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Ask to Join The Dark Tournament

Aidinia walked over to Salem and put a hand on his bare shoulder. Don't worry about me Handsome, I can take it. I know you think Cassie was taken, and it's a good bet. Those goons running this thing said that was a possibility at the beginning of this but we need to break a few minutes before walking again. We both need food and we need to try to wake the girl. As gently as possible. Now, what are we going to do for food?" Aidinia asked kissing the strong shouldered beach darkened man on the cheek as she bounded away to look for something to put in their stomachs.
Location: Jinko Island, Jungle
Time: 1st Day, Afternoon
Tagging: Salem, Ajax, Aidinia, Megan
Salem let his forced smile meld into an amused grin as he gingerly touched the cheek the red haired doctor had just kissed. He watched her skip away, surprisingly chipper considering what they had all just been through. Was she just putting up an act to make him feel better?

He looked up at the sky overhead. There would only be a couple of hours of daylight left. If they stopped for food now it would surely be dark before they reached the spot he had chosen for them. His stomach chose that moment to speak up with a growl. ‘Well, she does have a point,’ he had to admit. 'we need food.'

He turned his gaze to the side where it fell on the Nidoqueen corpse. The thought appalled him for several reasons, but it would be good, sturdy rabbit meat, and plenty of it. The Pokemon couldn’t be dead for more than half an hour at most, the meat would be fresh. ‘Well, as fresh as a virus affected Pokemon can ever hope to be at least,’ he thought. Maybe the doctor would know if the virus was likely to affect the meat. He remembered the mad scientist throwing around medical terminology that Salem didn’t understand.

‘Fruit is most likely going to make up most of our dinner today,’ Salem thought. ‘But if we can get a decent fire going and dry as much meat as we can, we should be in a pretty good situation for a couple of days, all things considered. Of course the smell of cooked meat will draw every Pokemon within a mile radius to this spot,’ Salem realized. ‘We’d have to make sure we leave before the feeding frenzy begins.’

He looked around the clearing. ‘This whole place will become one big battle zone, and many Pokemon will die here, incidentally drawing yet more Pokemon.’ Salem pondered on this for a moment. ‘The more wild Pokemon in the vicinity are drawn to this location the fewer are left to harass our camp down the river later.’

The more he thought about this idea the better Salem liked it. ‘It would be a self-sustaining decoy.’

He made up his mind and ran after Aidinia to tell her of his plans. It would require some time and effort to set things up, but if she would provide for today’s meal then he could save some time in securing their future safety.
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Floyd and Amara
Amara stepped into the clearing and carefully avoided the spiderwebs, while walking over to Floyd. She inspected his wounds for a moment, "Crystal we have to act fast before the poison actually takes to much hold." The Lapras nodded and moved into the clearing pushing through the webs with her sheer bulk and strength. "Ok, Crystal use safeguard now." Crystal let out a "Lapraa..." and pointed her head in the air blowing a small icy mist that settled over the entire area. Amara stared hard into Floyd's eyes, "now we shall find out if Crystal and I were in time or not Mr. Johnson." She shrugged, "If the posion has taken to much hold Crystal can not stop it. However if it has not safeguard will prevent such from happening. Either way I suspect we shall soon find out." She looked around at the edges of the clearing and shook her head. "It will not be safe to wait here and observe." She climbed up onto Crystals back, "Crystal bring him." The Lapras craned its neck down and grabbed what was left of Floyd shirt in her mouth before hoisting the boy up and draping him gently on her shell. Amara looked down at Swift, "I suggest you tag along." Then she patted Crystal's neck and the Lapras started moving through the trees. As they moved she turned around and just stared at Floyd as if waiting to see what would happen.
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Aidinia listened attentively to Salem's sultry voice and decided that yes his plan was indeed a great idea. As to his worry about the virus flowing in the pokemon's blood she was certain that for it to do what it was doing to these Pokemon it was a pretty specialized virus which meant it would be DNA and RNA specific which meant it would only affect Pokemon until or unless it evolved, but the likelihood of that was highly unlikely. Also considering the distribution method was almost definitely airborne everyone on the island was already exposed. She hadn't voiced her fear that their Pokemon may start showing signs of infection. She didn't want to worry the man. So instead she merely said. "Salem, love most likely what ever they used to infect these Pokemon is Pokemon specific. I highly doubt it affects humans. Not to mention it is likely airborne and we are already exposed"

Aidinia hugged him tightly and walked away into the woods to begin foraging. She gathered wood and kindling and helped with building a safe fire. Then she looked for pineapple, wild mango and berries as well as wild greens and kale. She looked at the root vegetables and mushrooms and picked through the edible ones and came back to Salem.

"Those steaks look to die for," she exclaimed, as she set about making a berry Salad and wrapping mushrooms and root vegetables in kale leaves to roast over the fire. She'd even managed to scrounge up some herbs that would replace salt and pepper so that you'd never miss the seasoning. She also sweetened the berries with pineapple juice and coconut milk that had been caramelized in a coconut shell over the fire. The food smelled and tasted like heaven to her. Admittedly she was starving.

"How was the food Salem?" She asked before gathering up the dried meats and left over uncooked vegetables and fruits and packing them in make shift bags.

The bags had been fashioned by lacing leaves together using pieces of vine and leaf rib. They would work for a bit but she knew she'd have to keep her eyes on them because they'd eventually tear.

Aidinia slowly woke Megan. Aidinia touched her shoulder and softly called her name. "Is this a dream? Am I dead? Who are you?" The girl stammered awake in a confused half panic. Aidinia tried to calm her but she saw Ajax and her fear rose higher. "Pokemon have been trying to kill me all day! Get it AWAY!" She yelled. Aidinia looked a little affronted. "Megan, I'm Dr. Moon, that is Ajax and he helped Salem his trainer and I save you from a crazed, wild Venusaur that your employers infected with a virus along with every other wild Pokemon on the island. Ajax won't hurt you." Upon seeing the beautiful green eyes of Salem, Megan visibly relaxed. "Do you feel strong enough to walk we need to move to a new place. I have food for you as well." The Dr. said reaching out rabbit steak, vegetable hobos and sweetened berry salad out to the hungry, terrified young woman.

Megan tore into the meal with gusto. Seeming to gain strength back with every bite before finishing the meal she looked less afraid and happier to be with people. The motley finally got under way to their camp.

The river was a 45 minute hard hike which left little wind for talking. Not that Megan and Aidinia didn't try at first. When they reached the clearing that Salam had chosen, the first thing the two women did was collapse in a sweaty pile together to catch their breath. After their rest, the two women went to water's edge and bathed away the salt from their skin as best they could. Then they returned to Salem.

Aidinia pulled out Savior's ball and called the Pokemon out. He searched the area frantically for his trainer. When savior realized his trainer wasn't there he huffed and kicked a tree to the ground. Then he sat Indian style with his back to the humans like an insolent child. Aidinia walked over to the angry, hurting Pokemon and tried to get him to eat. It was a struggle to say the least. After fighting just to get Savior to look at her. Aidinia thought Saviour was finally about to give in, when he stood up suddenly. He took her by the arm to a tree. He pointed to her, then mimed kicking the tree. Aidinia thinking if it would make him eat, she'd break her head on the damn thing, reared back and kicked the tree as hard as she could. She let out a yelp of pain that set the hitmonlee into a fit of giggles. At last though, he ate.

Alex started to run to her trainer, but the hitmonlee admonished her shaking his head. She huffed but bowed to the stronger Pokemon. Savior dived into his food watching as the Dr. checked on everyone before settling next to Salem to get comfy for a bit.
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Delilah grunted in disbelief. She looked at her Beedrill, and even though he was in a fighting stance, he swayed gently left and right in a pattern that portrayed his disorientation. She always knew that no matter the circumstances, her pokemon would be there at her side. Beedrill would fight for Delilah until the very end. She didn’t think twice about that notion, however. If he ever refused to fight then she wouldn’t put him through more strain than he could handle.

What if Beedrill never did? It never occurred to the bee trainer that he would never stop fighting. Not until she told him that she didn’t need him to. He wanted what was best for her, and he followed her with the utmost loyalty. It was now in Delilah’s hands not to mistreat that honor.

Loyalty...why does that sound so familiar? Did I vow to be loyal to someone once? To be their muscle in case anything went wrong. Just as soon as the thought entered Delilah’s mind, she shook her head to clear it out.

As much as she hated to admit it, Apollo was right about leaving their pokemon out of this fight.

Delilah looked down and clenched her fist. “Beedrill…” she said wistfully at first. “...take a break.”

Beedrill’s eyes widened and he turned to her with a buzz of inquisition.

“Yes, I’m sure. Save your energy and eat some of the leaves around here. There’s plenty to choose from so take your pick.” She looked at her pokemon and gave him a thumbs up. “I’ll take care of this fight on my own. You don’t have to worry about me!”

The bee pokemon hesitantly nodded before flying up to a nearby tree branch and watching from above. He kept himself on alert just in case things went badly. If the other trainer laid a finger on his, then there was certainly going to be trouble.

“...come on Bee show me what you got."

Almost before the trainer could finish his sentence, Delilah’s face went into a snarl and she delivered a firm punch underneath his chin, clipping Apollo’s teeth together which caused painful reverberations all along his jawline. Soon afterwards, Bee went for a swift right hook. With the speed at which she was moving, and due to the fact that the first strike caught him off guard, the second hit landed on his cheek. Not only did it sting, but it provided a painful emphasis on his jaw after it was recovering from the first hit.

After her two strikes, Delilah tried for a third. This time she went for a left hook, however Apollo had caught it this time, holding her fist in his clutches.

The fire tamer looked at her with what seemed to be his signature cocky grin. Delilah growled and grabbed her forearm with her free hand and yanked her fist away from his grasp. She looked at him with an intensity in her eyes that showed just how serious she was about taking this guy on.

Apollo had to admit, she’d gotten a few good couple of hits on him. Time would tell if she could keep up that level of performance. He hadn’t planned on hitting a girl, and that wasn’t going to change. That didn’t mean that he wouldn’t defend himself however.

“Float like a Beedrill, sting like a Beedrill,” Delilah murmured to herself before going in for another punch. It was immediately blocked by Apollo’s forearm. She tried again, same result. It was time to pick a different strategy.

The bee trainer threw a punch that she intended for him to block. As predicted, he blocked it successfully. Milliseconds afterwards her other fist made contact with his abdomen and he grunted at the unexpected blow. Apollo doubled over and held his hands up for a moment.

Not wasting this opportunity, Delilah rushed him. She ran shoulder first at him and tried to tackle him to the ground. Apollo had dug his feet into the dirt and refused to budge. To her dismay, Delilah managed to only get him pushed back a couple of inches.

As she pushed him Delilah continued to punch him in the stomach as much as she could. Now that he was expecting it, her hits were better prepared for. Nevertheless she was landing some really good blows on him. While she wasn’t exactly the strongest person in the world, she moved fast and with purpose. Whether her punches landed or missed, it didn’t take long for the next one to be thrown.

After pushing against him Delilah began to pant. She raised her head and noticed that they were face to face as she strained against him. The same arrogant smile on his face, except this time she spotted a little bit of swelling on his cheek where she’d managed to strike him. For a moment, her memory called out to her and her rage-filled eyes began to soften again.

“That’s it!” Delilah shouted with disdain and rammed the topmost section of her forehead against the bridge of Apollo’s nose. A river of blood flowed out of his nostrils, showing that she could very well have broken his nose. In frustration, he pushed Bee away with all of his strength and she stumbled backwards.

“I’m done with you!” Delilah took a moment to put her hands on her knees. Her breathing was slightly labored from the small altercation. “I remember now. I remember what I was trying to do originally before you came along and started trying to distract me.” The bee trainer stood straight again and looked Apollo in the eyes.

“I’m trying to find Alex. I need to make sure he’s okay!” She furrowed her brow at him as if Apollo were the reason she were here in the first place, “after Beedrill and I make sure he’s fine, he, his pidgeot, Beedrill and I will find Dr. Aidinia, go get Floyd and anyone else trapped here, then take them all to the doc’s hometown like she wanted.”

Delilah turned and looked up at her Beedrill, who had been resting in the tree and watching the ‘fight’. If one could call it that since Apollo didn’t even try to hit her.

Taking her pokeball from her belt, she recalled her Beedrill before exclaiming, “Beedrill, return!”

The Bee trainer looked back at Apollo, purposefully avoiding looking at the Pyroar he possessed. “I have friends and a rival who need me right now. I can’t spend all my time here fighting you. Whether you’re the one who brought me here or not, you’re just not worth my time.”

Delilah grimaced and looked onward with determination. “If you want to follow me, I’m not going to stop you. Just know that I’m not going to wait for you either.” She took a deep breath. “...and, I don’t mean to offend your Pyroar, but keep her as far away from me as you can.”
"Dr. Nevashi," Shade repeated as he slowly sat up and began assessing the extent of his wounds. "Name's Shade. Don't suppose you found a Mightyena with me?" When the doctor answered in the negative he replied, "No matter. He's an expert tracker. He'll find me soon enough."

Shade pulled the salad over and began slowly eating. He was amazed he had survived the battle with the Nidoking. It was t possibly the worst injury he had ever suffered, worse even than being shot. No doubt he would eventually follow the family tradition of dying in the line of duty. Until then, he was racking up an impressive collection of scars.

He looked across at the man who had patched him up. A flamboyant fellow, but obviously very good at his job. "Thanks for stitching me up, doc. I owe you one. So, did you come as a trainer or were you on staff?"

As he spoke, a familiar face poked his head into the cave, then came limping to him. "Anubis. You made it. You're apparently as hard to kill as I am." Shade hugged his partner and started scratching him behind the ears. "And look at your side, partner. You took a beating." Shade looked at Nevashi. "Can you patch him up as good as you did me, Doc? We've got a girl to find and a terrorist to track down."
What originally was a simple handshake evolved into a embrace from the familiar woman. Soon June was pulled in to the hug as well, and was quite heartwarming to the man and Delphox. The simple fact that Cassie considered them close enough friends to warrant such an action, made the two forget for a moment they were trapped in the jungle for the next six days (At the most) surrounded by murderous insatiable Pokemon... Well, now they remembered, but didn't dwell on it too much.

As the good friend released her grip on Gerald and June, she gave a light punch to his shoulder.

"I never thought I'd be this happy to see that face of yours. Happy, sure, just not this happy."

"Ah, well, Can't say we aren't happy to see you either! Then again, there really are no conditions we wouldn't be happy to see you..."

It was almost if Cassie forgot the two behind them existed. She commented on the clothes, how they were much better than what they were dressed in, and questioned the woman's occupation, the Sceptile being a wild, properly identifying her as a ranger (Or at least used to be one), and asking how she was even on the island in the first place. Wow. Cassie sure asked the real questions.

"You stink of Pokemon blood." The veteran ranger noted on Cassie. So that was the scent that June noted. But was that very surprising? Considering the circumstance, not at all. Gerald seemed unnerved for a moment, but that was more so at the adept sniffer on this increasingly strange person was.

"Maybe you know more about what is going on here. You are clearly the dominant one. His stance, demeanor, and smell all changed when you came in. He recognizes his alpha."

A look of pure utter confusion plastered on to the boy's face. This person...oh boy. "Hey, No offence to your knowledge of human psychology, but I'm not sure that's how things work...Though, Cassie might have a slightly better grip on things than I do. Though perhaps not being threatened with a knife helps..."
The cuts, grazes, scars, gashes and the like on Floyd turned a light purple due to the everlasting freeze of Swift's icy beam. It still hurt quite a bit, but not as much as when the injuries weren't frozen. The ice made the skin and muscle around his body go numb, distracting him from the relentless pain pursuing his immune system, unfortunately this also meant that he didn't have nearly as much mobility as when the true tournament began. On top of that, Floyd's body was still suffering from the after effects of the Spinarak attack, was he really this unlucky? Or had other people been experiencing something similar? These thoughts tossed themselves around in Floyd's head before he heard some peculiar footsteps getting louder with each passing moment. Someone or something was heading his way.

Floyd somehow managed to twist his head to the source of the noise and the look of shock on his face only got bigger.
It was Amara and Crystal! In a normal situation, he probably would have made an excuse to run away, but at this exact moment, he felt a massive weight lift off of his shoulders. Another person had finally found him! Two heads are ten million times better than one.

"Crystal we have to...before the...actually...to much hold."

A sharp ringing noise kept buzzing through Floyd's head, rupturing whatever he heard. It must have been a symptom of the poison. His breathing slowed down from extremely fast to average while Crystal carefully avoided all of the webs knitted in between the trees surrounding the mossy area he was in. Swift carefully finished the cold incisions he was performing, all of this was simply just bad luck, at least, that's what he thought. Back when Swift was just a Staryu, he recalled seeing Floyd at the computer in the living room, watching some scientist guy give lectures on something he didn't understand.

A series of frantic and randomly timed buzzes came from Floyd's companion as Crystal approached them. Their gaze was still as strong as ever, but Floyd was too distracted to even realize what they were doing.

Crystal gently lifted her head into the air while a somewhat comforting blue mist covered the web ridden nest. Floyd couldn't hear a word Amara was saying, but he knew what she was doing as soon as the Lapras craned her neck and placed Floyd on to the back of her large, grey shell. It was a move called safeguard. Safeguard prevents the user and its allies from being inflicted with status conditions like poison or paralysis, in his case though, Floyd had already been poisoned. The safeguard would most likely slow down the spread of the poison, but not cure it. There was still a chance of survival though.

Swift's buzzing slowed down to a long, continuous beep that got lower pitched with each passing second until it stopped completely. He knew what was happening, no matter the cost, he had to save his trainer, without him, he was... nothing. Swift slowly jumped over to the pile of rocks where a singular Pokedex laid and jammed it in between his two separate sets of 'arms'. He could no longer roll without it falling out of his grasp, so at a much slower pace he hopped over to his trainer, who was now stationed on top of the slightly menacing Lapras that stood before him.

Floyd couldn't move, no matter how hard he tried, it was like a million different snakes were trying to constrict him all at once. Crystal craned her neck once more and picked up what was left of Floyd's shirt and bloody glasses before setting out further into the jungle in search of a clearing. It certainly wasn't safe here.

'... Pe-Cha... Pecha! Pecha Berries! Go find some Pecha Berries, this Safeguard has no chance of curing me!'
Floyd tried as hard as he could to clear his head and think about the one and only available cure for the toxins in his bloodstream. In an effort to speak, he opened his mouth, but all that came out was "P-Pech", quickly followed by a short wheeze and a painful cough. Crystal started to move though the jungle in front of them, tearing through any vine or root that blocked their path.

"They are away on a trip." The girl chimed after her grim expression had returned to that of her normal cheery self. As the Gardevoir embraced her trainer Damian wondered if the 'little girl' act was entirely a facade, a deception by someone who was too used to how dark the world could actually be so she chose to live in her own filled with flowers and.. teddys. Mina smiled adorably at Damian for a moment or two with Ecarte behind her. Maybe Damian was overthinking it.

"Hey big brother where did you get your Lucario. He is strong but you can tell he hasn't been evolved too long. He is expending too much energy on his attacks." Mina asked as they continued walking.

"Well, it's a long story, but the short version is I found him as a Riolu in pretty bad conditions in Jubilife City during my travels in the Sinnoh region." he started fondly.

"Ecarte here can train with him later and help him be more efficient, isn't that right Ecarte?" she added before Damian continued his tale of Orion and his encounter.

"Well i'm not sure how well her psychic style is going to transfer over to his fighting but, i'm sure he'd love the opportunity to get some training in with a new friend." he said containing a yawn. The sun was low, it'd be night soon.

The three of them stopped in front of a small opening at the base of one of the large mountains in the center of the island.

"Anything in there Ecarte? I'm thinking this is as good a place as any to hole up for the night." Damian said as he stretched and looked around. The cave would provide decent shelter and as long as nothing was inside already nothing would be able to sneak up on them. The trees stopped about six yards from the cave and from then it transitioned to grass which lead to dirt and a firm stone that then lead onward into the cave.

Megan could not believe the last two days that she was having. First she had a boring job checking in a multitude of trainers in the Island heat. Then she had met this incredibly hot, and super nice guy. Then she forgot to give the super hot guy her number. Then after she got off of work after a long day, she got to retire to a super nice hotel room that she would never see the like of again. Then she woke up in the middle of the fucking jungle with none of her stuff dressed in tasteless black clothes. Next a Weedle tried to impale, her a pidgey pecked her on the head, and finally a damn magic carp leaped out of the water when she stopped to drink, and slapped her in the face with it's tail. As she had been wandering through the hot sticky jungle without even a scrap of toilet paper, much less hair product wondering why every pokemon she saw was trying to kill her. Something had wrapped around her leg and yanked her off her feet giving her only enough time to let out a single scream. She was dragged through the jungle and brought face to face with a living nightmare. She had barely even had a chance to comprehend her situation when a large Venomoth had come in and tried to take her from the damn venosaur. It had been like something out of a godzilla movie but she had managed to escape and run through the trees. She had finally burst out of the trees and into a clearing and saw super hot guy once again, but some other super hot red headed woman with him all pressed up against him. Then she was kidnapped by the plant monster again and she blacked out.

Now she was awake again and somehow safe and their was the hottie from her dreams, but he was with that red head who also happened to be a freaking Doctor of all things and a pokemon trainer. Megan knew when she was outclassed, and this was one of those times. She wasn't just outclassed she wasn't even in the same continent. Still she wanted to prove herself not entirely usless and so she jumped up attempting to help with whatever chose she could with an almost annoying gusto.
Delilah and Apollo

Apollo finished calling the girl out and like he had hoped she did agree to fight him. He withheld breathing an audible sigh of relief that the pokemon would not be forced to battle. She came at him hard and fast throwing some quick blows with a pretty solid bit of power behind them. The girl was not a complete stranger to fighting it seemed after all and she was certainly physically fit as were many trainers. The blow to his jaw definitely rang him a bit, and the follow ups were no gentle love taps. He had originally planned on just letting her hit him until she wore herself out. However not only did her blows have force but she was aiming for places to make it hurt. He reluctantly defended himself still not planning to even remotely hurt her back. Then she hit him hard int he stomach proving she knew how to break basic defenses. The blows hurt a bit but he had taken much worse growing up as he had. Now when her head cracked into the bridge of his nose, that really did hurt and mad his eyes water bad. That blow particularly made his anger flare like a raging fire. A memory overtook his thought for a moment. Several small kids in a circle laughing and kicking a younger boy with fiery hair calling him a freak, crazy, son of a murder. The small kid curled into a ball taking the hits and trying not to cry. Then a young litleo leaping at the boys and landing beside the small kid. the boys running away and then one turns and throws a brick at the litleo. The red headed boy steps in the way and takes the brick in the nose. The memory jumps later and an officer is taking the bruised and bloody young redhead away with the other four boys being attended by nurses. He snapped back to reality and realized that his hand was balled into a fist heading straight for Delilah fueled by rage. He managed to un-clench his fist and turn the hit into a shove backwards. He really hoped that she hadn't realized what he had done. He stood their and breathed hard for a moment reigning in his emotions although she probably thought he was just winded. She said she needed to find Alex, and Apollo blinked wondering who the hell Alex was. Then he thought about the beginning of the day, and watching Alex Winston get killed in mid air. He pulled on hand up and held his nose wiping the blood off. She actually thinks hes, still alive. This girl is crazy but shes my kind of crazy. Then she recalled her BeeDrill and started walking off. Apollo looked at Vulcana and smiled, the blood on his face making the grin look a little crazy.

