Okay, a new chapter is finally done! This one took a while due to writer's block, but I finally got it finished. (Thank you Pikachu's Great Adventure for being inspiring.) And wow, 50th chapter. When I started this story, I had no idea The Path of Destiny would turn out this long. And there's still such a long way to go. o:
This chapter started turning out longer than I thought, so some of the stuff that was going to be in this chapter will have to be in the next one. I know not a lot happens, but the some of the stuff in this one is important. I hope it at least gives you something to wonder about.
The Path of Destiny
The following morning, Damian told Justin, Katie, and their pokémon everything that they had missed the previous night. Snowcrystal hadn’t been happy to see Justin return, but she was glad to see Spark, who, despite the drama of the previous day, seemed happier than she’d seen him in a long time. Ever since he had reunited with Justin, the jolteon hadn’t left the human’s side.
Everyone seemed relieved that Damian had been right; no trainers had ventured this way, but it was near enough to the city that the humans didn’t have much trouble going back and forth between the buildings and the pokémon resting place. All of Damian’s pokémon, minus Scytheclaw, were out of their poké balls; Snowcrystal noticed that they all looked intensely interested whenever someone mentioned the Forbidden Attacks.
Now, Snowcrystal realized, they were going to be discussing how they were going to search the library. Snowcrystal couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated that she would be sitting out here with most of the other pokémon, unable to help. Sure enough, a little while later, Damian, Justin, and Katie had all decided to go together, taking only their own pokémon.
“It’s not fair,” Alex muttered. “I could help. I’m sure I could help!”
“Can you read?” Blazefang replied sarcastically.
“No,” Alex replied, “but I could help them look for book covers that had attack stuff on them…”
“I just wish we didn’t have to stay here,” Snowcrystal sighed. She stayed silent for a moment, watching the dancing light patterns that filtered down to the ground through the tree over her head, then sat bolt upright, a thought coming to her. “Do you think we could ask the humans to visit Nightshade or…or Stormblade?”
“You mean walk right into a city full of humans, with no trainer?” Blazefang replied, looking at her like she was crazy.
Before she could answer, Alex leaped up in excitement. “Yes!” she cried. “That’s exactly what I want to do!”
“Well…” Snowcrystal began. Now that she thought about it, Blazefang was right. Even with the protection of the humans and their pokémon, it would be very risky to just walk right into the city. She began to wish that she hadn’t spoken her sudden thought aloud.
Before she could try and get her to reconsider, Alex had run over to Arien and began pleading with him to ask Damian to persuade the other trainers to let them go. Reluctantly, Arien nodded, leading Alex to cry out in delight.
“That heracross I brought to the pokémon center…” Snowcrystal heard Damian say suddenly to the other two humans after a few moments. “He was friends with these pokémon. I think we should take them to see him. The scyther, too.”
“Huh?” Katie replied, still regarding Damian and his pokémon with the same uncertain look she had shown before.
“We don’t have time for that,” Justin muttered. “We have work to do.”
“Actually,” Katie said louder, before Damian could say anything, “I think it’s a great idea.” From the look of surprise on Justin’s face, Snowcrystal was certain he hadn’t been expecting that, though whether Katie was simply disagreeing with him on purpose or wanted a distraction from having to make a certain decision about the Forbidden Attacks, she didn’t know.
“You’re going to walk through the city with several wild pokémon who obviously aren’t yours?” Justin scoffed.
“If the three of us go,” Damian suggested, “and keep our pokémon in their poké balls, people will just assume the group of pokémon belong to us. They won’t be trying to catch them or anything. Of course, we have to be careful about Snowcrystal…” He thought for a moment, and then went over to his backpack which lay beside the tent and emptied all of its supplies onto the ground. “Maybe she can ride in here,” he said. “It looks big enough.”
Snowcrystal thought to herself, but she didn’t try to argue.
“We can go visit the pokémon and then head straight for the library,” Damian stated. “They might even let the pokémon in there, so if we find anything, we can tell them right then.” He looked over his pokémon, his gaze resting on Todd the elekid and Inferno the flareon. “I want you two to stay here,” he told them. “Watch the camp for me.”
