Author's Chapter Notes:
We join up again with Mark and Co. after their failed attempt at a visit with Sarah. While recovering from aforementioned events, Mark and his partners are surprised by a pair of guests at the station when they arrive one morning, and are further surprised to learn they're being dispatched to assist the duo.
Two weeks after returning home from the catastrophic visit, the Chief started having me ride shotgun with one of the patrolling officers in the afternoons; though it was about as eventful as office work due to the town being nearly abandoned in the day and the generally quiet atmosphere of the suburbs.
Simon fared worse than I did when it came to getting back to normal life, but after a few weeks of reassurance he began to relax and worry less; though I couldn't say the same for Jade. The usually spunky Medicham had been gloomy and quiet ever since returning. Ruby stuck close to Jade's side throughout the following weeks, seeming to try to cheer her up but it didn't seem to be helping. I thought about trying to help, but it seemed best to let the two closest to her handle it. In the meantime, I tried to focus on work.
Clara coped better than any of us when it came to recovering, by the end of the first week she was back to her cheery self. I was grateful to her for that, she always seemed to be there when I needed her, and was always more than happy to help.
Every evening, before I called the taxi company for a ride back to my uncle's house, I tried calling Sarah's cell phone. The first week and a half all I got were a few rings before the call was rejected, and after that the phone didn't even ring and went straight to voice-mail. I figured she had worked out when I would try to call her and made sure to turn her phone off before then. Eventually I conceded defeat on that front and gave up calling altogether. After that, I tried to get back in touch via email, but it went about the same. No reply, week after week.
One month after our return, something broke the monotony. We got to work on a Friday morning to find a pair of people in red and brown uniforms consisting of a vest and a belt full of tools that seemed survival oriented, but one device on the belt seemed out of place on the rest. The man and woman were talking with Chief Ramsey in the lobby, and stopped mid conversation when we entered.
"Mark, glad you're here." Ramsey said, turning to face us.
"Hey chief, what's going on?" I asked.
The woman in strange uniform spoke up, "So you're Mark." She said, "It's good you're here, I'm Beth, and this is Steven." She said, her male counterpart tipping his hat as he was introduced, "We're pokemon rangers."
I took a moment to process the information. "Nice to meet you," I said, "what brings you to the police?" I asked, a tad confused.
This time it was Steven who spoke up. "Our station is a few miles north of here, and we came across a problem that we can't take care of on our own." He said bluntly, "Naturally, we came to the nearest other authority center to request assistance."
Ramsey interrupted here, "They had reports of a group of trainers going missing in the woods west of their station, they were supposed to arrive at the pokemon center in the next town two days ago and they haven't yet. Rangers specialize in temporarily recruiting pokemon to assist them that are found in the area they're currently working in, so as not to disturb nature, but they've hit a dead end in their own search."
Beth took over from there, "The forest has a bunch of bug pokemon we can capture, but if we ask them to lead us to trainers in the area, they just bring us to the main path through the woods to whatever group's currently on their way through. We've tried recruiting some rodent and a few canine pokemon to hunt them by scent, but after a few days and few good samples for them to track, our attempts came up cold."
"Alright," I said, "So you came here to ask for help tracking them down with our Growlithe, but wouldn't that just have the same problem as the other canines you tried?"
"Not exactly," Steven said, "We were hoping to borrow some of your officers to help in a sweep of the forest and their Growlithe would have helped pick up on the scent of people away from the main path."
Beth picked up again, "The current problem is the lack of officers here, it's a small town station and thus only has enough to handle a small town."
"That's where you come in, Mark." Ramsey said.
I raised my eyebrow, not quite understanding.
"See, we can't really afford to dispatch our other officers to help, but we do have one officer we can send out without much downside, you." Ramsey said.
"You're dispatching me sir?" I asked, somewhat excited and the idea.
Chief Ramsey nodded.
I felt a brief surge of giddiness before logic caught up with me. "Wait, how can we do a sweep of an entire forest with just two rangers and me?" I asked.
Ramsey smiled, "That's where your unique talents come in."
"The main path splits the woods pretty much in two," Beth spoke up, "Me and Steven can cover the larger half of the split on our own. We know the area and we know the pokemon; though it will still take us a while to do that. We don't think we can cover both halves and still expect to find the trainers in good condition though, and when we found out your station's lack of officers we thought we were screwed until Ramsey mentioned that you had a psychic pokemon."
Clara broke her silence and addressed the rangers, "Oh, you want me to cover the other half of the woods by sensing their thoughts right?" she asked eagerly.
Steven and Beth both shook their heads, seeming a bit dizzy and confused before turning to spot the Gardevoir standing behind me and nodding.
"That's the idea." Steven said.
"Alright, I'm all for it." I said, smiling.
"Alright Mark, I hereby relieve you from active duty and place you on paid leave until the missing trainers are located." Chief Ramsey announced in an official tone.
After a few minutes of discussing the minute details, Beth and Steven gave me a ride to my uncle's house. They told me to pack light, but have enough to sustain myself and my partners for a few days. They were explaining the situation to Ted when I went up the stairs to pack clothes, and by the time I returned to pack food, they were engrossed in swapping tips on taking care of pokemon, each of them seemed equally knowledgeable on the subject too. A few minutes later I was set and waved goodbye to my uncle as we headed off back towards town. On the way, something occurred to me and I asked if they could stop by the post office before leaving, and they agreed, although confused at my request. We pulled up and I hopped out while Clara stayed in the car and waited.
"Hey Mark, you're here early." Simon said cheerfully from across the counter as I came in.
"Yeah, something came up and I wanted to tell you where I'd be for the next few days so you weren't left wondering." I said, and proceeded to explain the situation. Simon perked up at the mention of them wanting the help of a psychic pokemon and looked back at Jade, who was sorting mail quietly in the back.
"Mark," he said seriously, "Can you do me a favor and take Jade with you?" he asked.
I blinked, shocked by the offer. "You sure that'd be okay?" I asked.
"She's been blaming herself ever since the road trip and is convinced you hate her now." Simon said quietly. "she needs a break from the monotony more than anything and this seems like the perfect solution to both problems."
I nodded, understanding, and smiled. "Alright, I'd be happy to have her help."
Simon beamed and called Jade over before explaining to her what he wanted. She seemed shocked at first, but shyly agreed to come with me. Simon handed over her pokeball in case anything went wrong, and together, Jade and I walked back out to the car; Jade staring intently at the ground the whole way to avoid eye contact with me. Clara smiled and hugged Jade tightly after she got in the car, causing Jade to blush. Beth and Steven both gave an understanding nod when they recognized the extra help and we set off for the ranger station.
