POKÉMON ADVENTURES: OPAL AND AMETHYST

Typhlosion

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I took a break from this to document a challenge run, but I'm back! Hope you're excited!

Flocks of bird Pokémon wheel through the air over Foria City, calling and singing to one another with lively chirps. Rushing tunnels of wind created by the developing metropolis's tall, bright buildings carry them on without so much as a flap of their wings. People throwing open their windows to greet the breezy day smile at their passing, while all the many species of forest-dwelling Pokémon that have climbed or grown that high watch them curiously. An greater variety stroll along the bustling yet cheerful streets below, accompanied by their human partners as they go about the day's business.

The charms of the city which proudly declares itself to be "Uniting to push for greater heights!" are lost on a brown-haired girl near the edge of town. She smiles at the sign on the gate as she pushes her way into a public garden: "Wild Pokémon Habitat. Exercise Caution." Two adjacent high-rises still block the morning sun, while intermittent pine trees throw an extra depth of shadow over the clusters of tangled grass. "Perfect," Opal nods.

"Zebrun, Cygwet, come out!" She throws the Ultra Ball and the Poké Ball in the air together and her two team members appear. They listen attentively as their Trainer lectures, "Strong Pokémon Trainers are the strongest people in the world. They can go anywhere, learn any information, and do anything. People respect that. And there's no greater sign of a Pokémon Trainer's strength than earning Gym Badges. That's why as long as we're here in Foria City, a place with its own Gym, we're going to earn a Gym Badge! Then we can go through that stupid forest no problem, and no one will tell us otherwise." She thinks back to what the group of local kids told her earlier that morning in the Pokémon Center.

"You're just passing through on your way to someplace else? But doesn't that mean you'll have to go through Guardian Forest?" a boy questioned.

"Uh...yeah!" Opal had never heard of "Guardian Forest" but she tossed her hair anyway. "I guess I am."

"But you can't!" another boy wheezed. "Don't you know that it's blocked off? Haven't you heard about the thieves?"

Opal's blue eyes narrowed to glacial shards at those words. She grabbed him by his collar and yanked him close. "What
thieves? she hissed. "There are thieves hiding out in that forest? Do they wear black and blue uniforms?"

The boy only stammered unintelligibly until another of his friends separated him from Opal. She gave Opal a wary look and responded carefully, "Just the opposite, actually. People say they wear white uniforms. Also that they're very precise and stealthy, which is why even the police are having trouble and the area's off-limits to the public for now."


"Doesn't sound like them. Not worth my time," Opal reaffirms to herself back in the present. She claps her hands forcefully to refocus herself and grab her Pokémon's attention. "So let's go!"

The garden proves to be a good training ground, inhabited by Pokémon from city and forest alike. "Zebrun, Stomp! And Cygwet, Bubble!" The Vineide and Oscry they had been targeting collapse to the ground. For the first time in several minutes, no other eager wild Pokémon appear to take their place. Opal wipes her brow. "Good, good. That's been some good training."

Zebrun begins to trot back toward his Trainer, but is distracted halfway. Stretching down his neck to nose at the ground, he begins pawing at something near a large rock. After a moment he looks up at Opal and stomps emphatically.

Slightly concerned, she makes her way over to Zebrun's side. "What's going on?" He nudges something with his hoof and Opal squats for a closer look.

A chunk of stone a little bigger than Opal's fist is lying on the ground. Jagged points stick out at random angles but the main section almost resembles a geode in that dark purple-colored pits are hollowed out from the otherwise sandy stone. The girl picks it up and examines it from all sides; no matter which way she turns it, shadows seem to pool in the center. "I know what this is," she breathes. A picture from a book flashes into her mind: this sort of stone, along with four others. "It's a Hollow Rock! Maybe all your powerful attacking knocked it loose from something," she teases as she stands back up and rubs Zebrun's snout. She goes to deposit the item in her back and finds her vision suddenly obscured by tears. "Wyrmer and I used to find treasure like this all the time. That was what we were doing when we first met you, Zebrun...It's...a good memory. Thank you for this."

The four-legged Pokémon playfully butts Opal with his head. "What do you guys think? Shall we do some more training?" she asks. Zebrun snorts in agreement. "What about you, Cygwet?...Cygwet?" She cranes her neck to peer around the large Normal-type. Opal's starter Pokémon is there, waiting behind Zebrun, but he's paying his Trainer any attention. Cygwet has his back to them, staring into the distance towards a corner of the park. "Huh, you're being just as strange as Zebrun was a minute ago. Did you find something too?" she huffs. The girl once again crouches down, this time to wave her hand in front of Cygwet's beak.

Cygwet recoils slightly, then begins beating his stubby wings and squawking. He jabs his head emphatically a couple times in the direction he had been facing. Unsure what's making the normally cheerful, relaxed Pokémon behave this way, Opal turns to look as well.

Far back under the cover of the pines, against one of the buildings that serves as a boundary to the park, a creature is moving. Opal squints and readjusts the brim of her hat, but all she can make out is a featureless mass. "That must be what's got you so freaked out, eh?" she remarks to Cygwet in a low voice. Her Pokémon nods and hisses. "You think it's a Pokémon?...Ah, who cares?" she answers herself decisively. Opal pops back up to her feet and marches toward the far end of the park. "Hop to it, you two!" Blinking in surprise, Zebrun and Cygwet scramble to follow her.

As Opal gets closer, the whatever-it-is seems to notice her in return. It shivers violently and then begins lurching toward her; the girl stops to see if she can get a better view once it emerges into the light. The tangled mass is about her own height, but broader, and makes a dry raspy sound. Like a pile of leaves, she thinks, before realizing that may be exactly what it is. Large, broad leaves and clusters of vines cover the creature seemingly at random; occasionally Opal catches the flash of a brooding eye. The dark green color, something she'd already seen many times that morning, is what gives it away. She turns to look at her Pokémon on either side of her and explains, "It's like a Vineide! Maybe an evolved form of one! Come on, this will be great to battle against! Zebrun, Headbutt, and then Cygwet, you use Gust!"

Zebrun doesn't hesitate to launch himself at the opponent with neck extended. It makes no attempt to dodge or retaliate, and he scores a massive hit dead-on. He springs back and the creature trembles, collapsing in on itself a bit and shrinking back. It still doesn't have a chance to fight back before Cygwet darts in front of his ally. The Water-type doesn't leave the ground, but is nonetheless capable of whipping up a fierce Gust with its wings. The ivy monster bears the attack for a handful of seconds before being literally blasted apart and scattered into pieces. Opal gapes at the sight, wondering what kind of Pokémon could be hurt like that, as the pieces frantically writhe and twist on the grassy lawn. It's only when all the plants have reoriented themselves, with vines peeping out from under broad, drooping leaves, that understanding dawns on Opal's face. "That wasn't an evolved form at all! Just a whole bunch of Vineide clustered together in a heap! But I've never heard of anything like that before. What were they doing?"

The short Grass-types are mostly separated now, but in the center of the bunch, four or so are still entwined together in a twitching clump. "There must be something up with those ones. Get rid of them with Roar," Opal directs. The move successfully forces apart the Vineide and pushes them all back about 30 feet. To Opal's surprise, a solitary Lotad is revealed, huddling against the ground with its eyes shut. Not a moment passes before the Vineide all begin slithering back toward it as fast as their roots will carry them.

Opal frowns. "I don't know what those pests are up to but I don't like it. Double Kick them all, and don't hold back!" Zebrun again wades forward, bringing his powerful hooves down on any of the creeping Pokémon that get too close. Opal can tell they don't like that one bit, but despite the occasional attempt to hit back with Vine Whip or Slime Lash, they can't stand up to Zebrun's power and soon retreat back into the thick grass and trees where they were first seen.

"And stay there!" Opal spits at the retreating forms. She then hurries to examine the Lotad, which still hasn't moved. When she reaches its side she notices a distinctly pleasant odor in the air, like ripe, juicy Berries. Her Pokémon seem to have noticed it too: they both sniff appreciatively--Opal didn't know Cygwet even had a sense of smell--and make a beeline for Lotad's side. Zebrun flops down to curl itself around the aquatic Pokémon, while Cygwet hops right on top of it, nestling comfortably on the large lily pad. "Hey, not you too!" their Trainer exclaims. She lifts Cygwet up and plops him unceremoniously right back on the grass, then nudges Zebrun's powerful legs out of her way. She scoops up Lotad and rises to her feet; Zebrun immediately springs up too, not taking his eyes off Lotad. Opal turns her back emphatically and sighs, "Oh, give it a rest!"

Lotad, upon feeling itself lifted into the air, finally begins to take some notice of its surroundings. It wiggles around until it can stare into Opal's eyes. She stares back, and as the silence drags out finally gives an awkward smile. "H-hey there, Lotad. How are you feeling?"

The Water Weed Pokémon bursts into a show of joy, smiling hugely and squirming in Opal's arms. "Must be nice to meet someone who isn't trying to sit on you," she quips. "Maybe all these Pokémon are being attracted to you because you smell so good, eh?" The Pokémon stops its display to give her another confused stare. "Hah, you have no idea what I'm saying, do you, Lotad? How'd you get here, anyway? We didn't see any others of your species while we were training." She scans the public garden. Outside it, past a fence at the edge of the city, is a low drainage ditch sprouting with a variety of grasses. "Aha! I bet that's it. There's sure to be water in there."

Opal jogs over and sets down the little Pokémon at the edge of the stone slope leading to the ditch. "All right, off you go." When she releases it, she notices another cloud of the aroma wash over her. "That's a neat trick, but I don't know what you mean by it, Lotad. Anyway, take care." She recalls both Zebrun and Cygwet and turns back into Foria City. "Time to hit up the Pokémon Center." She takes a look over her shoulder to make sure Lotad found its way and notes with satisfaction that it's no longer there. Then she feels something bumping her leg and looks down. To her surprise it's Lotad.

"What? What do you want? Your home is that way," she points. She rolls her eyes, picks it up again, and takes it back to where she left it the first time. "Don't make me chuck you in there." She backs away, facing it this time, and Lotad waddles after her as best it can. A scowl creases Opal's face.

"Look here. I don't know what your deal is but you're not coming with me, see? You belong here, and I'm going to travel all over the world. If you're going to be attracting hordes of Pokémon wherever you go, I can't have that slowing me down, and I don't want a Grass-type slowing me down when I go to challenge the Foria Gym, either! I don't...I don't even have any Poké Balls, see? So give it up! See ya later!" Whatever good mood Opal had been in evaporates as she stomps off, leaving Lotad to turn around and nose its way into the weeds.
A sprawling old-growth forest in southern Ilona, on whose southwestern edge Foria City was built. The forest is said to have a protective, stabilizing influence, but what that means depends on your perspective. Those who live under the forest's shade say it mediates the blazing summers and freezing winters that characterize other parts of the region, while being a barrier to diseases that spread on the central plains. Many citizens of Ilona alternatively believe that the forest acts as a refuge for any monsters that might come down from the mountains, stopping them from traveling any farther.
An item to be held by a Pokémon. You can read a physical description in this round. When held, this item increases the duration of a shadowy sky created by the holder from five turns to eight turns.
A status-based Ghost-type attack. This move creates the "shadowy sky" weather condition for five turns, or eight if the user is holding a Hollow Rock, and otherwise operates with the same mechanics as the other weather-setting moves. As long as the weather is shadowy, Ghost- and Dark-type moves have their power increased by 50%, and any Pokémon which are asleep during this time will always be afflicted with Nightmare. Weather Ball becomes a Ghost-type attack. This move first appeared as a Shadow move in XD: Gale of Darkness, and I wanted to make it a thing for the main series.
 

Typhlosion

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Brimming with energy, Opal can't stop herself from running down the tree-lined city street on her way to the Foria City Gym. Of course Nurse Joy had known exactly where that was, and Opal smirks to herself as she recalls barely waiting for the bemused woman to finish her explanation before pelting out of the Pokémon Center. Ultra Ball on my right hip, Poké Ball on my left hip, she reviews mentally, clapping a hand to each of her sides in turn.

The grandiose building soon appears on Opal's left; she skips nimbly across the boulevard separating them, then takes a moment to stare. The Gym, which doubles as its Leader's opera hall, occupies a whole city block. An alabaster plaza leads up to the shining venue: characteristically of Foria City, its graceful, compact arches seem to practically leap into the sky. An image floats into Opal's mind of humble Quembar town. My house could fit in there four times over. So this is what it's like for the people who travel all over Ilona, aiming for the Pokémon League. The day is as bright and sunny as ever, but for some reason the girl shivers. Families, friends, and many other people are strolling across the square, enjoying the day. Opal sees them as from afar. Though some periodically stop to admire the hall, few seem interested in entering. Just as well. They had all better stay back! It's my turn.

Opal weaves her way among them until she reaches the broad, less-crowded stairway unrolled before the main entrance. A few picnickers are lounging with their lunches, but only one person is standing, and Opal's attention is immediately focused on him. He's staring up at the Gym just as she was moments ago, so his back is to her, but he seems about her own age and height, with dark clothes to match his shaggy jet-black hair and hands jammed in his pockets. Also noted are the Poké Balls on his belt. Right before she can say something, the boy looks over his shoulder and notices her.

His purple eyes widen briefly, as if in recognition. "You don't look so angry this time," is his monotone greeting.

As if to prove him wrong, Opal's expression quickly rearranges itself into one of ire. "I'm not angry! Who do you think you are? What a rude thing to say! Do I even know you?!"

The boy slouches around to face her fully. "No, you don't," he continues unperturbed. "And I don't know you either." He holds up a hand to forestall her. "I'm from Masolin Town. The day I left on my journey, on Route 49, I saw you walking the other way. You had this terrifyingly angry expression on your face."

There's practically steam coming out of Opal's ears. "I'LL SHOW YOU TERRIFYING IF YOU DON'T DROP IT! You still haven't even told me who you are. I think that's the least you could do, before you start accusing me over stuff you don't know anything about!"

"Fine, fine," the boy concedes. He's briefly distracted by a rattling from the Poké Balls on his belt. "Hush," he mutters, giving them a firm tap. "Everything's fine." He hastily returns his attention to Opal; the girl is vaguely surprised to see that he almost looks embarrassed. "My name is Amethyst. Yours?"

"The name's Opal!" she announces. "I'm from Quembar Town! I've been training for days to challenge this Gym, so listen up, Amethyst! No one's getting in the way of me challenging it right now!"

The boy glances down at Zebrun and Cygwet, then scoffs and turns back around to stare at the building. "So you're on a journey with Pokémon too, huh? Well be my guest. I've already won the Badge from this Gym."

Opal eagerly hops up a few steps and twirls around to look at Amethyst face-to-face. "Really? No way! Tell me about it! What's it like in there?"

Amethyst doesn't meet her hopeful gaze. He stares past her for a second more, then swings to his right and begins walking away, slanting down the stairs. With a dismissive wave of his hand he calls, "I have no idea."

"Well...well...!" Opal stomps her foot repeatedly in frustration. "IF YOU DON'T WANT TO TELL ME THEN FINE! I'll figure it out on my own! Just you wait and see! Go on and leave, to...to wherever it is you're going!"

Though he doesn't turn around, Amethyst does halt, and sighs loudly. "Do I owe you at least that much? Whatever. I'm passing through here to Guardian Forest, and then along Route 51." In a lower voice he grumbles to himself, "And straight through the next city after that without so much as a glance at its Gym." Where Opal can hear he finishes, "And then I'll...spin a Spinda, as they say." With that he resumes his taciturn march towards the eastern edge of Foria City.

Opal glares after him, hands on his hips, before what Amethyst said fully sinks in. "He's already won the Badge from this Gym...and...he's passing through Guardian Forest! That means I was right! And if he can do it so can we!" She turns once more and practically flies up the stairs, passing between the columns that flank the entrance to throw herself against the heavy gilded doors.

The aspiring challenger finds herself in an ornate foyer, a sharp contrast to her athletic Trainer kit, but she either doesn't notice or doesn't care. The only other people in sight are two older men in fancy usher uniforms, positioned near desks beside another massive pair of doors. They're distinguishable only by the color of their hair; Opal bounds over to the closer one, with pale gray hair, who inclines his head at her approach. Stiffly he says, "Good afternoon, madam. I'm afraid you may have arrived for your show at the wrong time: there are no concerts today. Might I direct you to the ticket office, or perhaps--"

"You can direct me to the Gym Leader!" Opal butts in.

The man's clipped nod doesn't miss a beat. "Ah, of course, a Trainer. Pardon me. In that case, my colleague will be able to assist you." He motions to the man who could be taken for his twin if not for the soft brown of the other's hair. Opal zips over and springs to attention in front of him instead.

"I take it you wish to challenge our Gym Leader," the man says in a less rigid but equally friendly tone. "Unfortunately, she is not accepting challengers today. However, many of her pupils are with us in the hall. You are welcome to train with them for the time being. I am sure you will find the experience invaluable."

