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Tonight In Flames

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Chadwyck, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. 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.
     
  2. Chapter 2: Right Behind You

    A room full of panicking dinner guests was the last place that Rein had ever expected to find himself. Adding to his disbelief was the addition of pillars of flames and a psychopath who spoke in nursery rhymes, albeit very dark nursery rhymes. The boy kept expecting to wake up any moment, or rather; he was hoping that he would. To make matters worse, the fire reminded him of another that he had found himself trapped in; the memory was still fresh in his mind.

    Amy saw her young companion’s expression, “we’ll be out of here in no time, don’t worry,” she stated confidently. Her sudden demeanor change was another happening that Rein couldn’t get out of his head. This girl wasn’t what she appeared to be. Upon meeting her, Rein immediately felt like the more mature of the duo, despite his young age. Now she was acting responsibly and hardly like the airhead that had plowed into him on the street.

    Amy herself had wondered the same thing, oddly enough. Was she was child trying not to grow up, or a girl beyond her years wishing she was a child? Amy couldn’t find the answer.

    The people in the room dashed about wildly, nearly trampling Rein and Amy multiple times, the adults in the room barely taking time to notice the two children as they fought to save themselves. Rein averted his eyes as he watched a man that appeared to be in his late thirties trip and fall into a group of flames; no one stopped to help him as he fought to his feet, screaming in pain. He jumped out the window nearest him, shattering the glass as he did so; seeking to end his anguish as quickly as possible.

    Despite having looked away, Rein would never forget the man’s face. Nor would he forget the agony that he had felt before his death. He didn’t know the man, but it hardly mattered; he still felt a familiar pain in the pit of his stomach. The death was supposed to have stopped; he was supposed to have left it behind him in Kanto.

    Again Amy had to shake him from his thoughts. “This is no time to be daydreaming, Rein!” She shouted as she pulled him out of the way of an older woman wearing an elaborate dress. She noted that Rein wasn’t in any position to think of a plan, he was only a child after all.

    “Madam, as much as it may be a hindrance, might I suggest filing in with the other guests as they head out the door?” Coeus began in her earpiece, “This room has become quite structurally unsound.”

    She looked around the room at the burning pillars and floor; it could collapse at any second. She didn’t like their chances riding the waves of panic that carried the other guests, but if it got them out of the room as quickly as possible then it would have to do. She grabbed Rein’s hand and piled into the stream of bodies fleeing from one end of the room to the other.

    Almost immediately they were practically swept off their feet and out into the hallway, but they didn’t get to decide where to go next; the group got to decide that. The stream flowed right out of the door and down the hallway toward the stairs. “All right, that’s where we’d have gone anyway.” Amy grunted as she struggled to keep a hold of Rein’s hand.

    “Amy!” Rein shouted, having regained his senses once they were ushered out of the dining room. She was looking back toward him, meaning she hadn’t yet seen what the group had led them to.

    Standing at the doorway leading to the stairs were two guards, each armed with semi-automatic rifles and each possessing a Houndoom that snarled and attacked anyone unlucky enough to be near enough; either with bites or with fire, neither of which ended pleasantly.

    “The boss isn’t going to just let you leave.” The guard on the left said. He had long sandy-blonde hair under a floppy, black fedora and dark sunglasses. He wore fingerless gloves and a dirty black suit. The guard opposite him wore the same, only without the fedora or the shades.

    Rein reacted instantly, having been around enough people with guns in his short life to know exactly what was coming next. He pulled as hard as he could and freed himself and Amy from the group, just in time; the guards opened fire toward the group. Everyone screamed and began to flee in every direction at once. Had Rein not pulled them free, they would have been trampled underfoot.

    They landed on the ground in the safety of a small alcove with a small coffee table and two chairs. They sat gasping for breath as they saw bodies falling. “We’re not safe here,” Rein commented seeing the bullets spray and still seeing the crowd pulsating with the single idea of escaping. “We’ve got to move.”

    “There’s nowhere we can go.” Amy said mildly upset, near death experiences usually got people rattled. “Unless you want to get trampled. And they’re blocking the steps.” She added thoroughly deflated.

    Rein looked around quickly. The small alcove didn’t have much by way of help, and Rein would sooner die than send his PokeMon to face two Houndooms and their crazed trainers with guns. There had to be a better way out of the alcove, and more importantly, off of this floor.

    He shoved a seat out of the way and found an air duct; it was just big enough to accommodate him and Amy. The screams around them didn’t stop, and gunfire still pierced their ears, it was only a matter of time before the crowd dispersed further and the guards began looking for survivors. This was their best chance.

    “Here, we’ve got to get through this,” he pried away the covering on the vent and motioned for Amy to get inside. Oddly enough this seemed to trigger something within her.

    “Oh, what’s that?” She giggled excitedly, “I’ve never been in one of these before, let’s go Rein!” She happily slid into the opening and beckoned for him to follow. It was like she was two different people completely, and the less helpful of the two was back in control of her body. Still, Rein had to admit that having anyone with him was better than being alone.

    As they began to crawl through the cramped space, Rein couldn’t help but second guess the decision. The building was burning and practically crumbling around them, the air duct was stifling and at any moment it could collapse into a mound of burning debris. They didn’t have many options, however; behind them he could hear the growling of a Houndoom looking for more guests to attack.

    “I don’t like it in here, it’s dark!” Amy called out in front of him.

    “Don’t worry, Amy, I’m right behind you.” The boy said it as reassuringly as he could manage, but he wasn’t feeling as confident as he tried to let on.

    Men with guns or the possibility of crashing through the ceiling to their demise, either way the outcome didn’t seem too hopeful. Ultimately he decided that following behind Amy through the duct system of the building was for the best; they didn’t know where they’d end up, but the chances of dying were a bit smaller than facing two armed guards who wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

    They continued on for several minutes, occasionally reaching a split in the path or a T-junction and taking a wild guess at which way would lead them out. Rein simply let Amy decide, he didn’t have any better idea where he was going than she did. Eventually this resulted in them reaching a dead end.

    “All right, can’t go this way. Better turn around Rein!” Amy playfully announced as she tried to back up.

    Rein was stuck and stopped her, “I can’t turn around, Amy; it’s too tight a fit.” He grunted as he tried to turn himself around, with no success. “Okay, we’ll just have to back up to the last turn we made and go the other way.” He decided after thinking it over a second. The second was a bit too long, though. “Did you hear that?” He asked as a faint groan of metal grinding slowly against metal could be heard.

    “Ooh, what’s that?” Amy wondered aloud. The next sound they heard was a loud crash. The next thing they felt was a sudden stop and a dull pain.

    The ceiling had caved in under them, and before they had time to react they had fallen into a room that hadn’t yet caught fire. Rein was thankful that this room had a reasonably low ceiling, and he stood up; removing some flimsy, plywood ceiling debris from his legs. “No wonder it caved.” He sighed.

