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.
The trees broke their fall, or at least they did for most of them. Leon landed safely, holding out his arms to catch Tiffany, who fell on them. Phoebe landed on a branch near the top of a tree, and jumped down from branch to branch all the way to the ground with feline agility. Sasha was not so lucky. She hit herself against a tree's trunk and as she was falling, a sharp, pointy branch slashed her leg. She landed on her side next to Leon, wincing in pain.
"What just happened?!" Leon asked as he and the others approached her. "Are you okay?!"
She tried to get up, but fell on her side. She tried once again, but got the same result. Finally giving up, she looked up at him with an angry and desperate expression. "No, I'm not!" She looked back at her right hind leg, which had a large, bleeding cut on it. "I hurt my leg!"
"Leon, they're coming," Phoebe said, slightly stressed as she looked up. Shortly after she said this, a rustling sound was heard above them, followed by XIV and eight Houndoom landing in front of them. Leon, Tiffany, Phoebe and the now injured Sasha were now cornered between the Houndoom and the rocky side of the hill they had just jumped down from.
"Looks like you've got nowhere to go," XIV growled with a satisfied expression. "Care to give up?"
"Give up?!" the hurt Glaceon growled at XIV. "As if! Go blow yourself!"
"I was hoping you could oblige to that once I'm done with XV here!" XIV answered. Sasha's face turned from its light blue to red in anger at the fact she couldn't get up to attack XIV for those words. The Houndoom then signaled at the others behind him to attack. Three of them jumped at Leon. He hit one dead in the face with Thunderpunch. Tiffany hit another one with a Sky Uppercut, sending it flying upwards. Phoebe got the last one with Signal Beam.
"Is that all you have?!" XIV laughed. "What a waste! I don't know who I feel the sorriest for: you or my guys! I'll get you myself!" He opened his mouth and a large ball of fire started forming. He was about to attack when a voice came as if from nowhere.
"Bad guys, bad guys!" the high- pitched, childlike voice said. "Look at that! It hasn't been a day since Lethy kicked the Mightyena out and already more evil doggies are invading our home!"
"What?!" XIV looked around, confused. "Who's there?"
"Oh, baddies, baddies..." the voice continued. "Shoo! Run away! Or Kitty's gonna give you a real beating!"
"Kitty?!" XIV answered. "Who's this 'Kitty' that's gonna give me a real beating? Bring him on!"
"Okay... You're the one who asked for it!" the voice answered. A moment passed before the potent scream came. "KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITYYYYYYYYY!" A roar was heard in the distance after this. Then, a white figure leapt down from the treetops, landing on top of one of the Houndoom, making it fall from the unexpected weight. The white figure looked up: a black face, white fur, a crescent horn, long, black claws and a sickle-like tail. She was an Absol. One noticeable thing, however, were her bright yellow eyes, instead of the red most Absol have.
"An Absol?!" Everyone seemed surprised to see one. Especially since most Pokémon thought the Absol had disappeared from the world.
"Yup!" the Absol answered. "What? Surprised at how incredibly cute I am? I can be tough, you know!"
"D'aagh, what a weird one," XIV's expression was a mixture of an angry and an awkward one. "Never mind! She gets in the way, she gets hers! Take her down!"
"Nope!" the Absol answered. "You can't! Check this out!" She stepped back and her body glowed with an orange and blue Aura before she tackled one of the Houndoom at full force, KOing him instantly. She proceeded to do the same with another one. Now only XIV and another Houndoom were left. This Houndoom shot a Flamethrower that hit the Absol full on her side, sending her flying back with a pained scream. The Houndoom leapt at her. Just when he was about to hit her, he was intercepted by a larger figure that tackled him and dragged him to the ground, growling.
"Sorry," the large figure said in a harsh tone. "If you mess with her, you're asking me to kill you." He bit down on the Houndoom's neck until it passed out, then zapped him with a strong amount of electricity before getting off him and looking at XIV with a pair of glaring red eyes. "Want to get some too?"
