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Private/Closed Out From The Deep

Discussion in 'Pokémon Role Play' started by StellarWind Elsydeon, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. StellarWind Elsydeon

    StellarWind Elsydeon Armblades Ascendant
    Staff Member Administrator

    OOC: Alrighty, I've been sitting on this post for way too fricking long (as the discussion thread for this fustercluck seems to have been initially posted sometime around the end of June 2018, holy frell) and while I wanted to do a bit more with it, I think I may as well post it as is. I guess I'll leave this here for @Keleri, @Rex and @Dark Soul to write their intro posts... and FINALLY get this Sinnoh-based show on the road.

    Afternoon was fading and sunset was fast approaching. A cool, gentle wind rustled through the grasses and sparse flowers, its murmur interspersed with the harsh, creaking calls of the region’s ubiquitous Starlies and the wingbeat-hum of darting Yanma skimming over the peaceful waters, occasionally interrupted by a local water-type - usually a Quagsire or a Psyduck - breaching the surface for a breath of air or to rest on a the mossy bark of a fallen log. Budew, clustered together in small bouquets for protection, perched on patches of land in an attempt to take in as much sunlight as they still could before the fall of night; and every once in a while, a seemingly-unassuming mound of unkempt vines suddenly uprooted itself and ambled away on red-tipped legs, an eye or two peeking out from the growth revealing its true nature as a Tangela. It would not be long before the Starlies would quiet down and be gradually replaced by a symphony of gentle Hoothoot calls, melodic Kricketune chirps and the loud, resonant “songs” of Croagunk and Toxicroak. The Budew would vanish into their hiding places in the tall grass while from the mudbeds, the wooded areas and the pools stifled by aquatic vegetation, the creatures of the night would emerge – some to scatter their spores, some to hunt for unsuspecting prey – as their kind has done since times immemorial.

    Broad-scope biome surveys were an activity that Gad has not had the opportunity to engage in for quite a while now, and he had nearly forgotten how relaxing it could be just to immerse oneself in an environment like that. Between its wealth of plant-life diversity and the Pokémon species found nowhere else in the region, the Great Marsh of Pastoria was the finest example of its kind that he could wish for - and the quality of data it yielded exceeded his expectations in ways he couldn’t begin to describe. He has been there for several days now, acquiring and analysing environmental samples for physical, chemical, biological and elemental attributes in various areas of the marsh and at various times of the day – data that would eventually be combined through computer models with climate, energy flow and fluctuation trend data collected by the local conservationists in Pastoria City over periods of years, and yield an even deeper understanding of the Great Marsh’s ecosystems and hopefully marsh biomes at large - understanding that would be of great value and use to both Pastoria’s conservationists and the research that brought him here in the first place.

    He was currently surveying one of the vague points of transition where grasses and weeds met bushes and trees and the marsh became a swamp – quite a way away from the beaten path, the eco-rail and the closely monitored safari zones, and quite a while past the hours in which visitors were usually permitted into the marsh. He owed it all to Gardenia, of course: she put in a few good words about him with the local Gym Leader via official league channels, and the leader in question pulled the strings required to get him relatively free roam in areas of the Marsh that were otherwise kept restricted to access by the general public. There were conditions, of course - the data survey was to be performed in the least invasive manner possible, his Pokémon were to be kept in their balls unless strictly necessary, and all data acquired as part of the survey were to be be shared with local conservation efforts – but these were conditions that he was happy to oblige to. Where he couldn’t rely on his Pokémon for broad sweeps and analysis, technology filled the gap nicely, and was far less likely to introduce artefacts into the data anyway. The local frogs did not do well with even the subtlest psionic background noise, after all - and agitating the local frogs was a bad idea for many reasons, most of which involving deadly neurotoxins (and while science and deadly neurotoxins often went hand in hand, investigating their potential effects on his person was, perhaps, getting a touch too multidisciplinary for the research he was there to conduct).

    So, there he was – knee-high, thick and waterproof boots leaving footsteps in the muddy ground where humans rarely ever tread – while around him, a small flock of vaguely insect-like hover-drones fluttered about, relaying data from assorted environmental sensors to the backpack-like central processing unit of his biome survey gear. His eyes darted underneath the survey gear’s visor, occasionally switching perspectives from one drone’s point of view to another, then back to his own. The system was collecting ambient data, of course – but what actually held his interest was the anomalies – the things that made one particular area different from the average. Flora or fauna that were particular to one area but not others, differences in the mineral balances or salinity or deities-knew-what – and the feedback they introduced into the system around them. Physically, there didn’t seem to be all that much that was different – and as for elemental energies, their planar distributions and fluctuations appeared, at least, to be pretty typical for what he’s seen of the Great Marsh so far too – though they did seem a touch elevated compared to other areas he had surveyed. He would have chalked it off to naturally-occurring variance or to residue from a previous battle – but there was something that he couldn’t quite place tugging at the edge of his consciousness about this particular area, and that something led him to believe that further investigation was required.

    Humans, typically, were not particularly sensitive to elemental forces in the same manner Pokémon were, nor to the same extent. Even those humans who were naturally attuned to particular planes (or those who learned to attune themselves through close association with Pokémon) could only rarely pinpoint the nature of energetic imbalances with any degree of accuracy without technological help. Fortunately, he came prepared. Reaching for the interface device that was strapped onto his right arm, he shifted the display spectrum on the HUD – and the colours of the world began to change as elemental auras, invisible to the naked eye but not to the sensors of his survey drones, were rendered in simulated colours and overlaid on the landscape around him, hues and transparencies indicating elemental types and densities. They were in the air – pale currents of blue-tinted-white Flying-type energy drifting with the wind currents. They were in the soil and in the pools – flickers of Ground-type golden-brown and Water-type deep blue, swirling into each other where land met water. They were in the vegetation – shades of deep blue flowing through leaf-veins and the vascular bundles of stems against a background of Grass-type vivid green, the faint silhouettes of root systems visible even through the ground. They were, of course, in Pokémon – trails of residual energy where they walked, foraged and battled. And they were all around, faint clouds and swirls of other colours – energies of nearly every other type - barely there, but granting the world an omnipresent, almost-iridescent sheen. They were everywhere. They always were. The elemental planes resonated with the prime, forming complicated feedback loops where the environment affected the energy densities, and in turn, the energy densities affected the environment – sometimes with Pokémon drawn to the area by the energetic shift acting as vectors and catalysts for this resonance.

    And sure enough, the energy densities here were somewhat elevated, but that wasn’t the unusual part. The unusual part was their fluctuation patterns – not the typically-chaotic patterns one would expect to see, but a distinctly rhythmic ebb-and-tide pattern that seemed to become stronger and more uneven in one particular direction. Whatever the cause of this phenomenon, it was coming from that direction, deeper into the swampy forest – and Grass-type energy was at the heart of it.

    He had to check it out. With a sequence of taps on the interface device, Gad suspended the data recording for the main survey - Can’t have an obvious outlier confound the main survey data - and initialized a new, separate sub-survey. If the anomaly turned out to be nothing of consequence, he could always merge the data later.

    Something, however, told him this would not be the case.


    The further Gad followed the survey drones towards the apparent source of the anomaly, the more difficult it became to find a path. The tall, thin trees grew thicker and denser – foliage and air-roots blocking out even more of the already-fading daylight – and their roots grew more tangled in the muddy ground, rendering it even more uneven. Many of the pools had a dense cover of duckweed that further blurred the lines between semi-solid ground and water of indeterminable depth… And then there was the mist. It wasn’t your average swamp fog – it grew thicker the further one ventured, it was deeply charged with swirling energetic waveforms – some cancelling each other out, others enhancing each other - and it resonated with the anomaly in a way that could not have been a coincidence.

