Fox: So this is what happens when I don't put a self-imposed page limit on my work. So yes, this is the 'long chapter experiment'. Also, it was a rather slow chapter overall, so it fit the needs of the situation perfectly. So... yeah. Oh, and I blame Rater435. That is all.
Brimcon: "T-Minus 10 minutes until head detonation."
Disclaimer: Pokémon is copyright of Nintendo, Game Freak, etc. Individual characters are my own imaginening, and are not intended to be any part of main cannon / plotline. Individual characters like Aaron, Song, Zin, etc, are my own creations, so please ask before using. Thank you.
Chapter 22: Code Lightning
"So, how do we proceed?"
Nobody answered me when I asked. It bugged me that everyone was mildly surprised. Even the fat guy was quick to show apprehension when I talked. He rubbed his hands over his balding head, hiding his surprise with a grin.
"Now, we talk business." he said. "We need to finally stop that Zapdos, and you're going to help Jonathan do it."
Jonathan's voice mixed with mine as we exclaimed at the same time. I glared at him, while he glared at his boss. The fat man just shrugged at the outburst, paying it no mind.
"It's just as I said. You need our help, but we need yours too."
"I'm giving you help by being able to answer your questions." I said sternly.
"About something that we don't care about?" he asked.
That question dropped like a pile of bricks. Great. Everything I had just went down the toilet. The impulse to just walk away was extremely high at the moment. Jonathan was wearing a frown, but avoided looking my way. His eyes were focused on his boss, who was sporting a very satisfied grin.
"So let me get this straight." I said, trying to keep my cool. "You don't need any information about Darkrai, because that's not your priority."
"That's it in an Apricorn." he said jovially.
"Then why did you send Jonathan to Sinnoh in the first place?!" Joy screamed out from beside me.
The balding guy laughed. "Simple. To get the League off my ass. We don't care about things that are happening in other regions. The Rangers focus on local problems."
"So, you're saying that you haven't had issues with people or Pokémon disappearing?" I asked.
"Well, that isn't true." he said with a shrug. "People disappear all the time. With Mount Mortar, the Ice Path, and even Mount Silver to patrol, our forces are stretched thin as is. When the League kept pestering me to send someone to look up possible implications of Sinnoh myth, I sent Jonathan to look stuff up. We both knew it was an impossible mission, but there were more practical reasons to get him out of Johto."
"Like what, exactly?" I prompted.
"None of your business." Jonathan said sharply.
"Well, cry me a damn river, asshole." Joy said sharply. "If you want our help to deal with your little Zapdos problem, you're going to have to come clean with us."
"You're the one that needs help." Jon pointed out.
"And apparently this problem is so big that you cant handle it by yourself." I countered.
I turned to look at Jon's boss. He gave me an easy going smile at my stare. "Yeah, you're right. But at the same time, your problem is bigger than ours. We can keep Zapdos controlled in the sense that she won't harm many people. If you mess up, you're dead."
He's right and he knows it. I rubbed the bridge of my nose. Jonathan spoke.
"You don't have to do this." he said.
We all turned to face him. "This has been my problem from the start. I can handle it."
"Last time you tried this, it almost got you killed." Jon's boss said.
"Then it's as it should be, then." Jon intoned with finality. "If that's how I'm supposed to die, then so be it."
He's doing this on purpose now! Joy put her hand on my shoulder. It was probably for the best, because it stopped me from screaming.
"I think you need to talk to all of your Pokémon before we go ahead on this. Me too, for that matter."
I nodded to Joy, trying my best to stay calm. I looked over the other two. "Do you have a place so that I can talk?"
"Right this way." he said, a grin spreading on his face.
"So, how do we proceed?" I asked, narrowing my eyes.
I was in a separate room from everyone. Glass walls surrounded me. The fat man, Joy, and Jonathan were waiting for me to commune with my Pokémon. Everyone was out of their Pokéballs, staring at me surprised as I explained the situation.
"So, they wont help us until we help them?" Zin asked, growling.
"That seems to be their deal." I said with a sigh. "They're not even looking for my information! Any leverage that I thought I had went down the drain extremely quickly."
"Was this not to be a tentative agreement?" Deoxys asked curiously.
"They know I don't have anywhere to go." I snarled. "Other than the League, and I'm pretty sure the League itself knows. Not that anyone in there will take me seriously. I'd need to gather the badges to get entry and I can't do that anymore."
Deoxys nodded, backing away from me. "I'm sorry." she whispered.
I shook my head. "No, I should be sorry. I'm putting you all in unnecessary danger."
Everyone stared at me when I said this. "They're asking us to help Jon take care of this Zapdos problem once and for all." I spelled out. "We'll be taking on one of the legendary thunder birds."
"We won't be alone, Master." Xola said, nodding confidently. "We'll win."
I frowned. "Xola..." I said worriedly. Zin stopped me before I could continue.
"She's right!" Zin barked. "We stick together, we win. We beat the shit out of Darkrai at the end, and we can do it again! We've been training hard for two weeks straight. We're not weak, and you don't have to pretend that we are, either!"
I stared at her, surprised by her outburst. She growled at my stupefied look.
"You're not just my Master, you know." she said more calmly. "You're my mate. You're dear to me. And not just me. Everyone here cares for you. All we want is for you to be safe! If this is what it takes for that to happen, we will make it happen!"
Spirit's claws held me around my shoulders, pressing me against her body. Akalia rubbed against my legs, her purrs loud in the silent room. Zin and Xola stood in front of me, while Mist and Deoxys stood next to the Houndoom and Milotic. Aurora was riding on top of Deoxys' head, sharpening her claws threateningly.
I felt overwhelmed at Zin's words and everyone's actions. Was I ready for something like this? Uncertainty was at the forefront of my mind, mixing with a healthy dose of fear and concern. The possibility of someone dying was a constant reminder that my brain brought up. Was I able to carry that burden? Was it my choice in the first place? The words from the man in Almia echoed in my mind. Was it the indoctrination that bound them to me?
I shook my head. No, I knew that wasn't to be true. I took a few deep breaths, in an effort to calm my panicking mind. Everyone was looking at me, expecting me to say something. The silence stretched for a moment, as I thought of something to say.
"They are expecting us soon, Master." Deoxys said, looking towards the three outside our room.
"I know." I said, frowning. "I know."
"What is it that is holding you back, Master?" Mist spoke softly, floating next to me.
What hasn't been covered yet? I sighed. "You know me too well." I said, frowning. "The obvious reason is that this is going to probably end up blowing up in our faces."
"We have nothing else, unless we use more unsavory means. I do not think that you would approve of me assaulting a human mind." Mist said crossly.
"Right... I don't know what that man's thinking, nor do I think I want to. But then again, if we do what he says he doesn't have a reason to keep his word."
"So you think the fat man is a slug, basically." Zin summarized.
"Pretty much." I said, frowning. "I don't like the look he gives us. Especially to you, Deoxys."
She stood there quiet for a moment, before nodding. "I can see why you say those things, Master." she said quietly. "His thought process is clouded with a lust for power and information."
"Well, he can get all of that, but not from us." I snarled, taking a deep breath before continuing. "I just need some time."
"Time?!" Zin snarled. "We don't have time anymore! We have the chance to get an advantage on those shadow bastards, and you're going to let it slip by?"
I stared at Zin, surprised. Before I could open my mouth to say anything, a gout of flame shot in front of my face. Spirit pulled me away quickly, though it didn't look like I was in any danger.
"My Master isn't some weakling that gets afraid from a simple threat." Zin growled, taking a step forward. "I trusted Song in that. She told me that you were brave. She would constantly tell me stories of you going around in some dark cave, getting chased by something or another, finding old secrets and junk. It's impressive for someone doing that at a young age. You wouldn't catch me dead in a cave.
"But now, you're going to hide with your tail between your legs before you even try? Where's your bravery now?!"
"This isn't about being brave, Zin!" I said, raising my voice. "This is about protecting you all!"
"And we're trying to protect you!" she countered. "Why aren't you letting us do our job? Why don't you trust us?!"
The words shocked me and my strength left my legs. I dropped to the ground, everyone huddling close to make sure everything was alright. Why was it so hard to keep everyone safe? It isn't some injury that they would get from a regular battle with another trainer. This would be a matter of life and death. I sighed, closing my eyes.
"Just promise me that we'll take precautions." I said. "No crazy risks, and definitely no funny business while we're on this job."
"Are you serious?" Zin asked.
"I'm as serious as I can be." I said grimly. "If that's what it's going to take to get that slugs trust, then we'll have to do it. That Zapdos has to go down."
We were offered to stay inside the Ranger headquarters for the rest of the day. The excuse of 'preparing' was thrown around by both Jonathan and his boss. I didn't believe it for a second, in all honesty. It felt like a quick excuse to keep surveillance on us. Because apparently they thought I would run out on them. That sounded like a great idea.