    Amy stood up almost victoriously, with a smile on her face and giggling wildly, “Do it again! That was fun!” She laughed as she wandered around the room to satisfy her curiosity. Rein did the same, only a bit less frantically. They appeared to have fallen into someone’s office; there was only one door in and out of the room, and next to no furniture except for a desk and a computer.

    Rein moved to the window and checked outside, outside he could see the lights of firefighters and police officers, many floors beneath them. They’d have little impact on the fires, though, and even if they’d managed to quell the flames, the building was too structurally compromised to stay standing much longer.

    Amy moved to the door, holding her hand up to the material instead of directly on the doorknob at Coeus’ suggestion. It was warm, there was a fire close by the door and that meant they needed to move fast. The girl gingerly touched the doorknob, fortunately it wasn’t too hot, and she tried the door. The door opened outward, or at least it would have if there wasn’t a pile of debris blocking their only escape.

    “Drizzle! We’ve got a problem,” Amy grunted as she tried to ram the door open with her shoulder. “This always works in the movies.” She pouted as she transitioned to kicking it.

    Rein grabbed a PokeBall off his belt and tossed it into the air; Lunara emerged from the light within seconds later. “Lunara, we need a way out of this room, and fast.” He quickly explained the situation as best he could to the Umbreon, who simply nodded in agreement. “Amy, step back.”

    Lunara waited for the girl to move, but no more than a second after she had gotten a safe distance away, the Umbreon was readying to get the door open. With a small amount of concentration the Dark-type was calling any shadows in her vicinity toward her into a ball of inky blackness. There wasn’t much power behind it, the lights that still worked and the fire that was spreading across the building snuffed out a lot of the darkness, but the Shadow Ball was launched toward the door regardless.

    With a loud crack the door splintered as the attack tore through the wood, exploding against the pile of debris right on the other side. The force of the impact scattered the debris, making a path out into a room full of cubicles. The lights in the room were out, but it was illuminated by the glow of computer monitors in the various offices.

    “Thanks, Lunara. Now let’s get moving,” Rein said quietly, the relief of finding the room beyond empty of guards and mostly devoid of flames was evident across his face. The fires hadn’t quite spread to this room, yet, but Rein couldn’t help but wonder where they should go next. A quick glance around the room presented at least three different hallways, which undoubtedly branched out into even more choices.

    Amy was one step ahead of him, however, and she was already moving toward one of the cubicles, a computer still humming lightly with life. “Coeus and I can try and figure out where we are and where we go from here.” She nodded thoughtfully as she grabbed a USB cable from her pack and plugged it into the system.

    She lowered her goggles over her eyes and Rein noticed for the first time that even they had been wired into her bizarre mobile computer system; he saw backward words and images appearing on the lenses. Backward for him, but the correct way for Amy. So her goggles functioned as monitors of some kind. Not for the first time, Rein had to stop and wonder just how smart this girl was.

    “It looks like we’re still several floors above the lobby, but we should be able to get to a staircase just down,” she paused momentarily, absentmindedly typing commands into the computer’s keyboard, “that hallway.” She pointed toward one of the three hallways without actually looking at it.

    “Are there any guards?” Rein asked, not really knowing just how much Amy could learn from the computer.

    “I can’t tell from here.” She said after a second more of tapping the keys quickly, “Coeus, see if you can get feed from the security cameras.”

    ”Back in a moment, my lady.”

    Coeus streamed through the various systems and programs, looking for something that would lead him to the security feeds. While Amy couldn’t get access to them from the location they were at physically, so long as the computer was connected to others in the building, Coeus could find a way to bring up the data. After a minute or so, the voice was back in Amy’s ear, it was almost as if he had never left at all.

    ”It appears that the selected path should be free of guards for the time being. Our host didn’t think anyone would make it off of the top floor this quickly.”

    “That’s lucky.” Amy turned to Rein to repeat the information, “we’re guard free for now.”

    ”However, Miss Amy, the guards are moving into new positions throughout the building, and I’m sure that there are blind spots in the security. Several cameras have ceased functioning, and I can’t find our host. I have spotted several other guests moving through the building, though, it seems that a large majority escaped the fray upstairs unscathed.”

    “Thank you, Coeus. So, we need to move quickly, but carefully. Coeus didn’t see any guards on our path, but there may be some that weren’t on the camera feed.” Amy added the information in for Rein, realizing that he couldn’t hear the Porygon2 in her headset.

    “And as soon as we get outside, we let the police know what’s happening. They have to be able to do something.” Rein looked toward the window again; he couldn’t see the police and firefighters below, but he knew they were there. But they had no idea what was really going on inside, someone had to tell them. “Let’s get moving.”

    Amy nodded, unplugging her system from the computer at the desk and looking toward the hallway, “I’m right behind you.” Rein looked Amy in the eyes, he saw the confidence that he had tried to show earlier behind them. She was trying to reassure him the way he had done for her, and it was only then that he noticed his knees were shaking.

    “Thanks,” he sighed, the shakiness in his voice echoed in his ears. The adrenaline from the night’s events was slowly dying away in the moment of stillness they had found in this room of cubicles. Without it coursing through his veins, his eyes were opened to just how terrified he had been. “This wasn’t supposed to happen anymore,” he whispered to himself as he started walking toward the hallway, “maybe it’s just me.”

    He looked ahead of him, the hallway’s lights had mostly gone out; some still flickered on and off, but other than those it was pitch black further into the hallway. He saw the glowing yellow rings of his faithful companion ahead of him; Lunara was scouting the way and making sure that he followed her closely. A smile crept its way across his face, the Umbreon really was his dearest friend, and he was reminded multiple times a day just how much she cared about him.

    Rein glanced over his shoulder, the glow of the monitors in the room they had just left outlining Amy’s silhouette directly behind him. He reached out to grab her hand, and make sure that she wouldn’t get separated. Their hands never met.

    The sound of splintering wood and a rumbling like thunder broke out directly above them; it was pure instinct that saved their lives. Rein jumped backward, landing hard on his back; instantly he was surrounded by Lunara’s Protect. The familiar shield that had saved his life many times.

    Amy did the same; leapt backward, away from Rein and the collapsing ceiling. Suddenly there was a huge pile of flaming debris, ceiling, and support beams scattered about the floor between them. The two were cut off, and Rein didn’t know how many Shadow Balls it would take to clear the wreckage. The dull roar of the flames seemed impossibly loud in the stillness around him.

    “Amy! Amy! Tell me you’re all right! Amy!” Rein was shouting as loud as he could, Lunara lowered the Protect to allow his voice to travel freely.

    “Rein!” The girl called out, followed by a fit of coughs, and then she continued, “I’m all right. It almost got me!” Rein hoped that he didn’t hear her giggling on the other side. “Coeus managed to warn me just before it fell. What a lucky break!”