Opal, who had begun to wilt at the usher's first words, was clenching her fists with excitement by the end. "All right! You bet! Where do I go?!"

"Simply proceed through those doors, madam." The brown-haired man gestures to the doors between the desks. "You'll be announced as a challenger to the Foria City Pokémon Gym, and you will find--" Whatever else he would have said is cut off by the crash of the doors swinging shut behind Opal.

"That was rather rude," he remarks to the other attendant. "Still, she appears to take the challenge seriously, and best of luck to her. Far better mannered than that other fellow, to be sure."

"Hmm, quite so!" snorts the gray-haired man. "You mean that man who was snooping around here without a ticket, spouting all that foolish nonsense and making a nuisance of himself? What did he call himself again, eh, Blue, Drew...?"

"That would be Q," his companion supplies. "That's the one. But if he ever comes back, our Sabird will be waiting for him again."

- - - - - -

The concert hall itself, which occupies most of the building, looks even bigger on the inside than it did from the outside. Opal stares around at the two balcony tiers over her head and the dozens of rows of seats in front of her, arranged in a semi-circle around the center stage. The stage itself is also a sight to behold: from the broad base, several smaller, progressively elevated stages rise, climbing to the highest one in the center. THAT seems like a spot for a Gym Leader, Opal surmises. But first...

A half-dozen people are milling about in front of the stage, gazing at something over Opal's head which a woman in their midst is pointing out. The challenger herself turns around for a look. Over the doors she just entered is a two-part sign; on the left is shown a microphone, now unlit, while the Poké Ball design on the right is beaming brightly. "Good...they know I'm here!" She skips down the gently sloping aisle to meet the Gym Trainers.

A Rich Boy steps forward out of the group to meet her. "I welcome you, challenger, to our illustrious Gym. I came here to receive singing lessons, but you'll find I'm the one who gives the battling lessons!" Quick as a flash he extracts a Poké Ball from his coat pocket. "Get ready, Sabird!"

Opal responds in kind. "You're on, Zebrun!"

"Metal Sound!"

'You want to get fancy, huh? My Pokémon can make noise too! Roar!"

The two attacks crash together, cancelling each other out. The Rich Boy clucks, "A one-on-one battle, so we're not going anywhere. Now try this Gust!"

Metal Sound? That's a Steel-type attack, and it looks like that's what Sabird could be. "You'll have to get through that Gust, Zebrun! Headbutt!"

The attack collides, but isn't very effective. At its Trainer's command Sabird wheels away over the seating area in preparation for Growl. "They want to give us a show, Zebrun," Opal remarks, "but what's a show without an audience? After them with Double Kick!"

To the astonishment of the other Trainers, Zebrun leaps up toward Sabird, balancing one hoof at a time on the backs of the chairs. The first hit is countered by Peck, but the second batters Sabird to the carpeted floor of the aisle where Opal and the Rich Boy are still standing. "A clear shot! Once more!" the girl cheers.

The bird Pokémon is the one to be attacked from the air this time as Zebrun leaps down like a juggernaut. The Rich Boy recalls his fainted Pokémon and hangs his head. "This time, I was on the receiving end of defeat."

The victor looks around with a glint in her eye. "Who's next?!"

A pair of Lasses wave at Opal from the first tier of the stage. In unison they cry, "Trillark, I choose you!"

Opal runs and vaults onto the stage opposite them, with Zebrun right behind her. She hastily summons Cygwet too, and the four battling Pokémon charge at one another, full of fighting spirit.
Pronounced SAY-bird, from saber and bird. A Flying- and Steel-type Basic Pokémon and the basic stage of Falcion.
Sabird is a small, thin-bodied bird Pokémon. Though it is a bird of prey like its evolutionary relatives, in appearance and behavior it somewhat resembles the house sparrow. The underside of its head and belly is primarily a dusty beige color. Its back, head, and wings, however, are a dark dull gray material that's stiffer and heavier than the feathers of other bird Pokémon. The outside leading edge of each wing is a flat, razor-sharp wedge like a knife which curves backward. The trailing edges of the wing feathers end in flat pointed blades. Its legs are the same dark color while its talons, beak, and eyes are a lighter shiny gray. The sturdy beak is about two inches long and curved slightly downward like a sabre. Its toes are essentially the same, except half the size.
Sabird are a pretty common sight in Ilona, never living too far from most human settlements. They get along well with others of their species and often form flocks to roost, hunt, and travel. They're energetic and scrappy, hopping around on the ground and often seeming to fly with a "hopping" motion while fighting or attacking. A Sabird's opening move will often be to barrel into a target from the air, slashing with its razor-like wings. However, neither its metal blades nor its fighting form are fully developed. Sabird's moves include Jab, Leer, Growl, Peck, Metal Sound, Gust, Mirror Shot, Swords Dance, Slash, Feather Dance, Autotomize, Aerial Ace, Steel Wing, Smart Strike, Roost, Sky Attack, and Edge Grind.
Route 51 is a straightforward route that proceeds directly westward from Guardian Forest. It is forested at either end, but the majority of the terrain is broad, grassy savanna that extends downward from the heart of Ilona. One can find a good variety of Trainers here but overall the Route is not heavily populated.
 
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Typhlosion

Heart and Soul
Moderator
Rainbow Rocket Executive
Join Date
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Posts
2,559
Location
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AKA
Ben, A_T
Gender
Male
Time Zone
US Central (GMT -6:00)
3DS FC
2724-0144-2557
IGN
Ben
Every last one of the Foria City Gym Trainers stands together in a clump off to one side of the stage. Those who aren't panting or wiping their brows are staring with a mixture of awe and apprehension at the lone figure in the center of the stage. She's got her arms crossed moodily, a pout simmering on her face, and a pair of proud but weary Pokémon flanking her.

"I beat every last one of you!" Opal whines. "I SQUASHED you. Doesn't that count for anything? Can't one of you just give me a Gym Badge already?!"

An Idol, the most senior of the group, straightens her shoulders. "I'm afraid it doesn't work like that. Only the Gym Leader is authorized to distribute the Gym Badge. That's Pokémon League standard procedure. We're not allowed to be in possession of any Gym Badges, aside from ones we may have earned, even if we wanted to give you one."

"What am I supposed to do, then?!" the frustrated challenger seethes. "How long do I have to wait?"

The Idol hesitates. Before she can formulate a response, the Rich Boy who was the first person to battle approaches her. He whispers something in her ear and the two have a rapid, hushed conversation. He retreats to a corner of the hall, pulling out a Pokégear as he does so, and the Idol faces Opal once more. "We'll contact the Gym Leader for you. If she is willing to grant you an audience, you will be able to battle her today."

"She'd better be willing," Opal glowers. The girl hops nimbly to the velvet-carpeted floor and sprawls into one of the plush theater seats. Her Pokémon duly follow; Zebrun boosts Cygwet into the seat next to Opal before lying down at her feet himself.

This action is met by a surprised blink from the Idol. "You're going to stay here? Don't you want to go to the Pokémon Center and give your Pokémon an opportunity to rest? They look tired, and you can expect to be waiting at least an hour or two."

Opal shoots her a look from under the brim of her cap. "My Pokémon are resting, in case you hadn't noticed. Plus, they're strong. They'll be fine."

The more experienced Trainer opens her mouth as if to retort, apparently thinks better of it, and turns away with only a sigh. She disappears backstage along with her companions; left to her own devices, Opal scrunches down more firmly in her chair and begins to nod off.

Opal rockets upward through the air with wisps of cloud streaming past her. She spreads her arms and legs to halt herself and looks down. Far beneath her, the entire world is laid out, a patchwork of green, blue, and white. No longer moving, she instead begins to fall, being pulled away backward at an impossible rate. She follows the curve of the planet, spiraling gradually inwards towards the center, but when the passes the equator she is greeted by a sprawling black plain, utterly flat and void. Opal gasps at the way an entire planet could be cut in half, leaving only a hemisphere. Still she is pulled in towards the very middle; her feet land with a thump on the underside of the world, a hard yet undetectable surface. She peers down and makes out a Poké Ball beneath her feet: undeniably Wymer's, though it lacks any distinguishing marks. Opal flips upside down to grab for it desperately, but it recedes out of her reach into the black depths. As it slowly gyrates, becoming smaller and smaller with each turn, a slow crushing pulse like the heartbeat of a star sets up in Opal's ears. The pounding noises becomes sharper and more rapid. A ring of faceless men and women dressed in gray rises up out of the darkness in place of the Poké Ball; the noise resolves into their mocking applause.

Opal's eyes fly open with a start but the hideous tapping continues. She hastily pushes herself up from her reclined position in the chair, her gaze riveted on a pair of cream-colored high heels walking across the stage. The staccato beat stops when they do, and Opal only looks up when their owner begins to speak.

"Rouse yourself!" the exquisitely dressed middle-aged woman cries in an operatic tone. "I am here! Welcome to the Foria City Pokémon Gym. I am the Gym Leader here, Magnolia Rose!"

The announcement fires Opal's whole body; she jumps to her feet along with her Pokémon. "About time! Hurry up and let's get started! I have a Gym Badge to win!"

"Tsk tsk," the Rich Boy wags a disapproving finger. "Ms. Aspen has graciously agreed to accept your challenge on one of her rest days. Please try to display whatever manners you possess."

Off to the side, the two Lasses pout as well. One says, "You should be grateful!" In unison the other adds, "Don't be so ungrateful!" Magnolia Rose merely crosses her arms with a thoughtful expression.

Opal sticks her nose in the air. "I get it, yeah." She turns back to finally look her next opponent in the eye. "Let's get this show on the road."

"But of course," the Gym Leader says with a small bow. She flicks her hands at some of her pupils, who hurry to man control booths on either side of the stage. A series of spotlights illuminates a path from the seating up to the second tiered stage on the right-hand side of the stage apron. "Just follow the lights," the Idol indicates.

In the few second that Opal takes to comply, she loses track of the Gym Leader and the woman disappears. Suddenly all the lights in the house go dim, replaced by a single honey-gold spotlight beaming on the highest tier. Magnolia Rose slowly rises into view from underneath the stage, accompanied by the trills and aerial displays of two bird Pokémon. The spotlight tracks them as they step majestically down the successive tiers. When the Gym Leader takes her place opposite Opal, all the lights flare to life once more. "The curtain rises, challenger! I hope you're ready!" She takes out a Poké Ball from a fold of her dress.

"More ready than you'll believe," Opal mutters with gritted teeth.

The Idol takes her place as referee. "Is a three-on-three battle acceptable?"

"No," Opal replies curtly. "I only have two Pokémon."

The Idol can't help rolling her eyes, while Magnolia Rose frowns at the Poké Ball in her hand. "It seems you won't be getting a turn this time after all." She returns it still frowning.

"In that case this will be a 2-on-2 battle," the Idol states. "Please choose your Pokémon."

"Set the tempo, dear Oscry!" The larger, fiercer-looking of the Gym Leader's two Pokémon flaps forward.

"You're up, Zebrun," Opal orders.

"Battle...begin!"

The commands fly thick and fast between the two Trainers. Opal's are terse and irritated next to the poise and elegance of Magnolia Rose but neither is backing down.

"Find your range, Oscry," the Gym Leader coos. "Leer!"

Zebrun cowers in the glare from Oscry's eyes, eliciting a snarl from Opal. "That's not like you, Zebrun! Double Kick!"

Oscry deftly counters each hit with well-timed Wing Attacks. Its grounded opponent, at a loss against an airborne target, leaps up repeatedly with futile Headbutts. Oscry's piercing Leer follows Zebrun back to the ground each time.

"You'll have to come down from there and fight us eventually!" Opal rants. "But until you do...Agility!" Zebrun, looking energized by the prospect of finally doing something, races in circles until its muscles are quivering with power. Oapl relaxes slightly into a grin. "Now get up there and let them taste Stomp!"

Zebrun leaps far higher than its previous attempts, but even as it brings down a crushing blow towards Oscry the bird Pokemon darts out of the way with blinding speed. Unfazed, the quadruped follows through and drops firmly to the floor on its front two hooves, the back two raised to strike again.

"Seismic TOOOOSSSSSSSSSS!" Magnolia Rose's voice sharpens into a pure tone so high-pitched it sends shivers down the onlookers' spines.

After dodging Stomp, Oscry had looped around in a circle to its Trainer's side. Still propelled by the speed of its Quick Attack, Oscry sweeps in low right under Zebrun's exposed belly, extending its muscular wings at the last second to knock Zebrun's front legs from under it. The Normal-type's eyes bug out as it collapses squarely onto Oscry's back, who immediately pushes off from the floor to accelerate into the air. Having ascended nearly to the height of the ceiling, Oscry flips backward, throws Zebrun off its back, and immediately whirls in midair to deal its falling opponent a savage kick. Sped along by the blow, Zebrun can do nothing to save itself as it hurtles to the earth with a crunch. Oscry flaps down to stand in front of Magnolia Rose; it's slightly out of breath but otherwise appears unharmed.

"Zebrun is unable to battle! Oscry is the winner!" comes the Idol's ruling.

Opal's face goes blank. Mechanically she extends Zebrun's Poké Ball and recalls him without a word. She looks down at Cygwet on her right and jerks her arm forward to indicate that he should take the field.

"A moment before we resume, please," Magnolia Rose asks of her referee. In her hands she's holding a strange device, one Opal's never seen before, halfway between a laptop comaputer and a Pokégear. The girl's surprise increases when Cygwet honks at the device, seemingly in recognition, and puffs himself up proudly. At a touch from the Gym Leader the thing unfolds on side hinges like a book, and an automated voice emanates from it. "Cygwet, the Feather Pokémon. A Water-type. Cygwet is not capable of flight, instead preferring to spend its time swimming on lakes and feasting on aquatic vegetation."

That thing...knows about my Pokémon! Opal is stunned. Even more than I do! What IS it??

The young Trainer has no time for questions; as quickly as she produced the device, Magnolia Rose is finished with it. "A cruel shame," she murmurs with theatrical despair. "Such a beautiful winged creature, not a Flying-type and unable to leave the land. Not like Fledgwet, its evolved form..." The Gym Leader envisions two silhouettes, one of Cygwet, and next to it a Pokémon similar in shape but larger and with graceful wings fully outstretched. "But in that case..." Oscry is recalled to his Trainer's side and Magnolia Rose's other Pokémon takes its place. "Enter, Trillark!"

Opal sizes up the new opponent. She hadn't expected the Gym Leader to make a substitution, but it appears to the challenger that the older woman may have made a miscalculation. Unlike Oscry, Trillark is certainly no bigger than Cygwet, and perhaps of slimmer build. Opal can already picture her own Pokémon overpowering its less hefty opponent, flight or no flight. "We can take them, Cygwet, easy."

At a nod from her master, the Idol raises her hands again.

"Resume the battle!"
Pronounced FLEJ-wet, from "fledge" or "fledgling" and "wet." A Water-type Stage 1 Pokémon and the evolved form of Cygwet.
Like its pre-evolved form, Fledgwet is based on the trumpeter swan, and represents the juvenile/young adult stage of life. Fledgwet is covered in proper feathers now, rather than downy fuzz; its head and neck are a very pale gray which gradually darkens moving down to its underside and along its body, where they give the impression of a stormcloud formation. From the base of its neck, two long ruffles of dark blue feathers extend over Fledgwet's back on either side of the spine, flaring out to their ends over its tail feathers. Its bill fades from coal black at the tip to marine blue at the base; the irises of its black eyes are also a very dark blue. Fledgwet's wings, pale gray like its head, have developed and lengthened significantly, but they are comparatively slim with short feathers.
This species has gained the capability of flight. However, it's rather awkward in the air and struggles to stay aloft during adverse conditions or fancy maneuvers. It will remain living around the same lake system where it grew up as a Cygwet. Still, Fledgwet are known for their diligence and will practice flying every day. They're also known to cheer on other members of their species during practice with loud honks and calls. Fledgwet's moves include Jab, Growl, Peck, Bubble, Gust, Water Sport, Bubble Beam, Fury Attack, Aerial Ace, Water Pulse, Squall, Hyper Voice, Feather Dance, Muddy Water, Sludge Wave, Air Slash, and Storm Press. Like Cygwet, its only standard Ability is Torrent, while its Hidden Ability is Wingbeats.
 

Typhlosion

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The excitement spreading across Magnolia Rose's face doesn't lessen by one bit her focus on the battle at hand. "You may be down, but only time will tell if you're out!" she encourages her challenger. "In the meantime you will follow...our lead!" She flings out a hand and Trillark launches into the air, heading straight for Cygwet. It pulls up sharply at the last second and unleashes a cry that sounds more like a full-voiced shout right in Cygwet's face; the startled Pokémon almost falls over backward in shock.

"Too close! Hey, stay with me, Cygwet," Opal snaps. "Bubble Beam!" The little gray-and-blue Pokémon, having recovered his balance, nevertheless blanches at his Trainer's command and does nothing. Trillark backpedals through the air, completely at ease. "He...he flinched!"

