My first story.Please Review and comment on my mistakes so I can fix 'em!It starts out a bit short and bad on the earlier chapters, but rewrites for them are being done as I write this. So, if you don't get too hooked by them, please read on, and give this a chance.Reviews are very much welcome. But, if It's gonna be a bad one, please explain what went off so I can work on it. If It's just like 'Hey your bad I dun liek you 111eleven', then please refrain from reviewing.Anyways, enjoy.Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.Comments, questions, or anything like that? I can be reached by pressing that 'contact' next to my penname and sending me an email.
"Hurry it up!" Bernard called back at Nero, who was running behind him down a long spiral staircase.
"Right behind you!" Nero answered. Even though he could not run as fast as Bernard could, he was moving as fast as it was possible for him.
They reached the end of the stairs and headed into a doorway. After a running for another while, they reached the lab. The place's sinister atmosphere had become even more so, as the lights were dimmer than usual. The metal arms and cranes that hung from the ceiling were broken, and their pieces lied shattered on the floor. They cautiously walked around the dark room, carefully examining everything they walked near of.
*Hey,* Nero told Bernard via telepathy. *Quick. To your right.*
Bernard looked to his right like he was told, and noticed that two of the containers, the ones that were labeled 'II' and 'IV' were open, with their lids tossed aside, and had several claw marks on them. *Right,* he thought back. *I guess we know what we're dealing with...*
They moved forward as quietly as they could, being careful not to make any noise. After a while, they reached the source of the cry for help from earlier: the gigantic, bulky frame of X. Another figure was standing in front of the downed Metagross, but the darkness prevented them from seeing who it was.
Bernard closed his eyes, allowing him to get a clearer sight of X's attacker because of its aura, which was a dark red: it was a Zangoose.
*Can you see him?* Nero asked.
*He's right in front of X. I'll turn the lights on, and you'll attack it. Just remember that we must be careful, there's another one loose around here.*
*Got it.* Nero thought back.
"Fine..." Bernard said in a whisper as he sneaked towards a switch at the back of the room. The moment he flipped it, the place was lit in a blinding white. This caused the Zangoose to cover its face and stagger, moment that Nero took as his chance to strike.
Nero ran towards the Zangoose, the blades on his elbows spread, and hit it with a full swing from his right arm's blade. The Zangoose, however, was only knocked back a few feet, looking down at a large cut the Gallade had left on its body. It then looked up with a demented grin. Its eyes were glowing a deep, menacing red.
Nero took a few steps back and got into a fighting stance, being joined by Bernard a few seconds later. They both ran towards their adversary. Bernard tried to punch the Zangoose, but it simply moved sideways and avoided the attack. Nero tried to punch it as well, but the only result he got was the Zangoose gripping his hand with its claws and slamming him against the floor.
"Enough with being slammed, already!" Nero said as he got up and headed for the Zangoose, who kicked him back.
Bernard tried to punch the Zangoose once again, but it leaned forward, dodging the punch, and struck him with its sharp claws, then kicked him back as well. Nero's turn came once again as he grabbed the Zangoose and threw it against a wall. The Zangoose, however, made a turn in the air and bounced of the wall, flying towards him and slamming against him with a nasty head butt. While he was staggering, the Zangoose slashed his face, leaving a small scar under his right eye. Bernard took this as his chance. While the Zangoose was busy with Nero, he could attack. He stepped back and launched an Aura Sphere against the Zangoose, who jumped at the last moment, making the attack hit Nero.
The Zangoose landed in front of Bernard and made a low sweep with its claws, knocking Bernard down. Before he hit the ground, the Zangoose kicked him, sending the Lucario flying against a wall.
"Fine... Leave the best for last..." Bernard growled as he got up. He spread his arms and hands wide, summoning the six staves, then jumped towards the Zangoose at an incredible speed. Swing after swing of the aura bones hit his enemy, until the Zangoose broke all six with a sweep of its claws. Before it could do anything else, Nero grabbed it from behind. Bernard then hit the Zangoose in the face with his palm, grabbed it as Nero let go, and slammed it three times against the floor. This was enough: the Zangoose was knocked out.
