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.
===END OF THE LINE
"What was that?" Tiffany looked out the window, trying to see what the loud noise was.
"It's too dark," Leon told her, noticing her looking out the widow. "We wouldn't be able to see a thing."
"There's nothing outside," Richard told the two. "I can see."
"Well, here's that spicy drink you wanted," Sasha approached the Luxray and gave him a glass with something red.
"Thanks," Richard gulped it down in less than a second and gave it back to her.
"Uh-huh..." The Glaceon answered, surprised of the speed with which Richard finished the drink. "Okay... I'll just go take that back." She went back to the bar with Phoebe and put the glass away. She looked at the Espeon before asking "Did you see that? He finished the drink in less than a second, and it didn't even sting him!"
"Maybe it wasn't spicy enough," Phoebe answered.
"What? No way," Sasha replied. "I put as much fire juice on that one to make an Arcanine jump! Let me try that..." She made the same mix and gave it a small sip.
"So?" Phoebe asked, waiting for her friend's reaction. "Is it too spicy?
"Huh?"Sasha was sweating with her face turning a deep red. "No... I-It's not spicy at all! You're right, Phoebe! This is real, real weak!" Her voice had become raspier and a single tear was forming on the corner of her eye. "Now, just give me a moment to catch my breath because this BURNS!" She yelled, coughing.
"Hey, what's going on?" Richard approached the bar and sat next to Phoebe. "Is she okay?" He asked her, noticing the Glaceon behind the bar coughing.
"Yeah, she just had a taste of the same drink she gave you," Phoebe replied. "But I think it was a bit too spicy for her."
"Well, not everyone can take as much as I do," Richard chuckled. "By the way, Sasha: You might want to cut down on the diluting. I could barely feel that drink." He turned and headed for the car's door. "I'm gonna go see what's going on."
"What?" Sasha coughed. "Get! Back! Here!" She coughed again. "Richard!"
The Luxray didn't have to go and check, however, as the door opened and the Chimecho from earlier entered the car.
"I'm dreadfully sorry," The chime said. "But our ride appears to have met a setback."
"What's the matter?" Leon got up from the sofa and approached the Chimecho.
"Well, the earthquake from earlier today appears to have caused a rock slide... We have a boulder blocking the track, and disposing of it might take a while."
"How long?" Tiffany asked from the sofa.
"Well, it might take a long time," The Chimecho replied. "It is a rather sizeable boulder, and the Pokémon who can remove it are all the way back at Riale."
"Well, we can't wait that long," Richard growled, then looked at everyone. "We're continuing on foot."
"Hey, wait!" Leon told him. "We don't even know where we are!"
"Leon's right, Kitty," Estelle approached the Luxray from the other side. "We'll just get lost!"
"I think Richard's right," Sasha jumped the bar and stood close to the soldier. "I'm not gonna wait until they get here and smash that boulder!"
"Please think things over, Sasha," Phoebe told her. "Like Estelle said, we might get lost."
"What? It's just walking, Phoebe!" Sasha replied. "The thinking-over is pretty minimal!" She then looked at the Chimecho. "Give me a paw, will ya?"
"O-Of course, miss!" The Chimecho answered."What can I do for you?"
"Here," Sasha walked to her bag and pulled out a rolled up piece of paper. She walked back to the Chimecho and unrolled it in front of him, revealing a large map. "Where are we in this map?"
"Well..." The Chimecho replied as everyone approached the map to have a look. "Desina is here... And we took off from the station in the forest... About here, I think." He pointed at a spot in the northeastern parts of the map with his ribbon- like tail.
"Okay, now we know where we are!" She told Phoebe. "Now let's see... Closest town is... Neri, over here." She pointed at another spot near the one they were at."
"We can stop there and get supplies for our journey." Richard said. "It's a long walk to Selenia." He turned to Phoebe, then to Leon, Tiffany and Estelle. "We're continuing on foot."
"I wasn't so sure about it, not knowing where we were, but now that we do... Let's go." Leon answered, then turned to Tiffany. "Mind a little delay in our travels, ma'am?"
"Not at all, sir!" The Buneary answered. "In fact, Neri sounds kind of exciting! We can make a wish at the river!"
"Ok, we go to Neri," Phoebe said. "I just think this is all too hasty..."
"So you'd rather stay here and bore yourself waiting?" Sasha replied. "Well, that's what I have been doing for almost this whole week! It's time to get a move on! Besides, Neri's festival will start soon. We can even stay and watch once we get there!"
"I have to agree with Kitty and Lexy, staying here would be SO boring!" Estelle added. "Walking it off's a great plan!"
"So, it's Neri or bust, then?" Leon said.
"That's how it seems," Tiffany answered.
"So, what are we waiting for?" Sasha told everyone, putting the map back in her bag. She then picked her bag up and headed for the car's door where the Chimecho was. "Thanks for the ride," She told him, walking out of the car.