Our room was equipped with two beds and not much else. We had to go out of our room to use the bathroom, if needed. Victini was still on top of Joy's head as she sat across from me on her bed. Spirit and Mist insisted in staying out of their Pokéballs, no matter what I had to say on the matter.
"So we're going on 'official Ranger assignment'." Joy said, her index fingers making the quotation motion in the air as she spoke.
"You don't have to come along." I said. "This is my problem. And Jon's, apparently."
"And you expect me to sit on my ass doing nothing?" she asked. "Here's my answer: fuck you. I'd rather be doing something even remotely productive. Besides, I want to stay safe from those crazy Darkrai just as much as you do."
"I just hope that fat guy keeps his end of the deal after all this." I said, frowning.
"You think he will?"
I shook my head. Joy smirked at me.
"At least you're not stupid."
"I get the feeling that he'd stab us in the back as soon as it becomes a convenience." I said darkly.
"He'll do more than that, if you give him any more leeway." Joy said with a shrug. "I know their kind. Lecherous bastards."
I raised an eyebrow at her, but she shook her head. "Don't worry about it."
"If you say so." I said with a shrug. "Any idea what to expect tomorrow?"
"Expect him to stare at your Pokémon." she said darkly. "He would either be staring at my chest, at Victini, or Deoxys. Bastard couldn't decide which he wanted to jerk off to."
The urge to laugh hit me hard, but I bit my tongue before it escaped me. The last thing that was needed tonight was having Joy choke me to death in my sleep. Spirit's wings twitched suddenly, but I touched the top of her head with my hand. The resting Flygon opened her eyes and smiled, before closing them again.
"You trust them, don't you?" Victini asked suddenly.
I stayed silent for a moment, but I nodded. "I have to." I whispered.
Both Victini and Joy looked over me, and nodded simultaneously. I felt confused at their actions, for some reason.
"Why are you both nodding?" I asked.
"Because you care." Victini said simply. At my confused face, she elaborated. "A lot of trainers would have probably left the second that fat man decided to change his tune after you agreed. We don't have much of a choice, though. Even this agreement is better than none. As much as we don't like it, overall."
"Also, you talked with all of your Pokémon, taking in their opinion on the matter." Joy said, picking up where Victini left. "That's an obvious sign that you really care for their safety. It also says a lot of you if they're willing to risk their lives."
I sat there, dumbstruck, until Mist's voice echoed softly inside my skull.
"We will do our best to let no harm befall you, Master." she said softly.
I nodded. "I think we should go to sleep. They did say they wanted to get us an early start as soon as possible."
Joy nodded. "You're right. G'night."
I stood up, turning off the lights in our small room. "Good night, Joy." I whispered, before laying next to Spirit. My Flygon stirred for a moment, her claws clinging to me possessively and making a soft trill. I leaned my head against her, feeling safe and falling asleep.
We were woken up early by Jonathan. I was thankful that Joy didn't feel like sleeping naked or whatever. We were given fifteen minutes to make ourselves presentable. I just went to the bathroom and did my business before showing up.
"You're not even combing your hair?" Joy asked as she brushed hers just outside of the office doors.
"No. If I get fifteen minutes of warning time, he can go suck on a rock."
Joy grinned at me, just before the doors opened to reveal Jon. He looked at both of us and nodded, but gave me a grin. "Thanks." he said, smiling.
I wanted to smile. I really wanted to, but what I wanted right now was to punch him in the face. "Don't thank me yet." I said, before walking past him.
We were in the same meeting room we were in yesterday. Jonathan's boss was sitting down, a smile on his face as he ate breakfast. My stomach protested immediately at the offense, but I ignored it. Jonathan's boss opened his arms wide, as if glad to see us this morning.
"Good morning!" he exclaimed jovially. "I hope you both slept peacefully?"
"I've slept on better rocks." I said with a shrug.
"That's not nice to say to offered hospitality." he said, sounding hurt.
"We didn't ask to sleep here, either." I spat back. "If you wanted us under surveillance, all you had to do is keep Jon close."
"But what's the fun in that if I don't get to see your faces with these fancy cameras?" he said, sweeping his fat hand around him. "Security has to have some kind of job, don't you think?"
"You wouldn't need security if you weren't paranoid."
"Paranoid? Me?" he asked in mock offense. "You really need to get out more."
"I'm more than happy to leave and take my chances." I said. My anger was quickly getting the best of me. "I've handled things alright, and if you're not even willing to cooperate with me, then I'm out of here."
"Then you'll go with questions unanswered." he warned.
"Screw your answers!" I yelled out. "So far all you've done is twist around words and lie to my face! Because apparently you can handle that kind of honest mockery. If you don't swear to Arceus that you'll answer questions, you can happily send Jon to his grave if that's what it'll take!"
I was breathing hard, my heart pounding loudly in my ears. Silence followed my words that echoed in the still meeting room. My legs were shaking, but I refused to show any further weakness.
"What do you mean?" the fat man asked.
"What do I mean?!" I spat back, my rage running out of my control once again. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that he's had some kind of horrible experience with this Zapdos problem. He refuses to talk about it at all times, and it's not a huge secret. For the love of Suicune, EVERYONE IN JOHTO KNOWS IT! It's even headline news on the radio! I wouldn't doubt it's in every news channel at every hour on the hour! How can you tell me with a straight face that THIS ISN'T A BIG DEAL!?"
For once, the round ball that called himself a man had the decency to look surprised. Also, mildly hurt. I'm not in a current state of mind to tell the difference. He looked over to Jonathan, then back to me and Joy before shrugging. He sighed deeply, shaking his head.
"Jonathan, you're going to explain everything." he said with another sigh. "I can't make any Ranger go with you. That's always ended up badly. If you want their help, your going to have to convince them yourself."
By some miracle of Arceus, he stood up from his chair. We moved out of the way so he could leave. Also, so we wouldn't be walked over by his ever expanding girth. He looked at me before leaving. He had a frown on his features, the first time he decided to try that tactic on me. I stared back on him, my features impassive to his more docile one. He shook his head once, then left us alone as he shut the door behind him.
I still didn't like this idea. Jonathan didn't look all that pleased, either. Joy looked like this was a large inconvenience. I walked over to Jon, sitting across from him. Joy came over and sat next to me. Jon sighed, shaking his head.
"Now would be a good time to explain what the fuck is going on." Joy prompted.
Jon didn't respond to the question, nor to the stares we were giving him. The only sounds were our breathing and the occasional squeak of the chairs. Joy yawned next to me. Jon tapped his foot on the carpet. I slammed my fist against the table.
"You know what? Screw this crap. I'm done." I said, standing. "Good luck with your damn bird problem. I'm out of here if you're not talking."
"She raped me." he said softly.
Huh? "What?" I think my brain just exploded.
"I can't take her on by myself." he said, a little louder this time. "I've tried. I met her about ten years ago, when I first started. I was a star-eyed trainer, aiming for the big leagues. With Storm and Cleopatra the trainers around Blackthorn were easy pickings, excluding the gym of course. I headed south along Route forty-five to reach New Bark Town, though I didn't use the official route all the way. I cut through the forest halfway through, to see something new and explore the area."
He took a deep breath, shaking his head. I looked over to Joy, who shrugged at me. "Do you want me to get some water?" she asked out loud.
Jon nodded. "Yes, please." he said softly, before going quiet again.
Joy went outside, to return quickly with a pitcher of water and three plastic cups. She placed the pitcher in front of us and served Jon and herself a cup. I had to serve myself. She gave me a grin.
"You're not the one talking." she said as a excuse.
Silence fell around us again as I served myself water. It was odd to see Jon this quiet or unresponsive. He's always been the one to drop a witty comment or pull some line out of nowhere. Now it seemed that he was just trying to find the right words. Probably failing miserably, due to the frown on his features. I sat myself down again, intent to at least listen to what he said.
He sighed. "After a while, I got lost trying to find my way. It felt amazing. I was out in the world, having my own adventure. I always dreamed of being in the Pokémon League. Battling in front of hundreds of people, the stakes, the prestige. It's what I've always wanted to do since I've known about Pokémon. As soon as I turned thirteen, my parents helped me catch my first Pokémon, and they've been with me all this time."
"Storm and Cleopatra?" I asked.
He nodded. "We've been together ever since. Anyway, it was then that I found her. She was young, and I didn't know about her kind back then. I thought it was all a myth to keep kids from doing dumb ass shit. But right in front of me was a real life Zapdos. Sure, a baby by all standards, but a Zapdos nonetheless. She was having problems making a suitable nest, finding things. While I obviously couldn't understand her, it was easy enough to see. Especially since both Storm and Cleopatra were more than willing to help in translating. She was a bit proud, and it was hard to get her to understand that we weren't going to capture her or scare her off.
