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Making Waves. [#A New Chapter] - Printable Version

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Making Waves. [#A New Chapter] - evanfardreamer - 01-18-19

Submitting this for the A New Chapter prompt contest. My Hard Pokemon goal is Starmie, and I picked the dystopian prompt where Team Aqua won.

Chapter One
Rating: Kid, comments are welcome
Aiming to capture a Wynaut (Easiest) - total characters ~7,400

The raft’s bindings gave an ominous creak as we neared the crest of the wave. Staryu stood at the rear where its twitching yellow appendages did their best to control the water around us. It could do little to calm the seas directly but it found the easiest swells to ride, or angled to best endure the waves we couldn’t avoid.
 
I stood at the raft’s center, clutching the lashed-down canvas and nets as yet another torrent crashed down on us. The salty water stung my eyes and my dark hair was plastered flat. The wave was gone in a moment, and I spat another mouthful of seawater out. So far the ties had held and none of our precious gear had been washed away.
 
“He-yah!” Staryu called out. I blinked my eyes and peered forward. Sure enough, the next waves seemed smaller than the last, and we rode over them without trouble. Dark clouds still filled the skies, but the lightning and downpour had stopped minutes before, and the turbulent seas seemed to be calming as well. I knew it wouldn’t last but was glad for the reprieve.
 
“We have to be close by now!” I said. Staryu twitched its top appendage in a nod, and I felt the first smile in days creeping onto my face.
 
A few minutes later we were there. The seas around us looked no different, but the Staryu nearly jumped in excitement. Its central sphere glowed a bright pink and I unlaced some of the strings, withdrawing a coil of braided rope.  The near end was already secured to the raft so I shoved the rest into the water. It unspooled as the anchor on the far end sank, dropping into the dark water beneath.
 
Also in the central pile were my goggles and my air tank. My village still had a few relics from before the seas rose and drowned the land; much of the technical prowess had been lost as the survivors became nomadic sea bands. It would only give me a few minutes’ air after the two day journey, but that would have to be enough. I re-tied the laces and shrugged into the tank’s harness as quickly as I could. Placing the breathing tube in my mouth and grabbing the folds of a fine mesh net, I slid off the raft into the ocean.
 
I was already used to the sea's chill thanks to the storm-tossed waves. A moment later Staryu dove in and gracefully floated before me. Grasping it gently by the upper appendages, it turned and propelled us towards the sea floor. In no time the only light was the glow of its central gem, a soft pinkish hue that showed nothing more than the anchor rope in the deep water.
 
We reached the bottom in short order. The anchor had sunk into the mud beside an old boulder, marking what looked like the remnants of a path. Starmie pulled us along towards the right and we quickly reached the edge of a sunken town. Stone walls had tumbled from the force of pounding seas; roof pieces and lampposts were strewn about the ground. Larger shapes lurked outside the sphere of pink light, and I steered towards the nearest that still looked square.
 
We were in luck. I recognized the blue tile roof as the Pokemart, and its sturdy construction had survived the punishing waters. We swam to the front doors and found them hanging open. Inside we could see indistinct blobs floating about and I moved forward eagerly.
 
Other than the gentle swirl of the currents, nothing seemed to have disturbed the interior. Potions floated near their shelves, bins of pokeballs  were still mostly full, and even the TM rack was still inhabited.
 
I tried to calm my nerves – as exciting as this was, it would make my limited air go even faster. Already I had to pull harder on the mouthpiece to breathe, and I methodically began filling the net with the most useful items.
 
At the door, Starmie’s sudden motion grabbed my eye. It was watching outside warily, dimming the inside and making it harder to find what I sought. Moving closer, I looked out – was it a hungry Pokemon looking for a snack? We might be in trouble.
 
It turned out to be a another dim light, gradually brightening as if the source were moving closer. Clutching the net I waited as a small bluish creature came around the corner, suspended in a bubble of air and light. It had a spherical head with a wide grin, two long flappy arms, a small body hanging below and a smaller crest atop its head.
 
“Wynaut!” it said cheerfully.
 
It floated into the Pokemart, lighting it much more effectively than Staryu’s dim glow. It didn’t seem to be threatening us so I made use of the light to finish filling my net. I tried to take a breath from the tank but the air supply was exhausted and I only half-filled my lungs. Not good, I thought.
 
