Vines of Deceit

BY : Manifest Destiny
Category: Pokemon > General
Dragon prints: 13172
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 5: Bad Dreams

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It was so beautiful. A sight worth seeing. Something amazing.

Tristan stood in awe. All around him, towering high into the sky, were piles of treasure and gold that littered the landscape. Vast hoards of immeasurable wealth dotted the ground. He walked forward, needing to see more. He passed by many more treasure troves as he traveled. A huge ruby topped one of the beautiful collections he passed. The next one had a sapphire, another held up an emerald. Each of them had their own magnificent centerpiece which had a brilliance all their own. Perhaps more so than the treasure under them combined. But he had no interest in claiming them. He was happy enough just admiring their appearance.

He continued on his path in this place, marveling at the beauty around him. Tristan stopped and bent down, picking up a trinket from a pile that caught his eye. A lustrous crown, bright gold with a precious stone of every color dotting its sides. He set it back in its pile. It wasn’t for him, he felt. As if it wasn’t meant to be worn by his head. This pile was host to a giant opal. Its surface pure and smooth, its interior sparkled with a fire of red and blue. Tristan admired it for a time before turning away.

Leaving the opal’s pile, he turned around and was stricken dumb. The most preposterous sight was before him. A mound of dirt, almost identical size and proportion to the piles of treasure and wealth surrounding it. An odd brown copy of what he felt should be in its place. Why was this here? Atop the mound of dirt was no glimmering gemstone, jewel, or wondrous treasure. There was nothing.

This confused him.

He looked at the land around him, if only to confirm he was still in this beautiful land of wealth. The ground began to shake and split beneath his feet, staggering him. The piles of amazing gold and silver began to pour into the widening crevice. Everything was crumbling around him.

“Hey! Wake up, dammit!”

Tristan felt a pair of small hands smack his cheek rapidly. They stung more than he could bear. He was awake now. His eyes snapped open, finding a pair of bright red globes before him. The bipedal grass snake was standing on his chest, holding his face in her little hands.

“G’morring Draya…” he mumbled.

“It’s time to eat. Get up,” his Snivy commanded. She released his face and crossed her arms expectantly.

“It’s that time again?” Tristan rolled over, sending his Pokémon flailing onto the bed. “I thought you ate enough last night to last you a week…”

“Come on! I’m serious,” she whined.

Tristan rolled back over and sat up. He dragged a hand over his face. The sun was streaming into the room through the light colored curtains, painting the room in a sunny yellow. It was tempting to just lie back down and try for a few more minutes of sleep. The frustrated Pokémon next to him would make that almost impossible, he thought. Tristan stretched his arms, smiling to himself. One badge already. I think that’s a good tradeoff for all these early mornings.

“Oh yeah,” Draya said, hopping off the bed. She returned almost instantly with Tristan’s XTransceiver. “This is what woke me up. It beeped and buzzed a lot and Cheren I think was talking. I didn’t know what to do, so I just let it go.”

Tristan took the device from her and checked to see who called. Cheren. He checked his voice-mail. One message. He played it:

[“Tristan, or hopefully Draya if you can hear this, meet Bianca and I down at the cafeteria for breakfast. We need to talk about our plans for leaving town.”]

“And I bet you want to plan out our lunch breaks too…” he mumbled at the frozen image of his friend on the screen.

“Really?” Draya asked.

Tristan burst out laughing. “No not really, Draya. That was a joke.”

Lazily making his way out of bed, he continued his normal morning rituals. He’d miss the luxury of a full bathroom once they hit the road. Nacrene City was a good ways off. Seizing the opportunity while he could, Tristan took an extra-long shower, which did wonders to relieve his cramped shoulders. He suspected the stiff mattress was the culprit where that was concerned. He exited the bathroom to find Draya impatiently sitting by the door, looking every bit as miserable as she could.

“I’m dying here,” she flopped onto her back. “Let’s go.”

“I suppose we should, wouldn’t want you eating up some poor trainer’s Patrat.”

His XTransceiver had told him the projected forecast for the afternoon, and he decided to go without his jacket. One of his favorite t-shirts would do just fine, he thought. Just for today. As he was putting on his shoes, Draya climbed into his lap.