"Hasty," Phoebe commented, seeing the Glaceon leave.
"Remind you of someone?" Richard told the Espeon.
"Let's get going, then." Leon picked his bag up and put the egg in it, grabbing Tiffany's bag and handing it to her as well before walking out of the car. "Come on."
"Right behind you!" Tiffany followed him.
"Off to Neri, then," Richard picked his bag and headed out as well.
"Let's go!" Estelle followed Richard. "Come on, Sunny!" She turned to call Phoebe before they both left the car, leaving the Chimecho alone.
"T-Thanks for traveling... With us," Was all the Chimecho said, seeing them walk further down the train and get off. He looked around the car, then back at the door just in time to see Phoebe jump off. He let out a sigh, which sounded more like a soft ring before saying to himself "What a crew..."
"So, what direction's Neri in?" Leon asked once everyone had gotten off the train to the darkness of the night. They had gotten off to another part of the forest, probably deeper than the one Richard's cave was at, judging from their surroundings. The Rawst trees that were so abundant in the other parts of the woods were nowhere to be found, instead replaced by average trees, and, on the side of the train tracks opposite to the one they were standing on was the side of a mountain- the one that was to blame for the boulder blocking the tracks. The air was colder and clouded by a light fog... In fact, there even was some snow on the ground. Further ahead, three train workers- a Loudred, a Makuhita and a Machamp were looking at the boulder that was blocking the tracks and talking about it.
"It's southeast from here," Sasha answered. She took a few steps forward, looked around, then took a deep breath of cold night air. The Glaceon then looked at the others behind her. "Let's go!" She began to walk down a small path to the right.
"It's dark," Richard said, following after her. He tackled a tree, making some berries fall down. He took it and ate it in a single bite. "That's nothing to me, but I think we should find a safe spot and set up camp for the night."
"Sounds like a good idea," Tiffany replied as she picked another one of the berries up. She took a bite of it, following behind Richard and Sasha along with the others. "We just need a good spot by the side of the road."
"Like that one?" Leon pointed at a clearing by the side of the path, picking another berry up and kicking it away.
"I wanted that berry, Leon," Phoebe frowned, using her psychic powers to bring the berry back to her. With the same power she held it in front of her, taking a few bites of it. "And yes, that looks like a good spot."
Estelle yawned in her little voice, eyes half- closed as she drowsily followed behind everyone. "I like that spot... It's way past my bedtime..." She moved closer to Richard and brushed her cheek against his side. "Please, Kitty? Lexy?"
"Okay," Richard stepped off the road and stood in the middle of the clearing. He looked around, using his eyes to scout the surroundings for any danger. Noticing something, he let out a grunt and leapt into the darkness. A rustle was heard and the Luxray came out holding a strange item in his maw: It looked like a shell of some kind, but had angel- like wings and a halo above it. "This thing was spying on us." He said, dropping it on the snowy ground.
"Hey, what is this?" Tiffany curiously paced around the shell, examining it. She picked it up and looked at it up close. "Is it... Alive?" She was about to turn it around when Leon reacted.
"DON'T!" Leon swatted the shell off her paw, finally recognizing it. "Don't look at it's back or it'll eat your soul!"
"Leon, you know what this thing is?" Phoebe asked, stepping closer to the shell and poking it with her paw.
*Thing? I will have you know I am not a thing. And do not poke me.*
Phoebe jumped back, hearing the shell talk to her by telepathy. "This thing just talked to me!" The fur in her back stood on end as she felt a malevolent energy come from the strange carapace.
"It's a Shedinja," Leon approached the strange object. His leg suddenly enveloped in flames before he kicked the Shedinja away. "It's one of II's favorite spies. He probably sent it to track us."
"So, your crew's not gonna leave us alone?" Richard looked at Leon in the eyes with a severe stare. "That's gonna mean trouble for us all."
"Yeah?" Leon answered in a defiant tone, returning the stare. "You said you didn't care who I was. Was that all talk, just like you are?"
The feline growled, showing his gigantic fangs. He took a step closer to Leon. "I said I didn't care as long as you didn't get in the way."
"Well, that's who I am," Leon didn't flinch at the Luxray's attitude. "It's a shame if you don't like it, but here's a thing: You've attacked one of them and defeated him with ease. That alone puts drags attention to you, so we'll have to stick together if we want to have an easy time... Maybe it was you they were spying on."
"Step. Aside." Richard growled in a deep tone, displeased at the Pikachu's defiant attitude. Everyone else stared at the argument with a worried expression.
"Make me!" Leon took a step forward and raised a fist, sparks covering him.
"You're gonna regret that, idiot!"Richard leapt at Leon with a roar as electricity formed around his gigantic fangs, but someone else got in the way. Instead of Leon, he found himself pinning Sasha to the ground. Noticing who he had just hit, he calmed down, slowly dispelling the sparks from his fangs and closed his mouth.
