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Thread Description
"We are known not by our light, but our darkness." Chapter 88 up [11/22]

CrumpetsAndCheese

some dude
Pokédex No.
4942
Caught
Sep 6, 2021
Messages
51
Location
My house, duh.
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. ???
Pokédex Entry
It likes to stay inside and use the internet. Sometimes it leaves its computer to use a different device, or rarely draw.
ALREADY A NEW UPDATE!?!?!?!??!? wonderful, just amazing 10/10
 
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Moon Drop Grape

some dumb rabbit
Pokédex No.
2818
Caught
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
19
Location
somewhere
Nature
Naive
Pronouns
She/They
Pokémon Type
  1. Electric
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
i'm a furry who draws things
It only took Striga a few minutes to utterly whoop her ass.
i know this is referring to checkers, how well do you reckon striga would do at a chesslocke?
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
She shook her head. The amoral didn’t wring hands over being amoral. That she was concerned about her reaction was itself promising.
Yay for being kind to yourself! 🎉

Stepping inside, she hissed at the burst of cool air coming from the AC. Humans were so obsessed with what they thought was comfort, but didn’t they realize how anomalous this temperature was to a desert-dweller? Why not just strand her on Mt. Coronet while they were at it?
Can't relate, Dune. *turns AC up*

Kata blinked. Blinked again. Then he burst into a wide grin. “Well done!” he howled pridefully. He leapt to his feet and shot a friendly hand to Striga in gratitude. (The Misdreavus looked bemusedly at it. They had no hands. Still, it was the thought that counted.) “To vanquish such a formidable foe as myself… speaks of your utmost MAGNIFICENCE!”
I missed your energy over the hiatus, my son.

Formidable foe, eh? Dune snorted. “Didn’t you just learn how to play checkers this morning?”



FORMIDABLE!” he repeated, as if volume alone was enough to dictate truth. She shook her head.
You're just jealous of his formidable skill!

I love Dune's decision to play checkers even though she knows she's going to lose because she's not sure if she'll ever get the chance to do so again. 🥺 This group has come a long way in their ability to make new members feel welcome!

Me @ Kata being worried about his old trainer: 🥺

“He was capable of being warm because you let him,” Kata said. “He told me some of your childhood, before Wes. The hard stuff, you took on yourself. You were so small… Your brother should have been rougher and cynical, but he wasn’t, and it was because of you.”



Luna held for a moment—and then when she spoke, it was with a tight voice. “Aw hell, you’re… you’re gonna make me cry, you big softie.”
Yes, accept the validation from your brother-in-law, Luna! 🥺

I know everyone else is prepping for Es Cade, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a speedbump on the way to her.
Where is the lie? 🤷‍♀️

But most of all, he prayed for forgiveness. Forgiveness for himself, for his friends, for the whole region. Because while they’d all made mistakes, none of them deserved to be defined by them—not while they tried to move forward. The most important step to take wasn’t the first step—it was the next step. Always the next step.
Theme spotted. 👀
 
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Moon

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3995
Caught
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
629
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They, Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Ghost
  2. Ice
Pokédex Entry
Because they're the two rarest types, they're the rarest pokemon. Yes, that's logical. No, there aren't other Ghost/Ice types. Froslass doesn't exist.
OH DANG YOU UPDATED
uh
yeah
not much to say
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #345
ALREADY A NEW UPDATE!?!?!?!??!? wonderful, just amazing 10/10

Yeah! In fact, this run is supposed to be weekly... I was just really bad at that for a while there... (also no this chapter isn't a day late, nooooo)

i know this is referring to checkers, how well do you reckon striga would do at a chesslocke?

Striga would do really well! In terms of raw intellect, they're probably the smartest member of the team--though perhaps the idea of making sacrificial plays would greatly upset them ;w;

Yay for being kind to yourself! 🎉


Can't relate, Dune. *turns AC up*


I missed your energy over the hiatus, my son.


You're just jealous of his formidable skill!

I love Dune's decision to play checkers even though she knows she's going to lose because she's not sure if she'll ever get the chance to do so again. 🥺 This group has come a long way in their ability to make new members feel welcome!

Me @ Kata being worried about his old trainer: 🥺


Yes, accept the validation from your brother-in-law, Luna! 🥺


Where is the lie? 🤷‍♀️


Theme spotted. 👀

I too missed Kata 😭

And this really is a plead-worthy chapter... I'm glad you liked the theme making an appearance :]

OH DANG YOU UPDATED
uh
yeah
not much to say

Hey, sometimes less is more! ;)


it’s finally time



finally



the harmless song… of ruin~



---



The tiny town of Realgam had never been noteworthy. Little more than a pit stop between Pyrite and Phenac, most of the town’s history had been spent volleying back and forth in the orbit of its two greater cousins.



The glittering new tower seemed, now, to tie it intrinsically to the latter. The Realgam Tower was a tall, glassy spire at the center of a massive resort complex—the biggest, fanciest, ritziest casino in the world. It had been bankrolled by Phenac under Es Cade’s guidance, drawing attention to Orre for its grand opening.



Yes, tiny Realgam had never been important in the grand scheme of things—which made it all the wilder that it was here that Orre would finally change its destiny forever, and choose itself a Champion.



Rui leaned on a railing, overlooking the center lobby. At least a hundred feet below her, people and pokemon mingled together. It was as great a gathering of the region’s movers and shakers as Orre had likely ever seen. Merchants from Gateon, retired aces from Agate, financiers from Phenac; local leaders, leading intellectuals, doctors, entertainers. Anyone who was remotely well-connected in the region had made an appearance.



The intermingling voices of the crowd below rose into an indistinct murmur. As people hobnobbed, pokemon made their presence known. Pokemon were power in Orre, and this room hosted many people of power; for once, trainers with three, four, five, or even six pokemon were the norm. It had quickly become an unspoken rule for whole teams to be let out as a sign of power and influence, provided they were well-behaved. So it was that as a bank manager from Pyrite grappled finances with a shipping magnate from Gateon, his Flareon sniffed distrustfully at a sulking Shelgon,



A few sanctioned battles had taken place; official matches under a referee from Unova. One was underway right now. Rui didn’t bother looking at it. She had other concerns.



A roaring whirr filled the chamber and conversations broke off as people looked airward, gasping. Dune had made her appearance. The Flygon arced through the spacious chamber of the tower, vibrant and fluid like a streak of emerald. People watched her fly, and pokemon paid close attention.



It was performative. Of course it was. Yesterday Rui had floored a series of challengers in friendly matches using the dragon, and this was just a not-so-quiet reminder of her power.



Finally done showing off, Dune touched down on Rui’s balcony, shuffling her wings. Then, dragon and trainer turned to overlook the space below. People were staring at them—and Rui easily found the one she was there for.



Es Cade.



Phenac’s former mayor was done up in a suit that looked to have been in style about twenty years ago. Like so much of his appearance—his rotundness, the unruly puffs of grey hair on the side of his head—it was cultivated, an attempt to seem jovial and disarming, like a harmless uncle. But at the moment, he was anything but harmless. His face was a gargoyle of contempt and dislike, and though hundreds of feet separated them, Rui met his gaze with visceral dislike of her own.



It was because of him that a blade had been buried in Wes’s back.



Today was the fourth and final day of the meetings here in Realgam. Almost predictably, maneuverings had delineated into two factions: those supporting Es Cade’s bid as Champion, and those against, who rallied around the Grid. Rui and her allies had avoided confronting Es Cade directly so far, but things had reached a breaking point. Those undecided had already been snapped up by one camp or another. The tension had grown as tight as it could.



One way or another, it was going to play out.



Dune followed her trainer’s gaze and found Es Cade. Her eyes narrowed behind her red lenses. “That’s him, isn’t it,” she said. “The leader of the cipher.”



Rui nodded in response.



The dragon hissed. “He is the one who took my children away.”



Dune’s whole body tensed, and Rui laid a comforting hand on her flank. “I know you want to,” she said. “If there were no consequences, I would let you at him. But the cipher is more than him. If we kill him outright, they’ll replace him with someone just as bad and make it even harder to fight against them. We have to do this their way. Maneuvering.”



The dragon scoffed but didn’t deny her.



A cough behind her took her attention. She turned to find Ximena there.



Phenac’s new mayor had dressed to make a statement. She’d eschewed the suits and dresses in favor of traditional Orresian garb. Colorful beads woven in geometric patterns bedecked a garment of treated leather that was part robe, part dress. Her hair was done in an elegant, intricate braid that swept over her shoulder. According to Ximena, her ancestors had dressed like this in celebration when they’d thrown off the Aueriteks—now it was time to remind Orre not to yoke itself to tyranny again. “We need to remember who we are,” she’d insisted that first night here to a crowd of onlookers.



Of course, Ximena had been more than willing to lend her dress sense to a typical modern style as well. It was her knowing eye that had picked Rui’s outfits.



Ximena beamed. “Mi amiga, you look radiant. Half the region is watching you.”



Rui smiled. Though it lacked the practicality of her usual outfit, being dressed so fancy was… nice. She wore an ivory cocktail dress, the fabric form-fitting yet tasteful; a line of small pearls formed a swirling pattern down around her stomach, reaching out around her back. The dress ended just under her knees, and matching heels added more to her already towering height. Her red hair was out of its usual tails, flowing down to brush against her shoulders. A tasteful silver necklace studded with tiny diamonds—a gift from her grandmother—and small earrings completed the look.



She tugged self-consciously at the fabric clinging to her abdomen. “It’s… a bit tight,” she complained.



Ximena laughed, her eyes twinkling puckishly. “Versión de entonces tu, yet I used the same measurements as when we crashed Justy’s gala…” She tapped the side of her chin, smiling. “Perhaps that sweet tooth has gotten the better of you in the meantime, pobrecita?



Rui, who had just been thinking about how she’d love to sink her teeth into a chocolate bar, faked a scowl. “Careful. I do have a dragon over here.”



Ximena laughed again, and then her eyes grew flinty. “The professor and tu abuelo, they wait down in the bar. The Umbreon is with them.”



Rui was suddenly pinched by an attack of nerves. She breathed out slowly to calm them, was only partially successful. “Last minute talk of strategy?”



Ximena shrugged. “They didn’t say.” She strode past Rui and laid her hands on the railing. “You know, I saw her earlier today,” she said, her voice low. “Sinnoh’s new Champion.”



Rui nodded. She had met the same woman the day before, an elegant blond woman with sweeping hair and timelessly black fashion sense. “She seemed nice—but I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side.”



Ximena chuckled. “Me either.” She turned to face Rui. “She is not the only foreign VIP. The whole world is watching what happens here. I’m sure they can see Es Cade for what he is, even if they know not the depths of his depravity… what will it tell them, if Orre chooses a man like him as our first leader? That will color us in their eyes long after he is gone.”



“The plan will work,” Rui said, projecting more confidence than she felt. She avoided the urge to tug at her necklace. “Krane, my grandpa, they’ve worked hard on it. They’ve got some people on their side these past few days—plus, having you assume the mayoralty was a huge upset. Es Cade’s not invincible.”



Ximena smiled, but her face was fraught with worry. “I think so. Ah, but you should go. First, though…” She held out a barrette like a flower, a blossom of pink around a gleaming, convex center. “My lucky pin.” She smiled as Rui clipped it in. “Hopefully it will help against Es Cade. Now, andale. You will be late.”



Rui smirked. “Oh, I won’t be. Dune? Like we practiced?”



“Didn’t sign up for this,” the Flygon grumbled, but she bent perpendicular to the ground to give Rui a chance to hop on.



Ximena’s eyes were wide as Rui recalled her other pokemon and then sat sidesaddle on the dragon. “Surely you’re not…?”



“Hey, you said it yourself—impressions are everything!” Dune’s wings blurred to life and Rui waved a cheery farewell. “Ta!”



---



When Dune touched down outside the resort’s lounge, there was a predictable crowd gawking at her. Rui hopped off the Flygon and then thanked her for the ride. The gratitude was genuine—but she’d made sure to be openly respectful and pleasant toward her pokemon these past few days. They had to distinguish their own kindness from the cipher’s abuse.



The lounge was kept dark, and a blues group played on in the corner. Krane and Eagun were in a corner booth, in low conversation; Luna perched at their feet, looking alert. Topaz sauntered along the booth’s back.



Krane wore a pristine lab coat over an argyle sweater-vest with a tightly-done tie underneath. Slacks completed the look, though his mousy specs and unruly hair remained unchanged as ever. As leader of Agate, Eagun had arrived in the traditional garb reserved for that area’s leader. It was a robe of indigo and faded green, with patterns like rippled water on both the hem and under the collar. A golden-corded sash was wrapped around as a belt. Rui was able to recognize the color, the patterns, everything as tribute to Celebi. Agate had been founded to protect her and the Relic, and that duty was woven even into their clothing.



Many people would have looked ridiculous in such an outfit—but Rui’s grandfather wore it with a sternness and a severity that commanded respect. She felt proud of him. A fair few people had committed to stand against Es Cade thanks to his intercession. Even long after the last of his championship runs, the Greatest Trainer still commanded respect.



The lounge, like most of the resort, had been made to accommodate even large pokemon, and so Dune had no trouble slipping inside. Rui released the rest of her team and then sat down next to Krane; Kata took up the vigil as Reed and Luna commenced nose-nuzzling.



“Did you know Oak is here?” Eagun asked Rui without preamble.



“She doesn’t,” Krane added without looking at her.



Rui blinked. “The Oak? The Pokemon Professor?”



“Indeed,” Eagun said. A tumbler of dark ale, half-drained, sat before him. Krane, ever the teetotaler, sipped pink lemonade. “The world’s most famous academic.”



“I invited him here,” Krane said. “As one of his former pupils, I thought it stood a decent chance. He refused to commit, but here he is.”



Rui whistled. “Maybe I’ll get a chance to snatch an autograph.”



Eagun drained his glass and chuckled. “You wouldn’t be the first. I saw a couple of people pestering him. In fact, even I’ve been asked for a few. That Sinnohvian woman came up to me and had a nice chat, and asked me to sign something, can you believe it?”



Rui almost choked. “The Sinnohvian—the Cynthia Travaille? Grandpa, she’s probably the most feared trainer in the world! Holy hell!”



He shrugged as if not knowing what to say. “She seemed like a pleasant young woman.”



“Of course she wanted your autograph,” Krane said with a sip. “You’re the entire reason she became a trainer in the first place.”



The old man shifted. “Oh, really? Is that from an interview? I really must keep up with the media…”



Krane just laughed. “No, I don’t think she’s told anyone outside her team—but the way her attention snapped when you entered the room, the way she composed herself before approaching, and her scarcely-contained glee when she left your presence… it reminded me of when I first met Oak. It was clearly the air of someone meeting her hero.”



“Hrm. I didn’t notice any of that.”



“Few do,” Krane said knowingly. “Few do.”



“Well.” Eagun’s brow furrowed. “We didn’t just call you here to chat, Rui.”



“Right.” She stiffened. “The plan. Tonight we—”



Eagun cut her off with a clearing of the throat. His eyes swept the lounge. “I know it looks empty, but be careful. Es Cade built this place. It would be immensely easy to arrange an eavesdrop.”



Rui nodded. “I understand. But then what…”



“Thoreau,” Eagun said deliberately, “has the goods.”



Her breath caught. “You really mean…?”



He nodded. “The last piece has entered the board.”



She sighed. Finally.



“But this isn’t guaranteed,” Krane warned. “Whatever Es Cade has in mind, he likely has a trump card as well. We must be careful. But Rui…”



“…you’ll be our ace in the hole,” Eagun finished.



“No pressure,” she said with a roll of her eyes. Just stop a would-be despot. What was the worst that could go wrong?