"What do you think of my Trillark's Astonish?" Magnolia Rose laughs. "Bubble Beam is an impressive move for your Cygwet to know. Maybe you'll get a chance to show it off for us!"

"She was...you were baiting us?!" Just to check what moves we have...judging our strength...she' something else! But sneaky tricks like that won't help her! We'll just power through! "Graaahhh, use Gust!" Cygwet pumps its down, using its stubby wings to direct the churning air currents towards Trillark.

"Crescendo, Trillark!" the Gym Leader orders with a twirl. Her Pokémon extends its wings and gains altitude by riding on the Gust. "And...match pitch...Twister!" The column of air between the two Pokémon begins to swirl even more violently, until the currents slowly reorient themselves to bear down on Cygwet. Crackles of energy complete the Dragon-type attack.

The move scores a direct hit; Cygwet shivers under the impact, but there's a glint in his eye and he doesn't give ground. Countless droplets of water are shaken into the air, creating a misty veil around him.

Magnolia Rose blinks. "Is that...Water Sport?"

"We fought a lot of Flying-types on our way to this moment," Opal crows. "Cygwet's gathered water into his feathers, so he's too heavy for Twister to hurt him."

"Trying to upstage us, eh? Well, perhaps. But after all, Trillark is best known for its voice!"

"And Cygwet is no Flying-type," Opal counters. "Water attacks are his specialty!" From the air and from the ground, an Echoed Voice and another Bubble Beam collide and cancel each other out. Trillark takes the opportunity to fly in low and fast once again. Opal's eyes narrow in concentration and frustration. "No more of that either...Fury Attack!"

It knows that move too?! Trillark rolls to its side at the last second, brushing past Cygwet. The Water-type lunges forward at the same time, sharp beak extended, but it misses its target by a hair. Too slow...I help my sister raise these Pokémon, so I know more about them than most: their strengths, weaknesses, growth patterns. This one is strong; it's level has been raised tremendously. The Trainer herself, on the other hand, not so much...I must finish this properly, but carefully.

On her end of the battlefield Opal is hopping mad at the slipperiness of her opponent. "Bubble Beam! Again! More! Hit it!!" Using the flexibility of his neck to his advantage, Cygwet turns over his shoulder and spits a massive Bubble Beam.

"Up!!" The command from the Gym Leader isn't in time for Trillark, who still had its back to Cygwet, to entirely avoid the move, and Bubble Beam explodes against one of Trillark's wings. The small bird Pokémon spirals with the momentum to recover well, but it looks decidedly disheveled. THIS POKÉMON'S ABILITY IS TORRENT. Magnolia Rose recalls the letter flashing on the Pokédex's screen. Suddenly she claps her hands, decisively, four times, marking out a tempo. "Let us...Sing!"

From the tight circle Trillark makes in the air, its melodious tones drift down toward the battlefield. Cygwet hops about as if to dodge, though its waterlogged fuzz weighs it down, and the effort is futile from the start. Its eyelids droop and it drags to a halt; an impressive snore marks its collapse to the ground.

"The final act!" Magnolia Rose trills. "The voice that echoes across the land...Echoed Voice!"

There's nothing Opal can do to stop it. The incessant, cacophonous waves of sound crash over her Pokémon like an incoming tide. The Trainer herself is not immune to their effects. Each successive Echoed Voice bears down on her until her knees are trembling and it's all she can do not to slide to the floor: they fill her mind with the terrifying, jeering sound of failure. Internally Opal wails.

From far away, a voice. "Cygwet is unable to battle! Trillark is the winner! That means the victory goes to the Gym Leader, Magnolia Rose!"

Finally Opal drops to her knees and slumps forward. "I...lost." Her own face stares back up at her from the highly polished stage: neutral, but with her eyes failing to hide the panic and distress. Something taps gently at her head; it's Cygwet, looking exhausted but peaceful. His Trainer has no words for him, only turning away and recalling him to his Poké Ball without another glance.

"Your Pokémon are superbly trained," a kind voice offers. The Gym Leader has advanced across the stage to stand in front of her defeated challenger.

"Then...why wasn't I able...to win your Badge?"

Magnolia Rose ponders this for a moment. "Is the Badge more important, or the battle that earns it?"

Opal looks up with wide eyes and stammers, "The...the Badge!"

"You and your Pokémon did not fight that battle together," the standing woman declares while emphatically shaking her head. "A victory--a Badge--would be worthless from this. You were arrogant and angry and failed to properly apply your gifts."

In a small voice Opal asks, almost rhetorically, "What am I supposed to do now?"

"Stand up," Magnolia Rose suggests bluntly while tapping her foot. When Opal does, the pose that greets her is strikingly familiar. A short woman little taller than herself, left arm crossed under the right, with the right hand holding out a thin, sleek high-tech device...one she recognizes.

"That's...whatever it is you used to learn about Cygwet!" It's more than that, though. There's something else familiar about this... She forces her memory to recall a similar image. "Just like when I got my Trainer Card!! You're...you're not...do you...know Professor Aspen?"

Magnolia Rose is speechless for a second before breaking into a hearty laugh. "Ahahahahaha! I thought you had guessed already! Sequoia Violet is my twin sister! She is the one who gave me this...the Pokédex!"

"I saw you use it during our battle," Opal reminds her. The girl is grudgingly curious in spite of herself. "But I don't know what a 'Pokédex' is."

The famous professor's sister gives a knowing smile. "It's a scientific marvel, developed, through years of work, by researchers all over the world! It contains detailed information, on every known species of Pokémon, and also, can tell you all about the characteristics of any individual Pokémon!"

Opal's mind is whirring. "So when you used it on Cygwet during our battle, you were gathering extra information about it! That's...cheating!"

The Gym Leader sighs wearily. "I wanted to know more about your Pokémon, yes, to see how you had raised it. That is ultimately how the Pokédex is meant to be used: a tool for Trainers to unite themselves more closely with their Pokémon, to be able to work together better, and to achieve greater things as equals. What does this mean...to YOU?"

Opal isn't even surprised that Magnolia Rose seemed to know to ask that question; she's too concerned with how it did, in fact, touch something inside her. "I want...more than anything...to be united with Pokémon. That's the whole point of me going on this journey, so that I can unite myself with my partner."

"That's exactly it. It gives me joy to hear you say so," is the warm response. Magnolia Rose's almost jovial tone belies the weight of her words. "Regardless of whether or not I used the Pokédex, I'm afraid, you would not have won that battle. Once it is yours, however, you will win many more: not only for the knowledge it gives, you understand, but for the lessons you will be able to take away from it." Once more she holds the Pokédex towards Opal.

The novice Trainer takes a step backward. "You're...giving your Pokédex to me? Why??"

This elicits another peal of laughter. "It's not my Pokédex, dear, but being the twin of a renowned professor lets you, get your hands on things sometimes! Sequoia Violet, as I'm sure you know, is responsible for Pokémon League registrations and starter Pokémon distribution as well as her own research. As of now only two Pokédexes have been produced for use in the Ilona region! One was already given to a boy who began his journey with a Limberjax. My sister gave me this Pokédex and told me to be on the lookout for a young girl who had a Cygwet with her. When my pupils contacted me with news of a strong challenger who had such a Pokémon, I was sure it must be you. You can be sure I wouldn't have been so quick to accept your challenge otherwise! I value my days off!"

Opal nods slowly, taking some time to adjust to the idea. "So really it's my Pokédex?" Doubt creeps onto her face. "Truthfully I'm still really new to being a Trainer. I know I don't have everything figured out yet. What am I supposed to do with it?"

"Why, only continue what you've been doing. The journey of being a Trainer will go as far as you do. The Pokédex is meant for adventure. Goodness knows with my concerts and Gym battles and helping my sister, I don't have time for that anymore. You have to go and make it your own!"

A tool...to achieve greater things. The words are lodged in Opal's mind. With this...I can do it. This is really my answer! Full of new confidence she accepts the Pokédex from Magnolia Rose, flips it open as she saw the woman do during their battle, and grabs the Ultra Ball from her belt. "Let's try it on you, then!"

"Please, let it rest after its hard work," Magnolia Rose chides. She reaches around Opal's shoulder to press a button on the Pokédex's screen. An additional flat tray with a shallow round depression in its center slides out from the bottom. Opal sees that it's the size of a Poké Ball and places Zebrun's Ultra Ball there.

After a faint click and a hum, information begins scrolling over the main screen. "Zebrun, the Running Pokémon. A Normal-type. Running every day is what keeps this docile, dependable Pokémon both happy and healthy. It does not tolerate cold conditions well."

"Incredible," breathes Opal, and she isn't only talking about the device's functionality. "I never knew that about you, Zebrun," the fainted Pokémon's Trainer admits. She fondly tosses his Ultra Ball in her hand a couple times. She puts away the Pokédex inside her jacket and turns to face Magnolia Rose earnestly. "Thanks...thanks for the battle. And the Pokédex. I never expected that, but I really know what you mean about it. And" --she's truly beaming now--"I'm going to do it! Really!" Waving goodbye, she bounds off the stage and makes for the exit. A call from behind checks her progress, however.

The Rich Boy calls to Opal with a chuckle, "We'll expect you back here tomorrow, then? We all heard you say how important it is to win a Badge. Care for another shot?"

This innocent question momentarily puts the brakes on Opal's newfound energy. "Well...I, uh...I've got the Pokédex now, don't I?"

By this time the Gym Leader has made her way, at a more serene pace, off the stage. "The Pokédex by itself won't do you much good at Carnelian Plateau. That's why most Trainers seek to earn Badges, no?"

"Not exactly," Opal is forced to explain. "I just wanted it because I thought...well...that it might somehow help me get through Guardian Forest.
I know, I KNOW it's blocked off, but it's really important to me that I can get through and keep moving!"

Magnolia Rose has got her head cocked to one side. "Is that all you want? To get through the forest? But you have a Cygwet with you, one that even knows Fury Attack."

It's Opal's turn to look very confused. "What does that have anything to do with it?"

"Why, it means that your Cygwet, is close to evolving! When it does, its wings will grow, and with a good effort it will be able to carry you, clean over the forest and wherever you wish beyond that! I will help the two of you to train. Cygwet and its evolution are not Flying-types, but I can teach you both what you need to know. I'm sure my sister would appreciate it."

Excitement wipes away Opal's confusion. "Then what are we waiting for?! Let's practice some more battling right now!" She begins to sprint back in the direction of the stage. Magnolia Rose innocently slides out one foot, tripping the enthusiastic girl and sending her sprawling. "Ughhh...why'd you do that," Opal mumbles in a daze. The sight of the Gym Leader looming over her snaps her back to her senses. She's obviously passionate about her own sort of work, but now...even in these differently-colored eyes belonging to someone on a very different path...I see the same kind of passion that Professor Aspen had for Pokémon research. No doubt they're sisters.

"You," Magnolia Rose orders imperiously, "are going straight to the Pokémon Center to allow your valiant Pokémon to be healed. Come back tomorrow morning; some of my assistants will meet you in the plaza."

The next day breaks clear and balmy, just like all the others during Opal's time in Foria City. The streets are still swathed in the shadows of the tall buildings when she arrives outside the Gym. The two Lasses wave her over; when Opal approaches them they squeal as one, "You're so lucky to be able to train personally with the Gym Leader!" They lead her around the side of the building and down another vibrant city street, one that's new to Opal.

"Here we are!" they announce not too much later. Opal cranes her neck to take in the sight of one of the tallest buildings in the city.

Moments later, she's instead peering down from the roof of the very same building. It's been converted into a small open-air garden, complete with a fountain and open grassy lawns. Magnolia Rose is waiting for them when they arrive.

"Isn't it grand?" she trills while throwing her arms wide. "So close to the sky! The playful breezes that blow through Foria City are at their freest in this spot. So, bring out your Pokémon, and we shall begin!" She herself summons Oscry.

Opal doesn't hesitate to fling a Poké Ball of her own. "Up and at 'em, Cygwet!" As soon as he appears, the eager little Pokémon waddles as fast as he can to the circular stone fountain. Finding himself too short to hop onto the ledge that rings the water feature, he alternates between honking in frustration and shooting pleading looks in Opal's direction. His Trainer can't hold down laughter in spite of herself. "We're here to focus on flying," she informs him while waving him over to her side. "You're already plenty good at swimming!"

"Oscry is a species known for its powerful flight muscles," Magnolia Rose begins once the two Trainers and their Pokémon are gathered together. "Cygwet, please, pay close attention and observe how she holds her wings!" Oscry plants her taloned feet and settles down into a ready position, wings raised. Cygwet hops about diligently, observing from every angle. A large gust of wind rolls over the building and Oscry's eyes narrow. The wind ruffles her feathers and lifts at her wings, as if trying to tease her into the sky. With a screech Oscry runs forward several paces before lofting effortlessly into the air. The skilled bird Pokémon pulls a tight loop and lands back on the grass by her Trainer.

"Pretty cool, huh, Cygwet?" Opal applauds. "Ready to try it for yourse--"

Nearly bursting with excitement, Cygwet doesn't need any encouragement to try for himself. Before Opal is finished speaking he's adopted the same stance as Oscry. His small fuzzy wings are hardly impressive next to Oscry's, but he runs into the wind with the same determination and jumps into the air. Cygwet promptly crashes in a heap, coming up with several grass stains for his trouble.

"A little off pitch," Magnolia Rose winces, "but the melody, is there! Again, from the top!"

Several more attempts, however, yield only the same painful result. Cygwet looks totally disheveled by this point, with a downcast expression to match. "It's okay, Cygwet," Opal murmurs while reaching down to lift him into her arms. "You'll get it sooner or later. But hey, all the wind up here must be drying out your feathers." She ruffles his down with a hand to make sure. "There's hardly any moisture in there at all! How about you take a break?" She jogs a few paces to deposit him in the fountain he couldn't reach earlier.

"Look at that--better already!" Opal chuckles. Cygwet gives himself a shake to fluff up his down, which has taken on a more refreshed, vibrant hue.
His Trainer remarks, "I can practically see you absorbing the water. Now you're just the way you're supposed to be." It's true: each individual, tiny tuft seems coated with its own thin film of water, giving Cygwet's whole body a shimmery appearance. The Water-type swims a few circular laps around the fountain, going faster and faster with each one. "Pace yourself, Cygwet, you've still got lots of flight practice to do!" Opal cautions.

Cygwet gives her a funny look. He glides smoothly to a stop in front of her and hops out of the fountain to stand on the stone bench. Another breath of wind whips at Opal's loose brown hair. Cygwet lifts his wings and jumps as high as he can, once, then twice.

Over Opal's shoulder, Magnolia Rose gasps. The girl turns and begins to question, "What's the m--"

"Watch!"

Opal whips back around just in time to see. Both the luminous veil around Cygwet and the water itself that coats him surge outward, drowning the Pokémon in the depths of a fierce blue light. It contracts suddenly, bending itself around a new form, before dissipating in one last painfully bright flare and a rushing noise like breaking glass. A new Pokémon stands where Cygwet just stood.

"You must be..."

"Fledgwet!" Magnolia Rose interjects. "Marvelous! Perfect! You did it!"

"Hah!" Opal cheers. "Who can't fly now, eh, Fledgwet!" As if to prove it, the newly-evolved Pokémon extends his broad gray wings and explodes into the air. "Woo-hoo!!" his Trainer whoops from the ground. With her running to follow his progress as best she can, Fledgwet soars out over the edge of the building, borne up by the warm air rising from the city, and makes a wide turn back. When he lands, Opal is at his side in an instant. "You must be twice as tall now as you were before!"

"Thank you, Oscry, you may return," Magnolia Rose says to her Pokémon. She crosses her arms in satisfaction. "I told you Cygwet was close to evolving, did I not? Fledgwet may not be a Flying-type Pokémon but it can fly all the same. No forest will stand in your way! But please, be careful," she continues. "You are both still young, and growing, with many things left to learn. Don't be foolish...and look after your Trainer," she quips, scratching Fledgwet on the crown of his head.

"I trust my Pokémon, and they trust me," Opal asserts. "Ask anyone back home in Quembar Town and they'll tell you I don't always play it safe. Still, in my eyes there's a fine line between being foolish..and taking life head on! Ready?"

While she was talking, Fledgwet lofted up to the peak of the fountain. At his Trainer's signal he takes off, following a path that will take him directly over Opal's head. The girl runs for the railing that surrounds the edge of the tall building. "There's no time like the present! There's not a second to lose, so we won't lose any at all! HERE...WE...COME!"

Without breaking stride Opal leaps with one foot onto the metal fence. Fledgwet passes by overhead at that exact moment. Opal wraps her hands firmly around his thin black legs. Fledgwet can handle this, no doubt. He's still got the power of evolution buzzing through him, and the Gym Leader practically said so herself that there's no better place in the city...to fly! Fledgwet wobbles just a moment in the air but soon levels out, gliding as swift and sure as an arrow toward the northeast, and the lands beyond Guardian Forest.