The drive was long, but not nearly as long as the road trip had been, and Jade seemed noticeably less gloomy with Clara next to her and chatting the whole way. After we arrived at the station I let Flare out of his pokeball, then Beth and Steven spent about half an hour getting us familiar with a map of the forest and surrounding area as well as the local species of pokemon we might encounter and may how to incapacitate them with as little harm possible if conflict should arise. I tried as best I could to retain the massive amount of info, and I was relieved to see at least Clara was being her usual genius self and eagerly absorbing everything she was told. Jade and Flare sat together at the back of the room, both waiting patiently. After the orientation was over they gave us a GPS unit in case we got lost, a fold up map of the woods, and a radio to keep in touch with them in case we found the lost trainers or something went wrong.
By now it was noon and we all had a light lunch together before heading out into the woods. We all stayed on the main path until the light of the entrance to the forest had faded, after which we went our separate ways into the trees. Flare couldn't seem to stop sniffing the air after that due to all the new smells. I was glad to see Jade perk up once we were off the path; when I asked her about it she said it felt like coming home for her. Clara was having a bit of trouble keeping her footing on the rougher terrain, so we had to slow down so she wouldn't trip up, Flare seemed thankful for this as well as it gave him more time to sniff everything we passed.
The hike was uneventful save the occasional bird pokemon singing overhead or one of the resident Beedrill buzzing by to investigate before flying back the way it had come. Hours passed with nothing to report from either psychic types other than the surrounding wild pokemon, and around dusk we reached the outer edge of the woods and turned back. The plan was to do a wide zig-zag back and forth from the southern edge of the woods to the main path in the middle to cover as much area as we could. We estimated we were halfway back to the main path on our current leg of the search when it got dark enough for Jade to recommend we set up camp. Both of us exhausted, Clara and I happily agreed. Flare wandered off into the woods to explore and as I laid out our bedrolls. I offered Jade mine since I had packed for only Clara and myself. Jade smiled and declined, saying she preferred to sleep on the ground. I shrugged and told her it was hers anytime she wanted, and to my surprise she thanked me. It was hard to believe that this was the same person that had kicked the wind out of me the first time we met.
After getting settled I checked in with Beth and Steven, who were setting up their own camps for the night as well. Beth reminded me to clear the undergrowth down the bare dirt if I planned to make a fire, and I thanked her for the advice. I used my shoe, now being barefoot and sitting on a clean bedroll, to clear out the dead leaves and plants on the ground before piling up some sticks for a small fire on the bare patch. I was digging in my bag for a lighter when a flash of light followed by a WHOOSH and a loud THUD made me nearly jump out of my skin. I whipped around to see the sticks now quickly catching fire from the edge of the pile as jade shook her now smoking hand away from the flames.
"Been too long since I've used that one," She said, "Accidentally burnt myself."
It took me a moment to realize she must have used a fire punch to start it. I took her hand with surprisingly little resistance from her and examined it. The burn was minor, but still would be better patched up than left to heal on its own. I rummaged through my bag and pulled out the first aid kit before tending to her wound, winning a blush and a mumbled "thank you" from Jade. I smiled and told her not to mention it as she sat down in her usual meditation pose.
I distributed the majority of a box of crackers between the three of us at the fire and left out a bowl of dog food for Flare for when he returned. After that I settled in and stared at the fire for a while until Jade spoke up.
"Mark?" She asked quietly. "Do you think those trainers are all right?"
I thought for a moment before answering. "Well, they'll definitely have their pokemon to help them, and the trainers I've met have been fairly resourceful as far as I've seen."
Jade nodded slowly and closed her eyes, seeming to go to sleep. Knowing her though, I figured she was just meditating. Clara meanwhile had lain down on her own bedroll and was slowly drifting off to sleep. I could tell she wasn't used to sleeping on her own, partly from the small telepathic link we shared, but mostly from knowing her as well as I do. Fortunately, she was tired enough from the day's hiking that she had little trouble falling asleep for the night. I stayed up waiting for Flare to return.
An hour passed, and then another, and another still without Flare returning. Worried, I pulled out my cell phone to check the time; it was coming up on midnight.
"Jade, can you sense Flare anywhere nearby?" I asked, trying to stay calm.
Jade opened her eyes for a moment looking at me, then closed them again, focusing. I watched her nervously. Suddenly her eyes flew open, worry on her face. "Mark, I can't feel him." She said, "I'm so sorry, I should have been keeping track of him."
"No," I said adamantly, "Don't blame yourself because it's not your fault." I looked over at Clara who was still passed out and breathing deeply. After weighing my options I sighed deeply.
"What are you going to do?" Jade asked nervously.
"We're going to go look for him." I said, "We can't exactly bring Clara with, she's exhausted and wouldn't be able to keep up in the dark."
"You're going to leave her behind?" Jade asked.
"I don't like it, but I don't like Flare going missing even less." I said, pulling a small battery powered lantern from my backpack. Jade stood up and watched as I set the lantern down near Clara and began to scratch out a message in the illuminated dirt: "Flare's missing, gone to look for him. Stay here, we'll be back. Jade and Mark" After that, I returned to my bag and pulled out a small LED flashlight I brought with in case the lantern died.
"You sure that will be enough light?" Jade asked.
"It'll have to do." I said flatly as I pulled the GPS from the bag. After fiddling with the device for a few minutes I managed to set the campsite's coordinates as a way-point so we could find our way back, though the lack of a lit screen made it difficult make out the display. Finally, I pulled out our radio and tried to contact Beth or Steven; neither replied.
"They must be asleep." Jade said.
I nodded silently as I stood up. "Well," I said, "let's get going." Jade nodded and with that we set off.
We walked in a widening spiral with the camp as the center, with Jade keeping a mental lookout for Flare. The light from the flashlight didn't go far, so most of the time I had to point it towards the ground in front of me to avoid tripping on the undergrowth or exposed tree roots. Jade stuck close to my heels and didn't seem to have a problem keeping her footing. The light from the campfire grew smaller and dimmer the further out we went and before long we lost sight of it entirely. We did our best to approximate the spiral we had been going in, but having lost sight of the center we were well and truly lost before long. We pushed on though, determined not to give up and hoped to stumble across Flare eventually; after all we had the GPS and could find our way back to camp any time. Fatigue was starting to get to me after about an hour of hiking this way, and before I could make mention of it I felt Jade take the burden off of me and fill me with fresh energy as she had on the road trip. I thanked her and we continued on ward. Another hour of hiking yielded nothing except a gradual dimming of my flashlight, and a half-hour after that the light was too dim to even illuminate the ground at my feet. I growled in frustration and chucked the useless thing off into the woods before pulling out my cell phone and opening it up. The light from its screen was only slightly better than the flashlight had been, but it was enough to see my feet so I pushed stubbornly on.