XIV snarled, stepping back as the menacing figure walked towards him. The Absol got up and walked next to the figure.
"Go get him, Kitty!" the Absol said, cheering for the larger one.
'Wait...' Phoebe thought as she saw the large figure. 'Those eyes... And...' She noticed the star- shaped tip of the creature's tail, it's glaring yet sad red eyes, the rings that shone in just one of its forelegs: it was a Luxray. *Richard?* she asked the Luxray by Telepathy.
The Luxray turned around to look at her. When he did, XIV opened his mouth. Richard reacted to this, tackling the Houndoom, knocking him down with his considerable weight.
XIV, got up and shook his head. The impact was so strong he was even seeing double. Once that wore off, he stared angrily at them. "Fine... You got lucky, XV!" he barked at Leon. "Some big guy arrived to help you and your friends, but I'm not done yet! Oh, no, I won't give up the hunt so easily! Fear is the best weapon, and I am a specialist in causing it!"
"Nothing to worry about," Richard answered. "I have no fears." Saying this, he made sparks jump in front of XIV, making him jump back. Growling in rage, the Houndoom turned around and retreated deeper into the woods. Once he saw XIV had left, Richard turned around to look at the Espeon. Not believing his eyes, he asked, "Phoebe?"
"Hey, big guy," Phoebe answered. The Luxray moved closer to her.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, now standing in front of her.
"Kitty, do you know her?" the Absol asked him.
"Sure I do," Richard answered. "This is Phoebe. I told you about her... We fought together in the war. She's smart, and she's got plenty of power to show off, too."
"Hello, Phoebe?" Sasha told the Espeon. "Who is this guy?"
"This is Richard, Sasha!" Phoebe answered. "Maybe you remember him a little smaller, like a Luxio."
"Wait," Richard gave the Glaceon a surprised look. "You're Sasha? That little Eevee? Misha's sister? You've grown..."
"I wish I could run up to you and hug you, but I'm kind of hurt here," Sasha answered.
"What? Let me have a look." Richard approached her and sniffed her hurt leg.
"Okay, go ahead and smell me," Sasha said in an awkward tone, her face reddened a little. "It's okay for you to be so forward, by the way."
"Sorry," the Luxray answered. "I just wanted to check. You're hurt, but not too bad. It'll probably be a week or so before you're healed."
"Kitty, introduce me!" the Absol said in an enthusiastic way.
"Right... This is Estelle," Richard told Phoebe and Sasha, then looked at Estelle. "Estelle, these are Phoebe, Sasha, and..." He looked at Leon and Tiffany, whom he hadn't even noticed. "Who are they?"
"These are Leon and Tiffany," Phoebe answered. "We're traveling with them to Selenia. Which is why-"
"Let's get somewhere safe first," Richard interrupted. "We need to move."
"Hello? Remember?" Sasha called the Luxray. "I'm hurt!"
Richard stood there, looking at her for while before walking toward Sasha and lying down next to her. "You two," he told Leon and Tiffany, "help her get up on my back."
"Just do it," Richard growled. Leon and Tiffany did as he said, lifting Sasha and placing her on the Luxray's back. He shivered a bit at the feeling of the Glaceon's cold body on his own. "Okay..." He got up, carrying her and walked deeper into the forest.
"Kitty, wait!" Estelle followed him.
"Yeah, you're welcome..." Leon muttered as he saw the large feline walk away into the woods.
"He isn't much of a talker to those he doesn't know," Phoebe explained to the Pikachu and Buneary. "He doesn't mean to be rude. Or maybe he does... Forget it, he probably does. By the way, when he walked into the forest like that: that's his way of saying 'follow me'."
"Oh, okay," Leon answered as he, Tiffany and Phoebe walked into the forest after Richard.
===A BITTER VETERAN
The Luxray was walking in the dark forest, carrying the hurt Glaceon on his back. Estelle was walking along them, looking at Sasha with curiosity.
"So," the Absol asked. "Your name's Sasha? Where are you from? You look good, what's your secret? What 's your favorite food? What kind of guys do you like? How'd you meet Kitty?"
