The World of Pokémon

Typhlosion

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This is a story I've been working on for quite some time. Though I've set it aside for long intervals in the past, I've become very fond of it over the nearly two years since it was begun, and I'm so glad that it's nearing completion. I started writing this story when the Marriland community was still on the Azurilland website, so here is the link to the archive of the beginning:

https://www.azurilland.com/forums/creative-boards/the-library/541451-the-world-of-pokemon
The link no longer functions. Please see Post #4 of this thread.

I hope you have enjoyed the work so far. Now, on to the next part!
 
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Typhlosion

Flaming Torch
Moderator
Rainbow Rocket Executive
Join Date
Oct 23, 2018
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2,429
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Ben, A_T
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3DS FC
2724-0144-2557
IGN
Ben
It's a scene from a nightmare. Where only seconds before stood your small, cheeky guide now looms the monster it's your destiny to defeat. Seeing Hoopa again in the flesh triggers an instinctive reaction; without even thinking you launch a Swift attack straight at his face. The colossal Pokémon flinches from the hit, but immediately snaps back and pins you in his haughty golden gaze.

"WHO DARES TO CHALLENGE HOOPA?" he roars. You can't look away, can't hide, can't defend yourself. The golden eyes glare at you ever more fiercely. "HOOPA KNOWS YOU!" he exclaims in surprise. He lifts a foot and stomps down on the floor. A ring of psychic power flares out from the point of impact; when it reaches you, you are tossed into the air and remain suspended. "YOU ARE ALONE NOW," the great Pokémon chuckles nastily. "HOOPA IS STRONG! HOOPA CAN DO ANYTHING! HOOPA GAVE LIFE TO MAGEARNA! HOOPA WILL TAKE LIFE FROM YOU!"

Hoopa flexes his gigantic fingers, and the psychic power grabs your body with renewed force. You recognize the attack as the same one employed by Mischief before. Shadow Claw slices through the Psychic, quickly freeing you, but as you drop to the ground Hoopa flicks a ring into your path. Powerless to stop yourself, you fall in.

Everything goes dark as stars flash in your eyes. Your entire body is painfully contorted as you hurtle through space. The interior of Glacier Palace reappears as you are ejected from another ring ten feet in the air, now traveling sideways. Unable to catch yourself in time, all the breath is knocked out of you by the unyielding stone.

You drag yourself around to face Hoopa as the monster gives another booming laugh. "YOU CAN DO NOTHING AGAINST THE HYPERSPACE HOLES OF HOOPA!"

Nothing... against the rings, comes a muddled thought. But...against Hoopa himself... Your mind goes back to what Mischief said about battling Hoopa: that his speed could be a disadvantage. Jumping back to your paws, you begin running as fast as you can, circling around to the left. Hoopa turns his ponderous body to follow you, but can't keep up. Smirking, you push off into the air and fly at Hoopa's exposed side with a huge Shadow Claw ready to strike.

Out of nowhere, a wall of muscle slams into your side. Again your body cracks ineffectually against the floor, and you catch a glimpse of one of Hoopa's fists glowing with a pale green aura. It dawns on you that even while his main body had seemed open to attack, Hoopa was still able to counter you with any of his six independently controlled arms. "I can't fight it up close," you groan. "What am I going to do?"

Hoopa doesn't give you time to think. Another Hyperspace Hole attack comes flying at you, and you roll out of the way to avoid it. Snarling in anger, you take a deep breath and spit a Flamethrower. With a wave of his hand Hoopa sends out a Psychic, repulsing the flames and blasting them back toward you.

As your own Flamethrower streams around you, unable to even reach its target, you begin to despair. Hoopa can attack you in multiple ways from any direction, and you can't even get close. "What am I going to do?" you roar again despairingly.

Then, deep within the crackle and whoosh of the flames, another sound emerges. It's the voice. It's back; it hasn't left you. Clearer and more distinct than ever, the voice swirls in the crevices of your mind, and this time you can make out a word. "Power...power..." it murmurs to you.

Hoopa flings one of his fists as you. Effortlessly you somersault out of the way and jump into a Swift attack. The star-shaped rays weave and dodge around all of Hoopa's attempts to block them, striking the great Pokemon on the chest. He cringes back with an irate growl. "HOOPA IS STRONG! HOOPA HAS THE SECRET POWER!" A maelstrom of crushing hands and slicing rings swarms around you, tinged with the same green energy.

The voice swells as you rise to meet the challenge. Another word rises through the fire of battle: "Power...hidden...power..."

All your senses feel heightened. It's like you have eyes in the back of your head; despite all Hoopa's best efforts, he can't quite hit you. As one arm hurtles past dangerously close, a freezing wind whips out after it. Instinctively your flame organs flare up in response. You surround yourself with a veil of heat and continue working your way closer to Hoopa. In a split second you see an opening, and use Flamethrower with everything you've got.

Sound ceases. You open your eyes. Hoopa is holding out a ring like a shield, your attack vanishing into the impenetrable depths. Your gazes lock, cruel gold against impassioned red. Then the flames crash down over you from above; their intensity startles you, even though they came from yourself. You are forced down to one knee, and your gaze drops.

Stone tremors as Hoopa takes a step forward. "HOOPA IS STRONG. HOOPA CAN DO ANYTHING."

"I don't think so," you whisper. Trusting to instinct, you leap, and skewer Hoopa's foot with Shadow Claw.

A terrible roar of pain sets the whole cavern quaking; shards of ice rain down from far above. With his other foot Hoopa punts you backward. The impact with the ground is almost unnoticed compared to the crushing pain in your chest that makes you gasp and retch for every breath.

When the ringing and the shaking and the hurting fade enough that you can focus again, you see that a wall of portals has you surrounded. You're trapped, with no route of escape in any direction, at the mercy of the rings of Hoopa.

"HOOPA WILL PUNISH YOU! YOU WILL FEEL HOOPA'S HYPERSPACE FURY!"

Out of the depths of each portal, an attack flies at you, crackling with malevolent black energy. This is it, Hoopa's ultimate strike. You can barely move, let alone think of a way to fight back.

It seems to happen in slow motion. A ring of purple shadow opens up around your feet, the ground melting away like water into a moat. In its place, a forest-green flare of energy roars up to surround you, carrying the voice into your head. "Reach your zenith!" The words are accompanied by a circling storm of fists from out of the shadows. They rise up to meet the Hyperspace Fury. As each fist of Hoopa emerges from the ring, still rocketing towards you, it is met by the pummeling shadows. Distantly Hoopa screeches as his attack is deflected and cast aside, his rings knocked away.

The attack that saved you swirls back down and you leap forward, suddenly invigorated. From lying broken on the ground only moments before, now you can hardly contain the power you feel coursing in your body. "Hidden...Power...BUG!" cries the voice triumphantly. You direct the power down through your arms, and a leaping arc forms between your claws. It quickly condenses into a group of orbs. Thrusting your paws forward, you hurl them at Hoopa.

Still off-balance and in pain from the disruption of his Hyperspace Fury, the giant Pokémon can't even attempt to dodge. Each orb scores a direct hit, seeming to break and spread across his chest to damage Hoopa even more. Your enemy slides backward, and drops to his knees with head bowed. You advance cautiously. Was your newly-learned fourth move strong enough to defeat him just like that?

Hoopa's arms float slowly back to its side. He pushes himself up to his full awe-inspiring height, and you tense. Of course it would have been too much to hope for, but how much strength does he still have left? You can see Hoopa's entire body trembling, but whether it's from anger, pain, or fear you can't tell.

He points an accusatory black claw at you. "HOOPA...IS...STRONG!" he roars, voice shaking with rage. "HOOPA...CAN DO ANYTHING! BEHOLD THE MIGHT OF HOOPA!" Stars of electric blue flash in his eyes, and twin beams of Psychic race toward you.

Right in this moment, you feel more connected to your identity as a Typhlosion, as a Pokémon, than you ever have before. You prepare another Bug-type Hidden Power attack. The Psychic reaches you and wraps itself around your body, but you can take it. Battle is nothing new to you now, and life in this world has strengthened you beyond what you would have thought was possible. Fresh flames pour from around your wrists, ankles, and neck. Their heat brings you comfort. You smile, and your attack goes spinning out towards Hoopa.

Another direct hit. This time, it's enough. You sway on your feet as the Psychic lets go. It's over.

A violent rattling noise filters into your ears. "Typhlosion! The Prison Bottle! Now is your chance!"

