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Stories Write a story to catch Pokemon. A Grader will then decide if it catches or not.


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  #16  
Old 12-24-2006, 10:35 AM
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Default AFAF // Part V: A Forgotten Dream

Thursday [15:46 GMT // 3:46 PM]
“Ugh…” Cole groaned as his eyelids slid open, revealing a pale blue ceiling. Grogginess clouded his vision as he scratched his head awake. Guh… came an unproductive thought, Yesterday was so crazy… I didn’t even get to sleep until around two… Even yesterday’s fatigue had not prevented him from staying up with Steven and Mr. Klandstein. Eh, I didn't wanna just leave 'em there with all that worry in their faces...

He took a deep breath along with a moment to look around the room he’d been given. A huge bed was probably enough to fit two or three more of him comfortably, and the silk-velvet sheets could’ve hatched eggs with their warmth. Thin curtains coated a pair of door-sized windows, apparently incapable of stopping the gleams of sunlight pouring through. Though, it was the flat screen television mounted on the far wall that really caught his attention. Snatching the remote from the oaken nightstand to his left, he turned it on.

White static filled the screen. Ah, figures… this place must have cable or satellite. The swarms of Ariados probably screwed up the reception. He flipped channels, looking for anything. Hm? queried a thought. None of the local networks either? They couldn’t have knocked out all the TV stations… Aren’t some of these channels broadcasting from Goldenrod or Olivine? Confusion crept into his face as the door to the hallway swung open.

“Oh, you’re awake.” It was Steven, stopping to look at Cole as he entered. “Here,” he said, tossing a familiar Pokéball at the other boy, “Your tree’s been fixed.” The slight smile on the young man’s face seemed a bit half-hearted. Bags under his eyes and ruffled hair suggested that he hadn’t gotten much sleep.

“Thanks.” Cole rolled out of bed to clip the ball to his belt, slung over the top of a suede chair.

“Sis’s gonna be fine,” Steven said, answering the question that was hiding behind Cole’s lips. He stood idly by the door, as if waiting.

“…That’s good,” he returned weakly, sliding off the checkered shirt he’d slept in.

“Yeah,” Steven agreed with a nod as he tapped his back against the side wall, “The doctors say she’ll be back to her old self in just a few hours.”

“Oh really?” A fresh white shirt slipped past his head, muffling the sound of his words. “I didn’t think she’d be able to recover so quickly, to tell ya the truth…” He turned around to look at his newest friend with a feeble grin. “Not that I’m disappointed or anything. She just seemed pretty shaken up is all.”

“Heh, I know what'cha mean. She’s stronger than she looks. It even surprises me sometimes.” His brow tipped up as he waved a hand with his voice. “It’s kinda strange, though. She can be pretty fragile, too.” The boy’s airy voice still held a hint of concern, despite his chosen words. “Sure makes my job as a brother more difficult.” An almost playful look crossed his face, but his eyes were left to wander about the room, staring blankly at a few different things until they came to rest on the snow-filled television screen. “I see you’re into the more educational shows…”

“Hm? Oh yeah. All the channels are like that.” He took up the remote again to flip through the endless array of static. “Any news about the sudden attacks?”

Steven’s hands wandered up behind his head. “Well, Pop said that pretty much the whole city’s been hit. Seems like things have quieted down since yesterday, but I don’t think anyone is completely at ease, know what I mean?”

“Any idea what caused all this?”

“Not really, just a bunch of a lame guesses. Some people seem to think they’ve all been drugged or possessed or something.” The young man took a moment to heave a small sigh. “Seems pretty dumb to me, but I guess after hearing some guy talking about how this is a ‘sign of the apocalypse,’ it doesn’t seem all that crazy…”

“Geez…” Cole mumbled, wrapping his belt around his waist to click the silver, lion-headed buckle into place, “Well, at least we made it here in one piece. Things might have ended badly if your father hadn’t shown up like that.”

“No kidding.”

“Hey, how’d he manage to find us, anyway?”

“Dunno,” Steven replied. “Guess it was just luck?” It wasn’t really a question, but he asked it like one.

“Hm,” was all Cole threw back, running a fist through a mess of hair.

“Does that bother you?”

“Eh, maybe I just don’t like the prospect of my life being the result of some kinda card game or somethin’…” Cole shook his head as he sat down in a cushioned chair.

“Heh,” the other boy chuckled, unfolding his arms, “So you prefer to think that it was like… fate? Maybe I just don’t like the prospect of my life being predetermined.”

“Ah... well that doesn’t sound all that great, either,” he returned with a slacking smirk, “Maybe a combination of the two would be better.”

“So Fate and Luck are two drinking buddies playin’ a few rounds of poker?” he laughed, “I think I like that better, too!”

“Well, I dunno if I want them to be drunk or not."

...And for a moment, a short, but altogether welcome moment, their worries seemed to disappear.

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

Thursday [17:43 GMT // 5:43 PM]
The gigantic skyscraper teemed with people, moving between different areas of the building, attending to various matters that had come up during this strange course of events. It seemed Klandstein Estate was one of only a few secure locations in the entire city. Word of shelter at the Ecruteak Gym and a few of the larger Pokémon Centers buzzed around, but there was still no indication of when it would be safe to move through the city again. It looked like things had quieted down a bit, yet phones and television were down, regardless of what their connections. Without any long distance communication, everyone was a little on edge, perhaps afraid that things would suddenly take a turn for the worse.

From the far wall, Cole looked across the familiar room towards the awoken girl. She still shivered involuntarily from time to time, but for the most part, Mabel seemed in good health. The vibrance that Cole recalled from their first meeting yesterday had returned to her eyes, filling the room with a welcomed relief.

Mrs. Klandstein had managed to join her husband and son this time, and even though her daughter was awake, that intensely worried expression never seemed to leave the older woman’s face. “Are you sure you’re feeling alright, dear? You don’t need anything else?” Apparently the dozen extra pillows and banquet of fresh-cooked food wouldn’t quell the mother’s concern. “More blankets, perhaps? Nurse! Bring my daughter more blankets!”

Despite her demanding tone and pinpoint sharpness, Cole could see she meant well. Not so different from my own mom, I guess. A nostalgic smirk crept onto his face as he listened.

“Really mother, I’m fine,” Mabel said, a look of part empathy and part irritation on her face. “I think I’ve had enough of this bed, actually. I slept for almost twenty hours, you know.”

“Well,” Steven broke in, “I wouldn’t really call it sleep…”

“Shut up,” she promptly replied, not even turning to look at her brother. Her gaze moved between her parents, hopeful. “I just want to get a little exercise to help me regain my strength. That’s all.”

“Ah, well…” Mr. Klandstein said reluctantly, “I suppose that makes sense…” His wife didn’t quite share the same opinion.

“No, it doesn’t make sense,” she said firmly, “You’re going to stay in bed, young lady. You’ve been through a very traumatizing experience, and you need your rest.”

“Aw, but mom…” Mabel tried.

“No buts!” she nearly yelled, folding her arms, “You need your rest!”

Everyone else seemed to sigh at once, probably figuring any counterargument was doomed to a merciless slaughter.

Mr. Klandstein cleared his throat before speaking. “Well, if your mother thinks it is necessary, then you should stay in bed, sweetheart.”

Cole tilted his head as he watched, finding it a bit strange that these two people, pristinely poised in their perfectly touched up business suits, were acting so… parentally. Such a wealthy family… I didn’t expect them to be so… close? He wasn’t quite sure how to word it, but whatever it was, it made for a soothing sight, softening the boy's face as he watched.

“…Alright,” Mabel relinquished, lying against the plethora of pillows behind her. She was clearly upset by the situation, but apparently her obedience to her parents still won her over. “I’ll just try to relax then…” She gave a dainty sigh, sinking deeper into the mattress as she clutched a spoonful of banana pudding.

“Hey Dad,” Steven chimed in with a new topic, pushing up on his thick lenses, “Ya gotta a job for me around here?” Everyone blinked at his unexpected question. “It’s just, things are gettin’ busy... so I figure I should probably do something to help out, right? And besides…” He paused for a moment to look around. “I’m kinda bored.”

A laugh broke out of his father’s mouth. “Oh, I’m sure I could find you something nice and interesting. With so many people that need to be taken care of, just about all of the facilities could benefit from another volunteer.” The gleam in the man’s eyes seemed to indicate an admiration of his son's proposal.

…Gah, Cole thought with a raised brow, Is this the definition of a perfect family or what? And when he noticed everyone looking at him expectantly, he hesitated before dragging out the words that he knew they wanted to hear. “Oh, and uh… I’d like to volunteer, too…” Aw, dang it… He stifled a sigh.

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

Thursday [23:56 GMT // 11:56 PM]
Sitting on the edge of his bed, Leon hunched forward, his elbows propped up on his knees. Harsh shades of darkness littered the room; he’d neglected to turn on the sickly pale light engraved into the ceiling, in favor of a small, gold-painted lantern at the foot of his bed. Somehow, it seemed more peaceful.

His bare hands caressed the edge of the shimmering blade he’d picked up the day before, eyes filled with a far off sense of remembrance…

…The outer-locked door burst open, swinging violently into the small room. “What the hell’s the problem in here?!” exploded the voice of a severely upset man, “Why haven’t you taken a test subject to the lab yet!?” A single set of bunk beds crowded the tiny wall opposite the only means of entry into the room.

“It’s these two boys, sir!” said a frustrated man in a white coat. He pulled vigorously at the ankles of a small child who clung desperately to an almost perfect reflection of himself. “They just won’t let go of one another!”

“Idiots!” shouted the burly man, “They’re just little kids! How much trouble could they possibly give you!?” The man seemed incapable of lowering his voice. “Come here, ya little brat!” Thrusting a heavy arm on the small child, he pulled backwards with enough force to tear both boys from the bottom bunk. “Let go, already!”

The pair of boys tumbled back, slamming next to the only door, yet neither of them released his hold on the other; if anything, their grips only tightened all the more. They clung to each with such desperation that it seemed as if they were physically inseparable. And looking at the likeness between their tear-streaked faces, it almost seemed like there was only one of them sitting there, his arms wrapped around himself. Identical twins, always together.

The large man growled. “We’ll just take both of them, then! There’s no point wasting any more time here!” Bulging veins sprouted from his neck and forehead as he stepped closer, scooping them in his massive arms to take them away from the room…


…Leon’s face faltered behind that white mask. I… he… He hated this calm before the mission. Time's like this always stirred up some of his worst memories, but some were still more painful than others. A stinging shiver fell down his spine as he tried not to think about it any further…

"...Leon…” Even the small boy’s whisper could hardly keep from cracking. “Leon… d-don’t…” Harsh light shone down from the ceiling, making his face look even sicklier than it already was. “…D-do-don’t-t…” His eyes were darting between the different extremes, as if trying to see everything around him at the same time.

It was like looking into his very own death. His brother trembled within his arms, rejecting the vile substance that those 'scientists' had given them. And as he held his shivering twin, staring through the water flooding his eyes, Leon could not curb the fear spreading through his mind. Unable to force anything but an inaudible groan from his mouth, he only watched his brother there, dying right in front of him. Terrible thoughts plagued his mind, tearing at his chest with conceited wonderment.
…Am I… going to be alone?

“Bruh-brugh-broth-er…” the boy coughed out, still desperately trying to say something, “…D-don’t… l-le-lea…” That horrible shaking only grew more violent through his choking words, shoving clots of red past his twitching lips.

And yet, Leon could do naught but stare.

His brother's eyes, listless and emptied, cried with the lifeblood of his heart...


“…Hey.” A woman’s voice pulled him back. It was Alexandra, standing there in the doorway. “It’s time to go. Our mission starts now.”

******************
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Crud in a handbasket! T_T
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  #17  
Old 01-27-2007, 11:28 PM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

((OOC: Hope you enjoy the story. ))

Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

Friday [01:22 GMT // 1:22 AM]

Cole sighed, opening his eyes and sitting up in the middle of his huge mattress. He’d been trying to get to sleep for nearly two hours now, but his mind seemed too active. I guess that’s what I get for waking up so late… It was a bit strange, though. His body felt a bit tired, yet thoughts wouldn’t stop buzzing through his head. I wonder if that means I exercise my body more than my brain… He quirked an eyebrow through the darkness. Bah, I don’t wanna think about it. Ignoring the irony he sensed somewhere in there, Cole rolled out of bed, feeling as though he needed to do something else before trying to sleep again.

It had been a busy day, especially since ‘volunteering’ to help maintain things around the estate. He’d mainly been serving food and busing tables in the cafeteria, as Mr. Klandstein had suggested, but even through all the toilsome activities of the day, Cole felt vaguely preoccupied. As if he had forgotten something that he shouldn’t have, leaving his mind ill at ease until he could remember.

He slipped his belt on, having resolved to never leave without his Pokémon, even if he didn’t think he would need them. I have the past three days to thank for that, remarked a wry thought. Even if it was just paranoia, Cole wasn’t about to consider doing otherwise. Am I afraid of the dark now, too? jabbed another thought. He shook his head, trying to clear it of anymore irritating accusations as he left the room.

For a while, he only let his bare feet carry him forward, not really bothering to think where he might be going. Vacant eyes gazed around, never locking onto any one thing for very long. When it came down to it, he could feel a stark inadequacy boiling his in his chest, trying to send him a message he couldn’t quite decipher. Almost like he felt out of place in this huge building, but at the same time, that didn’t exactly cover it. Have you already given up, you bastard? asked a harsh flicker. Already stopped caring about what’s happened? He blinked, searching for the source of these cruel words. What about V- Another voice broke through, pushing his current turmoil to the backseat.

“Cole, you okay, man?” Steven’s voice said.

“Huh?” he fumbled, taking in the other boy’s appearance, “Ah… yeah, I’m fine.”

Standing there with his slender arms folded, Steven peered at Cole, a bit of concerned wonderment behind his heavy glasses. “This hall is a circle, you know. You’ve rounded it three times now. I was beginning the to think you were sleepwalking.” That familiar smirk slipped into the young man’s face again, illustrating his amusement.

“Oh, ah…” Cole's eyes grasped for what had just happened. “I was just… walking.” Quirking an eyebrow, he looked more directly at his friend. “What’re you doing around here? Isn’t it like two a.m.?”

“Quarter ‘til,” Steven corrected without even looking at the watch on his wrist, “And I couldn’t sleep, so I was gonna go check on sis. I spotted you, lookin’ like a zombie, so I followed you.”

“But why did you come through this hall? Isn’t your room up on the nine hundredth floor or somethin’ like that?” He smirked at his own lame exaggeration.

“Dude, my room’s right over there." The young man pointed at the door across the hall from Cole's guest room.

“…Oh.” He scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

“You seem kinda out of it…” Steven remarked with a tilt of his head. “Wanna come check on sis with me?”

