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Ask to Join The Strange Lights of Route 14

Discussion in 'Pokémon Role Play' started by BurbleBurble, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. "No problem. Happy to help!" Dana smiled at Jackson. A little awkwardly, because there was a problem: her weight. If all girls were as light as Jocelyn, did that make her heavy?

    “You must be quite the athlete to make carrying another person look so effortless.”

    It was just a playful comment, but Shiro unwittingly eased some of Dana's insecurities. No, she wasn't heavy or anything... she was just a good athlete. Right.

    "Ahaha, I don't know how I do it, Shiro! No intense physical exercise from me, just Mantine Surfing and floating peacefully in the streams."

    She was peppy as usual, not letting the awkward cracks show in her confident façade. So Shiro filled them, quietly. Dana didn't know him that well yet, but he and Chase were like night and day. The latter was insensitive without realizing it, while the former knew just what to say, also without realizing it. She smiled.

    "Wish I were. I came all the way from Nimbasa, actually. I wasn't a fan of the big city, and family issues, so I dipped. No pun intended," Dana answered, because she was literally taking dips in rivers all day. "This started out as a journey to get away from nagging parents, but I stopped here to enjoy it a little, and to kick Team Plasma's butt. Ever since then I've just been chilling here."

    Team Plasma was in Undella Town two weeks ago to violently protest Mantine Surfing in the bay. The Alolan sport's growing popularity in Unova was a testament to the cultural awareness and interconnectedness of the world they lived in. But left-wing extremists weren't having it, despite all that it contributed to Undella's tourist economy. Perhaps that was the real reason why Team Plasma was so against it. The poorer people are, the more easily they're influenced by those in power. But publicly, Plasma opposed the harmless practice on the grounds that it was another subjugation of Pokémon by humans. Mantine was already one of the rarest Pokémon in the bay, so it did no one any good to take it out of the wild and raise it for recreational purposes.

    The grunts were smart, ambushing Undella when the weather was chillier and the town was quieter. There wouldn't be as many counter-protesters. But Dana wouldn't let them seize the Mantine and ruin the experience of anyone who might be surfing this time of year. After she and a few others drove them away, the incident made local news and even a few mentions in national news as part of a larger, anti-Plasma political narrative.

    It only caused problems for her, however. The usually peaceful resort town was on edge even two weeks later, and her parents wouldn't stop calling her. Dana was thankful that Route 14 was the same as it had always been, a quiet, misty retreat where she could get away from it all.

    "How about you, Shiro? You're from a big city just like me. Is that your kind of place?"

    She'd stick with that and spare him the politics. Money, politics, and religion were the three things you never talked about.
     
    #41 E.K.A.N.S., Aug 23, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  2. Calvin nodded at Shiro's suggestion, but before he started walking, he looked around to find Jackson, but to no avail. "Did he just run off or was I far too slow, because I can't see him." Calvin said, Helios decided to do a quick surveillance around which way Jackson could have gone and reported back to Calvin with no success. "This could be a problem... I'll still go on ahead, but first..." He said as he threw another Poké ball and out came a Bisharp.

    "Midori, look after the Axew for the time being and Slasher, protect her and the group in case anything bad happens." Slasher and Midori nodded whilst the latter continued to do her best to comfort Axew. "Alright, I'll meet back here in ten or fifteen minutes or if I find anything." Calvin said as he, Hamilton and Helios strolled off into the fog until the lights of the Emboar and Solrock were as faint as a spark.

    Slasher looked back at the group and back into the fog, he was always beside Midori in battles or dangerous situations as Midori only had Energy Ball to help her fight, so Slasher was always around to protect her.
     
  3. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    As it turned out Dana was from Nimbasa City, she just preferred the quiet beach town to the hustle and bustle of Unova’s entertainment capital. She once again brought up Team Plasma, something Shiro quickly took note of. By the sounds of it there was probably a history there and not a very friendly one at that. They were a group that Shiro did his best to avoid whenever possible. He didn’t agree with their message of Pokémon liberation and he didn’t feel like having them get on his case about it.

    “How about you, Shiro? You’re from a big city just like me. Is that your kind of place?” she asked him in turn. All he could do in response to that was shrug. It wasn’t a question he had ever put much thought into.

    “I mean being a Pokémon Trainer is all I’ve ever dreamed about so you could say that on one hand all I’ve ever wanted was to leave Castelia. At the same time though, it’s nice having convenience stores, arcades, and everything you need within walking distance of your house or at the very least a bus ride away. Castelia Park is also a nice quiet slice of nature in the middle of an otherwise urban jungle. Plus NOTHING beats a Castelia Cone on a hot summer day! If you two haven’t tried one, then next summer you have to find the time to visit Castelia and get one! I used to take my younger brothers there all the time. Just be warned that the lines for it are crazy!” he told them nostalgically. Then his tone turned more thoughtful.

    “But ya know, I still remember when I first left home on my Pokémon Journey, I went down to Pinwheel Forest and I just couldn’t help but love just how peaceful and open it was and how clean the air was compared to the city. Not to mention the gangs that hang out downtown make it dangerous to be out alone at night in those areas and yet it’s perfectly safe out here in the wilderness despite the Wild Pokémon that could attack. I guess you can say I like the city since it’s the place I associate with home, but like anywhere, it does have its problems. And, like you said Dana, nagging parents make going home such a pain. They’re completely against me “wasting my time” travelling and would rather see me going to high school right now taking a bunch of stupid tests so that I can get into a prestigious university for a degree that will get me a fancy job like they have! No thank you!” Shiro paused as his eyes grew wider. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to start ranting just now.” he apologized pulling the hood of his jacket down to better hide his blushing face.

    Calvin finally spoke up but seemed to be in a panic about where Jackson was.

    “Did you doze off or something Calvin?” teased Shiro. “He’s in these bushes. It’s probably the entrance to a Hidden Grotto. Those can be deceptively deep.” His words seemed to fall on deaf ears however as the other boy sent out a Bisharp to guard Midori and Axew before running off with Hamilton and Helios. Shiro started to run after him but stopped mid-step. He turned around looking at Dana then the foliage where Jackson had disappeared into. He didn’t want to run off alone because he might not be able to catch up to Calvin or find his way back. At the same time, if he left with Dana then there would be no one left to greet Jackson when he came out not to mention they’d be leaving behind Jane Doe and the Pokémon.

    “Calvin! Come back! Jackson’s over here!” Shiro shouted into the distance hoping to get him to reconsider running off on his own. The teen let out a frustrated sigh. All they could do now was wait and see which one came back first.
     
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  4. "Oh no, you're totally fine!" Dana told an apologetic Shiro.

    She couldn't help but smile when the boy hid his face. He'd been so confident when he told Chase off, but he was showing her a more vulnerable side. Perhaps that would make Dana more comfortable revealing hers. The outgoing and energetic girl had to stay tough ever since she left home, after all.

    "Everything you said reminded me that I can't be too comfortable in one place. I've never been to Pinwheel Forest, or had a Castelia Cone on a hot summer day. Undella is nice, but there's still so much I haven't done," she admitted, remembering that this was a journey and not a vacation. She'd wanted to get away from her nagging parents, but enriching herself with new experiences was her main motivation. They'd told her that she had no business talking politics when she knew nothing of the real world, and Dana was determined to change that. From what she'd seen so far, Pokémon were indeed a binding force. She wouldn't have met so many people without them, nor would she be talking to Shiro like this.

    But Calvin's sudden walk showed that they weren't a perfect group.

    "That was kinda weird... I know he left his Pokémon here, but do you think Calvin might've just ditched us?" Dana wondered. "I mean, it does make sense. The way he pretended not to know where Jackson is."

    Calvin had wanted to leave from the beginning, but they persuaded him to stick around. Maybe he got tired of it and gave them the slip, leaving his Pokémon to make it less obvious and help them in his place.
     
    #44 E.K.A.N.S., Aug 26, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
  5. What Did You Do To Snoke?

    What Did You Do To Snoke? Previously Ratbag the Coward

    In the comatised Chase, his mind started to spin in never ending circles, black and white spirals turning a grey dream, which was actually a nightmare. Icy cold snow appeared around him. It soon melted as volcanoes engulfed his body. Then a rain and mist settled back onto a broken plain and forests surrounded him. Finally, these trees were cut down as machines and people surrounded him. He appeared to have woken up several hundreds of years later. He got up. He saw humans looking upon him from their machines. Then he saw the humans melt away as a man stood staring at Chase from the edge of cliff. He stared and stared at him. Then he winked. The man then started hovering mid-air. His body bent, up and down up and down. Then a high-pitched metallic sound emmitted from his body and he morphed into a strange creature.

    BEE-

    Reality bent around Chase as he realised it was a dream. Chase was now surrounded with fake versions of the group all laughing down at him. Then, he saw the creature and realised it had created this dream too.

    HEE-

    Chase saw all of his Pokemon, dead, surrounding him. He saw his sister looking down upon him shouting at him for causing their deaths. He saw the Pokemon again in the background and it teleported and created part of it's cry again.

    YEM-

    Chase saw Professor Juniper and her lab. He saw an iron clad muscular man holding her down. This was the Devastator, the villain responsible for Chase's adventure. The Devastator marched towards Chase and he gulped before he saw the Pokemon once again.


    Chase teleported into a room with the humanoid Pokemon. His eyes swirled round and round. Chase bashed the beast. He was teleported into a cell. He gazed upon his outer body which was represented by another and saw he was now a mindless zombie, he was trapped in another part of his brain the Pokemon controlled.
     
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  6. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    A few moments went by but there was no response from Calvin nor any sign of him returning to them. Shiro doubted if Calvin had even heard him calling out to him. Or if he did… He turned around to look at the Lilligant and Bisharp left behind sympathetically. Shiro didn’t want to believe Dana’s assumption that Calvin had ditched them. He didn’t seem like the type of person who would abandon his Pokémon without warning. But then what did he know of other Trainer? They had only interacted for, what, an hour? Calvin was a man of few words, and what he had said indicated that he just wanted to go home. Maybe he would come back for his Pokémon in the morning?

    But this brought up another question. What was taking Jackson so long? In the time they had been waiting for Calvin to return, Jackson still hadn’t come out of the bushes. That wasn’t right, he should have been out by now. If anything, he should have been out before Calvin left while Shiro and Dana were still talking. Jackson had said he’d call for help if there was trouble, but they hadn’t heard a peep from him since he went in. Something was wrong, Shiro could feel it.

    “Man, what’s taking Jackson so long?” he wondered out loud to clue Dana in on his thoughts. “I’m going to poke my head in there to see if he needs help.” The teen pushed his way into the narrow crevasse of the Hidden Grotto brushing aside branches and foliage.

    “Jackson? It’s Shiro! Can you hear me?” he called hoping to get any sort of response. “Jackson? Are you there?” he called again. The path soon widened into an open space that could have easily been used as a Pokémon’s den or a safe hiding place for weary travelers to rest for the night. But there was no sign of Jackson anywhere. He had completely disappeared. It was difficult to see fully in the dark, but Shiro wondered if there was another path leading out that Jackson could have used. While Calvin’s motive remained uncertain since no self-respecting Trainer would abandon their Pokémon, it was pretty obvious that Jackson had given them the slip. There was no way he could have accidentally taken the wrong exit since it was difficult to even tell if there were any other exits unless someone actively looked for them.