Vulcana rolled her eyes and shook her head. She knew that look her trainer got, and when he got that look nothing deterred him from his goal. That look always meant trouble for both of them and that girl was trouble with a capitol T. She sighed one more time and padded after her crazy trainer as he walked after the girl. He may be crazy but he was her crazy and she would follow him to the end of the earth and back.
Location: Jinko Island, Camp SAM
Time: 1st Day, Night
Tagging: Salem, Ajax, Aidinia, Megan
The stars were bright and plentiful in the night sky, and the view as awe inspiring as always. ‘That at least, will always stay the same,’ Salem thought with a wry smile.

He was lazing on a rocky plateau with his back propped up against a young palm tree, his hands folded comfortably behind his head, as he stared up and out into the cosmos. ‘This is a decent tree,’ he noted, ‘but it’s not the same without Jeeves,’ and not for the first time that day his mind wandered to his Pokemon. He hoped, no prayed, that they were safe somewhere and getting spoiled by that kind doctor with the good hair.

It had been an eventful day, to say the least, but one with progress. Starting with that Scyther ambush and getting wounded in the process, he felt his new scar tingle at the memory, and ending with a small camp in a relatively secure location.

Salem felt quite pleased with himself, all things considered. Sure he was separated from his team, and yes, they were trapped in some twisted death game, and he hadn’t forgotten about the mutated Pokemon stalking around, but there were good things to.

He was in the environment he was most experienced and comfortable with, he had met new people and made some friends, and this natural place they were in was downright beautiful. If you forgot about the virus for a moment it could very well be considered paradise.

‘Shangri-la,’ he thought, smiling.


Setting up camp had been a fairly simple task. On their way over from where Salem had built his ‘Lure-Station,’ as he liked to call it, he had been gathering good length saplings and copious amounts of palm fronds. Poor Ajax had looked like a Venusaur by the time they arrived at the camp site.

Putting thatched huts together was something Salem had done often enough back on his home island, and took no time for him at all. Scouting out the place, and deciding where to put the huts exactly, is what had taken longer than expected. Eventually, he’d settled on building them at the base of the cliff-side he was now reclining on. The location was secluded, shielded from the wind, overcast by trees, and far enough removed from the waterside that there was little chance of running into any Pokemon out for a drink.

Just to be perfectly sure he had taken Ajax up and down the river a fair ways and scanned the shores for tracks. Satisfied that the most visited drinking spots were a good distance from where they were located, he had begun setting up their huts in earnest. A sizable one for the women, and a smaller one for himself between theirs and the deeper jungle.

He had also dug a fire pit they would surely need in the near future, but for now he thought it better not to light anything. Some Pokemon were naturally drawn by fires, and the Deep Current only knew what would set the monsters on this island off.

Salem’s thoughts went to his fellow camp mates.

Ajax, ever loyal, had been a major player in today’s events. Without him none of them would likely be here right now. The gentle giant didn’t show it, but this whole ordeal was taking a heavy toll on the Blastoise. Ajax had always been the kind that would either give his all for a fight, or tried to complete tasks with minimal effort, and that balance had always kept him sort of centered. Now, however, there was no place for minimal effort. Every fight was one of life and death and if Salem didn’t regulate Ajax’s involvement in things properly, the big Pokemon might be changed forever.

Next, Salem thought about Doctor Aidinia Moon and her Sylveon. He counted himself very fortunate for meeting her when he did. Not many people would risk so much on the off chance they could be of assistance to someone. He admired that conviction of hers.

Of course, conjuring up a mental image of her now, with her long legs, hourglass form, smooth skin and fiery mane, he had to admit to himself he admired other aspects to her as well. The thin strap of cloth she used to keep her impressive breasts tied together, did very little to hide them from anyone’s gaze, and everything to distract him whenever she walked by, hips swinging.

It hadn’t sped up the hut building when she was constantly turning away from him before bending at the hip to pick up the materials he asked for. She had to know he was looking at her because Salem wasn’t particularly subtle about it. It just wasn’t in his nature to hide what he enjoyed, or be embarrassed for feeling what he felt. That was just the way of life, and how nature had intended him to be.

The real question would be what her intentions were. Perhaps she was just having a bit of fun teasing as a way of coping with the situation. Or perhaps she was doing it for his sake. Maybe she thought that without distraction he would suffer from the pressure of constant danger, and the responsibility of looking after them as the only male present. There was no telling how much of herself she would offer up to ensure the well being of others. She had proven that much when she recklessly dashed after Megan earlier in the day.

This brought Salem’s attention to the mousy, Kanto receptionist. She had spoken very little in their time together so far, and not given them much beyond her name. She was awake and alert at least, and following simple instructions when prompted. She also seemed eager for anything that could distract her, and worked hard. It would take time and space to process what had happened to her, what was still happening to her, and Salem would give her that.

The girl was very cute and would look pretty without all the blood and dirt on her, and Salem felt sorry for her. Granted, none of the trainers had likely signed up for the tournament knowing what it really was, but at least they had Pokemon. They were used to roughing it out sometimes, and were overall just better prepared for the trails ahead.

He had assured the girl that they would look after her, and that she could come talk to him whenever she was ready and willing. He would listen to whatever she wanted to say. In the meantime he would give her a reassuring smile or confident nod of acknowledgement whenever he caught her looking his way. He expected the doctor would look after her until she could do it herself again.

Salem had seen the Hitmonlee sulking around camp on occasion. He felt pity for the Pokemon, and wondered how many others like him, were wandering around the jungle right now. Waiting for trainers to wake up, but who never would again. Or maybe they were searching for partners they'd gotten separated from.

Salem thought about what Ajax would do if anything happened to him. Not liking any of the conclusions he came to, he resolved himself to simply not get killed. That scenario would be best for both of them anyway.

Salem’s mind went to the Lure-Station he’d build next. It wasn’t something that was likely to work anywhere else, but here, on this island filled with bloodthirsty berserkers, it should work like a charm. He was quite pleased with himself because inventing things and planning ahead is normally not something he did very well. He had always been more intuitive, more driven by instinct and desire. His mentor, great-uncle Zaldin, had often berated him for this.

“If I can’t train your mind then I’ll train your body twice as much, you little brat,” he would often say. Which was completely fine with young Salem, who would grin in response, get slapped for it, then grin even wider.

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail Salem. Mark my words, there will come a time when you will regret not taking me serious,” the old man had warned. But Salem had taken his uncle seriously, just not in the way his mentor intended.

At the very least they would have jerky for a while to come.

Salem and Ajax had upended a large flat stone, hosed it down, and spread the fire out beneath it. He had waited with grilling the meat until the last moment because the smell of it would surely attract many carnivorous Pokemon. For that same reason he had cut the slices extra thin and put on as many as he could at once. The thin slices of meat would make for tough jerky, however it would cook faster and store longer.

As soon as the meat was done they had left, taking with them as much as they could carry, but leaving enough behind as a decoy.

Salem let out a long sigh and slumped a little further down the palm tree. The night was still young but they should get as much rest in as they could. He and Ajax would take watch duty. He’d already told his companion to go take a well-deserved rest.

By now Salem had finished weaving strips of cloth into three, lengthy black ribbons. He had salvaged the cloth from his own ruined shirt. Sure, he couldn’t wear it anymore but it would have been a waste of materials had he simply cast it aside rather than bring it with him.

Using the Scyther blade he had cut the shirt up in thin strips and proceeded to weave them into lengthy ribbons with an unusual pattern in them, that one would only really noticed upon closer inspection. Just as his sister had taught him so many years ago.

‘It was something to do while keeping watch,’ he convinced himself, tying the ribbons around his left forearm. The truth was that he felt oddly naked without them.

He finished securing the tail ends so that they wouldn’t get stuck on anything, then
looked to the side and down, where he could see most of their camp.

This turned out to be a great lookout spot. It is relatively high up, overlooking both the camp in one direction, and a large section of the river in the other, but with plenty of trees for cover.

He had found the spot by accident earlier when he felt needed to distance himself from that hot doctor for a while. She had gotten a little clingy, and while the physical contact did wonderfully, distracting things to him, he really couldn’t afford it right now. This first night would be vital, and show if they could continue staying here or would have to find some other location come morning.

He looked down for a moment, then back up. ‘It seem thoughts of the doctor have put me in a state where I’ll remain seated a while longer,’ he grinned and complimented himself on the attempted poetry.

Salem looked back up into the endlessly vast sky. The moon was out. Large and round and seemed to loom over the dark jungle. It shone like a bright silvery disk, he figured, and immediately other bright silvery disks filled Salem’s mind.

His fingers absently brushed the black fedora now in his hands. He gingerly traced the vague edges of where the heinous red R had been situated.

A long silent moment passed until he finally spoke:

“Who are you?” he whispered at the moon, then, averted his eyes and laid an arm over his face.
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Floyd and Amara

Amara watched the boy struggle out the words "Pecha" before lapsing back into unconsciousness. She frowned, "of course he meant a Pecha berry to cure his poison. She had already thought of the same thing. However she had no map of the Island or any way to know it's topography. Trying to find an actual Pecha bush in time would be vastly improbable, and she never relied on luck. The purple haired girl placed her chin in her hand and thought hard about the situation. So what does this Island have a large supply of? Let's see jungle, and of course bug pokemon. Certain types of wild bug pokemon keep supplies of Pecha berries. Now I just have to find one of the bug pokemon that has a high known likelihood of hording Pecha berries. The girl tried to remember her lessons with the professor, as she brought her head up and scanned the area for bug pokemon. She heard a scuttling off a little ways and she tapped Crystal's neck. The Laprass obediently stopped on cue. Amara stared hard through the jungle and caught sight of a brief flash of purple and green carapace. Purple and green, Of course a Venipede and they have a fifty percent likelihood of bringing back berries to their nest. She tapped Crystal on the neck once and slid off moving slowly through the underbrush after the venipede, trying not to alarm it to her presence. She followed the Venepide for a short distance until it crested a hill. Amara crept up to the top of the rise and looked over. Their was a mound below swarming with Venipede. The young woman starred hard at the mound below and weighed her options. Crystal's strong suit is certainly not stealth in a jungle, and so I will not be able to sneak up on one with her. Any attack within a mile radius of this hive and they will all know about it and swarm the attacker. Even if I can pull this off it will cost Crystal far to much energy and if the boy dies we may be next. This is far to improbable and not efficient, Crystal and I will be better off conserving our energy and letting him die.

All of these thought sped through her head in seconds. She made her way slowly down the crest and turned to walk back to Crystal, who was hanging back a ways having followed very slowly. Then her eyes fell on Floyd once more and echoed voices from memory sprang to the fore. "Look at those eyes of her and that creepy silent stare what an ice bitch. Mommy that girl is scary please make her stop staring. With eyes like that girl you will be alone for the rest of your life." She shook her head trying to banish the voices. Then she stared hard at Floyd before locking eyes with Crystal and their was a silent wordless exchange between the two. Amara sighed and muttered, "This is the most unintelligent thing I have ever planned to do." Crystal nodded her head in agreement and smiled. Then she craned her head around and lightly laid the boy down beside Swift and the crest.

Amara let out a deep breath and once again mounted Crystal's neck. The Lapras gave a disapproving frown. Amara just arched an eyebrow, "Do you think I am letting you do this alone, really." The Lapras huffed and turned it's head back forward. Amara closed her eyes for a moment, "I can't believe I am doing this." Then she patted Crystals neck twice. The Lapras moved forward onto the crest of the rise, "Alright Crystal safeguard." Crystal once again tilted back her head and let the cool silvery mist wash over the area. All of the venipede turned toward the pair at the top of the rise and let out a collective "SCREEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!" Then Crystal slid off the rise and the Lapras's giant body surfed down the dirt toward the center of the horde which surged toward the pair. Amara yelled out, "Crystal Rain Dance Now!" The Lapras raised it's head and let out a loud "LapraaaaAAAA!!!!" and clouds swirled over head unleashing a deluge of rain over the mound. Venipede began swarming around the Lapras biting and scratching at the large invader in their mist. The hard shell of Crystal absorbed much of the damage but many bites and cuts began to get through. The wounds started healing immediately as the Lapras absorbed the water from their makeshift storm. "Not yet Crystal let more get closer, we have to time this perfect!!" Amara shouted through the rain and screeching. One venipede attempted to climb Crystal's shell and Amara kicked it in the face hard with her right leg causing it to roll back into the pile. Another one had climbed up behind her and stuck it's pincers into her right upper arm. Amara let out a scream and Crystal whipped her head around grabbing the insect in her teeth before throwing it twenty feet into the mound wall. Blood sprayed from the wound as it was ripped from the young woman's flesh. "Crystal SHEER COLD NOW!!!" Amara yelled with all of her strength into the air. Amara wrapped both arms around Crystals neck and hung on tight centering herself as much as she could on the pokemon. Crystal titled her head upward and let out another loud "Lapraa!!!!!" A solid sheet of ice far below zero radiated out from her body and spread over the whole area in less than a second flash freezing the entire horde. The speed was so absolute that there were columns of rain drops rising into the air like stalagmites.

Amara breathed a sigh of relief and that came out as an icy cloud in the newly frigid air. She leaned over and with one foot kicked, one of the Venipedesicle's arms. The arm shattered and a single pink Pecha berry was revealed inside. She rubbed her hands together and delicately reached down to grab the berry. As the sun shone down overhead, the rain storm having dissipated with the sheer cold. It seemed they had pulled off the impossible when one more loud "SCREEE!!" was heard coming from within the burrow, and a very large, very angry, Scolipede boiled forth from the mound entrance rearing up on many legs. Amara just sighed, as her head ran through the calculations. Crystal is completely exhausted after all of that, and using such a powerful sheer cold. Normally I could ice this bug but right now our odds of winning are about 8.5%. Why did I do something so stupid why. Amara shook her head and flung her hand upward and back releasing the berry. The berry flew through the air and just over the rise landing miraculously a couple of feet from Swift.
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Damien and Mina

Mina cocked her head at Damien's response, and then shook her head. "Silly Damien the energy and meditation that aura manipulating fighting types like your Lucario use is not so different than what psychics use. She continued like she was giving a lecture to a student at a university. "They both use their internal aura to manipulate the environment around them or their own bodies. That's why both forms of power and training require intense concentration and focus to use. Some Fighting pokemon are also psychic users and some psychic pokemon like Ecarte here have powerful fighting attacks like her Focus Blast. It is very similar to Orion's aura sphere, and can be trained the same way. She smiled and let out a little girlish giggle before skipping ahead as if she hadn't just spouted off advanced pokemon knowledge just a moment ago.

As they approached the cave, she stopped and waited for a moment. Ecarte sat still for a moment and her eyes glowed purple once again and then she shook her head. Mina giggled and dashed forward into the cave, "yay shelter, this will be fun." She looked back over her shoulder at Damien, "come on big brother don't be a slowpoke."
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Shade and Dr. Nevashi
Dr, Nevashi watched the young man eat, "Trainer?, oh no I did a little pokemon battling in my misbegotten youth, but not anymore." He bowed and winked at shade, "Dr. Erejast Nevashi at your service." He sighed, "I was fooled into this just like the rest of you." He sat down suddenly looking weary. "I was doing some work at a very renowned clinic in Kalos when I received a letter. The letter contained a very complex and beautifully written formula for an RNA retro virus that would bond with Pokemon cells. The Retrovirus was designed to cure a pokemon of a particularly virulent disease known as Red Strip Fever. The work was brilliant I had rarely encountered anything like it, although it was unfinished and missing a few key variables. He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, "The letter asked me to partake in the project and help fix the missing variables." He looked up at shade with weary eyes, "You have to understand Red Stripe Fever has been vexing Dr.s for years and taken many pokemon lives. No one has ever even come close to curing it. I let my desire to help, my scientific curiosity and my personal pride as a Dr. get the better of me and I dived right into the work."

"I didn't bother to investigate the source or even think of what else the research could be used for...." Just then Anubis limped into the cave. Dr. Nevashi jumped up and ran immediately over to the unknown pokemon without a hint of fear and began checking it for wounds with his hands. He muttered aloud as he worked, "Hmm torn muscle, right anterior Vastus Lateralis, mild otitis externa, cracked left anterior tibialis." He looked up into the Mightyena's eyes and smiled softly before turning his head and moving out of the way, "Oh Kiwi dearie." Kiwi smiled and waddled over toward the injured pokemon before wrapping both arms around it's neck. Kiwi's shell began to glow and the soft glow encompassed both pokemon. Anubis was slowly able to straighten it's hind leg out again. "Togepriii" The Dr. turned back toward Shade and his smile faded away once again. "Eight months after recieving the letter I cracked the missing variables. I used a modified T3bacteriaphage to be the carrier and reset it's RNA coding to bond to pokemon cells instead of bacterial ones." The Dr. just shook his head, "I was so damned proud of myself too." A year later I got a wonderful job offer to take care of some tournament pokemon from my mysterious benefactor. He said we would finally get to meet face to face and that I would personally see the results of my hard work." Nevashi gave a bitter laugh, "whoever he was he certainly had a sense of humor. I couldn't pack my bags fast enough." He stood up and gestured rather dramatically in a mocking way, "So you see all of this is my fault."

As the girl went on about psychic energy and aura Damian drifted in and out of the explanation trying to keep himself awake. In all honesty he was exhausted, and hadn't gone to sleep until later the night everyone was kidnapped and dumped out in the wilderness.

"Well, actually, Orion isn't very in tune with his um, aura capabilities." Damian said as he watched the girl scamper into the cave and he looked at Ecarte.

Following Mina into the cave he sized it up. The inside wasn't large, about the size of a small hallway with a low ceiling, definitely not something that a large predatory pokemon would make a permanent home.

Sitting against the wall of the cave toward the back he could still see the entrance, however the only light in the cave came from the outside, and it was slowly going away. Reaching into his pocket he brought out Orion, the light from the pokemons entrance illuminated the entire cave for a moment and then it went slowly back to the dimness of the outside light source.

Orion stood before him for a moment and looked around as if realizing they weren't all dead and then embraced Damian, which was about as awkward as hugging a sitting person could be.

"Hey, watch the chest spike, skin is fragile!" Damian joked as the Lucario released him. "I'll take it someone is feeling pretty well rested." he said smiling.

"I think Mina and I are going to rest for a while when the sun sets, can you and Ecarte keep watch?" Damian asked as he looked to Orion and then Ecarte.

Orion nodded looking toward the other pokemon. Sitting on the wall opposite Damian. Orion began meditating, collecting his thoughts. He wasn't sure how far they had gone from the Ursaring, and thinking about another encounter was slightly overwhelming.

Frantic chittering and hissing erupted from the mound while the light mist settled on it, the Venipede were severely angered by the presence of someone foreign in their nest, even more so than usual because of the virus.
Swift stared at Floyd lying unconscious on the ground, he was doing the best he could to protect his trainer from the unusually harsh environment around them, but it wasn't enough. Swift thought he had to do more, become stronger and even more powerful every day, otherwise his worst nightmare would fall upon him again.

Being. Released.

The Starmie gently rolled away from Floyd, letting the Pokedex slotted in between his appendages fall out and land in the sharp grass next to him. The concern for his trainer was growing with each passing moment, it didn't matter what the cost was, he had to help Floyd, he desperately didn't want to be seen as useless. Swift knew his fears of being let out in to the wild were completely irrational, his accomplice just wasn't the person to abandon a Pokemon, yet for some reason the thought of being permanently released still haunted his dreams every night.

"Crystal, Rain Dance Now!"
A somewhat familiar voice yelled at the top of her lungs as the clouds above rapidly turned grey. This was followed by a similar sounding but not as loud "LapraaaaAAAA!!!!".

Swift immediately knew what was going on, that Lapras with the harsh gaze had used Rain Dance, probably to boost the effectiveness of her moves. This was the calm before the storm, harsh winds violently lashed the various trees scattered everywhere, causing their leaves to flail around. Flashes of lightning and roars of thunder overhead only became stronger and stronger. Finally, a barrage of rain came crashing down on to everything, the rain was so harsh that it felt like someone was spraying pins and needles at you using a heavy duty gatling gun of some kind. Swifts ruby core illuminated the raindrops in front of him, making them sparkle with a scarlet tinge, it was really handy having a flashlight built into your anatomy. The scene was somewhat grim, but beautiful at the same time, he really wished his trainer was awake to see the red raindrops burst open as they hit the ground, Floyd would have definitely enjoyed it.

For a brief moment, it felt as if the world was warm and cozy, but Swift was quickly reminded of the harsh reality that stood before him. His trainer was on the verge of death.
The Starmie somehow had managed to push Floyd into a large crevice on the side of the hill they were stationed next to, he didn't want anyone to get hurt because of what he was planning to do. Swifts entire body lit up in a blue haze and after a couple of seconds it let out a small cry.


The clouds above the starfish-like Pokemon swirled more wild than ever as the sky turned almost completely black. Swift had also used his own rain dance to further the effects of what he assumed was Crystals. Put simply, it worked, it worked almost too much. The rain became like a sheet of razor sharp water blades hitting the ground at light speed and the wind was the only audible sound to be heard for miles. Various bug Pokemon were sent flying over the crest of the hill and deeper into the jungle, the winds were that strong.

Much to Swifts surprise, just after he had used his move a wave of freezing cold energy coated the ground beneath him. The raindrops froze mid-air for just a split second before becoming solid and falling to the now icy ground. The ice quickly turned to sleet when the storm above Swift magically dissipated. He wondered what kind of move that was, to reach this far out it must take an extremely powerful Pokemon. That Lapras was surely not to be messed with. Was it even the Lapras who used the move though? Swifts thoughts were cut off when a loud scream erupted from beyond the hill.