Cole shrugged. "Sure."

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

Friday [01:49 GMT // 1:49 AM]
A weighted night covered the stars with utter blackness, melting three silhouettes into darkness as they arrived at the rear of Klandstein Estate. They had abandoned their motorcycles several blocks back, not wanting to alert anyone to their presence. The streets were devoid of life, yet vehicles stood in the middle of the road, locked bumper to bumper in what seemed a never-ending traffic jam. A few faint lights dotted some of the towering structures here and there, but they paled in comparison to what downtown Ecruteak used to be. Leon could practically taste the tension in the air.

“Which way?” came Harland’s hushed voice. Even his white mask was hardly visible against the beating dark.

“Security cameras should not spot us if we climb over the wall from here,” Alexandra said, “After which, we will proceed to basement level five, where the target is.” Her teammates only nodded in confirmation.

The wall was no obstacle. Short, metal claws concealed in their palms allowed them to scale the burdensome stone with a seasoned ease, leaving them to dart over the shadowed grass as soon as their silent boots hit the ground again.

Eyes scanning tentatively, Leon touched the hilt of his sword unconsciously. It clung to his back, inside a makeshift scabbard that he’d constructed himself. Of course, it was jet black, just like most of his gear, but he'd managed to add a more polished gleam to it.

Security was tight, as expected. Numerous night hands patrolled the property like clockwork, hardly leaving any gaps for the trio to exploit. But then again, just one small opening was all they needed; as a heavyset guard rounded a far corner of the building, the small team took advantage of those precious invisible moments. Their target entrance had no outer handles for them to use, but it wouldn’t make a difference.

Alexandra palm slid up against the heavy, metallic door, held perfectly flat for a moment, and then quickly jerked clockwise, pulling a dulled clinking sound from the lock. They were inside the building.

Pale light washed over their dark figures, trying to alleviate the Night that still clung to them. Bleached tiles coated the floor, so even the team’s featherweight boots were forced to make a little more noise than desired. Things felt a bit less certain in here, Leon found. If push came to shove, this compact hallway could prove troublesome. And as they pressed on towards those double doors, the approaching sound of footsteps reverberated across the marbled floor…

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

Friday [01:53 GMT // 1:53 AM]
“Why’d we come up to the roof?” Cole inquired as the elevator doors opened. It certainly wasn’t an average rooftop, by any means, but he still found it a bit odd that Steven’s sister would be hanging around up here in the middle of the night.

“I said we were gonna check on sis, didn’t I?” Steven replied, walking through the open doors nonchalantly.

“Yeah…” Hesitantly, Cole peered around. Aside from a few cobblestone footpaths that branched away from the elevator, the ground was covered in grass, giving it more of a relaxed, outdoorsy feel. Great trees littered the area, their heavy leaves rustling against a nightly breeze, providing unnecessary shade from a few large lamps poking out of the ground like dulled spikes. Various Pokémon lingered around, most sleeping peacefully.

“How ya feelin’ sis?” Steven threw over to the far border of the roof where Mabel stood, looking over the edge with a number of different monsters hanging around her. Mr. Klandstein stood with her, apparently checking on his daughter as well.

“Fine,” she said airily, seeming preoccupied with something else. “At least I finally managed to get away from that bed…”

“Your mother would bite my head off if she knew you were up here, sweetie,” Mr. Klandstein remarked, still carrying a glint of worry in his olive-colored eyes.

Mabel only smiled lightly at her father’s words as she stroked the brown feathers of a large bird perched on the ledge next to her. Standing at around four feet, the avian creature retained a few long, colorful feathers striping down the length of its back, as well as enormous, segmenting talons with which it kept its balance. Its wide wings were pulled in against its body, but Cole imagined that it must’ve been able to carry a human person with relative ease given the sight of the thing.

Wow, he marveled to himself, So this is what those tiny little Pidgey evolve into? Walking towards Mabel, Cole found a morsel of contentment as he took a moment to daydream about having a Pidgeot for himself. It’d sure make traveling a lot easier… A slight smile passed his lips as he looked off towards a murky night.

Buildings rose up in all directions, but hardly any lights broke through the darkness that had overtaken the city. Things seemed strangely disorienting as he gazed out, almost as if the world itself was confused, as if the land that he saw laid out before him was unsure of itself. The light fog roiling around the streets below danced to some delirious beat, undaunted by its newest onlooker. It was a bit disconcerting, he realized after a moment, as if monstrous fiends had taken over the city… so he turned his attention back to the people standing around him.

“…I’m a little bored,” Mabel blurted out, putting a hand to her mouth to cover a yawn. “Isn’t there anything interesting to do around here?”

She’s… kinda weird, Cole thought as he looked at her, standing there in what he guessed were clothes she wouldn’t exactly call ‘fashionable’. A plain white shirt and gray sweatpants summed up the entirety of her garments, but even through the casual dress, she still seemed to have a certain kind of clarity to her. Perhaps it was the way she still managed to put on makeup despite her vulnerable position or perhaps it was simply the way she stood there, slouching yet somehow poised, but something lifted her above that drab attire. I guess it’s not so shocking, though, he mused to himself, Steven mentioned she takes part in beauty pageants all the time, so appearance must be important to her. When he realized she was staring right back at him, Cole choked back his surprise, trying to keep his face from flushing.

“…Something on your mind?” Mabel asked, tilting her head at him.

All things considered, she didn’t really strike him as the type of person who would be very interested in what he was thinking. Guess she really is bored… “Um,” he started, wondering if there was any kind of tangible conversation to be scrounged from his wandering head, “You were coming from Goldenrod when we first ran into each other, right?”

“Yeah,” she confirmed, “I had a photo shoot and Steven had some science-thing.”

…’Some science-thing’? Cole thought, …She’s not one of those typical blonde-types, is she? He didn’t let his mouth follow his mind. “While you were in Goldenrod, did you happen to here about an outbreak of Seviper in the park?” His eyes turned back to the Pidgeot as it stood there, half asleep on the ledge of the building.

“Outbreak? I don’t think so…” She peered back at him, apparently letting curiosity get the better of her. “Why do you ask?”

But Steven chimed in before Cole could respond. “Wait, I remember hearing ‘bout something like that before I left the convention…”

Cole looked over at the young man, finding him sitting cross-legged on the grass, a hand resting on a fairly large, deeply blue mound of gently rising and falling breaths. It was an exoskeleton, he realized after a moment of watching the subtle shimmer from nearby lamps, and the entirety of the creature seemed to take on the form of a hefty stag beetle, indicated so by a long, curved horn jutting out from just above a pair closed eyes. A Heracross, isn’t it? Never seen one ‘a those before either… He ignored the urge to whip out his Pokédex for confirmation, wanting to focus on the topic at hand… and… maybe he didn’t want to feel like such a geek in front of these people.

“Yeah,” Steven continued after a moment, “There was some kinda commotion goin’ on as we were leaving. We didn’t have time to stick around, though, so I never found out what was going on exactly.”

“Well,” Cole began again, letting his back tap up against the stony ledge, “I experienced a bit of the outbreak first hand.”

“Oh yeah?” Mabel nudged.

“Yeah, but like you guys, I didn’t exactly stick around to find out the details.” At their inquiring eyes, he stuck a thumb at his chest. “Not a big fan of snakes.”

“Hm,” interjected a previously quiet father, “So Ecruteak isn’t the only experiencing problems with wild Pokémon.” He paused to run a few fingers through his graying beard, a thoughtful glimmer behind those silver-trimmed glasses. “I have to admit… that information is a bit unsettling.”

“The swarm in Goldenrod didn’t seem nearly as bad as the one here,” Cole explained, “but I guess it could’ve been a lot worse than what I saw.”

“It’s weird enough that it happened in once place, but two?” Steven remarked, eyes glazing through the grassy patch in front of him. “Obviously, there’s gotta be a connection somewhere…”

“Yeah, but what kind of connection?” Mabel asked. “Do we even have a clue about what actually happened?”

“It’s not like this sort of thing happens all the time…” Cole looked across their confused faces, each of them staring off in a different direction. “We don’t really have enough information to do anything but guess.”

“Well, what do we know, exactly?” asked Mr. Klandstein, an uncannily business-like expression built into his face as he stared back at Cole. “It may seem like we don’t have all that much information at our disposal, but try to look at all the facts.”

“…Facts like what?” Cole queried the older gentleman, quirking an eyebrow.

Steven answered first. “You just gave us a pretty juicy bit of information there, buddy. Look for any correlations between what happened in Goldenrod and what happened in Ecruteak. For instance, both places were hit with poison-type monsters, right?”

“Yeah…” Cole agreed, unsure of what difference it made.

“And,” Mr. Klandstein continued his son’s thought, “Both swarms consisted of different, but still one particular Pokémon. A swarm of Seviper and a swarm of Ariados.”

“What difference does that make?” Cole asked, only starting to feel more confused by their logic.
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 02:21 AM. Reason: Dood, you totally missed out. I changed EVERYTHING.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:56 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

“It’s strange that each group had only one specific monster,” Steven assessed, pulling his hands back behind his head as he lied down on the grass, “Wild swarms should have multiple Pokémon in them… like instead of purely Ariados, it would’ve made more sense if there were some Spinarak or Stantler or some other monster indigenous to the areas around Ecruteak.”

Mabel spoke up before the youngest boy could, “So they weren’t really wild, then?”

“Maybe,” Steven continued, “But it seems pretty unlikely that anyone would bother gathering so many of the exact same Pokémon together. It seems more likely that something happened that managed to agitate only one kind of monster…”

“Ah,” Mr. Klandstein breathed, smiling lightly at his son’s astuteness, “That would make sense. However, if it was really something that could only irritate Ariados or only Seviper, then that would imply that the two outbreaks are not connected very much, if at all.”

“Hm, you’ve got a point…” Steven’s bottom lip pushed up a little as the thought further. “I guess that’s what makes this all seem so strange. Each case is just odd enough to seem like something unnatural caused it, but the two of them together are just different enough to look like their causes would be similar, but not the same…” His own logic seemed to irritate him. “Of course, if each case was just a natural phenomena, then it’s extremely unlikely for two of them to have occurred in the same day, especially so close to one another…”

“Um…” Cole tried to say, but Steven continued with something a little more tangible.

“In other words,” said the older boy, “Whoever is responsible for this tried to make it look like an accident... But it’s still not really that simple.” Uncertainty laced his voice as he stared up at the black sea above, perhaps wishing there was a moon for his eyes to grasp on to. “I think… I think they wanted it to look like an accident, but… whatever they were doing made that difficult. There are still too many signs of artificial intervention for it to be seen as just a natural accident…”

“…Ya lost me again,” Cole informed the other boy. Geez, this guy’s way different when he really starts to think…

“He means,” Mabel began to explain in a very matter-of-fact tone, “That someone wanted to make it look like an accident, but they didn’t do a very good job. Probably because what they were doing was too difficult to hide correctly… maybe unstable or something like that.”

Guess she’s not so ditzy after all… His brow depressed as he looked at the family of problem solvers, trying not to feel like the odd man out again.

“Well,” Mr. Klandstein started, “Staying up all night won’t do for the day ahead, so I think we had all best head for bed about now. And besides, I should get back to the bedroom before your mother notices I’m not there.”

The man’s voice was so polite that Cole could scarcely imagine disagreeing with it, even though the girl next to him still seemed wide awake with that contemplative expression disrupting her quaint features. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea…” he mumbled, pulling himself away from his position against the ledge.

Steven nodded, standing up and brushing himself off. “C’mon sis, I’ll walk ya back to your room.”

“…Alright,” she relinquished, permitting herself to walk back towards the elevator with her brother following closely by her side.

A gripping wind picked up, catching Cole by surprise for a second as he watched them walk away from him, slowed to a crawl in a moment of confused apprehension. He blinked away the fleeting sensation to shuffle in behind the siblings. “I’ll go too.”

***********Earlier*************

Friday [00:35 GMT // 12:35 AM]
Toc, Captain of the Third Division, yawned against the stale lights illuminating the hallway. Why do I have to be up so late? he asked himself, still trying to shake the glaze out of his hidden eyes. A hand rubbed behind the thin pair of shades that he always wore as he passed through to the Commander’s Office, hardly even alert enough to notice his superior standing just a few feet away. As usual, the boss-man wore shadows like a blanket, emanating only a few outlines of his robust figure. How does this guy ever get anything done with such poor lighting...?

“Ah, Captain Toc, I’ve been waiting for you,” came that familiar, almost growling voice. The man always sounded contemptuous for some reason, even if he was handing out a compliment. A hesitant pause begged a question about Toc’s sunglasses. “…Is my office still too bright for you?”

“Oh, no…” the Captain started, “I have sensitive eyes.” It was strange to hear the Commander trail off-topic, but Toc wasn’t about to go into the real explanation. “What’d ya wanna talk about, anyway? You know how much I like my beauty sleep,” he went on, riddled with girlish sarcasm. As usual, he didn’t bother with the formalities that most other people did. Perhaps it would get him in trouble one day, but Toc wasn’t much for adhering to such trivialities. And besides, he was a Captain, so he figured he could get away with it.

“The Strike Team is being relocated.”

Toc blinked, suddenly finding himself awake. “What? Why?” It was hardly the news he had expected, especially for such an awkward time.

“Orders from Headquarters,” the man explained flatly. “Of the six members stationed here, three are to be transferred to HQ.”

“”I see,” Toc commented, a little taken aback. He didn't enjoy getting caught off guard, especially by someone like the Commander. He couldn't lose his head around this guy. “So... why're you tellin' me?” he asked carefully.

“You, Captain Toc, are to accompany them.”

Suppressing a confident smirk, he folded his arms, looking intently back at the other man. …It’s finally time, eh? Things could really heat up if I’m not cautious... “Which three will I be traveling with?”

“Daxter, Cynthia and Felicia,” the Commander told him.

Toc had to keep himself from sighing in disappointment. So Leo and I’ll be going our separate ways. He wasn’t quite sure what he should be feeling at the moment, since he was suddenly one giant step closer to achieving his goal. It made him wonder if actually befriending someone in this place would eventually come back to bite him… “When do we leave?“

“Immediately,” came the harsh answer. “You should be ready within the hour.”

The Captain couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow. Yeesh, that seems a little unreasonable. He only nodded to confirm the order as he turned to leave, but as he neared the door, he threw a few last words over his shoulder, “Say goodbye to Leo for me, won'tcha?” However, the Commander’s answer stopped Toc in his tracks.

“I’m afraid it’s a bit late for that, Captain.” A cold malice seemed to permeate the very air of that enigmatic room.

Slowly turning around, Toc eyed the executive officer uncertainly. “What do you mean?”

Leo,” the man started to explain, twisting Toc’s use of the nickname, “Has already been given his last mission.”