    “Yeah, lucky.” Rein coughed in the smoke that was beginning to accumulate in the hall. “Is there a way through on your side?”

    “Nope, it’s completely blocked. It’s okay though, I saw on the schematics that there are more stairs in the service area back the other way. It’ll be a bit more roundabout, but I’ll get downstairs.”

    “Okay, then let’s try and meet on the next floor down.” Rein looked over his shoulder, into the dark hallway with the lights flickering on occasionally, he couldn’t see anything else that looked too dangerous. Then again, the ceiling looked benign enough before it collapsed under the weight of the fire. It also showed that the fires on the top were spreading, soon they’d consume this floor completely.

    “Can’t! The service area doesn’t go down one floor at a time, there’s only an entrance every couple of stories. It’s not just a staircase; it’s a whole ‘nother part of the building. I’m guessing laboratories, or something similar. I’ll meet you four floors down!”

    “Four floors?” Rein asked too quietly for her to hear. He didn’t like feeling alone, and he didn’t like the idea of Amy traveling through the building alone either. If something happened, he couldn’t be there to help; and he despised feeling helpless. “I don’t know, Amy, I don’t think-“

    “Rein, don’t worry. We’ll both be fine. I’ll be right behind you, I promise!”

    After that Rein heard her footsteps advancing back down the hall. “At least you’re still here with me, Lunara.” Rein said after a moment of despair had washed over him, “I’m not alone, you’re here. And so are Oddish and Napalm.” He reminded himself with a nod. He took a few deep breaths. “We’ll be fine. We’re getting out of this, we’ve been in worse.”

    He started off down the hall, letting Lunara lead the way through the dark. After a few minutes of walking they found the staircase. “Okay, this shouldn’t be too difficult,” he reassured himself, looking at his companion, “just go down four floors, meet up with Amy, and get the rest of the way down.”

    He felt the door, it wasn’t hot; at least there wasn’t a fire waiting for him on the other side of the door. At least, not immediately on the other side of the door. He still felt the need to open the door cautiously, slowly, and only when he was sure there wasn’t an armed guard waiting to fill him with bullets did he enter the corridor.

    No, there wasn’t an armed guard. No PokeMon waiting to tear him apart either. So far it seemed like it really would be just as easy as he had predicted it would be. It was a wonderful thing when plans worked out like he intended. He turned and began to descend the stairs; they had successfully gone down a full flight of stairs, one whole floor, when Rein noticed an orange glow on the white walls. A crackling echoed through the empty, cement corridor.

    The next staircase was blocked off; apparently one of the explosions had gone off in the room on the opposite side of the wall, causing a large amount of cement and other debris to fall into their path. “It just couldn’t be easy, could it?” Rein sighed as he looked at the door out onto the next floor, “Amy will still be downstairs to meet us, we’d better find another staircase. Let’s go, Lunara.”

    Rein opened the door out onto the floor, still being cautious to avoid meeting with an untimely end at the whim of some lunatic with a gun. He’d had more than enough experiences with those to know how much he didn’t want to have another one. Instead he was met by a wall of smoke in his face.

    The floor looked similar to the one directly above it, but the offices were a bit more private; cubicles having been replaced by proper rooms. This was a different department, though Rein didn’t particularly care as he saw flames spreading rapidly across the walls and floors, the explosion had blown debris and fire everywhere.

    He dropped to his knees to get under the smoke; at least it made his eyes sting less. “I hope Amy’s having an easier time than we are,” he scoffed as he crawled toward one of the walls. He had to find another staircase and get off of this floor fast.

    --------------------------------------------

    Amy stepped through the door and into a huge open area. Everything was white: the walls, floor and ceiling. The tables and various desks and chairs too. Hanging in the center of a large, red circle painted on the floor at the center of the round room was a scale model of an engine of some kind. It swayed slightly on its chains in the eerie stillness around her.

    Lab tables were littered with components and mechanisms that she probably could have worked if she had the time. A laboratory was one of her favorite places to be in the entire world. Any laboratory, really. She loved the machinery and the powerful computers, she could spend an eternity lost within the mathematics upon the various whiteboards scattered about the room.

    She ran excited into the middle of the room, giggling madly with her arms outstretched as though she were an airplane. She was just about to get a closer look at that engine, maybe pull up its start up code on the computer sitting at a terminal ten feet away from the device and see what it could do, when Coeus chimed into her ear, ”Miss Amy, Mister Rein will be waiting for us downstairs and it would be a shame to keep him waiting. We really haven’t the time to dillydally.”

    Amy made a disappointed cry and caused her lower lip to quiver, “couldn’t I just play for a minute, Coeus? Please?” She tried her best to tear up. Not that it ever worked on the Porygon2, he was pretty oblivious to emotional displays, but it didn’t keep Amy from trying.

    “Shut up! Did you hear that?” A voice echoed from another room; the rooms were all connected by slender, white hallways and none of them had doors separating one room from another; so sound carried easily.

    Amy took the initiative and dove behind the nearest table without waiting for Coeus to make the suggestion to hide.

    “You’re just being jumpy, you pansy.” Another voice answered in an irritated tone. “There’s no one left in here, not anymore. Now the boss wants the projects torched, so let’s get to it.” Two shadows stretched into the room from one of the hallways connected the large, circular room to another. The shadows were followed closely by two guards, they didn’t have their guns drawn, but they were sure to have some. And whatever they had meant by torched couldn’t be good, either.

    “Uh-oh.” Amy muttered, hugging her knees close to her chest, “we’ve got some trouble, eh, Coeus?” She lowered her goggles over her eyes and tried to figure a way past the two guards.
     
  3. You're back at it, Chad! <33333333333

    I love this story, and I'd have sworn I posted in here already. Imma sorry D:
     
  4. Chapter 3: It's Beginning to Get to Me

    Rein coughed, the smoke stung his eyes and his lungs screamed at him for a breath of fresh air. It took all of his willpower not to vomit, his body was rejecting the air and smoke, occasionally he would gag and he and Lunara would need to stop their slow crawl along the edges of the room while he regained his composure.

    This whole situation didn’t make any sense. A crazy man sets out to destroy his own building, his own company, and kill a group of dinner guests that, as far as any of them could tell, had been chosen completely at random or kidnapped off the street. All of this, and why? Because something inside of him broke when he lost someone close to him? Rein couldn’t comprehend what would cause a person to act in such a way, why anyone would seek such random violence.

    The face of another man who brought nothing but death and violence in his wake flashed in Rein’s mind as he tried to make sense of it. Rein’s nausea returned in force as Richard’s wicked grin flashed across his mind’s eye. Not for the first time since he’d arrived in Johto, he wondered why things had turned out the way they had. He wondered if there was something that he had done wrong to deserve such awful turns of fate. The realization that he could be dead within the next minute rushed over him as he looked around at the flames as they slowly devoured the floor he was trapped on.