Todd immediately threw up his arm in a salute, but Inferno looked disappointed. “I want to go too…” Snowcrystal heard him whisper.
Either Arien was sending Damian a translation or the trainer had guessed what his flareon was thinking, because he replied, “I’m sorry, but if you came, you’d have to stay in your poké ball anyway. Only the wild pokémon can stay out, I’m afraid. But don’t worry; you can come next time.” Looking slightly happier, Inferno nodded.
“Er…I’m going to head off to the library and wait for you there,” Justin muttered. “I’m not interested in visiting any sick bug types.” Snowcrystal glared at him; she knew from what Stormblade had told her that he was terrified of scythers, and didn’t want to go to see Nightshade in case the others dragged him along to the long term pokémon hospital too.
“Fine by me,” Katie muttered. “Uh…Damian? Are you sure these pokémon will behave?”
“They will,” Damian replied with absolute certainty. The doubtful look on Katie’s face told Snowcrystal she was still remembering the Scytheclaw incident.
“They better,” Katie sighed, “unless they want to be taken away by the police.” She sighed. “Well, if we’re going to take them, let’s hurry and go.”
Snowcrystal was placed carefully into the backpack, which wasn’t as uncomfortable as she’d thought it would be, but there was still very little space. Damian left part of the top of the backpack open so she could peer out of it.
She was very grateful that Damian and Katie seemed to want to take an early morning walk to the city rather than ride on Damian’s tropius. It was probably because of the pokémon following them, she realized, and was grateful that they were coming. Redclaw seemed happier than Snowcrystal had seen him lately; he would often run on ahead, then double back to circle the trainers. She didn’t blame him; they were just finally starting to gain real hope of finding the answers they needed, and they were, compared to what they’d just been through, safe. Alex plodded happily along behind them along with Wildflame and a rather reluctant Rosie and Blazefang.
Blazefang had merely come along because he hadn’t wanted to stay back at the camp with two pokémon who were practically strangers, and Rosie had finally been persuaded both by the desire to see her friends and the assurance that Damian wouldn’t let any other humans near her.
The walk to the city was surprisingly pleasant; there were almost no signs that this area had once been ravaged by poachers. Bird pokémon fluttered from tree to tree and small pokémon scurried through the undergrowth just out of sight. A pleasant breeze picked up, ruffling Snowcrystal’s white tuft of fur as she peered further out of the backpack.
Upon reaching Stonedust City, the mood of the pokémon changed. Each of them, even the confident ones, were eying the strange buildings warily. “Now remember,” Damian told them, “don’t stop, don’t run on ahead. Just follow Katie and I. Don’t wander into the street, don’t bother other humans or pokémon, and don’t eat anything out of the garbage.”
The trainers and pokémon started to head into the city’s outskirts; Snowcrystal immediately pulled her head back into Damian’s backpack. As they walked further and further through the unnatural forest of tall, metallic buildings, Snowcrystal watched through the opening in the backpack, remembering the time she and Wildflame had snuck through the city’s streets. It had been raining then, and the place had seemed terrifying. While the city was still intimidating, at least now she had protection, and it helped that the skies were clear. There were other humans around, from what she could see, and pokémon too. Though she saw a few people give Damian and Katie strange looks, most of them didn’t seem to find anything too odd about the number of pokémon following them.
Suddenly Damian stopped. “Taking your pokémon out for a walk?” a human voice Snowcrystal did not recognize asked. “Seems like an odd place to do it.”
“They like to walk places with us,” Damian replied cheerfully. Snowcrystal tried to peer further out of the backpack but only saw Damian’s hand as he shoved her back down.
“It’s so noisy around here!” she heard Rosie complain as Damian and the other human were talking. “How far is this pokémon center place anyway?”
Snowcrystal wished Arien was around to ask Damian that very thing, but he was inside his poké ball, and Snowcrystal knew that the trainers probably didn’t want more than five (excluding Snowcrystal) pokémon following them at once.
