Vines of Deceit

BY : Manifest Destiny
Category: Pokemon > General
Dragon prints: 11589
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon. Pokemon is copy write by GameFreak, INC. and Nintendo. I make no money from this story, nor do I seek any.

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Chapter 10: Victory

—————

There are only a few things that can get the attention of a crowd as quickly as the scream of a young girl.

Bianca looked around the park franticly, eyes wide, ignoring the confused and worried stares she was getting from the other people around her.

“Chao!” she called, hoping above all hopes that her Pokémon had merely wandered away. “Where are you?”

Central Plaza Park was slowly becoming crowded with people awaiting the start of the Team Plasma presentation that was only minutes away. Bianca quickly ran back to the stage where she had tried to persuade the young man from setting up the equipment. A few low-level members tried to stop her approach, but the distraught blond girl pushed past them, running up to the center of the stage.

“Excuse me, everyone?” she said into the microphone, worriedly looking at the people in front of her. Her voice carried out over the park, silencing the crowd and drawing all eyes to the shaking girl standing alone.

“I— I’m really sorry to bother you all but my name is Bianca and my Pokémon, my Pignite, is missing! He was just with me, but now he’s gone. I was sitting right over there,” she pointed to a spot on the grass out to her left. “If anyone could help me find him, I—I— I’d really appreciate it… so—”

“Alright, miss,” a Team Plasma member came up behind her, grabbing her shoulder. “I’m going to have to ask you to get off the stage. We are about to begin.”

“No! Please—anyone—help me find my Pokémon!” she struggled in his grip, calling back into the microphone.

“Now, now, sweetheart,” a new voice said from behind her. Short, shuffling footsteps came up the steps onto the stage. A tall man with long, dull, green hair and a long colorful robe came up behind Bianca and the Team Plasma grunt. “There’s no need to be so concerned. I can see you care deeply about Pokémon, don’t you?”

Bianca stared up at the man, glancing for a quick moment at the shining red eyepiece the tall man wore.

“I—” she started, but then her memory kicked; from the images Cheren had shown her, the way Tristan described the man who seemed to manipulate the Nacrene City police, and worse, the horrid looking creation that appeared in the mist at the Dreamyard. She was speaking with Ghetsis Harmonia.

“It’s okay, my child.” The tall man laid a calm hand on Bianca’s head, smiling. “I can see you’re upset. I believe I can help.” Ghetsis stepped up to the microphone and addressed the crowd, letting his left arm sweep out to his side.

“Kind citizens, hear my plea! My name is Ghetsis of Team Plasma, This young girl— this young Pokémon Trainer has sorely lost her precious Pokémon. Now, while it is the righteous mission of Team Plasma to sever the ties that bind humans and Pokémon together and liberate our Pokémon friends from their oppressive masters, I ask you to look beside me; does this crying girl look awful to you? Does she seem the kind of person to neglect or abuse her Pokémon?

“She is a shining example of humanity! The mere thought of losing her Pokémon has brought this girl to tears…” Ghetsis interrupted his impromptu speech to wipe at his uncovered eye with an exaggerated flourish. “To say that your actions have moved me, young lady, would be an understatement of the highest order. You do more than that: You give me hope!

“So I say again, citizens! If any of you could help this girl find her precious Pignite, not only do you show her a kindness, but to me as well. It is with a heavy heart that I spread the message of Team Plasma. I do so wish that humans and Pokémon can live in harmony, just as this girl seems to. But unfortunately,” he turned and gestured to Bianca, “we can’t all be as kind as you, my dear.”

“Um, thank you, sir,” Bianca said quietly, wiping her face of the few remaining tears.

The crowd began to come to life with activity. A few spectators began to disperse into the park, looking for Bianca’s Pokémon. A small group in particular—three young men—made their way up to the front of the stage.

“Hey, Miss Bianca!” one called to her. “Over here!”

He was wearing a much more casual outfit than she remembered from when Bianca had first met him—in fact, all three of them were wearing rather normal clothes, she noticed—but it was his wild, bright-red hair that caught her eye.

“Gym Leader Chili? Cilan and Cress too?” Bianca asked, walking to the edge of the stage. “What are you three doing here?”

“Well,” Cress started, “with the recent boom of popularity that this ice cream has experienced—” the blue haired brother held out a serving of the famous and rather delicious looking frozen treat, “—we thought it be a good investment to try some for ourselves.”

“And to see if our restaurant might be a potential outlet for sales in southeastern Unova,” Cilan added.

“But, right now, you’ve got a missing Pignite,” Chili spoke up. “And I’m the closest Fire type expert around, don’t you think?”

“You think you can find my Chao?” Bianca asked, hopeful.

The three brothers smiled, and bowed to her; Cress making sure not to ruin his ice cream in the process.

“It is our humble duty to serve,” the three said at once.

“It’s wonderful to see the Gym Leaders of our proud region take an active part in helping its citizens,” Ghetsis said, smiling. “Bianca my dear, why not go with them? If anyone here finds your Pokémon while you are away, I will watch over it until you return.”

“Really?” she asked.

“As surely as I am devoted to my cause,” said Ghetsis.

Bianca carefully hopped down to the grass from the stage, and marched off with the three Striaton-native brothers.

—————

The High Sage of Team Plasma watched the group of young people as they walked through the crowd, listening to the applause that began to rise up, which then led to cheers. The people of Castelia City praised the kindness of Ghetsis, crediting the three Leaders’ appearance to his address.

Lord Ghetsis Harmonia smiled as he waved to the crowd. He began his presentation as originally planned, knowing in the back of his mind that at least one distraction was—or would soon be—taken care of.