Sasha was a tad confused as to why someone she had just met was asking her all those questions, but she had no problem answering. "Yes, my name's Sasha, short for Alexandra, I'm from the North Region, I have no secrets for my looks, I'll eat almost any food they offer me, because one can't really be picky when she's traveling, but I like Chesto Berries. Guys? Either the strongest or smartest, no middle-terms. And I met Richard a long time ago when he came home with my brother on leave from the war."
"Alexandra?" Estelle looked at her, thinking. Sasha's name seemed to have been the one thing that got her attention. "Alexandra... Allie?"
"I prefer Sasha."
"No, I know!" Estelle said with a smile. "Lexy!"
"I really prefer Sasha."
"Don't get into an argument with Estelle about what she calls you," Richard looked back to talk to her. "Trust me, she'll win."
"I see..." Sasha answered. "Listen... Thanks. I hate being a damsel in distress. It makes me feel so useless..."
"Don't thank me," Richard answered. "I owe you more than I can ever hope to repay. If you want to thank someone, thank Estelle."
"Okay. Thanks, Estelle."
"Aw, it was nothing, Lexy!"
"Thanks for waiting for us, Richard!" Phoebe called the Luxray as she arrived running, followed by Leon and Tiffany.
"You know me," Richard replied. "Don't ever expect to hear a 'Follow me' come out of my muzzle, because it won't."
"You're a little mean, aren't you?" Tiffany asked. Richard didn't look back.
"A little 'mean'?" the Luxray answered. "That's how almost everyone has treated me. I think it's fair I treat them like that."
"How can you say that?" the Buneary was surprised by how bitter the answer she received was.
"If I told you or that other kid that's coming along how I can say that," he referred to Leon with absolutely no importance, as if he wasn't there, "you'd burst into tears."
"Come on, now!" Tiffany insisted. "Just looking at you tells me you're one very bitter Luxray. Doesn't it make you happy, getting up every morning and realizing you're alive to see another sunrise?"
"You can make it sound as pretty as you want and live it as happily as you please," Richard answered, "but that doesn't change one very true fact: life's a bitch. And just when she makes you think she'll change and you can finally be happy, she'll send some more misery your way, because that's just how life is. So don't talk to me about sunrises, kid... A million of them won't make everything I've seen or done go away..." Richard picked up the pace, leaving Leon, Tiffany, Phoebe, and even Estelle behind.
"Yup," Leon said as he saw the Luxray fade from sight. "He's bitter."
"Bitter's not enough," Tiffany told him. "I think you need a whole new word to describe the way he feels about his life."
"He's not like that," Phoebe corrected the two. "Richard's a very sweet guy. He worries about others, takes care of them... He's even got plenty of jokes and tricks to show off!" She sighed sadly. "The problem is getting him to show that side of himself..."
"Yup. Kitty's really nice!" Estelle said. "He's just afraid of others seeing what he's really like."
"He's really nice?" Leon had a look of disbelief on his face. "Then why is he like that?"
"Richard's been hurt," Phoebe answered. "A lot. His life hasn't been easy, but I think his own words already told you that."
"Kitty's life has been sad..." Estelle added. "And he's right! Life's a meanie sometimes. Mine's been bad too. The difference is, I do like you said, Tiffy!" She looked at the Buneary. "I get up, see the sun, and realize how lucky I am to be alive! It's okay if I call you Tiffy, right?"
"Sure, I've got no problem with that," Tiffany answered. She hadn't known her for more than a few minutes, but she thought the Absol's positive attitude and cheerful tone were enough to make her good company. Stark contrast to the only other Absol she had ever seen, who seemed more serious and severe.
"And you..." Estelle stared at Leon with curiosity. "Your name's Leon, right? Hmm.... Nope! Can't think of anything to call you! And..." she moved her attention to Phoebe. "Phoebe? Wow, you're a different kind of Kitty... Sunny!"
"I don't mind the name," Phoebe answered. "Just... How'd you get Richard to open up to you?"