I gave a thankful wave to the Wynaut and swam back over to Staryu. With one hand holding the net, I wrapped the other around its midsection and nodded. It moved forward carefully through the doorway and back into the open ocean, then turned upwards and rose towards the surface.
 
My lungs burned – the last breath out would have to hold me to the surface, but my head was already pulsing with my heartbeat. I vaguely noticed the Wynaut’s glow following us towards the surface, but all I could think about was fresh air. I felt my grip slipping around Starmie’s midsection as the roaring in my ears intensified.
 
Mercifully, we broke above the surface before my arm gave out. I gasped in fresh air, which turned into a coughing fit as a wave broke nearby and splashed my face. The clouds still hung above, but no new squalls seemed to be imminent. We made it to the platform, and I pulled myself weakly with both arms onto its surface.
 
Wait a minute – my net! I must have dropped it without realizing. It would have sunk to the bottom, defeating all that work of gathering it. I let out a weak groan and rolled back to the side, staring down into the water.
 
There, a few feet below the surface, hung the net and its precious contents. It was suspended in a glowing ball of light, with that Wynaut riding atop it as it rose from the water. I reached out as it came near, gathering it up and pulling it onto the raft. It was all there!
 
“By the Tidestone, you’ve saved us. Thank you, little one.” I reached out an arm to the Wynaut, who hopped from the wrapped pile onto my hand.
 
“Wy, wynaut!” it replied. It gestured with its arms towards me, then towards the pile. It repeated the motion towards itself, and then back towards the sea. It did this several times until I caught on.
 
“You helped me, and you want me to help you now?” I asked.
 
It nodded. “Wynaut!”
 
“My air tank is empty, though. I can’t go back down for long without it.” I placed the Wynaut on the raft, then uunlaced the storage bag and began loading the salvage into it.
 
Wynaut waited until I had finished loading it, and then raised its arms. I felt myself rising, as if an invisible hand were lifting me. The empty tank grew warm against my back, and a harsh hissing noise came from the mouthpiece.
 
I reached out for it as I was lowered back onto the raft, and the harsh noise ceased. Bringing it to my mouth I felt air pressure from the tank again – this Wynaut had somehow filled my tank again, and much faster than the ancient hand pump back on our village. This friendly little Pokemon could be a lot more useful than I’d thought.
 
“Well, then.” I knelt down next to the Wynaut. “It seems I’ll be able to help you after all. My name is Dillon, and it’s nice to meet you!”
 
Wynaut gave a little hop. “Naut, wynaut!”
 
“Sure. Why not. C’mon, Staryu. Let’s see how we can help our new friend.”
 
I laced up the storage bag, and the three of us dove back into the water.


RE: Making Waves. [#A New Chapter] - evanfardreamer - 01-25-19

Chapter Two
Rating: Kid, comments are welcome
Aiming to capture a Panpour, ~6,000 characters

With Wynaut in the lead, we headed back to the ocean floor. I clung to Staryu and tried to peer through the gloom around us; the Wynaut was emitting a strong light but it still didn’t do much beyond making the murky water brighter. I was less worried about a hungry Pokemon now between Staryu’s talent and the Wynaut’s unknown psychic powers.

When we finally reached the bottom, I was surprised to see we were back at the ruined town, not far from where Wynaut had found us. We threaded through the remains of some houses and yards until we reached what looked to be a town square.

Wynaut took a moment to get its bearings, and then set off down the remains of a wide avenue. The ground beneath us sloped gently upward as we traveled and the buildings loomed less frequently. Shortly we reached the rotting stump of a great tree, with the remains of what looked like a garden around it.

The Wynaut slowed here, looking about cautiously. Staryu and I came to a stop as well. Wynaut was halfway around the tree when a surge of water erupted from behind the trunk, sending the little Pokemon tumbling.

Its attacker swam forwards; it was vaguely humanoid, with a tan body and limbs, and a tangled mess of blue fur sticking out from atop its head. It’s large eyes seemed closed, but it moved unerringly towards the tumbling bubble with our guide inside.

I gave Staryu two firm pats on the arm, pointing towards it. Silently, the star-shaped Pokemon jetted forward. It spun as it gathered speed, slicing directly in front of the strange Pokemon.

The ambusher halted its advance, closed eyes eerily following Staryu as it curved back around to float in front of the Wynaut.

“He-yah!” Staryu said. I don’t know what it said to the opponent, but the little blue and tan monkey shook its head. Wynaut finally stabilized its spinning bubble and glared at the foe, its grin having turned to a frown.

