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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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Old 05-08-2007, 07:12 AM
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Default Pokémon: A Fire Against Fate [PG-13]

((OOC: Originally, I posted this in the URPG, but in all honesty... I'd rather get some good, helpful feedback than a few captures. So, I'm posting it here, with some revisions over the first version, of course. No offense to the URPG, as I still adore it greatly, but the Fan-fic section seems to have considerably more involved criticism for its authors. I apologize if this is against the rules or seems stupid to anyone, but... my intention is only to keep improving as a writer. That's the entire reason I post stories online, after all. And FYI, gray italics mean flashback, while normal italics mean unspoken thought. That said, please enjoy the story. ))

Pokémon: A Fire Against Fate
by Galleon


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=*=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Part I: A Broken Dawn

Monday [22:43 GMT // 10:43 PM]
Night had come in a rush. The moon and its fellow stars hid behind a sea of dark clouds, and the gentle wind of the late day had gradually begun to pick up. Various animalistic noises could be heard ever so often amidst the dense forest that pushed against an empty road cutting through it. Plagued by shadows, the ground swarmed with dancing black mayhem as the light from a single campfire cast its puppeteer’s strings upon those different shades of darkness.

Two figures sat together, nestled between the small fire and the brunt of an aged tree. The larger figure was a young man looking to be around his mid-to-late teenage years, perhaps sixteen as a more defined estimate. A well-fitted, navy blue vest overlaid a white long sleeve shirt bearing a dark red stripe down the length of each arm, and a pair of rather standard blue jeans fit loosely against his crossed legs with the help of a jet black belt, retaining a deep silver lion’s head for its buckle. His shoes, tapped up against each other, matched color with his belt and held a thick soul, probably for greater durability in what one might have expected to be their extensive use. He wore only one glove; matching the black of his belt and shoes, it stopped halfway up the fingers of his left hand. Aside from his attire, his face held a certain earthly youth to it, perhaps hinted at by his smooth features and the dark brown clinging to his eyes as well as the properly messy shag that he called hair. The red, cylindrical pack that was normally strapped firmly to his back now lied on a patch of grass next to him.

Sitting there staring into the fire, Cole let his mind wander away from himself. You know, came the beginning of his reminiscence, I never really thought that I'd ever get around to this day. It always seemed like something that was nailed into the future, and even though I'd always dreamt about setting out on my own journey, to realize that it's actually beginning... He let himself trail off unfinished in favor of another thought. Mom and Dad... I think I'm already starting to miss them... A touch of what he thought might be homesickness grazed the lining of his stomach, and he adjusted his seated position against the large oak to his back in an effort to relieve the unsettling feeling. With an abrupt sniff to help him gather himself, Cole turned his eyes towards his partner, who'd managed to fall asleep against the side of his leg some time ago.

The maroon-colored fur covering its body seemed just slightly unkempt, very similar to Cole’s own hair. With lids drawn over those marbled crimson eyes and darker-toned tails coiled around its body, it pawed faintly at something in its dream. For the most part, Vulpix slept relatively soundly, even managing to keep the drooling to a minimum, which was pretty rare, as Cole recalled. They'd been together since he was six, according to memory, but it wasn't always so peaceful as this. To think that I nearly succeeded in flushing you down the toilet that one time... A small smile turned up the end of his lips as he recalled how vehemently the two had 'gotten along' at first. I remember I wanted a pet so badly that I'd bother Dad almost every day... and when he finally caved and got me a baby Vulpix... it turned out nothing like I thought it would…


“That thing’s insane, Dad!” Cole yelled to his father, pointing an accusing finger at the little red fox firmly tied against the leg of the family’s heavy dining table.

“You said you’d take care of it, son. You aren't gonna go back on your word now, are ya?" his father replied with a slight smirk, stroking the tip of his goatee with a couple fingers from his left hand.

“Well… but…” was all Cole could manage against that annoyingly frequented argument from his father. An abrupt shake of his head brought him back to his own argument. “That thing set my bed on fire! While I was still in it!”

“I knew it,” Cole’s father sighed with a reluctant expression laced with satisfaction, “I told you that a pet would be too much responsibility for you…”


...Cole blinked, suddenly coming back to the present. Gently resting his left hand on his sleeping Vulpix’s head, more memories filed into his thoughts and he began to feel a distinct heaviness pulling at his eyelids. A deep breath furthered the notion of sleep as the sound of rain falling grasped his ears. It felt kind of refreshing, he realized as a musty new scent washed over the area. Today wasn’t quite as exciting as I thought it would be… With all that walking, Vulpix and I hardly even made it out of Azalea Town… Then again, we mighta gotten lost somewhere in this forest… He couldn’t help but give a lazy grin as he settled back against the tree, trying to nose away some of the fat rain drops that had run down onto his forehead. I think I’ll try to avoid shortcuts from n-

A crash of lightning on the horizon broke into his thoughts, and for a second he felt a shiver cling to his spine. A low lulling noise still ringing in his ears, Cole squinted at the deeply darkened road when the sound didn’t fade. What is that? he asked himself, straining to place the dulled hum. He looked down to see Vulpix perk up, standing on all fours with a queried look plastered on its face, as well.

Another bolt of lightning burned an afterimage into the sky, leaving a tremendous ripping sound only a couple seconds behind; and as the deep rumbling in his chest subsided, Cole heard that same distant hum again, only now it seemed to have jumped a few decibels closer. Several nightly birds leapt out of the forest all at once, flying away from some unknown terror. Tremors began choking the ground beneath him as his eyes widened in disbelief.

Across the road, massive trees jerked violently and suddenly uprooted themselves to be flung back deeper into the forest, soon giving way to an enormous blackened silhouette. Spotlights shown down from atop the menacing presence, illuminating several metallic arms bearing saws, drills and even what looked like giant gloved hands lurching forward to clench whole clusters of trees and ruthlessly deracinate them from the earth. Hearty chunks of dirt, mud, and rock cascaded through the air, grazing Cole’s cheeks and arms as he quickly rolled over to shield Vulpix. Then, without any warning at all, all the churning and grinding of iron and steel stopped, leaving a relative silence as everything tried to settle back into itself.

Still trembling, Cole came out of his defensive curl to stare up with tearing eyes at a gigantic machine interrogating him with its harsh, piercing headlights. Squinting through the stabbing fear, he tried to ignore Vulpix’s whines of similar feeling. The object seemed like an oversized tank, he realized after a moment, though the many elongated arms jutting out of its front corners looked to detour any thoughts of standard military reference.

The sound of a large hatch pulling open averted Cole’s eyes to the sides of the monstrosity as several figures piled out of the thing. All similarly dressed in black uniforms topped with what could have been a strange type of motorcycle helmet, each one bore a definite red sash across his or her chest. None of them said anything, but only stood there staring at Cole and his Vulpix as another low hum rose from the momentary silence. Cole looked up to see another individual appearing from the machine’s utmost top, apparently by means of a slow moving elevator. Upon reaching its pinnacle, the elevator stopped, and a grave voice took its place.

“It’s just a stupid kid, I see.” The figure, apparently a man, took a single step closer. The heavy cape draped over the man’s shoulders hardly even twitched in the growing wind. Little could be distinguished about this person with the immense darkness still covering the sky, not to mention the two blinding spotlights beating down at Cole. “Do you know the punishment for getting in our way, boy?” came the booming voice again.

Cole remained silent, incapable of any words.

“Of course not. How could you know, unless you’re one of us?” What might have been a laugh broke out of the man’s mouth. “We’ll just take that little fox there as payment for interrupting our mission.”

“What!?” Cole burst out, still unable to keep the shake out of his voice. “Who are you, anyway!?” A strange mixture of anger and fear rolled around in his stomach, creating a sickening sensation of anxiety.

“Hmph, there’s no need to tell a shrimp like you.” A quick nod of the man’s head, and two Pokéballs bounded towards Vulpix, immediately emitting a red aura to introduce the enemy’s attackers. A Golem rolled out into standing posture, and a Wartortle came spiraling through the air to land on all fours atop a displaced boulder, glaring at Cole and his fox.

But Vulpix bolted forward first, headlong into battle.

“No!” Cole shouted after it, “You can’t!”

The small fox didn’t listen. Everything suddenly lit up as scalding flames erupted from its mouth, leaving smoldering earth in its wake as a pillar of flames tore a path to Golem. Cole squinted at the fierce intensity behind the fire, but Golem didn’t budge as the burning stream split straight down the center, whipping away to set one of the far off trees ablaze. Surprised, Vulpix slid to a halt, but a sudden jet stream of water threw it off its feet with a curdling whimper, pressing it into an upheaved stone. When the Wartortle released its watertight grip, Vulpix crumpled to the ground in a soaked heap, unmoving.

Vulpix is nowhere near strong enough for these guys! Cole thought urgently, I have to do som-

An abrupt slug square in the jaw cut him off, knocking Cole to the ground as he tried to shake the haze out of his eyes. From where he had fallen, Vulpix was clearly visible, heavily drenched and bundled up into a defeated curl.

“All too easy,” said a haughty voice, “I guess we couldn’t expect much of a fight from some random kid like this. Geez, he must be totally new to this; the kid doesn’t even have any other Pokémon.”

Trying to shake away the spots from his eyes, Cole craned his neck around to see one of the black-dressed grunts rummaging through his red pack. At that sight, his eyes widened, and everything else seemed irrelevant. He suddenly found himself on his feet, dashing towards the person holding his bag. “Don’t touch that, you-!”

The last word was stolen out of his mouth before he could say it, and when he looked down to see where it had been taken, Cole saw an elbow digging into his stomach, twisting as it shoved him back to the ground.

For a while, it all seemed to be happening to someone else, as if he was only watching and the pain he felt wasn't really his. His vision stammered inside of itself, and the clouds seemed to descend from the sky to cast a murky fog over everything before a black silence slowly began to take him away from all the noise. And as Cole watched the night delve further from his senses, a few trailing words gathered into his mind as a last, trembling echo.

“…Some kind of list? Heh, what a piece of trash…”


“See, buddy?” Cole said, holding a slip of paper up in front of his little red fox’s face. “It’s a checklist.” He smiled, proud of his idea. “It’s got all the things I want to accomplish when I finally embark on my journey! See, see?” He pushed it closer for Vulpix to get a better look.

The fire Pokémon looked at the paper with an emptied gaze, almost stupefied, then stuck its nose right up next to it, sniffing cautiously like any small animal would. After a moment, Vulpix tilted its head, as if to say it didn’t think the idea nearly as wonderful as Cole apparently did.

“Aw, come on, buddy. Don’tcha understand?” Cole’s grin lessened slightly at the lackluster reaction he’d achieved, letting his shoulders slump down a little. “This piece of paper will keep me on track; it’ll keep my head straight so I can achieve all my most important goals,” he paused to point an index finger at the top of the list, “like seeing all the different kinds of Pokémon there are, and becoming Champion of the Pokémon League and super-famous as a world-class trainer, and-"

The paper suddenly burst into flames, forcing Cole to let go as it burned to ashes. His face went flat, an eye twitching irately as he threw his gaze at the rolling fox. Its high-pitched mirth made his temples bulge.

“Agh, Vulpix!” He scooped up his fox to shake it violently, but it only seemed to heighten the little joker’s laughter. “Now I have to make another one…!”


Tuesday [07:36 GMT // 7:36 AM]
Cole started awake, his eyes popping open as he jolted his body up into a seated position. Looking around frantically, he found the forest around him in shambles. Stray branches and rocks littered the ground; entire groups of trees were snapped off at the root while others were torn out of the earth completely. Giant track marks drove off deeper into the woods behind him, leaving a path of sheer destruction. Squinting, he noticed that the night had left, subsiding to the first signs of daylight. Clouds hung over the distant mountains, and though the sun hadn’t come up yet, its arrival seemed imminent. He took a heavy breath and felt a penetrating ache off to the side of his forehead. A couple inquiring fingers revealed a bit of blood, and he figure the head injury must have contributed to his falling unconscious. And then it hit him.

“Vulpix!” his mouth shouted instinctively, “Vulpix, where are you!” Urgency and panic roiled his chest as his legs moved over the debris to start digging for his small friend. “Vulpix!” Dirt and rock and mud flung out in all directions as he started to chisel his way through the fallen forest. “Vulpix!” He couldn’t stop himself from shouting all the while, tears welling up despite the protest in his eyes. “Where the hell are you!?”

For a time, he stopped thinking, stopped feeling, and only let his body search as if by some automated action. His eyes were seeing, but he was no longer looking. His ears were hearing, but he wasn’t listening. Until, at length, even his body gave up searching and only lied on the ground, letting salted droplets roll off his cheeks and into the destroyed earth with all his other belongings.