Jade was quiet the entire time, focusing on trying to sense the massive canine. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of minutes before my Phone started chirping to signal its low battery. I was winding up to pitch my phone as well before a hand on my side stopped me. I looked down to see Jade, shaking her head.
"That's enough Mark." She said
I paused a moment before begrudgingly closing the phone and cramming it back in my pocket, now surrounded completely in darkness. I felt Jade's hand guiding me a few steps toward what revealed itself to be a tree trunk after feeling it for a bit.
"We'll rest here for the night." Jade said, gently guiding me down to a sitting position.
"I can't believe I lost him..." I growled to myself, resting my head in my hands, trying not to let the tears I could feel burning at my eyes fall. I felt Jades arms wrap around me and I let go. Jade held me for a long time as I sat there sobbing, gently rubbing my back and reassuring me that it would be okay.
"He's been with me almost every minute of my life for years..." I eventually mumbled out quietly. "He wouldn't wander off and get lost, he knows better..."
Jade nodded and continued holding me. "I'm certain he's okay, he's strong and knows how to take care of himself Mark."
"I know..." I said.
Jade held me for a while longer before repositioning herself next to me leaning against the tree. Exhausted both mentally and physically, I didn't last much longer before passing out slumped against Jade, and sometime later that night she followed suit and slumped against me.
Morning came and went; it wasn't until around noon that I awoke with a start. The previous night's events came rushing back to me and I jumped to my feet, letting a surprised Jade fall over on her side and waking her up as well. I helped Jade back up to her feet as she dusted herself off.
"You okay?" I asked tentatively.
"Yeah, just fine." She said.
"listen..." I started, "I want to thank you for helping me last night. I don't know what I would have done if you weren't there..."
"You don't have to thank me for anything." Jade said, looking down.
"No, I do." I said, "You're a really good friend and I'm extremely grateful that you're here with me right now."
Jade seemed to struggle to say something for a few moments before wordlessly hugging me, and I did my best to hug her back with our height difference.
"Come on, let's head back to camp." I said, "Clara's worrying about us right now."
"You can sense her this far out?" Jade asked.
I shook my head. "I know her well enough though."
Jade nodded understanding as I pulled out our GPS. Thankfully the campsite way-point was still saved on it and I was surprised to see we were a mile and a half away from it. With a sigh, I set out with Jade at my side for the long trek back.
Along the way we saw the same assortment of pokemon we had seen the day before, but there seemed to be a Beedrill buzzing past us every five minutes or so. They also spent more time than usual hovering around us, seeming to be studying us before flying off.
"We must be near their nest." Jade remarked as the most recent visitor flew off. Sure enough, the further we hiked the less frequent the Beedrill showed up. After what seemed like an eternity -probably due to the stress--we finally sighted the camp, but upon getting closer we saw something was very wrong.
Jade and I broke out running simultaneously, sprinting back to the campsite. One bedroll was torn to shreds and the other ripped in half. The contents of my backpack, including the shattered remnants of our radio, were scattered all over the area as well as the pieces of what I could only assume to be the remains of my bag. Clara was nowhere to be seen.
Jade closed her eyes for a moment before punching a nearby tree, leaving a large indent as she sent splinters flying. "I can't sense her anywhere near here." She all but growled.
"Damn it!" I shouted, slamming my foot down. Pain exploded in my foot as I brought it down, and I fell over clutching at it as a snapping sound could be heard. My shoulder and thigh faced the same pains as I hit the ground as well. Barely able to keep from screaming, I lifted my foot to see what had hurt me. Sticking out of the sole of my shoe was a semi-translucent purplish barb, broken at the base. I looked around and saw the other half of the thing embedded in the ground where I had stepped.
"Mark, what happened?" Jade asked worriedly.
"I'm fine." I growled, trying to get a grip on the barb that had pierced my shoe. My fingers failed to grasp it, and frustrated I pulled my foot up to my face and took ahold of it with my teeth. I yanked hard, pulling the barb free, and eliciting a fresh flare of pain from my foot. My tongue went numb upon contact with the broken end of the barb and I realized just what had stabbed me.
"Poison Sting." I growled to myself.
By now jade had spotted the barb sticking out of my shoulder and was surveying the campsite. "Mark those things are everywhere." She said nervously. I looked around and sure enough, now that I was looking for them I could see little purplish-clear barbs embedded in the ground all over the campsite, it was a miracle I hadn't impaled myself sooner.
I pulled myself to my feet, carefully avoiding stabbing myself again as I limped in retreat over to Jade. Numbness was starting to bloom in my thigh and shoulder as jade looked me over and carefully pulled the remaining two barbs out of me. I was a little thankful for the numbness as the pain of removal was dulled.
"What do they mean?" Jade asked, looking the blood stained duo of barbs over before tossing them aside.
"Beedrill did this." I said, "They're the only poison types in the whole forest."
"But why?" Jade asked.
"I don't know, but they didn't do it to defend their territory." I said. "They took Clara for something. They would have left her here if they were just defending their territory."
"What could they possibly want with her." Jade growled.
"We're going to find that out." I said resolutely. "We need to stick together though."
"No, you stay here. You're wounded." Jade said. "I'll go and find them."
I shook my head. "Think about it Jade," I said, "Flare wandered off alone, and disappeared. We left Clara alone, and she was taken, and the Beedrill never bothered us when we were together, they just looked us over, probably sizing us up individually and keeping tabs on us for when one of us was alone."
"I don't care, I can handle them." Jade growled.
"No you can't Jade." I said, "They took down Flare, a police trained powerful fire type. They took down Clara, who's just as strong as Flare in her own way. We need to stick together."
Jade was silent for a long time, shaking with barely contained rage, before finally submitting. "You're right." She growled.
"Then let's go." I said.
We hiked back in the direction we had come from, though much more slowly this time due to my injuries. There was a rather large bloodstain blooming in my shoe and my sock felt wet every time I stepped down. My pants and shirt also had sizable stains growing from where I had been punctured. The numbness from my thigh and shoulder hadn't dissipated at all and in fact seemed to be growing, but I hid this from Jade and forced myself to go on. Before long we ran into the first Beedrill of our journey, and I just barely kept Jade from smashing it right then and there.