    When Shiro came back out of the grotto he was surprised at how relieved he was to see Dana still there waiting for him. Of course out of everyone he had met tonight she was the one he got along with best so he would have been shocked if she had decided to run off on her own while he wasn’t looking.

    “So Jackson’s gone.” he told her matter-of-factly. “There was no sign of him in there anywhere. It was like he vanished into thin air. I don’t know how he could have gotten out without us noticing but he did. So now it’s just the two—” he paused remembering they were still carrying around a coma patient. “Sorry, three of us left.” He mulled over what to do now. The original six of them only met by chance. Chase threw a temper tantrum and left because he wasn’t getting his way. The rest only stuck together to find Chipper. Shiro assumed that Jackson found Chipper and decided to leave, then who knows what Calvin was thinking. Unless…

    “Hey Dana. Do you think that Calvin somehow noticed Jackson sneak out and ran after him? I thought his behavior was kind of strange, but maybe he was on to something.” deduced Shiro placing his hand over his chin. He took off his black backpack, opened the top, and pulled out a flashlight. “We should probably try to find him, at the very least to return his Pokémon.” he suggested.

    “As for our other friend,” he said looking at the other girl, “I don’t really think it’s fair for you to have to keep carrying her around, so if you want to, we can stash her in the Hidden Grotto. It’s actually quite roomy in there once you get past the branches and it should be safe. In fact, all three of us could probably fit comfortably in there so we can always come back and set up camp for the night if we don’t find Calvin.”
     
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  7. "Phew!" Dana relaxed when Shiro suggested that they leave Jocelyn in the Hidden Grotto. "No, I meant... that's a good idea! I'll be right back."

    She didn't want to sound too relieved, or else he'd know how tired she was getting after carrying the light girl this long. Somehow Dana looked on the bright side, though it was hardly bright here and the low-hanging mist was pulling her mood to the ground. When she did show weakness, like when she mistook Chipper's red light for the rumored ones, she cracked a joke or two and laughed off how scared she was.

    So Dana smiled through the mounting fatigue when she ducked into the Hidden Grotto with Jocelyn on her back. Axew left Midori and followed upon seeing his trainer being moved elsewhere. Setting the girl down on a bed of leaves, Dana quickly made it back to Shiro and dusted off her hands to signify a job well done.

    For a second, those same hands settled at her sides in conclusion, before her index fingers perked up and pointed at Shiro, transitioning to the next thought.

    "I hope you're right about Calvin, by the way. I don't wanna assume the worst of people and have that be true. Can't say the same about Jackson," Dana shrugged, the weight now off her back. "But hey, you usually are right, so I'm not worried."
     
    #47 E.K.A.N.S., Sep 2, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  8. Calvin looked through the fog and from time to time he looked back to remember the direction he came from so then it was easier for him to find his way back. He knew the others would assume he would try to leave, but he wasn't just paranoid about his safety, but everyone else's. Hamilton and Helios looked around whilst remaining in a close proximity of their trainer. The Emboar was also worried as he looked cautiously left and right for anyone... Helios however signaled Calvin that he found something... but it wasn't what he was looking for; It was something else.

    It was a strange figure which Calvin flinched at the sight of, he was about to assume it would emit the strange lights that worried him so much, but the figure looked... familiar to him, especially the one horn coming from the side of it's head. Calvin, Hamilton and Helios slowly and quietly approached the figure, once close enough, it was easy to see that the figure was none other than the disaster Pokémon: Absol. The latter stared back at the trio but remained completely silent.

    "I thought I saw you before... why are you here? What's going to happen?" Calvin asked, knowing he wouldn't get the clear answer he wanted, but he was well aware of Absol's kind and what they represented. Absol merely responded with a low growl and ran past Calvin roughly in Dana and Shiro's direction. "Hey, wait!" Calvin said as he attempted to run after it, Hamilton and Helios were close behind him, eventually he lost Absol in the mist but looked to his right to faintly spot Dana, Shiro and the two Pokémon he left to protect them... mainly the unconscious Jocelyn who didn't appear to be with them any longer, obviously not with the lights, so he walked over to them and waved lightly.

    "I'm back." Calvin said, he had a feeling he might get a few complaints about his sudden leave/'search' but he brushed it off. "I notice you're one lady short; did you find a safe place for her?" He asked as Midori and Slasher walked over to Calvin.
     
  9. "Whoa! Calvin, you're back! That's good, because I thought we were on our own after you left," Dana sighed, placing a relieved hand over her chest. "And she's resting up in the Hidden Grotto. There's a comfy bed of leaves in there."

    She could be asking Calvin the same question. They were short a lady, and he was short a gent. Jackson wasn't with him, so Shiro's hope that Calvin might've seen him was unfounded.

    "And Jackson, well... we don't know where he is, but we can only hope that he found Chipper and is safe. With that out the way, we can finally get down to investigating the lights!" she suggested.

    She let fake lights spook her once, so Dana, emboldened by skepticism, was treating this like a fun sleuthing adventure. Besides, Calvin had just gone off on his own and was perfectly fine. Arms angled away from her waist and wrists bent delicately upward like those of a princess, she was poised to twirl as she waded into the waters of a nearby stream.

    "We can use this waterfall to reach the Abundant Shrine. That's where anything supernatural hangs out, right?" Dana reasoned, running her hand through the falls. The water was shallow and her shorts were cut above the knees, so her clothes weren't getting wet.

    "Close Call can get us up there. Gents first," she offered, stroking the wet fur of the Floatzel who swam up beside her. "You've been awfully quiet lately, Close. Keep it up and don't rock the boat too much!"
     
    #49 E.K.A.N.S., Sep 4, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  10. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Dana let out a deep sigh of relief at being relieved of duty though she quickly tried to play it off as simply agreeing to Shiro’s idea. He smirked at her reply but nodded in agreement so she’d save face. Who did she think she was fooling? Anyone, no matter how strong they were, would get worn out from lugging around another person. At least that was the way Shiro saw it. Axew followed its sleeping Trainer as Dana dragged her into the grotto. The Dragon may be small but it was also feisty. It should have no trouble protecting its Trainer until she woke up. Once Dana emerged again, they were ready to head out.

    “We’re going to look for Calvin so the two of you are going to want to follow us.” Shiro advised addressing Midori and Slasher. “Take to the sky Scout! Let us know if you spot Hamilton or Helios.” The Rufflet chirped in understanding before leaving his post to serve as their lookout once more.

    As they walked, Shiro swayed the flashlight side to side to better illuminate the path ahead while keeping his eyes forward at all time. The sound of crashing water indicated that they were coming up to one of the Route’s many waterfalls. A cry from Scout barely echoed over the roaring falls before the flashlight caught the black face of a creature rushing towards them.

    “Woah!” cried Shiro jumping back in surprise. The creature in question crouched in a defensive potion, startled by the fact that it had startled Shiro. The Trainer shown his light on the Pokémon who had shaggy white fur and a large curved black horn coming from the right side of his face. The Absol relaxed its stance before darting off into the fog again. Shiro winced at how uncool he was just now from getting spooked like that. That’s when a familiar voice called out to them through the darkness.

    Up ahead the bright white glow of a sun accompanied by the soft orange glow of a flame could be seen giving the approaching figure away as Calvin. Shiro was glad that he had been right that Calvin really was planning to come back. Midori and Slasher immediately ran over to great their Trainer as he rejoined the group. He asked about the girl to which Dana told him what they had done with her. She also informed him of Jackson’s disappearance.

    “We were hoping the reason you ran off so suddenly was because you saw him come out from another exit.” Shiro asked him. Even if that wasn’t the case, he and Dana still deserved an answer for why he left so abruptly.

    “With that out the way, we can finally get down to investigating the lights!” beamed Dana excitedly. Shiro found her enthusiasm contagious as he too wanted to learn more about the legend. Folklore didn’t just come out of nowhere. Someone had to have seen something they couldn’t explain or something they misinterpreted then that story got passed around and was continuously blown out of proportion with every retelling.

    The way Dana waded into the stream had Shiro almost expecting her to dance on the surface. She looked so serene, so elegant, that it stirred an emotion in him that he didn’t fully comprehend but it was a pleasant feeling. She was truly in her element and he appreciated that.

    “Thanks for the offer, but I have my own ride up.” he declined at Dana’s suggestion that he and Calvin ride Close Call up the waterfall first. Shiro held up Scout’s ball to return the Eaglet Pokémon. He then threw another Pokéball that materialized a large blue sealion with a wide tail and white whiskers. Tan armor covered her four limbs and head with a large horn protruding from the helmet. The Samurott gave a mighty howl as a greeting.

    “Allow me to introduce Mizuki, my first Pokémon.” Shiro introduced proudly placing a hand on her shoulder. He took off his shoes and socks and rolled up his pants legs before following Dana’s lead into the stream. The cold water sent a surge up Shiro’s legs into his spine as soon as it touched his bare skin. He dared not show that it bothered him though. Somehow Dana was standing up to her knees without any sign of discomfort despite the water temperature having to be around 11 or 12℃. Shiro clenched his teeth, enduring the cold water long enough to mount his Pokémon.

    “To the top of the waterfall Mizuki!” he instructed as he dramatically threw out his arm with his pointer finger aimed at their target. The Water-type swam up to the crashing falls and, with powerful strokes of her pectoral flippers and kicks from her hind flippers, managed to pull herself and her Trainer up the vertical slope. Shiro hopped off Mizuki’s back once they made it back to dry land. He shook off his windbreaker as it had gotten a little wet going up the waterfall. Shiro crept over to the edge of the cliff until Dana and Calvin were in view below.

    “Your turn!” he called down to them before putting his shoes and socks back on.
     
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  11. Calvin looked up in somewhat awe at the Samurott who swam up the running water, he looked at the Poké balls in his coat pocket and sighed remembering the Pokémon he brought and one that could help him in this situation wasn't one of them, but he got out two Poké balls to return Midori and Slasher "Thanks for watching over them guys." Calvin said the Pokémon pair he returned. Hamilton tried to hold back his competitive side as he saw the starter with the type he was weak to, the Emboar had a slight grudge against water types but is glad that Calvin is trying to help him learn a 'Counter move' which is just Calvin's term for a move that can counter what his Pokémon was weak to.

    "Hey Hamilton, I'm gonna have to return you for now, I'll let you back out once we're at the top, okay?" Calvin asked as he got out Hamilton's Poké ball. The Emboar almost flinched at the idea, but reluctantly nodded, he never was a fan on being in his Poké ball because then he couldn't protect Calvin who he saw as a brother. Calvin returned Hamilton to his Poké ball and put it in his pocket as he turned his gaze to Helios.

    "Alright Helios, you think you can levitate me up the waterfall?" Calvin asked. The Solrock nodded and turned off his flash only to be replaced with his now glowing blue eyes. Calvin began to share the same glow around his entire body as he felt himself being lifted off the ground and up the side of the waterfall. If the situation wasn't so serious to him, he would find this 'flying' enjoyable, Helios levitated higher than Calvin whilst making sure not to drop him, eventually the Solrock brought Calvin to the top of the waterfall next to Shrio.