“So you found a friend!” I heard through the water. It came from near the tree, and after a moment a large man in a blue wetsuit swam into the light. A clear mask was fastened to his nose and mouth, with a tiny stream of bubbles rising from a short rod on either side of it “Well, I have to say you’re a plucky little thing. But we’ll still defeat both of you. Give it up now.”

I froze – it seemed the man hadn’t seen me. I got a good look at the large, white “A” on the chest of his outfit. A grunt from Team Aqua! No wonder the Wynaut had needed help.

Neither Staryu nor Wynaut had made any move, which seemed to make up the man’s mind. “Alright, have it your way then. Panpour, give them a dose of Scald!”

The little Pokemon seemed to take a large gulp of water before spraying it forward. The water shimmered and danced between it and the others, and Staryu tried to spin out of the way a hair too slowly.

“Yah!” it said, clenching its appendages from the effects of it. The Wynaut behind had avoided most of the attack, but I was alarmed to see the bubble around it had shrunk to half its size after the wave had passed it.

I saw the sphere in Staryu’s center shift from pink to yellow. Violent flickers showed in its depths, and I realized it was charging a powerful attack.

The Aqua grunt seemed to recognize it as well. “Panpour! Don’t let it fire that attack!”

Panpour jetted itself forwards towards Staryu but wasn’t fast enough. With a crackle I could feel a couple dozen feet away, a pulse of electricity launched forward. The Panpour was too close to avoid it and was hurled backwards, arms and legs twitching as it grimaced in pain.

“No!” the grunt shouted. With powerful strokes, he swam to where the smaller Pokemon was floating. “Don’t think you’ve won, we’ll be back to show you who’s boss!” Grabbing the still-twitching monkey, he kicked away and was quickly out of sight.

I waited a moment to make sure he was gone, and then swam to Staryu. It was floating mostly still in the water, and the swirls of color in its central sphere looked like it was focused on recovering its strength. If we’d been on the surface, the attack wouldn’t have hurt it – but being next to the discharge underwater seemed to have fed some of the electricity back into Staryu.

The Wynaut floated over. The sphere around it was now small enough that only its head was still fully inside it. “Wy, wynaut!” it said, gesturing past the tree with its arms. It then headed off in the direction it’d pointed, and I gathered Staryu in my arms and kicked forward with my feet. How strange to be the one ferrying it around for a change! It felt warm to the touch, and I knew it would be okay before long.

Only a short distance past the tree, we reached the mouth of a large cave. Partly-crumbled stone statues and markers showed it had been a site of some importance, but the Wynaut didn’t even pause to look around. It moved into the cave, its flappy ear/arms helping to propel it forward. I was grateful, because I could feel the air tank running low again with every breath I pulled.

Amazingly, there was a faint glow from a spot on the cavern’s roof; we headed directly towards it, and I realized it was a tunnel that stretched upward, and was somehow free of water.

The bubble gave out before the Wynaut reached the tunnel, and it splashed almost helplessly until I caught up to it. I took one hand off Staryu to gather it up as we passed, kicking until we broke the surface.

The inside wasn’t much brighter than the water outside, and the faint glow seemed to be coming from around a close corner. I lifted Wynaut out of the water and set it on the dry floor of the tunnel. Starmie would be fine floating here, so I dragged myself out of the water. Taking the mouthpiece of the respirator out, the air that greeted me had a sickly, burnt taste to it.

I leaned against the tunnel wall, closing my eyes as I rested and tried to catch my breath. The air also seemed thicker than above, but I still was breathing hard, the noise loud in my ears.

The next noise, a female voice, was even louder. “Who in the world are you?”


RE: Making Waves. [#A New Chapter] - evanfardreamer - 02-09-19

Chapter 3
Rating: Teen, comments welcome!
Aiming to capture a Litwick, currently a Fourplay mon at Hard.

My first thought was that Nurse Joy had seen better days. Her white outfit was quite dirty, ragged at the edges with a few mended holes. It hung loosely on her gaunt frame, and I wondered how long it had been since she’d last had a full meal. Her hair was tangled and had grown out, so that the pink-dyed ends faded to a more normal blonde. Her blue eyes were suspicious as they stared me down, and I tried not to stand too quickly.

“I, uh, hello,” I said lamely. “My name’s Dillon. How long have you been here?”