They took him, he finally admitted to himself, they took my best friend… Cole could only stare straight up into the early morning sky at the bundles of puffy white cloud, seeming so carefree and distant to him. I… a thought started shakily, I couldn’t do anything… I couldn’t do anything at all… They just took him… so easily… it’s like I wasn’t even there… He clenched his eyes shut, trying to make the words stop. I… I’m so… so… He raised his arms to his temples, as if to stop the words with his bare hands. Pathetic. A yell belted out of his lungs and straight into the bluing sea above him; a harsh, cracking yell that pulled him to his knees to where his hands could sink down to the splintered wood before him. And suddenly, he felt something under his left hand, something unexpectedly smooth, if a bit crumpled.

His eyes slit open and Cole saw something besides clumps of dirt and broken wood. It was the little piece of paper he’d stuffed into his bag before leaving home; it was the list he'd made to try help him remember the goals he aimed to achieve on this journey. His eyebrows receded with surprise as he attempted to smoothen the slip of paper so that he might be able to read its contents... and perhaps try to remember his reasons for being here. The words spilled out of his mouth as he read them off, letting them echo across the demolished portion of forest.

“I, Cole Rigen, do hereby proclaim my intentions for the quest that I shall be set upon once the approving rights of my fatherly and motherly parents are properly administered-” he paused to take a moment to chuckle half-heartedly at the ridiculous grammar he’d chosen, and decided to skip his senseless introduction, “-Objective 1: To achieve a renowned status throughout the world as a remarkable trainer and Champion.” Cole stopped as he finished those last words. Right now, he began to himself, I don’t care about that… And as he skimmed down the rest of his list, he realized the truth of his current circumstance. This thing is useless, came the harsh thought, furrowing his brow as he stared at the paper. That guy was right. It’s trash… Stark distaste wrenched at his face. Was I really so obsessed with this crap? How childish could I be…? Gritting his teeth, the anger flew to his hands, tearing through the paper in a frenzy. Shredded white fell towards the churned earth, floating with specks of the morning wind. At the sight of it, he blinked away the water behind his eyes before moving to gather up what was left of his possessions.

And though Cole still felt the immense strain within his chest, as he took up his fire red bag again and tightened it into its diagonal position across his torso, he smiled. He smiled the way one does after finally finding something that is more important than anything else. I’ll get you back, Cole promised as he pulled himself from the wreckage and back onto the roughly paved road towards Goldenrod City. And as he gazed into the horizon laid out before him, he saw the sun peeking through the morning’s earliest clouds to greet him with a broken dawn.


((OOC: After looking back, I've realized that my style has changed considerably since last August, when I first posted this. I'm revising the story in hopes of making it better, so I won't be posting all of the story at once, especially since it's grown quite lengthy. A revised Part II will be up soon. Any and all feedback is welcome. ))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2007 at 07:34 AM. Reason: *heehaww heehaww* <- It's a donkey, I tell you
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:50 AM
cjoey97 Offline
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Default Re: Pokémon: A Fire Against Fate [PG-13]

Not bad G/S/C World.
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Old 05-11-2007, 03:39 AM
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Default AFAF // Part II: Cutting Reminiscence

Part II: Cutting Reminiscence

Tuesday [16:28 GMT // 4:28 PM]
The late afternoon sun dawdled in a high corner of the sky, as if waiting for the clouds beneath it to part. A while back, the road had become a smoothly paved artery of traffic and started breaking off onto other smaller roads that probably led to more rural towns. Cars had become increasingly more frequent compared to the dusty old path through the woods, and while it did make traveling by foot a bit noisier than Cole would’ve liked, at least it reassured him that he was headed in the right direction. Of course, by this time, Goldenrod City was clearly visible, and in a less than metaphorical sense, the city really did seem to be colored golden under the sun’s bathing light.

Aw, man… Cole grumbled to himself as he rummaged through his bag. Apparently, taking Vulpix wasn’t enough for last night’s bandits. His head dropped with a beaten depression as he checked inventory. Hm… a few berries, my pictures of mom and dad, my First-Aid kit, a few Pokéballs, and… a slice of bread? Great. He quirked an eyebrow. Hey…? They took all the sandwiches mom made for me?! What, did I get robbed by Yogi the Bear? Geez… He sighed and swung the bag around to fasten it into place again. The arching steel entry gate into Goldenrod passed over his head as Cole shoved his hands into his back pockets. He blinked when he pulled out a wad of cash. Money… came a vague statement as he squinted at it, trying to remember when it had gotten there…


“Now, you be careful,” Cole’s mother told him with a bit more of a commanding tone than might have been expected of such a delicate-looking housewife.

“Don’t worry, mom,” he reassured her, “I’ll be fine.”

“You better be fine,” she retorted with a hard stare, “Don’t do anything stupid. And don’t agitate Vulpix into burning off your eyebrows in your sleep again. Made you look like a darn fool ‘till they grew back three weeks later.”

“…Ah-“ he rolled his eyebrows, remembering the sting on his forehead, “Okay, mom.”

“And take this First-Aid kit with you,” she went on, hardly even pausing for a response from as she dug into his bag to ensure it wouldn’t be forgotten, “It’s got all the basic things you need for small injuries, but don’t go thinkin’ you can fix a broken arm with that, ya here?”

“I know, mom… If I get a serious injury I’ll go to the nearest hospital…”

“Good. I don’t want you trying to put a Band-Aid on your second-degree burns like last time.”

“Alright…”

“And take this extra money with you, just in case.” A rare smile accompanied the fistful of cash she held out for him. “I don’t want you overstaying your welcome at those Pokémon Centers all the time. Lord knows we’ve got enough people leeching off the government, already.”

“Thanks, mom…” Giving her a weak grin of his own, he accepted the money and shoved it into his back pocket instinctively.

Then, she paused, just looking straight into his face. For a second, he could almost see a tear in those stern, yet somehow still motherly eyes of hers… But instead of crying, a fist bashed him over the head. “It’s impolite to stare!”


…Thumbing through his newfound loot, Cole tried to estimate the capacity of the stack in his hands. Meals and a place to sleep will probably be the most expensive things unless I go to the Pokémon Center, but Mom told me not to rely on the system unless it was an emergency… It didn’t occur to him that getting beaten up and robbed might be considered a type of emergency. …I might wanna pick up some extra Pokéballs next time I go to the Pokémart, so… looks like maybe a week’s worth of cash. Might be able to make it last a bit longer if I play it cheap, but I definitely need to find a new Pokémon somehow... I could try to win one at the casino here, but that seems pretty risky. Maybe as a last resort… He shook his head, trying to think. There’s supposed to be a big park with Pokémon at the other end of this city, so maybe I can find one there… Not sure how I’ll actually weaken one enough to able to capture it, but… The inside of his eyebrows dipped up at the prospect of his idea, feeling it to be a bit half-baked. “Hey, it’s better than nothing, right?” he suddenly decided aloud with a grin plastered on his face. At the strange glances of several passersby, he decided to keep up a steady walk.

Goldenrod City seemed endless. Its vast streets, packed with people and cars and all kinds of other vehicles, were lined with some of the tallest buildings Cole had ever laid eyes upon. Though that wasn’t saying much, he still knew this place to be one the largest city, if not the largest in all of the Johto region, and perhaps most other regions, as well. The sun streaked sky painted a fitting background for the town, and the towering structures only reflected the ambiance right back. The whole city felt like it was glowing; even the people within it had an aura of their own. A certain kind of hum clung to the air as well, driving the lively nature of the place forward as the community went about its business. Everything contributed to the atmosphere; the voices from all that dwelled here pitched in to create the voice of the whole city. People, animals, cars, bikes, busses, Pokémon; they all played a part, even if they weren’t seen or heard individually.

After a while of walking indecisively, Cole finally rounded a corner to catch sight of a modest restaurant at the foot of an immodest office building, wedged there between a souvenir shop and some kind of department store. Without another thought, he turned into the store to give it a chance. Upon entering, he noticed a bit of ‘experience’ about the interior.

“Welcome!” came a friendly greeting from behind an extensive counter. It was a man, and a rather large one, at that. “Welcome to Shap’s Classic Diner!” A fearsome mustache curled off the sides of his face, making a stark contrast to the gleam from atop his bald head. A tiny pair of sunglasses teetered on the brink of falling at the crest of his massive nose. “What can I get for ya, stranger?” He planted a heavy hand down on the counter-top, leading the eye up a massive arm to his burly chest.

“Uh,” Cole started as he walked forward, scratching his head, “Sorry if I don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, sir, but I’m in a bit of a bind right now… so…”

“Ah, no worries, son,” the man replied with an open-mouthed grin, “I’ve had my share of financial troubles, as well. Why don’t you try our 'world famous' noodles? They’re just about the cheapest thing to eat in this whole town.”

“Are they really world famous?”

“Nah,” the man laughed, “But they’re definitely cheap!”

Well, I guess I walked right into that… Feeling slightly bewildered by the mere presence of this strange individual, Cole only nodded.

“Great!” he shouted with more than a little enthusiasm, “One 'world famous' bowl of noodles coming right up!” He spun around to whip up the meal on the stove right behind him. The sound of sizzling water filled the air as the kitchen came to life.

The right side of Cole’s face scrunched up as he stopped trying to understand the man’s attitude. He took a high-chaired seat at the front of the counter, folding his arms over the heavy wooden top as a relieved breath spilled out of his lungs. He’d spent almost the entire day walking, and now the sun could be seen dangling just above the horizon’s layer of cloud. The sprawling bay windows covering the wall that lined the street made for a just barely suitable light source against the shadow of this towering building.

As he let his eyes wander around the small shop not known for its ‘world famous’ noodles, a few distinct details caught his interest. For instance, there was a rather robust-looking boat capsized into the far wall with a couple matching oars; and on the other side of the shop, a heavy white cloth was stuck to the wall, presumably a small sail. Two fish tanks abundantly packed with underwater life stood at either end of the restaurant, further hinting at this place’s tie with some kind of fisherman’s lifestyle, so Cole took a shot.

“You used to be a fisherman?”

“Sure did,” he began without turning away from the cooking food, “Always been my greatest passion, even when I was still a just a speck of a boy hardly able to walk straight.”

“That long?”

“Well, I didn’t quite master that art until I was about eight years old,” he explained, belting out a hearty laugh in that gruff voice of his.

He sure is a strange old guy… Cole surmised, shifting awkwardly in his seat before asking another question. “So, if you love it so much, why’d you give it up?”

“Hm,” the man paused, rolling a hunk of noodles before continuing, “Like I said a minute ago, I’ve had my share of financial trouble…” A slab of noodle smacked against the frying pan for an intensified sizzle. “I used to live in Olivine City. I had my very own boat, a beauty she was, and I’d go out to sea and fish up the biggest catches you’d ever see, then sell ‘em at the local market there. Made a right fine living, too.” The noodles flipped over in the pan as the large man sighed. “But… one year, the fish just weren’t biting, leaving me with only a few wigglers to sell. That was a rough year, but I managed. Thing was, the next year wasn’t any better. Things just started to change in those waters, I don’t know what it was exactly, but as I passed the days, sitting there on the deck of my boat with the sea washing by… I could feel it; I could just sense the change coming over those waters, like a creeping ghost or somethin’… Then one day, she took my vessel from me.”

“The sea took it?”

“Nah, it was the wife. The sea was certainly a cruel mistress, especially in those days, but my wife had it beaten any day of the week. Filed for a divorce, she did, and took my ship from me. Probably thought that I loved it more than her, seein’ how I spent most of my time with it, so takin’ it from me was probably the sweetest kind of revenge for her…”

Cole only quirked an estranged eyebrow at the man's story.

“Ah but, that’s a tale for another day; a much longer, duller, and outright stormy day. To sum it all up for ya, I didn’t have enough money to by myself a new boat, so I eventually ended up here in Goldenrod trying to make ends meet in this restaurant.” He spun back around to slap a heaping bowlful of cooked noodles down in front of Cole’s hungered eyes. “Eat up, son.”

Hm… Cole thought for a moment as he glanced around at the empty shop, Doesn’t seem like you’re raking in profits from this place… He blinked the thought away to smile at the cheerful man. “Looks great. Here’s your money, pops.” His hand slid exact change across the countertop.

“Whoa, now. Call me Shap.” He swiped up the money and walked it over to the cash register a few paces left to deposit it.

“Alright, Shap. You can call me Cole.” Shoveling the stringy meal into his face, he nodded in appreciation of the flavor.

“But what brings a kid like you to Goldenrod City, all on your own, no less?” Shap asked as he began counting up the cash in the register.