"The last thing we need is two numbnuts fighting over something as stupid as some shell one of them found." Sasha said, looking at the Luxray who had her pinned. "So calm down and set up camp. 'Cuz if you want to hurt Leon, you'll have to get me too." Her expression was a serious one, and her eyes showed no signs of fear.
"I'm... Sorry, I guess," Richard answered, composing himself. He had to admit he was impressed by the way in which she had just stepped in his way to prevent him from hurting Leon, and the way in which she hadn't showed even the slightest trace of fear despite being pinned down and with his fangs only a few inches away from her.
Lost in the moment, they stared into each other's eyes. Their breathing becoming heavier. Finally, Sasha broke the tension of the moment.
"So get off me and set up camp!" Sasha said in a hasty tone, hoping he wouldn't notice the slight blush on her cheeks.
"Right!" Richard let go of her and looked around. "So we're staying here, right? Oh wait we had already decided that... Uh... Hey, is that a Nomel berry? I'll go see!" He jumped into the foggy darkness of the woods ahead, vanishing from sight.
"What was that about?" Tiffany asked, feeling strange at the sight of the Luxray vanishing into the woods. Quickly forgetting that, she turned to Leon. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Leon sighed in relief. Truth be told there was a moment in which he had actually been scared. He looked at Sasha, who was still lying on her back. "Thanks, Sasha."
"Don't thank me," She answered, getting up and looking at him. "You're one of the two numbnuts that started the fight. If anything, you should go after him and apologize."
"What?" Leon wasn't expecting that. "Why? He should apologize to me!"
"He's never gonna do that," Phoebe told him, staring in the direction Richard had leapt off in.
"Leon," Tiffany told the Pikachu, rubbing his shoulder. "Please go apologize. If anything, doing so shows you're the bigger man."
"Okay," Leon answered, stroking her ear and looking at her. "I'll go. Just because you're telling me to." Saying this, he walked of in the same direction Richard had jumped at, vanishing from sight shortly afterwards.
"And they were gonna help, huh?" Sasha commented, then turned to look at the rest of the girls. "Come on, let's set this camp up ourselves."
They got to work, hoisting two tents and getting the wood for a fire. The task was far simpler with more paws helping.
"So it's all set," Tiffany said, putting down some more wood in the pile. "Now we just need to light this up... I think we'd need the guys for that." She looked deep into the fog, trying to see if Leon or Richard were coming back.
"What do we even need the fire for, anyway?" Sasha stared at the wood. "It's all hot and uncomfortable."
"You don't have a problem with cold because you're an Ice- type," Phoebe answered. "But us, we need the heat."
"Oh, trust me," Sasha replied with a naughty smile. "No one EVER needs the heat." They both laughed shortly at her answer before lying down on the snowy ground by the wood. "See? We're okay without fire."
"I can light it!" Estelle leapt back and opened her mouth.
"Wait, Estelle! We're-"
The Absol shot a ball of fire from her mouth, which grazed past the wood, igniting it and crashing against the ground a few inches from Sasha and Phoebe, making the two jump aside.
"What's the matter with you?!" Sasha asked shakily, two beads of cold sweat sliding down the diamond- shaped endings of her cap. "That could have burned me!"
"I'm sorry!" Estelle looked down a little before lying next to the fire. "But, look! I got the fire lit!"
"Well, you did that." Phoebe moved closer to the fire and lied down. "So, you think Leon will really apologize?"
"He will," Tiffany answered, taking the egg from Leon's bag and sitting next to the Espeon, holding it. "But, from what I've seen of him I think the more important question is: will Richard accept the apology?"
"You're right about that."
"Isn't it weird how boys can fight over the silliest things?" Estelle brought the question up.
"Yeah," Sasha answered, moving closer to the fire, not because she liked it, but to be close to the conversation. "I mean, they got into that fight over some stupid shell Richard found. If I hadn't jumped in to save him, Leon would have died because of that."
"Smart of you, Lexy," Estelle commented. "Taking advantage of his fear of girls to avoid a fight."
"Yeah," Sasha looked away, blushing lightly. "T-That's what I did. I used his fear, yeah..."
"I don't think it has anything to do with gender," Phoebe answered. "I think it's a matter of personality, really."
"Well, could be..."
Leon was making his way through the fog, trying to find Richard. He couldn't explain to himself what just had happened or why the Luxray had jumped away just like that, but e had promised to go apologize, and that's what he was about to do. He couldn't see a thing ahead of him and he was fairly convinced every step he took only moved him further and further away from the clearing everyone else was at.
"But... How could I ever...?" He heard a voice in the distance. "Without you..."
The Pikachu couldn't quite make out the source of the voice. Was it coming from his left? He couldn't tell. Then, he heard what sounded like sobbing in the distance.