"If we attack them now, we'll only alert the whole hive that we're a threat." I said, "We need to get closer."
Jade begrudgingly agreed and we waited for the giant wasp to fly off before continuing. I grew more accustomed to the pain in my foot (now thankfully feeling its own numbness set in) and the dulled pain in my thigh and was able to adapt to a more normal walking pattern, speeding up our progress. Another Beedrill buzzed up to us to investigate, this one seemed to focus on me for a few seconds before flying off again. After what I estimated to be the first mile the numbness in my thigh had spread to the point that I had difficulty walking right and had to slow down again. It wasn't long after that that I confirmed that I could no longer feel my foot, but I could still move it thankfully so we pressed on.
Beedrill became more common as we advanced, confirming we were indeed approaching the nest. They now came by in pairs of two or three and even a few times four. Each time I grew more and more nervous as every time they were only focusing on me, seeming to ignore Jade entirely. A while later I stumbled and fell. Jade helped me up and asked if I was okay. I blamed it on a root I didn't see, she didn't need to know I was losing muscle control in my foot by now. Not long after that we could hear a constant, low buzzing sound.
"That must be the nest." I said, adjusting our path towards the source of the noise as we hiked on. By now it was rare that we couldn't see a Beedrill somewhere near us, though now they didn't seem to be stopping for us but rather heading back and forth patrolling. They didn't seem interested in stopping us, but every time we got close to one, it would take a moment to twitch its antennae in my direction for a few seconds before returning to whatever it had been doing.
The buzzing grew louder and it wasn't long before I fell again. Jade tried to help me up, but it was no use, I had lost nearly all muscle control in my leg and had lost nearly all feeling on one entire side of my body.
"Mark, what's wrong with you?" Jade asked, almost panicking.
"I'm sorry," I said, weakly clawing my way to a sitting position. "Those barbs that got me were still active. I thought the poison would filter out before long, but it's a lot more potent than I thought it would be."
"Why didn't you tell me!?" Jade demanded.
"You would have taken off without me." I said quietly, looking down. "I needed to keep up with you so I wouldn't lose someone else to these damn bugs."
Jade balled up a fist and punched the ground, hard. "You idiot." She growled, but was surprised when I started laughing. "What's funny about this?" she said, looking angrier.
"You're finally acting like your normal self again." I said, smiling weakly.
Jade stared at me for a few seconds, stunned, before finally flopping down and breaking out laughing as well. After calming down a bit she asked, "What are we going to do now? Sit here and wait for the poison to wear off?"
"That's all we can do." I said, and Jade propped me up against her so we were leaning on each other back to back. We sat like that for nearly a half hour, watching the Beedrill buzz by on whatever errands they were running, still stopping to stare at me whenever they passed.
"They seem to like you." Jade remarked.
"They can probably smell their own poison, or something my body's putting out in response to it." I said plainly. "They're keeping tabs on its progression so they'll know when it's safe to attack us."
A thump announced Jade's fist hitting the ground. "Dammit they're so weak, if there weren't so many of them I would clear this whole damn forest out."
"They know that." I said, "Their strength is in numbers."
Another half hour passed and the numbness had only spread, now covering most of my body. I could still move my right half, but that didn't help when the attack finally came.
It started with a worker buzzing past me and stopping to 'sniff' as usual, but this time it didn't fly off, instead started making some sort of weird pulsing noise with the buzzing of its wings. Immediately every Beedrill in sight froze in midair.
"Jade, here they come!" I shouted just as the swarm descended. Jade leapt up and slung what looked like a blade of purple light with a swing of her arm at the nearest one, sending it crashing into the ground as I slumped back, unable to support my own weight. All I could see were dozens of the bug pokemon hovering back and forth above me and the occasional purple flash of Jade's energy attack or the orange flash of her fire punch. Jade managed to hold them off for a few minutes, but fatigue was setting in. I could hear her breath getting ragged as the dozens of bugs above me turned into hundreds. The buzz of their wings was deafening, so the only hint I got that Jade had been subdued was when the lights of her attacks ceased.
"Jade!" I shouted silently as the swarm descended. I felt myself being lifted from the ground by thousands of poking and prodding claws, and I was surprised that they were gentle enough not to break the skin. I couldn't see or hear anything around me for a long time except for the Beedrill carrying me, and on some level I was glad, hoping I would get to see my partners soon.
Suddenly, I felt gravity take over and fell about three feet onto some soft spongy material as the Wasps above me flew away. I heard a thud to my left and looked to see Jade had been deposited here as well. I breathed a sigh of relief and took a moment to look around as best I could. We were definitely inside the hive, and I was shocked at how massive the structure was, as well as how quiet it was after the bug pokemon had left. The walls, ceiling, and floor were made of some papery substance, which was soft but surprisingly durable. There was the occasional plug of some hard, yellow-white substance jutting out of the wall, but other than that we were in a simple round room with the only entrance being through the ceiling. It was then the smell hit me, something musky and slightly acidic that seemed familiar but I couldn't quite name it.
I tried to sit up, and was relieved to feel that the numbness was finally subsiding and I had regained control of my abdominal muscles. I did my best to crawl my way over to Jade, and found her totally unconscious.
"Jade, wake up." I pleaded, shaking her. All I got in response was a low moan. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the barbs covering a good portion of her body. It was a miracle she was still somewhat conscious with the dosage of poison she had received. I worried that she might have gotten too much, but realized that they wouldn't have captured her if they wanted to kill her. I let out another sigh of relief and set to work removing the barbs. I was forced to use my teeth again, having no better tools. The work was slow, but it was encouraging to see her regaining consciousness with each needle removed. She got better with each active one removed, and by the time I had cleared her upper body she was moving around a bit.
I had started getting control of my left arm again now, and set to work pulling the needles from her legs. The poison had to be less effective on pokemon for her to be recovering so quickly, and she seemed to fare better when it came to blood loss, only a small drop oozing from each puncture upon removal. Jade was mumbling something by the time I had cleared all but the one area I dared not put my face. Only two barbs remained: one high up on her inner thigh and one right above her pelvis.
"M-mark..." she mumbled, looking down at me weakly.
"Jade, I'm glad you're awake." I said.
"Mark, the air..." she groaned.