"It only took a few days, but it was nice to stop and take a look around. I always loved the woods, so it wasn't a problem to deviate from my original plan. What was the big problem was that in helping her, I committed the courting ritual of her species. Helping her build her nest, fending off other wild Pokémon. All that fun stuff. She wanted me to stay, and when I refused, she wanted to join me. I refused again, saying that I didn't want to take advantage of her kind nature. She was angry, but I had made up my mind, and we managed to fend off her assault."
"Fend off, you mean running away." Joy pointed out.
"You fight a Zapdos face to face." he said, before taking a drink. "Afterwards, I want you to tell me how you beat it. If it doesn't decide to cook your insides."
I winced, a sensation akin of something sliding over my skin making my stomach squirm. He continued after refilling his cup. "I continued my journey, having an official start and everything at New Bark Town. As much as I wanted to forget about the Zapdos, she wouldn't leave my mind. Traveling was nice, though, and nobody found it odd when I spaced out and thought back to that chance encounter. Looking back at it, things could have turned for the better if I had taken her up on that offer. Though I think I might not have turned out to be who I am today."
"You'd be a more cocky individual." I said with a grin. Jon chuckled for a moment.
"Either case, time passed easily as I went back to the League challenge." Jon continued. "It was easy enough to concentrate on that and forget about her. I didn't get all that far, though. I realised that I enjoyed helping others more than just battling and getting that big endorsement package."
"So then you joined the Rangers?" Joy asked.
"Pretty much." Jon said with an easy smile. "After five years of running the League gauntlet, it got boring. Especially when you get to know the gym leaders on a first name basis.
"But yeah, as soon as I heard about the Johto Rangers forming, I came back to Blackthorn to apply. To my surprise, they accepted my application quickly, throwing me on the job as soon as they fitted me in the uniform. Unlike other Rangers that applied, I had a full team of Pokémon at the time. So unlike others, I could tackle dangerous situations quickly and efficiently. I was promoted left and right, becoming one of the first captains of the Blackthorn Rangers. It wasn't until recently that Zapdos became the threat she is now."
Silence fell as Jon stopped talking. I had drank my cup twice over his story, while both Joy and Jonathan seemed to be taking their time. Jon poured himself another cup.
"So, you mean that Johto wasn't always this crazy?" Joy asked.
"It's my fault, technically." Jon said. I took a drink of water, but shrugged all the same.
"That doesn't make sense." I pointed out. "It's not like you could have seen the future."
He shook his head. "While I didn't know about it in the entire sense, I should have seen the problems this would have caused at one point or another. The warnings were there, and I chose to ignore them in the long run. This is my doing, no matter what."
He said it with a conviction I haven't seen many people talk with. It still felt like he was blaming himself for something completely out of his control, but I had no idea how to think in his place. Having a different background will do that to you.
"So fast forward to... about a year ago or so. We get a distress call from the League, requesting aid from the Rangers. I get sent with three others to get a fix on the problem. We only got told two things: there's lightning everywhere, and its centered at the foot of Mount Silver. As soon as I got to the area, I saw her. She grew a lot in ten years, that's for sure. The other Rangers were outmatched easily, since they didn't have Pokémon experienced in fighting. Even my team was severely outmatched. I commanded the other Rangers to get out of here, while I held her off so they could get reinforcements. We fought while they ran, but as soon as they were from earshot, she stopped fighting. Cleopatra was about to attack when I halted her, too. Before I could even ask what was going on, she started laughing. And not just any laugh, but a human laugh. Then she started talking."
"What?!" Joy and I both said in chorus.
"Yeah, who would of thought, huh?" he said. I'm pretty sure he wasn't expecting an answer. "Turns out she's been grabbing trainers as they passed by the Mount Silver area, bribing them with safe passage through her forest if they spent time with her. She wanted to learn human. That was it. If you try hard enough, anybody can do it apparently."
He took another gulp of water, sighing when he finished. "To make a long conversation short, it was all basically done for me. Her entire purpose was for me. To be with me. She learned the human language so she could communicate with me. In her eyes, I was her mate... husband... whatever it is. Apparently, there is no going back from a contract like that. Once again, I refused. I didn't see eye to eye with that, nor did I want to be her mate in the first place. When she once again offered herself to be with me in my team, I told her that my team was full. Due to being with the Rangers, I was not allowed to capture any more Pokémon. I didn't have any Pokéballs with me at the time anyway. As soon as I said those words, she flew into a rage. Needless to say, she handed my ass to me in a burning platter. And then... well... she took what was rightfully hers, in her eyes."
He closed his eyes, rubbing his temples. I wasn't entirely convinced. "And why should we believe this?" I asked. "Yeah, this sounds too elaborate and too much of a sob story to be not true. But how in the world do we know you're not bullshitting."
He stood up suddenly. For once, I was actually afraid that I had offended him. He turned around and pulled off his shirt. All across his back were scars. I honestly couldn't see a portion of his skin that wasn't slashed.
"After she was done with me, she turned me over and slashed the shit out of my back." he said. "She left me bleeding on the ground like a used toy. She also said that if I ever betrayed her, she would personally kill me. This makes it clear to any Pokémon that I'm claimed."
He dropped his shirt back down and turned around. "Now do you believe me?"
I looked over to Joy, who was nodding her head. I couldn't help but sigh.
"You better not be kidding when we find this bird." I said. "I'm in."
We were walking downhill. Apparently, Route forty-five was a maze of hedges and tall grass. You could go up, but you'd be in for one large undertaking. In the direction we were walking, it felt like we were in some kind of valley. The mountain seemed to keep us within its grasp, the trees the only thing covering it towards our left. To the right, was part of the mountains grasp. Jon pointed out where the entrance / exit of the Dark Cave.
"Yeah, that looks like it would have been easier." I said loudly. Jon laughed, patting me on the shoulder.
"Yeah, it would have been. Trust me. How's your shoulder, by the way?"
"Better." I said, gently stretching it. "It doesn't hurt as much, but I'd rather not try something stupid with it still."
Aurora stirred from my stretching, her claws scratching my scalp before settling down again. I gently petted her back, and her purrs rumbled through me. Jonathan chuckled.
"It must be nice to have her on your head." he commented. "It gets hot around here."
"It does feel rather nice." I said with a grin. "The cool air helps out a lot."
Aurora snuggled closer to me, her claws tracing my jaw line as she purred louder in my ears. I scratched her neck as best I could from my angle, and her purrs deepened. Jon was looking at me like I've lost my mind.
"What is it?" I asked.
"How do you trust her so much?" he asked. "I mean, you only met her a few days ago. How is it that your so comfortable around her? Her-"
I raised my hand to stop him. "I get it, Jon. Thank you for your concern, though. But even still, I trust her. Why? I can't really say any more than I trusted Zin that first night. There really isn't an explanation behind it, other than that's how it is."
"Irrational behavior." he said with a sigh.
"Be that as it may, but that's how it is."
He nodded, more than happy to drop the subject. Aurora didn't seem to mind, though, more than happy to grip me tightly as we walked towards our objective. Joy was giggling behind me, though I wasn't entirely sure why. The path's slope eventually flattened out to a level field. Jon slowly deviated into the forest, and we followed without any questions. The hairs on the back on my neck began to bug me, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't Aurora teasing me back there.
"Jon?" I called out softly.
He held out his fist, and we all stood still. Jon moved slowly forward, motioning us to follow him every few feet he moved. I idly realized that even at the highest risk, he was being practically scouting to make sure we were safe. The fear I felt for his safety escalated slightly at the thought. Then the thought of his boss came up, and that concern went down slightly.
He shook his head. "We need to wait until morning." he said. "I don't want to give the wrong impression to Zapdos."
"Wrong impression?" Joy echoed. "What do you mean?"
"She usually has the other Pokémon of the forest report to her of any humans that come around her territory." he explained. "If we push further, the more at risk we become to get her attention."
"And this isn't what we want." I said, frowning.
"If we can catch her by surprise, the better." Jon said, nodding at me. "The odds are slim, but we have to try."
I nodded. "Are we camping here?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Let's wait until nightfall. No fire, either. It'll attract too much attention."
"Good thing Aaron has those bars in his backpack, right?" Joy asked.
I nodded. "I should have enough for everyone. I think mom packed for a small army, not to mention what we bought beforehand."
Jon nodded. "Sorry Joy, none of Aaron's famous dinner for us."
"Damn. And I was looking forward to those noodles, too."
I laughed. "Somehow, I don't think that Aurora would approve of a hot meal."
"Weavile!" Aurora chirped from above.
Morale was high as we settled down. It wasn't the best place for tents, but we made due without them. I looked over to Joy, who was fiddling around with her Pokédex.
"Do you still get reception from the Goldenrod radio?" I asked.
"Yeah, but if I do, it'll go full blast." she warned.
"Well, you know where the volume control is, right? Put it inside your backpack while you turn down the volume."