    The structure of the anomaly itself was becoming clearer, as well – each cycle began with a powerful surge of Grass-type energy, followed by an influx of everything else as the wave corrected itself to compensate for the surge – but rather than declining to baseline as energies reacted with each other, the Grass energies dropped far lower than expected, before surging up again – leaving an overall build-up of energies that was significant enough to be physically affecting the prime rather than merely being a minor curiosity of the elemental planes. He has seen elemental “places of power” before – locations where a link between the prime and a particular plane has increased in power over many years to the point of virtually forming a bridge between the two. But this… this was different – not so much a bridge as a breach – and the evidence seemed to point that whatever it was that was going on here started recently, fairly abruptly… and close by.

    Finally, he found the source – the sensor-drones led him towards a large clearing of sorts, surrounded by particularly thick and gnarled trees, their hanging-moss-covered branches criss-crossing and intertwining high above. The mist was at its thickest here – close to the ground in particular – and visibility was hardly what one would call brilliant, even with the advantage of low-light cameras and the elemental aura visualization. If anything, the aura vision made it worse – underneath the swirling energies within the fog, the ground was awash with Grass-plane energy that, certainly enough, appeared to spring from the heart of the clearing and then spread through the roots and vascular systems of every plant in the immediate area, blanketing his view with veins and clusters of dense green within a rainbow miasma of miscellaneous elemental auras. It was impossible to make out any details in the mass of green at the point of origin – there was simply too much of it for the sensors’ resolution – and he muttered a minced oath under his breath as he dimmed the aura view into a less intrusive level over input from the drones’ low light cameras. With the elemental auras dimmed he could make out a rather large pond at the center of the clearing, its surface disrupted on occasion by what appeared to be clusters of vegetation, occasionally illuminated by the regular pulses of energy. Was the Grass-energy absorbed by the plantlife faster than it could be naturally dispersed, then? That couldn’t be right – the swamp vegetation was somewhat lusher than that of the area around it, but not to the degree one would expect with such high energy concentrations. And what’s more – even with uptake by plants, major influxes of Grass energy like this should have drawn more Pokémon to this location – or at the very least, the Pokémon in the surrounding areas should have been acting at least a bit more restless due to the imbalance... But no, the clearing and its surroundings were eerily quiet. Too quiet. And if there’s one thing that Gad learned over the years, it’s that the absence of a thing could be just as telling as its presence.

    Where were all the Pokémon?

    “Good thing these things have some range.” He muttered softly, adjusting the trajectory of the sensor drones using his interface device. It was time to collect some more specific samples, and those plant-clusters in close proximity to the anomaly looked like they could provide more clues…

    There was a wet cracking sound as a drone was snatched from mid-air and pulled under. Warning lights blared on the HUD as reports of extreme mechanical stress and water damage to internal components poured in for a few confused seconds – then, with a muffled noise of crunching metal and sparks, the sensor went dark.

    Then the pool exploded with a deafening splash as something massive breached the surface. A flat, broad head rimmed with wicked-looking interlocking spikes emerged from the fog atop a thick curved stalk which, nonetheless, appeared almost too thin to support its size. Two serrated arm-like leaves followed, pulling the creature’s rotund body - still half-submerged in the pond water – upwards, twin tendrils tipped with grasping leafy appendages snaking out of the water in its wake. Two large, round, unblinking eyes gleamed in the low light as the thing violently shook its head with a clicking hiss, mouth snapping open mid-shake to fling the piece of crushed scrap-metal that used to be the drone as far away from its mouth as it could manage, cloyingly sweet-smelling saliva dripping from its jaws. Both sets of them.

    Several different trains of thought ran through Gad’s mind at the same time, crashed into each other and fused into some kind of a meta-train as primal fight-or-flight responses raced against sheer excitement and curiosity. The scientist in him wanted to continue observing this creature in its natural environment without intervening, and was already furiously scribbling field notes internally. The trainer in him wanted to challenge and catch it, pondering potential battle strategies. The romantic in him could only think about how Gardenia would probably light up when she heard about this thing – or saw it for herself. The sensible part of him was acutely aware that nevertheless, this was an unfamiliar predator significantly larger than he was, and if he wanted to make it out of this encounter alive and with all his limbs intact, he should probably either leave post-haste, or at the very least have one of his Pokémon ready for a possible encounter. He crouched into the fog, concealing himself as well as he could, then reached for his belt and plucked a Pokéball – Elysium’s – from it, fingers tightening around the sphere as it quietly expanded to its natural size. Just in case. For now, keep your distance and observe. This might just be a new species you’re looking at, and this energy anomaly probably has something to do with it.

    The remaining sensor drones – having already automatically relocated to a safer distance and altitude - fixated their sensors on the creature and commenced a more focused scan, cross-referencing their results with existing data in the Pokédex networks. At first Gad thought there had to be some mistake in the readouts – but the more he looked at the creature, the more it made sense. This creature was a Carnivine – or at least, it used to be a Carnivine before wild, unregulated growth kicked in and transformed it – not evolved, this was nothing as systematic as an evolution. It was more that bits of it were growing where they weren’t supposed to, or in ways they weren’t supposed to. Those grasping tendrils, for instance, formed from two of the multiple vine-roots regular Carnivines used to attach themselves to trees the other ones, apparently, were still underwater. The structures growing in a ring around the base of the neck-stalk were modified leaves, the very same kind that formed the creature’s arms – except these were growing erratically, some seemingly in the process of becoming additional arms and others appearing to be forming smaller additional heads. As if the second set of jaws within the creature’s mouth did not give it enough teeth! And as for the trunk – the bark that covered it certainly seemed thicker and woodier than that of the average Carnivine, and the luminous, fluid-filled sacs embedded in its back were definitely not typical. Galls of some sort? Quite a bit of energy density around those too… Is it storing excess energy in those somehow? Fascinating!

    The thing that was once a Carnivine opened and closed its mouth several times, as though it were tasting the air around it. The way its eyes were positioned, there was no doubt that it was aware of the other sensor-drones – but it showed no interest in them as potential prey (clearly the one it got was unpalatable enough). A frill of leaves on the back of the creature’s head, previously lying flat against its neck-stalk, suddenly expanded, and the smaller head-like traps growing out of its body also snapped open - all rustling menacingly as the creature slowly, deliberately careened its neck from side to side, mouth half-open. Was this a threat display, or did it serve some other purpose? Could this thing use its mouth – mouths? – as a sensory organ and if so, would it eventually detect his presence? And was it just him or was the creature moving its head along a smaller range with every sweep? He froze. Don’t move. Don’t even breathe.

    It was looking straight at him, slowly tilting its neck-stalk back while keeping its head and eyes fixated on the same spot, like some monstrous bird. In the corner of his eye, within the sensor viewports, he noticed a wave of tension - like a spring being compressed – that rippled along the creature’s body, starting in its head all and running all the way to its -

    Oh son of a fuck.

    The first tendril merely brushed against him as he barely dashed out of its way – away from the clearing - flinging the Pokéball in his hand and into the air with a call of “Elysium, Arise!”. The second one caught his left leg mid-run, the grasping appendage at its tip clamping onto his shin and yanking forcefully – backwards and upwards. He reached for the nearest tree he could see, but the thing pulled him away before he could grab hold of it. He attempted to kick at the tendril with his other leg to try and loosen its vice-like grip – or at the very least kick the boot off and free himself that way - but to no avail. He could feel the wind rushing around him, the smell of the creature’s cloying breath becoming stronger in the air, his own heartbeat racing through his entire body –

    Elysium! Any minute now!