    "Thank you Helios." Calvin said as he gently stroked his Solrock's forehead and got out his Poké ball. "You should take a good rest after your hard work." He added, but before he could return the Solrock, he floated back slightly and shook his head -or his entire body- saying he didn't want to return... at least not yet. After the gesture, he used flash once more and illuminated part of the area around Calvin and Shiro. Clearly Hamilton wasn't the only Pokémon Calvin bonded with. "Helios... you always did want to help me, it's how we met after all." Calvin said with a smile as he put Helios' Poké ball away and got out Hamilton's, letting the latter out just as he promised.

    The Emboar let out a sigh of relief and looked at Calvin with slight concern. "Oh Hamilton, you're always worried about me, aren't you?" Calvin asked rhetorically with a smile on his face... this knowledge provided Calvin with the first bit of comfort he's had all evening after the paranoia about the lights myth.
     
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  12. "Shiro, you're so silly," Dana teased when the boy threw his arm out dramatically. "But hey, I know the feeling. You can't wait to get up there 'cause you're just as excited as I am!"

    When he and Chase locked horns, she'd been the only one laughing. Dana was glad that the tension had settled and that she was seeing yet another new side of him. They didn't know where Jackson or Chase were, but smaller groups meant fewer disagreements. The political-minded Dana understood this better than anyone, though she'd assured Calvin earlier that they had strength in numbers. It happened on the world stage all the time, when countries grew too large and smaller, self-interested alliances formed within, tearing the state asunder. But they'd be just fine.

    "You too, Calvin? Well, looks like everyone's got their own ride. Close Call, it's just me this time, so you can rock the boat as much as you want," she joked.

    She didn't look as comfortable when Shiro and Calvin finally looked away, however. Her lip trembled and her teeth broke out into a chatter, the girl unable to hold it in anymore.

    "Ahaha... I should really hurry up," said a slightly embarrassed Dana as she mounted her Floatzel. "Come on, Close! We can't let Mizuki and Helios outdo us!"

    The Samurott had worked her way up the falls with powerful strokes while Solrock had comfortably floated. Floatzel was not as strong as Mizuki, but he had speed, boosting himself and Dana over the steep rise with the propeller motion of his tails.

    "Solve the mystery of the lights, or set the world record for chattering teeth? It was a tough choice," she laughed off her shivers upon reaching land. "But we're here now, and the Abundant Shrine is up ahead. Beyond those trees."

    As Dana passed them, clearings turned to forests, and laughter turned to silence. It was a palpable, oppressive silence that carried the sanctity of the Abundant Shrine, a churchlike calm that dared not be disturbed save by the sounds of night that were the choir. The grass rustled quietly like turning pages, as if even the wild Pokémon were following along with the reading of some religious text. This was a place of worship, and here they were sleuthing. The feeling of desecration quieted her determined steps.

    "It's quite a climb to the shrine," Dana whispered instinctively, surveying the series of ledges and tall grass. "Thanks for the lift, Close Call. Now it's our turn."
     
    #52 E.K.A.N.S., Sep 11, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  13. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Next was Calvin taking a more unorthodox method to ascend the falls. He had Helios use its psychic powers to levitate them up without even getting his feet wet. Shiro gave him an approving nod for his unexpectedly clever move. For being the last ones up, Dana and Close Call made up for it by being the fastest ones to reach the top.

    “Alright, the gang’s all here!” cheered Shiro. Everyone else looked like they were as eager as he was to start their investigation. Even Calvin seemed to have put aside his earlier hesitation and was fully committed. Was it safety in numbers even though the party size was basically half of what it had been at the start of the night or had he just grown more comfortable with Shiro and Dana?

    The trio made their way through the forest with Dana taking the lead and the boys close behind. By the time they made it through to the clearing the Abundant Shrine was located they had fallen into utter silence. The only sounds that could be heard were a light breeze blowing through the night and the quiet breathing of the teens and their Pokémon. Shiro scanned the empty fields looking for any signs of life but as far as he could tell they were the only ones roaming about. Not even the sounds of insects could be heard.

    “It’s quite a climb to the shrine.” Dana whispered as if she was afraid to break the silence.

    “Yeah, but we can make it. We’ve already gotten this far so there’s no choice but to keep pressing forward.” encouraged Shiro. He surprised himself that he was also whispering. Maybe there was just something about this place that elicited a subconscious reaction in people. Or maybe it was just so quiet that they didn’t feel the need to raise their voices.

    In centuries past a village had been made around the shrine, and while no one has dwelled on this land since, the wooden homes and farms remained intact as if the villagers still lived here. As for why nature hadn’t completely reclaimed the area, all Shiro could ponder was that whoever was responsible for the shrine’s upkeep also maintained the houses and the fields to preserve the historical significance of this land. But if that was the case, why did the original denizens leave and where did they go?

    Even though the Abundant Shrine sat well above the waterfalls, the fog persisted but it wasn’t nearly as thick as below. It was still a cool night so this was probably just a normal weather pattern for the area. The low visibility and quiet ambiance gave the empty village an eerie atmosphere that sent a shiver up Shiro’s spine. He slowly climbed the hills keeping an eye out for anything suspicious but so far nothing stood out.

    By the time they made it to the shrine at the top of the slope, Shiro was feeling a bit winded. That had been a harder climb than he thought it would be. He pulled a water bottle out of the side pocket of his backpack and took a quick drink. He wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve then put the bottle back where he got it.

    “I’ve been looking but I haven’t seen any lights yet. How about you two?” he asked his companions, although he was certain they would have said something if they did. Could the lights really just be nothing more than rumors?
     
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  14. "The lights..."

    Dana repeated, as if she were losing her memories and had just recalled the clearest among them, Shiro's words a trigger. Something was clearly wrong with the girl. Midway into the climb, she'd changed suddenly. Dana had stopped, and when she continued, her step was sluggish and her eyes were emotionless.

    So when she approached Calvin and Shiro, she swayed like a dead woman walking. Her voice had quieted to a moan, so eerily soft now that their surroundings seemed welcoming in comparison.

    "Who are you... where am I..."

    Dana reached out weakly, almost touching Shiro's face, as if the dying light of him was the rumor she'd been investigating all along. This gave her mind a sense of closure, before she slipped into another realm.

    Really, only her hand had slipped. Away from the boy's face, landing instead on his shoulder. Had she not been holding onto him, she'd be on the floor laughing. Still, Dana had thrown her head down and was obviously cracking up.

    "Did I get you?" she asked playfully, looking up at Shiro with a blush to her face.

    This was just her cute way of hiding the fact that it was a hard climb. She purposely slowed her steps and did a little zombie routine, giving herself a break and making her tiredness seem like part of the show. Dana was wearing the wrong shoes, so she was a lot worse off than Shiro. But she always found a way to laugh it off, like when Chipper's light spooked her, like when her teeth started chattering.

    "Hey, I had to do something to break the silence," the girl shrugged, a joking defense in case they still took the lights seriously. "And no, I haven't actually seen them either, Shiro. But I thought this would happen and put on a show to live up to the hype I created, so we don't leave completely disappointed."

    Dana's act was convincing, and she found herself thinking about her politician father again. Did she get it from him? The girl told the truth comedically and hid it poorly, but her trick suggested that she also knew how to lie. Perhaps Dana and her father weren't so different, though she was against everything he stood for. But she dismissed the thought almost immediately, moving away from a man who brought about no real change to the two boys who had come together and actually gotten things done.

    "No truth to these rumors, no truth to my humor," she concluded, letting out a satisfied sigh. "Anyways, we should get goin-"

    The girl froze. She was looking straight ahead, into the bushes behind Calvin and Shiro. There was a red light unlike Chipper's, unlike anything else she had seen before. The green and yellow that followed flickered through the mist and dispelled any hopes that it was another false alarm, coloring her face with dread. As she watched the brown Pokémon disappear into the bushes, reality became distorted, and she lost control of her senses.

    Dana collapsed.
     
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  15. Once Calvin made it to the Abundant Shrine after what seems like a little climb to him as his father used to be a hiker. He was a little spooked when he looked around the deafeningly quiet village... but when he noticed Dana's eerie movements, he got even more spooked whilst Hamilton went in front of him and huffed from his nose to let out a bit of fire as a warning. Dana's movements seemed like that of a zombie; something the lights might cause were they unfortunate enough to see them.

    "Dana... What's wrong?!" Calvin asked in a worried tone of voice. When she walked up to Shiro, he was about to order his Emboar to protect him... only to hear her laughter. Upon the realisation that Dana was pranking them, his worried look quickly turned to a mix between annoyance and anger. "What the hell is wrong with you?! You think that was funny? Using the lights myth to scare me?! Never and I mean NEVER do that again!" Calvin yelled, his anger was enough to make Hamilton and Helios flinch as they knew what happened when Calvin got angry.

    "That joke was nowhere near the best solution on breaking it. I for one am very disappointed and I won't hesitate to hurt you if you do anymore unfunny crap like that again!" Calvin responded bluntly to Dana's words, putting his hands in his coat pockets. He was about to get moving when he saw Dana's expression change before she suggested moving on, at first he was undeterred, believing it was another one of her ridiculous attempts at making jokes... that was before she went numb and fell in front of him and Shiro. "Dana?!" Calvin asked as he went over to check on her.

    Hamilton and Helios looked around in defensive positions to see if anyone was around that could have caused this... but to no avail and looked back at Calvin who knelt down and lightly shook her in an attempt to wake her up. "Dana! Can you hear me?" he asked, hoping for a response... his paranoia of the lights returned and replaced the confidence that comforted him.
     
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  16. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Dana seemed to be in a daze. Her movements were wobbly as if she was off balance. She slowly walked towards Shiro with her arm outstretched before falling into him with her arm landing on his shoulder.

    “Dana!” he cried with worry placing his hands on her shoulders in an instinctive reaction to catch her. Shiro was answered by the sound of laughter, not the laugh of a girl gone mad, but a humorous laugh. She looked up at him with a wide grin on her blushing face.

    “Did I get you?” she inquired between giggles. Shiro’s jaw dropped every so slightly as he processed what just happened.

    “Ah… you!” he then joined her in laughing at her prank. “That was good!” he complemented. Calvin however was less thrilled at the joke. He started furiously yelling at them and even threatened Dana with physically hurting her if she did something like that again.

    “Woah!” shouted Shiro moving himself between Dana and Calvin protectively. “You don’t need to go that far! It was just a harmless prank! I know the rumors spook you, but threatening people over it!?” Before the argument could go further, Shiro heard a thumping sound of a person hitting the ground. He spun around to see Dana laying completely motionless on her back.

    “Dana! Can you hear me?” cried Calvin trying to wake her up. All Shiro could do was look on with worry. Why would someone who was perfectly healthy one moment suddenly collapse midsentence? He started frantically looking around. Could it have been the lights? But if so where did they come from and why wasn’t he seeing them now? Shiro clenched his fists tightly and turned the direction Dana had been facing before she went down.

    “If anyone is out there, show yourselves! Where are you hiding? What did you do to Dana?” he demanded into the night though no answer came. “Don’t you dare hide from me! Come out!” With no response yet again, he had no choice but to try to calm himself down and think about this rationally. Even if it was the lights, they still didn’t know what caused them. If it was some kind of natural phenomenon or inanimate object then, as frustrating as it would be, he was getting all bent out of shape over something that was out of his control. But if it was a person or a Pokémon then he was going to make them pay for this.

