POVs. Mainly, I wish Cap could narrate in-game text. I would love to assault my enemies with 'badassitude'. I think my next favorite was Tama's. I'm so glad he's finally feeling a little better. Super pumped for this next chapter!!! Let the tournament begin!
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
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?"
I have an idea, yes. :)

Petition to re-name the psychic type the cool type. Argyle is a good sidekick, though! Behind every strong hero is that friend they can be weak around.

Seeing a ghost type's perspective on death was really interesting. Deific beasts from the east, hmm?

Tama's joy at being able to cry breaks my heart! T-T

RIP, Miror B's Ludicolo. Miror B is a fascinating figure because his Pokemon aren't Shadow Pokemon. They seem to like their situation, and Miror B himself admits to being fond of them although not seeing them as sentient, which is a radical departure from how most trainers view Pokemon. Your days of funkiness are numbered, Miror B!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #50
Aw, I love these chapters with lots of POVs. Mainly, I wish Cap could narrate in-game text. I would love to assault my enemies with 'badassitude'. I think my next favorite was Tama's. I'm so glad he's finally feeling a little better. Super pumped for this next chapter!!! Let the tournament begin!
Thanks! Playing around with POV is fun, especially after Dear Diary was an exercise in extended same-POV. And Cap as narrator would be the absolute best, you are correct.

I have an idea, yes. :)

Petition to re-name the psychic type the cool type. Argyle is a good sidekick, though! Behind every strong hero is that friend they can be weak around.

Seeing a ghost type's perspective on death was really interesting. Deific beasts from the east, hmm?

Tama's joy at being able to cry breaks my heart! T-T

RIP, Miror B's Ludicolo. Miror B is a fascinating figure because his Pokemon aren't Shadow Pokemon. They seem to like their situation, and Miror B himself admits to being fond of them although not seeing them as sentient, which is a radical departure from how most trainers view Pokemon. Your days of funkiness are numbered, Miror B!
The psychic-type IS the cool type. Captain Justice says so. And Tama... yeah, I'm sad too :(

As for Miror B, it's not that he doesn't see his pokemon as sentient so much as he exerts a double-think about them. He is aware they have personalities and can follow complex commands and act on strategies, yet to him, the idea that they could ever be "people" the way humans are is so foreign to him that failing to understand such a concept is why he ever thought Rui would agree with him in the first place.

Once, far away in the Orre region, there was a smart, handsome, keen-eyed, and very talented hero. His presence made all the cute guys swoon, and every pokemon wish they were the Psychic-type. This is the mon. The legend. This is the story of how he saved the world. He is…

CAPTAIN JUSTICE!

(We’re in for a treat, aren’t we?)

(Oh, just wait. You didn’t grow up hearing about all this.)

How did he save the world, you might ask? From whom? Only from the most dastardly of crafty creatures. You see, Captain Justice is no mere mon. He is, after all, a bonafide superhero. And yet, during these hours, even he was put to the test. For there was a power even he struggled to overcome. No, it was no mere mugger. No hordes of vicious pokemon. In fact, it wasn’t even the near-insurmountable obstacle of a bratty older sister. It was… space aliens.

(Did someone break into the fermented Grepa juice?)

(Don’t listen to ‘em, Cap! Tell me the story!)

Thank you my good sir! It’s good to know that a hero can always count on his stalwart fans. Yes! It’s true! If not for Captain Justice, every pokemon in all of Orre would be enslaved to extraterrestrials, doing their diabolic bidding! The story of how Captain Justice overcame them is truly one of the great tales of our time.

(What did I walk into? I came here to train…)

(Just sit down and listen. Trust me on this.)

It all started one day beneath the audaciously auspicious aqueducts of Phenac City. A more perfect place for a hero has never been found! A veritable jewel of a town! Has there ever been such a city? Truly, this sapphire in a sea of iniquity was the perfect birthplace of a hero.

Of course, this was in Captain Justice’s early days. He was still a fighter for justice—and still very definitely one-hundred-percent a captain—but can you imagine that at one point in his life, there was a time when he couldn’t lift things with his mind and shoot laser beams whenever he wanted? He was, then, little more than a ball of brown floof, though still the handsomest and eye-candiest brown floof in all of Orre.

The good captain was out on patrol, driving off hordes of sinister pokemon from stealing food that was rightfully his, and sending their criminal trainers packing with nothing but his steely and well-composed glare. After the young Espeon-to-be finished trouncing a Charizard, he wandered over to the fountain to rest, and that’s where he saw it.

The mothership was hovering right over town, and dropping its diabolic payload right onto the center of the city!

(What’d they look like! Tell us tell us!)
Of course! They looked like nothing less than the spawn of infinite space itself. They were squat with stubbly little arms and legs. They had black ears and a sinister curl of hair on their brow. A small, poofy tail. And worst of all! They had co-opted the shade of justice, the color of the brave. They had taken pink and turned it evil!

As the best pokemon around, Captain Justice naturally couldn’t let these five-pointed diaboliques go around sullying pink’s good name by doing stuff like toddling around, wagging their fingers, staring up at the moon they had come from, and worse—eating all the food that had been left by the fountain!

You see, that food was already claimed for JUSTICE. The good captain had a sidekick. We won’t say too much about her, but let’s just say she was like a sister to him. Her name… no, no, we can’t give away all the secrets. Let’s make up a fake name for her. She was called… Lunette. Poor Lunette tried hard, but she was completely defenseless and not good at anything other than scolding and being a stick-in-the-mud. If Captain Justice’s powers were general awesomeness, then she possessed the one-of-a-kind ability to singlehandedly make anything boring just by showing up.

(The look on her face…)

(You think she’s contemplating murder, or just battery?)

Now, poor Lunette could never get anything for herself, even though her brave and stalwart Uncle Orange (the hero who taught Captain Justice everything he knew) had done his best to educate her in the ways of the world. She was always hungry, and it was on the good Captain to provide for her!

(And who was it that watched over you, Cap, when you dozed off at night after the oh-so-tiring chore of dragging a half-eaten berry from the next alley over?)
No one! A hero is never tired! Anywho, the aliens were, in their own dastardly way, stealing all the food from the fountain plaza! Captain Justice knew that if they took it back to their mothership, their dreaded Food Beam would reach maximum power and devastate all of Orre. It was up to him to save the day.

It was time for the big action sequence! Pow! Bam! Captain Justice sprinted out, and when he showed himself, half of the aliens fainted dead away from shock, just because they knew they had no chance against such a strong and handsome hero.

“Captain Justice!” they said. “He’s too powerful and handsome! What can we do?” But the head alien rallied the troops and they threw themselves at him. The thunder of their battle shook the fabric of time and space! The good captain nimbly dodged their death rays and twinkly starry stuff—

(I think those were Swift attacks, Cap.)
Hush, Lunette, you weren’t there. Anyway, he narrowly avoided the peril of their mighty attacks and then counterattacked with his own powers! The awesomeness filled the gem on his forehead and he shot it out in a concentrated beam that scattered them. Catching the stragglers in his awesomeness, he juggled them high in the air, one after another. A great, fabulous wave of energy swept over all the alien troops, knocking them down like dishes in a sink when you try to climb on them to get the treat in the top cupboard. You know?

(Wait, hold on. I thought this story took place when he was an Eevee?)

(If you’re applying logic or consistency to my brother, you’re clearly barking up the wrong tree.)

The aliens were in retreat, but amidst their throngs, Captain Justice saw they had a captive Teddiursa! He was young, a little scraggly-looking, and so cute you guys, I can’t even. The good captain couldn’t just let them get away with such a striking pokemon, so he barreled in to save him. He finally made it to the Teddiursa, only to be met with a vicious claw swipe. The fiend! He had turned traitor and was aiding the aliens against his own people. It’s always the cute ones! Suddenly, a whirr filled the air. The aliens were charging up the Food Beam!

(Hold on, what even is the Food Beam? Does it turn things into food? Wouldn’t that be a good thing if you’re hungry?)

(Shhh, I want to hear the end of the story!)

(Yeah, let the guy finish his fight scene.)
The incomplete beam couldn’t devastate the Orre region, but it could still spell doom for our captain! Recognizing just how close it would be, Captain Justice prepared himself. As they shot the beam, he nimbly dodged underneath it, sliding beneath the energy waves. The resulting shockwave knocked all the remaining aliens off balance and even sent the Teddiursa reeling back. Captain Justice had defeated them with their own powers!

But still dusted up from the explosion, he knew it had been a close fight. Retrieving the food for his poor helpless sidekick Lunette, he walked home, silently accepting the knowledge that all Orre would never know that they only narrowly avoided the fate of alien enslavement… and all thanks to the unsung heroism of the legendary Captain Justice.

(Yeeeaaahhh! Woooo!)

(Argyle’s really into this, huh?)

(I saw you paying attention, Striga, don’t pretend.)

(So yes, everyone: that’s the story of how my brother was beaten up by two Cleffa and a Teddiursa when trying to take half a burger from a trashcan, and only escaped when they started fighting amongst themselves over the burger. I hope you enjoyed.)
Slander! Lies and slander! You’re working with the aliens! But its okay, I forgive you. Sidekicks are always jealous of the real stars.

(Uhhh… clear the room, everyone. From the look on Luna’s face, I think we’re about to have a clash of heroes.)
---

A hero is never tarnished. This is... The Legend of Captain Justice

(This was so so so fun to write, hehe)
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #51
Of course, no matter how we torment them, miserable pokemon are nothing more than miserable pokemon. To make them into shadows, we need to go a little bit further.



And thus, the White Room.



Deep in the Aueritek ruins beneath our laboratory, there is a chamber which has remained remarkably intact despite the dilapidated state of the rest of the complex. It is a small room, lined with pale white stone. Intricate carvings snake across the wall. No electronic equipment placed in there lasts more than a few seconds before irreparably breaking; any sufficiently miserable pokemon left in there for a few days emerge as Shadow Pokemon, while other pokemon (and humans) simply die.



Despite being the cornerstone to our plan, we know so very little about it.



It seems to have been a place of worship. What the Aueriteks might have worshiped is unknown, given that none of the carvings match any known extant artifacts.



Having only visited myself once or twice—and only for a few minutes—I can say that the place feels like nothing less than dread itself. Have you ever watched a well-made horror movie, and you know that something is going to go wrong, but it hasn’t happened yet? That feeling of all-encompassing dread… such a feeling exudes from that place, seeping from it like water through a sieve.



I am aware that others within the High Council are frustrated that I have made precious little progress regarding the White Room. Surely if we understood it better, they say, Shadow Pokemon production could increase even more.



Anyone who thinks they could speed our understanding is welcome to visit the chamber any time.



—Shadow Pokemon Lab

Chief Ein




---



The sunlight glinted through small cracks of the metal-plated dome, casting slivers of light across the dusty battlefield. The roar of the crowd was omnipresent, as raucous as ever, but newly edged and somewhat oppressive. The announcer’s voice boomed over the stadium. The smell of sweat and dirt lingered.



The battles at the colosseum were underway.



Argyle circled above the battle-field, flinty-eyed. This was Rui’s third match, and the first to give her any true difficulty. Their enemy, an imposing-looking Nidorino, pawed the ground, looking up. The Poison-type couldn’t reach Argyle—yet—but Argyle couldn’t strike back without getting into close range, either. It was a stalemate.



If only my powers could be used offensively, he thought, cursing. The momentary annoyance seemed to wake something inside of his heart. The beast within stirred, telling him to fight, hunt, seek, devour—but no. Argyle beat it down, as always, and its sullen anger burned deep in his breast like a second heartbeat.



He shuddered. Focus.



Rui’s voice was a high command. “Now, Argyle!” At her impetus, he swooped low, angling towards the Nidorino. The Poison-type braced and then charged.



“Like we practiced!”



With the briefest of nods, he acknowledged her command, his forehead plumage shimmering as he drew on his psychic powers. He could only use them defensively, and the Nidorino, anticipating a barrier, skeeted to a halt.



Just as planned.



He let the psychic power die, the fakeout he and Rui had practiced together doing its job—leaving his opponent vulnerable, not anticipating a full-out assault. He barreled into the Nidorino savagely, tumbling over him, scrabbling with talons and beak and cuffing with his wings—



The enemy disappeared in a haze of light. The enemy trainer had recalled his pokemon. “I yield!” he said, and then he nodded his head in a small acknowledgement of Rui. After a moment, she returned it.



Circling around to her, Argyle perched on her shoulder as they had agreed. Rather than go in his ball, he was to be her second line of defense (after Duking’s gift of a bulletproof vest), ready at a moment’s notice to shield her.



“What do you think?” Rui murmured to him as her opponent wandered off. “About that nod?”



“I think,” he replied, “that Miror B had better watch out.” Since the tournament began this morning, there had been an almost electric sensation in the air. Everyone there knew that the question was whether Rui could overcome him or not, and a lot of the criminals who had shown up to throw their lot in with Orre’s biggest crime boss were instead sitting on the sidelines, holding their breath while waiting to see who reigned supreme: Miror B or Rui Matsuhara. If they’d read their opponent’s gesture correctly, then he was implicitly backing her.



And he wasn’t the first.



As the announcer introduced Rui’s next opponent, Argyle let his eyes drift up to the announcer’s box. Sitting alongside the energetic young man commentating over every match was Miror B himself.