Swift rolled his way through the cold, muddy terrain until he reached the top of the hill, where he could clearly see an angered Scolipede threatening Amara and Crystal. A pinkish heart shaped berry miraculously dropped right in front of him. It was obvious what it was, the girl managed to get her hands on a pecha berry! Swift counted his prayers, only to be rudely interrupted by the sound of a signal beam being charged. The Starmie switched his attention to the ravenous bug Pokemon downhill. It didn't have any pupils and it's eye's were completely white, every now and again the little claws attached to the shells on it's sides spazzed out in a fit of rapid shaking. This thing was absolutely supercharged with rage and instinct.

A cube materialized in between the sharp horns on the Scolipedes head, it was almost finished charging up it's signal beam attack. Swift hit the pecha berry in front of him, and with precise accuracy, it landed directly in the palms of Amara. The Scolipede knelt its head down and a flash of light lit up the surrounding trees before it sent of an extremely quick beam of energy off at Crystal.


Seconds before the beam hit the Lapras or her trainer Swift jumped in front of them both, taking the hit. The Starmie was flung mere inches past Amaras head and directly into the trunk of a nearby tree, this caused the tree to snap in half and fall on to Swift. As Swift lied there, unconscious for just a moment, a peculiar memory came back to him from when he was just a Staryu.

The memory of his previous trainer,

Releasing. Him.

"Your a disgrace to Staryu all over Kanto! Go kill yourself or something! Why couldn't I have gotten something better from the professor? Like a Charmander or a Pikachu! In fact, I don't even need a Pokemon in order to catch another one, I'll do it all by my self, without you! All you have ever been is a pain in my ass, fuck off and find another trainer to annoy! I HATE YOU!!!"

That incident would haunt Swift for life, no matter what trainer took him in, they always ended up tossing him out for the weakling they thought he was. That was, until Floyd reeled him in one day.

"Gramps! I've got something on the line!"
"Ohoho, seems you've got yer first Pokemon boy! Better not let it get away!"
"WOW! It's a Staryu! It looks so cool! Can I keep him! Please!? I know this is your fishing rod but-"
"Go ahead Floyd, just promise me you'll take good care of him for as long as you live, ye got that?"

"I Promise!"

He promised...

Swifts back appendages twisted as fast as they could, shredding the tree on top of him in to singular wood shavings. Enthusiasm and courage coursed through his body as he saw the Scolipedes horns glow with a green color. No matter what, he had to get stronger, for Floyds sake.
The Starmie used one of its free 'hands' to point in the direction of Amara and then the berry. He was trying to communicate.

'Get that berry to Floyd! I'll squish this bug!'

"Not anymore."

Cassie kept her face even. Unchanging. No matter how well she could understand the feeling of being stripped of your own identity. Even if it's one that you never wanted. They were both has-beens, it would seem. Not that she had any interest telling this stranger that.

"I was already here." She said in response to her final question, and Cassie's hopes dropped to the pit of her stomach. However, her only reaction were that of brows furrowing, gaze hardening, and nothing more. "You stink of Pokemon blood." Cassie took no offense. "Maybe you know more about what is going on here. You are clearly the dominant one."

This woman was useless. Maybe this was how Team Rocket felt when they realized Cassie would be of no useful source of information either. Boy, can she understand their actions now. All that time and effort wasted for nothing. Thus, the girl turned sharply on her heel, feeling the mud and fallen leaves cling to her feet when she paced about the clearing. Everything else simply faded to the background.

Gerald and June were here. She had to keep them alive. Gerald specifically. June could take care of herself better. In addition, there was also the deranged woman and her Sceptile. Well, she couldn't care less what happened to them. But maybe, she could still use her. Cassie paused in mid step, barely lifting her head when she peered at Lin with thinking silver eyes. This woman wasn't useless if she'd been there longer than anyone. No, she might just be the key to their survival.

"What do I call you?"

She watched the strange woman bare her teeth, threatening her with them. Perhaps upset and offended that Cassie disregarded her question. Just like a wild animal, the trainer noted. Maybe the virus affected people too. "Lin." Came her icy growl of a whisper.

"Stick with us, Lin. Promise I'll tell you what I know if you help us." Cassie negotiated, moving towards the woman with her hand out as an offering of peace, and deal agreement. She could see Lin lowering herself more and more into her crouch with each step she took, her hand hovering above her belt, above her knife just cautiously. She could feel Lin's Sceptile hissing, his tail rattling in warning. But Cassie showed no fear. Her hand was outstretched and she would not take it back before Lin shook it.

After a few seconds of her glancing back and forth between the gloved hands and her face, Lin finally did shake on it. But not without a fair warning, "If you try anything funny... I'll rip your throat out."

And Cassie responded with a smile that would've rivaled the look on a Mismagius' face. "Likewise."

Once their grips were released, the first thing Cassie did was look up. The sky was gradually taking on a vermilion hue. They'd need to set up camp soon, but they won't be able to carry on for long without fresh water. The groans of misery emanating from her stomach and the dryness of her throat reminded her of this. But luckily, the jungle provided, and they were surrounded by bounties mangoes, and a single, towering coconut tree. Cassie proceeded to point to the luscious fruits presented just above their heads. "We need those."

Lin nodded in understanding and in a blink of an eye, they were off to gather the fruit. Mangoes were dropped onto the ground, and Cassie released Lady, who was quickly on them within a moment's notice. Using Maverik's rib to peel the skin, Cassie sank her teeth into their sweet, juicy flesh. She let out a small sigh in relief, eating perhaps five of them in one go. She knew Lady probably didn't enjoy the meal as much as she would a nice, rare steak, but a meal was still a meal.

From the corner of her eye, she observed Lin. The way she used her own teeth to peel her mangoes, how mercilessly she tore into them. It was almost... Feral. Her Sceptile had soon descended from the coconut tree with an armful of large, green coconuts; youthful and looking ready to burst from the liquid it contained, and proceeded to methodically crack each of them open with his bare hands. Lin was the one to distribute them. Cassie took four halves and gave a nod in thanks to the woman. Two halves she gave, yet again, to Lady, and the other two she gratefully downed.

Her dry throat quenched, her hunger averted.

If only for now.

Seeds, skins, and fibers littered the clearing where they resided in the following hour. Cassie was not too worried. It seemed the virus had transformed even omnivores into vicious carnivores, which would be why the fruits hanging from the tree tops seemed so serene. Untouched. Something undesirable for the Pokemon afflicted by this unforgiving disease.

Quickly, Lady was once again sent back into her pokeball, where she knew she would want to be. Like her trainer, she was not fond of dirt. Or mud. Or filth. She'd come out only when necessary. Can't waste her precious energy on pointless tasks such as hiking. "Lin, we need a stable source of clean water. Rivers maybe." Back to business. Cassie put off standing until they really needed to move. The sky was scarlet lake now. "You've been here longer. You must know one closest to us." 'Or the deal's off.' She thought, but refrained from saying it.

Cassie met the sharp, wild gaze of the woman. Eying her as if challenging her authority. She stared her down. Until finally, Lin gave a grunt in agreement, and stood, and stalked, right through the bush. Cassie was on her feet and following her in moments, eying Gerald as if to communicate 'follow', before her small frame was swallowed by the underbrush with ease.

They brought nothing with them. The jungle was abundant enough with edible goods to be able to restock quickly later. The extra weight would just drag them down.

The first half hour was a punishing uphill hike. The unforgiving humidity, though tolerable with dropping temperatures, was causing Cassie to perspire, and soon, she was thirsty again. Not that she would let that slow her down. The scarlet lake gradually shifted to violet, and then indigo, and that caused the girl to wonder, “How far?”

“One hour.”

It’ll be dark by then. No hope of building shelter. Perhaps a fire, at best, but an open flame would only bring more harm than good. So as they walked, Cassie observed their surroundings and thought of alternatives. The millions of thoughts flickering through her head each second would overwhelm almost many others, had she spoken them, but it was something she enjoyed. Simply sifting through thought.

Until her eyes settled upon a strangler fig. Large, beautifully intricate, and strong. But hollow. They were becoming more frequent in the direction they were heading in, and she simply had to keep her fingers crossed-

“Your end of the deal, kid. Spill.” Lin spoke with a gruff tone. Her silver eyes flicked to the woman’s back, letting out a hum, and decided she’d better just get it over with.

“Team Rocket created a virus.” She started, but her eyes were occupied with their surroundings. Keeping her voice low enough to not attract any unwanted attention. “It corrupts Pokemon. Mutating them and turning them into… Something else. I don’t know how long it takes for it to take effect, or if our own Pokemon will become afflicted…” Perhaps that was also why she preferred Lady in her pokeball. “Team Rocket tricked us into coming here with a tournament. Now they’re using us to see how well the afflicted Pokemon functioned against humans, before ultimately releasing them to wreak havoc into the nearby coast town. Which is stupid. They already have a widespread political influence to get whatever they want. Releasing wild, untamable killing machines into a town would just drop whatever coveted support they had for their organization, be it even for military reasons.” Her voice instead fell into a mumble, and then a whisper. And then she forgot to speak altogether.

She was instead lost in her own thoughts.

How are they even planning collect all the vicious Pokemon on this island and transport them there without losing their own members? Or… Perhaps they’re trying to get good press and change their image among the people? Letting loose deranged, dangerous wild Pokemon to wreak havoc and then dispatch a Rocket group to be the hero neutralize them with a fail-safe that reverses the virus’ affects. They must have the countermeasure then. But then why choose to use high profile guinea pigs whose testimonies would undoubtedly be believed? Can’t be anything but bad press. Maybe that doctor was just operating on his own delusional terms. Or Rocket’s planning on throwing him under the bus as soon as this is all over. Or…



Cassie knew where this was going, and it confirmed her original thoughts. She’d witnessed how they operated and knew it well enough to see where this was all going.

We’ve been put here to die. Where the high profile trainers were, they’ll send these afflicted beasts and have them wreck up their homes, and blame them for their deaths. And then Team Rocket will be revered as the hero who stopped the deadly Pokemon plague. Between the wild Pokemon, lack of items, Pokemon Centers, the military scouts, and possessing only one trained Pokemon… We were set up to die. If not by the afflicted Pokemon, then the military scouts. We were never meant to survive the seven days.’ Cassie watched the sky above and strained to see how many stars there were in the sky through the jungle’s thick canopy.

A poke on her arm, and her eyes instead found their way to Lin, who peered at her curiously from over her shoulder. Right. She probably never finished her explanation. And so she said softly,

“We’re all just Ratatta. Caged in with an Arbok. Waiting for it to eventually seal our fate.”

There was a good chance that those seven days, if not less than, would be their last.

Why was that a normal thing now?

It was very well past dusk when the trail soon evened itself, and the group reached the top of the hill. Cassie realized her breaths were heavy, and she was sure her shirt was soaked through because she could feel it clinging to her body. But gazing at the center piece of the hilltop, Cassie found herself thanking Arceus.

A massive strangler fig, hollowed on the inside where its host had died off, wide in diameter while its trunks were tightly woven. Bare of fruit. Perfect for protection from the elements and whatever Pokemon loomed outside. Just enough for three full grown adults to fit inside.

Nature’s own self-built shelter.



Suddenly filled with energy, Cassie took off running to the tree, circling around it and ensuring it was tightly woven all around, and entered through one of the larger gaps in its weave, but still too small for any of the behemoths that loomed in the jungle. She stood there, on the inside, counting from one to ten while awaiting some Pokemon already making residence there to lunge at her.


A small grin pulled at her lips for the first time that day, and she walked over to the side Lin and Gerald were standing and pushed her mouth against a small crevice. “We’re camping in here tonight.” Before once again vanishing into the darkness within the fig.

Walking to the opposite side, she counted the number of steps needed to get there. It took three long strides. She once again exited the strangler fig from the way she entered.

And saw a river, merely a hundred meters away.

About two hours were invested into setting up for the night. Cassie had Gerald on fire duty to dig a deep, and Cassie emphasized the word ‘deep’ there, fire pit and start a fire. Or rather, Cassie had asked June, and had Gerald help. “A deep fire pit will reduce the amount of light it produces, and radiate warmth to the ground.” She reasoned. But mostly it was because she didn’t want to be able to see the flames.

It shouldn’t be too difficult with all the dried leaves and fallen branches lying about. Another advantage was that the canopy of the strangler fig itself would absorb and/or hide the smoke emission. But it was vital they covered up the strangler fig’s holes that were on or near ground level, possibly a door of sorts for the entrance, simply so that the light couldn’t escape and attract unwanted attention. Oh, well, June will figure something out. She was quite clever. Just like Nine.

Meanwhile, Cassie and Lin had gone to get water from the river, carrying it back using bowls made from tightly woven grass which Lin’s Sceptile generously constructed using Grass Knot, which were then lined with fresh wide leaves to keep the water from leaking. They had about five medium sized bowls at the moment. Their camp was quite strategic in a sense it was on the highest ground on the hilltop, and Pokemon searching for a drink would undoubtedly circle around the hill and take the easiest route to the river.

Once Lin had brought the last two bowls up to the fig, Cassie used her free time to try and freshen up, washing her face and rubbing the water onto her scalp. It was cool, refreshing, and clear. Just like a certain pair of evergreen eyes.

But Cassie furrowed her brows this time. Why him again? Of all the people she knew, why was he the one constantly popping into her head?

Later that night when it was time to rest, laying around the fire inside the safety of the strangler fig, Cassie sat by the edge, leaning against the smooth bark. Insomnia kept her eyes open, despite her mind’s desperate plea for sleep. Her head turned to the side, watching the world outside through one of the holes whose lid she’d moved slightly. The fig’s canopy was thick. You could barely see the sky, let alone anything in it.

And yet, somehow the moonlight still found a way to slip through and touch the ground. Shifting slightly, she pushed her hand out of the hole and moved it beneath the moon beam, watching the fabric of her glove reflect the light as she turned it over and back, creating a luminescent glow around it.

So thin, and fine was the beam. Almost like hair, his hair, which she was now running her fingers through. But not. Blissfully unaware that another camp was settled across the river, just adjacent of their’s.

And with a sigh, she quietly breathed out, “What are you doing to me?”
The blazing sun was setting behind the forest foliage. The moisture in the air began to grow a bit thicker as night time crept up on Delilah. Visibility was getting more and more strained.

When the sun was almost gone, Delilah determined that now would be a good time to stop walking and try to get some rest for the night. Since the last thing she ever wanted to do was start a fire, the bee trainer grabbed a whatever loose branches that were lying around and leaned them up against a sturdy tree. She then sought out and picked up a few more branches, even breaking a few off of surrounding trees, then broke them in half and stabbed them into the ground on the left side of the ones that were leaning against the tree.

The green-eyed trainer picked up a few extra twigs and stabbed them into the ground halfway up the right side of her soon-to-be shelter, and her ‘wall’ was somewhat complete.

Afterwards, Delilah grabbed a handful of leaves, dirt and small sticks then tossed them on top of the branches leaning against the tree. Since the branches were so close together, very few leaves and sticks slipped through the gaps. This created a temporary shelter that was big enough for only Delilah, so long as she was laying down.


It wasn’t perfect, but it would suffice. Her body heat would be trapped beneath the branches and leaves, which would also serve as protection against mild weather conditions. Additionally her scent would likely be masked from wandering wild pokemon, and so would her visibility. Small, but effective.

Just like a bumble bee, Delilah thought to herself with a wry grin.

Another issue cropped up just before she was about to call it a night. The girl rubbed her neck as she just now realized how dry her throat and mouth had become. She hadn’t had anything to drink since she first woke up in the forest, so finding water was now an urgent priority. Of course, now that she was thinking about her thirst, it made her pine to quench it even more.

Delilah opened her mouth to say something to herself, but found her voice getting caught. Now wasn’t the time to use her mouth for anything other than drinking water. As a matter of fact, all of her shouting earlier most likely contributed to how parched she felt at this moment.

Without another moment of hesitation, Delilah grabbed the nearest rock she could. It was of a decent size—about as big s her fist. She then grabbed one of the lianas hanging from a nearby tree and held it against the trunk. She began smashing it with the rock almost frantically. It took a few strikes but she was luckily able to pierce its layers enough to get at the moisture inside. Bending it at the part that was broken, she held the noodly limbs exposed insides above her and greedily drank the two drops that fell onto her tongue.

It wasn’t much, but after repeating the process a few more times, Delilah had gotten enough to at least make her throat feel better. She was still light-headed and hungry, but that was a problem that could wait until the next day. For now it was time to settle in to her temporary abode for the night.

The bee trainer slid herself into her small shelter and laid down on her side. It wasn’t quite long enough to fit her whole height, so she had to curl her legs up a little. All things considered, she was much better off now that she actually had a plan. Despite how dire things seemed, she had a shelter, a means to get water, and a goal. All she needed now was food. The growling in her stomach would just have to be endured until the morning. Then she could seek out some berries or edible plants. Thoughts of an almond tree sounded delightful.
Delilah and Apollo
Apollo followed the bee obsessed girl for the remainder of the day constantly on the look out for more wild pokemon. It seemed Lady Luck was smiling down on them as no more were encountered. Despite his presence she completely ignored him and Vulcana like they were invisible to her eyes. Apollo thought to himself, "man she really hates me. This is going to be a challenge." He grinned as he walked, "I love a challenge." Finally Delilah stopped and began making preparations for the night as Apollo hung back and watched. "That's not good, she is not making a fire. How is she supposed to stay warm and keep the wild pokemon back." Apollo rested his back against a tree and closed his eyes as he waited for a while until Delilah was asleep.

Apollo opened his eyes a couple hours later. Vulcana, who had been standing guard turned toward her trainer and just shook her head knowing he was about to do something stupid. Apollo stood up, "she needs a fire and food Vulcana lets get to work." He began digging a trench in a circle around Delilah's shelter. He built it far enough out that she would receive a little heat from it without waking her up with too much. He and Vulcana made sure to carefully clear any debris around the trench and to make sure their was nothing close enough to catch. Then he collected branches, leaves and other detritus from the forest floor and area. He had Vulcana use just enough heat from her breath to evaporate the excessive moisture so that they would be flammable. Then he laid the ground of the fire trench. He stood and wiped some sweat from his brow. "Ok Vulcana a small flamethrower if you please. Vulcana breathed out a thin stream of sustained fire over the trench as she circled around it.

Satisfied with his work Apollo nodded, "now she will be safe from wild pokemon. Now we need to find some water."
Apollo walked away from the clearing until he found a muddy patch of ground on the jungle floor. "There is ground water here Vulcana." The two got to work and began digging a small hole until it was a foot or so deep. As he waited for the hole to fill he looked at Vulcana, "Now we need something to carry the water in." Apollo looked around until he spotted some coconuts in a tree. He climbed up the tree with some effort and managed to drop two down, where Vulcana broke their momentum carefully with her paws. Apollo climbed back down, and nodded to Vulcana who split the coconuts with her sharp claws. He drank some milk and then used two of the coconut halves to gather muddy water. Next he unwrapped the shirt halves from his hands and used them to strain the mud out of the water into the clean coconut halves. "Ok Vulcana use some heat to boil the water, but don't evaporate it."

Vulcana did as asked by her trainer. She looked on him in concern at how much energy he was using without taking care of his own health, all for a girl who hurt him when he saved her life. She once again shook her head and followed her trainer into the woods in search of food. Apollo picked up a few rocks that he figured where the right size and weight and walked into the jungle looking for some kind of non wild pokemon meat. He kicked himself for being distracted by the girl, and not eating the damn Talonflame when they had the chance. Finally he spotted some small monkeys. "hmm shouldn't be too much different than squirrel." Taking a moment to aim he hurled a couple of stones with a great degree of accuracy and dropped a few monkeys. Apollo though back to his time in Juvenile detention when he had joined the baseball team. No one really liked the weird pyro kid but they couldn't deny his natural aptitude at pitching and they never lost a game.

Apollo walked over toward the downed monkey's and spit them on sharpened sticks. "No knife to field clean," he muttered. "Hey Vulcana if you don't mind ." Vulcana walked over and sliced the bodies apart with her razor sharp claws. Apollo then spitted the monkey pieces with a few sharp sticks and had Vulcana breathe out a steady stream of flame as he roasted them rotisserie style. He spared a quick bite for himself and gave her a whole raw monkey before making his way back to Delilah's camp. He had Vulcana make a break in the fire and placed the spit roasted monkey pieces in the ground outside her shelter along with two coconut halves full of water. Satisfied with his work Apollo then left the ring and slumped against a tree. "Ok Vulcana we can't let her wake up to a ring of fire so we have to alternate watches and put it out in the morning. I will take first watch get some sleep."

Lin crouched in a tree and silently watched the sleeping forms of Cassie and Gerald below. Arrow sat beside her on another branch. That woman was dangerous and for a moment Lin considered slipping down and slitting her throat. She held no love for trainers and she hated pokeballs with a passion. However she did have a begrudging respect for her. Cassie was fearless, resourceful, and as broken as she was herself. Lin knew about Team Rockets presence on the Island as she had been fighting them for the last month. However she had not know about the virus, and her friends becoming blood thirsty killers was a new development. She growled quietly as she thought, "Once again I am in a situation beyond my own skills to handle alone." she growled again and shook her head. "I remember the last time we asked for help from trainers." A memory popped up of Lin waiting on a beach beside several other rangers waiting on a boat of trainers to arrive. "Lola was a fool, just like I told her. Sure with their help Team Luna was defeated. The cost though was not worth it. More trainers came with their stupid little balls and their gyms and began to capture all of our friends. Now Almia is becoming just like everywhere else. No I can't trust trainers but maybe I can use them." She turned and looked at Arrow, "Lets go brother." The Sceptile nodded and moved silently beside her through the trees.

"Do we hunt now?" The Sceptile asked as he scanned the area with sharp eyes. Lin shook her head, "not just yet let us return to our lair for now. We will stop and check on the prey first though." The Sceptile nodded once again. Lin took a detour and shortly later crouched in a tall tree creeping up very slowly on the the scene below. She stopped just short of the blue light laser grid. Below her team rocket soldiers moved about the camp paroling with various types of pokemon. Scientist and technicians could be seen as well moving about and checking equipment or taking readings from captured wild pokemon. "To many to hunt." Lin nodded, "yes to many to hunt." She smiled, "Not to many for enough trainers though. For now we must keep the trainers alive." The Sceptile nodded again and the pair slipped away into the darkness.

When Gerald and Cassie awake in the morning they will find earthen pots, a couple of herb polices, and two well made sharp stone knives waiting for them beside their tent.

Across the river as Salem, Megan, and Aidinia sleep a pair of eyes watches. "More trainers." Lin turned toward Arrow, "Now we just need to bring the two together." "Then we hunt the prey?" Lin smiled, "yes brother then we crack the shell and get at what's underneath." She frowned, "We may need more, the prey's shell is very hard."