    “Calvin.” he said in a measured tone that seethed with quiet fury. “I know you’re afraid of these lights so I won’t make you do anything you’re uncomfortable with. I’m going to have a look around here, see if I find any clues as to why Dana collapsed. You can either stay here with Close Call and help look after her or you can come with me. But I am going to get to the bottom of this!” Shiro resolved.
     
    #56 Psycho Monkey, Sep 21, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  17. "...Calvin?"

    Dana opened her eyes and called out weakly, his face still a blur. Her senses were returning to her slowly, but the feeling of guilt was immediate.

    "I'm sorry. For tricking you like that. I guess it wasn't that funny..."

    She was smiling, awkwardly, her voice wavering as if she was about to cry. Calvin could hurt her physically, but she was hurt enough emotionally. Dana always lightened the mood when others were on edge. She'd felt it was appropriate, now that the rumors were becoming increasingly incredible. So it came as a shock to her when not everyone shared her energy.

    "But I'm fine now. I just passed out for a second. I can take you to the lights, if you follow me," she continued sadly, getting up on her own and prompting a worried Close Call to hurry to her side. The Floatzel looked down at the kneeling Calvin with killing intent, before his trainer spoke up and reassured him. "I'm fine, Close. It's my fault you had to see that... I should've sent you back instead of making you hike all the way up here."

    Close Call opened his mouth in disagreement, but Dana lovingly booped him on the snout with a Pokéball. Floatzel returned, she walked a few steps ahead. She needed to let one more person know that she was doing all right. His back was turned, and his voice trembled with rage. She leaned forward and peeked past his shoulder, at his face.

    "Shiro..." Dana began sympathetically. "I'm sorry I scared you like that. But I saw the lights. They're up ahead, in those bushes. I don't know why they didn't affect me..."

    The girl appreciated the laughs they shared, but Calvin's unexpected reaction left her feeling discouraged. So when Dana proceeded to laugh off her sudden collapse, it was awkward and self-abasing.

    "I guess idiots are hard to hypnotize... ahahaha…"
     
    #57 E.K.A.N.S., Sep 22, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
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  18. A prisoner of his own body. Was that what the two were reduced to? Shambling across the foggy corridors of the route, following colors hiding their forms within thick mist, slaves to a cruel master- for what? For what purpose did they steal them away?...Jackson didn't know, as he and Vul's tired body trudged onwards towards whatever the lights wanted.

    The lights met more lights. Six? Or...twelve? He couldn't tell. He could barely remember what had happened a few moments ago. Just like the route, his mind was fogged, misty.

    They flashed. Communicated messages. Hushed whispers of their targets. Speaking in their own language, too foreign for Jackson's glazed eyes to understand- and as the lights blinked in and out of existence, they spoke of their captures. The two humans under their thrall, and their little creatures too. They had a fair amount, but nothing as brilliant as the boar, the weasel. A raggedy fox and some assorted monsters would never satisfy the lights. More, they needed more! And their brothers were already plotting against them. But they would not have enough- they needed the advantage of stealth. But perhaps there was another advantage they could use?

    Yes, yes, the advantage they needed- the two bodies they had claimed. The prideful one and the foreign one, they would be put to good use. Yes! Their plan had been formulated. Ah, but they recalled a problem- a terrible thorn in their side. The one that stood before them possessed three capture devices...yet only one was loaded, and only one other stood before them. The damnable ghost was out there, shambling with a will of it's own. Or perhaps the will was that of it's master? It could make things messy...they'd need to get the beckoner, take it as their own.

    But that problem did not pose a threat at the moment. The lights agreed to carry out their plot, and find the one with the crimson beacon. And like that, disappeared into the corridors again. Twelve lights became six once more, and they called back to Jackson and Vul's bleary eyes followed the flash of red, yellow, and green. Everything was under the control of the lights, and they had several more hours to do so perfectly.

    ...And a grey figure watched from the bushes, watching the duo walk off in their stilted step. It needed it's moment to strike back as well. Now was not that time, for the lights hung close. The lights knew of it, just as he did them. It could not let them find them, lest it become like the fox and human.

    And once again, into the foggy mists, it disappeared.
     
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  19. Heading into the bushes silently, Dana wasn't her usual bubbly self. The girl shot discouraged glances back at the both of them to see if they were following, but she held her gaze longer when her eyes met Shiro's, communicating to him that she was upset. Dana kept to herself, though, letting her thoughts cluster like these thickening bushes.

    Unlike these thinning comparisons. When she reached a clearing, any similarities between her and nature virtually disappeared, for her mind didn't experience a sudden relief. High were the spirits that watched over Route 14 from the Abundant Shrine, low were hers. Dana kept her head down, dejected, also trying not to look at the brown Pokémon directly.

    Not at its antlers, like she had last time, but at the lights on its neck. The girl reached into her bag and produced a Pokédex, holding it up to the creature before her.

    "Stantler, the Big Horn Pokémon. Its curved antlers subtly change the flow of air to create a strange space where reality is distorted. Those who stare at them will gradually lose control of their senses and be unable to stand."

    The reindeer ceased grazing and looked up, neck taut, eyes alert, legs unmoving. A string of Christmas lights was caught on its neck: red, yellow, and green, irregularly flickering on and off.

    "It does make sense..." Dana remarked. "Reindeer. Christmas lights. Maybe it belongs to someone, and the mystery of the lights was a missing Pokémon report all along? Or maybe not. Stantler live in the wild around here, so all the rumors were just people staring at them in the wrong place. Not remembering anything? It's a pretty forgettable Pokémon. Case closed…"

    Solving the mystery didn't make her any happier. She'd never asked herself the important question of what she would do afterwards. When things were said and done, the rumors would simply fade away, and all Dana would have were the relationships she formed with these people.

    Those were what mattered most, and those were exactly what had suffered. She offered Calvin a fake smile.

    "You won't have to be scared of the lights anymore."

    The clearing offered something more genuine, however: a complete view of the misty route below. The night seemed peaceful all of a sudden, though the sense of closure was only quietly appreciated. Putting away her Pokédex, leaving Stantler alone, the girl wasn't sticking around. Dana faced the way she came, having done as she'd promised the boys and provided them an answer to the rumors. She decided that she wouldn't waste their time anymore, starting back into the bushes.

    No... she didn't want to leave Shiro behind. He was pretty cool... He'd told her all kinds of things, things she'd never done, places she'd never been... There was more to him, and Dana wanted to get to know him better.

    But her head was telling her something different.
     
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  20. Calvin began to show extreme concern for Dana after her little incident. Especially now that she felt very uneasy, he and Hamilton went with her to the bushes and noticed the Stantler that appeared before them. Calvin raised an eyebrow as he wondered what a Pokémon was doing in a place like this, he overheard Dana's Pokédex explain Stantler's nature.

    "You won't have to be scared of the lights anymore." Dana said to Calvin, he looked at Dana and shared her fake smile. He wanted to believe that it was a Stantler behind the lights rumor, but something still felt completely off to him: If Stantler was the one who caused the people to faint, how did it manage to take them away without a trace? He turned his head to Shiro, wondering if he believes that it was Stantler as well. "Are you sure you're okay, Dana?" Calvin asked.

    Hamilton and Helios both looked at each other with concern and back to Calvin, they both wanted to make sure Calvin remained safe, just as Calvin wanted to keep others safe despite his fear of the rumors and how close they are to being true. The Emboar walked over to put his hand on Calvin's shoulder for comfort.
     
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  21. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Just as he was about to run off on his own in search of the lights, Shiro heard a soft mumbling behind him. He turned his head just in time to see Dana standing behind him.

    “Y-you’re awake!” he cried in surprise. “Are you ok?” he asked her as his earlier rage was replaced with relief and concern. She assured him that she was fine even quipping that “idiots were hard to hypnotize” with a self-depreciating laugh.

    “You’re not an idiot Dana. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit.” Shiro consoled to boost her moral. She was clearly down but Shiro couldn’t determine if it was because of the way Calvin blew up on her or if it was a side effect of the lights.

    Dana led them into the bushes where she claimed she saw them. She periodically looked back probably to make sure Shiro and Calvin were still there. Shiro gave her a nod to reassure her that he’d stay near. They got to a clearing where a lone brown deer Pokémon with lights wrapped around its neck stood grazing. Its ears twitched at the sound of their approach. The Stantler lifted its head to observe the intruders who disturbed its meal to determine if they were a threat who meant it harm.

    Stantler were a Pokémon known for hypnotizing people and Pokémon it viewed as threats to defend itself. This easily explained how people like Dana would suddenly collapse then wake up later in a daze. Any memory loss could be explained away as simply not recalling what was going on before they fell unconscious. How many people had fallen asleep watching TV or reading only to wake up with no recollection of what they were doing before their impromptu nap?

    What’s more, the incidents always took place at night. Shiro never noticed the Big Horn Pokémon standing in the bushes and neither did Dana probably. What she definitely noticed were the flickering lights around its neck. And that was the end of the mystery right there. People saw the lights, Stantler got startled and knocked them out. Everything added up besides one small detail. How were the lights flickering without an electrical source? That was the only part of the mystery Shiro couldn’t solve.

    The deer must have decided it couldn’t take this many foes for it turned tail and ran further into the woods. For just a moment Shiro thought he spotted a solar panel attached to the string of lights just behind Stantler’s neck. So much for that lingering question. The light string was solar powered so the flickering was probably from it running out of juice.

    “Well that’s that. The urban legend of the lights is nothing more than a mistake in identity.” concluded Shiro. “We should probably go back to Undella Town to report what we saw. If the Pokémon really does belong to someone I’m sure they’ll be relieved to hear it’s out here.”

    Now that the case was closed Dana told Calvin that he had nothing to fear any more before heading back on her own.

    “Hey Dana, wait up!” called Shiro chasing after her. He looked back at Calvin as if beckoning him to follow. Once he caught up to her, Shiro slowed his pace to match hers. “Hey, you did it. You solved the mystery behind the Strange Lights of Route 14. That’s something to be proud of.” he praised gleefully. He wanted to comfort her but wasn’t sure how.
     
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  22. "Don't worry," Dana answered unemotionally, then turned back into the bushes and continued under her breath. "Why would you..."

    How could he care about her safety when he himself had threatened to harm her? Consciously, Dana had taken it upon herself, apologized, and decided to leave so that she no longer burdened the boys with her presence. But viscerally, she was uncomfortable around Calvin now.

    Whether she was dismissing them or excusing herself, the ends were the same. Dana wanted to be alone. Isn't that what Calvin had wanted all this time, too? He'd only stuck around because everyone persuaded him to, but he could finally go home. If he still had doubts that they knew the truth behind the rumors, he could take them somewhere else. Just like she was doing with herself.

    "Hey Dana, wait up!"

    The sound of Shiro calling filled her with relief, and she wavered mid-step. But the girl continued on, still, and didn't look back. Shiro had to catch up to Dana for her to see the boy trying to comfort her.

    "Hey, you did it. You solved the mystery behind the Strange Lights of Route 14. That’s something to be proud of."

    She smiled softly at the attempt.

    "I guess I should be proud..." answered Dana, hushed and uncertain. "But Shiro, I'm not. I was so excited to crack the case, but now that we did, I don't feel anything. I never thought about what I'd do when it was all over, and what really mattered..."

    This was a girl who was much less sure of herself, and not in her usual cute way of hiding things. She had gotten to the top of this route and to the bottom of these rumors, but Dana was at a low point. As they passed the shrine, the calm felt like a moment of silence just for her.