He wasn’t wearing the same outfit Argyle had seen when he’d knocked on Duking’s door. Instead of the daring purple ensemble, today the boss of Pyrite’s crime wore a glamorous yellow disco suit with catseye shades.



They did little to hide the still-healing burns crawling like ivy up his neck and face. The wounds seethed raw and red beneath the generous gauze. Though none of the assorted riffraff had spoken, many eyes had gazed at those injuries and then turned to the orange-haired girl who had inflicted them and lived to walk away. On his part, Miror B’s line of sight had barely wavered, delivering a gaze that could have clouded the sun directly down to Rui.



Their current opponent, a Drowzee, was no match for Luna, and Rui soon swapped her out in favor of Reed to face down an enemy Magnemite. Though she kept a brave, even face, Argyle could feel the tension in her shoulders. The rules of the tournament were clear—there should have been nothing but fair play. But none of them expected Miror B to play nice. It wasn’t a matter of if he would make a move, but when.



As they sat back to watch other tournament fighters duke it out, Argyle recollected on their arrival. When they’d first showed up at the colosseum this morning, Argyle already perched on Rui’s shoulder and Luna striding confidently alongside her, the thugs and thieves and strongarms had parted for her with a mood that could have only been described as reverential awe. When Rui had wordlessly offered Cail’s invite, the woman at the desk had taken it, paled, and then checked her in.



While she had done so, whispers had scurried among the others. “I heard she just takes pokemon, but only shadows.” “She brought down thunder onto Cail. Almost killed him.” “Wonder if she’s gunning for Miror B’s spot. Y’know? Duking could just be her patsy…”



With Denri out front, they had won their first match in under twenty seconds. The crowd, instead of their usual thunderous cheers, had watched in stunned silence. Rui had swept her eyes over all the stands, daring anyone to speak up.



No one had.



Not all of their bouts were after each other, of course, which gave the team time to rest. Once Reed had mopped up the Magnemite, they spent a few hours watching other criminals thrash each other before it was time to return to the ring. Rui strode out there, her duster billowing behind her, as the next opponent filed in.



It was a woman in her late twenties with full, plum-colored lips and a long ponytail the color of autumn leaves. She wore what appeared to be a stylized set of combat armor, colored purple, with a curious fashion accessory: a loose scarf.



They’d seen her fight before. She was a formidable opponent. Despite having two pokemon, she’d only needed to use one—a Machoke—in the battles thus far.



The woman smirked and gave a mocking bow. Rui raised her eyebrow. The woman rose and moved her mouth. As she did so, a sound, like a whisper, came from right behind them: “Do you know the cipher?”



Rui jumped, and Argyle squawked. “She’s… psychic!” he told her. “Like you!” Well, not exactly like Rui, he mused, but still. Humans with powers were a rare lot.



“It appears not.” The woman’s voice emerged again, and Rui fought to avoid looking deeply uncomfortable.



“Well then,” their opponent said with a grin, speaking normally for the crowd to hear. “Let’s begin.”



She released her Machoke, and Rui sent out Cap. The young Espeon pawed the ground, eager for a fight. “Awww yeah! I hope you’re ready, bad guy, cause I don’t pull my punches! By which I mean, energy beams. I don’t pull my energy beams. But they’re still gonna punch you. In your face!”



The Machoke grunted, and at the announcer’s mark, both pokemon prepared themselves.



When the fight began, Cap launched a blistering beam of energy directly at his opponent. The beam shot out and—



And suddenly, wreathed in silver-grey energy, the Machoke wasn’t across the battlefield, he was right next to Cap, sinking his fist into the young Espeon’s side and hurling him at least a dozen feet.



“Cap!” Rui cried. “Are you okay!”



As the Espeon struggled up, Argyle wracked his brain. How was the Machoke that fast? They could learn a move, Mach Punch, to take them that swiftly, but Cap should have been able to weather a Fighting-type move that prioritized speed over power. This was…



This was something entirely different. A Steel-type move. Bullet Punch. Didn’t that have to be specifically bred onto the Machop line?



As Rui tensed beneath him, Argyle realized that she’d come to the same realization he had. This opponent was a higher step than they were used to.



The Machoke lumbered up to Cap, wreathing his hand in pitch-black energy. A Dark-type move.



“Cap!” Rui cried.



The Espeon shook himself awake just fast enough to dodge the incoming attack. He then forewent psychic power entirely to leap onto the Machoke’s face, scrabbling with his claws. The Fighting-type grunted and hurled him to the ground, delivering a mighty kick to send Cap skipping over the dirt floor; but a sudden flash from Cap’s gem sent the dirt pluming into dust, obscuring everyone’s vision. From within the dust cloud, there were flashes of rainbow energy and loud, angry roars, and when it cleared, Cap—looking a little worn but triumphant—was spinning the Machoke lazily through the air, held by psychic power.



“You should chill out, buddy!” Cap said, teasing the snarling Machoke. “Go to an amusement park!” His face tightened in faux worry. “Oh, but I hear some rides there spin you around and make you really sick. Will you be able to handle that? Let’s see!” The Machoke’s lazy spin suddenly picked up, making him go faster and faster—and the creature’s anger quickly faded into a desperate queasiness.



“I think you can handle it!” Cap said confidently. “Now here’s your own rollercoaster ride!” He hurled the Machoke into the arena walls. “And a fireworks show!” He followed up with a pinpoint lance of psychic energy that left the Machoke knocked out.



Rui smiled, and her hand twitched like she wanted to wipe her brow. Argyle let out a low and comforting sound, which seemed to ease her tension. He was glad.



The armor-clad woman sent out her next pokemon: a Pupitar.



“Cap, let Reed spell you,” Rui said.



“Aw, c’mon!” he protested, wiggling his rump. “I’m just getting started!” And without waiting for the go-ahead, he launched more psychic power at his adversary.



The Pupitar weathered the onslaught angrily and responded by spraying sand over the battlefield. Cap skipped aside and hit it again. The Pupitar took the psychic blast like it was nothing and shot a spray of rock shards at him, roaring furiously.



Argyle frowned. Cap was strong, and no pokemon should have been able to just shrug off two of his point-blank attacks. The only way was if…



He blinked. The Pupitar shrugged off an attack by Cap again. It was roaring even harder now. Tiny cracks began to show on the outside of the creature’s shell.



Oh no.



Was if it was a Dark-type.



“Rui, call him back!” he squawked. “It’s—”



The Pupitar’s shell exploded, the light of evolution broke over the arena, and all hell broke loose.



When the light faded, there was a towering Tyranitar there, darkness misting from his maw as he loomed over Cap. The little Espeon stared up with wide, fearful eyes. The Tyranitar roared, summoning an indoor sandstorm from his very presence, and the stands erupted into chaos as the competing criminals roiled back to get as far away as possible. The announcer was stuttering, completely shocked, and next to him—Miror B smiled evenly, unperturbed. It was a flat, smug, knowing smile.



He’d made his move.



Rui fumbled for Cap’s ball. “Cap, you need to—”



The other woman’s command cut her off. “Hyper Beam!



With a gargantuan roar, the towering Rock-type launched a plume of energy at the young Espeon. It just managed to avoid hitting him, but the shockwave knocked him across the battlefield. He staggered back, woozy, and collapsed.



The Tyranitar lunged, snarling, but Rui managed to recall Cap. Releasing Reed to take his place, she shot a gaze up at the box and shouted. My Espeon almost died! Killing pokemon is against the rules!”



Miror B effortlessly grabbed the announcer’s mike and pulled it close. “It be, it be,” he said smoothly, leaning his uninjured cheek in his palm. “But you opponent didn’t tell her critter to kill, so she done nothing wrong. I ain’t gonna kick a trainer out over no accident.” Rui’s nostrils flared. “Oh, and speaking of them rules: only one pokemon at a time. No ganging up.” He smiled. “Course, you is allowed to forfeit.”



The challenge hung in the air. Rui swallowed. “I—I—”



“We can do it, Rui!” Argyle squawked, shaking her out of her reverie. “We knew the risks. This guy has to be put down!”



On the battlefield, Reed turned and nodded in acknowledgement. “I’ll do whatever you say, trainer,” he said, and then his voice grew slightly—just slightly—more flinted. “I’m not afraid of this thing.



Steeling herself, Rui nodded. “I’m going to continue!”



Miror B’s smirk was soon overshadowed by the deafening roar of the crowd. Whether they were looking forward to the spectacle or were cheering for Rui herself was hard to say.



“Aight,” Miror B said, leaning back and wincing. “Fight resumes now.



With barely any warning, the Tyranitar shot forward, raising a massive foot to crush Reed underfoot. The Quagsire just managed to dodge. Summoning a small burst of water, he slammed it against the Tyranitar’s other leg. The beast screamed in pain, giving Reed enough time to spin and land a thudding tail-swipe against its hurt leg. The creature thundered to its back, and Reed began alternately pelting it with wave after wave, mixing in ground attacks for good measure.



“It’s powerful but not used to its new body,” Rui was muttering. “That’s how we can beat it. Reed! Don’t let him get up!”



“Understood,” the Quagsire said robotically. The sandstorm whipped at him but he shrugged it off thanks to his typing. The Tyranitar was enduring a lot of punishment—could Reed finish this on his own?



Argyle let his attention drift away from the fight and back to Miror B. The man was watching the battle play out in front of him with thin-lipped satisfaction. Was this his plan? To sneak a pokemon calibrated to bring down Rui’s ace (because after Vulcana’s loss, that’s basically what Cap was) into the tournament, primed to evolve mid-fight to unleash unprepared savagery?



Damn. Guy was scary.



Reed was doing well, still going after the downed Tyranitar. But even as the small punishments added up, the monster lumbered to a standing position, snarling. It chucked rocks at Reed, who skirted sidewise, and then hurled them again. That second set of missiles clipped him, making him stagger backwards, and that was the moment that the Tyranitar needed.



“Hyper Beam!” the armor-clad woman commanded again, and her pet monstrosity obliged. The adversary unleashed a devastating bolt, but Reed was nowhere near as nimble as Cap, and it—it struck him head on.



The explosion filled the arena with dust and more than a few of the attendees gasped, the point-blank execution too much even for them. Amidst the dust a still form was seen. Rui’s hands were balled so tight they were white, and the beast snarled in Argyle’s heart. They’d killed one of his friends. They’d killed—but no! Reed rolled over, bruised and trembling and wheezing but alive. He forced the beast down, with more difficulty than before.



The Tyranitar snarled and prepared another attack but Rui withdrew him before it could move. The creature looked furious; hell, it looked ready to attack Rui herself, but it was doubtful that Miror B or his stooge would break that rule in front of so many witnesses. Miror B had to toe the line between moxie and weakness.



The next pokemon to be released was Tama, who stared up at the creature. His chest rose and fell with breath. “I need to rely on you,” Rui said, and he nodded slowly before trundling out to fight.



As Tama dodged rocks and squinted from the sandstorm, fighting to get close enough to hit his opponent, Rui took out Cap and Reed’s poke balls before releasing Denri.



“He’s not going to fight!” she said, casting a venomous gaze at the announcer’s box, staving off what looked like an objection on behalf of Miror B.. “So I’m not breaking any rules.”



Denri was staring wide-eyed at the towering Tyranitar. “I—wh-whuh—”



“Denri, focus!” Rui said, snapping a finger in front of his eyes. “I need you to take these to Duking. Both of them are really hurt!”



She handed him the poke balls. He looked down at them and then back at the Tyranitar. “But I… I can fight!” His voice wavered as he said it, just a bit, but there was fire to his eyes.



Damn, thought Argyle. First time I’ve seen Denri afraid of anything. And the Ampharos still was willing to throw down. Argyle’s estimation of him rose.

.

“No.” Rui shook her head. “He can use Ground-type moves, I saw them against Cap… one hit from those and a follow-up Hyper Beam, and you’re dead.” Grabbing his paws, she pushed them—poke balls and all—against his chest. “Your friends need you, Denri.”



He looked frustrated, but he nodded and bolted off.



Tama was having trouble reaching the Tyranitar. Even with a lame leg—for the limb Reed had attacked was having difficulties—the massive pokemon was simply too big for the squat Fighting-type to reach. A single step back took him a good six or seven of Tama’s paces. The only positive was that he wasn’t using Hyper Beam. Perhaps he was worried that if he missed, the Fighting-type attacks would bring him down while he recharged?



“This isn’t working,” Rui muttered after Tama dodged a particularly massive rock. “We need to change tactics.”



Recalling him, she sent out Luna, who couldn’t help but retreat a few steps back when she saw the size of her opponent. “Wait for our opportunity to get close,” Rui said, “then use our secret weapon!” Luna gulped, nodded, and lunged into battle.



“Secret weapon?” Argyle asked.



Eying him, Rui smiled. “You didn’t think you were the only one I practiced a special strategy with, did you?”



Luna was swifter than Tama, and quickly caught up to the Tyranitar. Dancing around his stomping feet, she nipped at his heels, the attacks weak but doubtless irritating. The creature’s all-defining anger seemed to grow more with each small bite. But the sandstorm was still wearing her down, and one errant hit was all it took to knock her a few paces away. Immediately, the Tyranitar began charging up a Hyper Beam—but Luna was already on her feet and racing at him. The Tyranitar’s trainer seemed to realize what was going to happen a moment before it did, and tried to tell him to stop, but it was too late. The Rock-type launched his attack right at Luna.