"My life's been miserable... Not a day goes by..." The voice came again. This time, Leon was able to identify it. It was... Was it Richard? Leon perked his ears up to check where it was coming from. Finally, he was able to identify the source and guided himself by the sounds and sobbing. The sight he saw once he reached it was something he wasn't expecting.
Richard was lying with his back against a tree near a stream, holding in his paw a necklace with a fang. That wasn't so strange... The strange thing was that there, right next to him, was someone else. A bright, cyan figure was leaning against him, lovingly caressing his chest.
'What's that?' Leon thought, looking at the pair by the river. He was intrigued, more than anything, by the Luxray's company. 'Is that...'
"Ever since I lost you, my life has lost all meaning," Richard was telling the other one. His voice carried sadness. In fact, Leon even noticed a tear trickling down the Luxray's cheek and into his mane.
**I know... But I'm still here for you. Maybe not in the way either of us wanted, but we'll always be together. **
"I miss you... I miss the warmth of your body against mine at night; I miss the life we led together... And I hate myself for being so incompetent I-
**Someone's here. I have to go...And, Richard? Remember what we talked about. **
The figure vanished along the fog, leaving the Luxray alone in the woods. Noticing it was the right time to approach, Leon stepped closer and called him.
"Richard," Leon called, walking towards him. "Hey, Richard..."
"What do you want?" Richard growled, getting up and staring severely at Leon. He walked towards the Pikachu as well until they both met. They stopped in front of each other, staring into each other's eyes.
"I wanted to apologize to you," Leon started. "I shouldn't have talked to you like that when all you were doing was worrying about our safety."
"About the safety of Phoebe, Sasha and Estelle," Richard growled his answer. "I don't give a damn about what happens to you your mate..."
**Richard? What did we talk about? **
"But that can change," Richard immediately corrected himself. "And I accept your apology... In fact, I want to apologize as well."
"Accepted," Leon stretched his hand out. "So, are we friends?"
"I don't like you," Richard replied. "But if it means not worrying the girls over our fighting, I can pretend we are." He stretched his paw at Leon's hand and they made a 'handshake' of sorts. "Besides, you're right. We have to stick together if we want to have an easy time with your old friends chasing after us."
"Then let's head back and help them set up camp," Leon said as he pulled his hand away from Richard's paw. "It's too late already." He turned around and began to walk in the direction he had walked in from.
"Yeah, let's." Richard walked after Leon back to the clearing.
"Ah!" Leon was flailing his arms about, trying to dispel the fog that clouded his vision and didn't allow him to see his own hand in front of his face. "This fog is impossible! I can't see a thing!"
"Climb on my back," The Luxray told him, walking around the fog with ease. "I can see through this fog, so finding a way back shouldn't be a problem."
"Are you sure?" Leon asked, feeling strange about the fact Richard had just offered to carry him.
"Hurry it up before I change my mind," Richard growled.
"Okay," Leon hopped on the Luxray's back and hung on. "Thanks, 'friend'."
"It's not a problem, 'friend'," Richard answered in the same way, easily navigating the fog with the Pikachu on his back. Maybe they didn't get along, but didn't mean they'd have to fight. Leon had brought a good point that staying together was vital to survive when they were the target of a group as powerful as the Midnight Voices, and he didn't want to risk not being able to control himself and hurting Sasha by accident next time he lost his temper. They'd be friends, even if they didn't like each other. "By the way," He continued. "How much did you see when you arrived to the spot I was?"
"I saw that figure petting you," Leon replied. "But don't worry," He patted the Luxray's side in a friendly way. "I won't ask what it was and I won't tell anyone."
"Really? Then we might get along better than I thought..."
After a while of walking, they arrived at the clearing only to find that the girls had set up camp on their own. Leon got off from Richard's back before anyone could see anything, as to avoid embarrassing him. Tiffany, Phoebe, Sasha and Estelle were all around the fire and turned to look at them the moment they arrived.
"You're back," Sasha commented, walking to greet them. "We were starting to get worried, what with all the fog, and all..."
"We're okay," Richard answered, walking to the fire and lying down close to it. "I just need to get my half-hour sleep for the night."
"Um... That's what the tents are for." Tiffany told him.
"I don't need them," Richard answered. "The stars are the only roof I need over my head..."
"Finally, some sleep!" Estelle lied down next to Richard and cuddled up against him like she always did. "Nighty-night, everyone!"
"Good night," Phoebe answered, stepping into a lavender- colored tent followed by Sasha.
"Okay!" Tiffany headed into the other one with Leon after her. "Sleep tight!" Once she and Leon were in the tent, she asked him. "So? Did you make up? "
"We did," Leon answered, lying down on the tent's floor. However, he continued before Tiffany could answer. "We might not get along, but we agreed to be friends for the greater good."
"There you go!" She lied down next to him, hugging him. "I'm so proud of you!"
"Thanks," Leon replied. "Now, let's get some sleep. We'll need it to keep travelling tomorrow..."
"Good night, Leon..."