Once again the pair slipped away silent as shadows into the night.
Damien and Mina --(or rather Ecarte and Orion)

As their trainers bedded down for the night Ecarte turned her eyes toward Orion. She stared at him a moment as her eyes flashed purple, and then a silent conversation that the trainers could not hear went on. "Orion you are protruding to much of your aura when you attack it is wasteful on the best of days and a deadly mistake on the worst."

Orion opened his eyes when he heard the voice, assuming the trainers had gone to sleep. Looking at the pair resting on the opposite wall, he realized his assumption was correct, and turned further to see the Gardevoir looking at him.

Orion stood, walking further toward the cave opening brushing past Ecarte.

"Everything I have done has worked up to this point. Regardless of a few... Unexpected events, I am strong enough to protect them." Orion said as he propped up a few feet from the entrance, back to the wall and arms crossed. Sending a stern look toward Ecarte while also keeping his ears trained for noises outside the cave.

Ecarte rose to her feet fluidly and quickly to the point it almost looked like levitation. "Physical strength is not everything. You are not a normal fighter Orion fist and feet alone will not always prevail." She stood and moved over to him. "If you believe you are strong enough then show me first hand your vaunted strength." She took a defensive stance with one arm high and one low with a wide spread of her legs.

Orion watched her rise, she carried on with her speech and he'd never appreciated when others acted like they were better than him. Even though that may not have been Ecarte's intent, that's what he interpreted it as.

In a moment he had crossed the distance between them with Extreme Speed, his fist stopping inches in front of Ecarte's face. Nothing. No falter. Not a flinch. Ecarte was steady, perhaps she'd seen in his mind somehow that he wasn't going to hit her, perhaps her future sight foresaw this moment. His teeth clenched.

"I do not need your.. Your Patronizing!"
Orion said as he tossed his arm down and kept her gaze. "My confidence in my ability is sufficient. What will beating you prove? I don't need to prove myself to anyone. Anymore.." he mumbled the last bit as his eyes drifted toward the sleeping trainers then back to Ecarte.

Ecarte stood her ground as the fist stopped inches from her face. She shook her head at his speech. "So full of anger and pride." She shook her head and sighed, "It is no wonder you have not mastered your aura. You have not mastered yourself." She carefully eyed the much younger Pokemon for a moment. "It seems you will only respond to a demonstration of force." The Gardevoir placed her hand in front of Orion's face, as her eyes glowed slightly purple she flicked him in the forehead. Their was a momentary delay and then Orion felt his extreme speed flare up uncontrollably and then die off. Ecarte then delivered a swift and graceful bicycle kick clipping the Lucario's chin and sending him back on his ass. She landed elegantly, "I would not be able to do that if you did not leave your aura so open."

Orion was knocked onto his rear, pounding the floor and swinging his legs behind him to kip up and onto his feet. He engaged, swinging his fists forward in combinations of hits. Ecarte gracefully sidestepped and effortlessly dodged his attacks.

Orion kicked toward Ecarte missing one after the other, she swirled around him, elbowing his back and sending his motion forward into the cave wall.

He stayed. Leaning on the wall and letting out an exhale with his head low looking at the ground."There's no purpose to this. It doesn't benefit our current situation." He said turning around and collecting himself. "If you can't prove a point with your next words other than some minor superiority complex, I suggest you be silent for the remainder of the night."

Ecarte folded her arms. "I do not believe I am better than you Orion. I am trying to show you a better way to protect those you care about. You can listen to your rage and block my words from your heart." She suddenly moved in front of him so that she was staring him face to face. "However if you do. You will fail and your trainer will most likely die. You need to get stronger for all of us here. Your stubborn pride will be your downfall and their is no shame in receiving help to get stronger." Her eyes suddenly glowed purple and Orion could feel his aura flare up uncontrollably and painfully. "I like Damien, but if you continue your current path you will only hinder us all. If Damien dies then that is your failure. However if your stubborn pride causes Mina harm I WILL KILL YOU myself you stubborn young boy! Now sit down shut up and let me teach you how to be a better fighter and more importantly guardian."

Orion let out a defiant sigh at the end of her spiel, folding his arms and sliding his back down the wall of the cave.

Ecarte was painfully controlling, her tone upset Orion. He felt a sort of anguish when she ordered him to sit, but figured fighting her on this wouldn't solve this minor dispute. Orion contemplated leaving, however he was sure Damian wouldn't leave the child alone in the wilderness, and Orion wouldn't leave without his trainer.

Ecarte nodded as the Lucario sat. "Good now we can really begin. Close your eyes and envision everything around you. The walls, the air, our wards, feel the aura that courses through all of it. Take a breath and feel the aura move and pulse. It is in all things, although it varies in intensity. You can control your own aura and touch the aura around you. Breathe in and out, focus your center, feel your own aura, Let it flow through you to every point. A perpetual cycle that leads to your center and back out through your effort. It flows in follows your cycle and then flows out as you utilize it."

"Now gather your aura, channel it, let it flow out to your hands but do not release it." Form the sphere but do not throw it. Make the sphere connected to the aura around you. You have been hurling your energy before like you were throwing a rock. This is crude, and wasteful, do not throw your energy sync it to your target and let the aura take the path on it's own. Match your aura to that which you desire to hit and the aura will flow where you desire."

Several hours later Ecarte and Orion set meditating cross legged on the cave floor. Ecarte opened her eyes, "You are an apt pupil and learn quickly Orion, practice what I have taught you and your power will know no bounds. "However" She held up one hand, "I must give you this caution. Do not use telepathy to talk to Damien. As much as you are tempted, this must not be done. Only a very small number of human minds are capable of manipulating their aura to such an extent. Their minds and bodies are not designed to handle it, and there is no telling what the long term consequences will be with repeated use." Ecarte looked directly into Orion's eyes as if to emphasis the seriousness of her point. "You may injure him or cause something even worse. Even Mina does not know I can do this and she never will."

Later on as Orion Slept Ecarte looked upon him and smiled warmly. She thought to herself "You learn well Orion, I am counting on you to protect Mina when I am gone"
Location: Jinko Island, Jungle
Time: 2st Day, Pre-dawn
Tagging: Salem, Ajax
Salem could hardly contain his excitement, and why not, tonight would be a milestone on his road to adulthood. He was finally old enough to witness Amnis Colo, the most sacred festival of all, and a time honored tradition.

It was an annual event that would bring all the tribes in Regalo Del’Mar, the Delmer Archipelago region, together in celebration. Every child knew of it of course, but unless their age was in the double digits they were never allowed to participate. They weren’t even told what it was all about, only that they would see it in time and had to be patient until then. The only thing they knew was that the girls received special instructions in the weeks prior, but weren’t allowed to talk about it, and that it would host the biggest bonfire you would ever see. And tonight was Salem’s very first festival.

The experience had been nothing short of wondrous so far. It’s like the whole thing was one enormous stage performance and everyone was an actor or actress playing a part in it.
The festival was held on Semel, a neutral island in the center of the region. According to their lore, Semel was the first island in the chain to emerge from the ocean, and also the island where the first family had lived, before they split into the seven tribes they have today.

Salem’s family name is actually tied to that first family, although no one really remembers if the first family had actually carried the name Archon, or if that was just what they were referred to by later families. Salem himself liked the idea of him, perhaps being a direct descendent of the first family. It would not do him much good of course. His family wasn’t leading their tribe, nor was their tribe the largest, or most influential tribe in the region. Still, people recognized the name and it held some reverence amongst the islanders.
During the day, people from all over the Archipelago arrived on the island and spread out across the large bay of the crescent shaped island. Come nightfall this is where they would begin the main ceremony of Amnis Colo. Salem didn’t know what the details were, and he honestly didn’t care too much about it at the time. He was way more interested in the festival that would follow. He had seen the Obon Tower that the adults had built on the beach and seeing that construct on fire would surely be the highlight of the day for him. He imagined the fire would reach to the stars and relight the sky to make it bright as day. Salem could hardly contain his excitement.

Night had fallen and the Amnis Colo had begun. What Salem had expected to a dull ritual was actually a very impressive ordeal. The entire shoreline was filled with people as far as he could see. They were all grouped together in their respective tribes. Salem recognized all the symbols on the flags. There were the Luxuria, the Gula, the Avaritia, the Ira, the Invidia, the Superbia, and of course his own tribe, the Acedia.

Everyone was facing the bay where a small boat could be seen floating gently on the waves. At the prow stood a women dressed in ceremonial white linen and decorated with various tropical flowers. Surrounding the maiden’s vessel, was a ring of similar boats. These carried lanterns the people on them were dressed in plain blue gowns. The ocean was calm and the people were silent.
Then, the moon broke free from the clouds and cast its pale light onto the ocean surrounding the lone woman. She water seemed to glow with under the ministrations of the moon, and then a drum struck and music began to play (click here). Every man, woman and child gathered, raised their voice and joined together in song.

Salem sung to. He knew this song, everyone did. It was the song that reverently told the story of how the Deep Current, in ancient times, had raised the islands up from the ocean floor to form the archipelago.

At the end of the first verse the woman in the central boat stepped off, into the ocean, where she disappeared beneath the surface without so much as a plash. Several people cried out, but the second verse of the song began at that moment, and drowned them out.

Salem was shocked, but as if in trance, he kept singing alongside everyone else, and by the time the song came to an end many of the anguished wails had turned into subdued sobs and silent tears. Almost everyone was crying, and despite not understanding why, Salem felt his eyes sting as well, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
A hand came to rest on his shoulder and when he turned he saw it belonged to his great uncle Zaldin. “Smile boy,” he had said. “The greatest courtesy we can bestow the maiden, is to see her off with a smile.”

Salem hadn’t understood what his mentor meant by that at the time, but he would soon enough…

Following the ritual, there hung an almost palpable silence over the island, however before it could become unbearable, an arrow shot up into the air and exploded in a massive firework flower that was reflected in the waters of the bay. Immediately more music began to play, and this time it was of a more cheerful sort. Soon after, the Obon Tower roared up in a great geyser of flames, and elected a collective awe from the crowd. The festival had now begun.
There were sweets and games, stories and performances, and pretty soon the island buzzed with a positive energy. Salem ran up and down the stalls, trying this and that, here and there, the sadness of before completely forgotten.

The festival was everything he had hoped for. It was very spectacular and more extravagant than any of the other festivals thought the year. The highlight had most assuredly been the spring dance performed by dozens of girls around the blazing Obon Tower.

They flowed around the tower, basking in its light. From the perspective of the onlookers the girls appeared like silhouettes and it was hard to tell one apart from the other. All of them wore revealing, billowing robes and had all their ribbons trailing after them as they moved.

The combined effect of it all left a deep impression on young Salem. The way the dancers had moved, waving to and fro much like the flames did behind them, lulled the boy in a sort of trance. He stared, unseeing, yet taking in every detail and committing it to memory. His brothers had found him staring like this and nudged him. He hadn’t replied so they left him there for now, but he would be suffering their jokes for years to come.
What had finally jostled him from that state was one of the dancing silhouettes coming over to him. The girl had pulled him to his feet and led him into the circle. He couldn’t make out much about her, but he noticed that the other girls had also found themselves partners.

The girl leading him, spurred him into action. She locked hands with him and they spun around each other, ever faster and laughing all the while. They weren’t really dancing, Salem didn’t know how, but it didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that he was having a good time, and so was she, this dark mystery girl.

There was a warning shout suddenly. A firework arrow whistled past, right between Salem and the girl, and for the briefest of moments he could see her features clearly. Dark hair, shimmering silver eyes, and a light scar, high on her cheek. Their hands slipped free from each other and Salem fell to the ground. The girl however, was flung into the Obon fire, where she crashed into the construction and brought the whole tower down around her. People screamed and ran in blind panic, but Salem could only sit there and stare, wide eyed, at the burning silhouette of the girl with the silver eyes. Flames licked up her arms and consumed her robes, yet she just stood there, eyes wide and trained on him, boring through him. Silver eyes filled with horror, with pain, and with fear, but most prominent of all was the look of betrayal.

Salem woke with a start and sat up inside his hut. He was covered in sweat and his heart was racing. He blinked rapidly, trying to get the image of those haunting eyes out of his mind.

Something was wrong. The dream made no sense. Up until the spring dance everything had been as he remembered it, but he had not been approached that night. He had never danced with a girl. And if he would have, she wouldn’t have had silver eyes. His people didn’t have silver eyes.

Salem put a hand to his face and brushed his white hairs from it. Slowly he began to regain control of his body. His heart rate slowed down and his breathing evened out. ‘A nightmare,’ he realized. ‘It was just a nightmare.’

That realization didn’t put him much at ease though. Salem hadn’t had a nightmare in years. ‘Not since…’ but clamped down on the thought before it fully formed. He refused to go down that path. ‘Never again,’ he reminded himself. ‘Smile.’

And he did.

When Salem woke up it was still dark out. Normally he would rise alongside the sun, but it seems today he had beaten the celestial body.

‘Perhaps I can sneak in a few more Z’s later in the day,’ he told himself getting up, and immediately felt better. There were few things as relaxing as a nap on a sunny afternoon. Salem grabbed his sword and fedora, and exited his hut.

The scyther blade wasn’t really a sword of course, but it resembled one a bit more now. Last night he had carved a handle out of a piece of sapling, split it and then tied the halves together again around the base of the mantis appendage. The laces he’d taken from Hitmonlee’s trainer have served him well for this. The result was a savage looking blade somewhere in between a sword and a machete, with a tightly bound grip for easy handling. It even had a loop at the end which allows him to hang the blade from his wrist and have both hands free should the need arise for it.

When Salem got outside he noted that the camp was still quiet. Movement caught the corner of his eye then, and he was instantly on guard. But when he looked and saw that it was only Ajax he visibly relaxed. The big Pokemon had taken over watch duty when Salem got too tired to keep it up, last night.

‘That dream has made you skittish,’ he berated himself. ‘Get a handle on yourself, people are relying on you now.’

He walked over to his loyal companion and patted him on the chest. “You’ve done great buddy, get some well-earned rest,” he told the Pokemon and withdrew him into his Pokeball. “I’ll get you something good to eat, when you wake up.”

Salem clipped the pokeball onto his belt and stretched the stiffness out of his joints. ‘A new day with new possibilities,’ he thought. ‘Let’s see who, or what, we’ll encounter today.’ Finishing his stretch he check up on the other hut and noticed it was only Megan there, curled up and still asleep.

‘Ajax didn’t raise any alarms so nothing bad could have happened,’ he thought. ‘Perhaps she’s an early riser as well and went for a quick wash without the risk of preying eyes.’ Salem grinned at the thought. ‘Not very likely.’

He then checked up on their provisions and other camp supplies. Deeming everything in order he want on a quick outer perimeter check before finally deciding that now would be as good a time as any to freshen up a bit.

It had been tempting to go look for Aidinia and spy on whatever she was doing by herself, but he decided against that. ‘I can always sneak a peek or two later. The difficult thing with ogling that redhead is making it a challenge.’ He nodded to himself, and with that he made his way towards the river, a cheeky grin plastered on his face.
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Aidinia slept her usual four hours. No more, no less, four hours. That was what she had trained her body to do as a young doctor, so she crashed hard. Sleeping so soundly had a terrible side effect for Aidinia, she couldn’t escape the terrible dreams. There were many. They almost all started with Salem’s beautiful green, kind eyes. Those eye’s so close, panning back and changing first color, then shape and ending with emotion. The color changed from Salem’s deep green to the deep ocean blue of Alex Winston’s. The easy laughter in Salem’s eyes morphing into the empty look in Alex’s as he fell from Maverick’s back. She kept seeing the blood again. It would start in between Salem’s eyes. He’d ask her what was wrong as she’d jerk back in horror. His face would change. Then that horrible cold laugh of the head of security from the cafeteria would emanate from all around her, taunting her, as if telling her to know she would lose him the same as she watched Alex leave the world.

Finally, in a deep dream, Aidinia became aware of her room in college. It was early for a Saturday. She was dressing for her date with the surfer that she had met earlier in the week. He seemed a nice sort, he had beautiful ocean blue eyes. It was his eyes that had made Aidinia accept his invitation. So here she sat dressing up when she should be studying. The first clue Aidinia had that this was to be a dream was it was dark when the sun should still have shown. She met the boy in the common room at promptly 6 pm as was the plan. She was dressed to the nines. She was wearing a beautiful flowing black skirt and a shining red top that matched her hair perfectly. Her lipstick shown against her milk white skin. Ever the looker when she wanted to be Aidinia had found that dressing down kept down the unwanted attention. Tonight she had wanted the attention. She had made herself promises that school was to be school. No distractions, no boys she had told herself when she had started on her medical degree. She had done well too. Until tonight and the surfer. She had to admit, she had a thing for surfers. He showed on time, she thought his name was Nick, they left together to head to the luau. They spend hours at this party on the beach, that’s when the dream started to change. Nick she was sure of it now, started to become more and more assertive. He kept pushing her into darker and more secluded places. Finally, he had forced her into a hut on the beach, they were alone. She was terrified. She kept trying to get passed him. He shoved her onto a cot in the corner. She teared up. “Come now, Doc.” The voice wasn’t Nick’s it was Salem’s suddenly, “You know you want me” The words were Nick’s, but the voice, that sultry voice was all Salem. When she forced her eyes open to face the scene to come, she saw Nick’s face morphing. first the eyes, his eyes changed from the deep ocean blue of Nick to the sparkling, laughing green of Salem. Then her shirt tore. She heard her voice scream. The Nick’s sandy blond hair paled and lengthened to Salem’s moon white hair. Her skirt fell away, and she was gagged. Nick’s features moved stretching and lengthening and repositioning into Salem’s face. As Nick/Salem cut away the last of Aidinia’s clothes and she relived the worst night of her life, she remembered her reasoning for not dating. She jerked awake, tears streaming down her face. How could I forget that, how could I let a minute or two on this island change me back to that silly, beach drunk girl. Aidinia resolved to survive this and to keep her head on that mission and that mission alone.

It was still dark so she checked on Megan first. The girl seemed to be sleeping soundly, if having some bad dreams. Who wouldn't? Aidinia thought. She went out to look for Savior, the hitmonlee. The camp was bathed in moon light. She loved the night. It was cool and the air smelled of dew and flowers. Island sounds and ocean waves crashing on the shore lulled everything into an easy peace. A false peace. Aidinia noted, as she admired the view from where she stood.

She thought about Salem and all he had done for her and Megan. She thought of all the work he had done that afternoon. Aidinia wondered how she could repay him. She decided tomorrow morning, first thing, she'd give Ajax a good scrub. It may not be a direct way to thank him, but she would ask him first. Settling on this, she caught sight of the hitmonlee. He was very out of sorts. It’s to be expected. Aidinia thought, as she pushed food to the pokemon. "Train me. I learn to fight if you eat and stay healthy. Deal?" she asked.
The soft sway of the sea had lulled Lily to sleep for several hours before her eyes slowly began to open once more. The cool breeze eased the heat of the sun as it glared down on the small deck of the "Majestic". The sound of the ocean, became the soundtrack of her dreams as her body swayed in the make shift hammock. One would call this heaven, and for a short time Lily could see herself spending a great deal of time lost to the sway of the sea. But land would soon be seen in the distance and her next challenge would be sitting right before. So Lily simply enjoyed the stolen moment of peace.

Her pokemon were free from their pokeballs, thankfully the ship’s captain was fine with them roaming about. Lily hated keeping the cooped up, but sadly knew sometimes in the modern day it was needed and even at times safer for them.

Dynami her Pangoro lay sprawled out beside her, his feet idly kicking as he lost himself in a dream. No doubt winning some epic battle, or rescuing some damsel in distress. Edge her Scyther practiced what she could only assume was some form of pokemon tai chi. Bubbles her Gyarados swam happily next to the ship, diving down every now and then to dart about the other sea life. Charming her Combusken was below deck, no doubt avoiding the ocean spray and unstable upper deck. Lily felt bad for him, but at least he wasn't all cooped up. Her youngest pokemon Trip a Pipulp lay snuggled beside her as Chance her Absol lay on a shipping container overlooking the whole scene. All and all they seemed calm and content with their surroundings; if not a bit anxious to get off the ship and explore the new island.

Slowly Lily opened her eyes, the sound of Bubbles splashing up water against the side of the ship quickly catching her attention. 'Hey now, I took my shower today." Lily teased and stuck out her tongue. The small pokemon in her arms waking and rubbing its eyes. "Sorry Trip," the young trainer apologized just as the Captain began to bellow. "LAND HO!" he called out as the outline of their destination finally appeared before them. "Alright!" Lily said happily before quickly slipping out of her hammock. "Wakey wakey Eggs and backy." she spoke excitedly before nudging Dynami and placing Trip down so he could explore once more.

"We are almost there! Come on out Charming." she called out to her Combusken as the others gathered around her. Bubbles leaned in over the edge of the ship just as Charming carefully made its way up the stairs from below deck. "Aww, I'm sorry. I know it's been hard on you, but we are almost done. And no more boat for a while, I promise." Lily reached out and stroked it's feathers. "Ok everyone we don't know what sort of pokemon we will be facing in this tournament. But I think we can do it. It may be hard, but we have been training really hard for this. But remember together we can handle anything they throw at us." Lily spoke to her pokemon encouragingly, never once doubting their skills, she knew it was her task to always do her best for them.

"Now the most important preparation! The theme songs!" she struck a pose before a bit of laughter broke free. Her hands slipped into her back and pulled a small portable speaker and mp3 player out. She set it up and hit play, the strong beat broke the near silence of the ocean waves as their favorite soundtrack began to play.
The Majestic made land not long after that, the crew already beginning to unload as Lily and her pokemon made their way off the ship, "Ok Bubbles, for now you hang around here. Explore, have fun and I'll see if they have a pool you can relax in closer to us. No worries, I'll be back soon." she spoke in a gentle tone as one hand came up to stroke along cool scales that covered it's head.

Lily would come back to check on Bubbles after she was registered for the tournament. There was no point in putting him in a pokeball unless she had to. The rest of her brood followed suit, Trip road on Chance's back as they began to shuffle through the crowd. Some people watched them, clearly not used to someone simply walking about with their pokemon out and about. Lily didn't pay them much attention though as she tried to locate the registration area. 'Ah...excuse....Hello I'm....can you..." she tried to speak to the people quickly darting about around her but seemed to keep falling short. Dynami noticed this and promptly picked up the first person that crossed his path and held him out towards Lily. "AH...HEY...Let me go!" the young man yelled in protest, 'Oh I'm so sorry to bother you, but could you point me to the registration area?" she asked the man with a soft smile not seeming to be bothered by the way they were introduced.

"What?! Over there!" he pointed in its direction before returning to his struggle, "Now put me down!" he yelled once more, Dynami looked to Lily and placed him down once she nodded, "Sorry about that, but thank you very much for your help.' Lily spoke and brushed off his shoulder before turning about and making her way in the direction he had pointed them in.