Who was standing a breath away from his own two legs.



The explosion rocked the arena, and the Tyranitar fell to the arena floor, screaming. His hurt leg had taken the brunt of the explosion and looked especially nasty, and his eyes were focusing and unfocusing. Then Luna, shaken from the explosion but still standing, jumped onto his body and scrambled down until she stood over his face.



“Now, like we practiced!” Rui commanded. “Toxic!”



At Rui’s command, a soft purple glow suffused around Luna’s body, congealing into a noxious smoke that drifted down directly into the enemy’s eyes and mouth. It howled in pain and Rui grinned. “That should teach it a—”



But the creature’s arm snaked up, grabbed Luna’s tail, and brought her slamming down into the arena floor. The sound make Argyle shudder. That was happening to his friend



Inside of him, the beast growled.



The Tyranitar did it again. The impact brought tears to Luna’s eyes.



The beast grew stronger when he saw the look in on Luna’s face.



Slowly, agonizingly, the Tyranitar forced itself up, snarling, and then hurled her across the arena. She crumpled there, whimpering, as it readied another Hyper Beam…



Roaring, the beast woke, clawing its way to dominance, as the shadows took Argyle.



“Recall Luna!” he snarled, furious that he had to even deign to waste words on this silly human. Rui looked shocked but did as he commanded. The moment Luna was in her ball, he took off.



Consume, the beast inside of him impelled. Make them suffer, make them hurt, it all belongs to you.



The Tyranitar unleashed the beam. Could Argyle’s barriers stop such a mighty blow? Perhaps not on their own. But at the beast’s urging, with the beast’s help, he infused it with shadows and darkness.



The beam struck the barrier, and the barrier held.



Argyle ignored the shocked gasps and cheers coming from the crowd, ignored the panicked look on the face of the Tyranitar’s trainer. He zeroed in on look on the Tyranitar’s face. Fear.



Good, the beast inside of him purred. Make him feel it.



So this creature thought it was powerful? What if it fought against the true might of a shadow pokemon?



With the beast’s blessing, Argyle wreathed his wings in shadow and slammed them into the Tyranitar’s head. Circling around, he brought his talons low. The eyes, urged the beast, go for the eyes, make him regret.



His talons raked one of the creature’s eyes and it reeled back, clutching its face, screaming. Veins of purple were starting to stand out underneath his armor: Luna’s Toxic at work. This would be over soon.



In retaliation, the Tyranitar began flinging boulders across the battlefield, willy-nilly. One of them even clipped Argyle, but he didn’t even care. It was fine, he was—



Why was Rui yelling at him?



It was quite distracting. Stupid human. Didn’t she recognize his power. So what if he was badly hurt?



…he was what?



The moment it came on him was not only sudden but almost life-changing, like when you suddenly realize that you are in a dream. All of the pain he had sustained—the force of the beam hitting his shield, being clipped by the rock, the continued grinding of the sandstorm—came at Argyle at once and hit him like a hammer. He thought he might faint.



Keep going, urged the beast, and it was hard not to listen—but the last time he’d followed this urge so blindly, he’d almost killed his friends on a rooftop. He beat down the beast and, struggling against its anger, flew back towards Rui.



She looked down at him with concern, and he blinked blearily up at her. “‘M fine,” he said, wincing at what it cost him to speak. “Finish him off.” She nodded and released Tama yet again.



Argyle could barely watch the fight. He was pained, disoriented, and fighting the beast. He still felt the urge to return to savagery, to give into the shadows, but finally, the feeling went away. He leaned back, panting.



It took him a few moments to realize the beast was still there.



Every time it had appeared, the shadows and the bloodlust had come with it. The beast was the shadows, the shadows were the beast.



But now the shadows were gone, but the beast remained.



The world spun hazily, like a mirage, and Argyle couldn’t know if what he was experiencing was a phantom hallucination. It felt like something inside of him… the beast… was watching the world. Seeing it through his eyes. It took in all of it, the fight, the crowds, Rui and Miror B, and from deep in his heart—the place where the beast normally raged—there was a tether of ambitious hunger.



Argyle tried to beat it down and the beast brushed aside his efforts. He shut his eyes, willed the noise of the crowd away from himself, and there was a momentary twinge of dissatisfaction and anger. But then, deprived of stimulus, the thing inside his soul began to wilt, until what was left was a…



A…



A pearl, endlessly dreaming.



Argyle opened his eyes and the pearl-that-was-the-beast rumbled but did not awake and he trembled with fear.



What had just happened? What was that? He probed the space where it had occupied, seeing the world through his eyes, and what was left was naught but a hole that reeked of wicked mockery.



The battle. The battle. He had to focus on the battle.



Blinded, weak from poison, and lame, the Tyranitar could not outpace Tama this time. The Fighting-type closed the distance, assailing his enemy with a flurry of punches, and when the Tyranitar leaned over to crush him beneath one giant claw, Tama caught the creature, and then—with an exertion of tremendous effort—he spun, lifting the monster off its feet and spinning it overhead to slam into the earth.



All was quiet, for a breath.



And then the colosseum erupted into cheers and hoots. The sound was almost deafening. The men and women were on their feet, clapping, hollering. They had come to pledge obeisance to Miror B and now more than a few were chanting his rival’s name. Rui smiled at the cheering crowd, eyed the announcer’s box, and did a brief, impish curtsy, before turning heel. Argyle, unable to perch on her shoulder, was cradled against her chest, and Tama followed close behind.



Rui was talking about how good they had done, Tama interjecting on occasion. Argyle… Argyle was thinking about something entirely different.



“—we have a shot, Argyle?”



He blinked. “Huh?”



Rui frowned at him. “Are you okay?”



A stillness in his heart. A pearl, endlessly dreaming.



“I’m fine.”

---



The Tyranitar is based on a number of tough fights in the Pyrite section of the game, though none involve pseudo-legendaries. (The Orre games can be cruel, but they're not
that cruel.) Rather than string together a bunch of moderately difficult fights, I decided to conglomerate things into one massive event instead.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

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"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Cap needs his own TV show. It will be the source of a new Orre culture..! Hopefully with fewer crime lords..!

Of course! They looked like nothing less than the spawn of infinite space itself. They were squat with stubbly little arms and legs. They had black ears and a sinister curl of hair on their brow. A small, poofy tail. And worst of all! They had co-opted the shade of justice, the color of the brave. They had taken pink and turned it evil!
The sequel to The Legend of Captain Justice, coming soon to bards near you... The evil aliens are co-opting psychic abilities, calling it fairy..!

Poor Lunette tried hard, but she was completely defenseless and not good at anything other than scolding and being a stick-in-the-mud. If Captain Justice’s powers were general awesomeness, then she possessed the one-of-a-kind ability to singlehandedly make anything boring just by showing up.
Lunette needs her own spin-off, in which she... does taxes? What happens when the power of boring interacts with the most boring thing?
I love that the "secret ingredient," so to say of the high-tech process of turning Pokemon into Shadow Pokemon is... Something ancient. Something mystical. A puzzle yet to be solved. The world would very different if all the ruins were in ruins, but alas...

Something about how quickly Miror B's cronies are turning to back Rui... If Rui had joined up with him, there would be no security. I hope that once this journey is over, Rui's strength will ensure some measure of safety, so she can disappear or go somewhere else or something. Because the top is always a dangerous place to be.

The woman smirked and gave a mocking bow. Rui raised her eyebrow. The woman rose and moved her mouth. As she did so, a sound, like a whisper, came from right behind them: “Do you know the cipher?”

Rui jumped, and Argyle squawked. “She’s… psychic!” he told her. “Like you!” Well, not exactly like Rui, he mused, but still. Humans with powers were a rare lot.
Oh, dear... On one hand, it would be cool for Rui to find a community of psychics... On the other hand, I doubt she's going to find one she wants to be a part of in Orre as it is.

Does Colosseum really throw a Tyranitar at you!? Reed is a good counter, though: super effective STAB water type moves and immunity to sandstorm damage. Still... Hyper Beam, if it's in the boss' moveset, is no joke. Luckily, a Toxic-stalling Umbreon is always a good strategy.

So are super effective shadow moves, but they do recoil damage in Colosseum! If Rui's voice hadn't made it through to Argyle, he would have died angry and unaware.

Now what could that endlessly dreaming pearl be..?
 
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solaris127h

Totally not an AI
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👀 A Colosseum story!! I finally caught up and oh man I love your interpretations. I legit cried for Vulcana ahh, and I bet the purification arc is going to be so bittersweet. I'm working on my own retelling of Colo (although not a nuzlocke) and this story is really inspiring!! #goals

Can't wait to see what happens next!
 
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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
  • #54
Cap needs his own TV show. It will be the source of a new Orre culture..! Hopefully with fewer crime lords..!


The sequel to The Legend of Captain Justice, coming soon to bards near you... The evil aliens are co-opting psychic abilities, calling it fairy..!


Lunette needs her own spin-off, in which she... does taxes? What happens when the power of boring interacts with the most boring thing?
I love that the "secret ingredient," so to say of the high-tech process of turning Pokemon into Shadow Pokemon is... Something ancient. Something mystical. A puzzle yet to be solved. The world would very different if all the ruins were in ruins, but alas...

Something about how quickly Miror B's cronies are turning to back Rui... If Rui had joined up with him, there would be no security. I hope that once this journey is over, Rui's strength will ensure some measure of safety, so she can disappear or go somewhere else or something. Because the top is always a dangerous place to be.


Oh, dear... On one hand, it would be cool for Rui to find a community of psychics... On the other hand, I doubt she's going to find one she wants to be a part of in Orre as it is.

Does Colosseum really throw a Tyranitar at you!? Reed is a good counter, though: super effective STAB water type moves and immunity to sandstorm damage. Still... Hyper Beam, if it's in the boss' moveset, is no joke. Luckily, a Toxic-stalling Umbreon is always a good strategy.

So are super effective shadow moves, but they do recoil damage in Colosseum! If Rui's voice hadn't made it through to Argyle, he would have died angry and unaware.

Now what could that endlessly dreaming pearl be..?
The Legend truly does need a sequel, hehe :'> I'm glad you like the story!

And Colosseum is not in fact THAT cruel! The Tyranitar is indicative of several rough fights that I rolled into one encounter to make the story flow better. Also, in Colosseum, Shadow moves are not in fact super-effective! That was added in XD only. They do neutral damage to all pokemon.


👀 A Colosseum story!! I finally caught up and oh man I love your interpretations. I legit cried for Vulcana ahh, and I bet the purification arc is going to be so bittersweet. I'm working on my own retelling of Colo (although not a nuzlocke) and this story is really inspiring!! #goals

Can't wait to see what happens next!
Oh! Welcome welcome, new reader! I'm so glad to see Colo getting more love--it's a highly underrated game in my book! I'm glad you are liking it so far :)

Cap yawned, stretched out, and winced.



His sister, lounging on a cushion set out for them by Duking, looked over at him with what might have been one of her patented I-told-you-so glances, so her stuck his tongue out at her—and winced again. A TV showing Miror B’s tournament (on an underground, locals-only channel) flickered with snowy static. Two no-name criminals were fighting; it had been a while since Rui had to step up to the plate. There were only two battles left slated for her the entire tournament: a semifinal match and the final.



His ear itched, but when he lifted his back leg to it, a shiver of pain knifed through his body. Yowch. Boy, but that Tyranitar had messed him out but good.



To be honest, none of them looked like they were having a good day. All of them had been patched up as best they could be by Duking but… Orre really should have invested in some proper Pokemon Centers by now, Cap sulked.



“Will our trainer be able to make it through without us?” Reed said, his voice low and even. Cap still wasn’t sure if his way of talking was because he’d gotten thrashed by that monster, or if that was just the way he talked. Reed never really let anyone get close to him except for Luna.



“She’ll be okay,” Cap drawled lazily. The other pokemon in the room—his sister, Reed, and Argyle—turned to look at him. “She has superpowers.



Argyle, Reed, and Luna shared a long look before Luna coughed and said, “Cap, Rui’s… not the one fighting. Her powers don’t matter in this tournament.”



Curses. Shown up again. No way could he let that stand! He had to come up with something. A real zinger.



You don’t matter in this tournament!”



Cap smirked. Yeah. Nailed it.



“Cap…” Luna said with that annoying’“professional killjoy’ voice. In response, Cap filled his forehead gem with awesomeness. Luna raised one eyebrow



“Uh, Cap,” Argyle said, stepping in to mediate, “you know that your sister’s immune to psychic power, right?”



He considered it. “You’re totally right,” he said, nodding to Arglye. “Thanks.”



As Argyle deflated with relief, Cap turned his awesomeness to the half-eaten bowl of kibble behind his sister. One of the crunchy pellets lifted up and pelted her in the back of the head.



An ear twitched. She turned her gaze to Cap. He whistled the ‘Captain Justice’ theme song.



“You know I can still see your gem shining,” she said in a long-suffering voice.



“I’m not using my powers on you, though,” he said angelically as another piece of kibble met the back of her head.



Argyle looked back and forth between them with a mixture of worry and anticipation. Reed was focused on the television.



With a dignified sniff, Luna crossed her paws and lay her head on them. “I’ll be the bigger mon. It’ll take more than that to rile me.”



Challenge accepted.