---



She left the lounge a few minutes later, feeling nervous and giddy—and that’s when she saw him.



Es Cade was waiting for her.



A tall, suited man approached her only for Luna to jump in front, hackles raised. Rui rested her hand on the Dark-type’s back, an invitation for her to relax—even Es Cade wouldn’t be so brazen as to try something this open. Indeed, bystanders were crowding around, pointing and whispering.



When Luna stood down, the man approached closer. “Es Cade wishes to speak with you,” he said.



Rui lifted her chin. “I’ll speak with him right here,” she said.



“He said you’d say that, and said that’s fine,” the man said.



Her eyes narrowed. “And my Umbreon is accompanying me.”



The man turned and met Es Cade’s eyes, gesturing softly at the Umbreon. Es Cade rolled his hand in an impatient gesture, and Rui let herself come accompanied to meet him.



Es Cade’s bodyguards ringed them, backs to the pair and faces out, giving them a measure of privacy out in the middle of the casino courtyard. Luna snarled at him only for a canine shape to stalk out from behind him—a Manectric. The beast matched snarls with Luna and for a moment the two pokemon seemed ready to meet one another in violence.



“Heel,” Es Cade barked in an unamused voice, and the Manectric sat on his haunches and quieted, though it kept staring daggers at Luna. The Umbreon returned the glare, but also stilled. And for a moment, there was silence.



Rui coughed and ran her fingers through her hair, sweeping strands out of place and adjusting Ximena’s barrette. It was a clear gesture of nervousness, one that Es Cade seemed contemptuous to see.



“Es Cade,” Rui said after a moment.



Puta,” he returned with venom. She stiffened. She still couldn’t speak fluent Orresian, but she was fairly sure she knew what that meant. “You’ve spent the past half-week avoiding me only to show off riding that glorified bug of yours. What a fool you are.”



“You and I are going to debate later tonight anyway,” Rui said. “So why confront me here? Just to gloat?”



“Because on that stage I won’t have a chance to ask you,” Es Cade growled, “if you truly realize what a thorn in my side you are.”



She curtsied in faux deference. Down below, Luna shook with suppressed laughter. “I live to please, O Champion.”



He regarded her for a moment. “I’m remembering that day in my office,” he said. “What was that—months ago? A year, even? If I’d have known how much trouble you’d be…”



“You’d have killed me?” Rui finished for him. Her voice was whipcord-tight. “Like you did Wes?”



Es Cade didn’t respond and she balled her fists.



“It’s just us, you bastard, so you might as well own up,” she pressed. “Or am I to think these guys believe you’re some saint?”



“…yes,” Es Cade said, his eyes affixed heavily to her. “I’d have put a knife in your back just like that upstart boy’s. Though who knows? There’s always tomorrow…”



Rui’s hand clenched tight, so tight she lost all feeling in them. “You’re going to regret telling me that,” she snarled. At her feet, Luna was staring at Es Cade with undisguised hatred.



“Why? What are you going to do?” he responded tersely. “Handle me like Miror B? You won’t have the opportunity.”



“I bet that really set you back, didn’t it?” Rui spat at him. “He was a valuable partner for you.”



He smiled humorlessly. “You offend me. Miror B? A partner? I bankrolled him and he did my bidding. He was a stooge, not an equal.” He took a step closer to her—just one single step. Luna’s rings flared and she snarled, once. The Manectric’s coat sparked in response. “You clearly underestimate the fight you’ve picked.”



Thinking to Entei, Lovrina, the Devourer, Rui thought that the same could be said of him. Instead, she responded: “I’m here to put a stop to the shadow pokemon plan.”



“Shadow pokemon,” he said with such contempt. “Stupid beasts. All they ever were was an excuse to scare the region into accepting me as Champion. The plan’s over, you silly little girl. We’re not making any more shadows.” His eyes drifted down towards Luna. “Though perhaps a few exceptions could still be made.”



“I’m going to stop you,” Rui said ferociously.



“I’ve heard that before,” Es Cade said nonchalantly. “Everyone who said it is dead, just like that rata friend of yours.” He coughed once and the bodyguards relaxed their circle; he plastered on a smile of friendly competition. Their conversation was over. “May the best man win, Miss Matsuhara,” he said, pitching his voice and his smile for onlookers, and waved her away. Still brimming with anger, Rui managed to walk away without decking him, Luna at her heels.



“Well,” the Umbreon said, hate in her voice, “that went about as well as we could have hoped.”



---



She could do this. She could do this.



It was time.



Night had fallen on the desert, but Realgam was bedecked in ritz and light, glamour and magic. The casino floor lay empty, however; everyone of note was packed into the central auditorium, which had been set up for a debate. Es Cade would be promoting his bid as Champion, and Rui would be opposite him.



Backstage, the people in her camp bustled and prepared. Duking, in a tailored tuxedo that strained to contain his muscles, was talking animatedly into his Nav. Thoreau, wearing a rich green suit over a lavender dress shirt, strode over to her.



“Hope everything goes well tonight,” he told her.



“It should,” she replied. “But I’m still so nervous.



“Mmmm. Snake like that, bound to have some poison waiting in reserve.” He grinned. “But we’re not exactly helpless either.”



“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “By the way, I’m sorry.”



He raised an eyebrow and she continued:



“The bar. Trudly and Folly. They were there for me.”



Thoreau blinked and then guffawed. “Ah hell, I moved past that a while ago!” The laughter was contagious and Rui found herself grinning despite it all. “But still,” Thoreau said when he quieted, “thanks. Really. Now do it—” and here he held out his fist, “—for him.”



Rui met his fist with hers. “For all of them.”



And before long, it began.



They strode out at the same time, each winged by their teams. Luna led the pack, Reed and Kata flanking Rui’s sides, Denri at her back, Striga over her shoulder, Dune flying overhead. The Manectric was at the front of Es Cade’s caravan, a Crobat on the politician’s shoulder, a Rhydon lumbering behind him with a Pelipper on its horn. A Starmie whirled at the end of the train. Rui didn’t need Aura to tell that none of these pokemon were shadows.



They took their places and Es Cade launched into a blistering fusillade of rhetoric: he decried the long-term lawlessness of the region, lambasted the interference of other regions in Orresian affairs. “First the Aueritek chains,” he said, “then the Unovan colonists—and then the Kantonian interference just a few years old!” Rui stiffened. It was true that the six-pokemon rule had been imposed on Orre by Kanto in lieu of a proper League—but the slight against her heritage was unmistakable. “And now, criminals terrorize our streets with feral, near-savage pokemon,” he said. “Enough is enough! It’s clear that the region needs a leader. I built this tower,” he said. “I brought money, prestige, and jobs to the dustiest corner of Orre as nothing but a mayor. As Champion, I will bring so much more.”



The auditorium filled with cheers—and then it was Rui’s turn.



“Orre cannot remain ungoverned,” she said. “This much is true. But do we need a man like him to lead us about? He decries the violence in our cities—but he is the one who instigated it!”



Such accusations had been bevvied about behind closed doors the past few days, but this was the first time they had done so on so open a stage. The crowd erupted. “You keep saying that!” a man on the front row spat. On the screen behind Rui and Es Cade, his face was suddenly displayed. The debate was being broadcast. “You and your whole gang! Where’s the proof? Accusations are nothing without proof!” Es Cade simply folded his hands into one another, smiled, and said nothing. He had the air of a man for whom everything was going his way.



“And our cities?” The screen showed a woman, a Gateon socialite and known associate of Es Cade’s, looking on contemptuously. “You’re not one of us, Matsuhara!



Rui raised her hands. “My name is Matsuhara,” she admitted. “I am Kantonian. But have you forgotten who my grandfather is?” Light swept the auditorium, zeroing in on Eagun and Beluh sitting in a high box. They showed up on the screen, and he waved genially. “I’ve camped under the stars, walked the streets of Phenac and Pyrite, I’ve tasted the green air of Agate, and I know one thing for certain—this is my home,” she said. “No matter where life takes me, I’m not leaving Orre.” And she meant the words. She had grown in Saffron—but these hot sands, they were where she belonged now. “Orre’s blood is in my veins,” she said, “and I don’t have to prove myself to those who can’t see past my name or face. I belong where I belong.”



Another chorus of cheers. Es Cade was glaring down the socialite—it had been a clear misplay, probably not one he had endorsed.



“As for proof,” she continued, “not so long ago many of you were terrorized by the gang you named Team Snagem—they called themselves the Brotherhood. They left behind a web of scattered agents—and one is here today to indisputably link this man,” and she pointed at Es Cade, “to the Brotherhood’s activities.”



At her invitation, Thoreau walked from offstage. He spoke honestly and frankly, admitting to a life of crime—and how he had come to hate what he’d done.



“I was complicit in a lot of bad things,” he said. His voice boomed through the microphone to fill the auditorium. “I know that. Hell, I’m willing to be put away for them if people want.” A clutter of whispers met his words. “But I’ve been in contact with a lot like me. Folks worse than us have been picking us off one by one, and it’s cause they’re afraid of the stories we can tell—like this.” From his inner pocket, he pulled a sheaf of papers. “I tracked down one of the Brotherhood’s financiers, and he was able to provide this.” Rui nodded backstage at Ximena who snapped an order. Copies of the paper were broadcast onto the screen.



“Dirty money,” Thoreau said, his voice loud, “financing criminal activity—and all of it flowing from Phenac’s City Hall!”



Loud gasps and mutterings split the air in the auditorium. Thoreau looked proud, unafraid—his claim to be willing to be put away hadn’t been a bluff. He was genuinely risking jail time over this. But he stood proud, his silhouette cast against the papers documenting the money trail between City Hall and the Brotherhood.



And then the noise quieted as Es Cade stood and waved his hand.



Spotlights returned to him; his image overrode the documents on the screen. His face was one of conciliatory friendliness. “Most of my mayorship was spent financing the construction of this very tower,” he said, spreading his arms. “A grand project—an undertaking unlike any Orre had ever seen. And despite my best intentions… any project, given enough scope, is prone to corruption.” His eyes swept the audience. “You good people come from banks and corporations, universities and police stations—you’ve all grappled with this as well as I have. Underlings whose ambitions seize hold of them. The embezzlement scheme that embarrassed Phenac a few years ago is already public knowledge. When it became known, I dealt with it.” He pressed a hand to his chest. “But think to what they said. This so-called ‘dirty money’ was flowing from City Hall—curious choice of words, no?” He winked roguishly. “They avoided saying it came from me, but does anyone doubt they would have if they could prove it?”



He bowed at the waist, a gesture of apology. “I am guilty of failing to recognize the parasite in my midst those years ago. The embezzlement still shames me. But it didn’t stop the good people of Phenac from continuing to believe in me—and it didn’t stop this tower from being built!” He raised his arms, inviting the attendees to take it in. Out in the audience, Rui could see Krane exchanging whispers with Professor Oak. Cynthia sat in a VIP box, her golden hair not entirely smothered by the dark. Her eyes were thin. “This money is clearly a product of the same scheme—the Hydreigon had more heads than we realized,” he said. “But I dealt with that problem then—and as Champion, I’ll have leeway to deal with even more!”



The murmurings died down and he turned to face Rui and Thoreau. “But I thank this gentleman for his candor,” he said, smiling, “and for giving himself up willingly.” Guards moved at the corner of the auditorium, striding towards the stage. A few gasps shocked the crowd, but Thoreau staved them off with a raised hand.



“I knew what I was risking,” he said. The guards took his arms—he didn’t resist, and they didn’t cuff or restrain him. He looked over his shoulder at Rui. “It’s all on you, now,” he told her as they led him away—and then the auditorium doors closed behind him.



“One thing I’d like to know,” Es Cade said as attention returned to the stage, “is if not me, then who? You yourself said we need a Champion, young lady. Are we to leave our governance in the hands of someone scarcely old enough to drink?”



Rui banished her feelings about Thoreau. She could wring hands over him later. For him to go to prison after so many others had walked free…



But this had been an expected avenue of attack, and one they were prepared for.



“Oh, I’m not gunning for the Championship,” she said honestly. “I’m confident in my battle prowess, but as we all know, there’s more to leading a region than just winning a fight. Experience is also needed.”



Es Cade blinked. Clearly had expected her to advance herself as a candidate. “Then… who?”



“Well, between battle prowess and experience, I can’t think of anyone more capable than…” And she gestured at her grandfather’s box.



Eagun’s visage filled the screen, and the auditorium rang with noise yet again.



“Him?” spat the same loudmouth from the front row. “He’s a has-been! He doesn’t even have pokemon left to battle with!”



The insult of the region’s hero was a misplay, as dark mutterings filled the chamber—and then the man was instantly proven wrong as Topaz jumped onto the box’s railing. The Pikachu’s cheeks sparked bright and true, reflected on the screen, and the crowd went wild with elation.



“And besides,” Rui continued once they died down, “my grandfather has one other very positive quality—he doesn’t torment pokemon for power.”



“Oh please,” Es Cade interrupted, rolling his eyes exaggeratedly.



“And here,” Rui said, pitching her louder and talking through him, “is testimony!” Again Ximena barked commands backstage, and again the screen was filled—this time with a weary face.



Skrub.



The recording showed Skrub in one of Pyrite’s cells. He was making a recorded confession to a camera held by Sherles, detailing the basics of ‘the cipher’—a secret syndicate that included many more public faces, including Snagem and Miror B. The cipher abducted pokemon or forcibly bred them, and then tortured them to make ‘shadows’—the perfect killing machines. It had existed for decades.



And, he said, Es Cade was at its head.



The entire video was less than two minutes long and when it was over, it took significant barks of order from the auditorium’s guards to leave the room quiet enough to speak. People looked scared and disgusted; others looked skeptical or in disbelief. Cynthia’s eyes were flinty and boring directly at Es Cade.



All attention was on him.



“A criminal,” he said, “will make up any lie to sate their captors. I’m sure he testified in exchange for a lightened sentence, yes?”



Es Cade wasn’t wrong. After the helicopter explosion that had killed Venus, Skrub had surrendered to the Grid and been moved to Pyrite. There, he had agreed to turn traitor in exchange for lower charges and cushy treatment. It didn’t fully sit right with Rui, especially since he was behind the death of Topaz's father… but it had to be done to bring down the cipher as a whole. A cooperating High Council member was too valuable an asset to be ignored.



All he had asked for besides a lightened sentence was for them to ‘bring down Lovrina.’ He had looked manic, almost giddy at the prospect. “And when you do,” Skrub had told them, “let her know her toy caused her downfall.”



But Es Cade wasn’t finished. “Then how fortunate for him the ones he was confessing to were my political rivals.” Phenac’s former mayor barely looked shaken; in fact, he seemed at ease. Rui felt a little discomfited. Nowhere had it been suggested that anyone in the cipher believed that Skrub and Venus were anything but dead. This should have been a curveball.



“But tell me,” Es Cade said conversationally, “where did you find this man? Perhaps on Mt. Battle? The very place where the Dakim are being prevented from accessing their own sacred sites?”



Now it was his turn to post damning images on the auditorium screen: snapshots of Phenac trainers occupying Mt. Battle, chasing away any Dakim who got close. Rui’s stomach twinged and she exchanged a guilty look with Ximena offstage. The possibility of letting the Dakim destroy the Relic (and thus, dooming all remaining unpurified shadow pokemon) was too great. The Grid had agreed to position as many of Ximena’s men there as possible. Nothing short of Entei herself would be able to breach that phalanx now… and it seemed the volcano goddess was hiding after nearly being killed by her brother.



But those images looked unflattering, to say the least, plastered across the big screen.