You dash over to the alcove you spotted earlier, jumping right over your unconscious enemy. The eyes of the Prison Bottle are glaring red. You grasp the relic firmly in one paw by its tall thin opening and hold it out towards Hoopa like a shield. The red light shines out over Hoopa, and its body fades into roiling black energy. Deep inside you can just make out the shape of your friend Mischief. The Prison Bottle continues shaking in your paw, and the energy begins to be drawn inside. Immediately an intense exhaustion overwhelms you. You can barely even keep your grip on the bottle, but you clench your jaw and hold on. It only seems to get heavier and heavier, but you know you can't let go. This is why you were brought into the world of Pokémon. You watch with blurring vision as the last of Hoopa's malicious spirit flows into its prison. With the last bit of your power you slam down the stopper and twist it shut, sealing him away once more. Then darkness covers your eyes, and the last thing you can remember is the sensation of falling.

------

When you wake up, you're not in the Glacier Palace anymore. You can't see anything except a cocoon of the same purple shadows which saved you from the Hyperspace Fury, but you feel at peace. A hole opens up in front of you, and out rises a small dark gray Pokémon.

"Hello, Typhlosion. Thank you. Thank you so much."

It speaks in a small, high, childlike voice that you recognize immediately, and you're blown away. "It's you! You're the voice! You're the one who's been speaking to me!"

The Pokémon inclines its head with a small, gracious smile. "Yes. I am the one who brought you here from the human world, across universes, to defeat Hoopa. And you did it, Typhlosion! You really did it. I can't tell you how grateful I am."

You're a bit confused. "Why did you have to bring me here? I never could have done it without you saving me anyway. If you have all that power, why couldn't you defeat Hoopa yourself?"

"That sort of power is exactly the reason why it had to be someone else." The Voice spreads its arms, gesturing to your surroundings. "I am a creature who lives in the shadows, inhabiting a dimension of my own, aloof and apart from the rest of the world. When Hoopa awoke, with the power to control all dimensions in his rings, he sought to bring them all under his control so that he could rule everything that is. I was so scared. I knew he had the power to find me, and destroy me, and as long as he was free I could never be safe. So I created a plan. I searched for someone who could be my savior, and once you were here I did my best to provide you with all the guidance and protection I could. I'm sorry that I was never able to meet you, but if I revealed myself before you were ready Hoopa would have known, and he could have crushed me and my dimension with no one to challenge him."

"But I still don't get why it had to be me," you persist. "Other Pokémon like Haxorus and Seviper are far stronger than I'll probably ever be."

"Do you know why you're here, Typhlosion?"

You're not sure what to make of being answered with another question. "To defeat Hoopa, right? Isn't that what you said?"

The other Pokémon shakes his head. "Not quite. Merely defeating Hoopa in battle would not have been enough; it's true that many other Pokémon could perhaps have done that. To confine Hoopa, to wrestle its Unbound form into submission, requires the full life energy of another being. A life for a life. If any ordinary, natural Pokémon had attempted the feat you accomplished, Typhlosion, it might have succeeded in its goal, but it would be dead right now. You, though, were once human. You are now a being touched by the dimensions, and that allowed me to exert a small influence over you at the last moment. You are marked by your origin, and for that reason your ultimate destiny still remains open."

"And where am I now?" you ask.

Again you are given a smile, this time with a hint of laughter. "You are in between. Like me." The small Pokémon's face quickly grows more somber. "But you cannot stay here for long. You must make a choice. I have the power to restore you to your life in this world, as you are. Or...I can return you to the human world, and the life you had before. Think carefully, and choose wisely."

After months of being stuck in the body of a Typhlosion, facing dangers, hardships, and pains you would have barely thought possible, you're finally offered a chance to go back? You can't believe it. Your mouth is already open, ready to accept the invitation to return to life as a human. You flame organs light up in anticipation and excitement. And that simple, bodily, involuntary response makes you hesitate. Not that you were unprepared for it; you're quite used to it by now. And that's just it. The idea that part of your body is constantly on fire is no longer alien; it seems natural. It's true that you're stuck in this body, insofar as you can't willingly change it, but the same would be true of your human body. Living in the form of a Pokémon no longer feels like a prison. You chuckle, sure that Haxorus would be pleased to hear this revelation of yours, and then you gasp. What about Haxorus? He's become your best friend. Did you even have a best friend where you were before? You don't know. You don't know anything about it. There's nothing left, even in the deepest recesses of your mind, to connect you to that time and place. What sort of life might you be going back to? You think of all the bonds you've forged here, to friends and allies and partners. There was a time when you never thought the day would come that you could almost feel crushed to say goodbye to Poliwhirl and Seviper. Last of all, and sweetest, you think of Tsareena. How could you give that up?

How could I give that up? Doubts come creeping back in. Maybe you already have. What's to say you don't have a loving family and caring friends waiting for you back home? Who knows how many people might be depending on you, or clinging on to hope of your return? You could have been the blasted President of the United States of America for all you're aware.

You hang your head, feeling physically exhausted from the struggle of your mental turmoil. For minutes on end you wrestle with the problem while the Voice stands by passively. Eventually you look up at it, lost and unsure. "I..I don't know what to do," you stammer. "I can't make this decision yet. I need time; I'm not ready. Can I...stay here, in this universe, until...until I know for sure?"

The Pokémon facing you tilts its head, considering your request, and then nods compassionately. "I understand. You may do as you ask. Take as much time as you wish, and when you are ready with your answer, come and find me."

You blink, nonplussed. "How will I do that? Your home is separate from the Pokémon world! And I don't even know your name! Who are you?"

"Typhlosion, hold up your paw," the unknown Pokémon orders commandingly.

You do as you're told. To your surprise, a Shadow Claw attack forms on its own. The Pokémon in front of you flings its arms wide.

"Do you think it's a coincidence that your personal Hidden Power is a Bug-type attack? The very type best suited to battling Hoopa? No, of course not. And your knowledge of Shadow Claw is no coincidence either. It's a very rare attack for a Typhlosion to possess." Blinding white light creeps in around the edges of your eyes, and the Voice begins to fade from view. "You carry a piece of me with you, so that no matter where you go, you will always be able to find me. I am the Nightmarcher and the Shadowboxer and the Gloomdweller. Come and find me, my friend. My name is Marshadow!"
It's bittersweet for me to say, but this marks the end of the main part of The World of Pokémon. Stay tuned, however! We've still got an epilogue coming! I'll see you all then.
 

Typhlosion

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At last, here you stand again. Marshadow was right: when the time came, it was easy to find. Many years have passed since it revealed itself to you, at the frozen top of the world, and gave you a choice to make. Now your dark back fur is slowly fading to a bluish gray at the edges, and your fangs aren't quite as sharp as they used to be, but the fire within and around you burns as hot and bright as ever.

Marshadow waits impassively before you. "Hello, Typhlosion. It's good to see you again. Have you made your decision?"

"I have." As you rasp out the words, tears prick unbidden at the corners of your eyes. Memories of all the decades that this world has been your home flood through you. They were full of happiness and light, as well as sorrows and pain, but you wouldn't have had it any other way. You think as well of all those who went before you: friends from Venture Town and from the Guild, from your adventures and travels, and Seviper and Haxorus...and Tsareena. She made everything worth it, and you know the time has come to follow her once again. "I choose to stay in this world. This is my home, and this is where I belong, as a Pokémon. I am proud and glad to have been Typhlosion."

At this proclamation, Marshadow beams. "And so it is. Allow me, truly, to welcome you home." The little Pokémon raises its arms, and you lay down in front of it. As the shadows fade you catch one last glimpse of the beautiful stars, numerous beyond counting. Then your eyes close for the final time, and you set off on the last, greatest adventure of them all.
:typhlosion: :marshadow: :gardevoir:
:hoopaunbound:
:golisopod:
:poliwhirl:


:tsareena: ........... :castform:
:hoothoot: ........... :basculin:
:aipom: :honchkrow:
:blitzle: ......... :kecleon:
:gallade: ......... :rhydon:


:morelull: :honedge: :trumbeak:
:hakamoo: ...............
:masquerain: :gourgeist: .....
:seviper: ...............
:doublade::lopunny::medicham:


:pokeball: :pokeball:


:haxorus: :jynx: :dusknoir:
:hitmonchan: ...................
:hitmonlee: :sceptile: ........
:hitmontop: ..................
:tyrogue: :hariyama: :sudowoodo:


:ferrothorn: ..................:magearna:
:golbat::hippowdon:........ :pyroar:
:hoopa:......... :raichu: :litleo:
:braviary:................ :wailord:

:skitty: ..:yveltal: ......
:kyurem: ...........:zygarde:
:serperior: ...........:zweilous:
:xerneas: ..:boldore: .......
 