Cole paused in mid-bite, then forced the massive glob in his mouth down with a strangling gulp before attempting to answer the man’s question, bringing a touch of moisture to his eyes from the strain. “I aim to become a powerful Pokémon trainer,” he explained with a melancholy smile.

“Oh, really? That’s quite the dream you’ve got there,” Shap replied without taking his eyes from the money in his hands, “How’s your progress?”

“Eh… not so great, I suppose…”

“Is that so…?”

**************************
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Old 05-11-2007, 03:45 AM
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Default AFAF // Part II: Cutting Reminiscence

Tuesday [20:01 GMT // 8:01 PM]
A gentle breeze brushed a few leaves against Cole’s face as he waited, hunched down in a small bush. He’d spent a great deal of time at the restaurant chatting with Shap about the circumstances that had befallen him, and now only a few morsels of light still hung around the enormous park as the sun proclaimed its fallen presence behind the distant mountains, creating a strange sort of twilight. With a condensed Pokéball rolling on his palm, he sighed. Gah… this wait is killing me… what’s it been? Two hours, now? Disparity climbed into his thoughts. What am I doing here? Even if I did come across a suitable Pokémon, I don’t even have a way to weaken it enough to capture it! His lips pushed up slightly as he evaluated the thought.

A sudden rustle in the tall grass across from him turned his eyes towards a lone Sunkern, bouncing its way through what must’ve been a wall of green for it.

Well… he settled, I guess it’s better than nothing… His arm reared back and chunked the Pokéball straight at the tiny leaf Pokémon, but the Sunkern suddenly twisted around to stare off into another direction, alerted by something else. And when the red and white ball rustled the grass behind the creature, it yipped with a high-pitched, “Kern!” and darted away.

He leapt out of the bushes in disgust. “Son of a-!” But another abrupt rustling noise broke off the last word, and Cole ducked right back down into the same shrub, digging into his bag for another Pokéball. The sound jumped closer, garnering beads of sweat on his forehead as his heart started pumping faster from the anticipation. I may only get one shot…

A flash of green suddenly barreled into him, shoving him out of the bush to roll up against the foot of a sturdy pine tree. The sting of pine needles sticking into his back made him squirm out of his position, only to find his pant leg snagged on something inside an overgrown plant. He tugged at it with his leg, but it didn’t budge. He curled around to blindly inspect the captured leg with his hands, finding a hard, flat surface cutting into the denim cloth. …That could’ve been my flesh, said a thought with widening eyes. Is that a Pokémon?

The shag greenery twitched, and Cole felt a quick jerk against his pants, and without any further warning, the bush leapt off the ground to be shredded to pieces by a scythed blade. Falling leaves littered the air as the creature dicing them finally became apparent. A bladed forearm led into an emerald-colored exoskeleton, beaten and wearied with scratch marks and burns. The normally stiff double-paired insect wings jutting out of its back with a line of green bone across the top were now slumped and drooping with fatigue. Its bruised torso led down to a pair of trembling legs, hardly able to keep the Scyther on its feet, and its vagrant, almost hollowed eyes bore half-drawn lids as the creature teetered on the brink of collapse. In its frantic struggle, Scyther tore the caught scythe-arm out of Cole's pant leg, taking an admirable chunk of cloth along with it.

Cole could only stare in shock as he watched the insect Pokémon stumbled out of the grass, seeming set on getting away from something. Is it afraid of me? What the hell happened to it? A heavy thud invited Scyther to the ground, but it still struggled desperately to steady itself, dulled cries of, “Ssscciiieee,” and “Thheerrr,” rising out of its mouth. Relentless confusion gripped Cole’s thoughts as he tried to piece together the scenario that had fallen into his lap, but another noise from further into the recreational area disrupted any progress he might have made.

“Where’d that little green bastard go?” an angry voice inquired into the growing night.

Peeking over the line of hedges that Scyther had nearly annihilated, Cole saw a couple of figures, silhouetted against the approaching darkness. They’re trying to capture it?

“It got away? You’re hopeless!” a deeper voice protested. “Find it before you lose it completely!”

“Hey, get off my back. The little buggers are known for their speed. I told you to keep an eye on it!”

“You were the one battling it! You’re supposed to keep an eyes on your enemy, you moron!”

“Shut up! It’s dark out here…”

Cole squinted, trying to paint a better picture for himself as he still heard the wounded Scyther struggling against gravity. Well, if they were the ones who fought it in battle… then maybe I should just let them capture it… Then the park lights finally switched on, illuminating the area in full. Wha?!

“Come on, the boss told us to gather up as many Pokémon from this park as we could.” Even with the extra light, the man’s face was still hardly discernable at that distance from Cole. However, the flat black jumpsuit and flaming red sash running across his chest gave more than enough information for Cole to make his decision.

The tiny Pokéball in his hands suddenly bulged to full size, and without even thinking, he spun around to thrust it towards the giant green bug Pokémon. The ball bounced once on the ground before tapping against Scyther’s right leg; an eruption of crimson light burst out of the sphere to engulf Scyther's body within the confines of its inner walls.

“What was that?” asked one of the far-off voices.

“What was what?”

“I thought I just heard something from over there…”

The Pokéball snapped shut, but the light on its front side still blinked with an unsettling red. There’s no time! he concluded to himself urgently. He could see one of the black figures starting to move in his direction. Even if I do get the capture, it’s too weak to fight against whatever those guys throw at me! I’ve gotta make a run for it! His legs burst away from his lookout position, kicking up shredded leaf in their wake as Cole sprinted for the Pokéball still quivering against the nightly earth. His hands scooped it up as it continued to tremble within his grasp, but he wasn’t about to let it go, and his legs only kept pumping his body towards Goldenrod’s most urbanized area. If I can just get to a place where there are more people… The day’s fatigue reared up on him, and he felt his vision blur in and out of focus as his feet pounded against the ground with increasing intensity. Grass and brush receded into a clearing, and when Cole glanced back, a sudden burst of panic drove his pace even higher. One of the black-clad men had seen him, and was now only a few strides behind, chasing him with menacing energy.

“Get back here, kid! I only wanna ask you a couple questions!” a rusted voice shouted.

Cole didn’t bother replying, only focused on running as fast as his legs would allow. Heavy shadows streamed by his vision without stopping; tall grass appeared under his feet again, but it only turned his strides into leaps. An aching strain burrowed into his lower chest, but he only kept pushing his muscles harder as the enormous trees lining the park gave way to the enormous buildings lining the street. Grass turned to dirt, dirt turned to gravel, gravel turned to concrete; streetlights, stray windows, manholes, bus stops, benches; they all passed him by, but still no people appeared. He wanted to look back and check if the man was still chasing him, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn around, and the blood pounding through the veins in his ears made it difficult to hear anything other than his own heartbeat. He tried to yell something out, cry out for help, but his voice broke off as the words approached his lips, choking breath out of his lungs. Sweat streaming off his cheeks like tears, his eyes turned down to see the his hands trembling violently, but he wasn’t sure if it was simply his own nerves or the blinking red Pokéball. And then the most relieving thing he could possibly imagine filled his vision, slowing all the rushing objects around him to a momentary crawl as he realized exactly what it was: the Goldenrod City Pokémon Center.

An immense, neon Pokéball lit up the entire street, reflecting off the mirrored windows that covered several of the nearby structures. Its soothing light bathed Cole’s face in a comforting grasp as he let his body move autonomously towards the sliding glass doors awaiting only a few dozen meters ahead.

But then, his murky brown eyes caught glimpse of a black streak striding behind him in those same mirrors. Like some kind of counter-existence of the salvation lying ahead of him, Cole could see a black phantom following his own mirrored body, and a surge of fear suddenly told him how terrifying the sight was. A last flare of effort burned out of the pores in his flesh; the welcoming doors hardly even had enough time to open before he slipped through to stumble into the open lobby, bringing a slew of chaotic gasps and panicking breaths with him to break whatever silence might have made itself too comfortable there.

Tiled floor greeted the force of his arms as they made contact, smacking his body against hard, yet somehow forgiving ground. Panting for his life, Cole caught eye of the brightly red-haired Nurse Joy, and, to his utmost relief, the uniformly clad Officer Jenny, both approaching with surprise and concern embedded in their faces.

“My goodness!” one of them said indistinguishably to Cole’s ears. “What in the world happened!?”

Resting his eyes behind their sleeves and his body against the floor, he attempted a few words between his narrowly controlled breathing. “A… a man… f-f-follow-ing… out-out-side…!”

“Calm down,” said a soothing voice, most likely the policewoman, “You’re safe here, so try and calm down…”

Cole turned his head to rest flat against the chilled floor, and when he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the Pokéball for the Scyther that he had carried all the way here. It had finally stopped shaking.
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Old 05-14-2007, 12:04 AM
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Default AFAF // Part III: A Rocky Start

Part III: A Rocky Start

Wednesday [05:49 GMT // 5:49 AM]
Black haze cleared away to reveal a sterile-white ceiling. Cole’s eyes struggled open for the first time in the past eight hours, divulging little but a swarm of confused inquiries in his head. An expression of blatant stupor settled into his face as he sat up, feeling a distinct stiffness in most of his muscles. His glazed eyes wandered lazily about the room; he found himself sitting on a gently orange sofa, rather pleased that he wasn’t lying on the hard, whitewashed table under numerous lamps in the center of the room. Well, I guess this isn’t really a human hospital, so I won’t get dissected here… Large file cabinets made sure that no corner went unused, and bleached countertops retained an assortment of needles, tissues, tools, and various other discomforting objects. There was a certain breeziness about the air; it felt continuously fresh with each breath he took. He blinked with a shake of his head, still trying to alleviate the lingering daze behind his vision, when footsteps entered through the open doorway at the end of the wall on his right.

“Ah, you’re awake,” a feminine voice said.

It was Nurse Joy, Cole realized upon looking up. Garbed in her traditional apron and dress, her friendly eyes smiled at him, pulling a smile out of his own face. I heard about this… but do they all really look the same? Kinda eerie…

“It looks like you and your Scyther will be just fine,” she explained cheerily, “All you both needed was a good night’s rest, though I ran Scyther through the restoration chamber for you, anyway.”

“So it didn’t have any serious injuries?” Cole inquired further.

“Not really; just very extensive exhaustion and a few bruises, but it’s perfectly fine, now.” She crossed her arms to look more intently at him. “But you two must’ve been through quite a lot to have lost so much energy. Don’t push your Pokémon or yourself so hard, from now on. It would’ve been much more dangerous if you had collapsed just about anywhere else.”

“Yeah…” he hesitated, wondering if he should tell her about the strange men he’d encountered for the second time. Would it really do any good? a thoughtful question asked him. But he didn’t have an answer.

“Would you like to see your Scyther?”

“Ah,” Cole blinked, realizing that she shouldn’t have had to ask, “Yeah… please.”

“Please follow me,” she told him as she turned to leave the room.

Following her was trickier than he’d suspected; his legs still wobbled just enough to provide slight discomfort as he left the room, leaning against the wall for stabilizing support.

Confronted with the options of right or left, he followed Nurse Joy to the right. The hallway was predominately bleach white like most everything else, but a few bulletin boards tacked up against the walls provided a break for sterilized eyes. Pale light from the lamps embedded into the ceiling behind a rough fiber glass held a small tint of yellow to them, which gave something of a homely feeling to whatever it cast itself upon. Polished clean floors squeaked against his shoes’ thick souls, and very nearly presented him with a distinguishable reflection. Red and white doors passed him by, some with Pokéball insignias carved into them, until Nurse Joy finally settled upon one in particular.

When Cole entered behind the nurse, he found a room similar to the one he’d previously been in, only this one was much deeper and kept a string of padded tabletops running down the center towards the back wall. Most of the tables remained empty, save one, which housed a lone Pokéball hooked against a carbon tube leading up to a microwave-sized machine labeled: “Intensive Care Unit.”

“Your Scyther is still pretty wild,” Nurse Joy began as she unhooked the ball from its makeshift pouch, “So we had to keep it in its Pokéball for safety reasons.”

“Yeah, I just caught it last night,” Cole explained with his hands clasped together behind his head.

“Be careful with it,” she warned, “Wild Scyther can be highly aggressive.” She handed the small red and white sphere to him, but not without a look of slight concern fixed onto her face.

“I’ll be careful,” he assured her as he received his troublesome Pokémon. And after a moment, he added, “I don’t really have a choice, anyway…”

“What do you mean?” the cherry-haired nurse inquired

“Scyther’s my only Pokémon,” Cole said more to himself than to her as his eyes stared intently at the crimson-plastered molding built into the Pokéball, “That means, right now, it’s my best chance at becoming a strong trainer… my best chance… maybe my only chance…” He let the ball contract into a miniaturized state to latch it into place against the back of his charcoal belt, and then turned to look at the Pokémon nurse again. “There’s something important I have to do, and I need power to do it.”