Damian had stopped talking with the human; they were moving again. Snowcrystal peered upward at the towering buildings around them. She didn’t know what part of the city they were in, but these buildings were bigger than the ones around the library had been. She could hear several strange noises and see some of the large metallic machines Spark had called cars
rumble past along the black ground that the trainers were, wisely, not walking on. Luckily for them, there didn’t seem to be many humans walking around this early, at least not around the area they were.
When they had passed a few streets, each, to Snowcrystal, more overwhelming than the last, Snowcrystal heard footsteps-human footsteps-behind her and turned her body around inside the backpack to look. A young human child was running toward Katie, Damian, and the pokémon with an excited look on its face. “Ninetales!” she shouted, reaching out her arms. “Mommy, he has a ninetales!”
Snowcrystal saw Rosie freeze as if someone had paralyzed her. The small human was coming closer, and Rosie looked too panicked to do anything, and Snowcrystal couldn’t tell which, if any, of the humans were this little one’s parents. Damian seemed to notice too, because he stopped and turned, and Snowcrystal got a glimpse of a sudden change coming over Rosie before she was turned around and her view blocked. Rosie then let out a battle cry that made Snowcrystal’s blood run cold. They couldn’t attack the humans! Before she could think to say anything, Damian had run in front of Rosie, standing between her and the human girl. From what Snowcrystal could now see, Rosie looked like cornered prey; every hair on her body was standing up straight and her mouth was wide open, a glow forming in the back of her throat.
“Rosie,” Wildflame hissed. “Quit it!” The other pokémon just watched silently, not looking like they wanted to intervene and risk, as Katie had said, the police taking them away.
But Rosie didn’t seem to have any intention of ‘quitting it’. She leaned to the side to be able to peer around Damian’s leg, her snarling face pointing straight at the small human.
“Careful!” Damian told the human, sounding, Snowcrystal thought, a bit worried himself. “You shouldn’t approach strange pokémon like that…I mean, my ninetales…she’s not used to, um…” Snowcrystal peered down at Rosie, trying to catch her eye, but Rosie wasn’t looking. Instead, she tried to lunge toward the little human, but Damian pushed her back with his leg. Rosie replied by biting it.
“Ahhh!” Damian cried out, but quickly silenced his scream, focusing instead on talking to the girl. “Uh…just run along now…my pokémon…want to be left alone, it seems.” He seemed like he was trying to sound cheerful, but he sounded in pain.
Snowcrystal hoped that the little human would decide to wander off before Damian’s pants caught on fire, but it didn’t seem like she wanted to move. “Damian…” she heard Katie say from somewhere ahead of them. “You said they were going to behave.”
Damian took no notice, for another set of footsteps was approaching, the little human’s mother or father, Snowcrystal guessed. She quickly realized she was right.
“Abigail, what do you think you’re doing?" the sound of an adult human, a female, came toward her. “I’ve told you, you can’t go running off-”
“He has a ninetales!” the little human shouted excitedly.
When the adult human spoke again, her voice didn’t sound pleasant. “What do you think you’re doing?” she yelled at Damian, loud enough to make Snowcrystal wince. “You can’t just let unfriendly pokémon walk outside their poké balls in the middle of the city! If your pokémon is dangerous, I could report you to the police…”
“Sorry!” Damian replied as he finally managed to dislodge Rosie. “It won’t happen again. She’s not dangerous…just…nervous around strangers. She’d never hurt anyone…I mean…” Snowcrystal wasn’t sure how Damian was going to sound convincing after Rosie had just bitten his leg, and the other human seemed to think the same thing, because Damian replied, “she was only playing! I mean, she does that all the time!”
Snowcrystal didn’t hear what the human said in reply, but afterwards they started walking away briskly, ignoring the still excited squeals of the little girl. “Rosie,” Snowcrystal hissed, “don’t do that! You almost got us all in trouble!”
“Well if that human had just stayed away from me-”
“Rosie, please,” Wildflame replied. “Try to act like you’ve seen a human before! If you don’t threaten them, they won’t harm you, but if you DO threaten them, they probably will.” Rosie didn’t answer, but didn’t try to argue either.