She touched his chest, “This shape was all over that building where we fought those three monkeys. What’s it mean?”

“Nothing special,” Tristan said. His shirt was plain cotton with a simple graphic on the front, as well as the right sleeve. A Poké Ball, whose bottom half trailed off as an arrow. “It’s the symbol for the Unova League. They give them out for just about any reason they can find. I got mine when I finally got my trainer’s license. Plus, it’s a cool design.”

Satisfied, Draya hopped to the floor and Tristan followed.

As soon as Tristan opened the door, the hungry Snivy shot out into the hallway. Once Tristan was finally through the door, he didn’t have to go far to catch up with her. Draya was just a few feet outside their room, standing perfectly still. She retreated back and quickly clambered up Tristan’s leg and up to his shoulder, once again safe in her comfort zone.

The sudden movement almost made him fall. “Hey! What’s that for?”

“People…” she whispered.

“You’ll be fine,” he said, comfortingly scratching her head. The hallway was empty.

Tristan made his way to the main lobby of Striaton City’s Pokémon Center. Connected to the side of the building was a café-style restaurant with tables and even outdoor seating for trainers to eat the food that the Center’s kitchen cooked up. He could already spot his two friends at their table. Bianca stood up from her seat and waved at him. Cheren just turned around and nodded.

“Food now, talk later,” Draya whispered. “I want something meaty.”

“Fine.” Tristan waved Bianca down and headed to the line to order some food. The cashier had just run up someone and he turned and greeted Tristan as he stepped up. With Draya’s breakfast already chosen for the most part, Tristan set about staring down the menu behind the counter. He was thankful there weren’t any people waiting behind him. He always was a picky eater. A sandwich? Are those considered “breakfast”?

“Excuse me?” the cashier spoke up. “Are you ready to order?”

“What? Oh, right… uhh…” Tristan pondered the menu again. “Is it breakfast still?”

“Our entire menu is available all day,” he said. The cashier’s eyes lit up as he noticed the Pokémon whispering into Tristan’s ear. “Oh, I recognize you now. I caught your Gym Battle yesterday. You did amazing. So did you, you cute little Snivy.”

“Thanks,” Tristan said. He nudged the Snivy on his shoulder with a nod of his head, “Thank the nice man for his kind words, Draya.”

Draya slid around behind his head, peeking over at the young man that complimented her.

The man behind the counter laughed a bit, high and mirthful. “Aww, she’s shy. That’s adorable.” Draya hid back behind Tristan’s head again, earning one last chuckle from the cashier. “So, got anything you’d like to order?”

A few suggestions and light jokes later, Tristan’s food was being made and he stood waiting at the counter, paying for his meal.

“So,” the employee said, “she can talk, right? I thought I was seeing—or hearing things when I was watching you and your friends battle yesterday, but I talked to a few of my guy friends who were there. They heard her.”

“Well,” Tristan hesitated. He looked over at Draya, who was viciously shaking her head. “She’s pretty shy right now, but ye— ow!” Draya smacked his face with her tail. “Yes, she can. She’s just very uncomfortable around strangers.”

“I know the feeling,” he said as the food came from the back. He poured Tristan’s drinks and set them on the tray. “Well, here you go. Enjoy.”

“Thanks,” said Tristan.

Carefully carrying the tray full of food and two drinks with an angry Pokémon on your shoulder turned out to be no easy feat, but Tristan somehow managed to put one foot in front of the other and make his way to his friend’s table.

“Good morning, you two!” Bianca said, bright and cheery.

“Hey Bianca. Good morning. So,” Tristan said, setting down the tray, “your secret’s out, Draya. Even the people watching on television heard you talking. Are you going to give up your mute act now?”

“Nope.”

Tristan shook his head and sat down next to Cheren. He and Draya immediately dug into their food, Tristan’s chocolate chip muffin disappearing before Cheren could make a remark on a Pokémon eating on the table. Draya’s fish sandwich was gone almost as quickly.

“Draya, could you just— Oh never mind,” Cheren said. He straightened his glasses. “Anyway, what kept you?”

“I overslept,” Tristan said, trying to talk with a mouth full of food. He picked up his cup and took a long drink. “And I totally missed your call.”