A few seconds later the entire kibble dish rose by the power of awesomeness and upended itself on her. As his sister glared at him beneath her sullied, treat-ridden dignity, Cap winked.



The water dish followed.



With a wordless cry, his sister launched herself at him. They tumbled off Cap’s cushion, and both fell apart in wheezing, groaning messes. Oh yeah. The whole got-our-asses-kicked-in-a-tournament thing.



Cap took a half-hearted cuff at his sister, fell short, and watched his paw fall limply on the floor. He laughed, which made him wince, which made him laugh more, which made Luna laugh, and the two of them were trading wimpy play-blows and cringe-laughing between them before Reed finally walked over. The Quagsire effortlessly separated them.



“Aw, c’mon Reed,” pouted Cap. “Not letting me tease my sister is like, cultural appropriation.”



“I don’t think you’re using that term correctly,” he rumbled back, “and Rui wouldn’t appreciate you two getting even more hurt than usual. Also, she’s back on.”



Urge to fight wholly evaporated, Cap wriggled until he was able to see the TV. Behind him he heard Luna angle herself to see better—and then collapse, panting. Alarmed, Cap turned his head to look at her. She’d been hurt by the Tyranitar too; had he overestimated her recovery? He liked pranking his sister, but he didn’t want to hurt her.



Reed was quietly helping his sister up. Her legs shook—and then she leaned against him for support. At her touch, Reed tensed—but the normally standoffish pokemon didn’t push her away.



Cap smiled. So.



---



Rui drummed her fingers against her thighs. She was so close.



Two trainers were all she needed to win the tournament and sweep Miror B’s power base out from under him. His gamble against her with the Tyranitar had almost succeeded, but its loss had backfired spectacularly. Large swaths of the crowd was on her side, and those that weren’t were too afraid of her. Any hopes that the Tyranitar had broken her ability to fight had evaporated the first round after, when Denri had routed the whole enemy team. With Tama and Striga backing him up, the Ampharos was more than proficient enough to win the tournament. One opponent post-Tyranitar had just flat-out forfeited. Three pokemon weren’t ideal, but in Orre, they would be enough.



The announcer called her to the arena. She strode down confidently. While waiting for her opponent to arrive, she glanced up at the announcer’s box and found Miror B looking down at her. Had he realized already that his defeat was inevitable? At this point, breaking his own rules and going after her would surely turn the crowd against him. (Rui had learned that the attendees took their “honor among thieves” rules seriously. One participant who was found trying to give his opponent’s pokemon a poisoned poffin had almost been killed in retribution. The man would probably be hospitalized for a good month.)



Sweat, you bastard, Rui thought, staring the crime boss down. Break. Flee for your life. For a man doomed to have everything shattered from his grip, whose attempt against her had failed, Miror B looked remarkably calm and composed. Her hands tightened until her knuckles grew white. This was for killing Vulcana, and for almost killing Cap and Luna and the others. For all the pokemon he’d abused and trafficked. It ended tonight.



Her opponent stepped onto the field, and her mouth tightened. He was a man named Kurza. A Pyrite native, he was a thug known to her from her time as the town’s would-be sheriff, though she’d never directly encountered him.



She wish she had. He had a reputation as a pokemon abuser.



It amazed her that he had advanced this far in the tournament. His pokemon were strong but his battling skills were mediocre, and many of his later opponents (who appeared to be superior battlers) seemed to be throwing their matches. Had money changed hands? Or perhaps they were simply afraid of running into Rui herself, and figured Kurza as decent a yearling for the slaughter as any.



He sent out his first pokemon, a Trapinch, which was the one he’d relied on the most in previous battles. Like Rui herself, he only had three active pokemon. Only two of them had been shown so far.



She sent out Striga, whose levitation easily rendered the Trapinch useless as a threat. After a single scare from a Crunch attack—which Striga managed to dodge—the Trapinch went down to a salvo of Ghost-type moves.



Rather than recall it, Kurza ordered it over to his side, where he kicked the cringing thing before putting it back in its ball.



Rui barely fought down the urge to order Striga to give the punk a taste of his own medicine. She couldn’t break the tournament rules. Too much was on the line. After. After, she would be able to direct Sherles to arrest him.



Her nails bit into her palms. She doubted her reasoning would have made the Trapinch feel any better.



His next pokemon was a Banette. “You want to go back?” Rui asked Striga softly. Ghosts versus ghosts were chancy prospects.



Striga seemed to consider it, but shook their head. “I can handle it,” the little spectre said, their voice soft but vigilant. “I’ve got to pull my weight.”



The fight was trickier than the one against the Trapinch had been—the Banette was fast and had some tricky moves, and may even have been fully stronger than Striga. But the little Misdreavus was better at using misdirection and status moves, and after managing to disorient the Banette, they hit it with a powerful Ghost-type attack that sent it reeling.



At the hit, Kurza began spewing vitriol at his pokemon, his voice low and ugly. The words shook the Banette more than the blow seemed to have, and the pokemon began fighting with a desperate fearfulness that threw it off. Before long, Striga had claimed victory.



Thankfully, the Banette was fully knocked, out, so Rui didn’t have to see Kurza abuse that one either, though he looked at its poke ball darkly. She hated him even more.



Soon, she promised the poor creature. I’m sorry. Soon.



“Looks like you’re the queen bitch everyone says you are,” Kurza snapped, unclipping his last poke ball. “Guess you can wipe up this one too.” He glared at the ball in his hand. “Thought it would help, but the stupid thing can barely fight… And I blew so much on it.” His eyes looked like two pieces of dull slate, hard and unreflective. He released his last pokemon.



Rui’s breath caught.



It was a Yanma, a completely ordinary-looking Bug-type. It was also a shadow pokemon. Even though she hadn’t opened herself to Aura, she could see the shadows radiating off of it in waves. But unlike most shadows, the creature did not seem captive to anger or emotional muteness.



It seemed scared and miserable.



If Kurza’s previous two pokemon had seemed abused, they had nothing on this poor creature. Its carapace was cracked in places; one of its wings were bruised. Its eyes scanned the stands, fearful at the crowds, and flinching at every sound. It wavered in the air, unable to hold in place.



“Whoa,” came the announcer’s voice. “That thing really looks like it got put through the wringer.” He laughed uncomfortably. “If Matsuhara doesn’t watch herself, she could get kicked out of the tournament for killing an adversary’s pokemon.”



“Sure, sure,” came Miror B’s smooth and easy reply. He leaned in, and though he spoke into the mic, his eyes assailed Rui like arrows. “And if she don’t, Kurza might finish the job hisself, if the cat’s rep be any guide.”



Miror B was right. Kurza would beat the Yanma if he didn’t win.



In its current state, he would kill it.



Rui locked eyes with Miror B. He grinned, slightly. That bastard.



The Tyranitar hadn’t been his only play. If brawn didn’t work, all he had to do was aim for her heart. He’d arranged a temperamental, abusive trainer to get an underwhelming shadow pokemon to take his anger out on. He’d arranged for Kurza’s opponents to dive, ensuring he made it to face her.



Her temple throbbed. Dammit. Dammit.



“Um, Rui?” Striga called, dodging a slow and pathetic attack from the Yanma. “What should I do?”



“Dodge it for now,” Rui said. “Don’t—don’t hurt it.” Striga nodded and looked at the Yamna with pity, backing away from its easily-countered moves.



The colosseum had grown quiet. Why hadn’t Rui clinched the match? What was going on? Some of the attendees looked discomforted at the state of the Yanma, but not that discomforted. They were criminals, and some doubtless trafficked in pokemon, or participated in underground rings. They couldn’t see the thing’s fragmented aura, which was bleeding through to her eyes, like red-and-black snowfall, pleading for help.



She had the Snag Machine. It was a shadow pokemon. She could steal the thing away and give it a home. She could do it. She could save it.



Striga and the shadow Yanma continued their ineffectual dance. She could Snag the Yanma. She could save it.



Honor among thieves. They would turn on her in an instant. She might escape (Sherles’s man in the stands could teleport her out) but Miror B would be back on top. The cost of doing so… All the effort to get here, spent. Cap and Luna and Reed and Argyle’s fight against the Tyranitar for nothing. Vulcana’s sacrifice, wasted.



Miror B had removed his shades. One half of his neck and face were an ugly red. He would have scars forever, thanks to Vulcana. But looking down at her with his smug smile, he didn’t seem to mind. His eyes, uncovered, burned like embers. She thought back to their conversation in the darkened streets, how she’d stood up for pokemon against him. How stupid. That was ammunition against her she’d given him freely. This attack was engineered to strike at her greatest weakness.



She could end that smile forever. She could beat Kurza and thrash whoever made it to the final round. Nothing the final trainer sent out would be able to top that Tyranitar. She had this. She had this! She could win! She could beat Miror B!



And all she had to do was condemn that Yanma to die to do it.



As the thing’s attacks continued failing to land, Kurza was growing more and more agitated. He was alternately hurling hate at his poor pokemon, which whimpered every time he opened his mouth, and denigrating Rui. He seemed to think her reluctance to end the fight was an attempt to humiliate him. He would kick and beat that Yanma. He might even set his other pokemon on it.



It wouldn’t survive. It could barely even fly.



One pokemon. That’s all it would take to end Miror B’s reign. One pokemon. There was so much misery the man enabled. So many he hurt. What was one pokemon in the grand scheme of things?



The thing grew too tired to fly. It crumpled to the ground, panting, as Kurza’s voice grew more furious and lambasting. “Please,” it whimpered in a tiny voice. No, not it. He. “I’ll fight harder, master, just please.” Of course Kurza couldn’t hear.



That Yanma… he was all that needed to be offered to bring down Miror B. To bring justice for Vulcana’s murder. Hadn’t she already accepted that losses might be necessary? She knew coming here that she or any one of her team might perish in the attempt.



Kurza screamed at the Yanma and he trembled. “Please,” he whispered. He was so young. “Arceus, Mew, anyone, please…”



But this Yanma had not made that choice. She imagined Pompom in his place, the little Aipom sacrificed for a greater cause while pleading for mercy.



Miror B was smiling. His teeth showed.



Spirits above, but what kind of life had the little thing lived? Had he endured his whole life as a miserable captive?



Herself, in the trunk…



Her hands hurt. Rui looked down to see that she’d clenched her hands so tightly that her fingernails were drawing blood from her palm. I can’t, she realized. I can’t.



“Striga,” she said, her command low. The Ghost-type, who had been watching the Yanma endure Kurza’s hate, turned to face her. They looked like they were about to cry.



“Yes, Rui?” they asked, their voice tight with emotion. All shadow pokemon suffered. How many past experiences had this miserable little bug made them reminisce?



“Bind him. Gently,” she said.



A panoply of emotions played out on Striga’s face—relief, understanding, gratitude. Under their direction, a handful of small shadowy tendrils wrapped around the Yanma. As the creature was constrained, Rui reached up and turned on the Snag Machine. The pauldron unfolded, covering her arm.



Was the stadium as quiet as she thought, or was it just herself, lost in her own mind? The Yanma didn’t fight against his bindings. She threw the poke ball almost mechanically.



The ball clicked. The Yanma was hers.



The stadium exploded with fury.



Kurza was screaming about theft, about breach of honor, and every attendee was on their feet. Some looked shocked or dismayed; others were already releasing pokemon. Before long, there were dozens. Too many for her three to overcome.



She withdrew Striga. She could only hope for Sherles now.



As the attendees yelled and the horde of pokemon prepared to go after her, she looked up and met Miror B’s eyes. He wore the look of a gambler whose long bet had paid off. He winked and then leaned back, satisfied.



Before the first attacks could reach her, there was a prickling sensation that surrounded her body, and then she saw light—and she was back at Duking’s house. Sherles’s man in the stands had done his job. She’d been teleported out.



Robotically, she set down the Yanma’s poke ball. He would have no place on her team, but Duking’s daughters would shower it with kindness, as they did the other shadows she didn’t battle with. He would have as good a life as she could give him.



From down the hall, she heard the idle, tinny sound of a bad television set. The announcer’s voice was still talking about the ‘disappointing turn’ that had just occurred. She followed the sound, and as she walked in the room, the focus was on the announcer. Behind him, Orre’s greatest crime boss sat back, unworried, as those criminals who had almost defected to Rui came flocking back to him. He was secure.



Rui’s hand hurt. She was idly aware that she had punched a wall, that Cap and Luna and the others were looking at her with concern, their eyes turned from the set. She sank to her knees, screaming in frustration.



She had done the right thing.



And Miror B had defeated her for it.


---


Uh-oh! Cliffhanger!

The Yanma was indeed an in-game catch, and I've got some data on him--but I'll wait until next chapter to tell. Can Rui overcome this setback?
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
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She/her
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Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Oof. So shadow moves in Colosseum are essentially just Take Down? (Except it can hit ghost types?) Once your shadows start unlocking their regular moves, do you immediately switch to those? Since shadow moves do have recoil in Colosseum, I can't imagine one would use them any more than strictly necessary (especially in a nuzlocke).

“She’ll be okay,” Cap drawled lazily. The other pokemon in the room—his sister, Reed, and Argyle—turned to look at him. “She has superpowers.
But Cap! Not everyone's superpowers are as super as yours! Although it is annoying that the boring Lunette is immune to awesomeness itself.