She stared a little longer, then looked away. “I’m… not sure. My watch died a long time ago. But since the water rose.”

“Since the- you’ve been living down here that whole time?!”

She looked back at me, furrowing her brow. “Yes. Barely, and it’s been hard. Wynaut there went out scouting but never found any land. Where did you come from? Is the ocean going back down?”

I shook my head. “No. The waters are stable, but not many of us are left. I come from Flotsam, it’s pretty much just rafts and boats tied together.”

That still seemed to perk her up. “Is it nearby? Can we get out of this cave?”

“It’s a few days away. My raft isn’t very big. Is it just you and Wynaut?”

“No, there’s a few of us here. I saved who I could from the Pokemon center, but there wasn’t much time.” She turned and led the way deeper into the cave.

A small splash behind me heralded Staryu climbing out of the water, seemingly good as new. I smiled, and the two of us followed her through a twisting passage that led to a larger chamber, with a few branching tunnels off it. The light was coming from further down the central path, but it still was enough to light up the cavern.

Crowded in the center were a knot of figures; a red Charmander was using its tail flame to heat a small pot, while a large pink Chansey cracked an oversize egg into it. Neither looked healthy, but the pale and withered looking Tropius behind them was clearly the worst off. Its normal bunch of bananas at its throat was down to only a pair, and the leaves on its back were little more than veined stems. Only the Mudkip nearby looked to be in decent health, swimming in a small pool of what looked to be fresh water.

“There are a couple others sleeping in the chamber,” Joy said. “Several were taken by Team Aqua, and a couple didn’t make it even after that. They wanted to take all of us to wherever they are, but at the time I thought we could make it without them. That was a long while ago, and they haven’t been back since.” Something like regret twisted her features, and I wondered how long she’d been beating herself up for that.

I coughed a little, trying to clear my throat. The smoky air was even thicker in this chamber. “I think it’s amazing you’ve held out this long. The waters rose when Kyogre woke, it’s been five years ago now.”

The former nurse’s eyes watered, but she nodded. “Thank you. We don’t have a day or night down here, so all I knew was it had been very long. Please, you have to get us out of here.”

“I’ll try. But I don’t have much food to share, and it’s a few days to get back home. Plus we have to get everyone up to the surface, and there’s a Team Aqua goon out there sore about Staryu beating it.”

“Well, take a rest for a little bit. A few more minutes won’t make much difference after five years.” She walked over to the pot, where Chansey was apparently scrambling the egg. “We don’t have much to eat, but you’re welcome to share.”

I shook my head. “ No, thank you. You need it more.” I watched Wynaut wander down one of the darkened side tunnels, one with a well-worn floor. “Where’s the light coming from? One of the sleeping ones?”

She snickered. “After a fashion. But not one of us.” The nurse and the Pokemon, except Tropius, ate straight from the pot. Clearly I wasn’t going to get more answers while they scarfed down a meager meal, so I stepped around them and went to look.

The path down this tunnel was still rough stone. Clearly the group didn’t come down this way much, but the air got warmer the further I went. The roof and upper walls were stained with a gray soot and looked like they had been for a long time. A strange pressure against my ears grew louder as I advanced, a hissing noise that wavered slightly as it went.

I started to feel tired and was halfway to laying down before I realized it. “He-ya!” Staryu said, and the gem at its center lit up with a purple glow. The weariness vanished and I realized something had been drawing my energy. How?

I stood back up and continued forward, Staryu’s glow seeming to keep whatever it was from affecting me. A few moments later, the tunnel smoothed out into worked stone, and the walls opened up in a much larger cavern than the group was huddled in. The light seemed to come from a pillar of bluish flame at the center, casting its light on a large, deep red and gray boulder against the far wall.

I realized the flame was coming from a tiny stub of candle, with puddles of wax dripping from it and forming a pool beneath it. The fire was much too big for it to be a normal candle and I stepped closer to look at it. Larger than it appeared, it still wouldn’t have come up to my knee, but the flame was as tall as I was.

“He-ya!” Staryu said from behind me. I started to look back, then noticed the candle was turning. Two blue spots on the side seemed to be eyes, though the wax spilled over and covered one almost immediately. It stared at the two of us for a moment, before the fire dropped from a blaze to a normal candle’s size. The light in the chamber faded to a dusky level and it was hard to pick out details.

“Litwick?” it said, seeming almost curious.