She rolled her eyes at me, but did as I suggested. A scream that sounded like a wounded Pokémon came from the Pokédex, quickly muted over. Jonathan ran over to us, his eyes looking around frantically. Joy slowly raised the volume of the radio, the guitar solo slowly fading away.
The slightly muted voice of the Goldenrod DJ came from Joy's backpack. "If I had my way of it, this would be the last time I'd play that song on the radio. But no, the youth of today have to blast their eardrums out with screaming music. Honestly kids, what kind of crap is that?
"Anyway, enough of me complaining of what's popular and what's not. News time! The Bug Catching contest in National Park started without any problems. They seem to have a really good turnout today, too. About thirty kids and parents participating. Hope someone out there catches something cool! Maybe a Scyther? I love those guys. Can't beat a Pokémon that's fast as lightning and blades for arms. Feeding them is another problem, but that's a minor inconvenience.
"Olivine's power grid came back up not that long ago. We got reports that everything is fine, and that service will continue until something catastrophic happens." The sounds of shuffling papers could be heard though the speaker. "Well, this is interesting. It seems like we're reporting on League business now! Apparently, the champions from the different regions have been spotted in different cities, and traveling together! Lance the Dragon Master, Cynthia the Legend Seeker, Steven the Iron Juggernaut, and Wallace the Aqua Illusionist have apparently combined forces to do... something. Unfortunately, the League hasn't given us much information to report. So, speculation! I'm betting there's something big going on. We haven't had any crazy crime syndicates trying to take over the world recently, so what could it be? We'll do our best to keep you all posted as much as possible. Also, it would seem that my radio signal is getting a boost! To all you new listeners in Hoenn, Almia, and Fiorre, welcome aboard to the madness! We're still working on Sinnoh, because apparently being like three days away in an airplane is too much for our signals. We'll work on it, I promise you. And yes, I'm promising this to people that can't hear me currently.
"Music time! Apparently you all liked that crazy pair with the techno music. So we'll throw you some more! Here's the 'Milotic Rapids' with another of their beats called 'Transformations'! Enjoy!"
Joy closed her Pokédex as the beat grew louder, before anything could start. I was about to protest myself. I've heard good things about that band. Jon gave me a soft pat on my shoulder as he shook his head.
"I'll get you their CD if we make it out of this place." he said with a grin.
"How am I going to play it?" I asked, raising an eyebrow at him. "It's not like I have any fancy gadgets that play that. And anyway, when am I going to have the time?"
"I'm sure we'll figure it out." he said with a shrug. "It's a little past midday. Let's get a little deeper before we settle in for good."
I was curious, but everyone complied. Didn't he just say that we shouldn't move further? It was good that we didn't set up anything more permanent. We didn't even take out our sleeping bags or make any kind of perimeter. I helped Joy stand up, and Jon made sure to cover our tracks as we left our little area. It felt like we were exploring a lost forest, and we probably were. It didn't look that many people came around here on purpose, so the radio was right. People really took that warning seriously, and I had to wonder how insane we had to be to be doing what we were about to do.
The trees seemed to grow thicker as we pushed onward. Berries hung ripe above us, and my stomach growled in protest to the amazingly large Sitrus berries that we passed by. A few bushes of other berries I didn't recognize grew around us. Jon had to stop and remind me that we had our own food to eat. We passed out food among us, but we still continued forward. Aurora clung tightly to my scalp, pressing her body close to my head to avoid being hit by anything. When I offered her to go back inside her Pokéball, she refused. I stopped by the second time, when her claws threatened to break through my skin.
As we continued forward the trees continued to grow thicker, but more spread apart from each other. Bushes filled with berries looked untouched by either Pokémon or human grew tall and proud. Even flowers were growing wildly, the air growing heavy with the perfume-like scent. Jonathan stopped us when we could barely see the edges of a great clearing.
"Alright, we pushed farther than I thought we would be, but that's fine. Less walking to do tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" I asked.
"You don't want to fight her in the dark." he warned, shaking his head. He tapped his wrist, as if asking for the time. Joy checked her Pokédex.
"It's almost four in the afternoon." she answered.
"Yeah, that sounds about right." he said, nodding. "We have to stay quiet. On that clearing is her nest. We can't let her know we're here."
"Wait, why are we so close to her nest?!" I exclaimed, my voice almost going up an octave.
"So we don't walk so far in the morning tomorrow." Jon answered. "And keep your voice down. We don't want her to know, remember?"
I nodded, clamping my mouth shut with my hands. Aurora giggled from above me, but kept silent afterwards at Jon's glare. Jon pulled out his Pokédex and fiddled with it for a moment. He nodded after a second, closing it.
"We won't have to prop up tents." he said. "No chance of rain tonight."
"I don't trust the weather people, man." I whispered. "They're never right."
He rolled his eyes at me. "They are the only ones who get paid to lie." he said.
"That makes me feel so much better." I said. "It makes me want to at least make some kind of cover."
"We'll be fine. It's not like a little water is going to kill you."
"If you get struck by lightning it will." Joy shot as she joined us.
"But it still won't kill you by itself." Jon said.
"Guilty by association and assistance in murder is good enough for me." I said, standing up. "I'm going to relax. Wake me up when it's my time to watch."
Jon and Joy were passed out. All of my Pokémon insisted in helping to keep an eye out at our encampment. Was it even that? We didn't even have a fire, so my eyesight was near useless. But I guess if Zapdos showed up, I wouldn't need any light when lightning is coming towards my face.
Everyone was quiet for the most part. Akalia's golden eyes were easy to spot, along with Zin's red glow. Aurora was currently above my head in a tree branch. I wouldn't put it past her that she's asleep. Deoxys and Spirit were staying close to me. Spirit's claws and at least two of Deoxys' tentacles were always touching a part of my body. Mist was... somewhere. I wasn't entirely sure where the Mismagius was. She has a tendency to do that, I think. Xola was also currently missing. Though knowing her, I'll be doused in water before I miss her too much.
Akalia and Zin appeared, Zin's warm nuzzle on my hand telling me she wanted attention. I grabbed her horn gently and reached behind them to scratch. Akalia came to sit next to Zin, and I alternated scratching both of them.
"We haven't seen anything." Zin whispered. "There were a few small bugs, but they left as soon as Akalia walked in their general direction."
I nodded. "Nothing hostile so far then." I said.
"It feels like everything is avoiding us, actually." Deoxys said. "Our presence is known, but we're being deliberately ignored."
"Let's hope that Zapdos doesn't assault us in the night, then." I said grimly. "It wouldn't do well for any of us to be caught off guard."
"Where's Xola?" Zin asked.
"I'm betting with Mist." I said with a sigh. "That ghost is going to be the death of me."
I felt a weight drop on top of me as Xola rested herself on my body. My lungs emptied what air they had left as her face snuggled against my chest. I wrapped my arm around her, stroking her head gently.
"You shouldn't try to crush my lungs so often, Xola." I whispered.
"Oh, you're so nice to me." she said with a giggle.
"We did not find anything while we were out, Master." Mist said next to me. "I have to agree with Deoxys that it feels like they know of our presence, yet avoid causing an uproar."
I nodded. "Thanks, everyone. Let's relax for now, before we earn our sleep."
Everyone seemed to be agreeable to the idea. I felt Deoxys tighten her grasp as she sat next to me. I looked at her direction, but could barely make any of her features. The moon, if it was out at all, was hidden by cloud cover from above. The only way I knew that she was looking at me was that her eyes glowed yellow, just like Akalia's.
"Are you tired?" she asked softly. I shook my head in response.
"Do you mind if we talked?" I chuckled in response, but motioned her to go on.
"We can talk. It'll keep me awake." I said, urging her. "Is there something wrong?"
"No!" she exclaimed, before calming down. "No, nothing is wrong. I just... I wanted to know if you did think of a new name for me."
I frowned. "I'm sorry, I haven't. But while we're on the subject, do you have any suggestions?"
"Me?" she queried.
"Of course. It's you that we're going to name. Don't you think you should have some input in what you're going to be called?" I asked back.
"But aren't you my trainer?"
"Well, yes, technically I am." I conceded. "But at the same time, all of you are intelligent, and can easily tell me if it's something that displeases you. I'm a flexible guy."
"In more ways than one." Zin chirped, as she pressed herself next to me. "Hey Deoxys, you want to have sex with him, don't you?"
What?! "Zin, I think this qualifies under the flag that not everyone is as horny as you." I pointed out calmly.
She snorted, pressing her muzzle on my leg to suppress her laughter. "Right." she said, her voice barely under control. "And you aren't the one that jumps me when I spread my legs."
Arceus! If there was any light outside, anyone would see how flustered I am. All I wanted to make sure is that my embarrassment wasn't felt.
"If you're trying to hide your arousal, you're failing miserably Master." Xola intoned.
As if things just couldn't get worse.
"I want to make you happy, Master." Deoxys said. Zin stood up, her eyes wide. I could swear that her teeth gleamed with fire.