“…'His last mission'?” Toc said, furrowing his brow with unsavory discomfort. He better not be referring to what I think he is, struck an irritated chord.

“Like I said before, only three of the six Strike Members stationed here will be transferred to HQ.” A cruel pause stole precious seconds from the waiting captain. “The other three are to be eliminated.”

…Dammit.

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

Friday [02:00 GMT // 2:00 AM]
The hallway doors slipped open, revealing a white-clad doctor-type. But the man’s expression said this was strictly business, unfazed by what should’ve been perceived as three unwelcome intruders. His sharp face was anything but comforting, which must’ve been unpleasant for any patients that ever had the fortune of falling under his care. The doctor’s mouth explained.

“The infiltration team, I presume.” It might have been a question, but his voice left no room for a response. “I am your assistant for this mission. Follow me.” And with that, he turned right around to walk straight back through those heavy double doors.

The team proceeded as a matter of course, and even though they had been briefed on the situation beforehand, Leon couldn’t quite bring himself to place the entirety of his trust in this particular individual. Perhaps it was the eyes, weighing and measuring everything they fell upon from behind those wide lenses, but he couldn’t peel his own gaze away from the guy, a certain kind of wonderment tickling the back of his head.

Everyone was unnervingly silent, letting only their muffled footsteps echo off the heavy concrete floors as the passed through a packed garage, moving in between various vehicles that barred their path to what only looked to be an elevator.

Suspicion rifled through his mind as Leon peered up at the tubular glass. Why are we using an elevator? There are too many cameras this way… A glance at his comrades revealed nothing, and even though he would’ve liked to attribute that solely to the masks they wore, he couldn’t help but get the feeling they weren’t nearly as ill-contented with these circumstances as he. But he kept his thoughts to himself, following as quietly as the other two. The doctor’s twisting key triggered closing doors, and the slow sinking downward felt as if Leon were abandoning any logical reasoning he had previously likened to.

Elevator music. Strangely ominous for such a humble tune. Even the receding doors seemed sluggish against the edge in the air.

“Basement Level Five,” the leading white coat threw back as he walked forward again, taking them into a wide room, its corners stuffed with sterile-white machinery and equipment. Thick curtains were drawn within the windows lining every wall, begging the question as to what could possibly lie beyond. Bleached linoleum amplified the sounds their footsteps as they moved toward the center of the room, toward what seemed to be the largest machine yet. “This is where some of the most highly classified experiments take place.” The man’s tone grew an inkling of twisted enthusiasm as he explained. “But this-” he laid a hand on the huge apparatus mounted in front of him “-this beauty here… this is the goal of your mission.”

The gigantic contraption dug into the floor with what must’ve been a kind of bulky, metallic stage that housed whatever show performed there. Various little lights glowed in and out of sync, and a bloated fiberglass cylinder served as a window into the main event, leading straight up to mechanical plates and wiring, pulling heavy half-pipes down to the side like some kind of awkward rocket ship. The utmost tip retained a pointy red bulb, dimly flashing every now and again. All in all, it almost looked like an oversized baby bottle, with an admittedly more intimidating veneer. Though, the only thing held within its confines at the moment was a lone Pokéball, small and unassuming in its slightly tilted posture as it sat there, waiting.

Leon's eyes outlined the small sphere, its red-white sheen glistening against pale light from the high ceiling. He suddenly found himself wondering what it would be like to have a Pokémon of his very own… He had never been allowed to keep a partner for longer than a single assignment, so even though his pupils stared at the contracted ball ahead, his mind was more focused on the one hiding behind his vest. I still haven't gotten a chance to find out what's inside this thing… Looking around at his present situation, surrounded by people who would surely expose his secret should they ever learn of it, he started to wonder if he would ever get that chance.

“Ah, but first,” the doctor started up again, tapping a pair of fingers against his forehead as if just remembering something, “I need to go down to the laboratory below to unlock the layers upon layers of security around this machine. If one of you would accompany me, please…” He didn’t even glance at them as he started for the narrow spiral staircase on the other end of the room.

“Leon, you go,” Alexandra ordered, gazing at the peculiar little sphere resting within that glass cylinder.

He followed the nameless medicine man, remaining as silent as always. A glimpse at the lingering Harland returned him a cheesy thumbs-up, making Leon wonder how lightly the other man could really be taking this whole situation.

As he proceeded down the twisting staircase, he noticed the area around him dim away from the stale lighting of the prior room, receding into a vast room with a much lower ceiling. Computers booted up all around him, the grind and whir of mechanical energy taking presence in the abiding air as he turned towards the sharp-eyed man standing in front of a huge screen.

“Quite a set up we have here, don’t you think?” the doctor said with what sounded like a hint of grotesque marvel.

“…Yeah,” was all he said, letting his eyes wander past all the buzzing metal and flickering lights. You idiot, interrupted a struggling thought. He wasn’t really referring to these computers, was he? You sensed it a long time ago, but you were just too stupid to do anything about it! He blinked, suddenly recognizing this feeling of malice stirring in his mind. But as his eyes widened, staring at the man in white, he knew it was far too late.

“Well then,” the doctor began slowly, “Shall we get started with the main event?” His palm smacked against the huge keyboard, and a red light flashed throughout the laboratory, beating in and out with an alerting rhythm. “That should open the cage for your little friends.” An abominable grin pierced the man’s face as he gradually turned around to face Leon.

“What have you done?” he growled, unable to keep the demanding tone from his voice.

“Oh, that was just the silent alarm,” the doctor explained. “I must’ve accidentally triggered it while releasing the locks…” The cruel delight in his face indicated otherwise. “Security will be here within minutes… Oops.”

*************************
__________________
MEH.

Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 12:09 AM. Reason: Sheezus...
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  #19  
Old 02-19-2007, 06:50 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

((OOC: Warning. Important plot developments ahead. ))

Friday [00:43 GMT // 12:43 AM]
Standing there, holding steadily against the encompassing shadows, Captain Toc could only stare at his commander, unsure of what he should be thinking. Leo… he’s been betrayed again? A glazed distance fell over those concealed eyes. That kid’s whole life has been one long series of agonizing abandonment… and it’s only now, when I might actually be able to help the guy, that I’m told I’ll be able to get inside their HQ? He didn’t know if it was really a question or not, but the timing seemed to fit. After all, it had been just over two years since he first infiltrated the organization for the federal police, intending to discover the identity of the person who was really pulling all the strings here. Of course, even the Commander in front of him was only a pawn to the mastermind at headquarters, so Toc had been spending all of his time trying to get himself transferred. But now that it had happened, the captain suddenly found a hesitant depression in the back of his mind. So it comes down to a decision between finishing my mission... my mission that could lead to the disbandment of this freakin' place… or saving Leo's life... He squinted, looking for some kind of indication of the better choice, but nothing seemed to present itself.

“What’s the matter, Captain?” came the other man’s harsh voice, riddled with what sounded like a knowing tone. “Was this news truly such a surprise to you, my friend?”

Hold on, broke in another thought, There’s too much at stake here to just decide on a whim… If Leo's already dead, then… He didn’t finish the thought, letting professionalism bolt those writhing emotions behind his face. “You’ve already done away with them, eh?” He could barely keep the shake out of his voice.

“They are on their way to assist one of our good doctors with a data retrieval mission.” The man seemed almost proud his deed, perhaps thinking it much cleverer than mere execution.

A doctor, Toc sighed inside his head. Or in other words… an assassin. In this place, they were one in the same. Anyone with extensive medical knowledge who chose to work for such an organization would prove to be nothing less. “That’s not like you, Commander,” remarked Toc’s façade. “Such a roundabout way of ‘eliminating’ someone only runs you a greater risk of failure. Usually you try to be more efficient than that.”

The man’s abrasive tone hesitated before responding. “…Just what are you implying?”

“Maybe it’s nothing,” Toc said, emphasizing the nonchalance in his expression, “But then again, I guess even someone like you can’t completely ignore your parental instincts…”

A flicker in the other man’s composure. “This method is more efficient. It hastens the retrieval of the Alpha data from Klandstein Co. and complies with the order from Headquarters. Two birds with one stone, as they say.”

Whoa, Toc thought, vaguely tilting his head. That was a bigger slip than I expected… Must’ve really hit the nail on the head… But even though he’d gotten the information that he wanted, he had to consciously keep the disgust out of his face. I hate mind games… They always make me feel dirty…

“Though, I suppose it does not matter anymore,” the administrating man stated with what might’ve been relief. “Knowing that doctor the way I do, the mission won’t last much longer.”

For a moment, the Captain didn’t say anything; he only watched the man before him, wondering if such a person as this could really still feel remorse over sending his own daughter to her death.

“Welp,” Toc started up again, brushing imaginary dust from his raven-colored trench coat, “I guess I better get packin’, then.” He turned to leave. “See ya later… sir.”

As he left the strangling darkness behind once again, Toc tried to piece his puzzle together. Legs locked into autopilot, the reflective echo of his work boots against heavy acrylic tile pulled the Captain’s mind away from the walk back to his room. Klandstein Company. That’s in Ecruteak. Two hours away, maybe close to one if I hurry. I could access the watchmen logs from the computer in my room to find out when they left the base and give me a better idea of how much time I've really got...

He passed dozens of other black-clad people, yet paid them no mind at all as he ran through various scenarios in his head, trying to think of a way out of the base that wouldn't result in violence. I can't just leave, he reminded himself as he neared the door to his quarters. Lepton is still locked in a holding cell... He froze, hand hovering next to the 'open door' button engraved into the wall as he remembered his new partner, Sergeant Jack Lepton, the same man who infiltrated the base just the other day and let Toc capture him. If I tell Jack that I'm abandoning the mission... He didn't finish the thought, knowing full well that his partner would disapprove. And it was at that moment that Toc began to really think about what it was that he was doing.

'Abandoning the mission'? he repeated in his head, unable to shake the distaste clinging to it. Two years of work just... gone? I can't do that, can I? The slew of questions disturbed his resolve as he punched the button on the wall and entered the small chamber. Suddenly, he felt strangely out of place, as if it wasn't really his room at all. As if the simplistic bed, the sturdy metal desk, the flickering computer screen, the light oaken nightstand, the pair of crystalline lamps, the glass showcase of guns, all the things he'd grown accustomed to seeing these past two years; none of it was his. Not at the moment, anyway. Right now, he wasn’t Captain Toc of the Third Division; he was Lieutenant Scott Manning, Leader of the Syndicate Infiltration Unit. It seemed like a lifetime since he carried that identity openly, and now that he finally found some real progress being made with the assignment, he began to wonder if his duty as a federal agent would keep him from going to the aid of… An enemy? he asked himself. Leo’s one of the bad guys, after all… It didn’t really help soothe his mind. He just couldn’t shake the feeling that the guy had been victimized through everything that had happened…

He sat down at the computer monitor, touching the silver mouse to rouse the machine from its screensaver. Accessing the watchmen logs would be a simple matter given his Captain’s authority, and as he waited for the system to process his request, waiting under those lights that he had neglected to turn on, in the middle of that pressing darkness, he realized what he would have to do. The data popped up on the screen, reading:
//00:06 – Strike Team B leaving the base//
Hollow eyes traced over the data, but it didn’t matter anymore. I could get there in time, but… I just can’t… Cursing under his breath, he smacked the power button and stood up to start gathering his things. It’s too important to just throw away on a whim… But for a moment, he wasn’t sure what he was referring to.

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

Friday [02:19 GMT // 2:19 AM]
The tiny bulb seated atop the cylindrical mechanism cast a crimson light across the area. Harland looked on as a dull growl pulled the large object to life, a kind of rhythmic beating of pipes echoing through the enormous chamber with increasing fervor. Searing white steam spewed forth, quickly hiding the entire ceiling from view as it gradually became a sort of billowing fog, swirling around the room with a sluggish ease. At once, it felt as if some kind of phantom had consumed the place, perhaps just trying to conceal its presence with this blood-soaked mist…

A dull clinking sound started up as the wide fiberglass began retreating down into the bottom half of the machine, reluctantly revealing the small Pokéball held within. Tilting his head, Harland eyed the small sphere being released from captivity. Now that the glass was gone, it looked as if the upper part of the machine was simply floating there, making him squint with a quizzical glint in his eyes. At a closer inspection, he noticed two pairs of slender poles anchoring the thing into the ceiling. That’s an odd way to build a machine… came a timid thought as he watched Alexandra step forward to finally take the sphere into custody. But then she stopped, halfway there.

Abruptly, the miniature ball bloated out to normal size, making Harland’s eyes widen as it burst open with a dangerously red aura. “What the hell?!” he heard himself yell against the accumulating figure of a flying beast. Impossible! It opened on its own! His fevered eyes turned down to the ball once again, but to his dismay, it was being pulled beneath the metallic surface of the device. Damn, it was connected to the machine this whole time…? The hardened form an ancient monster melted into his vision, spreading its heavy violet-gray wings with a curdling cry. …So this was a trap, he finally surmised to himself, staring irately through his mask.

The creature’s shearing teeth stuck out of its elongated mouth like daggers, a menacing warning of things to come. Its snaking tail seemed unfairly large, given the way its spear-like tip whipped around so wildly. Rocky leather coated its body with differing shades of dark gray, and the tiny pair of bony protrusions from its head almost seemed a crown of sorts, perhaps in declaration of its own supremacy. Vicious claws twitched with anxiety as its massive wings beat at the encircling fog, but the most unsettling feature of this prehistoric monster was the wild shimmer in its crimson eyes. A deep, ancient instinct all but forgotten in the passage of time: bloodlust. A pure, unassailable impulse, driven only by the most elemental of emotions.

“…Aerodactyl,” came Alexandra’s whisper, unable to keep the shock from her voice. “One of the most aggressive creatures from the ancient world…”

“…Fantastic,” Harland groaned, eyes glued to the flying beast. No way we’ll get out of here without alerting the security team. Not with this thing making such a huge ruckus, anyway… Annoyance gripped his face while he took a moment to tap a pair of fingers against each wrist. “I’m gonna kill that doc-bastard…” He stretched out his hands, fully extending his fingers, and then contracted them as a low hum rose from his charcoal gloves, indicating that an electric current had successfully been established. Guess there's no time to play around today… A fist formed out of his right hand, bolts of static jumping between the fibers of his glove. Though, it was difficult to keep it perfectly stable, as he knew it would be. With such a strong fluctuation of energy coursing through to his fingertips, he couldn’t maintain complete control over his hand movements. They shook involuntarily with slight spasms, but it didn’t hurt. Nothing ever did.

Alexandra stepped closer, explaining the gist of the plan, “Try to keep it alive. I’ll break into the machine and retrieve the Pokéball so we can re-capture it.” Her flat-mouthed mask seemed just as lifeless as her words.