“Power?”

“Strength. Pokémon have strength, so I need to have Pokémon. I need their strength.” A fierce intensity burned all other light out of his eyes as he looked intently at the nurse.

“But, Pokémon are more than just tools for power…” she said, her eyes saddening slightly as she spoke, “They’re living creatures; they’re our friends.”

Cole blinked, Vulpix’s fuzzy red image running through his head. “…I know,” he told her, almost sighing, “Believe me, I know…” His eyes trailed off to the floor, just staring at that polished tile blankly.

“Well,” Nurse Joy started again, her ringing voice breaking a momentary silence, “If you’re looking for more Pokémon, you should try to find some grass-types.”

“Grass-types?” he asked as his eyes looked vaguely up.

“Your Scyther is a bug-and-flying-type, so it should have a big advantage over grass types,” she clarified for him with a growing smile, “You could probably find plenty of grass-type Pokémon in the forest beyond the park to the north of town.”

Beyond the… “Ah, thank you. I’ll give it a try.” He nodded gratefully to her before turning away to leave the room. They wouldn’t still be there, would they?

****************************

Wednesday [07:27 GMT // 7:27 AM]
The morning sun cast an auburn light through a thick of trees lining the edge of Goldenrod City’s largest park. A few people lingered about the area, despite the youthly time of day; some them were jogging or walking, some chatting amongst themselves, and even some that didn’t appear to be doing anything worthy of note at all. Early clouds dotted the sky, as if setting up for a big event scheduled later in the day. All things considered, it seemed a pretty harmless atmosphere, leisurely even.

Cole adjusted his navy blue vest against his shoulders as he strolled along the rim of the park’s tallest grass, feeling the tap of his Pokédex against his chest as he fidgeted. You know, came a musing thought, There could be grass Pokémon right here in the park… That Sunkern I saw last night was a grass type… An eyebrow quirked as he tried to consider the possibilities. Sure a Sunkern’s nothing to get worked up about, but there might be some stronger grass-type Pokémon hiding in there, too… His eyes snuck towards his bottom left to glance at the grass forest’s base. After all… grass Pokémon living inside a bunch of grass? Does that just make too much sense? Then his eyes popped wide open at the sight of something a bit unexpected.

A massive snake slithered out of the dense greenery, leaving Cole to choke on his own breath in surprise. Spanning several feet in length from fang to tail, the reptilian creature coiled around to form a precarious, spiraling stance, flat against the ground. Its dominating jet-black scales stretched and condensed as it whipped around to stare at him with a fixated gaze.

Come on… how can there be giant, poisonous snakes in a public park like this? Cole though, trying to doubt the snake’s very existence, Surely the park management wouldn’t allow…

Then the reptile reared up to slit its tong out at him from eye-level, revealing that its scales also bore yellow, red, and violet colors in sparsely distributed areas.

Snake in the grass? Does that just make too much sense, too? he asked himself wryly, fingering the tiny Pokéball at the back of waist. It’s a Pokémon, isn’t it? Definitely a poison-type… not really any advantage or disadvantage for Scyther, but… Crap, that’s a big *** snake… A violent rustling amongst the grass adjacent to him took Cole’s eyes away from the serpentine creature.

“Haha! I finally gotcha!” a deep voice shouted just before a massive figure leapt out of the grass. The man flung a heavy net towards the snake Pokémon, landing right on top of the thing. “I’ve finally caught one of these dirty Sevipers!” the voice proclaimed again as the man darted forward to scoop up his prize before it could wiggle free. A hearty laugh belted out of the wieldy individual, sounding to originate from deep within a boisterous gut.

“Shap?!” Cole nearly shouted with shock.

The hefty man spun around with a broad grin plastered on his face, swinging the bagged Seviper like a sack of potatoes. “Ah, well if it isn’t young Cole!” he said with considerably less surprise than the younger man, “How’ve you been, lad?”

“Uh,” Cole fumbled, trying to put the ‘Shap puzzle piece’ into place, “Fine, I guess… What are you doing here, Shap?”

“Why, haven’t you heard, m’boy?” the burly man asked, apparently taken aback by Cole’s ignorance.

“Heard what?”

“The park’s had a breakout of Seviper! It was all over the news this morning,” he explained, motioning to the net with the swirly-eyed snake hanging from his shoulder. “Dangerous creatures to be loose in a public park, they are.”

“Oh,” Cole nodded with a hint of understanding, “So you’ve come to help rid the park of all these poisonous snakes, then?”

“Aye, you’ve got the idea of it,” Shap confirmed, “But snakes aren’t poisonous, lad, they’re venomous. World o’ difference betwixt the two.”

“…Really?” Cole mumbled vaguely, beginning to lose interest.

“Of course! Poisonous is harmful only if you’ve got the misfortune of touchin’ the beastie with the stuff, but venomous… now, venom’s injected right into the blood, or even spit atcha,” the restaurant owner smiled wide with open fascination, “That’s what makes these buggers so dangerous, you see; they go right for their victims, as opposed to only being poisonous to keep others away from ‘em. ‘Course, bein’ Pokémon and all… they could work a mite differently than a regular snake, and mebee a tad less aggressive… or mebee they’re even more aggressive-” He continued on for a bit, rambling about all the known and unknown variables that could make a Seviper different from a standard snake, invoking references to the anatomy of actual vipers, as well as cobras… and mambas… and moccasins… and corals… and so on…

…I wonder if Shap was more of pirate than a fisherman… he kinda… Cole’s mind had drifted elsewhere, but when the large man stopped talking to let an awkward silence roll in, Cole snapped back to the situation at hand by abruptly clearing his throat. “So, uh… you’re saying there are a buncha snakes hiding in this park, right now?”

“That’s exactly what I’m sayin’, lad.”

Cole shuddered at the potential problems he could run into trying to find a grass Pokémon to capture inside the park. “Well, uh… I guess I oughtta get-”

“Hey,” Shap suddenly exclaimed, “Why don’t you join me, lad?” He thrust both arms in the air at the idea, sending the netted Seviper toppling over itself, still stuck within the man’s grasp.

“Well… I’m kinda busy and-”

Shap’s excitement broke him off before he could finish. “Why, that would be perfect, wouldn’t it? You’re lookin’ to be a Pokémon master 'n such, right? This is a great opportunity to catch yourself one of those gnarly Sevipers, eh?” He turned away to stare defiantly into the grass jungle, as if to counter a Glare attack from one of the snakes hiding within.

Ugh… a poison-type… Suddenly, Cole didn’t feel so much like a Pokémon trainer, but more like an ophidiophobic kid with problems taking vaccine shots, let alone snakebites. Eh… heh, I don’t think Scyther is ready for that kind of challenge… He coughed as he guiltily accepted the thought for a legitimate excuse.

“Whaddya think, Cole?” Shap asked as he turned around, “You up for…”

The young man from Azalea Town was no longer there, leaving only a trail of dust in the direction he’d darted off to.

**************************
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Old 05-14-2007, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: Pokémon: A Fire Against Fate [PG-13]

Wednesday [08:49 GMT // 8:49 AM]
Well, it took him a while, but Cole finally did it. Have I been past this tree, already? He’d gotten himself lost.

The forest was denser than he had expected. Trees hugging other trees, underbrush growing between their heavy roots jutting out of the ground, indiscriminate sounds of wildlife resonating through the area; it made for a dizzying experience, especially for an amateur tracker and traveler like Cole. Fallen leaves were everywhere, crunching and crackling under his feet as he walked. Boulders overgrown with moss littered the ground, making it all the more difficult to find proper footing.

“…I don’t think I’ve been here before,” Cole mumbled through a raggedly confused expression. “Maybe I should mark this tree here…” Or, maybe you should’ve thought of that when you first entered the forest… a lazy thought scolded him, But no, you were far too busy running from a field full of venomous, nine-foot snakes with fangs the size of a saber tooth tiger… sheesh… He squinted at the thought; now he was just confusing himself. “Okay, no more thinking,” he concluded decisively as he took a hold of Scyther’s Pokéball.

The sphere popped open to let loose a red beam, soon retiring into the form of his green bug Pokémon. “Now,” he began, “Scyther, carve a mark into this tree for me.” Pointing a delegating finger towards the tree of interest, he awaited Scyther to fulfill his request.

But it didn’t; the winged insect only stood there, eyeing him with uncertain intrigue, as if to say it didn’t even know who he was.

“Aw…” Cole breathed as his eyes rolled back to look at Scyther, “Don’t tell me you’ve got problems with authority…” Well, I suppose we were never really properly introduced, said another bothersome thought, It tackled me, ripped a hole in my pants, then I through a Pokéball at it. Not much eye contact, as I recall. Cole only sighed at the realization of how annoyingly long this could potentially take. “Come on…” he begged, “Please carve a mark into that tree over…?” He suddenly stopped, finding that his tree of choice was no longer there. What the…? He quirked an eyebrow towards Scyther, wondering if it knew something he didn’t.

But it only blinked and tilted its head at him, wonderingly.

Cole’s brow dipped down, a sign of growing suspicion. Nothing moved as he strained his ears to listen beyond the natural sounds of the forest. Birds chirping, a distant stream trickling over sharp rocks, trees stirring against the wind… Wait, Cole ruminated, There’s no wind… at least, not this low in the forest… meaning that sound should only be coming from above! His head snapped around to look behind him, and he spotted a rigid brown branch twitching vehemently. Is that…? He still couldn’t be sure; a thick of leaves adorning the tree’s topside seemed to blend in perfectly with its environment.

“Ssscciiieee…” came a low-toned growl of his Pokémon’s high-pitched voice, and as just as Cole was about to twist around to see what was wrong with Scyther, it bolted ahead of his vision, tearing across the forest floor towards the suspected plant.

A slew of leaves burst into the air as the ‘tree’ leapt out of its position to flee from its attacker. Weaving in between other trees to try and throw Scyther off its trail, the suspected Pokémon seemed to melt right into the forest.

“What the heck kind of Pokémon was that?!” Cole bellowed out as he propelled himself towards the fleeing Pokémon, Scyther speeding on ahead, apparently unshaken by the tree’s moves. If it’s fleeing, it must be weak enough for an easy capture! he deduced with an open mouthed grin, trying to avert plants from blocking his view.

A stray branch slapped him in the face, causing him to blink harshly for a few seconds, and when he opened them again, Cole found himself sprinting through a grassy clearing. The sight of his Scyther standing at the far end of the defoliated area, between the fake tree Pokémon and the sanctity of the forest made him grin with a small sense of pride, but a sudden knock against his foot in mid-step made him frown as his face planted itself into the ground.

Trying to shake sense back into his vision, Cole rolled over on his back and propped his elbows against the ground. The sound of Scyther’s blades connecting against something hard, perhaps rock, rang emptily in his head as he tried to piece together the scenario before him.

Numerous silhouettes fled off towards the woods; they seemed to be small figures carrying something on their backs, but whatever they were, they vanished before Cole could get a better look.

“Iiiieee-vvveee… eeghh…” A groggy-eyed Ivysaur stared agitatedly at him, trying to replant its toppled self back on all four legs. Various green shades covered its body, darker toned spots placed atop an underlay of aqua-green. The partially opened flower on its back retained a distinguished red-orange countenance. Quaint, little ears poked out of the tops of its head above its deep olive eyes, and two small teeth glanced out from its extensive mouth.

“Oh, eeeeehh,” Cole babbled as he looked at it with a stupefied smile, “I’m really sorry… I didn’t mean to-”

“Ivy-zar!” it cried at him, shaking its body enough to roll back over. “Zaur! Zar!” It hopped angrily at him, probably trying to make a point about his clumsiness or some such thing.

“Hey, n-no need to get mad… It was an accident,” he tried to explain, but the Ivysaur didn’t seem in the mood for listening. Oops… I must’ve run right into the middle of a gathering of Bulbasaurs and Ivysaurs… and from the looks of this one, they were sleeping until I scared off the rest…

Its jaded-green body started trembling again, and a rather unsightly yellow-orange powder started gushing out the top of the baby plant on its back.

“Uh-oh…” was all Cole could manage as he scrambled back to his feet. Let’s go check on Scyther, now… he thought hurriedly, bounding towards his bug Pokémon still several meters away.