"Oh do you now?" she asked sweetly. "I think we can arrange something."
Arceus! I had to put a stop to this! I can't have Zin turning Deoxys into another of her planned pack or... WHATEVER it was she's planning! Zin's eyes turned to me, and now I could really see her grin as flames licked the sides of her open muzzle.
"No, you won't stop me." she said with finality. "No, I'm not going to force her into choosing. And no, nothing you can say is going to stop this conversation."
My complaints died in my throat as Zin grinned. "But that won't be tonight, unless you want to."
"Master, I am going to speak with Zin." she said softly, releasing me from her grip. "Please relax. We will be back shortly."
As both of them turned and walked away into the darkness, I couldn't help but feel a bit of fear. What was Zin planning? Why did she feel the need to speak with Deoxys? Perhaps she notices something I don't? I wouldn't doubt it. I'm blind to most of it. I felt Xola snuggle against my chest.
"When can I have my turn with you?" she asked softly. Akalia purred next to me. I swallowed the lump that began to form in my throat. I've never felt the need to go to sleep so badly like right now. Spirit seemed to feel my distress, and softly hissed at Xola and Akalia. Both Pokémon backed off from the Flygon's advance, but didn't leave me entirely. Spirit seemed to be satisfied with that. She tightened her embrace on me as she nuzzled my cheek gently.
I stared upwards, feeling my body finally relax. Tomorrow was to be a busy day. Hopefully one without any kind of extreme fighting. Who was I kidding, though. The odds of Zapdos peacefully leaving the area alone were near zero. How were we supposed to convince her otherwise? It really felt that all our options were just about if Zapdos was even remotely amiable to the possibility. Again, it really felt like that was not happening.
Screw this. I'm sure that someone would wake me up if something happened. I felt Spirit hug me, cooing softly in the effort to get me to sleep. I reached up to stroke the scales on her neck gently, exhaustion claiming me quickly as soon as I closed my eyes.
Morning came without any problems. All my Pokémon were around me in some form or fashion. Aurora was in her traditional place on top of my head somehow. Most of her body was covering my face as Xola still rested on top of me. Spirit woke up alongside me, and quickly took command of the situation by making sure everyone was up and about. She even went over to make sure that Jonathan and Joy were up. Storm and Zefyra were out of their Pokéballs, and so were Variel and Baast. It seemed that both my friends had the same idea I had.
Jon was the first one to approach me. "Get your stuff together quick. Take a piss if you have to, but let's get ready. I don't want to postpone this any longer."
What I wanted is breakfast, but my bladder was complaining all the same. I went to relieve myself, a breakfast bar stuffed in my mouth as I did my work behind a tree. Making sure I was proper to exit cover, I made my way back to camp. Joy and Jonathan had my stuff ready, and had all their Pokémon recalled.
"Alright, now we get ready. Recall everyone and lets go. I don't want to waste daylight."
"It's like seven in the morning, man." I said, stifling a yawn.
"And it's going to get later if you don't hurry your ass up."
All my Pokémon were conveniently all together. I recalled them one by one, though I got a weird look from both Zin and Deoxys. I just hoped everything is fine in the long run. After making sure that all of my Pokéballs were secured on my belt, I turned to Jon and followed them. Joy handed me my backpack as we followed.
The clearing itself was covered in green grass as far as the eye could see. It was barely above ankle high, so it didn't offer any cover. What dominated the clearing was a massive tree. It was dead, the weathered bark looked silver in the morning sun. The smooth bark lead up to a crown of twigs and branches held by the trees dead branches. Green vines and leaves could be spotted, even at the distance we were. Jon stepped forward, walking in front of us as we headed towards the tree. Without any warning, a bolt of lightning struck in front of us. It was quickly followed by more, and we were forced backwards. Jon stood still though, not being intimidated by the attacks. I almost called out to him, but then another bolt of lightning struck. It was larger than the other thing streaks, but when my eyes stopped showing white sparks everywhere, Zapdos stood in front of Jon.
The giant bird was almost twice his size. It was huge when we saw her when she was aligned with the Goldenrod Radio tower. Now, she was just gigantic. How were we supposed to stop this thing again? Right, shoot stuff at it. Gotcha. The Zapdos opened her wings wide, screeching out at us for a moment. While I cringed backwards, Jon didn't back down from the display.
"It's been a while since we last talked." he said.
For a moment, I thought he lost his mind. Talking with one of the thunder birds? But she responded in kind.
"It really has been a while, hasn't it, my love?"
Love?! Wait. The story at the Ranger headquarters. He wasn't kidding, then. Holy Arceus!
She plucked a feather from her chest, her long beak placing it in Jon's hair. "You shouldn't throw away my gifts." the Zapdos admonished him. "It hurts that you don't care."
"I do care. It's why I've told you that you need to be with your kind." Jonathan said. It sounded like a rehearsed line. Or possibly that he's had to repeat himself too many times.
The Zapdos laughed. "How many times have you said the same line to me?" she asked. "And how many times have I told you that you're the only one for me?"
"One too many times." Jon replied.
"So how many times are we going to have this same conversation?" she asked.
"Until you understand that I'm right." Jon said with a shrug. "I can't give you the family you want."
"I don't need hatchlings to be happy." she chided him softly. She leaned down and rubbed her face against his. "All I want is you."
Jon didn't look pleased at the situation he was in. He didn't look like anything, actually. "You've been attacking cities again."
"Only when I felt you were close!" she said happily. "You can't blame me for being excited to see you after so long."
"You raped me the last time we met." he pointed out.
"I claimed what was rightfully mine." she said sweetly. "You were being uncooperative."
"I didn't want to be hurt, either." he pointed out.
"Are you still hurt over me claiming you?" she asked, grabbing his shirt with her beak. "You haven't betrayed my trust now, have you?"
"No. I'm happy with being single, thank you."
"But then what about those other humans?" Zapdos said, her tone turning cold. "What about the female?"
"I didn't touch her."
"Prove it!" Zapdos roared.
Any politeness that was left was washed away as soon as she said those words. Electricity began to crackle around her body. I could begin to smell ozone just by standing nearby. The fear I had for everyone was beginning to escalate. Not even Akalia's attacks left that kind of smell.
Joy stepped forward, her hands balled up into fists. She stood next to Jonathan, and Zapdos leaned over to inspect her. I had no idea what she was trying to do, but I didn't talk either. She seemed satisfied, however, when she backed away from Joy and nodded.
"Good. You haven't betrayed my trust yet." Zapdos said, relief flooding her voice. "I was afraid I would have to dissuade you from pursuing her."
"I learned that lesson well the first time." Jon said, shaking his head. "I know that makes you angry."
"See? We're destined to be together!"
"I still see otherwise." Jon said, frowning.
Zapdos' eyes narrowed at him. "I've told you time and time again that I'm not old enough to return to my island. Nor am I powerful enough to claim a mate that I want. Not that I have a need for another male."
"I think you're powerful enough." Jon told her sharply. "You can show that you owned this entire forest to a prospective mate and they would be impressed."
"My mate isn't impressed with what I've done." she said to him sourly. "You ignore me, and deliberately leave me for many moons! I search high and low for you at all times."
So that's why she went to Goldenrod! She was looking for Jon all this time. It's a little scary, thinking that a giant thunder bird is looking for you.
She looked over to me idly. Lightning flashed across her spiky feathers and out of impulse I moved. An arc of lightning hit where I was standing a few moments ago, chunks of earth and grass exploding everywhere.
When I tried to stand, something heavy pressed down on my chest. I grasped at it, a screech from above making me hesitate in maintaining my hold. Yellow and black feathers blocked out the sun. Something hard pecked at my hair.
"And who are you mated to, dear human?" Zapdos asked from above.
"Leave him alone, Zapdos." Jon warned.
"And why are these humans with you, dear mate?" she asked. She turned back to me. "Answer the question."
"I don't believe that your privileged to know that." I said evenly.
"You're not in a position to bargain." she said sweetly. Her talons began to tighten around my chest.
"I'm not mated to Jonathan, if that's what your wondering." I answered. "I don't swing that way."
"Not the answer I was looking for."
"My Houndoom, alright?" I whispered. "And my Mismagius, Luxray, and Gardevoir, though she isn't here."
"A pity." she said. "I would hope that you could convince Jon."
"We've talked before. He didn't seem interested in talking about it."
"Again, a pity. I think he could have learned a lot from you."
Before anything else happened, something toppled Zapdos from above me. I looked over to my right to see Baast running towards me. She pulled me from the ground roughly, my shoulder protesting the rough treatment. It stopped when the ground next to us exploded as lightning struck where I once was. Stone and dirt pelted me as Baast made sure I was alright.
I looked behind me, seeing Zapdos standing up. Lightning emanated from her body, lashing wildly around without direction or control. She screeched loudly, almost as if turning into a mindless beast.
"What do we do now?" Joy asked.
"I still vote for running to be a number one option!" I suggested.