Most everyone made way for Lily, especially considering Dynami led the way. "Hello, I'd like to register please.' she spoke before realizing it was probably hard to even see her. 'Who...Oh there you are. Ah, yes ok," the woman at the table handed her the needed paper work, 'I'll need your trainer card, and you will have to put all but one pokemon in their balls and turn them in at that station over there. It's a rule of the tournament. You will only be allowed to carry one of your pokemon at a time." the woman's explanation caused Lily to pause. "Wait I have to turn them in, while in a pokeball? I promise I don't plan on cheating or anything. Is there any way I can keep them outside of their pokeballs? Or maybe walk them to your preservation area. They won't cause trouble, I promise." Lily tried to explain, but frowned as the woman shook her head.

Lily paused and pulled back her card as she looked to her pokemon. "Maybe we shouldn't, I don't know how long they will keep you all cooped up and..." she was cut off by her Scyther as it struck a determined pose and nudged Lily back to the table. Her other pokemon seemed to have the same stubborn look in their eyes. "You all sure?" she asked, clearly concerned about the idea. This time Dynami dipped down a paw and gripped her trainer tag and dropped it on the table. Lily sighed as s soft smile came to her lips, "Ok, only if you are all sure." she seemed to speak as if they could understand her. In truth, she had simply become gifted with the talent of understanding their actions and personalities.

"Ok, but I want to be able to check in on them and if anything happens to any of them, I'm holding this tournament organizers responsible." Lily spoke firmly and watched as she was checked in. "I'll have to ask about that, but I assure you they will be perfectly fine.' the woman

explained as she finished and handed Lily her card back. She explained about the rooms and other rules, but in truth, Lily had barely heard it as a bit of her excitement was stolen away. "Thank you." she said softly happily forgetting to tell them about Bubbles back on the ocean shores. "Come on everyone." she smiled softly and walked to the area the registration personnel had directed her too. "Ok, I promise I'll make this as quickly as possible. And come hell or high water I'll be by to check on you all as soon as I can." she promised them all before pulling out her pokeballs.

One by one she hugged her pokemon and recalled all but Dynami back into their pokeballs and turning them in. Next she turned over the required gear, not worrying nearly as much about it as those things could all be replace. Dynami nudged her forward, a huff coming from him as he gave her a tough look. "I know we got this. I just worry." she smiled and patted his big furry belly before moving into the hotel.

Lily had arrived a bit later, add the time it took to hand over her pokemon and she found herself looking at a confusing scene of soaked people and a very excited Blastoise. She giggled softly and looked to Dynami, "I don't know about you, but I'm starving, and a shower would be amazing before we got down to planning. But keep an eye out, we are going to be facing all these people come this time tomorrow." Lily spoke with Dynami, who in turn nodded firmly and followed Lily through the hotel and up to their room. Lily knew she could have stuck around and gotten to know some of the other trainers. But part of her felt this odd hesitation, for now she chalked it up to worrying and lack of a good meal. The cook on the ship was ok, but her stomach needed something other than beef stew and coffee if she was going to be any good the next day.

"Wow!" Lily spoke excitedly as they made their way to the assigned room. "Well they certainly didn't skimp on the rooms did they?" she asked before darting out to the patio on the other side of her room. Dynami wandered about before flopping down onto the bed and spreading out. "Oh no, we haven't had a decent bed in weeks. You are not hogging it all." she fussed and rested her hands on her hips and eyed her big goofy panda hero. Dynami huffed at her and simply wiggled a bit more, "Hey...come on...move you big..." Lily pushed against his side and managed to do nothing more than to rock him back and forth a bit. What sounded like a chuckle came from Dynami as Lily slipped and flopped right into his side face first.

She coughed and huffed, wiping the fur from her mouth before standing up once more. "Ok, fine you get the bed, and I get allllll the room service." she smiled and crossed her arms over her chest. Dynami finally perked up at this and moved to sit up and scoot off the bed. "Mmmhmmm I thought so." she smiled and reached for the phone to order them both something yummy. Dynami slipped over to the patio as Lily hopped into the shower. Her lovely voice carrying over the running water as she sang and washed the past few days off of her skin.

The food arrived just as she stepped out, "Ahh I feel human again." she proclaimed stepping out of the bathroom all wrapped up in a towel. Dynami looked up mouth already half full of food, 'Hey no fair, starting without me. You better not have eaten all the peaches." she huffed and walked over to the table, "you think they are feeding the others well?" she asked, looking out the two glass doors of their patio. Dynami huffed as one hand nudged her, "I know...I worry too much." she sighed and began to eat.

The meal was more than filling and it left Lily feeling like a bloated Snorlax. But god she felt good, "I think I could just relax and sleep for a week." she laughed before pulling on some loose pants and a tank top. "But maybe we should go for a walk before bed. Maybe see who some of our competition is....and check on the others." she smirked at the knowing look Dynami gave her. The well fed pokemon groaned and pushed to his feet before following her to the door. It seemed like a good idea, at least until the door to their room didn't open. "What the," Lily paused and tugged as hard as she could for a few moments. Dynami sighed and picked her up and shuffled her to the side before gripping the door and yanking it open. "Dynami! We can..." she shook her head as the strangely sweet smell drifted through her room.

Lily could feel the dizziness settle in, her eyes, trying to focus on the strange film that covered her only exit. She suddenly felt Dynami wrap her up in his arms, "I don't, maybe a nap...." she tried to speak, but the world suddenly went dark before she could say much more.
The first thing Lily felt was the throbbing in her head. She groaned softly as one hand came up to massage the side of her forehead. Her eyes slowly opened and tried to focus on the world around. The strange taste of grass causing her to groan and wipe her mouth quickly, "Wh..." she blinked and slowly sat up, her head still spinning from the after effects of the sleep agent that had been used on her. "Where am I?" she asked more herself than anyone else since she was very much alone.

Panic struck suddenly as Lily realized she was outside, her eyes darting about to find Dynami. Thankfully she spotted the pokeball and quickly crawled forward to open it and release her friend. "Oh thank god," Lily sighed thankfully as Dynami appeared before her. The dazed pokemon shook his head and growled before looking down to Lily. He reached out to help her up and dusted off the grass that clung to her. "What the heck is going on?" she asked finally noticing her clothes, 'What...who changed my...oh my god," she blinked and felt over her body, "I wasn't wearing underwear! And they...oh god." she blushed at the idea of someone stripping her naked and changing her. Dynami face palmed before nudging Lily to try and get her focused back on the problem at hand. "Wha,' she blinked and shook her head, 'Right more important things to worry about." she groaned and rubbed her as the screen suddenly appeared up in the sky.

Lily and Dynami watched in horror as two innocence were murdered in cold blood. "Experiment," Lily couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was sick, wrong and it needed to be stopped. "I don't know about anyone else but I'm not letting things stand like this." she looked up to Dynami, his features already filled with an anger and determination that matched his trainers. "Ok, we don't have much, but we have each other. So we should try and find others, and find our friends. I don't plan on letting them remain here and become part of some sick experiment." she nodded to Dynami no hesitation remained within her as Lily began moving through the woods she had woken up in.
Lily spent a great deal of time marching through the brush. The heat of the sun high above them as noon soon came about. Lily didn't call out for anyone, knowing that whoever had done this to them could be lurking just around the corner. But both she and Dynami kept all their senses out just in case someone came around. "Still heading in the right direction so far." Lily explained quickly as she checked their heading against the sun. They were heading back to the hotel, if only to try and see if they could find more people and maybe their friends. Thankfully Lily had studied a bit about the island before arriving.

The sudden sound of movement had them both stopping in their tracks. Dynami quickly stepped forward and stood between Lily and the source of the sound. The ground shook beneath their feet, causing Lily to stumble forward. "Dynami we shou," Lily's words were cut short as the ground suddenly exploded beneath them. Both Dynami and Lily went flying; Lily's body landed with a harsh thud before skidding and tumbled over the ground. Her body nothing more than a rag doll as it was tossed away from the center of the exploding earth.

Pain ripped through her body, it felt as if a hot blade was ripping through her thigh before she suddenly came to a stop. Lily remained still, her body protesting any sort of movement as she fought for breath. But the sudden sound of Dynami's roar caught her attention.

They stood before her, Dynami squared off against a Steelix. The ground pokemon crashed wildly against the side of the hole it had created. It's eyes reddened and filled with a deranged anger Lily had never seen before. "Dyna..." she tried to call out, but the pain that shot through her body stole her breath away and caused her head to spin. Dynami's anger only grew at the sight of Lily's struggle, and he made no effort to hold back as he attacked the Steelix before him.

The fight raged on, forcing Lily to shuffle backwards to avoid being caught in the middle of it all. "Dynami, Quick Guard!" she yelled out as her longtime partner stepped before her. The energy like shield flew up between them and the Steelix, the farel pokemon bashed its own head harshly against it. "We have to find some way to incapacitate him. It's not his fault." she tried to insist, but Dynami was more interested in keeping his friend safe. He stood firm against the incoming attacks, the Steelix continued to slam itself against him again and again. The sick and nearly deafening sound of cracking bone or rock filled the air before the Steelix suddenly stopped its attacks. Dynami caught his breath as the other pokemon collapsed to the ground. "Did it just...oh god." Lily shook her head as tears burned her eyes, "Who does this? What...what is the point of this?" she felt panic filling her lungs as breathing became difficult.

Dynami looked away from his opponent and back to Lily one large paw coming up to force her to look at him. "Pango...Pangoro..Pan." he tried to speak to her until the scent of blood filled his lungs. He growled and looked to Lily's left thigh, "What, I'm ok, we have to see if we can help it." she shook her head and tried to stand, "And find some way to stop this, we have to find the others, we hav..." her words were cut short by a cry of pain before her body crumpled to the ground once more. "Pan, Panoro....oro, or." Dynami protested and fussed at her before picking Lily up and quickly putting some distance between her and the now fallen Steelix.

Lily protested, but soon found herself to week to fight her large friend and protector. Dynami carried her to a small stream and placed her down ever so gently. "We need to get this cleaned and closed up." Lily looked around her, "There see that bee hive, get me some honey and some sap from those vines there.' Lily pointed out what she needed before washing her hands and tearing the lower part of her shirt away. "Well so much for fashion right?" she tried to laugh but soon found laughing still hurt too much.

Dynami quickly and rather easily got what Lily had asked for. The pair having worked together for years now had allowed him to be skilled enough to handle such tasks when directed. The bees didn't bother Dynami due to his thick fur, and after a few bites off the comb he sat down next to Lily. "Thanks big guy." Lily tried to smile as she made quick work of her wound. First she washed it with the water from the stream. Next she mixed the sap and honey, hoping that the pair would be enough to not only seal the wound but also protect her from infection. She held the long cut closed and smeared the strange concoction over it. "Stinging is good," she teased, "The sap will help the fabric hold the wound closed and the honey is a natural antibacterial. It’s the best we can do till we get more supplies." she assured Dynami before wrapping her wound with the length of the shirt. It was enough to cover the long gash and keep it protected from the elements. She only hoped it was enough to keep infection at bay till help could be found.

“It's getting darker; we should find shelter before nightfall. Who knows what else is bouncing around these woods.” The idea of leaving their friends trapped for one night didn't sit well with her. But Lily believed she would find them, no matter what she had to endure in the process.

Dynami slipped his arms under Lily and slide her up on his shoulders. "Like the old days, hmm, best view in the house." she scratched him behind the ears as her large pokemon began moving. "We should stay close to the water though. Getting dehydrated on top of all this is a bad idea." she mentioned as they moved along the small river side.
Sometime later the duo had found a small outcropping to hide under. The ground reached up over their heads and the alcove provided enough room to lie underneath it. It wasn't much of a shelter but it was something. Dynami again put Lily down gently before moving to rip at the branches of a nearby tree. It wasn't their first camping trip, but it was certainly their most unexpected.

He placed the branched over the front of the alcove as Lily leaned back. She felt so drained that it was hard to keep her eyes open, much less get up and help. Her eyes grew heavy as she fought to stay awake; the soft nudge of Dynami was all she felt before his warmth seemed to wrap around her. Lily gave in to it and snuggled close to him before her sleep became too demanding to ignore.

Lily's dream world came into focus rather quickly. And she suddenly found herself standing in the middle of the desert. The hot sun beating down her, but it didn't bring forth a sense of dread. The sound of familiar voice filled her mind as her family appeared behind her. Their makeshift camp set up familiar to her as one of their many small base camps. "Lily stop standing there and come here to eat. Grandpa Zed and Daddy will be back soon." her mother smiled and ushered her daughter over. "I know, but we can't have birthday cake without them." she insisted before giving her mother a firm look. "Oh ok sweetie." her mother just laughed before setting the knife down before her.

Lily looked to the open expanse of land once more found nothing. She felt lonely and scared suddenly, the feeling only growing worse as she turned to find her mother and their camp gone. 'Mom....Mommy!" she yelled out and started running towards what she thought was home. Suddenly the ground began to give, her feet sinking into what felt like quicksand. Lily rushed forward, struggling to get free with each step. 'Help, someone...please Help!" she called out, her hands grasping at a branch that suddenly fell before her.

Lily felt her body being pulled, pain seeming to scrap over her skin as if it were sandpaper ripping over her skin. She screamed out, but continued to force her body to move, if only to get free of the quicksand before limply laying on the ground. Glancing up Lily began to thank her savior but stopped as Lin stood above her, "Lin, oh god Lin where have you been? Where are we?" the words were frantic and filled with an emotion she couldn't really explain as she stood and reached out to the woman she once thought of as a sister.

Lin didn't say a word; she only smiled, exposing her sharpened teeth as she stepped towards Lily. "Lin...Lin no, what's wrong Lin?" Lily tried to fight the strong hold the other woman had on her, but she felt so utterly weak and simply found herself stumbling back.

The sound of the water crashing against rocks suddenly echoed through the air as the ground behind her gave way to expose a cliff side. Lin seemed to easily move her struggling friend to the edge, a sick fit of laughter filling the air as she let Lily teeter on the edge. "Lin please, we're family....you'r better than this." Lily tried to insist, but found her words falling on deaf ears as she felt her body topple over the edge of the cliff. The wind enveloped her as she felt the terrifying feeling of weightlessness take over, her body rushing towards certain death on the rocks below.

But there was no crash, or rocky shore, instead Lily found herself caught in familiar arms. Slowly her eyes opened and she looked up at Dynami, "Oh thank goodness,' she began to speak to him, but the strange look in his eyes became all too familiar, "You...betrayed....us." was all he said before taking hold of her throat and beginning to crush what life she had left. Lily struggled, a gurgled scream cut short as she felt her windpipe giving way to the pressure. Her lungs burned as she fought to breath, but it wasn't fear that filled her eyes. No the tears that streamed down her face were those of sadness as she watched her family turn against her. What had she done? Why had they left her? Why was she alone? God...help....someone...anyone....please.

Lily was suddenly awake, Dynami's large paws shaking her fragile frame to stir her from her nightmare. At first Lily gasped and pulled away, but soon tears broke free as she gave into her emotions for the first time in a long while. She cried against his side until sleep once again stole her away.
Damian stirred in his sleep. He was almost aware of his own dreams, it was like he was on for a ride and had no way off. Smoke manifested around him and he was in his old house, more specifically his old room. A tree branch tapped the window and the sound of rain and thunder could be heard from his bed. Suddenly there was a knock at the door downstairs, the barking of a Growlithe to accompany it.

Making his way out of his room and down the second floor hallway he looked down from the top of the stairs and could see his mother, and a very solemn looking man, drenched from the rain. He wore a brown suit, aged just as he was. The man had a thick mustache and didn't meet Damian's mother in the eyes.

"It's him isn't it." His mother had said. Her voice echoing as the stranger brought out a pokeball. Sending out the pokemon it had contained. A Raichu. It sat on the floor. Grim. The atmosphere darkened, the walls fading and the only thing that existed in the smoke world now was the staircase, the Raichu, and the adults.

As his mother broke down crying Damian recognized the Raichu as one of his fathers pokemon. His father had disappeared some time on a long journey and the only thing they found of him were his Raichu and a journal.

The scene shifted a second time, everything other than Damian disappearing in a smoke and manifesting as something else.

His house, except a white haired man whom he had only seen in pictures, sat beside his mother. The Raichu nuzzled on the grown mans lap. The scene was there for a moment and then gone.

Pillars constructed out of smoke before materializing as solid concrete, the buildings of Sunyshore City. Damian was up, in the sky overlooking the city, this always happened. He'd become numb to these parts of the dream. His focused was shifted almost forcefully to the sea, on the coast, two figures, a boy with white hair and a girl, a stunning blonde, stood tossing stones that skipped over the water, he could hear their playful laughter as it rang almost tauntingly at him. As the smoke began to shift again, moments before the figures faded away, the girl rested her head on the boy's shoulder. Damian focused his eyes on the two and they were gone moments later. That had never happened before. He'd relived these vivid dreams from every angle, and the changes nagged at him.

The smoke built around Damians place in the sky, the city disappearing into a hospital room. Damian was standing over a bed with the girl from before in it. On the opposite side of the bed, a blurry image of Damian sat holding the girls hand. A Riolu sitting next to the younger self image of Damian, looking from him to the girl on the bed with pleading eyes as if it didn't understand.

As the real Damian outstretched a hand to the bed ridden girl the smoke fell away. He was alone in a darkness that seemed to go on forever. Damian was ready to wake up. This was where the dream always ended. Then he saw it, smoke. More smoke. Building around him, almost taken aback by the surprise he fell, onto a couch. The smoke settled and Damian was in a living room, the blue walls and custom furniture all appeared as if from his own memories. But none of these were things he had ever seen before. Suddenly a girl entered, her blonde hair a dreadful familiar sight.

"Isn't it great? All of the neighbors are so friendly! I just put Joshua down to bed." The girl said sitting with him on the couch, her voice a bittersweet reminder of a time before.

"This didn't happen..." Damian said as he tried to stand but he couldn't move. Damian struggled to say more words as the scene was ripped away from him. This wasn't the normal dream. This wasn't the casual every other night reminder that everyone had always been taken from him. This was worse. These were images of what could have been, images of things Damian would never get.

Waking in somewhat of a fright he surveyed the cave, his face was wet, bringing a hand to it he wiped a tear from his cheek. Mina shifted to his right, her head resting on him. Orion was asleep on the opposite wall. Ecarte was looking at Damian. An intense and definitely creepy stare. Looking to Mina it dawned on him she may have been watching her trainer. He let out a little sigh closing his eyes, mind blazing with thoughts of the previous nightmare. Now that he knew what he would never be able to experience in actuality, Damian never wanted the dreams he'd had hundreds of times, what he'd grown used to and eventually indifferent against would now haunt him if they ever changed like this again. Maybe it was the island. 'The stress was getting to him' he'd told himself as he drifted off to sleep again.
Dirt didn’t exactly make the most comfortable of beds, but Delilah didn’t mind it. Over the course of her life she’d slept on so many things and in so many different positions that it wasn’t foreign for her to sleep on dirt in a forest. Despite her involuntary nap earlier, the bee trainer didn’t find it hard to close her eyes and finally catch some shut-eye.

Delilah sat up quickly, gasping for air and looking around. Almost immediately she could recognize where she was.

“I’m...at my house?” It was strange. Even though this place was somewhere she hadn’t seen since she was an infant, somehow she knew immediately where she was. Perhaps it was a familiarity that was hidden inside her own mind.

“Shhh...honey, don’t worry. You were just having a bad dream.” Delilah looked for the source of the soft disembodied voice and saw two shadowy figures standing over her bed. She couldn’t see their faces, as it was far too dark. “We’ll turn the TV on so you won’t be afraid. Just make sure you don’t turn it up too loud or you’ll wake up your brother.”

“My brother?” Delilah swiveled her head and saw that her older brother was laying on a twin-sized bed next to hers. A joyful excitement formed a weight in her stomach upon seeing her brother again. It felt like it had been ages since she’d seen him, and now here he was, resting peacefully next to her.

The television flickered on. The light from it had caught the bee trainer’s attention. While she stared at the screen she could hear the faded voices of the two entities as they left the room.

“Goodnight, love. We’ll see you in the morning.”

After the door was closed, Delilah took another glance at her brother. A smile formed on her lips before she leaned her back against the headboard and continued watching TV. One of her favorite night-time shows was on, and she’d be remiss if she didn’t pay attention to it.

“Welcome to Nightly News with N-N-N-Nate!” the TV spokesperson announced. The image on the television stuttered a bit on the host’s name, but Delilah just chalked it up to technical difficulties.

“Famous dragon trainer-er-er-er,” the screen seemed to swirl and shift while the sound became distorted. With a pop, the image was brought back to a normal state, albeit conveniently skipping the name of the person the news was reporting on. “...gone missing...said to have last been in the Hoenn region. Search parties are still looking for him as we speak.”

The cameras on the set cut to a different angle of the host, Nate. He turned and faced the camera, his brown eyes seemingly looking directly out of the television.

“In other news, Alex Winston, young boy and local rival to Delilah Jones, was brutally murdered this morning along with his trusted Pigeot.” The news anchor started to grow a smile, one that looked like he was barely suppressing laughter. He then set down the papers he was holding in his hands and put his elbow on the desk in a very calm manner, as if dropping his professional facade for but a minute. “Let me tell you, that kid needed a boost in confidence like he needed a hole in the head. I don't see how a shot through his skull could have killed him when there was no brain there to begin with. Here's the footage, let's... let's play the footage.”

Delilah squinted. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Nate Lazlow had been one of her favorite all-time newscasters. He was usually quite funny and witty, while also keeping the young girl informed about what was going on in the world. Yet now he was mocking the death of a young trainer? Such humor was far too dark to be normal, even for him.

Footage played of Alex getting killed, then the screech of his Pigeot before it was shocked to death. Though subtle, laughing could be heard from some of the staff in the news studio. When the video cut back to the anchor, his head was on his desk, body heaving in a hysterical fit of laughter. He lifted his head and revealed a wide smile and red face. He spoke between bursts of cackling. “The absolute best part is that...that I think Delilah had a bit of a crush on him. Delilah of all people. Not even a Beedrill would pollinate that flower!

“Let's play that footage two more times.” The footage played again, and again. The bee trainer tried to look away but simply couldn’t. For whatever reason her eyes were stuck to the TV against her will.

“Give us some time. We'll add some wacky sound effects to that, it'll be great.”

Clearing his throat, the news anchor collected himself and tapped the stack of paper in his hands on his desk to straighten them out. “In other news, speaking of Delilah Jones, the 'amazing bug trainer' is actually just another child who suffered at the hands of negligent parents.” Leaning inward, Nate pretended to whisper to the camera. “With her superiority complex, I suppose that’s not exactly a surprise.”