Typhlosion

Flaming Torch
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Since the Azurilland archive has been blotted from existence, the link I posted to the original, incomplete version of The World of Pokémon no longer functions. Fortunately I was able to recover some of it thanks to the Wayback Machine, but unfortunately that was only the first two parts. I don't know if I'll ever get around to reconstructing the middle two or three parts. Nevertheless, since I have the beginning of the longest unified work of fiction I've ever completed sitting in a Word document on my computer, I would love to share more of this story with you all.

You are falling... falling... and, a voice... what's it saying? The ground rises up to meet you.

It's nighttime, though some light is provided by the countless brilliant stars. You are surrounded by a dense forest. A strange calmness pervades you despite your inability to remember anything.

Without warning, a woman bursts from the undergrowth right in front of you with a panicked expression. She has bobbed light green hair and appears to be wearing a mask that makes her eyes look red. Her dress is white with green sleeves the same as her hair. The weirdest feature is some kind of flat pink horn extending from her chest; you assume it's part of the dress somehow.

"Help me, please!" she cries. A small spherical object, wrapped in cloth, is pressed into your hands before you can answer. "Take this, too," the woman continues, affixing a small gold badge to your collar. "Now run! Flee! Get out of here!" she shouts in your face. "They can't find you as easily."

Your mind is still blank, so any idea sounds like a plan. As per the woman's command, you mechanically turn and run. Looking back over your shoulder, you can still see her gazing fearfully after you when a huge shadow darker than the night materializes behind her. Two giant gray hands emerge, dragging the woman backward as your sight is obscured by the forest. You keep running.

After taking a few short steps, you realize that you can't get away fast enough. Without knowing why, you instinctively grasp the object in your teeth and drop to all fours. It's now much easier to race through the forest, darting around obstacles. The amount of light seems to be increasing as well; lurid red shadows flicker in front of you. Again glancing backward, you are confronted with a blazing inferno. Flames roar among the plants and showers of embers explode through the air, turning leaves and trunks into scorched skeletons of smoke and ash.

Immediate fear of the wildfire motivates you to run even faster than distant fear of the shadow. You dash heedlessly through tangling bushes and vines, but the fire seems to follow wherever you go.

Pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, you begin to outstrip the worst of the blaze. Up ahead the starlight becomes brighter, and you burst at last out of the forest. A narrow swath of clear land separates a rocky bluff to your left and a small river to your right. You run to the water's edge and cast yourself in without hesitation.

Everything goes numb. You can't breathe, can't move. Your mouth reflexively opens, but only water gushes into your lungs. The cloth sphere sinks. The rippling stars recede, hopelessly far away. You are terribly cold.

Sensation returns as a sharp pressure on your chest. Your whole body shudders as you cough and retch. Water mixed with vomit spews onto the grass. When the fit passes you lie completely still, eyes closed, too tired to do anything but drift off again even though it is now day.

When you awaken for the second time, a hideous face is looming over you. It's mostly a pale silvery green, with beady black eyes and two purple antennae. The creepiest feature is the mouth, or lack thereof. Instead, this thing has a wriggling mass of small purple feelers.

Your eyes shoot open and you sit bolt upright, only to see that you are surrounded a dozen or so monsters. They vary wildly in appearance, but all are equally menacing and strange as the first. With this revelation, all the questions you can't believe you didn't ask last night come pouring into your mind. "G-get away from me!" is the first sentence you choke out, followed by, "Where am I? How... how did I get here? What's going on? What were those two... why... Wait, why was I running on all fours? Who were those other... W-w-wha...? Who...but...what happened..."

One of the creatures on the smaller side, mostly blue with a white belly and hands and a black spiral pattern, marches up to you and slaps you painfully across the face. "Quit your babbling, lad!" it roars.

"Poliwhirl, enough!" snaps a plantlike monster with flowing green hair, a reddish body, and a white face and hips. "This fellow has a lot--a lot--of explaining to do, but he doesn't look like he's up to it just yet."

"Apologies, Tsareena," mutters the blue creature brusquely.

"Heyhey, loo-hook at this!" calls a one-legged owl thing as it hops up and pokes at the gold badge given to you by the woman. It had been concealed by your body while you lay unconscious and was only just now visible.

"Ah, an Exploration Badge! Are you from the Guild? Perhaps we should take you to them," says the plant creature, the Tsareena they called her.

"Ah'd have expected more frae a Guildie, mahself," frowns the one called Poliwhirl, "but perhaps ye've just had a knock to the head, noo?"

Tsareena turns to a zebra with an emo hairdo. "Blitzle, run up to the Guild and let them know we're coming, please."

"You got it, ma'am," the zebra neighs as it dashes off.

"Golisopod, would you help him up?" Tsareena asks, turning to the silvery monster from before.

"Of course," it rumbles, scooping you up in a pair of massive claws.

"No, wait!" you shriek, shocked out of silence by a recollection. A burst of adrenaline lets you wriggle to the ground, and you scramble weakly back toward the river. All the monsters give shouts of alarm and move to stop you. A humanoid one resembling the woman jumps in your path, blocking the way with giant green spikes on its elbows.

"You wanna try drowning for real this time, buddy?" it grins jokingly. You try to muscle past him, but your strength still isn't back.

"You don't understand..." you practically sob. "She gave me... I lost it... it's down there somewh... I have to--"

"Do you mean this?" asks the Golisopod with a tap on your shoulder. It's holding out a ball wrapped in cloth in one of its four smaller arms. "You had it when you fell in, so I fished it out as well."

"Yes!" you cry as you snatch the ball away. Then the "as well" registers. "Oh... thank you."

Golisopod waves a claw dismissively. "No problem." He makes a throaty, gravelly noise that you realize is laughter. "Thank Gallade as well, for the second time." The green-armed humanoid waves amiably.

"Heyhey, let's go see what the badge is abou-hoot," chirps the owl impatiently.

"Okay, Hoothoot," Tsareena chuckles. Seeing that no immediate harm is intended, you consent to lean on Golisopod's shoulder, and everyone makes their way along the path. Rounding a bend to the left, you see that this is actually near,the place where the river empties into the ocean. A collection of bright buildings stands before you.

"Is this where you all live?" you ask in surprise.

Tsareena nods with a proud smile. "Welcome to Venture Town."

"And yon's the Guild," Poliwhirl explains, gesturing past the town to the hills on the other side.

A large central path meanders among the widely-spaced structures. It's made of dirt, but lined with stones and quite well kept. As you pass, Tsareena, who seems to be the leader, points out various shops with names like Aipom's Appraisal, Honchkrow Bank, Café a la Castform, The Bascul-Inn, Kecleon General Store, and Rhydon's Rockin' Moves. As you pass, many creatures call out greetings.

"So... what are you guys, exactly?" you ask no one in particular.

"Uh, Pokémon?" Gallade raises an eyebrow. "Geez, you must've hit your head hard, man. And there's no "you guys" about it. You're one of us too, ya know!"

Looking down at yourself, it seems obvious. Your short, stocky limbs have claws at the end, and pairs of fangs occupy your mouth. As far as you can tell, you're entirely covered with coarse yellow fur. Still, Gallade's assertion seems... wrong to you. This thought gradually fades, however, as you continue toward the Guild's outpost.

On the other side of town, you walk up to some kind of fort built into the hills. "And here we are, the Seviper Guild," Golisopod tells you. A few other buildings are clustered around the main entrance; Poliwhirl identifies them as Items & More-lull, Hakamo-o Dojo-o, and Masquerain Assembly.

As you approach, the front gates open and a group of Pokemon streams out. The Blitzle from before is among them, and a large black snake with red, yellow, and purple markings is in the lead. "Where issss he?" this creature snarls in rage. "Ssshow me the imbessssile who burned down my foresssssst! I'll ssslice hiss sskin off!"

"Seviper, just calm down--"

"Don't tell me to calm down, Tsssssssareena!" Seviper retorts. "It musssst have been him, right? The Fire-type?" Without waiting for an answer, he transfers his livid, paralyzing gaze to you. "Why in Platessss didn't you control your flamessss, sssstupid? An entire foressst, gone! Pokémon have been ekssssssecuted for lessssss!" Then he notices the Exploration Badge on your collar. His eyes widen, and his bladed tail lashes dangerously. "Where did you get that?" he hisses. "Are you a thief and a murderer assss well ass an arsssonisst?" He lunges at you, and it takes the combined efforts of Golisopod and Poliwhirl to hold him back.

"Give me one good reassson I ssshouldn't ssseparate hiss head from hiss body thissss very inssssstant!" Seviper rages.

You can tell that most of the onlookers don't really know how to react, but Tsareena at least is still trying to maintain order. "Cease this behavior at once, Seviper," she commands regally. "It is unbecoming of a Guildmaster. If there is to be any punishing it will be from Sheriff Doublade and Deputy Honedge, not you."