===THE WASTELAND FACILITY
A single white figure was making his way through the perpetually dark streets of the Midnight World, the sound of its steps on the puddles of water and the clacking his large claws made when he stepped on the hard, stone road being the only noise that could be heard. The Absol was making his way through the soldier's quarter, the place where the fighters they had hired for their militia stayed at whenever off- duty. With all the alleyways and buildings, the place was like a town of its own. A few soldiers were standing by some of the buildings, turning to see him arrive and taking a step back out of both respect and fear.
He didn't even notice them there.
Slowly, he continued his walk up to the fortress in the distance. Making his way across the cliffs in which the whisper of the waves crashing below replaced his steps as the only source of noise. Finally, he reached a small entrance on the fortress' south wall. A Sableye by the entrance noticed him approaching and stepped aside just like all the others had. Lethe walked past him and into the large building ahead.
He made his way up the long flight of stairs; his white fur tinted a grayish blue because of the dim lighting, with his steps echoing in the vast hallways. Finally, he reached the floor in which both the resting area and the gigantic dining hall were.
It only took him a few steps before realizing something was different. For one, almost everyone was gathered in the resting area, some going through bags and checking them for belongings, others discussing plans, and some more simply resting, waiting for something. The moment he noticed him walk in, a large Rhyperior rushed to greet him.
"Hey, you're alive!" XVIII rushed excitedly to Lethe and, without minding time or place, he picked the Absol up and started throwing him high up in the air laughing in relief, catching him and throwing him again.
"Big," Lethe tried to say as the giant kept throwing him. "Big... Big!" He said in the loudest tone he could, which was still almost an inaudible hiss. "Stop that!"
"Whoa, sorry," XVIII answered, putting him down. "So? How'd it go? Heard you took a vacation so you could stay with the girls!"
"I kicked the Mightyena out," Lethe answered. "And I've got some news."
"First of all: I did get to see Estelle."
"How was she?" XVIII asked, worried about the safety of the one little Absol that always followed him around and played with him.
"She's fine... And she's not," Lethe replied. "We should thank this Luxray named Richard who's been taking care of her... Bad thing is, you've probably heard about him by now."
"I have?" XVIII looked into his memory. "Well, XIV reported one Luxray that...Whoa! He's the same Luxray who attacked XIV?"
"Yes," The Absol continued, his red eyes glowing in a strange way with the dim blue light. "Now, for the bad part: Estelle's become friends with XV."
"Oh, MAN!" The Rhyperior stomped the floor in frustration, knowing that meant they would have to get in trouble with Estelle. "I don't believe it!"
"Now, for the next news... Soon, you might have someone call you 'Uncle Big'."
"I stayed with Astra during the whole week," Lethe continued. Though his expression and tone were still serious, there was a certain, very small trace of happiness on them. For a very brief moment, they were even replaced by a faint smile. "And we... Showed our love for each other on a more physical level. The result was, as I could have remotely expected..."
"What are you getting at?" XVIII told him impatiently. "Quit the big words! You and Astra had your fun together and what? What happened?"
"...My fatherhood," Lethe finally answered. "That's what happened."
They were both left silent, neither of them saying a word before XVIII let out an excited "Congratulations!" He picked Lethe up and hugged him so strongly the Absol felt the air leaving his lungs.
"Big," Lethe whispered, not having enough air to speak normally. "Big... Big! You're doing it again!"
"Sorry," XVIII put him down again. "Still, that's great news!"
"I know," Lethe looked down. "I promised her I will visit whenever I can, every day after I'm done with my duties."
"Ah, interesting!" X, who had been eavesdropping, approached them. "One of our E.L.G.A., a product of genetic engineering and alteration, has conceived a child with an ordinary Pokémon! I must make a record of this... Perhaps collect both specimens for research!"
"Move less than a mile close to where she is, and I swear I will cut you back into the mute and stupid group of Beldum you were." Lethe hissed threateningly, stepping forward with an orange aura surrounding his body. "I promised I would not allow anything else to happen to her, and I will fulfill that."
"Science will always come first, philistine idiot!" X retorted, walking away offended.
"And I'll be there to smash those Beldum to bits!" XVIII added in to Lethe's threat as he saw the Metagross walk away. "Anyways, good thing you're here," He turned to Lethe. "We're going to this 'wasteland facility'. You know what that's about?"
"Yes," Lethe knew what XVIII was talking about. The old wasteland facility that had to be closed and sealed since the last incident that took place so many years ago. He looked down, deep in thought before looking back up at the Rhyperior. "Did they say why we are going?"
"They're not giving any full details to us lower ranks going there. Apparently, we're going to retrieve someone or something like that."
In the meantime, Bernard as sitting on the couch, waiting for the moment in which II would arrive and they would depart for the wasteland facility. XVI had left shortly before to find some things she was sure they'd need during their stay in that place. He wasn't so sure how the Zangoose could be sure of what they'd need, having never been there before, but chose not to say anything. That's when he was approached by a sight that brought an amused smile to his face.