Nate sat straight again before continuing. “Apparently when their house caught fire, her parents didn’t even try to save the children. They just ran outside and left them to roast in there like a couple of brown marshmallows. An infant and a toddler, both sleeping and blissfully unaware that they were about to be nothing but a heap of toasted skin and charred bones.”

Delilah scowled at the television. Her eyes were welling up, but she fought hard not to cry. Wave after wave of sadness crashed against her with incredible force. Her anger was instinctively used to combat that sorrow.

“Now, the official s-s-s-story would have you believe that her parent’s Beedrill and Staryu saved the children. Of course, I’m going to tell you the real story. Here at Nightly News with Nate we deliver honest news.”

Delilah’s head tilted and her lips pursed after that last statement. She hardly believed the official story, what other story could there be? Part of her hoped he was going to say that her house hadn’t caught fire, but based on his repertoire of statements, she seriously doubted he’d provide her with any sort of happy reverie.

“The real story is much more tragic. Delilah and her brother perished in the fire, along with the Beedrill and Staryu who tried to save them.” The charismatic news anchor touched his ear and looked downward. His expression dropped to one that was more serious. After a minute or two he nodded his head then returned his attention to the camera. “Sorry, folks, it seems I’ve jumped the gun on this one. The story I was just telling you was actually meant for tomorrow night’s broadcast.”

What? What did he mean by that? How could news be accidentally shared on a news station?

“Don’t go channel surfing, stick with us! The real stories are h-h-h-happening as we speak-as we speak-as we speak...” The image on the screen became a mess of zig-zagging colors and static as the same three words repeated over and over again.

A loud, deafening beeping noise echoed throughout the room. It was the sound of the smoke detector, Delilah deduced. Before she could stand and run to the door, blood curdling screaming erupted next to her. Her face turned to one of horror as she saw her brother convulsing on his bed, body engulfed in orange flames.

“Greg! No!” Delilah exclaimed. She frantically jumped out of bed, grabbed her blanket, and began patting her brother down to try and snuff out the flames. No matter what she did, though, they wouldn’t go away.

“Delilah! Please! Delilah!” he called out to his sister as if pleading for her to do something. His voice cracked in desperation.

“Hold on!” Delilah darted to the door of her bedroom and turned the knob. To her dismay the door was locked. She resorted to slamming her shoulder against the door as hard as she could. It wouldn’t budge.

Just as she was about to kick open the stubborn entrance, Delilah noticed smoke seeping through the cracks. She took a step back. There was fire on the other side, she knew it.

“This can’t be it! I can still do this!” Delilah went against everything her mind was telling her not to do and began to kick the door anyway. After her third attempt, she managed to break through. The door swung open violently. Any wooden chips that flew off of the door were immediately consumed by the wall of fire that awaited her on the other side.

Delilah backed away from the room’s threshold as the fire began to spread rapidly. Faced with one of her greatest fears, she froze in place as the flames separated her from her brother. She tried to see Greg one more time, but he had disappeared in the river of deadly orange. He was out of sight, but she could still hear him with perfect clarity as his flesh was slowly eaten away.

Due to her current panicked state, it didn’t take long for the dancing flames to back her into a corner.

Between the alarm, the television, the crackling flames and her brother’s screaming, all that Delilah could do was shrink into the corner and cover her ears. Even if she could silence her environment, the flames continued to lap at her legs and sting her skin.

“Thank you for watching Nightly News with Nate! Be sure to tune in next week for our segment on how to beat the heat during those hot summer months!” blared the television. That voice echoed in her mind, even after she’d woken up the next morning in a hot sweat.
Lin's Nightmare
After their busy night, Lin and Arrow had finally fallen asleep high up in a tree above Cassie and Gerald's shelter. The girl had been sleeping in trees for most of her life and she was completely at ease as she drifted off to sleep. Old memories, ones that she hadn't seen in a long time started her dream. Wind whipping through her hair, the feel of a stuffed Dratini doll in her arms. The tension of the child seat belt pressing against her body. A five year old Lin sat in the back passenger seat of a convertible, looking out at the sights of the realm of Almia. There were claims that Almia had no native pokemon of its own, but her parents were here to test that theory personally. Pokemon researchers Mr. and Mrs.... what were there names again Lin couldn't remember.

Lin's mother turned around to look at her daughter. The scent of a floral perfume, long brown hair waving in the wind. A nicely cut black and green female travelers outfit. No face, No face No face. There was nothing but blank white where her mother's face should have been. "Lin are you doing alright back their sweetie? " She turned to the driver "(......) maybe we should pull over and let her take a break. Lin looks like she may be getting car sick. (......) rest his hand on her arm, "as soon as we get off this mountain road dear, I will pull over. Another blank face turns back momentarily to look at her. Everything else in perfect detail like a picture or a movie. Short black hair, with a slight curl around the ears. A musky scent of pipe smoke, and cedar. A beautiful silver watch resting on his wrist, an anniversary present from his wife last year. "It seems I still can't remember their identities after all this time. Oh well it is no concern, that was a different life."

The face turns back toward the curving mountain road. Suddenly the sound of a loud rumbling can be heard. The tearing rip of thousands of pounds of rock rushing down a hill propelled by the relentless force of gravity. "(......) watch out!!" The screech of tires sliding along a road and the squeal of brakes driven to the floor. The twisted crunching sounds of rock impacting metal. Natures fury unleashed, in the fall of an earthen hammer. The screech of a metal guard rail ripping clean under the force and weight thrown against it. Then the falling, always the falling. Watching the road above recede and the clouds get farther away. A seat belt snaps and then more falling, a sharp impact and blackness.

Smell, sight and sound return. The smell of freshly green leaves, the sound of young treeckos at play swinging from the large trees around. The feel of firm earth beneath her bare feet, and the sight of two Sceptile standing in front of her. Borken Blade, and Jagged Leaf her memory supplies the names."My real parents" A feeling of intense warmth and the presence of true family. A smile on the five year old Lin standing before them. The warmth turns to cold, and their smiles turn to barred teeth. "What are you doing here human. You no belong!" A little girls smile dies in the cold embers of the dying sunlight."Wait this isn't right" A viscous slash from Jagged Leaf's arm blade and pain exploding in her left eye and partial blackness."No it wasn't her who did that." The feel of hot blood running down her face. The little girl turns and runs dashing headlong into the forest. The feel of trees whipping against her flesh and thorns tearing at her skin. An adult Lin stops when she sees Arrow standing before her. The feeling of warmth returns. "Why have you come here human?" Confusion..., the warmth drifts to an icy coldness. "But Brother..." "You are not my family human! Now take your evil orbs and leave this land." "Evil orbs?" Lin turns to look down at the pokemon trainer clothes she is dressed in. Her hair in a high ponytail, a pokedex on her belt. The foreign feel of manufactured tennis shoes on her feet.The taste of strawberries. Her teeth clench on a wad of gum in her mouth. Worst of all the feel of a cold metallic sphere in her hand.

"I said leave!!" Arrow leaps forward slashing with both blades in a lethal strike. Her muscles react and her hand whips forward. The feel of the cold metallic sphere leaves her finger tips. "No!!!" The sphere impacts Arrow in the chest and the orb pops open like some kind of dark egg. A hellish red beam of light shoots out and engulfs her brother in mid flight. The sound and feel of her heart beat in her ears. Thump... the orb twitches once. Thump.... the orb twitches twice..... Thump.... the orb stills and a clicking sound is heard.

Lin opened her eyes just in time to realize her situation. Finally honed reflexes shot her arm out and a strong grip drug her nails into the tree branch. Her body hung by one hand precariously sixty feet above the ground below. A few of her arrows tumbled from her quiver and bounced off leaves on their plummet down."I haven't fallen out of a tree since I was seven." Then a strong grip on her wrist. Lin turned her head up to see the smiling face of Arrow. They locked eyes for a moment and then her body is hoisted up back onto the thick limb. "You no fall ever. Why?" Lin shook her head banishing the horrible dream. "Just a nightmare, that is all." Arrow cocked his head, but then nodded and let it go.
Apollo's Nightmare
Apollo lay sitting with his back to a tree outside Delilah's clearing. The comforting warmth of the fire quickly lulled him to sleep as Vulcana took watch. His last sight from half lidded closing eyes was the dancing flames in front of his vision.
he flames died down to a single flame which became the flame of a candle. A little boy stared out at the candle focusing all of his concentration on it as he lay in his bed."So it's going to be this dream again. Well bring it the fuck on!" The sounds of shouting could be heard coming from the other side of the wall in the kitchen. A woman's voice, his mothers pierced the still night air as the sounds came further into clarity. "Arceus Dammit Brad, you have been drinking again!" The sound of a gruff, deep male voice with slurred speech followed. "Shut the fuck up woman, I just had a couple with the guys down at The Fire Pit."

The little boy starred at the candle flame watching each intricate move as it danced. He willed it to rise up and burn the whole house down. Another night and another fight thought the boy as he reached out one finger and traced the candle outline with it. He hunched down in the covers, and continued his thoughts wishing he was a pokemon instead of a human. ""I bet pokemon don't have to deal with drunk fathers and whore mothers. They just get to play, have fun, and battle all day. They are taken care of by their trainers and well fed." The boys stomach growled to remind him that his dinner of stale bread and crackers was wearing off. "I wanna be a fire type, they are so powerful and majestic. No one messes with fire types and they get to dance with the flames." The boys thoughts were interrupted by a particularly loud shout. "The guys my ass! You were with that slut Tina again weren't you Brad. Then another familiar sound. The sound of flesh impacting flesh and a ringing slap. "Shut up bitch! I will beat that mouth off of you and if that brat of ours says one word wrong tonight hes next."

"Oh fucking die already would you, stop dragging this shit out your worthless alcoholic bum." The boy winced and rubbed the bruise behind his left ear. The one behind his right was just starting to fade. He was already concocting an excuse in his head to use at school. Further sounds of flesh impacting flesh and a broken splintering of wood. The boy focused all the harder back on the candle flame. ""Please stop already be satisfied with that. Please"" "So naive kid. Wishes don't come true unless you make them with your own strength. If you want to stop monsters like that get stronger and do it yourself." The sounds of a struggle reverberate in the kitchen. Knives and other kitchen implements clatter to the cracked tile floor.Followed by the sound of wild screaming and then silence. The little boy crouches further behind the covers holding them in front of his body like a shield. The door knob turns slowly and the door swings open. A silhouette stands in the door frame. A tall male silhouette.

"What the fuck is this! That's not right, she should be standing there." The little boy looks up at the blood soaked figure of his father standing in the door frame. Total fear over comes him making his body unable to move. "Come on sport, we are going to go on a little trip. Throw your clothes on." The little boy shivers, "But Da......" Brad roars "Throw your Arceus damned clothes on right the fuck now brat!!" Then the door is slammed shut and the sounds of hurried packing come from the next room. The little boy crawls out of bed and does as his father ordered far to afraid to disobey him. Moments later the door is once again thrown open and Brad locks a meaty hand around his son wrist. Come on boy we are going now. The little boy is dragged out of his room and through the kitchen towards the back door. His eyes go as wide as plates and he bites on his hand hard enough to draw blood to keep from screaming. His mother lies on the kitchen floor with the butcher knife buried up to the hilt between her once lovely breasts. "No. No that's not how it fucking happened. What is this shit, it's supposed to be him lying on the fucking floor. Him! not Her! Don't go with him kid, grab the fucking knife handle and stab that son of a bitch in the leg."

The boy was quickly dragged out the back towards the old white pickup truck. "Get in now." Once again the boy complied silently in pure terror." They drove out in silence for a ways until chilling words cut the silence, "You ever tell anyone, your dead, got it Mark." A slow silent nod of the head, eyes still wide as saucer plates. As the truck rounded a bend the headlights fell upon four men standing in the road with a makeshift road block of two large black vans. "Shit, I don't like where this is going." Brad rolled down the window as one well dressed gentleman stepped in front of the others. "Brad you weren't thinkin on skippin town without payin what you owed to Sal now did you. His father looked nervous, "Now Jake you know I will get Sal his money I just need to relocate first that's all." The well dressed man smirked and shook his head, "to late Brad, Sal is tired of dealing with your empty promises. He wants you to know how he deals with empty promises." The man snapped his fingers. "Shit kid open the fucking door and get out of their now." Apollo's words fell on deaf ears as a large heavily scarred Charizard swooped down from the sky and strafed the truck with a powerful flame thrower. Brad and the boy both screamed as the truck turned into a super heated death trap in seconds. "No fire is my ally. That is not how I die. No fucking way!!"

The dream shifted once more to a very recent memory. Apollo was standing in the jungle clearing fighting Delilah. Only this time when she hit his nose the rage did not subside and his blow connected squarely with her face sending her to the ground. "No! No! No!" Apollo just smiled a wicked grin and began pummeling Delilah mercilessly with his fist. The air filled with the sound of breaking bone and blood splatter. The blows continued to rain down mercilessly all the while he laughed. Finally when the thud of fist into flesh was just a messy thud Apollo stood up and turned. His eyes glowed red and then the face and body morphed into that of brad. "You see boy this is who you are, it's in your blood."

"Nooooooo!!!!!!! I will never be him never. That's not me!"

Apollo woke up flailing as his heart beat ninety miles an hour in his chest. Vulcana turned and looked on her trainer with alarm. Apollo just kept whispering, "that's not me, that's not me." However his memory kept jumping back to how close he came to hitting Delilah. Vulcana padded over to her trainer and plopped down in his lap letting out a loud but comforting purrr. Apollo felt his heart beat recede as he reached his hand up to scratch Vulcana. Still the image haunted him as the firelight flickered in the dark.
"Les rêves... Qui sommeillent... Dans nos coeurs..."

Gentle laughter, harmonious and innocent, was intertwined with the warm humming of a loving mother. Everything her eyes glanced upon were warm, autumn colors. So bright and beautiful were the falling leaves. A shower of hues to greet the cool, crisp air. The kind of cold that allowed you to see your see your breath which each exhale. Biting cold that turned your nose and cheeks red and numb, and yet, you still choose to be outside because it was too beautiful to miss.

"Au... Creux de... La nuit..."

Cassie was running, and it was a time when you ran just because you could. Because it made you happy. When everything was bigger than you, out of reach, but you always had a bigger bed to climb into when you were scared, or lonely. She listened to the crunch of the flaky leaves crumbling beneath her bare feet, how the melodious voice spurred her on, and she felt she could just run forever.

"Habillent... Nos chagrins... De bonheur..."

Suddenly, little arms, smaller than her's, wrapped tightly around her waist, and they tumbled. Into the welcome of amber leaves which embraced them with an affection a mother gave to her child. Cassie felt the small body against her back, and she intertwined her laughter with their's.

"Jet t'ai eu!"

A light voice, so airy and delicate tickled her ears and Cassie turned herself onto her back to embrace the five year old on top of her. That meant she was ten. Their laughter never ceased, and her hold never faltered. "Bon travail, Alice!" Her voice was innocent then, congratulating a good job to her one and only sister, but all she could really think of was how soft her sister's hair had been.

"Dans le doux secret de l'oubli..."

"Children, it's time to go home." The two girls look up to see a woman dressed in sleek black leather; a stunning ravenette with electric blue eyes and slender limbs. Her face was kind, and her plump, red lips were upturned into a warm smile, and Cassie felt happy to see her. She was excited to have her.

"Okay, mama!"

She bends down to cover her two daughters in loving kisses. The woman smiled at the sound of their tickled giggles, and she took little Alice into her arms, and pulled little Cassandra onto her feet. Holding her hand, so small in comparison, gently within her own.

Jeanne walks them back to the car, down the winding dirt road lined with brilliant scarlet trees. Cassie listens to her mother's continued song, and joins her serenade to lull Alice to sleep, "Écoute ton rêve... Et demain..."

In the distance, she can see her father's car. Him leaning against the metal body with a gentle smile on his face, Cassie felt herself smile so wide her cheeks hurt.

"Le soleil... Brillera... Toujours..." Her mother's song became bigger. Omnipotent, enveloping her entity and resonating, and she could hear it from everywhere. But her mother had stopped singing, and she'd stopped walking. Her hand slipped so easily from her mothers when she walked ahead, placing a loving kiss on her husband's lips.

"Même si ton coeur a l'âme en peine..."

And Cassie decided she wanted to be able to do that too someday.

"Allez, Cassie."

The young girl laughed brightly upon her father's invitation, and she ran. Yet, when the wind blew against her and the fallen leaves danced upon it, she felt as if she were running backwards.

"Il faut y croire quand même:"

That tranquil scene of her family by the car, surrounded with autumn colors, was slipping further out of reach. Everything around it faded, watercolors melting from white paper, as the leaves seemed to peel apart reality when they came rushing at her in a merciless flurry to push her away.

And they were ablaze. They were flames and they were heat and they were an inferno. They threw at her the harshness of reality, playing memories she'd long suppressed and tried to forget.

Her parents' constant bickering. So violent and loud that she could still hear them no matter how tightly she shut her ears, or how many layers of covers she hid beneath in her locked room.

Her hatred for her father's car. Because sitting there, she could was forced to witness her parent's outbursts, listen to their exchange of frustration and hurtful insults. And she had nowhere to go. Nowhere to escape to. All she could do was hold her baby sister in her arms and keep her from crying.

Her separation from her sister. Alice was sent away to a boarding school the day she turned five. The day Cassie had to leave for her Pokemon journey.

Her mother's cold heart. She'd never been that kind to either of them. She remembered her harsh looks, tearing her down in their last battle together under Team Rocket's arrangement. Her mother's feverish call of, "Dragon Rage!" echoing through the white battle arena. And her own blunders and stutters. "R- Ryu- use- use... Erm... Use..." The feeling of her own fingers digging into her temple when the attack from her mother's ferocious Hydreigon landed, driving her Lucario into the ground. "I- I don't know! I'm sorry! Mama, I'm sorry!"

And the fires made Cassie realized the warm, vivid memory was a lie. It wasn't a memory at all. It was a dream. A simple, innocent dream that will never come true. As the flames closed in and peeled her flesh from her bones, and her voice screamed so loudly she could barely hear it, Cassie could see another form take shape in the flames. It was familiar, and yet, still so foreign.

She could see long hair, a broad shouldered frame, and gentle eyes. When the figure smiled at her, the more realistic he became. The fires parted to reveal ghostly white hair and evergreen eyes, extending a hand to her, as if to save her from the inferno's prison. She yearned to receive his help, and yet muddled thoughts of fear of her mother's approval prevented her from doing so. Her hand simply lingered there. He was within her reach, yet, she couldn't bring herself to fully extend and grasp him. Her eyes were fickle, searching the flames from something that wasn't there. "What should I do...?" She cried, and yet her voice was distant and drowned by the crackling flames. Laughing at her. The flames consumed her, wrapping around her like a snake. "Mama, please...! Tell me what to do...!"

He was still there. But she no longer had hands to reach him with. The fiery wall was closing back in, sealing her inside, and yet, his eyes still hold hope and kindness. It was then when Cassie heard her mother's- no, the mother she never had, sing,

"Le rêve... D'une vie... C'est... L'amour..."

A life's dream is love.

And for her, it would always remain a dream.


Silver eyes flew open, once again soaked to the brim with tears. She always cries in her sleep. Her hand reached up to wipe the pearls of sadness away, and only then did she peek to the others residing in the strangler fig camp. The fire had died, and only Gerald and June remained. Lin had taken off, she supposed. Second, her eyes peered out through the window she'd fallen asleep by. The day was still dark, but she was familiar with the faint tinge of paris blue in the sky, allowing her to conclude it was early dawn.

Shifting her position to a crawl, she dragged her lethargic self over to the water bowls. Taking one of the five and downing it to wet her dry throat.


Cassie nearly choked. Dropping the bowl, she quickly scuffled back to her window and once again peered out. Faintly there, she could see the silhouette of black and blue, with piercing red eyes. A Lucario. The girl held her breath, squinting in an attempt to see better and rubbing her eyes to clean the sleep away. A very serious creature. Lacking the wild gaze and feral attitude most other wild Pokemon possessed. Could it be? Her eyes squinted further, and she paid attention to his left ear, noting how it was clearly chewed up.

That was him. That was Ryu!

Scrambling to get on her feet, Cassie bolted out the entrance, and straight to him. Ryu was standing so still, so unreactive to her scramble. But when she reached out to touch him, she understood why.

He wasn't real.

He was a figment of her imagination and he wasn't really there. Her hand had gone right through him and she felt no hindrance but air. "Oh..." Her voice was soft. Almost a whisper. "I miss you so much..."

The heartless hallucination turned quickly, and retreated into the forest with a ghostly stride, disappearing behind the cloud of fog seeping between the trees. And in his place, appeared the silhouettes of the remainder of the team members she'd lost. Fang, her determined, competitive Garchomp. Ace, her graceful, meticulously neat Swanna. And her two girls, Jade and Aurora. She still marveled at how a Roserade could become friends with a Froslass. They all gazed at her with gentle eyes, before turning and following after Ryu. Into the forest line.

"Wait... Where are you all... Going...?"

Cassie took a step forward, and then another one, and soon she found herself running after ghosts. Illusions of the one good thing she'd lost. She was running downhill, but the thick shrubbery hindered her from going as fast as the ghosts drifting into the darkness. And soon, she'd lost them again.

The spirit in her eyes withered, and out there, she was alone. Her hand instinctively went to touch her belt, finding Lady's pokeball still latched securely onto it. She let out a small breath of relief, and took in the coolness of the dark. The mystery that the fog held. She could hear the river from where she stood, and decided a bath will do her some good. Ace had to have picked up his clean-freak trait from somewhere.

Rerouting, Cassie followed the sound of the river downhill to the valley it flowed down. The river had a gravel bed, thus, the water was clear and just the sight of it made her shiver. She pulled her gloves from her hands and folded them neatly by the river, close enough for her to be able to grab them, but far enough to not have it swept away by the river. Only then did she shed her clothes into a neat pile beside the gloves.

Scars exposed for all to see, she dipped one foot in the clear, soothing water, and she shivered once more from its low temperature. Next came the other, and she tread far enough into it for the water to reach her waist. Still in the shallows and close enough to shore to quickly run back in case some water Pokemon decided to have a pre-dawn meal. Soon, she knelt down, submerging her torso in the water and letting out a brittle laugh in the process. It was cold, and yet the thought of being clean made the process enjoyable.

Her body temperature was adjusting quickly, and soon, she let her hair down to properly wash the dirt, mud, and sweat from her being.

And cleanse herself from the ghosts of her past.