Magnolia Rose remains behind in the garden, speechless and with shock painted on her face. While she stares blankly over the city in the direction taken by airborne traveler, a faint call drifts to her on the wind. "THAAAAANK YOUUUUUU!"
Nothing new for the Index!
 

Typhlosion

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Guardian Forest: Where watchful spirits are said to lurk among the ancient, tangled trees, a wooden signpost reads.

Amethyst trails his hand along the cool, mossy bark of the gnarled oaks clustered around him. He strides resolutely along the uneven but well-defined path, musing about his encounter with Opal in Foria City. Her Cygwet and Zebrun would hate it in here. Huh, she'd better not try it. He hops over a low boulder sunk into the ground, appearing for all the world not to have a single Pokémon of his own, and glances moodily at the dark forest canopy. I've barely been walking for two hours since meeting her; I can't be near the heart of the forest, and it's already this thick. It'll be a miracle if I don't get lost.

A pale, lithe shape flashes through the branches above Amethyst's head. The boy's glittering eyes narrow, but he merely huffs before turning his attention back to his footsteps. Ahead, the path curves sharply to the right, bending around an especially wide tree. Amethyst's eyes are still down while he picks his way gingerly over the knobbly roots snaking over the ground, but when he rounds the bend he freezes suddenly. Where did this cold come from? A clammy chill fills the air and Amethyst shivers involuntarily.

From somewhere not too far ahead, a triumphant shout rings through the forest. Amethyst jumps in surprise, causing his foot to slip on a root; he wobbles frantically and then crashes heavily to the dirt. With a loud clack, a Poké Ball on his belt slams into the ground and disgorges its occupant. Sincle bobs expectantly in the air over the place where Amethyst lays. Hissing in disgust, Amethyst yanks on his Pokémon's tentacle. "Get down! And who the hell shouted like that?"

The boy raises his head and blinks in surprise when he notes a broad yet sheltered clearing in front of him. "Come on, let's have a look." Dragging Sincle along with him, Amethyst army crawls a few meters over the carpet of moss to a low clump of bushes marking the edge of the clearing. "Who on earth...?" he mutters.

A half dozen or so adult figures are ranged around the clearing, with all their attention focused on something at the far end not immediately apparent to Amethyst. He's reminded forcibly of Team Bullet, for the simple reason that all of these people are wearing matching uniforms too. Amethyst dredges up all the details he can remember of the people he encountered outside Professor Aspen's lab to compare them mentally with this new group, but quickly realizes that the similarities don't go very far. The members of Team Bullet seemed to be consistently of a short, stocky build compared to the tall, trim strangers in the clearing. The uniforms themselves are also polar opposites. Those now in front of Amethyst place their emphasis on comfort and elegance, lacking the rugged air of Team Bullet. Their boat shoes, hakama pants, and cossack shirts are a crisp, unabashed white, reinforced by lilac accents. A sharp letter-L motif, also in lilac, is displayed on everyone's right breast, as well as on the broad white bandanna each person wears like a sweatband. The overall impression is one of cool authority.

"Wish I could tell what they're saying," Amethyst muses, "but with all this forest noise..." Though he lays as still as possible to minimize the rustling of his bush, he can't stop the wind tousling the rest of the forest, and the only words that reach his ears are indistinct. "I'll have to...ah!" Amethyst risks movement to push himself quickly to his knees; at that same moment, two of the men in the clearing step forward, providing a clear line of sight past them. There's another person there, but that woman isn't wearing the uniform like they are! In fact, they're all around her, even blocking the other side of the path...it looks like she's trapped. Her and...her Pokémon! Sure enough, a small snow-white Pokémon is floating in the air by the woman's shoulder, looking just as harassed as its Trainer. I ought to recognize that species, Amethyst berates himself, I know I've seen it before. Think...where...?

His face is screwed up in concentration, but the tic on his forehead shows that it quickly morphs to irritation. "Now is not the time, Sincle," Amethyst growls under his breath. He reaches around an arm to tug at the Water/Psychic Pokémon, who has wrapped its one tentacle playfully around its Trainer's waist. "I'm trying to concentrate on...on..." Amethyst blinks. His sudden motion reminds him of a weight in his vest, caused by something to which he hadn't given much thought in a while. Mechanically, he reaches a hand into the vest's front pocket and withdraws the Pokédex. "This thing can tell me," he marvels. As surreptitiously as possible, Amethyst peers up over the bush, flips open the Pokédex, and aims it into the clearing.

"Crystail, the Frost Pokémon. An Ice-type. Dwelling in northern latitudes, this Pokémon relies on its secretive nature and ability to dazzle enemies with ice crystals to protect its frail body."

"Of course," Amethyst gasps. "An Ice-type Pokémon from the north. That explains the cold mist: put out by that distressed Crystail." He's thrown into a flashback...I was much younger then. We all went with Amber on a trip to the mountains in the north of Ilona, to go skiing. I got separated, lost...there were lots of Pokémon but they wouldn't help me. I remember there being Crystail, but they flashed lights at me to blind me and created mist and hail to make me lose my way even more. Boulderode found me but I could have died...The twelve-year-old boy of the present shudders. "I still hate the cold." He notices the Pokédex is shaking in his hand and still open; he hastily stows it away. "That's not going to stop me from getting that Pokémon out of danger, though."

Amethyst risks another careful hopping motion to get in a crouching position behind the bush. As he does, out of the corner of his eye he notices a shape dropping out of the massive tree to land right behind him. He rises cautiously to his feet and turns around. "Oh, good, it's y--aahh!"

An unknown figure gives Amethyst a sharp shove, sending him over the bushes to sprawl on his back in the clearing with a groan. "But...I..." Amethyst's assailant steps carefully over the low bushes into the light of the clearing. "What...! One of you guys?!"

"Yes, one of 'us guys'," the tall, white-uniformed man smiles thinly. "What surprises me is that you seemed to be expecting someone else. But...who could...no." His gaze becomes briefly unfocused as he gazes around the clearing. "Take a look, little boy. We plan our operations carefully; no one could be here to help you without us noticing them and...detaining them." The defiance blazing in Amethyst's eyes doesn't go unnoticed, and the man lets out a laugh as cold as his smile. "Take a look around, then. I have no reason to lie to you."

From his position on the ground, Amethyst begrudgingly twists his shoulders to sweep his eyes around the clearing. Gah, he's right, the young Trainer is forced to conclude. More of them in branches all around the clearing...another half dozen up there, on top of the six I first saw in the clearing. His eyes also flick over toward the trapped woman and her Crystail. They don't look as though they've been harmed, anyway. I wonder if they can fight.

"You see?" the man asks conversationally. "So let's proceed to what we're going to do with you now that you're here. Squad Leader!" he barks suddenly, springing to a salute and causing Amethyst to jump. This action appears to function as both address and summons, for an equally tall white-uniformed woman steps away from the main group to approach the man in front of Amethyst. He reports, "I observed this child spying on us just now. He is in possession of the objective."

"Excellent work." The Squad Leader scrutinizes Amethyst closely. Though still in a sitting position on the damp forest floor, Amethyst scoots himself around to stare belligerently back at her. "I can see something of why an item so valuable was entrusted to an inexperienced weakling like you..." she murmurs. Amethyst starts up furiously at these words, but a weak burble from below him recalls his attention. "Oh, and there's his Pokémon too." Sincle, who had stayed with its Trainer when he was shoved into the clearing, is now huddled in the crook of Amethyst's arm with its tentacle curled around itself. "A Water-type, eh?" the woman purrs appreciatively. "We do have our orders, but that may be useful for our designs as well. Alright," she orders, "retrieval procedures! You and you!" She gestures at two especially sharp-looking members of her squad in the middle of the clearing. The Poké Balls on their belts don't escape Amethyst's attention; not everyone in the clearing has them. "We'll have need of your reinforcements. One of you keep an eye on her"--she indicates the woman with the Crystail--"and the other one, with me."

The two men snicker as they head in their opposite directions, and each releases a pair of Pokémon. All four are the same species, one Amethyst recognizes this time. Echimber...Fire-types. This could make things difficult.

At a motion from their Trainer, the two Echimber assigned to Amethyst approach him on either side. Most of the white-uniformed people have drifted over to their Squad Leader's position, forming a ring all around Amethyst. The woman at his feet orders imperiously, "Now, hand over your Pokédex!"

"Tchah!" Amethyst spits. "Never!"

The woman does not seem at all perturbed by this, but merely inclines her head.

Out of nowhere, Amethyst flinches and swears, curling up to clutch a burn mark on his left hand.

The Squad Leader's eyes flash. "There!" she shouts. One of her men pushes Amethyst roughly back down and flips open the left side of his vest.
The inside pocket holding the Pokédex is plain for all to see; the man retrieves it and holds it aloft like a trophy. "I've got it, Squad Leader!"

Amethyst goes limp with shock. "But--how...argh, my hand..." He's lying flat on his back with his arms over his chest. "I can feel the place where the Pokédex used to be..." Suddenly he sees everything play out in his mind's eye. When she demanded the Pokédex, she must have known I wouldn't give it to her. But she knew I would protect it...my hand, involuntarily, went right over its pocket, so they knew where it was. Then Echimber burned me, to distract me...a simple Ember would have done the trick. Gah, I'm so STUPID! He comes back to the present to see the Squad Leader still standing over him. Channeling all his frustration into his voice he growls, "That's...mine."

"I know it is," the woman responds languidly. "Which is why we have a second Echimber. Oh, and it looks like its job is done!" The one on Amethyst's right is letting out excited snuffling sounds and bumping its snout against an outer pocket of the bag slung over the boy's back. The Squad Leader motions another woman forward; she stoops to rummage in the pocket indicated by the Echimber and pulls out Amethyst's Rhythm Badge. She hands this as well to her superior, who remarks, "So, you do have a Gym Badge. Perhaps this is why you didn't like it earlier when I called you an inexperienced weakling, hmm? Unfortunately, I was still right, and what little strength you have belongs to us." Her smile twists into a leer, and she breaks eye contact with Amethyst to look at Sincle. "We've accomplished our primary mission, but it would be a shame to neglect such a useful specimen. Bring up the EMP!"

A man approaches her side toting something that looks like a small weedwacker, but with only a thick metal disc on the end. "Lowest setting," the Squad Leader orders. "And...fire."

A wave of static ripples through the air, making Amethyst's skin tingle. "No!!" he yells, grabbing for his belt, but it's too late. Charged by the electromagnetic pulse, Sincle's Poké Ball disengages with a click and flies through the air toward the Squad Leader's waiting hand.
Pronounced CHRIS-tail, from crystal and tail. An Ice-type Basic Pokémon.
Crystail is based loosely on an ice worm, and its design also centers around a flagellum. Its skinny, fusiform body is entirely white except for a formation of three grayish crystals arranged like a leaf fan on the front of its blunt, rounded head. Crystail's pale blue eyes are sunk into shallow indents on either side of its head; its mouth is a mere slit. Its sides aren't smooth and rounded like the rest of its body, but rather made of angular bumps like crumpled paper. Below this on either side runs a row of small, puffy spiracles; Crystail has no legs and thus floats in the air. Crystail's white tail is its most notable feature for being twice as long as its main body, and nearly as thick around. The tail tapers to a smooth point and possesses considerable strength.
This Pokémon is elusive and cautious, but it can be quite companionable towards people who gain its trust. It propels itself through the air, and defends itself when necessary, by lashing and twirling its muscular tail. It gains energy by concentrating the sunlight that refracts through its faceted sides and by drawing in air through its spiracles. These spiracles can also be used to expel the air as freezing wind. Crystail can have Levitate as an Ability. Its moves include Tackle, Growl, Tail Whip, Mist, Aurora Beam, Detect, Glimmer Cloak, Icy Wind, Hail, Aurora Veil, Weather Ball, Frost Breath, Icy Touch, Skitter, Clear Sky, Morning Sun, Dazzling Gleam, Ice Beam, and Icicle Crash.
A Fairy-type status move with priority of 0. Glimmer Cloak raises the user's Special Defense by two stages.
An Ice-type status move with priority of 0 and accuracy of 55%. Icy Touch inflicts the Frozen status condition on the target.
A physical-based Bug-type attack with power of 60, accuracy of 100%, and priority of 0. Before doing damage, the user copies any stat stage modifications to the target's Speed stat.
A Normal-type status move with priority of 0. Clear Sky removes the current weather condition.
Pronounced eh-KIM-ber, from echidna and ember. A Fire-type Basic Pokémon.
Echimber is based specifically on the species called the short-beaked echidna. It goes on four legs and is about 8 inches tall, with a chubby body covered in fuzzy dark brown hair. Its feet and underbelly are a chalky red color, separated from the brown by a jagged line. Its feet are all broad and flat with four ash-gray large blunt claws apiece, but the front two are much bigger than the back two. Its thin round snout is the same gray color, while its eyes are brown and beady. Echimber has sharp quills all over its back; they are tallest around its neck, forming a ruff, and shrink towards the back of its body. The quills are mainly red as well, but have blackened tips.
Echimber make their homes among the sunbaked cliffs and scrublands of Ilona's east-central coastal region. They use their powerful digging claws to escape predators and make burrows. Clusters of a few individuals will sometimes share a burrow, but otherwise Echimber are solitary creatures. Along with their claws, they can defend themselves by rolling up to display their spines, or by cloaking their spines in fire that issues from many tiny pores on their backs to make themselves appear bigger. On cold or wet days, though, they struggle to produce any fire. These Pokémon do not readily display much emotion or aggressiveness. If challenged, Echimber will battle unflinchingly until it has won the battle or it find itself becoming overwhelmed, in which case it will flee. Echimber's moves include Tackle, Ember, Growl, Defense Curl, Pursuit, Lick, Odor Sleuth, Bide, Flame Wheel, Rollout, Flame Burst, Assurance, Power Spike, Heat Shard, Dig, Sucker Punch, Inferno, Spiky Shield, and Crush Claw.
 
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Typhlosion

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Only the playful caress of a breeze on the leaves disturbs the stillness and silence of the forest canopy. The image of tranquility is not broken by the scampering of a small forest-dwelling Pokémon as it makes its way along a thick limb. Where a few beams of sunlight manage to pierce the greenery, the Limberjax darts out to the very end of a branch and pokes its head out inquisitively over the clearing below.

Many people dressed in white are surrounding a dark-clothed boy on the ground. Limberjax takes little notice of the indistinct chatter that drifts up to it, but suddenly its ears are pressed back in pain as a grating, high-pitched whine blasts through the air. Squeaking frantically, the little Steel-type identifies the source of the noise as something one of the white-uniformed men is holding. At the same moment, Limberjax registers a strange force tugging at its body. Its green-and-gray fur ripples unnaturally, and its tiny, sharp claws are losing their grip on the tree bark. It's that unfamiliar metal rod again. Eyes roiling with righteous anger, Limberjax gives in to the magnetic pull and launches itself furiously from the tree.

Amethyst can't tell whether he, the Squad Leader, or any of of the other white-suits is more surprised when Limberjax rockets out of the sky like a furry missile. He manages to tackle Sincle's Poké Ball straight out of the path of the EMP and lands at Amethyst's side, leaving the Squad Leader with a dumbstruck look on her face and her empty hand still outstretched in midair. "Took you long enough," Amethyst mutters to his starter Pokémon as he takes back Sincle's Poké Ball, but there's gratitude on his face. "COME ON!" he roars at his persecutors as he suddenly springs to his feet, startling them even more. "Limberjax, go distract the ones guarding that Crystail, hurry. And Sincle--"

"Flame Burst!" A harsh voice cuts across Amethyst's order. The tall sneering man, the Echimber's Trainer, seems to have recovered from his shock a bit more quickly than his fellows. The fireball explodes across Limberjax, knocking it off its feet, but a spark of the leaping fire lands on Sincle as well and goads it to rise up in Limberjax's place.

"--Sincle, take out these Echimber with Bubble Beam! One here and one behind you!" The individual who attacked Limberjax goes down in one hit, but as Trainer and Pokémon pivot together to take on the second one, a small dark shape flies by right in front of them. Sincle wobbles in midair; Amethyst drops to his knees to catch it before it hits the ground. "What was that?" he snarls, looking to his right, where a third Echimber stares innocently back. "More?! You guys are here too?" Amethyst looks back the other way and finds the second Trainer under the Squad Leader's command looming over him.

The man laughs. "That's right! You may have thought your Sincle had an advantage--which I can't entirely deny--but it's a Psychic-type as well as a Water-type, which makes it weak to my Echimber's Dark-type attacks! Like Sucker Punch!"

"Damn you, I'll 'sucker punch' you"--Amethyst kicks his legs around in an arc, sweeping the man to the ground with a yell of pain and surprise--"HAH!"