Scyther had locked its blades against one of the strange Pokémon’s heavy ‘branches,’ and they were both now struggling to push each other back, neither seeming to gain any kind of advantage. But when Scyther broke its away for a moment to look at Cole approaching, its opponent seized the opportunity and shoved it back towards a robust tree with surprising strength. The bug Pokémon flipped back to catch the tree’s bark with its feet, effectively preventing any careless damage it might’ve taken. It kept a wary eyed stance with its two scythes embedded into the tree for support, letting it hold onto an almost perfectly horizontal position, chest faced towards the ground a few feet away. Scyther clung to its position for a few moments longer to glance between its most apparent enemy and the young man approaching from its far left.

The fake tree is stronger than it looks, Cole thought as he moved on a curved path towards Scyther, trying to keep his distance from the Pokémon he had yet to fully identify. There seemed to be a momentary break in the fighting, so he took this time to get his first good look at the Pokémon that Scyther had chased through the forest.

It still looked like a tree, in a strange, distorted-reality kind of way, with an earthly brown color covering the brunt of its body and forest-green coating three spherical bulbs stuck to the ends of each arm. Its white-grinning mouth beady-black eyes stood under a sort of ‘wishbone’ protrusion from the top of its bark-like head, and lighter brown spots ran down the length of its flexibly slender body to stop just above a couple of stumpy legs. The thing bobbed its head and shook its branches as if it was dancing, all the while singing an odd word or perhaps that vaguely rhymed in a high-pitched voice. And though it appeared as a tree, the Pokémon’s body still twisted around, back and forth, in surprising fashion.

Cole wasn’t quite sure what to make of the fiercely strange creature, but when his ears heard the approaching grumbles of the Ivysaur he’d left to stun the grass around it, part of his mouth hooked off into a frown. His neck craned around as he came to rest against the tree with his Scyther on it, trying to assess the situation at hand. Calm down. Scyther’s still got the advantage. Ivysaur is a grass-type, and that other thing’s a tree, so it gotta be a grass-type too…

“Sssuuuuudooo!” the wild tree Pokémon suddenly belted out, thrusting its two branch-arms into the earth below it. A light rumble shook the ground as it yanked several boulders out to send them soaring towards its apparent enemies.

Scyther tore itself away from the tree just before dense rock splintered and crushed its bark, leaving Cole to stumble away as wood chips tumbled off in all directions. And when he looked back, almost the entire tree was gone, demolished down to only a broken stump in the ground.

Holy crap! Cole’s mind shouted, That was a rock-type attack! Grass-types aren’t supposed to use rock attacks! His head swung back around to re-assess the wild tree he’d taken for granted, while his right hand dug into his inner vest pocket. The Pokédex flipped open to scan the Pokémon still prancing in place with a wide smile.

“Sudo-woodo,” came the computerized Pokédex voice, “The Imi-tation Poké-mon: This Poké-mon is com-mon-ly mis-taken for a grass Poké-mon, when in re-ali-ty it is actu-all-y a rock-type capa-ble of mim-ick-ing an oppo-nent’-s atta-cks.”

He snapped the lid shut, sighing at the incredible mistake he’d made. Aw, man…

Then his green-cased bug Pokémon suddenly appeared next to him, pointing a thick scythe at something.

Cole looked up to see the Ivysaur, still wearing a frustrated expression, standing a few meters away from the Sudowoodo, probably halted due to the sudden explosion of force from the Sudowoodo. He blinked when an idea suddenly hit him. “Ah,” he huffed, spinning back around to look straight into his Scyther’s eyes, “You’re best advantage is your speed, Scyther. Neither of them can match you there.”

Scyther looked back at him intently, almost seeming to agree with Cole’s logic.

Wetting his lips, Cole went on, “Scyther, get between the two of them and use Double-Team.” He wet his lips in hope of his ideating working out properly.

And to Cole’s surprise, Scyther nodded, then bolted away from him, the grass under its feet arching back under the wake of its speed. Just as it passed between the seed Pokémon and the dancing tree Pokémon, Scyther erupted into a streaming line of clones, all seeming to move up and down a straight path between the two opponents.

Sudowoodo only tilted its head, apparently not having a problem accepting the sudden appearance of so many copies, but Ivysaur jumped back, its eyes darting to and fro as it tried to pin down what was happening. A couple whip-like vines burst out of its sides, snaking around in confusing fashion before dropping down to sweep the entire line of Scythers from right to left. The Vine Whip attack cut through numerous afterimages, but didn’t stop until it came halfway through, connecting with the side of Sudowoodo’s forked head instead of the intended Scyther.

“Yes!” Cole exclaimed at the fruition of his plan.

Scyther’s Double Team subsided, letting the line of clones vanish to reveal its true position at the other end of the clearing.

“Now,” Cole yelled out to Scyther, pointing towards the dazed seed Pokémon, “Slash Ivysaur before it recovers!”

The bug Pokémon immediately dashed towards toward the designated target, bringing its left sickle-arm up from its side to deliver a diagonal Slash attack against its body. The slice connected with enough force to knock Ivysaur back a few paces, trying to stabilize its shaken footing.

But Sudowoodo was far from out of the picture. While both Scyther and Cole had taken their eyes from it in favor of attacking a stunned Ivysaur, the imitation tree had closed the gap between it and Scyther. A high branch rose above its head as Sudowoodo appeared behind Cole’s green bug, leaving only a moment’s notice for the trainer to warn his Pokémon.

“Scyther, go left, now!” he shouted through held breath.

His Pokémon leapt as soon as it heard, but there still wasn’t enough time to avoid the attack completely, even with its powerful speed. The olive branch thrust downward to mimic the Slash that Scyther had just used only seconds ago, nicking the tips of the double-paired insect wings lightly, but garnered more depth against the bug’s right-side scything arm.

Zig-zagging away, Scyther fumbled for proper balance as it right arm fell limp. Its wings twitched after taking the graze, but still buzzed to life easily enough. Scyther spun around as it skidded to a halt several meters away from its enemies, kicking up low clusters of dirt and loose grass.

The battle had grown a bit farther away from Cole in all the commotion, forcing him to move closer to keep a better eye on its progress. As he approached his lightly wounded Scyther, the mantis Pokémon stared straight into his face, as if waiting for something.

“That was great,” he praised it with a small grin, “You did it perfectly.”

Seeming satisfied, Scyther turned its gaze back towards the slowly approaching opponents.

What’s the plan now? an inquiring though asked, straining his brain for an answer, …Let’s see… they're both wild Pokémon, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll help each other in battle… I can turn their attacks against them with the right opportunity, but they probably are going to be more cautious this time…

A pair of green vines slipping out of the plant-dinosaur Pokémon made his mind break-off with another idea, and everything slowed as a memory triggered…

The Azalea Town Gym Leader had a Scyther, too… he thought, trying to consider the possibilities as quickly as he could, There was a move he’d use to defend, even when it wasn’t meant for that kind of thing… What was it?

The vines lurched forward, closing the gap to Scyther as Cole struggled for his answer.

What was it?!

Slender, greens snakes whipped around to close in on the mantis from both sides.

What was the attack?! he yelled to himself, clenching his eyes shut as the attack grew nearer and nearer. I can’t… remember…!!

Seeing Vine Whip wrap itself around its abdomen, Scyther suddenly writhed to get out of range when it found its trainer without a command for it, but there wasn’t time. The pair of vines enveloped its body to take a tight grasp upon its mid-section, holding Scyther into place as Sudowoodo moved closer for a direct attack.

“Swords Dance!” the words exploded out of Cole’s open-mouthed grin. He’d only said it in the light of remembering so abruptly, but his large mantis took it as a command.

Scyther’s left arm hugged its chest and its right arm remained limp and unmoving as it fought against Ivysaur’s grip to begin the spinning ability. Its legs moved together and gradually, Scyther took control away from Ivysaur, having a the weight advantage on its side. A shroud of dirt and fallen leaves whirled around Scyther as it gradually spun more rapidly, continuing to wrap more of the vine’s leverage around its body, which inevitably pulled Ivysaur closer and closer. Sudowoodo stopped to gawk at the spectacle, until finally Scyther stopped spinning with Ivysaur right up against its enveloped body. But the grass-type was even less mobile than the mantis Pokémon due to its lost footing; Ivysaur was stuck there, its feet kicking at the air between it and the ground.

“Swords Dance again,” Cole said with growing enthusiasm, “This time, spin in the other direction.”

Nodding, Scyther followed its trainer’s command, starting to spiral with Ivysaur’s vines still tightly wound around it. Though its arms, legs, and abdomen were all immobile, it didn’t matter; Scyther’s captured posture was perfect for such a move. And as it gradually began to pick up speed again, Ivysaur’s vines began to unravel, unable to keep pace with Scyther’s body; however, this time, since the seed Pokémon was already so close, the vines dragged Ivysaurs’s entire body with them, giving Scyther a sort of ‘sling-like’ power over its smaller opponent as it twirled out of the enemy’s hold.

As slack picked up on the green ropes, Ivysaur swung wider and wider from Scyther, forcing Cole to the ground before it nearly hit him.

But Sudowoodo, apparently lost in its epic dancing adventures at the moment, took a full on hit from the flying grass Pokémon, finally giving Ivysaur enough of its vines back so that it could release its ‘hold’ on Scyther itself as the two collided and tumbled across verdant earth. Both opponents were grounded, and Cole’s Pokémon had severely increased attack strength: a favorable turn in the battle.

Cole smiled as he watched Scyther take a wide stance; its feet spread apart with one good arm raised up behind its head while the other remained limp. That last attack should’ve damaged both of them pretty heavily, he surmised to himself, Maybe I can actually manage a double-capture out of this after all…

Sudowoodo recovered to its stumpy feet first, which was to be expected, considering its rock-nature and naturally greater durability than its smaller associate. Ivysaur took a bit more time, seeming to have quite a bit of trouble catching its second wind. However, when the determined frustration boring into its face started to burn with a dangerous white glow, that second wind seemed more like a tremendous gale.

The budding flower growing out of its back bloomed in full, garnering specks of grass where it connected into the creature’s body. Bulky legs sprouted where its old ones had been, and the eyes embedded into its flat face widened along with the rest of its visage. Gaining nearly eight times its previous weight, the Ivysaur melted into the enormous Venusaur, known to be the final evolution in the seed Pokémon chain. Sharp, little teeth revealed themselves as it bellowed a deep roar for the very first time.

“…Aw, now that’s just plain unfair,” Cole muttered as he watched the scenario unfold before him. Well, started a wandering thought, …crap. Not many options seemed very appealing at the moment. The fresh strength inside that lumbering Venusaur could easily prove too much for his wearying Scyther. I guess jumping in head on is out of the question… and the power behind that Vine Whip just got crushingly more dangerous…
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Old 05-14-2007, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Pokémon: A Fire Against Fate [PG-13]

Sudowoodo stared at the newly transformed grass-type Pokémon, apparently unsure of what had taken place. An olive branch wandered towards the tremendous flower sprawed out on Venusaur’s back, poking at it with natural curiosity.

That thing just became the biggest Pokémon in the area… and probably the most powerful... His thoughts, though most likely accurate, didn’t seem to be helping him in the least. What to do…?

Venusaur turned an irritated gaze upon the nosy Sudowoodo, and promptly slapped its branch away with a stray vine, garnering a surprised expression out of the wild tree’s face.

I could try to turn their attacks against each other again… but how? A worried hand wandered up to console his forehead as he tried to think of some idea that would save him, however a more pressing matter would cut his planning time short.

Venusaur’s mouth opened wide to project a widely audible cry injected with a strange sensation akin to grinding rocks together, and then leapt ahead, galloping straight towards Scyther. A sudden blast of small seeds shot out from atop the plant on its back, making Cole cringe in recognition of the attack.

If that hits, we’re sunk! “Agility!” his mouth shouted without consulting his brain.

Hearing the command, Scyther sprinted away, just barely missing the Leech Seed attack that might’ve crippled its energy and mobility.

“Vveeeeee,” came a low growl as the gigantic grass Pokémon suddenly broke off its run to shake the ground with its abrupt stop, removing chunks of grass and dirt at a time. Several serpentine vines slipped out from under the red-orange flower sprouted from the beastly creatures back, coiling around precariously as Scyther circled around the seemingly shrunken clearing with heightened speed.

A few quick thoughts ran through Cole’s mind as he waited to see what his wild opponents would do next. Scyther’s moves tend to revolve around enhancing its own power, mainly strength and speed… How can we use that to our advantage? He squinted, still uncertain of any set plan other than simply avoiding the enemy’s attacks.

Earthly green whips lashed out towards Scyther’s path of travel, aiming to stop its movement altogether.

