Okay, since I'm pretty much lacking inspiration for Blood Ties (sorry everyone, but Alice's side of the story will have to wait for now) I've decided to move along with the series. This takes place about three months after the events in Reformation. I hope you enjoy. Leave feedback as I do so love to keep on improving based on your comments :3 Chapter 1: Tonight In Flames “Hey! Come back here!” The man shouted, fighting his way through the crowd. He wasn’t dressed as a security guard, even though that’s what he was. The company he was employed by tried to keep everything casual, tried to keep people from taking an interest in the building. Which was precisely the reason that Amy Pierce took an interest in it. “Move out of the way, now!” Another man shouted as he shoved past several people, closing the distance between the pair of security guards and the fleeing girl. Yes, she was fleeing, for she had just done something that would probably land her in prison should she be caught. She had hacked into the company’s system, looked up their big important secrets, and downloaded all of those numbers that didn’t quite look legal. Not that she was really aware of what she was doing. She was just looking for a bit of fun, and the inside of a computer system was just so pretty. It was true that she wasn’t completely aware that the contents of the file she had created on her laptop would be evidence to bring the company down; they had been creating illegal computer programs, though their purpose was not clear. The programming suggested that it had something to do with triggers, but their true purpose was shrouded. The only sure thing was that the programs were riddled with illegality. Now the guards needed to stop her, that was their goal, and she was escaping. She turned around and lowered a pair of goggles over her eyes with a wide grin, her short, red-brown hair flipping just above her eyes as she glared at the men following her. “So long, suckers!” She giggled as she hit a button on her belt and with a sudden jolt her knee-high, platform boots raised slightly, wheels rising out of the soles. “All right, Coeus, start the boosters!” She laughed. There was a reply in her earphone, a single, robotic, “Yes, ma’am.” And then, right after that, her auto-rollerblades kicked in and hundreds of sparks began to erupt from the back of her shoes. “May I suggest telling the people in your immediate path to move as soon as possible, Miss Amy?” The voice continued. “Everyone better get out of my way! Here I come!” She shouted as she took off like a rocket. People dove out of the way, ran out of the way, everyone was trying to get out of the path of the fleeing girl; for fear that her reckless path would result in some grievous harm to them. She shot down the sidewalk, and no one dared to be in her way. No one except for a boy of about ten years of age who didn’t see the girl dressed in the black and white checkered skirt and the white tank top shooting at him like a rocket. Before she could utter a single word of warning she crashed into the boy, after cutting her boosters and attempting to stop, which probably saved them both from several bone fractures and other physical harm. Now the two were sprawled out on the pavement, both dazed and sore. “Why didn’t you move, you big dummy?” Amy huffed, rubbing her cheek; the point of impact with the boy’s head. “I didn’t see you coming! What were you doing, flying down the street like that?” The boy asked her. She didn’t hear his question, however, she was too busy looking at the incredibly angry Umbreon growling at her to focus on anything else. “Lunara, it’s all right.” The boy said picking himself up off the ground and extending a hand to the girl, “I’m Rein.” The girl looked up at the boy; she looked into his pale green eyes and didn’t see any anger at all. He seemed to be a good person, a rare find in the city. The place had a way of changing people, making everyone look out for themselves; she concluded that he must not be a native Rustboro citizen. She reached up and took his hand, “Amy Pierce,” She replied as he helped her to her feet. She summed up the boy, taking in whatever details she could analyze. It was what she did. He was wearing a black coat, dark blue-black jeans and a white tee-shirt with a band that she’d never heard of. He wore black high top shoes, the same colour as his hair. He looked like any average kid; the manner of dress suggested that he had a role-model whom he looked up to that dressed similarly, since the band on his tee-shirt was more than likely something that they enjoyed listening to and not him personally. Of course, it was all speculation, but Amy had ninety percent accuracy with her hypotheses. His eyes were what she had the most trouble with. They made him look old, like