"Take it easy, I'll have you patched up in a minute." I said, staring down at the two remaining barbs. With a sigh I figured that I couldn't leave them in and Jade was probably too drugged up to remember the embarrassment. I leaned down, aiming for the one on her pelvis first, causing Jade to grunt and begin panting. I thought nothing of it as I swallowed and leaned in further to get the one from her thigh, only inches away from her oddly wet slit. I bit down on the needle and carefully pulled it free, letting it fall to the ground before a pair of hands pressed down on my head and pressed my face into jade's slit.
"Mark..." Jade all but moaned, holding my head to her crotch.
Unable to talk I tried to pull back, but despite her small frame Jade was far stronger than me. Smelling the musk of her slit and feeling the wetness oozing from it everything suddenly clicked into place. The musky scent in the air had to be some sort of pheromone mix. Jade whimpered and needily ground her crotch against my face and I remembered just how much a small dose had affected Clara. Seeing no way of overpowering her or speaking up, I set to work doing the only thing I could to calm Jade down. She let out a relieved sigh which quickly turned into a moan as I began working my tongue against her snatch. Her grip eased up a bit, letting me back up enough to focus on licking her clit. I ran my tongue around it in small circles, eliciting more moans from her as I realized she wasn't the only one being turned on; my pants felt tighter as I grew hard. Blushing, I sped up my licking, trying to hurry things along. Jade responded with a long moan and pressed me harder into her. Forced off of her clit, I plunged my tongue as deep as I could into her pussy and wiggled it around. I could feel her grinding against my face as she got closer and redoubled my efforts. Suddenly, Jade let out a loud moan as I felt her pussy clench down around my tongue and drench my face with her juices. She held me to her for a while longer before easing her grip and collapsing backwards. I sat up, panting and pitching a painful tent from the ordeal. Jade lay back panting in her afterglow and all I could do was smile.
I helped her to the nearest wall so she could sit and took in the rest of the room. My blood turned cold when I saw I wasn't the only person here. Three other people along with an eclectic array of pokemon shared our chamber, but after a moment I saw what they were doing. What I presumed to be the missing trainers looked drugged to say the least, and were all amid enthusiastic mating with what I could only guess to be their partner pokemon. I tried getting their attention, but they all seemed as if in a trance, or just drugged out of their minds. I could only guess as to how they came to this point, but it was probably a mix of their pokemon's desperation in this pheromone bath and the Beedrill's venom doing something to their minds. I breathed a bitter sigh of relief knowing that our secret wouldn't be remembered by these people, or at the very least we had an alibi.
Looking further into the chamber I saw two figures that caused me to drop all thought and do my best to sprint over to them. Clara and Flare were here as well. Clara was sitting against the far wall with her knees drawn up to her face, her erection plain for anyone to see. Flare was seemingly passed out next to her.
"Clara!" I shouted as I drew close. The Gardevoir looked up and immediately got up running to meet me. We embraced and she started sobbing against my chest. I held her tight, reassuring her that we were going to be okay. I could pick up some faint mumbling in my head from here but nothing coherent. She seemed utterly burned out. I started to go get Jade, but Clara refused to let me go. Begrudgingly, she let me bring her along as I went and picked the Medicham up before carrying her over next to Flare and sitting back down. I did my best to console her and after a while she calmed down.
I started thinking about what it all added up to; why the Beedrill would make a pheromone nest and capture people and pokemon alike for it. My focus was broken by the return of the buzzing as the wasps deposited their latest catch, which was a dazed black and red bug pokemon I guessed was either a Ladyba or its evolution Ledian. The pokemon fluttered around for a few seconds before slowly landing as something pink and shiny emerged from the bottom of its carapace.
"Insects don't have mating seasons, but they're clearly doing something to breed here..." I mumbled to myself. "Maybe they don't know the difference between a suitable mating partner and one that isn't? even so it's a stretch to bring humans in..."
My train of thought was again derailed by a stirring next to me. Jade had woken up and was staring bleary eyed at Clara. She smiled an embraced the Gardevoir before stopping with a surprised look on her face as Clara squirmed in her grip. Or rather grinded up against her, it could have been either in this haze. Clara's still erect shaft had caught Jade's eye, and judging by the pre drooling from it Clara had something similar on her mind as well. Tentatively, Jade reached down and began to stroke it as Clara squirmed and a fresh drop of pre emerged. Jade quickly changed position and before Clara could react she had her mouth around the Gardevoir's pole and was sucking it eagerly. Clara panted and pushed weakly at Jade's head for her to stop before submitting to the sensation and moaning freely. Not sure how to react, and painfully aware of my own hard on, I decided to give the two their space and backed off towards Flare, who was still snoring. I couldn't help but watch, and they didn't seem to mind being seen. Jade who seemed particularly skilled with her mouth had already taken Clara down to the base and was gently kneading her balls as Clara ground against her. The deepthroating didn't last long however; Jade unable to wait longer had pulled off of the pulsing shaft and turned around on all fours, presenting Clara with her sopping wet slit. Clara hesitated for a few seconds before blushing deeply and taking hold of Jade's waist. They moaned in unison as Clara slid inside Jade, and began thrusting against each other quickly.
Begrudgingly I undid my pants and started taking care of myself, unable to resist at the sight of them fucking. Before I could get into it though, I felt the Arcanine behind me stir. I looked back and saw Flare was now awake with the same bleary eyed look Jade had. Before I could act, He had spotted me and my erection and let out a deep, dominant growl. He advanced towards me, his sheath already swelling as his rod exposed itself, all but drooling pre. I swallowed hard as the dog advanced. He paused to sniff at my crotch and give my needy member a few licks before nosing me onto all fours and pawing at my pants until my ass was exposed. I swallowed hard and braced myself, but to my surprise he wasn't rough. I could only guess he wasn't totally gone to the pheromones because he started out easy, slowly spreading me wide as he pushed his rod into my asshole. the numbness hadn't completely subsided and the usual discomfort of accommodating his massive cock was replaced by only the pleasure it gave. I couldn't help but moan as he slid inside me, his copious pre providing more than enough lubrication. My own member started to drip before long and he picked up the pace, pressing my front half down as he claimed my ass. Powerless to stop him and too turned on to want to, I tried my best to match his thrusts. From my new vantage point I could see Jade and Clara had changed position. Jade was lying on her back as Clara thrust into her as fast as she could, both moaning uncontrollably. Flare began humping me even faster, bucking his hips furiously into mine as he spread me wide and hammered my prostate. It was too much for me and I almost immediately began cumming, letting out a fresh squirt of my seed with each of his thrusts, but he wasn't done with me. Flare continued filling me even after I had gone soft, but the pleasure didn't go away. I was still moaning just as much as Clara and Jade were. I felt my own climax coming close again just as a growl came from above. Flare thrust hard inside me one last time, his knot swelling and all but crushing my prostate and forcing me to cum on the spot, not really squirting so much as drooling cum with each pulse of his cock filling me. Heightened moans next to us signaled Jade and Clara reaching their climax as well and I looked up just in time to see Jade wrap her legs around her partner, locking her inside her as she came, and came hard. Jade visibly seized up in orgasm as Clara pumped her full of her seed, which oozed out around her shaft with each pulse before she collapsed on top of Jade panting hard. I could feel Flare's orgasm coming to an end as well as the gurgling in my belly that came from being pumped full of Arcanine cum was slowing down. All four of us lay there panting for a long while, only moving to pull out from inside our respective mates.