Cheren leaned over the table a bit, getting a better look at something Tristan couldn’t see. He laughed a bit to himself, getting that smug look of his ready for some comment. “Well, looks like someone’s got a secret admirer.”

Bianca almost spat out her mouthful of scrambled eggs.

“Huh?” Tristan said. Cheren turned his cup around to reveal a series of numbers written in pen on his styrofoam cup. It was signed with a simple “Call me ~”.

Draya never saw Tristan’s initial reaction to the revelation; she just started at the series of digits and symbols. “What’s that mean?” she asked.

“It means Tristan might have to quit training and settle down soon,” Cheren laughed. “How about it? Get married, start a happy little family?”

“What? No!” Draya protested. “Don’t do that Tristan, we just started! It’s too fun to quit—”

Tristan put a hand on her head, “He’s kidding, Draya.” Tristan then punched his friend in the arm, “And look at him, he’s practically oozing with jealousy.”

“Not likely,” Cheren said, rubbing where he had been hit.

They held a serious glare for a moment before they burst into laughter. Bianca let out a breath she’d been holding and joined them.

“I still don’t get it,” said Draya.

It turns out that explaining a topic as commonplace as homosexuality to someone, or something, that had absolutely no idea that such a thing was possible was a troublesome endeavor. Draya barraged them with an endless stream of “Why”s and “How”s and “What”s, leaving the three friends to exchange awkward looks as they fumbled with their words. Surprisingly, Bianca had the easiest time handling the discussion.

“So, they’re together, but they’re the same gender?” the Snivy asked.

“Yes,” Bianca said. “I guess it’s pretty unheard of in Pokémon societies, so it makes sense if you’re confused.”

“Even when it’s two girls?” Draya asked.

“That’s right. There’s different words for each, but it’s mostly the same. It works both ways,” she said.

“That’s weird…” said Draya. She sat down and pondered that notion for a long while. “Really weird.”

“Well, on that note,” Cheren said, trying to steer the direction of the conversation elsewhere, “I think we should talk about what your plans for today are.”

Tristan and Bianca looked at him with a little confusion, the latter speaking up before the other. “Our plans?” she asked.

“Yes. You two,” he said. Cheren pulled two Poké Balls out of his jacket and held them up. “Yesterday while the both of you were eating dinner, I went out and caught a Pokémon. I think we all should do the same before we leave.”

“Cheren,” Bianca pouted. “You went without us?”

“We don’t have to do absolutely everything together,” Cheren said calmly. “I do want to continue traveling with you. That’ll be easier if we’re all on the same page, so to speak.”

Tristan snatched the second Poké Ball from his friend’s hand. “So, what’d you catch?”

Cheren sighed and took it back from him, “First, that’s Oshawott’s Poké Ball…. Second,” he pressed the release button of his other capture sphere twice, enlarging it, then releasing a small eaglet with a crown of white, downy feathers. It shook itself and flew to Cheren’s outstretched arm and perched there. “This is Rufflet.”

“Wow!” Bianca remarked. She had already forgotten her earlier disappointment in Cheren and now focused on the bird in front of her. It nipped her fingers when she moved to touch it, squawking defensively from its perch. Bianca quickly removed her hand, checking to see if she was bleeding. “He’s a meanie…” she said, sucking on the finger the eaglet had bitten.

“Looks like a perfect match for you,” Tristan said. Cheren’s Pokémon was now in a heated staring contest with Draya. “I thought that they lived farther north though.”

“Not in the spring, no. They’re just about to migrate back north for the summer. Don’t you remember our test on migratory patterns?”

“Sorry mister honor-roll. I hardly passed that one.”

Cheren just shook his head. When his Pokémon began flapping his wings at the Snivy’s refusal to back down, he broke the tension before a fight broke out on their table. He calmed the feisty bird by stroking the soft feathers on its head. He recalled his Rufflet once it had settled down. “Sorry about his attitude, Bianca. They’re very competitive and eager to fight.”

“He’s still a meanie…” Bianca said pointedly as she stood. “Looks like we should get out of here. Come on Tristan.” She grabbed Tristan by the hand and hauled him to his feet, dragging him towards the door. She made sure to leave with a heated glare she knew Cheren would see.

“H—Hey! Where are we even going? Bianca wait!”

“Stop struggling,” she said. “We’re going to catch some Pokémon. Together.”