“Ugh, are you kiddin’ me?” he complained, keeping his gaze steadily on the frantic monster's flapping wings. “That doctor sicked this thing on us. The guy that we were supposed to help turned on us, so the whole mission is void, now.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she told him, “We can finish the mission without him.”

“Gah…” he muttered back at her, thankful that Aerodactyl seemed too confused by all the steam to notice them. "Guess I'm the distraction, eh?"

"I'll break into the machine so we can just call it back to its ball again," she told him, "Just buy me enough time."

"Fine," he sniffed back at her, rubbing his gloves together in spite of his words. At least I'll finally see some action...

“And don’t go crazy with your electricity,” she warned.

Harland flicked a disgruntled stare at her. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, “I don’t feel pain, anymore, remember?” I suppose I've got another doctor to thank for that…

“Yes, I know,” she went on, “You have no pain receptors, but that is still several thousand volts. A strong current could cause the rest of your body to spasm, if it ever gets past your hands. And just because you can't feel the pain doesn't mean it isn't damaging to you.”

If he hadn’t known better, he might have thought she was worried about him. “Meh, whatever,” he threw over his shoulder, darting forward to engage his opponent directly. I’d welcome any kind of feeling…

Mid-run, he ducked low, aiming to use the misty whirlwind to his advantage, but Aerodactyl caught sight of him before he could get close enough, and swooped down, thrusting its head forward to snap at him with its serrating teeth. He leapt to the side, just out of its mouth’s reach, and hooked his arm around a monstrous wing, digging in for a better grip against its flailing movement. Aerodactyl shrieked and twisted around as piercing bolts rushed through its body, making it all the more difficult for him to keep a strong hold. The monster swirled wildly, trying to cast him off amidst the turbulent fog streaming by its hardened face, then cut a path straight upward, sending Harland’s grip falling down its side. As soon as his hands released the resurrected creature, it seemed to flinch back to itself, still fending off the last surges in its body, but when its tail lashed around, Harland managed to catch a fresh hold of the creature, pushing it back into a frantic spiral.

Grasping its triangular tail as best he could with his jittering hands, Harland caught a glance of his partner down below, trying to break into the machine that held this monster’s cage. All I have to do is keep it from getting in her way, right? She can get inside anything, so it shouldn’t take very long… But as Aerodactyl whirled back around with his body flinging around behind it, another view showed him something a little disheartening. The machine burst into multiple hunks of metalworking, but instead of finding just one Pokéball, she had discovered dozens of them.

Okay, so this might take a little longer than I thought…

*************************
__________________
MEH.

Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 12:10 AM. Reason: Mm, reworded a few things. Wanna fight 'bout it? Ha, 'bout'...
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Old 02-24-2007, 01:57 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

Friday [02:19 GMT // 2:19 AM]
“Who the hell are you?” Leon asked, his voice fraught with demanding resentment. “Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other complete this mission?” He couldn’t take his hand away from the slender hilt of his sword as he stared at the doctor standing before him.

“Just call me Dr. Achan, my boy. All my victims do.” His deviant smile seemed almost innocent, somehow. “You see, I’ve nothing personal against you or your comrades. It’s just that my mission won’t be complete until I’ve killed you. And I do follow through my missions. I’m sure you understand…”

“…’Mission’?” Leon asked, still unable to wrap his head around a tangible reason for this man’s betrayal. Did Klandstein get him to turn on us?

“So sorry, my boy, but I’m afraid that’s all you need to know.” He still smirked back at Leon, seeming even more delighted by the secrets held behind his lips. “I always like to give my name before I finish an assignment. It just feels like it gives a more comfortable sense of closure, don’t you think?”

Leon didn’t bother answering. He only watched the doctor carefully, trying to prepare himself for what he knew to be inevitable. I don’t know anything about this man, but he seems to know a lot about me…

“Oh, but I suppose I don’t really have time to make nice,” Achan went on, rubbing his sterile hands together. A rather large needle slipped out of his bleached sleeves, rolling suspiciously against his fingertips. Then, without another word, the man shot forward, needle held down below his chest, poised for stabbing.

Yet Leon was already prepared for a frontal assault, ripping his sword from its sheath as he swept a few steps backwards. And Achan was there, standing right next to him, a wide grin splitting his pointed face as his needle flickered towards the target chest. Leon’s torso twisted to the right, narrowly dodging what he was sure would be deadly toxin, and then slammed his left arm down against his side, locking the other man’s wrist in a strangle hold. One hand was rendered harmless for a moment, letting Leon tear his blade around to cut at Achan’s free arm. But the doctor caught the hand clutching his sword and kicked at his leg, preventing a fatal strike to his body while yanking the black-clad man to the ground. As he fell, Leon’s left arm wrapped under the doctor’s needle-tipped one, effectively pulling the other man to the ground with him.

Struggling against each other on that sheen tile, the two men seemed almost at a stalemate, countering each others' hits, until the doctor’s needle was sent reeling away from the pair, piercing the far wall with a dull thud. Achan kicked away from his opponent while Leon flung himself back to his feet.

Standing across from each other, they stared one another down for a silent moment until a screeching cry invaded the chamber, garnering a confused glance from Leon until the doctor spoke up again.

“…Ah, that must be the Aerodactyl greeting your friends upstairs.” Achan only smirked in that irritating fashion again, yet this time seemed a bit less emphatic. “It’s true; you’ve a bit more skill about you than I suspected. For that much, I commend you.”

Leon remained wordless, only eyeing the man with fastened vigilance. He’s fast… I can barely keep up with him, but my sword can still give me an advantage… Suspicion dotted the gaze behind his white, lion-nosed mask as he tried to keep his mind focused on the fight.

“Good thing I took extra precautions,” Dr. Achan sputtered, swiftly tapping a pair of fingers against his left wrist.

The ceiling trembled at the brim of Leon’s vision. A trap?! Metal bars fell from above, penetrating the floor below, digging out bits of tile. Frantic eyes jumped from each side of his new cage, searching for any kind of way out. The tip of his sword grazed a pole, sending a slew of sparks buzzing towards the ground. Electrified…

“You like it?” the doctor continued with a merry shrug. “I only had a couple weeks to install it properly, but I think it works pretty well, don’t you?”

…So this whole time, he was luring me towards this trap, he assessed to himself, starting to realize what kind of person he was dealing with here. This guy’s got the advantage here… There could be traps anywhere…

“Well,” Achan went on, brushing off his long sleeves with a satisfied expression settling into his face, “I think we’ve just about wrapped this up, wouldn’t you say?”

“…Why’s that?” Leon piped up, letting his hand wander inside his vest.

“Oh c’mon, already,” he said, seeming almost exasperated, “There’s no way out of that cage. Force won’t get you anywhere and that floor is twenty feet of solid concrete. None of you three were given Pokémon for this mission, so there’s really nothing that you can…” He trailed off as he saw Leon pull out a red and white ball.

Leon blinked behind his mask. He knows that we weren’t given partners? Hm… I guess he was briefed about the details of the mission beforehand… Glancing at the Pokéball in his hand for a moment, he found himself glad that he had decided to take it with him… and perhaps a little grateful to the poor kid whom had lost it. Though, with all that had happened recently, he’d never gotten a chance to discover what was actually inside the thing. Please be something useful… muttered a thought as he pressed a thumb against the button at its center, letting the sphere pop open with a spew of red light towards the doctor.

A relieving sigh escaped his mouth as watched Venusaur take form just outside his cage. Its bluish-green bulk hit the floor with a heavy thud, rustling the petals of the huge, red-orange flower on its back and casting off a few loose leaves like feathers from a bird. A decisive bellow boomed out of its lungs, garnering a contented smile behind Leon’s mask.

Achan’s disgruntled face couldn’t help but let out a slow whine, “Aw… what the hell…?” A hand rifled through his lab coat, apparently searching for some kind of counter measure. “I hate having to resort to these kinds of methods…” He pulled out a pair of tiny spheres and let them expand within his grip. Both spilled forth a faintly crimson glow, soon morphing into the forms of two comparatively smaller creatures. One seemed only a rock at first glance, and a rather modest-sized one, at that; however, the slender figure of what could only be a worm peeked out of the white-rimmed holes carved through its maroon-colored shell. The beadiest of eyes looked blankly at the grass dinosaur standing only a few feet away from it. The other creature seemed only slightly larger, thought much quicker as it darted around in the air, hardly able to keep still for a moment’s glimpse. Translucent wings buzzed with exceeding fervor as its bug-eyed stare sparkled with a slight shine in the midst of its golden body. Short, almost hook-like appendages poked out from what might’ve been its head, gnashing with a sort of anxious ease.

Leon quirked an eyebrow at the odd pair of monsters. A… Shuckle and a… Ninjask? The choices seemed awkward, yet strangely fitting for this doctor person, if only because they were bugs. He wondered if there was more here than met the eye.

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

Friday [02:22 GMT // 2:22 AM]
Harland hit the ground with a thud, skidding on his side just a few feet from Alexandra. He shook the slight daze from his vision, trying to come back to his senses. He looked up at his comrade. “Found it yet?”

“It could be any these,” she said, her gloves hovering over the cluster of Pokéball, “And there are more monsters in each one of them, it seems…” Her mask turned towards him, as if at a loss for what else she could do.

Sighing, he brushed himself off. “Well, just keep trying them until you get it,” he told her, rolling his shoulders as he prepared for the next round. But when he realized that he had very nearly tried to comfort her, he added, “And hurry up, dammit.” A scowl hid in his face as he darted away, letting the sight of her dwindle into nothingness behind that whirling steam wall.

Aerodactyl’s shrieking cry echoed through the chamber again, making it difficult to pinpoint its position. He felt very much like a hapless worm, merely waiting to be swept up and eaten by a giant bird from the sky, but when the swirling fog suddenly changed directions on him, he got all the warning he needed. The ancient beast swooped down from behind, and Harland dropped his left hand to the floor, bringing up his right to hook against the brunt of its rocky wing, while the thing's enormous mouth soared past his chest. The shock against his arm might've hurt if he could feel it, but the numbing sensation still seemed to stifle his control of the appendage. He winced against its angry wings, thrusting his entire body up and down through the air as his legs flailed for a grip on its neck. Aerodactyl reeled forward, cutting upwards and downwards, side to side, trying to throw him off again, but when his legs finally locked around the monster’s gray throat, its movements suddenly became jerkier, as if panicking.

“Ah, crap!” Harland pulled himself over its back, tightening his leg-hold so as not to be flung from atop the thing, but his hands still struggled for proper anchors, fumbling over the dull spikes along Aerodactyl’s spine, while its body staggered through the cloudy air. He couldn’t help but growl against the monster’s contorting body, so he threw his hands around the neck as well, swinging himself around so that he was facing the back of its double-pronged head.

As soon as his legs had a firm grip again, he wrapped his gloves around its makeshift horns. Immediately, the creature cocked back, electricity surging through its skull.

“Gah, just hurry up and pass out or something!” he yelled at it, leaning in on his hands so that he wouldn’t get so much steam running past his eyes. “I’m not supposed to kill you, you know!” The whole time, he felt like he was riding a bull in mid-air, fighting its twisting and kicking movements.

Aerodactyl seemed uninterested in his advice, instead dropping its jaw open to let a swarm of radiant energy accumulate in its mouth.

“Ah, don’t do that…” He watched a scalding beam erupt from the monster mouth, knifing a hole straight through the steam to slam against a far wall.

A burn mark scarred the previously whitewashed surface, leaving burdensome cracks and crumbling acrylic. The monster only screamed out again as another burst of energy rose in its mouth.

Damn, Harland thought, I can’t just let it shoot up the whole place. This building’s pretty sturdy, but… His quaking hands slapped against both sides of its head as he leaned even closer to it, letting his chest rest sideways through the stumpy protrusions on its head. His arms entangled the brunt of its skull, reaching all the way beneath to get the monster into a firm vice grip. “You gonna force me to kill you, you bastard?!” His muscles strained against Aerodactyl's head, trying to keep it from moving too wildly, but another streaming Hyper Beam burst away, crashing into the floor amidst an entourage of scouring sparks.

Teeth clenched with increasing frustration, Harland stretched his hands all the way around its head, tapping his left wrist with three fingers. Visible electric bolts leapt off the fibers of his gloves, illuminating the increased power. Any more than that and it could be dangerous… a thought reminded him. Because I'm real worried about danger, at this point. His hands clapped back against the enraged creature, sending a renewed jolt through its body.

Aerodactyl wrenched forward, spiraling through air with its eyes flinched shut. Harland, still vehemently clutching the bulk of its head, watched the monster near a wall. Its wings beat against the surface for a moment, as if desperately searching for aid from the thing. But when its eyes reopened, staring at that sterilized white eternity, they changed.

A sudden glimmer took presence in that crimson iris, pulling another yell from its thrashing jaws. Its neck jerked left, loosening the man’s grip for an instant while its clawed feet scratched at the wall before it. And then, an enormous crack broke that perfect white, pushing out bits of shattered paint. Another crack cut straight downward, then another, and another, until several sections of the vast wall were completely outlined with grating black strokes.

Harland’s eyes stretched all the way open as chunks of heavy rock tore themselves from the wall, only to float there next to Aerodactyl as if stuck in some kind of inconceivable orbit. More and more heaps of stone broke away, slowly encompassing the monster. They waited there, as if watching him.

What the hell? Without waiting another moment, Harland brought his hands together and touched all five fingers to his wrist. Immediately, his hands crooked back and began to spasm uncontrollably. Only his arms guided their placement now. Crackling sparks snapped at the air around his fingertips as he thrust them towards the skin of the monster, forcing it to slam against the wall from the sudden upsurge.

A boulder pelted him in the stomach, driving the air out of his lungs, yet he wouldn't lose focus. Another slammed against his back, crumbling to pieces. He thought he heard a bone fracture, but he wasn’t about to let go, even at the sight of jagged white streaks climbing up his sleeves.

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


((OOC: As always, any and all critiques/comments/whatever about this story are welcome in the feedback thread. It'd be tremendously helpful to know if anything is confusing or unclear. Anyway, there are still a few more pieces to get up before this puppy is finally completed. ))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-09-2008 at 10:40 AM. Reason: Reworkin' the magic. *razzle dazzle*
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Old 03-17-2007, 06:15 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

Friday [02:15 GMT // 2:15 AM]
With a relieving breath, Cole leaned against the wall of Mabel’s temporary room, letting his eyes graze over a plethora of new decorations. Things didn’t seem quite so white and stale anymore. In fact, the place seemed downright girly. Though, there still seemed to be a handful of objects that hinted at a more academic lifestyle. A short bookstand stood by her bed, right alongside a stack of popular teenage magazines. The light pink curtains left the window into the hall quite visible as they dangled next to a tall reading lamp. But by far, the most surprising combination was the Japanese-cat-faced clock, ticking away the minutes with a swinging tail, and the pair of gaming systems, lights still buzzing beneath her large television set. An eyebrow rose as he looked from one picture to another, then back to Mabel. She certainly hadn’t seemed like the gaming type…

“Mm?” came a inquiring sound from the girl lying in her bed, “You didn’t think I played games like that, did you?”