The move spins him back around to face the center of the clearing. At that moment the Squad Leader, who had jumped back when the scuffle broke out, runs back up with most of her squad behind her. She spares a look of unadulterated loathing for Amethyst, but directs her words at the collapsed Trainer. "Come on, we're leaving, we've got what we came for--get up!!" She barks over her shoulder at the one guard still standing by the Trainer and her Crystail, "You too! Leave them; they're not worth it!" She jogs out of the clearing back in the direction of Foria City without another moment's hesitation. The remaining white-suits yelp and scramble after her, desperate not to be left behind.

"...they're all gone," Amethyst assures himself after another quick look around the clearing. "Limberjax, Sincle, come back!" He grimaces while returning them to his belt. I'm not sure they're in any state to battle, but...I have to go after those people! They took my Badge, and my Pokédex! Professor Aspen trusted me with that...I said I'd be careful with the Pokédex! I have to be responsible for it! ME! He breaks out of his mental anguish long enough to glance back at the woman and her Crystail, both of whom look quite shell-shocked by now. Hopefully they can take care of themselves. There can't be more than one group of evil pricks running around this forest, surely. And, he adds, smirking to himself, there won't be any at all once I catch up with those white-suits. With that thought to comfort him, Amethyst hares away down the path.

Around one corner...another...vaulting over boulders...ricocheting off tree trunks...Beads of sweat fly off Amethyst's face as he doggedly chases the white-suits. He knows they're close; glimpses of their presence abound...a white shirttail whisking out of sight, a scuffed footprint in the moist forest clay. Amethyst constantly shifts his focus back and forth...tracking the thieves in front of him...scanning the path below him...he's careful to avoid the tree roots where possible, imagining himself breaking an ankle after a single misstep, but he doesn't heed the innocent-looking vine lying across the path that rises of its own accord to catch his foot. The boy slams face-first into the ground; all the breath is driven out of him, and he feels himself slipping away.

Closer to the edge of the forest bordering the city, the white-uniformed people continue their getaway. As they approach the outskirts of Foria City, where the buildings first come into view, they abandon the main road and instead veer southward through the forest. Still following the Squad Leader, they burst out from the cover of the trees in a straggling line. Pine needles give way to cracked asphalt as the woman directs them along a grungy street, little bigger than an alleyway, in a maze of low industrial buildings.

A communicator beeps on the Squad Leader's wrist. She stops where a second alley makes a T with their own, a point indistinguishable from the dozens of others like it, and the rest of her squad congregates behind her. "Once we deliver the goods to the Subleader, our mission will be done," she states. "You two come with me." The man and woman still holding on to the Pokédex and the Rhythm Badge step out of the crowd. "Everybody else return to our base here and prepare to depart." The eleven people dismissed, including the two Echimber Trainers, make a brief salute before continuing at a jog in the same direction they've been traveling. The remaining three turn left down the shadowed, even narrower alley. "Stay alert," the Squad Leader mutters.

The three white-suits stride cautiously down the alley. Suddenly the man hisses, "There's a Poké Ball!" He flings out a finger to follow the spinning red-and-white sphere, which flies silently over their heads in a perfect arc. "I don't know where it came from! I didn't see anyone! It was just there!" he babbles in a hushed voice. He and the two women turn mutely to follow its path; the Poké Ball falls to eye level before halting its flight. In a massive burst of light, a Lapras appears from the Poké Ball.

"It's like...it's got us trapped!" the woman holding the Badge squeaks. Even after materializing in the flesh, the Water- and Ice-type seems to swell to fill the entire space through which the three humans just walked. "Look at that...its flippers are all curled up against the sides of the buildings. Its head is brushing the gutters! There's...absolutely no way we're getting past it."

The Squad Leader takes a shaky step backward. "We need to get ou--" She breaks off with an audible "Eep!" and freezes in place along with her two underlings as a masculine voice cuts across her.

"There's no need for you to go any farther." It's not a threat, merely a statement. As one, the three people caught in Lapras's haughty glare turn instead to face the unknown, still looking petrified.

Ten yards ahead, a stern-faced, dark-haired man in a crimson coat steps out from behind a concrete protrusion. "I'll be taking...those things you stole...off your hands," explains in the same even tone.

Shocked into indignation, the other three bristle. "And you think we'll just hand them over to you?" the female underling sneers.

Lapras's Trainer exhales forcefully through his nose. "I suppose that would be expecting too much." He glances down at the snakelike Pokémon waiting attentively by his side. "Fiper, go."

"Uuaaaaagh!" Before they can do more than cringe away and throw up their hands to protect their faces, Fiper is among the three white-suits. He weaves between the Squad Leader and her underlings and prods her forward with her sharp pointed tail. When the other two attempt to follow her Fiper whips around and snaps at them with a mouth full of fire.

"Good work, Fiper," his Trainer praises softly once the Squad Leader stand before him. When he address her, his voice is conversational, but low enough that only she can hear and dripping with implied meaning. "You're not in any real danger. That is Fiper's False Swipe; it won't harm you. However, I can't say the same about my Lapras's Ice Shard." He makes a curious gesture that involves holding both hands up to one eye with two fingers pointing upward, then slowly extending one of them, as if tracing the path of a projectile that would land right at the Squad Leader's heart. "That move is...as swift and unyielding as a laser."

The Squad Leader's eyes stretch wide and she breathes in sharply. Jerkily she brings up her right hand and waves forward her squad members. "Give...give them to him...Hurry up!" she snaps with a bit of her old impatience. Dutifully, they place Amethyst's Pokédex and Gym Badge in the man's waiting hands.

"Thank you for your cooperation," the man says with the ghost of a smile. He steps back and nods to his Lapras. "You may return to your base." At its Trainer's signal, Lapras expels a huge bank of Mist that carries the three white-suits away down the alley like a river.

"Grrr...You haven't seen the last of us!!" One of their voices echoes back through the dense whiteness.

"No, I dare say I haven't," Q replies to himself. "Nor you of me...Lapras, Fiper, return!" Moving quickly now, he darts alone through a doorway into the building he had been leaning against.

This place isn't much, but it has just enough, and I'm quite sure no one will bother me here. Who would've guessed that bright, modern Foria City had its seedy underbelly just like any other town? A maze of neglected industrial shacks and warehouses...and the odd disused laboratory. The one-story edifice is a single open room; Q curls his lip at the impressive sheet of dust lying over the scattered tarps and computer terminals. "It's like this stuff has a mind of its own...all I can do to keep a bit of it clear at all." Q strides over to the one little corner with slightly less dust than the rest of the place. His mutterings subside as he sets to work, laying out Amethyst's Pokédex and grabbing a screwdriver.

Q fiddles with the device at a feverish pace. Every so often he steals a glance at another sleek plastic object, like a partially constructed Pokédex casing, also lying on the workbench. The live Pokédex flashes, beeps, and hums at regular intervals as Q trawls through its data in silence; after a couple minutes, however, the whole screen is glazed with a bright red warning light. "As I suspected," he nods as he pauses to push his lank hair out of his face. "A security feature...one that can be bypassed by a Pokémon League Gym Badge registered to the same owner." He holds up Amethyst's badge to the grimy light streaming in through a ceiling-level window. The small piece of metal gleams as if anticipating its role.

"It's almost there." Even more dissected pieces are strewn about his workspace, linked to each other and a computer by a series of cables, when Q throws himself back in a chair. Not much time has passed, if the immobile sunbeams striking the tiled floor are anything to go by. Q stares at them idly while his thoughts wander. This idea wasn't mine. It first happened years ago, in another region away from Ilona. I only heard about it afterward, and I never got to speak to the person who made it happen... A photograph drifts into Q's mind. A small man, laughing hysterically and sitting on a Forretress. An indistinct black object clutched in one hand seems to zoom outward, filling the whole frame...

The popping blackness gradually lifts from Amethyst's eyes, to be replaced by the sight of dirt an inch from his nose. He grunts in alarm, a sound that quickly morphs to a moan of pain. He pushes himself blearily to his knees and feels his jaw. Broken? No, I don't think so. But something sure hurts. Feels like all my teeth are still there, that's a relief...maybe just a bruised jaw then. He tries to open his mouth, winces, and slowly closes it again. No talking for a while...so what else is new. But... The boy feels his wrist too. My heart rate is still way up, like when I was chasing those guys. Maybe I was only out for a few seconds. In that case, I should still be able to catch them!

Amethyst pushes off the ground to give chase and is yanked back with a gasp mid-stride. Hrrrrrrk...wha--AAHH! He looks down in horror to see numerous pale vines twisted firmly around his chest. Can't move...can't breathe...what's going on... Amethyst writhes fiercely, trying to look behind him, but sees only a tangled silhouette that flies upward, out of sight.

The vines slacken their grip at the same moment that Amethyst senses something vaulting over his head. Like a freakish cross between a ghost and a spider, the creatures descends, using vines stretched between trees on either side of the path to keep itself suspended off the ground.

"It was you who tripped me back there, and you who held me down just now!" Amethyst accuses. "A Carnivine!"
No Index updates this time.
 

Typhlosion

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The Bug Catcher Pokémon chitters and hisses to itself as it sways in midair among the trees. It and the boy on the path in front of it don't break eye contact.

"Are you one of the 'guardians' of Guardian Forest who's supposed to live here?" Amethyst demands. "And are you laughing at me?! I don't know why you tripped me back there, or grabbed me, but I don't have time for your games! I haven't done anything wrong, and I'm chasing after the thieves who stole from me and threatened people in your forest, so get out of my way!"

Carnivine's only response is to extend its vines and swing forward, closing the distance between itself and Amethyst.

The young Trainer roars in frustration and snatches a Poké Ball from his belt. "Fine! If that's how you want it, we can make you move! Get out here, Limberjax!" Despite his harsh tone, Amethyst winces a little when he sees the state of his starter Pokémon. "I know you're still a bit singed after that run-in with Echimber," he admits gruffly, "but think about how hard you fought against Magnolia Rose's Oscry to win that Rhythm Badge! And it was thanks to you fending off that wild Gilabrinth that Professor Aspen noticed us and gave us the Pokédex! You've got something to prove here just as much as I do, so I expect you to act like it! Metal Claw attack!"

Limberjax leaps forward courageously, but in the blink of an eye, Carnivine takes a massive swipe with one of its whiplike vines and slams the smaller Grass-type away. When it hits the dirt Limberjax can only moan feebly, unable to rise.

Such...power! Amethyst scrambles to wordlessly recall his fainted Pokémon. Maybe I should...no! He slaps himself on both cheeks. WE are not backing down. We MAY NOT give up! As long as we can fight, we will, and I won't settle for any less than throwing everything we have at our ENEMIES! Out loud he calls, "I choose you, Sincle!"

Sincle isn't doing much better than Limberjax was. He wavers in midair as he faces the Carnivine.

"Come on, Sincle! That one Dark-type attack from earlier can't slow you down!" Amethyst insists. "Psybeam!"

Carnivine curls up to protect its small body, allowing its broad head to take the brunt of the attack. Its many vines start to lash in agitation, and it doesn't relax its hunched pose. "Is that it?" Amethyst wonders, brought up short.

With an aggressive hiss the large Grass-type springs back up and launches a flurrying tornado of sharp-edge leaves. Sincle drops like a rock right next to where Limberjax fell.

"Huuuh...rrrrgghhh..." Watching Sincle be defeated as well makes Amethyst himself feel like he's been punched in the gut. "No more Pokémon...that can fight...this is supposed to be the part where I black out, right?" His breath is coming in quick gasps. "But what about me?" Balling up his fists, Amethyst charges in.

There's a whistling and snapping in both his years, and for the second time Amethyst finds himself completely immobilized by Carnivine's vines. "Gah...rrr...huuuh...aah!" Amethyst wriggles ferociously, all the while growling and sputtering incomprehensibly, but he's unable to loosen or escape his bonds. The plant Pokémon holds him suspended a few inches in the air, so that the tips of his sneakers barely brush the ground. Finally, Amethyst's head slumps forward and he sags into a kind of exhausted stupor.

"Carnivine, return!"

After what may have been ten seconds or an hour, a voice breaks into Amethyst's empty daze. The boy has just enough presence of mind to stay on his feet when the vines supporting him dematerialize. He staggers against the side of a tree, blinking and peering around like a Noctowl caught in daylight. "That Carnivine," he reasons sluggishly, "...wasn't wild?"

"No, Amethyst, it wasn't. As a matter of fact it belongs to me. I believe I owe you an apology and an explanation. Now stand up! You're stronger than that."

Amethyst focuses on the hand being extended to him. His eyes follow it up the arm, past the shoulder, to the face. "Q!" His expression relaxed, but puzzled, Amethyst takes Q's hand and allows himself to be pulled back upright and onto the path. "Wait, I'm so confused. The Pokémon that's been harassing me and trapping me this whole time, you're its Trainer?! I wouldn't have guessed it even had a Trainer!"

A sharp frown creases Q's face and his eyes darken. "Perhaps it wasn't obvious, no. At any rate, I hope these can make up for the trouble my Pokémon and I have given you." Q rummages in his crimson overcoat and holds out Amethyt's Pokédex and Rhythm Badge.

"No way," the younger Trainer breathes in amazement. He reaches out to take them but pauses and looks up at Q's face suspiciously. "Those were stolen from me by a bunch of people wearing white uniforms. I was chasing them after they robbed me, but your Carnivine showed up and stopped me. Deliberately. What's going on? How'd you get my stuff back from those guys?"

Q lets his hands fall to his side in defeat. He doesn't look at Amethyst when he speaks, but stares off into the distance. "People live all over this world. Most of them are kind and caring, but you always get a few who are cruel and selfish. Sometimes those people find kindred spirits, and band together to cause more trouble than they could alone. The Ilona Region has the misfortune of being afflicted by two of these groups at once. You're already familiar with Team Bullet. Those white-uniformed people...are Team Laser."

"Team...Laser?" Amethyst tries out the name, his expression dazed.

"That's right. I've been tracking their movements in this area, and I thought they might try something. They have...a great interest in the Pokédex. I left my Carnivine behind to intercept you because I didn't want you putting yourself in even more danger. Then I went after them personally."

"Right," Amethyst fumes. "Because you didn't think I could handle myself against them." Barely keeping his voice level he stiffly adds, "I'll take those back now."

"And could you handle yourself?" Q retorts testily, holding the Badge and Pokédex out of reach. "You don't have these back yet. Your brush with Team Laser was hardly a shining victory!" The man lets his point hover in silence for a moment, then relents and returns Amethyst's belongings. "There will be other opportunities. Take these back and use them. I know you can become strong."

Amethyst accepts them with a scowl. 'You sound like Professor Aspen." He hesitates, then glances back up at Q, still a little impressed in spite of himself. "There were fifteen of them. You took on all of Team Laser and beat them?"

Q cracks a rare smile. "Hardly. That was just one of their field squads. And besides, I've been a--been a Pokémon Trainer--for a long time. It was nothing."

"Well...uh...thanks," Amethyst says with difficulty. With a bit more energy he goes on, "I'll do it. Become strong. There'll be a day when I don't need other people to fight my battles for me." He stretches, takes a deep breath, and then grins at Q with a hint of a challenge, "Just you wait!"

The Pokédex still in his hand beeps, catching Amethyst by surprise. "I'd better take a look at this thing, huh?...Hmm, it all looks the same as before...everything normal here..." Amethyst waves the device through the air, checking it from various angles. "Doesn't seem like those Team Laser idiots damaged it at all, so that's--eh?"

Amethyst freezes with the Pokédex pointed up at a random tree. Its scanner function has activated, locked on to something. "Scambush, the Healer Pokémon. A Grass- and Normal-type. This species does not evolve. Scambush are known for their mercenary and acquisitive dispositions. Their skill in crafting medicines and remedies is unrivaled, but they always demand something in return for their services."

Uninterrupted green foliage is all Amethyst can see from staring up into the canopy. "I can't tell where it's at, but my Pokémon could do with some healing," the boy admits. "Do you think Scambush knows that? Is that why it's here?"

"No doubt it senses a bargain in the making," Q nods.

"A bargain..." Amethyst's face falls. "What am I going to offer it for that? I'd be surprised if it has any interest in my human money...ah! Wait!"

A trail of rustling leaves indicates that Scambush is on the move. "Ugh, I'll worry about its dumb bargain later," Amethyst grunts as he settles the straps of his pack more snugly on his shoulders. "Listen, Q," he says over his shoulder. "I appreciate what you've done for me. All the help you've given me...I'm in your debt." Then, with determination written on his face, he turns back to the path, rocks into a running stance, and takes off.