“More colonialism,” Es Cade sneered. “The so-called campaña plays dress-up with the outfits of our ancestors even as they perpetrate the very crimes our forefathers suffered.” He jabbed a finger at the screen, showing Phenac trainers chasing off Dakim. “Is this what you want for Orre? As leader of Phenac, I built jobs and purged corruption. Whereas this girl’s friend is barring an entire people from their own ancestry! Oh, so it’s not her who will be your Champion if they have their way—but is anyone she endorses any better? I have suffered so many lies slung against me today, but believe what you see now. Believe your own eyes!” The screen blared bright. “This girl, the campana, and yes, even her grandfather, all they are is more of the same old yoke that has ever been our nation’s history!” He raised a fist. “But not with me! I will change things! I will make things different!” The crowd was chanting his name, the noise drowning out any attempt at rebuttal. “I will—as Orre’s first Champion!”



ES! CADE! ES! CADE!” the crowd roared. “ES! CADE! ES! CADE! ES! CADE!”



He basked in their praise for long moment, looking triumphant, and then he raised his hands to quiet his supporters. “But wait,” he said, “the girl deserves one last speech.” Laughter popcorned through the chamber. “Go ahead, Rui Matsuhara, make your counterargument. Keep it short.” He folded his arms behind his back. His pokemon looked smug behind him. “The good people of this nation have heard enough.”



Lights fixed on her. The room, in the aftermath of the crowd’s roar, seemed more quiet than ever. She stared at him, stared hard—and then she opened her mouth:



“You had my friend murdered.”



A few gasps rang through the room, but he only sneered. “Oh, please.



“You funded Miror B. You created shadow pokemon.”



Enough!” he barked. “So many accusations. Are these good people just supposed to take your word?”



And Rui smiled. Smiled wickedly. Because she had him.



“No,” she said, “they’re supposed to take yours.” And Es Cade stared at her, stared in confusion for a moment, confusion that slowly morphed to horror as his eyes fixed on the barrette in her hair—the one she’d worn during their meeting, the one she’d brushed with her finger at the start of their conversation, and he finally recognized that shiny, convex center for what it was:



A camera.



Video footage of Es Cade himself, clad in the same clothes he wore now, filled the screen. It was taken at an odd angle, for he was shorter than Rui, but it was clear—and audible.



Puta,” the recording said contemptuously, the word filling the auditorium, and a number of uncomfortable gasps filled the auditorium.



“You’ve spent the past half-week avoiding me only to show off riding that glorified bug of yours. What a fool you are,” the recording continued. Up on stage, the man himself met her eyes, his own gaze widening. Rui smiled back. To ostentatiously ride a dragon to a lounge for a secret meeting with her grandfather and the region’s leading intellectual—now that was certainly attention-grabbing! And he’d fallen for it, fallen completely. The idiot. Didn’t he know bait when he saw it?



Es Cade glanced back and forth from the screen to the audience and for the first time, he looked genuinely panicked. “Wait!” he protested weakly. “Wait, it’s—it’s, it’s staged, it’s rigged—”



But his words reached no one. The audience was transfixed on the screen.



“It’s just us, you bastard, so you might as well own up,” came Rui’s voice from the recording.



“Cut the feed!” Es Cade screamed. “Damn you, cut this video!”



But it was no use. Two little boys from the Under had already hacked into Realgam’s network and were running the show now. Oh, they were bound to be ejected before long—but that was fine. They just had to hold out long enough to let this video play uninterrupted.



“Thanks, Nett and Perr,” Rui whispered under her breath.



“…yes,” Es Cade said in the recording. “I’d have put a knife in your back just like that upstart boy’s.”



The crowd gasped in dismay, eyes affixed to Es Cade. He was sweating, clenching and unclenching his hands. Up in the boxes, Cynthia had risen to her feet, looking angry. A Milotic curled behind her.



But there was more coming. “You offend me. Miror B? A partner? I bankrolled him and he did my bidding.”



A chorus of angry yells filled the auditorium. Men and women, many of them from Pyrite, had risen to their feet. They were screaming vitriol at Es Cade, their voices clamoring over one another.



“Wait,” Es Cade said, his voice almost a moan. “Please, please wait…”



Apparently coming to a decision, the guards moved to apprehend him just as they had Thoreau. They moved as one, like beads pulled by a magnet.



“Shadow pokemon,” continued the recording. “Stupid beasts. All they ever were was an excuse to scare the region into accepting me as Champion.”



Es Cade locked eyes with Rui, looking twitchy and desperate. “It’s not ending like this,” he said, looking nearly feral with rage. “I won’t let it.



She met his gaze with her own. “Rot in prison,” she said. “It’s better than you deserve.”



On the screen, the recoding came to its end. “I’m going to stop you,” came Rui’s voice.



And the closing reply: “I’ve heard that before. Everyone who said it is dead, just like that rata friend of yours.”



The same crowd that had been exulting his name was now snarling with hate. Their voices drowned out everything. Es Cade was beaten, and he knew it—his face was wild, his eyes panicked.



The casino’s guards fanned out around him. “Surrender quietly,” said one. He approached him, hand outstretched.



And Es Cade snapped. With a wordless snarl, he barked a command at his pokemon, and they whipped to action. The Pelipper summoned a ferocious gust of wind that bowled over the guards. The Rhydon smashed her feet down, conjuring an Earthquake that sent dozens of audience members scattering, screaming in fear. And the Manectric launched a blistering bolt at Rui.



Reed intercepted, the Quagsire shrugging off the electricity effortlessly. As panic suffused the auditorium, Es Cade fixed a wild eye on his enemy. “Well, Matsuhara,” he said, “you won after all. Congratulations.” His pokemon fanned out behind him. Each was a visibly powerful battler, a pokemon worthy of a man who wanted to be Champion. “But nothing’s more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose.” He broke into a manic grin. “If I’m going down, I can at least ensure you take that victory to your grave!



And the two teams sprung into action as battle ripped through the casino.


---


It's finally time--time to face down the first of the main villains!

Obviously, in Colosseum, Es Cade/Evice is the main antagonist... but I've shaken things up a lot for this run! Players of Colosseum should recognize his team--just as Skrub and Venus stood in for the Miror B and Venus rematches, Es Cade stands for the Ein rematch in-game.

That can be a pretty tough fight--let's see who made it out next chapter!

(Also, fun fact: this is the second-longest TDWC chapter, after Rui's purification)
 
Last edited:

Trollkitten

Kitten of Lore
Artist
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
208
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Jun 30, 2019
Messages
2,087
Location
Gatto Region
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Quirky
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She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
  1. Fairy
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual lorewriter and worldbuilder. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
Ooh, this is epic. Rui OWNED Es Case back there. Let's just hope that her team manages to survive the boss battle incoming...

I do have a couple of errors to point out:

So it was that as a bank manager from Pyrite grappled finances with a shipping magnate from Gateon, his Flareon sniffed distrustfully at a sulking Shelgon,
I think you forgot to finish this sentence.
It was because of him that a blade had been buried in Wes’s back.
Technically it was his neck, if I remember properly.
 
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Moon

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3995
Caught
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
629
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They, Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Ghost
  2. Ice
Pokédex Entry
Because they're the two rarest types, they're the rarest pokemon. Yes, that's logical. No, there aren't other Ghost/Ice types. Froslass doesn't exist.
haha
suck it, es cade
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Ooh, Cynthia mention. 👀 You two could bond over your powerful dragon/ground types!

“Shadow pokemon,” he said with such contempt. “Stupid beasts. All they ever were was an excuse to scare the region into accepting me as Champion. The plan’s over, you silly little girl. We’re not making any more shadows.”
Cipher:
cover13.jpg


What if you wanted to sing a harmless song of ruin but Rui said hidden camera prank.
 
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Perpetually Underleveled

Conqueror of the Celadon Gym
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
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Messages
42
Hi! I followed Dear Diary while it was running the first time and loved it and I've been somewhat following this. I have a lot of thoughts about this story that I want to share, some of it is positive but some of it is negative and I was wondering if you would be ok with that since this story doesn't seem to have a criticism level attached to it, but I really love your stories and want to be able to share some of my thoughts so they can continue to be good!
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
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Jun 26, 2019
Messages
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  1. Bug
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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
  • #350
Ooh, this is epic. Rui OWNED Es Case back there. Let's just hope that her team manages to survive the boss battle incoming...

I do have a couple of errors to point out:

I think you forgot to finish this sentence.

Technically it was his neck, if I remember properly.

It was so satisfying to write that scene hehe :>


haha
suck it, es cade

Well, don't toot your horn just yet! Rui and co still have to make it through the fight!

Ooh, Cynthia mention. 👀 You two could bond over your powerful dragon/ground types!


Cipher:
cover13.jpg


What if you wanted to sing a harmless song of ruin but Rui said hidden camera prank.

I like to think that Cynthia and Rui would get along! And Es Cade isn't the one singing the song... that's Lovrina! And she really doesn't care what happens at the tower~

Hi! I followed Dear Diary while it was running the first time and loved it and I've been somewhat following this. I have a lot of thoughts about this story that I want to share, some of it is positive but some of it is negative and I was wondering if you would be ok with that since this story doesn't seem to have a criticism level attached to it, but I really love your stories and want to be able to share some of my thoughts so they can continue to be good!

Oh hey, I remember you! You left such great comments! I don't know how far along you are, because the story is just moving towards its climax, so there's... not much space to apply feedback at this point xD But if you're okay with that, I wouldn't mind hearing what you liked and what you thought could improve. Maybe just spoiler it or something?




Twin Earthquake attacks rocked the impromptu battlefield, unleashing a font of devastation. Plaster flaked off of walls. Seats crumpled. The onlookers—the rich, elite, and powerful of Orre—scattered desperately, trying to escape.



Rui was knocked flat from the lingering attacks, grumbling and hissing from the pain of a bruised tailbone. She suddenly felt disoriented, like she was sick at sea. She kicked off her heels and cursed the fact that she was stuck in that ivory-colored dress. Still, she would just have to kick Es Cade’s ass—finery or not!



The once-composed mayor looked nearly feral, slavering out commands to his fighters. The five pokemon launched themselves at Rui and her team, looking to kill. The Manectric’s voltage clawed the air, making the stage lights explode in a riot of sparks and glass; the Pelipper and Crobat whipped the wind together; the Starmie’s central gem glowed as they readied a psychic attack; and the Rhydon’s tail rose as he prepared another Earthquake.



Rui chanced a glance out into the crowd. Her grandfather and the Sinnohvian champion had coordinated to oversee the evacuation of the crowd. Their teams were uniting to fight off cipher goons who had unleashed shadow pokemon. It was good to know that the crowd was under control, and that the cipher wouldn’t gang up on her… but Rui couldn’t count on either of them for backup, occupied as they were.



If she was going to defeat Es Cade, she would have to do it alone.



Their voices rising in unison, the enemy Flying-types unleashed their power. A cyclone whipped across the auditorium, bowling over Rui’s team and pushing the trainer herself back a few paces. It slashed into the front row, ripping seats off the floor and sending them careening across the chamber. Both Kata and Dune were sent flying by the powerful winds.



Using their teammates’s attack as cover, the Starmie whirled in, spinning. They knocked into Denri, walloping him, and released a point-blank psychic blast from their gem that punched him backstage.



Luna was immediately on the starfish pokemon, jaws trailing dark energy. She scrabbled and gnawed at their body, leaving a trailing series of wounds. Striga swooped in to help her, conjuring Ghost-type energy to lash at their foe.



As the Starmie was driven back, the Manectric rushed in, jaws sparking, only to be intercepted by Reed. The Quagsire traded blows with the canine pokemon, summoning plumes of earth to drive him back. But the Manectric’s jaws were colored red as he retreated; Reed sunk to the floor with a hiss, clutching at his shoulder with his other paw. A nasty-looking bite was there.



Rui winced. Her pokemon had survived worse, but it looked painful indeed. She only hoped that it wouldn’t impede him too much.



A buzzing filled the chamber: Dune had righted herself. The dragon drove off the oncoming Crobat and Pelipper with a feather of fire from her mouth and then dove for the Rhydon, who was even now preparing another Earthquake. Her claws shone brilliantly with glimmering green Grass-type energy, and she grappled for him.



But the rhinoceros feinted and then a whirr of his horn met her buzz as he spun his drill. The spinning appendage rammed into Dune’s side. It was only a glancing blow, thankfully—a full-on assault would likely be fatal to anything that touched it. Still, even just a graze left a fresh wound, and Dune clutched her side as she retreated.



Es Cade looked manic. Save the Starmie, his team had hers on the backfoot. “Press the advantage,” he commanded, looking wild. “Kill them all!



From backstage, a lance of electricity raced through the air, aimed directly at the Pelipper—but it swerved direction, catching onto the Rhydon’s horn. The Ground-type chuffed and looked wickedly at Denri, who was racing back onto the battlefield. “What’s the matter?” he taunted. “Never had to face a Lightningrod before?” Then, with a roar of power, he slammed his paw earthward.



Rui warned her pokemon with a cry: “Earthquake again, watch out!” Denri was able to shield himself with Protect just in time, but the rest of Rui's team wasn’t so lucky. Kata, who had just found his footing, was knocked down once more; Luna was thrown off the battered-looking Starmie. The Water-type managed to drive off Striga with a whorl of powerful water and then spun through the air—



Right towards Rui herself.



Drown her!” Es Cade roared.



Their gem glowed in response and they readied an attack direct for Rui. A powerful water fusillade found her way.



And she responded with the might of Aura.



Just as she had down in the Under, just as she had the night of her own purification, Rui conjured a storm of life energy to shield herself. It was imperfect; Aura was far more effective against attacks aimed at the soul than at the body. A human wasn’t supposed to stand up against an assault for this long. She felt a tiny bud of power inside of her—Suicune’s gift, it had to be. He had passed his lingering power to her, but though she felt it inside of her, it was difficult to yoke. Still, she drew on the little bit of extra power and held out against the attack. Maintaining Aura for so long was draining; she dropped to one knee, panting. She just had to hold out long enough…



…for her pokemon to arrive.



“Leave my friend alone!” Reed’s voice was commanding as he jumped in front of the water surge, grunting as he absorbed its full power. Rui nearly fainted as she released Aura, her head swimming.



“Friend?” The Starmie’s voice was flanged and bizarrely echoing, like an alien out of an old B-movie. “A human? Humans aren’t friends. They’re commanders or enemies.” They intensified their attack, adding waves of psychic energy to the assault. Reed was forced back a few paces.



“She… rescued me from the darkness,” Reed grunted. His tail rose. “She saved me… and is working hard to save other pokemon!” He slammed his tail down. A rumbling from underneath was the only warning before a geyser of mud punched through the auditorium stage, knocking into the Starmie from below. They were sent tumbling backwards with a cry, the attack stopped.



They struggled to rise but more shadowy tendrils grappled them as Striga materialized out of the air. From overhead, the Crobat shot a burst of poison, but the ghost weathered it with a grunt, not releasing their captive. “No human can live through that!” the Crobat called out. “What sort of a freak is your trainer, huh?” The precept seemed to be shared by Es Cade, who was looking at Rui from across the stage with a mixture of confusion and apprehension.



“If you think she cares about you,” the Starmie said, struggling against Striga’s bindings, “then you’re a fool.” They shot a lance of psychic energy at Reed—but Luna jumped in, the attack sailing harmlessly off her Dark-type coat.



“It’s not for you to understand,” she said, and lunged forward, jaws brimming with darkness. The Starmie’s gem went dark, and the first of Es Cade’s pokemon fainted.