Cheren and Draya stared on for a few moments in silence.

“I guess she’s mad at me,” said Cheren, trying to pinpoint exactly what he had done wrong.

“That’s what you get for going out and without them and bringing back a bird with attitude problems,” Draya said with a smirk.

“Shouldn’t you, you know, go with them?” Cheren asked.

“Oh! Right.” The little grass snake hopped off the table and ran for the door, keeping a safe distance from every human that came near her.

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Bianca and Tristan had left the road not too long ago, the monotone tune of pavement exchanged for the soft rustling sounds of footsteps through tall green blades. Tall trees lined the path they were taking; it had once been maintained and well-traveled, used by workers that used to commute to the facility at the Dreamyard, but it has since been reclaimed by nature. A stiff breeze blew through the forest, freeing a few leaves and sending them through the air. Not a thing was going wrong so far. Bianca removed her hat for a moment to catch the wind in her hair, relishing in the sensation. She couldn’t be happier.

Scratch that; she very well could, but she was too nervous.

She was walking just a little behind Tristan, who had his Snivy lazily sprawled over his head. They were talking about what sorts of Pokémon were wild in the area, but apart from that, the discussion was just background noise to her. Her anger at Cheren was mostly gone; she knew that such a newly caught Pokémon would be temperamental. She also never expected the three of them to make every stride in their journey at the same time. Her outburst was just petty and ill-placed anger. But it had worked out so well.

Here she was—alone in the forest—walking with Tristan. It was almost a date. If catching Pokémon could be counted as a date. Yes, she decided. It could be. But when it was actually Cheren that suggested it, is that still a date? She shook her head; that didn’t matter. She was going to make the most of this opportunity. Hopefully. Possibly? She gripped her green hat in her hands nervously.

Why can’t I just say something? “Oh, Tristan, nice weather, huh?” No, that’s dumb and cliché. “So, what Pokémon are you looking for?” No, that’s too much like I’m only interested in work. Isn’t it? I can’t let him say something first, or I’ll—

“Hey Bianca?”

Damn!

“Yes?” she answered, smiling brightly.

“I don’t mean to bring it up, but last night you didn’t really react much about your dad,” said Tristan.

“What about him?” Bianca asked, knowing all too well what he meant. This isn’t what we should be talking about…

“He’s trying to control your life,” he said.

They stopped walking. Tristan was giving her one of his serious looks. Bianca couldn’t tear herself away from looking into his eyes.

“I… I’m not worried,” she finally said. Bianca forced herself to smile. “You’re with me, Tristan. There’s no way I’ll let him drag me back home.”

“I have no intention of letting him either,” Tristan said.

Bianca was beaming on the inside, knowing he cared this much for her. She stepped forward, drawing herself close to him. “You don’t know how much that means to me.”

But I think I can show you.

“I mean it,” he said. “I know Cheren feels the same, in his own way.”

“Well,” said Bianca. She leaned closer to Tristan, trying to ignore the curious eyes of the Snivy on his head. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she put some of her weight on him. “He’s not here now. You are…”

“Listen… Bianca,” Tristan started. “There’s something…”

She was on her way to lean forward, to go for the kiss, to finally make it clear to Tristan that she wanted to be more than just “friends”, but she never got there. Something heavy landed on her head, causing her to reel back a bit. The looks on both Tristan and Draya’s faces filled her with unease. She tilted her head upward, a pair of yellow, slitted eyes stared back at her from over the edge of her green beret. It hissed, and Bianca screamed.

“Venipede,” Tristan said in a hushed voice. He backed away a few steps. “Bianca, stay perfectly still.”

“Get it off of me…” Bianca whimpered. “Tristan, please.”

“Draya, go get it!”

“Eww, no! That thing’s huge,” Draya said, disgusted.

“Get this thing off me!” Bianca cried.

“Ugh, fine…” Draya said. She prepared a leap from atop Tristan’s head, and then sprung into the air. A well-placed smack, and the purple, bulbous bug was sent flying into the trunk of the nearest tree. It fell to the ground and onto its back, where it helplessly wiggled its tiny legs, unable to right itself.

“Draya, hit it again!”