One way or another.

—————

As the winds and thunder continued to boom above them, the four humans stood silently in the dark, concrete hallway underneath the Liberty Garden Tower.

Tristan stared at the bright-eyed, smiling, and seemingly giddy creature floating in the doorway. The room behind the grinning rodent was brightly lit, but not very tastefully decorated. It was filled with colorful posters and toys littered the floor. A bookshelf stood next to a small bed, which was covered in many pillows.

After almost a minute of silence, Nathan Relmstead leaned past Tristan, getting a good look at the Pokémon who had just greeted them. “What exactly are you?”

“Finally, someone asks the important questions…” Obidiah muttered, moving past Victini to sit in an old rocking chair inside the colorful room.

Oh, now don’t be rude…’ Victini said, pouting. ‘Come on inside, we’ve got a lot to talk about!

Tristan looked down to Draya, whose Servine form looked back up at him. He shrugged, and stepped into the lively room. Nathan and his wife Mariah followed closely behind.

“Can you tell us what’s going on?” Mariah asked.

Of course I can!’ Victini said, bouncing on the bed.

A moment of silence filled with creaking bedsprings persisted before anyone else spoke again.

“Are you going to?” Tristan asked, crossing his arms.

I’m thinking…’ Victini said, closing his eyes. ‘Something’s weird… Your Servine’s got some very thick Dark aura swirling about her. It takes a lot more effort to sustain a mental communication link.’ The Victory Pokémon stopped jumping on the bed, hovering mid-jump above the covers. ‘What was her father? A Scrafty? Krookodile?

Draya leapt up from the floor and hid behind Tristan’s back, clinging to his shoulders. She whispered through her illusion so only Tristan could hear her, “He suspects me! He’ll find out about me if he keeps it up!”

“Well, I don’t actually know the answer that,” Tristan said, knowing where this line of discussion might lead. He hoped to avoid another “Nacrene Gym” incident. He decided to drive Victini’s attention elsewhere, “But really, what’s the deal here? Why did you bring us down here?”

I certainly hope you three,’ Victini gestured to the three human guests, ‘give me a chance to fully explain. But if I had to trim the fat, I’d say that I need your help.

“Oh boy…” the old man said between rocks oh his chair.

Victini turned to face his old caretaker. ‘This time’s serious, Obbie. If we don’t play our cards right today, things won’t be pretty around here.

“Out with it already!” Tristan demanded. His head pounded and he clenched his eyes shut in a momentary bout of pain. His lack of sleep and the excited psychic presence in his head had slowed his usually quick-thinking mind. He stood in the silence his outburst had caused, thinking. “Is this about…?” he said, going on a hunch.

Go on! You’re probably right!’ Victini said, cheery.

“Team Plasma’s behind this storm and it’s some way for them to get to you, isn’t it?” Tristan asked.

Victini grinned, showing his pointy teeth, clapping his little hands. ‘Oh, you’re just wonderful! Very nice!

“They can control the sky now?” Draya asked aloud. Habit had gotten the better of her, letting slip her voice around the strange humans and inquisitive Psychic type. She dropped down to the floor and clasped her tiny hands over her mouth, looking afraid at the stares she now had bearing down on her.

The plot thickens, you little snake. What is up with you?’ Victini asked, peering down at her.

“You taught your Pokémon to speak? That’s amazing!” Nathan said. “How’d you do it? Did you use the method developed by Dr. Kaminko in Orre?”

“Oh, that never even worked, Nate,” his wife said, annoyed. “I doubt this boy even knows what you’re talking about.”

“His theories were sound enough! And anyone can find anything on the internet these days, not like our early days.”

“Please,” Tristan held up a hand to silence the married couple. He knelt down to his masquerading Pokémon’s small form, “Draya, it’s alright. You don’t need to hide that side of yourself. These people are nice.”

“Mmnn… Fine,” Draya finally said. “I guess we have more important things to worry about.”

You’re right; both times, in fact,’ Victini said, hovering close to her. ‘Team Plasma has gained control of the sky. And it’s troubling how much power that grants you.

“But how?” Tristan asked. “That doesn’t make sense.”

A lot in this world doesn’t, unfortunately. Like your Servine, for instance…

“Enough about me already!” Draya yelled at Victini. “Just tell us what they’re trying to do and how we can help.”

Oooh, she’s a firecracker!

“Victini!” Obidiah said, glaring. “If this is a serious attempt on your life, then start acting like it!”

Oh, I’ll probably live, but it’s not my life that’s in danger.’ Victini flew to the center of the room. ‘You three humans—suspicious Servine aside—are instrumental in the survival of many in the Unova region, and a few others elsewhere. Team Plasma is after me for what I can offer anyone: power. Unlimited power.

Victini held out a hand, curling his fingers. He focused, pooling a bright energy in his fingers. It filled the room with warmth and energy. A miniature sun burned in the palm of Victini’s little hand before he let it slowly die.

I can’t really access the power I generate; just a fraction of it. But I can share its full benefits with anyone, in any amount. That’s what Plasma wants from this island.

“Wow,” Tristan said, blinking away the bright lights in his eyes.

They want me as a weapon, or at least, something to help their plans. I actually have other plans,’ Victini said. ‘Plans that involve you two, Nathan and Mariah. I need you to do something for me. But I also need you to be very brave.

Victini levitated over to the husband and wife, and closed his eyes. A silent display of psychic power occurred as Victini relayed a lengthy, powerful message directly to their minds. As the vision ended, Victini’s smile was now a serious expression, lips pressed into a slight frown. Mariah broke down and began to cry, holding onto her husband’s shoulder. Nathan held his wife in his arms and now wore a very determined expression.