    Then there was an ear-splitting shriek as something bright swept behind him and the force pulling at his leg was abruptly gone – as if the deadly tendril simply snapped. Not a second later, before his body even hit the ground, he was plucked out of the air and carried away by a pair of clawed arms - crystalline blades, growing along their sides out of leafy guard-structures, still gleaming with the residual light of an attack. From the vantage point of his drones, he could see the Carnivine-beast retract the appendage and the sacs on its back pulsating as the cleanly-severed tip of the tendril erupted into new growth, elongating and sprouting grasping leaves yet again. And that was not the only change that was taking place – small, white, star-shaped flowers were rapidly blooming all over the monster’s body, their prominent stamens growing heavier with suspicious-looking yellow pollen. Then it shook, and suddenly the atmosphere was thick with paralysing dust - a Stun Spore attack. There was a shift in the air around him as a multifaceted barrier of energy enveloped him and his rescuer. He couldn’t help but grin – as a partial Grass-type, Elysium was immune to that attack’s effects – but he wasn’t, and she was protecting him.

    “Whatever would I do without you?” He murmured appreciatively – and then a flash of light rippled through the barrier as the monster resumed its attack, tendrils whipping against the barrier again and again. The Protect field wouldn’t last much longer under this sort of onslaught, and Gad had the sneaky feeling that this creature would not easily relent. These weren’t the actions of an ambush predator trying to make another pass at an escaping meal. This was personal.

    “I think we’re going to have to battle this thing properly. Feeling up to it, Ely?” He gazed upwards, and the Wisteriark tilted her crested, saurian head – her Pokéball firmly grasped between her sharp teeth – downward and nodded, a playful flicker in her soulful golden eyes seeming to respond with “What do you think?”

    “Good answer. Drop me off and then we’ll show this thing what we can really do.”

    Elysium nodded again, coming down for a landing – rapidly fluttering her crystal-stalked leafy wings around the landing zone to blow any residual stun spores away, her mane of leaves and purple flowers billowing in the gusts of wind. From the drones’ viewpoints he could see the Carnivine-beast’s flowers wilting and falling off, their purpose served, as the creature pulled its tendrils close to its body again in preparation for its next attack, eyes gleaming and leaf-frills rattling menacingly. The Wisteriark let go of the trainer, dropping her Pokéball into his hand and smirking as she turned to face her opponent and assumed a combat stance, blades and claws at the ready, returning the overgrown creature’s predatory glare with a defiant one of her own.

    Let’s do this. Air Slash!”

    Then she was off – bounding towards the Carnivine-beast with springy steps then taking to the air, wings beating rapidly, striking with knife-like gusts of air from just outside the reach of the monster’s grasping tendrils. The creature screeched loudly as the gusts left clear gashes against its leafy hide, and the sacs on its back began glowing even brighter as its tendrils elongated and thickened – Growth? – and lashed forcefully towards the source of the attack, attempting to snare the Wisteriark in their grip. With a dive to the side, Elysium nimbly bolted away from their path, and launched another volley of cutting gusts at the beast from another direction. Another lash – another dodge – another Air Slash still. But Gad could notice the Carnivine-beast’s cuts were mending themselves rapidly – as fast as the Wisteriark managed to create new ones, if not faster. And to make matters worse – with every strike of the creature’s tendrils, its movements appeared stronger, faster, more deliberate – and every miss was getting closer and closer to being a hit. Definitely Growth, if not something more potent.

    Very well, two can play that game.

    “Elysium, Quiver Dance, then Air Slash again!” the trainer called out, and the Wisteriark complied, butterfly-like motes of light swirling around her form as she circled the Carnivine-beast with the wavering pattern of a moth’s flight around a lamp. Again and again, the monster lashed out – when she drew nearer, it stretched out its neck-stalk and snapped its jaws at her; When she drew further away, it tried to snare her with its grasping tendrils - But each time, it narrowly missed the Deep Forest Pokémon as she gracefully darted away, faster and faster, as more motes of light joined the dance, ghostly after-images trailing in her wake…

    Then she struck. One after another, the blades of air bombarded the Carnivine-beast, leaving deep cut after deep cut behind them. For a moment, the monster staggered – but too soon, it righted itself and with another piercing shriek, whipped its tendrils towards the Wisteriark in a pincer attack, grasping appendages splayed open. At the very last second Elysium twirled away from their reach – but with her attack interrupted, Gad could already notice the cuts knitting together, just as they have before. How the hell was this thing recovering so quickly? A rapid adjustment to his drones’ sensor frequencies told him the answer. The monster was rooted – Ingrained – to the very source of the energy anomaly, using it to fuel its natural growth and regeneration. They could attack this thing all they wanted, it would just sit there and take it… unless they managed to cut it off from the source.

    They had to get at this thing’s roots – and that meant having to get it to expose them. Maybe a close-range powerful hit to a weak spot – those sacs look promising – could do the trick… They’d just have to get close enough.

    “Elysium - Double Team, then Dazzle!”

    The Wisteriark smirked again, her form enveloped in scintillating light as she took off again, dashing from point to point on an erratic, jagged flight path around the Carnivine-beast. With each brief stop and change of direction she seemed to leave behind an equally-scintillating copy of herself. For every copy that dissipated when the creature’s jaws clamped down on it or its tendrils hit, the Deep Forest Pokémon simply created another, and soon enough the monster was surrounded – then, in a flash, every single one of the Wisteriark’s copies exploded into a cloud of blinding prismatic sparkles all at once, and the beast shrieked again, its lidless eyes unable to block the brunt of this sudden assault on its sense of sight. Now was a perfect chance for a decisive blow!

    “Now! Sol Force then Acrobatics!”

    Something flashed in the canopy above the disoriented beast. Like a bolt from the blue, the Wisteriark came crashing down in a spiralling dive-bomb, wreathed in a burning aura of white light and swirling Flying-type energies, and forcefully tackled the creature from behind, discharging the aura around her into the point of impact. There was a squelching sound and another shriek as the sac that she slammed against ruptured, oozing a thick luminescent greenish fluid that ran down the creature’s side and briefly stained the water before seemingly breaking down into nothing. The monster lashed out blindly as the Wisteriark came about for another pass, rupturing another sac with a swipe of her blades and coming about to strike at another. For a moment, it seemed that this was working – the injuries were still knitting themselves together, but not as rapidly or as efficiently as before, and every hit pushed the creature a little further out of the water. A few more of those, and victory would be within their grasp!

    … Or so it would have been, had one of the beast’s wild flailing strikes not met its mark by a sheer stroke of luck. The tendril smacked against the Wisteriark’s side and whipped around her midsection, latching on to her arm with its grasping appendage and holding on tightly. She raised her other arm to cut herself loose – but then the second tendril hit, grasping her other arm, then began winding and coiling around her body. Like a monstrous fisherman, the Carnivine-beast reeled the Wisteriark in, tightening its crushing grip with every twist as though it was attempting to wring the very life out of her, as she struggled to free herself to no avail, clenching her eyelids in pain. This was not good - Bound as she was and with the creature’s tendrils at their peak strength, there was very little she could do… and as the beast’s slavering maw opening almost impossibly wide reminded him all too clearly, this was not a mere contest of wills. This was life or death, and unless they did something quick-

    There was something they could do. Something so stupid, it just might work.

    Please let it work.

    “Elysium, Wildburst!”

    The Wisteriark’s eyes snapped open as every crystal embedded in her form flared into bluish-greenish radiance – radiance which soon spread across the network of almost-geometrical markings that linked them to each other, growing brighter as more and more connections formed between them. Then she released. Beams of light projected every which way from the crystals, escaping through the gaps in the binding tendrils and curving around in a way that no natural beams of light did – striking the beast and the water around and below it in a helical motion.

    At first, the Carnivine-beast seemed unfazed - Little pinpricks of Grass-type energy had little effect on a creature of its size and type, and what piffling damage they did do was already recovering. A desperate, futile act of desperate prey.

    But the Wisteriark line’s signature move was not named for its first strike.

    It was named for what came after.