"Whew..." Nero sighed in relief, wiping some blood off the cut the Zangoose had made on his face. "Pretty tiring... It's hard to believe that after so many years, we still don't have an easy time fighting a LEA."
"Don't get cocky," Bernard told him. "There's still another one around."
"Right..." Nero said, slightly annoyed. "Then let's go an-" He was cut short as another Zangoose leapt at him from the ceiling behind him, running him through with its gigantic claws and lifting him up. "D-Damn..." was all Nero could mutter as his attacker held him up. "Got careless. This is gonna sting tomorrow..." The Zangoose flung Nero at Bernard, knocking them both down. It approached them, ready to strike while they were down...
It suddenly stopped with a vacant expression. Its eyes went blank as it collapsed into the floor, revealing a Lucario standing behind it.
"With all the experience we got fighting these failures over time, you'd think you'd be able to hold your own against them," the Lucario said as it threw a Full Restore at Bernard, who caught it and used it on Nero.
"I told you to never do that, II," Bernard answered as he and Nero got up.
"Sorry," the Lucario answered as his body faded away, revealing the Mismagius. II looked down at the two Zangoose with a disgusted expression. "LEAs... Pitiful stains on our progress."
"See, I'd rather think of them as our grandparents," Nero replied as he cleaned some of the blood from his now healed injury. "I mean, there'd be no us without them, right?"
"They are failures nonetheless," II answered, floating towards X, who was still knocked out. "The damage he sustained is nowhere near severe... He should be fine in an hour or so. You may leave the berries that were requested here. I'm sure he'll understand what they are for."
"II, the Professor wants a word with you," VI appeared with a grey flash. The room seemed to get colder the moment the Froslass appeared.
"Right away," II replied as the same grey light enveloped him. VI vanished after him, leaving Bernard and Nero as the only two conscious Pokémon in the lab.
"For a moment there," Bernard said, "I thought you were a goner."
"You're not that lucky," Nero replied. They both chuckled at the answer. "No, but, seriously." He looked down at the dead Zangoose. "Poor things... I wonder what it's like, being one of them... To just wander about, unaware of yourself."
"Van Burke wrote in one of his reports: 'they're practically living corpses: unintelligent, without a will or feelings of their own.'"
"It's sad. They didn't deserve a fate like this..."
"No one does," was all Bernard said before turning around and heading for the exit.
===THE EARLY BIRD...
Back at the regular world...
Silence filled the air as the entire town of Desina slept peacefully. It was still dark, but the sun would rise in a few hours.
Leon and Tiffany were sleeping, cuddled together in their room. They were dreaming different things. While Leon dreamt more and more cryptic things and visions of what he could only assume were the lives of others, the Buneary dreamt that Leon was in trouble, and that this time she was the heroine.
In the next room, Phoebe and Sasha were sleeping as well. Phoebe was curled up in one bed, while Sasha was lying face up on another. They, too, were having dreams of their own. Phoebe dreamt that the one thing she wanted in her life had become true, and that that Flareon who stole her heart during the war was there with her once again. Sasha, on the other hand, dreamt that she had just freed Lizean all by herself, and was being thanked with cheers and applause from everyone. Her dream came to an end when she was awakened by a loud whirring sound. Still half- asleep, she shook her head and growled when she realized the sound was coming from the next room.
"Those two," she growled angrily. "It's enough we couldn't sleep last night, and now this..."
Phoebe woke up shortly after, apparently because of the same reason. She looked at Sasha, still half- asleep herself before asking, "Hey... What's that noise?"
"It's coming from the next room," Sasha growled in response. "I was about to go and see what's going on."
"Yeah, let's do that..." Phoebe replied as she jumped off the bed and left the room with Sasha.
"Making such a loud noise so early in the morning..." The Glaceon kept grumbling as she and Phoebe walked towards the other room.
"You're really not a morning person, huh?" Phoebe asked, but a single angry stare from Sasha told her what the answer was.