"Kitty's my big, personal hero!" Estelle answered proudly as they kept walking. "One day, the Mightyena are doing all these mean things to me, and BAM! Kitty arrives as if from nowhere! I don't know why he helped me, but ever since then, I talk to him, he talks to me... We just got along well!"
"Well, that's a first, Richard getting along with someone just like that," was all Phoebe answered.
They picked up the pace and reached Richard and Sasha once again.
"Could you slow down?" Leon asked the large feline as they reached him.
"No," Richard answered. Strange as it might be, Leon wasn't expecting that answer at all.
"But...why not?" Tiffany approached Richard.
"First: we've almost reached my home," the Luxray answered. "Second: the enemy doesn't slow down. I don't know why you got into trouble with those Houndoom. Hell, I don't know what the Houndoom were doing in this forest in the first place, but I can be sure of one thing: they won't give up the hunt that easily."
"Please slow down, Richard," Sasha told her carrier. "Those two are not as used to traveling as you or Phoebe are. Besides, I want to appreciate the scenery." Richard did just as she had asked him. This struck Leon and Tiffany as odd, since, from what Phoebe and Estelle just said, he wasn't someone to just do things like that.
"Kitty," Estelle pouted, "how come I never get to ride on your back?"
"The moment you're hurt like this, we'll talk about it," Richard answered. "Until then, you've got some perfectly fine legs to walk on." After a while of walking deeper into the thick, dark woods, they reached a cave; that was Richard's home.
"Here we are," the Luxray said as he stepped into the cave, followed by the others.
The first impression that came to Leon's mind when looking at the place Richard called home was, indeed, that of a wild beast's den. The place was dusty and uncared for. Dry wood was piled in the center of the place. On a corner, several leaves were bunched together, forming a rudimentary "bed". A single crate was placed near it with a green camo bag that looked like it had been carelessly tossed at it lying next to it. Leon shivered at the sight of some bones that were on the ground near the bed. Piled next to the first bed was a second one made of dryer-looking orange leaves. Leon and Tiffany sat down by the cave's entrance. Estelle lied down next to them. Richard approached the greener of the beds and leaned sideways, putting Sasha down on it. The Glaceon tried to get up again, but wasn't successful. She fell on her side again, gritting her teeth in pain.
"Don't push yourself," Richard told her.
"'Don't push yourself?'" Sasha answered. "We have to get to the train in time!"
"You can't in that condition, Sasha," Phoebe told her. "Besides, we wouldn't get there in time anyways."
"Calm down, let me get you something." He approached the bag that was lying by the crate and started searching its contents. After a while, he pulled out an odd yellow berry and put it down in front of Sasha. "Here," he said. "It's a Sitrus Berry. Works wonders as a pain killer."
Sasha ate the berry. Her pain was gone almost instantly. She took a deep breath, then looked at Richard. "Thanks," she told him before looking away.
"Don't thank me," Richard answered. "Now, let's have a look..." He looked closely at her injury. After a while of examining it, he spoke out. "I need something to cover this with." He looked around, searching for something he could use. His eyes focused on Sasha's blue scarf. She seemed to notice this.
"Go ahead," she told him. "I can clean it later."
Richard nodded, then took the scarf off. His eyes were lost on the Iron Cross Sasha wore for a moment before he focused on reality once again. He placed the scarf against her wound, and with a few quick motions, he tied it around her leg. "Should stop the bleeding," he said, looking at the makeshift bandages he had just placed on her, then turned to look at Phoebe. "So, now that we're in a better place, what are you doing here, Phoebe? Why the hell were you being attacked by those Houndoom, and why is Misha's sister traveling with you?"
"The Houndoom," the Espeon answered, "are really something else, related to Leon over there." She gestured towards Leon, who was talking to Estelle. "And my reasons for being here? First, I have a message for you: Birman and Alan have been searching around, and..."
"And?" the Luxray asked. His tone had turned into an eager and desperate one. "And?!"
"We've found Blackfang," Phoebe finished. "He's in Selenia, Richard. Same place I came from looking for you."