Rui half expected a rousing cheer—but the people in the auditorium were being beset by problems of their own. Cynthia and Eagun had released their pokemon and were fending off what had to be at least a dozen cipher goons at once. Topaz was joined in battle by Woodwind, and Cynthia’s Milotic was flanked by a Garchomp and Lucario, the three of them absolutely flooring opponents. Even Tama had found his way onto the battlefield, stalwartly protecting civilians with his fists clenched.



A shield, Rui thought.



The loss of their ally had only momentarily impacted Es Cade’s team. They rallied and pressed the assault; the Flying-types stayed overhead, providing support, while the Manectric and Rhydon advanced.



Dune darted this way and that, looking for an opening, but the Rhydon’s horn drill was a constant threat. Rui could all but hear the dragon cursing. If only her Grass move didn’t mandate close-quarters…



Dune feinted left and then lunged, trying to grapple the Rhydon, but the titanic pokemon smacked her out of the sky with his tail. He lifted one great foot to stomp at her, but then Kata was there, leaping in.



“Sorry I’m late!” the Hitmontop said with bombast. He caught the Rhydon’s foot and used the creature’s own momentum to act as a pendulum, throwing the beast off balance and sending him hurtling earthward. He smashed into the auditorium stage with a loud crack, wooden board splintering.



“This foe is MINE, Dune!” Kata said flamboyantly. “Don’t trouble yourself! In fact…” He skipped backwards to narrowly dodge a slash of air coming his way. “Aren’t you needed elsewhere?”



Smirking, the dragon took flight, fire spilling from her jaws.



“Two against one,” the Pelipper said as she took to the air. “Is that the smartest idea you’ve ever had?”



“Something tells me you’ve never faced a dragon,” she responded, and then the fight was on.



As Dune roiled against the aerial opponents, Kata squared off against the Rhydon, fists raised. “To face down these mighty fists!” he said. “You should be honored! I will shatter you like the MOUNTAINSIDE!”



The massive pokemon just lunged with a roar, swinging his fist, but Kata vaulted backwards, landing on his headpoint, and then spun in to unleash a punishing salvo of kicks. Each one landed against his adversary’s hide, chipping off small flakes of stone. The Rhydon bellowed and then lunged in, drill whirling. Kata twirled backwards, but the drill still found purchase…



…about a mischievous-looking, rapidly materializing ghost.



“‘Fraid I’m immune,” Striga said playfully, the horn drill spinning harmlessly inside their form. “But hey—check this out!”



A strobe of sudden light pulsed from the gems about their neck and the Rhydon roared back, hands to his eyes, as Kata renewed his assault. The enormous beast was driven back farther.



Overhead, Dune narrowly dodged an ice attack from the Pelipper, her eyes wild. “I was captive in those labs for thirteen years,” she snarled. “Do you know what they did to us in there?”



The Crobat hissed in response and pelted her with a glob of shadow, a Ghost-type attack—but she responded with a plume of fire that scalded his lower-left wing.



“Your trainer was behind that,” she pressed. She unleashed more fire, but the Pelipper swooped in to protect his teammate, grunting as his Water-type hide took the blow. “Why shouldn’t I look for revenge against him?” She lunged in, jaws snapping. “Or against you?!”



Right before she reached the Pelipper, he mixed water and ice to create a misty cloud of sleet—and from behind, his Crobat companion poured out a gale. The wind drove the ice at Dune and she took the full force of the blast, spiraling backwards with a wail.



Es Cade cried out in happiness as the enemy’s strongest pokemon was taken out of the fight, and Rui’s heart palped—only to soar as Dune righted herself with a roar.



“But—no pokemon can tank a quad-weak blow that like point-blank!” the Pelipper protested. Real fear lurked in his voice. “It’s not possible!” Rui judged him to be the enemy’s version of Striga—the weakest member of the team in a straight-up fight, surely, but still a formidable customer overall. A powerful blow from him wasn’t something to take idly.



“You think that’s enough?” Dune roared, and she lunged at them. The Flying-types scattered. “This is nothing!”



Down below, Reed, Denri, and Luna had ganged up on the Manectric. The lupine pokemon’s jaws snapped, and he lunged forward anytime any of them made a move. They were at a frustrating impasse. He was more than capable of outspeeding Reed and Luna (and thus interfering if Reed tried to unleash an Earthquake) and his ability let him absorb even Denri’s electricity without complaint. Luna dashed in but he sidestepped and tackled her to the ground.



“Don’t touch her!” Reed commanded. He shot mud at the Manectric, who smirked and darted backward. The mud sailed right through where he’d been to poleaxe directly into Denri, dropping the Ampharos to one knee.



Reed’s momentary shock at hurting his own teammate was all the Manectric needed. He zipped in and sunk his fangs direct into Reed’s shoulder, aggravating the very wound he’d left before. Reed cried out and tried to retreat, but the Manectric was hooked in good. His eyes gleamed with wicked triumph.



A roaring crash stole the attention of all present. The two Flying-types had unleashed a joint cyclone attack at Dune. The dragon had dodged, but the wind had punched directly into the auditorium roof—and a tremendous hole ripped into it. Beams tore and plaster crumbled and the starry sky shone as the auditorium’s roof tore open. Debris fell earthward and the combatants on the stage, as well as their trainers, all scattered.



As the dust settled, the pokemon were picking themselves up. The side of Rui’s white dress had torn in the ruckus, and she could feel a nasty bruise settling.



But that was the least of the worries. The nearest pokemon to her, and the one rising first, was the Rhydon.



The Rock-type turned his baleful eye to her, smirked, and then his drill started up. “Dunno what you did to stop that water,” he said, “but I bet it won’t help against this.” He took a step forward—and then another. Rui scrabbled back, but he was so big. Every step took him closer…



Ghost-type energy pelted his back and Striga swooped down with a cry, but the Rhydon just wreathed his hand in sand and stones and backhanded them away. “Little pest,” he snarled, “I’ll deal with you later.” He turned back towards Rui and, bowling his head low, rushed her.



But Dune crashed into him from above, knocking him down into the stage. “Finally,” she breathed. “You and I can finish this.” He thrashed, his drill racing, but she was firmly atop him. Her tail coiled about his neck and forced his head down, the drill safely barred from touching anything.



Above her the Pelipper launched another ice storm, but Striga intercepted, grunting to take the brunt and using shadows to swat away those missiles that sailed past. The ice splintered harmlessly around Dune and the Rhydon; the dragon buzzed her wings in thanks.



Her claws glowing green, Dune sunk them into the Rhydon’s back, snaking under the chinks Kata had made in his armor, and then the seagreen light swept over him.



The Rhydon thrashed, roaring, as Dune sucked up his life energy. Eventually his horn died and his tail grew weaker. His claws ceased their scrabbling against the splintered wood of the stage.



“Dune, don’t kill him!” Rui said. “Not unless you have to!”



The dragon tched but ceased her attack. She rose, clearly at fighting form; she had drained his power and made it her own. “Wasn’t going to. He’s not worth it anyway.” She thwapped her tail once against the floor.



As the other pokemon rose, Denri saw that the Rhydon was down—and then, with a galloping triumph, he sent electricity arcing at the Flying-types. But it veered off, absorbed by the Manectric.



“What?” the wolf pokemon sneered. “You think he was the only one with Lightningrod? Though I’ve got to say… thanks for the extra juice.” His body glowed brightly with Denri’s power. “I’ll be sure to put it to good use!



With a roar, he conjured a massive bolt directly at Luna. It crashed into the Umbreon, knocking her backwards; she was left, all staticked up and twitching. It reminded Rui of that day in the Sunny Swanna that seemed forever ago, when she’d taken that blow from Revy’s Magnemite…



But this was a far greater attack.



She twitched and groaned, struggling to rise, and Reed padded over to her in worry. The Manectic winked at Denri roguishly. “Thanks for the assist,” he said.



Rui recalled Luna before the Umbreon could take any more punishment. “You did well,” she murmured down at the ball. She didn’t think Luna was in danger of dying, but being down a pokemon was still not a great prospect.



Es Cade sneered at Rui. “That should help puncture that sense of untouchability.”



“You’re still down to three pokemon!” she shot back, her voice echoing across the auditorium.



He smiled. “Three? Are you sure?” And he pulled out an Ultra Ball.



Rui’s heart plunged. Of course… if Es Cade was gunning for the Championship, why would he only have a team of five? Why not fill it out?



“She’s not a Feral One,” he said, “but she’s still a shadow of tremendous strength—so I keep her capsuled unless absolutely necessary.” And with a flash, he unleashed his final pokemon.



She was still noticeabley serpentine in form despite the addition of legs and arms to her prior two evolutions; her species’ notorious rotundity was downplayed in favor of a rough firmness to her body which suggested a life of hard violence. She was relatively young, but carried herself with the cynical air of a pokemon much older. Her scales were orange, her wings colored like seafoam; a horn and two antennae-like sprouted from her head.



A shadow Dragonite had been unleashed.



She surveyed the scene of destruction before her with an iron gaze before Es Cade screamed out a single-word command: “Kill!”



And that single word spurred her into action.



With a bellowing screech, the Dragonite took to the air, wings flapping. She reached high above her head and summoned a small globe of force before chucking it down. The orb burst against the stage near the still-recuperating Kata, knocking the Hitmontop away and sending reverberations rollicking through the arena.



Dune swept up, jaws snapping, but the Dragonite wound her way sideways with eerie grace, delivering a punishing crack against the other dragon’s back. As Dune tumbled sideways, the Pelipper swooped in opportunistically, blasting out a pinpoint burst of ice—but the beam was intercepted by a glob of shadow from Striga.



“We’ve got the air!” the ghost said, falling in alongside Dune. “You take the ground!”



The Pelipper, the Crobat, and the shadow Dragonite against Dune and Striga alone? Rui wasn’t sure if she liked those odds… but neither Kata nor Reed could touch the fliers, and with the Manectric still on the field, Denri’s bolts were useless.



“Bring down the dog!” she said. “Then Denri can help!”



The Manectric eyed her. “Easier said! Hah!” He send a bolt rocking in her direction; Rui flinched back, but Reed tackled the Manectric, sending the bolt arcing sideways. The Electric-type kicked him off and rolled back onto his feet, snarling, before Kata lunged at him, fists swinging.



High above, Dune and Striga were still battling the enemy’s trio of fliers. The Crobat and Pelipper had wisely decided to hold back, lending their support to the Dragonite.



She was far swifter than her bulk would suggest, darting like an arrow through the air. She herself had command over Ice-type moves, wreathing her fist in rime and lunging at Dune. The Flygon barely darted away, pelting the Dragonite with a retaliatory burst of fire, but the younger dragon just hissed and bore it without complaint or issue.



Chancing a glance at Aura (though she was so drained from standing up to the Starmie’s assault that she could barely even manage that) Rui saw that the Dragonite’s shadow aura was like a typhoon, ever raging and storming about her. But inside of the storm was a hurricane’s eye, a nexus of quiet and introspection. It was painted with hurt, such hurt…



Rui’s heart went out for the poor Dragonite. She was a victim, like all the other shadows.



“We can help you!” she cried out. “We can chase the shadows away!”



Kill her!” Es Cade screamed in response.



The Dragonite just snarled and lunged towards Rui, muscles flexing; she backed off when Striga materialized in front of them, spinning illusions to disorientate.



“Our trainer isn’t lying!” said Striga, narrowly dodging a frigid punch from the Dragonite. “We were all shadows, but she helped us get better! You can get better, too!”



“I don’t believe you,” she replied. Energy flashed around her horn and she launched a pulse of Dragon-type energy at Striga, hurling the ghost away. “Nothing can make this better!”



She was tackled from behind by Dune. The two dragons twisted in midair, exchanging blows; Dune narrowly avoided an icy punch from the Dragonite and responded with a fierce rake of claws across her hips. The orange dragon reeled back with a high cry of pain.



“I thought like you did,” Dune said. “I didn’t trust them at first. But that trainer helped me save myself. I found hope—something to live for.” Her wings thrummed and she tackled the Dragonite into the side of the auditorium; the building shook, and more of the roof collapsed from the impact. Rui scattered, narrowly avoiding an I-beam. “I’m going to make this a world my son can live in, and dammit, you’re going to live here happily too!”



Swinging her tail between her legs, the Dragonite caught Dune in the torso and winded her, throwing her off. Retreating, readied a pulse of energy. Rui feared for Dune, but the Dragonite wasn’t aiming it at her—



She was aiming at the ruined stage.



Kata looked up, saw the oncoming attack, and seemed to snap to a decision. He could have skipped back, but instead he lunged for the Manectric, grappling him tight and holding him in place. Both were in the dragon’s attack path, now.



“Wh-what are you…!” the Manectric howled. His eyes fixed on the incoming attack in fear, the beam like a sun in his eye. “Let go, damn you!” He poured shock after shock into Kata, but the Hitmontop refused to let go.



The attack struck them both with a sound that pounded the eardrums; it cratered the part of the stage they were on. They were flung apart, the Manectric instantly knocked out; Kata looked little better.



“D-Denri,” he said. “See the gift I give you? A wonderful opportunity…” And then he slipped unconscious.



Rui recalled her teammate, holding the ball close to her body. Thanks, Kata, she thought. You unshackled the rest of your team. Rest well.



Across the stage, Denri met her eyes. She nodded slowly. Kata would be alright. Denri’s face morphed from apprehension to resolution, and he clutched his fists. “Don’t worry, Kata,” he said. “I’ll make good use of it!



With a wordless cry, Denri unleashed his lightning. Unhindered by Lightningrod, it soared through the chamber, aiming directly at the two Flying-types who’d been harassing her team for so long.



The Crobat was able to dart out of the way, but the Pelipper—who’d been aiming another Ice-type attack at Dune—was not so lucky. The volts seized his body and he instantly fainted, getting recalled long before he hit the stage.



Es Cade was sweating. Rui could imagine the thoughts going through his mind; he was down to two pokemon. Even with the Dragonite, it was a losing proposition… He would lose. He would go to prison.



It was over.



So he decided to flip the table over. “That’s it!” he screamed. He jabbed a finger at the Dragonite. “You! Hyper Beam! Bring the building down!”



Rui’s heart skipped. The building was mostly evacuated, but Eagun and Cynthia were still here… to say nothing of the cipher goons still battling them on the other end of the room!


“Wait!” she yelled at the Dragonite. “You don’t have to—!”



But the dragon wasn’t listening. A colossal mote of energy grew in her maw, and then she unleashed it:



Devastation.



The beam ripped through the battered auditorium, causing untold destruction. Already-damaged walls crumpled with clouds of dust and debris; the ceiling was ripped apart, chunks falling earthwards. The Crobat yelped in fear and fled for his life.



As the dust settled, Rui’s heart pounded. The collapsing debris had missed her; on the other end, the emerald orb of Denri’s Protect glinted underneath a pile. She couldn’t see Reed anywhere, and she prayed he had made it in to be protected.



Above, the Dragonite was gathering more energy, but Dune tackled her. “No!” she screamed. “No more! It’s done!”



Her Hyper Beam dissipating, the Dragonite swung an Ice Punch at Dune, meeting the Flygon’s own Grass-type layered fist. The two punches connected, the energy of them both snapping at each other and making them each tense with pain. They broke apart, wings flapping, to circle one another in the air. They surveyed each other, sizing them up as powerful opponents. A thread of invisible respect passed between them.



And the final fight truly began.



Dune lunged in, claws glowing with power, and the Dragonite corkscrewed away, wind whistling around her. She conjured a shield of force and sent it pulsing out, but Dune weathered it and then blasted her with fire. With a grunt, the Dragonite shot up—and Dune followed her.



They passed through the hole in the auditorium, taking the battle to the starry skies above Realgam. There, people in the glittering tower and huddled outside the auditorium pointed and gasped at the spectacle.