Poor Argyle, worried about fighting breaking out. Good thing Cap and Luna aren't Shadow Pokemon. I'm so excited for when the others join the ranks!

Reed was quietly helping his sister up. Her legs shook—and then she leaned against him for support. At her touch, Reed tensed—but the normally standoffish pokemon didn’t push her away.

Cap smiled. So.
👀

Although this "honor among thieves" philosophy (at least it seems to exist in Pyrite) could be useful... Hm...

Oh no. Using Rui's compassion for Pokemon against her. That's such a Miror B. move, though! And it paid off. As for Yanma... I kind of hope Yanma will be the one to bring down Miror B. in the end, but how..?

so her stuck his tongue out at her
nodding to Arglye
 
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solaris127h

Totally not an AI
Pokédex No.
751
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Sep 2, 2019
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9
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Serious
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She/Her
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Bug, Dragon
Oh man something bad was bound to happen but that was sooo wicked!! I guess the real sad part is that not a single person sees that kind of compassion as its own strength. Does that make Kurza the champion then? The worse may be yet to come then oof.
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
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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
  • #57
Oof. So shadow moves in Colosseum are essentially just Take Down? (Except it can hit ghost types?) Once your shadows start unlocking their regular moves, do you immediately switch to those? Since shadow moves do have recoil in Colosseum, I can't imagine one would use them any more than strictly necessary (especially in a nuzlocke).


But Cap! Not everyone's superpowers are as super as yours! Although it is annoying that the boring Lunette is immune to awesomeness itself.

Poor Argyle, worried about fighting breaking out. Good thing Cap and Luna aren't Shadow Pokemon. I'm so excited for when the others join the ranks!


👀

Although this "honor among thieves" philosophy (at least it seems to exist in Pyrite) could be useful... Hm...

Oh no. Using Rui's compassion for Pokemon against her. That's such a Miror B. move, though! And it paid off. As for Yanma... I kind of hope Yanma will be the one to bring down Miror B. in the end, but how..?
It really depends. Most of the regular moves that get unlocked first are status or boosting moves, so you have to rely on Shadow Rush for continued damage. Even after unlocking damaging moves, Shadow Rush's high damage and ability to hit anything for neutral damage make it a still-attractive prospect until purification--but you to balance it with recoil damage, as well as the fact that the closer you get to purification, the more likely it is that using Shadow Rush will instead trigger Hyper Mode, which is a whole other can of worms. Suffice to say, though, it's not a fun time.

And yes... Luna and Reed... :3c

And yes, Rui found her own goodness taken advantage of, sadly. You'll just have to see what she has in store for Miror B~


Oh man something bad was bound to happen but that was sooo wicked!! I guess the real sad part is that not a single person sees that kind of compassion as its own strength. Does that make Kurza the champion then? The worse may be yet to come then oof.
Yeah, Pyrite doesn't have a lot of respect for decency sadly. Kurza did "win" the tournament, but in the end, what really matters is that Miror B stayed in power.



I find myself in need of a place to catalogue my thoughts. There are forces working against me within the cipher.



Lovrina, my apprentice, has been working behind my back, trying to craft a new kind of shadow pokemon. She’s using Miror B’s lair as a testing ground, away from my supervision.



The damn thing is, they’re succeeding. These new pokemon are more feral and savage than ever. They don’t live very long, but if their lifespan could be extended…



She’s good. If she succeeds, I could be ousted.



Considered stealing her research or eliminating her. Too risky. Miror B’s mixed up in it too and he’s too hard to get rid of. If I move against him, the High Council will be breathing down my back.



Perhaps it’s time to move up my schedule. I’m making the shadows for myself, not for them. I could depose them right now.



…Patience, Ein. Patience. You didn’t come this far to throw it away on impulse.



Lovrina and Miror B are in the dark regarding me thus far. I need only wait for one or both to show weakness. And if they succeed… it’s another weapon in my arsenal.



Besides. I have certain tricks of my own.




---



Vonn rolled the silver pocketwatch between his fingers, smirking down at it. Even now, in the post-midnight darkness, he fancied he could spy some errant starlight gleaming off of it.



He had taken it off of some old man in an out-of-fashion brown suit. When he was stealing the man’s Electrike, the old geezer had offered the watch to him instead. Vonn had simply taken both and kicked him in the ribs for good measure.



Miror B got the pokemon, of course, but the booty was Vonn’s to keep.



Swinging the stolen item around on its chain, he glanced up. The Red & White was closed tonight; boss’s orders. Vonn and another new recruit, a fiery and ruthless young woman named Syka, prowled outside, making sure only members of Miror B’s gang were allowed in.



Syka was sour that she wasn’t allowed inside on such a big night, but Vonn didn’t care. He had no desire to be a big name, only to operate in a place that didn’t punish him for slaking his impulses. That was why he’d come to participate in the tournament.



He kicked back on the camp chair he’d brought along. (Lurking outside a dimmed club for several hours was hell on your feet.) What a tournament it had been. That bitch, Rui Matsuhara, had almost stolen the thunder, but Miror B beat her in the end. It had been six days since then, and she’d stayed cooped up inside Duking’s place.



Meanwhile, Pyrite was theirs.



Muggings. Break-ins. Extortion. Pokemon abductions. People abductions. More than a few murders.



Vonn chuckled to himself. What could Pyrite’s sop of a police chief possibly do about it? Sherles had been unable to keep Miror B in check before the latter’s successful recruitment drive through the tournament. Now that their numbers were bigger than ever…



They made the rules, now.



Syka’s steps rang out behind him, and she smacked him in the back of his head. “You’re not here to loaf,” she spat. Vonn, pocketing the watch, let a small growl bubble in his throat. Spirits above, but he hated uppity women. He flexed his hands, imagining them around Syka’s pretty neck… but no. She’d somehow tricked someone into giving her a decent battling pokemon, and she wouldn’t hesitate to sic it on him. So he stayed his tongue and filed it away. Vonn was patient and had no trouble waiting for a chance to pay her back when she wasn’t on guard.



Stayed in his seat, though.



Syka, unappreciative of that, turned and glared at him. He glared back. The two of them were so engrossed that they didn’t register a shadow slowly coalescing in a nearby alley until it was almost on them.



The woman was the first to notice. She whipped her head to the side and skipped back, Vonn leaping out of his chair and grabbing his poke ball. “Club’s closed,” he snarled. He wanted to unleash his pokemon on the interloper right now, but Miror B had told them to offer one warning first. “Bodies keep folk outta clubs,” he’d said.



“You get one shot,” Syka echoed, releasing her Magmar. “I won’t warn—”



Syka’s voice died away as the Magmar’s fire illuminated the alleyway. It was her—Matsuhara.



And behind her lurked a horde of five pokemon: a Quagsire, an Ampharos, a Noctowl, a Makuhita, a Misdreavus.



Before Vonn or Syka could reach for their two-way radios, Matsuhara spoke. “Don’t bother. You reach for them, my Ampharos will fry them—and the people wearing them.”



Syka spat. “Nice try, oathbreaker. We know your rep. You don’t go after humans!” Her hand raced down for her waist.



The Ampharos was faster. Its lightning split the night. Electricity arced through Vonn’s body, the sensation like accidentally hitting a nerve but ten times more agonizing. His throat strained to scream even as his muscles spasmed, denying him the opportunity. He dropped to the ground, the thud sudden and painful, and a few paces away Syka did the same. He felt his radio spark and smoke on his waist.



From his vantage point, paralyzed at the bottom of the world, he saw the alleyway dim as Syka’s Magmar was knocked unconscious by the Quagsire. Errant footsteps, the sounds heavy from the boots Matsuhara was wearing, rang in his ears until she loomed over him. Squatting down, she gave him a once-over and nodded.



“Well, look at that. You actually lived. That’s good news.” She rifled through his jacket and pockets for a key, ignoring his indignant sputters and attempts at movement. “Figured he could do it, but wasn’t sure, you know?” Finding the door key to the Red & White, she stood, pocketing it. “Not that it would have been that big a deal if so.” Her tone was dry and matter-of-fact, like the Orresian wind. She had never once even looked at his face.



“Stu—pid—bitch!” Vonn forced out between gritted teeth.



Matsuhara blinked once, stared down at him for a moment. Then she lifted one booted foot and brought it down onto his nose.



He felt it break and agony knifed through his face. He choked out barely-coherent sobs of pain and rage as she rolled him onto his stomach with all the dignity of a rubbish bin. So that he wouldn’t drown in blood, he realized.



As she rolled him over, the pocketwatch fell out of his coat. Vonn could only sit there in impotent fury as she picked it up. “Wow, nice,” she said. “Think I’ll keep it.” As she stepped away, she called out one final order: “Argyle, Striga, like we discussed. Make sure they don’t bother us for a good long while.”



From the corner of his eye, Vonn saw the Misdreavus drift over to Syka and put her to sleep. He heard the beating of wings overhead and felt psychic power probing at his mind.



As he was forced into slumber, his last clear thought was one of fear. Matsuhara hadn’t killed them, but for failing to keep her away, Miror B would.



---



As her pokemon put the two doorguards to sleep, Rui fit her key into the door and twisted it. Once it was ready, she opened it.



Beyond the door was, as expected, a long and barren hallway which led to the club proper. Currently, it was lit with only a few sparse, flickering electric lights stuck every ten feet or so in the ceiling.



Lounging in the hall were three more guards.



They all turned to her as the door swung open, and she saw their faces shift from boredom to surprise to resolution.



The nearest guard, a squat man with heavy five o’clock shadow, reached for his pokeball, snarling orders.



He never got the chance. Rui’s fist took him right in the face. She was wearing the Snag Machine; he crumpled back against the wall, out of the fight.



The two further back managed to release their pokemon before Denri sent a surge of electricity down the hall, shocking the radios into destruction and sending the two men spasming onto the floor like the guards outside. The errant power blew the lights.



They fought in the dark.



In that windowless hallway, now lit only from what little light spooled in from outside, Rui’s shadows and the guards’s pokemon clashed. She heard snarls, blows, battle cries. Her shadow pokemon weren’t holding anything back. They were embracing the full force of their savagery.



She had told them to.



The man she’d punched stirred at her feet, groaning, reminding her of the two outside. She was glad she hadn’t had to shock him. All it took was for one of these men to have a pacemaker, or even just a weak heart in general, and Denri’s paralyzing shocks would be lethal.



She was willing to take that risk, and hated that she was willing.



She stuck her hand in her duster pocket. There, alongside the watch she’d taken from the man outside, were five photos. She had to be strong. She had to.



Denri’s tail filled the room with soft crimson light, and for a moment Rui had an eerie sensation, as though she was in a science fiction movie aboard a derelict space station, everything colored red. Her team was all still standing, and the two enemy pokemon were on the ground.



One was dead.



She didn’t know which of the five had killed it. Didn’t want to know. Every one of her shadows had killed another pokemon before she’d Snagged them. She suspected one or two might have even killed people. It wasn’t something they talked about. It wasn’t their fault—not fully, at least.



And yet, despite the progress she’d made… how easily they regressed when she told them that tonight, they could kill if they had to. There had been a pause when she’d told them that. “Even people?” Tama asked quietly.



That had given her a pause of her own. But she thought back to the five photos she’d shown them, the ones she carried with her now. “If you have to,” she’d said softly after a moment’s notice.



Tama, quiet Tama, had nodded at that, and she hated herself even more. She had named him that because he was not a weapon—until you need him to be, she thought at herself bitterly.



She had not forced them to do this. She had given all five a chance to bow out, and none of them had. Maybe that’s how she justified it to herself.



Seeing how they each regarded the dead pokemon, a Smeargle, with dispassion, she realized it didn’t matter who did it. They were all capable.



It was why she hadn’t told Cap or Luna. Had left them dozing at Duking’s, none the wiser to what their trainer and their team had planning. They weren’t ready for something like this.



She stepped over the Smeargle. She couldn’t afford to care now, either. “Sherles’s intel suggests Miror B is here—along with Revy and at least one of his suppliers,” she said. “He’s the top priority, the supplier is second, Revy third.” A serpent without a head…



She was done playing nice. Done walking the streets and joining tournaments. This is what she should have done from the start. Playing the nice girl in the tournament, doing the right thing, had only left her isolated and vulnerable and unable to defend the city. She should never have even bothered with it. Having to choose between the Yanma and her victory was a choice she’d brought on herself by not acting more decisive, sooner.







She felt the five photos in her pocket. It ended tonight.



At the end of the hallway were stairs. She strode up them, gathered her team as best behind her she could, reiterating their plan. “Argyle, you’re shielding me. Striga, use your powers to knock out the trainers. Denri, Tama, Reed… cut loose.”



Reed inhaled sharply; Tama’s fists tightened; Denri smirked, his hands sparking. How quickly they fell into old habits.



Rui kicked the door down onto the club floor. There were several dozen of Miror B’s stooges, all of whom looked shocked to see her.



And pandemonium was born.



Denri unleashed a wave of electricity on the nearest goons. Not to stop them from radioing for help—that ship had sailed the moment they opened the door. No, that was simply to put them on the ground until Striga could get to them. In the back, the trainers untouched by Denri pulled out their pokemon. Flashes lit the Red & White as they were summoned. Soon, there was a cluster of around thirty pokemon ready to make battle.



They faced three shadows, unleashed.