he’d matured well before his time. Perhaps due to something he went through, but he didn’t seem saddened. Unknown to Amy, Rein was doing the same thing to her. Not in such great detail, but his time with Team Rocket had taught him to read people; it was something Jeremiah had insisted he learned when they were out on missions. It was the best way to tell whether someone was a viable target for PokeMon theft. The girl was wearing a white tank-top and a black and white checkered skirt, as he had noticed before she plowed into him. Under the skirt she had gray leggings with black stars that were visible down to the beginning of her leather, knee-high, platform shoes. She wore arm warmers with black and white stripes, and various bracelets and other jewelry. The most noticeable of which was the ring on her middle finger that looked like a tiny computer monitor, there was a cord that ran up her arm to the bag she carried on her back. Her hair was red-brown and cut short, and after removing her goggles Rein noticed she had blue eyes. She looked like the type of person that Alice would get along with. Amy shot a glance backward, remembering the men that were after her, and saw that they were following close behind; making their way through the crowd that had gathered around the pair to ensure that they were all right after the crash. The girl growled softly, almost in a playful manner, and grabbed Rein’s hand. “We’ve gotta move, Drizzle!” She commanded as she led him through the crowd, sneaking their way into an alleyway, Lunara right behind them. “Drizzle…?” Rein questioned as he was pulled along, then he decided not to press the issue, “Where are we going?” He asked instead. “We’ve gotta get away, there’re these two guys after me. They aren’t good news.” She laughed quietly to herself, “Isn’t it exciting?” She looked back at Rein and smiled. Rein faked a smile and nodded. After a few more minutes of winding their way through the alleyways they found themselves emerging from a clump of buildings near the Rustboro PokeMon Center. “Won’t that be the first place they look?” Rein said after a second, reading the look on Amy’s face. “Don’t worry, Drizzle. We’ll wait here until they check in there. Once they’re gone we can go in.” She nodded sagely to herself. Then she stretched and sat down quite comfortable in the shadow of the two buildings they were currently hiding between. ”Miss Amy, I suggest making small talk with your new found friend, lest he grow suspicious of your behavior.” The robotic voice said in her earpiece. “Good idea, Coeus!” She blurted out, forgetting that Rein couldn’t hear her companion speaking. “Coeus? Who’s that?” Rein asked, quite confused. What have I gotten myself into? He asked himself while he waited for her response. “Sorry, uhm, Coeus is my Porygon2. He hangs out in my system I carry around in my pack.” She smiled, showing Rein a closer look at the ring he had noticed before. “Why don’t you come out and say ‘hello,’ Coeus?” She smiled as a stream of data emerged from her ring and took the form of a vaguely bird-like pink and blue creature. “Hello, Mister Rein.” Coeus the Porygon2 said in a gentlemanly voice, at least, as gentlemanly as a robotic voice can sound. “I must apologize for Miss Amy, she is a bit scatterbrained at times, as you may have noticed. But she is quite the intelligent child, one of the brightest minds I have ever met. Especially when it comes to computer systems.” Rein smiled, “It’s nice to meet you, Coeus,” The boy was glad that someone remembered his name correctly, “And it’s no problem at all.” Rein felt it was only right for them to meet Lunara; she was his closest friend, after all. He motioned to the Umbreon, who stepped forward out of the darkness where her yellow rings had been glowing vibrantly. “This is Lunara, my closest friend.” He smiled as the PokeMon lowered her head in a greeting. “So what brings you and Lunara to Rustboro City, Drizzle?” Amy asked as the Porygon2 made a noise not unlike a sigh and returned to his place within her computer system. “I’m looking for someone. My sister, Alice. She’s… missing.” He hesitated, not quite sure how much to disclose, “I’ve been looking for her for a few months now. I started in Lilycove, and just kept working my way west until I got here. Still no luck.” He looked a bit downhearted for a second, then he smiled, “But I have a good feeling about this city, I’m sure she’s here.” From the expression on his face, he half believed it. “I hope you find her.” Amy said, watching the crowds of people walking right past them without taking any notice of them. That was good; at least no one knew that they were hiding out in this alley. Hopefully they could get away from the people following them. For a moment, Amy’s completely oblivious mind had