"Blackfang..." Richard growled as he looked at his burnt right foreleg. "We've got you now, bastard... Let's go, then." He looked up, his eyes burning with determination. "The moment Misha's sister heals, you and I are going to Selenia."
"Then there's the second and most important of the things I wanted to ask you, Richard."
"What happened to Misha?" Phoebe asked. Sasha listened up. This was the moment they would both finally get answers. "I never had the chance to ask you after you got knocked out. Please tell me... I need to know."
Richard looked down with a grim expression. He let out a sad sigh before looking up at her. "Officially? He's missing. Truth? He's dead."
"What?!" Sasha felt her breath slip away. All that time hoping for her brother's return, the dream that he would come back, all shattered by a few words from that Luxray. She closed her eyes and looked down. She didn't know how to react. Was she supposed to cry like any sister would do? Was she supposed to live up to what her brother had taught her and control herself? After arguing with herself, she chose the latter. She looked up again. Leon, Tiffany and Estelle had moved closer to see what happened. "I suppose that was the most logical reason for why he never came back home..."
"Richard, are you sure?" Phoebe asked him. Her voice was shaking. She seemed to be holding her tears as much as Sasha was.
"No one survives what happened to him," Richard answered, looking down again. "Not me, not Misha... Even Rudol would have died."
"But WHAT happened to him?"
"He...saved me." The Luxray was ashamed of his answer. "He died to save me. I'm the world's lowest scumbag... It's my fault he's not here with you right now..."
"He saved you?" Sasha asked. Many things were going through her mind at that moment: anger, sadness...even hatred for the Luxray that stood in front of her. 'So you're the reason,' she thought. 'You are why he is not here with me... How could I ever have thought of you as my friend back then?'
"It's a long story..." Richard answered, looking into his memories.
=== Years earlier, Selenian war
The Luxio turned around just in time to see a Lairon charging towards him. Just when he was about to be hit, a large fireball knocked the Lairon away.
"That's the third time I've saved you today," a Flareon said as he approached the Luxio. They were standing on the side of a large mountain. The skies were grey, and the air itself was loaded with tension. "You look way off today, man. What's the matter?"
"It's nothing," the Luxio answered, watching the Lairon roll down the mountainside. "Today's just not a good day for me."
"Stressed because of the war?" the Flareon asked. "Seriously, you need to calm down, y'know? Cut the whole 'tough guy' attitude. You can hide it all you want, but even you have your moments of stress, Richard."
"It's not stress, Misha," Richard answered. "I just feel a little sick, that's all."
"Well, you'd better get well soon," Misha replied. "'Cuz the moment this mission's over, I'm taking you and Phoebe to Lidis!"
"Lidis? The beach?"
"Oh, yeah! She likes to sunbathe, so do I, so, as my own way to reward us for all the hard work we do, we're taking a little beach trip! I might bring my little sister along, too!"
"We should worry about getting out of here alive first," Richard answered. "Heard Roger and Claw got taken out."
"And there goes the last of Team 33, I guess," Misha said in a disappointed tone.
"We're still whole over here on 31," Richard replied. "As long as we stay like that, I'm happy."
"Move it, you two," a Mightyena arrived at the scene. "We're almost to the area where the hostiles were last sighted. The sooner we get there and take them out, the sooner we all go home."
"Why so impatient, Blackfang?" Misha asked tauntingly. "Aren't you the one who usually tells us all to take it easy?"
"I want to get this done soon," Blackfang answered. "These guys must be pretty strong to take out Roger, Claw and Grove. In fact, I think I heard some of them mention BELINE a while ago."
"BELINE?" Richard seemed surprised. "Here? I thought we were rid of them!"
"Well, we're not. Move it."
"BELINE?" Leon asked, not understanding that part.
"Soldiers for hire," Phoebe explained. "We had some problems with them more than once... I guess they found out how to get rid of us for good, huh? Or most of us, at least."
"What'd you look like when you were a Luxio, Kitty?" Estelle asked. "Were you cute?"