    Thoughts mounted and fears rushed in, paralyzing him. Rein had only made it this far because he tried to focus on one thing at a time, but the reality of the situation assaulted him and he was completely lost as to where to go.

    Lunara growled at him, snapping his attention away from the sudden wave of fear and despair and into her eyes. He always felt like he could understand Lunara, even though they couldn’t communicate with words. If there was anyone in the whole world that understood Rein perfectly it was her. In that moment, she seemed to understand his fears and the Umbreon probably shared all of them. But the determination the Pokemon showed to keep moving forward, it was exactly what Rein had needed to see.

    “You’re right,” he said, moving along another few steps, slowly but surely continuing along the wall toward the other end of the floor, “we just need to keep moving. If we give up now, I’ll never see Alice again. One thing at a time, Rein, just get to the other end of this room.”

    Slowly, but surely, Rein and Lunara moved along the room. Rein was feeling confident again, and he was sure that they were getting close to the other side of the floor and the staircase that would be waiting for them.

    Nothing is ever easy, though, and Rein heard another person moving through the room. They seemed to be running, the smoke affecting their vision and sense of direction, Rein heard them smash into desks, walls and doors as they frantically searched for something.

    “More guards, searching for survivors? No, whoever it is doesn’t seem to know where they’re going.” Rein tried to figure out what the best course of action was, when he was suddenly face to face with a Mightyena that growled and bared its teeth at Rein, Lunara stepped between the creature and her trainer, growling back at it.

    “Mightyena, did you find the way out?” A man’s voice called out in the room. Definitely not a guard, but if he didn’t quiet down he would undoubtedly attract their attention.

    “Quiet!” Rein hissed, the man jumped and reacted instinctively.

    “Mightyena, Bite!” The scared man shouted, though he couldn’t see the scene through the smoke, he was obviously taking the better safe than sorry approach to the situation. Unfortunately, Lunara wasn’t about to let him get away with it.

    Without waiting for Rein to give her a command, her eyes began to eerily glow and within the same second, a flash created by a summoning of her abilities erupted outward, blinding the Mightyena temporarily, causing it to forget all about its attack as it struggled to see its enemies. She then tackled it back. By then, the man had found his way over to his Pokemon, just in time to hear it yelp in pain as it lost its eyesight temporarily.

    “Mightyena, what happened? Who are you?”

    “If you’d wait a second, I’ll tell you, I don’t want to hurt you, I’m just trying to get out of here.”

    “Y-you’re not one of those guards? Th-they k-killed my friend. He’s... he’s...” The man fell to the ground, beneath the smoke. His face was blackened, and it was obvious his body was fighting for fresh air. Rein wondered how he had been thick enough to not know to get down below the smoke instead of running through it, now he realized that the man wasn’t all there. He was overtaken by grief.

    “I’m sorry about your Pokemon, my Umbreon was just protecting me out of instinct, you may want to return Mightyena. It should be fine, just a Flash attack and a Tackle, nothing too damaging.”

    “Y-yeah, thanks.” The man returned his Pokemon. Tears were streaming down his face, but Rein couldn’t tell if they were from the smoke or because of his grief at losing his friend. In all fairness, it was probably a mixture of both.

    “What were you running from?”

    “The guards, I was upstairs with my friend, Derek, when they attacked us. I-I didn’t know what else to do, Derek was shot and he told me to run so I just ran as fast as I could. I’m sorry I attacked you, I thought you were a guard.”

    Rein nodded, “it’s fine. My name is Rein, by the way,” he extended a hand to the man, he knew he should try to be a bit more kind, the man had just lost his friend, but every second they stayed on this floor was another second toward their untimely deaths.

    “I-Isaac.” The man replied, grabbing Rein’s hand and giving a half-hearted shake.

    “Look, we need to get out of here, this whole floor is a death trap, were there stairs back there where you came from? We need to move, did the guards see you run? Do they know you’re here?”

    “I-I don’t think so. Let’s go, the stairs should be safe.”

    “Okay, follow me,” Rein nodded, indicating for Lunara to lead the way.

    “You’re really mature for your age, you know?” Isaac said with a sniffle.

    Rein looked back over his shoulder, “yeah, I... I had to grow up fast, I guess.”

    They worked their way over to the other side of the room, and everything seemed to be going without a hitch. Isaac was a frightened man, so it wasn’t very comforting to have him tagging along, but Rein was grateful that there were still other people left alive in the building.

    They came out into an open area, and even through the smoke, Rein could see the EXIT sign glowing above a doorway, a picture of a stick-figure walking down a drawing of stairs could be seen on the wall. Rein sighed in relief, another few floors and he could meet up with Amy, then together they could get to the bottom floor and find help. Everything was going to be okay.

    “Rein, I’m sorry.” Isaac said suddenly, his voice betrayed his fear and his hesitation.

    “For what, Isaac?” Rein asked, turning to face his new companion. The man was shaking, obviously at odds with himself, but it was impossible to miss the gun in his hand.

    “They’re gonna come down the stairs any minute. They told me to search for survivors on this floor and to bring them here so that they didn’t have to deal with the smoke and fire. I-I didn’t want to, b-but they have Derek. They’ll kill him if I don’t help them.”

    “Isaac, please don’t do this. You know that these men aren’t going to just let you go, they’re just using you.” Rein pleaded, Lunara growled and positioned herself between Rein and Isaac, but it didn’t matter; she couldn’t do anything that wouldn’t result in Rein getting shot.

    “I can’t give up on Derek, we’re best friends. I got him into this mess. I got invited to come here for dinner, I asked him to come with me and be my wingman. If it wasn’t for me he’d be safe. I can’t let them kill him.”

    Rein opened his mouth to speak again, but he heard the door slowly creak open and watched as three of the armed thugs walked into the room, another very scared man was positioned between them, and Rein could only assume it was Derek.

    “Ah, good, Isaac, you weren’t completely useless. One survivor, looks like we made a good choice sending you in here; we were just going to skip this floor until you came along.”

    “Th-thank you, c-c-can Derek and I go, now?”

    The men exchanged a few glances, performing a poor charade of thinking it over. The man to the left of Derek drew his gun and placed it up to Derek’s temple.

    “N-no! Please, I did what you asked, don’t hurt him.”

    Another guard aimed a gun at Isaac.

    “Please, don’t hurt us.”

    The third guard aimed at Rein. “Three more for the boss’ head count, how many more could there possibly be?” The man in front asked. The other two shrugged in response. “Ah well, any last words, boys?”