    Suddenly, the mud beneath the beast swelled up and erupted into an explosion of lush vegetation. Thorny, gnarled shoots, razor-edged leaves and tangled vines sprouted impossibly fast, furiously battering the monster from below and tearing it from the pond-bed, launching it into the air. The Carnivine-beast flinched in pain and surprise, loosening its grip on Elysium - and that was all it took. With a fluid twist of her body, the Wisteriark escaped her bindings – and without wasting a moment, unleashed an Air Slash attack so powerful it sent the monster flying, last few roots that were not torn by the Wildburst severed cleanly through by the blades of wind. The giant carnivorous plant crashed noisily, back-first, into the sturdy trees behind it, staining their bark with a splash of luminous green fluid as some sacs ruptured on impact. Shrieking in pain and anger, the creature flailed its damaged vine-roots, its undamaged sacs pulsating wildly as they pumped whatever energy reserves were contained within them to fuel regrowth – doubtlessly in an attempt to connect to the wellspring of energy it has been uprooted from as soon as possible.

    But there was no longer a wellspring for the root-vines to ingrain into – only swamp-water. The patch of growth left behind by Elysium’s Wildburst attack has tapped into the anomaly and stanched its energy bleed like dressings on a wound. Whereas the Carnivine-beast actively and aggressively drained the energy from the breach, the patch of vegetation was passively dispersing it into its environment, as it should have been. The thick mist was slowly beginning to recede as the excess ambient energies started reacting as they were meant to – and the sensors extrapolated that provided no further major disturbances occurred, their levels should have dropped to the normal range within a few hours at the most.

    The Carnivine-beast, however, had no intentions of letting up. Whipping its grasping tendrils up to the canopy, the large Grass-type tore itself from the ground and pulled itself up into its branches with surprising speed, regenerating root-vines weaving and entwining among them as the creature’s body dangled from above, its awful sweet-scented saliva dripping from its jaws as it screeched loudly, flaring its leaf frills in challenge. It was not over yet.

    Gad shot a look to Elysium. As the rush of her Nature’s Fury ability was wearing off, the Wisteriark landed, hunched over, breathing heavily. She steadied herself, blades at the ready – though the trainer could tell the Carnivine-beast’s attack has taken a significant toll on her. Wring Out was a powerful attack, one that had the potential to deal more damage the healthier an opponent was – and Elysium was at full health when she was snared. And still, Wisteriarks were hardly fragile creatures – the fact that just one attack that met its mark inflicted so much damage was troubling. They couldn’t let that happen again.

    “Ely, can you still go on?” he asked, and the Wisteriark turned her gaze to him and nodded – expression determined in spite of the pain. He nodded back. “Alright then… But just in case – Synthesis!”

    Elysium nodded, spreading her wings wide. Flickers of light began enveloping them, then spreading out across her body as she slowly regained her strength. Her eyes were locked on the Carnivine-beast, narrowed in anticipation of the creature making its next move – but the beast seemed to be content to just hang there, drooling more of this overpoweringly sweet-smelling saliva rather than making any attempt at attacking the Wisteriark or preventing her from recovering in some way. Just what was this thing doing?

    The twin tendrils pierced the canopy, lightning-fast, before either Elysium or Gad could see them coming, forcefully striking the Wisteriark from the back and knocking her down to the ground. Feint Attack. Elysium hissed, rapidly getting back to her feet – only to be knocked down again by another tendril strike – this time from the front. She got up again, glaring daggers at the monster, enveloping herself in the multi-faceted barrier of Protect before rising to her feet again, blocking the next strike – and then took off in a dash, wings fluttering to take her off the ground before the creature had the idea of attacking again. The canopy rustled and the Carnivine-beast’s body lightly swayed and swivelled as its root-vines shifted, and soon enough the tendrils came down again – striking down like spears in her path then pulling up, too quickly to be slashed through. Fluttering her wings faster, Elysium circled the beast while weaving a path through the striking tendrils - evading some while blocking others with Protect shields – but each time one tendril retracted, the other quickly came stabbing down in front of her. And all the while, the beast was watching – root-vines at the base of its body winding tightly as it continued to twist its body, never letting the Wisteriark out of the sight of its unblinking eyes – at times swiping at her with its monstrous leaf-arms, and at times opening its jaws just slightly wider, flashing the bright red of their interior as a grim reminder. To stop moving, even for a moment, meant to be struck down by its tendrils or its arms. To charge it straight on meant to feel its deadly bite.

    It’s stalling. But it’s relying on its eyes again. We can work with that.

    “Elysium! Dazzle – then follow up with Air Slash!”

    The Wisteriark nodded, crystals glowing again as a cloud of prismatic sparkles exploded around her. The Carnivine-beast froze, its massive leaf-arms flew up to cover its eyes as both of its tendrils retracted – the moment of disorientation creating a perfect opportunity to strike. The Wisteriark did a mid-air turn and flapped her wings in powerful strokes, each one launching a blade of wind - But then the monster did something strange. It raised its arms to the air, spreading them out as far as it could go – and relaxed its body. Like a spring on a wind-up mechanism, the tension built up in its coiled root-vines released and the beast’s body went into a wild spin, arm-leaves whipping up a raging green whirlwind – A Leaf Tornado attack, blocking the cutting gusts, sweeping up pond-water and plant-debris and slowly expanding outwards towards the Wisteriark. Elysium hissed, ceasing her attacks to put some distance between herself and this new development, then turned a questioning gaze to her trainer. Now what?

    Gad narrowed his eyes – this foe was far more cunning and adaptable than he expected it to be, and he was starting to get the feeling that drawing this battle out for much longer would probably spell disaster – and that the creature was counting on it. They needed a decisive blow, and they needed one soon. But how could they disrupt this blasted wall of wind? Getting near it wasn’t an option, and getting above it would only draw them into the funnel – and into the reach of the monster in the eye of the storm – assuming they even managed to clear the…

    The canopy.

    Of course.

    They didn’t need to disrupt the wall.

    They needed to feed it.

    “Alright, Ely, listen up – get a bit more distance, maybe get a Quiver Dance in or something… and whenever you’re ready, fly around this thing and no matter what happens, keep Air Slashing.” the trainer finally returned the Wisteriark’s gaze, a wry grin on his face “if that’s the way this thing wants to dance… then let’s put our own little twist on it, shall we?”

    The Wisteriark appeared perplexed for a second – then a smirk crept its way onto her face and parked there as the realization of what the trainer was planning set in. Enveloping herself in a cloud of butterfly-motes yet again, the Deep Forest Pokémon launched off in a wavering circular flight path, orbiting the rapidly-spinning beast and letting loose an unrelenting barrage of cutting gusts, angled towards the edges of the leaf tornado it generated.

    At first, it seemed the attacks were having no effect, dissipating harmlessly as they skimmed the green wall of wind – but as the Wisteriark continued her assault, a change was taking place. Gradually, the base of the Leaf Tornado was growing even broader as the thing within it spun faster and faster, caught in the momentum of its own attack. The root-vines anchoring it to the canopy, whose uncoiling set the vortex in motion to begin with, were now twisting in the other direction, building up tension faster than their owner could feasibly relieve – and Elysium, dancing further and further away from the screaming maelstrom, aglow with power amidst her fluttering motes, was not showing any signs of letting up.

    Something had to give – and soon enough, something did. With a sickening crack, the thick branches the Carnivine-beast tethered itself to snapped like dry twigs, unable to withstand the torsion – and the massive creature crashed loudly into the pond below in a corkscrew motion, sending muddy water and swamp vegetation flying every which way. The Wisteriark did not wait for further instruction – and in a fluid diving motion, she was upon the creature, butterfly-motes drawn into her blades as she brought them down in an X-Scissor attack. The beast’s maws snapped open in an ear-shattering scream as It thrashed about for a few moments, before finally falling still, green ichor dripping from the deep gashes in its carapace.