"Hey," Nero greeted the Lucario, stopping in front of him and gesturing at the green goatee he had. "What do you think?"
"Want to hear the truth?" Bernard answered, staring amused at the Gallade. "Or want us to keep being friends?"
"Well, you look like you ate a salad and got on some of it on your face." Bernard chuckled.
"And, we're off to shave this!" Nero replied, turning around and walking out of the room.
Shortly after, XVI walked into the room and sat in the couch, next to Bernard. "Hello, puppy!" She greeted, petting the Lucario, who let out an annoyed, yet caring grunt. "So, I ran into V on the way here... And that thing on his face-"
"The salad bit?"
"Yeah!" The albino Zangoose laughed. "Yeah, that's what I told him!"
"Okay, that's gone!" Nero waked back into the room and sat in a nearby chair, noticing the other two staring amused at him. "Ha-ha, so I wanted to change my looks, big deal!"
"Attention," II appeared into the room. Immediately, all eyes went to him. Clearing his throat, he continued, speaking out loud. "Members chosen for the mission to the wasteland facility: We depart now. You were given a whole week to prepare, so I trust you are ready. Come." Saying this, he floated out of the room, heading for the Spatial Gate.
Quickly, everyone involved in the mission followed after him. Bernard, Nero, VI, VIII, Lethe, X, XIII, XVI and XVIII (or, as the Absol called him, 'Big') walked out of the fortress, talking, and arrived into the Gate. Not saying more, everyone stepped in after the Mismagius. In a flash, they found themselves in a totally different place.
The ten Pokémon were now in a deserted expanse of ground. The sand was colored a dim blue because of the darkness of the early morning, and the air was so cold that it would chill almost anyone to the bone. A few very small plants were growing out from the sand, and the weak wind that blew made a faint whistle.
"Okay," Big said, walking around and staring in every direction. His feet sank on the sand. "I see the wasteland... In fact, that's all I see. Where's the facility?"
"It's not visible just like that," Bernard told him, walking next to him.
"With all the explorers going around, and how close Isa Yuka is to this place, we had to hide it so they wouldn't stumble across it by accident." II floated eastwards with his usual crooked and malicious smile. The sand that was being carried by the wind seemed to go around him. "Follow me, it is in this direction." He went in the direction he started floating at, and all the others followed.
"Oh, great!" XIII held his leafy fans around himself, shivering. "This place is freezing!"
"Silly Shiftry," VI replied, floating closer to II. "There is nothing wrong with that!"
"That's right," VIII added. "I love this kind of cold. It's one of my favorites! I just hope we can get to the facility before the sun rises, or else things are going to get real ugly... Hey!" The Weavile shrieked as her foot got stuck in the sand. "Hey! Something's got me! HELP!"
"It's just a Trapinch," XVI took the Weavile's paws in her own and dragged her out. "Would you look at yourself, panicking over something so little!"
"Wait till your claws are sharper before you talk to me like that, kiddy!" VIII answered angrily, shaking free from the Zangoose's grasp and continuing her walk.
"So," Bernard told Nero as they kept walking. "We're going back home, huh? It's probably changed after all these years."
"Probably has," The Gallade replied, scratching the back of his head. "I can't believe we're going back there... You know what I wanna do? Go check out our old room."
"I'd like that too," Bernard said. "Just remember why we're going there in the first place."
"You think the guys will be fine without us?"
"Well, I don't know. If, when we come back, the place is painted and scribbled with the words 'XIX rulez' all over, we'll know who to blame."
Finally, they stopped in front of a gigantic boulder that was half- buried in the sand. II approached the boulder and pointed out. "This is the spot."
"Okay," Bernard walked and stopped right in front of the boulder. He gave it two quick punches before turning to look at Nero. "Give me a hand here, will you?"
"On it," The Gallade replied casually, stopping next to Bernard and giving the boulder another punch. He turned to the Lucario. "So... Think it'll budge?"
"Lemme give ya a hand with this!" Big joined them.
"Okay, now we can," Bernard said, grabbing the boulder by the base. "Ready?" The other two nodded. "Okay... On three... One! Two!"
"Are we lifting it ON three or after three?" Nero asked.
"Does it matter?"
"Well, I think it does,"
"No offense to you two geniuses," Big told them. "But, while you were counting, we could have lifted this thing already."
"Alright, then," Bernard pushed. "On three!"
"So we're doing it ON three?" Nero asked.
"Ah, let's just do it!" Big roared impatiently, pushing as he lifted the boulder. The other two joined him at once, and with some effort, the boulder rolled over, revealing an entrance hidden under it.
"Thank you," II told them, floating into the entrance. He stopped and looked at the others. "Let's go."
They did as told and walked into the entrance that had been revealed, following II into the wasteland facility. They walked into a gloomy, dark corridor. It was dusty and dirty, and it was impossible to see anything in the murky darkness.