"He was," Sasha answered, looking at Richard. "I guess there's no shame in admitting I had a huge crush on you when I was little..."
"But then...what happened?" Tiffany asked.
"Blackfang walked us right into a trap," Richard answered. "BELINE was there, indeed. But there was something unnatural about them. They were fiercer and stronger than they were the other times we faced them." The sad look his eyes became even more so as he continued. "That's when it happened: there were so many of them... Misha and I were injured. Blackfang turned on us in the middle of the fight. Somehow gives me my own reason to hate the Mightyena."
"Are they all this bad?" Estelle said, looking sad.
"Seems like they are," Richard answered. "Then, we were forced to run. We were starting to cross a bridge across a chasm when it happened. Someone struck the bridge with Fire Blast. Misha jumped in front of it and shoved me away to cover me, but part of it still got the bridge. The blast alone sent us up in the air. Difference is I landed on the ground, and he was falling into the chasm. I managed to grasp his paw. We were hanging. That was one of the few times I was actually afraid of what would happen. Yet he was incredibly calm, keeping his cool till the end. How'd he do that? I was going to pull him up when we were struck by another Fire Blast. That was it: it hit me right here." He showed his right foreleg, which was grayed out and burnt. "The pain made me let go. The last thing I saw before passing out was how he fell..." He looked at Sasha. "I'm sorry." He then turned around to look at Phoebe. "It's my fault... I'm alive because I took away the life that you two had ahead with him."
"You're sorry?" Sasha asked with an angry expression. She looked at him in the eyes for a moment before looking down, her tone becoming a softer one. "No, Richard... I'm the one that's sorry. For a moment I hated you... How could I hate you? You were my brother's best friend. I don't know what that numbskull saw in you that made him think throwing his life away so you could keep yours was a good idea, but I'm sure he had a good reason. I'm sorry, Richard. It's not you I should hate. It's that bastard Blackfang you mentioned."
"Same here, Richard," Phoebe told the Luxray. "I'm not mad at you or anything like that. Misha was that kind of Pokémon. In fact, I think he was happy during those very last moments because he had saved his friend."
"So, don't give me that depressed crap!" Sasha told the Luxray. "I heard you and Phoebe talking. The moment I get better from this injury, count me in to go to Selenia and hunt that Blackfang down!"
"Yay!" Estelle got up happily. "Kitty, Lexy and Sunny are going after a bad guy! I want to go too!"
"Desina needs you, Estelle," Richard looked at her. "Who will warn them when disaster approaches?"
"Astie and Lethy are still here!" the Absol answered. "Besides, I don't want Kitty to go away from me..." She approached him and leaned her head against his chest affectionately. "He always saves me from the bad guys and the nightmares. Please? Lexy? Sunny?"
"I don't mind," Sasha answered.
"The more the merrier, you know," Phoebe added.
"Since that's in Selenia," Leon said as he got up, "count me in." The Luxray gave him a puzzled look, wondering why this stranger was offering to help.
"Why do you want to help me?" he asked. "I don't even know who you are apart from your name."
"Leon," Leon replied. "Ex-Midnight Voice." This was the first time he showed his identity to someone just like that, but he preferred to avoid what awkward moment could come later. "I want to be a hero, and stop the Midnight Voices. What better way to do so than to help bring justice to this Blackfang?"
"Midnight Voice?" the title drew Estelle's attention. "You mean, you know Lethy?"
"Who?" Leon turned, confused.
"I don't care who you are or what you're after," Richard gave a rather cold reply. "As long as you don't get in my way, you're welcome to come along."â��
"Well...what do you say?" Leon looked at Tiffany. "Feel like doing something on the side once we get to Selenia?"
"I would have like it more if you asked me BEFORE tagging along, Leon..." she answered. "But, okay! I'm with you wherever you go, Leon!"
"Together," Leon answered. "For life." They took each other into their arms and kissed.
"Aww..." Estelle watched the two hold each other lovingly. "Leon and Tiffy, sitting in a tree!"