Q stands in place with his arms crossed long after the purple-eyed boy has faded into the dense green of the forest. "I'll keep that in mind."
Pronounced SCAM-bush, from scam and bush. The name also includes ambush. A Grass- and Normal-type unevolving Basic Pokémon.
Scambush is a squat, bipedal species that stands waist-high to an adult. A cloak made of alternating horizontal bands of dark green and light green leaves sprouts from its neck and falls over its whole body to the ground. A ring of brown knobby growths like beads also encircles its neck and extends down onto its chest. Tufts of yellowish dried leaves stick up behind its small ears. Scambush has narrow, yellow eyes and a mouth that turns down at the corners; a broad, hooked nose occupies most of its face. The upper part of its body is white. Each individual wears a green belt of vines around its waist; below this point its body is dark brown, with a cracked pattern like tree bark. The first three fingers on each hand are long and slim, but the fourth and final one is much thicker and broader with a rough, calloused outer edge.
Scambush can adapt to any community with large numbers of other Pokémon, but they prefer forests. Even though they don't socialize, they're annoyed by living in desolate places. They spend their days collecting natural ingredients to use in mixing up medicines and poisons alike. When they make a fist, the toughened outer finger can be used for grinding up ingredients. The belt Scambush wears has many pockets for storing whatever it finds. When seeds are left there too long they will sometimes sprout, such that the belt is usually adorned with a variety of mushrooms and flowers. Nutrients are concentrated in the necklace of "beads;" these can be broken off individually and shared with others or eaten by Scambush itself. Scambush will readily serve anyone and everyone with its concoctions, taking no sides in conflicts, but double-crossing one is a bad idea.
This Pokémon doesn't typically engage in open combat, but it's fully capable of doing so when necessary. Scambush can have Forager as a possible Ability. Its moves include DoubleSlap, Stun Spore, Sleep Powder, Poison Powder, Wish, Smelling Salts, Mind Reader, Spore, Magical Leaf, Pay Day, Aromatherapy, Grass Knot, Trick, Rage Powder, Facade, Slack Off, Leaf Tornado, Revenge, Heal Pulse, Snatch, Petal Blizzard, Double-Edge, Lunge, and Jungle Healing.
One of two villainous organizations based in the Ilona Region. Team Laser's operatives dress in a uniform of white and pale grays, supplemented by lilac motifs. Skilled at using advanced technology in their operations, they have a cold, calculating air about them.
 
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Typhlosion

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I had to chase after those Team Laser members to get my Rhythm Badge and Pokédex, and now I've got to chase after this Scambush. It seems like all I've done today is chase after people, Amethyst grumbles internally. Still, I can't deny that my Pokémon need the medicine this Scambush can make. The supplies I bought in Foria City aren't going to be up to the task. I didn't have the intention of doing much battling...it was stupid of me to think like that, so stupid. I'm...well, I'm a Pokémon Trainer now. It comes with the territory. He pictures Sincle and Limberjax, fainted and covered in wounds. And so does protecting the Pokémon I travel with.

Amethyst pants for breath and risks a glance away from his feet to check his quarry's progress through the trees above. Q seemed convinced that this Scambush wants to work with me. It's true that it hasn't strayed away from the trail, which has made it much easier for me to keep up with it, but I wonder how much farther we have to go. We've gone far past the clearing where I first ran into Team Laser. Where is it taking me? Expressing his thoughts out loud Amethyst grumbles, "I wish I knew what you want from me, Scambush."

Barely a minute later Scambush jerks left and heads north, off the path. "I knew it was too good to last," Amethyst huffs, but he grits his teeth and follows dutifully. A bird's-eye view shows that the young Trainer has drawn close to the very center of Guardian Forest. The air hangs misty and humid, charged by centuries of growth.

A shaft of evening light pierces the canopy of oaks ahead and Amethyst stumbles toward it, sinking ankle-deep into leaf mulch. There appears before him a small open space not three meters across, a mossy depression in the earth ringed by smooth, low stones and broad trunks. Airy stems and leaves in half a dozen colors are sprouting from practically every inch of the forest grotto. "Check this place out," Amethyst whistles under his breath. "It's like a garden. It's got all the species of herb I've ever heard of--Power, Mental, White, Vocal, Trigger, and Buffer...whoa!"

Up until now Amethyst hadn't paid much attention to the tall, smooth trees around the border of the garden, but the one directly across from him seems especially stately, as though presiding over the rest. What catches the Trainer's attention, however, is a bright green shield-shaped mound on its trunk, just above the level of plant growth. "Hey, that shape...it's a Hilare! A few of them live in the mountains around Masolin Town, although I know they live in greater numbers here. But"--Amethyst squints--"something's up with its wings. Is that...ice?" He swings a leg forward, preparing to step into the garden for a closer look at the Bug/Poison-type.

The stalks tremble under the force of a heavy thump from close by. Amethyst windmills to keep his balance and finally plants his foot on one of the stones. He looks up with irritation to see that Scambush has finally shown itself, dropping out of its tree to land on a rock to Amethyst's right. "About time for you to make an appearance."

The Grass/Normal-type growls faintly and jabs a finger at Amethyst's foot.

"...yeah, okay, you probably don't want some clumsy, dirty human trampling all over the herbs. I get it. So is that why we came all this way? Because you need these plants to make medicine for my Pokémon? You ARE going to heal them, right?"

Scambush grunts noncommittally. It produces a long, solid stick from somewhere, reaches over, and gives Hilare a hefty whack across its back.

"What the hell?!" Amethyst exclaims. "Why'd you do that? Can't you see this Hilare was already attacked by something?" He makes a wild grab for the stick, which Scambush has already drawn back for a second hit. It's far out of reach, but the move does make Scambush reconsider and lower its weapon. Instead, it leans forward over its garden and deftly plucks a leaf from one of the bone-white stalks. That's a White Herb, Amethyst notes. But now what? How will that help? As if it could read his mind, Scambush shoots Amethyst a surly glance before spearing the leaf on the end of its stick and holding it out in Hilare's direction. Hilare delicately snags the herb in its insectoid mouthparts, and within seconds a wash of healing courses along its folded wings. No way! A White Herb cured it? I'd have thought an Aspear Berry or something...so was that even ice at all? Out loud he calls, "Hey, Hilare, how did you--"

He doesn't get a chance to finish. Free of its mysterious ailment, the Bug Pokémon relinquishes its grip on the tree trunk and spreads its wings. It wobbles clumsily in the air for a moment, then flies straight at Amethyst.

The boy throws himself aside with a yell to avoid being smacked in the face. Spitting leaves and cursing, he turns to follow Hilare's flight path. "What is WRONG with you?! I just saved you from getting beaten to a pulp, you ungrateful pest!" He's trying to think of more barbed words to hurl after Hilare when he sees it collide with a blast of sparkling wind that howls suddenly through the trees. The Pokémon drops like a stone and Amethyst shivers violently in the chill. "That looked like some kind of attack! Hilare!"

His spite forgotten, the boy runs forward to check on Hilare. Hunched on the leaves, it appears to be shivering itself, and the outer edges of its wings once more bear a veneer of ice. Staring all around, Amethyst can't see any source for the attack. "Who did that?!" he demands. "Show yourself!"

The boy's stern words are met only by another wall of numbing wind, almost strong enough to tug the black knit cap from his head. So...cold...feel like I can barely move...but Hilare... Amethyst grabs Hilare's sides and shuffles around on his knees, presenting his own back to the wind to shelter the Pokémon.

"Wait, wait, Crystail, stop!"

The attack slackens at the high, quavery voice's command. The soft crunch of running footsteps on leaves gradually registers in Amethyst's brain, and the blurred figure of a human enters his vision.

"Are you okay?! This is terrible, I shouldn't have, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to, I thought you were, it was...an accident...here, let me...help you up!"

The panicky rambling breaks off and a hand is extended; its grip is cold and feeble. A fat lot of good that's going to be, Amethyst thinks to himself. My body feels...cold and slow...but I can do this with my own strength! That's what Q was saying, right? I will--reach out--get up!--and then... The boy rises into a full stretch and blinks, feeling warmth and clearheadedness returning. "Better already, just like that."

The speaker makes another attempt at getting Amethyst's attention. "Again, please accept my deepest apologies, I never--"

Finally getting a good look at the person speaking, Amethyst bursts out, "Hey, it's you again! The Crystail lady!"

"Hah?! Y-yes," she stammers bemusedly. The Pokémon in question is still hovering by its Trainer's shoulder. "My Pokémon and I were being harassed earlier by Team Laser, when--when they started bothering you too." In spite of the summer heat, the woman in her late twenties is wearing fur-lined boots and a pallid gray cardigan topped by a red scarf.

"Right, right, your Pokémon...Crystail," Amethyst frowns. "An Ice-type. And I happen to know that the move Icy Wind is one of its specialties." He marches over to get in the woman's face. "It's you who's been recklessly throwing around all these Ice-type attacks in the middle of a forest!"

"That's right," the woman squeaks, flushed with shame. "My name is Lacey. I'm originally from the north, but recently I moved to live and work in this part of the region. I came to the forest because I want to catch a Pokémon native to this area, so I won't be so vulnerable...However, after Team Laser found me I've been so jumpy and nervous I can hardly walk. I heard a voice, and I thought it might be them again, so I had Crystail attack you..."

Amethyst steps back and spreads his arms. "It wasn't just me," he rebukes. "You almost destroyed a bunch of herbs the Pokémon use for medicine.
You repeatedly injured this Hilare!" He points dramatically at the encumbered Pokémon cowering on the ground.

Lacey notices it for the first time and gives a little gasp of surprise. "O-oh! That's the Pokémon I came to catch. It's supposed to have a powerful evolution..."

"Hilare are pretty tough," Amethyst concedes. "But I want to see for myself." He pulls out the Pokédex and toggles to search mode.

"You got it back after it was stolen from you," Lacey observes timidly. "That's, uh, that's good."

Stung by the memory of Q handing it back to him, Amethyst grunts, "Whatever. Let's see, here we go." His eyebrows go up. "Nissassa, huh? A Bug- and Dark-type. You sure you can handle something like this?"

Lacey's expression, nervous up to this point, slides into pure fright. Her voice goes the shrillest it's been yet as she cries, "I'm not leaving here without a Hilare!"

"What is UP with you? I--" Amethyst barely flinches this time when Scambush drops out of a tree beside him. "Oh, it's you again."

Predictably, Lacey is less successful at keeping her cool. "AAHHH CRYSTAIL DO SOMETHING USE ICY--"

"STOP!!" the boy thunders in exasperation. At the same moment Scambush jumps sideways into a bush. In the time it takes Lacie to break off her command and blink in confusion, the Grass/Normal-type reappears, holding an object familiar to Amethyst. "Another White Herb?" he wonders. "That must have been your Ability Forager, Scambush!"

Scambush nods pridefully. It examines its new White Herb, then tucks it carefully in its belt before reclining against a tree trunk.

This indifference leaves Amethyst thoroughly nonplussed. "Hey, Hilare was hit by another Icy Wind, you know. It still needs that White Herb. Aren't you going to heal it?" The Healer Pokémon languidly shakes its head, pointing a scaly finger from Lacey, to her Crystail, and finally to the wild Hilare. "Wait a minute, wait a minute." The boy shakes his own head, in confusion. "Let me get this straight. You want her to catch this Hilare? It'll be taken away from its home; it won't be able to live in the forest anymore! You're okay with that?!" Scambush flashes a quick, sardonic smile, then closes its eyes and makes a dismissive shooing gesture.

Having watched Scambush with apprehension since it first appeared, Lacey finds her voice again. With a jerky bow she says, "Thank you, Scambush. I apologize for almost having my Pokémon attack you earlier." There's less confidence when she turns to Amethyst and admits, "I'm not too good, at catching Pokémon. In fact I've never caught one myself before. Could you...will you help me? Please?"

Amethyst looks back to the Healer Pokémon. "Are you sure about this?" He gets no response; Scambush is still resolutely ignoring him.

The young Trainer hides his face. His arm and voice are shaking as he thrusts a finger toward Lacey. "I don't like this. But I'll do it if I must. You'd better have your own Poké Ball, because I sure as hell don't have any for you to borrow."

"I, I do," Lacey assures him. "Will this Prime Ball do?" She holds it out for her mentor to examine.

"That's fine," the boy growls, still not looking. That's one of the best Poké Balls she could have for catching a Pokémon like Hilare who hasn't evolved yet. I wonder what's up with her? Lacey acts like she doesn't know a Cheri from a Chesto but she sure came prepared. "Then all you'll have to do is battle it. Weaken it. Once it's tired and worn out you can throw the Ball to catch it."

He continues to look away as the sounds of battle ensue. Flashes of light nevertheless shine off the trees around him, and Amethyst looks up in surprise. "It's almost full night," he says to himself. "I know it's been a long day but I hadn't even realized. But here in the forest, under all these leaves...I can't see the stars." A night breeze pushes through the branches, letting a few stars wink past, but they're quickly gone. "It's hard to know where I'm going...I'll just have to keep moving. Eh?"

Lacey's reappearance pulls him out of his reverie. She's once again holding out the Prime Ball for him to examine, but this time it's not empty." "I did it!" she smiles weakly. "I caught Hilare!"

"So you did," Amethyst responds with far less enthusiasm. The Bug/Poison-type is snoozing in its new Poké Ball, not looking much worse for wear. "Hilare doesn't seem to mind too much, at least. I guess we're done here." He casts another appraising eye toward the night sky. "It's late. Do you have a camp anywhere?"

"Oh-oh! Yes," Lacey nods, relapsing back to her usual flighty self. "It's not far from here, I'll be okay, I think...now that I have Hilare...thank you!"
With that she's gone, stumbling away into the dark, clutching her newly-captured Pokémon close to her chest.

Amethyst's eyebrows are both raised high. "You're kidding, right? She's got to be the craziest person I've ever met." Once Lacey disappears Scambush slouches forward to stand at the remaining Trainer's side. "I think you were wrong to let her capture that Hilare," the boy reiterates, "but there's nothing I can do about it anymore. What do I have to do to get you to heal my Sincle and Limberjax?"

Scambush nods to itself, scrutinizing the two Poké Balls, and then whisks away back to the herb garden. When Amethyst catches up he finds the Healer Pokémon hard at work, tossing together all manner of ingredients on a mat of moss. Scambush doesn't look up, but indicates two flat boulders in the ring where Amethyst can release his resting Pokémon. "I don't get it," he frowns. "I haven't given you anything. Q said we were supposed to strike some kind of bargain. Even so, now you're making medicine..."

At that moment the Pokémon leans over to pluck a few leaves before returning to its work. "Oh...no way...could that be it?" the boy exclaims. "These herb plants look delicate, not ready for winter. A sudden ice or frost would destroy them and you wouldn't be able to use the leaves, and you knew Lacey and Crystail were running around firing off Ice-type attacks all over the place. Hilare probably showed up hoping it could use the herbs to cure itself after battling them, but it was going to lead them right to this place. You needed me to get rid of them together, once and for all! Is that it--huh?"

True to form, Scambush hadn't been paying any attention to the rambling human. Instead it's helping Sincle and Limberjax to swallow a greenish pulp; within moments both are looking ready for action. There's a small lump in Amethyst's throat as he says, "Thanks, Scambush. We owe you one."