“Fury Cutter!” Cole blurted out, only wondering if it was the right decision after having already said it. His mouth twisted into an uncertain cringe as he watched his Pokémon in hopes of beneficial results.

Scyther skidded to a halt; part of the Vine Whip attack extended passed it to slam into a rigid tree lining the small clearing. More vines approached it from the side, and when it raised its left sickle-arm to perform the specified attack, a thick pair of the snaking plant lines wrapped around its right leg, yanking it to the ground as it swung one of its few bug-type moves to deflect another approaching mass.

Its vines fastened against Scyther’s leg, Venusaur pulled harshly backwards to drag the flailing Pokémon across the meadowy grass with a limp scythe digging up rock and dirt.

“Just keep using Fury Cutter!” the lone Pokémon trainer shouted. It’s in a horrible position, but at least its last attack hit… he tried to think optimistically, now if it can just keep getting hits with Fury Cutter on the vines wrapped around its legs… A vaguely thought-out plan seemed to be formulating, by some strange aspect.

Scyther’s body doubled up to get closer to the green ropes around its leg, so that it might have a clearer shot with its bladed arm. Venusaur’s puppeteer ropes hauled the mantis Pokémon all over the small field, sometimes straight into boulders or stumps dotting the ground as Scyther struggled to hack itself free with continuous hits from Fury Cutter. Sudowoodo, having been dancing in place to pass the time, suddenly decided to get back in the middle of the fray. Darker green vines launched out of its olive branches towards the already endangered bug to ensnare the Pokémon’s right leg, mimicking Venusaur’s attack.

…Crap, was the only word present in Cole’s mind as he watched the trouble multiply itself. Two on one just isn’t good odds… especially for my first battle using Scyther. Despairing thoughts clouded his reasoning, making even more difficult to focus. What was I thinking…? Going into the woods by myself with only one Pokémon? A slight contraction in his face lent itself towards the notion of hopelessness growing in his mind. I’m such an idiot…

“Sssccciiieeee…” arose a familiar growl from his bug Pokémon, still cleaving away with its seemingly ineffective Fury Cutters, “…Sscciieee… Sscciiieee…” Its high-pitched voice struggled against the strain on its body. Both enemies clutched a leg, pulling in opposite directions; Venusuar looked to be gaining ground on Sudowood, probably just from sheer strength in size, but that certainly didn’t ease the burden on the bug Pokémon’s legs. “Ssccieee-tthheerrrr…” The weakening power behind its voice made for a painful sight as Scyther continued in a relentless effort to gain its lower limbs back.

Cole’s temples bulged with his clenched teeth, unable to tear his eyes away from the tenuous scene. …They wouldn’t be able to rip its legs off… would they? Merely thinking of the potential troubles brought an uneasy compression to his stomach. But what can I do?! he thought urgently, Swords Dance, Double Team, and Agility are all ineffective when its caught in mid-air like that, and by now, Slash would be even less effective than Fury Cutter… Racking his brain for anymore of Scyther’s attack or any kind of solution to a situation like this, Cole’s eyes waned against the pain that his Pokémon must have been experiencing. Maybe I’d better just call it back and make a run for it… he thought fragilely, touching the mini Pokéball at his belt. Maybe I’m not as prepared for this as I thought I was…

“Sscciieee…” came that same voice again, “Scy…. Scy…” Its one good sickle-arm reared back again as it continued to fulfill the orders it was given. Its body writhed against the tight grip on its legs, twisting back and forth to extend the motion of its slice as much as possible. “Scy-Ther!” it continued yelling with each consecutive hit.

Then, Venusaur flinched against the growing weight of Scyther’s attack, loosening its strangle hold on the Pokémon’s right leg, but not letting go completely. Another hit garnered a second cringe, and then another and another and another…

Cole blinked. Each hit grows more powerful than the one before it, if it hits, came the thought, going through the description of the Fury Cutter attack in his head, But since its target is so close, Scyther won’t miss… A flat grin split his face as he watched the battle unfold. Add on top of that its natural Swarm ability, which ups the power of bug-type moves when Scyther’s in trouble… His breath stopped as he hoped for the effects behind his logic to show themselves before the two wild Pokémon broke one of its legs.

With its rigorous cries ringing throughout the area, echoing from tree to tree, Scyther's empowered Fury Cutter smashed into the vines still clutching its right leg. The threads loosened for an unsteady second and Scyther’s body jerked towards the ground under gravity’s influence before Venusaur’s burdensome rope could recover. And with another resonating yell, Scyther reared way back with its left-armed blade grazing the ground below it, then thrust the attack down to deliver a blow right where it had been the hole time; the line snapped off, leaving Venusuar’s vine to careen off back into its massive body as it stumbled back.

The right side of Scyther’s body dropped to the ground as Sudowoodo pulled it closer from the left, dragging the emerald-green body towards it with an unsuspected strength in its hidden-rock branches.

“Stick with Fury Cutter!” Cole advised his Pokémon, before continuing more quietly to himself, “Its already tremendously powered up, so that attack is our best bet to ending this battle…”

Scyther’s limp arm twitched with a hint of vivacity and placed the sharp end its blade under the towing green threads. Then, through all the loose leaf and dirt kicking up around it, Scyther thrust its left arm down on the vines, still invoking the threat of its Fury Cutter. Its blade cut straight through the green ropes, sending Sudowoodo fumbling backwards after its tight grip had been severed.

His eyes widened at the sight of the turning tide, wondering if he could really be winning this battle.

Its good sickle-arm dug into the ground as Scyther continued to slide, bringing it back to its feet so it could dart straight into Sudowoodo’s unstable posture and slash diagonally across its earthen body with another Fury Cutter. Sudowoodo cried out against the force behind the hit; the attack, having been powered up with a double Swords Dance, repeated usage, and Scyther’s swarm ability, dropped the imitation tree to the ground in what looked to be defeat.

Venusaur growled from its distant position several meters away, probably angered by its severed vines, then thrust its body forward with a slew of spinning leaves leaping out of the plant base on its back. Undoubtedly a Razor Leaf attack, bladed green discs spiraled towards Scyther’s turning green figure, giving it only a moment’s notice to leap out of the way. Numerous cuts sliced against its viridian exoskeleton before it could get away, but the ineffective-type of attack still only did minimal damage, freeing Scyther to tear across the ground towards Venusuar’s slower form.

As it sped by, Scyther slashed horizontally across Venusaur’s heavier body, connecting for still greater damage than the previous attack. The giant seed Pokémon roared out against the assault as its health fell away, leaving its body to upheave and fall to the ground under the strain.

Blinking with stark surprise, Cole scrambled for two empty Pokéballs out of his bag as Scyther broke away from its grounded opponents to gather composure against a far tree. Two red and white balls cascaded across the grassy area to strike at both Venusaur and Sudowoodo, enveloping them in a red aura amidst hopes of sealing them within their inner walls.

All at once, the shaking stopped, killing that fainty, crimson glow.

“Hugh…” came a low breath as Cole dropped to the ground, his fingers burrowing through stalks of leafy grass. A relieving sigh emerged from his lips as his eyes slowly took on a hint of glazed wonderment. I’m… kinda tired… he thought hollowly, his gaze drifting past the two red and white balls that had just recently stopped twitching with a crimson glow.

“…theeerr… Sssciee…” The heavy panting of Cole’s mantis Pokémon pulled his eyes toward the wearied creature, revealing that its legs had buckled into a hunched posture.

Blinking, Cole realized how much more taxing the battle must have been for Scyther than for him, and an ardent expression of sympathy rose out of his face. “Take a rest,” he muttered as a red beam enveloped the creature’s emerald exoskeleton, pulling Scyther into its Pokéball.

For a time, Cole only sat there with his elbows propping up his upper body and both legs sprawled out ahead of him. A light breeze grazed over the small clearing, gently caressing all reaches of his face. He squinted towards the bright sky, a few puffy clouds greeting him with bloated grins, and figured it to be nearing the middle of the day. I guess… came a wandering thought, I guess I’m not such a failure at this as I thought I was… It was strangely encouraging, he realized, which was strange, given his current situation. A small grin poked out of the side of his lips as he heaved himself back to his feet. Halfway to standing, he stopped.

A low pulse vibrated through the ground, tickling the tip of his one knee still touching the ground. Like a series of tremors, the vibrations came in waves. He remained utterly motionless, save the curious eyes darting all over the grass in front of him as his mind tried to fit this development into some half-realized puzzle. His ears strained for answers, but could only vaguely catch hint of a distant hum behind the forest’s music. The vibrations grew steadily larger as Cole tried to return motion to his body. Standing fully, he swallowed hard against the deserted taste in his mouth and began a slow walk towards his two, newly captured Pokémon.

Suddenly, the ground twitched all at once, making him stumble past the step he’d completely missed. Craning his neck backwards, Cole glared into the deepening forest, a heavy grinding sound garnering strength with each passing second. The pupils in his eyes contracted as a horrifying sense of familiarity struck him. It can’t-! shouted a panicking thought, forcing his body to leap forward on all four before he could get to both legs. It can’t…! Again?!

Behind him, the wall of trees at the edge of the clearing lurched upwards, sending hunks of greenery and foliage spiraling off in all directions as an enormous figure crashed through the earth. Amidst the chaotic combination of terror and curiosity and adrenaline surging through his head, Cole could hardly manage an instant’s glance at the emerging object, but that single moment, that one piece of a second where his eyes frozen open as wide as humanly possible, seemed as if all the time in the world had suddenly stopped. A vibrant, unmovable image burned itself into his mind.

An enormous drill, caked with crumbling layers of mud and dirt, obliterated the forest’s attempts to bar its path, sending earthen debris tumbling all around it. Spiked and barbed, the massive drill roared through the densely packed wood, echoing for what must have been miles. The small cockpit at the very rear of the tunneling vehicle retained an impenetrably black glass to shield its occupants, however, as Cole stared at it, he wasn’t particularly concerned about seeing the faces of the individuals within. Perhaps it was due to the distraction provided by the machine’s grinding bellow, or the pulverizing trail left in the wake of its conveyor-belt wheels, or the screaming razor blades extending out from its sides via flexible poles; but in the end, Cole didn’t find himself dwelling on the why for much longer than an instant. And when the monstrosity’s golden-brown frame finally broke all the way through the forest floor to settle into a brief moment of peaceful recon, Cole found his legs thinking much further ahead than his brain.

He ducked down in the midst of his vigorous dash towards safety, scooping up his prized captures from only a few moments ago. Fumbling to holster the pair of contracted Pokéballs into their positions at the back of his leather belt, his eyes veered from his path of travel for a second. His eyes snapped back into place, only to see an untimely tree trunk suddenly right in front of him. His body reacted with a violent jerk to the left, leaving his right shoulder to crash into the side of the tree, propelling Cole from his intended path and into a cluster of bushy foliage. “Agh…” came a harsh groan as he shook the haze out of his vision.

Trembling ground forced his mind to focus again, and the roar of the mechanical drill made Cole flail himself back to his feet. His eyes darted backwards, and to his dismay, it seemed as if he had indeed been spotted. The massive object tore across the earth towards him, apparently unhindered by nature’s friction.

Fear stained the lining of his stomach, extending all the way up his throat as Cole broke away, deeper into the forest. His body moved seemingly without effort or thought, spurred on by its own instincts. His legs bounded over the uneven terrain; his eyes darted wildly in all directions, looking for terror in unlikely places. His arms seemed to flail more than pump, but the panic on his face suggested that he wasn’t concerned with proper running postures. Stray leaves and low branches obstructed his vision, however that didn’t seem to worry his legs, as the muscles only strained for more strength.

He ran without even the faintest thought of stopping; he ran even when he couldn’t catch sound of the malicious digger anymore. His most basic instincts drove him forward: the instinct of fear. The mere thought of what might become of him if he had stayed terrified Cole beyond all words, and he didn’t question it. It was unclear to him why he felt such agonizing fear, but perhaps that only made it worse.

The burning muscles in his legs finally slowed his motion, but he still didn’t stop completely. And as his strained listening only caught sound of the blood pounding through his own ears, Cole’s mind gradually began to reform back into a conscious state of awareness. Beads of sweat gathered along his forehead as his eyes drifted off into a distant gaze at nothing. Why… why am I so afraid? a thought asked him, his legs still carrying him onward. I suppose, now that I think about it, running was the best option, considering how weak all of my Pokémon must still be… but… He squinted through his empty gaze, searching for the right words. Just then… just now… was I even myself? It was a strange question, he realized; however, there seemed to be something behind it. I didn’t even bother to consider what else I could have done… I was so afraid… He trailed off, not wanting to finish with what he was thinking to be true. But the thought still dangled in his mind, trying to finish itself, as if aware of its own importance. I… was so afraid… it was… The temples at the edges of his forehead tightened with his clenched teeth. It was like nothing else mattered. He blinked, his eyes returning to see the forest break away from his vision.