    The Wisteriark twirled upwards, roaring triumphantly into the evening sky, flickers of light within the crystals adorning her form radiating refractions all around her as she gracefully landed on her defeated opponent’s prone body, sinking her talons into its carapace as she posed confidently. The vanquished beast, for its part, merely twitched a little.

    “… Yeah, I’d say you got It, Ely.” Said Gad, who suddenly stepped into the clearing, looking as though someone knocked him over into the mud and then dumped the entire contents of the pond on his person – which, honestly, was probably not too far from the truth. The trainer slightly wrinkled his nose at the squelching sound his boots made, as he casually reached up to a lily-pad that adhered to his forehead and unceremoniously flung it away. “Thank frell this survey gear is waterproof.”

    Elysium looked sheepish. Gad couldn’t help but chuckle.

    “Seriously, though – you did great, Elysium. That was one hell of a battle.” the trainer smiled as the Deep Forest Pokémon stepped away from the monster and wandered back to his side. He reached up and gave her an affectionate scratch behind an eye-ridge. She chirped. All was right with the world.

    Well, almost all. There was only one thing left to do now.

    Reaching into a pocket, the trainer produced an empty Pokéball, and fixed his gaze on the Carnivine-beast. He couldn’t just leave it there, after all – it was pretty badly hurt, and deities knew what sort of effect would it have on the local ecosystem if it wasn’t contained. Capturing the creature would solve both of these problems – and perhaps provide him with a chance to study it more closely, in an environment that was safer for both of them… Assuming, of course, that the creature wouldn’t break out of the ball in a mysterious fit of second wind, sneeze out another thick cloud of stun spores as a makeshift smoke bomb and bugger off into parts of the marsh hitherto unknown, of course. Mercifully, after a cursory struggle that seemed like a little more than a formality, the Carnivine-beast relented to the sweet release of… being captured. Which made it quite the opposite of sweet release, really, now that you think of it, but Gad was not one to complain about the universe not making things more complicated for him than they should be.

    “Well! I’d say that’s enough data collection for one session.” The trainer murmured, shrinking the now-occupied Pokéball and placing it on his belt “I’m going to need some time to analyse this particular data set. Whatever this was, it was not normal…”

    The Wisteriark regarded him with a very tired look of “You can say that again.” Now that the threat was gone and rush of the battle was fading, her body allowed itself to feel exhaustion starting to set in – and the trainer gave her a nod in return.

    “I’ll be glad to hear your input about this once we’ve all had some rest – but for now… ready to call it a night, Ely?” he asked the Wisteriark, holding out her Pokéball for her - and she, for her part, nodded gratefully, tapping a crystal-clawed fingertip against the sphere and promptly vanishing into it in a helical swirl of green energies. The trainer smiled, attaching the ball to his belt, and tapping a sequence of buttons on his interface device in order to find the quickest route back to the eco-rail – and back to Pastoria, where he could put his Pokémon through some proper cell-regen and dry himself out. Few things were as irritating as water that penetrated allegedly waterproofed clothing, and it was only going to get chillier. Bloody hell, things we do for science.

    The survey gear helpfully located a path and the survey drones even more helpfully floated by his side to provide him with visuals he could use to actually stay on it. With that settled, the trainer tapped another sequence of keys as he began walking – one that deployed an outgoing call to someone who really need to hear about what just happened… and whose voice made even the most miserable of walks infinitely more tolerable for him.

    “Hi, love – is now a good time or are you drowning in challengers? Because you wouldn’t believe what just happened…”
    #1 StellarWind Elsydeon, Jan 6, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  2. Wendi Hicks stared at the Deinonychus-like pokemon and saw herself reflected on the orange eye of a predator. All at once she seized its snout and lower jaw.

    "What are you eating!?" Hicks demanded.

    Heliodor the farabattor whistled guiltily.

    Hicks sighed, letting Od go; whatever it was, it was down the damn bird's gullet already. "Don't I feed you enough, Od?"

    The farabattor put his head on the side, not understanding the question.

    It was a beautiful day, clear with Mt. Coronet clear in the distance. Hicks petted Od's brown hide and fluffy yellow feathers absently as she planned her route through the foothills north of Oreburgh. She was on the hunt for fossils, the physical and energetic impressions left by a dead pokemon that turned to rock over millions of years. Sinnoh was most famous for the Rampardos and Bastiodon holotypes that its Underground labyrinthine caves had produced, but many different pokemon fossils could be found there.

    The trouble was that all kinds of goodies could be found in the Underground: fossils, but also evolution stones, mystical items, precious metals, and gemstones, among others. And the strange, glassy Spheres, crystals that you could "plant" in earth and leave to swell with infinity energy, which was of great interest to trainers. On a given day the Underground was full of activity and young pokemon trainers screeching back and forth at one another; it wasn't really Hicks's scene.

    Luckily there were other places to find fossils; the massive ice sheets from Mt. Coronet that had pushed the fossil beds into the Underground during the last ice age had sometimes just gone around them instead, leaving scoured pillars of rock like the ocean parting around an island, and in the layers within the pillars you could see deep time.

    Hicks headed down into a canyon, her boots crunching on the gravel and the rock walls standing sentinel above her. Od covered twice the distance that she did, darting from tuft of grass to interesting pebble to trickle of water to bidoof-hole in the rock as fast as a blink. Hicks felt Carnelian's pokeball buzz and tossed her out too, the varanitor casting a wary eye around corners and hissing stridently at a graveler on the path.

    Hicks made her way leisurely to the satellite locations that her girlfriend Jackie had marked as being of interest. It was hard to say due to cliffs and overhangs, but in general the machine had turned up likely spots for surface collecting, crumbly rockfalls where time and gravity had done the work of excavation already. Od helped too, for all his twittering around: the farabattor had himself been revived from a fossil, and that or just his rock-type senses gave him a nose for his variety of energy, traces of which lingered in the pokemon fossils.

    Hicks began to suspect that something was wrong when she passed again the same rock pillar she'd noted a few minutes before with the clump of cacti that looked like a rude hand gesture. She always kept the sun on her left, which was where it should be in the morning sky, but it was true that it was starting to trend toward noon, and maybe she'd made a mistake and gotten turned around. Checking her GPS, she noted that its screen looked like that painting with the melting clocks, which wasn't its usual display mode.

    Carn immediately reacted to her change in breathing and heartbeat, coming to her side and grunting a question.

    "I don't know," Hicks replied. She tried to power down the GPS to restart it, and it responded by beeping the opening tune to the Sinnohnian regional anthem and then going dead.

    Od joined them then, his orange antennae at a 90-degree angle to his head and twitching as he looked around in concern, little pigeon noises occasionally escaping his lips.

    Hicks pushed her Tilley hat back and looked around the canyon; there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, though the sunlight had taken on a harsh cast and everything seemed to be casting hard, black shadows. They hadn't seen a wild pokemon for a while.

    Hicks built a little cairn out of shards of red canyon rock quickly, scratching an arrow into the dirt beside it.

    "With me, you two," Hicks said quietly, moving forward.

    She walked quicker now, not looking for fossils, but for danger--not all pokemon were benignly tolerant of humans or merely looking for a little scuffle. Disorientation pointed toward an illusion-maker like a psychic- or ghost-type. She tossed out Hematite's pokeball.

    The grimass raised her head, enormous ears twitching, dark-type senses in full effect. The black equid scratched at the dirt with pointed hooves and showed her pointed teeth as she reacted to whatever was happening. Od whined at her and she clicked back, which only seemed to make Od more worried. Carn folded her arms, grumbling at whatever Hematite had said.

    "I think we need to leave, Hem," Hicks told the grimass.