    Derek and Isaac were in tears, but Rein surprisingly felt very little aside from disappointment. It was not the first time he had faced his own death, so the shock of it was lost on him when looking down the barrel of a gun. But he hadn’t found Alice, he never found his sister despite his vow. The fact that he was dying without completing his goal is what upset him the most. Would his sister ever know of his fate? He looked down at Lunara, she was ready to act and undoubtedly the Pokemon had already made a decision on what she was doing to try and save him without Rein’s influence. Maybe, that was why it didn’t frighten him to face his death; he knew that Lunara would fight to save him, just as he would do for her.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Amy crouched behind the desk, several components and wires hung around her. She had to try not to move a single muscle, the men were looking over all the equipment in the lab and trying to find the best way to destroy each of them as per their orders. They had mentioned something about torching the projects that had been worked on in the labs. Amy hazarded a glance over the edge of the table, and they were holding what appeared to be welding torches; the girl squinted and realized that they were actually more akin to flamethrowers, they were going to completely destroy all of the experiments that had been going on in the lab. It didn’t take someone with an IQ as high as Amy’s to realize that they were sure to find her once they started moving around the room.

    “Did the boss tell you why we needed to come do this ourselves? The building is coming down around us, there’s no way these projects would stay in one piece through that.” The first guard, the jumpy one, said.

    “The boss didn’t tell me nothin’,” the second guard sighed, “even if he had, I wouldn’t have understood him with all the rhyming and what not. All he said was that he wanted these dealt with in person, no loose ends, he wants to make sure that nothing survives. I guess he doesn’t want anyone to stumble upon something during the clean-up that’ll happen after the building collapses.” He shrugged, getting his machine ready to fire up and destroy the engine that Amy had been admiring only seconds before.

    The first guard nodded, still not quite sure what there would be to find after the building collapsed and burnt down to ashes. “Can we hurry it up, then? I wanna get this done with and get out before the floor caves in or the building burns down. Sometimes I think the boss didn’t think this all the way through, I mean, we could die in this fire just like everyone else.”

    Both men were silent for a moment, then the second guard spoke up, “oh, don’t be an idiot. The boss always has a plan. He wants this to be a statement to the world, that tragedy can strike anywhere at anytime, that’s why all the victims are random people off the street, to show that disaster chooses its victims at random. He’s obviously accounted for us, though. He wouldn’t have told us his plan in the first place if he didn’t expect us to get out alive.”

    “Yeah, I guess that makes sense, Pete.”

    “Yeah. See? I’ve got the boss figured out, even if I can’t understand a damn word he says.”

    Amy had been hard at work while the two men discussed their boss’ intentions, and while she could risk being a little bit louder, she connected her portable system to the computer on the desk she was hiding behind. The information skimmed across the lenses of her goggles as Coeus helped her pull files that would prove to be useful to his trainer.

    By the time the two men had finished their conversation, Amy had thought up a plan and had a means to do so without any delay. She grinned, fighting back the urge to giggle relentlessly, as she entered in a command that was immediately picked up by the lab’s systems. The enormous engine in the middle of the room blared to life, and Amy was practically shaking with excitement, she’d get to play around with the engine after all.

    The men jumped back, falling flat on their backs from the shock alone. They watched as the engine roared and sputtered, flames shooting from the exhaust pipes as it was pushed to its limits. The men scurried over to the nearest wall, and as they moved away from the engine, it died down to a dull purr.

    “What the hell was that?” The first man asked, skimming the room; Amy made sure she was out of sight as he did so.

    “I don’t know, someone must have accessed the computer.” The second guard, Pete, replied as he looked for something out of place.

    “How? There’s no one left in here, and we would have seen someone working at one of the computers.”

    “Then it must’ve been a bug! Look, the building is on fire, maybe something went screwy with the system and the engine fired up. Whatever the reason, we should torch the place and hurry out, Ross.”

    The men stood up, and Amy grinned again. They didn’t seem to realize that they were standing right in front of an exhaust pipe for another, smaller model, engine. The hacker girl had learned, from scouring their computer, that this room was where they tested out engines and propulsion systems for the owner’s fleet of private jets. While not all the models were entirely legal, Amy couldn’t see why it was so important to destroy them all when there were more pressing things to worry about. She dug a bit deeper and saw that many of the projects had been repurposed for weaponization. They were making missiles, and he couldn’t risk that falling into the wrong hands, so he needed to be sure they were destroyed if he planned to get away from this incident a free man and chalk this all up as an accident.

    Amy realized that she had become distracted, making a quick copy of the information onto her hard drive, before she fired up the engine that the men were standing in front of and went straight up to full power. The exhaust hit them hard, burning them and sending them spiraling across the floor. The sudden increase to full power without a chance to warm up overloaded the engine and caused an explosion, but thanks to the exhaust blowing them aside, the men avoided the brunt of the damage.

    Amy took the chance to run, detaching herself from the computer she dashed across the room and down the slender hallway into the adjoining chamber. The men saw her, however, and stumbled after her, shouting obscenities that they could barely hear over the ringing in their ears.

    The room was full of chemicals in bins and beakers, liquids and powders stretched across the length of the floor. This must have been where they had made the bombs that detonated and started the fires, Amy decided, either that or it was a drug lab. Both were a possibility, but only the prior seemed feasible.

    Ross drew his gun to fire at the girl as she ran toward one of the other doorways in the room, and Pete barely managed to stop his friend from firing. “You idiot!” He shouted, smacking the gun out of Ross’ hand, “this place is full of explosive material, you wanna go up in flames?”

    “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking! But we can’t let her get away, the boss said that if we came across anyone, we take ‘em out.”

    “Then we follow her and make sure we shoot her somewhere that we won’t blow up.”

    The men nodded as they sprinted down one of the aisles after their intended victim. Amy, however, hadn’t left the room, she was busy at work mixing chemicals behind a bin of something or other. She wasn’t one hundred percent sure what each chemical was, they weren’t labeled very clearly, but she could make some guesses based on the little information they had listed beside each bin and tube. “That should do it, Coeus! Either this is going to be a smoke bomb that’ll help us get away, or a poisonous fume bomb that may kill me. I’m not sure what this red stuff is.”

    Miss Amy, might I suggest--” The girl wasn’t listening anymore, she popped out from her hiding place and threw the bomb with all her might at the two men as they checked the room for her. On impact, the glass test tube she had used as the casing for her makeshift weapon shattered. There was a bright flash followed by a thick, blue smoke that quickly filled the area immediately around the men and started spreading.

    Within seconds, she heard the men gagging, and they fell to the ground with a thud. The smoke rose up above them, toward the high ceiling of the room, and she could see that the men were convulsing. “So it was poison.” She nodded, lowering her lip in concentration. The smoke hung in the air, slowly dispersing.

    “Well, that’s that. Guess we go meet with Rein now, huh?” She started walking toward one of the exits, which as far as she could figure would lead her toward the stairs, when she heard someone moving behind her.