Light poured into his pupils as the darker forest fell away behind him, revealing the distinct charcoal-color of pavement.

“A road,” came a pair of obvious words from his lips. “It’s paved, too…” His eyes wandered over the chiseled path, making vague assessments. “It must be used pretty often, if it’s paved…” Somehow, this discovery left Cole with little enthusiasm. Something felt a bit off, not entirely wrong, but just… off. And as he placed his hands on his hips, gazing up and down the elongating road, the indistinct feeling suddenly grew much larger.

“…Wait…” Cole mumbled as he moved his right hand back along his belt, letting his fingers gloss over the small spheres fastened there. “Hm.” Still unsure about the problem, he unhooked the Pokéballs, bringing them around in the palm of his hand to stare at. My three Pokém… The last word was left unfinished as his eyes widened.

There were only two.


((OOC: As always, comments/critiques are welcome. ))
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Old 05-22-2007, 06:54 AM
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Default AFAF // Part IV: A Lost Cause

Part IV: A Lost Cause

Wednesday [13:13 GMT // 1:13 PM]
The lone Pokéball lied there, stranded. Nestled up against a thick obtrusion of root, its crimson-white exterior shone through a thin layer of unearthed dirt. Streaks of light poured down from open patches in the leafy canvas above, making the ground dance with speckles of light as an intimate breeze tickled the surrounding trees. A hollow silence had washed over the area, leaving only the whisper of wind; everything seemed to have been left in a frozen silence after the calamitous drill had ceased spinning.

A black-gloved hand reached through a wall of underbrush to grasp the lost sphere, pulling it away from the ground’s clutching trails of unsettled dust.

Through the rustling of lower foliage, the gloved hand led up to the blackened silhouette of a standing individual. Even with the bright afternoon sun hanging above the forest, the dense treetops still thoroughly blocked most daylight from entering, leaving only visible streams of light raining down to the ground.

The distant voice of a woman broke the stale silence. “You find anything?”

The unnamed individual paused, hesitating with the discovered Pokéball in his hand before spouting back an answer. “Nothing over here.” A man’s voice.

“Alright, then let’s head back to base,” replied the woman.

“Roger,” the shadowed figure agreed, contracting the ball into a miniaturized state before stuffing it inside his vest. Forcing through a thick of ragged overgrowth, he stepped out into the large clearing from which his group's vehicle had chased the intruder. The giant digger’s drill sat unmoving in the center of the defoliated area, sleeping amidst tall grass like some dormant beast.

Bathing sunlight revealed the man to be wearing a bleached white mask. A pair of smooth, semi-circular dots engraved in front of his vision streaked off to either edge of the mask, forming large, spoon-like shapes. A definitivly red line ran directly downward from each eye, and a short, flat line just above the lowest rim seemed to represent a mouth. A wide nose projected from the center of the mask, vaguely giving the impression of a lion. Short, jet-black hair topped his head, providing a strange illusion of spikes jutting out of the oddly designed mask. From the neck down, however, this person was more like a dark smear against the colorful environment. A black vest coat with only a single, dark red slash across the chest combined with a perfectly matching undershirt, fitted pair of slacks, and soft-leather boots.

“Ugh,” groaned another voice towards the other end of the clearing, “I don’t see why we have to patrol such a remote area as this... ” The voice took presence from another man, also bearing a mask over his face; however, his bore a broad, smiling mouth wrapped in black and crimson. The deep indigo stripes on his cheeks ran straight backwards, and the nose was more reminiscent of a monkey’s, but the mask still featured those exact same eyes. But aside from the mask, the only difference between him and the first man were the blonde spines of hair protruding out from atop his head.

“Orders are orders,” said the same womanly voice from before as the three individuals came together a few meters away from their enormous drill. “Just do what you’re told, Harland. You might live a little longer.” Her uniform remained congruent with that of the two men, only just narrowly fitted for a woman instead. She wore the third and final mask of the group, and it kept its own unique traits about it as well; the mouth twisted downwards into an unsettling frown, and the stripes on either side of the face held a vibrant green to them as they ran down diagonally towards the non-existent corners of her mask. The nose also had its own distinction, forming more towards that of a dog. And yet, she too, held the exact same black strokes in place of eyes.

“I’d rather live a lot longer, thank you very much,” the mid-sized man, apparently named Harland said. “But seriously, this place is so remote, why would it even matter if there was some kid wandering around here?” Folding his arms, he tilted his head downward, as if thinking.

“I don’t care if it matters,” the woman told him impatiently, “We got what we came for and investigated the security breach like we were told, so just get in the Tunneler so we can head back, already.” Motioning for them to follow, she moved towards the earthy machine to fiddle with a latch at its rear before thrusting a wide cargo door open.

Stepping through the tall grass, the original man noticed Harland approaching him. More words of wisdom… he thought wryly as the other man came to stop.

“Don’t tell me Leon’s all about the mission, too…” Harland muttered, both hands trailing up behind his head. “If this thing could even be considered a real mission…”

“I wish you’d stop referring to me in the third person…” the man with the lion-nosed mask said. “It gets annoying after a while.”

“Heh, but that’s the only way I can get you to say something. Otherwise you just stand there, acting all mysterious-like.”

“…” Instead of replying, Leon only walked around his oddball comrade, heading for the tunneling vehicle.

“See?!” Harland exclaimed, throwing his hands up as he watched the other man circumvent him, “Just like that! Happens every damn time…” Seeming a bit depressed by the lackluster emotion out of his fellow squad member, he hunched over a little as he dragged himself towards the machine. “Egh… I don’t function well with people like this… even after workin' with 'em for thirteen years…”

****************************


Wednesday [14:23 GMT // 2:23 PM]
The vast road seemed endless. All traces of wind had died out some time ago under the sun’s intensifying gaze. Massive trees lined both sides of the yellow-striped pavement, pushing inward with overhanging branches. Burdensome leaves trickled down to the ground every now and again, adorned with season’s greetings of reds and yellows, oranges and browns. However, not all signs of green life had vanished, for that waning color could still be caught deeper within the forest’s grasp.

Walking along the right shoulder of the highway, Cole’s only gloved hand hung limply out to his left side, fixed into hitchhiker’s position. Gah… started an accurate thought, That’s two Pokémon I’ve lost now…

Further ahead of him, his Scyther walked along at a quicker pace, apparently scouting around for threats or some such thing; it was hard to tell exactly what the giant mantis was thinking as it darted from side to side, its two bladed arms held back behind the brunt of that emerald exoskeleton. I hope it’s not looking for another fight, Cole thought as he tilted his head, It hasn’t even recovered from that last battle…

“Sudo-sudo-sudo-sudo,” came the rhythmic voice of Cole’s newly captured imitation Pokémon, “Woodo-woodo-woodo-woodo…” Its chanting continued as it danced openly, right in the middle of the road, shaking its olive branches like maracas as it kept pace with its trainer. Grinning all the while, its earthy brown body kept twisting around like some kind of crazed noodle monster.

I just had to drop Venusaur instead of… Cole sighed to himself at the spectacle his energetic tree was making. His ungloved, right hand wandered into the mass of dark brown hair atop his head, as if trying to aid his brain with the process of thinking. Ugh, so… I really have no idea if I’m headed to Ecruteak or Goldenrod, at this point. I got completely lost in that forest… . A disgruntled expression came over his face, curling one end of his lips and bringing down an eyebrow. Well… dang, is there even anything that I can d-? The sound of a something approaching from behind broke off his last inquiry.

Turning, he just narrowly caught sight of a flashy red vehicle barreling down the roadway. His bulging eyes turned to Sudowoodo, still consumed with its never-ending art of self-expression.

“Gah! Look out!” he shouted instinctively, fumbling for the tree’s Pokéball. But it was too late.

A shuddering ‘clunk’ accompanied the silver bumper of the red convertible as it slammed headlong into Sudowoodo’s backside, launching the unwary dancer several meters forward as the car screeched to a halt, invoking smoldering skid marks from its rear tires.

“…ohhhh… damn…” Cole muttered, twisting the last word’s a-sound with a dangling jaw and half-extended, white-sleeved arm.

“Oh my gosh!” cried a young woman’s voice, drawing eye towards the driver’s side of the car, “Are you alright?!” Indeed it was a woman, dressed in some kind of skirt-suit combo, cut just below the thighs. Her thin-striped business jacket flared open to reveal a scarlet undershirt laden with intricate, rosy designs. Corner-sharpened shoulders led down to nearly full-length sleeves, stopping just before her jewelry-studded wrists. Heels supported her feet, clicking against pavement as she moved around the front of the vehicle.

Cole could only stood there on the side of the road, frozen in all mannerisms of thought and movement as a few half-words dribbled past his lips.

“Wha’ ‘appened…?” came a bleary groan from the back of the car. Another person poked his head from the backseat, throwing his arm around the headrest of the driver’s side as he unsteadily pulled himself up. “Whiieee ‘ou shlam on da brayks sho shuddenly?” It was a young man, apparently, with glazed blue eyes and a decidedly less polished appearance, as compared with the woman who had been driving. Dirty blonde hair sprung out of his head in a messy bushel as he fumbled for a standing posture, blinking repeatedly.

Finally able to accumulate some full words in his mouth, Cole blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “What the hell, man!?” Rushing to the side of his road-smitten Pokémon, he couldn’t help but notice that something was strangely amiss…

“Oh, my poor Rosy… You’re not hurt are you? No scratches?” the young woman’s voice range clearly through the air as she knelt down in front of her vehicle, caressing its glimmering bumper like some concerned mother.

Cole quirked an eyebrow at the strange girl, trying to decide if she was marginally insane or just completely insensitive. “Um…” he began, still struggling for proper words, “ …Why did you hit my Pokémon with your car…?” He felt strange, jumping in an out of anger and reserve, shock and confusion. It almost made him feel guilty, as if he should be the one to apologize.

“…What?” the girl asked, finally turning from the relatively unscathed front of the flaming red vehicle. Her face looked utterly surprised, perhaps to say that she had only just noticed the victim of her driving habits. Those cherry-glossed lips crinkled into a twisted position just as she was about to say something, but another voice cut her off.

“Gyeh…” started the young gentleman from the backseat as his fingers wrestled with something in his mouth, “…Bleh, you knocked my retainer out of place…” Placing a hand on the silver trim of the car door, he hopped over the obstacle to click his metal-tapped shoes against the street. “That was such a great dream too… until my face was smashed up against the car seat, that is.” An incredibly plain t-shirt covered his slender figure, though its short sleeves left his bony forearms quite bare. Equally uninspiring slacks sheltered his legs, leading down to scruffy-white shoes. He blinked, suddenly, as if realizing something, and then bent over the side of the car to dig through the backseat, soon returning with a slim pair of lenses.

“Hey, I couldn’t help it this thing suddenly jumped out in front of me…” the girl pouted, pointing towards the grounded Sudowoodo.

“What the heck did you hit, anyway?” the other boy asked, looking towards the heap of Pokémon with querying eyes.

“Ack,” Cole jolted back as he realized what he should be concerned with, “Sudowoodo?! Are you okay?!” Kneeling down next to the fallen tree, he gingerly touched the back of its face-planted head. “Oh, don’t tell me…” But before he could finish, the answer blew up in his face.

“Sudo!” came the Pokémon’s cry as it sprang back up to its feet with that silly bleached grin, leaving a very awkward moment of silence as it stood frozen for a moment, pausing as everyone looked at it before resuming its dance. “Sudo-sudo-sudo-sudo…” Its shaking olive branches formed a sideways ‘S’ introverting in and out like some kind of robotic cheerleader.

“Ha!” blurted the plainly dressed boy, “You hit a tree!” One hand clutched the edge of the car door as he cackled hysterically.

The girl’s face scrunched up offensively at the other boy’s open laughter. “Hey, that’s not a-”

“You hit a freakin’ tree!” he broke her off, not even attempting to hold back his amusement. “Perfect-daughter Mabel drove mom's car into a freakin’ tree!” He seemed far more delighted than what could be considered healthy.

“Shut up, Steven!” she snapped back at him, her dainty brow lowered with frustration.

Well, at least she didn’t kill that ‘tree’… Cole thought with slight relief. “Um, excuse me,” he decided to interject into their conversation, garnering strange looks from the pair, “But… who the heck are you!?”

They only stared at him, as if just realizing that he was there.