With a cry, Tama sunk his fist into the nearest pokemon—a Zigzagoon—and hurled it into the next closest foe. Reed summoned a tide of water and pushed back against an entire line of adversaries. And Denri…



Denri was lightning personified. Like lightning, those he struck tended to stay down. Like lightning, his raw and spectacular power was met with a mixture of awe and fear.



He was indiscriminate like lightning, too. More than a few attacks hit Ground-types who shrugged them off. Others missed pokemon entirely, slamming into chairs and walls and countertops, leaving fireworks of sparks and blackened soot marks. Rui tried to tell him to focus, aim, be more careful, but he ignored her. His eyes were wild and thirsty for destruction. The self-controlled edge to his love for battle that had been so carefully honed was dull once more, leaving a blunt instrument that was good only for destruction.



Forgive me, she thought, averting her eyes.



Earlier that evening, when Rui had laid out her plan to the shadows, she’d expected—or perhaps hoped—for them to protest. To call her on the debasing way she intended to deploy them, to show indignation at being used the same way they had been used by their past trainers. Instead, she was met with a quiet resignation. Acceptance. She’d hoped to bear their hate and instead found herself alone with her own, a far more daunting prospect.



But they had been convinced by what she’d showed them. That day, and the past four days, she’d received three things in the mail: a card bearing the insignia of the Red & White. A bullet. And a single photograph.



The subject of the photos varied day by day, but they always looked unaware that they were being photographed. The pictures showed them inside Duking’s estate, taken from the vantage point of windows or skylights.



Each picture had only one subject, with a bullet hole put precisely through their heart.



The first picture had been of Denri. Rui’s hands had shaken that night, and she’d insisted he stay in his ball. The next day, she received a picture of Duking. Then it was Luna. Then Cap.



As Miror B’s taunts climbed, Rui had sequestered herself away, as though she could hide from the reports. Life in Pyrite had taken a sudden turn for the worse. Beatings, thefts, killings. Duking never went anywhere without a police escort, and had forbidden his two daughters to leave his estate at all.



As the daily package of threats piled up, Rui began to wonder if she ought to just accept that she failed and leave. She could run back to Kanto, beyond Miror B’s reach, and take the shadow pokemon. Perhaps she could appeal to Silph to help cure them, or Professor Oak, or even entreat one of the Gym Leaders…



But the fifth photograph had changed everything.



The package had arrived and she’d opened it, dreading what she’d find. The bullet, of course. The calling card. But whose face would the photo show? Striga’s, perhaps? Little Tama’s? Reed’s? Perhaps Rui herself?



But when she saw who it was, she had just stared at it, shaking in quiet, seething anger. A minute passed. Five. Ten. The anger deepened, going from hot to a deep, hate-filled cold. And she still stared. She didn’t stop until she left to summon her shadow pokemon and end this once and for all.



The photo had showed Duking’s youngest daughter, a girl barely old enough to go to school, sleeping in her bed. The photo had been taken from inside the room, staring almost straight down at her. Like all the others, there was a bullet hole right over her little heart.



When she showed the shadows the photographs and came clean on the threats she’d been receiving, they’d all quieted at that picture. And when she proposed her plan using information she’d gleaned from Sherles—her plan to cut off the snake’s head, to put Miror B away, to finally end it—none had objected, despite what it might mean to them. Worse than death. Reversion. Violence. To be made mere brutes once more.



They were willing to sacrifice their innocence to save the innocent.



Arceus help me, Rui thought.



Tama was roaring now, furiously assailing other pokemon with a flurry of blows. He had given into the shadows—small tresses of red and black wisped from him, visible even though she was not open to Aura. He knocked one pokemon back and then, as it staggered, he grabbed its neck and—



Rui winced, looked away. Argyle, the only one of the team who was not expected to do great violence, covered her face with his wing. “I know,” he said, his voice sympathetic, perched reassuringly on her shoulder. “I know.”



Even in the thrall of bloodlust, Reed was quiet. The Quagsire summoned mud to beat down fiery adversaries, and shot a torrent of mighty water at a towering Nidoking. The pokemon toppled, crushing a smaller one beneath it.



Striga was putting trainers to sleep but had found themself locked in combat two bird pokemon. Snarling, the Ghost-type assailed them with spectral energy. One of the birds attempted to fly away, only for a sinewy dark tendril to leash itself around its leg and drag it back. “I’m not done with you,” Striga said.



Denri was uncontrollable, spiking electricity every way he could. He seemed barely capable of restraining himself from firing on his teammates. The bulk of fallen enemy pokemon were due to him. Some of them were smoking; others stopped twitching only after their eyes grew glassy. Even a few humans had taken his bolts. They probably wouldn’t get up either.



Five photographs. Was it worth it? Rui realized, as her team rampaged through the Red & White, that she might actually win this. But was it worth it?



Reed slammed his tail into the floor and the building shook, part of the ceiling crumbling down. Trainers and pokemon scattered with a cry. Voices spiked from the floor above. A small pipe, exposed and broken from the collapse, began spewing water onto the floor.



Tama was striking anything he saw, leaving dents in walls and enemies broken behind him. He smashed a speaker in, hoisted it over his head, and hurled it at a nearby goon. The goon’s pokemon dived in at the last second, pushing her trainer out of the way. The Pikachu was not so lucky, her heart-tipped tail swallowed by the rolling rubble.



The goons were scattering, their pokemon breaking. They had never had to fight coordinated before, and many of them only had one or two relatively weak pokemon. The second floor was theirs. Miror B was up top. They could end this!



“Let’s go!” Rui called. “The way is open!”



Her shadows ignored her.



“Striga!” The Misdreavus didn’t respond, instead choosing to unleash a beam of psychic energy at a fleeing pokemon. “Reed! Tama, please!” Neither listened. “Denri! Denri¸ are you listening?”



The Ampharos turned to face her, his eyes manic. “Yo boss!” he said, his voice tinged with mockery. “What say we really turn up the carnage!”



He turned to the dance floor and its massive, wall-sized fog machine. Before Rui could protest or reach for his poke ball, he’d loosed a massive bolt to it.



The machine sparked, smoked—and then exploded.



The burst was catastrophic, the blast knocking almost everyone aside. It was as if someone had launched a New Year’s firework inside the club. Argyle shielded Rui from the shockwave with a psychic wall, but the exertion required to hold out against it left him collapsed against her. He managed to murmur only a single apology before sinking into unconsciousness.



Surveying the desolated club, Rui saw that both Tama and Reed had fallen to the shockwave as well. She recalled her three unconscious pokemon and rose on unsteady legs. Striga was still duking it out with other pokemon, while Denri was staggering about, exulting in his own anarchy. Wisps of shadow spiraled from them both, visible only to her eyes.



At this rate, it seemed as though they would only bring down Miror B if the club came with him.



What was I thinking? Rui lambasted herself. Unleashing shadow pokemon was like setting a building on fire. You thought you had it under control until the very moment everything went wrong…



She tried to take a step forward and collapsed, still woozy from the blast. Had Argyle not shielded her, she might be fully unconscious. None of the other humans seemed capable of standing.



Sound from above. The hole in the ceiling widened, and more pokemon poured out, directed by unseen voices.



Five photographs. She’d cast everything to the wind for five photographs.



The new wave of pokemon mobbed both Denri and Striga, rendering both unconscious. Rui didn’t even bother with the idea of running.



One of the pokemon, a Medicham, lifted her by her upper arm, and its trainer, another person wearing armor and a scarf like the woman she had faced in the tournament, smirked at her. “Well, well, well,” he said smoothly, as if explosions and a trashed club were everyday occurrences. “Bastard had it right after all.”



Holding his hand up to an earpiece, he said, “you were right, Miror B. She’s our culprit.” A paused, and then he smiled. “Seems fitting.”



As his hand fell, Rui raised her head. “Are you… going to kill me?” she said.



He laughed. “You like shadow pokemon? There’s a place Miror B keeps his particularly rowdy ones.” Eying his Medicham, he gestured out the window, towards the cliffside the club was built against. “Take her in the cave,” he ordered, “and throw her in the pit. Put her friends in their too.” He smiled at her. “Those shadow pokemon are always fighting each other. Would be nice if they had something else to take their aggression on.”



As the Medicham dragged Rui away, the other pokemon following suit with Striga and Denri, she had a momentary flash of desperation.



Five photographs. She’d impulsively thrown everything away over five photographs.



And then she slipped into merciful darkness.


---

No pertinent information for the in-game run this time around. I remember this being a chapter that gave me a lot of trouble.
 

Spectacles

Rule Maker
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
139
Caught
Jun 24, 2019
Messages
156
Location
Pennsylvania
Nature
Jolly
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy
Pokédex Entry
It hides deep inside caves where no light ever reaches it and remains virtually motionless there. ~Pokemon Crystal, entry #52
Woo, caught up again! Ugh that scene with the Yanma... I really felt Rui's frustration. No matter what she did, Miror B would have gotten some outcome he wanted. And it seems to be the same for this chapter too. But I can't say i wouldn't have done the same if I were in Rui's shoes...
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
206
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
  • #60
Woo, caught up again! Ugh that scene with the Yanma... I really felt Rui's frustration. No matter what she did, Miror B would have gotten some outcome he wanted. And it seems to be the same for this chapter too. But I can't say i wouldn't have done the same if I were in Rui's shoes...
Yeah, poor Rui. She really had to pick between two bad choices. Either one probably would have haunted her...


Re: that most recent chapter on Ao3;


This is my best try at posting a GIF, so like. A for effort. Giving myself an A for effort.
😇

When she woke, the first thing that struck her was the beauty. It was as if she was in some sort of fairyland cave—colored crystals in the walls, misting waterfalls, mosses and lichens that glowed faintly on the uneven stone.



The second thing that struck her was a fierce headache that left her reeling, her mind hazy from shock and pain.



Rui struggled to rise. Every part of her body ached as if she had been part of a brawl. Her mind was blurry from pain, and her body cried out in both hunger and thirst.



An unfamiliar figure was there to catch her weight against his.



“Shhh, shhh,” he said, his voice low and even. She blinked blearily up at him. He was a Mantine—hovering aboard the cavern floor with practiced ease. “Be still, little human. I have you.”



She groaned, knuckling her forehead. Everything hurt…



“Quiet, quiet,” the Mantine said, sheltering her. “You don’t want to provoke them.”



Provoke…?



As her mind finally cleared, Rui took new stock of where she was.



The cavern was gorgeous-looking. It was a massive hollow, the size of a Unovan football stadium, with water flowing from crevasses and luminous growths. The crystals served as prisms, sending colored lights dancing across the walls. But most of the hollow had been converted into a massive prison-yard; pylons stuck into the ground like giant nails. Though the air between the pylons seemed clear, under scrutiny it wavered slightly, like the world seen through another person’s glasses. Some sort of energy or containment field. Looking overhead, Rui’s fears were confirmed—the ceiling was much the same way. They were caged in, then.



And they were not alone. Pokemon—several dozen of them—stalked the interior. If the pylons looked like nails, then the voices of the pokemon sounded like nails; scratchy, scraping, hoarse. Rui shivered as she realized that nothing—nothing—from these creatures bespoke intelligence. They snarled at each other, stalked on low limbs. Their eyes blazed with bloodlust and their lips peeled back in a tooth-baring rictus. Most bore wounds of some sort, and a few dark lumps scattered throughout the cavern attested to those who had lost their struggles.



A claw of sheer disgust tore at Rui’s heart. No… It couldn’t be. This was beyond making creatures into shadow pokemon. There was no light of intellect or spark of self in these creatures’ eyes. They had been reduced into what Miror B and his kind considered pokemon to be: true animals.



She had to be missing something. Maybe she was looking at this the wrong way. Her powers defaulted to understanding pokemon sounds, but she knew that if she concentrated, she could pick up more. The way they moved; even their smells. They communicated in subtler ways than humans and her abilities allowed her to zero in on them.



Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to fall into stillness. No longer would she view the world through a human’s lens. She would see the pokemon on their own level.



When she opened them, everything was changed. The Mantine hovering near her spoke unsaid but clear messages with every flap of his wings: safe—protect—trust—guardian. It was as obvious as when a human changed her outfit for a rave compared to a job interview. The messages were unspoken but could not be clearer. Had his wingtips been flashing faster, she intuited, there would have been a lace of aggressiveness to him; the position of the two frond-like horns on the front of his face could move in signs of deference or command. Right now they spoke a quiet, stalwart form of leadership. This was a pokemon who was first-among-equals: he expected others to follow him not based on physical prowess but due to shared interests and mutual respect.



And there was more, too. The slowness of his wingbeats, the way his gills barely flapped, and the slight droop to his tail were things he was trying to conceal, but only partially successful at. They spoke to a deep weariness, the sort that, through grinding persistence, wore its victim down like a millstone.



And when she turned her eyes back to the feral pokemon, more messages were displaying themselves: hunt—consume—hurt—devour—shatter—eat—

She closed her eyes, not wanting to see any more, but she couldn’t hide from their scents. It was a reek of bloodlust and adrenaline, but far from momentary, it was permanent—as if someone had taken forced these pokemon exclusively into the fight side of “fight or flight.” The smells were bestial, aggressive, and mindless, utterly mindless…



Breathing heavily, and trying to hide it to avoid drawing the attention of the feral pokemon, she forced herself out of her hyperaware mindset, and when she opened her eyes again, she operated on a human scale once more—the information she saw reduced to subtext her brain filtered through for her.