The Grass/Normal-type merely shakes its head no. Then it swiftly claws its way up a nearby tree and vanishes as suddenly as it had first appeared. It's now well and truly night; after taking a few moments to ensure that his Pokémon are indeed fully recovered, Amethyst strings up his hammock just a couple meters away and quickly falls asleep, wreathed in the scents of the herbs and the forest.
In the Ilona Region, Herbs can be grown and harvested in soft soil patches just like Berries.
The Vocal Herb is a rich emerald green in color. It doubles the effect of a sound-based move used by the holder and is consumed after use.
The Trigger Herb is a pale silver in color. If the holder is targeted by a priority move it completely protects the holder from that move, and is consumed after use.
The Buffer Herb is black in color. It negates recoil damage dealt to the holder by the holder's attack and is consumed after use.
Pronounced HIGH-lair, from the scientific name Acrosternum hilare for the green stink bug. A Bug- and Poison-type Basic Pokémon.
As you may have guessed from its name, even though I'm not saying the Latin correctly, Hilare is based on the green stink bug. It has a flat, compressed body shape like a shield and is about as big across as a backpack. Hilare's whole outer body as well as its stiff, heavy wing cases are a bright yellowish-green. The edges of its exoskeleton on its back extend slightly over the edge of its body, coming to a tough yellow point like a fingernail that runs all around it. When its wings are lifted its back is revealed to be a dark prune color, with a thin stripe of this color also running down the middle of its underside. Hilare has six legs and two antennae that are all long, thin, and jointed. Its bulging eyes are on either side of its blunt, low-to-the-ground head. At the very front of its body are four yellow mandibles that function as its mouth.
Hilare is a species with an unyielding, stolid nature. The leathery exoskeleton on its back is very resistant to attacks, and so whenever it comes under attack, Hilare prefers to hunker down in place and not move. It will press itself to the ground so only its back is exposed, and then flap its wings to spray airborne poisonous spores. The wings do allow Hilare to fly, albeit very clumsily and only for short intervals. If Hilare finds itself in close proximity to an enemy it can use its claws and stabbing mouthparts to attack directly. It will also store clumps of poisonous compounds along the sides of its abdomen that burst on contact or can be flung at a target. Hilare make their homes in large, lush forests where they can feast on leaves.
This is one of my oldest concepts for a fakemon design: maybe not particularly sophisticated, but one that's quite dear to me. Hilare can have Shield Dust and Bulletproof as possible Abilities. Its moves include Scratch, Harden, Fury Cutter, Poison Gas, Leech Life, Smog, Stun Spore, Sleep Powder, PoisonPowder, Bug Bite, Iron Defense, Pursuit, Silver Wind, Poison Burst, Lunge, X-Scissor, Bug Buzz, and Crunch. It evolves when leveled up while knowing a Dark-type attack.
Pronounced nih-SASS-ah, which is "assassin" backwards. A Bug- and Dark-type fully-evolved Stage 1 Pokémon, the evolved form of Hilare.
This species of Pokémon is based on assassin bugs, which are classed in the same order Hemiptera as stink bugs. The green of Hilare's exoskeleton has faded to pale olive. Nissassa's body shape has changed to be more elongated and rounded; its jointed black legs have also become longer and it holds its body more off the ground. The exoskeleton is made of sequential overlapping plates, with a wrinkled texture somewhat like paper-mache. Its abdomen ends in two shallow forked points side by side. Behind Nissassa's head, its thorax rises up to a pointed knob, giving it a slightly hunchbacked appearance. The head is now more developed as it own segment of the body, with prominent yellow eyes sticking out on the front corners. A plate like an axe blade extends down from the bottom of its head; above this is its long, powerful, razor-sharp rostrum, which is also forked at the end and can fold under the head when not in use on either side of the "axe."
Nissassa no longer has wings and can't fly anymore, but it can run very swiftly and jump great distances with its six strong legs. It's feared by all as a deadly, unrelenting hunter and predator. Though it prefers a more direct approach to its work, it's not above using poison as well. The segmented, cone-shaped rostrum is both Nissassa's mouth and its main weapon. It will launch itself at targets attempting to gore them with a stab, or jump on top of them to deal an excruciating, snapping bite. Nissassa can have Weak Armor and Bulletproof as possible Abilities. Its moves include Night Slash, Scratch, Harden, Fury Cutter, Poison Gas, Leech Life, Hone Claws, Stun Spore, Sleep Powder, PoisonPowder, Bug Bite, Faint Attack, Pursuit, Fell Stinger, Silver Wind, Poison Burst, Lunge, X-Scissor, Bug Buzz, Guillotine, and Crunch.
At the end of every battle, the Pokémon with this Ability will regenerate the last held Herb it consumed during that battle. Forager is Scambush's signature Ability.
A special kind of Poké Ball which has an increased catch rate against species that are the lowest in their evolutionary line, but can still evolve. For example, it will work well against Elekid, but not against Electabuzz or Lapras. The Prime Ball has a solid white lower half and a black band around the middle, like most Poké Balls. The top half is comprised of three adjacent bands of color stretching from front to back over the top of the Ball. Left to right, they are red, blue, and green.
 

Typhlosion

Heart and Soul
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Rainbow Rocket Executive
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Next round! This one went on long enough that I have to split the story and the Index into two posts.

"You did your best, Pachirisu," the Cyclist sighs as he recalls his fainted Pokémon. "That was some battle, friend! You didn't earn that Gym Badge for nothing!"

"Limberjax, return," Amethyst snaps before turning toward his vanquished opponent. "If you say so. I'm not much of a fan of battling. If it's all the same to you, I'll be on my way now."

"Hey, that makes two of us," the Cyclist grins, swinging a leg over his bike. "There are supposed to be some good forest trails a little to the south of here. But you know, even if you don't like battling, you won't have too much choice once you get closer to the city, haha! See ya!"

Amethyst waves away the spurt of dust kicked up by the departing bicycle and then shambles away in the opposite direction, facing the rising sun in the east. "What the heck does that mean? Two days now I've been traveling along Route 51 and I swear someone has challenged me to a battle every half hour. Surely it can't get worse? These people can't think about anything else but my stinking Gym Badge!" The disgruntled boy thinks back to the morning before, when he left Guardian Forest behind and made the decision to affix the metallic pin to the outside of his pack. If I, as a...Trainer, have accomplished this kind of feat, maybe I ought to own it. Perhaps embracing this power will help me to be worthy of it. Back in the present, he scoffs, "Yeah, to hell with that." He reaches behind him and after a brief struggle unpins the object of his frustration.

Lying in his palm, the bluish-silver sheen of the Rhythm Badge winks innocently up at its owner. "I don't think so," Amethyst says definitively, balling up his fist and shoving the Badge deep into his vest pocket. "You're more trouble than you're worth."

He marches on in his characteristic moody silence, but a tic on his forehead indicates growing annoyance. Finally he bursts out, "SPEAKING of more trouble than something's worth...!" and glares down at his utility belt, where a persistent rattling becomes apparent. "Limberjax, no. Sorry, but you've been doing all the battling. You're fine. Sincle...huuuughh." The wearied Trainer heaves a sigh. "It is a nice, sunny day out there." The well-worn route stretching east from Guardian Forest runs just along the boundary between the thick forest marching up from the southern mountains and the broad savannas that make up the heart of the region. The enticing shade on Amethyst's right is matched by brilliant heat on his left. "I choose you, Sincle...for all the choice it feels like I had in the matter," he grumbles as an aside.

The cheerful little Water/Psychic-type appears in a burst of blue light. "Protect, Water Sport, Psycho Shift, and Bubble Beam," Amethyst reviews under his breath. "Not that you're worried about having to battle, huh? That's my responsibility." Wholly unperturbed, Sincle twirls around his Trainer's head, his pink rings glowing faintly in the strong sunlight. "As long as you're having fun, I guess...hmm? What's that? Did you see that, Sincle?" Some meters away, a small dark shape slips through the waving grass; Sincle, however, makes no indication of having seen anything. "Tchah, of course not," Amethyst rolls his eyes. "Whatever, let's get moving."

As Trainer and Pokémon travel on, the boy continues to notice signs of unidentified creatures along their way. "In the grass"--he cups a hand over his ear--"but also in the forest"--he swivels to squint in that direction. "I know this Route is full of all kinds of wild Pokémon, but...for some reason...I get the sense these are the same ones. If only I could--gah, Sincle, get out of the way!" He cranes his neck, trying to see around the Pokémon who's floated casually across his field of vision, but there's nothing to see. "Maybe next time--hey!"

Amethyst hastily examines his belt and pockets; sure enough, Limberjax's Poké Ball is no longer there, but instead grasped playfully in Sincle's tentacle. "Oh for crying out--look, it's time for Limberjax to rest, okay? I know you two are all chummy now, which is great, but he's not coming out to play."

Sincle tilts sideways a little, as if considering this information, but then with a languid flick of its tentacle tosses the Poké Ball into the air. Amethyst lunges forward to catch it; when the red-and-white sphere smacks into his palms it pops open and Limberjax appeared.

"NOT FUNNY!" Amethyst snarls after taking a moment to regain his balance. "We're never going to get anywhere if you two don't listen to a single...a single...word I say...HEY, I'M TALKING TO YOU!!"

Limberjax's ears are pricked and Sincle's tentacle is reflexively curling and uncurling. Their Trainer is practically hopping with rage but their attention is clearly somewhere else. The two Pokémon nod in unison and then, without any further warning, leap at each other.

Intuition flashes through Amethyst's brain a second too late. He's taking his first running step forward when a bolt of lightning and a series of explosive thuds light up his senses. "SINCLE! LIMBERJAX!"

Amethyst knocks himself hard on the head a couple times to make the ringing stop. Am I seeing double? No... Two nearly identical silhouettes pull back on opposite sides of the cloud of smoke. I've seen them before!" the Trainer exclaims. He reaches into his knapsack, pulls out a sketchbook, and flips to a page with six similar but unique designs penciled on it. Amethyst runs his finger along the page, muttering, "A tuft of leaves...a flame...a bubbling geyser...there, the next two! Yellow and brown, a lightning bolt and a fist shape. So those must be Panode and Pantag." His faces fills with dread. "An Electric-type Pokémon and a Fighting-type; meanwhile, my Pokémon are a Water-type and a Steel-type!" In desperation he yells again, "ARE YOU TWO O--HROARRRKK--"

He breaks off with a choking noise as something heavy and fuzzy clamps itself over his face. Amethyst dances frantically in place while an unknown assailant twists all around his body, jabbing and scratching. "Hey! Oww! Rrrgh! Aah!...Stop! I need to see..." Whatever it is somersaults onto Amethyst's back and pulls him down by his knapsack. This is it! With that brief flash of thought the boy kicks off with both legs, surging up and backward. He pictures Limberjax spinning through the air to attack with its bladed tail and backflips onto his attacker, flattening them to the ground. He crows "Gotcha!" but his eyes are turned upward, searching.

Amethyst's Pokémon are standing back to back, snarls on their faces as they stare down the first two leering, simian Pokémon. They both look okay! But...they switched places! Now it's Sincle facing Pantag and Limberjax facing Panode. I get it! A diagram materializes in his mind's eye to follow along with his thoughts. When they jumped at each other earlier, they weren't fighting, they were getting in position to protect one another! As a Psychic-type Sincle resists Fighting-type attacks, and as a Grass-type Limberjax resists Electric-type attacks. It's perfect! They...they thought of that all on their own. Heh, it's like they don't even need a Trainer...

Almost as if to snap him out of these thoughts, the creature trapped beneath Amethyst suddenly makes a powerful bid for freedom. The boy's eyes bug out and he's tossed aside, where he's able to get his first good look at his opponent. "Purple...Panthrax," Amethyst pants. "The last...one." The irate monkey whisks around to join its two friends, forming a triangle around where the original attacks landed and where Sincle and Limberjax still stand.

"...No," Amethyst grunts, pushing himself to his knees. His voice slowly rises to a shout. "They do need a Trainer. The whole trio is here now, against only two of them. Panthrax, you're mine!! As for the other two, use Bubble Beam and Timber Lash!"

The commands are executed flawlessly and Panode and Pantag falter. Satisfied, Amethyst rushes forward, only for his own target to make the same move. Panthrax jumps up to land right between Sincle and Limberjax, where it reaches out a palm toward each of them with a sinister chuckle. A sinister indigo aura emanates from each of Panthrax's hands, wreathing about the two targets and making them sink to the ground in exhaustion. It's over in a matter of seconds and Panthrax jumps ahead once more, rushing away headlong on all fours. Panode and Pantag blink, as if surprised to find their opponents no longer in any condition to fight, and then tear after their teammate.

"That was Spite," Amethyst murmurs, coming to kneel by his Pokémon's side. "It sapped a lot of your energy for attacks, but it looks like they're gone now, so take it easy. Huh, this must have been what that idiot Cyclist meant when he said we wouldn't have a choice about battling." Sincle is shivering, but contrary to his Trainer's wish, he raises his head with an uncharacteristic look of determination. Rolling over, Sincle takes aim at the three fleeing figures and fires a pulsating ray of light. It detonates just behind the trio, blasting them briefly into the air. "Eh?" Amethyst isn't sure, but he thinks he notices a faint sparkle flying in the opposite direction as Panthrax. The three Pokémon, though they chatter and screech more fiercely than ever, don't turn to resume their attack and soon disappear down the road.

"You learned Psybeam!" the impressed Trainer comments. "Maybe you're more powerful than I've realized, Sincle. Even if you couldn't use Bubble Beam any more, you sure showed them."

"Eeeeheeheeheeheehee, I'll say the little sucker showed them!"

Terrified by the gleeful, screeching cackle, Amethyst spins around so fast he almost falls over. A hunched, wrinkled old woman is sitting on a huge tree root, hidden under the pine's shadow. Amethyst's temper flares to cover up his embarrassment at being frightened and he snarls, "How long have you been sitting there watching me, granny?"

"Oh, ho ho, I've been here the whole time," she grins, totally unperturbed. "Your Pokémon gave those three ruffians what for. Hmm, the Trainer though, well, that could use some work," she adds nonchalantly, rubbing her chin.

Amethyst is beside himself. "Hey, granny, the Trainer's name is Amethyst! And it was two against three!" he nearly shouts. "Were you planning to help us out at all, or just to sit there picking however few teeth you have left?"

Sullenly the old woman mutters, "Enough to take a chunk out of your arm, if you keep tempting me, boy." With a Hup! she jumps to her feet. "Nope, I'm no Trainer!" she announces with equal parts nonchalance and pride. "If I was, well, maybe I could help out those three so they wouldn't be running around attacking everybody. Panode, Pantag, and Panthrax. It's rare to see all three of 'em hanging out together like that. Don't normally get along. But y'see," she goes on, "these three have all got something in common. They're frustrated, that they can't evolve."

That makes everything click for Amethyst. "So they're trying to have as many battles as they possibly can, either to get stronger hoping to evolve that way, or so they can encounter someone or something which will do the trick for them."

"Youuuuu got it!" Granny chuckles. "Now, my poor old bones won't take me far very fast, but I'm not blind. I saw just as well as you probably did that when your Sincle hit Panthrax with Psybeam, it dropped something. Be a dear and run along to see what it was."

"Poor old bones, my foot," Amethyst huffs, but he's secretly just as curious as her and so he hurries to comply. He finds a sea-green chunk of polished crystal the size of his hand, rectangular in shape but with sawn-off corners.

When he dumps the stone into the woman's waiting hands, her eyes light up. "Well well well, a Marvel Stone! It's been a long time since I've seen one of these...but that won't help us!" she barks at Amethyst like it's suddenly all his fault. "This is an Evolution Stone all right, but not one any of them can use. I doubt Panthrax will be too sad to have lost it. No, it would have to be a Thunder, Dawn, or Dusk Stone to let any of them evolve."

Amethyst rolls his eyes. "Please forgive me. You're right, that should have been so obvious. Unfortunately, I don't have any of those three Stones. Perhaps," he muses, "that's was Panthrax was doing when it jumped on me, checking me all over to see if I had anything that could help it. Since that was a failure, they've probably run off to look some other place."

"Probably not," the old woman yawns, causing Amethyst to growl in exasperation at her cryptic retort. "They've got a hideout of sorts made for themselves in Horizon Tower, up ahead on the outskirts of the city. Seemed to me like they were running in that direction. Great views over all the surrounding area, all the way to the sea."

"The sea..." Amethyst repeats distantly. He looks over his shoulder at Limberjax and Sincle, who've left the battle entirely behind them and are now chasing one other in a circle. "I'd like to see that for myself. Yeah, we should all stop by Horizon Tower. And if I see those three Pokémon, I can pass on the message you told me about their proper Evolutionary stones. ...Thanks, granny."

He turns to recall his Pokémon, but a bony hand clamps down on his shoulder and whips him back around forcefully. "Now you hang on just a minute!" Granny screeches. "You can't go dumping this heavy thing on a poor old lady! She shoves the Marvel Stone back into Amethyst's arms; he nearly drops it in surprise. "Panode, Pantag, and Panthrax might not be able to use it, but maybe some day you will instead! I don't need it. I've already got my Alomomola, see?" She reaches behind her back to show him the Poké Ball containing the large, docile Water-type.

The black-haired boy can't believe his eyes. Choking on his ire he sputters, "Are--are you--you said you weren't a Trainer--this whole time--back then, you could've helped--just watched--with your Pokémon--"

"What I said before was all true, I'm no Trainer," the woman says while crossing her arms unapologetically. "Alomomola and I are good company for each other. Although," she taunts with a twinkle in her eye, "you look just about angry enough to come and fight me yourself. Going to have a scrap with an old granny, boy?!"

Amethyst struggles visibly to shove down his irritation. "No...no, of course not," he scowls, "...but I'm not buying it. One Trainer to another, you..." His voice falters. There's a distinct pause, but amazingly, a tiny smile then appears on his face. "You owe me a battle, granny."

The expression of approval that follows these words contains a clear hint of challenge too. "Better train hard, Amethyst. Next time we meet, you can count on it."

The young Trainer merely nods, then calls both of his Pokémon to his side to continue their journey along Route 51. Granny relaxes back against her pine tree to watch him go; though he doesn't see it, she waves fondly at his retreating figure. "Moody as all hell...but a good kid."

------

A faint grinding noise reverberates through the air. Amethyst stoops to examine the base of the structure before him, where weathered wood gives way to carefully aligned blocks of stone and iron. "Fascinating," he remarks. "So this is Horizon Tower."

A faint pop above his head makes him look up curiously, and he's greeted by the sight of a motionless, slumbering Pokémon hovering inches from his face. Completely nonplussed, the boy stand motionless himself until with another pop, the thing disappears instantly. "...was that Teleport?"

Swift footsteps are heard from inside the tower, and a sage emerges from the open square entranceway centered in the wall. The mysterious Pokémon follows along behind him. "Welcome, young visitor," the sage greets Amethyst kindly. "I hope my Cannish didn't frighten you."