It was a dance of destruction. Fire met ice. Sand met energy. They wound around one another, sometimes lunging in, sometimes darting away to pelt one another with ferocious attacks. Dune’s jaws snapped at the Dragonite’s leg; she retaliated with a punishing blow of ice against the Flygon’s back. It was not enough to stop either dragon.



“Let us help you!” the Flygon said, pirouetting mid-air to dodge the Dragonite’s blow. “We can chase away the darkness!”



Liar!” the Dragonite responded. She whipped her wings and a knife of air slashed at Dune, driving her back. Wreathing her first in ice once more, the Dragonite lunged at Dune. The Flygon dodged, but a pulse of draconic energy sent her hurtling skywards.



The dragons’ attacks were like a firework display; lighting up the night, swallowing the stars. The light flashed off the glittering panes of Realgam Tower. Silhouetted by the light, Dune’s form was knocked skyward; the dragonish shadow righted itself and pulled higher, higher still—hundreds of feet. The Dragonite pursued.



Rui watched from below with awe. The fight was beyond her ability to interfere; Denri’s lightning couldn’t reach that far with any accuracy, and Striga couldn’t hope to keep up. The finale was entirely in Dune’s claws, now.



“Go, Dune,” Rui whispered. “I believe in you.”



Orange claimed the night as Dune spewed flames. They swept over the grunting Dragonite, knocking her back, but she wreathed one claw in lightning and another in ice. Clapping them together, the elements snapped together in a wave that swept out in a cone, lances of ice sparking with static electricity. Dune tried to dodge, but grunted as one clipped her wing.



“Slowing down, old woman?!” the Dragonite mocked, coming in for a lunging blow. Dune tried to skirt aside but her hurt wing made her slow, and the Dragonite pummeled her into the side of the tower. Glass spiderwebbed around her from the impact; inside, human spectators screamed and ran for cover. Pinning Dune against the class, the Dragonite furiously pummeled her, landing blow after blow. Each hit made the glass crack more.



“I’m not yours to save!” the Dragonite said in between blows. “You don’t know me!” The glass cracked more. “I’m not your daughter! I’m not anybody!”



Wreathing one fist in ice, she swung it in for the coup de grace—but Dune suddenly buzzed her wings at a high speed. The glass shattered behind her from the sonic impact and she darted backwards into the newly-abandoned penthouse suite, the whiffed punch making the Dragonite tumble over herself in the air.



“You’re someone’s daughter,” Dune replied. “And you are somebody.” She stretched a claw out. “Let me help you.”



The Dragonite looked at the proffered claw almost fearfully—but then her face twisted. Down below, Rui could sense the shadow storming inside of her, even from that great distance.



“No… no.” Her voice was guttural with sudden hatred. The shadow clawed inside of her, howling to break free. “All I am is a weapon.” She zipped back, her hide bright under the starlight. She turned and began gathering energy for another Hyper Beam. “Maybe I’ll show you by bringing the whole tower down!



Wings buzzing, Dune flew out of the tower. Her own maw sparked with fire, shining bright—it was as much power as Rui had ever seen her wield. Meeting in the sky, the two dragons launched their attacks—and beam met breath in midair.



The energy exploded in a massive eruption of power. Glass windows shattered on the tower; force swept earthward, knocking Rui to the ground and chasing the breath out of her. Debris was flattened. The explosion was so bright that for a moment night became dawn; the stars, the moon, all was lost in the sky except the light of the dragons’ attacks and the two shapes at either edge of it.



As the eruption died, both dragons were sent tumbling back. The Dragonite recovered first. Wings swooping, she raced towards Dune to land the final blow.



But at the last moment, Dune somersaulted upwards. The Dragonite swept underneath her; then, launching an attack upwards, Dune used the recoil to slam into her foe. The two dragons spiraled earthward, Dune grappling the Dragonite underneath her. They plummeted—farther, farther—down past the glass, down towards the ruined auditorium.



Rui watched them fall with bated breath. She hoped neither one died. She hoped the devastation would be kept to a minimum. She hoped their fight hadn’t hurt (or worse) any bystanders. She hoped she would be able to Snag and purify the Dragonite…



Her heart skipped. Snag? But she didn’t have the machine! She—



Rui!



A voice yanked her attention. She chanced a glance backstage. There, looking battered and dirty, yet still triumphant, was Ximena—and she was holding up the Snag Machine’s pauldron. “Atrapar! Here!” And she hurled the Snag Machine in a glittering arc.



The plummeting dragons slammed through what remained of the auditorium’s ceiling, the plaster and beams snapping like bamboo. They smashed into the stage, the Dragonite on bottom, Dune on top, pinning her; and as the dust settled, both dragons were panting, clearly on the cusp of fainting.



And then Dune’s claws glowed.



The Grass-type move was hardly effective against the Dragonite, but its leeching effect was enough. The Dragonite’s breath grew a touch wearier, while Dune perked up a bit, gaining a second wind—and when it was done, it was clear who the victor was. The Dragonite struggled once, weakly, trying to break free, and then collapsed.



“Just… kill me, already…” she breathed out, scarcely having the energy to form words.



Dune tched again, like a scolding mother. “Enough of that talk. Weren’t you listening? I’m not here to kill you.” She buzzed her wings once. “I’m here to save you.”



She whipped her head about. “Rui!”



“I’m on it!” The Snag Machine settled into its familiar place on her shoulder, unfurled to cover her arm. Snagging a spare Ultra Ball, she infused it with energy, then chucked it at the Dragonite. The ball sucked in the dragon, severing her connection to Es Cade; it plopped on the auditorium floor, trembled once, and then clicked.



The dragon was Snagged.



Rui sighed with relief, and a moment later, Striga’s voice came from overhead. “Hey! Look who I found!”



Lit by their glowing baubles and cowering in a corner of the auditorium was the Crobat. He cringed back from Striga’s approach. “I—I surrender!” he squeaked. “I don’t want to fight anymore! Really!”



“Hold him tight but don’t hurt him unless he tries something funny,” Rui ordered. Striga nodded and bound the Crobat tight with lashes of shadow. He squealed in fear but didn’t resist.



“And there’s one other loose end…” Rising, her whole body aching, Rui shot a hateful gaze across the auditorium. Es Cade looked winded and disoriented—and very desperate. Realizing he was done, he turned to flee.



“Denri!” Rui barked. A yellow paw threw off the rubble that had buried the Protect shield. Denri rose, supported by Reed. Both pokemon looked to be on their last legs.



Rui pointed at Es Cade. “Paralyze him, if you please.”



Denri looked hatefully at the fleeing man. “Oh, I do please.” He shot a spray of sparks towards Es Cade. It was a spectacularly weak attack, something likely would have failed to trip up even a Rattata—but then, pokemon were made of far stronger stuff than humans.



The sparks claimed Es Cade and the portly man stumbled and collapsed, trembling as his body locked up. Rising slowly, Rui was supported by Dune, and she slowly made her way over to him.



Curled on the floor, still trembling, Es Cade looked at her. “You can’t… do this…”



“Do what?” Rui shot back, her voice low. “Make you face the consequences of your actions? Pathetic. After everything you did to those poor pokemon, just for power…” She spat on him, the saliva flecking his cheeks. “And now you’re asking for mercy? You sicken me.”



She stood sentinel over him for a few minutes before footsteps rang behind her. She turned; Eagun and Cynthia were approaching. Each looked triumphant, and also as if they’d been through the wringer. Cynthia met Rui’s eyes and nodded. “Well done.”



Quite possibly the most respected trainer alive—the woman who held the position Eagun had in his prime—had just praised her battling skills. And all Rui could do was sigh, nod, and mutter, “Thanks.”



Cynthia just chuckled. She didn’t seem to hold it against her.



Laying a comforting hand on his granddaughter’s shoulder, Eagun approached Es Cade and looked down at him. “Mateo Es Cade,” he said, “for crimes against pokemon and people, for murder and attempted murder, for terrorism, and for several other charges, you are under arrest.”



Es Cade trembled again, and a mocking laugh scraped out of his throat. “Under what… authority… has-been…” he spat.



Eagun just smiled and then squatted down near him, elbows resting on his knees. “Oh, haven’t you heard? I suppose you must have been occupied. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Realgam, the representatives across Orre conclaved. They found my granddaughter’s arguments quite persuasive. Of course, it’s currently only provisionary; a proper vote will be held in a month’s time. But still… who’s authority you ask?” His eyes twinkled with triumph. “Under mine. Orre’s first Champion.”


---


SPOILERS FOR THE CHAPTER IN THE AUTHOR'S NOTE BELOW! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

So, first let's talk about the battle side of things. Like I mentioned in last update's chapter notes, Evice's team is based on the Ein rematch in the tower (sans the Dragonite, which I added for reasons I'll get to later. Here's how the battle went in-game: I lead with Denri and Dune, Ein leads with Rhydon and Pelipper. Turn one Dune KOs Rhydon with Giga Drain, Denri sets up Light Screen, the Pelipper uses Rain Dance, Ein sends out Manectric. The next turn Denri protects, Dune knocks out Manectric with EQ, and Pelipper hits Dune with a weak Surf. Ein sends out Starmie.

The next turn, Starmie outspeeds and uses Hydro Pump but misses (thank god!) while Dune and Denri gang up to 2HKO it with both their attacks. Pelipper uses another weak Surf and Ein sends out Crobat. Turn 4, Crobat Toxics Dune, Dune hits Crobat with Crunch, Denri KOs Pelipper. Turn 5, I swap Dune for Luna, Crobat flies up, Denri misses with Thunderbolt. Turn 6, Crobat hits Luna with Fly, then Denri KOs it with Thunderbolt. And that's the fight!

Now, as for the Dragonite addition, there were a couple of reasons for that. I figured that as the head of the cipher, Evice would doubtlessly have six pokemon, even if I demoted him from being the final boss he is in-game. I wanted his sixth pokemon to be powerful and dangerous, but also not something that normally appears in Colosseum. Lastly, I wanted to give Dune a chance to shine since she's such a late addition to the party, and a dragon-vs-dragon fight seemed the natural way!

Now, the other big plot development at the end... when I was first laying out the story, I naturally had Rui end up as Orre's first champion. But as I wrote TDWC, I increasingly found that it just didn't work--for her or for the region. Rui is a talented and powerful trainer, but still in many ways unsure of herself, and being able to take down a crime syndicate is different from governing a region. Not to mention that she has doubts and uncertainties even now, plus she's still a very young woman. Likewise, I don't know if Orre is ready to accept her. Anti-Kantonian sentiment is not uncommon there, and even ignoring that, it's doubtful the region would hand over their reins to someone who literally just showed up. Rui is still an outsider in many ways. As I dwelled on these developments, I realized the perfect solution was staring me in the face: Eagun. He has Rui's talent, has experience, is a lifelong Orresian native, and is still a region-wide hero even after all this time. Eagun is the natural choice to be Orre's champion, and I don't think Rui begrudges him that. She didn't come to Orre to try and seize a championship, after all!
 
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Moon

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3995
Caught
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
629
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They, Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Ghost
  2. Ice
Pokédex Entry
Because they're the two rarest types, they're the rarest pokemon. Yes, that's logical. No, there aren't other Ghost/Ice types. Froslass doesn't exist.
She was still noticeabley serpentine in form despite the addition of legs and arms to her prior two evolutions; her species’ notorious rotundity was downplayed in favor of a rough firmness to her body which suggested a life of hard violence. She was relatively young, but carried herself with the cynical air of a pokemon much older. Her scales were orange, her wings colored like seafoam; a horn and two antennae-like sprouted from her head.
Shadow Dragonite?
A shadow Dragonite had been unleashed.
Yup.

Alright, now suck it, Es Cade.
 
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Perpetually Underleveled

Conqueror of the Celadon Gym
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
1264
Caught
Jan 6, 2020
Messages
42
As you know, I followed Dear Diary pretty intensely and I loved it, and so I read this as well. There is a lot I like about TDWC that I want to talk about, though there are also two issues I have with it that made it difficult for me to invest in it and love it like I did your previous story, so I was more skimming the chapters and skipping some than reading them all intently like I would if I was fully invested in the story. I wanted to share this with you even though you are almost done with this story because I am looking forward to your next work and want it to be able to avoid these issues.

So first of all, the positives. I love the theme of facing and overcoming trauma and how it's woven into the story, I enjoyed reading each Pokemon's backstory and how they became a shadow in the purification chapters. You nicely tied all the individual arcs of the story together in a way that kept interesting things happening, and TDWC produces the same sense of plot threads coming together and lots of interesting enemies for the main characters to face as Dear Diary did. Also Entei is a quite interesting character. I like how, as you pointed out in the author's notes, she is the opposite of the other characters in how she refuses to move on from her trauma. I feel her character shows just how warped someone can be when they are told/treated like they are a god and their life is a part of some greater mythology of the world. From Entei's perspective, her own personal suffering and nostalgia for the past can't just be that, but a lost golden age that it is a moral necessity to restore, because in the world of mythology the personal for gods is a proxy for the grand, sweeping moral themes of humanity (and Pokemon). She can't comprehend that she is just another being whose wishes and griefs aren't inherently anymore impersonal or important than anyone else's. So she becomes convinced that she is removing all emotions and doing what is objective and has to be done, because she thinks she has the unique godly privilege of her emotions being objective. I also (being a fan of Dear Diary) loved the Ghetsis bonus chapter, it makes so sense that seeing what was done to Raikou and Suicune would make him understandably believe that all gods can be subdued.

Onto the two big problems I had. The first is the writing style. The writing was quite good in the first few chapters, but I feel like in the more recent chapters it has declined in quality. While the earlier chapters make you feel like you are in Orre and you are right there with the characters, but in later ones the writing feels distant, like it's a script just describing where everyone is and what action happens rather than a story. For example, in the Suicune battle, the narrative seems to be viewing the scene from a distance in a way that takes away from what should be an intense and emotional scene. There also seems to be overuse of ellipses to create a suspense that feels awkward and forced, like in the most recent chapter. All of it combines to create an effect where the cast can feel like a group of cartoon characters saying scripted lines rather than real "people". My absolute favorite writing you did was in Dear Diary, which was in the first person, and I feel it might be easier to write in a way that's "involved" in the world when you are in the first person so you write better that way, though you still did a pretty good job of it early in TDWC.

My second problem was with Rui as a character. While your previous protagonists were characters who were normal Pokemon put in an impossible situation and seeming to fight against fate and their own trainer to make a difference and be heroes against all odds, Rui seems to be privileged from the start, with her having two different psychic powers (which you have established as very rare), a grandfather who is a champion, etc, so she seems at first like a hero who is only where she is because of luck, which is just not as engaging as someone who is "defying fate" so to speak. And I might have put up with that, because what she is as a character and the choices she makes matter most, if it weren't for the whole purification narrative. It feels like in making Rui's purification such an emotional centerpiece of the story, you are trying to make Rui's suffering for having her lucky special powers equivalent to or more important than her Pokemon enduring physical and mental torture when they became shadows, and the effect is just making me sour on the character. Sure, there was also discrimination she faced for her heritage, but we are really just told about that instead of shown so we don't get to see why that was so bad. Not everything about how you handled her is bad, I liked how sherries to maintain a heroic stance of helping everyone with the snag machine but then is forced to admit a lot of it is personal and about wanting to get Pompom back. I just feel like overall her struggles and the decisions she makes aren't compelling compared to other characters - I thought Wes was a lot more of an interesting character than her in what little time we got with him, with the beautifully written chapter describing his backstory, the emotional weight of the decision he made to betray the Brotherhood and take the snag machine (thus setting up everything!), his background of poverty and keen observation of the injustices that run through the region (as opposed to privileged outsider Rui just bulldozing through everything), and his relationship with Rui, Cap and Luna. I wish he wouldn't have been killed off so early, and if you wanted Rui to take the mantle at the end he should have been killed near the climax of the story.