"Morning," Sasha replied, "is a sacred time. It's the time when you rest before the start of a hard day, and those two have NO right to take that joy away from me! Ah, and I was about to be named Lizean's great savior! Ah, beauty, brains and brawn...
"No offense, Sasha, but you're not brawny at all..." Phoebe answered.
"Well, I don't have to be grotesquely muscular in order to be powerful, right? That counts for the 'Brawn' part..."
"The annoying noise, Sasha," the Espeon said before Sasha could continue talking.
"Right, I'm angry!" Sasha replied as she approached the door to Leon and Tiffany's room and angrily slammed her paw against it. "Open up... Open, damn you!"
"What is it?" Leon opened the door after a while. "I'm trying to sleep, and it's not like I'm alone in here..."
"What IS that noise?!" Sasha growled as she bashed the door, pushing it open and knocking Leon back. She stepped into the room and looked around, finally finding the source of the noise. "It's coming from your bag! Now, DO SOMETHING!"
"Okay, okay, I'm on it..." Leon answered as he headed for his bag. "You're really not a morning person, are you?"
"Say another word without getting rid of that noise and you'll find out," Sasha said in a threatening tone.
"From both of us," Phoebe added. She looked at Tiffany, who was still lying, sleeping on the bed. "Wow... How can she stay asleep with all this noise coming from somewhere so close to her?"
"I'm not asleep," the Buneary answered from the bed. "I'm trying to get back to sleeping, but that noise won't let me."
"Here it is!" Leon said as he pulled the crystal ball Miaram gave him out of his bag. Upon being touched by Leon, the ball exploded into several beams of light, which bounced around the room, followed by what looked like a miniature fireworks show. Once this was clear, Miaram was standing in front of them. This time, the Clefable was wearing a red turban with a green feather, and was, as usual, holding a cane in his right hand. The whirring sound was gone.
"Hello!" Miaram greeted them. "How are you?"
"You!" Sasha growled louder, clearly angry. "You're the one that was making that noise?! I'm going to grab that cane and shove it up you-"
"Please!" The Clefable replied. "I only came to warn you that the train for Selenia leaves in two hours, and that you might miss it if you don't hurry. If you miss it, you will have to wait until tomorrow... I trust Phoebe has given up hope of finding the Luxray she is after?"
"I haven't given up hope," Phoebe answered. "I'm simply going to look for him somewhere else."
"Then you are leaving with them?"
"Good!" the Clefable said. "That was all I needed to tell you, then. Farewell!"
"Wait!" Leon said as he stepped towards Miaram.
"Why would you tell us that?" Leon asked.
"Yeah, who are you?" Sasha added.
"I am, like I told you, a traveler," Miaram answered. "One who is to make sure things happen the way they must... Later!" Saying this, he vanished in a flash.
"Well, then," Sasha said, slightly annoyed, "I think it's safe to say my chances of sleeping are ruined..."
"We have to go if we want to catch the train," Phoebe replied. "It's about an hour from here to the station, so we'd better hurry."
"Okay," Leon replied. "We'll meet you downstairs in a moment."
Phoebe and Sasha left the room, leaving Leon and Tiffany alone. Leon looked out the window, noticing it was still dark outside. He turned around, headed for the bed, and sat down next to Tiffany.
"Hey... We've got to get a move on."
"I know," she answered. "It's just... It's still dark outside... Ah, well." She got up from the bed and stretched, letting out a long yawn. "So, how'd you sleep, Leon?"
"I slept next to you," he replied. "I slept next to you and I slept well. What about you, 'hun'?"
"Cut that out!" Tiffany nudged him. "It's weird to be called like that!"
"You came up with the idea in the first place!"
"And you said I shouldn't call you that!"
"That doesn't mean I can't call YOU that, does it?"
"Look at us," she giggled. "Less than a day together and we're already arguing!"
"Nah, we're just messing around," Leon answered, then kissed her. Once he was done, he picked his bag up. "So, ready to go?"
"All good and ready!" the bunny answered in her upbeat tone as she picked her bag up. They left the room and headed downstairs to where Phoebe and Sasha, who were already set to go, were.