All this talk of punishment and criminal activity is too much. "I didn't cause that fire!" you shout indignantly, finally finding your voice. "I haven't done anything wrong! What do you mean "controlling my flames", huh? What the heck is that? What the hell is any of this!"

Seviper checks himself, though he's clearly still angry almost beyond words. "The ssssame flamesssss all of your kind have, dumbassssss! You're a Typhlossssion, aren't you?

This hits you like a ton of bricks, and suddenly you're gasping for air. "Wha--wha...wh...? Typhlosion?" A veil seems to lift in your mind, one that has clouded your thoughts from the moment you hit the ground. "N--no, no!" you roar desperately. "I'm a human!"

Many jaws drop. Even Seviper looks a little taken aback, though he definitely does not seem amused. "Eksssplain yoursssself," he orders in a deadly quiet voice. "And sssspeak very carefully."

"I am a human. I don't come from here," you begin slowly, considering and enunciating each word. "I don't remember anything from before, but I know I am telling the truth. I was falling..."

All the Pokémon around you are silent as you narrate the events of the previous night. Gallade suddenly breaks in with a cry of alarm when you finish describing the woman.

"Hey, that sounds like Garde--"

"Sssilensse!" bellows Seviper. In a deceptively mild voice he turns back to you and asks you to continue.

Everyone saves their questions for the end, so there are no more interruptions. You conclude with when you blacked out in the river, and Golisopod confirms that at this point he pulled you from the water, resuscitated you, and sent a friend called Trumbeak to alert the residents of Venture Town. Trumbeak, who is still in the crowd, also acknowledges this sequence of events.

"So the woman gave me this badge and the orb," you inform Seviper with a touch of haughtiness. "I didn't steal anything or murder anyone!"

He nods slowly but says nothing, still thinking over what you have told him. Various Pokémon in the crowd take this as an opportunity to harass you with questions and criticisms.

"But why didn't you control your flames?"

"Fire-type Pokémon have to be careful not to damage nature!"

"Why in the name of Arceus would you throw yourself in a river like that?"

"Don't you know you could've died?"

"I...am...a...human!" you repeat emphatically, trying to drill it into their skulls. "Everything was fuzzy when I woke up; I didn't feel like a Pokémon. I don't know about any of this." Turning back to Seviper, who seems to have calmed down, you ask, "So, what does this badge mean?"

"That'ssss a Masssster Rank Badge from Team Sscharm," Seviper tells you. This also gets a reaction from the surrounding Pokémon.

"So it was Gardevoir you saw!" Gallade shouts. He gives a few minor details you didn't mention in your tale, and you confirm that it seems to be the same person. "She's in trouble, then!" Gallade continues. "Seviper, you have to rescue her! Now!"

"Wait, so what's Team Charm?" you ask.

"Gallade, expeditions don't just take off at the drop of a hat," frowns another Pokémon standing attentively at Seviper's shoulder. She looks like some kind of jack-o'-lantern woman. "We have no idea where they could be, or what we're up against. I don't like the sound of that shadow."

"Thank you, Gourgeissssst." Addressing your question, Seivper says, "Team Sscharm is a highly ssssskilled ekssploration team comprissssed of Gardevoir, Lopunny, and Medicham. Our friend the mayor here"--he gestures with his head at Tsareena--"wasss alsso a member previoussssly. Three weeksss ago they left on an expedition and have not been sssseen or heard from ssssincce." He pauses for a moment. "Now, though, it sseemsss that at leasst one of them hasss been ssseen and heard from." Seviper stares piercingly at you. "I'm not sssure I believe your versssion of eventss, but whether from good or evil it can't be denied that you have Gardevoir'ssss badge. Hand it over."

"No problem," you answer. "I've got nothing to hide." After some fiddling around with your newly shortened fingers, you are able to unclip the badge from what is not your collar, but actually a scruff of neck fur. Gourgeist floats forward to take it, since Seviper has no arms.

"We can use this to track the other badges from Team Charm," Gourgeist explains. "Hopefully the other members haven't lost theirs."

At that moment there's a stir on the edge of the crowd. Drawing yourself up to your full height, you can see another monster stomping up the path to the Seviper Guild. This one is huge and intimidating, a bipedal greenish-brown lizard with sharp red claws and two massive curved blades protruding from its jaw. Judging from the sudden tension in the air, you're missing out on some kind of history.

"Hakssorussss," Seviper says with a note of surprise. "That wass fassssst."

Haxorus shrugs, a move rather incongruous with its appearance. "The objective was misreported," he says breezily. "It was level 19 rather than level 79, a simple issue of messy writing." Only then does he seem to realize the large audience. "Did I miss something more interesting back here?"

Everyone exchanges a glance; Tsareena is once again the first to act. Indicating for you to step forward, she tells Haxorus, "This Typhlosion appeared on the edge of town last night, behaving very oddly. He--he claims to be a human."

Haxorus scrutinizes you wordlessly with deep, glittering red eyes. Then he chuckles. "I guess that explains Dense Forest. We might have to change the name."

"Issss there anything you could do to ssssee if he'ssss telling the truth?" Seviper asks.

Haxorus's demeanor becomes serious. "Tell me what happened," he commands. You repeat your story, with Golisopod's and Trumbeak's additions, up until the time when Haxorus returned. He nods thoughtfully.

"Did you actually see yourself falling?" he asks suddenly. "That is, could you actually see a large area of the world, gradually becoming narrower and more defined as you got closer? Could you feel the wind?" After a moment's reflection, you shake your head. "Falling is just the closest word for it, right? Your mind was the thing moving, as it was drawn from infinitely far away to a new body." It's a statement from Haxorus, not a question. "And there was a voice as well."

Your eyes widen in shock. That was one detail you had left out. "How do you know about that?" Your own voice quavers.

Seviper breaks in to accusingly hiss, "You never told usss about any voisssse."

"There's always a voice," Haxorus murmurs. "You see, I used to be a human as well."

No one else seems particularly affected by this revelation, but you are flabbergasted. "You're a human too? So there are others, I'm not alone! How often does this happen? Where are they? You believe me, right?"

"I believe you, Typhlosion," declares Haxorus. "Like me, you were brought to this world from the human one and transformed into a Pokémon."

After a long moment of hesitation, Seviper nods. "You know how much we ressspect you for what you've done, Hakssoruss, and your word isss good enough for me. But, much remainssss to be dissssscussssed, and until further notice, you will have the resssponssibility of watching over him. If Tssssssareena agreesss, of courses."

"That sounds like a fine arrangement," she consents.

"It will be my pleasure," Haxorus smiles. Turning, he meekly inquires, "Is there a chance you remember anything from what your life was like before? In the human world?"

You sadly shake your head, and Haxorus sighs deeply.

"I thought not. None of us do. All we know is that we don't come from here."

Everyone is silent for a while. You hadn't even noticed the passing of time, but now the fiery sun is barely visible over the hilltops, blanketing the Guild with cool purple shadows. An evening breeze caresses your fur. It's a pleasant, seemingly nostalgic sensation, but how is it able to touch something so deep within you? Haxorus is right; with your memories permanently gone, you have no past here or anywhere. All that remains is a faint disquietude. Must this world now become your home? Could this ever be home?

Tsareena softly interrupts your pensive reverie. "It's getting late, everyone. Time to head home. We can continue this in the morning." Murmuring goodbyes and goodnights, the group of Guildies and townsfolk drifts away.

Seviper lingers outside the high, arched gates of his guild before they close for the night. "Hakssoruss? Sssshould I wait?" he asks.

"No, thank you," your new guardian responds. "We'll stay out here for tonight."

"Sssssuit yoursssself." The Guildmaster makes a strange head-bobbing motion that you interpret as a shrug. He disappears, and you are left with Haxorus.

"Ok," he rumbles in a businesslike manner. "I have a place we can stay back near the river. Let's go." Haxorus stomps off into the night, but you hesitate.

"Hey, it's dark out," you shout after him. "I can't see where I'm going." The dark patch that is Haxorus stops, and turns back in your direction.

"You've got a lot to learn, and your education begins now," he calls. "You're a Fire-type. Make your own light."

"What?" you snort in disbelief. "In case you couldn't tell from the forest incident, I haven't exactly learned to 'control my flames' yet."

Haxorus lumbers back. "Well, you need to," he says flatly. "This who you are now. It's not easy, but we've all learned to be Pokémon, and so can you. All Typhlosion have a ring of organs around their necks that produce flames. You just have to scrunch all the muscles you can until you find something that works."