    "...So, those are the mysteries I'm trying to solve now. I can't go back to Undella Town just yet."

    Otherwise, she would have to decide right then what to do next, a decision that, despite leaving suddenly, Dana was not ready to make. She hadn't realized how badly she wanted Shiro to follow, how needed it made her feel. Had they been in Undella, he would be walking away from her instead, having no more reason to stay, and she'd feel the exact opposite. The town was the last place Dana wanted to be.

    Thankfully, it was probably the only place that could drive her mood to a new low, for her descent back down the series of ledges to the shrine didn't plunge the girl any deeper into her negative emotions. Instead, she was slowly feeling uplifted, Shiro not knowing what to say but refuting her earlier thinking with his presence alone.

    "Route 14 is my special place. Where I want to be right now, Shiro..." she whispered, as if in anticipation of something magical, "...is the spot that makes it so special."

    When the water got cold, when she had stuff on her mind, Dana would come here, just outside the woods that secluded the empty village. There was the waterfall again, crashing down this time, applauding her for discovering the truth of the lights rumors, but she wasn't about to take a celebratory ride to the route below. Instead, Dana followed a path that hugged the hill atop which the Abundant Shrine sat, careful not to slip.

    The trees coming down the hillside ended abruptly here, only the largest of them advancing into the grassy outlook ahead. Dana sat down under the tree and looked at Shiro, patting the spot next to her.

    "When you get here," she said, hugging her knees now and smiling at him through the cold, "look up. It's a sight that will never fade with the rumors that come and go. These are the real lights of Route 14. Nothing can take them away..."
     
    #62 E.K.A.N.S., Oct 15, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
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  23. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Dana smiled at Shiro’s words but still seemed dejected and uncertain. She confided in him that even though the mystery was solved she didn’t know what to do now that they had achieved their goal. Shiro thought about what she said before realizing he understood the feeling somewhat. He felt the same way when he first left home. He had been so focused on actually getting a Pokémon and becoming a Trainer that he never thought about what he would do once that objective was achieved. Yeah, fight Gyms and get Badges, catch other Pokémon, but he never stopped to consider what would happen if he wasn’t able to beat a Gym Leader or what he’d be doing between Gyms. Those were all things he had to figure out along the way. While he wanted tell her what he had learned, he was worried he’d come off as a condescending know-it-all if he did. He decided that, unless Dana specifically asked for his advice, he’d keep quiet and let her figure out for herself what to do next.

    The two descended back down the slope in silence. Shiro wasn’t sure what else to say and Dana was probably feeling the same way. Even though no words were exchanged, the company was still nice. As they got to the bottom of the hill, Shiro could hear the gentle flowing of the stream above the falls they took up. It was then that Dana spoke up, telling Shiro that there was a place on this route that was special to her, a place that she wanted to share with him.

    “Sure, lead the way.” he agreed, curious as to what this spot was like. Dana took him up a path adjacent to the one that led to the shrine however the thing Shiro noticed about this trail was that the visibility was getting better as if this was the one area on Route 14 not currently affected by the fog that seemed omnipresent everywhere else. Soon the trees gave way to another clearing overlooking the entire route. Shiro could see for miles ahead although the view below wasn’t too exciting, just a white sheet confirming that they had hiked above the mist. The real spectacle was above. This field was far enough away from civilization that the stars were completely visible. The Milky Way was absolutely vibrant, streaking down the center of the sky like a deep, colorful chasm. Numerous constellations that were normally rendered invisible by light pollution were shining brightly including one that resembled a Lampent.

    “It’s beautiful.” Shiro said in awe taking a seat in the grass next to Dana. She seemed to be feeling better now and was even smiling. Shiro couldn’t help but return the smile. He was both happy that she was out of her slump and also completely enamored by the scene above him. “I never knew such a place existed here. I certainly wouldn’t have stumbled on it on my own. Thanks for leading me up here.” he said gratefully. “How did you find this spot anyway? It’s so remote.” he inquired interested in learning how she came across such an out of the way place.
     
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  24. "If I stumbled on it," joked Dana, "chances are I would've fallen off the cliff."

    Yet she slipped comfortably into conversation with Shiro. When he returned her smile, the girl's humor returned without self-deprecation. Usually, the stars silenced the thoughts that pricked her mind, drew them out like mosquitoes to a light and shocked them to the misty floor. She'd look up surprised at the humbling sight, reminded how small she and her problems really were. But tonight, Dana was sharing it with a boy, and her troubles melted much faster into the ultimately churning Milky Way.

    "It sounds a little cheesy, but I actually found this spot looking for a place to watch the sunset. I had to see it before the sky got dark and the fog rolled in, so I rode Close Call to a high point. I really thought it was steep cliffs up here and nothing else, but then I followed a bend that led me here," she explained. "I stopped under this tree. I didn't think I'd ever seen a more beautiful sunset in my life..."

    The girl paused, fondly reflecting. She spoke softly, like she had in the Abundant Shrine, but the silence of the outlook wasn't as oppressive. She didn't need to raise her voice, when the view before her was more important than anything she could say. There was nothing more pronounced in her quiet conversation with Shiro than her enchantment.

    "I stood there for a while, watching the colors fade, and before I knew it, the stars were out. That was when I forgot all about the urban legend, thinking the same thing as you. This place was so remote that even the lights wouldn't be able to find it. And if they did, my eyes were glued to the ones above me," Dana continued, then smiled wider. "Ahaha, I guess I literally stared into space!"

    Ever since then, she came here when the water was too cold and she needed to chill in other ways. Or when Dana simply didn't feel like leaving yet and going back to the Pokémon Center where she'd been staying for the past few weeks. Wary of the rumors, she normally stargazed no more than ten minutes before heading home.

    Maybe... maybe she could celebrate solving the mystery after all... by staying a bit longer, with Shiro. Maybe this wasn't her catharsis... but her reward. When Dana first arrived at this spot, she'd come for the sunset, but remained for the night sky. Now, she made it here once more, searching for one thing and finding another that was equally satisfying. She was right back where she started, the same stars above and the same Dana below.

    Shiro was traveling Unova too, so he must have discovered new goals besides the ones that motivated him to set out in the first place. Perhaps he could relate, and this outlook was a microcosm of their journeys.

    "Hey, Shiro..." Dana spoke up, her soft voice blending among the sounds that had reclaimed the night. "Are your goals exactly the same since you left Castelia, or did they change along the way?"
     
    #64 E.K.A.N.S., Nov 25, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  25. Calvin looked around from where he stood, his expression showed annoyance. Mainly because he felt like something didn't add up in regards to the Stantler; How could that Pokemon cause people or Pokemon to faint like that? He had heard Stantler's Pokedex entry and nothing about it showed any signs of Psychic type capabilities. "I don't know about you two. But I'm gonna see if I can find anyone else before they were claimed by the lights. If not, I'm heading back and may see if I can try this again tomorrow..." Calvin said as he lightly beckoned Hamilton and Helios to follow him as he walked away from the group and over to the waterfall. He returned his Emboar like before and Helios used his Psychic powers to carefully levitate his trainer down and on to the path.

    Calvin sighed as he looked back up at the waterfall where the pair were. Seeing them behaving like that to each other reminded him of a girl that he met and briefly traveled with, but that was a story for another day. Hamilton came out of his Poke ball and followed Calvin as they began to make their way out of Route 14, the mist seemed a lot thicker than before... or he was just used to how much clearer it was from up above...

    As the trio walked along the path, Calvin started to feel the gaze of multiple beings burning into the back of his head, before he could wonder what it was, his thoughts were interrupted by the disaster Pokemon from before who appeared to be calling them. The Absol tried it's best to warn Calvin on what was happening, but it was forced to retreat at the sight of a strange floating being. Calvin and his Pokemon both turned to it and noticed said figure who began to faintly emit a few flashes of red, yellow and green. "No..." Calvin said in horror, part of him believed it yet most of him didn't, but the evidence was right before his eyes... the tales of the lights were true...

    Calvin attempted to turn and run, but as he turned, he saw a few of the same figures until he looked around and realized that he was surrounded. Calvin looked around, knowing that he was likely going to be captured... if not guaranteed... But Hamilton put a and on Calvin's shoulder and looked at him with determined eyes. Calvin eventually nodded and shared Hamilton's determination, they both knew their journey would end here, but they never accepted defeat.

    "Everyone!" Calvin shouted as he threw his other four Poke balls into the air. and his Pokemon came out. His last two unseen Pokemon were revealed to be a Beatric and a mighty Haxorus who emerged with a deafening roar. "Guys, this may be it... I want you all to know that I'm glad to have met every last one of you!" Calvin said as all his Pokemon looked back with a nod and then turned toward the figures that began to close in on them. Calvin began to let out what sounded like a battle cry just as his Pokemon did as the mist became a lot thicker, the only thing that could be seen were flashes of red, yellow, green as well as blasts of orange, light blue and purple...

    Then nothing...
     
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  26. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Dana explained that she had been looking for a high point to watch the sunset and that’s how she discovered this spot. With how clear the sky was up here and how far the view went, she sure hit the jackpot by finding this place. Shiro couldn’t think of anywhere else on this entire Route for a better vantage point. He wouldn’t mind seeing the sunset from up here for himself. There really wasn’t anywhere in particular he wanted to go tomorrow so maybe he could come back up here to watch the sun go down. He turned to the girl sitting with him. And maybe he could ask Dana to join him.

    “Hey, Shiro…” she inquired before he could open his mouth to speak. “Are your goals exactly the same since you left Castelia, or did they change along the way?” Shiro leaned back, tilting his head to look back to the stars while contemplating his answer.

    “Well… yeah, sort of.” he responded thoughtfully. “When I became a Pokémon Trainer I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to battle the Gym Leaders, earn my eight badges, fight my way through the Pokémon League, and become Champion.” he explained proudly.

    “Thing is… that first day, I learned pretty quickly that my dream wasn’t going to be as easy as TV romanticizes it out to be. The day I got Mizuki, when I officially became I Trainer, I marched right on down to the Castelia City Gym with the intention of beating the Gym Leader and getting my first badge. Things did not go as planned. At all. I never even fought the Gym Leader, I got beaten by some clown Gym Attendant with no effort. If that wasn’t bad enough, later that day after getting Mizuki healed, I met another Trainer who was using a Fire-type so I thought for sure I could win.” Shiro shook his head. “Nope. I may have had the type advantage, but that means nothing when the opponent has the level advantage. There’s no contest between a newbie who’s only had a Pokémon for a few hours and a veteran who’s been training for years.” Shiro smiled nostalgically as he reflected on that day.

    “But I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I thought having a Pokémon made me strong but it was the other way around. The Pokémon is only as strong as its Trainer and I was weak so I had to be the one to improve before I could expect anything out of them. I stayed in the city for a few more days training with Mizuki so that I could learn more about her before venturing off into the world and to make up for my earlier screwups. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with me, ya know.” he explained somewhat sheepishly.

    “Not long after leaving home I actually got a few travelling companions that I went around with and from them I learned that a journey can be so much more than just training for the next battle, fighting Gyms, and striving to become Champion. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still my goal, but as it turns out I really like looking into old myths and urban legends like this one. It’s kind of a fun side-quest to my main one as it were. Something I learned before parting with them is that sometimes the end result isn’t what you expected but it’s the people and Pokémon you met along the way and the memories you made with them that really matters.” Shiro’s face was lit up thinking about all the fun he had with that group. He stared into the deep void of space wondering where they were now, what new adventures they were up to, and if maybe they were staring at the same stars he was right now.