    “Y-you little b-bitch.” Ross fought to get the words out, he was obviously on his last breaths of life. His arm was raised, the gun pointed and ready to fire, but it wasn’t being aimed in Amy’s direction. He had it aimed directly at a vat of something that looked absolutely volatile and surrounding by other unsafe chemicals. He fired multiple times, and he didn’t stop until he had drawn his last breath. The liquid spilled and mixed with everything around it, there were different reactions to what was happening, but all of them were bad.

    “Time to run!” Amy shouted as she turned and sprinted with all her might. She was thrown off her feet by the entire floor shaking, a split second later, the sound of an explosion rang in her ears, the force of it sent her sliding across the tile floor several feet. She looked toward the doorway to see flames in the next room, and smoke of various colors spilling into the vents. The edges of her vision began to blur, she had hit her head during her fall.

    There was no telling what effect the explosion would have on the structural integrity of the building, but Amy guessed that it wouldn’t be good. She tried to stand, but she knew that she was seconds from losing consciousness.

    Miss Amy? Miss Amy, are you alright? We mustn’t dally, please, ma’am.” It was too late, Amy was lost to the embrace of unconsciousness.

    -----------------------------------

    A loud boom resounded around the room, and at first Rein assumed it was a gunshot. Apparently so did Lunara, a Protect had appeared around the Umbreon and her trainer. There was no gunfire, however, and even the guards looked mildly surprised. Suddenly, the sound of something cracking began to echo around them from various places in the floor. Rein knew what was happening and screamed for Lunara to keep up the protect just as the floor caved in beneath them and the entire room fell through the structurally unsound floor that had finally given way to the fire and destruction.

    Rein felt the sensation of weightlessness as he fell, along with everything and everyone else who had been in the room with him, and through the haze of darkness from Lunara’s Protect, it seemed like time had slowed, and he saw the other men falling along with him, but outside of his sphere of protection. He thought of Derek and Isaac with a sudden feeling of guilt, and then there was nothing but darkness.
     
  5. Chapter 4: Her Ghost in the Fog

    ”--ss Am-- Plea-- Miss Amy!” The girl opened her eyes, gagging on the smoke that she could only hope wasn’t poisonous like the gas she’d used against those two thugs. Since she was still alive, she assumed that it was from the fire, not the chemicals that had been involved in the explosion. She tried to move and sharp pain shot through her entire body, but she noticed a focus of pain in her head, probably a concussion from when she hit her head.

    “How long was I out, Coeus?” She coughed, forcing herself to a sitting position and looking around at the damage. The room was charred, a large hole was in the floor where the explosion had occurred, and Amy could see down into the next floor down, which appeared to be an employee break area. She could make out what looked like a gym, but anything else was out of sight from her current vantage point, it seemed that the floor would be her next stop.

    ”Oh, Miss Amy, thank heavens! I was beginning to worry. To answer your question, you were unconscious for precisely one hour and eight minutes.”

    Amy noticed several cuts and scrapes along her body, and as she tried to stand her ankle nearly gave out beneath her weight, it was definitely sprained, but she could take solace in the fact that it didn’t seem broken; getting out of the building would have proven much more difficult otherwise. “An hour, huh?” She groaned as she took several steps to test her ankle’s limits, “I hope that Rein is alright, that explosion was big enough to cause a lot of damage to the building. If it wasn’t already on fire, the explosion probably would have been contained to this room, for the most part, but thanks to the other explosions, it is likely that it caused several support beams to collapse.”

    ”While you were unconscious I checked a few of the cameras that were still functioning and it seems that several floors have indeed collapsed as a result of the explosion, and I saw no sign of Master Rein on any of the monitors.”

    “Rein’s a tough kid,” Amy coughed again, making her way to the staircase, “I’m sure he’s alright; we need to keep moving.”

    ”Of course, Miss Amy, according to the floor plans, the floor beneath us has a medstation for emergencies, there are sure to be some bandages and perhaps some pain killers for the injuries you suffered during the explosion.”

    Amy nodded, pushing the heavy door open that led to the stairwell, which, thankfully, remained intact enough to travel down to the employee break floor. “Thank you, Coeus, I was hoping that would be the case. As anxious as I am to get to Rein, I don’t think I can make it without a moment of rest and lots of pills. But,” suddenly her serious tone changed and a grin spread across her face, “that was awesome! Just like an action movie!” She giggled uncontrollably, “and we got the bad guys, too, so we did good.” She nodded sagely as she pushed the door open onto the break room.

    Coeus, despite being largely mechanical in nature and incapable of normal emotion, gave a very convincing exasperated sigh before replying with a simple, ”that we did, madam.

    ----------------------------------


    The ground was damp, muddy beneath the layer of dew on the grass; the trees were suffocatingly close, and the sense of claustrophobia was only enhanced by the canopy blacking out the sky. It was dark, it must have been some time in the early morning, the light on the horizon was most likely the sun beneath the horizon. Then, as Rein sat up, he realized that it wasn’t sunlight nearing on the horizon, but flames burning through the trees.

    “Lunara?” Rein croaked, looking around for his trusted companion, she was nowhere to be seen, “Lunara!” He climbed to his feet and stumbled away from the fire, now no more than a few hundred yards behind him.

    “Rein!” Someone was calling after him, their voice echoing off of the trees and ringing through the air. He didn’t turn around, for some reason he didn’t want to know who was behind him. Again the voice called, closer now, and Rein ran faster; as fast as his legs could carry him. The foliage caught his foot and he stumbled, rolling down a slight incline and facing the flames. “Tell me where you are! Rein! I need to find you!”

    There was a silhouette before the flames, and Rein couldn’t make out who it was, but they called his name again. As they drew nearer, he could feel his heart pounding. “Alice?” He asked, the figure drawing closer, “Alice, I’m here!”

    “No! Rein, I’m not-- I’m losing--” the world was shifting in and out of focus, the shadows cast by the flames began to swallow Rein slowly into the earth beneath him, “damn it! Rein, it’s me-- it’s L--”

    Rein’s eyes snapped open, his body ached, and he had to struggle to move. Beside him, Lunara sat curled up to him, she was obviously tired as a result of the protect used to keep Rein safe from the fall. “That’s right, the fall,” Rein groaned, looking up and seeing how far the fell; several floors were affected by whatever happened, and he had fallen a good distance, though he couldn’t tell how far it had been, it looked like several floors. There was rubble all around him, spread out in a circle where Lunara’s protect had shielded the falling concrete and drywall. The other men who had been in the room prior to the fall hadn’t been lucky enough to escape the rubble, Rein didn’t want to get a close look, but he could see someone’s arm sticking out from beneath a pile of debris. The absence of anyone else in the room made Rein assume they all suffered the same fate. “C’mon, Lunara, let’s move on.”