“How… How can you possibly ask us to do that!?” he yelled. “He’s our son!”

And he will be fine! I promise you that! But he needs to make it through what happened to him without you there to coddle him!

“What kind of promise is that?” Nathan scowled. “What guarantee could you give us?”

Today,’ Victini said.

“What?”

Today, I’ll show you what I can do for your son by having Tristan here get us out of our little situation.

Nathan comforted his wife in silence for a few minutes in silence. “We can talk to him, yes? Like concerned parents would?”

That shouldn’t be a problem. But if you go home and baby him, it’ll “skew his path away from the proper future”, or so I’ve been told. You can show concern, but he needs to be able to move on from what happened.

Tristan sat down on the bed, utterly confused.

Draya hopped up next to him and whispered, “I’m not the only one not following any of this, right?”

—————

“We should really take you to a hospital,” Iris said to Cheren. “Your wrist is looking pretty bad.”

“Not until we find my friend. I’ll be fine,” he said, still consciously trying to avoid moving his right arm any more than needed.

The two moved slowly through the crowd that had gathered for the rally that Team Plasma was giving in the park. Iris and Cheren both silently wished that something would mercifully go wrong with the speaker system.

Cheren scanned the throngs of people that stood closer to the stage, trying to spot any of Bianca’s identifying features. Her bright blond hair, the color of her blouse, anything. “If she would just answer my calls, we wouldn’t have to look around like this.”

“Well, your stubbornness won’t get you anywhere,” said Iris behind him. “Just ask someone. Here,” she tapped the shoulder of one of the many spectators around them and got their attention. “Hey, mister? Have you seen my friend? A blond girl wearing a white skirt and a green hat?”

“Yes, you just missed her.”

“What do you mean, ‘missed her’?” Cheren repeated, turning to the stranger.

“Yeah, she started freaking out about how her Pokémon had gone missing. She ran on stage before the show started and asked the crowd to help her find it,” the older man said. “Then, Ghetsis—the guy speaking right now—he managed to get these three guys to help her and she went off with them.”

“Oh no…” Cheren’s heart dropped at the mere mention of “Three”.

“What?” Iris asked.

“These men, what did they look like!? No— Where did they go? How long ago was this?” Cheren bombarded him with questions.

“Uh,” the man backed away a few steps, “I think they went that way, towards 46th street. It was just before the rally actually started, so about ten minutes ago?”

Cheren immediately took off, running as quickly as he could through the crowd. He could hear the booming voice of Team Plasma’s leader behind him. He could also hear Iris struggling to keep up with him as he ran even faster, away from the center of the grassy area. The only thing he paid any attention to was the throbbing pain in his wrist, and the fear of what fate could be awaiting his friend.

“Those three,” he said under his breath. “It has to be them!”

—————

“You’re insane.” Tristan stood up from the bed and made to walk out of the lighthouse’s basement.

“Where are you going?” Nathan asked him, grabbing his shoulder. “You heard Victini; it’s up to you get us out of this mess.”

“And what kind of alternate reality did he show you makes you think that I can actually do that?” Tristan asked. “Team Plasma’s somehow whipped up a maelstrom just to get a good shot at capturing him. What can I possibly do against that!?”

It’s not about what you can do,’ Victini floated over to Tristan, blocking his way outside. ‘It’s what we can dowith you, your Pokémon, and my help.

“And just what is that? Huh?” Tristan yelled at the levitating Pokémon. “I’m not really up to speed on the urban legends and myths surrounding you, so if you’ve really got some magical cure-all that can help us stop Team Plasma from busting down those doors with all of the power they’ve brought with them to take you away, I’m all ears.”

The basement fell silent after Tristan finished his short rant. It was Draya who had picked up on the gravity of it all. “Hey, everyone! Listen!”

At her request, the humans in the room turned their heads to try and better catch whatever Draya had noticed.

“I don’t hear nothin’,” Obidiah said, grumbling. “What’s got you worrying?”

“Nothing? Really?” Draya said, looking even to Victini. “Oh come on! The storm! I can’t hear it anymore!”

It was true. Since the unnatural weather had appeared, it had been very loud, even inside the lighthouse’s basement. With its strong winds and long bouts of thunder and lightning, it was truly intimidating to be trapped in the swirling chaos. But now, the only sound the four of them could discern from where they were was the low din of the lights above their heads.

Pushing Victini aside, Tristan ran up the stairs to the main lobby of the lighthouse. Even so close to the outside, Tristan could hear no more than a slight rumble of thunder. Feeling optimistic, Tristan unlocked the doors, throwing them open. He held onto the hope that they had been mistaken about Team Plasma, that the freak storm was nothing more than that; that they weren’t coming here to capture the Pokémon of victory.

What Tristan saw shattered that hope.

The wall of clouds was still there, turning and rumbling ominously. The storm raged on all around the island, but the immediate area surrounding the lighthouse was bathed in sunlight. Above, the clouds swirled and made an opening high in the sky. The lighthouse was in the very center of the eye of the storm.

Offshore, less than one hundred yards away from the steps that led up to the lighthouse’s doors, a black submarine had surfaced next to one of the few docks set up on the island for boats to come and go from. Filing out of the submersible, one by one, Team Plasma members stepped onto the dock and began marching toward the lighthouse.

As the first few in line noticed Tristan standing in the doorway, they began to run.

Tristan slammed and locked the door, planting his back against it if in some way it would help prevent intrusion a second longer.

“What am I going to do?” he asked himself. He slowly slid to the floor, staring at his hands in the dark.