Singing, "Le rêve d'une vie, c'est l'amour..."
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Mina's Nightmare
Mina curled up next to Damien in the cave and wrapped her arms around him. She snuggled in close and used him as a pillow. As she drifted off to sleep she mumbled, "Thank you for protecting me big brother."

Mina's mind drifted back and far away from the cold stone of the cave floor. She was a little five year old girl once again, and she was standing in a beautiful elaborate garden filled with roses. Behind the garden was a large mansion, that was clearly several hundred years old.


Beside her were a beautiful blonde haired woman and a dark headed aristocratic looking man. Wilhem Soren Daniels II and his young wife Selena, made a picturesque couple of the happy rich family. Mina laughed and ran over to her mother leaping into her arms while her father smiled and straightened his mustache. Ecarte stood behind and handed her trainer Selena a rose. Selena promptly braided the rose in her daughters hair after carefully removing the thorns. Ace trainer, and prima ballerina Selena looked on her daughter with love and pride. "Mina dear we have a gift for you." Mina cocked her head and giggled , "really?" Selena nodded to her husband who walked around the fountain and a moment later came back with a large teddy bear. "Mina this is Louis, he is going to be your companion for awhile." Mina wrapped her arms around Louis, who was almost as big as she was. Wilhem held hands with his wife, "Notre Petite Fleur."

The landscape faded in the background, as a classical undertone played . The new scene Mina was thrust into was much more somber. She was inside the Daniel's mansion walking down a long hall. Her father held her hand gently, although his strong blue eyes shown with worry. At the end of the hall stood a large black wooden door. As they neared the door it was opened and Mina could hear a beep, beep, beep. The sound was rhythmic, slow but steady. Several servants dressed in white busily moved around the room and her father was talking to a beautiful lady with high cheekbones and long black hair. Then Mina got closer and realized the Lady was a man. The man looked serious and sad, as he talked to her father and her father just hung his head at the man's words.

As Mina rounded the bed she saw her mother. She was lying there in the bed with a mask on and various tubes hooked to her body. Mina saw the source of the beep. A machine was hooked to her mother and a squiggly green line would move by spike and then beep. Her mother looked like she was sleeping although she didn't look comfortable with all that stuff on.She heard more words from the man although most were lost, "........Idiopath................ Alph............ coma.........no............response.................nothing.................can.......do." She noticed something missing. Mina pulled on one of the servants clothes as the walked past." qu'Est-ce que c'est?" Mina blinked, "Where is Ecarte, she is always around mere." The servant shook her head, "we had to put her in a pokeball, the poor thing was panicked and getting in the way."

Mina's world shifted once more there was a large procession and in the center a rose covered casket. A live band played her mother's favorite performance in the background. Many people were in attendance and crying. Mina saw the beautiful Dr. there as well, and he looked sad. Her mother had been well liked by many people. Mina noticed that Ecarte was still missing. She frowned, they shouldn't keep her in a pokeball like that, Ecarte was her mother's favorite. A service was said but Mina was not paying attention to the words.

The scene shifted once again and Mina, sat on the steps of the house looking down on the face of a demon. Her father was talking with a woman. A woman who had curly black hair, rose colored lipstick, and dark blue eyes that shown with greed and malice. Mina did not like the woman that day or any day after. Vivian Crotale, the woman who would become her stepmother. As Mina looked down the woman looked up and locked eyes with Mina before smiling wickedly.

The scene flashes forward and once again Mina is in the mansion she calls home. This time she is ten years old and the emotional air is cold. Her father had changed ever since the day of the funeral. He had fallen into his work and become distant to everyone. His warm smile was gone replaced by a cold frown and his health had been deteriorating by the day. A clatter of plates is heard below as a servant comes rushing out into the foyer screaming, "le « maître est mort !" Mina looks down and catches Vivian's eyes once more and that cold look is their along with a single smile.

The landscape swirls around and turns dark before reasserting itself once again. Officers leave the building, medical professionals rule the death natural. A man in a tweed jacket reads a will to all gathered. Vivian's cold smile of victory.

Then she is standing in that same long hallway once again with Vivian standing at the end, holding a pokeball. A very familiar pokeball with a single rose engraved on it. Mina is standing at the other end of the hall with two large men on either side of her. "Are you looking for this Mina dear." Vivian holds up the pokeball tauntingly, "you will not need such a thing at the school were you are going. Since students aren't allowed pokemon", again that cruel smile as she turns to a gaunt looking man beside her and drops the ball into his hand. "Dispose of this will you." Mina screams and tries to run forward as the the two large men beside her grab her arms, and lift her off the ground carrying her backwards through the hall doors. As her sight of Ecarte's pokeball is obscured by the closing boom of double doors, all she can hear is Vivian's laughter.

Mina opened her eyes and shivered at the horrid nightmare. She tightened her grip around Damien's waist and cried silent tears. "That was wrong the police took her away when she killed my father with her poison." She turned and looked toward Ecarte and her shaking slowed a bit. She whispered, "ne me quitte jamais non Ecarte."
Location: Riverside near Camp SAM
Time: 2nd Day, Pre-dawn
Tagging: Salem, Cassie
Salem was in a Zen like state. His mind was now completely calm and acutely focused on his outward senses.

He could feel the flow of the current brush past his body, as if tracing a thousand soft feathers across his skin. He could feel the deep baritone voice of the river reverberating through his chest, eager to tell him its story. He could see the surface of the water above him, rushing past with slim streaks of reflected light, and he heard the movement of pebbles as they danced along the river floor, each tap a musical note that echoed in his ears.

For just this blissful moment, he was at peace.

His sister had always complained when he did this back on the island. It was different there. The water was heavier and saltier, and the song of the ocean was very different compared to that of this river, however the soothing effect on his soul was the same.

“You stay underwater too long,” his sister would tell him when he emerged. “I always wonder if maybe this time the ocean decides to keep you.” She was smiling when she said this, but Salem could hear the worry in her voice and understood that her fears were real.

“You don’t have to worry about me, sis,” he would console her. “You know I am like a Golduck in the water. The sea will never be able to keep us apart.” She had beamed brightly at her baby brother then.

Salem closed his eyes at the memory. How very naïve he had been.

He scowled and let a few bubbles of air escape from between his lips. He had submerged himself in the river to get away from troubling thoughts, not to find different ones.

Salem was lying naked in the river. Initially his plan had been to just wash his face and have a drink, but the water looked so inviting that he had instead opted for a bath and a swim. Stripped from everything save the ribbons securely tied around his left arm, Salem had slid into the cool water, under the cover of the dark purple sky, heralding a new day.

Swimming always calmed him down. There is something indescribable about becoming one with something so vast as a sea, or lake, or even a river. Unfortunately, whenever Salem calms his body down, his mind picks up the slack and starts racing.

His thoughts had wandered to the dream he’d just woken from. They had wandered to the people he was trapped with, and to his Pokemon waiting for him to come find them.

Annoyed at the direction his thoughts were going, Salem had dived down to the river bed where he turned himself face up, suspended himself between two sturdy boulders, and forced his mind cleared.

More bubbles escaped his mouth, and he could feel the air remaining begin to burn his lungs.

‘Just a little longer,’
he thought. ‘Just a little bit more before I have to face the world again,’ but he knew he couldn’t hold it anymore. He released his remaining breath and kicked off the rocks to violently burst through the river surface.

Gasping for breath, he gave in to a shiver, elicited by the sudden chilly touch of the morning air on his wet skin. Little drops of water rained down around him but he unconsciously realized that the sound of it didn’t add up. There were too many splashes, and instinctively Salem knew that he was not alone. He whirled in the direction of the opposite shore readying himself for anything.

Anything but the small, naked young woman he found there.

It took a moment for his mind to realize what he was seeing, then another to realize who he was seeing, and before he could consciously direct them, his eyes had begun roving her body.

Her form was slender, he noted, but had just the right amount of curve to it. Tiny drops of water ran down her front, past a surprisingly generous chest standing firm and on proud display, down a narrow waist, where he could see the distinction of strong, sleek muscles beneath tight, tanned skin. The water droplets continued their journey over the slight swell of narrow hips, until they hit the water that was hiding the rest of her from view.

She had shoulder length, wet hair, now black of color due to the water in it, clinging to her face and neck. Her face was delicate and pretty, with soft looking lips and a small, cute nose.

Salem noticed the scars too. There were multiple small ones across her stomach and several, more prominent ones, on her sides and abdomen. These latter did not look like they came from cuts or scrapes, unlike the smaller ones. Most notable of all were the heavy burn scars covering her hands and forearms.

Flashes of his dream came back at the sight of them, and he pulled his gaze up to her face where he met her eyes at last. Those silver eyes that keep popping into his mind at the most random moments. Currently they were slightly widened with surprise, likely a mirror to his own.

Salem’s jaw hang slack and moved as if to say something. ‘Miss…’ he almost automatically began, but caught himself. Somehow it felt wrong to distantly refer to her as ‘miss’ when she has been so close to him in recent time.

He closed his mouth and set his jaw. He softened the look in his eyes and smiled his confident, comfortable smile.

“Cassie,” he said plain and simple, acknowledging her presence as if it was just another morning on any regular day.

The sun crested the mountains in the distance at that moment, and the first rays of dawn hit the both of them from the side, illuminating their profiles.
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The cold had become tolerable, but now, her toes were numb.

Cassie let out a brittle sigh, tilting her head back, skywards, to relish in the feeling of water a moment longer. For all she knew, her life could end later that noon, or maybe even as soon as she stepped out of the water. She would not squander again. Each moment was precious, more valuable than any gold and more important than any debt. She would enjoy this for as long as she could.

But it was difficult to enjoy anything when you're trying not to freeze. 'You'll be grateful when the sun comes back up.' Cassie told herself, and preserved in her position in the river shallows. Simply to remember. To memorize the feeling of water brushing gently against her skin, how it enveloped her body, and the way the gravel shifted beneath her, attempting escape. She listened to the distant calls of Pokemon in the jungle, the sound of water rippling over each other in a race to flow out to sea.

'Sea...' Her eyes widened. That was it, that was how they could esca-

A monumental splash, rivaling the force of a geyser, exploded behind her. Moving purely on instinct, Cassie rose to her feet and turned herself to face the unknown threat. The presence of water and how it slowed down her movement picked at the back of her mind, but she'd completely forgotten that she was in the nude.

Her mind was purely set on survival.

As the droplets blow away, however, she came to the realization that it hadn't been a beast, or any sort of creature that would devour her for food. It was a man. A painfully familiar, bare-chested, broad-shouldered and richly tanned man with tight muscles that rippled at the slightest movement, powerful and steady, sculpting a body that was statuesque. Utter perfection.

Her thoughts had melted away as she simply trailed each muscle fiber the same way his eyes trailed her's. Starting with his pronounced abdominal muscles, daring to peek lower to his pelvis where the water had hidden away what was underneath, before eventually scanning back up again, following his powerful arms and up to a strong neck, where she found the most beautiful sight she'd seen for days.

A soft face, yet it was strong at the same time. As if he was holding back a certain strength behind a facade of gentleness. Dangerous. But then, so was she. His lips were inviting, and she assumed he knew how to use them. His nose was of perfect size and shape, it was as if no flaw could exist on him. But then she noticed his eyes, and she realized they were kind, gentle, and evergreen.

Everything fell into place, but he'd beaten her to the punch. “Cassie,” He said casually, yet with a strange fondness in his tone that left her wondering, and she could see the amusement flickering in his eyes.

It was around that time when the sun decided to sneak a peek at the young man and woman standing adjacent to each other, yet completely separated by the river's current. Sunlight replaced moonlight, and it bathed Salem's form in a warm, golden light that created a heavenly glow when the water droplets so desperately clinging to his body reflected it. She could've mistaken him for an angel. But then, she'd have to be dead.

"...Salem." The name flowed out so easily from her lips, and yet, they held the same air of nonchalance as his voice did. As the morning gifted them with a comforting breeze that left her shivering with glee, chiding her gently of her exposed skin. But she felt no embarrassment. No shame. Her shame had died along with who she used to be. Thus, placing a hand on her waist, she simply said, "I hope you're enjoying the view. Could be the last time you'll ever see it." And then casually gliding back to shore with long strides, yet slowly so, treading the river's current with care.

She moved with a certain grace, a fragility one would see in a glass figurine, and yet the scars gracing her skin would tell the observer otherwise. With her back to him, he would notice the strange placement of her scars. How frequent they were around her shoulder blades and lower back, yet stopping right above the curve of her bum, and never reaching past her arms. On the back of her neck, barely peeping through her darkened hair, was a smooth, perfectly diagonal scar.

Undoubtedly a blade's work.

On the shore, Cassie bent down and picked up her shirt to use as a towel, allowing it to absorb the moisture still clinging on her body, slinging it over her shoulder once the job was complete and she instead wrung the water from her hair. Only then did she dress herself, ever so casually even before the eyes of an audience. She took no major gratification in it, except perhaps her own personal amusement. Just to boost what little ego she had.

With her gloves once again hiding her burns from sight, Cassie proceeded to swiftly wrap and buckle her belt around her slender waist with one, quick, effecient move. Only then did she lay eyes on him again, peering playfully over her shoulder. Her eyes were the most pronounced features visible from the frame of dark hair clinging on to her face. They were framed by long, dark eyelashes which only seemed to contrast the silver of her irises further, while a certain glint of mischief sparked within them when she said,

"Glad you're still around."
Lin moved along the upper tree branches, her mind kept going over the nightmare. Still she was awake now and her reflexes and balance were in autopilot as she ran along the branches. No matter how distracted she was, it would not result in a fall. So Lin let her brain work, "Why would I have a nightmare like that. I have been here a year and not had a nightmare so bad I fell out of a tree." She looked beside her at her partner Arrow. The Sceptile was nimbly leaping from branch to branch. "Is it because I am worried about Arrow and this virus. It is true that the herbs are wearing off quicker. I need to act faster before it is to late." Lin hit the edge of the trees and ran along the edge until she saw something that made her stop. The woman, Cassie and a man were naked. She recognized the man as the one at the camp across the river with the red head.

"Well I don't have to bring them together it seems." It seemed the two of them had already done the hard part. Lin watched the two studying their body language. "Damn I am not close enough for a scent. Their body language suggest a mating ritual is about to happen though. They seem to have recognition, so they much know each other. Very different than her and the other boy." Lin's eyes quickly darted to a small bit of movement in the water upstream. Her eyes widened as she recognized what was about to happen. "Damn those two are to caught up in their mating ritual to see the danger in time and I need them alive." Quick as a thought Lin had her bow drawn and three arrows were flying through the air. As soon as the arrows left her bow before she even bothered to see them hit she was running along the branches dropping like a squirrel from branch to lower branch and then to the ground in a matter of seconds.

The arrows flew the the air true to their marks. One air embedded itself in the ground right between the two trainers to break their eye contact. The second two flew past Salem's head and landed in the water on either side of the submerged pokemon. The arrows caused the creature to hesitate for just a brief moment.

The giant Feraligatr burst out of the water and attempted to make a meal of the naked Islander. As quickly as Lin had moved and reached the ground Arrow true to his name sake had been faster. The Sceptile had leaped straight to the ground and using agility took off for the water. Lin's arrows bought him just enough time, that when the crocodile pokemon opened it's mouth to eat Salem, Arrow was there holding it's jaws wide. The Sceptile only had to hold the giant jaws long enough for Salem to get out of the water before jumping backward and leaping onto the beach.

Anyone turning to look at the Feraligatr would see a skeletal arm wedged between razor sharp teeth. Still clutched between the skeletal fingers in a literal death grip was a single metallic sphere. As the Sceptile landed on the beach the jaws snapped shut sealing the vision.
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Scolipedes frontal horns lit up green as it knelt its head down in front of it, preparing to charge. Swift knew very well what was coming. Floyd had educated him in all sorts of different attacks and how to deal with each and every one of them. This was a Megahorn, a bug-type attack that certainly packed a punch if it hit directly, however, once the Pokemon using the move starts charging at it's target, then it's impossible for them to stop until they hit something. Swift bounced up and down on top of the wood shavings below him, trying to taunt the Scolipede into attacking early.


The Scolipede stood there, kneeling down ever so slightly every few seconds...

Suddenly, the megapede Pokemon violently dashed towards Swift, who immediately jumped to the right. Just as the Scolipede ran by with its horns upfront, a turquoise sphere materialized in front of the Starmie and shot out a thin beam of ice directly at Scolipedes hind legs as it passed. The beam froze the two little legs in place, yet the Scolipede was still going in the same direction, the momentum it had built was too strong to stop.

Scolipedes horns pierced a large oak tree as it finally reached the forestry behind Swift. The bug Pokemon tried to make a quick turn in the opposite direction but to no avail, its frozen legs wouldn't move an inch. This caused Scolipede to topple over on its side and roll like a log down a hill, crushing every single tree it came into contact with, including the one stuck to its horns. Swift rapidly rolled past the menacing mon and hit a stray log that had been tossed in front of him. The Starmie was thrown into the air just as Scolipede hit a large, mossy boulder and stopped moving. This was all according to plan.

Swift bent two of his 'arms' towards Scolipede and scalding hot water burst from them in an explosion of steam, this sent the Starmie even higher into the air. While Scolipede was finally regaining its stature, the blast of high pressure water violently tore through its skin, some of the purple markings on its sides were completely covered up by smoking scorch marks. The enemy had been successfully burned!

Scolipede was quickly engulfed in flames as Swift gently lowered himself on to the ground, stopping his attack entirely. After a short few moments of silence, Swift cautiously rolled over to the Scolipede to inspect it. Was it dead? His question was quickly answered as water droplets hit the muddy terrain underneath the presumably dead insect, its legs had thawed.


Saliva ridden teeth sunk into Swifts side in an instant, Scolipede looked even angrier than ever, its mouth was frothing and its body was still on fire. Despite the horrible burn, the bug jerked Swift into the air and fired off two pin-like missiles of energy at its opponent before letting out a horrifying screech of agony.

Swift narrowly avoided the first anger induced projectile, but the other one hit him directly in his core. A loud static noise came from Floyds companion as he hit the ground. It hurt, but he knew very well that he was bulky enough to survive a measly Pin Missile.

To finish things off, a large array of rocks, boulders and specs of dirt were lifted into the air. A purple glow surrounded Swift as he jumped back on to his feet. A small crack in his sparkling ruby core was barely noticeable, it didn't hurt all that much, but it surely would heal over time. Scolipede ran towards the Starmie, leaving a trail of dust in its wake, but before it could even reach Swift, a large boulder slammed into its lower back, this time crushing its legs for good. This attack was quickly followed up by a large array of various rocks precisely slicing its head off, and then into halves, then quarters, then eighths. The remains of the Scolipedes brain sprawled outwards on to the sharp grass beneath it. Just to make sure it was dead, Swift repeatedly slammed another large boulder using his psychic powers into the parts of its body that were unscathed. This put out the fire that was slowly melting its innards, no one wanted the smell of a freshly cooked Scolipede in the air.

An easy victory. The Scolipede didn't even think for a moment about strategy, it acted out of anger and rage, nothing else. According to Swift and Floyd alike, this was not the way to battle. Never underestimate the power of a speedy, bulky, offensive and smart starfish.

Swift stopped glowing and let his body relax a little bit before rolling back to Floyd to see how he was holding up. Hopefully the girl did what he asked and delivered the berry to Floyd. It was beginning to get dark outside, the moon was on one side of the horizon while the sun was setting on the opposite end. Maybe, just maybe, he could get a good nights sleep.

Location: Riverside near Camp SAM
Time: 2nd Day, Pre-dawn
Tagging: Salem, Cassie, Lin, Arrow
The surprise faded from those enchanting eyes of her, and was replaced with, something else, something he couldn’t quite read. What he could read however, was the open invitation to ogle her when she put a hand on her hip. So he did. He all but devoured her delicious looking tan breasts with his eyes and involuntarily traced his lips with his tongue.

“I hope you’re enjoying the view,” she said. “Could be the last time you’ll ever see it.” And just like that his haze was lifted. He blinked and searched out her eyes again, but she turned around and waded back to shore.

Salem felt a little ashamed for having lost his cool like that. Was all that teasing with the fair skinned doctor getting to him? ‘In hind sight it is actually quite amazing nothing had happened yet,’ Salem thought to himself. ‘Perhaps I should keep a bit more distance?’

He watched Cassie slowly retreat from the water. Her walk was deliberate, sensual and enticing, and when she bend forward to pick up her shirt so she could towel herself off with it, Salem almost lost it then and there. He swallowed a lump in his throat and swam stiffly after her.

He walked out of the water but stopped right on the edge, just out of reach. He was staring again, noticing that like her front, her back also seemed to tell a story, spelled out in scars and blemishes. He knew he was only making things harder on himself, but he could not look away from her.

When she was done drying her body she slowly got dressed. All the while no words were spoken between them and Salem briefly thought back to the last meal they had shared together.

Cassie looked back at that moment and their eyes met again.

“Glad you’re still around,” she said, and Salem smiled honestly at that. They were good.

“You know, I have been looking for…” Salem began and, oblivious to his own current state of undress, was about to step closer, when an arrow suddenly struck the ground between them, and he took a hurried step back instead.

Two more arrows whizzed over his shoulders and Salem crouched into a battle stance instinctively. As such he was ready when he saw a big green Sceptile drop from the trees and lunge straight at him. What he wasn’t prepared for however, was the ferocious alligator Pokemon bursting from the river behind him.
Salem spun around quickly to face the unexpected threat, but in his naked state there was very little he could do against such a monster. For the briefest of moments he thought his life would be over. He released the breath he was holding and unclenched his hands, ready to accept his fate head on. ‘At the very least I’ll be taking the memory of you with me Cassie,’ he thought, and smiled. ‘It really would be the last time he saw her naked, pitty.’

But then, right before the massive jaws of the Feraligatr were about to snap closed over Salem’s head, the Sceptile was there besides him, holding open the gaping maw. It gave Salem a furtive look, and that look was all he needed. Salem understood, he was an alley, a friend. He could count on this Pokemon and they would fight together if need be.

With renewed resolve, Salem clenched his fists again and let his mind slip into combat mode.

‘Let’s start with some distance first,’ he decided and made ready to jump backwards when his eye caught something shiny sticking out from between the Alligator’s teeth. He had already started the motion and more on impulse that anything else he snapped his hand out, to grab whatever it was, and jumped as far back as he could, tapping the Sceptile on the shoulder as he went past, and landing in the receive ready pose his mentor had drilled into him so many years ago.

In his hand he held a Pokeball. Salem thought for a moment, shrugged, and tossed the Pokeball at the ground beside him, curious to see what would come out.