Cole averted his gaze, placing a hand back behind his bushy hair. “Ah, that’s not…” But he knew she’d pegged his thoughts. “…Sorry, I didn’t mean to jump to conclusions or anything…” He let one eye look back at her, as if checking to see if it was alright for the other one as well.

She only laughed. “It’s alright,” Mabel elaborated, “I suppose I don’t exactly send that sort of signal, huh?”

“Yep.” Steven nodded with folded arms. “She’s actually kind of a tomboy,” he explained to Cole, “Which is really weird. I mean, she’s probably better than me at half the games we play.” He pushed a finger up against his spectacles.

“Hm,” Mabel went on with a manicured fingernail to her chin, “Should I tell him about your freaky obsession with dolls, Steven?” She blinked. “Oh, woopsy…” She only smirked as her brother’s eyes widened.

“Action figures! Gah!” His mouth twisted with discomfort as he looked back at Cole. “I don’t collect dolls, man. Just cool action figures from my childhood, y’know?” His face seemed almost pleading.

Cole nodded convincingly, but his eyes strayed back to Mabel as she silently mouthed the word, DOLLS. He couldn’t keep the smile from splitting his face, letting it pull him closer to the bed with the two siblings. “Your secrets are safe with me,” he laughed.

“Hey,” the seemingly tireless girl started again, “You guys want to stay up a little while and play some games or something? I’m not very sleepy…”

Glancing at each other, the two boys shrugged with approval. “Sure, what the heck.”

However, heavy footsteps from the hallway stole their attention. More than one person by the sound of it, rushing with some sense of urgency. A tall, navy-blue-uniformed man stepped through the doorway, his ice-colored eyes instantly falling upon the three teenagers. Short, black hair topped his head, complementing his dark skin and rigorous facial features. He seemed to have a need for his muscular build, perhaps hinted at by the sharply cut suit, flared open as if to accentuate the stress on his mind. A small, golden badge clasped onto his belt, but it was the holstered firearm that really drew one’s eye. Buckled into place like that of a police officer, the gun certainly made the man exude authority. “You three,” were the first words of his dire-toned voice, “We’re evacuating all underground floors. Come with me.”

“Evacuating?” Steven chimed in first, “What’s going on, Kard?” He stood, adjusting the slim belt around his faded blue jeans as he watched for the man’s reply.

The apparent security guard blinked, realizing who was talking to him. “Oh, May and Steve,” he restarted more familiarly, only a questioning glance given to Cole, “I need you and your friend here to follow me. A silent alarm’s been tripped.”

More than a little confused, Cole suddenly found himself tagging along as his two friends followed Kard. A flurry of several more uniforms streaked by his vision, rushing between rooms and escorting patients to the elevators. Everything had suddenly become confusing and chaotic, he realized.

“Your parents are probably worried about you two,” Kard explained, beginning to push his way through a throng of people, “We’d best get you up to ‘em quickly.” His robust hands latched onto each sibling, pulling them along with him.

“Hold on,” Mabel broke in, away from his grip, “We’re no more important than these people here.” Her furrowing expression seemed to explain her intentions even more clearly than her words. “Let them go first.”

Cole’s squinting eye focused on her. “But…” he heard himself plead weakly, “But… alarms are bad…” Not quite the ridiculously convincing argument he’d imagined inside his head, but no one seemed to be listening anyway.

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

Friday [00:49 GMT // 12:49 AM]
The room of Captain Toc seemed hollow. Now that he was Sergeant Scott again, Captain Toc hardly existed anymore. Sitting there on that bed that wasn’t really his, eyes half-drawn, he could hardly bring himself to move. I feel so pathetic, assessed a depressing thought. Here I am, the big ‘protector of justice’ or some crud, and I can’t even go help someone who’s just been a victim of circumstance his whole life…

He shook the words away, knowing that he would only become more upset if he thought about it any further. Leaving to help now would decimate his entire reason for being here. Besides, considering all the evidence, Leon was a criminal of the law. There was no way to justify the action in the eyes of his superiors… or anyone else, for that matter.

“Having a rough day, Captain Toc?” rang a pestering voice.

Toc didn’t bother turning around; he only sat there, hunched over the edge of his bed. It wasn’t really someone he wanted to talk to anyway.

“I would’ve thought that you’d be ecstatic over the fact that headquarters would promote a Neanderthal like yourself.” It was Captain Nathaniel, of course. Not exactly Toc’s favorite person in the world.

Toc only said the first thing that came to mind. “Neanderthals had larger craniums than modern day humans, you know. So your insult may actually be a claim that I have greater brain capacity than you.” He stared at the floor, scarcely even listening to himself.

There was an uncertain pause, followed by a clearing throat. “Well…” the other Captain began again, apparently trying for a new angle of attack, “It would seem as though your little friend has been done away with, wouldn’t it?”

Toc rolled his eyes, hardly in the mood for dealing with this person. “Do you have some business with me?” Standing to his feet, he moved to busy himself with packing again.

“Ah yes…” the slender man in the doorway restarted, “I’ve discovered something interesting in regards to that intruder you apprehended the other day.”

He only kept stuffing things into boxes, unwilling to show his discomfort. “That so?”

“Quite. And it’s the strangest thing…” A kind of contorted pleasure resounded in his voice. “You see, I took a blood sample…”

As much as I expected, he thought wryly, slowly turning around to look at the thin man.

“…The public database shows a match with one Kaj Jansen,” Captain Nathaniel explained.

Jack’s alias, of course. What’s this guy playing at…? Toc only tilted his head. “Am I supposed to recognize that name?”

“That all depends,” Nathaniel mused with a grin, “The real question is, do you recognize the name Jack Lepton?”

Not even batting an eye, Toc stared right back at the man. “Nope.” How in holy hell did he find his real name? “Who’s it belong to?”

“Well, according to my database, the one which I believe to be dozens of times more accurate, the blood sample matches perfectly with the name ‘Jack Lepton,’ an agent of the federal police, no less.” That irritating smile wouldn’t leave the man’s face.

…That ain’t good. “Mm,” Toc started to reply, pursing his lips thoughtfully, “How’d you come up with that conclusion?”

The other captain ran a hand through his oily, black hair. “Ah, well, I used to work at a very… special hospital. Needless to say, I’ve got quite a tremendous blood bank stored away.”

His face flattened. “You can’t even imagine how weird and creepy I find you, right now." Jack won’t last another day inside this base with that kind of information hanging over his head. Gotta get him outta here… “But why are you telling me this?” A finger pushed up on his sunglasses.

“Oh, of course, of course…” He folded his arms, apparently coming around to his entire reason for standing in the Captain’s doorway. “After seeing how my data contradicted that of the public database, I suddenly had an idea. It was a bit of a stretch, but hey… I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, recently.”

“…I wouldn’t doubt it.”

Nathaniel smirked at his remark. “I’ve always had my suspicions about you, Captain Toc.”

He quirked an eyebrow capriciously. “…Um, I hope this isn’t going where I think it is…”

The other man rolled his eyes before continuing with a hint of exasperation, “To think that even you have a history with genetic mutation. The very idea is almost too much to comprehend.”

Toc’s demeanor tightened. What’s this guy been up to, exactly?

"Of course, your mutations are little less... artificial, no?" Nathaniel's pale face was suddenly all business. "Yes, Sergeant Manning, I've uncovered the secret behind your blood."

He couldn't help but grit his teeth. "And how's that, exactly?"

"A simple matter of letting my subordinates dig a little further than they usually do," he explained, "I never would've thought that our very own Captain Toc had inherited the Eyes of Thunder, had it not been for those noticeably missing files from Mr. Lepton's current mission statement. Why, the existence of the 'Syndicate Infiltration Unit' could have eluded my knowledge entirely if not for the indication of a 'partner' on this assignment. And lo and behold, when I went to discover who this conspirator could possibly be, I found the person's information of a classified order that I had yet to discover a password for. Surely, this was a clear indicator that I had overlooked something, so I had my men look into this matter, and from there, it was mere hours before I came across a blood sample. Perfectly matching with yours, wouldn't you know..."

Aw, dammit. Toc smirked, quietly wondering how long this self-absorbed captain would continue rambling.

"It was then that I realized: I did have your blood in my bank, but it was old. It was the blood from before you received your gift, unenhanced by the ancient energies that now inhabit your body. The blood sample I took from Captain Toc two years ago, was quite different from the blood sample of Scott T. Manning three years before. Truly an astonishing convenience for you, Mr. Manning, don't you agree? Had you been just about anyone else, I would have detected your presence immediately and had you executed."

Toc inched toward corner of his bed, less than a foot away from his knee. Well, I guess this frees me up to go help Leo, eh? He nearly grinned at the wry thought. Yeah, all I have to do is get past this guy, pull Jack out of his cell, flee past a few hundred armed guards, and then find my way to Klandstein Tower in Ecruteak City, sometime in the next hour and a half or so... Sounds doable. Slowly, he dug his boot beneath the chunky mattress, and let his fingers wander closer toward the opening in his coat, biding his time as he waited for the right moment.

"Yes, they are mysterious things, those eyes of yours." Nathaniel paused to look at Toc more intently, almost as if trying to study him on the spot. "Given to you by the great bird Zapdos, correct? Though, I'm still a bit curious as to their actual abilities. Even your files would not tell me precisely. Something about energy absorption, but that seemed so vague..." Eyes flickering at Toc's anxious hands, Nathaniel squinted. "Perhaps you'll be so kind as to show us first hand." Four enormous men stepped in behind him, dwarfing the skinnier captain. Each held a large rifle and a rather unpleasant expression.

Toc did everything at once. His right leg flung the mattress at the door, pushing Nathaniel back into the hall, and one hand dug into his coat as the other tore off his sunglasses, revealing his pupil-less, jet-black eyes. A handgun appeared in his searching grasp, instantly losing its safety as the other hand looked for a partner. A glance at the unlit ceiling made him regret having the lights off, but the sight of his dying computer screen was a bit more encouraging. He could already feel electricity surging behind his retinas. His body propelled forward, shoving the burdensome mattress all the way through the door until it slammed against the wall on the other side. His five friends were waiting for him, each decisively holding him at gunpoint.

“You know,” Nathaniel began again, “I’d rather not have to kill you.” At Toc’s silent expression, he clarified, “Well, not yet, that is. Who knows what might change once your body shuts down? I wouldn’t want to miss anything interesting…”

“I always knew you didn’t love me for my brains,” Toc whined sarcastically, buying him the time he needed. His blackened irises suddenly lit with a fiercely golden gleam as the hall lights fizzled out. Only enough to stun them for a second. Electricity burst from his eyes, crackling all around his enemies with static discharge. For an instant, their eyes widened with confusion, skipping away from the target of their guns, but that was all he wanted. A pair of bullets burrowed into the feet of the two nearest guards as Toc leapt straight left, hugging the wall while an extended elbow decked the last man barring his path.

He didn’t bother looking back as he tore down the hallway, trench coat soaring out behind him. Gotta get to Jack, was the only thing running through his head. His rushing footsteps garnered strange looks from the lower rank members in the hall, but he didn’t have time to wonder whether they were aware of his secret or not. All that mattered was getting his partner and getting out as fast as possible. Already, he could feel his eyes begin to tingle again, dimming light fixtures as he passed under. Without his sunglasses, it was difficult to regulate the passage of energy unless he really focused his vision, but his frantic eyes wouldn’t let that happen.

The antechamber to the holding cells reared up on him, its heavy tile changing the tone of his hurried movement. Another black-clad man came up by his side, apparently with a question by the look on his face, but Toc wasn’t about to make time for him. The glass wall used for security checks cracked tremendously under a slew of bullets, and the sound of shattering glass greeted his heavy work boots as he pushed through towards Lepton’s cell. Of course they’d have to put him in the highest security block… reminded an unpleasant thought. Gunfire echoed off the walls as he blew through another checkpoint.

“Captain!” shouted a following voice, “What the hell are you doing, Captain Toc!?”

“No time,” he breathed, tapping a tiny sphere on his belt with a spare finger. The red-white ball ballooned out, spitting a crimson beam to his side. A hefty canine-shape emerged from the ensuing glow, its charcoal fur immediately taking an aggressive stance as it looked to Toc for a command. Silver-gray horns curved back behind its head, complementing the sharpness of its growl with a sort of demonic veneer. “Hold ‘em off, Hell Hound."

The creature’s swishing tail was all the answer he needed before running ahead to blast through yet another security check, broken glass bounding all across the concrete floor. A distant man’s painful yell pulled a toothy chuckle out of Toc’s face. “Ah… I love dogs.” His buckled work boots crunched against the crystalline mess until he finally managed to find his partner’s cell in solitary confinement. The huge, rusted door sunk lower into the ground than the other cells, making it seem more like he was forcing his way into a box, rather than a room.

Please be alive… He couldn’t quite shake the morbidity from his mind as bullets ripped the bindings on the door. Thrusting it open, he shouted, “You ain’t dead yet?!”

“Ergh,” replied a groggy moan, “I’m trying to sleep here…” And there was Jack, sitting against one of the tiny walls with his arms folded and eyes barely slit open. He looked like hell, to say the least, but Toc figured the guy hadn’t had much time to keep himself pretty. As soon as he made eye contact, his expression changed. “Did you screw things up already?” he asked, standing up as straight as the low ceiling would allow him, his battered business suit seeming even more ragged and worn than it did two days ago.

For a second, Toc just looked at him. “Yep. Really badly, too.”

“Aw, crap…”

***********************
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 12:12 AM. Reason: I only edit for one reason: ...LOVE AND PEACE! LOVE AND PEACE! LOVE AND PEACE!
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  #22  
Old 04-04-2007, 06:21 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VI: The Undiscovered Dark

Friday [02:25 GMT // 12:25 AM]
Bladed leaves sliced through the dim air, ricocheting off the rock worm’s rigid shell. Venusaur stamped its feet with distaste, trying to lock its heavy green eyes on the flashing image of Ninjask. A quick slash at the plant billowing out of its back provoked a counterattacking vine, only to leave it snapping at the air where the dodgy insect had been.

Leon hardly paid attention to the fight, though. It might’ve been a bit cold-hearted of him, but Venusaur was mainly just a distraction while he tried to figure a way out of his barred captivity. Perhaps the veggie-dinosaur could’ve aided him with that, if not for having its own business to attend to.