"No, I'm done running." Jon said grimly. "We finish this today."
"Baast, Aura Sphere!" Jon yelled out.
I pulled out two Pokéballs, releasing both Zin and Akalia out. Zin rushed forward, using the spheres from Baast to cover her. Akalia looked surprised for a moment, her body unmoving. A roar from behind told me that Joy released Zefyra.
"Zefyra, Tri Attack!"
Three beams of different colors headed towards Zapdos direction. Zin launched a Flamethrower attack to cut off a possible escape path. It worked even better than expected, the Tri Attack landing while the Flamethrower still burning some of the feathers on top of her head. Even with the attacks connecting, it did little to stop her. She didn't even seem any worse for wear, other than the odd singed feather or two.
Zapdos let out a shriek before she retaliated, sending bolts of lightning our way. Baast grabbed hold of me, taking me to safety among the lightning blasts. Akalia countered the bolts with attacks of her own, explosions popping as the energies met in mid air. Zefyra darted out of the way, using her Tri Attack to counter some of the attacks directed at us. I grabbed hold of another Pokéball, idly noticing Zin following Zapdos from the ground.
"Akalia! Help Zin!" I yelled out. The Luxray was shaken into action, bolting to follow the Houndoom as quickly as possible. Opening the Pokéball, Mist materialized next to me. Her eyes widened in surprise, before nodding at me.
"Magical Leaf!" I said, pointing at the flying bird. Green swirls of energy took the shape of leaves, before rocketing towards her target. More leaves joined the initial barrage, forcing Zapdos to dodge or get hit. She wasn't able to fully escape the attack, and it allowed Zefyra to follow up with an attack of her own.
"Zefyra, Hyper Beam!" Joy roared. The attack took full advantage of the Zapdos' inability to move. The resulting explosion resounded through the clearing above. The ball of leftover energy hung in the air for a moment, only to reveal a shimmering field of lightning around her. Baast reacted quickly, running towards Zefyra and using her as a springboard to reach Zapdos.
"Baast, Brick Break!" Jon shouted. When Baast reached Zapdos, she launched a punch forward. The shield wavered on the impact, and Baast followed with another. The shield looked like it cracked under the strain, and Baast followed up with another Aura Sphere at close range. The ball hit the impact point, blowing both Pokémon back in the air. Zefyra appeared to catch the Lucario on her back, while Zapdos flapped her mighty wings to catch and straighten herself. She screeched once, before diving towards the Hydreigon and her charge.
A blast of fire came from under the Zapdos, deviating her from the charge. Zefyra came down to our level, Baast jumping off to run toward Zin and Akalia. Both were doing their best to distract the flying Pokémon as best they could. Mist floated next to me as we moved towards the evolving battlefield.
"Mist, Shadow Ball!" I ordered, seeing an opening. Mist complied, launching the attack as quickly as she could. Zin used herself as a distraction, jumping on top of the Zapdos and attacking from where she couldn't be reached physically. Zapdos barely reacted in time, lifting herself out of the way to get out of Akalia's electric attack. With Zapdos in the air, she quickly gained altitude and shook violently. I grabbed Spirit's Pokéball as Zefyra took to the air again. My Flygon didn't hesitate, flying towards the Zapdos as fast as she could. With a flap of her wings, Zin lost her grip and began to fall. Spirit dove and intercepted the Houndoom long before she hit the ground. Zefyra launched herself into melee combat with the Zapdos. A flash of thunder left me blinded, and I had to rub my eyes to stop the spots dancing in front of me. The thud that I felt wasn't stopped because I was temporarily blind.
"ZEFYRA!" Joy screamed.
That isn't good. "Joy, recall Zefyra! Get her out of the battlefield!" Jon bellowed.
Zefyra's body was smoking when my vision returned. She was being recalled at the same time, the Hydreigon's body shining with the traditional red light before dissappearing inside her Pokéball. I looked over to Joy, as her body shivered as she gently placed the Pokéball back to her belt. The scream of rage that came from her voice was something I didn't want to hear ever again. She grabbed all the other Pokéballs on her belt and a wall of Pokémon stood in front of her. They all looked confused for a moment until Variel turned around to see Joy's face.
"Bring that FUCKING BITCH DOWN!" she screamed. "I don't give a FUCK how you do it! No one fucks with my friends and gets away with it!"
Note to self: never call Joy Isabella.
Victini took it upon herself to lead the cavalry. "Alright! We heard the boss. Let's take that overstuffed bird down!" she said cheerfully before flying towards the offending target. Morph transformed into a copy of Zapdos in a flash, taking to the air and following Victini. The others followed Baast's orders, directing them in attempts to distract her.
One thought bugged me. This shouldn't be this easy. Sure, we have the number advantage, but she wasn't using her full power either. The clouds began to turn dark as the real Zapdos flew in circles. I blinked as a drop of water landed in my forehead. Wiping it off, I was surprised when it was replaced by two more. And then more water came down from the sky.
"Rain Dance!" I screamed. "Get everyone out of the sky!"
Too late. Zapdos screeched loudly, the bolts almost blinding all my vision before I covered my eyes. Morph was falling from the sky, Victini's shield being the only thing protecting the falling Ditto. I could barely see what was going on, but I hoped that everyone was alright in some way. Chunks of dirt hit my chest as the rain began to pick up the pace. From above, Zapdos laughed like a kid that got what they wanted for their birthday.
"Oh, what a joyous day!" she yelled. "I'll handle you meddlesome children, and I'll have my mate to myself once more!"
As Zapdos gloated from above, I surveyed the battlefield. Or I should say, what was left of it. An orange shield protected Joy's Pokémon. Victini's small form was outlined in a bright orange light. While Victini's shield held, Mist's barrier was cracking under the previous strain. Zin, Akalia, Spirit, and Baast hid under the dark purple barrier. The cynical part of me wanted to ask Xola how we were supposed to win this.
I ran towards my Pokémon, washing the water from my eyes. Zapdos was still laughing above as I slid through the barrier. Spirit picked me up, clinging desperately as my hands trembled. Zin looked over to me, fear easy to see in her features.
"I'm sorry!" she yelled at me. "Whatever it is, I'm sorry!"
What? "Now's not the time, Zin! We have to figure something out!"
Akalia growled loudly, only for the sound to be drowned out as Mist's barrier held against another blast of lightning. More cracks appeared on the shield, Mist wincing as she poured more power into it.
"Spirit, you're the only one that has any resistance to her attacks. They're going to be brutal if they hit though. You have to do your best to distract her."
She nodded at my request. I looked over to Akalia, who was looking still better than most.
"Zin, are you still in?" I asked.
She looked around, but nodded. "I haven't been hit yet."
"I need you both to try and distract Zapdos. Try to coordinate your attacks so that you can herd her into another attack. Also, don't hurt each other now. Not like last time."
"Last time was an accident!" she yelled.
"I know, I know." I said, shaking my head. "Mist? Are you alright?"
"Never... better..." she said. "I... cannot hold out for much longer. Perhaps another lightning blast, or at worse a second. After that, I will be drained."
"I'll recall you and have Deoxys help." I said, nodding. "I'm afraid that Zapdos will take out Xola in one hit with these powered up lightning blasts. I'm not sure about Aurora, either."
"We need all the help we can get, Master." Zin said. She was still worried. "Next time I say something like this, I give you full permission to slap me stupid!"
I blinked at her, but shook my head. "We'll worry about it later. Everyone ready?"
"What about me?"
Baast looked at me with a concerned look. "I am still able to battle." she persisted.
"I'm not your trainer." I said with a frown.
"I trust you enough that you will not send me to my grave." she pressed. "Please, direct me."
I was shocked. I've never heard of a trainer giving orders to a Pokémon that wasn't theirs. I nodded at her.
"Give me a few moments. Let's see how this plan works first. I can't think right now with that overgrown bird screeching so loudly." I said, pointing skyward.
She nodded as another blast of lightning slammed against Mist's barrier. The sound of glass shattering filled my ears. Everyone bolted as I caught the falling Mismagius. Fishing out her Pokéball, she was recalled back to safety. With her Pokéball safely attached, I grabbed Deoxys' ball and released her. Again, without any hesitation, Deoxys assessed the situation, looking skyward as Zapdos launched another blast of lightning. This one was directed to Spirit, but due to her element it did nothing but slow down her flight slightly. I was suddenly glad to have called that one right.
Zapdos let out a cry as Spirit aligned herself at the same height. Deoxys distracted me before I could grab Aurora's ball from my waist.
"How do you wish to proceed?" Deoxys asked.
"I don't know!" I said loudly. "I told Spirit to distract Zapdos! I'm not sure that Victini can hold against another one of those Thunder attacks. But now we can't shoot anything to the air without risking Spirit in the crossfire!"
I looked over to Jon, who was looking skyward. I couldn't tell what he was thinking. Other than Baast, no other of his Pokémon were in the battle. Arceus, what was he thinking?! I grabbed Baast's shoulder, getting her attention.