“I can’t do this…”

—————

“I can totally do this!” Chili said, smiling wide. He led the group with a confidant stride. “Don’t you worry, Miss Bianca!”

The four walked down a less-than-occupied road in Castelia City, looking for Bianca’s lost Pignite, Chao. The Striaton City triplets were determined to keep the group’s spirits high. The three did everything they could to help make it seem that their goal could just be around the next corner.

“I’m really glad you guys are here,” Bianca said. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d certainly be in lesser company,” Cress said, tossing his hair to the side with a flick of his neck.

“So why were you three at Team Plasma’s rally today?” Bianca asked. The question had initially come across her mind when she first saw them when she was on stage, but the hope of finding her lost Pokémon pushed it to the back of her mind.

“We weren’t, not really,” Cilan answered. “We were actually just passing through the park when we heard your call for help over the loud speakers. Personally, I don’t care much for Team Plasma.”

“You shouldn’t,” Bianca said. “They might seem like nice people at first, but they’ve done some awful things.” Bianca had been holding her Munna’s Poké ball in her hand since they had begun walking. A tiny part of her feared that it might disappear if she were to let go of it.

“You know,” Chili called back to the three trailing behind him, “I’ve got an idea. Central Plaza might be the center of this city, but it’s not where it began. There’s still a small, out of the way, enclosed park in the city. I’ve heard people say that Pokémon tend to gather there because people hardly go there anymore.”

“You think my Chao went there? But he wouldn’t even know where it is,” Bianca said.

“No, but I’ll bet if your Pokémon got lost, it would go somewhere it felt safe; someplace a lot of Pokémon think is safe.”

“Well, if you think it’s worth a shot, let’s go! And let’s hurry!”

Chili nodded and looked up an electronic map of Castelia City on his XTransceiver, looking quickly for the place he had heard about. He glanced up at his brothers, receiving a knowing nod of agreement. He urged the others and Bianca to follow him, taking a confusing path of side streets and back alleys.

Chili stopped, kneeling down on the sidewalk and inspected what looked like a Pignite’s footprint, which only increased Bianca’s optimistic urging. They were on the right track, it appeared.

One or two missed turns, a double-back, and an almost violent confrontation with a rough-looking street gang ended up taking up more of their time. The appearance of a flock of Pidove flying over their heads however seemed like that they were near their destination.

The park itself—which appeared a few more blocks down the small alley they were on—was little more than a single plot of land, gently sloping upward to the trunk of a lone tree that stood tall, looking very out of place surrounded by the tall buildings of the city.

Sitting on the grass, surrounded by a few concerned looking Buneary and Rattata, was Bianca’s Pignite.

“Chao!” Bianca yelled, running into the small plot of green land. The Pignite’s ears perked upward, turning toward the sound of his trainer’s voice. He leapt to his feet and ran towards her, jumping into her arms as they met on the grassy field. They both cried together in joy, hugging each other tightly.

“My, it looks like the poor creature got lost after all,” Cress noted.

“Chao, what were you thinking? Wandering off like that,” Bianca scolded. “I was scared half to death.”

Her Pokémon sniffled and shook his head, shrugging.

“You… don’t know?” Bianca asked. Chao nodded emphatically. “But we’re almost on the other side of the city, how did you just get here?”

Another shrug was her answer.

“Truly, a peculiar situation,” Cilan said, walking forward onto the grass.

“Indeed,” Chili said, following his brother. Cress did the same.

Bianca looked behind her, staring up at the three brothers advancing on her.

“What are you…? Oh my god!” Bianca ducked, holding her Pignite close to her chest.

—————

Tristan felt the pounding on the doors, slow and heavy. He imagined that, just outside the lighthouse, Team Plasma must have been doing everything in their power to get into the building. All of their efforts for the capture of the little psychic rodent in the basement. They had somehow conjured up a storm to seclude the island from the rest of the world, and arrived via submarine. He had to admit, it was a great strategy.

And against all of that, Tristan was supposedly meant to stop it.

“What can I do against such relentless determination?” Tristan asked. He was no longer alone in the lobby of the lighthouse.

Obidiah Drake had come up from the basement and found Tristan silently sulking on the floor. The old man had listened to what Tristan had described to him about the situation outside.

“The only thing you can do, boy.” Obidiah picked Tristan up by his shoulders, bringing him to his feet. “Meet ‘em head-on. I know you might not think it now, but you got it in you to beat these Plasma freaks. Victini’s confident that you can.

“I’ve seen what Victini’s capable of,” he went on. “You’ll just have to see for yourself. He can find the greatness inside anyone, and make it better. Believe me; he doesn’t pick losers.”

Tristan felt another tremor from the activity outside, along with a jolt of fear and urgency.

“What if—?” he started to ask, but Obidiah dragged him towards the staircase to the basement.

“It’s too late for ‘what if’s now, boy! It’s time you accepted your place in this world! When someone challenges your way of life and threatens your ideals, you fight back!”

Tristan stumbled a few steps down the stairs before catching himself on the wall. Turning around, he looked up to see Obidiah closing the heavy metal door that blocked off the basement’s stairwell from the rest of the lighthouse.

“I’ll hold these goons off while you get your head in the game,” said Obidiah. He slammed the door shut and locked it.

The dim lights that led down the stairs to the basement’s secret room were all that accompanied Tristan’s slow walk back down them.

“My place in this world?” repeated Tristan as he neared the underground room. “When someone threatens my ideals…”

The Relmsteads were engrossed in conversation with Victini when he returned. Nathan had a few different kinds of Poké Balls in his hands, showing off the various colored spheres for a reason Tristan could only guess at.