Setting yourself on fire doesn't sound like a good thing, but anything goes here as far as you can tell. After a few moments of trying, there's a whoosh right behind you, and the same crimson flickers from the wildfire appear on the grass in front of you. A feeling like you just took a shot courses through you, hot and bright, filling you with sudden energy.

"That's it," laughs Haxorus. "Now, let it spread. You can manipulate the fire however you want, all over your body."

You try to feel the fire, willing it to go where you wish. As you flex different groups of muscles, though, all that you accomplish is to extinguish the flames around your neck. No matter what you do, you can't get them to reignite.

"Well, I can always throw you in a volcano or something," Haxorus sighs dramatically. "Come on. Haxorus can see in the dark, to an extent, so keep close."

"Volcano?" you ask as Haxorus begins walking. "That was a joke, right?"

"Not necessarily," he chuckles ominously. "I've heard there are few better ways to kickstart a belligerent fire."

Conversation stops as you and your guide travel back through Venture Town. Off to your right is a faint glow from where the forest fire hasn't entirely died out. The road continues south, spanning the river with a bridge. On the other side the bluffs rise up again, forming a kind of broad flat canyon around the river. Tonight you have a chance to appreciate the beauty of the starry heavens in a place free from light pollution. Maybe this world isn't so bad.

You begin to notice a strange low buzz, more of a vibration that can be felt than a sound that can be heard. You stop and look around, trying to pinpoint the source. Haxorus follows suit. It's coming from a narrow, wrinkled cleft, the only scar on an otherwise unbroken cliff face. When you look carefully, you can also make out a very soft, purplish-white glow.

"What the heck is this?" you wonder aloud, stepping forward to investigate.

"I'm not entirely..." Haxorus begins before a penny drops. "No, wait, Typhlosion, get--"

You are almost close enough to peer into the crevice when the glow and the buzz suddenly escalate, and the world twists like a wrung cloth as you are sucked inside.

The space in which you find yourself is a square, low-ceilinged cavern made of bluish-gray stone. Haxorus is nowhere in sight. Spinning around, you can see no trace of the entrance. The only way in or out of the cave is a narrow passageway on the far side.

"Well that was effing strange," you mutter. Some kind of luminescence in the walls provides illumination, and since there's nothing else to do, you walk forward and through the passageway. It spills out into another chamber that looks exactly like the first save for two details. Across the room is a set of stairs that seems to lead into nowhere. Also, you are no longer alone.

Three Pokémon are ranged about between you and the stairs, though none of them have noticed you yet. Two are humanoid, with one having boxing gloves for hands and the other having bungee cords for legs. The third is slightly less humanoid, with a hand-like tail and a cone on its head. The tenuous illusion of normalcy is shattered, however, when this Pokémon catches a glimpse of you. It shouts a warning to the others and jumps upside down, spinning on its head like a demented top.

"Hey, you!" leers the kicking one. "This is our territory, see? Scram!"

"Yeah," the spinning one adds. "Vamoose! We don't want you here!" The three move in menacingly.

"L-look, look, I'm sorry, okay?" you stammer, holding your hands palms out. "I'll leave, I promise, I didn't know."

"Didn't know?" scoffs the boxing one. It hops side to side, pugnaciously jabbing at the air. "Not our fault. Everyone knows about Team Bodybuilder. We take what we want and take on who we want, anytime, anywhere. We claimed this dungeon for Team Bodybuilder and now we don't want no outsiders. So beat it before we beat you!"

"Okay, you got it, I'm leaving, just point the way," you nod vigorously. "And what do you mean, dungeon?"

"Sweet Nuggets," growls the kicker. "Never heard of Team Bodybuilder, doesn't know what a dungeon is. Where the hell you been your whole life, punk?"

The spinner's eyes widen, and he starts going in crazy loops. "Hey, 'member what Tyrogue said he saw in town today? A Typhlosion thinking he's a human? That could be this sucker!"

"You might be on to somethin' there," the boxer nods reflectively. He looks back at you as a wicked smile steals across his face. "Our little buddy's good with details, and he mentioned you got some kind of orb from the Charm bimbo, an orb you never gave up or had examined. An item from a team like that could be a great addition to Team Bodybuilder. I think we'll take it off your hands."

The three fighters advance, intentions clear on their faces. You retreat accordingly, trying to maintain some distance, but with a sudden lunge they are upon you. The onslaught is ubiquitous and relentless. Bungee Leg hits you with a mega kick right in the gut. Boxing Glove jumps and rains down from above a flurry of punches that feel powerful as comets. Demented Top goes after your legs with multiple spinning kicks that seem to get more powerful with each hit. You try fruitlessly to defend yourself. Every inch of you aches.

Suddenly, as the fighters continue their assault, you again sense a presence you've felt only once before. There are still no words, but you immediately feel a bit more comfortable with the voice in the back of your head. It doesn't direct anything, but with the voice there, you know what to do.

You feel the attacks: how they strike, where they land, when they will come. These Pokémon work as a unit, but chances exist. You don't think but act, feeling more powerful and confident than ever before. In the millisecond between blows, a cloud of pure heat billows out around you. The fighters jump back. You flip into the air, and as you curl around yourself, something happens. Little pinpricks radiate out from your neck to your entire body. The voice is there as a burst of star-shaped rays fly from your body to strike all three other Pokémon. You land squarely on your feet and glare at them, panting with anger, pain, and exhilaration.

Boxer, Kicker, and Spinner are knocked back out of the passageway, and you leap after them. They look pissed and move to regroup. Before they can come after you again, though, a deep, terrible scream echoes from the first chamber. The whole dungeon rumbles, and a fearsome scarlet juggernaut blasts out of the passage. Through the shimmering aura you can see it's Haxorus. He charges full bore into Spinner and then Kicker, tossing them brutally against the cavern wall. They do not get up.

Boxer has a look of utter panic on his face. "Leader!" he shouts. "Help me!"

A frosty chill emanates from an opening you hadn't seen before, behind the stairs and directly across from yours. As it pervades the room, the ruddy glow around Haxorus fades as though forced out by the cold. His eyes narrow.

Another Pokémon you've never seen before appears. She looks even more like a human than Gardevoir, with blonde hair, purple skin, and red clothes.

"What's going on?" she cries in a singsong voice. "Who is disturbing my precious Team Bodybuilder?"

"It's them, Miss Jynx," Boxer snivels, pointing at you and Haxorus. "They attacked us for no reason!"

"Come then, Hitmonchan," she croons. "Let's teach them good behavior!" Jynx turns to you with an ugly expression. "A Fire-type, eh?" she snarls. "I'd better start with you!"

Hitmonchan attempts to hit you with an uppercut likely to knock you into the sky, but Haxorus is there by your side, swiping him away with gigantic green claws of light. Glowing pink heart shapes appear around Jynx's hands; she slaps you down forcefully and repeatedly.

"Typhlosion!" Haxorus roars. "I can fight them! You have to get out of here!"

"No, Haxorus," you assert, popping back up. Just like before, your entire body is suffused with fiery energy. "I can do this too." The organs around your neck blaze to life of their own accord. You take a deep breath. Every nerve tingles, every cell feels exquisitely alive. The voice pounds in your head, and you expel a scorching torrent of fire from your mouth straight at Jynx.

She is thrown to the ground by the power of your attack, and only barely pushes herself back up. "How dare you?" she wails. "I will make you feel the climactic result of our training!" Jynx's eyes disappear into uniform blue pools, and she thrusts out her hands.

Without warning you rise into the air, completely immobile, spots dancing in your vision. With another hand motion you are made to gyrate in place. Rotating through the air in all directions, you become nauseous and totally disoriented, but a tiny part of the sensation is familiar. You had to spin around for the star attack too.

It's nearly impossible to think in this situation, so you don't try. You just feel. Once the voice showed you the way, you never lost it, and you know the key is somewhere inside. Your flames are going full blast, and soon the pinpricks have returned. Star-shaped rays fly randomly through the cavern, guided only by the momentum from Jynx's attack.

After a moment, you hear a high-pitched cry. Immediately you drop to the floor, landing heavily on your side. When you look up you are confronted with a disheveled, murderous Jynx. "I will end you!" she shrieks.

With a bound, Haxorus is standing over you. Before anyone else can move, he takes a vicious swing with his lowered head, smashing an orange-outlined tusk into Jynx's chest. She is sent flying.

"Damn right I will," he nods.
 

Typhlosion

Flaming Torch
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This is the last intact part of the story which remains. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless!

Sudden silence rings loud in your ears; it takes a minute for the pounding adrenaline to wear off. You roll onto your back, and Haxorus offers you a hand up. Looking around the cavern, you see that all four of your enemies are knocked out cold. You glance warily at your friend. "Haxorus. What, the hell, was that?"

"Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee, and Hitmontop," he tells you, gesturing in turn at Boxer, Kicker, and Spinner. "Jynx I think you know already. They're a local gang of thugs who call themselves Team Bodybuilder." He raises a quizzical brow ridge. "Or did you mean that in a broader sense?"

You nod. "Uh, yeah."

"I suppose this was your first battle, wasn't it?" Haxorus reflects. "I have no idea how you managed to use moves already. Let's get out of here first, though. It's not much farther, and I promise I'll answer all your questions then."

Haxorus walks over to the stairs and starts climbing. When he reaches the top step, he disappears.

By this time you've become adjusted to the shock of unexplainable occurrences. With a shrug, you climb the stairs as well. There's a pop and a flash, and you find yourself standing outside once more, although now you are on the edge of the cliffs rather than at their base.

"Well, how about that," chuckles Haxorus. "We've been spared some effort. Almost there now."

After walking another five minutes or so, you come across a wide, flat shelf of rock which has been thrust up from the main body of the cliffs. Various other large stones piled about have been patched and roofed with turves and the occasional timber beam to create a cozy shelter under the lee of the shelf. This, you realize, must be Haxorus's home.

He leads you to the door, which faces the sea, and ushers you inside. It's surprisingly spacious. A few stairs lead down to the floor, which Haxorus has dug into the earth to create a higher ceiling. By the light of a fireplace in the far wall you can see that the house, which consists of a single open room, is comfortably but not lavishly furnished.

Haxorus pulls a sturdy stool up to the central table, and you do the same. "Okay," he rumbles. "Let's talk. Fire away."

"What was that place?" you begin.

Haxorus laughs. "I'm not entirely sure myself. It's never been there before." His demeanor becomes thoughtful. "That was a place known as a Mystery Dungeon. There are countless numbers of them scattered throughout the world; no one really understands why, how, or when they appear. The one we entered was tiny by comparison. Many of them extend for miles, both horizontally and vertically, with many levels. However, they are not linked to the outside dimensions of space, sometimes making them extremely useful for long-distance travel. All kinds of treasure and items can be found in Mystery Dungeons, and most importantly, wild Pokémon live there."

"Wild Pokémon?" you ask. "How is that diff...I mean...not to say that you aren't--"

"Wild Pokémon are considered to be those who have no speech," he explains solemnly. "They can't work together in communities like we do. However, it is very easy to teach them and integrate them into society, if they choose."

"So this dungeon showed up out of nowhere, and Team Bodybuilder got there first?"

"It would appear so, except no one can 'claim' a dungeon. They're not things that can be owned; that was merely boasting on their part. Due to the volatile, unpredictable of dungeons, many outlaws and gangs can successfully hide there for extended periods of time. Most Pokémon generally prefer to stay out of dungeons altogether, but some Pokémon dedicate their lives to exploring them. That's what Guilds and Teams do."

You acknowledge this with a nod, preparing to ask about what's really troubling you. "Haxorus... what were all those things we did in the dungeon? What happened to me? The stars, and all those different energies...?"

Haxorus does not speak right away. "All creatures fight. It's in their nature," he answers. "When Pokémon fight, which is called battling, we are not limited to fighting with our bodies as they are. Every Pokémon has some capacity to use special powers known as moves or attacks. Every species of Pokémon has a certain pool of attacks it can learn, and most moves can be learned by multiple species. In the battle against Team Bodybuilder, you used the attacks Swift and Flamethrower, both of which are perfectly natural for a Typhlosion. I used Outrage, Dragon Claw, and Rock Smash. Jynx used Heart Stamp and Psychic."

You have a hard time absorbing all the outlandish information Haxorus is telling you. "So, how does all this happen? Where does it come from?"

"This is an energetic world," Haxorus explains. "Its creatures are intimately connected with its deepest workings, freely able to manipulate the very fabric of existence. Pokémon can be categorized into one or two of eighteen types, each with their own sphere of influence. For instance, Typhlosion are Fire-types, while Haxorus are Dragon-types. We are all irrevocably united with some aspect of being. This is especially true of certain species known as Legendary Pokémon. They have a wide and powerful influence over or are even the embodiment of emotions, processes, or places. For example, Mew and Mewtwo control genetics, while Rayquaza is the ruler of the atmosphere and Shaymin represents gratitude."

"Hang on a minute," you break in. "So that thing back in Venture Town about the volcano... that really wasn't a joke, was it?"

"No, it wasn't," Haxorus smiles. "Jumping into a volcano, the most powerful source of natural heat we know, is supposed to be a wonderfully rejuvenating experience for a Fire-type such as yourself. Or so I'm told, anyway."

Your talk continues long into the night, with Haxorus giving you a crash course in all things Pokémon. He tells you about the type chart, Berries, items, some geography, a good deal of history, and a number of other topics. You ask the occasional question for clarification, but eventually, one unrelated thought comes to the surface. "Haxorus," you burst out, interrupting a small lecture about the concept of physical and special. "I get what you're saying... but I don't understand. Do you know what I mean? You've been telling me all about this world, which is great, because like it or not this is where I am. But... tell me, at risk of sounding existentialist, what does it all mean? We still have no idea what I'm doing here. What are our lives for? Tell me the why!"

Your friend sighs deeply. "Don't forget I was a human too. I know what you mean, Typhlosion." When Haxorus speaks again his voice has lost some of its melancholy tone. "Many years ago I met a Pokémon called Dusknoir, whose friend Sceptile once told him something he then told me. I think you ought to hear it now as well." To your surprise, Haxorus begins to sing in his husky bass.

"It's about you
It's about me
It's about hope
It's about dreams
It's about friends who work together
To claim their destinies
It's about reaching for the sky
Having the courage, and being willing to try
It's about never giving up, so hold your head up,
And we will carry on."

When the words run out, Haxorus switches to humming the melody for a while more. He fades into drowsy silence, then abruptly stands up. Walking over to the fireplace, he draws a metal screen across the opening to block any light from the coals. "We can continue talking in the morning," you hear through the darkness. "I imagine you're looking forward to some sleep. Good night, my friend."

Bright shafts of sunlight caress you awake as they pour through a glass window set in the door. The house has two beds, one occupied by Haxorus and one gifted to you, which are constructed from smooth, raised platforms of rock covered with moss and woven leaf mats. Having been strictly warned beforehand to avoid igniting the bedding, it was altogether an uneventful and very comfortable night. Haxorus wakes up with a gigantic yawn shortly after you.

"Good morning," you say, and he grunts in response.

"Not until we've had breakfast." He stomps over to some cabinets in a corner of the room, then deposits an armful of berries on the table. You both dig in.

"Alrighty then," Haxorus rumbles. "Ready to pick up where we left off?"

You solemnly place the cloth-wrapped sphere on the table. "Actually, I was hoping we could take a look at this."

"Since Gardevoir was the one who gave you that, it will probably be of some value to the Seviper Guild," Haxorus points out. "I think we ought to examine it there."

The large, protective gates of the Guild are once more open. Groups of Pokémon sporting golden badges like the one you had come and go freely. The Venture Town Pokémon as well as Seviper and Gourgeist have again gathered in the central area outside at your summons. You hold the sphere out for all to see.

"Well, let'sss get on with it," Seviper hisses. "I want to sssssee what Gardevoir hass for ussss."

The cloth is pitch black, with a pattern of silver stars. It's been gathered into a bunch on one side and secured with a simple overhand knot. When you untie the cloth, a hard smooth ball the size of your fist is revealed.

The ball is a perfect sphere. A band of black with a circular button on one side divides the ball into red and white hemispheres. Tapping it with a claw produces a clinking sound, but you can't tell from what material the ball is made.

"Okay, so, what do we do with this?" you inquire, rolling it around your palm.

"Beats me. Never seen anything like it," Haxorus shrugs. The assembled Pokémon murmur their agreement.

"Well, Golisopod didn't save it for nothing," you snort. "Let's try... this." You casually depress the button.

Immediately the ball leaps from your hand. It opens into two halves around a concealed hinge, and a blob of bluish light is released. This energy coalesces into the shape of a Pokémon lying motionless on the ground.

"Oh my goodness, Lopunny!" Tsareena shouts.

"Wow...dang..." the Lopunny moans. When she rolls over, you can see another one of the gold badges pinned to her ear. "Whatever the heck that was, it hurt." Only then does she seem to notice her surroundings. "Hey, whoa, Tsareena! How did you get here?" Lopunny tries to stand up, but Tsareena gently presses her back down.

"Lopunny, wait. Take it easy. What happened to you?"