"Tell Jon to send Storm up there!" I said, pointing skyward. "Spirit needs help! She won't be able to hold Zapdos off forever!"
The Lucario nodded at me and headed toward Jon, while Deoxys stood next to me. Her look told me that she wasn't convinced about my plan. The plan was being made as this problem unfolded. There WAS no plan!
"Improvising seems to be a strong skill you have, then." she said softly.
"We don't have any advantage with her in the air." I said, frowning. "We need her grounded so we can use our superior numbers to our advantage. Right now, we're just wasting time."
"I believe myself and Aurora can do so." she said with a nod.
My face was soaked. My clothes were soaked. I hated how she was standing there with a look of utter confidence while the rain sapped at my body heat. My hand grabbed Aurora's Pokéball and released the Weavile. She jumped into my hands immediately, looked at Deoxys, and nodded. She jumped over to Deoxys' head.
"We are ready when you give the order." Deoxys said calmly.
I looked skyward once again, noticing idly that Spirit's flaps were loosing her altitude. Even with Storm in the air, she was picking one target at a time. Distractions weren't going to work at this rate. I turned around to Deoxys and nodded. "Get Spirit out of there!" I said.
Deoxys launched herself into the air. How she flew, it wasn't in my priority list of things I needed to know at the moment. I ran towards the injured Flygon, hoping to get into range fast enough for the Pokéball's recall beam. A flash of lightning blinded me for a moment, spots dancing across my vision again as Zapdos attacked someone else. I managed to recall Spirit just before her body fell against the ground. Jonathan ran up to me as I secured Spirit's Pokéball.
"Yeah, welcome to my world."
"Screw your world, man." I snarled back. "I don't need your witty shit right now!"
"What now?" Joy asked.
"Where's Baast and Victini?" I asked.
"What's the plan?" Joy asked.
"That bird has to be grounded. We need her off the sky."
Jon shoved my side. "What do you think they're doing?!" he screamed.
"You don't have to shove me, dammit!" I said sharply. "I know that! I've been suggesting that to everyone too!"
"What do you need me for?"
I turned to see Victini and Baast walk up to me. I nodded, relief washing over me.
"I have a plan. A risky plan, but it's what I got."
"Shoot! Risk is my middle name!" Victini said proudly.
"Can you fly with Baast up there?" I asked, pointing towards the battle in the sky.
"Proba... Yeah I can! If they keep her at that altitude, I can reach there no problem!" Victini exclaimed with a nod.
"If you can drop Baast from behind her, that lets you go all out on the back of her head." I explained, pointing towards the Lucario. "You need to do as much damage in a single hit as possible. Don't hold back. You'll be at high risk of being thrown off."
Baast nodded. "Don't worry about that. That bird has it coming."
"Is everyone ready?" I asked. Victini and Baast nodded at me. I looked skyward, noticing Zapdos flying lower than anticipated.
"Go!" I yelled. With a flash, Victini was rocketing upward with Baast in her psychic grasp. Baast was somehow launched forward at full speed, tackling the thunder bird hard. A flash of blue surrounded the area, as Baast blasted Zapdos with... something. I wasn't entirely sure what kind of attack Baast just used. Zapdos didn't recover from the blast of energy that Baast unleashed, riding the bird all the way down. The ground shook from the impact, and we all rushed over to see the damage.
What surprised me was the amount of red. A nasty gash was on Zapdos entire body, oozing a surprising amount of blood. Baast didn't look injured, and thankfully Deoxys, Aurora, and Storm were unharmed as well. Jon kneeled next to Zapdos, his head shaking.
"She should be fine, right?" I asked. Baast gave me a look that told me otherwise.
"I do not normally use that attack." she mentioned. "In other instances, that should have stopped her heart instantly."
So that's why Jon was shaking his head. "I can't let her die." he whispered.
"Then catch her, numbnuts!" Joy yelled. "Hurry up before I beat your skull in."
"I don't have a Pokéball to my name right now." he said with a shrug.
"What about that black ball thing you pulled on Darkrai at the monastery?" I asked, grabbing his shoulder. "Can you use that?"
Again, he shook his head. "It won't stop this kind of injury. They're designed as a prison, not for stasis."
Well, this wasn't good. Zapdos' breathing was already irregular, and it didn't help that the injury was on the chest. Wait.... idea!
"Joy! Where's our stuff?"
She blinked at me for a moment. "Didn't you have your bag with you?"
I blinked before Deoxys grabbed my bag and dropped it in front of me.
"I feel like a grade A idiot." I muttered, fishing for a spare Pokéball.
"What are you doing?" Jon asked.
"Capturing her. We can discuss your deal with her later. Right now, though, she needs to be alive for that to happen. Unless you want to let her die."
He didn't answer me, even as I threw the Pokéball in a lazy arc to the fallen bird. When Zapdos was absorbed into the device, there was no resistance and the ping was loud in the quiet of the aftermath. The sun began to show, piercing the artificial storm clouds and the rain subsided quickly. I stood up, grabbing Jon by the shoulder and pulling him up straight.
"Here." I said, forcing the Pokéball in his hands. "She's been your problem all this time. You either can let her go and kill her, or try to figure things out the hard way. Now that she won't attack you so easily, I'm pretty sure you can talk things out."
Taking the lead again, I nodded to both my friends. "Lets get back to Blackthorn and report on the mission being a success. For whatever success this is. That's your problem. I have to deal with the fat man telling me lies all day."
"He won't lie to you." Jon said softly. "I'll make sure he doesn't."
"That's nice. But regardless, first things first. We need to get to the nearest Pokémon Center, now. Storm, are you injured?"
The Dragonite shook her head, looking at me curiously. I smiled. "Take Jonathan back to Blackthorn. Get him to the Pokémon Center directly. That Zapdos needs immediate medical attention in order to survive. The rest of us walk back. It shouldn't take us long to get there."
Jonathan didn't protest as Storm picked him up. The silence was deafening as soon as the Dragonite took off. I looked over to Joy, who was slowly shaking her head.
"I'm useless." she whimpered, before grabbing hold of me in a hug. "I'm so sorry..."
As much as I wanted to say something, I stayed quiet. I held her tightly against me, just letting her know I was there. We stood there in silence, no one objecting until she calmed down. Joy's eyes were closed, her breathing deep and slow. I motioned Skadi to come over and she obliged. Between myself, Ajax, and Deoxys, we lifted her up safely to Skadi's back. I nodded.
"Are we all here and accounted for?" I asked softly, looking around. I received confirmation that from everyone. "Does anyone want to go back inside their Pokéballs?" That was received with negatives all around. I nodded. "Let's get going then."
We made decent time making it back up to Blackthorn. Funny thing was that there were a bunch of trainers picking for fights. They got a look at me and they started their approach. Then they saw the party I had behind me. They backed away rather quickly.
We paraded through the city and walked straight into the Pokémon Center. Nurse Joy was quick to pull us inside and get all our Pokémon treated as soon as possible. When we finally got through all the paperwork, I motioned for her attention.
"Where's Jonathan?" I asked.
Nurse Joy blinked for a moment before smiling at me. "He's in the emergency room. We stabilized Zapdos. Anything else is up to her now."
"Thank you." I said. "Do you think we can visit them?"
"They should be fine by now." she said with a shrug. "Let me check for you, just in case they're speaking."
I nodded as she left both Joy and me at the main desk. Joy still looked exhausted, and was fighting the need to sleep. I shook my head at her, and she frowned at me.
"If you tell me that I need sleep, I'll kick your shit in." she told me.
"Then I'll wisely keep quiet." I said with a nod. "In other news, how do you think Jon is holding up?"
She shrugged. "Doubt he's doing all that good. I'm pretty sure this messed up his plans."
"Plans?" I asked, confused. "What plan? All he did was stare up and be confused as to what was going on half the time."
"Sometimes, I'm convinced you're an idiot." she said heatedly.
"Zapdos tried to gouge out my intestines." I pointed out.
"You're still an idiot." she said with a sigh. "We could have probably avoided all that craziness if you kept your mouth shut."
"I'll remember that next time." I said with a sigh. "But when a gigantic bird has you in her clutches and wants to rip out your intestines, I don't want to hear you complaining."
"Wish granted!" Joy exclaimed, slapping my back. I winced and was about to say something when Nurse Joy returned.
"He says that you can come see him." she said with a sad smile. "I suggest that you stay quiet. Zapdos is still coping with the changes."
I nodded, and Nurse Joy lead us to the room. She opened the door and stood aside to allow us in. The door closed behind me when I stepped inside. I looked behind me to see Joy stand behind me as well. Turning around, I saw Jon sitting on a chair. Zapdos was laying on a mat on the ground, the gigantic bird too large for a emergency bed. The area was cleared out, but she looked at rest at the moment. Jonathan looked like he's been through a nightmare, his eyes bloodshot.