"What a pretty sight," Richard said sarcastically before heading to have a look outside. "Well, it's getting dark. You can all stay here if you want, but know this: if you're gonna be staying here, you're going to get up when I say so, and you'll have to find your own food. Except for you." He looked at Sasha. "You just tell me what you need and I'll fetch it for you." The Glaceon nodded.
"No favors for a war buddy?" Phoebe asked the Luxray.
"Like I told Estelle, Phoebe," Richard answered, "you've got four perfectly fine legs."
"Fine, sorry for asking," Phoebe told him.
"Now, get some sleep," the large feline told everyone as he lied down in another corner of the cave.
"Night, Lexy! Night, Sunny!" Estelle told the Espeon and Glaceon as she headed for the pile of dry leaves. "Night, Leon! Night, Tiffy!" She lied down on the pile and closed her eyes.
"Sweet dreams, I guess," Phoebe told Leon and Tiffany before curling up close to Sasha. "May I?"
"If you don't mind a cold night, then please, go ahead," Sasha answered.
"Okay. Good night, you all..."
"Night-night!" Tiffany told them as she lied down, patting the ground next to her, telling Leon to come.
"Good night, I guess," Leon told her as he lied down next to her.
"Night, Leon..." She hugged his shoulders as she drifted off...
'Damn it, Misha..." Sasha thought as her sleep avoided her. 'It's been a terrible month... Daisa getting obsessed with commitment... Who does he think he is? The resistance getting pushed back... I hurt my leg, and you're dead... Nice job, genius. On top of it all, one week of staying still. As if I could ever do that...I swear the pressure was easier to handle when you were around...' Her dreams finally caught up to her as she fell into a light, but sufficient sleep.
===NEVER LOSE HOPE
Richard woke up in the middle of the night. This was a usual thing to happen to him. Years of waking up in time to avoid nasty surprises and ambushes had taught his body to sleep as little and as light as possible. He wasn't surprised when he felt the warmth of Estelle's fur close to him. He looked around the cave, just to make sure there was a reason for him to have woken up. And there was: Phoebe was not there. He took another look. 'The happy couple,' he thought as he saw Leon and Tiffany. 'Estelle's right here... There's Misha's not-so-little sister... Where the hell's Phoebe?'
He got up, careful not to wake Estelle up and headed outside. He found Phoebe sitting in the middle of a clearing right outside the cave. She was deep in thought, occasionally looking up to the night sky, then back to the grass beneath her.
"The moon," she whispered. "If I just had been like my mother or sister, I wouldn't have met you, and I wouldn't be feeling like this..."
"What are you doing out here so late?" Richard asked. Phoebe wasn't surprised to see him at all, as she had sensed him approach earlier.
"You know... Just thinking out loud for a bit..."
"Thinking whether he really is dead or not, aren't you?"
"That's exactly what I'm thinking of," the Espeon answered.
"Move on and face the facts, Phoebe," the Luxray's eyes glowed in the darkness of the night. "As lucky as he was, Misha couldn't have survived that fall. Even if he did, he'd probably be too hurt to make it out alive."
"Roud would have made it," Phoebe answered. "What makes you think Misha couldn't have?"
"Roud was a special case," Richard sat down next to her. "And even he died that day, didn't he?"
Phoebe sighed, moving closer to the Luxray. "I know. It's just...even if you're so sure he's dead, I have my reasons to believe he's not. Last night, I thought I saw a Flareon's tail in an alley in Desina, so I headed in to check...and I was attacked by a Mightyena. He was about to rape me when he was sent flying away, blackened and charred. I could have sworn I heard someone yell 'Get off her!'. And then, I felt that warm paw stroke my back all the way to the base of my tail."
"Could be your imagination, or someone else."
"There's only two Pokémon in the whole world who know how much I like that," she sounded a little upset. "And one of them is sitting next to me."
"Well, we had our fun back then..."
"And today, when the Houndoom were chasing us, one of them was about to get me when he was hit by a larger fireball. I believe it's Misha... Why wouldn't he let me see him, I don't know. But it's one of those cases you just know because of your feelings."