These are pretty!’ Victini said. ‘Hand-made, you said? Who makes them?

“Will you please just pick one?” Nathan asked, annoyed. “I really don’t see why this matters.”

Hey, I’ve never had one before. I want it to at least look good,’ Victini turned and noticed Tristan standing in the doorway. He quickly picked a yellow and black Poké Ball with a red “v” on it, and floated over to Tristan. ‘Welcome back, soldier.

“Reporting for duty,” said Tristan.

—————

A pair of great wings beat down above the four humans standing in the grass, slowing the large Braviary’s descent as it came low to the ground. The great bird cawed loudly, driving the three men away from the cowering girl. Off the giant bird jumped a young man, landing between Bianca and her company.

Cheren rose up and held a Poké Ball towards the three men, ready to defend himself.

“Back away from my friend you—!” He stopped himself, unsure of what he was seeing. The three men that he saw weren’t the ones he was expecting. He heard Iris land on the ground beside him. Her reaction to who they had just intercepted was much warmer.

“You guys!” Iris smiled, running to the three brothers. “I didn’t know you were in town too!”

Cheren stood back, lowering his left arm, and watched Iris reacquaint herself with the three Gym Leaders of Striation City.

“Cheren?”

He turned around to Bianca, who was still kneeling on the ground holding her Pokémon.

“Bianca,” he said, kneeling down to her level. “Are you okay? Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine; now at least.” She stood up. “But what about you? What happened to your mission?”

“It… didn’t go too well,” he said.

“Oh my god, your wrist!” Bianca said, gently holding Cheren’s right arm. “It looks broken!”

“Don’t even bother, I tried telling him to get it looked at, but he was hellbent on finding you,” Iris said as she walked up. “Hi, by the way. I’m Iris.”

“Uh, I’m Bianca. Hi,” she gingerly waved. Chao walked right up to the younger girl and seemed to take a liking to her.

“She doesn’t seem to be in danger, Cheren.” Iris crossed her arms, annoyed. “Don’t tell me we rushed all the way out here for nothing.”

“‘Nothing’ is a blessing as far as I’m concerned,” Cheren said, looking over his shoulder back at the three brothers smiling innocently at him.

“Nice to see you again, Mr. Cheren,” Cilan said. “It’s been a while.”

“It has,” Cress joined in. “How has your stay in the city been so far?”

“Stressful, to say the least,” Cheren said.

“Well, do try and watch your step,” Chili said to him. “You’ll never know who you might run into in this city.” He looked to Bianca, smiling. “I’m glad we could help you find your Pokémon. If you need any help with anything in the future, you’ll know where to find us. We’re just in the town for the day, and should start heading home soon.”

“See you guys later!” Iris cheerily said back.

“Farewell,” the three brothers said in unison. They turned on the spot, and walked out of the park and down a narrow road.

—————

“Okay,” Tristan said, pinching the bridge of his nose. His head was pounding. “We’re kind of stuck in a bind here. That’s obvious.”

“I certainly hope there’s more to your wonderous analytical abilities…” Nathan said under his breath. His wife elbowed him hard in the side.

“I’m sorry!” Tristan yelled, sitting down in the rocking chair in the room, reminding him of the old man holding his ground upstairs. “I’m trying to get a handle on everything. I just… I can’t think straight! I’ve hardly slept! I had my own problems going on before and now all of this is too damn much!”

Tristan felt the surprisingly tight grip of a Servine hug his side. He looked down at her sympathetic eyes, seeing them shine blue for a moment. He knew the strength he was feeling was her true form, hidden from the others in the room. He held her in silence for a moment.

That actually sounds like something I can help with.’ Victini disrupted the standstill in conversation and flew in front of Tristan. ‘If I give you some energy; it’ll be like you just had the best sleep, meal, and pep talk of your life in a single moment. The ultimate kickstart.

“Is it safe?” Tristan asked, remembering the display of power Victini showed them all earlier.

Well… yes and no. If I’m not careful, I could give you enough energy to burn out your heart. But I’ll just give you a little taste.

“Well, let’s go with that,” Tristan said as he stood. “I’m tired of being tired.”

Victini held out a hand, on his index finger rested a tiny pinprick of light. The Mythical Pokémon touched Tristan’s forehead, bestowing him a special gift.

—————

Tristan’s eyes widened. He stood frozen in place; he couldn’t move. At least it felt like he couldn’t.

A burning, electric sensation spilled from the point where Victini had touched him and cascaded right through his entire body. His bones felt as if they were on fire. His mind raced; he couldn’t breathe. Tristan’s body began to shake, almost imperceptibly. He tried, but it hurt to blink.

Tristan could control his eyes now, darting them around the room. Everything he saw was in slow motion. It took minutes for the married couple to blink at him. Victini still had his finger pressed to his forehead. Slowly, he watched Draya’s expression turn from reassuring to worried.

He could move his arms, he discovered, but they were terribly heavy. Tristan’s hands flexed sluggishly, curling into fists that seemed to pull the rest of his arms down.

He could feel gravity on an acute level, the constant tug pulling him downward at all times. To him, it looked as if time had been slowed down exponentially, but it was merely his mind being augmented by Victini’s energy. Tristan perceived everything at an inhuman speed, allowing him to watch and take in every single motion and detail with excruciating accuracy.

“Are… you… al… right?” Tristan heard Draya ask, long and drawn out.

Wanting to ensure that he was alright, Tristan slowly reached down to pet her scaly head.

—————

“I’m-fine-it’s-just-this-energy-is-really-messing-with-my-head-but-I-feel-great-actually,” Tristan said, swiftly smacking Draya in the face with the back of his hand.