    It was a chore trying to get to across the room to the staircase, the destruction from the collapse made the short distance seem unreachable. More than once, Rein caught his foot on something in the pile of debris and he ended up tearing his clothes and receiving multiple cuts and scrapes. Finally they stood in front of the door to the stairwell when another thought struck the boy. “We must have fallen straight through at least four floors, that means the floor we were supposed to meet Amy on is up, not down. Just how far do you think we fell? ”

    More obstacles were waiting through the doorway, the stairs leading down were clear, but there was no way to go up. Not only was the way blocked, but the stairway itself had crumbled in places. “No! Come on! Why can’t anything ever be easy? Why...” The faces of the men who died flashed before his eyes, their deaths suddenly dawning on him. As afraid as he was, forced into doing something they didn’t want to do, two more people Rein couldn’t save.

    His mind flashed back to a forest, the fire burning in the distance. The same forest as his dream. Only this time, he recognized it; the forest where Jeremiah and Lexi died. The fire was coming from the Richfields’ house and he had to fight back the memory. “Rein!” The girl’s voice from his dream shouted. “It isn’t real, it’s residual effects, stop fighting! Tell me where you--”

    Rein forced the memory out of his mind, and with it the guilt that he felt. “There’s nothing for it, then, we need to go down until we can find a stairway that isn’t blocked and find Amy.” Lunara looked up at him, “I’m not leaving her behind, and I won’t let her get hurt.” The PokeMon nodded, understanding his resolve. The duo rushed down to the next floor, as quickly as possible, careful not to take any more injuries than they already had.

    They burst out onto the next floor, it was relatively untouched by the explosion, but the fire was tearing through the building; the floor wouldn’t be safe for much longer. They took a few steps, and then suddenly a loud ringing knocked them both off their feet. “Stay back! I’m warning you!” A voice shouted, through the sound screeching away at his mind, Rein saw a boy about sixteen waving a broken chair leg around like a maniac.

    --------------------

    Amy limped through the floor, several of the hallways were blocked by wreckage from the explosion on the floor above; the fact that Research and Development was in a reinforced wing of the building probably saved the entire building from collapsing, but the damage had been done to the floors directly around it. Finally, Amy spotted the infirmary. It was a glass walled room, which made it easy enough to recognize.

    Being a glass walled room, however, meant that Amy could easily see that the room was occupied. There was a girl sitting in the room, she must have been in her mid-twenties by the look of her; also by looking at her it was easy to tell she was terrified and in need of some medical attention. She was sorting through medicine and bandages, probably everything that Amy needed to treat her own injuries, and shoving them into her bag.

    It was probably dangerous to approach the woman, given her state she was probably unstable and likely to view anyone as a potential threat at this point, but if Amy was going to dress her wounds and get some painkillers, she needed the supplies to do so.

    She took the least threatening stance she could, with her arms raised above her head, and she threw in a harmless-little-girl smile for good measure. While she was still half the length of the hallway away from the door, a good fifteen feet or so, she called out to the woman. “Hey, lady!”

    The woman jumped, her head quickly jerking as she scanned the area, her eyes met Amy’s and it was apparent that she was half-crazed from the overwhelming stress. “What!? What do you want from me? Are you one of them?”

    It wasn’t until she turned her body completely to face Amy that the extent of her fear became entirely clear. The woman was coated in blood, some of it hers considering the wounds she was attempting to dress, but her white blouse was stained red and it was impossible that it was all hers. In her right hand, she grasped a broken shard of glass, and the makeshift weapon was being clenched so tightly that blood ran down it and dripped to the floor from the woman’s hand.

    ”Miss Amy, this woman has obviously been through a great ordeal, I suggest that if you do intend to go through with trying to get assistance from her, you show her that you are not a threat.”

    The girl shook her head as she kept a slow pace toward the door to the infirmary, stopping a safe distance away should the woman decide to rush the unarmed Amy with her makeshift blade. “Wow, lady, you must have had to fight your way through like a hundred bad guys! Look at all that blood, eww!” She laughed, “you must be like a ninja, someone out of one of those kung-fu movies!”

    “Miss Amy, please, I implore you to handle this situation delicately. This is a dangerous situation, I expect you to handle it as such.”

    The woman looked at Amy like she was completely alien, an unbelievable creature of such joy and purity could not exist in the realm of spiraling fear that she found herself in. And if the girl could not conceivably exist, “this is a trap. You’re trying to trick me. Stay back!” She ordered as Amy took another step forward. “You and your friends are to blame for this. Edgar, where are you? Help me.” She began to sob.

    “Um, I’m really sorry, but I’m not one of those guys, I promise. I just need some medicine, I got hurt looking for my friend.” The woman shot her a glance, there was nothing promising about the look she gave the girl. “I don’t want it all! You can take it, I just need some bandages and maybe a few painkillers!”

    “I need this medicine for Edgar, he’s... he’s. T-The explosion that rocked the building, we were making our way through the building and his leg broken by a support beam that fell. I need to get him some medicine, I need to get him out.”

    “Okay, I’m sorry for what happened to Edgar, he sounds very important to you.” Amy took a cautious step toward the door, “if you give me some bandages so I can dress my injuries and a bottle of pain pills, I’ll even go help you if you want.”

    “You don’t know me, why would you help? Why should I trust you?”

    For a second, Amy looked absent, like she was a million miles away, and then she was there again, staring at the woman through the glass door. “I know how much it hurts to lose someone, and I want to help you avoid that at all costs.”

    The woman stared into Amy’s eyes for what seemed like a long time, and finally she dropped the glass and beckoned Amy inside. “Here, let me help you bandage that up.”

    “Thank you. Oh, hey what’s your name, lady?”

    “It’s Yasmine.”

    While Amy took some pills to try and dull the pain, the woman helped wrap her injuries and stop the bleeding. Before long, they were loaded up with all the medicine they could carry and heading out the door. “Which way is Edgar?”

    The woman took a quick look around and nodded toward a hallway, “it’s this way, he’s down a few floors. We passed this place on the way down, that’s why I came back for some medicine. I remembered the infirmary.”

    The two women turned a corner and came face to face with one of the guards, a tall man with muscular arms, holding a pistol. “Well, isn’t this interesting? I was just about to give up on finding anyone on this floor. Looks like I got lucky.”

    The man aimed at Yasmine and fired, but Amy jumped in the path of the bullet. The round ricocheted off of a solid object and embedded itself in a wall. In front of Amy was what appeared to be a hologram consisting of ones and zeroes. “Good timing, Coeus, Tri-Attack.” Amy said breathlessly, she hadn’t known what was going to happen when she jumped in front of the gun, she just knew she couldn’t let Yasmine get hurt.

    The Porygon-2 emerged from Amy’s headset, taking a physical form again to deal with the threat to his trainer. Immediately, the man fired again, unloading his weapon at the PokeMon only to meet with the same resistance as before. “I’m afraid that will do you little good, sir, I was trained to protect Miss Amy perfectly, now do hold still while you meet your end.”