"We're all ready to go, then?" Leon looked at the three girls.
"Good to go, Leon!"
"Okay, then," the Pikachu said as he opened the door and walked out to the dark street. "On to Selenia!"
The four left the house and walked down the dark road towards the forest in the distance, where the station for the train that would take them to Selenia was. This was yet another step on their journey. Although each pursued different things, they would all find answers at the end of that path...
===STRATAGEM FOR II
Meanwhile, at the Midnight World...
"I understand you were looking for me, sir?" II asked as he appeared into an office. It was as dimly lit as most of the fortress was. Several bookcases and shelves covered the walls, filled with all sorts of writing and books. At the far end of the room was a long desk with a throne behind it. D'Wilde was standing there, looking out a large window, with his hands behind his back and his spoons hovering crossed next to him.
"Indeed," the Alakazam answered. The dim blue lights tinted his white lab coat a shade of blue. "I have called upon you because I am in need of your skill."
"It is yours to employ in what you please," the Mismagius answered with his usual crooked smile. "What is it you require? Is it related to XV?"
"Yes and no," D'Wilde answered without looking back at II. "I need you to execute a few very important tasks..."
"As you very well remember, the facility in the wastelands had to be abandoned."
"I remember... We had to leave because of some unfortunate incidents with X."
"That is why I have called you," the Alakazam replied. "I want you to form a team of the members of your choice and go there. There is one thing I require from there."
"Can I know what our target would be?"
"I need you to find a specific lot of E.L.G.A. we produced there. But I have one more thing I need... X has proven to be quite ineffective as of late, which is easy to understand seeing how he is but an imitation... I want you to dispose of him."
"He is the head of XX's development, sir," II answered. "If I were to dispose of him, that project would never be completed."
"I was not finished," the Alakazam continued. "Dispose of X, and bring me the real one. That is the other reason I want you to go to our facility." The spoons shook as he said this. "It is time, I think, to call King... He's probably continued his research on LEA, not aware that E.L.G.A.s like you are the future. Let him know his research and assistance are still of our interest. It is time for our long- lost X to come back..."
"It will be done as you command. A week is all I need in order to prepare and choose who will be going," II said as he began to vanish. "As for X's disposal... I will take care of it."
"Take what time you might need. You, III and I are the ones I'm certain I can trust. I know you will carry out this task as efficiently as ever... Now, go."
"Yes, sir," II answered as he fully disappeared in a grey flash, leaving the old scientist to think of other matters...
Leon was walking down the road towards the forest. Tiffany, Sasha and Phoebe were following far behind him, talking. The sun hadn't risen yet, and the cool, fresh morning air filled them with a strangely comfortable cold.
"So, tell us, Tiffany," Sasha said. "How was last night?"
"Well, it was fun!" the Buneary answered. "You know, first dates... Fun, talking..."
"Mating," Phoebe added.
"What? Excuse me, we didn-"
"Please," Sasha interrupted with a sly smile. "We shared a wall, and you weren't too discrete... You made me wish I was deaf."
"You made me wish I wasn't a psychic," Phoebe said with the same smile.
"Yeah..." Tiffany answered, a little embarrassed, "we did it. It was good, you know? I'll never forget it... You know how they say you'll always remember your first. I know I will. I love Leon, and yes, I want to be his mate for life."
"So, your answer's yes, then?" Phoebe asked, looking at Tiffany. "I don't know how long you've known each other, but I think you're being a bit hasty."
"Yeah, you've got to learn the difference." Sasha said. "One day of fun doesn't mean your entire life together is going to be like that."
"But, haven't you ever felt like there's someone you just really love?" Tiffany asked. "Someone you want to be with every last moment of your life?"
"Not really," the Glaceon answered. "I mean, I am pretty close with some friends, but that's all. I just don't really care that much about finding 'the one.'"
"I can't say too much on the matter," Phoebe said in a sad tone. "You see, I lost mine..."
"We'll find him," Sasha told her. "You'll see. Someday, I'll have my brother and you'll have your... I wanna say 'boyfriend'?... Well, we'll have him back."