“This was a horrible idea,” Katie muttered to Damian. “I don’t want to get questioned by the police because ‘your’ wild pokémon can’t keep from trying to attack someone. They’d better behave around the injured pokémon in the center, because I’m not going to help you if the police come to investigate.”
“Right…” Damian replied, sounding less sure of himself than before. Snowcrystal wished she could reassure him that Rosie wouldn’t act like that again; she didn’t want the trainers to turn around and go back without seeing Stormblade and Nightshade.
On the way to their first stop, which Snowcrystal soon learned was where Nightshade was staying, the rest of the journey went uneventfully. A couple times, humans would stop to pet Wildflame or Redclaw, a few of them noticing Redclaw’s scars and asking Damian if he had gotten him from a pokémon rescue organization, whatever that was, but Rosie stayed by Damian’s side and didn’t try to start any more trouble.
“There it is,” Damian finally said as they rounded a corner of the sidewalk and came across a new jumble of buildings. Damian was pointing to a tall, wide building in the center of the next street. Snowcrystal peered a little further out of the backpack to get a look. The building looked pretty plain, she thought, being the same dull brown color as several of the other buildings on its street, and with several dark, dreary looking windows. A large cloth had been put up just above the front doors. There were human markings across it and a larger red marking in the center. She thought that the markings must mean ‘the pokémon center’, to tell humans where the new one was. The cloth fluttered in the wind, revealing some other human markings underneath, which Snowcrystal assumed told what the building used to be used for.
“It doesn’t look much like a pokémon center,” Alex muttered.
“It’s the temporary one,” Redclaw whispered back. He did not elaborate on why a temporary center was necessary.
Carefully, they crossed the street over to the other side (it took a while to persuade Rosie that it was safe) and walked along the sidewalk, which was much busier than any they had been on before and it made it difficult for the larger pokémon to maneuver, and reached the building’s entrance.
Katie and Damian stepped inside, and Snowcrystal realized instantly that the building’s interior was not nearly as bleak as it had looked from the outside. They had entered a large white room that looked spotlessly clean, maybe a bit too
clean, even, with several chairs around the walls where humans sat. Around many of them were pokémon, some of them sitting patiently by their trainers and others, mainly very young pokémon, occupying themselves with strange looking human made toys that were scattered across one section of the floor.
“Stormblade’s not here, is he?” Snowcrystal asked the others. “It’s just Nightshade?”
“Yes,” Wildflame replied. “Stormblade’s in some other building. I just hope it’s not far from here. I don’t like this city much.” That, Snowcrystal could tell, was an understatement.
Damian handed the backpack to Katie, who held it carefully, and approached a human at a counter on the other side of the room, while Snowcrystal looked longingly at the pokémon playing with toys. She almost wished she could join them, but she knew she couldn’t leave the backpack until she was safely wherever Nightshade was.
“I’d like to see the heracross I dropped off here before…” Snowcrystal heard Damian say faintly from across the room. “Well, me, my friend, and my pokémon…”
The noise in the room grew loud enough to drown out Damian’s words, and Snowcrystal turned towards the pokémon playing with the toys again.
“Oh, come on, Blazefang!” Alex cried happily, nudging the annoyed-looking houndour. “Let’s join them!” The floatzel reached out and grabbed a short piece of rope with two knots at the end. “I know this game! You grab one end, I’ll grab the other, and we’ll pull, and then whoever lets go-”
“Get out of my face,” Blazefang hissed between his teeth as Alex dangled the rope in front of his eyes.
“Quiet, everyone,” Redclaw whispered. “He’s coming back.”
Sure enough, Damian was walking back towards them. “This way,” he said, and everyone quickly followed him as he walked to the other side of the room where they were led by a nurse through a door and down a hallway.
Reaching an odd looking door that Snowcrystal realized was made out of…not wood, but metal
, the nurse suddenly stopped. “It would be better if you recalled your pokémon,” she told the trainers.
(Continued in next post...)