Bianca fell to her knees, calming down from her frightening experience. She watched as Tristan commanded his Pokémon, standing defensively in front of her. Bianca followed Draya moving quickly to dodge the bug’s attacks. She moved with such ease that Bianca doubted she was even trying. The fight was very one-sided. Just like in their Striaton Gym match, Draya never once got hit by her opponent.

Tristan called for Draya to back off for a moment, and while the bug followed the agile snake, a red and white ball hit it square in the head. Absorbed in its capture field, the mass of red light that was the wild Venipede was locked inside the Poké Ball, trying its hardest to escape. A few moments later, the rumbling sphere ceased its quaking.

Tristan immediately turned around and knelt down to Bianca. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so.” She blushed a bit when Tristan began to comb through her hair with his fingers. “Uhm, what are you doing?” Not that I mind

“Venipede are covered in tiny barbs that can poison you if you’re pricked by them. I’m checking to see if any got on you,” Tristan explained. “We’re going to have to check you out too, Draya. You guys touched quite a bit.”

Draya walked over to Tristan’s side, carrying the newly caught Venipede’s Poké Ball in her mouth. She spat it out onto the ground, “We’re not keeping this thing, are we?”

“Sure we are,” said Tristan, still focusing on Bianca’s hair. “He’s my first caught Pokémon, after all. Cole’s a fine name for the little guy, don’t you think?”

Bianca didn’t register that the question was directed at her until he asked it again. She was too absorbed in the feeling of Tristan’s hands rifling through her blond hair. “Why Cole?”

“You know, Cole Train, the defensive lineman for the Nimbasa Liepards? Scolipede are tough, big, and quick. Just like number eighty-three.”

Bianca giggled, “I get it.”

“Well, looks like— aha!” Tristan pulled his hands away from Bianca’s head. He held up a tiny, purple spine between his fingers so Bianca could see it. “This is the only one I could see, so let me know if you start feeling anything, alright? We’ll have to rush you back to town if you’re poisoned.”

She nodded, and put her hat back on, just in case another poisonous bug decided to land there. She stood while Tristan was fussing over Draya, inspecting her for any of the toxic barbs. Bianca took a look farther down their path. She could see a partially destroyed wall of a building. They were close to their destination now.

“There, you’re clean,” Tristan said. “Now Bianca, let’s find you— Ah!”

“Ow!” Bianca fell to her knees again, her face twisted in pain. Such a terribly loud noise was filling her head. It didn’t sound like anything. It felt more like sights, thoughts, emotions. It felt like pain and fear. “Ow ow ow…”

“What’s wrong?” Draya asked the two humans now holding their heads in pain. “Hey! Tristan? Bianca?”

The noise seemed to die down just as quickly as it came upon them. Bianca braced herself for a few moments, fearing it would start up again. When it didn’t, she lowered her hands and looked up to see Tristan recovering from the attack as well. “You too? she asked.

“Yeah, I heard it,” said Tristan. He stood up and nodded toward the wrecked facility of the Dreamyard. “I think it came from that way.”

“Yeah,” Bianca agreed. “I think something’s in trouble. Come on.”

Draya quickly crawled up onto Tristan’s shoulder and then they were off, briskly walking toward the demolished building.

For a while, they were silent. Bianca kept reliving that sensation in her mind over and over. “Tristan,” she said. “What do you think could’ve done that?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

They were now within the Dreamyard’s perimeter, a jagged hole where a door once marked the entrance. Bianca and Tristan walked quietly and carefully through the area. Underneath their feet, the floors of the building were still intact. Hollow sounding footsteps implied there must be a basement beneath them. The ceiling was completely gone. Grass and weeds were encroaching on some of the building’s interior. A staircase still remained, leading to what was left of the second floor of the building. They walked through the decrepit hallways, inspecting the vacant rooms.

As they inspected the area, Bianca noticed something in the air. Fog, or maybe smoke, was drifting through certain parts of the building that they passed. She pointed it out to Tristan and they began to follow the trails of wispy mist. Something about the smoke Bianca found odd was that it was pink, and worried it if was poisonous. Draya and Tristan didn’t seem too worried, so she didn’t make mention of it. It didn’t seem to be affecting any of them.