The newcomer's brow furrows. "We were on an expedition, just like usual," she recounts. "I don't really know what happened. Something must have snuck up behind us, because all of a sudden I was out cold. When I woke up I was hanging chained inside some kind of force field where my moves wouldn't work at all. Gardevoir and Medicham were there too. It was like an underground lair, and it had a bunch of weird... stuff... everywhere." Lopunny takes a deep breath. "A gigantic, shadowy Pokémon said it had brought us there to test something it called a Poké Ball."

"Like this?" you ask, holding out the red-and-white contraption. After releasing Lopunny it had fallen back to your hands.

A slightly panicked expression crosses Lopunny's face. "Hey, yeah, that's it! Keep it away from me!" Her eyes narrow. "How come you have it? You're not working with him, are you?" She tries to come after you, but is easily restrained by Tsareena.

"It's okay, Lopunny," Tsareena soothes. "He's with us."

"I really wish people would stop accusing me of things," you stage-whisper to Haxorus.

"Look, I'm sorry, man," Lopunny apologizes. She sits up. "If Tsareena and Haxorus trust you, it's all good. I've had a rough... wait, how long was I even in there?"

"Your eksspedition left twenty-three dayssss ago," Seviper informs her.

"Holy Splash!" Lopunny cries. "We'd only been gone six days when the shadow caught us! And are Medicham and Gardevoir...?"

"That dependsss," Seviper hisses carefully. "Tell uss what happened with the Poké Ball."

"Well, I'd been hanging around--" Lopunny smiles weakly--"for just a couple hours, when a huge hand reached out to me holding the Poké Ball. I was sucked inside, and that's all I remember."

"What did the hand look like?" you ask.

Lopunny seems surprised by the question. "It was huge, like twice the size of a Hariyama's, and mostly light gray. There were only three fingers, with super sharp black claws. Looking at it, I couldn't even see where the body was. It just seemed like a big shadow behind everything."

"Sounds the same..." you muse.

"The same as... what?" Lopunny questions.

"The hands that took Gardevoir," you tell her, and her eyes widen.

"Gardevoir! You saw her?" Lopunny turns to Tsareena. "For real, who is this dude?"

"Based on what we know from Typhlosion here and now from you," Tsareena explains, "it would appear that Gardevoir, if not Medicham as well, managed to escape. She took the Poké Ball as well, with you still inside. The shadow pursued her, and just before she was recaptured, Gardevoir passed off the Poké Ball and her exploration badge to the first person she saw. That was Typhlosion, who then ran here to us."

"Oh, wow. Thank you, Typhlosion," Lopunny says sincerely. You wave off the gratitude, feeling uncomfortable that Tsareena's version makes you seem a lot more helpful than you were.

"Okay, so what now?" Haxorus prompts.

"Well, duh," Lopunny says. "We go save my teammates!"

"Sssslow down, Lopunny," Seviper cautions. "You might not be up to thissss jusst yet. How far had you gone before you were ambussssshed?"

Lopunny thinks a moment. "We were near the edge of Downpour Jungle, on our way to Mount Electrum. We might as well check there first."

"Where are those places?" you ask.

Lopunny shoots you a look of disbelief. "How have you not heard of Mount Electrum?"

Tsareena sighs. "Lopunny, this may come as a bit of a shock, but like Haxorus, Typhlosion was once a human."

Lopunny blinks. A moment later she flops back on the grass, laughing helplessly. "Man, what a day!"

Seviper frowns at Lopunny's display. "Whatever the casssse may be, we do need an eksspedition immediately to ssave Team Ssscharm. Massssquerain!"

"Standing by!" hums a four-winged insectoid Pokémon hovering in the air.

"A team will be leaving for Mount Electrum," he says. "We'll need four team badgesss."

"Coming right up, sir!" She flits away to the shop called Masquerain Assembly.

"I will lead this expedition mysssself," Seviper tells the crowd. This gets a reaction.

"But Seviper," Poliwhirl protests, "ye've nae goon on an expedition yerself sin'... sin' Ah can't hardly remember! Are ye sure?"

"I think I know what I'm doing," he retorts coldly. "This eksspedition isss important. Gourgeisssst iss fully capable of running the Guild while I'm gone. Any other quessstionssss, commentss, conssssernsss, or to be usssseful, volunteerssss?"

"Heck, you know I'm going on this!" Lopunny cheers. She jumps to her feet, having shaken off the pain of capture.

"You know, I would like to go as well," Tsareena declares. Shocked faces appear all throughout the crowd. "What?" she challenges. "You all know I was once an explorer. These are my best friends we're talking about. I too am comfortable leaving my affairs in the hands of my deputy. That's you, Gallade."

"Roger, captain," he grins with a salute. "Bring Gardevoir back in one beautiful piece!" The mayor of Venture Town rolls her eyes.

"Actually, Seviper..." Haxorus begins.

The Guildmaster looks sharply at your friend. "Am I going to like what you're about to ssssay?"

"Probably not," Haxorus concedes amiably. "I want Typhlosion and I to go on this expedition as well. And I doubt you'll be able to dissuade one of Lopunny or Tsareena from going, to make room."

"Why?" Seviper hisses. "He'ssss never even been in a battle! He'd get himssssself killed in ten minutesss!"

"Well, that's not entirely true." Haxorus recounts the battle against Team Bodybuilder and how he explained all about dungeons to you last night. "Plus, being a human is exactly why he should definitely go. We don't show up for no reason. This shadow sounds like a Legendary Pokémon, and this Poké Ball is far and away the most disturbing development of recent times. I think Typhlosion was meant for this."

You're very surprised and a little scared by this. The Shadow sounds a lot more dangerous than Team Bodybuilder, and they were plenty painful. "Hang on a sec, Haxorus, let's not..."

"I ssssupposssse that'ss reassssonable," Seviper sighs. "Very well."

Masquerain flies back from her shop, carrying a sling with four badges. "Here you are, sir, four badges ready to go! I brought Sudowoodo with the Guild log as well."

A strange treelike Pokémon walks up carrying a thick book and a pen. He opens it to a fresh leaf and asks in a sedate, deep voice, "Where to today, Mr. Seviper?"

"Mount Electrum," the Guildmaster tells him. "For the purpose of rescuing the remaining members of Team Charm and gathering intelligence about the entity who kidnapped them. Lopunny, Tsareena, Haxorus, and Typhlosion will be participating." As Seviper speaks, Sudowoodo correspondingly fills in the page of his ledger.

"Everything checks out," he nods slowly. "So if I could please have everyone sign this..."

Haxorus, Lopunny, and Tsareena all leave their signatures on spaces indicated by Sudowoodo. When it's your turn, you have no idea what to write. You're not even sure how Typhlosion is spelled. Still, two letters at least seem to be obvious. Taking the pen, you put a stylized T-n on the last line. Seeing your new signature fills you with sudden pride. It's more than being authorized to go on an expedition. Those two simple letters give credence to your entire presence in this world. It's official now.

Sudowoodo closes the book with finality and heads back inside the Guild. "What was that all about?" you ask Haxorus.

"Sudowoodo is the Guild's Gatekeeper," Haxorus explains. "He is responsible for the Request Board and the Guild Log. He makes sure all members are accounted for and that all teams get where they're supposed to be."

"Stand by for badges!" Masquerain calls. She flies around to each member in turn distributing the gold Expedition Badges. You take yours and clip it to the same place Gardevoir did two nights ago.

"Everyone ready?" Tsareena asks. "Then let's go! Lopunny, take the lead!" With that, you all set off in a single file line back through town and into the charred forest.

Lopunny quickly leads you to an enormous tree that escaped mostly unscathed. From a crack in the trunk comes the same vibration and glow you saw along the beach with Haxorus. The other three march in without hesitation and disappear. Shrugging, you follow suit.

Haxorus was right about dungeons being unusual. This one is very overgrown, with long sequences of corridors and clearings. You see many unknown species of Pokémon, but your three companions are capable of dispatching them without your help. Every so often, Tsareena produces apples and oran berries from an impossibly empty-looking satchel to keep hunger down and energy up. After several hours of trekking, your team ascends another of the warp staircases to emerge in a completely enclosed area of jungle. Off to one side, contrasting obnoxiously with the verdant undergrowth, is a sturdy purple and gold chest.

"All right, through with that one," Lopunny grins. "Pass the Elixirs and then let's keep going!" She, Haxorus, and Tsareena all take a few drinks from orange medicine bottles. "We'd give you some, but you didn't use any moves!" she apologizes in response to your questioning glance.

"So, Typhlosion, have you had much success with using fire?" Tsareena inquires.