"You're right," the Espeon answered. "He's out there somewhere. And we're going to find him."
"Leon, wait for us!" Tiffany called the Pikachu, who was walking so fast he was leaving them farther behind each second.
"Phoebe said we'd better hurry," Leon called back at her. "That creep Miaram said we'd better hurry... I think we should hurry." He slowed down as he said this, allowing them to catch up to him. "But, okay. Let's take this walk nice and easy, then."
"Leon," Phoebe told him. "I've been wanting to ask about that encounter you had with that Lucario yesterday... What was that about?"
"Man..." Leon sighed. "I'll never grow tired of telling this story... Tha-"
"He means to say that Lucario worked for the group known as the Midnight Voices," Tiffany cut ahead of him before he could finish. "Leon here was one of them, but he quit. End of story."
"So, what, you helped them make the lives of others miserable?" Phoebe looked at him with curiosity. Strangely enough, she didn't seem to be shocked at all.
"I'm not proud of it," Leon answered. "But I left. Better than that. Not only did I quit; I plan to stop them!"
"Wow..." Phoebe sounded a little surprised to hear this. "I never would have thought that of someone like you... You're full of surprises, but then again, we all have our secrets... I guess that has some connection to the fact you could use Bone Rush?"
"Yup. Part of who I am," Leon answered. "Some kinda genetic tweaking they worked on me allows me to perform all sorts of attacks and moves."
"Must be amazing, to have a power like that..."
"I've never seen it as anything too special... But I guess that's just me."
As they kept walking, they reached a strange sight: several Pokémon were caught in an argument at the side of the road. Leon recognized two of them as the Granbull and Scizor that were keeping guard by the town's entrance the day before. Standing behind them were a Sneasel and an Umbreon. Standing in front of them were a Typhlosion, a Roserade, and an Arcanine.
"You're not even supposed to be here!" the Granbull barked. "This is Selenian territory! Off you go! Back to your own land!"
"We have as much right to be searching for her as you do!" the Typhlosion stepped forward, raising a fist in a menacing way. "Our ruler is just as concerned about her well-being!"
"Then, please, do search for her." The Umbreon stepped forward as well. "But do so in your territory. We have no need of waste like you tainting our soil."
"Perhaps you'd like me to burn it, then?" the Arcanine answered, growling menacingly. "I'll be sure to burn you along with it!"
"Save your fire, doggy!" the Sneasel said mockingly. "You'll need it for your funeral pyre!"
"Is that a threat?" the Roserade asked, making a whip covered in thorns emerge from the rose in his right hand.
"What're you going to do about it, sunny?" the Scizor asked, raising his pincer in a way similar to the one the Typhlosion raised his hand.
"I'll tell you what I'll do!" the Typhlosion roared his answer as the flames on his back ignited. He moved towards the Granbull, ready to punch him. The Granbull stopped the Typhlosion's hand with his own while raising the other. He was about to hit him when Phoebe stepped forward, looking upset.
"Stop this nonsense!" the Espeon yelled in a commanding tone. The Granbull looked at her, then let go of the Typhlosion and stood there like a statue.
"It's her!" the Umbreon said, amazed as he and the Arcanine bowed. The others kneeled on the grass shortly afterwards. Leon, Tiffany and Sasha stared with disbelief at the sight.
"You can tell my dear mother that I am well, and will be returning on my own soon," she told the group that was behind the Granbull. "Go away."
" But, your highness," the Granbull answered. "We have strict orders to bring you back! General Doome will kill us if he finds out we let you go!"
"Your Highness?!" Leon and Tiffany exclaimed in amazement. Sasha just looked at the scene. "I knew it," she muttered.
"You forget my authority goes beyond Doome's," Phoebe answered in a serious and disdainful yet polite tone. "If you take me back, I will have you all fired. And I'll get Doome to kill you anyways."
"Your Highness, why would the General kill us if bringing you back was his command, given to him by the Queen herself?"