Clara finally spoke up, having regained some clarity, "Mark, they're looking for a new queen, that's why they've been capturing everyone. They need the old queen to have an heir before she passes on. Their hive mind thing is like a loudspeaker to me" she said, rubbing her temples.
I nodded, understanding. "But why are they catching people?" I asked.
"They know people usually have pokemon and were hoping there'd be a mate among them." She answered, crawling up close to me to cuddle. Jade joined us as well and all three of us lay against our massive fourth member's panting side catching our breath.
"So how do we get out?" I asked.
"Maybe Flare can get us out of here?" Jade piped up.
I shook my head. "We can't risk a forest fire." I said.
"I can get us out." Clara said, "But I don't know what to do after that."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I can teleport one or two of us away, but we'd still have to run away from the hive and I'm not sure we can overpower them."
"What about the trainers?" Jade asked
"We'd need to come back, which isn't that good an idea." I said.
We all went silent for a while.
"Well, I could call Jade and Flare back to their pokeballs, then call the trainer's pokemon back." I said, "could you handle teleporting four people and yourself Clara?"
Clara thought for a while "Normally I could, but I don't know about right now. I want to try though."
I nodded. "It's worth a shot. Worst case scenario we get brought back here. Jade, Flare, are you okay with this?"
Jade nodded and Flare gave a low woof of approval.
"All right." I said, pulling two pokeballs off my belt and calling first Jade, then Flare back before placing the balls back in their places. Clara waited by the wall as I approached the oblivious trainers and their pokemon. It was comically difficult catching the pokeball off of the first trainer's belt as he thrust into his Nidoqueen who was moaning I think, but with her voice it was impossible to be sure. I called the blue behemoth back to her pokeball, leaving the trainer humping air right as he climaxed, squirting his load across the ground. After a moment he looked around confused before dazedly pulling his pants up.
The second trainer was a bit easier, since she was pinned down by her Persian and mostly stationary. I called the feline back leaving his trainer dazed like the first trainer. The third was easy as well, since he was pinned by his Ninetails who had just knotted his ass. I felt a little bad for recalling it right after climax, but I called the white fox back anyway. His trainer slumped over, fresh fox cream slowly oozing out of him as he lay there panting and dribbling his own mess across his pants around his knees.
The first trainer finally stumbled over to me and mumbled out a question about where his pokemon was. I thought about giving his pokeball back, but figured it would be backwards progress at this point. I waited for each trainer's head to clear enough for them to be at least coherent and helped them find their stuff and clean up the mess off their clothes, which they seemed either unashamed or unaware was theirs. I snapped their 3 pokeballs to my belt for safe keeping before herding them over to Clara, who seem to be keeping her head clear fairly well.
"Do you have a plan once we're outside?" She asked.
"First priority is to get these three back to the ranger station safe." I said "After that, we're on our own."
Clara nodded "I'm going to wait for a lull in the hive before teleporting us out, everyone get close to me." She said, and the three trainers obediently moved closer. I held her hand, getting her to smile as she closed her eyes.
We waited in silence, not sure when or if it would happen, but less than five minutes after huddling up a white light that was familiar to me and Clara engulfed us all. Suddenly we were in the forest looking at a massive hive complex that wasn't really in the trees so much as absorbing them. Beedrill were flying everywhere, but not as thickly as being this close to the hive would suggest. Not waiting for anything I immediately called Flare out. The red canine emerged, shaking its head clear and breathing in the fresh air.
"You three!" I shouted, snapping the trainers to attention. "Get on Flare's back. Now!"
All three scrambled clumsily over to the canine, and after some grunts from the annoyed beast, they were as secure as they could be atop him.
"Flare, I want you to run as fast as you can from here, keep running until you find the path or the edge of the woods. If you find the path, head to the ranger station, if you get out of the woods, follow the edge until you find the ranger station!" I shouted.
Flare woofed and took off, the three trainers on his back swaying uneasily, but keeping on top of him. By now we had been spotted by the Beedrill and the pulsing buzz had already started. I called Jade out next, who breathed deeply of the clean air once free.
"What's the plan Mark?" She asked, taking a battle stance.
"We hold them off long enough for Flare to get away." I said.
"After that?" Clara asked.
"After that, you teleport us out of the mess and we run" I said.
The swarm descended upon us, hundreds of Beedrill all aiming for us.
"Jade, use Psycho Cut!" I yelled, and Jade flung a blade of energy into the crowd. "Now Clara, grab it and mow them down!" I yelled a second later. The blade of energy began moving in a wide circle causing each bug it hit to drop like a rock unconscious. However many the blade was taking down, the swarm still was able to push through and get up close to us.
"Jade, keep them off of Clara with Fire Punch!" I yelled, taking a step behind my partner as Jade jumped in front of her. Jade quickly dispensed with each wasp that drew near, sending it flying with a powerful blow as Clare kept mowing the majority of the wave of insects. More and more leaked through the front line and rushed Clara, but Jade was too fast to let them through. Numbers were slowly winning out though, as Jade was soon taking hits from the Beedrill that made it through. I moved in front of Clara next to Jade and did as best I could to body block them from getting to her at the very least, and landing a blow or two of my own on whatever pokemon dared venture close to me. The assault went on, and I could feel my arms starting to go numb from catching too many poison stings with them, I could see a few sticking out of Jade as well and she was starting to slow down. Clara was safe though and that was the important part, as long as she was okay we could get out of this.