    “Ah… but I’m talking too much.” said Shiro apologetically turning his head to look at Dana. “Um… what about you Dana? I know you said you left home to get away from your parents and live on your own but, now that you are free to do what you want to do, do you have any goals that you’re striving for?” he inquired. She seemed to have an intimate knowledge of Undella Town and the surrounding areas that one gets from living somewhere for a while. Shiro was curious if she was the type who preferred to take her time travelling and really get to know a place before moving on or if she was planning on taking up permanent residence in Undella Town because she had grown so fond of it.
     
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  27. "I did leave home to get away from my parents. That sounds kind of selfish, when you think about it. But I had other reasons," Dana began. "Growing up around special interests, losing faith in the political process from a young age, I wanted to go out and make real change in the world. Sitting at home and criticizing people for what they don't do would've been way more selfish."

    She realized that she'd never told him exactly who her parents were, but those two ancient mysteries were better unexplored.

    "So my goal, Shiro, was to help others in any way I could while journeying, whether it was shoveling Icirrus City snow or stopping thieves who were 'liberating' Pokémon from their trainers," the girl answered. "But when I left Nimbasa, I couldn't even help myself. I'd made it through Route 5 and decided to take a swim at the small shore by Driftveil Drawbridge. I ended up getting caught in a rip current..."

    The rush of water that had consumed her and the sunset, her attention, were two completely different memories. In one way or another they both took her breath away, but all that Dana recalled of her near drowning was the intense feeling of humiliation that followed. The girl had just argued with her parents a final time and set off with determination in her step, only for the beach to ground her in their place. She lay on the shore, staring up at the Floatzel who'd saved her and doubting herself more than she ever had in her life.

    "That was when I met Close Call and learned that I couldn't do everything on my own. I wasn't making my Water-type do all the work, unlike you, but the exact opposite," Dana teased lightly.

    From the initial scare of Jocelyn's injury to her subsequent relief, from Calvin's sudden disappearance to the increasingly unfounded rumors, the girl had navigated the night's ups and downs, finally settling under this tree and relaxing completely. Shiro understood exactly what Dana had realized upon falling out with Calvin—that the memories she made with people and Pokémon were what mattered. There, they were one and the same.

    "Since then, we've been helping anyone in need, doing for others what Close did for me. I sort of wanted to turn back after that experience, but I had too much pride," she continued, teasing herself now. "And I still do! Mom and Dad can't tell me that I'm wasting time, because I take online courses along the way. Many aspiring trainers hurry to the next gym, but I stay in towns a bit longer to catch up on my studies. The downside's that anyone I meet doesn't stick around, so I've never traveled in a party."

    Dana had spent more time in Undella than her classes required, however. Of course, views like this—and the rivers below that set her worries adrift—kept her. If not for them, then she stayed out of a sense of duty, watching over the quiet villa community rocked by a violent protest two weeks earlier. But perhaps it wasn't a mere coincidence that White Forest and Marvelous Bridge were all that lay between Dana and her old home...

    She tensed up at the thought. Or was it the cold that stiffened her shoulders and reddened her face?

    "Were you looking into another urban legend when you stopped by, Shiro?" asked the girl, the stars reflecting in her eyes. "I mean, I'm really glad you did, or else we wouldn't have met..."
     
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  28. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    It was sobering to hear Dana talk about how she first met Close Call. By the sounds of it, if he hadn’t been there she wouldn’t be here. Just the thought of that made Shiro feel uneasy, defensive almost. Her talking about her parents thinking she was just wasting her time was something he could relate to in so many ways.

    “Even if you weren’t taking online classes, you’re still going around helping people. That’s gotta count for something right? I’m sure if you asked the people you assisted, they’d tell you how much they appreciate you helping them. For them you definitely weren’t wasting your time.” Shiro chimed in. It was certainly better than what he had been doing. Dana was traveling specifically to give back to the community while Shiro was traveling for personal gain be it in Pokémon Battling, chasing rumors, or treasure hunting. The only time he lent a hand was when someone was in trouble right in front of him like tonight with Jackson missing Chipper and that unconscious girl.

    “Were you looking into another urban legend when you stopped by, Shiro? I mean, I'm really glad you did, or else we wouldn't have met…” inquired Dana. Her red face and the look of wanderlust in her eyes made Shiro’s heartrate spike. Why did she have to go and say something like that while looking so cute?

    “I was actually.” he confessed. “I heard a rumor that there’s a hidden treasure somewhere in White Forest. The catch is a lot of other people know of it too so I’m sure I’ll have to fight my way past a bunch of Trainers, but I can handle them.” he assured confidently. “Although… I wouldn’t mind having a partner battling alongside me. I know you’ve never traveled in a party before, and two people doesn’t make a party, but having a traveling companion isn’t so bad.” invited Shiro. “If you wanted to that is. In my experience a party only works if everyone involved has similar goals.” Tonight proved that theory when a group of six dwindled down to only two due to conflicting interests.

    Shiro could feel his insides quivering as he waited for Dana’s reply. Surely the shivering and blushing was the result of this chilly autumn night. This certainly wasn’t the result of a burgeoning crush. Nope. Definitely not that.
     
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  29. "You know..."

    Her parents' criticisms—and Dana's deepest insecurities—were founded on the claim that she had no goals of her own, helping others instead of thinking about her future. In their world, where every gesture was backed by a significant sum of money, little acts of kindness meant nothing. Though she kept an open mind, the girl quietly envied Shiro's drive, his clearly defined objectives. She reflected not only the light of the stars but on the fruits of her journey, internally questioning whether she was accomplishing anything or moving through life in the same way that she occupied the streams—floating without purpose. As prideful as she was, there were doubts somewhere in the back of the 16-year-old's head. Whenever they bubbled to the surface, Dana stayed positive and cracked a joke.

    But she wasn't doing that now. Though her cheeks retained their redness and her shoulders, their stiffness, there were no insecurities to chuckle away. It must have been the cold, because whatever had been causing her awkwardness was suddenly gone. However she wanted to change these realities, Dana was still young, inexperienced, and not as independent as she let on. Here Shiro was, encouraging her, telling her that she'd done right, speaking to her bottled inhibitions. He was a boy who understood her.

    "...You're really sweet."

    These words escaped her with as little resistance as flowing water. The chilled air that nearly froze her mouth shut and sent her teeth into a chatter wasn't what had drawn them out. No, they'd welled up from an emotion.

    "And you know, I'd like that. I'd like to go to White Forest with you," she continued confidently. "I think we're very similar. In a lot of ways."

    Dana turned and smiled fondly at Shiro, noticing the rosy shade of his face. Not long ago, this was the color of her fears, whether it was Chipper's eerie beacon, the Strange Lights of Route 14, or tomorrow's sunrise that produced it. She'd worried that this night would become a distant memory, that their time together would end come morning. So when he casually offered that she accompany him, her answer was as clear as his blue eyes, even in the darkened sky. The girl quickly looked away, musing delightfully and staring up at the stars anew, seeing endless possibility. If she had no goals before, no future, Shiro had given her one, and for the first time in weeks, she felt compelled to leave Undella Town.

    "You really... are sweet... Shiro..." Dana yawned. A blank slate and a White Forest pulled her away from Undella, but a late hour and a quiet night pulled on her eyelids just as intently. Her nodding head rested on the bark, and her sleepy gaze settled on the treetop.

    "Look at that star..." she mumbled.

    Blinking between the leaves, the red light that she misidentified, alone, didn't snap her out of oblivion. Only when a green light took its place did the girl's eyes widen in panic. But the sudden change in her expression was fleeting, as a new trance set in and stopped her reaction at a brief shiver. A cautionary yellow was the last color that came into view, yet it left her with no way to warn the boy beside her.

    The lights were real. They were wrong. He was in grave danger. These unexpressed thoughts scrambled for air like the passengers of an ill-fated ship, sinking away from the tip of the iceberg and plunging Dana into unconsciousness. Shiro wouldn't suspect a thing, for her eyes had closed and her head had fallen softly on his shoulder. In the illusion of a peaceful and romantic slumber, she lost her senses and quietly succumbed.
     
    #69 E.K.A.N.S., Jan 12, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
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  30. It had been an arduous task, though they had managed. Two. Two under their control, three factoring the fox. Like puppets on a string, they ascended the cliffsides to the shrine. And, in due time, they had another, another! Oh how glorious. If they had seen everyone earlier in the night- three remained. The hours were ticking away to finish the job. But they would do it. Six more victims to the lights...Hmm, yes, yes. This was a pleasing end.

    Provided, that their plan didn't fall through. Of which they doubted. Their minds combined had considered nearly everything. Nearly. One variable was still out there, unknown. But the beckoner was...inconsequential. As of the moment. The cliffside was too sheer for it to climb. Their victims were cornered...Oh yes, they did like how this was shaping. Indeed. They held the cards, gripped them like gamblers who just bet their last coins, yet still smiled with the cockiness of one with full pockets.

    Their quiet, graceful movements were followed by a trio of stilted, plodding thralls- their minds clouded by the lights. They were, in a way, somewhat cognizant. Though nowhere near enough to retain their own control. And the eighteen sparkling rays of color shone, their guiding beacons. There was a plot devised. One of the sets of lights broke off. Fading into brushes.

    They had found the last ones- perched under a tree, one asleep, the other barely aware. Their brother had ascended- and in an almost comical manner, shining it's lights down like a streetlamp. And so one remained, but. But alas, why should have it remained boring? The thralls had to have some use, after all. One of them would rouse the sleeper. Ah, the foreigner would work. He had "disappeared", right from under the noses of the unsuspecting trainers. He'd be a surprise, no doubt.

    Hmm. The lights knew not how to properly raise one from sleep. Jackson's body shuffled forward, his Vulpix remaining with the other dead eyed trainers. His foot nudged Shiro's leg. "Wake." The voice, just as the thrall's gait had been, was stilted, almost forced. The voicebox was a fickle thing to control, and the human language wasn't easy either. They worked with small terms. Words familiar to the host and themselves. And Jackson's body moved again, nudging the young man's leg harder.

    "Come...wake."
     
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  31. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Shiro stood tall wearing a nice suit holding a glass of some unidentifiable drink in his hand. Standing beside him were several other well-dressed people though Shiro couldn’t make out the exact details of their faces. They were at some kind of party being held in a fancy establishment. The next thing Shiro knew, he was battling another Trainer’s Gigalith with Simon in a tough battle but managed to come out victorious. Following that, he felt like someone was hitting him. He couldn’t move his body at all while someone was beating him up! He felt his heart racing as he tried to get away! He fell and had the wind knocked out of him!

    “Come… wake.”

    Shiro woke up with a start still shaking from that nightmare he just had. He took a deep breath looking around trying to regain his bearings. He was sitting under a tree overlooking the foggy valley below. That’s right! He had been looking at the stars with Dana before apparently falling asleep. Shiro turned to where he was expecting to see her asleep as well but she was gone! Where could she be? Calm down. It’s who knows what time at night. In all probability, she just got up to use the lady’s room deeper in the woods and will be back shortly.