    Hem hissed agreement, and Hicks scrambled onto her back with some help from Carnelian, who popped back into her pokeball when that was finished. The grimass started with a trot through the canyon, following Heliodor and trusting him to steer her away from any obstacles, then picked up speed until Hicks was clinging to her neck for dear life, nose pressed into Hematite's bristly back as the pokemon's muscles worked under her. Something in her backpack was digging into her kidneys.

    Hicks nearly flew off as Od squealed and Hem stopped short at something, and she pushed her loose hair and hat out of her eyes as she managed to sit up and look too.

    She was pretty sure she hadn't seen this on the map.

    Hicks got on her stomach and wiggled carefully to the lip of the crevasse, which cut right through the canyon path and extended as far as she could see north and south. She didn't want to look too close at how deep it went; it was a darkness that if she looked into it, she was pretty sure, would wave back.

    "I don't think we're in Unova anymore, Od," Hicks muttered.

    Od peeped a question, indicating that they'd been in Sinnoh and still were. Hem whuffed, annoyed that she couldn't go to the fissure edge.

    Most unsettling were the holes honeycombing the opposite crevasse edge that she could see. Something, someone, had taken an enormous cut through the mass of Sinnoh and exposed the Underground. She hadn't felt the earth move-- had it split apart, or had something taken a colossal, narrow cake slice out of the ground like someone trying to show restraint at a party?

    "I'm gonna do something dumb," Hicks said aloud. Od whistled in concern while Hem snorted. Hicks flicked a pebble over the edge of the fissure.

    It disappeared without ever making a sound.

    "Something horrible is going to happen... now. Now. N...now."

    They watched the crevasse in silence. Eventually a junior trainer appeared at one of the Underground holes and screamed, turning and running.

    Hicks inched back from the fissure and stood, dusting herself off. "Well, this is pretty weird. We--"

    Something rose up behind her, casting a shadow.

    She sighed. "What is it?"

    Hem snorted again.

    Hicks turned and saw the huge Sphere. It was budding as she watched, new Spheres collecting at the surface of the larger one and merging fluidly, as if they weren't made out of stone. It was what happened to a buried Sphere, but in seconds instead of days. More and more were bubbling up along the side of the crevasse in a rainbow of colors. The funny thing about Spheres was that sometimes they grew a little too big, and shattered.

    She tossed out another pokeball, the synthcorn exterior looking the worse for wear after twenty-odd years, and let out Chrysocolla. Od shoved the rock she was standing on up high enough for her to get on the airplane-sized bug's back, and she recalled him and Hematite.

    Luckily, Hicks and Chrys were high up in the air when the shockwave came, and it merely gave the reginant some unwanted turbulence.

    "Back to Oreburgh, Chrys," Hicks shouted over the wind of the reginant's wings as they flew. "We need Rowan."
  3. A light tap on Imogen’s forearm woke her from her trance. She’d been so engrossed in the book in her hands that, even sat by the window overlooking bustling Canalave, she had failed to notice the sun creeping closer to the horizon. Imogen placed a hand on the Pokémon's cool shell and gave it a smile. "We'll head out soon, don't worry." She shushed the Bug-type's excited clicking of its mandibles. "Yes, I'm taking care of dinner." She always knew when Charys was simply starving. She'd known the Anorith since birth, if restored DNA sequences from a permineralized fossil being introduced to a Ditto's egg could be counted as such.

    This book, she would take with her for sure. The relevant facts from other books she'd skimmed had been committed to memory - theories on the Coronet mountain range's isolating effects on Sinnoh's Epipalaeolithic societies, earliest depictions of Unown in various regions on a timeline, et cetera. It was a decent foundation for her rejuvenated research into the Solaceon Ruins, a place she'd written off as a collection of crumbling, uninteresting chambers when she was but a budding archaeologist. Given the interdimensional qualities ascribed to the Unown by Kanto lore, combined with the species' prevalence in scripture surrounding Sinnohan deific ideology, a fresh attempt at unraveling the ruins’ mysteries seemed warranted.

    Perhaps the most pressing matter, though, was getting the hell out of dodge. Canalave townsfolk had warned her upon arrival not to stick around after nightfall; reasons as to why had been chaotic, but the gist seemed to be that falling asleep within Canalave's bounds could lead to incurable catatonia. Imogen couldn't begin to reason why that might be, but it was decidedly none of her business; surely others were on the case.

    One friendly chat with the library's clerk (with whom she was on a first-name basis) later, Imogen stepped from the dry and stagnant air of the library into the cool evening breeze. Charys had been returned to her Nest Ball, and she retrieved another ball from her belt, releasing with a trained flicking motion her preferred mode of travel; the aging but sharp-witted Staraptor named Brigid.

    The bird Pokémon's steely and intimidating gaze shot around her surroundings, her head craned at odd angles to scout for threats in all directions, finally landing on Imogen and softening. She trod over on put the point of her sizable beak onto Imogen's shoulder, a show of significant trust. "Fancy a late flight, Brigid?" Imogen asked, getting a deep rumble of approval in response. She knew the time mattered little to Brigid, who could see almost as well in the dark as in daytime, as befitting of the apex predator of the Sinnohan skies.

    Imogen mounted Brigid's back with trained ease, no standard Fly-saddle or reins in sight, as it simply took too much time to put on and take off, if Brigid would even have allowed it. Imogen couldn't impose like that, and she'd learned to trust the weathered bird's instincts if the flying ever got hairy.

    She closed her warm woolen coat, pulled her father's old goggles from the folds of her scarf and took hold of Brigid's shoulders just above the wings, signalling for the Staraptor to take off from Canalave's white-brick roads and into the skies with a few mighty beats of her wings. Imogen's constitution quickly adjusted and with her body, she steered her mount eastward and slightly to the north, the lights of Jubilife soon already twinkling on the horizon and the outlines of Coronet looming further still, above which the facing winds would be treacherous and outright frigid.


    A night’s rest and a long walk up a gravelly path later, Imogen found herself at the entrance to the Solaceon Ruins. It was a weathered gate that blended in with the rockface, easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. As Solaceon had been as quiet as she’d ever seen the town, she didn’t expect to see other Trainers or researchers around today. That would make for excellent research conditions.

    Stepping over the threshold into the darkness, Imogen retrieved from her satchel a headlamp and stretched its band over her head, carving an illuminated path. Knowing from experience the Unown and Bronzor could get a touch territorial in this system of chambers, her hand went to Sheol’s PokeBall and she let her companion free.

    The Weavile stretched out from her toes to her clawed hands, seemingly unfazed by her dark surroundings- not that she was a stranger to those. “Up for a delve, Sheol?” Imogen asked. Sheol gave something akin to a smirk in reply and skittered away further into the cave, though by her footfall Imogen knew she wasn’t getting far enough ahead to lose sight of her Trainer.

    Imogen held her pen and notebook at the ready as she made her way into the maze of stairways. The brown clay brickwork was in remarkably good condition for its age, especially given its exposure to the elements. She wasn’t as interested in the architecture this time, though. Much deeper within the ruins lay murals of as of yet uncertain age, written in Unown hieroglyphs, the archaic script inspired by the Unown’s shapes (or perhaps, somehow, the other way around). Gathering evidence on the age of the murals could help indicate roughly when Unown arrived to Sinnoh, or at least first made themselves known to humans.

    A delve into the Solacean Ruins wasn’t complete without stumbling into a few dead ends and getting turned around, but with Weavile trailing her every move Imogen felt safe enough to keep moving. Her Pokémon seemed to be keeping the wild ones well enough away, as she didn’t see or hear a sign of any.

    In time, she found herself in the chamber that matched every description from her book, at what had to be the very back of ruins, deep within the mountain. The familiar tinge of excitement rushed through her body as she laid eyes on the murals at the very back, and she stepped in closer until she could trace her fingers along the hewn lines and circles.