a thought that wasn’t far from guilt in dragging Rein into her problem, but then she was distracted by something happening on the other side of the street. One of the men that had been following them walked nonchalantly into the PokeMon Center. “Coeus, any luck analyzing that data?” She asked as she kept watch. ”From what I can tell,” The PokeMon began, ”It has something to do with bombs, could be activation codes.” “What could they need that for?” She questioned, tilting her head to one side in her thinking pose. “What data?” Rein asked, not having heard Coeus’ reply. “The data I got from the company that those guys work for. Something ain’t right about that place.” She rubbed her chin; trying to figure out what she should do now that she’d nearly won this particular game. At that moment, she noticed that the man left the PokeMon Center. “All right, he’s gone! We’re almost home free, then you can go find your sister.” She laughed, excited that they had almost made it home free. Until she noticed the sound of Lunara growling. The duo turned around and saw a man looking at them with a smile. “All right, kids. This is really simple: hand over your computer, little girl, or else.” He didn’t look like he was going to beat around the bush, and Rein had seen enough men hiding guns to know that this guy was one of them. The boy was thinking of a way out of the situation, there didn’t seem to be many options. They were in a damp alleyway, walls on either side, a man with a gun in front of them, and wide open street behind them. Even if they ran for it, he wouldn’t have trouble getting a few shots off. He could order Lunara to attack, but he didn’t know if there were more men nearby; he didn’t like their chances. Suddenly, the man put his hand to his ear as if receiving a phone call. Rein realized he must have a radio ear piece in his ear. “All right, kids. Change of plans, my boss would like to invite you to a dinner party he’s throwing with a few friends. There you can give him the data back, and go free.” The man nodded, Rein turned around to see two more men come up behind them and take their arms. Lunara nearly attacked one of them, but Rein managed to signal for her to stop. He took his free arm and returned her to her PokeBall. “What if we don’t want to?” Amy asked, clearly not understanding the gravity of the situation and struggling with her capture. “I’m afraid you don’t have much of a choice. Now, shall we?” He mock asked, allowing the kids and their escorts to pass in front of him, before muttering to himself, “Why does he have to talk like that?” In a half annoyed tone. ----------------------------------------------------- Rein was sitting in the large dining hall that was, oddly enough, within the large office building that the men had taken them to about an hour before. It was about six in the evening, a little before sunset. The table was spread out before them, it was organized to hold around sixty people, including the host at the head of the table; and it was nearly full, only one person was missing. The host. Everyone looked about as lost as Rein and Amy did, and they’d all been dragged in from the street, or so it seemed. They didn’t really talk much as the hall was full with guards with guns, as well. Rein fidgeted in his seat, incredibly uncomfortable, and with good reason to be. Two hours ago he had been walking through the streets of Rustboro with a purpose and a new found hope, taking in the sunshine, sights and feel of the big city. Now he was sitting at the dinner party of some man who had kidnapped the two of them and could very well kill them at any second. While Rein was wondering how in the world he got himself into this situation, and tried to figure out how likely it was that he would be able to get out of said situation, Amy was happily munching away on some breadsticks that had been put before them before the main course would be served; whenever the host finally joined them. “Be careful, you don’t know that’s safe to eat!” Rein said in an urgent whisper. “Seems fine to me.” Amy smiled as she took another huge bite, not worried about the looks she was getting from the other ‘guests.’ Rein sighed, it wasn’t his place to protect some girl that he had just met a few hours before; but he couldn’t help but feel like he had to regardless. If only she wasn’t so irritatingly trusting of the situation they were currently in. Rein decided to pass the time by looking at the hall they were currently in. He knew after being brought up the elevator that the room was on the top floor, looking out the window he could see the entire city spread out before it. The floor they were on was number fifty, if his memory served correctly. It was a huge building, and quite intimidating. Rein never did care for heights; not to mention that big buildings only made him think of the Team Rocket headquarters in Saffron. The décor of the room was quite lovely; it had vast marble pillars holding up a white marble ceiling embedded with windows every couple of feet to let one peer up into the sky. The floor was also white marble, and looked to be polished daily. Rein could see his reflection if he looked down into the floor next to his seat. The curtains hanging over the huge, arched windows were red with golden lining, the same velvet material as the chairs. Behind the end seat at the table, where the host would be sitting, was a vast fireplace. The fire within it burned brightly, warming the entire room. It was a beautiful room, under different circumstances Rein might have enjoyed being present in the room. They continued to sit, minutes passed by slowly as Rein kept on looking for something to keep himself occupied. Before long an hour had come and gone, and still their host had left them waiting. “I couldn’t eat another bite,” Amy confessed after she had filled herself up on all of the breadsticks in her immediate area. She was quite content to keep on waiting for a while longer. Rein was beginning to feel a bit tired and was about to set his head down on the table when one of the men shouted, “Everyone stand up and greet your host, Mister Maxwell!” Everyone stood in near synchronization, not wanting to disobey the men with guns. Everyone except for Amy, who Rein had to drag to her feet. From one of the doors at the end of the room, the ones opposite the side that Rein and Amy had been brought in from, stepped a man. He was dressed in a tacky, forest green suit, with a matching bowler hat. He was smoking a cigar and he had black stubble that showed he had neglected shaving for a few days. He didn’t hesitate to take his seat, and everyone followed suit. He didn’t say anything. He stayed completely silent as he motioned for the main course of the meal to be brought in. It was something Rein had never eaten before; it looked much too fancy to be something he would have ever had by choice. Some form of meat covered in a posh sauce of some sort, most likely. Rein was a bit picky when it came to new foods. Amy dug right in, seemingly forgetting that she had been full moments before seeing this dish. Rein ate to avoid drawing attention to himself. One of the men spoke on behalf of the host after a few minutes of everyone eating, “Mister Maxwell would like to welcome you all to his party, he extends his most sincere hospitality to his company headquarters and would like to thank you all for attending. Even if you didn’t have a choice in the matter.” The man said flatly, at the lack of laughter he added, “This was a joke and Mister Maxwell would appreciate it if you were amused.” Immediately the guests began to faux laugh as if it were the best joke they’d ever heard. “If you would all please strive to finish your meals within the next couple of minutes, Mister Maxwell would like to present you with desert and make an announcement to you all in person.” The man concluded. Everyone either stopped eating that instant or took a few more bites before letting their plates be collected by the waiting staff. “Something about this worries me,” Rein said quietly, “It just doesn’t feel right. Look, no one seems to know this guy.” “They’re scared,” Amy said intelligently, “I’ve been watching their behavior for a while now. They were probably all brought to this party the same way we were, off the street for one reason or another. Some of them may have been simply kidnapped. No one knows what’s going to happen, they’re just trying to survive long enough to run for the exit.” Rein looked at the girl like she was a completely different person, the scatterbrained, airheaded, completely out-of-her-mind girl was completely level headed for a moment. Apparently Coeus had been right, she really did have a bright mind, she was just completely out of it most of the time. “Why are you so calm then?” “Free food, Drizzle. How can you resist?” She laughed and downed her entire meal before the waiter could take it from her, “I hope this speech isn’t too boring.” She complained as she rocked back and forth. The completely bizarre girl was back to herself. Rein was beginning to suspect that the girl had two personalities; it certainly seemed that way after what he’d just witnessed. The waiting staff delivered their desert: molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Amy devoured it instantly, not even taking the time to enjoy the aroma or enjoy every bite individually. Rein had a few bites and then pushed his towards her when he saw her longing expression. She ate it immediately as well. It was like her stomach was a bottomless pit of some kind. After a few more minutes, Mister Maxwell