He growled mentally, eyes scanning the poorly lit area around him for clues, trying not to let the sense of hopelessness lurking in the back of his mind take root. His gaze fell to the ground, sparking a curious thought. ‘Twenty feet of solid concrete,’ he said? Fingers tightened around the finely woven hilt of his sword as he looked toward the ceiling. Ugh, it’d be easier to just break through there, but I’d probably be buried under the rubble… and it might endanger my teammates up there…

Abruptly, a curt shockwave rattled the entire room, fanning the urgent flames in his mind.

They're in trouble... One last glance at his lone Venusaur made him grit his teeth. Guess I don’t have much choice here… The eerie glow of his blade vanished beneath its metal-patchwork sheath.

He slipped off his left glove, yet kept it in his hand as the other dug beneath his vest. A bundle of tiny spheres appeared in his grip, smote in ashy color. Probably a bit reckless of me… he thought wryly, But oh well. Careful not to drop one of his bombs, he packed them inside his glove and laid the garment on the ground. He drew his sword again, clutching it with both hands, poised right above his volatile cluster like some sort of irate scorpion’s tail.

“What are you doing over there?” interrupted an apparently stressed Dr. Achan. “Not planning anything stupid, I hope...” The man nearly sighed as he stared at Leon through their brawling monsters. It seemed as though a few stray leaves had grazed the man’s head, inviting beads of hesitant blood across his pale cheek. “I already told you; that’s solid concrete. You’ll only snap that puny, little blade in half if you stab it into the floor.”

Leon didn’t bother replying. Several hours of research had already revealed the reason as to why this weapon glowed with such a nocuous aura. The ‘Gastly Blade of Brass Tower.’ It was a difficult thing to control, he’d found, but during his short time with the thing, Leon had managed to grasp some of its power. Concentrate... The tip of his sword tapped against the package on the ground. His eyes tightened shut and his breathing came to a stop as the blade’s ethereal glow faded into a transparent aura, pulling his explosives along for the ride. Even over the continuing Pokémon battle, he could here the doctor’s disgruntled growls.

A sharp pain stabbed Leon’s shoulder, making the sword’s image flicker under his grip, but he didn’t break away. He thrust the sword straight downward, dropping him to his knees. Another needle grazed his shoulder, tearing off a chunk of black cloth along with a sliver of stinging flesh. His eyes burst back open, letting the sword take full form again, stuck there, holstered into the floor, slightly displaced concrete bulging up against the blade’s rim.

Leon looked up just in time to avoid getting hit in the face with another needle, promptly yanking the other one from his shoulder as well. He could already start to feel its numbing effect loosening the muscles in his arm, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it further. Another shot plunged into the side of his chest, immediately pumping some undesirable concoction into his bloodstream. “Guh,” he breathed, falling to the one elbow he could still feel. He could feel his lungs beginning to heave irregularly in his chest, tensing the muscles around his eyes as a reluctant panic trekked through his head.

“What now, Mr. Resourceful?” came the doctor’s mocking satisfaction, “Even if your body is more resilient against poisons and neurotoxins like my report claimed, that drug will immobilize you long enough for me to kill you with my bare hands.”

Leon’s frantic eyes couldn’t even look up past Achan’s white boots on the other side of the cage.

“Besides,” the man added slowly, “You’ve no way to ignite those precious explosives of yours, do you?” A sort of unraveling contentment spilled from the man’s voice. “What did plan to use, after burying them two feet into solid rock?”

The numbing sensation had nearly taken his entire body now. Straining eyelids glanced past the hand he had since lost dominance over, surprised to find it still clinging desperately to the sword’s hilt. Only one chance left… Coughing violently, he spat a response to Achan’s question, “Your cage.”

His free hand lunged forward, clutching the electrified bar just inches from his head. The doctor’s shocked remark was lost under the surge of concentrated energy tearing through Leon’s body. Instantly, his neck flung back and his limbs flailed jaggedly, conducting the electric pulse straight to the metal of his sword and down into the explosive powder.

The ground heaved up on him, ripping him free of his jolting grasp just before crumbling away from below. His hands flailed for some kind of grip as he suddenly realized he was falling. He only came away with handfuls of rubble.

A painful grunt stole most of the air from his lungs as his body bashed against solid ground again, squirming uncomfortably atop a slew of busted rocks and what felt like part of the cage he’d been trapped in. Trying to regain his breath, he opened his eyes, only to find a sea of darkness before him. Faint light filter down from where he’d fallen, making him gaze up at a distance that must have been close to twenty feet, if not more.

‘Solid concrete,’ huh? assessed an irritable thought, still a little beaten up from the less-than-graceful landing. Traces of the electric shock lingered all throughout his body, but at least the numbing sensation seemed to have been driven away. He couldn’t help but twitch a little, unable to control the shivers prancing along his skin. Where am I? He took a few careful steps forward, right arm wrapped around the side of his stomach. The building’s blueprints didn’t show a floor below B6… I thought I sensed something down here, but… an entire secret room? He tried to let his eyes adjust to the stale shadows, but suddenly, after only a few short steps, he froze.

…What is this? he asked himself, eyes widening for a strained look around at the black wall. A kind of dense pressure hovered around his mind; he could sense something there, emanating from every conceivable direction.

For a moment, Leon forgot what he was doing. All he could think about was this foreign presence. It was difficult to pin down to any specific thing. Most everything he sensed had some kind of familiarity to it that would let him know what he was dealing with. Something like anger would have a sort of ‘heated’ wave to it, rushed and chaotic as crackling flame. But this was different. It felt more like a vacuum to him, as if the mere thought of it was attempting to pull him with some unseen vortex. And then, he realized what it was.

Hunger. More insatiable than he’d ever imagined. It was as if thousands of starving people were huddled behind that deathly curtain, staring at him ravenously. It was a menacing feeling, clutching to his mind, begging to devour him. Such a potent desire, marveled an uncertain thought, It’s like a deafening bloodlust… He couldn’t help but back up a few steps, unwilling to abandon his morsels of light from the laboratory above. Is there… a monster in this place? His head cocked back at the awkward question, suddenly feeling like a frightened child looking under his bed. What an ominous aura…

His heel knocked against something that felt more metallic than all the rest of the rubble, and he looked down to catch sight of his sword, smote with an ashy black around the tip, but still relatively unscathed from the explosion. Immediately, his gloveless hand welcomed the blade into its clutches, attempting to hold it steady against the pervasive darkness surrounding him.

Bits of crumbling concrete sprinkled down above his vision, pulling his gaze upward to see the hole he made beginning to widen. Oh no! a thought shouted at the ceiling, It can’t support Venusaur’s weight, anymore! Rumbling grew heavier as chunks of plaster and concrete hurtled towards him. He threw himself to the right, but found an indistinguishable shape in his way. Without thinking, the sound the tumbling rock propelled his legs over the object, unsure of where they would meet solid ground again.

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

Friday [02:38 GMT // 2:38 AM]
Cole shifted uncomfortably as the elevator doors slid shut, disliking how silent the small chamber was. There must’ve been at least people stuffed inside the thing, but no one said a word. He figured it was mainly because they were all security guards, save him and the Klandstein siblings, but that didn’t really ease his mind, especially with that stale elevator music dawdling around his ears. His hand finally began to drift away from the pair of Pokéballs at his hip as that strange feeling of vertical movement washed over him.

Abruptly, the floor swept away from his feet, throwing him into the person behind him. The tiny room heaved up and down, shaking everyone around like a jar of loose change. And then it stopped again, unmoving.

“What was that?!” Cole’s mouth blurted.

No one seemed to have an answer; they all just waited, wearing the same wary expression on their faces.

A sudden snapping sound cracked the air above his head. He looked up just in time to feel the elevator begin a freefall straight towards the bottom of the shaft. Panic paralyzed his thoughts, letting his limbs flail hopelessly, lungs struggling just to breathe. Eyes stood frozen open, unable to move, save for slight shivers of fright, and all that ran through his mind was this inhuman sensation of falling, as if being consumed in a nightmare.

The cringing sound of the crash brought everything to halt. For a while, Cole felt like they had all died, even himself. Atop a pile of bodies, he could already sense the dread creeping into his mind, unwilling to let him move from his spot there. He tried to shake pessimism from his head, but it still lingered. His body felt limp, as if it had decided to give up before him. But then, through the pounding in his ears, he caught remnants of breath. The person below him stirred, shoving Cole to his trembling feet.

He felt his hand slap the ‘Open Door’ button, but it took a few moments. Dented metal groaned and screeched out of his way, letting him tumble to a concrete floor. A-agh… started a shaky thought, Falling… is the worst feeling… ever… A robust hand gripped his shoulder, pulling him to his feet again.

“You okay, little man?” asked a rumbling voice.

It was Kard, Cole realized after a few dizzying blinks. He only nodded, still having to force the air into his lungs. The tremulous elevator light was the only thing illuminating whatever dark pit they’d fallen into.

“Yeah, you’re okay,” the large black man confirmed with a wearisome grin. Behind Kard, the elevator’s victims were regrouping, those blue uniforms helping up the two siblings who also seemed fairly unscathed. The security chief looked past Cole, harsh shadows littering his troubled face.

“Um,” Cole started uncertainly, “What floor is this…?” He inched back towards the light. Whatever this dark chamber was, it surely didn’t feel very welcoming. It was uncomfortably cold.

“Well,” Steven’s familiar voice popped up again, “We must’ve fallen all the way to the bottom floor, so… this’s gotta be B6.” Walking up next to Cole, the other boy touched a finger to his spectacles and moved his hand to his neck, perhaps trying to rid himself of a crick that had found its way there.

Great… Cole thought, And here I was thinking I'd actually be getting ‘away’ from the danger for a change. “So uh, what’s up with the lights, then?” He tried to sound as calm as he could, but he wasn’t exactly sure how well he had managed to suppress the quaking in his chest.

Kard stood a few feet ahead, apparently unabashed by the darkness that seemed to be choking up everyone else. “Lights. On,” he projected decisively. It took a few seconds, but the sure enough, white light cut through the room.

Cole blinked. What the…? Gigantic machines stood in lines, all heading toward the center of the furthest wall. The space was tremendous, and even with all the cluttered equipment, there was still a clear path to the other end of the room. Everything was riddled with dust, throwing off what might’ve been a naturally white color, not unlike that of the medical areas a few stories up. Oddly enough, a mossy coat huddled in every corner, complementing a musty scent that hung about the stale air. Though, it was the legion of tangled green streaks hanging from the ceiling that really threw the whole scene off balance. Vines? In a place like this? But… don’t those things need a warm, damp climate or something? It could’ve been a laboratory of sorts, given the electronics all over the place, yet somehow that vivid vegetation suggested something different. Cole squinted, eyes focusing on a large hole in the middle of the ceiling. Bits of rubble still trickled down from the opening, but he couldn’t quite see where they landed with a long line of cobweb-stricken machinery blocking his view. “…This is B6?” he heard himself ask to anyone listening.

“No,” came Kard’s low-toned reply, but he didn’t elaborate any further. He only stood there, a few feet away from everyone else, gazing toward the far wall where one could scarcely make out the shape of a distinctly different machine, curving strangely around the top like a kind of worn out umbrella. “We should leave,” he said, turning around to face everyone.

“Yeah…” Steven said raggedly, “How, exactly? The elevator’s trashed, and I don’t see any stairs around here.” He folded his slender arms, the creases of his light jacket accentuating the point of his argument.

Kard snatched the radio from his hip. “Control, this is Chief Kard Borneum. Come in, please.” A distinct urgency could be heard in the man’s voice, but he still sounded polite somehow.

Immediately, the radio coughed up a response: “This is Control. What'cha need, Chief?”

“I need a team sent down to investigate Basement Level Seven.”

For a moment, there was only static. “…Which level, Chief?”

Cole stopped listening, figuring he knew where the conversation was headed. Instead, he took a few uncertain steps forward, letting his sock-less feet glaze over layers of heavy dust coating the floor. His cautious steps only led him a short way. In all honesty, whatever these machines were, they hardly seemed useful. They were all slightly different, sometimes carrying an odd protrusion on one side or a strange hole on another, but each one remained compacted into a rather modest cube-shape. Perhaps there was some significance under that dense, metal frame, but at the sight of rusted gears bending awkwardly into each other, most of the machines looked as if they would never run again. Except… He quirked an eyebrow at the far shape that Kard had been staring at a few moments ago. That one looks a little different… A sort of unsettling hesitance tugged at his chest, as if trying to warn him about the thing. And then he heard rustling ahead of him.

After a moment, the figure of a person slipped into view. “Why, hello there!” called a familiar twinge of enthusiasm, “How fortunate for me that you’ve dropped in.” It was a man in a white lab coat, walking towards the group with relative nonchalance.

“Dr. Achan?” Cole inquired first, “How the heck did you get down here?” The presence of another fellow in trouble might’ve been soothing if not for the characteristic way this guy looked at people, weighing them tentatively from behind those scuffed glasses.

“Mm?” was the doctor’s first response, “Mr. Rigen, is it? How odd!” He sort of smiled at the realization as he came closer. “And the young Klandsteins, too. Well now, it would seem we’ve a party on our hands.” Even at the sullen faces staring back at him, the man continued energetically, “I’m sure you’re already aware, but criminals have infiltrated the building. You see, they took me hostage, forcing me to guide them, but it would seem that one of their antics has caused us to fall into this strange room.”

Sheesh, Cole said to himself, At least my problems aren’t as bad as his.

“Oh, and I would advise caution, my friends,” Achan said, “I believe one of them is in this very room, hiding somewhere.”

Cole barely kept his head from sagging. Well, so much for that…


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



((OOC: Myes... Things are finally coming together... ))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-08-2008 at 12:10 AM. Reason: Grurghlugh...
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  #23  
Old 04-25-2007, 03:39 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VII: Mortal Hunger

((OOC: Just as a note, it may be helpful to refer back this Underground Map, which I posted a while ago. I think I provided enough detail in the text, but still, it may help to visualize where Jack and Scott are. ))

Part VII: Mortal Hunger

Friday [00:57 GMT // 12:57 AM]
Unconscious bodies lined the holding area’s curving corridor, leaving a trail of hapless victims to the large dog monster a few meters ahead of Scott. Even now, it wrestled another person to the ground, growling as if to tell the man beneath its paws to stay down.

“Hurry up!” Lieutenant Manning called back to Sergeant Lepton, his work boots mashing shards of glass into the ground.

“What did you expect?!” Jack said, “You shot me, remember?!” A wearied hand hovered over his chest as he followed Scott, trying to hide his heavy breathing.

“Oh, please,” Scott mumbled with an unconcerned sigh, “They were only rubber bullets…”

“Well, the interrogations here aren’t exactly pleasant, either.”

“Ugh, why did HQ send you, again?” Scott sighed as he wrapped an arm around his partner to help him walk.