Purple lights flashed around the small underground room as Draya’s illusion shattered against the sharp and sudden impact. Her tall, true form sat recoiled and clutching her snout with her paws. Her fur stood on end. Draya’s eyes looked into Tristan’s, utter shock and betrayal pouring forth.

The Relmsteads, Victini and Tristan all stood silently for a tense moment.

“Oh-my-god. Draya-I’m-sorry!” Tristan tried his best to slow down his speech. He moved slowly toward his Pokémon, only to have her back away, hiding herself as much as she could in her long mane. “I’m-sorry, I-didn’t-mean to-hit-you. I… mean-it.”

Ah-ha! I knew you weren’t right!’ Victini cheered, clapping as he floated around the room.

“Shut up!” Draya bounded over Tristan, leaping into the air from where she was huddled. She swiped at the air where Victini was flying, baring her teeth as she yelled. “You little rat! This is your fault!”

“Draya, no!”

Tristan sprang up, quickly intercepting his Zoroark as she chased her prey around the room. His mind still processed everything around him at faster-than-normal speeds, letting him get in front of Draya as she moved to tackle Victini. He grabbed her arms, gripping her tightly. Tristan pushed her back against the concrete wall as gently as he was able, finding he could overpower her without much effort. Victini’s energy was already wearing down, he felt. He needed to dissolve this situation as quickly as possible.

“Let go!” Draya snarled at him. “If he wants to see what I really am, I’ll show him!”

Tristan brought his head to her ear, and whispered, “Please, we don’t have time for this. Just let it go for now.”

“But he made me— I’m exposed,” she whined. She rested her head against his shoulder, the contact calming her down somewhat.

“And that’s not his fault,” Tristan argued. “If I had actually gotten sleep last night, I wouldn’t have needed his energy boost. I’m the one that hit you, Draya. I’m sorry, but don’t waste time being mad at him. We have too much to worry about.”

“But he’s such an asshole…” Draya said, looking defeated.

“Don’t do it for his sake then,” Tristan let go of her arms, feeling the last of his excess energy wane. He put his hands on her shoulders, making her look at him. “We all need to cooperate to get out of this. Protecting him is the best thing for all of us.”

Draya glared over Tristan’s shoulder at Victini silently snickering at her, hovering high above her reach. She growled quietly, coming to her inevitable decision. She looked back to Tristan, her human. She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips and rested her forehead against his. “You’re right,” she said. “I’ll kick his winged little butt later.”

Tristan hugged her for a moment, smiling. As he turned around to address the group, he was met with even more strange looks.

“I really have no idea how to react to we just saw,” Nathan Relmstead said, crossing his arms.

Mariah had an equally shocked look on her face, murmuring, “Different part of the world, honey.”

Nathan just shrugged the comment off.

“Okay, yes, right.” Tristan blushed, rubbing his hands together. “Let’s get a plan going, shall we? We do need to repel Team Plasma sometime tonight.”

Goodie, and now that Chocolate Love over there is finished lying to us all, we can all start trusting each other.’ Victini came down from his elevated position, ‘Now, I know Tristan is, but are you two Pokémon trainers? Any good powerhouses we can throw at these guys?’ Victini asked Mariah and Nathan.

“Sorry, no,” Mariah said. “Our son is… but, you actually know that, don’t you?”

“We’re scientists, not fighters,” said Nathan.

Fun.’ Victini sighed, floating over to Draya and laying down on her head. ‘Hey, you’re comfy!

Draya growled and crossed her arms, doing her best to ignore him.

“Well, I’ll bring what I can to the table,” Tristan said. He pulled his two other occupied Poké Balls from his belt, releasing his Whirlipede, Cole, and his newest addition, Jeremiah, the Sewaddle that N had suggested he take with him. In the back of his mind, Tristan made the mental note to diversify his Pokémon team a bit more.

“Ugh, bugs…” Draya and Victini said together, the former glaring up at the rodent sitting on her head.

“Don’t be mean,” Tristan said, looking at Draya.

“Where’d you get that one anyway?” Draya asked, pointing to the newcomer on the team. “I don’t remember seeing you catch him.”

“It was after N and I found you yesterday. He asked me to take care of him.”

“Why’d you say yes?” asked Draya.

Because he needed an actual Grass type, I’ll bet,’ Victini poked at Draya’s head.

“Do you want to get punched?”

“Hey!” Nathan raised his voice. “Let’s keep the discussion positive! We’re on a time limit here; there’s no telling how long we have before this terrorist group breaks in here.”

Tristan sat down on the bed as Draya got reacquainted with her teammates. He noticed that she was handling herself remarkable well around the other humans in the room as well. Victini floated over next to him, an uncharacteristically serious expression on his face.

Obbie won’t last long alone up there, you know,’ he said. ‘I hope that spark of energy got more than your libido up and running.

Tristan’s eyes shifted focus from the kneeling Zoroark to elsewhere in the room as he responded. “Sorry. I’ve been thinking, trust me. My head’s clear now, thank you.”

Not a lot to work with, is it?’ Victini asked, gesturing to his three Pokémon.

He didn’t want to admit it, not wanting to sound like he was putting his own Pokémon down, but Victini was right. Tristan just didn’t have a lot power at his disposal.

“I’m open to suggestions,” Tristan said to the room. “Don’t leave everything to the trainer with just two badges to his name.”

“Have we ruled out just trying to use brute force? Victini is a Legendary Pokémon, after all,” Nathan said.

I don’t really have the power to. Plus, that’d be more of a last resort option. I could, maybe, if I knew what we were facing outside.