“He-ya! Ya!” Staryu replied. It came forward to parallel me, gesturing with a limb as if to emphasize a point. “He-ya!”

“Lit, litwick,” it said. The puddles of wax on the floor near it had vanished somehow, but it seemed to be spilling more as it moved towards us. The really eerie part is it didn’t seem to move its lower body, just gliding forward and leaving a vanishing trail of wax behind it.

I began to feel the edges of drowsiness again; this must be the thing causing it, but I’d never run across anything like it before. Staryu’s glow was unchanged, so it must be taking the worst of it off. I knelt down to get closer to it and it shifted to focus on me with its flat, blue eye. “Hello, little one.”

“Lit!” The animated candle seemed to make a mouth out of dripping wax, and smiled up at me. I couldn’t help marveling at the cute little blue eye, but the next thing I knew my rear was landing on the flat stone floor.

“He-ya!” Staryu yelled, and a spurt of water shot from its uppermost appendage at the candle. The strange little Pokemon danced back, out of the way. Its adorable smile turned wicked, and the flame on its head grew a little larger.

And then the whole chamber trembled. Motion near the bolder drew my eye – no, from the boulder. Part of Staryu’s water attack had struck it after missing the candle and washed away grime, revealing a bright red curve of hide. It shifted slightly and the cavern twitched again.

The Litwick’s smile vanished and it darted forward. Returning to a spot near the creature, its flame shot to its earlier pillar. Whatever it was doing seemed to calm the large creature again and the cavern was once again still, save for the sound of fire.

“Thank you, Staryu. Let’s get back to the rest. Maybe they know more about what’s going on.” I turned and led the way, Staryu moving sideways to keep an eye on the strange candle as we left.

Back in the food chamber, the Pokemon and their nurse had moved to the pool of water. Mudkip sat on the edge facing the central tunnel, and the others were not exactly huddled behind it – but it was clear the Mudkip was their best defense against that Litwick. The nurse gave a nervous smile when she saw it was me.

“Dillon,” she said. “I’m glad you’re back. I was worried when the light went out.”

I frowned. “Not worried enough to warn me, though? What even was that thing?”

Her nervous smile faded, replaced by something between guilt and shame. “It’s a Litwick, a ghost-type Pokemon. It drains souls of the living to survive. Team Aqua brought it here to keep Groudon asleep, so it wouldn’t challenge Kyogre and ruin their plans.”

“You mean that thing just tried to eat me? What would you have done if it did?” I was mad, now – my tribe was waiting for me to return with those supplies.

“You said you had a raft,” she said quietly. She wasn’t even meeting my eyes anymore. “Wynaut could keep Charmander and Tropius safe until we got to the surface, but there hasn’t been anywhere to go from there.”

Some of the anger drained away – she’d been down here, with only those Pokemon for company, for years. I shouldn’t be surprised she wanted to get out somehow. But I’d still almost met my end.

“You said Aqua put that Litwick here. Could Groudon really stop Kyogre? Bring the world back to what it was?” I tried to keep the anger out of my voice, but this was a whole new issue. We’d gotten used to the way things were, but it wasn’t easy. If we could go back to farms, cities, dry ground beneath us, wouldn’t that be something?

She nodded, still not looking at my face. “I think so. Some of the old legends said they were equal in power. If we could find one of the ancient orbs, Groudon might be able to bring most of the land back.”

Well. That changed everything. We wouldn’t have to live on salty rafts, subsisting on seaweed, fish, and a tiny garden’s worth of vegetables.

“Then it sounds like it’s time to start waking that Groudon up. Staryu, let’s go get that Litwick. It can’t fight you, and keep Groudon asleep.” I turned and marched back down the hallway towards the flickering glow.

The trip back seemed shorter, and this time I could feel the energies trying to send me to sleep. Staryu’s central jewel wasn’t as bright as before. “Saving your energy for the fight?”

“He-ya!” it said. I had to assume that was a yes.

The cavern seemed just as large this time, and the Litwick and Groudon were in their same positions. This time the candle Pokemon turned without prompting to regard us with the expressionless blue circles.

“Nurse Joy told us about what you’re doing. Keeping that Groudon asleep? We need you to stop so Groudon can help us get some dry land again.” The Litwick didn’t move, and the flame didn’t change. “I mean it. Stop it, or we’re going to have to stop you.”

No reaction. I guess there was nothing for it.