Also, as a more minor gripe, I felt the portrayal of Pokemon was not as interesting as in Dear Diary, because while that story really underscored the alienness of Pokemon while still making them human enough to be relatable, the Pokemon in TDWC feel just like humans that look different and have powers. This wouldn't bother me as much if they weren't supposed to be set in the same universe.

Whatever I say, I really admire your writing and I am very excited for your next story that ties both of your previous ones together!
 
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Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Using their teammates’s attack as cover, the Starmie whirled in, spinning. They knocked into Denri, walloping him, and released a point-blank psychic blast from their gem that punched him backstage.
Gotta respect the moxie of engaging the electric type as a water type.

From backstage, a lance of electricity raced through the air, aimed directly at the Pelipper—but it swerved direction, catching onto the Rhydon’s horn.
What if you wanted to use your electric type but god Ein's team comp said Lightningrod.

Rui half expected a rousing cheer—but the people in the auditorium were being beset by problems of their own.
Crowd support is so validating, though. :c

Does Ein's team's Rhydon have Horn Drill too? That's so mean! Colosseum can have fangame energy sometimes, I swear!

“Dune, don’t kill him!” Rui said. “Not unless you have to!”



The dragon tched but ceased her attack. She rose, clearly at fighting form; she had drained his power and made it her own. “Wasn’t going to. He’s not worth it anyway.” She thwapped her tail once against the floor.
😎

Oh hi Shadow Dragonite. I see the Pokemon XD reference. Fun Fact: The shadow Dragonite from Pokemon XD has Heal Bell, which Dragonite normally can't learn.

Rui feared for Dune, but the Dragonite wasn’t aiming it at her—



She was aiming at the ruined stage.



Kata looked up, saw the oncoming attack, and seemed to snap to a decision. He could have skipped back, but instead he lunged for the Manectric, grappling him tight and holding him in place. Both were in the dragon’s attack path, now.
My son! 😭

“D-Denri,” he said. “See the gift I give you? A wonderful opportunity…” And then he slipped unconscious.
o7

Es Cade was sweating. Rui could imagine the thoughts going through his mind; he was down to two pokemon. Even with the Dragonite, it was a losing proposition… He would lose. He would go to prison.



It was over.



So he decided to flip the table over. “That’s it!” he screamed. He jabbed a finger at the Dragonite. “You! Hyper Beam! Bring the building down!”
Wow, what a lame move. >_>

The Crobat yelped in fear and fled for his life.
Smart.

You know it, Dee: Dragon fights make everything cooler! 🐉

“Just… kill me, already…” she breathed out, scarcely having the energy to form words.



Dune tched again, like a scolding mother. “Enough of that talk. Weren’t you listening? I’m not here to kill you.” She buzzed her wings once. “I’m here to save you.”
And this character development is even cooler! :D
 
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Moon Drop Grape

some dumb rabbit
Pokédex No.
2818
Caught
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
19
Location
somewhere
Nature
Naive
Pronouns
She/They
Pokémon Type
  1. Electric
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
i'm a furry who draws things
With a wordless cry, Denri unleashed his lightning. Unhindered by Lightningrod, it soared through the chamber, aiming directly at the two Flying-types who’d been harassing her team for so long.
"her team"
either that's referring to rui, or someone just got misgendered in the same breath as he was correctly gendered
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #355
"her team"
either that's referring to rui, or someone just got misgendered in the same breath as he was correctly gendered

That 'her' is referring to Rui, not Denri! I could definitely have made that more clear. I'll fix that right now, thanks for the catch!
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #356
Shadow Dragonite?

Yup.

Alright, now suck it, Es Cade.

Shadow Dragonite indeed!

As you know, I followed Dear Diary pretty intensely and I loved it, and so I read this as well. There is a lot I like about TDWC that I want to talk about, though there are also two issues I have with it that made it difficult for me to invest in it and love it like I did your previous story, so I was more skimming the chapters and skipping some than reading them all intently like I would if I was fully invested in the story. I wanted to share this with you even though you are almost done with this story because I am looking forward to your next work and want it to be able to avoid these issues.

So first of all, the positives. I love the theme of facing and overcoming trauma and how it's woven into the story, I enjoyed reading each Pokemon's backstory and how they became a shadow in the purification chapters. You nicely tied all the individual arcs of the story together in a way that kept interesting things happening, and TDWC produces the same sense of plot threads coming together and lots of interesting enemies for the main characters to face as Dear Diary did. Also Entei is a quite interesting character. I like how, as you pointed out in the author's notes, she is the opposite of the other characters in how she refuses to move on from her trauma. I feel her character shows just how warped someone can be when they are told/treated like they are a god and their life is a part of some greater mythology of the world. From Entei's perspective, her own personal suffering and nostalgia for the past can't just be that, but a lost golden age that it is a moral necessity to restore, because in the world of mythology the personal for gods is a proxy for the grand, sweeping moral themes of humanity (and Pokemon). She can't comprehend that she is just another being whose wishes and griefs aren't inherently anymore impersonal or important than anyone else's. So she becomes convinced that she is removing all emotions and doing what is objective and has to be done, because she thinks she has the unique godly privilege of her emotions being objective. I also (being a fan of Dear Diary) loved the Ghetsis bonus chapter, it makes so sense that seeing what was done to Raikou and Suicune would make him understandably believe that all gods can be subdued.

Onto the two big problems I had. The first is the writing style. The writing was quite good in the first few chapters, but I feel like in the more recent chapters it has declined in quality. While the earlier chapters make you feel like you are in Orre and you are right there with the characters, but in later ones the writing feels distant, like it's a script just describing where everyone is and what action happens rather than a story. For example, in the Suicune battle, the narrative seems to be viewing the scene from a distance in a way that takes away from what should be an intense and emotional scene. There also seems to be overuse of ellipses to create a suspense that feels awkward and forced, like in the most recent chapter. All of it combines to create an effect where the cast can feel like a group of cartoon characters saying scripted lines rather than real "people". My absolute favorite writing you did was in Dear Diary, which was in the first person, and I feel it might be easier to write in a way that's "involved" in the world when you are in the first person so you write better that way, though you still did a pretty good job of it early in TDWC.

My second problem was with Rui as a character. While your previous protagonists were characters who were normal Pokemon put in an impossible situation and seeming to fight against fate and their own trainer to make a difference and be heroes against all odds, Rui seems to be privileged from the start, with her having two different psychic powers (which you have established as very rare), a grandfather who is a champion, etc, so she seems at first like a hero who is only where she is because of luck, which is just not as engaging as someone who is "defying fate" so to speak. And I might have put up with that, because what she is as a character and the choices she makes matter most, if it weren't for the whole purification narrative. It feels like in making Rui's purification such an emotional centerpiece of the story, you are trying to make Rui's suffering for having her lucky special powers equivalent to or more important than her Pokemon enduring physical and mental torture when they became shadows, and the effect is just making me sour on the character. Sure, there was also discrimination she faced for her heritage, but we are really just told about that instead of shown so we don't get to see why that was so bad. Not everything about how you handled her is bad, I liked how sherries to maintain a heroic stance of helping everyone with the snag machine but then is forced to admit a lot of it is personal and about wanting to get Pompom back. I just feel like overall her struggles and the decisions she makes aren't compelling compared to other characters - I thought Wes was a lot more of an interesting character than her in what little time we got with him, with the beautifully written chapter describing his backstory, the emotional weight of the decision he made to betray the Brotherhood and take the snag machine (thus setting up everything!), his background of poverty and keen observation of the injustices that run through the region (as opposed to privileged outsider Rui just bulldozing through everything), and his relationship with Rui, Cap and Luna. I wish he wouldn't have been killed off so early, and if you wanted Rui to take the mantle at the end he should have been killed near the climax of the story.

Also, as a more minor gripe, I felt the portrayal of Pokemon was not as interesting as in Dear Diary, because while that story really underscored the alienness of Pokemon while still making them human enough to be relatable, the Pokemon in TDWC feel just like humans that look different and have powers. This wouldn't bother me as much if they weren't supposed to be set in the same universe.

Whatever I say, I really admire your writing and I am very excited for your next story that ties both of your previous ones together!

Thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you really like the central theme, and also that you like Entei as an antagonist! Good to know there are still things to enjoy in TDWC

As for your critiques, I agree with a lot of it; TDWC is fun to write, and I'm proud of it, but it just has been a harder nut to crack for me from an authorial standpoint compared to DD. The writing style is can definitely be chalked up to the change in voice; interesting that you preferred the beginning of TDWC, since that's probably my least favorite part of that! In those early chapters I feel I was too much trying to do "DD, again" and the writing felt more inauthentic to me as I was deliberately trying to capture that older style. The shift in style was an attempt to relax into a sort of more adventurey one, inspired by contemporary fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher, as opposed to DD's more intimate, occasionally poetic style. I can certainly see why one would appeal over the other.

As for Rui, I also struggled (and occasionally still do) with her as a protagonist. Despite being the central character, she's definitely more difficult for me to write than almost any of the team, which is probably why TDWC ended up being a more ensemble piece about the team as a whole (with Rui as a "first among equals" sorta thing). If I was keen on rewrites, I would probably change a bit of how I handled her, especially early on. That said, there is one thing I want to respectfully disagree with: the focus point of Rui's pain, and the difficulties she overcomes in her purification, isn't her powers causing her grief, but instead that she feels she has hurt and failed those close to her. She feels she is responsible for Wes's death, she blames herself for not convincing Entei/Vulcana to shift sides, she misses Pompom, and most especially she regrets not getting to mend her relationship with her mother. While the powers are at least partially responsible for their strained relationship (not that Rui knew it at the time) at her core, Rui's powers aren't what leave her vulnerable to possession, and they're not responsible for the hurt she goes through.

Regardless, thank you for your critique and your support. I've definitely struggled more with TDWC compared to DD; it's been a sort of learning process, and I hope that part 3 in the verse can blend the strengths of both prior projects and find its own identity. I hope that I can satisfy both writer and reader with that one. Thanks again :)

Gotta respect the moxie of engaging the electric type as a water type.


What if you wanted to use your electric type but god Ein's team comp said Lightningrod.


Crowd support is so validating, though. :c

Does Ein's team's Rhydon have Horn Drill too? That's so mean! Colosseum can have fangame energy sometimes, I swear!


😎

Oh hi Shadow Dragonite. I see the Pokemon XD reference. Fun Fact: The shadow Dragonite from Pokemon XD has Heal Bell, which Dragonite normally can't learn.


My son! 😭


o7


Wow, what a lame move. >_>


Smart.

You know it, Dee: Dragon fights make everything cooler! 🐉


And this character development is even cooler! :D

You're right, dragon fights do make everything cooler!


“A toast—to our new Champion!”



Feeling weary, Rui raised her glass, a thing filled with a virgin cocktail of juices. Most of the others surrounding her were in various states of inebriation; even her grandfather, at the center of the celebration in the casino’s lounge, looked a little tipsy.



The movers and shakers of Orre had convened here to fete Eagun after his new appointment. Oh, certainly, it was ‘temporary’ with an official vote in one month’s time—but the idea that anyone else would be selected was unthinkable. Eagun was already making plans and preparations.



Though he was the focus of the attention, a fair few individuals had decided to hobnob with Rui herself. Out of her element, she’d been beset by a number of socialites and financiers and scientists, all fawning over her battle skills and her bravery against Es Cade. The fact that mere hours ago, most of them had been chanting his name was long-forgotten. He was a pariah now, a terrorist notorious worldwide, and with the eyes of other regions on him, there would be no way for him to leverage his connections for freedom. He was well and truly caught now—he’d be put away for life.



As the celebration continued, Rui rubbed two fingers together, smiling and nodding idly when a woman came up to thank her for stopping Es Cade’s pokemon from bringing the tower down. Her mind was elsewhere.



Orre celebrated the ‘death’ of the cipher, and in a way, they were right—the cipher as it originally existed, an organization to exploit shadow pokemon and further Es Cade’s ambitions, was effectively dead thanks to his defeat. But it had grown into something far more insidious. The shadows had stirred the Devourer, and even now, Lovrina was certainly waiting in the Aueritek ruins, pacing about the White Room, waiting…



The Devourer would rise any day now.



She should be there, but going with her team battered from the fight against Es Cade would be suicide. So Rui had to wait until they recuperated, knowing that a demonic time bomb was ticking under her very feet.



These people are so busy celebrating, she thought, but do they really understand? Do they understand how close they are to ruin?



The word incited something in her. A harmless song…



She shook her head, banishing the words from her mind. No, she couldn’t afford to trail her thoughts like that—not now. Not like this.



A hand tugged at her sleeve. She whipped her head, ready to shoot off a glare, but it was only Krane—smiling in a mollifying fashion.



“You look like you could use an excuse to leave,” he said.



She could feel the relieved smile spreading across her face. “Very much so.”



Stepping outside, Krane looked up. Rui followed his gaze. The glitz and glamour of the resort had chased away the starlight, leaning only the moon hovering overhead, a pale lantern amidst a sky drowned with light pollution.



“Nine hospitalizations,” Krane began, “and a few dozen minor injuries—but no deaths, not even for members of the cipher.” He looked sidewise at her. “This could have been a bloodbath, but it wasn’t. Take pride in that.”



Rui started. She hadn’t even realized how heavily the fear of civilian harm had been weighing on her, but now that Krane had put it into stark perspective, she did feel better. How had he known just what she needed to hear?



“It’s a gift,” he responded with a laugh, though she hadn’t been vocalizing her thoughts. She faked a scowl at him and then looked up at the sky.



“My team walked out of that fight pretty solid, all things considered,” she said. “But I’d still like to recuperate with them for longer than just a single night before heading out to stop the Devourer.”



Krane nodded. “Things rarely turn out as prettily as we would like. Also, in case anyone thinks that we’re faking an excuse to get you out of there, I do have real news.”



She raised an eyebrow at him.



“Your Umbreon and Hitmontop are both awake,” he said. “If you wanted to visit them.”



Rui smiled.



---



She changed back into her familiar outfit. Dresses just weren’t her style. The boots, the duster; they felt right as they settled down around her. (She left her hair long, though. A small concession.)



The casino’s hospital was one of the most impressive in all Orre, boasting top-of-the-line treatment for both people and pokemon. She tried not to be put off by how sterile it was. Machines beeped, fluorescents hummed. Disinfecting alcohol nipped at her nose. Eagun had promised to foot the bill for her team, who were recuperating inside.



Dune, Reed, Denri, and Striga already looked to be in fighting form—and Luna and Kata were laid up in bed, the former fidgety and the latter sitting up and kissing his muscles as Rui walked in.



She stopped for a moment, staring at Kata, before sighing. “I see some things never change.”



“Change?!” he boomed. “Why would you ever want to change perfection that has been HONED, blade-like, across a lifetime of meticulous mastery?” He leapt up to pose on the bed, only for a Comfey with the air of an angry matron to rush in.



“You again! If you don’t sit tight and rest then I’m going to knock you out and make you rest!” the nurse pokemon said with the air of one thoroughly fed up. “I mean it, you rascal!”



Kata slumped, slightly chastised, and the rest of the pokemon chuckled as Rui stepped in.



“Hey everyone. Good show tonight.”



“Yeah!” Striga cut in. “‘Specially Dune!”