Suddenly the swarm froze and split like some biblical feat. There was now a wall of insects hovering to our right and left as a new pokemon buzzed forth from the middle, seemingly come from the hive. Clara let the blade of energy fling skyward before it dissipated as the queen of the hive advanced. There was no mistaking the species, she was definitely a Vespiquen with her humanoid appearance and crown. From the dull yellows on her carapace, it was also obvious she was getting on in years too.
Clara whimpered behind me. "She's mad, she wants to know why we're attacking her home." She said quietly.
"We were defending ourselves." I said loudly. "None of us here, nor the ones that already got away are suitable mates for you."
Clara winced, "She doesn't care Mark, what do we do?"
I hesitated for a moment, feeling the tension in the air. "All we want is to leave, if you let us walk out of here we will do it peaceably." I said in as confidant a tone as I could muster.
Clara by now had fallen to the ground. "She says she can't trust you."
"Look, if you want to follow us and observe us we won't disrupt you, but we WILL defend ourselves if your hive attacks us." I said, trying to sound threatening but not confrontational. To be honest I had no idea what I was doing.
There was a long period where all that could be heard was the drone of insect wings before the queen turned back and returned to her hive while the majority of the swarm dissipated. There were about six or seven that remained observing us though. I breathed a sigh of relief along with Clara and Jade.
We made our way back to the main path using the GPS with our escort of Beedrill which watched us closely, but showed no signs of aggression. On the way we did our best to patch our wounds and pull any active needles still numbing our bodies. When we reached the road I couldn't feel my arms anymore but didn't care, our escort had also halved with only three wasps observing us as we walked back to the ranger center. Upon our arrival the buzzed excitedly and took off back towards the hive.
Confused I looked towards Clara. "What was that all about?" I asked.
Clara smiled, "They recognized the ranger station as a good place." She said.
We headed inside and I was extremely relieved to see the three trainers from before were huddled in the lobby wrapped in blankets. All three looked up as we walked in and sighed in relief.
"We thought you were goners." one said.
I chuckled. "We don't go down that easy." I said as I walked between all three of them returning their pokeballs.
The last one blushed and looked down as I returned his Ninetails. "Y-you won't tell anyone what we did in there, right officer?" he asked nervously.
I nodded. "What you do in private is your own business." I said flatly and headed back to the orientation room. I remembered there being a water cooler in there and I was confident I could drink the whole jug right about now. To my surprise, Flare was napping inside, but woke up almost the instant I stepped in and pounced me. I went down and couldn't help but laugh as my partner showered me with licks. I did my best to return the affection by scratching his ears until he calmed down and let me stand back up. It turned out I could only drink about a fourth of the jug before my stomach refused any more, and between Clara and Jade we had drained half the water there.
My thirst sated, I searched around for a radio and finally found one in a supply closet. I turned it to the channel Beth and Steven told me to use and tried to radio them. "Beth, Steven, this is Mark. Are you there?"
There were a few seconds before the radio crackled and Steven's voice came through, "Yeah Mark this is Steven, you didn't radio in this morning, everything okay?" he said.
I chuckled to myself trying to think of how many puncture wounds I had right now. "Yeah, I'm well enough, I found the trainers, we're all back at the station."
This time it was Beth who radioed in, "Already? Why didn't you call us when you found them?"
"It's a long story, but my radio was smashed. I can fill you in on the rest when you get back to the station." I said.
"Are the trainers okay? How about their pokemon?" Steven asked.
"The trainers are fine, just rattled. Their pokemon are fine too as far as I can tell." I said
"Alright, thanks Mark, we'll be back in a couple hours." Steven replied and the radio went silent.
I returned to the lobby with a first aid kit and a pair of pliers and looked the three trainers over, patching them up with what first aid I remembered from the academy and pulling whatever poison barbs were still left in them. It took about ten minutes for each trainer, and I had to stop halfway through to go get another first aid kit. By the time I was done they looked like they were part mummy, but they were grateful for the help and even more grateful for the aspirin I found and distributed to them. After that I patched up Jade, Clara, and Flare as best I could, but all three seemed to have fared better than us humans.
Clara and Jade had fallen asleep leaning against each other in the corner and Flare had curled up next to them as well. I felt pretty tired myself, but someone had to be awake when Beth and Steven got back. The wait was agonizingly slow, but that was probably due to the adrenalin leaving my system from earlier. Despite my better judgment, I still couldn't keep from passing out in the chair I was sitting in.
I jumped awake when I felt something touch my knee, but relaxed when I saw it was just Beth and Steven back from the woods.
"You look like you've been through hell." Beth remarked. I looked down at my arms and realized I'd tended to everyone except myself. A steady throbbing ache had set in everywhere I'd been hit by a barb, but my foot hurt the worst of all.
"Yeah, you could say it's been a long day." I said, half chuckling, half groaning.
"Hold still for me." Steven said, kneeling down in front of me. I noticed he had a first aid kit with him and I obligingly held my arms out for him to patch the most recent wounds, which were still leaking blood. He cleaned the wounds better than I could of and had them patched in less than five minutes. "Now lost the shirt." He said, and I did my best to comply but found I couldn't move my arm high enough to pull it off myself. Beth helped me and I winced as the dried blood sealing my shirt to my skin cracked and ripped the scab off my wound, causing it to bleed anew. Steven sighed and stopped the bleeding before cleaning the wound, which hurt far worse than the first ones, but felt much better after he had a bandage over it. "Now you're gonna have to lose the pants." Steven said. Beth giggled and pretended to cover her eyes as she left the lobby. I sighed and stood up before yanking my blood crusted pants down, then pulling my blood soaked boxers up to expose the wound there which was looking alarmingly purple. Steven set to work cleaning it out, which hurt like hell but I sat patiently though it, figuring it would feel a whole lot better after he was through with it. Thankfully I was right, as once it was cleaned and covered all I could feel from it was the occasional dull throb. I pulled my pants back on and Steven was about to pack up before noticing one of my shoes was completely red now. "Oh jeez Mark..." He grumbled to himself. Getting the shoe off was near agony, but it had to come off. After seeing how much pain the shoe caused, Steven opted just to cut off the sock than pull it off, and with fresh tears burning at my eyes, I wasn't going to complain. Once exposed I saw why it had hurt so much. The barb had punched clear through my foot, leaving a hole big enough to see a pinprick of light through it. With a scowl, Steven stood up. "I'm not touching that one, we're gonna have to take you to the hospital." He said before handing me the bottle of aspirin.
"Wonderful." I sighed.
"Alright, I know what poison sting wounds look like, but what I want to know is what you did to piss off the Beedrill." Steven said.