    The craftsmanship was sublime; the clean curves had to have been made with something more meticulous than a hammer and chisel. Not impossible, if the creators of this temple (so needlessly complex in layout it almost seemed ritualistic) had been contemporaries of the Unovan Golurk-builders, if not their ancestors… The mystery of the timeline of interregional cultural dispersion was turning out to be perhaps her life’s work, and-

    And her headlight fizzled out without warning.

    There was a spare in an inner pocket of her satchel, she was sure of it. Finding it amongst the hundred other items by touch alone would prove a task, though. “Keep an eye out, won’t you, Sheol?” Imogen asked as she zipped open her bag. To her surprise, she recognized the shape of her spare flashlight quite quickly, and she shook it to make sure it had batteries. She clicked it on. Nothing. In quiet desperation, she activated her PokeWatch, only to find that misbehaving, too- flickering, scrolling through apps at random.

    Imogen was no physicist, but she knew enough to guess that this was electromagnetic interference, something she vaguely recalled was theorized to be the medium through which Unown communicated. Before she had time to wonder how close that meant the mystical PokeMon had gotten to her, they made themselves known.

    The chamber was bathed in a dim glow, just enough to see by, and filled with shrill cherps as a dozen or more Unown squeezed from cracks in the walls and floated towards the ceiling, their enormous eyes barely resting on her. Sheol growled and kept her position between Imogen and the wild PokeMon, who ignored her as well and began a frantic aerial display, a behaviour unlike she’d ever seen, as if something was making them excited- or scared.

    Suddenly, the room was split by a sliver of light on the far wall. It was brilliant, stretching from floor to ceiling in a pinstripe that began to gradually widen, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of machinery. Imogen reached reflexively for her tinted goggles, pressing them over her eyes to save them from the painful levels of illumination. More Unown shot out and they all sped away from the portal into the cave.

    As her eyes adjusted the light began to shimmer between opalescent shades, and the roar of rampant clockwork grew louder; she could see it now, copper gears moving at varying speeds on all sides of a short hallway, at the end of which was- what, exactly? Her curiosity began to overcome her senses of self-preservation and she moved closer to the mysterious doorway, ignoring Sheol’s worried tugging at her leg.

    The colours began to shift more rapidly now, from pearl to prismatic, from a deep ocean blue to bloodred to luscious green, all emanating from a pane of swirling energy contained deep within the hidden chamber. Just as she considered stepping beyond the boundary of the wall, it snapped shut as quickly as it had opened, the noise of gears winding down until she was once again left in silent darkness.

    Imogen’s mind raced at dizzying speed, so much so she hardly noticed her headlamp coming back to life. Whatever new knowledge this encounter would bring to the foreground of her field was a monstrous deconstruction of everything established so far. Ancient technology, hidden for eons, coming back to life.

    Nearly everything she thought she knew could be a falsehood- and by Arceus, was that exciting.

    Where the door had opened there was only a barely perceptible crease in the wall left, that not even her fingernail could get between. There were so many questions to be asked now she couldn’t even begin to list them. Her first thought was that this was not a project she could shoulder by herself. She might have been the first to experience this baring of the heart of Solaceon Ruins, but perhaps similar events had occurred at other sites within recent memory. If there were witnesses, she needed to speak with them, and she needed expert colleagues to tag along.

    She formulated a plan as she hurried out the cave, scribbling in her notebook, barely looking where she walked. Perhaps a place to start was old Professor Rowan’s place in Sandgem; he might have the connections she needed. The Professor was a surly man, but a seasoned professional with whom she’d had interesting conversations. He’d once offered her a PokèDex when she went on her way out of Sandgem, but she’d had to disappoint him with the news that she really did very little in the way of catching and researching PokeMon.

    In the clearing outside the entrance gate, Imogen recalled a still confounded-looking Sheol and sent out Brigid. “Hope you’re not tired still, old girl.” The Staraptor gave an energetic screech in reply. “Good, let’s make it to Sandgem with enough daylight left, then.”

    Her heart kept beating fast as she took to the skies. It was an exciting time to be an archaeologist.
  4. Rex

    Rex Resident Furry

    Sandgem Town was such a quaint little place. Honestly, what was it with Pokemon Professors and having their towns in quaint, out of the way, towns? But, indeed, this was where Rowan, esteemed Pokemon Professor, likely the most knowledgeable man in the world when it came to the subject of Pokemon Evolution – he wondered what the man’s opinions were on Mega Evolution, and how it fit into his theories of Pokemon evolving to become more complete, mature beings – ran the local Pokemon Starter Program. The person doing the wondering, of course, was Ryan, rising star of the Unova League, the kid who roared onto the scene from nothing and took down not one, not two, but three Elite Four members, only to lose it all in the final match and disappear just as suddenly.

    He’d dropped out of the public eye, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t been busy. He was traveling, and training, getting ready for the day he made his triumphant return to the world stage. And when that time came, he was going to go all the way. He’d done pretty well for himself in the Kanto region, caught some Pokemon, won some badges. He had been intending to hop over to neighboring Johto next, but by some twist of fate, instead he had found himself on a boat to Sinnoh. And, having arrived in the region, his first stop was to pay a visit to the Professor’s lab. Rowan was also in charge of Pokedex distribution for the Sinnoh region, and Ryan’s Unovan model would be needing an update to keep him informed of all the Pokemon one could expect to find here.

    Of course, one of Ryan’s focuses was on Pokemon that were not native to the particular region he was traveling through, but by some method – be it migration, careless trainers releasing them into the wild, or some other, unknown means – had come to be found there nonetheless. In fact, waiting in one of the Great Balls clipped to his belt was one such Pokemon, a Breloom he’d captured as a Shroomish in Kanto’s Viridian Forest. Out of his entire Kanto caught roster, this was the one Pokemon the Trainer brought along with him to Sinnoh. His other major focus was on Fighting Type Pokemon, at the moment. After all, it had been the Fighting Type expert Marshal that had ended Ryan’s first attempt at the Championship. Having more experience with the Type could only be beneficial, know your enemy, and all that. A first run focus on the Dark Type had been a particular weakness of the Trainer’s, after all.

    Fully three of the five Pokemon he’d brought with him to Sinnoh were Fighting Type in some way, shape, or form. Alongside the Breloom, nicknamed Tommy, Ryan had brought his Scrafty, an old standby by the name of Roger, one of the star players of his original Unovan team. Roger hadn’t been brought along with him to Kanto, Ryan had wanted to challenge himself to get along without the Scrafty’s help, but he was still a key point of the Trainer’s strategy for the second League attempt, and would need extra training to keep his edge. And finally, he had with him a Mienfoo, still rather young and inexperienced, by the name of Noah. The Pokemon had been gifted to him as an egg, and Ryan was interested in seeing what the little guy was capable of.

    Out of the remaining two Pokemon he’d brought with him, by far the most physically impressive was his Haxorus, Lucie. Powerful in her own right, but not as thoroughly trained, Ryan had caught her as an Axew after his original league attempt on he advice of a Opelucid Gym Trainer he’d become friends with on his original journey. Sinnoh would be her first real test to see if Ryan would take her all the way to the League. And finally, ever present by his side, Ryan had brought his Starter, Dodger, his Dewott. The Dewott was proud, perhaps to a fault, and liked to affect a cool demeanor, but deep down Ryan knew the Pokemon cared for him deeply. They’d traveled together for years now, and if Ryan was going to become the Champion of Unova, Dodger would be right there with him.

    The Pokemon had, for now at least, taken its place ahead and slightly to the right of his Trainer. This was perhaps no so necessary these years, but it was force of habit at this point. Ryan had lost his right eye years ago, and wore an eye patch to hide the scars that remained from that event – though he did have a false eye in, in case he was seen without the patch. The Dewott had been something of a seeing-eye Pokemon for the trainer from the moment they’d met, though Ryan had now been without vision on his right side for nearly a decade at this point, and had adapted to the change.