"Oh, I'll figure out how to get him to do so," the Espeon said in a shady tone, with a devilish smile. "I'll just have to tell them that... I don't know... You took advantage of me on our way back. Surely, that'd be enough for my mother to have you castrated and killed?" The Umbreon and Granbull cringed when they heard that last part.
"W-we'll take our leave at once, your Highness," the Granbull answered nervously as he got up. He turned around and headed into the forest, followed by the others that were on his side.
"As for you," Phoebe looked at the Typhlosion, Roserade and Arcanine. "Tell my father that he doesn't need to worry about me. I am fine, as always, and I will visit him when I have the chance. Give him my love, please."
"Yes, your Highness," the Typhlosion bowed and walked back towards Desina, followed by the Roserade and Arcanine.
Phoebe turned around and stared amused at Leon and Tiffany, who looked like they didn't understand what just had happened. "So..." she then looked at Sasha, "I guess you know who I am by now."
"I kind of figured it out last night," Sasha answered, then looked at the other two. "Phoebe's a princess. Does that make it easier to understand?"
"Not...quite," Leon answered. "If they worked for your mother and father, why were they fighting?"
"Like you said a while ago, Leon," the Espeon answered as they started walking down the road again, "I'll never grow tired of telling this story... My name is, indeed, Phoebe. And I am the princess of Selenia AND Sol."
"Wait, what?" Tiffany asked. "I thought those two were enemies? What about that war? Wait, how did you even fight in that war if you were a princess?"
"I'll explain it all as I go along," Phoebe replied. "And Selenia and Sol weren't always enemies."
"That's right," Sasha added. "At one point they were so closely allied and the relationship between them was so friendly that Prince Bel of Sol even wed Princess Selene. I can only assume they are Phoebe's parents."
"Wed?" both Leon and Tiffany asked.
"It's becoming mates for life, but there's a fancy ceremony and a party to celebrate it," Phoebe explained. "It's really just some noble folks' deal. Nothing important... Anyways, despite the fact that I am a princess, I never acted too 'royally'."
"You mean you snuck out of your home and lived a totally different life from what they thought you did?" Sasha asked. "That's what I used to do before I evolved."
"Exactly," Phoebe answered as they kept walking. "Unlike my mother or sister, I didn't enjoy a spoiled palace life. So, yeah, I'd sneak out and try to see the world. That would have been a lot easier if it wasn't for the fact my mother noticed I wasn't there right away."
"It's really annoying when they don't let you wander off, isn't it?" Sasha told the Espeon. "But there's one detail I don't understand. You're an Espeon. I thought Selenian royalty had always been made of nothing but Umbreon?"
"Well, I've always been the shame of the family," Phoebe answered. "I'm not a cruel, power-hungry ruler like my mother, I'm not a two- faced 'perfect' daughter who lives like a princess during the day and is a total slut when mother's not watching like my sister, and I'm not an Umbreon. Oh, the stain I've made on our royal bloodline!" She said these last words in a dramatized, mocking tone.
"Sounds like you hate your mother," Leon answered. "I wish I even had one..."
"I don't 'hate' her," Phoebe replied. "It's just that... Well, she was pretty cruel towards my father. He loved her, but to her, he was just a toy, you know? Like, a means so she could rule more of the world."
"But, how did the war break out if the nations were so closely allied?" Tiffany asked.
"It happened so quickly..." Phoebe answered in a sad tone. "Things were perfectly fine until this guy started showing up. He was some sort of advisor, I think... I always thought something was strange about him."
"What'd he do?"
"He started poisoning my parents' minds against each other," Phoebe replied. "I think he managed to convince my mother that the real ruler was my father, and that she was just his means to ruling more of the world."
"Didn't you just say it was the other way around?" Leon said, looking into the horizon. The sun was starting to rise.
"Exactly," Phoebe closed her eyes. The jewel in her forehead shone as the sun's rays touched her. "And she fell for it. Next thing the guy did was talk to my father about the same thing. In this case it was true, though. He kept telling them more and more things... Next thing you know, my mother and father got into a big fight."