"It's dark, huh?" Nero commented, walking blindly through the darkness.
"You don't say," Bernard answered cynically. He stretched out his hand, and a blue light from his own aura began to form. With a pulse, he launched the light ahead. It flew forwards, crashing against a line of lamps. The corridor was instantly filled by the same dim blue lights that were so abundant in the fortress. "There, you happy now?"
"Power's out," X said, observing the way in which Bernard had to light their path. "We might have to reactivate it."
Finally, the group reached the end of the corridor. It seemed to be a dead end. There was nothing ahead save two symbols marked on the solid wall. Bernard and II moved towards the wall, faced each other, and nodded. The Lucario placed a hand on each symbol while the Mismagius vanished through the wall to the right.
*Say when,* Bernard told II by telepathy.
*On my mark... Now.*
Energy emanated from Bernard's hands into the makings on the wall. Suddenly, the wall split in two and began to move away as a door would do. II floated out from the place he had vanished to and went behind Bernard, who closed his eyes and got into a fighting stance.
"Do you see any hostiles, III?" II asked, waiting to see if the Lucario sensed any enemies approaching.
Bernard didn't answer. He just opened his eyes and stood, ready to hit what was about to come. Suddenly, a Rhyhorn came charging out of the darkness with a berserk roar, making everyone but Bernard, II and Lethe jump in surprise. Bernard took the charging beast by the head and threw him against the wall, then shot an Aura Sphere at it for the finishing blow. The sphere crashed against the Rhyhorn at the same time it hit the wall, apparently dead.
"What..." XVI hugged Bernard's arm, catching her breath. "The hell... Was that?"
"That was a LEA," Bernard answered. "Genetic experiments gone wrong in the early attempts to crate us using a substance known by the same name."
"And why did it attack us?"
"They are incapable of rational thought," II answered as he continued deeper inside. "They have gone berserk and are likely to attack us... Ask III for advice on how to survive here."
"Let's run through the basics of how to make it out of here alive," Bernard followed II with XVI not taking her arms of him. "First: If you hear noises, don't think it's your imagination. Check, or you will die."
"That's right," Nero added. "The key for survival in this little hell we're at is to be VERY paranoid."
"Next: Never move alone. If we want to survive, we'll have to stay together."
"No worries on that, huh?" The Zangoose said.
"And last: If you see a dead body, hit it anyway. Appearances aren't what they seem. Always be aware of your sorroundings."
"Whoa, just like some kind of horror story!" XIII said as they kept walking forward.
"I feel for you, brother," Big told the deceased Rhyhorn as he walked past it.
"And here is where we split," II stopped in a large room with stairs leading downwards. An inverse 'foyer' of sorts. "VI, VIII, X, XIII, follow me." He turned to look at Bernard. "We'll be in the bottom floor, in King's office. In the meantime, you know what to search for."
The members II mentioned approached him and, soon, they vanished in a grey flash.
"Well, then, let's go," Bernard made a 'follow me' gesture, walking down the stairs.
"Mission begins!" The Clefable peeked out, looking down the corridor in the direction the Midnight Voices had walked on. He turned to look at someone behind him. "Are you ready?"
"As ready as I can be!" The determined reply came as the one behind him stepped out from the shadows. A bulky and muscular, yet athletic body covered in deep red fur with a bushy yellow tail and a large tuft of hair of the same color resembling a mane. His right foreleg was a far darker red than the left one. "Let's get this done with. I have a sister and girl to look after!"
"I am ready," The answer came from a third one, who stepped out of the darkness, wearing a white, hooded rope over its plump body, leaving nothing but a long, lightning- tipped tail to peek out from underneath. Judging by voice, it was female. "Let us go forth so I can start redeeming myself for all I've done."
"Excellent," Miaram replied. "Misha, Regina... Let's go!" The three ran into the darkness, running down the same stairs Bernard and the others had walked down from earlier...
===THE PRINCE OF FLAMES VS THE WHITE BLADE
"Alright," Bernard said as they arrived into a smaller room. A single, grey couch similar to the one they had in the resting area on the Midnight World was on the center of the room, with a grey cushion, also like the one in the resting area by a corner. "We'll set this place as our resting area for this mission."
"Well, that's good," Nero replied, sitting lazily on the couch. "I need to rest."
"Oh no," Bernard told him. "We're not resting... Let's all get out there and find that lot of E.L.G.A. they asked us to recover. If you come back from your search, you get to rest. Not before. C'mon."
"Alright, whatever!" Nero stormed out of the room, ignoring the second tip for survival. He walked down the dark hallways and stairways until he arrived at a door labeled 'STORAGE I'. He pushed the door open and walked inside, paying no heed to the dried and apparently dead Roserade by the door. As he walked in the plant came to life, grabbing the Gallade's foot is its vines.