I downed four aspirin and recounted the story as best I could with only as much detail as necessary. I mentioned the queen needing a mate and them knowing trainers had pokemon, but I left out the pheromone chamber.
When I was done, Steven let out a long sigh. "We're going to have to post signs every twenty feet until this blows over." He grumbled. "But that doesn't matter. Mark I want to thank you on behalf of the pokemon rangers for your tremendous assistance in the rescue of those pokemon trainers, if not for you who knows what would have happened. So on behalf of this ranger station I hereby authorize our funds to pay your medical bill, and if my boss tells me to shove that proposal where the sun don't shine, I'll fucking pay them myself."
I thanked Steven earnestly before he headed to the back to brief Beth on what had happened, and after a few minutes they both came back and helped me to the car. I called Flare back to his pokeball before Clara and Jade followed me into the back seat and we set course for Goldenrod. By the time we got to the city the sun had long since set. Once at the hospital and we had explained the situation to the staff, they wanted to keep me overnight to make sure the poison had cleared my system since I had received a rather high dose of it and they didn't know its effects. Steven did his best to convince them that Beedrill's venom is mostly harmless and the only issue is the wounds are prone to infection, but the nurses discounted the medical prowess of someone who was just a pokemon ranger. Steven sighed and agreed to let them do whatever they wanted after a half hour of arguing. I got to the room they gave me rather quickly; causing Jade to remark it was like having déjà vu. It took a while longer before a nurse came in to assess the wound, after which I was informed I would need minor surgery. A few hours later someone managed to find a surgeon with nothing to do and dragged him to my room, which he seemed unwilling to do until he caught a glimpse of my now mostly purple foot.
With a sigh, the surgeon agreed to help and the nurse went to fetch the proper instruments. First order of business was numbing my foot, which caused me to giggle involuntarily. The surgeon shrugged it off and set to work patching a few nicked veins back together before sterilizing the entire canal, something I was thankful I couldn't feel. After that he put two stitches in to hold each end of the hole shut.
Jade and Clara stayed by my side throughout the entire procedure, occasionally wincing when the surgeon did something that looked particularly painful. After being totally patched up, the nurse came back in and drew some of my blood for testing. The rest of the night was uneventful. Beth and Steven left, promising me a ride home tomorrow as soon as they discharged me and I thanked them again. When it came time for lights out I offered to put Jade back in her pokeball, which she declined, instead snuggling up next to me on the thankfully larger sized hospital bed. Clara climbed up and hugged my other side, nuzzling into my neck and I couldn't help but smile as I drifted off to sleep with two warm pokemon on either side of me.
Sometime in the middle of the night I was woken up by something, or someone, rubbing at my thighs. I initially wrote it off as a dream until the unusually small hand worked its way up to massage my package, which was barely hidden by the hospital gown they had given me. I opened my eyes to see the covers pulled back and Jade nestled between my legs, stroking my now growing shaft. I blushed and glanced over at the door, which was thankfully shut, then back at Jade. "Jade what are you doing?!" I whispered harshly.
A sly grin spread across her face as she continued stroking my cock. "Returning the favor, and a sort of apology for taking advantage of you back in the hive." She said, giving my shaft a gentle squeeze as her other hand slid down to knead my testes.
Now hard as a rock I squirmed a bit. "We're in a hospital, what if we get caught? What about the mess?" I whispered.
Jade winked and placed a kiss on the tip of my member, sending a shiver up my spine. "There won't be any mess, and as long as you keep it down we'll be fine" She said before taking the tip into her mouth. I shuddered and suppressed a groan as her warm mouth enveloped me. I felt her tongue glide around the tip teasingly and knew she wasn't new to this; I barely had another moment of coherent thought before she forced her head down, taking most of my member into her mouth before pulling back up and looking to see my reaction. Whatever look I had must have pleased her as she set to work quickly bobbing up and down, slicking my shaft with her saliva as her tongue worked the underside in a way that sent tingles up my spine. It wasn't long before I gave in completely to her mouth, doing all I could just to keep my moans from being too loud as she worked my cock expertly. Suddenly, she forced her head down hard and I felt myself hit the back of her throat before it opened up, letting me slide past. I let out fresh moans as she took me to the hilt. Suddenly a giggle to my left shook me out of my pleasure daze and I looked to see Clara smiling at me and Jade. Jade and Clara looked at each other seeming to communicate wordlessly before a surprised look popped up on Jade's face which was soon replaced by a mischievous one. Before I could ask about it though Clara distracted me with a deep kiss as Jade resumed her work. Suddenly I felt a digit rubbing against my asshole before pressing inside and hooking up against my prostate, sending me into new levels of pleasure. I moaned into Clara's mouth and she only kissed me deeper as Jade worked my ass and rod simultaneously. As I was getting close I couldn't keep from grinding my hips up into Jade's mouth, and she responded by taking my entire length before rubbing hard and fast against my prostate. I didn't last more than a few seconds like this before I started cumming directly into Jades throat as Clara finally broke our kiss and rubbed my chest. I could feel the subtle contractions of Jade's throat as she swallowed my load and carefully pulled up off of me, not letting a single drop of my seed spill before snuggling up next to me again and pulling the sheet back over me.
"See? No mess." She said winking and I couldn't help but chuckle.
We all passed out soon after that and were awoken by a nurse who was there to inform me that my discharge had been filed and I was free to go whenever I wanted. I took a few minutes to put my clothes back on, which the staff had been nice enough to wash for me, but still bore the same blood stains, if a tad lighter than before. I shrugged and together with Jade and Clara headed down to the Lobby where Steven was already waiting for me. Beth had stayed back at the station to file a report of the incident. We chatted a bit on the way back home and after arriving at my uncle's house, I thanked him deeply for the ride and taking care of things at the hospital. Steven just smiled and drove off, leaving me to head inside.
Right as I reached the front door it opened, revealing Ted in his work clothes about to set out for the day.
"Mark, you're back!" he said excitedly. "I have good news, you're friend showed up here for a visit!" he paused, taking in my appearance. "What the hell happened to you Mark, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Just roughed up." I said. Then confused, added, "You mean Simon?"
"No from the academy, that ace trainer kid with the Spinarak." He said.
"Sarah!?" I asked.
"Yeah that's her." Ted said.
I pushed past Ted not wanting to be rude but having to see it for my own eyes. Sure enough, she was parked at our breakfast table polishing off her eggs and bacon. We locked eyes.
"About time you showed up Mark."