“Okay, Staryu, hit it with a Water Gun.”

Staryu drew itself up to full height, but before it could attack the Litwick twitched. Large globs of wax splattered across the floor in front of it, and within moments each had sprung into another Litwick. They repeated the motions, scattering more wax along the floor which turned into a small army of the little candle Pokemon. The original Litwick’s flame had shrunk to the normal blue, and I had no idea which one it was.

Not that it mattered, as they all were staring with the same dead eye circles. They advanced slowly across the floor towards us.

Staryu unleashed a powerful stream of water, and all the Litwicks danced out of the way. It sprayed harmlessly across the cavern floor, and the advancing candles started floating. Still dripping their wax they made an eerie but imposing sight.

“Water’s too slow…” I looked around, noticing a scattering of small pebbles and rocks that had collected over time. “Use Power Gem! Fling some of those rocks at them!”

Staryu drew its limbs back, wrapping the nearest shards of gravel in a shell of power. Twitching those arms forward sent the rocks whizzing through the air. The Litwicks dodged again, but not quite fast enough; one of the rocks hit dead center, only to have the Litwick vanish in a puff of smoke.

“They’re just illusions. We have to hit the real one!” I cried.

Litwick wasn’t going to give us any more free shots, though. The floating mass came to a halt, and the flames on all of them burned brightly. Drips of wax on the sides danced like arms, and an arc of blue flame came flying towards Staryu.

I was at the edge of it, and dived to the ground as it passed. It still singed the hair on my arms and legs, and Staryu hadn’t gotten out of the way in time. “Ya!” it yelled as the flame struck it, leaving a dark, ugly burn across its lower limbs.

“Staryu!” I yelled. It took a fighting stance, but I could tell that it was hurt. I looked back at the floating crowd of candles, knowing that we couldn’t take our time picking off the illusions one at a time.

But then I noticed there was only one puddle of wax on the floor. It was only conjuring the images of other Litwick!

“The wax! Only the real one is dripping wax!”

Staryu reacted immediately, grabbing and flinging a single pebble with amazing force. Litwick was too slow realizing we had caught on and the stone hit dead center, knocking it tumbling through the air. The other illusions vanished, and as it righted itself both dead eyes locked regarded us with an utter lack of emotion.

“Keep attacking, no matter what!” I called to Staryu. Litwick was already gathering some dark energy around it, and Staryu nimbly rolled to the side as it launched the attack.

Staryu wasn’t the target though. The wave of energy struck me full on, and the next moments were an agonizing blur as I was bounced off the cavern wall. I fell to the floor limply, as my limbs just wouldn’t do what my mind told them too.

I could still see though; I watched as Litwick went on the offensive, hurling blasts of shadow and flame at my friend. Tears filled my unblinking eyes as it was slower and slower dodging each one, the burn it had suffered sapping its strength. Its return blasts of water and rocks were growing erratic, and Litwick was dodging more and more of them.

I felt a pressure on the back of my head and saw a flash of pink. “Chan, chansey,” the large pink Pokemon whispered as it stroked my hair. Suddenly I could blink again, and a moment later even breathe. The Pokemon was healing me somehow – and in the shape it was in, it probably couldn’t do much more.

“Star… Staryu!” I gasped out. “Hydro Pump, on… on the Groudon!”

Litwick saw it readying the attack and launched another blast of flame. Ignoring it, Staryu drew in its strength, blasting a torrent of water at the large red Pokemon slumbering in the corner. Both attacks hit at the same time, with Staryu tumbling backwards and the water sluicing most of the ash and soot off the sleeping Pokemon.

Or that had been sleeping. Between Litwick’s distraction and the powerful attack, it awoke. Litwick turned to it and its flame blazed again, but Groudon turned a furious yellow eye upon it. Heaving itself upright, it roared and swung an arm in Litwick’s direction.

The very ceiling of the cavern came to its call. Heavy stalactites broke free and crashed towards it. The candle Pokemon dodged as best it could, but each shattering spear threw jags of stone into the air, and finally one chunk of stone clipped it solidly. “Lit!” the candle cried in pain as it bounced to the floor, and the rumble of falling stone settled to quiet.

It was hurt but not defeated, though. Rising to its stub, it glared at the imposing red figure. Flicking its body it again scattered wax on the floor, and several identical illusions rose up. I could barely move my head, but craned my neck just enough to see Staryu still unconscious in the corner – and Nurse Joy standing behind the Chansey who was helping me.