"Agh!" Nero tried to shake free. "Let me go! You freaking zombie plant! Come on!" The Roserade's vines kept traveling up his body, constricting him. He was running out of air, and his vision was getting cloudy. Just when he was about to pass away, a Flamethrower attack hit the Roserade, burning off the vines and allowing the Gallade to breathe again. He quickly shook the charred vines off and stomped the Roserade, killing it for sure.
"Man, you're careless!" A Flareon emerged from behind a steel rack that was loaded with vials. "I thought they told you to be aware of your surroundings and hit bodies just to make sure they were dead!"
"Thanks for the aid," Nero answered, shaking his leg to make the last bits of burnt plant fall off, then noticing the one who had saved him. "Wait... A talking LEA? No... You're not a LEA. You're... Hey!" He snapped to his senses, jumping back and extending the blades on his elbows. "You're that Frost guy!"
"That's Misha," Misha answered, stepping out fully from behind the rack. "Anyways, I got this storage room covered, so you might as well go back to your friends and forget you saw me, huh?"
"Well, I was told you and your pals could show up to mess the mission up," Nero replied, standing his ground. "I just didn't think it was true... When I'm through with you I'll go and tell Bernard the Silver Seraphs really are here."
"Hey, come on!" Misha walked among the racks, looking at the vials before going back to Nero. "I just saved your ass! So why don't we just get along, you help me search, and we're all happy?"
"Yeah!" Nero chuckled sarcastically. "'Cuz we can do that..." He immediately regained composure and stared seriously at the Flareon. "I'll take the search from here, buddy."
"And here I was, thinking we'd be friends," Misha paced around with a confident smile, his body heating up and acquiring a certain glow. "Guess I'll have to kick you out."
"Bring it on!" Nero answered, getting ready to fight. With a smile similar to Misha's he continued. "Get ready, man. You're about to get a bigger pounding than your sister's behind!"
"Hey!" Misha replied "That's a low blow!... But, yeah... Bring it!" He leapt at Nero, enveloping himself in flames.
The Gallade quickly jumped aside, dodging the attack before trying to punch Misha, who slid forward, passing between Nero's legs. Reacting to this, Nero turned around and kicked Misha, sending him rolling away. The Flareon bounced back towards Nero, tackling him and sending them both against one of the racks, causing it to collapse along with the two. Nero got up and searched around, trying to see where Misha was, but was surprised when he was tackled from behind. Quickly, he rolled so he was left face- up, then sprang to his feet and jumped back, sending a wave of energy flying from his blades towards Misha, who jumped aside, then at him. Quickly reacting, he grabbed Misha and threw him against the roof, with Misha regaining his balance in the air and launching a Flamethrower at the Gallade. The attack missed, and Nero charged at Misha with lames enveloping his fist, hitting the Flareon with his Fire Punch attack. The only thing this did was make Misha's fur glow even brighter than before, the temperature rising in the entire room to the point the contents of some of the vials were starting to boil.
"Thanks," Misha said with the same devilish grin his sister made. "Oh, you're about to feel the heat..." The glow on his body was so bright he was almost impossible to see. "Ready? Flame on!" He took in air, then spat out a Fire Blast. The intensity of the flames combined with the short distance between Misha and Nero quickly resulting in the Gallade's defeat.
Nero was sent back and collapsed, severely weakened from the attack he had just taken. He slowly got up to his knees, panting heavily, fighting just to stand. "Oh, damn..." He finally managed to stand up, only to fall again.
"Now stay there while I search, kay?" Misha told the loser of the battle, turning back to the racks and examining them. "And, by the way? My sister's rear is none of your business." The Flareon chuckled at his own words before taking a vial in his paw. "Meh, this isn't it. You sure could use it, though! Here," He threw the vial at Nero before walking out of the room. "And watch yourself on the way back okay? Be a good boy now!"
Nero picked the vial up and looked at it to see it read 'Full Restore, lot V. Experimental'. He opened it, making a nozzle come out and sprayed it on his burns, instantly healing. He stared at the room's door that Misha had walked out. 'So, the guy's really alive huh?' He wondered, walking out of the room and back to the resting area he had left earlier. 'They told us everyone involved in the Blood Valley incident was dead... But they're not... Frost, Raymonds, Birman, Watt... That princess girl, too... Oh, they could be trouble...' Finally, he arrived at the room to find Bernard sitting on the couch with two empty vials in his hands.
"I'm guessing you found nothing?" Bernard asked the moment he saw the Gallade walk in.
"Oh, I found something alright," Nero answered. "Or, should I say someone..."
"Let's just say you were right," The Psychic- type continued. "The Silver Seraphs are here... I just ran into an old pal."
"Really?" The Lucario got up and approached him. "Who?"
"You remember Misha Frost..."
"I knew he was alive," Bernard looked down and crossed his arms, deep in thought. "We'd better get ready for trouble, Nero... With the Silver Seraphs here, we're likely to find it..."