I kneeled next to him, since I didn't see any other chairs nearby. Joy sat down next to me. Nobody spoke as we watched the thunder bird sleep on the mattress. Jon sighed, but when I looked at him he shook his head. He sighed again, but spoke this time.
"What's the plan now?" he asked softly.
I shrugged. "She's your problem." I said. "I captured her to keep her stabilized. We can free her or you can keep her. I'm not personally interested in keeping her."
"What?" Joy asked next to me.
"You think I want a Pokémon that threatened to disembowel me a few hours ago?" I pointed out, turning to face her.
She winced. "Yeah, I don't think so."
"Again, I don't have a Pokéball with me, and I'm pretty sure none of my team want to be traded."
"Who said anything about traded?" I asked.
"I'm not allowed to have or capture any more Pokémon. Didn't you hear that part?"
"What kind of trainer isn't allowed to have any more Pokémon?" I asked. "Aren't extra Pokémon stored either at the registered Pokémon Center or with the regions professor?"
He shook his head again. "When I turned into a Ranger, I forfeited the rights to have any more. I would have to quit, and I don't want to do that."
"So you want to keep her, but you can't because you're not allowed." Joy said. "You're forced to trade, but you don't want to."
When he didn't respond, Joy stood up and whacked the backside of his head. Jon covered the attacked area with his hands. "You're stupid as fuck, too." she said before turning around.
The door opened, Baast entering the room with a tray of stuff in her paws. She walked towards us, standing next to Jon and placing the tray on his lap. "Eat." she ordered.
"I'm not hungry." he said.
"You haven't eaten since this morning, if that." Baast said with a frown. "You must keep your strength up."
"What's the point." he said in exasperation. Baast followed up those words by slapping the back of his skull.
"I'm sick of this." she said. "Trade me. It's obvious that you care more about her than your own well-being, and the respect I have for you is rapidly dwindling. I am also comfortable going back home, though that is a little harder to do."
I looked in Baast's direction. "Wait, you don't mean what I think you're mean." I said, confused.
"Jonathan can trade me for Zapdos. It is exactly what I mean." she said, standing in front of me. "In all honesty, I would prefer to be with you than this human. You've proven yourself capable of handling dangerous situations."
I raised an eyebrow at her. "And why the sudden change of heart now?" I asked.
"Because he will not make the decision, so I am making it for him." she said, turning to look at Jonathan. "While he cares enough for me, he obviously cares more for this stupid bird."
"Jon?" I asked. He shook his head, but shrugged.
"I still have Zapdos' Pokéball." he said, revealing said device. "Are you...?"
"It's not like I have an emotional attachment to the bird." I said, waving my hand towards the fallen Zapdos. "It's you who should be asking yourself if you're OK with this situation."
He sat there in silence, switching from looking between Zapdos, myself, and Baast. Zapdos stirred slightly in her sleep, but didn't wake. I wondered if Nurse Joy used some kind of drug to keep her pacified. The sound of the door opening made me turn around, seeing Nurse Joy coming inside the room. She smiled at us, but turned serious at Jon.
"Are you the one that caught her?" Nurse Joy asked him.
I was about to answer, but Jon intercepted me. "Yes, I did."
"Then why is it registered under someone named Aaron?" she asked.
"I had to catch her in order to protect her." I explained, getting her attention. "Jon didn't have any Pokéballs, so I caught her to stabilize her condition."
Nurse Joy turned to Jon. "And why did you lie to me?"
"I'm responsible for her current condition." he said with a frown.
"That's well and good. All I wanted to know is who is she registered to."
Nurse Joy turned to me, then blinked for a moment. It looked like the idea just hit her. "Wait! Isn't this the Zapdos from Mount Silver!"
I tried my best to hold back my laughter. "Bingo!" I said, nodding.
"But I... we... you!" she said, before shaking her head. "I need some air."
"I'll go with you." Joy offered, taking Nurse Joy's hand and walking outside of the room.
Baast grabbed my hand, getting my attention. "Would you have me?" she asked.
The simple implications of that question made me hesitate. "What do you mean?"
"Will you allow me to go with you?" she asked. I tilted my head in curiosity, but decided against asking. She didn't let me go though, her grasp tightening.
"What?" I asked.
"What were you thinking?" she asked.
Well, this was an interesting scenario. "This isn't about anything more... right?" I asked, lowering my voice.
Her muzzle split into a grin. "Why? Do you wish it to be?" she asked back.
I backed away, but her grip didn't let go of my hand. She pulled me towards her, somehow avoiding to impale me on the chest spike. Her paws held me tightly against her chest. Somehow, my eyes deceived my brain that Baast didn't have any breasts. Well, my skin definitely felt them.
"I'm going to enjoy this." she whispered, before giggling madly.
Why are all these crazy Pokémon trying to have sex with me? The only sane one is Spirit!
Baast took me over to Jonathan, who was now standing up. He looked over to us and blinked in surprise. After a moment of recovering himself, he shrugged and shook his head.
"Are you sure, Baast?"
"Would you prefer that Cleopatra or Storm take my place?" Baast asked back.
Jon looked surprise at the question, but shook his head. "I guess not." he said with a shrug. "Follow me, and lets get this over with."
He pulled out another Pokéball, one adorned with a blue lid instead of the standard red. The white section didn't look white, either, and the middle band was yellow instead of the metallic silver. Jon took the lead, taking a right back to the lobby of the Pokémon Center. He opened the door behind the desk, going inside. Inside, was a machine I wasn't familiar with. It had what looked like two giant tubes sticking out from its sides, with a small platform under them. Indentations were on these small platforms, just large enough for a Pokéball to go through. Jon expanded the oddly colored Pokéball in one side and mine in the other.
"Put your Pokédex in the slot." he said, pointing at the small hole in the machine. I did as directed, as he did the same on his side of the machine. Lights and bleeps slowly began to turn on, the device turning on.
"Greetings, trainers! Welcome to the Pokéball Transfer System! Please use the controls to guide you through the steps to reach your desired function!"
The voice that they used to program this thing was way too cheerful. Jonathan moved towards the middle, fiddling around with numerous nobs and dials.
"Aaron Elazar." the machine said. "You are trading the rights to have a Zapdos and her registered Pokéball, with Jonathan Caim who is trading his Lucario and Pokéball. Do you accept these terms?"
I looked over to Jonathan again. "Are you sure about this?" I asked.
He nodded. "She wants to go, and I'm alright with that." he said with a shrug. "Are you willing to put up with her?"
"I think I'll manage." I said, grinning. "So, this basically is trading the Pokémon and Pokéball? Doesn't Zapdos have to be inside of it?"
Jon shook his head. "They've upgraded these things since those old times. Trust me, I've seen it work."
I sighed, but nodded. Jonathan pointed to what buttons to press, and I followed his directions. Both Pokéballs were sucked up into the machine, and it hummed and whirled to life. I was honestly afraid that it was going to explode when a faint trail of smoke appeared from the machine. After a few long seconds, it made a pinging sound, the red and white ball that was in front of me replaced by Jon's and vice versa.
Jonathan grabbed his new Pokéball, shrinking it and placing it in his pocket. "You might want to let her out of there." Jon adviced. "She's never liked staying inside her Pokéball for too long."
"Add it to the list of concerns I have." I shot back as he left. I sighed, following him outside. Nurse Joy was behind the counter as I exited the room. She smiled at me kindly.
"So you really did end up doing it." she said to me.
"Oh. Um, yeah. Baast can present a compelling argument." I said with a smile of my own.
Her smile turned into a grin, before she grabbed my hand and pulled me all the way to a door. "Wait! What's going on?!" I exclaimed, confused.
"You can get to know each other better now." she said as she came around me and unlocked the door. She opened it and pushed me inside. "And I don't want to see you come out until your hair is a mess!"
The door slammed shut, sealing me inside the room. My other Pokémon were still being healed. I sighed, releasing the Lucario from her Pokéball. If I was going to regret it, I might as well get it over with.
She appeared in a flash of red, but nothing happened immediately. Baast's paws touch my face gently, her breath washing over my face for a moment. She leaned against me. She was a bit heavier than I expected, but kept my complaint to myself.
"There's a bed behind you." Baast said softly, her muzzle rubbing against my neck.
I leaned back, holding her as we fell together. The bed protested, but held otherwise. We ignored the squeak that the springs made. Her paws held me tightly, a content sigh escaping her as she held me. I scratched the back of her head, laying there on the bed. Baast pushed herself up higher, holding my head against her chest.
"Baast?" I whispered.
"Are you really tired?"
She didn't respond immediately, stroking my hair before responding. "No, I'm not."
"Because I am sure that your other mates would look unfavorably upon me if I took what I wanted for granted." she said. "I would much rather be in good graces with everyone before doing what I wish."
"And that would be...?" I prompted.
She laughed. "To have you."