Gods above, spending all her time like that would be enough to drive her—to drive anyone—mad.



The Mantine looked at her with open sympathy. “They told me you would want to help them,” he said softly. His voice had a grandfatherly quality despite his apparent youth—he could not have been that much older than Cap or Luna. “You cannot. They are beyond helping. They are less even than weapons, for a weapon can be controlled. They are… truly lost.”



Breathing in and out, Rui forced the storm of emotions in her chest—indignation, anguish, and sheer, panicked fear—to quiet. She was only partially successful. “Why haven’t they killed me?” she asked softly. The closest thing to a complex emotion she’d sensed in any of them was hate—hate for humans. They wished to rip them all asunder.



“They were beaten back,” the Mantine said. “Myself and the others like me—those here who are still ourselves, more or less—rallied with your team to protect you.” His wingtips drooped, and his scent conveyed an admission—shame. “We were… not ready to help you at first, but the bird, he brought us to your cause. His words even took your other teammates out of their stupors, and they joined in the fight. They are quite mighty…” He shook his head. “Combined, the Feral Ones could have overwhelmed us all, but they lack the ability to unify or coordinate.”



Scoping out the hollow once more, Rui realized that she and the Mantine were on one end, and that familiar faces—Denri, Reed, Striga—were patrolling it with the help of unfamiliar pokemon who did not carry themselves with the savagery of these Feral Ones: a Remoraid, a Dunsparce, a Meditite, a Swablu. There were others.



“They saved me...” Rui said softly. “You all did. And it was Argyle who did it? Where is he?”



Another shift in the Matine’s scents and body language: regret—sorrow—mournfulness. “He is there.”



He gestured to a form she knew as Tama, and he was standing over a slumped figure.



Argyle.



She didn’t realize she was crying, she didn’t realize she was moving, until she was standing over him, tears streaming down her face. Tama looked up at her, and then normally taciturn pokemon held an air of quiet sadness. “Rui,” he said, softly. “We were hoping you’d wake up in time to say goodbye.”



He reached down and touched Argyle on his shoulder. The bird pokemon blinked and his chest rose and fell. He coughed, a wet and weak sound, and then shuddered as he did it. A number of nasty-looking wounds peppered his body.



“Hey… boss,” he said with a small laugh. “Never thought I’d end up taking command, ‘specially ‘gainst a horde like that.” He waved his wingtips in the vague direction of the Feral Ones. “But they got me pretty good.”



“I’m—I’m so s—”



Rui couldn’t even speak, her throat was so tight. She’d failed him. All of them. Her weakness and her impulsivity had cost them all everything.



“Sorry?” he finished for her. “For what? Boss… until you came along, the beast controlled me every single day. Now, I… I barely feel it at all anymore.” He leaned his head back, smiling up at the soft glow of the cavern mosses. “You saved me.”



He closed his eyes, his haggard breathing slowly evening out as he slipped back into slumber. Tama idly touched her arm and led her away.



“We were too far gone to help him protect you at first,” he said softly. “He pulled us out. Maybe if we hadn’t lost ourselves to violence…”



Maybe. It was an addictive drug, that word. Maybe if she’d done things differently. Maybe if the pokemon had fought with more strategy. Maybe if they had escaped immediately to get help… but no. Only a pokemon center could have treated those kinds of wounds, and Pyrite had none.



“How long was I out?” she asked. “Those didn’t seem like fresh wounds.”



Tama shifted uncomfortably. “Those humans… they beat you up pretty bad. They made us watch while they did it. Even while lost in the bloodlust, I… didn’t like seeing it.”



She remembered vague, phantom images she had taken as nightmares. They had stolen the Snag Machine and pummeled her mercilessly before tossing her in the pit with the others.



“You were down for a while,” the Makuhita continued. “I don’t know for sure, but… two or three days, maybe.”



Almost half a week.



If help was going to come, it would have shown up already.



Excusing herself, Rui wandered away to the far side of space that her team and the Mantine’s allies had claimed as their own. Slumping against a suitcase-sized stone, she let anguish and weariness rock her into a dull half-slumber, her mind twisting upon itself, chasing the same ideas round and round in a circle, as if in a labyrinth.



And then something yanked her mind from the labyrinth and into a misty void.



A presence touched her, imparting an idea that was not her own: So much hurting…



The presence was ethereal, reminding Rui of grass waving in the moonlight, and it had a touch of familiarity to it.



Do you remember me?



She did. She remembered her time in the hospital, feverish from the poison a Nidoran had given her, and how an airy presence had showed her things from Orre’s past.



“Who are you?”



You shall soon know—or so I hoped. Mist swirled around her in the void as the presence seemed to mull things over in thought. There were so many paths before you. Many were hard. Some were terrible. In a few you suffered in ways you could not imagine even now.



The mist pulsed, like a sigh. Yet while this path was a possibility, I did not give it credence. You had done well in avoiding the worst of them so far… humans can be so hard to understand.



Flashes of moments throughout history—the Aueriteks making war on other tribes, Unovan settlers clashing with natives, criminal elements slowly poisoning Orre’s cities. Woven amidst all of them was a sense of both fascination and a deep and bitter cynicism. Whatever the presence was, it had seen humans do the worst to each other time and time again.



“I’m in trouble,” Rui said. “Help me. Please.



There would be consequences. Ones you would not enjoy.



What could be worse than waiting for her death in this cave, surrounded by feral things that had once been creatures with lives and loves of their own? “I’m willing to face them.”



No. You are not.



And though the presence said no more, Rui knew the discussion was over.



“Leave me, then,” she said, curling in on herself. “Whatever you are. A hallucination, probably. My death is forgone.”



How easily your kind insists that there is one singular path. Forgone, you say? The Aueriteks thought the same of their dominance. The mists coalesced into more visions, showing an ancient empire—the same she had seen wielding shadow pokemon the last time the presence had touched her mind. But like watching a sped-up video in a documentary, their great cities and temples were suddenly toppled, so fast it almost seemed to have happened in a blink. They were destroyed by that they did not foresee. It was not external enemies who brought them down, but their own vassals. They were shattered from within.



A pause, and then the presence reiterated, with a twinge of emphasis so soft Rui may have only imagined it. They were shattered from within. By those they thought under their control. And then the presence faded away, and as the mist vanished like snow in the dawn and Rui’s mind melted into deep slumber, she was left with the distinct impression that something, somewhere, was trying to tell her something.



---



It was Reed’s turn to watch over Argyle. The Quagsire had spelled Tama, who had taken his place in the line against the Feral Ones. The vicious pokemon had not moved against them since that initial, brutal fight which had left a few of the Mantine’s fellows dead, and had mortally wounded Argyle.



It would be soon. The Noctowl was in bad shape.



Would Reed’s death follow after? Would they all fall? It was only a matter of time before the Feral Ones turned restless again. If they pushed harder than before, there would be no chance. All of them would be swept under—Reed himself, his teammates, the Mantine and his pokemon.



Rui.



The girl was slumped against a rock, sleeping so deeply that when one of the Feral Ones—a vicious-looking Scyther—had keened a raw, screeching cry, she had not stirred at all.



Rui Matsuhara. His trainer. She was so flawed, so imperfect. Yet Reed did not hold it against her. None of the shadows did. For she was like them, in a way. Possessing powers unlike others of her kind. Struggling to do the right thing but so very prone to mistakes and errors.



No one, person or pokemon, could make the right choice every time. Perhaps the girl would blame herself for their predicament, but Reed didn’t. The shadows could have vetoed her plan, but they’d chosen not to.



A sound stirred him out of his reverie. He looked down—Argyle was blinking awake, coughing.



Reed knelt to look at his teammate. There was no need to such pointless questions as how are you or do you need anything. They both knew the bird pokemon would die soon. Reed simply wanted to give Argyle the stalwart presence of a friend at the end. He would pass with quiet dignity.



Argyle wheezed and cringed, before raising his head. “‘S you, huh,” he said. “How’s Rui?”



“Sleeping.”



Argyle nodded, the gesture small—he couldn’t afford anything else. “Yeah.” He leaned back. “I got this feeling, you know? She’ll get you guys out of here.”



Doubtful, but Reed wasn’t going to argue with the dying. Argyle was ever the optimist—outshone by that hyperactive Espeon, perhaps, but optimistic nonetheless.



But wait. She’d take you guys out? Not Argyle himself? Perhaps he saw things clearer than Reed gave him credit for.



“Hey,” Argyle said, “when you get out, can you give Cap a message? Tell him…” he coughed. “Tell him he’s handsome and—and cute and strong and the perfect pokemon.” He sunk back, and his eyes carried a sorrowful weight to them. “And tell him I regret not saying that to him back when I had the chance.”



“I will tell him,” Reed said.



“Thanks.” There was a moment of silence, and then another—Reed thought Argyle had slipped back into slumber. But then the Noctowl continued, as if there had been no break. “Learn from this, yeah? Don’t be afraid to make your move. Make it count. Once you get out of it, go for it.”



A pang in Reed’s heart. Threatened remembrances. A sudden spike self-loathing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”



A dry laugh from Argyle that sent him cringing even more. “C’mon, Reed. You and Luna. I’ve seen you two. She’s the only one you talk to on a regular basis or that you let get close to you. She’s always finding reasons to be with you. You have to see she’s interested, and I know you like her better than the rest of us.”



“I…” Reed’s heart was spinning wildly. He was not an idiot. He had picked up on Luna’s signals—and by the spirits, but she enticed him in a way he didn’t know could exist.



But. His time back in the laboratory… his transformation into a shadow pokemon… the things he had done…



Arceus strike me down, I don’t deserve to be here.



The memories threatened to overwhelm him, and he trembled where he stood, and Argyle’s brows furrowed… and then realization struck the Noctowl’s face. “You got scars,” he said softly. “About this stuff.”



A nod.



“You wanna talk about it?”



No. No. No. He shook his head.



Argyle paused before speaking. “Reed, buddy, getting it out… I think it’ll help.” He exhaled, the sound soft and weak. “Your secret will stay secret. I promise. I’ll… heh.” His beak twisted into a sardonic smile. “I’ll take it to my grave.”



Reed looked down at his friend—his friend? Was Argyle his friend? With a start, he realized that he was. He’d never thought he’d had a real friend. He didn’t think he deserved them.



“It was the lab,” he said. “They—I—”



He couldn’t say more. Argyle nodded in sympathy.



“For me, it was my old team,” the Noctowl said softly. “They captured all of us. The rest of them were… well, they were wimps, but we were friends anyway. You know? I figured I could teach them how to be tough.” He exhaled. “I was the only one they figured was worth turning into a shadow pokemon. They made me beg for my teammates’ lives—and I did.” He swallowed. “And then they killed them anyway.”



Reed laid a paw on Argyle’s shoulder. He’d known that they specialized in breaking pokemon in the lab, and had heard of stories similar to Argyle’s. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. And then, without even consciously deciding to, he spoke, the words flowing from him like water.



“They have a program there for getting eggs from captive pokemon. I—I was part of it.” He waited for the disgust, the revulsion, but Argyle merely looked at him with wide eyes, fresh understanding. Reed continued: “There were probably more efficient ways of going about it. Humans have a way if one of their females wants to have a child without a man involved. They could have done that. But the eggs weren’t their true aim. They mostly just wanted us to suffer.”



Now that he was saying it, he couldn’t stop until it was all out. “The females understood that I didn’t want it any more than they did. The scientists and their pokemon threatened us to kill us, messily, if we didn’t comply. So all parties just… accepted how it was. That this was what we had to do.” His breath rattled out. “But sometimes I still feel like a monster.”



“They didn’t give you a choice,” Argyle said quietly. “They look into your head with ghosts and Psychic-types and pick what’ll hurt you most. None of the others in the program… Reed, I would be surprised if they blamed you in any way.”



Reed knew there was truth to Argyle’s words. His head knew that. But his heart said he belonged in perdition. “Luna, I… I don’t deserve…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “Not her. Not anyone. Not after what I did in there.”



“…Reed…”



“…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have burdened you with that.”



Argyle blinked once, and then twice. “It’s alright. I… kind of wish I had known sooner. Then I could have helped you…”



“Sometimes it’s worse than at other times,” Reed admitted. “Like there’s a voice in my telling me to destroy myself.”



Argyle’s breath caught. “I have something similar, except it shows up when I’m battling. It tells me to be violent…”



Reed nodded. “I know that. I think we all do.”



“I call it the beast.” There was a small twinge of fear to Argyle’s voice. “Even when it disappears, it never really goes away. It just recedes inside of me, fading into a… a pearl, endlessly dreaming.” He looked at Reed. “Reed, I wonder if it might actually be something else inside of us. Not us. Do you know? Something that sees through our eyes and tells us to harm others or ourselves.”



Reed shifted uncomfortably. He had never really considered it. After being made to do the bad things in the laboratory—and, once the humans had determined him to be sufficiently miserable, after they had abandoned him in that dark room with the white walls—there had been violent impulses and urges he could not name. But he figured it was just his own darkness. They had broken him into pieces, like a glass urn, and like glass, it didn’t matter how nice he had looked at first—one he broke, the pieces were dangerous.



But what if Argyle was correct?



“I can… feel it coming, Reed,” Argyle said. “It’s been getting weaker, but now that I’m almost gone, it’s stirring inside of me. It… wants to wake up one last time.” He swallowed, and there were tears in his eyes. “I’m really scared, Reed.”