    Another nudge that Shiro had misidentified as part of the dream alerted him that he wasn’t alone. He looked up to see three shadowy figures looming over him. The teen jumped to his feet in startled panic at their sudden appearance.

    “Who are you!?” he demanded reaching for his flashlight and shining it in their faces. Shock overtook the panic as he realized exactly who they were. Jackson who had disappeared into the Hidden Grotto. Calvin who had been with him and Dana up until they solved the mystery of the lights. And Chase. That arrogant alpha douche who refused to help and wandered off on his own from the very start. Why were they here together? Had they been in league with one another from the start? Was that even possible?

    “What’s going on here? Why are you three together?” demanded Shiro sternly. The unease he felt only grew as he realized the unlikely trio weren’t flinching from having a bright light shown in their faces. Not only that, their eyes seemed glazed over as if in a trance. Shiro backed away cautiously while moving his hand to Scout’s Ultra Ball. The only escape route down the mountain was through them or off the cliff. Scout was still too small to fly on so he would have to fight his way through if it came to it.
     
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  32. Shiro's awakening and subsequent fear brought some sort of joy to the forces holding the thralls. They would push on. The two men in the back slowly approached, encroaching further and further on the remaining trainer, alongside Jack's Vulpix. Their eyes glossy, unfeeling. Certainly unnatural. But there would be more to show the rightfully spooked Shiro. Far more.

    "Three is...inaccurate." Jack's body spoke. "We are united. In mind. We are one." One of his arms jerked up, as if the string had been pulled to raise it too quickly. Finger pointing at Shiro. "And you'll join us. Disappear into the lights...And become one with us."

    If the final trainer hadn't been on guard already, he certainly was now. And even more so, once Jack's Vulpix jumped forward, with not a snarl or growl. Just silence and glass like eyes, as a bright stream of flame spewed from it's maw. Not to injure, specifically. To scare.

    This was all a sick form of entertainment for the lights, if they were honest. The fear brought them great joy, and as far as they were concerned this trainer was as good as caught. They'd already cornered him, and even if he jumped (The fall wasn't too great), they'd easily track him down. Presumably. There was that gnawing thought at the back of their heads however.

    What had become of the beckoner? They'd lost track of it. It represented a threat of it's own. No matter. Once they had Shiro under their control, they would find it. And they would cease it.
     
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  33. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Calvin and Chase flanked Jackson as if to cut off Shiro’s escape route. The teen shifted his eyes between his foes. They clearly meant him harm.

    “Three is… inaccurate. We are united. In mind. We are one.” Jackson said in a dull monotone. He lifted his arm too stiffly and quickly to have been a natural movement. “And you’ll join us. Disappear into the lights… And become one with us.” he droned pointing at Shiro.

    “The lights?” Shiro’s eyes widened at the revelation. “Impossible! Dana and I solved that mystery!” he shouted. But obviously not. The trio’s lifeless eyes, jerky movements, and emotionless voices were proof enough that something wasn’t right with them. Something was controlling them. Then what of the Stanter? Was that a coincidence or a deliberate red herring set up by the ones who were really responsible for the Lights of Route 14?

    Without warning, Vul jumped forward spewing a Flamethrower at Shiro’s feet forcing him to jump back. It too had the same glazed eyes as the humans meaning the lights could influence Pokémon as well. Shiro would have to tread carefully so as to not lose any of his own.

    “Like hell I’ll join you!” he yelled throwing Scout’s ball releasing the Rufflet. “Attack Vul with Slash!” The Eaglet Pokémon quickly flew over to the Vulpix to rake it with his talons.
     
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  34. The young fox yelped, perhaps snapping out of the lights grasp for only a moment. But the moment had passed, and it's control had returned. The lights seemed to lack creative spirit in fighting, however, as they forced Vul to spew another flamethrower attack. Though they had a plan, more backup. For three trainers did not simply have one single Vulpix.

    One of the thralls moved- pulling out a Pokeball, releasing the creature inside. A bleary eyed Sandshrew. It's mind had already fallen to the lights, and would again. And another moved, another click of a Pokeball, revealing a Lilligant who similarly fell victim. New tools. The Rufflet had quite a bit more on it's plate now.

    Compounded on the flaming jet, was a cloud of dust kicked up by the Sandshrew, and a ball of green energy fired off by the Lilligant. There were more, stronger tools that the lights could utilize, yes. The Darmanitan. The Emboar. But no, no. Not yet. These were stronger tools for a stronger opponent.

    The Rufflet and remaining individual were not enough of a threat to warrant such tools. Not at all, not at all.
     
    #74 BurbleBurble, May 22, 2019
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
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  35. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Vul cried out in pain at Scout’s attack. In retaliation, Calvin and Chase sent out Midori and… Sandshrew? Shiro wasn’t sure if Chase’s Pokémon had names or if he ever mentioned them. He had been too annoyed with the douche to pay attention and it wasn’t like the zombies were calling orders now. The Pokémon were attacking on their own accord, or at least to the will of the Lights. Vul fired off another Flamethrower, Midori charged up an Energy Ball between her leafy hands, and Sandshrew kicked the ground for a Sand Attack.

    “Dodge with Fly Scout!” called Shiro. The Rufflet gave a loud chirp as he rapidly flapped his wings to get airborne. Luckily none of the attacks were aimed in Shiro’s direction so he could remain where he was. But now it was three against one! The teen grabbed two more balls from his waist, one in each hand. Mizuki was an obvious choice with two of the Pokémon on the field being weak to Water. As for the third… Shiro shook his wrist side to side as if contemplating if the Pokémon was the best choice. No, of course it was!

    “Mizuki! Simon! You’re up!” he shouted summoning forth his Samurott and Excadrill. Upon materializing, Mizuki planted her feet firm and let out a loud bellow to intimidate her foes while Simon took a stance with his right claws forward and his left claws back so that he could attack and defend at a moment’s notice.

    “Simon! Go after Vul with Dig! Scout! Land on Midori! Mizuki! Flood the area with Surf!” Shiro commanded in rapid succession. The mole was the first to move, putting his claws together and spinning like a drill into the ground until he was completely buried. At the same time, Mizuki called upon a large tidal wave that seemed to appear out of nowhere to wash over the six thralls. Meanwhile, Scout was divebombing Midori while still being careful not to get caught up in Mizuki’s deluge.

    While his Pokémon attacked, Shiro shifted his eyes into the woods. Dana still wasn’t back yet. Where could she have gone? All the boy could do now was stall for time until she returned. Surely she’d rush back hearing the sounds of battle. Unless… unless she too had been taken. Shiro shook his head to get rid of the thought. He wouldn’t dwell on that now.
     
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  36. Calvin's eyes slowly began to open... but the location he was in was different, it wasn't the heavily shrouded road of Route 14, but a small hill under a tree during a beautiful sunny day... was it a dream? As Calvin collected himself, he realized that his head rested on what looked like someone's lap, his eyes looked up to see a rather beautiful girl with long silk like brown hair, eyes as green as the grass weakly hidden behind black rectangular glasses, the girl wore a baby blue turtleneck and black knee long shorts.

    "Have a nice nap, sleepyhead?" The girl asked with a wide and friendly smile. "...Megan...?" Calvin asked as he slowly got up to sit with his back against the tree that swayed lightly in the gently breeze, he looked down the hill to see his Pokemon. Hamilton and Zero appeared to have a casual chat as the Emboar laughed lightly the next minute, Slasher and Midori looked over the horizon hand in hand, the Lilligant slowly leaned against the Bisharp, Hacker appeared to be curled up asleep whilst Helios leaned against him. "What... happened? Last I remembered, I was on Route 14, how did I get here?" He asked, Megan scooted closer to him and put an arm around his shoulders. "You must've had a bad dream, you were so tired from training that you fell asleep." She said as she looked down at Calvin's Pokemon.

    "A dream?" Calvin pondered. "But it all felt so real, the cold, the people... the lights..." Upon the last two words, Megan flinched lightly. "Calvin, I told you not to mention them, you know how that story freaks me out." She said with a pout as she went to wrap her other arm around him. "Wait..." Calvin said with slight realization. "I thought you were back home in Lacunosa town." Calvin said as he slowly began to stand up with a suspicious look on his face. "What are you talking about?" Megan asked as she too got up. "And what about your Pokemon? You always let them out during breaks like this." Calvin said as he slowly walked down the hill, the sky above them slowly became a dull grey.

    "That doesn't matter... what matters is you're with me..." Megan said, her tone of voice slowly became more ominous. "Megan... what's really going on?" Calvin asked, no longer convinced with the reality he was in... but was shocked to see the tree behind her quickly wither and perish, the grass slowly followed. "You're with us now... you'll always be with us..." Megan said as her voice no longer sounded like her own, her glasses slowly fell off as her body began to drip and melt like ice cream on a hot summer day and lose all color in the process. "You can't escape us!" The Megan like figure said as it slowly approached Calvin who quickly looked back to watch his Pokemon all vanish like mist in the wind.

    "I don't care what you have planned with us, because you're going to let us all go... NOW!" Calvin angrily demanded as he stopped and stared down the slime like figure who's eyes and mouth each shone a different color of light. "That will never happen, no, not when you and your specimens have so much potential." The figure said as it slowly reached out with it's slimy arm. Calvin kicked it away, but the figure held it's balance. "I am not having no for an answer, if you won't let us go, then I'll make you regret crossing us!" Calvin said as he charged forward in an attempt to punch the figure who also vanished like mist in the wind, the smoke it became covered the area around Calvin.

    "We look forward to seeing you try." The voice said before everything around Calvin became silent, leaving him trapped in the now empty reality that was his own mind.

    Meanwhile, as Calvin's body moved sloppily like a string puppet handled by a novice whilst his Pokemon behaved in a robotic manner, he clutched his head with both hands as if it were in pain. "...Let...us...go!" He demanded with a grunt as if he tried to free himself from something... but when he opened his eyes again, they looked like clouded glass with nary a single shine within them and returned to his weak movements... his mind was once again in a different state; a prison, a victim of the lights.
     
    #76 Red Gallade, Jun 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  37. Just as the lights dismissed Shiro and Scout as not enough of a threat to warrant the use of their stronger tools, the boy summoned a mighty Samurott and Excadrill to the field. When the former raised a massive tidal wave, Midori faced it head-on and jumped its crashing lip. The lights compelled Vul to leap onto the Grass-type, surfing its crest like a water lily and providing the perfect foothold. The nosediving Rufflet was a second stepping stone to the tree behind Shiro. The only Pokémon to retreat at the wave’s approach was Sandshrew, who used Dig a safe distance away to meet Simon underground.

    But the trainers were swept with no time to express their surprise. Not that their faces would’ve shown any. As the deluge passed, they stared up at the sky with those same glazed eyes, drifting along like tubers in a lazy river, their brains and bodies thoroughly washed. They seemed oblivious, but to the discerning eye, it was as if they'd welcomed Shiro's attack.

    The lights could command the creatures without their help, so the humans were expendable, if not for the fact that they carried reinforcements. They did serve a second purpose. If the Pokémon briefly broke free from their trance and, in their first waking moments, witnessed their partners getting hurt, the only clear enemy would be Shiro. Vul, Sandshrew, and Midori needed to protect them, however wary they were of the ones pulling the strings. Then the goals of the lights and those of their thralls would align, and they'd consolidate control.