They did come upon the source of the pink smoke, but it wasn’t a sight Bianca was expecting. As they turned the corner to enter what must have been a courtyard in the center of the facility, she didn’t quite grasp what she was seeing. Two people, a man and a woman, dressed in odd clothes were standing with their backs to them. In front of them, Bianca could see a pink… something. It took her a moment to realize it was a Pokémon. It looked bruised and beaten, even from where she was standing. Bianca finally recognized it as a Munna. The man standing over it walked up to it and gave it a swift kick to its stomach.

“Enough fooling around! Do what you’re told!” he yelled at it. The Pokémon merely whimpered and coughed. A trickle of smoke seeped out from the pink dot on its face.  He reared his leg back, preparing to strike again. “Worthless…”

“Stop it!” Bianca cried out, already running on impulse. “You’re hurting it!”

The two strangers turned at the sound of her voice. Their outfits looked almost comical, she thought. They looked like they were pulled right out of the warring age. Bianca didn’t recognize the symbol the two wore, but she didn’t much care to find out right then.  Bianca moved to try and get to the wounded creature, but one of the strangely dressed thugs blocked her. He grabbed her arm and she struggled to pull away.

“Let go of me!” Bianca yelled.

“Just turn around and walk away, little girl,” the man said, his face menacing. “You don’t have any business here.”

Tristan came to her aid and wrenched the man’s gloved hand off of her arm. He pushed the man back towards his partner. “Don’t you lay a hand on my friend like that,” he growled. “You guys are Team Plasma. Right?”

“What of it?” the man asked, clenching his fist.

“Well then what are you doing to that Pokémon?” Tristan pointed to the Munna on the ground, struggling to breathe. “I caught one of your rallies. You’re supposed to be about helping Pokémon… not abusing them.”

“Don’t waste your breath. We can’t expect someone like you to understand,” the woman said. She pointed at Tristan’s shirt, “You, the both of you, you’re trainers. How can you talk down to us when all you do is hurt and imprison your Pokémon?”

“We don’t senselessly beat them like you,” said Tristan.

“If you don’t want to get hurt, I suggest leaving now, kiddies,” the Plasma member said. She and her partner both revealed Poké Balls from behind them, “We will not hesitate to protect the dream of Team Plasma!”

The Plasma members released their Pokémon, a Lillipup and a Patrat appeared, ready for battle. These people weren’t going to give up without a fight, and that was just fine with Bianca. She didn’t feel like letting these people off without some sort of retribution for the hurt Munna.

Bianca gave Tristan an affirmative glance. She was determined to stop these people from brutalizing the poor defenseless Pokémon. She grasped her only Poké Ball and threw it at her feet, releasing a bright flash of light. Her Tepig, Chao, stood at the ready. He blew a few embers from its nose in defiance of the opponents in front of it. Draya landed on the ground next to Bianca’s Pokémon, eager to battle.

Her experience at the Striaton Gym had opened her to the concept of multi-battles, an idea she felt immediately comfortable with. It helped her feel more confident with her battling capabilities. Especially with Tristan there beside her. Having already battled together before, they worked in tandem, timing and coordinating Draya’s and Chao’s attacks to efficiently counteract their foes’ movements. But the Pokémon of Team Plasma were tough, and their attacks much more ferocious than the regulated Gym Battle she had taken part in. They weren’t competing for money, and they weren’t trying to win for a badge. These Plasma members were really trying to get rid of them.

The enemy’s Lillipup was the quicker of the two foes, but thanks to Draya’s considerable speed, she covered for Chao’s sluggish movements. A few times, the little dog actually ran past its opponents and focused on attacking Bianca herself. Thankfully, Tristan was quick enough to make sure that option would always end badly. Since then, Bianca and Tristan made sure to keep their defense at the ready.

That wasn’t the end of Team Plasma’s dirty tricks. Time and again, if their Pokémon were about to be hit with a move, they would just recall their Pokémon and send them out again. Plasma’s Patrat constantly tried for Bite attacks, so that made its movements fairly predictable. As it lunged, Bianca ordered Chao to send a burst of embers at it. To avoid getting its mouth burned, it would retreat, but still get singed a bit by the small flames.