Dune waved a claw, blushing slightly, only for Kata to cross his arms and nod haughtily. “Pfah! I admit, ‘twas an INSPIRED performance… Yet were I capable of flight, my own zephyr would indubitably have been a match for that orange drake!” He opened one eye and smiled playfully. “But even so, that was very well done, Lady Dune.”



She snorted. “Lady Dune? And I here I thought you were only into dudes.”



Kata stammered. “Can a pokemon not compliment a teammate without having insinuations—” But he cut off at Dune’s smirk.



Rui chuckled with the rest of them and went to sit on Luna’s bed. “You going to be in fighting form?”



“Should be.” The Umbreon flexed a paw experimentally. “Never felt this good. The medicine here is top-notch stuff.”



“It’ll have to be. Skrub finally surrendered the old lab’s location. Tomorrow, we head out to stop whatever Lovrina’s doing and prevent the Devourer from waking.”



“I bet Entei will be there,” Luna growled, “won’t she.”



A clammy hand gripped Rui’s heart. Entei had spent everything to ensure that this would happen. She wouldn’t surrender it at the eleventh hour.



“I would be very surprised if she isn’t,” Rui said softly.



Silence settled over them. “So,” Denri said with an exaggerated drawl, “six pokemon and a twiggy girl—no offense, boss—just gotta beat down a demigod and then stop a psycho scientist from waking up a superdemon. That all?”



Rui snorted, crossed her arms. “You forgot that the psycho scientist is possessed by the superdemon, but yeah, that just about covers it.”



Denri waved. “Easy-peasy. Look at us! Buncha legends! We got this!”



Striga piped up. “Yeah! Yeah! Legends!” Kata launched into an eloquently loquacious speech on the squad’s invincibility.



Rui smiled. She appreciated what Denri was trying to do, and she wished she could share his optimism—but she still remembered that tiny pearl that had almost claimed her that night in the forest. Could such a thing really be defeated? She wasn’t sure.



But she would try anyway. Because that was what she’d learned in the trunk. Even if it seemed hopeless, you had to fight. And who knew? Maybe, just maybe, you’d get out of it regardless.



A few minutes later, the door slid open and Eagun strolled in.



“Orre’s hero,” he said. Rui blushed.



“All I did was save them from backing a guy they’d already put on a pedestal.”



“You did more than that,” he said, his eyes jolly, “but I’m not here to argue. You’re leaving tomorrow, aren’t you?”



“That’s the plan.”



“Mm.” He sat. “It’s just you seven?”



“That’s the plan,” she repeated, voice soft.



He looked at her with sympathy. “You don’t have to do this alone, you know. I could go… or maybe even we could reach out to that Sinnohvian woman—”



Rui shook her head. “You weren’t there in the Under,” she said. “Suicune’s power almost ate my mind alive. Complete ego-death. My powers protected me and my team, and I have to hope they’ll work here too… but I don’t think I’m strong enough to shield any more than that, and the Devourer is way stronger than Suicune. If Cynthia, or anyone, comes, then they’ll just become a drooling idiot at best. At worst, she could end up like Lovrina. And I really don’t want to have to fight her and the Devourer.”



Eagun sighs. “Damn. Yes, it seems like you’re right.” His face tightened. “I just wish there was something I could do.”



“You can help this region find its feet,” Rui responded. “Entei, the cipher… Orre’s been ruled from the shadows for way too long. They need someone wise to show them the way.”



His grey moustache twitched, betraying his smile. “Someone wise? Well, I’ll just have to hold out until we can find one. Now, before you go… I have one last thing to give you.” He pulled out a satchel brimming with shiny new medicine cases. The labels gleamed a parade of colors. “A whole slew of the same meds they use in treatment here in this hospital.”



Rui took it like a treasure. “But these are so expensive! How did you—”



“Champion’s privilege,” he said, thumbing his nose. “Granddaughter… I just want you to know that even if we butted heads at first, I’m rooting for you—and I believe in you. I’m proud of you. And I know your mother and father would have been proud, too.”



Rui’s throat was suddenly tight. “I… thank you, grandpa. Really.” She stood and swept him with a deep hug.



“Now,” he said, “if you’re leaving in the morning, you’re going to need all the energy you can get. Rest well.”



He turned to leave, and Rui watched him go. The pokemon all looked at her.



“Rui?” Striga asked after a moment. “Are you gonna be okay?”



I hope so, she thought. “Yes,” she answered. “My grandpa’s right. C’mon, everyone, let’s rest up. Because tomorrow, we have a big job ahead of us.”



---



Not much to say this time around; mostly a breather chapter to help wind things down after the last hectic chapter. We're on the last legs now, and moving in towards the climax!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,308
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Dragon
  2. Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
“You look like you could use an excuse to leave,” he said.
Krane, you are the real MVP. 😤

“You again! If you don’t sit tight and rest then I’m going to knock you out and make you rest!” the nurse pokemon said with the air of one thoroughly fed up. “I mean it, you rascal!”
Never change, Kata, you rascal. :D

Aw, Denri, trying to rally the squad. He's come so far. 🥺

Ooh, Eagun giving Rui the good stuff. Are those X items?
 
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Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
1,002
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Bug
  2. Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #358
@Bowser's Family Vacation - Yeah, I really like both Kata and Denri! I'm glad you do too hehe :p

And those are just a sort of all-purpose smorgasbord of cool items! X items, Full Restores, the works! a final boss loadup if you will


Also, an announcement: there will be no update next week because I won't have time to work on it thanks to Thanksgiving here in the U.S.! So I'll see you all in two weeks' time :3


The heat baked against the Swampert’s side. Her species had never been made for deserts. Coastal grottos, beaches… those were the domain of her and her kin. But she had no complaint. Destiny had taken her here, to the deserts of Orre, to serve—and serve she would. She had spent her whole life in the heat and was used to it, even if she knew it was unideal for her. It scarcely mattered.



“Azul! Azul!”



She blinked out of her reverie. Verde, her Flygon teammate, was approaching, his wings kicking up the dust. “Someone’s approaching,” he said as he drew near. His voice was breathy. “We think it’s her.



Azul’s paws clenched. Ever since the goddess had returned maimed from the mountain, they’d all known the confrontation between them would come. “Let’s go,” she said, and she followed him back as fast as her legs could carry. She knew that Descolorido—her Forretress mentor—and Marron, her Claydol teammate, would already be there. The four of them would have to safeguard their goddess’s wishes.



It was on their shoulders.



---



The sun was rising to Rui’s back. She and the others had chosen nighttime to travel to Skrub’s coordinates, figuring that it would be less draining than going in the sun. Still, even just an hour or so of sunlight was quickly warming things up.



But she had bigger problems to worry about.



Arrayed before her was a line of four pokemon. Only one of them looked familiar—the Swampert was newly evolved, but still recognizable to her as Azul, the very same Marshtomp who had been the sole survivor of her battle with Vander. (She couldn’t put a word to how she knew she was the same; an ambient observation of Aura? Perhaps even some of the pheromonal scent which her mind internalized and transcribed as speech to help her understand pokemon? After this was all over—if she ever made it out—she would have to better study her powers.) Standing behind them was Vander himself, his face craggy and stern.



All of Rui’s pokemon were already released. Thanks to the top-notch treatment at Realgam Tower, her team was in fighting form, each ready to go.



Azul slammed her paws down on the sand and snarled. “You killed them!” she accused. “Rojo—Oscura—Gris! They were my friends!”



“I didn’t want to,” Rui responded. “But I had to save the Relic. And I have to stop the Devourer’s rise.” Luna stepped forward, growling. Her patterns glowed in the dim morning light. Dune’s wings whipped, Kata readied a fighting stance. Her pokemon were prepared to explode into action.



“Don’t do this,” Rui said, her voice low. “Please. I don’t want to hurt any pokemon I don’t have to.”



The enemy Flygon raised his claws and shouted: “For Entei!” The Swampert and the Forretress echoed his cry; the Claydol buzzed inarticulately.



And then the fight was on.



The Forretress immediately shielded himself with a Protect as Azul called out to her compatriots. “Verde! Marron! Let’s do this!” The three of them all smashed their appendages earthwards, unleashing a thunderous triple Earthquake. The attack was dampened only slightly by the natural fluidity of the sand—the rest was sheer chaos.



Rui was thrown sideways, landing sharply on her hip, and she winced as a lance of pain seared through her. Denri had shielded himself with a Protect in turn, managing to get Reed in there, but Luna and Kata were both flung about, wailing as the attack bruised them. Her heart panged—it didn’t look like either was in trouble, but she hoped it wouldn’t hurt them too bad.



But not every member of her team was groundborne. As soon as the attack began, Dune rocketed forward, Striga close behind. The elder Flygon’s maw gleamed with draconic energy and she unleashed a furious salvo at her younger counterpart. Verde fell back with a cry. His wings whipped up sand to try and blind her, but she just barreled right through.



“You’ll need to do more than that, pup!” she screeched.



Striga hurled a glob at Marron. The Claydol backed away from the spectral attack, but now the Earthquake was only being fueled by Azul herself, weakening the onslaught.



Kata found his feet fast enough to lunge forward, legs outstretched in a kick. “Face the might of a true stalwart!” he cried. “HUZZAH!” His kick connected with Azul’s chin and her head snapped backwards.



The moment the attack was ended, Denri dropped his Protect and Reed rushed out, using his Ground and Water-type powers to create a slide of mud to propel him forward, just as he had in that race against Cap that seemed a lifetime ago. The moment the Forretress lowered his shield, Reed drove him back with wide waves of water as his mate fell in alongside Striga, threatening Marron with Dark-type fury.



Denri scrambled away and helped a wincing Rui to her feet. “You okay, boss?” he asked.



“Yeah,” she said, gingerly touching her side. “Nothing broken, I think, but I’m gonna have a hell of a bruise.”



The Ampharos nodded sagely before looking wide-eyed at the unfolding battle. “Buncha Ground-types,” he said. “Don’t know how much help I’m gonna be, boss. Maybe I could… stay here and Protect ya?”



Rui smiled. “Sounds good to me.”



---



Azul cursed inwardly. She’d gotten a lot stronger under the goddess’s tutelage—but so had Rui’s team. They were matching her companions blow-for-blow and barely even acting winded! She swung a paw at the Hitmontop, cursing, but the nimble Fighting-type was far too quick. He was darting this way and that, punishing her whiffed attacks with sharp jabs or quick body checks. None of the blows were especially powerful, but they were adding up. What was worse, whenever she tried to build up for a strong elemental attack, he rushed in and pummeled her with a sharp blow.



Her compatriots were faring little better. Marron was on the backfoot against a Ghost and Dark-type pair, helped only by their own defensive capabilities and the fact that their adversaries weren’t powerhouses. Descolorido had unleashed his special move—a Toxic attack—early against the Quagsire, but the trainer had chucked him a berry, scarcely slowing him as he healed it. And most humiliatingly, Verde—the most powerful member of Azul’s squad, and possibly the strongest of the Dakim’s pokemon still alive—was outclassed in almost every way by the enemy’s dragon. The older Flygon was faster, stronger, and had a more diverse range of attacks, swapping from Grass-type assaults to snapping with Dark-type jaws in the blink of an eye.



After all of this… were they to fail after all? Was Azul going to die for her goddess, just like her parents had? If so, it would be their own fault. Entei never gave them tasks they could not manage. It was impossible. There had to be a way to pull this around. There just had to be!



And then, when the Hitmontop went in for a feint only to leap for a headpoint attack, she knew her chance had arrived.



---



Rui recognized Kata’s mistake before it happened, but too late to stop it. He leapt up, ready to land on his headpoint and spin in for a whirling chain of kicks—but he’d neglected something.



He was fighting on sand.



“No!” Rui cried out. “Kata, don’t—”



But it was too late. He landed and his headpoint, with all his weight focused on one tiny space, shifted and sent him wobbling in the sand. Azul immediately pounced, sweeping him back with a fierce spray of water that sent him tumbling. The Swampert raised her head. “Turn it around!” she bellowed. “Descolorido—whip up a sandstorm!”



The Forretress did just that. Narrowly dodging a swipe from Reed, the bug pokemon turned sideways and spun wildly, whipping up a tremendous gust of sand—one that far outstripped the one his Flygon companion had created earlier. The dusty plume swallowed everything.



Rui ducked her head behind her arm, grunting as the sandstorm bit at her eyes and lips, and Denri stepped in to shield her. Given Vander’s team make-up, it was a good ploy—but Azul couldn’t have known that thanks to Justy, Rui already had experience fighting off this type of attack. “Reed, you know what to do!” she cried out, her voice hoarse as she yelled to be heard among the storm. “Drown it!”



And Reed obliged. It took far longer than it had in Phenac; there was no battlefield of water to help them out, after all. But with splash after splash, Reed managed to kill the sandstorm.



But even the half-minute or so that it had been going had given Vander’s team a second wind. Striga and Luna, both cringing and blinded by the storm, had lost sight of Marron. The Claydol was set paces away, both of their stubby, independent legs spiraling around them as they built up Psychic power.



Rui’s heart spiked. Oh, Arceus. Kata.



“Look out!” she screamed. Kata, still bowled over from Azul’s attack, made to jump—but the sand at his feet suddenly churned to mud, sucking him under and keeping him anchored. A dozen or so feet away, Azul’s paw was slammed on the ground, her gaze fixed squarely on him.



Marron unleashed their beam.



It soared like a spear, aimed direct at the Hitmontop. He turned to face it, eyes wide with sudden fear.



And then Luna was there.



She leapt directly into the path of the Psychic attack. It ran harmlessly off her coat like rainwater down a windowpane, reduced to nothing. Her rings glowed triumphantly. “You took my brother!” she said, voice defiant. “I’m not going to let you take anybody else!



Marron whirred with obvious anger, only for Striga to pelt them with a Ghost-type attack from behind. Luna lunged back into the fray as Kata broke free of the mud, narrowly dodging an attack from Azul, landing in a pose that would have put bodybuilders to shame. “An indubitably audacious endeavor!” he said, wagging a hand scoldingly at his foe. “But the TRIAL that is combat with perfection INCARNATE cannot be won so easily! HAVE AT THEE!”



Denri snorted as Kata raced in to kick at Azul. “Thee?” he said. “Rui, if he starts reciting medieval poetry, I'm done.” She just smiled, filled with relief. Reed had resumed his battle with Descolorido, and Dune was still walloping Verde.



Finally, the youthful dragon tried a feint, making as if to blast a beam at Dune only to lunge in, claws gleaming with Dragon-type power. But Dune was no fool. Kicking her wings against the sand, she rolled over him in midair, coiled her tail about his neck, and then used her momentum to yank him overhead in a screwing motion before slamming him unceremoniously into the desert. He landed with a surprised wheeze, and Dune’s feet slammed against his wrists, pinning him. She stared down at him.



“Give up,” she snarled, “pup. I was doing this before you were even born.”



The loss of their dragon demoralized the rest of his team. Vander, who’d mostly stayed out of the fight, rose shocked to his feet. The Claydol and Forretress almost scarcely bothered to fight back. They had them.



And then, unveiling from a wall of illusion that had hidden not only its image but its scent and even its temperature, a fireball the size of a car suddenly manifested and smashed direct into Striga.



The Ghost-type was sent rocketing backward with a wail, landing to skid against the sand. They stirred weakly before Rui recalled them. The area above which they’d been hovering had been charred into ugly grey glass from the sheer heat.



ENOUGH FOOLISHNESS, came Entei’s voice. Rui looked around in a panic. She couldn’t see her. Was she veiled as well? DESCOLORIDO. EXPLOSION.



Explosion?! But that was a suicide move—a last-ditch effort for wild pokemon defending their nests. Entei was ordering her servant to kill himself!