“Hello?” Cole asked, poking his head forward a bit. “You hit my Sudowoodo with your car…?” Quirking an eyebrow, he waited for a response, but only achieved an awkward silence of blank-faced stares. Sudowoodo’s semi-distant chanting rang throughout the area.

“Wait…” Steven began, “That tree belongs to you?”

Cole only nodded. Eh, close enough…

“So,” the young man continued, his words starting to fracture into bits of laughter, “Mabel… actually crashed into a trainer’s Pokémon?!”

Nodding again, Cole turned his eyes towards the girl, wondering how the driver would handle the situation.

“…Oh… migosh,” she blurted, staring further down the road at the dancing imitation Pokémon, “…That thing scratched my poor Rosy!”

“Wha?” Cole’s face twitched as her words registered. “Where do you get off?! Blaming the victim of your reckless driving?!”

“Reckless?!” Mabel spun around to look at the trainer directly, “Why the heck was that thing in the middle of the road, anyway?”

His face tightened at her question. “Drivers are supposed to watch for pedestrians!”

“Aha… he’s got a point, sis,” Steven broke in, “You probably shouldn’t have been doing your make up in the rear-view mirror…”

She opened her mouth to retort the remark, but paused, apparently thinking. “ Hey, you were sleeping, so how would you know?” Suspicion narrowed her eyes.

“Because,” her sibling explained, “That’s what you were doing the last three times you nearly ran mom’s car off the road.” He folded his arms, as if to accentuate the strength of his argument.

“…Ah,” she paused again, before continuing, “Well… okay fine, so I took a moment to glance at the mirror and check my make-up…” Her manicured hand flicked a bit of long, honey blonde hair that had crept over her shoulder.

Cole extended a hand to regain their attention. “Look, I don’t really care ‘why’ you hit my Sudowoodo. I only care what you plan on doing about it.” Wearing an irritated expression, he let one eyebrow dip down expectantly.

“Eh, what do you want us to do about it, kid?” asked the brother of the two, “Your Pokémon seems just fine to me…” He motioned back behind Cole.

The creature popped up right behind its trainer, “Sssudoe!” It moved at random intervals, jerking one direction, then the other as that white-mouthed smile never left its face.

“Well… uninjured at least…” Steven commented, a queried look on his face, “What’s it doing? The robot?”

Suddenly, Sudowoodo stopped. For a second, everyone only stared in confusion as the odd creature only stood there on one of its toeless feet, frozen some kind of strangely posed statue.

“Sssciieee…” came a low growl from across the other side of the road, revealing the presence of Cole’s squatting Scyther. Its head cocked forward as both blades dug into the grassy earth below it, the hunting bug Pokémon looked on the verge of pouncing.

Aw, no… chimed in a too-late thought.

The next few moments seemed to happen all at once. The mantis stretched back, then slung its body forward, tearing both scythes out of the ground amidst tangling strings of dirt and root; however, Sudowoodo clattered to the ground like a broken log, leaving Scyther to sail right over its head and directly into Cole’s chest, propelling him and his flailing limbs to the ground.

“Agh…” the boy’s groaning voice injected into a face full of pavement. Spitting pebbles from his mouth, Cole rolled over, forcing Scyther off his back so that he could yell at it. “Cut it the-heck-out! In the past two days, I’ve been robbed, chased, lost, chased again, and semi-robbed again! I do not need you trying to pick fights with your own teammates, dammit!” Restraining the urge to strangle the mantis with his bare hands, he snatched its Pokéball from his belt, and sucked the creature up through a beaming red straw. “And you!” he exclaimed, turning towards Sudowoodo so that he might scold it, as well. “S…” His words melted away before he could say them.

The fake tree Pokémon only lied there, motionless.

“Ah, then again…” Steven muttered, scratching the back of his head, “I suppose we could give you a lift to Ecruteak.”

“What?” Mabel broke in, her face full of disapproval, “Why should we help this little klutz out?”

“Well, you pretty much ran over his Pokémon,” the young man explained, “And besides… that Sudowoodo’s more injured than it looks, apparently. I hadn’t noticed it before, but there seems to be a large bruise on its back… probably from where you hit it with the car, sis.”

Sure enough, when Cole looked more intently at the creature, he spotted a deeply colored mark on its back. Swollen and scratched, it was a wonder how Sudowoodo had even managed to stand... let alone dance.

Her furrowed eyebrows receded back as she took greater note of the grounded creature. Sighing, she nodded in agreement. “Fine, I suppose it would only be proper…”

A deep piping noise accompanied the Pokéball as it stored Sudowoodo away, but Cole hesitated. “You’ll… give me a ride to Ecruteak City?” he inquired tentatively.

“Yeah,” Mabel reassured him, “…What, did you need to go somewhere else?”

“Uh…” he stammered, suddenly feeling a heavy weight in his chest, as if telling him to hold back. If I go… His eyes wandered up towards the direction from which he had come, looking hollowly at the wall of forest from where he’d been expelled. And as he stared at those seasoning trees, Cole came to a realization. If I go… If I get in that car and leave for Ecruteak… I’m not coming back… When he was merely walking along the road before, it hadn’t occurred to him exactly what it was that he was doing. Abandoning Venusaur… Hiding the emotions wrestling behind his eyes, Cole swallowed hard. His fists clenched as his chocolate-brown irises hid behind their eyelids, warding off specks of salty tear. I’m… such a… Decisive words spilled out of his mouth, “Take me to Ecruteak.”

…coward.

*******************
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-22-2007 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 05-22-2007, 06:57 AM
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Default AFAF // Part IV: A Lost Cause

Wednesday [14:30 GMT // 2:30 PM]
“Agh,” Harland grunted as he stepped out of the Tunneler, his blackened leather boots tapping softly against a hard-paved stone. “Home sweet home, eh?” A sour grin crossed his lips as he eyed the cargo hangar of the team’s base.

For this enormously rectangular room, there were three levels. The Strike Team, that is Harland’s trio, currently stood within the lowest level, which had been built for vehicles that thrived below the surface, such as the Tunneler or an aquatic vessel. Numerous large machines resided across the tile stone floor, some propped up into the air by large platforms with mechanical crews hovering around them like bees. Oval-shaped lamps dangled down from a forty-foot ceiling, providing more than enough light for the windowless area. The far wall, constructed of heavy irons and steels, opened into a large cave, through which digging machines could pass in order to reach the hangar. Sentries stood on high platforms at either end of the steel door, keeping watch over the gate to avoid any ill-conceived plans of infiltration. The opposing end of the room retained several steeply carved flights of stairs, as well as a pair of large elevators, presumably for transporting materials or heavy machinery. At the center of the level, there resided a water-filled hole, engraved into the floor to provide a separate entrance for underwater vehicles. Coming up from a long column of security checks, the tiny lake retained a good number of back-up vehicles around it, mostly reserved for emergencies

The second level of the room was for terrestrial machines, and its hangar door opened out to a secluded road, thoroughly hidden from the arterial roads surrounding the forest. This level held several machines with various functions, such as tree-cutters and land movers for demolition, large cranes and cargo trucks for construction, robotic tanks and other specialties for combat, or even a combination of purposes. This was by far the most active floor of the hangar area, as most of the organization’s ‘business’ took place with land-based missions in mind.

And the third level, as one might imagine, was reserved for aircraft, but due to the massive expense of such machines, along with the relatively low usage of them, only a few small planes ever docked here. Usually referred to as the ‘Sky Port’ by the members of the organization, the flooring of this third level extended outwards, beyond its own hangar door in order to provide a longer runway for landing planes. Helicopters, on the other hand, could enter through a retractable portion of the ceiling.

Combined, the three floors created one of the largest hangars ever built. It was a shame that the general public would probably never learn of this place’s existence.

Harland looked at his two comrades expectantly, hoping for some sign of agreement to his remark, but their sterile masks provided more response. “Damn, is Leon starting to rub off on you, Alex?” he asked as the small group started their walk away from the tunneling machine.

“Would you just shut up already?” the harsh-toned woman replied, “And stop calling me Alex, already. It’s Alexandra.” She didn’t even bother to look at him, perhaps because she could already guess what his response would be.

“Nah, I like Alex better,” he told her, smiling behind his monkey-nosed mask.

You like it better? It’s my name! I get to decide!”

“Eh,” Harland shrugged, “But Alexandra’s so much longer… Alex is easier to say. Plus it sounds way more friendly.”

“You think I want to sound friendly?”

“It’s because you don’t act friendly that I have to call you that,” Harland explained, “Your personality’s already shot, so I’ve got to pull it out of you any way I ca-” He just barely ducked under her black-gloved fist as it came barreling towards his face.

“Just shut up, you moron!” The irritation on her face seemed to be permeating through her frowning mask.

Heh, Harland chuckled to himself at the response he’d achieved. “Thanks for proving my point, Alex.” He couldn’t help but smile; he loved getting her worked up all the time. However, at his last comment, she only folded her arms and spun back around, walking onward just as silently as Leon.

“Oh, the silent treatment, eh?” Shuffling in behind his two squad members, he stared intently at the backs of their heads for a moment, trying to decide if he should attempt to annoy them further. Gah… he started to think, Why do I have to be grouped with these anti-socials…? His head drooped down at the melancholy reality. I’m not good at giving people their space… “You guys suck,” he finally resided, falling a couple steps behind as they passed through the large doorway to the main facilities. And as he walked on, silence riddling his head, he couldn't seem to shake the reminiscing thoughts from his mind...

…It was so dark. It was so quiet…

No light entered the small boy’s vision as he sat there, his arms wrapped tightly around his bundled legs. It had been so long; he could hardly feel the tears streaming down his face, soaking those trembling knees below. His eyes refused to blink, afraid that they might miss the tiniest morsel of light. Pupils dilated into the size of marbles, the crippling panic within his mind seemed omniscient; even after all this time, that forlorn, secluded fear still plagued his thought.

It was utterly silent, as if everything had ceased to exist. No wind, no rustling, no breath, no sound; even his own heart seemed to have stopped, suspended in a moment without life. His ears were useless, but beyond that, almost any sensation of feeling was gone; nerve cells all across his body had failed, leaving an empty world around him, void of nearly all perception. It seemed that cruel fate had decided to leave him with just barely enough sense to know of his own lost existence.

…It was so dark. It was so quiet… It was so… lonely.


…Harland’s eyes twitched back to the present, glazing over the metal-stone lining of the elongated corridor. His companions walked directly in front him, the sound of each step reverberating off those smooth-cut walls. Various rooms and passages hooked off and away from the main hallway, and bleached light filtered down from the domed ceiling with a penetrating gaze. The floor’s cold acrylic took on various gray-blue shades as its numerous lines led the eye towards the Commander’s room at its farthest edge. Windows seemed like a distant memory in this underground level, but flickering monitors could be found in abundance as the corridor bloated in and out of itself at regular intervals. Fellow members passed the small entourage, fully clad in standardized, jet-black attire. It was all too familiar for him, leaving his mind to wander back into his isolated memories…

“…regained awareness of his environment?” mumbled a dull voice.

“Yes, it seems that way,” answered another faceless tone.

Harland’s vision blurred into a bleary amalgamation of melting colors; fuzzy lights and shadows moved around in front of him while stinging contrasts between fierce heat and burning cold punctured nerve endings all across his body.

“Why did his body react so violently to the substance?”

“It’s hard to say,” explained a deeper voice, “The structure of the pathogen seems to mutate according to changes in its environment… Perhaps that’s why we’ve achieved such different results with a few of our subjects.”

“But almost all our subjects have been human clones, so how could the results vary so much?”

“It would seem that even the slightest differences in their DNA trigger a response from the microorganism.”

“Yes. However, the mutation is often too dramatic for the host body… resulting in death…”

The voices droned on, their words practically meaningless to Harland’s ears as he lied there on the testing room’s icy floor. Shivering, he was finally starting to feel himself regaining some sense of what was happening around him.

“…It may also be a factor that most all of the subjects have been clones,” interrupted another voice, “The one subject that was not a clone, a little girl I believe, survived with only mild forms of seizures, whereas only five percent of the cloned subjects even survived the initial injection. Still less stabilized afterwards.”

“Yes, that could be, but I don’t believe that is conclusive enough evidence to assume…”


...The pair of staircases on either side of the hall receded past his vision as Harland drifted back to himself. Giant double-doors came up on the group, inscribed with the insignia of the Commander: two intertwined snakes. Each cobra stared the other down, glaring intently as if waiting for just the right moment to strike.

The Commander, the highest-ranked officer within the entire facility waited just beyond those doors.

****************



((OOC: Three Floors & Underground Level. Yeah, they're maps. Fancy, fancy. Anyhoothoot... Part V'll be up... if I feel like it, I guess. ))
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