The more the battle dragged on, the more Bianca worried. Not only for her wellbeing or Tristan’s, or their Pokémon, she was also worried for the wild Munna—at least she assumed it was wild—it looked like it was in a lot of pain. It hadn’t moved to run away the entire time the Plasma members set their sights away from it. Chao delivered a hard tackle to the Lillipup while it was focusing on Tristan’s Pokémon, sending it tumbling on the cracked floor. It didn’t get back up. As Bianca looked around the room, she noticed everything had taken on a pink tone.

“Tristan,” said Bianca. “The mist is getting thicker.” As she said that, the second opponent was hit hard by Draya, knocking it out as well. Bianca felt relieved, but it was short lived. The wispy pink smoke began to move all around them, condensing in between themselves and Team Plasma. She and Tristan backed away, ordering their Pokémon to do so as well.

The ball of mist that swirled in the middle of their battleground began to change, shifting in color and shape. Pink was now yellow and purple, then more became green, tan, red. The smoke condensed and focused into the form of a man, almost imposingly tall. Long green hair tumbled down his shoulders and caught in his very strange and colorful outfit. He stood facing Tristan and Bianca, wearing a wicked smile. His right eye was covered by a red monocle. His robes’ design never actually stopped shifting, trailing off and never ending, spreading over the ground around his feet. Bianca could swear the eyes on the robe were staring at her.

Then they blinked.

Greetings,” he said. The voice was unsettlingly warm, friendly even, but it sent a shiver up her spine. “I am Ghetsis, of Team Plasma

“Lord Ghetsis?” one of the Plasma members asked him. The body of Ghetsis shifted unnaturally, flipping around instantly to look at the two grunts behind him.

Imbeciles!” the voice was cold and angry now. The man’s hair flew up into the air like being caught in a strong wind. “You are failing!” He drifted around them, circling as he yelled at them. “We are on the brink of realizing Plasma’s ultimate dream, and you let mere children in your way! What would our King think?

“Sir, we were trying to make our dream a reality. We heard the dream mist—”

Enough!” Ghetsis, or the specter that calls itself such, drifted back to its original spot. “You are nothing but failures! Unworthy to wear the crest of Plasma!” The ghost shifted back to face Bianca and Tristan, its face calm once more.

I’m terribly sorry, my children. These ill-advised apprentices were acting on their own accord. Team Plasma merely wishes to separate Pokémon from foolish people that want hurt them. And when people hurt Pokémon… they will be punished…” His head slumped forward, limp on his neck. Around him, the strange collar became a wide mouth with long teeth. The new jaws closed and swallowed his head. A new body rose out of the robes, one covered in black fur and purple scales. Its head, its center one at least, roared as it broke free from the colorful prison. The man’s robes pooled to the ground and evaporated. A purple crown of horns surrounded this new creature’s head. It had pitch black eyes. Six thin wings flapped as it hovered in the air. Two more heads snaked from its neck. From their mouths dripped black saliva, the ooze seemed to melt the ground as it dripped.

Severely punished… In the name of our King.

The black and terrible creature slowly turned around to the now cowering Plasma members. Its lips curled, revealing rows of frightening teeth. “You will now be liberated!” It flew towards the Plasma members and they turned and ran away. The terrible dragon chased them away, far into the forest. Roars could be heard just after the screams.

With the mist and whatever it had conjured up gone, only the wounded Munna remained in front of her. Bianca had been through two frightening experiences today. She felt absolutely worn out, but she still had something that needed doing. She looked to Tristan, who looked as perplexed as her.

“You think it’s gone?” she asked.

“I don’t think it was actually here,” Tristan said. “Draya and I saw that guy, Ghetsis, at a Plasma rally in Accumula Town. He’s human, not… whatever that was. It looked like something from a nightmare.”

Deciding to move, Bianca carefully made her way towards the hurt Pokémon on the ground. Its eyes were swollen shut, but it reacted to her approach. It whimpered a little and tried crawling towards her. She knelt down next to it and carefully took it into her arms.

“Tristan, we need to get back to town. Now,” said Bianca. “Chao, you run along ahead of us in case any Pokémon try and slow us down. Draya, could you help him?”

“You got it,” she said.

“I’m calling Cheren now,” said Tristan, tapping away at his XTransceiver. “I’ll tell him to let the Center know we’ll need some intensive care ready for us.”

—————

To Be Continued…

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