“What about… her?” Mariah asked, pointing to Draya.

The Zoroark’s ears flicked, she looked up at the woman. “What about me?”

“You make illusions; you can make anything you envision, right?”

“I guess so,” Draya shrugged. “What will having me disguising myself do though?”

Victini floated over in front of Draya and grabbed her face. ‘You fuzzy idiot, where’s your creativity? You can make an-y-thing! You’re a proverbial multi-tool of tomfoolery!

“Take your little paws off of me, or I’ll take them off of you…” Draya growled.

Tristan stepped up, pushing Victini aside before harm came to him. “No, he’s right. Draya, you showed me on the boat ride here that you can cast illusions apart from disguising yourself. We can use that to get Plasma off the island.”

“How, exactly?” Draya asked.

“Well, we need to get Plasma to leave this island without getting down here. We need to scare them off somehow; making it so they don’t come back would be preferable...” Nathan said.

“We could make it look like the lighthouse was burning down, maybe?” Mariah suggested.

They wouldn’t go for that. They could just wait for the fake fire to die down and find us out. Plus, this place is mostly brick and concrete.

“I don’t really know how to do much more than an image that moves occasionally,” Draya said. “I don’t think I can do what you’re asking me to do.”

That’s not a problem,’ Victini said, grinning. ‘One touch from me and you’ll have the power to make anything you can think of. Your illusions will be bigger, louder, even last for a bit while you’re not even casting them! Actually, I don’t know about that last one, but it sounded cool.

Tristan began pacing the room, toying with ideas for their proposed illusory escape plan. He stopped in front of a small bookshelf next to Victini’s bed, stooping down and picking up a book that caught his eye.

Its title was “Two Brothers, Two Dragons”, a children’s book with bright and colorful pictures on its pages. In it the two brothers, one older and one younger, found two dragon eggs, which hatched soon after. Each brother had different ideas on how to raise the dragons they had found. Their fighting eventually led to the newborn dragons following in their footsteps, fighting each other over small disagreements.

As the two brothers and dragons grew up, their fighting grew as well. The younger brother and the black dragon hated his older brother with the white dragon, and after years of fighting, both brothers were left without their beloved dragons. The two great beasts had destroyed each other in their fiercest battle of all. In the rubble of their battle, two eggs remained; one white and one black.

The two brothers each took an egg, and departed from each other forever.

“Draya,” Tristan said, bringing the book over to the rest of the group. “Can you do this?”

—————

“I bet you think you’re clever, old man,” the Team Plasma officer said. His gray outfit was much more conservative than the hooded attire of the grunts trying to pry open the metal door, wearing a long sleeved, high collar uniform with Team Plasma’s insignia. He stood with his arms folded, looming over the old man lying tied up on the floor.

Thunder boomed from outside, with rain occasionally blowing into the lighthouse from the wide open door.

“If you were to hide such a treasure here where no one could appreciate its worth, no one would really think to look for it underground. At least, not until we thought of it.”

“What I think,” Obidiah said, “is that you’ll never get what you’re after.”

“Amusing,” the officer said. Lightning crashed outside, lighting up the lobby for a moment. “And what makes you think so?”

“Sir!” A grunt yelled from the door. “We’ve got it open!”

“Perfect.”

The metal door leading to the lighthouse’s basement slowly creaked open. A Team Plasma grunt looked down the dark stairway, unable to see anything. One pulled a flashlight out from his pocket, and slowly descended with two more grunts following.

“I have to say,” the officer gloated, “I’m particularly excited to have this Legendary Victory Pokémon. His fairytale was a favorite of mine as a child.”

A great rumble shook the lighthouse, dust falling from the ceiling. A deafening roar reverberated up from the stairwell, nearly shaking the door from its hinges. The three Team Plasma members came back to the ground floor, screaming as they ran as fast as they could.

“It’s not Victini sir! We were wrong!” one of the grunts yelled as he ran by.

The officer, shaken but curious, moved over to the metal doorway. He strained his eyes as he looked down the dark stairwell, not seeing what scared his soldiers right away. Two glowing red lights could be seen far below him.

The floor began to shake again. The concrete began to crack and rise. The glowing red lights slowly moved up the crumbling passage way. They were the enraged eyes of a dragon; scales as black as the night sky, teeth visible as it snarled. It pushed itself up through the floor into the lobby of the lighthouse. From its shoulders grew two pairs of heavily muscled appendages that featured wide, fin-like wings. In addition, the lower pair of arms also ended with fearsome claws. Its legs and large, conical tail slowly revealed itself from underneath the ground. Revealed, the massive dragon stood hunched beneath the already tall ceiling.

Leaning down close to the Team Plasma officer, who was now stricken with fear, the deep-black dragon snorted hot air, blowing the human back a few steps.

“Z… Zekrom…?”

As the officer turned and ran, the black dragon roared after him, breaking through the doorway and out into the winding storm. A mighty blast of fire spilled forth from the beast’s mouth, scorching the ground after the tiny human. The Team Plasma officer ran into the open door of the submarine, pulling the door shut behind him.

“Dive! Now! Top priority is survival—we need to tell Lord Ghetsis that one of the Heroes is active! Call off the twins!”

The engines started up, and the submersible chugged away from its docked position and dived soon after.

The great black dragon roared again, spewing fire into the sky. It took to the air on its small wings, flying into the dying storm clouds that surrounded the island.

A few moments later, the sun broke through the rest of the clouds, leaving only a bright blue sky.

—————

“That’s it, Draya. Keep it going,” Tristan said, petting his Zoroark’s back. “Now send him running back to the sub.”