    The lone survivor had acted quickly, but he was playing right into their hands. Vul's leap would throw Scout off course, giving Midori a clear shot at Mizuki and Shiro a watchful eye to worry about in the branch above him in case he tried to flee. The lights pulled the drenched humans to their feet, pulled the Pokéballs from their pockets and prepared to engage Shiro in a proverbial tug of war, gradually introducing their stronger tools. But until then, the cornered boy had a few precious seconds to run, despite Vul's glassy-eyed vigilance. The lights preferred that he'd hold his ground and fall to their superior numbers, but if he was that stupid, there was no prospect of hypnotizing him.

    Whether or not Shiro took his chances, the possessed Lilligant launched an Energy Ball directly at Mizuki, floating without poise yet seizing hers without hesitation.
     
    #77 E.K.A.N.S., Nov 27, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
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  38. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    “…Let …us …go!” Shiro heard Calvin mumble in a stained voice. Could it be that the Lights didn’t brainwash them in the moment but were actively controlling them?

    Before he could get an answer from them, the three humans were washed away by Mizuki’s Surf. The Pokémon however were proving much more resourceful with Sandshrew escaping underground and Vul using Midori as a surfboard to escape the tidal wave. As Scout dove towards Midori, the Fox Pokémon used the opportunity to jump from the Lilligant’s back onto Scout then into a tree behind Shiro. He was now completely surrounded.

    The force of Vul’s extra weight knocked Scout off course giving Midori a clean shot to launch an Energy Ball at Mizuki.

    “Counter with X-Scissor Mizuki!” Shiro called. The Samurott rose up on her hindlegs and drew her Seamitars in opposite hands holding them in an ‘X’ shape. She then slashed the incoming attack dispersing the energy away from herself.

    “Simon! Come back to me!” shouted Shiro. A loud rumbling could be heard before the Excadrill emerged next to his Trainer. “It’s time for decoy.” he said quietly to his Pokémon. Simon nodded in understanding. It was what he had been preparing with his Dig attack after all. Still, Sandshrew being underground at the moment could put a damper on things, but it was a calculated risk. Scout and Mizuki also drew closer to Shiro in a way that would appear natural to their foes. As far as they should be concerned, the Pokémon were simply protecting their Trainer from possible attacks.

    With the drenched humans now getting back to their feet, Shiro knew he had to act quickly if he was going to get out of this. “Mizuki! Knock Vul out of that tree with Water Pulse! Scout! Hit Midori with an Air Slash!” he commanded. Mizuki turned her head towards the trees and blasted a burst of water towards where the Vulpix was positioned. Meanwhile, Scout sliced the air with his wings sending a white crescent streaming towards Midori.

    With the Pokémon distracted, and the Trainers still disoriented, Shiro recalled his three Pokémon and ran towards the hole made by his “Excadrill”. They would escape and the puppets being controlled by the Lights would be none the wiser since, as far as anyone in a 20 meter radius would be concerned, Shiro and his Pokémon would be in the same spot where they were last seen. All thanks to “Simon”, or rather Shadow the Zoroark’s Illusions.

    Setting up an escape route had been Shiro’s plan from the beginning. To onlookers, him shaking his wrist before sending out his Excadrill may have appeared as deciding if it was the right choice, but in reality it was his way of telling Shadow which Pokémon to disguise himself as. Since the Zoroark knew Dig, it was the perfect move to facilitate a means to get away without giving up the ruse to early. Of course once Calvin and the others go back on the offensive, the jig will be up that Shiro and his team are no longer there, but by then they’d have gotten far enough away to outpace them.

    Shiro army crawled to the end of Shadow’s tunnel and took a deep breath of the clean autumn air before dusting off the dirt that had gotten all over his clothes. Now that he had gotten away, he had to find Dana before they caught up to him. If she had still been on that ridge, she surely would have shown up once the battle started. Right? He wanted to look around for her up there more thoroughly, but also didn’t want to loiter too long where he knew the Lights would find him. He wanted to call her name but didn’t want to give away his position. What should he do? She could be only a few meters nearby but in this inky darkness they would pass each other and not even know it! No choice then. Shiro turned on his flashlight and started walking.

    “Dana!” he called in a hushed voice. Not so loud that the whole wilderness would hear him but just loud enough that if she was near, she would hopefully find him before the Lights or their thralls found either of them. And if she was a puppet too… well hopefully that wasn’t the case.
     
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  39. In the end, it didn't matter that the lights had Shiro and his partners cornered. Vul might've raced out of Water Pulse's way, but by the time it reassumed its position, the fox's watchful eye was staring deep into an illusion. Midori, too, had been jerked out of Air Slash's path and didn't have a clear idea of what the boy and his clustered Pokémon were plotting.

    To the ones controlling her, however, it was about time to wrap things up. They'd had their fun toying with the last of the humans, but if they kept it up, their game would devolve into a boring series of dodges, and that itself was what they wanted to avoid. Wet all over, the enthralled trainers were battle-ready again, and though there wasn't any emotion in their dry eyes, somewhere in the dark room beyond the expressionless windows to their souls the strings manipulating them flicked with resolve. Shiro's team would go out with a bang, they decided, ripping their puppets' ball-wielding hands from their pockets and finally calling their stronger pawns to the field.

    Midori was suddenly flanked by Chase's madly smirking Darmanitan and warmly smiling Alomomola, whose glazed eyes gave it the look of an assassin. The real Shiro might've trembled in fear if he were there, but the illusion didn't stir, and the lights weren't showing it mercy anyway. They wasted no time. A Fire Blast exploded from the gorilla's mouth, a Hydro Pump wrapped it like a double helix, and an Energy Ball circled the bundled attacks, striking the lone party with the combined force of three types.

    As the smoke cleared, the thralls looked satisfied, and the tree where Dana and Shiro had their rendezvous burst into flames. Certain of victory, the lights tugged a smirk to their three faces.

    But when they didn't see the unconscious boy and his fainted Pokémon, their confidence billowed out into the night with the smoke. Where did they go? Had the finishing move reduced them to dust? Had they escaped at the last second? Only Vul, who enjoyed the heat of the tree's fire, could tell, seeing the illusion fade away like wind, and when that registered in the trainers' heads, their guiding threads sank in disappointment and let bits of their true personalities show.

    "You see?! This is why we can't attack together! We need a strong, decisive leader!" Chase yelled, still under the lights' influence but expressing his masters' frustration. "Calvin, I know we've only just met, but I'm asking you to trust in me. I'm a good leader, I tell you. If we follow my advice, everything will be okay!"

    "What the hell is wrong with you?! You think that was effective? Using two moves of canceling types to help me?! Never and I mean NEVER do that again!" Calvin screamed back, the wardens of his mental prison gradually apprehending the English language and finding previously uttered phrases easier to work with.

    "Listen, Calvin," Chase reasoned. "We're not going to get anywhere if we sit and squabble. It's either you, me, or Jackson, if he has any more ideas. I'm open, but... you must tell us if you have an idea! We're going to get nowhere otherwise! We'll be looking for the survivor forever!"

    "Having Sandshrew use Dig and making him irrelevant was nowhere near the best solution on finding him! I for one am very disappointed, and I won't hesitate to hurt you if you do any more ineffective crap like that again!" Calvin retorted, his rage enough to make even the possessed Midori flinch as she knew what happened when he got angry.

    "Yeah, I don't really have any ideas. I'm a foreigner, so leave me out of this civil dispute," Jackson remarked nonchalantly, the puppeteers staring into his experiences and clipping pieces of his past. But the hands that pruned away at his recollections must've been shaking, for the lights were clearly flustered and acting out their conflicting emotions in a bizarre theater production.

    What made it weirder was its anticlimactic conclusion. Sandshrew surfaced right then and drew the bickering trainers' attention to a burrow in the ground. Shiro had escaped into the earth, and the realization crashed through the foggy windows to their souls, traveled up their marionette strings like conductive wires, and shocked the lights themselves. But they recovered quickly, reevaluating the situation with clearer heads and laughing off their blunder.

    "Digging a tunnel? I should've known. That's how I illegally crossed the border to get into this country. I think. My memory's all fuzzy..." Jackson mused.

    "Damn straight. Hoenn is a bunch of islands that's nowhere near Unova. You don't talk English enough," Chase chastised. "Though mine's a bit fuzzy too..."

    "All our memories are fuzzy," Calvin agreed. "But Jackson has it the worst, immigrating to a different country only to be enslaved by mysterious beings. And they said indentured servitude was abolished 200 years ago."

    "Pfft. You went to school? I skipped that and became a trainer. I think," scoffed Chase. "Anyway, everything's just fine. Shiro should be running into her right about now..."

    ~~~

    Dana hummed softly through the mist into which the boy had wandered. It was the peaceful song of a gardener lost in thought, or one whose thoughts were lost, the connections in her brain the only branches being pruned. The lights snipped off her flowery memories and left the ugly ones, but for some reason, it took more of their numbers to keep the fighting girl restrained. Her eyes were like round tables that dirtied with life no matter how many times they'd glossed them over, but they'd finally erased it.

    "Shiro? Is that you?" she called, seemingly closing them to better perceive his voice. "What's going on? Why do you sound so worried?"
     
    #79 E.K.A.N.S., Jan 11, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020
  40. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    In the distance Shiro heard what sounded like a soft humming. He stopped in his tracks and turned off his flashlight so as to not betray his location. He took long, deep breathes to quiet his racing heart which was beating so fast he could feel the echoes in his ears. Sure enough, his anxious brain hadn’t been playing tricks on him nor was it the wind. What he had heard was indeed a person humming and they were getting closer to him.

    “Dana?” he called hoping the apparition was who he thought it was.

    “Shiro? Is that you? What’s going on? Why do you sound so worried?” the voice replied back. It was Dana! Shiro felt relief wash over him seemingly curing him of his dread and giving him the energy to run towards her. When he approached her, she had her eyes closed, most likely to hear him better. But that didn’t matter. She was here and that’s all Shiro cared about. He ran up to her and gave her a big hug.

    “There you are! I was so worried about you! I woke up and you were gone! I didn’t know where you went!” Shiro relaxed his embrace, taking a step back but leaving his hands on her shoulders. “But get this? We were wrong about the Lights. Very wrong. When I woke up, Calvin, Jackson, and Chase were there and they were possessed! They attacked me and tried to possess me too but I was able to escape!” he rambled, seemingly all in one breath, trying to explain everything that had happened to him.

    It was then that he noticed something wasn’t quite right about this situation. Firstly, Dana hadn’t returned his hug which, ok, maybe he had caught her off guard and she just didn’t have a chance to react. But she hadn’t said a single word this whole time, nor did her face show any kind of reaction to what he said about the Lights. And to top it all off, her eyes were still shut.

    “Dana… I need you to open your eyes for me please.” requested Shiro apprehensively. Dana’s eyelids flickered as if they were heavy and it was a struggle just to open them. Slowly but surely her eyes opened and stared into Shiro’s. They were dark, soulless, completely devoid of all life. Just like the thralls Shiro had battled on the bluff.

    “No…” he whispered mournfully. Shiro dropped his arms off Dana’s shoulders as he backed away slowly until his legs turned to lead and he could move no more. His body and mind were shutting down. He didn’t know what else to do. “Not you too…” he said regretfully.
     
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