    The flames from the burning building were drawn to the PokeMon, electricity from a shorting fuse tore free of the wall came and joined the flames, swirling before the normal-type, and the tanks of water in the ceiling, from the disabled fire-sprinkler system, burst and water joined the fray, freezing into ice. The three energies spun, orbiting around one another faster and faster until they flew forward and sent the assailant flying. His body met with the wall behind him and he continued through it. Either he was dead, or he was unconscious and would meet his end soon enough from the flames.

    Coeus was back in Amy’s portable system, and the girl turned to Yasmine. “We need to keep going, let’s go! Do you have any Pokemon?”

    Yasmine was dumbstruck from the display of power she had just seen, and it took her a second to register that a question had been directed at her. She shook her head, “no, I’m not a trainer. Edgar always wanted to get into the league, but we wanted to wait until we were married.”

    “Okay, well then you’re going to have to stuck close by. We need to find Edgar fast.”

    “That was really impressive,” Yasmine said between breaths as they ran toward the stairs, “what your Porygon-2 did back there.”

    The young girl grinned from ear to ear, “yeah! Isn’t Coeus the coolest? He blew that guy away, boom! You gotta be careful when you mess with me, I’ve got a strong PokeMon.” She pulled her goggles over her eyes and looked at the blueprints for the building. “Let’s go!”

    --------------------

    The teen rushed toward Rein, ready to bear the chair leg down on his skull; if Lunara hadn’t pushed through the sound and Headbutted the man back, Rein would have been too slow to react. The sound had stopped for a moment, though the ringing in Rein’s ears continued. A PokeMon that Rein didn’t recognize ran over to the teen and then glared at Rein and his Umbreon. It was purple, with round ears that almost looked like stereo speakers, and a wide mouth.

    The teen grunted and looked at Rein, his eyes were crazed and he was ready to keep fighting. “Wait! Please, I don’t want any-”

    The boy wasn’t listening, he was intent on keeping himself safe, and as far as he was concerned the best way to do that was to keep everyone away or kill them for getting too close. “Loudred, use Supersonic again!” The creature looked at Rein and Lunara and suddenly the screeching sound started up again, it was terrible; it was blurring Rein’s vision and he couldn’t think straight.

    “Lunara, you take care of that thing, I’ll try and deal with him!” Rein shouted, hoping that she heard him over the shrieking in his ears and mind.

    Without waiting to see what Lunara was doing, he rushed forward, tackling the boy as he tried to get back to his feet. The boy swung at him, hitting him hard in the face before Rein could block the next hit. He was too close for the teen to use the chair leg effectively, so he may stand a chance. He punched the boy in the face a few times before he was thrown off. The boy tried to bring the club down on Rein’s knee, and he barely managed to move before it hit.

    At the same time, Lunara staggered toward the Loudred, still maintaining the sharp sound that assaulted her and her trainer’s eardrums. She couldn’t focus on drawing any energy forward, so she tackled forward, missing the Loudred as it easily avoided her. She caught herself and turned, tackling again. The Loudred tried to avoid, but backed into a wall, Lunara hit the creature and stopped the Supersonic in its tracks.

    Rein’s mind cleared long enough to see the boy standing over him again, ready to swung again. Rein swept his legs, causing the boy to stumble and fall. Rein scrambled away, pulling himself to his feet. The teen did so at the same time and prepared to attack Rein once more.

    “There’s no reason for this, please.” The boy wasn’t listening, he ran forward, trying to jab Rein in the stomach with his club. The younger boy managed to dodge it, but not the follow up swing into his side. Rein punched the teenager in the stomach as he lifted the chair leg above his head. As he doubled over, Rein landed an uppercut on his jaw. It was a sloppy hit, Rein had never been in a fist fight before, and was trusting his instincts to take over.

    The Loudred had stopped using Supersonic thanks to Lunara’s efforts, but the normal-type was immediately ready to counterattack. It Howled as it raised its foot and tried to Stomp Lunara, who jumped back and avoided the hit. The Umbreon’s forehead ring began to glow brightly, a yellow light hit the Loudred, and the creature’s eyes glazed over. It couldn’t focus, and Lunara seemed pleased with the effect, as if giving the normal-type a taste of its own medicine.

    Following up on the Confuse Ray, Lunara leapt at the Loudred, a dark aura surrounding her as she did so. Faint Attack landed a direct hit, as Loudred couldn’t focus enough to avoid. The hit shook its mind free from the confusion, and it was ready to go back on the offensive. It opened its maw wide and rushed forward, biting Lunara as she tried to move aside. Without hesitation, the Loudred followed up with Take Down, tackling Lunara to the ground. The exhaustion from the night and the hits Loudred had landed were taking their toll on the Umbreon.

    For the third time, the normal-type tried to Stomp Lunara, this time while she was on the ground, and it would be the end of the fight. The dark-type struggled to summon all her energy, and forced it outward in a Dark Pulse. It was Lunara’s last-ditch effort, and it worked, sending the Loudred sprawling back into the wall and knocking it out. Not long after, Lunara collapsed, strength leaving her body. She had done her best to protect Rein, but she couldn’t fight back the exhaustion any longer, and she lost consciousness.

    The teen stumbled back from Rein’s punch, but it wasn’t enough to stop his wild attack. The teenager reared back and rushed forward again, taking a big swing at Rein. Without thinking, Rein tried to block instead of dodge, and the attack hit him square in the shoulder. The pain was nearly enough to knock Rein off his feet; he managed to stay standing, but he was on his last leg.

    The teen was ready to deliver the final blow, when the force of Lunara’s Dark Pulse knocked them both off their feet. Rein looked up, to see the older boy staggering toward him, the club raised. Rein could hardly move, and he was almost prepared to accept his fate.

    Suddenly, he was back in the forest from his dream. The Richfields’ house burning in the background as usual. “No, please.” He sobbed, and the teen thought for a second that Rein was talking to him.

    “No, I’m not falling for your trick!”

    Rein didn’t even hear him, he was too busy staring at the forest, waiting for Richard to emerge from the trees with a victorious grin. Instead, he saw the figure from before. “Rein! No!” The voice shouted, and the figure ran toward him.

    The teenager was ready to crush the younger boy’s skull, but before he could deliver his blow, someone bashed him over the head with a two-by-four that had been lying in a pile of debris. The boy collapsed, knocked out cold before he could extinguish Rein’s life.

    “No, Rein, stay with me, please.” The dark figure said as it knelt over him, the forest began to melt away and Rein’s eyes began to focus on the face in front of him. Pale blue eyes stared back into his, and the messy Auburn hair was impossible to miss, even as consciousness slipped from him.

    “... Lexi?”

    The girl smiled, as darkness enveloped Rein and he slipped once more into the embrace of unconsciousness.
     

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