"And that lover's spat is what led to the war," Sasha said. "That's the one part that's always been known. A fight between Queen Selene and King Bel got the tension between the once- allied nations growing. In the end, war broke out."
"Yeah, that's the short version," the Espeon answered. "It went a bit beyond a 'lover's spat'. But anyway, moving on. I wanted to make my mother feel bad for how she had not only believed that lie about my father, but also treated him so cruelly. I had always been closer to him than to my mother, so I though of no better punishment than to become an Espeon like my father. She fainted when she noticed I had."
"But, how'd you get involved as a Soldier in the war?"
"I wanted to punish them both for all the suffering they were bringing upon everyone, and I was so depressed by everything. So I thought something up: a solution to both those problems. Under the name of 'Cairo', I joined the army, just like that. I was sure they'd both feel as miserable as I did if I died in battle. My father didn't find out until the war was over, and my mother couldn't have cared less."
"Then why does she have them looking for you?" Sasha asked. "I mean, from what you describe, she really doesn't give a damn about you."
"Ah, you see..." Phoebe explained. "Back then, she said that I had already brought enough pressure and shame on our family by breaking the royal tradition and becoming an Espeon. That joining the army was my choice, and that fighting in that war would be the punishment I would get for the spoiled child I was. Since she didn't want to have me going around in battle, unaware of what I was doing, she had me put in the Special Forces, Team 31."
"I have no idea what that is," Leon said. "But it sounds really important. Reminds me of some of the units back when I worked for the Midnight Voices."
"They were the guys they put up to handle the really important things," Phoebe answered, apparently remembering those times. "She had me put there because she wanted to make sure I had strong fighters to keep me safe. She wanted me to feel the fear of being part of an army in times of war, but she didn't want me to go and die out there without anyone finding out. That's where I met your brother and Richard." She looked at Sasha. "They were my teammates."
"Then, how can you not know what happened to him?" Sasha asked.
"It was one very important mission," the runaway princess answered. "We were separated, and Misha and Richard went the other way. We were attacked... Wiped out."
"Wiped out?" Tiffany asked.
"Yes," Phoebe replied. "The Special Forces were formed of four squads. Since this was a very important battle, they had us all sent out. Of eighteen that were sent, only six came back. That's how dreadful it was. Anyway, Richard and Misha went the other way. When the fighting started, we were too distanced, and I couldn't see what happened. By the time we got to where they were, Richard was knocked out, and Misha was nowhere to be found. Richard didn't wake up until about a month later. The war was over by then."
"Then that guy really is your one chance to find out where my brother is."
"Right. I was hoping to find him around here, but I guess I was wrong..."
They kept walking down the road. The sun was up by now, covering them in its light as it shone high above in the clear, cloudless sky. The cool breeze that could be felt earlier was gone now. Leon stopped all of a sudden and perked his ears.
"What's the matter, Leon?" Tiffany asked, looking at the Pikachu standing still, trying to hear something.
"Listen up," he answered.
"You're right..." She focused, trying to catch the origin of the sound they were hearing. Phoebe and Sasha did the same, the Espeon feeling the air currents, while the Glaceon perked her ears, staying alert.
"Get down!" Leon and Phoebe yelled as they jumped towards Tiffany and Sasha respectively, knocking them down. Two large fireballs flew right over them.
"Not bad, XV! You too, Espeon!" a harsh voice came from the bushes at the side of the road. Once they were back up, they turned to look at the source of the voice - and, of course, the fire: a Houndoom with a "XIV" carved into the skull in his collar and an overconfident smile. Standing behind him were at least twelve more Houndoom. "Good senses!"
"XIV," was all Leon answered.
"I guess you know why I'm here," XIV said as he took a few steps forward. The Houndoom behind him were lined up in a disciplined way, waiting for orders. "So? What's it gonna be?"
Leon didn't answer. He got on all fours and sparked electricity from his cheeks.
"I figured as much." Puffs of smoke came from the Houndoom's nose. "You're trying to act tough, but you're as scared of me as you can be... Okay, guys!" He barked at the other Houndoom behind him. "It's showtime! Remember, now! XV comes back, dead or unconscious! Just try not to hurt the others too much! They look like they might be fun to keep for later!"