“As I recall,” Jack retorted, despite the relief in his expression, “It was because somebody was taking too long with the mission.” His nearly shredded suit seemed to reflect how worn his body felt.

“Hey, I was about to get promoted until you had show your ugly face,” Scott said.

“Yeah, yeah…”

“Shoulda left you for dead…”

The pair continued toward the holding area’s antechamber so that they might make an escape, following the path Hell Hound had made for them. Deeply gray walls left a bland impression as they moved past dingy cells, unwilling to look at the defeated faces gazing up at them in a curious light.

“Wait,” Jack spoke up as they neared the Prison Guard Room, motioning to a security desk a few meters away, “Get my belt.” Indeed, there was a dark belt coiled up on that steel surface, a lone Pokéball attached to it.

“Whoa, you only brought one with you?” Scott asked, taking the limp object in his hand.

For a second, Jack only stared at his belt, a sort of far-off glaze pulling at his eyelids. “No, I didn’t… there were more...”

“…Oh.” His face tightened, trying not to think about what might’ve become of the others. Dammit, Nathaniel… Don’t you have enough test subjects, already? But he didn’t have time to stand around wondering. “Let’s just get outta here.”

“…Yeah.”

Helping his friend along, Scott headed out of the holding area.

“So you really did come for him,” remarked Nathaniel’s irritating voice, “I suppose I gave you too much credit, Mr. Manning. I thought you were much smarter than this…”

Stepping past the entourage of spilled glass, the pair of men looked up to see the enemy captain standing at the other end of the Prison Guard Room. The security check to the right was already busted open thanks to Scott’s favorite dog, now standing atop the heavy counter in the corner, making sure the body slung over the side didn’t get up again. At the sight of its master’s grim expression, Hell Hound jumped down, its thick claws clicking against the floor as it approached Scott’s side.

“My my…” Nathaniel went on, clutching a pair of spheres in each hand as the lackeys from earlier filed in behind him, “I’m rather surprised that Mr. Lepton is still alive, let alone capable of walking.” His henchmen pulled their rifled into ready position.

“What?” Scott looked at his partner.

But instead of replying, Jack only ripped the Pokéball from his belt and let it burst open in his hand, the ensuing crimson glow subsiding into a trio of silver bubble-shapes. Large magnets jutted out of that steel body as it hovered there, a light buzzing noise reverberating around the room.

“Maaaaag… nnetonnn,” came the creature’s grinding voice

Immediately, gunshots erupted in the chamber, but each bullet veered towards Magneton, caught in its intense magnetic pull. Ricocheting shells rang dangerously against the monster’s metal exterior, shaking its body like a tuning fork.

Kilowatt,” Jack breathed tiredly as the noise died down, “Disarm them.”

A visible pulse emanated from the creature, distorting Scott’s vision as he looked toward the enemy. Almost instantly, their weapons leapt from their hands to clang against Kilowatt's tough frame. Numerous rifles clattered to the floor as Magneton released its hold over them.

Nathaniel clicked his teeth together in frustration, opening the four spheres in his hands. A wall of red light made Scott squint as he watched a slew of new opponents appear. At a glance, all the monsters looked the same, their serpentine figures forming an perfect line in front of the enemy captain.

Seviper? Four of them… Scott’s eyes widened as he looked closer.

Each one of those scaled bodies bore tremendous stitches and scars across it, disfiguring a normally black and violet coloration. Their barren eyes stared back at him without so much as a hint of life, while their only waited there, completely motionless. They didn’t seem fierce or angry or vicious or wild; they only seemed empty, and in a way, frightening.

His mouth twisted with disgust. “What the hell’ve you done to them?”

“Just a little enhancement," the man answered as a matter of course. He seemed oblivious to any malcontented feelings about the subject.

But Scott didn't get a chance to respond, feeling Jack slump under his grasp. He looked down to see his partner, hands to the floor, coughing violently through strained breaths. The man's back heaved erratically, shaking his entire body with a choking grip.

"Ah," Nathaniel chimed in again, that slight smile returning to his face, "So it's finally kicking in, is it? Though, I must admit, Mr. Lepton is quite the robust individual to have resisted for this long."

Turning back to his enemy, Scott's brow dipped downward, and his teeth clenched. "What did you give him?"

"Oh, don't worry," Nathaniel said, "You'll be dead long before Mr. Lepton succumbs to the toxin. I'm certain he has at least another hour and a half of excruciating pain left. Perhaps more, depending on how stubborn he wishes to be."

Dammit, no choice, Scott told himself, whipping a favored sphere from beneath his coat.

A wave of Nathaniel's hand sent the group of snakes lunging toward Scott, but Hell Hound and Kilowatt bought him the time he needed, shoving the reptilian monsters back with an electrified stream of smoldering flames, casting a foul-scented smoke through the entire room.

Faint crimson spewed from the chosen Pokéball, quickly receding into a creature of renowned appearance. Deep orange scales covering its body, the monster’s thick tail led up to a pair of thoroughly muscular legs. Modest, verdant wings sprouted from its back, and sharpened claws protruded from the tips of its small hands. Its head, however, was perhaps the most offsetting, seemingly to imply a quaint sort of innocence with its childish eyes, tiny horn, and dainty pair of antennae-like appendages.

Reaching down to Jack’s belt, Scott took Kilowatt’s Pokéball. “I’ll hold onto this,” he promised before looking up to his Dragonite again. “Wyvern,” Scott said urgently, drawing a fiercely loyal expression from the monster, “Take Jack and get out of here as fast as you can. Get him to the hospital in Ecruteak, got that?”

Wyvern nodded in confirmation and swept down low to take the wearied sergeant into its confident arms. Pulling Jack tightly against its chest, that powerful bulk swung around and bolted through the corridor on the right, leaving a turbulent upsurge through the cloudy room as it tore a path through anyone bold enough to get in the way.

Wyvern’s the best bet for saving Jack right now, he told himself after losing sight of the dragon. I’ll just have to do this th- The sight of a lurching snake head left the thought unfinished as his body jerked backwards.

Seviper slid into the ground, but didn’t falter after the failed attack, throwing its deadly, violet-tipped tail to wrap tightly around Scott's leg. The man cringed against the straining pressure in his shin and reached for his guns, but Hell Hound was already there. Even with another snake digging its fangs into the dog’s back, Houndoom only focused on the one attacking its owner, relentless cuspids tearing through that softer body. The dog wrenched back, ripping the Seviper through the air.

“Hold,” came Nathaniel’s lone word through the dissipating whiff of smoke. Immediately, each Seviper receded from the attack, slinking back to the slender captain.

But Hell Hound didn’t care. Specks of angry fire brimming in its jaws, the dog beast tackled the snake that had suddenly released its grip.

“Almost as uncivilized as yourself, Mr. Manning,” Captain Nathaniel said as he glanced at Houndoom.

Gritting his teeth, Scott thrust his handguns up and fired, a resounding crack echoing through the room’s dull walls with each successive shot.

A flick of Nathaniel’s wrist brought a snake up to take the hits for him. Bullets pierced the Seviper’s rigid flesh, drawing blood almost instantly. But the creature never uttered a single sound. No angry hiss, no painful whimper. Nothing.

He lowered his guns, unable to keep the abhorred expression from his face.

“Marvelous, aren’t they?” Nathaniel inquired with an almost delighted expression. “Without souls, they will never refuse an order from me.”

“You took their souls?” Scott nearly gasped.

“Oh, no,” the man elaborated, “These are simply bodies that have been revived. Living flesh, if you will. Of course, extensive surgery was needed so I could be sure that they would only follow my commands, but I believe the results are quite worth the effort.”

Scott’s gaze drifted across the room, looking hollowly over the myriad of wide faces that arrived to support their captain. Kilowatt still hovered in the air, scratches covering its steely spheres. “Playing with the dead, huh…?” The words spilled from his mouth without effort as his guns retreated into his jet-black coat. “Perhaps it’s time to end all this…” His navy-colored shoulder plates rustled above his arms as they reached to call both of his allies back to their designated Pokéballs, leaving him to stand there, alone. A wave of silence fell over the growing crowd of soldiers as Scott lowered his head, unwilling to lift his eyes to theirs.

“What’s this?” Captain Nathaniel broke in after a moment, “You are surrendering? How uncharacteristically benign of you, Mr. Manning… I was certain that you would be overcome with the desire to go to young Leonardo’s aid.”

Tapping his fingertips to his skull, Scott could already feel the growing turmoil in his head.

“After all,” the other man continued contentedly, the light twitching above his head, “Even my precious Seviper here are mere toys in comparison to the legacy that my teacher left in that clandestine tower… Perhaps he will have the privilege of encountering it before he dies.” The awe in his voice was unmistakable.

“Y’know…” Scott grunted through the tensed muscles all over his body, face still pointed toward the floor, “Electricity is a true marvel of nature, don’tcha think?” His forehead bulged with pumping veins.

The enemy captain only quirked an eyebrow at the odd remark.

“Even before we'd discovered how to harness it, electricity played an important part in our lives,” he went on, feeling the wavering air stumble against his skin. “I mean, at the subatomic level, electricity pretty much runs the show, eh?” His breaths grew heavier as the ceiling’s lights began to flicker more and more intensely. “Er, technically, they call it electromagnetism, but you get the idea, right?” He could hear his voice beginning to tremble from the sheer force of energy pouring into his eyes.

Nathaniel’s eyes widened at the unfolding scene. “Attack him!” he suddenly shouted, desperation unmistakable, “Kill him, now!” All of them seemed to lunge forward in the same instant.

“Too late,” He could hardly even hear himself through the pressure pounding in his ears. Those burning gold eyes fell upon the rushing crowd, more veins popping out of his forehead amongst gathering beads of sweat. An unfriendly hand reached for his face, extended fingers grabbing frantically for the man’s skin, hoping with the very tips of their nails to touch that inexplicably glowing flesh.

Obliterated. That searing gaze was an electromagnetic vacuum, absorbing even the energies binding one's very atoms together. With such crippling force, no amount of electricity would remain, reducing the entire body to aimless particles. His eyes meant imminent death.

Ripping energy from the very fibers of the human body, only splattering dust was left behind, pushed back by the force of an insatiable craving for ever-greater power. He could feel a strangling greed gripping his mind, nearly able to see an imaginary hand leap out and tear the life force right out of his enemies.

None reached him. They were all thrown back by a flurry of invisible shockwaves, losing entire limbs to a whirlwind of dirt. Blow after blow, arms and legs vanished faster than blood could appear, spilling from those gaps where even air no longer stood. Unable able to withstand the lieutenant’s elemental breakdown, oxygen caved in on itself, heightening swirling gales erupting across the room. Agonizing screams filled the chamber, only to be silenced in the next instant as faces blew away in a splash of sand. Yet they could not fall to the ground; the constant stream of attacks kept those battered figures on their feet until nothing remained at all.

Suddenly, Scott cut it off, loosening his entire body as his eyes tore upward, still brimming with a staggering amount of concentrated energy. Streaking bolts jumped from his face, obliterating entire chunks of each wall. Hold it back! Don’t let it all out at once! his mind yelled at him. No good…! My head’ll explode if I don’t get rid of it!

The shockwave sent him to the floor as it pushed ever upward, tearing straight through the ceiling. It felt like an earthquake as he lied there, a focused electric beam pouring from his vision, until at length, the blinding white subsided into a messy, dark smear.

Coughing, he tried to stand. And as his eyes cleared, everything came into perspective.

No one was left. Crumbling rocks fell from the enormous hole in the ceiling, giving a clear view of the night sky. A hand wandered to his panting chest as he gazed at the devastation he’d wrought. Even the walls had acquired enormous holes, still casting a few specks of earth toward a churned up floor.

Moving for the exit, he sighed, clutching his forehead with one hand.

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


((OOC: Phew, this little post was pretty tough to write. Almost time for the Finale. Hope you enjoy. ))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-15-2008 at 03:13 AM. Reason: UNGGH... MMMUUUSSSTTT HHHHAAVVVEEE BBBBRRRRAAAINNNSSS...
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  #24  
Old 04-30-2007, 02:28 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VII: Mortal Hunger

Friday [02:29 GMT // 2:29 AM]
Alexandra’s gloved hands rifled through the cluster of scattered Pokéballs, still searching for the correct one. She could hear Harland, even over the rush of the steam swirling around the room, clouding her vision with continuous streaks of damp white. The apparatus from before lied in ruins, entire chunks of busted glass littering the ground a few short feet away from her, unable to withstand her abilities.

An abrupt cry from the Aerodactyl caught her attention, pulling her eyes up to the right in time to see the monster tumbling straight down towards her, visible cracks of electricity seething all around its rock body with Harland’s arms all the way around its head. She swiped the last few spheres she had yet to try and skipped a few steps back to avoid the crash, metal and glass chips reeling off in different directions, a burst of smoky air making her shield her eyes.

The monster groaned wearily, but ceased struggling, finally lettings its ancient bones rest against a welcoming floor.

Gradually, Harland relinquished his grip, easing himself from the creature with jolted movements. For a moment, he only stood there, looking back at her, his body hardly under control at all. His breathing was tremendously irregular, as if constantly trying to suppress a cough in his chest. “S-see-e?” he told her through the chaotic heaves in his throat, “I-I d-didn-n’t ov-v-verdo it-t-t…”

“You idiot!” she screamed frantically, rushing to his side as he dropped to the ground again, convulsing uncontrollably. “Are you trying to rupture all the veins in your body?!” She gritted her teeth, able to feel a wave of disruptive energy emanating from him. The source of the electricity was the compact generator hidden under the clothes on his back, but she knew better than to attack the thing directly. The gloves, a thought reminded her. Her index finger dove for the trigger on his wrist, but his arms flailed too unpredictably. Her temples bulged furiously as she lengthened the distance between them, knowing that touching him anywhere would be more than just painful. And then, the mission statement rang through her head:

“In the event that a squad member should die or become too injured to continue, the remaining squad members should proceed with the mission objective.”

Standing there, watching her comrade’s unyielding seizures, she hesitated. Trying to help him would risk injury to myself as well… Her penetrating green eyes stared through the spoon-shaped holes in her dog-nosed mask. But she wouldn’t get any more time to consider her options.

Several shapes appeared in the corner of her vision, authoritative blue uniforms gradually uncloaking from behind that steamy cloud. Security, she recognized instantly.

The biggest priority in her mind was suddenly to avoid being seen. She could still use the encircling fog to her advantage. Immediately, her hands dropped to the ground, laid flat against the floor’s heavy tile. A deep breath filled her lungs, tensing the muscles in her hands and tightening the focus in her mind. Another quick glance around the area gave her all the information she needed. Better take them both.