“Don’t be,” Reed said. “This is the real you. Not whatever bad things that another forces you to do.”



“Thank you,” Argyle said. Then he looked at his friend. “What you just said… do you realize it applies to you, too?” And as he slipped into slumber, he left his friend pondering.



Two hours went by, and Argyle passed in his sleep. It was a quiet thing—uneventful in its momentousness. He breathed, and breathed, and then merely didn’t. An unexplainable stillness settled into him that could not be explained by slumber. Reed knew it had been coming, but it still hurt. It still hurt.



But there was no time to mourn. Because only a minute or two after Argyle went still…



…his eyes snapped open.



The Noctowl’s body jerked up, strangely loose and stiff all at once. Argyle—no, it couldn’t have been Argyle—swept the cavern with a wide and searching gaze, seeing everything as if for the first time: pylons, mosses, water, pokemon, the stone itself, all new. And then the eyes fixed on Reed, and held there, and the thing-in-Argyle grinned.



Reed stepped back involuntarily.



Laughter—coarse, ragged, and mocking—clawed out of the Noctowl’s mouth, followed by a jerking series of words, said as if by someone who had not spoken voluntarily for several years.



“You... shall hear... the song.” Argyle-that-was-not leaned forward, eyes studying Reed, and sniffed the air. Reed was idly aware that not once had the thing before him blinked.



“Do you know me?” the Noctowl whispered. “Do you know my taste, my touch, my darkness?” The grin returned, and more of the ragged laughter. “I know you,” it said, curling the word as if a musical note. “There is agony etched in your heart. Fear not. Suffer not. It shall be eaten. All of it... your pain, your fathoms, your planet. Eaten.” It spread Argyle’s wings, like a minister preaching to a congregation, and its voice was a rasp. “You shall hear the song. Rejoice. A harmless song of ruin.” It leaned in, stretching the last word out, like a scream on the wind. “Rejoice.”



And then even that parody of life left the Noctowl’s body, and it slumped over, never to move again.



Reed’s heart hammered away in his chest. What was that? What was that?



As fear raked its icy claws through him, he felt the underpinnings of his shadow self stirring in his heart.



His shadow self? No. Now that he looked closer, there was a distinctly foreign sensation to it. The thing sleeping in his soul squirmed, as if the words from that-which-looked-like-Argyle were a chime for it to rise. Reed forced it down, dampened it even through his fear, and the sensation slowly subsided, ebbing into what could only be described as…



A pearl, endlessly dreaming.



---



When Rui woke from her fitful sleep, Argyle was gone.



She wept, her back to the rock. She choked back her sobs, desperate not to draw the attention of the Feral Ones, but there was only so much she could do.



Everything had gone wrong.



Afterwards, feeling hollow, she curled in on herself. Some of her teammates, as well as the Mantine, had tried to cheer her up, but she had shooed them all away.



Denri had tried proposing an escape plan. “I think Striga could do it,” he said, his tail glowing red with excitement. “That field even keeps in ghosts, but maybe we could have them try it on the pylons themselves…”



“Go away, Denri.”



The Ampharos had tried not to look hurt. “Rui…”



“Go away.”



And he had.



Hunger and thirst gnawed at her. Even if the Feral Ones didn’t get her, Miror B had only a little time to wait before she died and he won. She wondered if he’d already moved against Duking. Against Cap and Luna. Sherles. Duking’s little daughters.



“Damn it all,” she whispered.



She had no idea how long she spent trapped in that spiraling trance. But what jerked her out of it was the cacophony raised by the Feral Ones.



They were howling, snarling, hurling themselves against the opposite side of the field. She could see shadows spiking off of them, spiraling up and twisting on themselves. Frowning, Rui climbed atop the rock to see over them.



Miror B was standing on the far end of the hollow, outside the shimmering shield erected by the pylons. His Ludicolo were with him—only two, though. Vulcana had taken more than just his looks.



There was at least a dozen people arrayed behind him, all tough-looking sorts.



She understood. The one thing close to a complex emotion remaining in the bestial pokemon was hate—hate for all humans, but especially, she realized, for their tormentor. Miror B. Perhaps he insisted on being present during whatever process stripped them of their last sense of being. Or perhaps some vestige of them knew that he was at the top of the hierarchy. Whatever the reason, his appearance made them into monsters.



Miror B gestured his head and one of the men strode up to the field. He pulled out what looked like a remote with two large, clearly visible buttons, one green and one orange.



He pushed the green one.



Small lights on the pylons began to flicker and all the pokemon—her teammates, the Mantine, the Feral Ones, all of them—howled in sudden agony and sunk down to the earth, barely moving except for small, pained trembles.



For her part, Rui barely noticed anything except a barely-detectable, high-pitched whine.



Sonic emitters… So this is how Miror B kept them in line.



When the pokemon were incapacitated, the man hit the orange button. The shields fell—the pokemon had their opportunity—



But no. None of them moved. None of them could move. The emitters did their job. The man strode across the cavern, weaving in and out of bestial pokemon as if they were no more threatening than a scraggy weed, and she realized that they had probably done this hundreds of times.



The man reached her and strongarmed her back towards Miror B. She barely even had the energy to resist. As they meandered through the scattered, incapacitated pokemon, she reflected on how thoroughly even these feral pokemon were under their control.



…their control…



After they walked beyond the far set of pylons, the man stepped away from Rui and pulled out the remote again. The orange button re-summoned the shields, and afterwards, the green one shut off the emitters. The mass of pokemon slowly staggered to their feet.



“Come on,” he growled, grabbing her by the arm. “The boss is done waiting for you.”



When he tugged her, she stumbled and sagged against him with a grunt. “Sorry,” she panted. “I’m… really thirsty, and tired…”



Snarling, the man hoisted her up and yanked her along before throwing her to her knees a few paces in front of Miror B.



She looked up at him. He wore the same outfit as the night Vulcana had died—a jacket that bared his chest coupled with a stylish scarf. His entire torso was a searing, angry red, looking even more painful than his facial scarring, and Rui couldn’t help but feel mildly impressed that her foe had not only survived such an attack, but had resumed his operations within a week of being hurt.



Miror B looked down at her with a smirk, then lifted his mirrored shades from his face. “Now stella, you is tenacious, and that the truth,” he said, his voice smooth and mocking.



“What do you want with me,” Rui said, her voice gravelly from exhaustion.



Miror B clucked his tongue. “That Duking, he be the opposite of a cool cat. He uncool. How much music gotta play afore you accept the new beats? New rhythms?” He shook his head, his afro bouncing side to side. “Total bogus. Girl, I make you a deal. I put you front of a vidscreen and you tell him to dance to the new beat. He listen to you, dig?”



“And what, you won’t kill me?”



His smile stretched the scarring on his face. “Nah, girl, that ship done sailed a while back. But I take your crew outta that pit, and won’t turn ‘em into crazy machines. They can go live wit’ Duking and his chicks and those two pokemon you left back. I leave them all be so long as they and Duking behave theyself.” He leaned forward, still smiling. “You care about them, don’t you, cool cat? You want them pokemon to be safe. Now you get what you want.”



“What I want?” Rui chuckled, the sound rolling out of her. She looked up at him with fire. “What I want right now, more than anything, is to see you dead.”



He laughed mirthlessly. “You ain’t never gon’ see that, honey.”



She stood up, slowly, despite her aches and pains. When she was standing tall, Miror B smirking at her even as his men tried to scowl her into submission, she breathed in, once, and said:



“I disagree.”



The she pulled out the remote she’d swiped when she’d staggered against the goon, and pressed the orange button.



The shields keeping the Feral Ones at bay—the wild, slavering, bloodthirsty, animalistic creatures filled with nothing but hate towards their captor—faded away. Sheer panic slashed through the assembled humans, and it stopped them from making the one move that might have saved them. Rui threw the remote to the ground and then lifted her foot—still clad in a heavy boot; they had left Rui her boots, her duster, her shirt, had only taken the Snag Maachine—and smashed it into pieces, destroying the only hope of using the sonic emitters.



Miror B’s mouth opened to bark out a desperate command, but whatever it was, the sound was drowned out by the sudden roar of the Feral Ones.



Rui didn’t have to turn to know they were stampeding this way.



Some of the goons released their pokemon and pulled out firearms. Many more turned and fled. Miror B backed away several paces, screaming commands at his Ludicolo, fear—genuine, bona fide fear—playing on his face. It was the first time Rui had ever seen it there.



She knelt and closed her eyes, waiting for her end. They hated Miror B, but they hated all humans. She was a human. She was between them and him.



At least she finally brought him down.



But then a comforting touch rested on her shoulder. She opened her eyes to see Striga hovering there there. “Keep back!” they yelled, using dizzying lights to turn back the Feral Ones running straight for Rui. “No further!”



One of the Feral Ones staggered but did not stop. Tama’s fist brought it down. The Makuhita stood stalwartly alongside Rui, his fists raised. “I am not a weapon,” he said. “Today, I am a shield.



Water washed more of the Feral Ones away, and lightning paralyzed another that was heading towards Rui. Reed and Denri fell in.



A shadow swooped overhead—a fifth pokemon, the Mantine, joined the circle.



And the Feral Ones, seeing five pokemon arrayed against them, left the red-haired human alone to focus on easier prey.



They swarmed the Ludicolo, tearing into them with savage violence. The Ludicolo managed to beat a few of them away, even killing one, but they were no match for sheer numbers. One goon, armed with a gun, brought down eight Feral Ones with eight bullets. As he was fumbling for another clip, a screeching Pidgeotto swooped out of the sky and smashed him earthward, talons first.



The carnage was unbelievable. The men and their pokemon wilted like leaves in a drought.



When the Feral Ones came for Miror B, his Ludicolo were already dead. He screamed, swinging his fists at them, as they swarmed him and pulled him down to the cavern floor. He fell to his own pet monstrosities, the things he kept caged in his basement, his experiments, his amusements. Had he ever thought his sonic emitters and cage, so well-designed, so elegant, would fail him? That his vanquished enemy, completely at his mercy, would destroy him with his own creations?



They were shattered from within. By those they thought under their control.



A huge mob of Feral Ones, dozens strong, chased the fleeing goons up the stairs into the higher parts of the cave, and terrified screams echoed down. There were the sounds of pokemon fighting, of surprised and frightened yelling, of gunshots.



Those Feral Ones left behind, driven into even further bloodlust, threw themselves at each other with no more humans to kill, savaging with teeth and claws.



Before long, there were none left.



As the mayhem continued in the upper levels, the circle of pokemon around Rui relaxed. She stepped out, shaking, still in disbelief that she was alive. There was a monitor on the wall—probably used by scientists monitoring the Feral Ones.



“I have to call Duking and Sherles,” she said, limping over to it. “They need to know that a mob of vicious pokemon have just been unleashed… and that Miror B is gone.”



Reaching the monitor, she turned briefly to look at the scene. Other than herself, her team, and the Mantine and his crew, it was devastation. It looked like nothing less than a battlefield.



Her eyes lingered on what was left of Miror B.



Striga drifted close, looking back and forth between the scene and her face. “Rui?” they asked. “Are you… okay?”



Surprising herself, she nodded—slowly. “Yeah. I am.” She turned and busied herself with the monitor. “I’m just… thinking.”



“What about?”



She managed to contact Duking, told him what to expect, told him to mobilize Sherles and the rest of the police. Then, exhausted, she slumped against the wall after he promised a rescue.



“I’m thinking about something somebody once told me,” she said. “You ever hear the phrase, ‘What goes around, comes around’?”



Striga nodded. “Mhmmm.”



“Well, he told me…” She sighed, looking at the remnants of the remote laying crushed near the still-warm body of the man who had, just this morning, controlled more or less all crime in western Orre. Then she raised her head, taking in the waterfalls, the crystals, the luminous moss growing on the walls.



Despite everything, the cave was lovely, in its own way.



“He told me,” she said with weary satisfaction, “that sometimes, you are what comes around.”


---


Okay.

This update covers a
lot of ground in-game, so bear with me.

For those of you not in the know, basically the entire 2nd half of Pyrite Town is just two gigantic dungeons back to back. You've got Miror B's hideout, which is connected to the Pyrite Cave, where Miror B himself waits. There's literally nothing but endless fights and hordes of shadow pokemon. This is probably the longest sequence in the game, and also one of the hardest, considering that you are barred from leveling up any pokemon that aren't Espeon or Umbreon until a fair further into the game. And they drop this on you in the second town.

The Mantine is indeed a catch--his name is Manny. The others were all also caught and named, but I'll put their info in a future update.

For Argyle's death, he was killed by a critical Shadow Rush from one of the shadows in Miror B's hideout (I think the Meditite). It sucked because I even had Reflect up, so I figured he was good, but crits be crits--they don't care about your defense raises.

The Miror B fight itself was incredibly easy. I used Luna to tank (and spammed toxic to help whittle down the HP of his Ludicolo squad) and cycled between Cap, Manny, and Tama as my main damage dealers. Denri was brought into paralyze the Sudowoodo, which I caught in my second Great Ball.

We have one more chapter to go before I end the first arc--mostly denouement and stuff. But Miror B is finally down and done, and we can leave Pyrite Town soon. Are you ready for a change in scenery?
 

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