Rui turned fearfully to the Forretress. “Don’t listen to her!” she implored. “You have your friends to live for! You don’t have to do this! Please—”



Rui, look out!” Denri tackled her to the sand, shielding them both in a sphere of green light, as Descolorido dutifully clasped their shell shut.



And then an explosion like a bomb rocked the desert.



---



Azul’s ears were ringing. She struggled weakly to her feet. She… she had known that her compatriot knew that kamikaze move, but to have it happen so suddenly… Descolorido had been her mentor, and a fellow teammate, and a friend, and now he was…



He was dead.



Her ears still rang. She groaned. She hadn’t even been that close to him when he’d gone off, but she felt a step away from fainting. Her vision swam. Around her, she could see the results of Descolorido’s final attack. The enemy’s Flygon had been knocked into a far-off dune and was struggling to stand. Verde was knocked out from the explosion. Vander was…



Azul’s heart skipped. Vander, too, was dead.



Her trainer, the one who had raised her after her parents’ death, he was just gone, he was—



She beat down the emotions. Entei… Entei had done it for a reason. This had all happened for a reason.



Marron was weak but stirring. The Hitmontop was recalled; he had probably also fainted. The Umbreon and Quagsire had huddled together. Only Rui Matsuhara and her Ampharos had remained unscathed, shielded by the Protect.



And then the veil unfolded and a goddess strode across the sands.



Entei had always been flawless and divine for as long as Azul had served her. Standing tall and proud and regal, like a queen of old. But the accumulated injuries she had acquired had shown themselves. The goddess limped, her gait difficult from the bullet wound that scarred her chest in every form. She labored for breath. The left side of her face had been seared into an ugly mask by her brother’s lightning. The skin was hairless and blistering, the eye a far-gone, empty socket. Now she no longer looked like a queen—she looked like a hag, or the statue of a hag which had been eaten by time.



But she was still Azul’s goddess. The Swampert prostrated herself before her.



Entei tched condescendingly to her. Her contempt could be tasted in her bearing. GET UP, she said. KILL THEM BEFORE THEY



A lightning bolt ate into her back and she lurched forward with an angry groan. Turning, she leered venom at the charging Ampharos.



“I’m not going to let you do that, Vulcana!” he yelled.



The air around Azul seemed to instantly rise twenty degrees. She dove out of the way, fearful of her master’s wrath. DON’T CALL ME, Entei screeched, THAT NAME!



She unleashed a devastating curl of flame, one that blackened the sands and sent them twisting into fresh-baked glass. But with her eye gone, her aim was off. The curtain of fire swung wide, and the Ampharos called Denri ducked underneath it, his fur singed but otherwise fine. He spun and the globe at the base of his tail smashed into Entei’s jaw, and she was knocked back with a gasp.



Azul could only watch, transfixed. Knocked back. Entei wasn’t… she wasn’t testing them. She was trying to kill them. And she’d failed.



The Ampharos had landed a solid hit on her.



Snarling, the goddess swiped at him and her blow connected, leaving ugly red gashes on his torso. But Denri grunted and his chest sparked, and the electricity raced up Entei’s body.



And the other pokemon sprang into action. The Umbreon, Luna, lunged in, her jaws haranguing the goddess’s fetlocks. Her mate summoned water to douse the flames as soon as the goddess summoned them. The dragon had rejoined the fight, wings buzzing, and she darted in and out, employing hit-and-run tactics. Wound after wound grew on Entei’s hide. She snapped her jaws, stamped her feet, spat fire—but none of it connected. Her injuries had held her up too much. She was lumbering now, and vulnerable.



The enemy was taking her on… and they were winning.



“Traitor!” screamed Luna. She smashed her head against the bottom of Entei’s chin and the goddess staggered back, groaning as she was sent to her knees from another bolt of lightning from Denri. “Cap is—he’s dead because of you!” Her fangs tore into Entei’s haunches. “Give me my brother back, you bitch!”



Entei managed to get off a fire attack that wasn’t doused by Reed. The inferno shot like a beam and punched into Reed, sending the Quagsire tumbling back. She took the opportunity to smash Luna with a swipe and then pin her with a paw. A spiral of flames caged the two of them in, preventing the other pokemon from interfering.



YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE TO LOSE A SIBLING, Entei said, her eyes fixed on the Umbreon beneath her.



SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Luna screamed. She scrabbled against the paw pressing her into the dirt, clawing and biting at it. “You backstabbed them and for what? Because you were lonely? You even had your own servant kill himself now just to inconvenience us!”



Azul glanced sideways at Descolorido’s remains. It was true. Their ally’s final stand hadn’t killed any of the opponents, and hadn’t stopped them from ganging up on Entei. She’d been raised to believe that the goddess was infallible and that everything she did was for a reason. So why… why did it seem like she had ordered Azul’s friend to die for nothing?



And, unbidden, came the same whispered fear which had sometimes nipped at her in her weakest moments: Did she have your parents die for nothing, too?



“The shadows,” Luna continued hatefully, “and sending the Dakim on suicide missions, and Cap, and your brothers—so much pointless death and suffering for what? All to bring back someone who doesn’t want to be here? Because you feel lonely?” She spat at Entei, the spittle flecking the fanged faceplate. “Fuck you! The moment I learned you executed that Rattata on the roof, I should have killed you. I wish Miror B’s gunman had finished the job! You’re stupid and selfish and you ruin the lives of everyone you know! Go off and die already!”



Her words rang over the desert, sharp and accusatory. Entei stared down at Luna. Kept staring. The Umbreon glared back defiantly.



And then Entei slowly opened her mouth, and fire grew within—bright and searing like the sun. No pokemon could have possibly withstood a point-blank blast like she was about to unleash. Azul watched, unable to look away. She… she had been filled with hate for Rui and her pokemon for so long. But now, she found herself wishing the Umbreon didn’t have to die.



Why? she chided herself. Why are you thinking that? The truth was, she didn’t have an answer. Entei wanted Luna dead, and therefore Luna deserved to die. She had been raised under that mindset.



But she didn’t want her to die.



Rui’s voice suddenly whipped across the sands: “Now, Luna! Toxic!” And with a wordless scream, the Umbreon unleashed her fury. The poison cloud swept over them both, caged in by Entei’s own swirling flames; Luna, of course, was immune to her own poison.



But Entei was not.



She screamed with sudden agony as the Toxic swept into her body. She let loose the attack she had been building—but as she howled in pain, the beam swept harmlessly across the sky, distorting the air around it with raw temperature. The cage of fire died, and Denri rushed in to pull Luna to safety. With the fire down, Azul could see clearly—see the noxious purple eating into Entei’s flesh, swallowing her up like a disease. Toxic was dangerous; the more hurt you were, the more effective it was. And between her old injuries and the beatdown from Rui’s team, Entei was quite hurt indeed.



The Fire-type staggered sideways, screaming in agony as the poison ate at her. Her one good eye was puffy, swollen shut from the cloud. She launched fire attacks blindly, without rhyme or reason, and Azul had to duck to avoid being hit by one.



And then Dune and Reed were there. They jointly pummeled her with Water and Ground-type attacks, hitting her weaknesses over and over. Entei screamed and re-summoned the cage of fire, and both adversaries grunted from pain—but they didn’t stop. Their typings let them bulldoze through it and before long, she was quivering under their assault, crumpled against the sand.



NO! NO! she screamed. AZUL! MARRON! GET IN HERE AND STOP THEM!



Near Azul, Marron whirred affirmatively and made to rush in—but before she knew what she was doing, Azul had conjured a few lashes of water to rein them in.



“Wait,” she said, her eyes wide. “The fire’s still going. You’ll get hurt, Marron.”



Bound by her water, they turned one of their many eyes to her and rang their tinny voice.



“I don’t want to lose you too,” Azul said, her voice small. “My mommy and daddy. Vander. Descolorido. Please, Marron, please don’t. You’ll die.”



ENOUGH! Entei screamed as the beatdown continued. ENOUGH! MARRON, USE EXPLOSION! KILL THEM ALL!



Azul’s heart stopped. Descolorido hadn’t been their only teammate to know that move.



“Please,” she whispered. Her eyes welled with tears. “Please, you’re my friend.”



And Marron… hesitated. They whirred something loud.



I DON’T CARE IF THE SWAMPERT DIES! Entei screamed in reply, and the wordchoice flagellated Azul. Not ‘necessary sacrifice.’ Not ‘in service of the greater good.’ Not even something as numb as ‘collateral damage.’



Entei just didn’t care about her. She said it herself.



And Azul began to sob. By all the spirits, had Entei been like this all along? “Please, Marron,” she said. “Don’t kill yourself for nothing.” That’s what the Umbreon had said. That Entei had done it all for nothing.



And oh, it ached, but Azul believed her now.



DID YOU NOT HEAR ME? USE EXPLOSION! KILL THEM! Entei shrieked. DAMN YOU! I AM A GOD! I AM YOUR GOD! The Toxic was spiraling up her body. Her whole form was striped with noxious purple. WHATEVER I TELL YOU IS RIGHT! NOW DO IT!



Marron whirred in distress—and then they touched down to the earth. They had refused to kill themself, and refused to hurt their friend Azul. The Swampert, sobbing, hugged them tight.



And with a wordless shriek of indignation, Entei gathered her power and began to glow.



Even from where she was, several paces away, Azul could feel the temperature rising. “She’s going to erupt!” she screamed in warning. “You two need to flee! Get out of there!”



Her wings buzzing, the Flygon picked up her compatriot and flew as fast away from Entei as she could.



And the goddess unleashed all her power.



It was an unfurling blossom of heat, a beautiful locus of pure destruction that warped the air and the very earth. The waves of heat threatened to make Azul faint as she held Marron close to her, drying her out. The sand all around them clumped together, melded by the unfolding flames. She wondered if this was how she died…



And then the heat was gone and she collapsed, whimpering. Marron was still whirring close to her. Patting the Claydol, she raised her head to spy an auburn dot loping lopsidedly across the desert. Only a goddess could have survived being at the epicenter of such an explosion. Entei was making her escape.



Rui’s team gathered together, groaning, and Luna fixed Entei’s retreating form with disgust. “She’s getting away!” she said. “We have to go!” But her mate’s paw on her shoulder stopped her. She looked up at Reed, who shook his head wordlessly. He barely looked able to stand.



“He’s right,” their trainer said, standing over to them. “You’re all too worn out. Besides, we’re here for the Devourer. Not for her.”



The Umbreon’s ruby red eyes brimmed with angry tears—but she nodded.



Sighing, the trainer turned away from her team and made her way to Azul. She was still holding her friend and sniffling.



Squatting down, Rui smiled at them. “Hey,” she said. “That was very brave what you did. And I know that me and Vander were enemies but… I’m sorry for him. And for your Forretress friend as well.”



The tears kept flowing. Azul could scarcely believe it. She’d… turned against Entei. Her goddess. The one she’d devoted her life to. Even after everything she’d seen, it almost made her sick. She felt like she had failed her family—failed herself.



“Wh-why?” she said. “I don’t understand! Vander and Descolorido, they gave their whole lives to her, and she hurt them for no reason… why would she do that? And, wh-why would she have Marron hurt themself, and, and hurt me! I thought she was good, so why would she want that? I never did anything wrong and neither did Marron!”



The Kantonian gazed at her with a small, sad smile. “Because Entei is selfish, and she’s certain she's right. Anyone who challenges that view, she frames them as the ones in the wrong to justify hurting them.” She held out a hand to her. “I know we were enemies, but I think you’re a good pokemon. You understood that what she wanted you to do was wrong.”



“I still feel sick,” Azul said, hiccupping. “Like I failed.” Marron whirred in muted affirmation.



“You didn’t fail. You have your whole lives ahead of you, and you can spend it helping others and being good pokemon. You don’t need her to be happy, or to be good.” The hand remained outstretched. “Okay?”



Trembling, fearful, Azul reached out a paw—and then she clasped it into Rui’s grip as if afraid it would vanish. “…okay.”



---



SPOILERS IN THE AUTHOR'S NOTE BELOW

So. We finally get our confrontation with our antagonist. Entei is a character I have very complicated feelings about. I love writing her as a villain, and yet I hate her for her hypocrisy and self-righteousness. In the end, seeing her confrontation with the team from the POV of Azul was a choice that I wasn't anticipating, but that just felt right. I also had theorized Rui having a sort of verbal argument or confrontation with her, but then I realized that neither character would want that. Rui has moved past seeing Entei as a fallen friend she can still save, and Entei is too saddled up in her own sense of rightness to even bother at this point. Instead, having Luna unload verbally on her was the way to go. It was cathartic for both the character and for me as a writer.

And she escapes to fight another day. Entei isn't one to blindly throw her life away so close to the goal, and Rui and company don't have the luxury of pursuit. But she was beaten--thoroughly and utterly. Entei lost. Remember that... because she sure will.

In-game wise, this represents the fourth and final of the cipher admin rematches: the Dakim rematch. While this fight probably isn't as lethal as the first match against Dakim, it's still probably one of the hardest fights in the main story. In my opinion, if you Snag Entei from Dakim in round 1 (thus letting him use a Houndoom in his lineup in Entei's place) then he's probably the hardest of the rematches, even if Venus and Ein outlevel him.

But of course, I didn't Snag Entei. How did my battle go? In round 2, Dakim keeps his Earthquake focus, but forgoes Protect in favor of a team that can either tank it or have Levitate. He also has a heavy focus on Sunny Day, with many of his pokemon knowing Fire-type moves powered up by the sun or Solarbeam. (His Flygon and his Houndoom, if you let him come with it, know both. Brutal.)

So how did I handle this fight in-game? I led with Luna and Striga, and Dakim led with his Claydol and Flygon. Luna and Striga both knew Confuse Ray, and they both managed to outspeed and confuse the opponents, each of whom hit themselves in confusion. Lucky! The next turn, Striga knocked out Claydol with a crit Shadow Ball while Luna used Toxic on Flygon. Flygon hit itself again, and Dakim sent out Forretress

I then used an X Def on Luna while I swapped out Striga for Reed. That turn, Forretress used protect and Flygon pulls through to hit my team with EQ. But they're tanky enough (especially Luna with the X Def) that it doesn't do that much damage. Confusion also wears off. The following turn, Reed uses Surf, Luna re-confuses Flygon, and Forretress uses a weak Earthquake, and Flygon preps Solarbeam. I then swap Reed for Kata and use Confuse Ray on Forretress with Luna. Both of the enemies hurt themselves with confusion, and the self-damage is enough to bring down Flygon. Dakim sends out Whiscash.

With its special moves, Whiscash actually does credible damage to Luna and Kata. Over the course of a few turns, I poison and then confuse Whiscash, but it fights through the confusion to land every hit. Kata tries to bring down Forretress but Dakim heals it continuously. Whiscash eventually gets Kata down to the red, so I swap Reed back in. Over the remaining three turns, Reed is able to Whiscash with an Earthquake, and then take out Forretress and Entei with two surfs. I use Luna's turns to heal--first Reed, the Luna, then Reed again. And that's the fight!
 
Last edited:

Moon

Johto League Champion
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
3995
Caught
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
629
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They, Them
Pokémon Type
  1. Ghost
  2. Ice
Pokédex Entry
Because they're the two rarest types, they're the rarest pokemon. Yes, that's logical. No, there aren't other Ghost/Ice types. Froslass doesn't exist.
I just realized how...creative...the names of Vander's pokemon are.
I mean, I guess you can't go wrong with colors.
even if one is 'discolored'
 
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SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,570
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
I just caught up with this on AO3 and I'll say it again here: I am a changed person, ready to spread the Gospel of TDWC far and wide. Enjoy your Thanksgiving break, you emotionally hazardous artist.
 
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