"No, it didn't," Amethyst shakes his head. "As a matter of fact, I--uh, I came here to learn more about the Pokémon who live here. So, we're off to a good start."

"A fine intention," the man smiles. "A turning mind." In response to Amethyst's obvious confusion he points wordlessly at the words carved above the entrance that had gone unnoticed before.

"Seasons, Planets, Minds, Fates," Amethyst reads. He moves forward, feeling the need for a closer look; he checks his step at the step up to the stone threshold and finds another chiseled word waiting for him. "Turning."

Amethyst's guide approaches as well, chuckling. "Ah, the stubbornness of human nature. One looks up, and then one must look down. These are four things perpetually in motion throughout the universe. Turning, if you would, just like this tower. Oh, yes, the entire structure moves, one rotation every 24 hours. The magnets built into its base are attuned to the planet's magnetic core, so that the entire horizon can be seen as one united circle." He holds up a finger and spins it to demonstrate, turning to go as he does so. "You are welcome to explore inside the tower and the grounds. I hope you meet many Pokémon."

"A certain few of them, at least," Amethyst adds to himself. After the sage's powerful explanation there's a kind of trepidation on the boy's face when he at last steps inside.

Each of the four walls has its own square entrance into the open ground floor. "Alright, I'm here. Now where--" He doesn't have to wait long. Panode, Pantag, and Panthrax dart one by one through the doorway on Amethyst's left and scramble up the ladder in the center of the room. "Going up, then," Amethyst smirks.

A series of ladders and tight spiral staircases lead upward through the tower's many levels. Each floor is made of many interconnected side rooms and alcoves, and the only light comes from the occasional oil lamp, but the sounds of the three Pokémon above him let Amethyst know he's still going the right direction. "Those guys are nuts, wanting to hang out here all day," the boy shivers. "This place is freaky." A sign below had cautioned that Horizon Tower was known to be inhabited by various species of Ghost-type Pokémon, and Amethyst is sure that he sees various signs of life out of the corner of his eyes, though he can never catch a direct look.

Hey, the light here is different. Looking up, Amethyst is met by pale rays like daylight rather than the usual orange flicker. I must be near the top! No sooner has he placed his foot on the bottom rung than he's blasted by a deep, full-bodied roar from above. "That...that didn't sound like Panode, Pantag, or Panthrax...or any Ghost-type I've ever heard of..." He squares his shoulders anyway. So what. I came to meet those three Pokémon again and to see the view from the top of Horizon Tower, and that's what I'll do. His head once again emerges in the center of the next area, but this one is noticeably different from any proceeding floor. The ceiling rises up to a dome crowning the tower, and part of each side of the room extends out over the walls below it, making a kind of enclosed observation platform. "The top floor...the observation level. WHOA!"

He flinches and ducks as a flare of electricity arcs through the room. "Looks like I've found them again," Amethyst says ruefully. "Panode! Pantag! Panthrax! What's going on?"

The three named Pokémon look around in surprise. As Amethyst hauls himself the rest of the way up the ladder, they run across the room to gather around, not angry at him this time, but still leaping about in agitation. "Panode, I saw that Shock Wave just now," the boy scolds. "You three haven't been fighting with each other, have you?"

They shake their heads frantically. At that moment a spontaneous gust of wind hisses through the room, extinguishing all the lamps at once and leaving only smoke. Amethyst goes rigid; behind him, a powerful growl is building, like the roar from earlier.

In the midst of the otherwise fearful scene, a dull buzzing noise comes from Amethyst's jacket. The Pokédex...the scanner function...like with Scambush! There's a Pokémon behind me! He inches his hand up towards the cargo vest pocket. As if drawing a knife, he suddenly spins around quick as a flash, whipping out the Pokédex and flicking it open. In the moment before the digital voice begins, Amethyst can't entirely stop the strangled yell of fright that escapes him.

"Karmuji, the Balance Pokémon. This species is said to form from the fusion of two others, a very rare occurence. It represents a state of perfect equilibrim and can battle by manipulating opponents' karma."

Karmuji drifts menacingly closer. "This isn't the sort of Pokémon that would pick a fight for no reason. All right, you three," Amethyst accuses while rounding on the Pokémon at his feet, "what did you do?"

Panode shows its teeth gutsily and points at something past Karmuji; Amethyst stretches to look. "In the corner of the wall by those two lamps, there's a shelf..and on it...oh, are you kidding me?!" he groans. "A Vigor Stone! You idiots, that won't work either! Karmuji is only fighting back to defend its treasure! It looks like there used to be another stone next to it, so hell, this is probably where you got the Marvel Stone from too! This is totally wrong!" His wrath momentarily tempered by wariness, he shoots a quick look at Karmuji, but then with a sharp breath and a gung-ho cry runs to stand by the aggrieved Ghost- and Normal-type. "Limberjax, Sincle, I choose you! It's your stupid old buddies again."

The two ranks of Pokémon form up three on three, facing each other down, until the one human in the room steps into the midst waving his arms. "E-NOUGH! TIME OUT!" He motions his own Pokémon to stand down and addressing Karmuji he says quickly, "I'm sorry those three attacked you and stole from you, but there's no need to fight. Let me talk to them."

Panode, Pantag, and Panthrax forget about the battle as the boy steps over to their side. "Yes, yes, it's good to see you again too," Amethyst says while shaking his head. He sits down cross-legged on the wooden slats, making a search on his Pokédex as he does so and telling them, "Look, I know you guys are frustrated because you can't evolve, but I can help you with that. Check this out, see? Panode, you evolve with a Thunder Stone. Pantag, for you it's a Dawn Stone, and Panthrax, you'll need a Dusk Stone." He searches up the corresponding Pokédex page for each item, displaying all three in turn.

They scratch their heads in wonderment, huddle together for a quick deliberation, and then turn back to face Amethyst with broad smiles on their faces, nodding their understanding and assent. "Great, that's one problem solved," Amethyst drawls as he gets back to his feet. "Now, for you." He walks back over to Karmuji and pulls out the Marvel Stone from his pocket.

'Here's what was taken from you," he announces. "I know you're a Pokémon related to karma, who likes everything to be ordered and aligned. I'm sure it frustrated you to no end when those three stole your Marvel Stone, leaving you with only one half of a pair. So here, take it. It's yours again."

Karmuji makes no move to accept it. When Amethyst attempts to walk around it to replace the stone himself, the ghost Pokémon drifts tacitly in front of him to block his path.

"...or not, then?" The Trainer raises an eyebrow. "Could I...have been wrong? Oh well, suit yourself." He turns to go, still holding onto the stone, but is again stopped by a threatening huff from behind him. He turns on his heels testily. "What gives? If you want the pair to be together you have to either take it yourself or let me do it, or else I'll just leave and you can learn to deal with it, eh? There's no...third way..."

Amethyst is forcibly reminded of himself with his two Pokémon facing down the three wild Pokémon on Route 51, and then of those same three Pokémon lining up to battle the team of Limberjax, Sincle, and Karmuji. "Unless...you want me to catch you...and then I can take both the stones, and they'll be together along with you. A battle, is that what you want?" Hearing himself speak these words, Amethyst shakes his head violently. "That's absurd, I don't need another Pokémon, I have no reason to battle you, I don't even carry any spare Poké Balls with m-OW!"

Something hurtling through the air smacks Amethyst in the face, leaving an angry round welt; the boy keels over backwards and a Poké Ball falls into his hands. Judging by the way Pantag is rolling with laughter, it's not hard to tell where the thrown projectile originated. "You little *******," Amethyst groans. "Where did you even find that? Maybe it's just karma at work." He gets to his feet to look Karmuji in the eye. "I'm still not battling you. Why should we get hurt? You're either in or you're out." He gives the Poké Ball a disinterested underhand toss; it finds its mark and Karmuji is sucked inside. The device falls to the floor and rattles briefly before giving off the flash of light indicative of a successful capture.

Amethyst closes his eyes briefly as if to compose himself. He walks over to the shelf in the corner to retrieve the Vigor Stone, so that he's holding one item in each hand, before acknowledging the newly-occupied Poké Ball at his feet. "Welcome to the team...I guess."
 

Typhlosion

Heart and Soul
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Rainbow Rocket Executive
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Oct 23, 2018
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Ben, A_T
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IGN
Ben
Pronounced PAN-ode. The name contains Pan, in reference to the chimpanzee as well as its genus Pan, which is the identifying characteristic of the elemental monkeys. The name also contains anode, which makes a portmanteau while it references the piece of electrical equipment. Panode is an Electric-type Basic Pokémon.
Unsurprisingly, this Pokémon is a new elemental monkey, and so it shares their standard body type. The upper part of its head is a bright lemon yellow, as well as its legs up to its belly. The yellow is separated from the brown by a jagged line. The inner ears have a perfectly smooth, oval shape and are more of a metallic, grayish yellow. Panode's yellow tail ends in a flat, round disk perpendicular to the tail. Its wide eyes are a bit stretched out on the outer sides, giving it a perpetually energized or perhaps frazzled look. Finally, its head motif consists of many short, spiky needles of hair exploding out in all directions.
Unlike the original trio of elemental monkeys, who are always depicted as being very cheerful and happy-go-lucky, I want these three to be a bit more serious and combative. Panode is an exceedingly cocky Pokémon, to the point where it may often hurt itself by showing off, even during battle. However, it takes very badly to losing, upon which it will sulk and refuse to use its Electric powers. This in turn harms it further by causing excess electricity to build up in its body and failing to circulate properly, which leaches its yellow color. A vivid yellow coloration is the sign of a mature, well-trained individual. Panode gets Pickpocket as its only standard Ability, but it can have Alternator as its Hidden Ability. Its moves include Scratch, Confide, Leer, Lick, Thunder Shock, Fury Swipes, Charge, Bite, Shock Wave, Parting Shot, Fling, Acrobatics, Discharge, Recycle, Natural Gift, and Throat Chop.
Pronounced PAN-tag, from Pan and tag, referring to a hit or tap used in team sports and martial arts. It also includes "antag," an abbrieviation of antagonist or antagonistic. A Fighting-type Basic Pokémon.
Pantag's main coloration is the same reddish-brown as the Fighting-type logo. Like Panpour, only the upper part of its chest is colored this way; the line separating it from the brown is straight, but forms a shallow V shape-point at the center of its chest. The lighter-colored inner ears have a blocky pattern like the knuckles of a fist. Its entire tail is the darker brown and ends in a flat, squared-off shape like an open palm. The round eyes are somewhat somewhat compressed into a more square shape, as though Pantag is always squinting to analyze its opponent. Its head motif consists of five angular, bony ridges running front to back, again like the fingers of a closed fist.
This Pokémon lives in ragged packs with others of its kind who are constantly and intensely sparring against themselves. Whenever one suffers a particularly noteworthy defeat, from a fellow Pantag in the group from or anyone else, it will withdraw in solitude to train for a few days. It toughens its hands by smashing them against rocks. After this it will always seek out the same individual for a rematch, repeating the whole process as necessary until it can claim victory against them. Pantag gets Pickpocket as its only standard Ability, but it can have Second Wind as its Hidden Ability. Its moves include Scratch, Confide, Leer, Lick, Mach Punch, Fury Swipes, Detect, Bite, Karate Chop, Grudge, Fling, Acrobatics, DynamicPunch, Recycle, Natural Gift, and Throat Chop.
Pronounced PAN-thracks, as a portmanteau of Pan and anthrax. A Poison-type Basic Pokémon.
The color of Panthrax's upper head and lower body is a deep hue like royal purple. A wavy line marks the divide between belly and chest. The length of the tail is the usual light brown, though it ends in a purple puffball like a cloud of spores. Its inner ears are light purple and mostly round, but a semicircular notch is carved out of the top of each one. Panthrax's eyes extend down to points on the corners by the nose, making them slightly teardrop shaped and giving its face a leering or mocking expression. On its head is a tall, cylindrical, domed protrusion like a rod-shaped bacterium. Centered on its front is an irregular mark of a noticeably darker purple.
Many Trainers find it difficult to raise Panthrax, as it does not enjoy the company of others. It has a habit of scattering toxins around itself wherever it goes to deter anyone from approaching. The mark on its forehead is a barometer of the poisons Panthrax stores in its body: the larger the mark, the more powerful the individual, and the darker the mark, the more potent the poison. Panthrax gets Pickpocket as its only standard Ability, but it can have Reflux as its Hidden Ability. Its moves include Scratch, Confide, Leer, Lick, Slime Lash, Fury Swipes, Gastro Acid, Bite, Sludge, Spite, Fling, Acrobatics, Venoshock, Recycle, Natural Gift, and Throat Chop.
Pronounced KAN-ish, from a combination of canny and vanish. A Ghost-type Basic Pokémon.
This Pokémon and its evolutionary relatives are based on the platypus; Cannish represents the egg stage. It's a very small Pokémon, only about six inches long, and remains perpetually curled up. Cannish remains almost entirely within its eggshell, which is fused with it in a turtle-like way, so that when viewed from most directions it appears as nothing more than a dark gray, speckled egg. From the front, however, its small, fragile body can be seen, pale pink but covered in parts with gray fuzz. Cannish has the usual broad tail, small clawed webbed feet, and duck-billed snout of a platypus.
Cannish is a baffling Pokémon. No one is sure what its true nature as a ghost or spirit might be. It has no body; it is entirely intangible and its physical appearance is merely a visible manifestation it creates when it wants to interact with others. Some speculate that its supernatural powers may be concentrated in the area of its snout, as prior to teleporting, Cannish can be observed to turn its snout in the direction it ends up traveling. Cannish has Intangible as its only possible Ability, and its only move is Teleport.
Pronounced car-MOO-jee, from the combination of karma and wuji, a Chinese philosophical term. A Ghost- and Normal-type unevolving Basic Pokémon.
The main part of Karmuji's form is a yin-yang symbol about two feet in diameter. The two spots serve as its eyes; the one in the white half is scarlet and the one in the black half is sky blue. In the center of the circle crossing the white and black is a thin mouth. The mouth is always pointing towards the tail and away from the bowl of its half, so that the mouth forms a squiggle and always appears to be half smiling, half frowning. Like with the eyes, the "white" half of the mouth is scarlet and the "black" half is sky blue. The eyes and mouth do not move or change expression. When viewed from the side this whole face is about an inch thick; behind it projects the incorporeal form of a small panda, with the corresponding black and white markings. The claws on the panda's front feet are similarly red while those on its back feet are similarly blue. Karmuji is genderless and can be bred with Ditto, but its Eggs will never hatch into Karmuji. Instead, they have a 50/50 chance of hatching into one of two other species. Those two species can produce Eggs that hatch into Karmuji when bred with each other.
Karmuji grew out of my simple desire to create the long-anticipated Ghost/Normal type. Originally I thought it would make sense for it to be a mammalian mythical creature like the Sasquatch but that idea didn't go far, and I couldn't even tell you how I ended up with this. At first Karmuji was going to be just the flat face a la Unown, but I decided that would be lame, so I added the animal half. I chose a panda because it is a real-world Chinese animal, albeit one with a kind of mythos and a strong cultural presence. It's important to emphasize that although Karmuji's body looks like a bear, it's still a ghost: it floats around, passes through walls, and all that. Karmuji's moves include Return, Shadow Sneak, Bide, Haze, Pain Split, Clear Sky, Confuse Ray, Secret Power, Hex, Karma Lariat, Extrasensory, Shadow Sky, Shadow Ball, Endeavor, and Petrify.
When the users drops to 1/3 or less of its maximum HP, its Fighting-type moves have their power increased by 50%.
When the users drops to 1/3 or less of its maximum HP, its Poison-type moves have their power increased by 50%.
When targeting this Pokémon, all attacking moves use the attacker's Special Attack stat, regardless of the move's category.
A physical-based Ghost-type attack with variable power, 100% accuracy, and priority of 0. Karma Lariat takes on the same base power as the move known by the target with the highest power. If none of the target's damaging moves have a set base power, Karma Lariat's power is set to 75. If the target knows only status moves, Karma Lariat fails.
A special-based Ghost-type attack with 100 power, 50% accuracy, and priority of 0. Petrify has a 100% chance of inflicting the Frozen condition on the target.
A new kind of Evolution Stone. The smooth, reflective stone is brick-shaped, but the tips of the four corners are cut off, like a stretched-out octagon. The Marvel Stone is made of a translucent sea-green mineral, but it has a blaze of bright pink in the heart of the crystal. One of its uses in the Ilona Region is to evolve Luvdisc into Alomomola.
A new kind of Evolution Stone. It has an irregular shape like a tall trapezoid and is made of an opaque, black material like volcanic rock, with a coarse texture. In the center of the stone is an indent which is a chalky red color, having a flowerpot shape like the Vigor Stone itself flipped upside-down.
Obviously Alomomola is not one of my fan creations, but it needs a short explanation here. In the Ilona Region, Luvdisc will evolve into Alomomola when exposed to a Marvel Stone. Those two species not being related has always rankled me.
 
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