A huge square appeared in the floor, encasing Harland, Aerodactyl, and herself in its large, cutting streaks. Her fingertips tilted upwards, bringing part of the cutout with them so that the four-sided plane jutted out like a teeter-totter in the middle of the floor, leaving a large gap in the floor where it had been. The new incline let the trio begin sliding down to the laboratory below, but before they fell from the edge, Alexandra’s hands moved back behind her, extending the length of the plane on its bottom end while shortening it on the top. She stepped to the lower level with relative easy and quickly shoved the displaced chunk of ceiling back into position, turning to her comrade and quarry, lumped next to each other a few feet away. An eyebrow rose at the unexpected gash in the ground next to them.

Hm? perked a thought as she surveyed the small lab room, Leon and that doctor aren’t here… Her eyes fell back to the destroyed tile. What happened? Nearly sighing, she ignored the light-headedness creeping up on her. It’ll be difficult to finish the mission on my own, she acceded, approaching the man still seizing across darker tile.

Her palms hit linoleum again and she slowly pulled them up towards her face. The tile around Harland’s unstable body mimicked her movement, gradually moving over him and locking him down. It was like the floor was trying to swallow him, only stopping midway to restrain his rigid movement. She took her chance and tapped a lone finger against the man’s gloved wrist, finally sighing with a bit of relief as she watched the crying sparks fade from new tears in his jet-black clothes. The charge had been strong enough to rip through flesh, leaving a slew of what would surely become scars. Harland only lied there, smoldering quietly in unconsciousness.

“Ah, yes,” broke in an airy voice that Alexandra recognized right away, “That is quite the handy little trick you have there, isn’t it?”

She spun around to see the voluptuous figure of another woman, sharply clad in silver-black attire. Her smoothly cut jacket flared open to reveal a platinum-colored vest-coat below. The woman’s face might’ve been beautiful if not for that sense of contempt in her gaze, but then, Alexandra figured most men wouldn’t notice such things. A pair of distinguished, crimson shoulder plates indicated a venerable status.

Captain Sareena… Alexandra squinted, trying not to think about how little she liked this woman.

At the masked woman’s silence, the sour-faced captain continued, “Material Displacement, isn’t that right? You’re the girl that can move matter with her mind, as I recall.”

‘Girl’? Despite her growing annoyance, Alexandra nodded before asking the obvious question. “What are you doing here, Captain Sareena? I was never informed of your assignment to this mission.”

“Unfortunately,” she began to explain, touching a smooth fingernail to her cheek, “My presence was necessary to fully realize the good doctor’s plans. There are just so many variables at work here, you know. It is quite a lot for one man to handle alone, even one as capable as the doctor.”

Alexandra’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “What do you mean?”

Sareena’s smile seemed out of place with her harsh expression. “The doctor had his hands full with you and your comrades, so it is my duty to make sure that all the other pieces fall into place, as well.”

“What pieces?”

“The young Klandstein children,” she replied decisively.

Alexandra didn’t say anything, still trying to stave off the confusion gripping her head. What do the owner’s children have anything to do with this? Her eyes drifted to the unconscious Aerodactyl a few meters away from her, its ashy eyelids hiding a normally fearsome gaze.

“Oh, come now,” Sareena went on, “You didn’t seriously believe that this mission was only about retrieving this monster and a little information, did you?”

She turned back to the captain, feeling a tinge of false hope in her chest.

“Hm, I suppose you did. That would be just like you, after all.” Sareena’s expression fell more severe.

“So the Commander really did intend to have us killed on this mission…” Somehow, a part of her still refused to acknowledge it. She didn't know why; in fact, it even sounded like something the Commander might do. But...

“If the only goals of the mission were to obtain this Aerodactyl and eliminate you, then I would not have been needed,” the harsh captain explained, her voice growing graver with each word.

“There’s another objective?”

The woman nodded slowly, her face purely business. “You are going to die here. And after we have properly disassociated your corpses from our organization, you will take responsibility for the deaths of Steven Jacob Klandstein and Mabel Louise Klandstein.”

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

Friday [02:42 GMT // 2:42 AM]
Crouching as low as he could manage without actually sitting down, Leon peered around the edge of a robust machine. Eight pairs of feet, he counted, sight limited to about knee-level due to an odd hole in one of the metal objects. He thanked his mask for keeping all the unsettled dust out of his face. His gloveless hand touched the Pokéball at his belt as the other supported his weight. I’m lucky I managed to pull Venusaur back before it hit the ground, remarked a relieved thought, his eyes glancing down at the ball for a moment.

The doctor’s whereabouts had eluded him, but after hearing a second crashing noise from behind and a seeing the lights flip on in the vast room, he’d decided to stay hidden until he gained a better grasp of the situation.

All the while, that crushing presence had never left his mind. The intensifying pressure against his body felt like it could swallow him whole. Never before had he felt such a terrifying hunger, but even that wasn’t the most frightening part of it. This avaricious desire was utterly indiscriminate. The craving wasn’t just for food or flesh or even blood. It was for anything at all, as if none would ever escape its sights.

The sound of crumbling stone stole his attention, and he spun around to see yet another hole digging through the ceiling, this time much closer to the wall opposite the last crash. His eyes flashed at the sight of a figure falling through. The person slammed into the wall, but instead of merely falling from there, the vertical surface suddenly popped out at a slanted angle to let the figure slide down to the ground.

Alexandra, he immediately surmised, and upon seeing another body and what might’ve been a large, winged monster tumble down with her, he figured assistance may be needed. His legs were already bolting across that dust-slickened flooring when he saw one more figure descend from the ceiling. Squinting, he could scarcely make the shape out as female, but it didn’t take him long to identify her.

She didn’t fall. Her body moved as if she were standing on an escalator, lowering towards the floor with a graceful ease.

Captain Sareena? asked a puzzled thought, I doubt there’s anyone else that can distort air molecules in a place like this… but… His own urgent steps seemed to answer the question before it entered his mind. She’s here to kill us. The murderous intent emanating from that woman was undeniable in his sensitive mind. A grim shimmer fell over his eyes as he gripped the hilt of his sword.

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


Friday [02:42 GMT // 2:42 AM]
“What was that?” Cole blurted jumpily. “Did the ceiling just cave in over there?” He hoped he wasn’t the only person who witnessed the falling stone.

“Looks like we’re not alone,” Steven remarked, stepping up next to the young man. “Could be the intruders.” His eyes met Cole’s, a kind of strange mixture of fear and anticipation residing within.

Cole swallowed hard, trying to keep any unnecessary fright from entering his mind. What a crazy place… How did I end up here, anyway…?

“Stay back,” came Kard’s commanding tone as he walked in front of the boys. “I can’t guarantee your safety if you do something stupid.” The half-grin on the security chief’s face seemed more serious than playful. “I’ll go check it out,” he told them, signaling to two of his three subordinating guards. His gaze shifted to Dr. Achan for a moment and Cole thought he saw a frown for a second. “Doctor, you’re with me.”

Achan nearly flinched. “Hm?” he said, “You intend to put a delicate individual like myself in harm’s way? I’m just a helpless medical aficionado…”

“You’ve seen the intruders, have you not? You could help us identify friend from foe." Kard surveyed the doctor's face as if looking for something.

“Eh-” the doctor hesitated, “But… who could possibly be a friend in a place like this?”

“Well,” the chief said with a harsh glint in his eyes, “You’re a… friend, aren’t you?” He folded his arms, all but stating that he didn’t trust the other man in the least.

Achan choked back his last words with a terse smile. Apparently unable to concoct an adequate response, the lab coat simply fell in beside Kard and his men.

Looking back to the three teenagers and his last subordinate, the security chief said, “You four just stay put. We’ll be back soon.” Kard’s team disappeared behind a wall of hulking machinery.

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



((OOC: Still whittlin' away on this puppy. This piece was a smidgen shorter than usual, but that's probably a good thing, neh? ^^; ))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-17-2008 at 07:43 AM. Reason: Ruff.
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Old 05-08-2008, 05:13 AM
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Default AFAF // Part VII: Mortal Hunger

Friday [02:44 GMT // 2:44 AM]
The huge device was as cold as ice. Just standing next to it, Alexandra could feel the air chilling around her. The new room seemed entirely foreign to her, but this particular machine looked quite different than the rest, almost like a coffin propped up against the wall. Aside from the abundant wires and switches decorating its top, the thing seemed a container of some sort, with a slight crease straight down the middle, perhaps for a door.

“Don’t you get it?” ringed Sareena’s stringent voice, “You’re no longer of any use. Even your own father wants you dead.” Her sour expression might have been enough to detour someone else.

“Or I could just kill you,” Alexandra said stubbornly, “Then we would need a new captain.”

“It’s pointless. Even if you did stand a chance against me in a normal fight, you have no Pokémon with you.” Her hand swiped at her waistline and came away with a trio of spheres, immediately bursting open.

Alexandra clicked her teeth as she watched the image of a large beast appear furthest left, its tan-brown hide taking shape from that red light. Standing on two legs, rigid claws protruded from the tips of its heavy limbs. A thick tail balanced the monster’s weight and the domestic pouch on its belly hid a smaller creature of similar appearance. It was a rather medieval, kangaroo-like creature. Kangaskhan, she assessed.

The other two monsters were considerably smaller in comparison. What might have been a lavender scorpion with darker wings caught the ground as it escaped its cage, turning its fierce eyes up towards Alexandra, while the last monster appeared as a living shadow, a blackberry smudge atop a brighter background. Its lean, little body retained a few tiny claws, a crimson gem on its chest, and a pair of almost bug-like eyes. Short spikes jutted from the sides of its head like makeshift ears, complementing the monster’s sort of quaintly demonic veneer.

A Gligar and a Sableye. She took a light breath as she tried to construct a plan. Four against one...

From behind her small barricade of Pokémon, Sareena almost frowned, which was surprising to Alexandra. The captain’s brow sunk distastefully.

“You look as if you have something to say,” Alexandra said. Anything to buy herself more time.

For a moment, Sareena didn’t say anything. She only stared back with an odd gaze. “…I suppose I just think it’s all a shame,” the woman finally said. “You and I are not so different, I think. And to die in a place like this…”

A curious face tilted Alexandra’s head a little. Empathy? I wouldn’t expect such words from a captain… She paused in her head. Then again, if someone like Toc can be a captain… She very nearly shrugged.

Taking a breath, Sareena seemed to gather herself again. “But that’s not important, now. All that matters is achieving the directive.”

“I-” A loud hissing noise cut her off.

The large mechanism from a moment ago rocked suddenly and spewed warm steam at Alexandra. She squinted, hands in front of her face as she tried to discern a shadowed image that appeared amidst the ivory clouds.

It was tall, taller than any person could be, despite its roughly humanoid figure, and as she gazed up at it through her smoking vision, she couldn't help but feel a terrible kind of dread.

Is that a Pokémon?

Steam cleared away with sluggish reluctance, still hovering around the apparent monster that stood quietly before her. It was like a dinosaur, unquestionably predatory. Scales the size of dinner plates covered its body, a deep sort of ashen color, leaving a lustrous glow from the light fixtures above. Its disproportionate limbs remained motionless, heavily muscular legs keeping their tremendous claws to themselves, while lanky arms hid their hooks in closed fists. A bulky neck followed the contours of its skull, leading straight into tightly shut eyes and a few daggered teeth, poking out from sealed jaws.

Sareena stole the words from Alexandra’s mouth. “…What the hell is that?”

The masked woman glanced at the captain. Maybe I can use this to my advantage, somehow... But the thought dropped out of her mind as she watched the creature's eyes open.

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

Friday [02:48 GMT // 2:48 AM]
Cole jumped as he felt the machine behind him move. Spinning, he saw the square shape heave its cobwebbed body from the floor. Thick, mechanical appendages unfolded from its old frame, propping the thing up on a pair of legs, just like a person. Arms jutted out as it began to move forward. It was sluggish at first, as if tired, but gradually grew quicker and more precise with each step, until it leapt atop another machine and bounded toward the other side of the chamber.

He couldn't peel his wide eyes away, even as the sound of its crashing steps dulled in the distance. "Um... why do you have a giant robot in your basement?"

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

Friday [02:48 GMT // 2:48 AM]
The nameless monster lunged forward, and Alexandra leapt back, barely missing the snap of its salivating jaws. It nearly stumbled, and as she watched it regain balance on its tremendous legs, she couldn’t help but sense the terrible hunger in the creature’s gaze. Its excessive drool burned the tile on the floor like acid.

Its body ducked low, almost horizontal, and its beaded eyes jerked from one place to another. After seeing Sareena and her three monsters, its attention shifted. It lunged again, quicker than before. The three Pokémon scattered, but the dinosaur still caught the Gligar's wing. It thrust the little scorpion around its jaws, purple body and tail flailing hopelessly, and slammed the smaller creature into the ground, cracking the floor. Immediately, it relinquished its hold, letting the Gligar fall limp. It reared its head back and opened its huge jaws, wider than what even seemed possible; its leathery skin stretched like a snake, and its stomach bulged grotesquely as it swallowed its prey whole. A lump in its fat neck appeared and promptly disappeared. Another moment passed, and the tip of the monster's thick tail flexed and twitched disgustingly, slowly hardening into a giant stinger.

"What is this thing!?" came Sareena's shocked voice. "Kangas-" The word broke off suddenly, hanging unfinished.

Alexandra turned and saw Leon there. A sword protruded from the captain's chest. The woman could barely cough before falling to floor amidst her own blood.

A guttural cry stole Alexandra's attention before she could process what had just happened. The monster had the Kangaskhan pinned on the ground, half-swallowed already. She could hardly believe how far its jaw could stretch, wrapping completely around its large prey. In the next instant, the kangaroo vanished, and the unknown monster's immense body bulged to even more massive proportions. The top of its skull shifted strangely, taking a coarse, domed shape.

Alexandra tried to keep her own breath steady as she backed farther away from the huge creature. When she looked for Leon again, he wasn't there. But before her mind could protest, loud crushing noises quickly grew closer until a giant figure rushed past her vision and slammed head on into the vicious-eyed monster.

She tried to think, but with everything happening at once, it was difficult.

The machine forced the monster against the wall, unrelenting in its bashing strikes at the creature's abdomen, but the monster was still larger in size. Its hardened tail thrashed around and shot into the machine's side, breaking straight through the metal covering, and the mechanized soldier contorted and crumpled to the ground.

And all at once, Alexandra could hear the chamber fill with several more crashing sounds, descending from every direction...

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



((OOC: Considering how much my writing style has changed over this past year (o.O), I've decided to work on the whole story again, not just new posts. Slowly editing things and reformatting junk. And no, it's still not done yet. *ROFLCRIES*))
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Last edited by Galleon; 05-18-2009 at 10:00 AM. Reason: Gimme a second... I just need a way to blame this on Scott...
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