"Okay, I'm sick and tired of hearing that!" Phoebe hissed, stepping forward. "I've had enough of idiots like you saying or trying to do things like that! You want to make me yours? Come and get me!"
"That's an evil way of saying I'm attractive," Sasha did the same. "Shame I'm not interested in even coming close to sick fucks like you!"
"You look like an angel, but talk like something totally different!" XIV said with the same confident grin. "Maybe I should stuff something into that pretty mouth of yours to keep you quiet!"
"We're gonna make you see stars!" Tiffany held her paws up to her face.
"You're all talk!" XIV answered. "That only proves you're really scared! Give 'em hell, boys!"
XIV and the Houndoom leapt towards Leon and the others. Sasha froze the air around her, then melted the ice into a ring of water and sent it at one of the Houndoom. While it was staggering from the Water Pulse, she tackled him. The Glaceon's smaller, much lighter body wouldn't have been enough to knock the much larger canine down, but he was thrown off balance. Leon jumped just in time to avoid a Flamethrower from XIV. He tried to hit XIV and another Houndoom with Thunderbolt, but was only successful in hitting the latter. He looked to his right to see Tiffany and Phoebe standing on top of a downed Houndoom.
"So far, so good!" XIV barked at Leon. "But how long before you grow tired? Not counting the one the Espeon and Buneary knocked out, we still outnumber you three to one!"
Leon and Sasha backed away as the two Houndoom they hit were getting back up. Tiffany and Phoebe backed away as well. They were clustered together as XIV and his followers drew closer.
"Wanna run away?" Leon asked Sasha , who was the closest to him.
"Let's not call it 'running away'," Sasha answered, smiling. "We're 'retreating and coming up with a plan', got it?"
"Okay... Tiff, Phoebe... Let's retreat and come up with a plan!"
"Sure, let's run away," Phoebe answered.
"Okay, Leon," Tiffany whispered. "On three... One... Two... Three! Run!" They turned around and ran ahead towards the forest, trying to escape the Houndoom.
"You got lucky, losers!" Sasha yelled back at XIV. "We're feeling merciful today, so we're letting you go! See ya!"
"Letting us go?!" XIV said, both surprised and amused. "They're running away! They're so scared! Quick, after 'em!" He took off in pursuit of Leon, followed by the eleven Houndoom. "I love a good hunt..."
Leon was running on all fours, as fast as he could, followed by Tiffany, Phoebe and Sasha. He looked back and noticed XIV was catching up to them, with the rest of the Houndoom running behind him.
"That's right!" XIV barked at Leon. "Run!"
They finally reached the forest. They ran into it, with their pursuers following after them. As he kept running, Leon stopped to shoot a Thunderbolt against them, hitting one of the Houndoom and knocking it down. Sasha did the same with an Ice Beam that froze another one.
"We're down to ten!" Leon said as he turned and kept running, followed by the Glaceon.
"Don't stop to fight them!" Phoebe called back at the two. "Do you want them to get you?!" She kept running. At one point, she tripped with a root on the ground and fell. One of the Houndoom jumped at her, but was knocked away by an enormous fireball before he reached her. 'What the...' she thought as she got up and kept running, with her pursuers catching up to her. "We're down to nine, Leon!"
"Nice!" Leon answered, running as fast as he could, with Tiffany following close behind him. Sasha was starting to fall behind. As he kept going Leon noticed the path ahead ended. They had reached the top of a very steep hill without noticing it. He looked back to see that their pursuers hadn't given up the chase. He looked ahead again: no way out save for jumping. "We've gotta jump!" he told Tiffany. "No other way out! Ready?"
"Leon, are you crazy?!" she answered. "Do you know how high up we are?!"
"There's no other way to keep going! Sasha, Phoebe!" he called the two Eons that were running behind them. "We're jumping!"
"Got it!" Phoebe answered.
"You got it!" Sasha replied.
They reached the very edge of the hill. Just like Leon said, they jumped down into the heavily wooded area below...