He felt the impulse to warn Cassie, but somehow he knew she had probably seen the attack coming before he had. So instead he grinned and called to her; “I found your fedora by the way. I kept it safe, don’t worry!”
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After spending the next hour trying to return to her slumber, Delilah found herself unable to keep her eyes shut for an extended period of time. That dream had really spooked her. Part of her wondered what it all could have meant, while another part of her simply wanted to ignore it and move on with her life. In the end, the latter was decided to be the best option.

Delilah crawled out of her stick shelter and began wiping off the dirt that had stuck to her while in her sleep. The first thing she noticed was that the sun was just barely peaking over the horizon, which meant she’d woken up much earlier than she intended to. Regardless, sleeping would no longer be an option.

As she went to take her first step of the new day she stopped immediately. The groggy trainer noticed there were two coconut halves filled with water and some sort of monkey that had been cooked on a spit. For a moment, she was confused. That was until she glanced over and saw Apollo sleeping whilst slumped against a tree with Vulcana in his lap. Between Apollo and Delilah was what appeared to be a campfire that had been either put out or burned out. The thought of him even building something like that in the first place greatly annoyed her, and she couldn’t help but wonder if the fire at all contributed to her nightmare, if not caused the whole thing.

The bee trainer furrowed her brow. She grabbed the two halves of coconut and poured one out over the campfire to ensure it had been completely extinguished. She then used the other to splash on Apollo as he slept beneath his alert Pyroar, whom Delilah once again refused to acknowledge as something that existed.

“Wake up, loverboy,” Delilah’s words were practically spat out. While it was a nice gesture of him to offer a meal to her, she didn’t quite know him well enough to trust he wasn’t working for Team Rocket. For all she knew that meat could have belonged to an innocent Pokemon, or the water contaminated with some type of drug.

The bee trainer squatted in front of the fire tamer and made direct eye-contact with him. “Look,” she said, “I get it, alright? You see someone famous like me in the middle of the forest, and all of a sudden you get that ‘we might be the last two people on earth’ feeling.”

The green-eyed girl grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and yanked him close so that he could see the burning intensity in her eyes. She essentially had to bend him around Volcana’s midsection as she spoke. “But I am not your damsel in distress. I can take care of myself without the help of someone like you.”

She snarled slightly as she spoke, “our differences aren’t obstacles to overcome. They’re just differences. Nothing’s going to change how I feel about you or how it feels being around you. You’re distracting me from my goal and that is not what I need. From now on, if you’re still going to follow me, then try to be a silent partner.”

Delilah released him then stood straight and started to walk away from the small camp that Apollo had constructed. Her expression softened a little and she sighed. “And don’t turn out to be a really nice person, it’ll just make me feel worse for not liking you. And don’t die either, that’ll definitely weigh on my conscience when I’m trying to be awesome.” She turned and gave Apollo a thumbs up before disappearing into the forest. While she appreciated what he may have been trying to do for her, she hoped that talking to him more bluntly would keep him at bay for a little while longer until she found Alex and her friends.

Delilah ventured through the forest. She was definitely hungry, and her thirst wasn’t exactly satisfied with the small droplets that she’d gotten last night, but it wasn’t anything she couldn’t ignore. Apollo may have been a fool to try and do for her, but his offer of a meal and a beverage sounded better and better each second.

All of a sudden the trainer noticed something. A small clearing, where there appeared to be a body lying on the ground. Delilah rubbed her eyes to see if she was hallucinating, but she wasn’t. Could this be Alex? Could he be okay after all this time?

Delilah wasn’t going to wait to find out. She sprinted forward as fast as she could to get to whoever it was that she saw. Her heart was racing and a desperate hope reared its head as excitement in her chest. Already she thought about what she would do if this turned out to be her rival from the hotel. Images of punching him on the shoulder for scaring her and finally having their big battle flashed through Delilah’s mind.

The closer she got, however, the more she realized that the person’s features didn’t match that of Alex’s. Regardless, she intended to help whoever it was.

On her approach, Delilah soon picked up an awful stench. She covered her nose and slowed to a walk. It became apparent that the smell was permeating through the air around the trainer’s visibly lifeless body.

Judging by the way his skin looked—sickeningly crispy—it seemed like he’d been electrocuted to death. Lying not too far away was the corpse of what Delilah assumed to be the trainer’s Raticate. The two were still, unmoving.

Delilah couldn’t take her eyes away. For a moment she wondered if Alex had suffered the same fate as this person. Just as quickly as her mind suggested this, it was dismissed. Alex was nothing if not stubborn. He’d have pulled through, she simply felt it in her bones.

Off in the distance, Delilah took note of another strange sight. Near a tree was a mangled pile of bone and flesh. It looked like the remnants of a Pachirisu that had been severely beaten to death and left to rot.

Delilah squatted down to inspect it closer. “What in the world?” she muttered, “why would someone do this? Pachirisu are so small and fragile...”

The bee trainer stood up and looked around for any more clues as to what happened here. The only other thing she could find was a small campfire and some bones that looked like they belonged to more Pachirisu.

No matter how these pokemon were behaving, they certainly didn’t deserve to be treated like this. Perhaps the people that were here were poachers of some sort. Trapping weak and innocent pokemon and eating them. She understood that desperate times called for desperate measures, but being that this was the first day, it seemed cruel to immediately hunt and eat weak pokemon.

Delilah was alerted when a rustling noise originated from a nearby bush. The bee trainer turned and faced the the source and was surprised to find a pair of eyes staring back at her. Carefully, she approached the creature with her hand out.

“Don’t worry, I’m not here to hurt you. I’m not like the others.”

With an enraged roar, an Ursaring burst from the forest foliage and charged at her with all the speed and might he could muster. He ran with a limp, as if he’d been injured prior to meeting her.

Delilah thought about running or summoning Beedrill, but it was too late. The large bear swatted her out of the way and sent the trainer flying off to the side and landing on her back. The wind was knocked out of her, and she struggled to recapture her breath.

Returning to her feet as quickly as possible, she saw that the Ursaring had simply discarded and ignored her. His full attention at the moment was the dead trainer that he was trying to consume. It was a grizzly sight.

In this situation, any expert survivalist would take this as a blessing. With the Ursaring’s attention on something else, now would be the perfect time to sneak away. Unfortunately, Delilah was not an expert survivalist. All that she knew was her own code of ethics. If anyone violated those, then she would be forced to battle them.

The bee trainer scowled at the bear pokemon. “Hey! Ursaring! Didn’t your mom ever teach you not to defile corpses?” She jumped back, unclipped her pokeball from her belt, then threw it in a sideways arch before it bounced off the ground and released Delilah’s Beedrill. “Beedrill, go!”

The bug pokemon materialized into his fighting stance, ready for battle after a night of rest.

“Use Twin Needle! Let’s teach this guy a lesson and give that trainer a proper burial!”

Without hesitation, Beedrill launched two pairs of needles from the tip of both drills. The first pair planted themselves in the Ursaring’s back. The second pair penetrated its arm.

The lumbering pokemon cried out in rage before turning its attention to Delilah and her pokemon. Its eyes were bloodshot and filled with a murderous rage. They now had its full attention.

“Uh…” Delilah was at a loss for words at the sudden predicament she and her Beedrill were in. “...now that you’re looking at us you definitely seem a lot bigger than I initially thought.”

The bear pokemon huffed and began to charge at Delilah and Beedrill.

“Beedrill!” she exclaimed, “let’s try to kite this thing!”

Nodding his head, Beedrill turned and began buzzing away into the forest, traveling alongside the now sprinting Delilah. Despite the low amount of strength both of them possessed, their speed made up for it. The Ursaring was a fast creature, but Delilah and Beedrill were faster. After getting few yards away from their enemy, the duo stopped and Delilah shouted, “Beedrill! Use Pin Missile! Try to do the eye thing like you did with the Pinsir!”

Beedrill looked at Delilah with a cockeyed expression. ‘Do the eye thing?’ It wasn’t just some magic trick he could reproduce on demand, especially when the target was moving. Regardless, he obeyed the command and attempted to hit the Ursaring in the eye with his Pin Missile.

Pins shot out of Beedrill’s stinger towards the charging beast. To his dismay, out of the five times he shot only one of them managed to make contact. After his failed attempt, he and his trainer resumed their running and used the same strategy again, stopping and turning to try and blind the Ursaring. After three tries, Delilah and Beedrill were starting to get exhausted. Their predator, however, was unwavering. It looked just as ready to kill them as when they first attacked it. Regardless, it was the best plan Delilah could come up with at the moment, so they were going to stick with it until it worked.


The morning sun was rising. Though it couldn’t be seen through the trees, a beautiful orange glow suggested at the majesty of sunrise. The cool, crisp air was accompanied by a gentle breeze. All sounds of the forest were made by its inhabitants.

Despite the nightmares that occurred in Damien and Mina’s cave, the morning environment appeared to be quite peaceful.

That was, until Delilah burst through a bush and ran passed the entrance to the cave they inhabited. She was exhausted and tired, not to mention still hungry and thirsty. Yet she kept running, while the Ursaring kept giving chase.

For a split second she glanced at the survivors who seemed to be inhabiting the cave. At the last minute, she decided to shout a warning out to them. Whether they helped or hid, she didn’t care. She only hoped that the monster she was fighting didn’t decide to go after them instead.

“Ursaring!” Delilah exclaimed. Her voice gave a real world depiction of the doppler effect. The bee trainer then continued running past the entrance. The Ursaring followed soon after, his eyes still fixed on Delilah and Beedrill as they had official annoyed it into a blood rage.

“Beedrill!...Pin Missile! Eighth time's the charm!” she panted. The trainer and her pokemon stopped again and Beedrill unleashed his attack. The first three pins missed the hulking pokemon entirely. The fourth one actually managed to dig its way into the Ursaring’s left eye, to which the bear howled and placed a paw over its injury.

Trying to run on three legs, the beast wound up losing its balance and stumbling onto the ground. Before Delilah even shouted a command, Beedrill used Twin Needle and hit the stationary target both times. The second pair of needles injected poison into the bear’s bloodstream. In response to more pain it had started to attack whatever it could wildly, even swiping at the air around it.

Just as Beedrill was about to finish the creature off with his needles, Delilah reached out and placed her hand on one of her pokemon’s drills.

“Whoa, whoa whoa...take it easy. I think he’s down for the count. We don’t need to kill him.” Beedrill looked at his trainer with a pair of upset eyes. He wanted the threat to be exterminated, not just disabled.

“We’ll call this a victory for now. It can barely see anything out of just one eye, and if that Twin Needle poisoned him, then we can easily run away as victors.”

Reluctantly, Beedrill lowered his drills and followed her instructions. As irritated as he was, she was absolutely right. For a moment he’d lost track of himself and his priorities. Just because they were in a survival situation didn’t mean they needed to give up their morals. The poison likely wouldn’t kill the Ursaring, but it would wear him down for some time before recovering.

“Come on,” Delilah said, “let’s get away from this guy before he hurts one of us.”

Beedrill nodded. The two turned tail and left the Ursaring to its own fate, going back in the direction they came from.

Not too long after escaping from that beast did Delilah have to stop and lean against a tree. She’d used a lot of energy when she didn’t have the energy to spend. The lack of food and water was finally catching up to her.

The exhausted girl sat down and took deep breaths, occasionally holding them to stop herself from passing out. Her world was spinning so she closed her eyes and just took a break. It felt like the first one she’d had all morning.

“Beedrill...I think Apollo was on to something. See if you can’t find me a coconut.” Beedrill nodded and set out to find his ally some nutrients to get her confidently back on her feet. In the meantime Delilah wiped the sweat from her forehead and chuckled softly. “This tournament is much more eventful than I thought it’d bee.”
Efret was panting with exhaustion. It seemed that Blaze had taken a wrong turn while chasing that nidoqueen, and now they were wandering the forest together. However, Efret didn't mind; he may find where the Alex death was shown. They would have to have put tech on the island if they wanted that to be seen. So, he kept wandering, hoping to find it, and hack into it. Finding that Mysterious Man would be fun.
Lily woke suddenly, her heart racing as sweat dampened her brow. Panic filled her for a moment as she quickly sat up and the world spun. It was all she could do to keep herself from getting sick as her breathing quickened. One hand came up to run through her tangled locks as her eyes tried to focus on what was around her. "Dynami," her voice was soft and filled with more fear that she cared to admit to. "Pangoro....go...pan." the large pokemon caught her attention as it reached over and nudged her.

"Hey big guy." she smiled softly as a feeling of relief washed over her. Lily could feel the slight fever that was working through her system and knew it was most likely caused by her wound. She figured it accounted for the horrible dreams as well. Her hand gently traced over the side of her neck as the horrible feeling of being choked slowly faded from memory. "Pan." Dynami held out a coconut that he had broken in half and gutted. It was filled with fresh water from the river outside, he also pointed to a small amount of food he had gathered before taking a big bite out of a large chuck of bamboo. "I thought I was supposed to be taking care of you." Lily mused softly and took the offered water and drank deeply.

She took a moment to again get used to the idea of what was really happening. Team Rocket had been in control this whole time. And not only were her friends in trouble, but then everyone else who had been lured to this sick game was as well. Lily had no idea what their end game was, but she had no intention of simply hiding in a hole and letting it happen. "You think they found Bubbles?' she asked Dynami remembering she had allowed him to remain free back at the seaside. Dynami simply shrugged and again bit into his meal, "So much help." Lily teased and nibbled on some of the fruit Dynami had gathered for her.

There wasn't much they could do without understanding what was really going on. She couldn't take on all of Team Rocket alone either. She needed to find other people and the rest of her team as well. Her original plan of heading back to the hotel seemed risky without finding some form of back up first. "We need to find some other people. Get some sort of team together, we can't take all this on by ourselves. No matter how stubborn you are." she smiled and took a deep breath. Finding the energy to get up and get moving was proving difficult. But in the end Lily knew she had no choice, at least not one she was willing to give into yet.

So after getting some food and water into her Lily began to try and stand. The soft hiss of air could be hard as she sucked in a breath through clenched teeth. "Pangoro." Dynami glared at Lily and moved to scoop her up and walk out of their small enclosure. "Hey I can..." she sighed as he glared her once more, "Ok you win, but only till we get this fixed up properly." Lily poked her partner in the chest before he sat her by the river. Lily made quick work of cleaning her wound and redressing it. It wasn't the best considering what she had. But at least it was better than nothing. "Ok big guy let’s see if we can't find someone who can help us figure this all out." Lily spoke encouragingly and moved slowly as Dynami lifted her up once more. She climbed to his shoulders and rested there has he easily carried her over the small brush and back into the woods.

They would mark the trees as they went, if only to be able to find their way back to the water, and to keep them from going in circles. The soft sound of Lily's voice filled the area around them; it was smooth and elegant as she sang softly. "You won't see me fall apart, because I have an elastic heart. Oh I've got an elastic heart," she sang, knowing it could attract trouble, but it help sooth her nerves. And if she was lucky it would help catch someone's attention as she and Dynami made their way to what they hoped was safety and some much needed answers.
Cassie was a good negotiator.

Let's see: She squeezed out the woman's name: Lin. Lin, short name. She also squeezed out resources, mangoes, coconut water. With her claws, the fox scratched open a mango's hard peel, revealing the sticky orange fruit under it. With little fanfare, she handed it to her trainer, who was more than happy to sink his teeth into the mango. June continued to do the process with another, but this time she sunk her own sharpened teeth into the fleshy fruit. This process repeated, and by the time they had gotten their fill, June's maw and hands were sticky with the juices of the tropical picks, and Gerald fared no better himself. But really, that was the least of their problems. Cassie made another good point: they needed water that didn't come from coconuts.

And so they followed Lin into the unknown of the jungle.

June took this time to reflect (and lick the remaining juice off her paws) on things. Cassie seems to have brought Lady along instead of Nine, though perhaps she wanted to give the other mystical fox a break. After all, that Ninetales was considerably the girl's strongest Pokemon, so obviously she'd depend on him a lot. And after the Route 15 incident, where he really shone, he could use the rest. But June wasn't his trainer, so it was once again possible that Cassie just wanted to bring Lady along because why not.

But why had they stopped suddenly, interrupting her train of thoughts?

Ah, it seemed Lin was rather fed up with hauling them around with no answers. Questioning Cassie did end up giving the feral woman much more information than Gerald's panicked gasps did, though. It also let her bring up a point.

"We’re all just Ratatta. Caged in with an Arbok. Waiting for it to eventually seal our fate."

This line sent chills down the silent duo's back. Cassie was right. They'd be fine, traveling around one minute, and the next, someone gets decapitated by a Yanmega.


Despite the grim odds though, the group persisted to a hilltop, a magnificent tree (Yet dead) dominating the skyline, taking center of the hill. Their friend seemed very happy to have found this tree, and after a through investigation, Cassie proclaimed "We're camping here tonight."

While Cassie and Lin, and her Sceptile were going to get water, Gerald was assigned the task of fire building. At least he thought, it was more so assigned to June and Gerald was simply assisting her. So the two devised a system: June would dig a hole, she had those claws for a reason after all, and Gerald would collect wood and leaves, dried preferably.

That part wasn't hard. There was a deep enough hole, enough wood and leaves to start it, there was one thing left to do: cover the holes. If they didn't do that, they'd be a lighthouse for the whole island, alerting Pokemon and human alike. Thankfully, she had a solution that was located in the trees. The palm leaves were large enough to fill several holes, and big enough to cover the doorway. Now came the question of how to get them down...

Oh. Gerald just picked up the ones on the ground. That worked.

The only difficult part to "plug" was the entrance to the fig tree. Cramming the leaf in would be rather ineffective and crude. But with a bit of water, the pile of residual dirt from the literal fire pit, and a tad of ingenuity, made enough mud to paste the leaf over the crevice, and with a small flame, hardened it in place, creating a curtain like door. The mud wouldn't hold forever, but the plan wasn't to stay there forever. It would hold for long enough.

And with that all done, the fire could be lit.

With another soft ember, the leaves resting at the bottom of the pit burst into flames. Slowly the sticks that were stacked into a neat little tepee were consumed by the fire.

The warmth made the night a tad more comfortable. Sleep was rather enticing as well...

Gerald drifted to sleep. June soon laid her head back and did the same.
Where was he?

This...wasn't the fig tree. This was grass. Where he woke up the previous morning.


No response. No mocking hologram. None of Lin's primitive remarks on standard human nature, none of Cassie's commanding yet smooth words (Maybe Lin was on to something with that Alpha thing...). None of June's comforting barks.


There was a path, though. Someone was there before him, kind enough to cleave a trail for the lad to follow. With not much of a choice, he walked into the Jungle.

Familiar sights. He found an Eevee who's bones were smashed, presumably into a rock. It's brethren in similar states nearby, the alpha burnt to a crisp. Spinarak and other such creatures dined on the corpses of the cute yet brutish Pokemon, unaware of Gerald. Even if they noticed him, they'd likely keep eating.

The path continued. He found something curious lodged in a tree, however. An arrow. The path quickly diverged to the direction the arrow was fired from.

A battlefield. Deep gouges lined the trees, littered with more arrows and scorch marks. Then he saw it. Something he couldn't simply glance over. The corpse of a young woman, unmistakably Lin.

Her head, pushed into a unlikable. However, on closer inspection, it became obvious it was resting on a snapped neck. But no physical bruises were on it. Gerald didn't like the way this was piecing up.

Not too far from it, another being was in it's death throes. Violently jolting and twitching was her Sceptile, it's face burned, one eye darkened a ugly grey, a leg broken much more than necessitated. It's chest caved in. As he approached it, the creature stopped convulsing. It truly was dead now. The beasts of the woods would undoubtedly consume it and it's companion soon. One hour tops.

Not much left to see. The path continued in a new direction once again, soon coming to another battlefield, yet this one cleaner somehow. If one forgave the wild burns on the ground...

Gerald felt sick as he found another victim of the path maker, but this one was familiar. A woman much shorter than him, her hair a brown color...her face mercilessly consumed by fire, twisted into a scream. Still crisp, warm to the touch, eyes slowly watering out of their sockets. The torso fared no better, similarly burnt, like the flames had consumed the familiar woman rather than be directed assaulted on to her...

Lady laid a few feet away. The cat's body was pierced through completely in several places, almost like a beams of light cut through it. Looked like it suffered a much less painful death than it's trainer.

There was a final destination on his trip. The path ended here.

The murderer stood in front of him. The back was covered in slashes and scratches of self defense, and an arrow jabbed in it's shoulder.

He took a deep swallow of reality. "June...Why?"

The fox turned around. Even more injuries decorated June's chest, a series of similar attacks displayed themselves for the horrified trainer to see. But overall, the injuries didn't startle him as much as June's eyes did. It became apparent now.

That was only June's body. She was a shell, a shell for something else. Feral in nature. Those were not June's eyes.

Those were the eyes of a monster.
He awoke with a start. "JUNE!"

The fox at his side quickly jumped up in surprise.

It took a moment for the man to stop his panicked breaths. "S-sorry...Sorry. Bad dream."

For a moment he considered something. Then he clasped June in a hug, because he knew that this was his June, and nothing would change that. And if something could, he'd do anything to prevent it.

When that was done, he began gazing around, but noticed no one was there. It was just him and June. "Where...where did they go?"

Gerald heaved himself up, still a bit shaken from the nightmare. His back popped as the spinal segments stretched out off the crouched position. As the Pokemon and trainer left the little dwelling, there was distant splashing. Cassie and Lin must've went to the river for something. Perhaps for more water.

He did take notice of a assortment of items located next to the door, a collection of herbs, two earthen bowls, and a pair of stone knifes. The boy was more than happy to swipe one of the small weapons, but he didn't see any clear way to store the other things, or much of a use. Plus, he accidentally stepped on one of the bowls, which was half the reason he noticed them in the first place...

So the two began their trip to the riverside. But he noticed the splashes were erratic. Panicked. Wild. Something was going on there. Something a lot more violent than collecting water, or bathing. Their pace quickened, and soon they reached an overlook, revealing the offender of the violent smashing. A very menacing Feraligatr, writhing in the shallows of the river. And a naked figure he never saw before...but there was no time for gawking! He knew the perfect move he had June learn though. They wasted no moment getting to the bank. "JUNE! Show em' your Shock Wave!"

June snatched up her stick, reared it back, and...


Not even a spark.

"June? What's going on?"

As much as she tried it, nothing happened. She knew the attack, but it wouldn't go!

But they caught the gator's attention for a second, they had to do something!

"Uh...Change of plans! Will-O-Wisp!"

June's eyes briefly glinted a deep purple, as three balls of spectral flames formed near the tip of her staff. With a flick of the staff, she sent the flame balls flowing towards her enemy. Gerald pondered for a moment the logistics of that. Why did Shock Wave fail, but not Will-O-Wisp? There was no plausible reason...

But it was kind of a bad time to consider such things. Perhaps he should worry more about the man eating starter issue.