    Regardless, this was how they walked into Sandgem together. Ryan, dressed in his usual black pants and muscle shirt, a blue jacket that was actually worn closed for once – Sinnoh was a bit colder than Kanto, or even most of Unova – gray shoes, and a red and white cap, styled to look almost like a Pokeball. Dodger was unadorned, having denied any of the attempts at accessorizing Ryan had attempted, but carried himself with a noble warrior sort of continence that made him look almost regal, all the same. No one really paid attention to the pair. Sandgem was more than used to trainers coming and going in all hours of the day, such things came standard with being a Professor’s chosen home. Ryan figured they’d be in and out of the lab in no more than an hour, the upgrade likely handled by one of Rowan’s numerous assistants. Ryan doubted he’d even end up meeting the man.


    When the pair exited the lab, almost an hour to the second after they’d entered, the atmosphere of the town had changed. Aside from the regular crashing of waves on the nearby shore, everything had gone quiet. There were no longer any townsfolk going about their business, no vocalizations coming from Pokemon on the nearby routes, the very air had become oppressive and still. And damned hot to boot, Ryan actually had to open up his jacket when he was blasted by the rush of hot, stuffy air that came to greet him as he exited the lab. An eerie reddish glow had fallen over the town, illuminating an untimely darkness that seemed to hover overhead. A warning bark from Dodger broke the Trainer from his thoughts, he turned and saw the cause of all this. Route 202 was on fire.

    Rushing to the edge of town, Ryan was amazed by the intensity of the heat, even this far away from the flames. Ash floated through the air, threatening to choke him at any second. Other Trainers were already on the scene, battling the flames with whatever Water Types they had spare while a proper response was organized by whatever fire brigade Sandgem had to offer. Somehow though, they didn’t seem to be having any affect on the blaze. Whenever it seemed like any progress was being made on holding the fire back, it roared to life again. It was hard to look at the flames, but Ryan kept swearing he caught something moving around in there.

    His budding theory was proven correct seconds later, when an errant Bubblebeam shot by a Trainer’s Prinplup hit one of the towering flames. The fire roared like a stricken Pokemon, and fired a jet of flames right back, engulfing the Water Type Pokemon. Once the fire cleared, the Prinplup was unconscious on the ground. The source of the flames took shape, a quadrupedal Pokemon, completely ablaze. It was on the smaller side, though too cloaked in the flames for Ryan to make out exactly what it was. Whatever it was, it seemed unaffected by the fire, and very quickly closing in on the town.

    Well, this problem certainly seemed like the kind that a Trainer of Ryan’s caliber ought to handle. A shared glance with Dodger was all the communication either of them needed. The Dewott squared of with the burning Pokemon, while Ryan called out to the other Trainers: “Focus on the fire, we’ll hold it off!”

    “Start us off with a Water Sport!”

    This was a rare move on Ryan’s part, admittedly. Dodger’s natural resistance to Fire Type attacks meant that, outside of a double battle, Water Sport wasn’t a move he normally needed to call on. But the sheer power of the little fireball’s last attack convinced him of the need for it. Dodger agreed, spitting out a jet of water at the ground, splashing water into the air, and shooting steam everywhere from the heat. At first, the burning Pokemon didn’t even seem to notice. It seemed almost aimless, in fact.

    “Time to get its attention. Follow up with Water Pulse!”

    The Dewott held out both paws, drawing the water around them into a ring in front of him, and then pushed forward, causing the ring of water to fly at the little fireball. It struck true, spitting more steam and causing whatever Pokemon was hidden under the flames to howl on pain and rage. That got its attention, at least. The little Pokemon turned to them and shot out another jet of fire!

    “Aqua Jet! Dodge it!”

    The attack seemed to be a particularly souped up Flamethrower, if Ryan had to guess. One of the more powerful Fire Type attacks to begin with. With water at his back, Dodger just managed to get out of the way of the flame, and Ryan stumbled a few feet in the opposite direction. The attack hadn’t come near him at all, but the heat of it was still enough to drive him back. The fireball roared, and the sheer force of that forced both Ryan and Dodger back even further.

    Ryan had Dodger answer with a Water Gun. The opposing Pokemon was powerful, but unfocused. It reacted to their assault, but rarely pushed on its own. Dodger was primarily a physical fighter, but he had a staple of special moves to back himself up. This was a fight they could win, they just had to keep at it. And the more they could keep the fireball’s attention, the better the other Trainers, and the arriving firefighters, could focus on the rest of the blaze. Things were turning around.

    They kept at it a while, Ryan’s confidence grew with every Water attack that connected, and every Fire attack that was dodged. The fireball’s cloak of flames sputtered. For a split second Ryan thought he saw a patch of red and black fur. Then it flared back to life, brighter than hotter than ever before. Whatever this Pokemon was, it was making one last desperation attack. The cloak of flames grew bigger, what little definition the fireball had was lost, and it charged. Something in the back of Ryan’s head whispered: “It’s trying to take you down with it.”

    “Dodger! Surf! Don’t let it hit you!”

    The Dewott slammed a paw against the ground. Still the opposing Pokemon came. The ground rumbled as it got closer, and right when it seemed like he’d called the attack far too late, the ground between the Dewott and the fireball erupted into a torrent of summoned groundwater. A wave rushed over the fireball and exploded into a cloud of steam. The fireball and the Dewott both disappeared into the cloud. Ryan tried to rush forward, but the residual heat threatened to burn him, and so he was forced to stand back again.

    When the wall of steam finally cleared, the scene was decidedly mixed. Dodger was on his knees, breathing heavily. Constantly having to call on water from further and further away had taken its toll on the Dewott, and he looked badly singed. Ryan rushed to his Pokemon’s side. He couldn’t tell what had been burns from the fire, and what had been scalding from the steam. He gave the tired Pokemon a careful hug, and then returned him to his Pokeball. Ryan was almost never without his Dewott by his side, but the ball would prevent the Pokemon’s burns from getting any worse before he could get him to a Pokemon Center.

    It was only then that he noticed what had been the fireball, laying on the ground before him. It was a Growlithe. An unassuming little thing, really. It was passed out on the ground, where it had ran headfirst into Dodger’s Surf. This little Pokemon had been behind the blaze? There was something more to this picture, something Ryan wasn’t seeing. Growlithes didn’t just erupt into little balls of fire and go on Route destroying rampages. But there wasn’t any time to think about that now. Now that it was safe to properly fight the fire, Ryan was in the way of the real professionals.

    Still, he was interested in whatever it was that made this little Pokemon go berserk, and more than a little worried that whatever it was might reoccur when the Pokemon woke up. It was clear the Pokemon needed some kind of help, and maybe the Professor had a healing machine handy anyway. The Trainer dug a Pokeball out of his bag, and carefully tapped it against the fainted Pokemon’s side. It was bathed in the red light of the Pokeball and sucked in without a struggle. Then, he stood, and made his way back towards Sandgem.

    Or, he started to, but something else caught his eye before he could. Another Pokemon, though a smaller one than the Growlithe had been. Fur spiky where it wasn’t matted down or singed, in alternating rings of brown and tan, and a black mask around its beady brown eyes. This was a Zigzagoon. A Hoenn native Pokemon in Sinnoh, one of the kinds of Pokemon he was looking for. Its fur bristled when it saw him, but it was clearly weak from being caught in the fire, maybe even struck by an errant Water attack. Ryan couldn’t just leave the poor thing. So he dug out another Pokeball, and gave it a toss. The little Pokemon put up a bit of a struggle, but the ball clicked shut all the same.

    “You’ll calm down some once I’ve gotten you healed up,” He told the ball as he picked it up. Then, for real this time, he hurried off back to the Professor’s lab.
    #4 Rex, Nov 8, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2020

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