The swarm of candles advanced on Groudon, who did something incredible. It spoke, its voice somehow rumbling in my mind as if it simply willed itself to be understood.

<You have tormented me for years. You think I would not know my jailor?> It lunged forward amazingly quickly for its bulk. One large clawed paw wrapped around a Litwick, and the others vanished into smoke. <You think I could not find you out of four, ten, a hundred illusions?> Groudon began squeezing, and the Litwick screamed in pain. <Many are the torments I dreamed of, as you kept me slumbering. But not senseless.>

Flinging its arm out, Groudon hurled the small candle – now twisted and misshapen, against the wall of the cavern.

“My Staryu,” I whispered to the Chansey. I didn’t know what the pink healer could do in time, but if Groudon decided to keep venting its anger, we’d need all the help we could get to escape.

Chansey left me to head for Staryu. I could feel a tingling in my arms and legs as feeling gradually returned to them. It left me enough movement to shove up against the wall, reaching a sitting position as Groudon finished striding to the candle.

<I planned demise after demise for you. Hoping that one day I could see them fulfilled. But then I realized, you were not my enemy. You were but its pawn.>
Groudon shifted its head and neck, aiming its yellow eyes at me. Its sheer presence was terrifying, not to mention its bulk and the wickedly sharp claws on its arm. Worse still it began striding towards me, and I knew Staryu wasn’t in any shape to intervene.

“Not… not me,” I gasped out. “I just got here.”

It towered over me, its head bending down to study my face. Even in the moment of demise, I had to admire it – the heavy red hide was incredibly thick and smooth, and in between the patches was a darker fur. It was a very well armored creature, and there was no way we could really hurt it.

<I know.> It regarded all of us standing there – at least Mudkip had joined Joy and was leaning against her. Chansey massaged Staryu’s limbs, and a faint glow in its core told me that it still lived. All together we were clearly no threat to it, but it leaned back on its haunches.

<I heard you as you entered. I know some of what transpired, the parts that Litwick knew. And I can feel that my nemesis reigns unchecked over the drowning seas.>
It turned and strode towards the space it had lain in when we first entered. Past the shallow depression, I noticed for the first time that the wall behind was flat and carved with many designs. Butting against it was a smaller stone bench, with a perfectly round depression in the middle.

<I am no challenge to him now. His power is dominant, and he rules. But his allies have tricked him and secreted the orbs. If you can retrieve mine, I will have the power to end his reign, and restore land to the world.>

It settled down again in the space that was its bed. <I must rest for now. Remove the Litwick and I can regain some strength. Bring me the orb and I will help you.>

I stood, using the wall behind me for support. “I will.” Reaching into my pocket with a free hand, I withdrew one of the Ultra Balls I had recovered from the Pokemart. It swelled in my hand as I staggered towards the candle.

It lay on the ground, flat blue eye staring up at me as I approached. I had no clue what its emotions were as I gently tossed the ball, but it struck the badly injured Pokemon which dissolved in a cloud of light. The dancing motes drew into the ball, which snapped closed. The ball didn’t even rock afterwards – there wasn’t much left of the Litwick, but the ball would keep it stable until I could get it away from here.

“We will try and find your orb,” I said. “And I’ll bring my people back here. We will help you however you can.”

The nurse caught me before I collapsed, ducking under my shoulder and helping me stand. Chansey had healed Staryu enough that it could stand, and the Mudkip followed behind as we left the cavern. "Thank you, Nurse Joy."

“I heard you challenge that thing,” the nurse said as we headed through the much darker tunnel. “I’m sorry I didn’t warn you before. I just wanted to get out of here.”

“I know,” I said. “And I’ll still get you out of here. But I’ll warn you that it’ll be a long ways back to my home. And I’m serious about getting that orb.”

I could tell she was smiling. “I know you are. And I’ll help you. It’s the least I can do.”

“First, we have to recover enough to get back to the surface,” I said. We made it to the pool in the food chamber, where the rest of the Pokemon were waiting. Staryu flopped into the pool and stretched its limbs.

“Yeah, we will. And by the way?” The nurse smiled at me, the faint glow of Staryu’s center highlighting the curves of her face.

“What?” I asked, grunting as I sat.

“My name is Alice. Joy was just for the job.”

My laughter echoed through the caverns until Groudon’s snores drowned it out.