"Hmm..." Richard looked down. "Being pretty honest, I'm not so sure myself..."
"It was some time ago," he answered. "I met Estelle here and took it upon myself to take care of her. She'd always talk to me about whatever came across her mind. She'd tell me about herself, and I'd tell her things about me. As distant and indifferent as I like to be, her attitude found a way into my heart."
"Weird to hear that from you, but, what's that got to do with Misha?"
"One day, I was feeling incredibly down. It was the exact day that we had been wiped out on one year before. Estelle just came up to me and said 'Kitty doesn't have to feel sad. His friend's okay! And he's worried about Kitty!'. It was weird to hear that come from her because I never told her about Misha. I thought it had something to do with her powers as an Absol, but I had my doubts...and I won't leave them. If there's a chance he survived, I'd do anything to see him again."
"That makes two of us," Phoebe answered.
"Three," the answer came from behind them. The two turned around to see Sasha moving towards them, slowly dragging her hurt leg through the grass.
"Sasha!" the Luxray hurried towards her. "What are you doing? If you push yourself too hard, you'll just hurt yourself even more!"
"Go back inside, Sasha," Phoebe told the Glaceon in a big sister way. "We're done talking here, anyways."
"I heard everything," Sasha said. "Why didn't you tell me that happened to you, Phoebe? If there's a chance my brother's still alive, no matter how thin it is, I'll hang on to it. Because, just like you said, it's just one of those cases where my feelings tell me he's alive."
"It never hurts to hope, I guess..." Richard took a deep breath. "The only bad thing about hope is that the more you have, the more it hurts when it's broken." He shook his head. "Go back inside, Sasha. If you're hurt yo-"
"Get this, Richard," Sasha interrupted in an annoyed tone. "Thanks for worrying about me, but you have to understand I'm not a little Eevee anymore. I no longer jump at shadows or am so scared of them that I have to get you or my brother to go take care of them. I have grown up, and on the time I've spent traveling, I've learned to take care of myself. So cut your 'worried friend' act and leave me be."
"I'm...sorry," Richard answered sadly. He was heading for the cave along Phoebe when Sasha called him.
"But, if you could carry me back... Please?"
"Sure," the Luxray chuckled as he approached her and lied down on the grass, letting her get up on his back before they headed back into the cave. All that time, they were not aware that someone was watching them from some bushes in the distance.
"What are the odds?" their watcher said as he observed how they went back into the cave. "How could they have met?"
"You've disobeyed orders," the sound of a cane touching the grass came from behind him. He turned around to talk with the one that had just arrived. The combined darkness of the night and the trees made them impossible to see.
"I couldn't just sit and watch, she was hurt."
"It is important that you be careful. It is not the time for you yet."
"You said those exact words that day... When will my time come?
"Sooner than you'd think. The enemy is going to send a team to retrieve something from an abandoned facility. And we, friend, are going to retrieve it first."
"A race... Sounds like fun."
"It will be... It will be..."
=== YET ANOTHER DREAM
Leon was once again standing in the darkness of his dreams. This time, he greeted first.
"Hello," he called. "I suppose you want to tell me something again?"
"I see you've met the seer," the voice answered.
"Seer? You mean that creep with the turban?"
"Exactly... Miaram... Such an unoriginal alias..."
"What?" Leon asked. "Alias? Miaram's not his name?"
"It is," the voice replied. "He is a friend, and he is quite wise. If he tells you to do something, he has a good reason to do so. "
"He plans everything out. Today, when you left your home in the morning for the train... He knew what was going to happen."
"He knew Sasha would get hurt?!"
"It was the only way for you to meet the two you have met."
"Richard and Estelle."
"Exactly" the voice said again. "The Brave and The Joyful... You have met the third one that Miaram spoke of. The Glaceon, the Espeon and the Luxray are all bound together by the Glaceon's brother. He is what drives them all on their own quests in one way or another."
"But what about the trip to Selenia? We'll have to hold here for a week."
"A week is nothing, child... I can assure you, by meeting these last two, your true journey has just begun..."Chapter End Notes:000