She had her eyes closed; one arm outstretched toward the ceiling of their room, the other grasping Victini’s little hand. Draya’s lips curled in a snarl, roaring as the dragon did.

“Now send it flying away. We need to make sure they don’t come back here looking for our black-scaled friend.”

When Draya opened her eyes, they shined a magnificent purple as she continued casting her illusion. “Victini, you say you can make this thing last after I let go? I’m running out of range here.”

Sure, I’ll give you some more juice.

“Ah!” Draya yelled, her dragon illusion roaring with her outside. “Okay, up you go…” Draya let her arm fall down, collapsing against Tristan. “I’m not sure how far it’ll go, but I saw Plasma leave. Heh-eh, they practically shat themselves…” she closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep.

“Draya, are you okay?” Tristan asked. She murmured in her sleep, wrapping her arms around his chest.

She’s just exhausted. Give it a little bit and you’ll crash too from that small pick-me-up I gave you. I helped her create that big illusion, but I was also giving that illusion real power to wreck up the lighthouse. Her species aren’t meant to make anything solid, but we needed to make it look believable that Zekrom just crawled his way out from here.

“Zekrom?” Tristan asked.

You know, the dragon your girlfriend just made appear out of thin air?’ Victini tilted his head. ‘You do know that children’s book is more than just a story, right?

“I never really read into ancient myths as having much truth behind them,” Tristan said. “But then again, you exist.”

Sometimes you need to believe in stories and legends,’ Victini said. ‘Now, if Team Plasma is smart, which I seriously hope not, they’ll be long gone and maybe even following that ghost Draya conjured up. In that time, we all need to get out of here.

“What the hell was that!?” Obidiah said, stumbling down what remained of stairs and into the room. “What was that huge dragon just now? What happened to the lighthouse?!”

Oh, hey Obbie! Why’re you all tied up?

—————

“Ooooh, what’s that?” Bianca asked, pointing up into the sky.

Cheren looked up as they walked back towards the center of Castelia City. A Pokémon could be seen flying high above the buildings. It flew behind a stray cloud just as it blocked out the sun, but the glare from the sun as the cloud passed by made it impossible to follow.

“I can’t tell,” he said, squinting. “I can’t find it again.”

“It looked like a dragon, but…” Iris said, contemplative.

The three walked along one of Castelia’s main boulevards, coming back from the Pokémon Center. Bianca walked holding her Pignite’s little hand, making sure he didn’t wander off again.

Cheren wore a cast on his right arm; thankful for the mild pain killers he now had dulling the ache from his wrist. He kept a watchful eye on everyone he and his group passed on the street. Two misfortunes befalling them in the same day was too much of a pattern for him to ignore. He could only imagine Tristan had run into trouble on his end of the mission as well.

They were on their way back to the park to investigate the Team Plasma rally now that Bianca’s Pokémon had been found.

As they neared the grassy section of the park, Cheren could hear that same voice carrying over the large crowd.

“Jeez, that man can talk for a while, can’t he?”

“—Our King will soon show himself to you, my people! He is humble, wise, and great! He will lead our great nation out from the darkness that plagues our lives day and night.” Ghetsis called to the people below him. He looked up, gazing over the masses eagerly watching his every move, hanging on his every word. He smiled, seeing Cheren, Bianca, and Iris, Bianca’s Pignite in tow.

“Now, Miss Bianca! I cannot say how lovely it is to see you again!” He raised an arm, waving at her. The crowd turned on Ghetsis’ command. “And how lovely it is that you found your lost Pokémon. My worried heart can rest easy, young lady.”

The crowed exploded with cheers, chanting Ghetsis’ name. Chanting Team Plasma’s name.

Cheren stood in shock, taking all of it in.

“They used you…” he said, turning to Bianca. “You just made everything worse! He just turned you into a poster-child for Team Plasma!”

“I— I didn’t mean to!” Bianca said, flustered. “It’s not my fault!”

Cheren turned, and angrily walked off. “Today was a colossal failure. We’ve only succeeded in helping Team Plasma’s public image.”

—————

On the ferry ride back to the city, Tristan sat next to Nathan and Mariah. He held Draya’s Poké Ball in his hand, knowing that her sleeping form resided within. He silently thanked her for managing to get them out of their near-impossible situation.

Beside him, Nathan held the Level Ball that held the Legendary Victory Pokémon, whose psychic voice escaped the confines of the metal sphere.

I’m going to have to lay low for a while. Plus I have a pretty good idea when I’ll need to meet your son.

“We’ll hold onto you until then,” Nathan said. “And I have to admit, you have a tremendous ability. There’s no doubt you’ll be able to help our son.”

I hope he likes Fire types too.

“Thank you for your help, Tristan,” Mariah said, smiling. “I don’t know if we would be here right now if Team Plasma had their way today.”

I do, but no one likes to see spoilers,’ Victini’s voice said. ‘Take care, Tristan. You’ve got a lot on your plate.

“I know. Plasma’s not done yet. I can feel it.”

—————

The sun was beginning to set; the afternoon was over and the day was won, as far as Tristan was concerned.

As he opened the door to his hotel room, the fatigue hit him like a punch to the gut. He braced himself on the wall in his room, struggling to stay on his feet and keep his eyes open. He lifted Draya’s Poké Ball up, and released her sleeping form onto the bed.

Tristan lied down next to her, drifting off to sleep soon after.

The movement awoke Draya for a precious moment. Using the last of the strength she had, she pulled her trainer into her arms, cradling his head in her arms as she fell back into a deep sleep.

—————

To Be Continued…

—————



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