You haven't tried since first learning the move Haxorus called Flamethrower, but with barely a thought, your flame ring bursts to life. Now you understand what he meant during that long midnight talk, and it feels wonderful. It feels right. Heat suffuses your body, and you form a fireball on your palm. With a flick of your wrist you extinguish it. The power has been unlocked, and it will never leave you again. "Yeah, I'd say I have," you tell her with a wide smile.

"Excellent," she claps. "With your help to light the way, we could continue on into the night. Does anyone object?" Nobody does, and the team enthusiastically plunges into another dungeon whose entrance is on the far end of the open patch. This time, they place you in the lead.

Soon you come face to face with a wild Pokémon. "Okay, Typhlosion, your turn," Haxorus murmurs in your ear. "That's a Ferrothorn. A Grass- and Steel-type. What should you do?"

Haxorus had dedicated much of that afternoon to grilling you on type matchups. He insisted they were of paramount importance, and you've begun to understand why. "Those types are both weak to Fire, aren't they?" you ask rhetorically. "So Flamethrower should do the trick!"

Before you can act, Ferrothorn shoots a dazzling burst of light at you that seems to continually reflect back into your eyes. It hurts, but not much. "That was Mirror Shot. Gotta be quicker next time," Haxorus chuckles. "Aim carefully!"

It's a bit difficult to see from the aftereffects of the attack, but by squinting, you manage to score a direct hit with your Flamethrower. Ferrothorn faints immediately. "Good job," Lopunny congratulates you. "Now come check this out!" She points to a square patch on the ground that glows with green luminescence. As soon as you step on it, you can once again see perfectly. "These patches are called Wonder Tiles. Pretty useful, huh?"

You nod in amazement. Every second here presents a fresh marvel.

Everyone is eager to accomplish the mission, and so you all push on through the night. Your Flamethrower quickly becomes more confident and powerful, and Pokémon known as Golbat provide an opportunity to practice Swift.

Over the next few days and with help from the dungeons, you cover a vast distance. One morning you take a warp staircase that deposits you on the rocky, sloping flanks of a chain of low mountains. "Here we are, Mount Electrum," Tsareena states.

You can't tell if this place counts as part of a dungeon or not. It's wide open, and you can see for miles, but without warning an unknown Pokémon flashes into existence a few yards away. It's mostly pink and purple, with no visible legs and disembodied arms. A large golden ring is clutched in one hand. Caught by surprise, you stop suddenly. "Pokémon can teleport?!"

"Some can," Haxorus mutters, squinting at the newcomer. "Though I've never seen this kind before."

You look disbelievingly at him. "I thought you knew about all of them."

He shakes his head. "Not necessarily." Raising his voice he calls, "Who are you?"

"Who am I?" the other Pokémon repeats contemplatively. "I'm...uh...Mischief! Where are you going?"

"I don't see why that should matter to you," Lopunny scoffs. "Come on, guys, we're almost there."

"Almost there?" Mischief shrieks. "Are you going to Mount Electrum?"

"So what if we are?" Lopunny challenges. She attempts to brush past Mischief, who moves to block her way.

"I can't let you do that," he warns.

"Try and stop us," Tsareena says haughtily, stepping forward to support her friend.

A cornered look comes into Mischief's eyes. He teleports to a safe distance and tosses his ring into the air. As it rises, it begins to expand, and the enclosed image of sky sinks into a spiraling blue void. The ring tips horizontally, and one by one, three other Pokémon drop to the ground. "You really shouldn't go any farther!" Mischief shouts pleadingly. "I will stop you if I have to!"

Lopunny looks back at you and Haxorus. Her eyes are hard. "Boys, looks like we've got a fight on our hands. You ready?"

"Always," Haxorus nods.

"Then let's go!" They and Tsareena charge at Mischief and the Pokémon he summoned.

"Don't I get an opinion?" you mutter as you run after them.

Your teammates spread out into a series of one-on-one battles. "I'll take Braviary!" Lopunny shouts.

"Hippowdon!" calls Tsareena.

"Raichu!" roars Haxorus.

As they begin their respective fights, you are left in the center facing Mischief. "Look, I'm kind of new to this whole..." you begin.

"You cannot go to Mount Electrum!" Mischief cries without letting you finish. From the top of his head he fires a zigzag bolt of rainbow energy that catches you in the stomach. He then comes flying at you with a headbutt, though you are able to slow it down with Flamethrower to the point that it doesn't do much damage. Another quick Flamethrower connects, but Mischief doesn't seem fazed. He holds out his hands while his eyes glow, and you rise into the air.

"Not again," you think. Instead of spinning you around like Jynx, it feels as though Mischief is slowly pulling you apart. Once again you are helpless, but once again the voice emerges to help you. Power concentrates in your hands, slicing through the psychic energy that keeps you aloft. Landing nimbly, you dash toward Mischief and take two massive swipes at him with the shadowy blades that have formed around your claws.

Mischief doesn't get up, but is only able to raise his head and give you a long, mournful look before silently teleporting away. The sounds of fighting cease around you; Braviary, Hippowdon, and Raichu were taken away at the same time as the one who summoned them.

"Too bad," Lopunny sighs. "I was just getting warmed up."

"Excellent job, Typhlosion," Tsareena congratulates you. "I had forgotten this was only your second serious battle."

"How were you able to defeat it so quickly?" inquires Haxorus.

"I think I learned another attack," you beam. After explaining it, you are told that the move is called Shadow Claw.

"Our friend Mischief must not have much Defense," Haxorus chuckles.

After a rest, your expedition enters its final stage. A short cave dungeon near the top, free of wild Pokémon, leads to the interior of Mount Electrum.

The central cavern is enormous, so tall you can't distinguish the ceiling, and comparatively large in diameter. The entire space is cluttered with all kinds of arcane, unsettling equipment and experiments, except for an open area cleared around one wall. Directly across from this are Gardevoir and who you assume must be Medicham, both in chains. Lopunny and Tsareena both sprint over to their friends.

"What...what are you doing here?" Medicham murmurs weakly.

"Hey, it's okay now," Lopunny soothes as she releases her. "We're gonna bust you out of here."

"I tried that already," Gardevoir sighs. "You had been captured, so you don't remember. There's no escaping it." Taking a closer look at the rescue party, her gaze fixes on you. "Are you...that same Typhlosion?"

"Yes, I am," you nod. "I made it back to Venture Town."

Gardevoir smiles. "I'm glad to hear it. I should've guessed from seeing Lopunny free."

"That device, the Poké Ball...it's awful," Medicham shivers. "We have to leave, now, before...holy Splash, no, here he comes--" She breaks off hyperventilating, pointing at the sheer, towering wall that had been cleared.

It's no longer blank. The flat stone surface has been replaced by a portal of massive proportions, similar to the one Mischief created earlier. As you all watch in horror, the shadow steps out. He's absolutely gigantic, four times as tall as Haxorus, with six floating arms exactly like the ones that snatched Gardevoir and captured Lopunny. The portal shrinks closed behind him. You're beginning to understand why a space as large as Mount Electrum was required.

"HOOPA IS HERE!" the shadow announces. When he looks down at the ground, his fearsome golden eyes narrow. "WHO ARE YOU? HOOPA DID NOT BRING YOU!"

"We are here to save the Pokémon you kidnapped!" Haxorus shouts back. His deep, powerful voice sounds childlike by comparison. "You will not be allowed to hold them against their wills!"

Hoopa laughs, a chilling explosion of noise that shakes the very mountain. "HOOPA IS STRONG!" he sneers. "HOOPA CAN DO ANYTHING!"

"You cannot mistreat my friends!" Tsareena shouts in rage. She leaps at Hoopa, ready to play rough.

The giant monster casually moves one of his many rings into her path. Unable to change direction in midair, Tsareena goes sailing through. The portal deposits her right on top of Haxorus, who takes the full force of her attack.

"Why you treacherous--!" Gardevoir screams. She materializes several hunks of purple energy and sends them flying at Hoopa.

He doesn't even bother to redirect this attack. It simply vanishes on contact with his body.

Gardevoir cocks her head. "Well, knowing you're a Dark-type is a good start."

Hoopa chuckles again. "SEE? YOU CAN DO NOTHING TO HOOPA!" He strides forward among his strange collection, stopping by a doll-like robot a couple feet shorter than you. "YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF HOOPA'S TIME! HE KNOWS EVERYTHING; HE CAN USURP LIFE AND BESTOW IT!" Hoopa levitates a minuscule red and blue orb, then fits it into a hole in the robot's chest. Immediately the thing whirs to life, mechanically pivoting to face you.

"YOU WILL BE A SACRIFICE FOR HOOPA'S MAGEARNA!"
 
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