stood up. He scratched his stubble-beard and snuffed out his cigar. He coughed into his hand and cleared his throat. He seemed to be purposefully taking as long as possible to begin talking, probably for the sake of theatrics or some other mind game. It was working; most people looked incredibly uncomfortable as he dusted off his coat. “Please finish up, dear friends. I’ve something to say. Don’t worry yourselves, it won’t take all day.” The man began. His first words spoken all night had been in rhyme. Rein thought for a second that he was simply joking, but then he continued. “It’s simply a tale, one wrought with strife, the tale of a man who has lost the love of his life. “The first thing he lost was his love, so kind. The next thing to go was the state of his mind. He made a vow to her, that from that day on, he’d never again feel joy. Not with her gone. ‘But,’ he said, with a glint in his eye, ‘soon the whole world with be as miserable as I.’” Rein looked around the table, apparently everyone was questioning whether this was an autobiography along with him, and he didn’t like that most of them came to the conclusion that it was. “So now that you’re here, with me as your host. Let me put forth this question: What do you cherish most? Perhaps it’s a house, or maybe a car. Hardly seems either of those will go very far. I’d guess it’s a loved one, safe at home in their bed; what would you do if you heard they were dead? Would you deny it? Or would you just seethe? Perhaps you fall to the ground hardly able to breathe?” A sick smile spread across his lips. “It’s simply a question, please don’t be cross,” He said when he saw some of the guests weren’t particularly happy about his threatening their families, “Sooner or later you all will know loss.” He said darkly, the smile never fading from his lips. “I have a bad feeling about this.” Rein said as he gripped the PokeBall that held his Umbreon within it. “It will start here and continue to spread, and before long the whole world will be dead. Isn’t that fair? My intentions are true. I’m saving the world from feeling this misery too. Don’t give me that look, I’ve not gone insane! I will prevent countless people from feeling this pain! So tonight it will start, I’m not playing games. You all will be tested tonight in flames!” He shouted a triumphant shout, laughing madly as with the press of a button several explosions rattled the building from the ground up. Everyone panicked, running for one exit or another. The fire alarm began to blare out and the sprinkler system came out momentarily before somewhere the command was given to stop both. Rein was knocked off his feet as fires started to burn throughout the building, he felt someone pull him to his feet and keep him from losing consciousness. “We need to keep moving, Drizzle! This guys completely off his head!” Amy shouted. Rein cast a glance over to Mister Maxwell’s chair, but he was gone, as were the armed men in the room. Most of the guests had fled in various directions, some lay crushed under debris that had shifted when the entire building had shuddered from the explosions. “What does he want?” Rein asked as the pair of them were making their way steadily toward the door. It was a miracle that the building stayed standing, or rather, the explosives were well placed to only create chaos and spread fires. Now it was only a matter of time before the building collapsed. “If he wanted to kill us, why didn’t he just do it?” Rein asked as they walked across the now cracked marble floor. “I don’t know, I got the impression from his speech that he’s testing everyone, seeing if we’re worthy to keep on living. Seeing if we can stand up to the pain that he feels after losing the love of his life, as he said,” Amy shook her head before she added, “At least now I know what he needed the code for.” She sighed. One of the pillars began to fall, and the two of them just managed to dive out of the way before it crashed through the long table and shattered the marble floor into even more disrepair. There hadn’t been an explosion on this floor, but the repercussions of the others could be felt, along with the flames that were roaring throughout the entire building and already beginning to spread. “Our only chance is to get to the bottom floor and get out of the building as fast as possible!” Amy said urging Rein closer to the door. “I’m sorry I got you into this, but we’ll get out of it together.” She nodded at the boy before they forced open one of the heavy oak doors. Rein was reeling with questions, but they would all have to wait. He’d found himself trapped in a race against time for not only his life, but the life of several others as well. One thing was certain, even though Rein didn’t realize it just yet: he and Amy were in for a long night.